The now 65-year-old Eurovision Song Contest is as divisive as it is glitzy. The biggest party in pop for its fans, a guilty pleasure for some – and the worst thing to happen to music for others!
Yet it's not all EDM floor-fillers and piano ballads – every once in a while, a handful of the 39 (give or take) countries that take part each year strap on guitars, dial up the gain and set themselves apart from the rest of the competition.
On the eve of this year's event, we've rounded up eight standout guitar moments in recent Eurovision memory where that guitar-heavy tactic either paid off (yay, Lordi) or failed miserably (sorry, Kabát).
For more Eurovision goodness (or badness, depending on your take), check out the latest issue of Total Guitar (opens in new tab), which offers a full guide to the musical lessons the contest can teach us.
After all, at its core, Eurovision has a simple challenge: to make music that’s immediately accessible, yet individual enough to stand out from the crowd. And that's something we can all learn from.
Anyway, enough preamble: let's dive into those greatest guitar moments…
2005: Wig Wam – In My Dreams (Norway)
Finishing in a creditable ninth place, the 80s glam-metal style In My Dreams is a truly epic offering.
2006: Lordi – Hard Rock Hallelujah (Finland)
With a legendary win in 2006, the GWAR-like metallers opened the door for Eurovision to embrace hard rock.
2007: Kabát – Malá Dáma (Czech Republic)
Scoring only one point in the semi-final, Kabát’s track is probably just too good for Eurovision.
2008: Teräsbetoni – Missä Miehet Ratsastaa (Finland)
The Finish power-metallers rocked up the 2008 contest, complete with Viljo Rantanen’s blazing solo.
2011: Alexander Rybak and Keep Of Kalessin – The Divine Land (intermission performance)
Folk-pop violin and melodic death metal seem an unlikely combination, but this remains one of the most metal performances ever seen at Eurovision.
2011: Eldrine – One More Day (Georgia)
There’s an Evanescence vibe here in both the lead vocals and those chugging powerchords. Rock is the new normal at Eurovision.
2012 Max Jason Mai – Don’t Close Your Eyes (Slovakia)
Neither the cool guitar riff nor Max’s soaring vocals could take this metal ballad into the final. Mai came last in his semi-final.
2018: AWS – Viszlát Nyár (Hungary)
AWS deliver earnest ‘real’ rock that highlights political issues of the day. Though as far from Euro-pop as it’s possible to be, AWS still scored 93 points in the final.