The Eurovision Song Contest’s interval act is always the topic of much discussion - sometimes becoming much more than the moment to sneak a cup of tea between the extended musical session and the even more lengthy voting business.
Last year saw superstar Justin Timberlake take to the floor in Sweden, in a surprise, and not altogether pleasing, move by the contest arrangers. This year, Ukraine is offering up not one but three interval acts - the country’s two previous winners Ruslana and Jamala. In addition, their home-grown ‘sensation’ Onuka will be appearing.
We’ve come to expect much from the interval act - it has to showcase the home nation’s musical talents, be memorable in its own right, but without distracting from or overshadowing the acts that have come before. It’s no small order, and perfectly understandable why ABBA have (so far!) resisted all offers to revisit the arena of their initial triumph. In the meantime, we’ve had these to console us, and distract us from the voting that is to come...
10 Wombles UK, 1974
ABBA were about to win, but in the meantime… we give you Orinoco and a children’s choir. There is nothing not to love.
9 Boyzone, Ireland, 1997
If ever there was a clue that the blond frontman had his eye on a solo career, this was it, as he belted out ‘Let The Message Run Free’ and his bandmates climbed a ladder. Oh, and in case he didn’t have enough to do, he also co-hosted the Contest.
8 Hothouse Flowers, Ireland, 1988
“Don’t Go,” they sang. And they didn’t. It went on and on and on.
7 Aqua, Denmark, 2001
With so many hits behind them, this poptastic group were a safe booking for Danish hosts, and they delivered in spades, with a medley including their song that could have been born for Eurovision, ‘Barbie Girl’.
6 Petra Mede, Sweden, 2013
If ever you’re thinking of studying a Swedish GCSE, save time and make notes from this performance. All the Swedes hold dear is mentioned, from Ikea to Abba, via Volvo. Cap must be doffed also to the Muppets’ Swedish chef.
5 Emellie De Forrest, Denmark, 2014
The country’s winner from the previous year, with an ethereal ‘Rainmaker’ which emerged from the stage like the strange but true lovechild of The Lion King and Avatar. Epic.
4 Jupiter and co, UK, 1998
This isn’t a partisan entry, this was a truly spectacular montage kicked off by the BBC Concert Orchestra, with contribution by violinist Vanessa Mae, culminating in a chandelier-smashing aria from Lesley Garrett. Anybody still convinced the Brits only do understatement needs to sit through these 7 minutes and 59 trembling seconds.
3 Prague Theatre of Illuminated Drawings, Czechoslovakia, 1984
THIS is how you participate in Eurovision, without actually competing. You don’t try to sing like the contestants who’ve come before, you just do something completely different, and beautiful.
2 Madcon, Norway, 2010
An incredibly talented rap duo who got the whole of Europe singing along.
1 Riverdance, Ireland, 1994
There will never be anything this stunning in any part of the Eurovision Song Contest, interval or otherwise. Michael Flatley may have become significantly more tanned and self-satisfied in the intervening years, but in 1994, we saw the arrival of a tapping god, and it was glorious.
The Eurovision Song Contest takes part tonight in Kiev, Ukraine. It will be streamed live and aired on TV from 8pm.