History and stories of the Eurovision Song Contest
Broadcast every year since 1956, the Eurovision Song Contest is the longest-running television show in Europe and one of the longest in the world. It is also the world most-watched non-sporting event. In 2014 it reached an audience of about 200 million in Europe (1 billion worldwide) and was broadcast live to countries such as Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Korea, New Zealand and the USA even though these countries do not participate. Since the year 2000, the Contest has also been broadcast over the Internet.
The idea of a song contest was first conceived in a meeting in Monaco in January 1955. There the EBU committee was searching for a way to bring together its members around a light entertainment TV show. Inspired by the success of the Sanremo Music Festival in Italy they thought of a competition that would be simultaneously broadcast to all the member countries. Satellite television did not exist in those days and the European Television Network was just a terrestrial one so, in many ways, the contest was thought of as little more than a technological experiment in live television broadcasting.
The concept, the rules and the dates of what would be later named as the "Eurovision Grand Prix" were approved that same year in an assembly held in Rome on 19 October 1955.
Seven countries participated in the first contest held in Lugano, Switzerland, on 24 May 1956. A record 43 countries participated in 2008 in Belgrade and 2011 in Dusseldorf. As of May 2015 more than 1,400 songs have taken part in the contest. Pop tunes reigns among them but the Eurovision Song Contest has witnessed a very diverse array of styles, including Arab, Balkan, Dance, Folk, Israeli, Greek, Latin, Lyric, Metal, Nordic, Punk, Rap, Rock and Turkish.
That "little" experiment has grown over the years into a show of unbelievable proportions. And the scale and popularity of it is such that the word "Eurovision" itself is now mainly associated with the contest by many people. Furthermore, it is probably one of the most -if not the most- familiar word across the continent.
The 1956 contest was broadcast in the classic 4:3 format and continued to be broadcast in that format until 2004. In 2005, for the first time, the EBU broadcast in 16:9 widescreen format. Therefore, there are no 16:9 widescreen videos before 2005, so those shown on the Internet in that format have been obtained either by cutting the original, deleting part of the image, or by stretching it, deforming the proportions of faces and bodies. All the videos on this website are in their original format.
Although the "Euro" in its name can be misleading, being in Europe is not required to take part in, let alone to be a part of the European Union. Instead, being an active member of the European Broadcasting Union is. So, what does it take to be an active member of the EBU? You might be asking yourself. Well, to join in a country must be within the European Broadcasting Area or be a part of the Council of Europe. The European Broadcasting Area comprises a quite huge region of the world which boundaries are: meridian 10º West of Greenwich, meridian 40º east of Greenwich and parallel 30º North. Just to give you an idea how big it is, that includes Saudi Arabia and all of the Mediterranean countries as well as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Ukraine.
The EBU is the world's largest alliance of public service media and it has 73 active members. So far, 53 out of them have entered the contest at least once, including Morocco which did in 1980. Tunez wanted to participate in 1977 but in the end they withdrew for unknown reasons never to try again.
Countries outside the European Broadcasting Area cannot be active members but they can still join the EBU as associated members in which case they cannot participate in the Eurovision Song Contest even though in many of them the show is followed by a large audience. There are 32 associated countries so far. India, Japan, New Zealand or Canada are among them. But there is one where the Eurovision Song Contest is followed with unmatched passion: Australia. Probably because of Australia's strong political, historical and cultural ties to Europe the show has been broadcast there for more than 30 years with an audience of about 3 million. In recognition of Eurovision's popularity there, Australia was invited to participate in the 60th edition of the contest to be held in 2015 in Vienna. That year they were given a wild card and went straight to the final. It was meant to be a one-off event but they loved it so much they begged to stay and since then Australia has been part of the Eurovision family.
Criticized, beaten, loved and hated in equal measure, it has survived how many earthquakes and political changes have hit Europe. It has seen dictatorships, walls and blocks fall, it has witnessed the disappearance, disintegration and birth of several countries and it has remained standing, resurfacing with more force than ever when everyone considered it finished thanks to the overwhelming and impetuous illusion of young people from Eastern countries that have seen in it the opposite of what the west saw, namely: fun, joy, friendly competitiveness and an opportunity for integration. Its impetus has spread to the old powers of Western Europe who at first doubted and did not understand well what was happening. Eurovision again? But weren't we finished with it?. Little by little, however, they have once again jumped on the bandwagon of that portentous extravagance that each year, once again, paralyzes half of Europe, as in the old days.
The main goal of this site is to bring together all the winning entries since 1956 when the contest was mainly a radio program along with a resume of the main facts, anecdotes, gossip etc. about each year's edition. Here you can watch all the videos of the Eurovision Song Contest winning entries year by year, live from stage. You will see and listen to the songs exactly the way they were performed on stage the day they won. No studio recordings here! The quality of the first years' videos is very poor, as you might expect, but they are true gems and worth watching to fully understand all the changes the contest has gone through.
The journey begins here ¡Enjoy it!