3 fascinating facts about Eurovision
There is a European (and, nowadays, Middle Eastern, Asian and Australian) tradition that seems utterly bizarre to those who are not used to it, particularly Americans. Every year, singers from across Europe - at least in theory - descend on one country to compete against each other in the Eurovision song contest. It is an annual explosion of great songs decorated with a fair share of bizarre acts.
Eurovision started in 1956 and has expanded from the seven countries that originally took part, with forty-one heading to Tel Aviv, Israel, for the 64th edition of the contest. With so much history behind it, and being a celebration of everything extraordinary and wonderfully camp, Eurovision has more than its fair share of fascinating facts and strange stories. Here are 3 of the most interesting facts about the Eurovision song contest.
1. You don’t have to be in Europe to compete
For a newcomer to Eurovision, it might seem bizarre that a song contest with “Euro” in its name, created for a European audience, and which puts such an emphasis on celebrating European co-operation, also includes such notably non-European nations as Azerbaijan, Israel and Australia. There were some concerns about Britain’s ability to compete post-Brexit, as well.
In truth, you only have to be a member of the European Broadcasting Union, which has been in existence since long before the European Union, to compete, and, it seems, any country can join, and, thus, compete. Incidentally, it seems that even if Australia did win, you wouldn’t have to get up early in the morning to watch it since they would likely to get a European nation to host it for them. With the country finishing in the top 10 in every contest since they first entered in 2015, that’s not unlikely. Australia is a known exporter of gold, but it’s also been an exporter of solid-gold Eurovision acts, even if it’s yet to take the title.
2. Ireland has won the most
While Australia is a budding, and potential future, Eurovision champion, there can be absolutely no doubt as to who the all time champions of Eurovision are. With their 7 wins, Ireland takes that title easily. Although they have experienced a bit of a drought in recent years, last winning in 1996, the country won three times in a row in the 1990s, almost bankrupting the state broadcaster RTE.
Sweden is not far behind on 6, last winning in 2015, most famously with ABBA’s Waterloo in 1974 - their first win. Luxembourg, who haven’t taken part since 1994, the UK, and France all share joint third place on five each, though the last time any of them won was the UK in 1997 represented by Katrina and the Waves (of Walking on Sunshine fame) with Love Shine a Light.
3. 4 countries won the 1969 contest
The expression “everyone’s a winner” has been increasingly mocked in recent years, but was very nearly the case 1969 when four countries - Britain, Spain, France and the Netherlands - topped the leaderboard, all on 18 points. Such a situation had never been imagined and so the organisers had no system for breaking the tie.
All four nations were eventually declared the winner and each received one of the four winning medals - which had been meant for the winning singer and three songwriters. The controversy over this led to Austria, Finland, Norway, Portugal and Sweden boycotting the contest the next year as they were unhappy with how the winner was decided.