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Eurovision Song Contest

The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual showcase of songs, running since May 24, 1956 and broadcast on television (but mainly radio in the first few years) throughout Europe. More recently, it has also been shown in other parts of the world and on the internet.

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.

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 Celine Dion to represent Switzerland, amongst many others. Many small countries sing in English to reach broader, though, in bigger countries, this is looked at as unpatriotic. If a EBU country does not broadcast the Song Contest they are automatically disqualified for the next year.

The Eurovision Song Contest's name comes from the Eurovision TV distribution network, which is run by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). The song contest can be entered by any member of the EBU which includes countries such as Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Syria and just recently Georgia which are not in Europe.

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. France, Germany, Spain and the UK automatically qualify.

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.

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"

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. 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. 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.

The 2002 Eurovision Song Contest was held in Tallinn, Estonia on Saturday 26 June, 2002, hosted by Annely Peebo[?], an opera singer, and Marko Matvere[?], an actor.

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.

Table of contents

Junior Eurovision Song Contests

Denmark origanly held a song contest for children in 2000 then it organised a Nordic Childrens Eurovision. The EBU saw clips of the show and liked it so decided to create an official Children's Eurovision.

From 2003 there will also be held an Eurovision Song Contest for children called Junior ESC in Denmark.

Nul 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.

  • In 1978, Jahn Teigen[?] achieved nul points for his song for Norway.
  • In 2003 the UK contestants, Jemini[?], scored nul points for their entry. This caused considerable consternation in the UK (see the Eurovision Song Contest 2003 entry for more details).


1956SwitzerlandRefrainLys AssiaESC 1956
1957NetherlandsNet Als ToenCorry Brokken[?]ESC 1957
1958FranceDors mon amourAndre Claveau[?]ESC 1958
1959NetherlandsEen beetjeTeddy Scholten[?]ESC 1959
1960FranceTom PilibiJacqueline Boyer[?]ESC 1960
1961LuxembourgNous les amoureuxJean-Claude Pascal[?]ESC 1961
1962FranceUn premier amourIsabelle Aubret[?]ESC 1962
1963DenmarkDanseviseGrethe & Jørgen Ingmann[?]ESC 1963
1964ItalyNon ho l'etaGigliola Cinquetti[?]ESC 1964
1965LuxembourgPoupee de cire, poupee de sonFrance Gall[?]ESC 1965
1966AustriaMercie CherieUdo JürgensESC 1966
1967UKPuppet on a stringSandie ShawESC 1967
1968SpainLa, la, la ...Massiel[?]ESC 1968
1969#SpainVivo cantandoSalomé[?]ESC 1969
1969#FranceUn jour, un enfantFrida Boccara[?]ESC 1969
1969#NetherlandsDe troubadourLennie Kuhr[?]ESC 1969
1969#UKBoom bang a bangLuluESC 1969
1970IrelandAll kinds of everythingDanaESC 1970
1971MonacoUn banc, un arbre, une rueSeverine[?]ESC 1971
1972LuxembourgApres toiVicky LeandrosESC 1972
1973LuxembourgTu te reconnaitrasAnne Marie David[?]ESC 1973
1974SwedenWaterlooABBAESC 1974
1975NetherlandsDing-a-dongTeach-In[?]ESC 1975
1976UKSave Your Kisses for MeBrotherhood of ManESC 1976
1977FranceL'oiseau et l'enfantMarie Myriam[?]ESC 1977
1978IsraelA-ba'ni-bi Izhar Cohen[?]ESC 1978
1979IsraelHallelujahMilk and Honey[?] with GaliESC 1979
1980IrelandWhat's another yearJohnny Logan & ChoirESC 1980
1981UKMaking your mind upBucks FizzESC 1981
1982GermanyEin bißchen FriedenNicole[?]ESC 1982
1983LuxembourgSi la vie est cadeauCorinne Hermes[?]ESC 1983
1984SwedenDiggi-loo-diggi-leyHerrey's[?]ESC 1984
1985NorwayLa det swingeBobbysocks[?]ESC 1985
1986BelgiumJ'aime la vieSandra KimESC 1986
1987IrelandHold me nowJohnny LoganESC 1987
1988SwitzerlandNe partez pas sans moiCeline DionESC 1988
1989YugoslaviaRock Me, BabyRiva[?]ESC 1989
1990ItalyInsieme 1992Toto Cutugno[?]ESC 1990
1991SwedenFångad av en stormvindCarola[?]ESC 1991
1992IrelandWhy meLinda Martin[?]ESC 1992
1993IrelandIn your eyesNiamh Kavanagh[?]ESC 1993
1994IrelandRock'n Roll kidsPaul Harrington / Charlie McGettigan[?]ESC 1994
1995NorwayNocturneSecret Garden[?]ESC 1995
1996IrelandThe voiceEimear Quinn[?]ESC 1996
1997UKLove shine a lightKatrina and The Waves[?]ESC 1997
1998IsraelDivaDana InternationalESC 1998
1999SwedenTake me to your heavenCharlotte Nilsson[?]ESC 1999
2000DenmarkFly on the wings of loveOlsen BrothersESC 2000
2001EstoniaEverybodyTanel Padar, Dave Benton and 2XL[?]ESC 2001
2002 Latvia I wanna Marie NESC 2002
2003Turkey Everyway That I Can Sertab ErenerESC 2003
Note: (#) In 1969 four countries were joint winners as there was no rule for a tie.

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.

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