Based on the San Remo Music Festival, the first Eurovision Song Contest was the brainchild of the European Broadcasting Union. The first contest took place in 1956, when seven of the original invitees participated (the other three were disqualified for late entry). The original participants were France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, and Switzerland. They were joined the next year by the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Austria ("the Procrastinators"), and in 1959 by Monaco.
|Table of contents|
7 Junior Eurovision Song Contests
8 Intervision Song Contest
9 External links
For the 2002 edition, the Spanish TVE created an reality show Operación Triunfo that showed the selection and training of unknown singers. At the end, one of them would be elected by the public to represent the country in the contest. The format was an enormous success in Spain and is being exported. One of the first of these exports was the Irish You're A Star, run on Radio Telifís Éireann over Winter 2002/'03 for the 2003 Contest.
The 2003 Eurovision Song Contest was held in Riga, Latvia on Saturday 24 May, 2003, hosted by Marie N, the singer who won the ESC 2002, and Renars Kaupers, a singer whose group competed in the ESC 2000.
Up until 2003 entry to the Eurovision song contest also requires the country to have performed with a reasonable amount of success for the previous few years. Because of the size of their contribution to the EBU budget, France, Germany, Spain and the UK automatically qualify regardless of how poorly their songs perform.
At the beginning of 2003 the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) decided to make the Eurovision Song Contest a two day event as from 2004. This means that the previous restrictions for countries to participate will be dropped. Any EBU member country will be able to participate in any given year.
Number of songs
Initially each country was allowed to submit two three-minute (or less) songs, performed by inhabitants of the respective country. By the 1960s, entries were limited to one song per country (participation in the contest had almost doubled), and the songs had to be sung in one of the national languages of the country. Participation continued to grow through the 1980s, and by the turn of the century the rules had been changed several times to both limit the number of finalists and to allow for the new independent republics that arose from the former Eastern bloc nations.
Current rules state, that countries are only allowed to have six performers on stage and that performers must be aged 16 or more, on the 31st of December in the year of the contest. It is worth noting that due to the current rules there is no restriction on the nationality or the language of the performers, allowing the Australian Olivia Newton-John, for instance, to represent the UK in the contest, and Canadian Celine Dion to represent Switzerland, amongst many others. Many small countries sing in English to reach broader audiences, though in bigger countries this is sometimes looked upon as unpatriotic. If a EBU country does not broadcast the Song Contest they are automatically disqualified for the next year.
An international process
The winner of the contest is decided by each country assigning points (currently 1 to 8, 10 and 12) to their favourite ten entries. In some countries, phone polls are held during the telecast in order to decided how the country should award its points. Countries are not allowed to vote for themselves.
The conductors do a round of satellite connections to the speaker for each country jury, that proceeds to read their votes. Then the conductors repeats them in English and French, using this stereotyped structure: "Country name, number points. Nom du pays, nombre points".
Since each of the entrant countries casts a series of votes, it is only rarely that a song has failed to have any votes at all cast for it. This is known to English speakers as nul points, after the Eurovision practice of reading out the results in both English and French.
Hosting the Eurovision Song Contest is an honour accorded the winners of the previous year -- although it means that the winner's home broadcaster actually incurs heavy expenses as a result of winning and this has led to suggestions that some nations deliberately choose substandard acts so as to ensure they do not win. In the early 1990s the Irish broadcaster RTE was reported to have experienced considerable financial difficulties through having to host the contest four times in five years. Many pop singers and groups have begun the path to fame with a win at the contest. However ABBA and Celine Dion are the only contest winners to have had significant international success.
The musicians and songs selected for the contest tend towards very conventional "bubblegum" pop, and voting patterns often show more about the ethnic prejudices and politics of various European nations than to the quality of the music. For instance, British and French entries tend to do very poorly in each other's poll. Turkey and Greece generally snub each other. Turkish acts poll well in Germany due to the large population of Turkish expatriates there. Greece and Cyprus usually award each other maximum points. Many viewers of the contest view the event as a combination of camp entertainment and a musical train wreck (a fact played upon in the English-language broadcast with the sardonic BBC commentary of Terry Wogan) and a subculture of Eurovision song contest drinking games and the like has evolved in some countries.
|1956||Switzerland||Refrain||Lys Assia||ESC 1956|
|1957||Netherlands||Net Als Toen||Corry Brokken||ESC 1957|
|1958||France||Dors mon amour||Andre Claveau||ESC 1958|
|1959||Netherlands||Een beetje||Teddy Scholten||ESC 1959|
|1960||France||Tom Pilibi||Jacqueline Boyer||ESC 1960|
|1961||Luxembourg||Nous les amoureux||Jean-Claude Pascal||ESC 1961|
|1962||France||Un premier amour||Isabelle Aubret||ESC 1962|
|1963||Denmark||Dansevise||Grethe & Jørgen Ingmann||ESC 1963|
|1964||Italy||Non ho l'età||Gigliola Cinquetti||ESC 1964|
|1965||Luxembourg||Poupee de cire, poupee de son||France Gall||ESC 1965|
|1966||Austria||Mercie Cherie||Udo Jürgens||ESC 1966|
|1967||UK||Puppet on a string||Sandie Shaw||ESC 1967|
|1968||Spain||La, la, la ...||Massiel||ESC 1968|
|1969#||Spain||Vivo cantando||Salomé||ESC 1969|
|1969#||France||Un jour, un enfant||Frida Boccara||ESC 1969|
|1969#||Netherlands||De troubadour||Lennie Kuhr||ESC 1969|
|1969#||UK||Boom bang a bang||Lulu||ESC 1969|
|1970||Ireland||All kinds of everything||Dana||ESC 1970|
|1971||Monaco||Un banc, un arbre, une rue||Severine||ESC 1971|
|1972||Luxembourg||Apres toi||Vicky Leandros||ESC 1972|
|1973||Luxembourg||Tu te reconnaitras||Anne Marie David||ESC 1973|
|1976||UK||Save Your Kisses for Me||Brotherhood of Man||ESC 1976|
|1977||France||L'oiseau et l'enfant||Marie Myriam||ESC 1977|
|1978||Israel||A-ba'ni-bi||Izhar Cohen||ESC 1978|
|1979||Israel||Hallelujah||Milk and Honey with Gali||ESC 1979|
|1980||Ireland||What's another year||Johnny Logan & Choir||ESC 1980|
|1981||UK||Making your mind up||Bucks Fizz||ESC 1981|
|1982||Germany||Ein bißchen Frieden||Nicole||ESC 1982|
|1983||Luxembourg||Si la vie est cadeau||Corinne Hermes||ESC 1983|
|1985||Norway||La det swinge||Bobbysocks||ESC 1985|
|1986||Belgium||J'aime la vie||Sandra Kim||ESC 1986|
|1987||Ireland||Hold me now||Johnny Logan||ESC 1987|
|1988||Switzerland||Ne partez pas sans moi||Céline Dion||ESC 1988|
|1989||Yugoslavia||Rock Me, Baby||Riva||ESC 1989|
|1990||Italy||Insieme 1992||Toto Cutugno||ESC 1990|
|1991||Sweden||Fångad av en stormvind||Carola||ESC 1991|
|1992||Ireland||Why me||Linda Martin||ESC 1992|
|1993||Ireland||In your eyes||Niamh Kavanagh||ESC 1993|
|1994||Ireland||Rock'n Roll kids||Paul Harrington / Charlie McGettigan||ESC 1994|
|1995||Norway||Nocturne||Secret Garden||ESC 1995|
|1996||Ireland||The voice||Eimear Quinn||ESC 1996|
|1997||UK||Love shine a light||Katrina and The Waves||ESC 1997|
|1998||Israel||Diva||Dana International||ESC 1998|
|1999||Sweden||Take me to your heaven||Charlotte Nilsson||ESC 1999|
|2000||Denmark||Fly on the wings of love||Olsen Brothers||ESC 2000|
|2001||Estonia||Everybody||Tanel Padar & Dave Benton||ESC 2001|
|2002||Latvia||I wanna||Marie N||ESC 2002|
|2003||Turkey||Everyway That I Can||Sertab Erener||ESC 2003|
As of 2003, the most successful country in the song contest has been Ireland who have won seven times. Close behind them with five wins are France, Luxembourg and the UK.
Junior Eurovision Song Contests
Denmark originally held a song contest for children in 2000 then it organised a Nordic Children's Eurovision. The EBU saw clips of the show and liked it so decided to create an official Children's Eurovision.
Intervision Song Contest
The countries of the former Eastern bloc were organising between 1977 and 1980 their own song contest called Intervision Song Contest. The Intervision Network organised it in Sopot, Poland, changing the name of the older song festival - the Sopot International Song Festival.