True divas all. Enough said.
1. Marija Šerifović—Molitva (Serbia 2007). The bookies liked her, although Verka Seduchka was the favorite going into the 2007 contest. Then rumblings came out of rehearsals that she wasn’t singing well, that her performance was lackluster. Here’s the thing: rehearsals are for blocking and a true Diva knows how to turn it on whenever she wants to. Ms. Šerifović knocked it out of the ballpark in the semis and again in the finals to bring Serbia its first win.
2. Verka Serduchka—Dancing Lasha Tumbai (Ukraine 2007). Arguably the best Eurovision performance ever from a drag artist, inarguably the best Eurovision drag performance from the last 5 years. The 1940s-inspired costumes, the communist star headdress, the “69” on her back, and those sunglasses…outstanding. The energy level from Ms. Seduchka and company on this number is stunning. (Chris has this as his ringtone. Seriously.)
3. Chiara—What If We (Malta 2009). 2009 was Chiara’s 3rd time representing Malta in the ESC, after finishing 3rd, then 2nd in previous years. The 3rd time wasn’t the charm. It didn’t help that her Celine Dion-style ballad was pitted against two other strong ballads. After finishing a disappointing 22nd, she went Diva on the press, admitting how angry she was with her low placement and criticizing countries for not voting for her. Nevertheless, Chiara says she is planning a 4th attempt at the contest.
4. Charlotte Perrelli—Hero (Sweden 2008). Ms. Perrelli is a former Eurovision Song Contest winner; attention must be paid (whether it’s deserved or not). In 2008, Sweden’s entry made it out of the semi-final only by a jury vote that bypassed two entries that received more points but were shy of the points needed for automatic qualification. As for Ms. Perrelli, her Diva style is 1 part Diva attitude, 1 part Diva talent, 1 part eating disorder, and 2 parts bad plastic surgery. She was 33 at the time of this performance, but you’d never know it to look at her.
5. Patricia Kaas— Et s’il fallait le faire (France 2009). A single woman onstage (no backup singers), a little black dress, austere lighting. An Edith Piaf-inspired tour de force. At the end she did little jig. And it totally worked.
6. Aloysha—Sweet People (Ukraine 2010). Ukraine selected their artist late, after national outrage over the original choice. Ukraine selected their song late, without public input, and was fined for picking the song after entry deadline. The song they settled on, “Sweet People,” was tuneless and depressing. And none of it mattered, because Miss Thing commanded the stage. Thanks entirely to Aloysha’s mesmerizing solo performance, Ukraine eked out a Top 10 finish in a packed 2010 field.
7. Alenka Gotar—Cvet z juga (Slovenia 2007). This song has set the standard for pop-opera Eurovision entries and for gimmicks on performer’s hands. The Slovenian mezzo-soprano delivered an appropriately big performance. The light-up Swarovski crystals on her hand gave us something to laugh at during the moments when she wasn’t taking a bow.
8. Anastasiya Prikhodko—Mamo (Russia 2009). Why Russia would choose to defend their title with a song sung in Ukrainian—with a Ukrainian singer—was a mystery to us (and indeed to many Russians). But this is Ms. Prikhodko’s world, and we are all here to watch her. The staging displayed her face on several huge screens, aging through the arc of the song. The camera was on her face the entire time. In fact, Ms. Prikhodko dialed down her performance for the finals, opting in the climax of the song only to scream at us and not to fall to her hands and knees and pound the stage with her fists (as she had done in the Russian national finals).
9. Magdi Ruzsa—Unsubstantial Blues (Hungary 2007). Abandoned at an Arizona bus stop, Ms. Ruzsa growls about “…an evanescent, unsubstantial blues.” The lyrics are pretentious and unfortunate, but it was clear that girlfriend has been through some stuff. Her performance was gritty, soulful, and honest.
10. Vânia Fernandes—Sehnora do Mar (Negras Aguas) (Portugal 2008). We have a soft spot in our hearts for fado. This is as authentic a fado song as you’ll find. It tells a story, it’s cathartic, and Ms. Fernandes can belt out a tune. Give the woman a black shawl and set her up in a café in the Alfama.
11. Nadine Beiler—The Secret is Love (Austria 2011). Ms. Beiler started her epic Celine Dion-style ballad a cappella; just her, a little black dress, and a severe bob. In textbook style, Ms. Beiler built and built (and built) the song, culminating with a gospel chorus. Her powerful voice gives us goosebumps every time. We watched every rehearsal and performance going back to the Austrian national finals and not once did she miss a note. Austria finished 18th, a good finish for a country that hadn’t qualified for the finals since 2004.
12. Loreen—Euphoria (Sweden 2012). It seems like an obvious winner now, but think about how gutsy Loreen’s performance was: she is doing weird tai-chi-like dancing in dim lighting with the occasional snowstorm and a back-up dancer who only appears with 38 seconds left in the song. If that is not the definition of a diva performance, what is?