1. Bucks Fizz, Making Your Mind Up, 1981 (1st). Of course the mother of all wardrobe shenanigans is this famous UK Velcro moment, which set the tone for sartorial rip-offs ever since. Various people have claimed to have thought the ruse up but the true genius has never been unearthed.
2. Angelica Agurbash, Love Me Tonight, 2005 (failed to qualify for final). The queen of the costume change – and the universe if you believed the self-publicising journal foisted on everyone – managed to wear three outfits during her entry for Belarus, none what you might call understated. And men in frills leaped and bounded in attendance as she performed. Camp as Butlins.
3. Marie N, I Wanna, 2002 (1st) It was the nifty routine that won Marie N Eurovision for Latvia rather than the song, which didn’t even make the Latvian Top 30 after the contest. Starting out dressed as a bloke in a white suit and trilby, she gradually disrobed to become a sultry, sexy siren in an evening dress. Dana International without the surgery, then.
4. Lill Lindfors, Gothenburg, 1985. This outfit award goes not to a singer but the host of the 1985 contest in Sweden. Lill Lindfors entered and seemingly caught the bottom part of her frock on the set, which ripped off leaving her rather embarrassed. Then she calmly unfolded the top half of her ensemble to form a full-length dress. Phew, that was close!.
5. Herreys, Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley, 1984 (1st) The Swedish blonde trio of brothers swept to victory with this lyrically challenged number. The secret of their success? Their little gold boots, which were actually referred to in the song. Why else would you wear ’em, eh?
6. Youddiph, Vyechny Stranik, 1994 (9th). One of Russia’s early entries featured a soulful young lady in a dress that made her look, as one wag put it, like a sun-dried tomato. It was certainly red, and with various holes and spaghetti-like panels, she could make her frock do all manner of, er, interesting things. All of which distracted from the rather dull song.
7. Paul Oscar, Minn Hinsti Dans, 1997 (20th). The Eurovision night all PVC freaks will remember. Cool Icelander Paul writhed around on a sofa in shiny kecks fondling himself while blonde Amazons in more PVC and fishnet contorted themselves around him to a throbbing beat. Yikes.
8. Hot Eyes, Ka’ Du Se Hva’ Jeg Sa’, 1988 (3rd). In this niftily titled Danish entry it wasn’t so much lead singer Kirsten’s clashing turquoise ensemble and spiky red hair. Or the backing dancers in orange and yellow wielding cardboard guitars, or the conductor joining in. It was that Kirsten was clearly on the point of giving birth. Good job hubby Soren was on hand among the backing singers.
9. Linda Wagemankers, No Goodbyes, 2000 (13th). Dutch Linda looked like she rented her voluminous black and white PVC hooded cloak from Billy Smart’s Circus. It needed to be big – when she took it off to reveal a skimpy, silver shredded number, there were also two male dancers lurking underneath!
10. Schmetterlinge, Boom Boom Boomerang, 1977 (17th). The four male backing dancers wore Lycra one-pieces which where white on the front and revealed them wearing tuxedos and smiley facemasks when they turned around. The Austrian entry – which included the words kangaroo, didgeridoo and Kojak – was a dig at the contest in particular and the record industry in general.
Mark Cook (watching Eurovision since 1967)
Mark Cook is a journalist and theatre critic for the Guardian Guide and The Big Issue
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