All the nil point performances from the Eurovision Song Contest

Sinead Butler
Sunday 23 May 2021 09:52
TV

(Left) Géraldine Gaulier representing Switzerland in 1967 and Thomas Forstner representing Austria in 1991

(YouTube/ ESC:56-73 and #EurovisionAgain Songs Collection)

It’s the dreaded expression that any act fears to hearing after performing in the Eurovision Song Contest, and something every country aims to avoid.

“Nil point” is a famous catchphrase from the Eurovision Song Contest and the term refers to any entry in the competition that fails to earn a single point in the voting.

If an act gets “nil point”, then it means that the song failed to make the top ten most popular songs in any country, which is rare under the current system of preference voting.

To date, there have been 37 victims of nil point in the finals, with Norway and Austria being the most unlucky, having both each scored nil point four times since the contest began. Last night, the UK became the 37th casualty and was the only country to score zilch/

See below a map of the Eurovision countries that have had the most nil point performances and the videos of each of the songs.

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Scores are announced in English and French, and even though “nil point” sounds French, it is actually grammatically incorrect.

The French for “no points” is “pas de points” or “zéro point”, but none of these phrases are used in the contest.

Following the change in the voting system in 2016, a country receiving no points from the public voting is now announced as receiving “zero points”.

Here are all the performances that were voted as nil point.

1962

Belgium - Fud Leclerc, Ton Nom

Fud Leclerc was the unfortunate first victim to receive nil point due to being early in the lineup. This also meant that it was the first time one of the founding countries got the nil point score.

Spain - Victor Balaguer, Llámame

This performance marked the first time that a now “Big Five” country received the nil point.

Austria - Elenore Schwarz, Nur in der Wiener Luft

The Netherlands - De Spelbrekers, Katinka

1963

The Netherlands - Annie Palmen, Een speeldoos

The Netherlands was the first country to get nil point in consecutive years. It was also the first time a country received this result twice.

Norway - Anita Thallaug, Solhverv

This performance was the first time Norway received nil point.

Finland - Laila Halme, Muistojeni laulu

This year, Finland joined the nil point club.

Sweden - Monica Zetterlund, En gång i Stockholm

The first time that Sweden was in last place, one of only two times so far.

1964

Germany - Nova, Nova, Man gewöhnt sich so schnell an das Schöne

Man gewöhnt sich so schnell an das Schöne is one of the longest Eurovision title names to exist.

Portugal - António Calvário, Oração

It was not a very warm welcome to the contest for Portugal, as their debut performance made it the first time a debut entry got the nil point.

Yugoslavia - Sabahudin Kurt, Život je sklopio krug

Switzerland - Anita Traversi, I miei pensieri

1965

Spain - Conchita Bautista, ¡Qué bueno, qué bueno!

Spain’s 1965 performance was the first time a previous performer (Conchita Bautista) got the nil point.

Germany - Ulla Wiesner, Paradies, wo bist du?

Germany’s performance marked the second time a country got the nil point twice.

Belgium - Lize Marke, Als het weer lente is

Finland - Viktor Klimenko, Aurinko laskee länteen

1966

Monaco - Téréza, Bien plus fort

The first - and only - time Monaco received nil point.

Italy - Domenico Modugno, Dio, come ti amo

This Eurovision was the first time that Italy finished last place and the second time when a previous performer placed last with nil point.

1967

Switzerland - Géraldine Gaulier, Quel cœur vas-tu briser?

1970

Luxembourg - David Alexandre Winter, Je suis tombé du ciel

The first - and only - time Luxembourg was voted with nil point.

It also was the last time the nil point happened on the older voting system.

1975 - New voting system

In 1975, a new scoring system was implemented where each country would be represented by a jury of 11 members, and at least half of them had to be under the age of 26.

Each jury member had to award every song a mark of between one and five point, but could not vote for their own nation’s entry.

The votes were cast immediately after the song was performed and collected by the adjudicator straight away.

After the last song was performed, the jury secretary added up all the votes cast and awarded 12 point to the song with the highest score, 10 to the second highest score, then eight to the third, seven to the fourth, six to the fifth and so on, all the way down to 1 point for the song that ranked 10th.

This system remained in place until 2015.

1978

Norway - Jahn Teigen, Mil etter mil

First time an entry gets nil point in the 12-point scoring system. Ironically, the song became a huge hit in Norway, dubbing Teigen the most famous “nil pointer” of all time.

1981

Norway - Finn Kalvik, Aldri i livet

This was the third time Norway got the nil point and also the first time under the new voting system that a country got nil point twice.

1982

Finland - Kojo, Nuku pommiin

Second year in a row and the third time in four years that a Nordic country was given nil point.

1983

Spain - Remedios Amaya, ¿Quién maneja mi barca?

Turkey - Çetin Alp & The Short Waves, Opera

This year marks the first time in the new voting system where two countries shared the nil point.

1987

Turkey - Seyyal Taner & Locomotif, Şarkım Sevgi Üstüne

The second time in four years that Turkey gets hit with nil point.

1988

Austria - Wilfried Scheutz, Lisa, Mona Lisa

1989

Iceland - Daníel Ágúst Haraldsson, Það sem enginn sér

Iceland’s first time receiving nil point for their performance.

1991

Austria - Thomas Forstner, Venedig im Regen

Austria gets served for the second time in three years and third time overall. The artist finished in the top 5 only two years prior.

1994

Lithuania - Ovidijus Vyšniauskas, Lopšinė mylimai

Lithuania’s nil point song thisyear made it only the second time a debut country was given nil point.

1997

Norway - Tor Endresen, San Francisco

Last time a Nordic country gets the nil point. Norway gets nil point for a record fourth time.

Portugal - Célia Lawson, Antes do adeus

Second time since 1983 that two countries share the nil point.

1998

Switzerland - Gunvor Guggisberg, Lass' ihn

This song marks the last known time Switzerland was served nil point in a contest final.

2003

United Kingdom - Jemini, Cry Baby

This Eurovision Song Contest marked the first time that UK came in last and with nil point. It was also the first English-language song to not score any points.

Jemini split up afterwards.

2015

Austria - The Makemakes, I Am Yours

It was the first time in 12 years that a country received nil point in the final.

And it was Austria’s fourth time, tying Norway’s record.

Also, the host country gets nil point for the first time.

Germany - Ann Sophie, Black Smoke

2021

United Kingdom - James Newman, Embers

A new voting system was put in place back in 2016 and there had been no nil point performances since its introduction - until last night at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam – thanks UK.

Well, this was a trip down memory lane. Although receiving nil point is something that every entry attempts to avoid, it’s safe to say those who do achieve this milestone still go down in the history books.

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