Eurovision Song Contest
The Eurovision Song Contest (sometimes shortened to ESC or simply Eurovision) is a song contest run by the European Broadcasting Union. It started in 1956. Each year, different singers representing countries in Europe perform a song and the winner is decided through voting.
Around 160 million people watch every year. This makes it the largest music competition in the world.
Past famous winners include ABBA (1974), Céline Dion (1988), Sandie Shaw (1967), Lordi (2006), Alexander Rybak (2009), Loreen (2012 and 2023), Conchita Wurst (2014), Netta Barzilai (2018), Duncan Laurence (2019) and Måneskin (2021). Famous contestants who did not win include Olivia Newton-John, Bonnie Tyler, Blue, Jedward, Engelbert Humperdinck and Rosa Linn.
The Eurovision Song Contest was created by the European Broadcasting Union to experiment live television and broadcasting across multiple countries. The first contest was held in 1956 with the aim of uniting the countries of Europe following World War II. Seven countries took part in the first contest, which was hosted in Lugano. It was won by Lys Assia, who was representing Switzerland.
Expansion of the contest change
More countries began to join very quickly. In the 1970s, countries from outside Europe began to participate (such as Israel). Morocco also participated once (and is the only African country to do so). The early 1990s saw the fall of both the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, with both split into multiple countries (all in Eastern Europe). All of these new countries wanted to join so the 1993 contest had a miniature contest held beforehand between seven new Eastern European countries. The three winners of the contest would participate in the actual Eurovision Contest.
Relegation system (1994—2003) change
The 1994 contest introduced a relegation system. This meant that each year, the countries that ranked lowest would not be allowed to participate the following year in order to allow other countries to enter. Eurovision 1999 introduced a new rule where the United Kingdom, Spain, France and Germany (this group was called the "Big Four") were given the right to participate in every contest, even if they ranked at the bottom.
Semi-finals (2004—present) change
The relegation system was used until the Eurovision Song Contest 2004, which introduced a semi-final. The Big 4 and the ten highest-scoring acts of the previous contest would automatically qualify to the final while the rest would have to participate in a semi-final (the ten winners of the semi-final would join the others in the final).
In 2008, a second semi-final was introduced. Now, the ten highest-ranking countries from each semi-final join the host country and the Big Four in the Grand Final. The Big Four expanded to the "Big Five" when Italy re-joined the contest.
Recent history change
The Eurovision Song Contest 2020 was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the first time the contest was cancelled. It was replaced by a replacement show called Eurovision: Europe Shine a Light. It showed the selected entries in place of the Grand Final on 16 May 2020. The BBC also organised an all-stars contest, where ABBA's "Waterloo" was voted best Eurovision song. That same year, a film named Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga was released starring Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams.
Current competition format change
Each year, every country taking part will send in one song which is performed by up to six singers. Each song is performed in a large arena in front of an audience of fans. The winner is decided through a complicated system of voting.
In the first few years of the contest, a small group of countries competed against each other in one show. As more countries wanted to join, it was eventually decided that there would be two semi-finals, where the ten highest-ranked countries from each semi-final would go into the final. The United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany and Italy automatically qualify for the final because they give a lot of money to the contest. In addition to this, the host country also automatically makes it to the final. This makes an average of 26 finalists (25 if the host country is a member of the Big Five).
Voting and winner selection change
Until the late 1990s, the winner was decided by experts from each country, called a jury. There were multiple jurors per country and each one would award points to their favourite song. The way that the points were awarded changed over the years.
In the late 1990s, televoting was introduced for some countries while others used juries. From 1998 to 2008, the winner was entirely decided by a public televote.
It was decided that the juries would come back because countries kept voting for their allies. Since 2009, the winner has been decided by a combination of a jury vote and public vote. The top 10 countries from each country's jury vote and public vote are awarded points. The country with the most points wins.
In 2023, the "Rest of the World" vote was introduced for the public vote, which allowed viewers from other countries to vote. This gave the public 50.6% say in the voting while the juries now have 49.4%.
According to the Eurovision rules, the winner of each contest will host the next year's contest. This rule has been applied most of the time, with a notable exception being the 2023 contest, which was hosted in the United Kingdom because the previous year's winner, Ukraine, was unable to host.
Each year, the contest is hosted by a number of presenters. Usually, these are celebrities from the hosting country or can also be past winners and contestants.
The presenters will usually speak in English or the language of the host country. In addition to the presenters, each participating country has a "commentator" who narrates the event for the viewers in their language.
Contestant selections change
In order for a country to participate, it must be a part of the European Broadcasting Union. This includes all of Europe, some Asian and African countries as well as Australia. Each country has a television channel (called broadcasters) which broadcasts the Contest in that country. The only European countries which have never participated are Liechtenstein and the Vatican. The only African country to have ever participated was Morocco.
Entry selections change
There are three main types of selections which choose who will represent what country:
- An internal selection is when the channel showing the Contest in a country chooses the contestant and song. For example, the BBC (which airs the Contest in the UK) has chosen the song and contestant without involving the public for several years.
- A national selection is where a country holds its own competition to decide who will represent them in Eurovision. For example, Sweden's national selection is Melodifestivalen, which is the most watched national selection.
- A combination of both selections is a rare method. It is often when the broadcaster chooses the contestant and lets the public vote on the song.
Starting in the Eurovision Song Contest 2002, each contest was given a different theme and slogan. This stopped when it was announced that the same slogan would be used every year starting from the Eurovision Song Contest 2024.
|2002||A Modern Fairytale|
|2003||A Magical Rendez-vous|
|2004||Under The Same Sky|
|2006||Feel The Rhythm|
|2008||Confluence of Sound|
|2010||Share The Moment|
|2011||Feel Your Heart Beat|
|2012||Light Your Fire|
|2013||We Are One|
|2019||Dare To Dream|
|2022||The Sound Of Beauty|
|2023—present||United By Music|
List of contests change
The first Contest was won by Swiss singer Lys Assia with the song "Refrain". The first man to win (André Claveau) won the third Contest. ABBA was the first group to win. The first person to win the Contest twice was Johnny Logan. The first woman to win twice was Loreen, whose second win is the most recent victory.
International versions change
There are some other versions of Eurovision including: