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History of the Eurovision Song Contest

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Eurovision Song Contest (French: Concours Eurovision de la chanson) was first held in 1956, originally conceived through a desire to unite European countries through cross-border television broadcasts following World War II, and in doing so to test the capabilities of international broadcast technology. Following a series of exchange broadcasts in 1954, the European Broadcasting Union commissioned an international song competition, from an idea developed by Sergio Pugliese and Marcel Bezençon and originally based on the Italian Sanremo Music Festival, with seven nations competing in the first edition, held in May 1956 in Lugano, Switzerland.

64 contests have been held over the contest's history, and over 1,500 songs have been performed on the Eurovision stage as of 2020.[1] Eurovision has seen massive change in the intervening years, with new countries registering to take part year on year leading to the introduction of relegation systems and semi-finals in the 1990s and 2000s respectively. The rules of the contest have also seem many changes, with the voting system and language criteria being modified several times over the years.

Eurovision has become the longest-running annual international televised music competition in the world, as determined by Guinness World Records, and over 40 countries now regularly take part each year. The 2020 editon of the contest was the first to be cancelled in its history, as no competitive event was able to take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Competition overview

London: Royal Albert Hall, venue of the 1968 contest
London: Royal Albert Hall, venue of the 1968 contest
Dublin: Gaiety Theatre, venue of the 1970 contest
Dublin: Gaiety Theatre, venue of the 1970 contest
Jerusalem: International Convention Centre, venue of the 1979 and 1999 contests
Jerusalem: International Convention Centre, venue of the 1979 and 1999 contests
Oslo: Oslo Spektrum, venue of the 1996 contest
Oslo: Oslo Spektrum, venue of the 1996 contest
Stockholm: Globen Arena, venue of the 2000 and 2016 contests
Stockholm: Globen Arena, venue of the 2000 and 2016 contests
Belgrade: Belgrade Arena, venue of the 2008 contest
Belgrade: Belgrade Arena, venue of the 2008 contest
Malmö: Malmö Arena, venue of the 2013 contest
Malmö: Malmö Arena, venue of the 2013 contest
Lisbon: Altice Arena, venue of the 2018 contest
Lisbon: Altice Arena, venue of the 2018 contest
Edition Date of final Year Host broadcaster(s) Venue Host city Countries Winning country Ref
1st 24 May 1956 RTSI Teatro Kursaal Switzerland Lugano 7[a]   Switzerland [2]
2nd 3 March 1957 HR/ARD Großer Sendesaal des hessischen Rundfunks West Germany Frankfurt 10  Netherlands [3]
3rd 12 March 1958 NTS AVRO Studios Netherlands Hilversum 10  France [4]
4th 11 March 1959 RTF Palais des Festivals France Cannes 11  Netherlands [5]
5th 25 March 1960 BBC Royal Festival Hall United Kingdom London 13  France [6]
6th 18 March 1961 RTF Palais des Festivals France Cannes 16  Luxembourg [7]
7th 1962 CLT Villa Louvigny Luxembourg Luxembourg City 16  France [8]
8th 23 March 1963 BBC BBC Television Centre United Kingdom London 16  Denmark [9]
9th 21 March 1964 DR Tivoli Concert Hall Denmark Copenhagen 16  Italy [10]
10th 20 March 1965 RAI Sala di Concerto della RAI Italy Naples 18  Luxembourg [11]
11th 5 March 1966 CLT Villa Louvigny Luxembourg Luxembourg City 18  Austria [12]
12th 8 April 1967 ORF Großer Festsaal der Wiener Hofburg Austria Vienna 17  United Kingdom [13]
13th 6 April 1968 BBC Royal Albert Hall United Kingdom London 17  Spain [14]
14th 29 March 1969 TVE Teatro Real Spain Madrid 16  France
 Netherlands
 Spain
 United Kingdom
[15]
15th 21 March 1970 NOS RAI Congrescentrum Netherlands Amsterdam 12  Ireland [16]
16th 3 April 1971 RTÉ Gaiety Theatre Republic of Ireland Dublin 18  Monaco [17]
17th 25 March 1972 BBC Usher Hall United Kingdom Edinburgh 18  Luxembourg [18]
18th 7 April 1973 CLT Nouveau Théâtre Luxembourg Luxembourg City 17  Luxembourg [19]
19th 6 April 1974 BBC Brighton Dome United Kingdom Brighton 17  Sweden [20]
20th 22 March 1975 SR Stockholmsmässan Sweden Stockholm 19  Netherlands [21]
21st 3 April 1976 NOS Nederlands Congresgebouw Netherlands The Hague 18  United Kingdom [22]
22nd 7 May[b] 1977 BBC Wembley Conference Centre United Kingdom London 18  France [23]
23rd 22 April 1978 TF1 Palais des Congrès France Paris 20  Israel [24]
24th 31 March 1979 IBA International Convention Centre Israel Jerusalem 19  Israel [25]
25th 19 April 1980 NOS Nederlands Congresgebouw Netherlands The Hague 19  Ireland [26]
26th 4 April 1981 RTÉ RDS Simmonscourt Republic of Ireland Dublin 20  United Kingdom [27]
27th 24 April 1982 BBC Harrogate Convention Centre United Kingdom Harrogate 18  Germany [28]
28th 23 April 1983 BR/ARD Rudi-Sedlmayer-Halle West Germany Munich 20  Luxembourg [29]
29th 5 May 1984 CLT Théâtre Municipal Luxembourg Luxembourg City 19  Sweden [30]
30th 4 May 1985 SVT Scandinavium Sweden Gothenburg 19  Norway [31]
31st 3 May 1986 NRK Grieghallen Norway Bergen 20  Belgium [32]
32nd 9 May 1987 RTBF Palais de Centenaire Belgium Brussels 22  Ireland [33]
33rd 30 April 1988 RTÉ RDS Simmonscourt Republic of Ireland Dublin 21   Switzerland [34]
34th 6 May 1989 SRG SSR Palais de Beaulieu Switzerland Lausanne 22  Yugoslavia [35]
35th 5 May 1990 JRT/RTZ Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Zagreb 22  Italy [36]
36th 4 May 1991 RAI Studio 15 di Cinecittà Italy Rome 22  Sweden [37]
37th 9 May 1992 SVT Malmömässan Sweden Malmö 23  Ireland [38]
38th 15 May 1993 RTÉ Green Glens Arena Republic of Ireland Millstreet 25  Ireland [39]
39th 30 April 1994 Point Theatre Republic of Ireland Dublin 25  Ireland [40]
40th 13 May 1995 23  Norway [41]
41st 18 May 1996 NRK Oslo Spektrum Norway Oslo 23  Ireland [42]
42nd 3 May 1997 RTÉ Point Theatre Republic of Ireland Dublin 25  United Kingdom [43]
43rd 9 May 1998 BBC National Indoor Arena United Kingdom Birmingham 25  Israel [44]
44th 29 May 1999 IBA International Convention Centre Israel Jerusalem 23  Sweden [45]
45th 13 May 2000 SVT Globe Arena Sweden Stockholm 24  Denmark [46]
46th 12 May 2001 DR Parken Stadium Denmark Copenhagen 23  Estonia [47]
47th 25 May 2002 ETV Saku Suurhall Estonia Tallinn 24  Latvia [48]
48th 24 May 2003 LTV Skonto Hall Latvia Riga 26  Turkey [49]
49th 15 May 2004 TRT Abdi İpekçi Arena Turkey Istanbul 36  Ukraine [50]
50th 21 May 2005 NTU Palace of Sports Ukraine Kiev 39  Greece [51]
51st 20 May 2006 ERT Olympic Indoor Hall Greece Athens 37  Finland [52]
52nd 12 May 2007 YLE Hartwall Arena Finland Helsinki 42  Serbia [53]
53rd 24 May 2008 RTS Belgrade Arena Serbia Belgrade 43  Russia [54]
54th 16 May 2009 C1R Olimpiyskiy Arena Russia Moscow 42  Norway [55]
55th 29 May 2010 NRK Telenor Arena Norway Oslo 39  Germany [56]
56th 14 May 2011 NDR/ARD Düsseldorf Arena Germany Düsseldorf 43  Azerbaijan [57]
57th 26 May 2012 İTV Baku Crystal Hall Azerbaijan Baku 42  Sweden [58]
58th 18 May 2013 SVT Malmö Arena Sweden Malmö 39  Denmark [59]
59th 10 May 2014 DR B&W Hallerne Denmark Copenhagen 37  Austria [60]
60th 23 May 2015 ORF Wiener Stadthalle Austria Vienna 40  Sweden [61]
61st 14 May 2016 SVT Globe Arena Sweden Stockholm 42  Ukraine [62]
62nd 13 May 2017 UA:PBC International Exhibition Centre Ukraine Kiev 42  Portugal [63]
63rd 12 May 2018 RTP Altice Arena Portugal Lisbon 43  Israel [64]
64th 18 May 2019 KAN Expo Tel Aviv Israel Tel Aviv 41  Netherlands [65]
Cancelled[c] 2020 NPO/NOS/AVROTROS Rotterdam Ahoy Netherlands Rotterdam 41 No winner [66]
65th 22 May 2021 NPO/NOS/AVROTROS Rotterdam Ahoy Netherlands Rotterdam [67]

Origins

The European Broadcasting Union was formed in 1950, when British broadcaster the BBC hosted a conference with 23 organisations at the Imperial Hotel in Torquay, England, with the aim of establishing cooperation on creative endeavours and setting a foundation for the exchange of television programmes across borders.[68][69] "Eurovision" as a term in telecommunications was first used by British journalist George Campey in the London Evening Standard in 1951, when he referred to a BBC programme being relayed by Dutch television;[68][70] the EBU's Eurovision transmission network was subsequently founded in 1954, at the time formed of a series of microwave links across Europe.[71]

In the years following the formation of the EBU a number of big events were transmitted via their infrastructure, including the Coronation of Elizabeth II, which was broadcast in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, in addition to the United Kingdom.[68][70][72] In September 1953, an EBU meeting in London resulted in a series of international exchange programmes organised the following year, entitled the "European Television Season", and relayed live across Europe through the Eurovision network.[68][71] The first of these programmes was shown on 6 June 1954, showing coverage of the Narcissus Festival held in Montreux, France, followed by a tour of Vatican City. Further events were broadcast over the following days, including the Palio di Siena, an athletics meet in Glasgow, a parade by the Royal Navy passing Queen Elizabeth II, and live transmission of football matches from the 1954 FIFA World Cup in Switzerland, the first time the FIFA World Cup was accompanied by live television coverage.[68][70][72]

Following this summer season of programmes, the EBU formed a "Programme Committee" to investigate new initiatives for cooperation between broadcasters each year, with Marcel Bezençon, Director-General of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SRG SSR), serving as the committee's first President, and Rene McCall, Deputy Director of the BBC, and Jean d'Arcy, Director of the French broadcaster Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française (RTF), serving as Vice Presidents. This committee met in Monte Carlo in January 1955, and approved two new projects for further study: a European song competition, initially proposed by Sergio Pugliese from the Italian broadcaster RAI, and a contest of amateur entertainers; the latter idea was eventually discarded.[70][73] On 19 October 1955, at the annual General Assembly of the EBU, held in the Palazzo Corsini in Rome under the Presidency of the Director-General of the BBC Sir Ian Jacob, the EBU agreed to the organising of the song contest, under the initial title of the European Grand Prix, and accepted a proposal by the Swiss delegation to host the event in Lugano in the spring of 1956.[68][70][74] A planning sub-group was formed to establish the rules of the competition, headed by Eduard Hass of SRG SSR, which used the Italian Sanremo Music Festival as a basis for their work, with several amendments and additions made to better reflect this new international version.[68]

1950s

Gustav Winckler and Birthe Wilke, representing Denmark at the 1957 contest in Frankfurt.
Gustav Winckler and Birthe Wilke, representing Denmark at the 1957 contest in Frankfurt.

The Eurovision Song Contest 1956 was the first edition of the contest, organised by Radiotelevisione svizzera di lingua italiana (RTSI) and held on 24 May 1956 at the Teatro Kursaal in Lugano, Switzerland.[2][74] The regulations for this first contest allowed one participating broadcast organisation from each country to submit two songs of between 3 and 3½ minutes in length, the only edition to permit more than one song per country.[2][68][75] Each country was strongly encouraged to hold a national contest to select their competing entries, with only solo artists permitted to perform.[68] Seven countries entered the inaugural contest, with entries received from Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland; planned entries from Austria, Denmark and the United Kingdom were prevented as their broadcasters had registered too late to take part.[2][74] Voting in this first contest was held behind closed doors: two jury members from each country situated at the contest venue ranked the competing songs, and were allowed to vote for any song, including those of their own country.[2][76] Switzerland's Lys Assia was crowned the contest's first winner, with the song "Refrain".[77] Only the overall winner of the contest was announced at its conclusion, with the final scores having never been made public.[2][76] Primarily a radio show, a number of television cameras were present to tape the show for television viewers, however no known video footage of the event is known to survive beyond newsreel of the winning reprise; audio of most of the contest however has survived.[2][76]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1957 was the second edition of the contest, organised by Hessischer Rundfunk (HR) on behalf of ARD and held on 3 March 1957 at the Großer Sendesaal des hessischen Rundfunks in Frankfurt, West Germany.[3][78] Early rules established that a different broadcaster would take on the task of organising the contest each year, and Germany was selected to host the 1957 event.[79] Ten countries entered this second contest, with the seven original broadcasters joined by Austria, Denmark and the United Kingdom, with each country submitting one song for consideration.[3] Taking inspiration from the Festival of British Popular Songs, organised by the BBC in August 1956 which included a scoreboard and voting by regional juries, the contest organisers decided to incorporate these ideas into the pan-European contest, allowing viewers at home to follow the voting procedure.[78][80] A new voting system was introduced in tandem, with a jury of ten members in each country casting a single vote for their favourite song; jury members from one country could not vote for the song of their own country, a rule which still applies to the present day.[78][80] The Netherlands was voted the winner, represented by Corry Brokken with the song "Net als toen".[77]

Italy's Domenico Modugno performing in a rehearsal ahead of the 1958 contest in Hilversum.
Italy's Domenico Modugno performing in a rehearsal ahead of the 1958 contest in Hilversum.

The Eurovision Song Contest 1958 was the third edition of the contest, organised by Nederlandse Televisie Stichting (NTS) and held on 12 March 1958 at the AVRO Studios in Hilversum, Netherlands.[4][81] This marked the first time that the winning country of the previous edition was given the honour of hosting, setting a precedent that continues to be observed.[82] The United Kingdom decided not to compete in this edition, however Sweden made its debut, keeping the total number of competing countries at ten.[81][82] A new rule limiting the duration of each competing entry to 3 minutes was introduced, prompted by the previous year's contest when the Italian entry lasted for over 5 minutes.[3] France gained its first win in the contest, represented by André Claveau and "Dors, mon amour".[77] Despite only placing third, Italy's "Nel blu, dipinto di blu", popularly knows as "Volare" and performed by Domenico Modugno, would go on to greater commercial success than the winning song, hitting number one in the Billboard Hot 100 and being recorded by various artists over the years, with combined sales of over 22 million copies worldwide.[81][83]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1959 was the fourth edition of the contest, organised by Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française (RTF) and held on 11 March 1959 at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France.[5][84] 11 countries competed in this edition, which saw the United Kingdom returning to the contest along with new entrants Monaco, while Luxembourg decided to withdraw.[5][85] The same voting system as in 1957 and 1958 was used once again, but with a modification that no musical experts could sit on a country's jury.[5] The Netherlands's Teddy Scholten was crowned the winner with the song "Een beetje".[77] The Netherlands therefore became the first country to win the country twice, and Van Hemert became the first songwriter to achieve two wins.[5][84] This contest also marked the only time that the two three entries were given a reprise performance, with the United Kingdom's Pearl Carr & Teddy Johnson and France's Jean Philippe also performing for a second time.[5][85]

1960s

Isabelle Aubret gave France its third win in five years, when she won the 1962 contest in Luxembourg City.
Isabelle Aubret gave France its third win in five years, when she won the 1962 contest in Luxembourg City.

The Eurovision Song Contest 1960 was the fifth edition of the contest, organised by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and held on 25 March 1960 at the Royal Festival Hall in London, United Kingdom.[6][86] Dutch broadcaster NTS declined the opportunity to stage the event for the second time in three years, leading the EBU to approach the BBC to host the event as the previous year's runner-up.[6][87] The number of competing countries grew to 13, as Luxembourg returned and Norway sent its first entry.[6][87] France recorded their second contest win, with Jacqueline Boyer taking the title with "Tom Pillibi".[77]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1961 was the sixth edition of the contest, organised by RTF and held on 18 March 1961 at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France.[7][88] France became the first country to host two contests, with the Palais des Festivals having also hosted the 1959 event. This was also the first contest to be held on a Saturday night, which has now become the standard time-slot for the contest's final.[7][88] A record 16 countries competed in this year's event, with debut entries from Finland, Spain and Yugoslavia.[7][89] Luxembourg became the fourth country to win the Eurovision title, with French singer Jean-Claude Pascal giving the Grand Duchy their first win with "Nous les amoureux".[7][77]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1962 was the seventh edition of the contest, organised by Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Radiodiffusion (CLT) and held on 18 March 1962 at the Grand Auditorium de RTL, Villa Louvigny in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg.[8][90] For the first time there was no change in the countries competing, with the same line-up seen as in 1961. A new voting system was implemented at this contest: the ten members in each country's jury ranked the competing songs, with 3 points going to their favourite song, and then 2 and 1 points to their second and third picks; from the total of all jury members' votes, each country then gave 3, 2 and 1 points to the top three songs.[8][91] France's Isabelle Aubret was crowned the winner with "Un premier amour", giving France its third victory in five years.[77]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1963 was the eighth edition of the contest, organised by the BBC and held on 23 March 1963 at the BBC Television Centre in London, United Kingdom.[9][92] France's RTF had declined the offer to stage the contest once again, and the BBC stepped in to host the contest for the second time. Once again, the same line-up of 16 countries from the previous year returned for this contest. This event saw a novel approach to the presentation of the contest, with the contest being split across two of the studios of offer at Television Centre: Studio 3 housed the audience and scoreboard and was used for the introductions and voting sections, while the orchestra was housed in Studio 4 which was used for the performances.[92][93] Given the new presentation, and the quick change of sets between countries, rumours arose that the performances had been pre-recorded, which have been consistently denied.[9][92] A modification of the voting system used in 1962 was adopted, with countries now giving 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 points for their favourite songs.[9] The voting saw a tight contest between Denmark and Switzerland battling for first place, when controversy ensued with the announcement of the votes of the Norwegian jury, which were still being calculated when called upon by hostess Katie Boyle. Confusion was caused by their spokesperson announced the intermediate votes in an incorrect order, and when called upon once again at the end of the voting to announce the final results these were significantly different to those announced previously; subsequent investigations have confirmed that the final results were indeed correct.[93][94] With the final results, Denmark's Grethe and Jørgen Ingmann finished as the winners with "Dansevise", giving the Scandinavian country their first victory.[77]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1964 was the ninth edition of the contest, organised by Danmarks Radio (DR) and held on 21 March 1964 at the Tivoli Concert Hall in Copenhagen, Denmark.[10][95] Sweden were forced to withdraw due to industrial action by the Swedish Musicians' Union, however Portugal made its debut, keeping the total number of competing countries at 16.[95][96] Another modification of the voting system now saw each country's ten-member jury having three votes to distribute to their favourite songs; each country gave 5, 3 and 1 points to the top 3 songs based on the total of all votes cast, however if members only voted for two songs in total, then these would get 6 and 3 points, and if all members voted for the same song it would get 9 points.[95][96] This event marked the first time that the contest was interrupted by a protester, when a man protesting against the right-wing dictatorships of Spain and Portugal and their inclusion in the contest entered the stage holding a banner stating "Boycott Franco and Salazar", before being quickly removed as cameras cut to a shot of the scoreboard.[95][97] No footage of this protest remains however as, like the 1956 contest, no video of the contest is known to exist, bar short footage of the opening sequence and the winning reprise, while audio recording are known to survive.[10][96] Gigliola Cinquetti scored a landslide victory for Italy, after gaining almost three times as many points as the second placed United Kingdom, with the song "Non ho l'età", giving Italy their first win.[77][97]

France Gall and Udo Jürgens at the 1966 contest in Luxembourg City, as Jürgens celebrates his win for Austria.
France Gall and Udo Jürgens at the 1966 contest in Luxembourg City, as Jürgens celebrates his win for Austria.

The Eurovision Song Contest 1965 was the tenth edition of the contest, organised by Radiotelevisione italiana (RAI) and held on 20 March 1965 at the Sala di Concerto della RAI in Naples, Italy.[11][98] A record 18 countries competed in this anniversary event, with Sweden making its return and Ireland making its debut.[99] With the contest being picked up by the Eastern Europe Intervision network and broadcast in countries such as the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary and East Germany for the first time, the 1965 contest was the biggest yet with an estimated audience of 150 million viewers around the globe.[98][99] Sweden's entry caused some controversy when their entry was performed in English, rather than, as with all other countries in their national language; as there was no rule in place to dictate what language a country could perform this was begrudgingly allowed despite protest from other competing countries.[11][100] The voting system remained the same as that used in 1964.[99] Luxembourg won for the second time, with French chanteuse France Gall performing "Poupée de cire, poupée de son".[77] It was the first time that a pop song had won the contest, going on to become an international hit for Gall and would have an influence on the type of songs entered into the contest in years to come.[11][101]

Ahead of the 1966 contest, the EBU invited broadcasters to submit proposals on ideas they believed should be introduced in future editions. This was prompted by concerns CLT had of staging the next event, and that Eurovision, already ten years old, was one of the longest-running TV programmes worldwide.[100] Some of the more common ideas submitted by broadcasters included the introduction of semi-finals to reduce the number of competing acts, with some also suggesting splitting the competing countries on a geographic or linguistic basis; music experts having a 50% stake in the result to enable more of an emphasis being placed on musical quality; and a tightening of the rules on language and submission cut-off, with the creation of an executive supervisor role in order to oversee the contest and raise production standards. Further proposals on changes to the contest included holding the event over multiple locations, with performances and hosting duties split across two or three different competing countries; this proposal was rejected following discussion that musical quality and consistency would suffer with multiple locations and orchestras, and that the risk of technical failure would also increase.[100] The EBU went on to adopt only a few of the suggestions, with the following contest featuring the return of music experts in the national juries, and the implementation of a language rule stipulating that songs must be performed in one of the national languages of the participating country.[12]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1966 was the eleventh edition of the contest, organised by CLT and held on 5 March 1966 at the Grand Auditorium de RTL, Villa Louvigny in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg.[12][102] This marked Luxembourg's second contest as host broadcaster, using the same venue as that in 1961. This contest saw the first black artist perform at Eurovision, when Milly Scott represented the Netherlands.[12][103] Udo Jürgens secured Austria's first win with "Merci, Chérie" which, despite the French title, was performed in German; this was Jürgens' third attempt at victory, having previously finished 6th in 1964 and 4th in 1965.[77][104]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1967 was the twelfth edition of the contest, organised by Österreichischer Rundfunk (ORF) and held on 8 April 1967 at the Großer Festsaal der Wiener Hofburg in Vienna, Austria.[13][105] Denmark withdraw from this contest, reducing the number of competing countries to 17. The scoring system last used in 1961, with ten members casting a single vote for their favourite, was reintroduced, with half of the jury members in each country having to be less than 30 years old.[106][107] A number of other innovations introduced for the first time, such as shots of the Green Room during the voting process, and each country's broadcaster appointing an official representative, have become integral parts of the present-day contest.[107] Sandie Shaw gave the United Kingdom their first Eurovision win with "Puppet on a String", with the UK having previously placed second on five occasions in previous contests before finally claiming their first victory.[77] It proved to be another landslide victory, with the UK gaining more than twice as many votes as the runner-up Ireland.[107]

The Netherlands' Lenny Kuhr was one of four winners at the 1969 contest, pictured here performing at the Nationaal Songfestival.
The Netherlands' Lenny Kuhr was one of four winners at the 1969 contest, pictured here performing at the Nationaal Songfestival.

The Eurovision Song Contest 1968 was the thirteen edition of the contest, organised by the BBC and held on 6 April 1968 at the Royal Albert Hall in London, United Kingdom.[14][108] This was the first edition of the contest to be produced in colour, although very few viewers in Europe owned a colour TV set at that time.[14][109] A tight voting sequence saw Spain and the United Kingdom vie for first place by the end, with the votes of the final juries being decisive in favour of Spain's Massiel by just one vote.[77] Joan Manuel Serrat originally been announced as the Spanish representative, but when he wanted to sing in Catalan, Spain's dictator Francisco Franco demanded that he perform "La, la, la" in Castillian, resulting in his replacement by Massiel.[14][109] A Spanish documentary in 2008 claimed that, in an attempt to avoid civil unrest seen in other parts of Europe and to boost Spain's standing globally, Franco had ordered agents to attempt to manipulate the votes of the other countries' juries to secure a Spanish win at the contest; this was reportedly achieved by securing contracts for recording artists and television licensing deals in exchange for votes.[110] The documentary goes on to suggest that the United Kingdom's Cliff Richard, who had been tipped for victory before the contest with "Congratulations", should have been the winner.[111][112] However the effectiveness of any potential bribery has been disputed, and others, including Massiel, have accused the documentary creators and broadcaster of manufacturing the scandal.[113][114]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1969 was the fourteenth edition of the contest, organised by Televisión Española {TVE} and held on 29 March 1969 at the Teatro Real in Madrid, Spain.[15][115] 16 countries entered this year's contest, with Austria refusing to take part in the dictator-led country.[115][116] The final contest of the decade produced one of the contest's most remarkable and controversial moments: a tight voting sequence saw France, Spain, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom in serious contention for first place, when with the votes of the final jury all four countries finished on an equal number of points. With no rules in place to break a tie for first place, the result had to stand and all four countries were declared victors, the only time that more than one country has won in a single year.[115][117] As four medals had fortunately been struck for the prize-giving, Spain's Salomé, the UK's Lulu, the Netherlands' Lenny Kuhr and France's Frida Boccara were all able to receive their prize ahead of a reprise of all four winning songs: "Vivo cantando", "Boom Bang-a-Bang", "De troubadour", and "Un jour, un enfant" respectively.[15][117] The result meant that France recorded a record fourth win in the contest, with the Netherlands gaining their third win, and both Spain and the United Kingdom receiving their second wins; Spain also became the first country to achieve two wins in a row.[116]

1970s

Dana became the first of seven Irish winners at the 1970 contest in Amsterdam.
Dana became the first of seven Irish winners at the 1970 contest in Amsterdam.

The Eurovision Song Contest 1970 was the fifteenth edition of the contest, organised by Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (NOS) and held on 21 March 1970 at the RAI Congrescentrum in Amsterdam, Netherlands.[16][118] Given the 4-way tie for first place at the 1969 contest, any one of those four countries could have hosted the contest in 1970. The United Kingdom and Spain had bowed out early on, having already hosted the previous contests, and so a draw between France's RTF and the Netherlands' NOS was held, with contest creator Marcel Bezençon drawing the ballot for the Netherlands.[119][120] There was widespread dissatisfaction with the result of the 1969 contest, leading to Finland, Norway, Sweden and Portugal all pulling out from the contest, with Austria and Denmark also sitting out in response, leaving only 12 countries to compete in Amsterdam, the lowest number of participants since 1959.[16][118][120] To ensure a similar situation did not happen again, a tie-break rule was introduced for the first time: in the result of a tie for first place the artists of the countries involved would perform again, and the juries in all other remaining countries would determine the winner by a show of hands; if that too resulted in a tie then the countries would share the title.[16][120] NOS implemented a number of innovations for the first time, mainly as a response to the low number of entries so as to fill out the show, which have since become contest staples. These include an extended opening film sequence highlighting the host country, and "postcards", short film clips highlighting the participants or host country and placed between the competing songs.[120][118][119] Ireland, which would go on to win more times than any other country, recorded its first win here, with Dana, still a schoolgirl at the time, taking the contest with "All Kinds of Everything".[77][119]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1971 was the sixteenth edition of the contest, organised by Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) and held on 3 April 1971 at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin, Ireland.[17][121] A number of changes to the contest saw groups allowed for the first time, with a maximum of six performers on stage; previously only one or two principal vocalists had been allowed with support from a maximum of three supporting artists.[17][122][123] A new voting system was also introduced for this contest, implemented in an attempt that there would be a clear-cut winner and to avoid countries receiving nul points: two jurors from each country, one below the age of 25 and the other above, and located in the host city, ranked all songs except that of their own country on a scale of one to five.[17][122] All countries were now also obligated to provide a music video of their entry and to broadcast all entries ahead of the contest via a preview show.[121] With these changes, the countries which had sat out in 1970 felt able to return, and with Norway, Sweden, Finland, Austria and Portugal returning and Malta making its debut, 18 participants in total were present, the biggest contest since 1966.[17][122] Monaco recorded their first, and as of 2020 only, win, with French singer Séverine victorious for the principality with "Un banc, un arbre, une rue".[77][123]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1972 was the seventeenth edition of the contest, organised by the BBC and held on 25 March 1972 at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh, United Kingdom.[18][124] Monaco's Télé Monte-Carlo (TMC) had initially expressed interest in hosting, however no suitable venue in Monaco was available in time for the contest, and a proposal to hold the contest outdoors in June was rejected, leading to TMC to forfeit the contest. After Spain's TVE and Germany's ARD, having come second and third the previous year, and France's ORTF had turned down the opportunity to host, the BBC offered once again to step in, taking the contest outside of London and England for the first time, to the Scottish capital.[125][126] The same 18 countries from 1971 were again present, and the same voting system was implemented, with the jurors based in the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle.[125] The contest was broadcast in 28 countries, and for the first time was available live in Asia, with viewers able to watch the show in Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Thailand.[18][126] Luxembourg earned their third contest win, represented by the Greek singer Vicky Leandros with "Après toi"; it was Leandros' second attempt at Eurovision, having previously come 4th for Luxembourg in 1967.[77][126]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1973 was the eighteenth edition of the contest, organised by CLT and held on 7 April 1973 at the Nouveau Théâtre in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg.[19][127] Israel made its first appearance, becoming the first non-European nation to enter the contest, while Austria and Malta both withdrew, bringing the total participating nations to 17.[128] Coming less than a year after the Munich massacre, security was unusually tight in light of Israel's debut, with the venue sealed off by the authorities and the Israeli delegation being isolated in their hotel and surrounded by armed guards when not required at the venue; the audience had also been warned not to stand during the show at the risk of being shot.[127][128] This year marked the first abolition of the language rule, allowing participants the freedom to choose the language in which they wished to sing their songs: Finland and Sweden decided to capitalise on this by performing in English, while Norway performed in both English and French.[19][128] Pre-recorded backing tracks were also permitted for the first time, however all vocals were still required to be performed live and any instruments featured on the track had to be seen on stage.[128][129] Luxembourg won the contest for the second year in a row, with the French singer Anne-Marie David giving Luxembourg its fourth win with "Tu te reconnaîtras"; Luxembourg thus became the first country to win two outright back-to-back victories, Spain having won in both 1968 and 1969 but sharing the latter title.[77][130]

Sweden's ABBA went on to achieve worldwide fame following their Eurovision win in 1974.
Sweden's ABBA went on to achieve worldwide fame following their Eurovision win in 1974.

The Eurovision Song Contest 1974 was the nineteenth edition of the contest, organised by the BBC and held on 6 April 1974 at the The Dome in Brighton, United Kingdom.[20][131] Luxembourg's CLT turned down the offer to host the contest for a second year in a row, and Spain's RTVE as runner-up in 1973 had also rejected hosting duties; an offer by Israel's IBA was turned down due to their limited technical capabilities, and in the end the BBC threw its hat into the ring once again to take on the contest for the fifth time.[20][132] 18 countries were scheduled to compete, with Greece making its debut appearance, however days before the contest the President of France Georges Pompidou suddenly died, with his funeral arranged for the day of the contest, and in a mark of respect France's ORTF decided to withdraw from the contest.[132] A new voting procedure would have seen the return of national juries based in their country, with ten jury members ranking all entries, bar that of their own country, on a scale of one to five; however issues in rehearsals regarding the time needed to conduct the voting under this system, as well as concerns over how to rectify counting issues, resulted in a last minute change to bring back the system last used in 1970, with each jury member casting a single vote for their favourite.[20][132] Sweden gained its first victory in the contest, courtesy of ABBA and "Waterloo".[77] ABBA's win in the contest would propel them to worldwide fame, going on to sell estimated 380 million records across their career, with "Waterloo" alone selling 5 million copies, becoming one of the contest's most successful winners.[133][134][135]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1975 was the twentieth edition of the contest, organised by Sveriges Radio (SR) and held on 22 March 1975 at the Stockholmsmässan in Stockholm, Sweden.[21][136]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1976 was the twenty-first edition of the contest, organised by NOS and held on 3 April 1976 at the Nederlands Congresgebouw in The Hague, Netherlands.[22][137]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1977 was the twenty-second edition of the contest, organised by the BBC and held on 7 May 1977 at the Wembley Conference Centre in London, United Kingdom.[23][138]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1978 was the twenty-third edition of the contest, organised by TF1 and held on 22 April 1978 at the Palais des Congrès in Paris, France.[24][139]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1979 was the twenty-fourth edition of the contest, organised by the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) and held on 31 March 1979 at the International Convention Centre in Jerusalem, Israel.[25][140]

1980s

The Eurovision Song Contest 1980 was the twenty-fifth edition of the contest, organised by NOS and held on 19 April 1980 at the Nederlands Congresgebouw in The Hague, Netherlands.[26][141]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1981 was the twenty-sixth edition of the contest, organised by RTÉ and held on 4 April 1981 at the RDS Simmonscourt in Dublin, Ireland.[27][142]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1982 was the twenty-seventh edition of the contest, organised by the BBC and held on 24 April 1982 at the Harrogate Convention Centre in Harrogate, United Kingdom.[28][143]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1983 was the twenty-eighth edition of the contest, organised by Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR) on behalf of ARD and held on 23 April 1983 at the Rudi-Sedlmayer-Halle in Munich, West Germany.[29][144]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1984 was the twenty-ninth edition of the contest, organised by CLT and held on 5 May 1984 at the Théâtre Municipal in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg.[30][145]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1985 was the thirtieth edition of the contest, organised by Sveriges Television (SVT) and held on 4 May 1985 at the Scandinavium in Gothenburg, Sweden.[31][146]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1986 was the thirty-first edition of the contest, organised by Norsk rikskringkasting (NRK) and held on 3 May 1986 at the Grieghallen in Bergen, Norway.[32][147]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1987 was the thirty-second edition of the contest, organised by Radio-télévision belge de la Communauté française (RTBF) and held on 9 May 1987 at the Palais de Centenaire in Brussels, Belgium.[33][148]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1988 was the thirty-third edition of the contest, organised by RTÉ and held on 30 April 1988 at the RDS Simmonscourt in Dublin, Ireland.[34][149]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1989 was the thirty-fourth edition of the contest, organised by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SRG SSR) and held on 6 May 1989 at the Palais de Beaulieu in Lausanne, Switzerland.[35][150]

1990s

The Eurovision Song Contest 1990 was the thirty-fifth edition of the contest, organised by Jugoslovenska radio-televizija (JRT) and Radiotelevizija Zagreb (RTZ) and held on 5 May 1990 at the Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall in Zagreb, Yugoslavia.[36][151]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1991 was the thirty-sixth edition of the contest, organised by RAI and held on 4 May 1991 at Studio 15 di Cinecittà in Rome, Italy.[37][152]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1992 was the thirty-seventh edition of the contest, organised by SVT and held on 9 May 1992 at the Malmömässan in Malmö, Sweden.[38][153]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1993 was the thirty-eighth edition of the contest, organised by RTÉ and held on 15 May 1993 at the Green Glens Arena in Millstreet, Ireland.[39][154]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1994 was the thirty-ninth edition of the contest, organised by RTÉ and held on 30 April 1994 at the Point Theatre in Dublin, Ireland.[40][155]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1995 was the fourtieth edition of the contest, organised by RTÉ and held on 13 May 1995 at the Point Theatre in Dublin, Ireland.[41][156]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1996 was the forty-first edition of the contest, organised by NRK and held on 18 May 1996 at the Oslo Spektrum in Oslo, Norway.[42][157]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1997 was the forty-second edition of the contest, organised by RTÉ and held on 3 May 1997 at the Point Theatre in Dublin, Ireland.[43][129]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1998 was the forty-third edition of the contest, organised by the BBC and held on 9 May 1998 at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, United Kingdom.[44][158]

The Eurovision Song Contest 1999 was the forty-fourth edition of the contest, organised by IBA and held on 29 May 1999 at the International Convention Centre in Jerusalem, Israel.[45][159]

2000s

The Eurovision Song Contest 2000 was the forty-fifth edition of the contest, organised by SVT and held on 13 May 2000 at the Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden.[46][160]

The Eurovision Song Contest 2001 was the forty-sixth edition of the contest, organised by DR and held on 12 May 2001 at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, Denmark.[47][161]

The Eurovision Song Contest 2002 was the forty-seventh edition of the contest, organised by Eesti Televisioon (ETV) and held on 25 May 2002 at the Saku Suurhall in Tallinn, Estonia.[48][162]

The Eurovision Song Contest 2003 was the forty-eighth edition of the contest, organised by Latvijas Televīzija (LTV) and held on 24 May 2003 at the Skonto Hall in Riga, Latvia.[49][163]

The Eurovision Song Contest 2004 was the forty-ninth edition of the contest, organised by the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) and held on 12 and 15 May 2004 at the Abdi İpekçi Arena in Istanbul, Turkey.[50][164]

The Eurovision Song Contest 2005 was the fiftieth edition of the contest, organised by the National Television Company of Ukraine (NTU) and held on 19 and 21 May 2005 at the Palace of Sports in Kiev, Ukraine.[51][165]

The Eurovision Song Contest 2006 was the fifty-first edition of the contest, organised by the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) and held on 18 and 20 May 2006 at the Olympic Indoor Hall in Athens, Greece.[52][166]

The Eurovision Song Contest 2007 was the fifty-second edition of the contest, organised by Yleisradio (YLE) and held on 10 and 12 May 2007 at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.[53][167]

The Eurovision Song Contest 2008 was the fifty-third edition of the contest, organised by Radio-televizija Srbije (RTS) and held on 20, 22 and 24 May 2008 at the Belgrade Arena in Belgrade, Serbia.[54][168]

The Eurovision Song Contest 2009 was the fifty-fourth edition of the contest, organised by Channel One (C1R) and held on 12, 14 and 16 May 2009 at the Olimpiyskiy Arena in Moscow, Russia.[55][169]

2010s

The Eurovision Song Contest 2010 was the fifty-fifth edition of the contest, organised by NRK and held on 25, 27 and 29 May 2010 at the Telenor Arena in Oslo, Norway.[56]

The Eurovision Song Contest 2011 was the fifty-sixth edition of the contest, organised by Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) on behalf of ARD and held on 10, 12 and 14 May 2011 at the Düsseldorf Arena in Düsseldorf, Germany.[57]

The Eurovision Song Contest 2012 was the fifty-seventh edition of the contest, organised by İctimai Television (İTV) and held on 22, 24 and 26 May 2012 at the Baku Crystal Hall in Baku, Azerbaijan.[58]

The Eurovision Song Contest 2013 was the fifty-eighth edition of the contest, organised by SVT and held on 14, 16 and 18 May 2013 at the Malmö Arena in Malmö, Sweden.[59]

The Eurovision Song Contest 2014 was the fifty-ninth edition of the contest, organised by DR and held on 6, 8 and 10 May 2014 at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark.[60]

The Eurovision Song Contest 2015 was the sixtieth edition of the contest, organised by ORF and held on 19, 21 and 23 May 2015 at the Wiener Stadthalle in Vienna, Austria.[61]

The Eurovision Song Contest 2016 was the sixty-first edition of the contest, organised by SVT and held on 10, 12 and 14 May 2016 at the Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden.[62]

The Eurovision Song Contest 2017 was the sixty-second edition of the contest, organised by the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine (UA:PBC) and held on 9, 11 and 13 May 2017 at the International Exhibition Centre in Kiev, Ukraine.[63]

The Eurovision Song Contest 2018 was the sixty-third edition of the contest, organised by Rádio e Televisão de Portugal (RTP) and held on 8, 10 and 12 May 2018 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal.[64]

The Eurovision Song Contest 2019 was the sixty-fourth edition of the contest, organised by the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (KAN) and held on 14, 16 and 18 May 2019 at the Expo Tel Aviv in Tel Aviv, Israel.[65]

2020s

The Eurovision Song Contest 2020 would have been the sixty-fifth edition of the contest, scheduled to be held on 12, 14 and 16 May 2020 at the Rotterdam Ahoy in Rotterdam, Netherlands and organised by Nederlandse Publieke Omroep (NPO), Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (NOS) and AVROTROS. This edition was cancelled in March 2020, the first time in the contest's history that it had been cancelled, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[66][170] Rotterdam was later confirmed as the host of the Eurovision Song Contest 2021, set to be held on 18, 20 and 22 May 2021.[67][171]

Notes

  1. ^ Each country in the first contest was represented by two songs.
  2. ^ The 1977 contest was originally scheduled for 2 April, but a strike by BBC camera operators and technicians resulted in a postponement until 7 May.
  3. ^ The 2020 contest, originally scheduled for 12, 14 and 16 May 2020, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Further reading

  • O'Connor, John Kennedy (2010). The Eurovision Song Contest: The Official History (2nd ed.). London: Carlton Books. ISBN 978-1-84732-521-1.
  • Roxburgh, Gordon (2012). Songs for Europe: The United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest. Volume One: The 1950s and 1960s. Prestatyn: Telos Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84583-065-6.
  • Roxburgh, Gordon (2014). Songs for Europe: The United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest. Volume Two: The 1970s. Prestatyn: Telos Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84583-093-9.
  • Roxburgh, Gordon (2016). Songs for Europe: The United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest. Volume Three: The 1980s. Prestatyn: Telos Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84583-118-9.

External links

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