Eurovision Song Contest winners have achieved a feat shared by few others. But even within that hallowed group, some try to return to Eurovision, whether just to relive the experience or to attempt to match Johnny Logan’s unique two wins as an artist.
Where people already in the Six on Stage database appeared in national finals, I’ve now added this information too. As a result, it’s now possible for me to cross-reference appearances at Eurovision with participation in national selections.
While no-one else has done the double, a number of winners have indeed made it back to the Eurovision stage – so let’s look at 27 winning performers who didn’t make it through a national final despite their gilded status.
The early winners
The first two winners of the Contest tried to represent their countries again in later years.
Lys Assia won the Swiss selection the next two years after her victory in 1956, but she was unsuccessful when she tried again – for the 2012 Contest, more than 50 years after her last go.
Corry Brokken too represented her country in the first three years of the Contest. She tried again much sooner, unsuccessfully entering the Dutch national selection in 1959. She would instead return as host, in 1976.
No fewer than six previous Eurovision winners have tried and failed to win Melfest – and only half of them won the Contest for Sweden!
- Elisabeth Andreassen of Bobbysocks took part in 1990, in 2002 (with Kikki and Lotta) and in 2011. She has also entered Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix five times since La Det Swinge, representing Norway again in 1994 and 1996 but not winning the selection in 1998, 2003 or 2015.
- Katrina Leskanich of “and the Waves” fame competed as Katrina & The Nameless in 2005.
- Carola took part with Andreas Johnson in 2008 (she did, of course, win two years previously).
- Charlotte Perrelli returned in 2012 and 2017 (after winning for the second time in 2008). And she is back this year to try again.
- Helena Paparizou, 2005’s Eurovision winner for Greece, took part in 2014 with Survivor.
- Loreen in 2017 notoriously failed to make it out of Andra Chansen with Statements.
The 1991 hosts (allora)
Gigliola Cinquetti took part in the Sanremo Music Festival the year after her 1964 win, reaching the final. She actually won again in 1966 but, as each song was performed by two artists, it ended up being Domenico Modugno who made the ill-fated trip to Luxembourg with Dio Come Ti Amo.
Toto Cutugno took part in 1997’s edition of Sanremo, finishing 17th.
Chanteuses of 60s and 70s
- 1962 winner Isabelle Aubret, who also represented France in 1968, took part in their national selection again in 1970, 1976 and 1983.
- Grethe Ingmann, who won for Denmark with her then-husband in 1963, tried again in 1978, 1979 and 1980.
- Having represented Luxembourg twice, Vicky Leandros entered the German selection in 2006.
- The French contribution to 1969’s four-way tie, Frida Boccara appeared in their national finals in 1980 and 1981.
- Séverine won for Monaco in 1971 but went on take part in Germany’s national finals in 1975 and 1982.
Izhar Cohen won alongside the Alphabeta in 1978 and represented Israel again in 1985. He was, however, unsuccessful in Israel’s national selections of 1982, 1987 and 1996.
Dima Bilan won Eurovision for Russia at his second appearance. He tried to represent the country again in 2012, competing in the national finals with Julia Volkova from t.A.T.u.
Our last set of returnees may be less well known as they all won Eurovision as members of groups.
- Reuven Gvirtz, Shmulik Bilu and Yehuda Tamir were victorious in 1979 as three-quarters of Milk & Honey. Those members of the band tried to represent Israel again in 1981 and 1989, and Yehuda Tamir also tried as a solo artist in 1986.
- Emilija Kokić was the lead singer of 1989 winners Riva. She took part in the Croatian national finals three times, in 2001, 2003 and 2008.
- Five years after their win in Sweden, Olsen Brothers Jørgen & Niels entered Danish Melodi Grand Prix again with Little Yellow Radio. Jørgen returned to the competition as a solo singer in 2007.
- 2XL won in 2001 with Dave Benton and Tanel Padar and three of the four members have since taken part in the Estonian national finals. Kaido Põldma, Lauri Pihlap and Sergei Morgun were all members of Soul Militia in 2007 and 2012. Additionally, Lauri Pihlap took part in 2009 and 2014, and Sergei Morgun in 2018 as one-third of Tiiu x Okym x Semy.
- Sampsa Astala, aka Kita from Lordi, returned to Finland’s national selection in 2011 as Stala in Stala & So.