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Rules of the Eurovision Song Contest: Wikis


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The official rules of the Eurovision Song Contest are long, technical, and ever-changing. Many of the rules cover technical aspects of the television broadcast itself. However, a few of the more important rules affecting the conduct and outcome of the Contest follow.


Number of songs

Each country in the Eurovision Song Contest is entitled to enter just one song. The Contest final is limited to 25 songs. They consist of the following:

  • The "Big 4" countries (United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain) as they are the 4 largest economic contributors to the contest, and are rewarded with automatic spots in the final.
  • Winner of last year (the host country), or the next highest winner if won by one of the Big 4
  • 10 qualifiers from Semi-final 1 - held on the Tuesday before the contest.
  • 10 qualifiers from Semi-final 2 - held on the Thursday before the contest.

At the first Contest, each country was allowed to submit two songs each with a maximum duration of three minutes. Nowadays, it is still required that each song not exceed three minutes in length, although many artists record the song in a longer version, simply performing a shorter version at the Contest. The number of participating countries has grown throughout the Contest's history, and since 1993 the rules have been changed several times to both limit the number of finalists and to allow for participation by former Soviet and Yugoslav republics, Warsaw Pact nations and others.

The entering song is also not allowed to be a cover version, and is not allowed to sample another artist's work. All songs must be completely original in terms of songwriting and instrumentation, and may not have been released publicly before 1 October of the year preceding.


Current rules state that countries are allowed to have up to six performers on stage. Performers must be aged 16 or more, on the day of the semi-final in the year of the Contest.[1] This rule was introduced in 1990, as two contestants the year before had been 11 and 12 years. No restriction on the nationality of the performers exists, which has resulted in countries being represented by artists who are not nationals of that country. One of the most well-known winning artists, Canadian Céline Dion represented Switzerland in 1988. It should also be noted that the performer only needs to be 16 when the event takes place, and not when they are selected, as proven in 2005 when Triinu Kivilaan was selected to represent Switzerland, despite only being 15 at the time.


From the first Contest in 1956 until 1965, and again from 1973 until 1976 there was no restriction on language. From 1966 until 1972, and again from 1978 until 1998, songs were required to be performed in a national language. The national language rule was actually instituted shortly before the 1977 Contest, but some countries had already selected non-national language entries, and they were allowed to enter without any changes.

As of the 1999 Contest, the restriction was again lifted, and songs may be performed in any language. As a result, many of the songs are performed partially or completely in English. In 2003, Belgium made full use of the so-termed free language rule, and entered a song, Sanomi, in an artificial language created especially for the song. The same tactic was used in 2006 by the Dutch entry Treble which is partially sung in an artificial language and once again by Belgium with their 2008 entry O Julissi.

No entirely instrumental composition has ever been allowed in Eurovision contests. Instrumentals are considered tantamount to cheating, and the ban has always been strongly enforced.


Dialects and regional languages

On some occasions, dialects of a language or a very rare language have been used in a song entry:

Language issues

Many European states were founded on ideas of linguistic unity, and because of the sometimes unwelcome dominance of the English language in modern pop music, the language of a country's Eurovision entry can be a contentious issue. Some entries are performed in English to reach broader audiences, though this is sometimes looked upon as unpatriotic. In recent years up to 2007 the number of non-English language entrants has decreased, with mostly Eastern European and French language countries performing in their native language. In terms of recent Contest performance, most non-English songs have been far less successful than those in English. Until 2007, the last wholly non-English language winner was Israel's Dana International, who performed Diva in Hebrew in 1998. The 2004 winner, Wild Dances performed by Ruslana, was partially sung in Ukrainian. After 2007 when Marija Šerifović won, singing in Serbian, the number of non-English contesters increased again in 2008. Almost half of the performers contested in their native language.

In some cases, the lyrics are written and recorded in two different versions (usually English and a national language) or a single multi-language version. Examples include:

  • Denmark, where the national selection procedure allows freedom of language, but if the winning song from their national competition is in Danish, it must be re-written in English for the competition.
  • Sweden, even as there is no outspoken rule the song must be translated to English, SVT usually demands so.
  • FYR Macedonia, who held a vote to decide whether their 2005 song should be in English or Macedonian.
  • France, whose entry in 2001 was performed partially in French and partially in English. The 2007 entry was sung in Franglais. The French entry in 2008 caused controversy as it was all in English and people were unhappy about being represented with an English song.

See also


External links


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