While Britain undeniably boasts a musical heritage that any other nation could justifiably envy, it's transparently ridiculous to persist with the common myth that we have traditionally stood alone as an outpost of quality amid a sea of flimsy Eurotrash. For the first time in history, everything from the flawless beat hits of 60s Poland to contemporary Belgian rap is available at the click of a mouse. There has never been a better time to investigate the strange and wonderful scenes always considered "too foreign" for mainstream radio and television attention in this country.
Rather than being intended as a definitive guide to the best the continent has to offer, the Sounds of Europe series will hopefully have served as a starting point for further exploration of 50 years of extraordinary European pop. Helping to put meat on the bones of each week's necessarily fleeting overview, the comments and recommendations of readers will be an invaluable resource for anyone wanting to dig deeper.
To end the series, here are 10 great songs from nations not already covered.
Austria: Falco – Jeanny (1985)
Unfairly regarded as a one-hit-wonder in the English-speaking world, Vienna's Falco became a household name throughout Europe as much for the dramatic pop of songs such as Jeanny as for Rock Me Amadeus. What might at first sound like a tender plea on the part of a lover is gradually revealed to be the monologue of a psychopath, thought to be modelled on Austrian serial killer Jack Unterweger. Banned by a number of German radio stations, the single stands as one of the most chilling chart hits of the last 30 years, proving that subtle menace can be infinitely more terrifying than the schlock horror pantomime of black metal.
Denmark: Laid Back – White Horse (1983)
Although consistently overshadowed by their arch rivals in Sweden, there's always been a lot more to Danish pop than Alphabeat and three quarters of Aqua. Perhaps the country's most enduring and influential hit, Laid Back's electro funk masterpiece White Horse is still a set-list staple for fashionable DJs the world over. Widely interpreted as a warning to stick to cocaine in preference to heroin, its jittery synth bassline, sampled by everyone from 2 Live Crew to disco-house pioneer Rob Mello, is just as revealing as the thinly veiled drug references in the lyrics.
Estonia: B-Jeans – Ei Saa (2005)
It biggest exports, Kerli and Vanilla Ninja, have understandably gravitated towards English lyrics but Estonia's native-language pop scene has thrown up more gems over the last decade than might be expected from a country of its size. Up there with the best is B-Jeans' beatific Ei Saa from 2005. Their crop-tops and dance moves might suggest they were running about four years late for the Venga bus but the single, deliberately or otherwise, has a nostalgic melancholy any one of a thousand cult chillwave acts would sell their vintage Disney sweatshirts for.
Greece: Marinella – Stalia Stalia (1969)
With traditional instruments and emotive ballads to the fore, mainstream Greek pop has tended to remain reasonably faithful to its folk roots despite the recent encroachment of rock and electro influences. Queen of the slow, romantic and frequently tear-jerking genre of laiko tragoudi is Marinella, now well into her 70s but still showing young pups such as Elena Paparizou and Peggy Zina how it's done. 1968's beautiful Stalia Stalia from the film O Pio Kalos O Mathitis was one of the early songs that cemented her superstar status and reputation for understated but immensely powerful performances.
Hungary: Neoton Familia – Santa Maria (1979)
Never in contention for the title of Hungary's most telegenic group, Neoton Familia might have struggled to get past the doormen at Studio 54 but their music wouldn't have been out of place on the glitziest dancefloors of the 70s. Some of the most joyful disco ever to escape from behind the iron curtain, singles such as Santa Maria and Don Quijote brought them a dedicated fanbase as far afield as Japan and the Philippines and domestic popularity that has arguably never been surpassed.
Ireland: Rubberbandits – Ba Mhaith Liom Bruíon le d'Athair (2011)
Given how rare it is for "comedy bands" to work either as comedy or as bands, it's unsurprising how quickly Limerick's brilliant G-funk crew the Rubberbandits have been adopted as national treasures in Ireland. Embracing and subverting stereotypes in equal measure, hits such as Up the Ra and Horse Outside have positioned them as one of the country's most engaging pop groups in a decade. Ba Mhaith Liom Bruíon le d'Athair, in which singer Blindboy offers to beat up his girlfriend's disapproving father, showed they can do it as effortlessly in Irish as in English.
Portugal: Blasted Mechanism – Battle of the Tribes (2007)
At the head of the relatively small pack of Portuguese acts to have found an audience outside of the Iberian Peninsula, Lisbon's Blasted Mechanism would have stood out from the crowd even if they hadn't elected to spend the last 15 years painting themselves silver and pretending to be aliens. With a twitchy electro-rock sound indebted to Angolan kuduro and Goan trance, they offer a less brutal alternative to the pounding favela metal of Brazilian icons Sepultura. Battle of the Tribes, augmented by the propulsive Romany brass of compatriots Kumpania Algazarra, has a characteristically irrepressible energy.
Romania: Activ – Doar Cu Tine (2004)
Recognised as one of southern Europe's great party nations long before multi-million-selling singers such as Inna, Elena Gheorghe and Alexandra Stan put its chart-pop on the international map, Romania's commercial dance stars have been keeping pace with their cousins in Italy for more than a decade. Powered as much by the charm of lead singer Oana Nistor as their simple synth melodies, the hits of Activ played a major role in taking Euro house out of the country's clubs and into the domestic pop mainstream. Doar Cu Tine, from their excellent Superstar album, is as irresistible now as it was in 2004.
Russia: Kino – Konchitsya Leto (1990)
Despite its place in the western imagination as a musical backwater where downtrodden workers would trade internal organs for third-generation samizdat copies of Like a Prayer, the dying days of the Soviet Union played host to a flourishing indie-rock scene. Led by charismatic singer Viktor Tsoi, Kino offered the youth of a country edging from repression to chaos one of the 20th century's greatest rock iconoclasts and stamped an indelible mark on a generation of Russian musicians. Reminiscent of the Smiths or Joy Division, but possessing none of their maudlin bitterness, Konchitsya Leto showed the group at their finest – remarkable given it was pieced together from rough demo recordings after Tsoi's death in a car accident.
Switzerland: Kleenex/Liliput – Nice (1978)
Hailed by an adoring press as a dada version of the Slits, Kleenex were one of the first European post-punk groups to gain a serious underground following in the UK. Although they later said their eccentric lyrics had more to do with a poor grasp of English than a deliberate alignment with the avant-garde art of their home city of Zurich, it's easy to see how critics saw parallels with the mischievous humour of the original Cabaret Voltaire. The band was forced to change their name by tissue magnates Kimberly-Clark shortly after the release of their debut EP, from where the sparkling German-language Nice is drawn.