The craziest instruments in the history of Eurovision


Oh, the Eurovision Song Contest. Whether you got acquainted with this next-level spectacle from the 2020 Will Ferrell movie, or you’re like the person writing this article — a complete weirdo who’s actively followed it for most of his adult life — There’s no shortage of glitz and grandeur at this quirky and picture-perfect annual competition.

For newcomers to the event, Eurovision is like the Olympics of pop music. Each qualifying nation (there are 18 entries this year) selects a song to perform live during the competition. Judges from all participating countries award points for their favorite song, and those points are supplemented by votes from the global audience to determine a winner.

Måneskin’s Eurovision 2021 winning performance.

Eurovision has blessed television screens around the world every year since 1956 (excluding 2020) and has historically introduced the world to some of the biggest names in pop: ABBA, Julio Iglesias, Celine Dion, to name a few- one.

This year, thanks to a triumphant performance in 2021 from Roman rockers Måneskin, reigning champions Italy will host the 2022 event, with the final broadcast live on Saturday 14 May. But before we tune in and see what 2022 has in store for us, join us as we take a look at some of the most iconic, interesting and outrageous instruments that have graced the Eurovision arrange.

Telex (Belgium, 1980)

Telex are probably best known as an experimental synthpop band, but when their manager pushed them into Eurovisionthey took the opportunity to discreetly troll the competition with their song “Euro-Vision”.

The lyrics are deliberately mundane, the “choreography” is deliberately wooden, but honestly, if that means we see a scene full of Moogs in action, that seems like a good compromise. To our eyes, it looks like they’re working with a Moog Modular System 55, a pair of Polymoogs, a Minimoog, and a Multimoog. Although the group claimed to be aiming for a last place finish, their hopes were dashed – they achieved 17th place (out of 19) that year.

Peter, Sue & Marc (Switzerland, 1976)

If you’re going to write a song about a depressed circus clown, you’re going to want classic barrel organ energy on that stage.

Go_A (Ukraine, 2011)

If you follow Eurovision, you might remember the “Epic Flute Guy” meme from that 2021 banger where electro-folk band Go_A represented their native Ukraine. But the “flute” that Ihor Didenchuk played is actually a sopilka, a traditional recorder-like instrument linked to Carpathian folk music.

Lordi (Finland, 2006)

Something to note: although all vocals must be performed live, in the early 2000s the contest organizers opted to ban live instrumentation (likely to simplify transitions and limit technical issues at the time). ‘antenna.) But that hasn’t stopped competing artists from pulling out their weirdest gear and simulating it with extreme panache.

A perfect example of this? Melodic metal band Lordi and this (former) Schecter custom ax bloated guitarist Jussi “Amen” Sydänmaa used in the Eurovision-winning classic “Hard Rock Hallelujah”. Also spotted: a Yamaha Motif ES 6. Now, I’m no expert on this, but if someone told me this was Finland’s national anthem, I’d believe them.

Paula Seling + Ovi (Romania, 2010)

When Romanians Paula Seling + Ovi took the stage in 2010 to perform “Playing With Fire”, the inclusion of instruments Eurovision was of course purely aesthetic. This bright, transparent masterpiece is clearly (pun intended) not designed for playing… But imagine all the dueling piano bars that could benefit from a double-sided grand piano. I’m just saying – dare to dream, everyone.

Daði og Gagnamagnið (Iceland, 2020/’21)

Why limit yourself to just one keytar when you can have three? Icelandic Daði og Gagnamagnið “Think About Things” was one of the favorites Eurovision 2020. Unfortunately, due to the necessary cancellation of the contest that year, the performance never found its way to the Eurovision scene… but the band came back strong in 2021 with a brand new song, some extra cool dance moves and the same heroic triple-keytar lineup.

Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko (Albania, 2013)

Decades before he pulled off the most feisty shred of Eurovision story on his Yamaha SBG1820A, Albanian guitarist and composer Bledar Sejko was an underground music hero, having formed an underground pop band in the 80s at a time when producing and playing pop music in communist-controlled Albania was illegal. Later, Sejko also founded the country’s first rock band.

Hot Eyes (Denmark, 1988)

Okay, so obviously these “guitars” are props. But if anyone wants to build a nerdy Velveeta flying machine like the one that appears around 1:06, I wouldn’t mind adding it to my rig.

Netta (Israel, 2018)

Although rules prevented Netta from using her signature Boss RC-505 during her championship performance of “Toy,” the Israeli pop star emulated her usual setup with this epic rave facsimile in her championship performance.

Secret Garden (Norway, 1995)

In 1995, Norway brought the past to life when Secret Garden showed up with a nyckelharpa in their rendition of their winning entry, “Nocturne”. This traditional Scandinavian folk instrument dates back to the mid-1300s and is a type of bowed fiddle. It is structurally similar to a hurdy-gurdy in that the player uses keys instead of frets to control pitch. Watch it in action, starting at around 1:18.

ABBA (Sweden, 1974)

What kind of Eurovision fans would we be if we didn’t end this list with what is arguably the most iconic song to earn honours? While everything about ABBA’s rendition of “Waterloo” is utterly excellent, Björn Kristian Ulvaeus’ wild guitar is the star of the show.

While many originally thought the instrument was a Hagstrom, credit really goes to fellow Swede Goran Malmberg, a custom builder who designed the six-string supernova, with a Tune-O-Matic bridge, two humbuckers and that unforgettable silver finish. . Take a look around the 1:03 mark.

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