History of the Eurovision Song Contest: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The history of the Eurovision Song Contest began as the brainchild of Marcel Bezençon of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). The contest was based on the Italian Sanremo Music Festival and was designed to test the limits of live television broadcast technology.

The first contest took place on 24 May 1956, where seven nations participated. As the Contest progressed, the rules grew increasingly complex and participation levels rose to pass forty nations at the end of the 20th Century. As more countries came on board over subsequent decades and technology advanced, the EBU attempted to keep up with national and international trends.

The end of the Cold War in the early 1990s led to a sudden increase in numbers, with many former Eastern Bloc countries queuing up to compete for the first time. This process continued into the 2005 contest, in which both Bulgaria and Moldova made their debut appearance.

Liechtenstein, Vatican City, and Kosovo are the only European countries not to have participated; the last major European country to take part was the Czech Republic which made its debut in the 2007 contest. San Marino took part in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest in Belgrade, Serbia, together with Azerbaijan.


Competition history

Edition Finals date Year Broad-
Venue City Countries Winner
1st 24 May 1956 SSR Teatro Kursaal Switzerland Lugano 7  Switzerland
2nd 3 March 1957 HR Großer Sendesaal West Germany Frankfurt 10  Netherlands
3rd 12 March 1958 NOS AVRO Studio Netherlands Hilversum 10  France
4th 11 March 1959 RTF Palais des Festivals France Cannes 11  Netherlands
5th 25 March 1960 BBC Royal Festival Hall United Kingdom London 13  France
6th 18 March 1961 RTF Palais des Festivals France Cannes 16  Luxembourg
7th 18 March 1962 RTL Villa Louvigny Luxembourg Luxembourg 16  France
8th 23 March 1963 BBC BBC Television Centre United Kingdom London 16  Denmark
9th 21 March 1964 DR Tivoli Concert Hall Denmark Copenhagen 16  Italy
10th 20 March 1965 RAI RAI Television Centre Italy Naples 18  Luxembourg
11th 5 March 1966 RTL Villa Louvigny Luxembourg Luxembourg 18  Austria
12th 8 April 1967 ORF Hofburg Imperial Palace Austria Vienna 17  United Kingdom
13th 6 April 1968 BBC Royal Albert Hall United Kingdom London 17  Spain
14th 29 March 1969 TVE Teatro Real Spain Madrid 16  France
 United Kingdom
15th 21 March 1970 NOS RAI Congrescentrum Netherlands Amsterdam 12  Ireland
16th 3 April 1971 RTÉ Gaiety Theatre Republic of Ireland Dublin 18  Monaco
17th 25 March 1972 BBC Usher Hall United Kingdom Edinburgh 18  Luxembourg
18th 7 April 1973 RTL Nouveau Théâtre Luxembourg Luxembourg Luxembourg 17  Luxembourg
19th 6 April 1974 BBC Brighton Dome United Kingdom Brighton 17  Sweden
20th 22 March 1975 SR Stockholm Entertainment Centre Sweden Stockholm 19  Netherlands
21st 3 April 1976 NOS Congresgebouw Netherlands The Hague 18  United Kingdom
22nd 7 May 1977 BBC Wembley Conference Centre United Kingdom London 18  France
23rd 22 April 1978 TF1 Palais des Congrès France Paris 20  Israel
24th 31 March 1979 IBA International Convention Centre Israel Jerusalem 19  Israel
25th 19 April 1980 NOS Congresgebouw Netherlands The Hague 19  Ireland
26th 4 April 1981 RTÉ Royal Dublin Society Republic of Ireland Dublin 20  United Kingdom
27th 24 April 1982 BBC Harrogate International Centre United Kingdom Harrogate 18  Germany
28th 23 April 1983 ARD Rudi Sedlmayer Halle West Germany Munich 20  Luxembourg
29th 5 May 1984 RTL Théâtre Municipal Luxembourg Luxembourg 19  Sweden
30th 4 May 1985 SVT Scandinavium Sweden Gothenburg 19  Norway
31st 3 May 1986 NRK Grieg Hall Norway Bergen 20  Belgium
32nd 9 May 1987 RTBF Centenary Palace Belgium Brussels 22  Ireland
33rd 1 May 1988 RTÉ Royal Dublin Society Republic of Ireland Dublin 21  Switzerland
34th 6 May 1989 SSR Palais de Beaulieu Switzerland Lausanne 22  Yugoslavia
35th 5 May 1990 JRT Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall Yugoslavia Zagreb 22  Italy
36th 4 May 1991 RAI Studio 15 di Cinecittà Italy Rome 22  Sweden
37th 9 May 1992 SVT Malmö Entertainment Centre Sweden Malmö 23  Ireland
38th 15 May 1993 RTÉ Green Glens Arena Republic of Ireland Millstreet 25  Ireland
39th 1 May 1994 RTÉ Point Depot Republic of Ireland Dublin 25  Ireland
40th 13 May 1995 RTÉ Point Depot Republic of Ireland Dublin 23  Norway
41st 18 May 1996 NRK Oslo Spektrum Norway Oslo 23  Ireland
42nd 3 May 1997 RTÉ Point Depot Republic of Ireland Dublin 25  United Kingdom
43rd 9 May 1998 BBC National Indoor Arena United Kingdom Birmingham 25  Israel
44th 29 May 1999 IBA International Convention Centre Israel Jerusalem 23  Sweden
45th 13 May 2000 SVT Ericsson Globe Sweden Stockholm 24  Denmark
46th 12 May 2001 DR Parken Stadium Denmark Copenhagen 23  Estonia
47th 25 May 2002 ETV Saku Suurhall Estonia Tallinn 24  Latvia
48th 24 May 2003 LTV Skonto Hall Latvia Riga 26  Turkey
49th 15 May 2004 TRT Abdi İpekçi Arena Turkey İstanbul 36  Ukraine
50th 21 May 2005 NTU Kiev Sport Palace Ukraine Kiev 39  Greece
51st 20 May 2006 ERT Olympic Indoor Hall Greece Athens 37  Finland
52nd 12 May 2007 YLE Hartwall Arena Finland Helsinki 42  Serbia
53rd 24 May 2008 RTS Belgrade Arena Serbia Belgrade 43  Russia
54th 16 May 2009 C1R Moscow Olympic Stadium Russia Moscow 42  Norway
55th 29 May 2010 NRK Telenor Arena Norway Oslo 39

The songs

The earliest period in the Eurovision history is marked by the style of songs which participated and the manner in which the show itself was presented. Famous musical and film stars would participate without prejudice, with Italian winners of the Sanremo Festival and such British names as Patricia Bredin and Bryan Johnson. With a live orchestra the norm in the early years, and simple sing-a-long songs on every radio station, the Contest grew into a favourite amongst almost all age groups across the continent. Iconic songs such as Volare and Serge Gainsbourg's Poupée de cire, poupée de son hit the sales charts in many countries after their Eurovision performance.

In the beginning, it was obvious for the participants that they should sing in their country's national language. However, as the Swedish entry in 1965, "Absent Friend" was sung in English, the EBU set very strict rules on the language in which the songs could be performed. National languages had to be used in all lyrics, with even the obscure Maltese insisted upon when the island nation made its debut. Song writers across Europe soon tagged onto the notion that success would only come if the judges could understand the content, resulting in such entries as Boom-Bang-A-Bang and La La La. The lyrics were allowed to contain occasional phrases in other languages, which was utilized for example by the Yugoslavian song in 1969. In 1973, the rules on language use was relaxed, and in the following year ABBA would win with Waterloo.

Those "freedom of language" rules would be soon reversed in 1977, to return with apparent permanent status in the 1999 contest, with the intervening years waning from highlights to dead-weight years. The "swinging sixties" and punk scenes were all but missed by the contemporary Eurovision periods, whilst the 1980s saw an increase in balladry with an almost blanket disregard for electronica or guitar-based pop. Other than heavily infused pop versions, rap has been next to completely ignored.

One result of the attempt to modernise the songs in the Contest was the abolition of the obligatory use of the live orchestra, to which all songs had to perform. This decision was made in 1997 and removed the automatic requirement for songs to be re-composed for playback with a live orchestra. As of 1999, the host country hasn't been obliged to provide a live orchestra, and there hasn't been one since. No attempt has been made to return the Contest to the days of live bands and violins. In fact all instruments must be mimed by reglement, live music is not allowed. This rule most likely exists because there isn't enough time to wire the instruments during the short break between the songs. On the other hand a backing tape may have no voices on it, singing still must be done live. Before 1997 backing tracks were allowed, but only if all instruments on tape were featured on stage. This explains the odd situation in 1996, when Gina G, entrant for the United Kingdom, had two computer screens on stage.

Other than the earliest contests, each and every entry has been fixed at a maximum three minutes in length.

The measuring the success of the modern day Eurovision in keeping up with modern trends has been difficult to determine. The Ukrainian winner's (Ruslana) Wild Dances won with national motives and wild song, but the Estonian hit Everybody was something of an outdated upbeat pop song.


Performers to have graced the Eurovision stage include:

See also



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