A Trip Down Memory Mane: Eurovision Hairstyles From the 1970s and 1980s Eldad Nachtomi March 11, 2021
A Trip Down Memory Mane: Eurovision Hairstyles From the 1970s and 1980s

It’s time for the next leg of our journey through hair history—and this week, we’re throwing it back to the 1970s and 1980s when feathered locks, perms, mullets, and hair accessories were all the rage. This golden era saw many social and cultural changes, and that attitude of experimentation extended to women’s hairstyles. Popular looks varied from long, soft, and feminine to short, edgy, and androgynous, setting the foundation some of today’s reigning hairstyles. With just 72 days left to go until the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 kicks off in Rotterdam, we’re taking a look back at two acts that, to us, truly exemplify what hair in the 70s and 80s was all about. So, let’s take a trip—if you will—back in time.

ABBA (1974): The Straight, the Shag, and the Perm

An emphasis on self-reflection and personal empowerment in the 70s led to new and innovative styles, many of which would go on to make an impression on generations to come. As feminism gained momentum, women’s hairstyles became somewhat more androgynous, with many popular looks sported by men and women alike. 

Short and angular hairstyles like “The Wedge” were common. So too were bowl-shaped cuts, including “The Purdy” and “The Pageboy”. But there was one hairstyle that truly took the era by storm: “The Shag”.

This no-frills, unisex haircut was very rock ‘n’ roll. Characterized by choppy ends, layers around the crown, often with full bangs and always with loads of texture, the look was casual, mussy, and visually effortless. 

ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson both famously rocked their own versions of this look during the band’s winning Eurovision 1974 performance of “Waterloo”.


Copyright: Unknown

Today, the modern shag keeps its choppy edge and texture but has a more updated and refined aesthetic. If you’re inspired by this classic look and want to try it out the next time you’re at the hair salon, we recommend you ask your stylist to create softer bends, longer layers, parted curtain bangs, and fluffier ends. To style, you could even add some extra curl for a sultry twist.

Though 70s style is instantly identifiable, it also has an element of timeless cool. Moroccanoil Global Creative Director Antonio Corral Calero assured us that the hairstyles rocked by ABBA’s female members during their winning performance — Agnetha Fältskog with long blonde locks and Anni-Frid Lyngstad in short curls — “both still look fabulous today!”

Their performance of “Waterloo” featured another signature 70s element: the winged look that became nearly synonymous with the era. It was Agnetha who sported a sleek and frosty blonde look, perfectly accented with the oh-so-70s winged side bang. These “wings” were truly the look of the decade. See for yourself: if you Google “1970s hairstyles”, the first few images you’ll find are of the American actress Farah Fawcett and her long, thick, beach blonde wings, brushed back and outward at the sides. Often called the feathered look, this bouncy style was worn by men, too.


Copyright: unknown

Since the 70s, the feathered look has been modernised and reinterpreted time and time again. You can even recreate this look for 2021 without venturing too far outside of your comfort zone. For instance, when curling your hair, simply try directing the front pieces away from your face. You can go for a more textured, tousled, and undone style with a middle or side part, or try for a more subtle approach: tone down the size of the flick at the front, straighten your hair, and finish with a smoothing oil to channel Agnetha’s 1974 style.

Another style favored by women and men alike was “the perm” (short for permanent, even though it wasn’t). Hairstyles that encouraged the Black community to embrace their natural hair texture grew in popularity throughout the 70s. For instance, in the 1970s afros were worn by both men and women. Though the style was predominant in Black communities, it was also worn by other ethnic groups and gave people with very curly hair an alternative to the standard long and straight hair look. 

Perming of Caucasian hair involved the strands being tightly curled and was usually applied using thermal or chemical means. Anni-Frid Lyngstad from ABBA had her hair tousled and teased in tightly-wound curls for their winning performance. 

Antonio is also reveling in the fact that society is now coming back to this trend of embracing one’s natural beauty and culture:

“The way we are adapting perms now for today is just allowing naturally curly hair to be cool. Before, women and men were often told they had to change their curls and make them longer, to make them more weighted down, almost more like a wave—so I think it’s great that these movements from the 80s are coming back again!”

Nowadays, perms can be used to create a variety of looks, from bouncy, voluminous curls to corkscrews pieces. Even a “straight perm” can be given to create semi-straight curly or wavy hair. Whatever style you’re going for, we’re all about embracing one that makes you feel like your most fabulous and authentic self—just make sure you do your research and find a hairstylist that has experience working with perms and your hair texture. 

SANDRA KIM (1986): The mullet

There are so many things to say about hair in the 1980s, but one word encompasses it all: BIG. 

Hair in the 80s was even bolder and larger than life than its predecessors. Perms reached greater heights, and hairspray flew off the shelves as more and more people worked to help their hair defy gravity. 

The decade also saw curling turn into crimping and scarves and clips turn into bows and scrunchies. Then, there was the mullet. Iconically, this is probably one of the few hairstyles that has its own catchphrase: “business in the front, party in the back”.

Belgium’s sole Eurovision winner, Sandra Kim, was just 13 years old when she wowed audiences with her catchy pop bop “J’aime La Vie”. Also in the spotlight during that moment? Her epic mullet.


Copyright: unknown

Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly—we’ll let you decide—the mullet is having a comeback in 2021. Whether you love it or hate it, you have to give this hairstyle credit for always grabbing attention. 

Back in the 80s, this bold hairstyle was worn by some of the world’s biggest rockstars, from David Bowie to Joan Jett. Now it’s resurfacing on global stars who dare to be different, like Rihanna, Halsey, and Miley Cyrus. 

While not for the faint of heart, this look is achievable and can be quite modern when executed properly. If you decide to go for the big cut, make sure you ask your stylist to keep your face shape in mind. You may need to soften your jawline with longer bangs or sideburns to make the look more playful. Or, you may want an edgier cut to suit a rounder face. 

We’re curious though, has a particular look from the 70s and 80s inspired your most recent haircut? Let us know by tagging us in your best hair selfie over on our Moroccanoil Europe Instagram account!

Skip to content