10 Memorable Performances from Turkey’s Eurovision Adventure
In 2013, TRT (Turkish Radio and Television Corporation) announced Turkey’s withdrawal from the Eurovision Song Competition. Eurovision was an event that everyone in Turkey waited impatiently for, and it was very disappointing that we had to let it go. People still follow the contest with interest, but there’s a hopeless wish in everyone’s mind about Turkey coming back to Eurovision. Not just Turkish people, but foreigners also often ask where Turkey is and when it’s coming back.
At first, TRT’s reasoning for Turkey’s withdrawal was that the voting was unfair. But in 2018, head of TRT, İbrahim Eren stated that Turkey won’t come back until the LGBT representation ends. “As a public broadcaster, we cannot broadcast live at 9 pm, when children are watching, an Austrian with a beard and a skirt, who claims not to have a gender and says ‘I am a man and a woman at the same time.” were his words. He added that Europe has wandered away from their moral values, and Turkey would come back if the confusion was corrected.
There were many great performances in Turkey’s Eurovision adventure, and in this shorticle we’ll take a walk down memory lane with some of these.
Semiha Yankı – Seninle Bir Dakika
Seninle Bir Dakika, (meaning “A Minute With You”), was the first song Turkey participated with in Eurovision, in 1975. Although 46 years have passed since this song was on Eurovision, it is much more remembered than most of the old songs that represented Turkey in the contest.
Ajda Pekkan – Petrol
After some years without any success, Turkey wanted Ajda Pekkan, the era’s superstar, to compete in Eurovision in 1980. The song Petrol (meaning Pet’r Oil), composed by Atilla Özdemiroğlu, was referring to the country’s oil problem in those years. Its oriental theme gained attention and Petrol was chosen among 3 that Pekkan prepared. Petrol has been the only song to represent Turkey with an oriental melody for many years, and although it still wasn’t a big success in the contest and came in 15th place, its melody is still ringing in our ears.
MFÖ – Diday Diday Day
MFÖ is a very popular band in Turkey. Diday Diday Day was the song they competed with in 1985, the song was initially named “Aşık Oldum”, which means “I Fell in Love”, but the band decided to change the name to simplify the pronunciation for everyone. They were originally named “Mazhar Fuat Özkan” (band members’ names) but the Eurovision presenter introduced them as MFÖ as the original name was too long, and from that day, they were always called MFÖ.
Şebnem Paker – Dinle
Şebnem Paker first competed in Eurovision with a song called “Beşinci Mevsim” in 1996, which came in 12th place. But the song that conquered everyone’s hearts was “Dinle” (meaning “Listen”) with its elegance and naivety. It came in 3rd place in 1997, and Paker performed with a band called “Grup Etnik”. This song is the highest place Turkey ever achieved with a Turkish song. I think the harmony created by the instruments and Paker’s voice, and the structure of the song made it the song that best reflects Turkey so far.
Sertab Erener – Everyway That I Can
Of course this list wouldn’t be complete with Turkey’s one and only winner. With Erener’s vocal gift, her stage show, and unique costume, Everyway That I Can was the song most people were rooting for before the contest even began in 2003. The song was composed by Demir Demirkan and Sertab Erener, and its lyrics also belong to Demirkan.
Athena – For Real
2004 was the year that Eurovision took place in Turkey, and Athena represented Turkey with the song “For Real”. For Real received most points Turkey ever received in the contest’s history, and the song came in 4th place. With a completely different genre, Athena was loved for their unique style and uplifting energy.
Mor ve Ötesi – Deli
In 2008, Turkey was represented with the song “Deli”, (meaning “Crazy”), by Mor ve Ötesi. The band Mor ve Ötesi is one of the bands with the largest audience in Turkey with their powerful music and tasteful lyrics. Deli was the last song that represented Turkey as a Turkish song, and it came in 7th place. Personally, the song makes me feel so strong and so vulnerable at the same time, and that’s why I believe it is special.
Hadise – Düm Tek Tek
Hadise represented Turkey with her song “Düm Tek Tek” in 2009 and came in 4th place. Düm Tek Tek has a concept similar to the previous Eurovision winner Everyway That I Can, in which eastern melodies are blended with pop music.
According to Milliyet author Ali Eyüboğlu’s statements in 2021, there were conflicts between TRT and the government regarding Hadise’s Eurovision costume for the performance, which is based on a traditional belly dancer costume, and he added that TRT decided not to send women to compete in Eurovision after 2009.
Hadise’s performance of “Düm Tek Tek” is the clearest memory I have of watching Eurovision live. I was on a school trip in 5th grade, and we stayed up all night to watch Hadise perform. As a little girl who was dreaming of becoming a singer, I remember feeling very empowered watching a strong Turkish woman perform in Eurovision.
maNga – We Could Be The Same
maNga represented Turkey in 2010 with the song “We Could Be The Same.” The song was loved so much, people were counting on their win, but unfortunately the song came in 2nd. The stage performance was also remembered because of its interesting, futuristic atmosphere. Lena, who was representing Germany with her song “Satellite” was the winner of 2010, and people from Turkey still resent her to this day, for they think maNga should have won.
Can Bonomo – Love Me Back
Love Me Back was the last entry of Turkey by Can Bonomo, before it all went down. With the marine themed stage performance and Bonomo’s unique style and voice, the song came in 7th place in 2012. Love Me Back is one of the entries of Turkey with the influence of Turkish music motifs.
To end the shorticle on a hopeful note, TRT announced in June 2021 that they are in touch with Eurovision, and there is a possibility of Turkey returning to the contest. I hope in the near future, we’ll hear some good news about it.