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Abba’s Waterloo named UK’s favourite Eurovision song

By | Published on Tuesday 18 May 2021


Abba’s ‘Waterloo’ has been named the UK’s favourite Eurovision song by Radio 2 listeners. Ironic, given that it won the 1974 edition of the big contest despite the UK not awarding it any points at all. A special show presented by Ken Bruce this week will reveal the UK’s top 50 all-time favourite songs from the competition.

If you’re wondering, the top five is completed by ‘Making Your Mind Up’ by Bucks Fizz, ‘Love Shine A Light’ by Katrina And The Waves, ‘Save Your Kisses For Me’ by Brotherhood Of Man and ‘Puppet On A String’ by Sandie Shaw.

All of which suggests this wasn’t voted for by proper Eurovision aficionados. I mean, this is more a list of the most famous Eurovision songs. Where’s ‘Euphoria’ by Loreen, or ‘Fairytale’ by Alexander Rybak, or ‘I Feed You My Love’ by Margaret Berger, or ‘Divine’ by Sébastien Tellier? Could we not put Lordi’s ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’ up there?

Still, you can’t really argue with Abba, can you? Who would dare? Commenting on the win, the band’s Frida Lyngstad says: “‘Waterloo’ was our first song under our new name, Abba, which – after we performed it to audiences across Europe thanks to Eurovision – became a huge global hit. The success of ‘Waterloo’ changed everything for us as a band, so we would like to thank all the Eurovision fans who voted for the song!”

By the way, when recently asked about the UK awarding his Eurovision entry nil points, Abba’s Björn Ulvaeus speculated that that might have been tactical voting on the part of the British judging panel, which was entirely in charge of the country’s points allocation back then. After all, he told the BBC, “the Brits were the first ones to embrace us after winning”.

What tactics were at play? Well, some thought that that year’s UK entry, being sung by Olivia Newton-John, was a good contender for the win, and maybe the British judges recognised Abba as the main competitor. Because there’s always been a smattering of politics at play at Eurovision.

Of course the UK was hosting the contest that year and had booked The Wombles as the interval entertainment. So maybe everyone else tactically voted for Newton-John’s main competitors – ie Abba – to ensure that the Brits wouldn’t have host status and interval act booking privileges for a second year running. Not that that was assured. The UK was only hosting in 1974 because 1973 winner Luxembourg didn’t want to hassle of staging the show two years running.

Anyway, what were we talking about? Oh yes, even in Brexit Britain the country’s favourite ever Eurovision song was written and sung by some foreigners. Says Ken Bruce: “Well, who’d have thought it? ‘Waterloo’ comes top – but, as Abba sang, ‘I feel like I win when I lose’ – a massive eighteen of the Top 50 are UK songs, so well done us!”

Come on now, there is no way that the UK has put forward 36% of the best 50 Eurovision songs of all time. This poll might as well be called ‘the top 50 Eurovision songs that British people can remember’.

Anyway, the show will be available on the BBC Sounds app from 8pm tonight, and will be aired on Radio 2 from 1-3pm on 22 May, ahead of this year’s grand final.

The first semi-final of this year’s contest will also take place tonight, but there’s already been plenty of drama. Four delegations we forced to quarantine last week, following positive COVID tests in the Polish and Icelandic teams. The delegations from Malta and Romania were also quarantined, as they were staying in the same hotel.

In subsequent testing, all other members of the four delegations have tested negative. The Malta and Romania delegations were allowed in to rehearsals yesterday, while Iceland and Poland are being held in quarantine until Wednesday as a precaution. If they all test negative again on Wednesday, they will be allowed to join the rehearsals and take part in Thursday’s semi-final.