Posts tagged “eurovision for beginners

Playlist of the Week: Eurovision for Americans

USA flag in EO logo

Hello Dear Readers!

Well, with Netflix releasing its…. Eurovision-inspired movie; I thought, “What better time to counterbalance the image of ESC being a trashy, campy, dumpster fire?” USA flag in EO logoEven more so now that the new executive supervisor, Martin Österdahl, has announced that he’s continuing the tradition of putting style-before-substance. But now is not the time for a rant (but there will be one – promise!).

Instead, since many Americans will be learning about Eurovision for the first time this week, I thought it would be a good idea to 1) remind folks of my Eurovision for Beginners, 2) remind folks of my Essential Eurovision playlist, and 3) create a Eurovision for Americans playlist highlighting the performing artists coming from the States, spent significant time in the US, or otherwise are American citizens regardless of where they spent their youth.

  1. EO logo with Union JackUnited Kingdom 1997 – Love Shine a Light performed by Katrina & the Waves

    The only winning song to be performed by an American! Katrina, who is from Kansas, and the Waves are also known for their hit Walking on Sunshine.

  2. Portugal 2017 – Amar Pelos Dois performed by Salvador Sobral

    Sobral (and his older sister who wrote the song) spent his middle and high school years in Florida

  3. Hungary 2014 – Running performed by András Kállay-Saunders

    Saunders was born and raised in New York City before moving to Hungary, where his grandmother was, and began his music career.

  4. Austria 2000 – All to You performed by The Rounder Girls

    Kim Cooper of the Rounder Girls is from Long Island, NY.

  5. Italy 1975 – Era performed by Wess & Dori Ghezzi

    Before pursuing his music career in Italy, Wess spent his life in Winston-Salem, NC. in 2009, he passed away in his hometown.

  6. EO logo with Albanian flagAlbania 2011 – Feel the Passion performed by Aurela Gaçe

    After building her career in Albania, Gaçe spent the majority of 21st Century in the US engaging with the Albanian immigrant community.

  7. Germany 2009 – Miss Kiss Kiss Bang performed by Alex Sings Oscar Swings!

    Oscar Loya is a singer and thespian from California. Bonus American! Dita Von Teese joined Alex and Oscar on the stage in Moscow.

  8. Yugoslavia 1990 – Hajde Da Ludujemo performed by Tajci

    Tajci retired from music soon after her appearance at Eurovision and moved to the US where she eventually settled in Cincinnati, Ohio.

  9. Greece 2008 – Secret Combination performed by Kalomira

    Former prom queen Kalomira is from Long Island, NY.

  10. Israel 2006 – Ze Hazman performed by Eddie Butler

    Butler and his brother also were a part of the group representing Israel on home soil in 1999. Butler is from Detroit.

  11. Cyprus 2020 – Running performed Sandro

    Born in Germany, Sandro’s American citizenship comes from his father. Sandro represented the USA at the prestigious New Wave Festival in 2009.

  12. EO logo with Austrian flagAustria 2013 – Shine performed by Natália Kelly

    While Kelly spent the majority of her life in Austria, she was born in Connecticut.

  13. Poland 2008 – For Life performed by Isis Gee

    Originally from Seattle, but now based equally in California and Italy, Gee represented the land of her ancestors.

  14. Bulgaria 2018 – Bones performed by EQUINOX

    LA-based producer and singer Trey Campbell and Flint, Michigan native & America’s Got Talent alum Johnny Manuel comprised two-fifths of the group EQUINOX.

  15. United Kingdom 2009 – It’s My Time performed by Jade Ewen

    The UK’s most recent foray into the Top Ten was, in part, provided by American lyricist Diane Warren.

  16. EO logo with Luxembourgish flagLuxembourg 1979 – J’ai Déjà Vu ça Dans Tes Yeux performed by Jeane Manson

    Manson, from Cleveland, OH, built a career as a model before entering music.

  17. San Marino 2017 – Spirit of the Night performed by Jimmie Wilson & Valentina Monetta

    Primarily an actor in musicals, Wilson is a Detroit native.

  18. Slovenia 2013 – Straight into Love performed by Hannah

    Hannah is from Fresno, CA, love took her to Slovenia, where her music career took hold.

  19. Cyprus 2006 – Why Angels Cry performed by Annet Artani

    Artani comes from America’s biggest city: New York, NY.

  20. Sweden 2020 – Move performed by The Mamas

    Member Ashley Haynes is from the US capital: Washington, DC.

  21. Albania 2017 – World performed by Lindita

    Lindita is from Kosovo, but moved to the US in 2013 and even took part in American Idol in 2016.

  22. Serbia 2020 – Hasta la Vista performed by Hurricane

    While none of the three singers in Hurricane are American, the group was formed in LA and remains based there.

  23. EO logo with Danish flagDenmark 1981 – Krøller Eller Ej performed by Tommy Seebach & Debbie Cameron

    Cameron comes from Miami, FL where she grew up and attended university before moving to Copenhagen.

  24. Germany 2010 – Satellite performed by Lena

    Another songwriter, this time Chicago-based Julie Frost, co-wrote and co-composed the only winning song – thus far – from the Big Five since the rule was instituted (she also wrote the 2012 DMGP entry Best Thing that I Got).

 

Additionally, I will be starting a series focused on American Eurovision media outlets and organizations, both those based in the US and those started by Americans in Europe. You can read the first entry which focuses on Eurovision Obsession, which you can consider an extended “About EO” page.

Many thanks goes to the WiwiBloggs article that served as the jumping off point for my research for this playlist.


ESC Write-Ups & Quizzes

Hello Dear Readers!

As you know, one of the primary objectives of Eurovision Obsession is to help introduce new people to the ESC. To that effect,each year since 2013, I have been posting the notes that I originally crafted for my Eurovision parties introducing my American friends to the Contest. These notes include a brief history of the Contest, a brief explanation of its rules, highlights for that particular year, an explainer of Eurovision Week, and profiles of each competing country. Additionally, for the more obsessed, EO has been making quizzes on the website Sporcle since 2015 for those who want to test their knowledge.

Below, you will find the complete collection of Eurovision Write-Ups and Country Profiles published on this website as well as links to each Sporcle quiz EO has produced.

Eurovision 2020 – Rotterdam

Eurovision 2019 – Tel Aviv

*Some of the country profiles have outdated info in the brief histories, EO apologizes for the error.

Eurovision 2018 – Lisbon

Eurovision 2017 – Kyiv

Eurovision 2016 – Stockholm

Eurovision 2015 – Vienna

Eurovision 2014 – Copenhagen

Eurovision 2013 – Malmö


Eurovision Notes 2019!

Hello Dear Readers and Happy Eurovision Week!

Eurovision Obsession logoOnce again, I have created notes for y’all’s various Eurovision parties. This way you do not have to answer the same questions, over and over again.

First, we have the Notes! This includes a brief history of the Contest, a summary of the major rules, information about this year’s event, and what to expect from the show. Also, new this year, I have included brief summaries of each song.

ESC 2019 Write-ups

Second, we have the traditional country profiles! A brief rundown of a country’s history, this year’s entry, and a little bit about the performing artist. All in alphabetical order (by country).

2019 Country Profiles*

Enjoy!! I’m going to try to update them so you can have Grand Final versions.

*Editor’s Note: This version of the country profiles has some outdated info. EO apologizes for the error.


2017 Eurovision for Beginners & ESC Notes 2017

Hello Dear Readers!

Eurovision continues is reaching a wider audience than ever before! I’d thought it would be a good idea to create a quick reference post for newbies to the Contest. Here are the top ten things you need to know in order to understand and enjoy Eurovision.

1. The Contest began in 1956 in order to bring together war-torn Europe. Starting with just seven countries, the Contest has exploded as Europe welcomed new countries. There are a total of 42 countries involved in ESC 2017, spanning the continent and beyond.

2. The participating countries are randomly split in half based on their voting history and must compete in one of either two semi-finals. Ten songs qualify from each semi-final and meet the automatic qualifiers in the Grand Final.

3. The automatic qualifiers are the host country, which is the defending champion, and the Big Five. These are the countries with the five largest television audiences in Europe and pay the most to the EBU (the organization that runs Eurovision). These countries are: France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

4. The competitors are broadcasting companies (typically government-run) that select a representative to fly the flag. Countries can choose their entries any way they like. Some opt for a competition in which artists compete with songs, some choose an artist and song internally, and some do a combination of these things.

5. Songs can be in any language, but most choose English (or partially English) to broaden their entry’s appeal. Songs cannot have offensive, overtly sexual, political, or overtly religious lyrics. All lyrics can be found, in English and French, on the official website: eurovision.tv.

6. All performers (singers, backing singers, and dancers) must be at least 16 on the day of their first night of competition. No animals are allowed on stage. All music must be provided by backing track, but all singing must be done live. Songs must be no longer than three minutes.

7. Voting results are a 50/50 combination of professional juries and public vote (televoting). Each country provides a jury of five music professionals; they watch the second dress rehearsal (the evening before the televised show) and cast their votes then. Televoting occurs during the televised show during a fifteen minute window after the last song is performed.

8. Every competing country, regardless if they qualified for the Grand Final, vote for the winner. The results of the jury are revealed, country by country. The televoting is then revealed in ascending order, from least points to most points.

9. The winning song has the honor of being reprised at the end of the show. The winning artist gets a crystal trophy shaped liked a microphone. The winning composers and lyricists receive plaques. The winning broadcaster and country get to host the Contest the following year.

10. The Eurovision Song Contest is for EVERYONE. Despite the stereotypes, Eurovision is enjoyed by all kinds of people across the world and has the goal of uniting us ALL through music for one week a year.

Annual Notes

Craving for more information about Eurovision? Check out my ESC Notes that give a look at the history, rules, and notable quirks about the Contest. They were written with a particular eye towards those new to the Contest.

 Notes for ESC 2017

Want more information specific to ESC 2017? My country profiles will satiate your appetite as they cover information for each competing nation – their history and the background of their competing artists.

 ESC 2017 Country Profiles – Grand Finalists Only
ESC 2017 Country Profiles – All Participants

Wondering how you can hear great hits from Eurovision’s past? I have assembled playlists capturing different elements of Eurovision. This includes an Eurovision for Beginners playlist with twenty of the most influencial and historically important entries of all time.

Last year during the Second Semi-Final, two great productions were made wherein hosts Petra Mede and Måns Zelmerlöw explain the Contest in fun ways.

Support Eurovision Obsession on Patreon.
Follow @escobsession on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and Sporcle


Analyzing the Big Five: How can they get better?

Hello Dear Readers!

As decided by you on Twitter, the first series this summer will be on the Big Five – looking at their past ten entries (only six for Italy, as it rejoined in 2011) and determining their best path for success going into 2017. I’ll be examining them in reverse alphabetical order: United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany, and France.

But first, who are the Big Five, how did they get their status, and how do they *keep* their status?

Who are the Big Five?
In short: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Big Five

In more detail: the Big Five are the countries (and by countries, I mean participating broadcasters – remember, Eurovision is a competition between tv broadcasters) who (1) give the most money to the EBU – without their contributions, Eurovision would simply lack the funding to exist and (2) have (historically had) the largest television audiences in Europe. Simply put, France (France 2 + 3), Germany (NDR), Italy (RAI), Spain (RTVE), and the United Kingdom (BBC) have the greatest potential for the number of viewers of ESC. More viewers equals more money generated from advertisers. It also means more potential buyers of ESC merchandise.

How did they get their status?
Imagine it’s the nineties. Yugoslavia has split up and other Communist nations are slowly starting to look towards the West. In 1993, the EBU tried having a pre-selection show to handle all the new countries that sprung up in the East. It accomplished its goal, but this was not a permanent solution. As more countries wanted to participate, 1996 brought another pre-selection show. Juries would listen to songs from every country looking to participate (except the previous year’s winner, Norway) and select the songs joining the prequalified entries in Oslo. The German entry, Planet of Blue, did not qualify. 1996 was one of the lowest watched Contests, losing lots of money for the EBU. Why? Because Germany had unprecedentedly low viewership. After a few more years without a preselection, the EBU implemented a relegation system. Needless to say, the EBU did not want to risk another situation in which a major broadcaster had low viewership, especially since Italy had decided to stop participating altogether after 1997. When setting the rules for relegation, exempted would be the four countries with the largest tv audiences and financial contributions. Therefore, Germany, France, UK, and Spain would never be relegated – and thus, the Big Four rule was introduced. When the semi-final was introduced in 2004, the Big Four rule was maintained; these four countries and the top ten from the previous year would automatically qualify for the Final. When Italy rejoined the Contest in 2011, it was determined that it should join its peers and create the Big Five.

Why do they keep their status?
In case you doubt their contributions, keep in mind how many countries don’t know from year to year if they will be able to participate due to finances. When the EBU provides money for those broadcasters, it is typically from the dues of these five countries as well as from the revenue generated from their content. For example, San Marino was able to participate in 2008 because RAI, a major stockholder in SMRTV at the time, wanted to test the waters for an Italian return. They helped fund San Marino’s 2008 debut and helped them return in 2011. This happens beyond Eurovision; as broadcasters need funds (or the waiving of dues payments) to operate – the EBU is able to provide assistance because the Big Five broadcasters provide a substantial portion of funding. The debts that caused TVR (Romania) to withdraw in 2016 and could possibly dissolve BHRT (and its subsidiary RTRS) (Bosnia & Herzegovina) were built by loans that the EBU was able to provide thanks to the Big Five broadcasters.

From a competition standpoint, it may not seem fair that these five always qualify, especially since their entries as of late (~past sixteen years) have not done too well. The fact remains, there would be no Contest without these five countries – from their financial contributions that help other European broadcasters operate, to the advertising revenues they bring to the EBU, to the audiences they provide for Eurovision and year-round programming, the Big Five are as vital today as they have ever been to the Contest.

So, why haven’t they been doing too well these past ten years? Well…it depends on the country. We’ll spend the next two weeks examining each one’s recent history, identifying potential weak spots, and giving suggestions for 2017.

Support Eurovision Obsession on Patreon.
Follow @escobsession on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and Sporcle


Eurovision for Beginners

Hello Dear Readers!

This year, a Eurovision is reaching a wider audience than ever before! I’d thought it would be a good idea to create a quick reference post for newbies to the Contest. Here are the top ten things you need to know in order to understand and enjoy Eurovision.

1. The Contest began in 1956 in order to bring together war-torn Europe. Starting with just seven countries, the Contest has exploded as Europe welcomed new countries. There are a total of 42 countries involved in ESC 2016, spanning the continent and beyond.

2. The participating countries are randomly split in half based on their voting history and must compete in one of either two semi-finals. Ten songs qualify from each semi-final and meet the automatic qualifiers in the Grand Final.

3. The automatic qualifiers are the host country, which is the defending champion, and the Big Five. These are the countries with the five largest television audiences in Europe and pay the most to the EBU (the organization that runs Eurovision). These countries are: France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

4. The competitors are broadcasting companies (typically government-run) that select a representative to fly the flag. Countries can choose their entries any way they like. Some opt for a competition in which artists compete with songs, some choose an artist and song internally, and some do a combination of these things.

5. Songs can be in any language, but most choose English (or partially English) to broaden their entry’s appeal. Songs cannot have offensive, overtly sexual, political, or overtly religious lyrics. All lyrics can be found, in English and French, on the official website: eurovision.tv.

6. All performers (singers, backing singers, and dancers) must be at least 16 on the day of their first night of competition. No animals are allowed on stage. All music must be provided by backing track, but all singing must be done live. Songs must be no longer than three minutes.

7. Voting results are a 50/50 combination of professional juries and public vote (televoting). Each country provides a jury of five music professionals; they watch the second dress rehearsal (the evening before the televised show) and cast their votes then. Televoting occurs during the televised show during a fifteen minute window after the last song is performed.

8. Every competing country, regardless if they qualified for the Grand Final, vote for the winner. The results of the jury are revealed, country by country. The televoting is then revealed in ascending order, from least points to most points.

9. The winning song has the honor of being reprised at the end of the show. The winning artist gets a crystal trophy shaped liked a microphone. The winning composers and lyricists receive plaques. The winning broadcaster and country get to host the Contest the following year.

10. The Eurovision Song Contest is for EVERYONE. This openness & inclusion, along with a past history of being kitschy and camp, have brought a lot of gay male fans to the ESC. However, despite stereotypes throughout Western Europe, Eurovision is enjoyed by all kinds of people across the world and has the goal of uniting us ALL through music for one a week a year.

Craving for more information about Eurovision? Check out my ESC Notes that give a look at the history, rules, and notable quirks about the Contest. They were written with a particular eye towards those new to the Contest.

ESC 2016 Write-ups

Want more information specific to ESC 2016? My country profiles will satiate your appetite as they cover information for each competing nation – their history and the background of their competing artists.

ESC2016 Country Profiles

Wondering how you can hear great hits from Eurovision’s past? I have assembled playlists capturing different elements of Eurovision. This includes an Eurovision for Beginners playlist with twenty of the most influencial and historically important entries of all time.

This year during the Second Semi-Final, two great productions were made wherein hosts Petra Mede and Måns Zelmerlöw explain the Contest in fun ways.

Expecting my thoughts and reactions to the jury show for the Grand Final? Check back in a few hours!

Support ESC Obsession and my trip to Eurovision! https://www.gofundme.com/andretoeurovision


Changes to ESC Voting

Hello Dear Readers!

So, I realized that I did not address the voting change to the ESC announced in February and, figuring that I want to help you make the Contest easier for others to understand, I thought that I would give a handy explanation of the changes.

What is NOT changing:

  1. The results will still be 50% voting and 50% juries. (Semi-final qualifiers and the winner are decided by combining the results of televoting – the votes of those viewing at home – and professional juries)
  2. Final jury results will still be determined by combining the the full rankings of each juror and awarding points to the top ten.
  3. Countries will still call in their votes in a predetermined order based on the results of the juries.
  4. Televoting – via phones and SMS – will still be collected in a 15 minute interval during the show and will determine fifty percent of the final scores’ value.

What IS changing:

  1. Instead of combining the a country’s jury votes and televoting, they will remain separate. This means that, effectively, each country is handing out points twice: to the top ten countries in the jury’s ranking AND the top ten countries in the televoting.
  2. The points being announced by each country will be purely from the juries. This is being done for several reasons.
    1. It means that the interval act can be shorter because the jury votes can be read while the televotes are calculated, cutting down the length of the show in hopes of returning it to the appropriated three hour running time.
    2. Since 2011, an algorithm (or formula) for determining the order of how countries gave their votes has been in place based on the results of the juries. This algorithm is designed to give the voting sequence maximum suspense and excitement.
  3. The televoting from all the countries will be combined and revealed en masse after the jury votes are given. They will be given in ascending order, so the country with the fewest points will be read first all the way through the country receiving the most points.
    1. This makes the voting sequence more exciting because we’ll see countries fall back down the scoreboard only to rise back up.
    2. This makes it much harder to predict the winner before voting is over.
  4. There will now be twice as many points available, essentially setting up all the old point total records to be shattered. This year, with 42 participants, there will be a total of 4,872 points available (as compared to only 2,494 last year under the previous system).

The biggest issue that people dislike is that the juries’ votes are being read as opposed to the televoting public’s votes. But, as mentioned above, the jury votes are already collected, so having them be the ones read for each country makes more sense from a practical, time-saving point of view.

Unanswered Questions

The bigger question is what happens when either jury or televoting results are unavailable? We all know that some countries rely 100% on jury votes for assigning points (such as San Marino, which lacks the infrastructure to collect televotes). Others are forced to do this if there are irregularities found with their televoting (such as Moldova which often has issues getting enough people to televote). Conversely, some jury results are disqualified when their results appear to be suspect (as has happened with Azerbaijan and Macedonia in previous years). The new voting procedure indicates that an assortment of countries will be used to create a stand-in score for the missing points. How this amalgam score will be calculated, in terms of how stand-in countries will be determined and how many there will be, has yet to be revealed.

Additionally, information about tie-break procedures has yet to be released (as far as I know). Previously, in breaking a tie, the country with the higher total number of countries voting for it would be higher, after that, it was the country with more 12s, then 10s, etc. all the way down to 1s. For semi-finals, if there was still a tie at this point, the one performing earlier in the running order would move through. For the Grand Final, a tie would be declared. Under the new system, would the total number of countries be counted for each jury and televoting, or just total overall? When doing the countbacks (counting the number of 12s, 10s, 8s, etc.), is it by televoting or juries – or both? Will there be a new level added before a tie is declared (or we turn to the producer-determined running order, in the case of semi-finals) that gives the nod to the country with a higher televoting score? or jury score? This needs to be cleared up and publicized BEFORE the Contest. Time is running out EBU.

Overall, this is not a change to be afraid of. If you’re concerned or want to dive into the numbers, I point you to ESC Insight, were they break down the effects of the new system using numbers from past Contests. I look forward to seeing how the voting sequence will look this year!

Support ESC Obsession and my trip to Eurovision! https://www.gofundme.com/andretoeurovision


Playlist of the Week – Eurovision for Beginners

Hello Dear Readers!

As the summer begins, I thought it would be a nice idea to start building playlists to help you engage with the Contest and share your love with others. What better way to start this weekly tradition than with a rundown of twenty of the most influential songs from the history of the Contest, from 1956 to Today.

Find the playlist here: Eurovision for Beginners Playlist

But why did I select these twenty tunes? Each of these songs are an integral strand within the epic tapestry of Eurovision. Whether they changed the direction of the Contest, brought a new wave of interest and fans, or represented a broader change in European societies, each song has played a role in making the Eurovision Song Contest what it is today.

  1. SwitzerlandRefrain performed by Lys Assia — Switzerland 1956
    The first winner, the self-proclaimed “Mother of Eurovision” and ever tenacious Lys Assia represented her home country on home soil during the first ever Eurovision. She went on to represent Switzerland two more times.
  2. Nel blu dipinto di blu (Volare) performed by Domenico Modugno — Italy 1958
    If not the most well-known and successful song to come from the Contest, it is among the top ones. Covered by some of the world’s most famous artists, translated into a multitude of languages, Volare continues to be performed to this day. It also remains a point of contention – to this day – throughout the ESC fan community that this did not win.
  3. LuxembourgPoupée de Cire, Poupée de Son performed by France Gall — Luxembourg 1965
    Enter the youth movement. At the time, France Gall was the youngest singer to perform a winning entry and the song talks about her feeling like a “doll of straw” being contorted to appeal to a mass audience. A message that spoke to the youth of the 60s and continues to speak to hearts of those today.
  4. Waterloo performed by ABBA — Sweden 1974
    Artists have become big years after the Contest, they have been big going into the Contest, but only one artist has ever become big as a direct result of winning Eurovision: ABBA. Entering the night as a Swedish pop group, ABBA became international superstars after winning the Contest in Brighton.
  5. IsraelHallelujah performed by Gali Atari and Milk & Honey — Israel 1979
    The third time a country successfully defended its title, Hallelujah is an anthem of peace that continues to be used throughout the continent to harken the need for love and understanding, Israel even had the singers perform it when Jerusalem hosted the Contest again in 1999 as a tribute to those who were being impacted by the Balkan War. The song remains a classic for hardcore fans and casual viewers alike.
  6. Making Your Mind Up performed by Buck’s Fizz — United Kingdom 1981
    Eurovision has become synonymous with over-the-top, glittery, gimmicky performances for those who grew up or fell in love with the Contest in the Eighties and Nineties. This winning entry started that trend. Heads were turned when the guys ripped the girls’ skirts off to reveal shorter ones underneath: and thus, the ESC costume change was born!
  7. GermanyEin Bißchen Frieden performed by Nicole — Germany 1982
    Germany (or “West Germany” at the time) was one of the founding countries of Eurovision. It had competed in every Contest, but had never won. This all changed with the Ralph Siegel-penned entry performed by a 17 year old high school student. Not only was this Germany’s first win, but it set a record for point accumulation and margin of victory.
  8. IrelandHold Me Now performed by Johnny Logan — Ireland 1987
    Seven years after performing Ireland’s winning song in 1980, Johnny Logan returned to the ESC stage to represent the Emerald Isle with a song he coauthored. Logan was the first, and so far only, artist to be the performer for two winning entries. He picked up a third winner’s trophy as an author of the 1992 winner Why Me? This is also what sparked the Irish domination over the next ten years: five victories, a second place, and two other Top Ten finishes.
  9. Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi performed by Céline Dion — Switzerland 1988
    Two years before her big break, Céline Dion was a rising star in the francophone (French-speaking) world and was asked to represent Switzerland. Not only is Céline Dion one of the biggest artists to compete on the ESC stage, she had one of the most harrowing victories, beating out the UK by only one point.
  10. NorwayNocturne performed by Secret Garden — Norway 1995
    Notorious for its lack for lyrics (only 24 words), Nocturne is the only non-Irish victory between 1992-1996. Despite this fact, it is known as the most “Irish-sounding” song to win the Contest – with the heavy emphasis on the violin and harp. It remains one of the most popular songs from the 90s.
  11. Just a Little Bit performed by Gina G — United Kingdom 1996
    United KingdomThe only other non-winner on the list, this Contest classic is one of the most commercially successful ESC songs in history. Finishing a mere 8th, this song’s lack of a victory remains highly controversial. The song came into the Contest riding high in the charts and continued this dominance after the ESC. It is one of the most popular ESC songs from the 1990s and can routinely be heard on dance floors around the world. While many fans may disagree with placing this song amongst the company of others on this list, I believe that its unprecedented (and unmatched) commercial success throughout and beyond Europe helps it earn its spot among the top twenty.
  12. Diva performed by Dana International — Israel 1998
    The first year in which televoting was used, Israel stormed to victory on the back of Dana International, a transgender woman who was known for her foot-stomping, club anthems. Not only did Diva bring a new genre to the forefront of the Contest, but it also brought to light an oft-ignored population. As a transwoman, Dana International became an icon, not just for transpeople, but for all members of the LGTBQ population across Europe. While there have been various drag acts to compete in the years since, Dana International remains the only transperson to compete.
  13. Fly On the Wings of Love performed by The Olsen Brothers — Denmark 2000
    One of the biggest surprises to win the Contest, fewer entries had lower odds of winning than Fly on the Wings of Love. But, the song was an instant hit across Europe, endearing itself in the hearts of young and old across the continent. The song is often cited as one of the best to win, particularly in the 2000s.
  14. Wild Dances performed by Ruslana — Ukraine 2004
    UkraineIn its second year, Ukraine won the Contest with a foot-stomping dance track. This entry is important because it pushed forward two trends of the early 2000s: the rise of Eastern Europe and the increased importance of a catchy stage show. While Estonia and Latvia both won just a few years previously, 2004 saw a rise in the success of Eastern European nations as the Contest was larger than ever before with the advent of the semi-final, which eliminated the need for regulation and the all of Eastern Europe was able to compete simultaneously. Wild Dances is also infamous for being a fairly simple song that won due to its amazing choreography; inspiring acts that continually got more and more outlandish.
  15. FinlandHard Rock Hallelujah performed by Lordi — Finland 2006
    Breaking the records set by the United Kingdom in 1997, this song reached new heights in points acquisition and margin of victory. Hard Rock Hallelujah remains the most successful hard rock song and one of Finland’s twelve Top Ten placings, only finish in the Top Five. This entry broke the Contest out of the cycle of pop tunes and ballads that have dominated it for most of its history. Since, there have been a variety of rock songs as well as experimental entries.
  16. SerbiaMolitva performed by Marija Šerifović — Serbia 2007
    Not only was this the first winner that I ever saw, but Molitva represents a turning point for the Contest. It beat out zanier entries that, no doubt, would have been victorious just years before, setting the Contest on a track towards stronger compositions and lyrics while simultaneous scaling back the spectacle of performances. Not only that, but Molitva remains one of only two non-English songs to win the ESC in the televoting era (Israel 1998 being the other).
  17. Fairytale performed by Alexander Rybak — Norway 2009
    The current record holder for total points accumulated and margin of victory (and, at the time, most 12pts and many other point records), Fairytale was written, composed, and performed by Alexander Rybak. The song went on to chart in almost every European country, reaching gold and platinum status in a variety of nations. It was the first winner to achieve major commercial success in the 2000s and helped to bring relevancy back to the Contest.
  18. Satellite performed by Lena — Germany 2010
    Another song that raced up the scoreboard and European music charts. Satellite not only continued a trend of commercial success for ESC winners, but restored faith in the Contest for many in Western Europe who had figured no country in the west stood a legitimate shot at winning the ESC. This revitalized the Contest and the following year saw the return of Austria and Italy, the latter of which was returning from a 13 year absence.
  19. SwedenEuphoria performed by Loreen — Sweden 2012
    The records mentioned above that Norway 2009 once held, those were broken by this entry – Sweden’s fifth victory: Euphoria. The song was known for the stunning performance, the easy to learn lyrics, and the choreography that Loreen performed on stage. Euphoria joined the ranks of the few songs to land on music charts outside of Europe and Australia since the 1970s, reaching the charts in throughout the Americas and a few countries of Asia and Europe.
  20. Rise Like a Phoenix performed by Conchita Wurst — Austria 2014
    AustriaIn a year in which political and economic turmoil could be found throughout the continent, a singer purporting to represent peace, understanding, and acceptance performed a song about rising up despite being hurt. While Rise Like a Phoenix did not have the commercial success of its most recent predecessors, it remains an anthem of rising above those that wish to do you harm, whether it be in relationships or in a society that wishes to tear you down.

Honorable Mention: Dansevise (Denmark 1963), No Ho l’Eta (Italy 1964), La La La (Spain 1968), the four winners of 1969, Ding-A-Dong (The Netherlands 1975), Diggi-loo Diggi-ley (Sweden 1984), Love Shine a Light (United Kingdom 1997), Sanomi (Belgium 2003), Tonight Again (Australia 2015)

What songs do you think are integral to Eurovision’s history?
Stay tuned next week, our playlist will be Eurovision for Anglophobes, a playlist of twenty of the best non-English language songs in the post-language rule era (1999 and onwards).

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Notes for Eurovision 2015!

Hello Dear Readers!

As I do each year, I have provided some notes to help you put this year’s Contest into historical perspective. Feel free to print them and have them on hand for your Eurovision party or just read them and be the most knowledgeable person in the room!

Eurovision 2015 Write-ups


Eurovision 2013 – Updated Notes!

Howdy All!

As you prepare for the Grand Final, I have prepped documents giving a brief overview of the Contest’s history, rules, the voting system, and each participating country.  I have previously posted these, but thought it would be good idea to re-post them.  I have also updated the country profiles to include the Grand Final running order.  Keep them for yourself, share with friends, print them out and have them ready for the passing during your Eurovision Party — whatever works for you!

Eurovision 2013 Notes

ESC 2013 Country Profiles

Eurovision History Brief

Eurovision Voting Brief

Eurovision Rules Brief

Eurovision Week


A Word on the Juries

And we’re back!  The official split votes have been released by the EBU and fans are in an uproar.  A third of them sing the praises of the 50/50 system, despite the fact some of their favorite songs were eliminated, a third of them love the juries and want only jury voting, and some detest the juries (with a fiery passion, I might add) and want them to be promptly removed from future Contests.

Before we begin looking into the results, I think I will take a moment to explain who the juries are and what their purpose is.

  • Juries are comprised of five music related persons from each country, and must represent various age and professional demographics.  Typically, juries are comprised of record company executives, professional musicians, former participants, music professors/researchers, and music graduate students.  Essentially, the juries are supposed to reflect those at all positions of the music industry within each country.
  • Jurors are not allowed to be connected to any of the competing performers, songwriters, or composers, regardless of whether they compete in the Final or not.  This is particularly to protect against jury members who may be from a multi-national record company voting for artists signed to their company in another country.
  • The names of jury members tend to be released, ever so slowly, by each individual broadcasting company and can usually be found on Wikipedia.
  • Juries are specifically instructed to judge songs based on music quality, lyrical quality, and the “hit potential” (that is, chance that the song will become widely popular throughout the continent).  As professionals, jurors are supposed to be able to balance these three aspects.
  • The juries make their votes during the second dress rehearsal, not the final performance shown on television.  Remember, each performer has at least five rehearsals, two practice runs the week prior to the Contest (during which they have a forty minute period and a thirty minute period to perfect their stage show) and three dress rehearsals – two the day before the performance and one the day of the performance.  Songs qualifying from a semi-final have to go through three more dress rehearsals before the Final.  That means that performers can have a lot of fatigue going into the televised show, which may or may not be evident during a rehearsal.  This accounts for some of the disparity between televoters and jurors.
  • Common misconceptions about the jury:
    • “The juries are unprofessional and their make-up is clandestinely kept hidden.” – I think I just dispelled that belief
    • “The juries are susceptible to being bribed.” – It is true that a record company or a broadcasting executive could do this, but why?  Time has shown over and over again that most of the songs that are successful after the Contest are not necessarily the ones that place well, but have the most promotion before the Contest, so, if these people are going to sink money in anything, it will be pre-Contest promotion, not bribery.  Additionally, most broadcasters do not actually want to win, the Contest has always been a bigger investment than payout (especially this year).
    • “The juries do not know which songs will be hits, just look at X.” – This year’s big example is France, which has spent almost three weeks atop the French pop charts, spent time in the top ten of several border countries, and charted in the top 100 of several others.  Allons! Ola! Olé! would have been eighth if televoting alone was considered, but was drag down to twelfth (which is a very respectable finish) due to a meager twenty-second place from the jury.  However, this song has gained popularity due to the fact it was created for the French World Cup coverage.  Belgium has seen much more international success across Europe and was given much higher marks by the jury than by televoters.
    • “The juries are morons!  How could they like Y over Z!” – The Contest is, always has been, and will remain, a matter of taste.  As I said earlier, what may taste (or in this case, sound) good during the second dress rehearsal to the jury may not be as good during the televised performance, and vice versa.
    • “The juries are biased/vote politically.” – And the televoters don’t?  Diaspora has been a part of the Contest since the beginning.  Whether votes are given by juries, the general public, or a combination of the two, Diaspora voting will thrive.  For those who do not know what “Diaspora voting” means, essentially, it is both, when immigrants vote for their home country and when countries vote for those with similar cultures/music industries (i.e., their neighbors).  The former is exemplified in the fact that Turkey receives so many votes from Germany, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Belgium, and France.  The latter is demonstrated by the historic voting blocs, the Nordic coutnries, the former Yugoslav countries, the former USSR, Greece & Cyprus, and (traditionally) Malta-Ireland-UK (despite themselves).  These votes are obviously not political (go to the streets of Sarajevo and ask a Bosnian to give you his opinion of Serbia, or go to Belgrade and ask a Serb what she thinks of the Bosnians) so please stop calling them such!
    • “The juries and the 50/50 voting system is the only thing keeping the Contest from collapsing” – This is a quintessential hyperbole (i.e. a really big exaggeration).  I think the thing keeping the Contest from collapsing is that long list of sponsors that we see at the end of the Final, the dues paid by the participating broadcasters, and the taxpayers who give those broadcasters their money.  It is a stretch to say that broadcasters would pull out if not for the voting system (with Austria being the only country to withdraw due to the televoting process – all other countries withdrew due to financial reasons or really poor showings (looking at you Czech Republic)) as most realize that success comes and goes for everyone unless you’re Greece, then it just comes.

If you want to know more, the official rules regarding juries can be found here: Jury Rules.