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We love diversity here at TAFE NSW. Our students are waving flags for
every one of the 10 European countries who have made it through to the
2015 Eurovision Song Contest final!
It's the world's biggest, campest, cheesefest and this year it's
turning 60. To commemorate this salubrious occasion, we've trawled
through the archives and come up with a list of 60 Eurovision
controversies, scandals, boycotts, broken rules, dummy spits, wardrobe
malfunctions and moments of downright bizarreness.
01 The contest was originally created as a way of
unifying post-WWII Europe, which was still fragmented, bruised, and in
desperate need of a big group hug.
02 The first Contest took place in Lugano,
Switzerland in May 1956 with just seven nations competing.
03 Up until 1967, the contest was known as "The
Eurovision Grand Prix".
04 At first the Contest was still mostly a radio
show, as television wasn't yet widespread.
05 In the Contest's early years, the Soviet Union
built hundreds of jamming stations to block the signals from western
TV networks getting past the Iron Curtain.
06 The Contest has been broadcast every year since
its inauguration and is one of the longest-running television
programmes in the world.
07 It is also one of the most watched non-sporting
events in the world with international audiences estimated at between
100 million and 600 million.
08 The convention of the winning country being
invited to host the following year's Contest was first introduced in
1958, although several winners have declined this honour for
financial, logistic or political reasons.
09 The country holding the record for the most wins
is Ireland, having won the Contest seven times-including three times
in a row in 1992, 1993, and 1994.
10 Dublin has hosted the Contest six times - more
than any other city.
11 The country that has participated the longest
without any win is Portugal, which made its debut in 1964 and to date
has never even finished in the top five.
12 Norway has scored "zero points" more
times (four) than any other country in Eurovision history and have
come last a record breaking ten times.
13 The rules currently state that each performance
may consist of a maximum of six people on stage. No live animals.
14 All vocals must be sung live: no voices are
permitted on backing track.
15 Until 1998, the host country was required to
provide a live orchestra.
16 Performances can currently be sung in any
language, although this rule has changed back and forth over the years.
17 Even non-existent languages are allowed, something
that Belgium has made use of on two separate occasions; in 2003 and 2008.
18 Each song has a maximum time limit of three minutes.
19 The oldest performer so far has been 95-year-old
Emil Ramsauer, who performed as part of the band Takasa, representing
Switzerland in 2013.
20 Twenty-eight female solo artists have won, in
comparison to just seven male soloists.
21 The UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain are known
as Eurovision's "Big Five" and are automatically granted a
spot in the finals as they contribute the most financially, although
several countries over the years have become disgruntled with this
22 The shortest song in Eurovision history was
performed by Britain's Patricia Bredin in 1957. Her song ‘All' clocked
in at just one minute and 52 seconds.
23 During the 1962 performance of Dutch duo, De
Spelbrekers, the lights suddenly went out, leaving the memorable sight
of two disembodied white shirts bopping away.
24 The UK's first victory was in 1967 with Sandie
Shaw's ‘Puppet On A String', a song that she loathed. "I hated
the song from the first oompah to the final bang on the big bass
drum," she told the media. "I was repelled by its sexist
drivel and cuckoo-clock tune."
25 The first Eurovision Contest broadcast in full
colour was held at London's Royal Albert Hall in 1968.
26 According to a Spanish documentary, dictator
Francisco Franco rigged the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest to boost
Spain's flagging tourism, knocking British crooner Cliff Richard,
whose entry ‘Congratulations' was that year's red hot favourite, to
27 Spain's dodgy winning entry, ‘La La La' contained
the word ‘la' exactly 138 times in its lyrics.
28 In 1969, four of the sixteen countries taking
part, France, Spain, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, all tied
for first place. There was nothing in the rules to decide an outright
winner, so all four were declared joint winners.
29 Everyone was nervous at the 1973 contest as the
Black September murders at the Munich Olympics were still fresh in
everyone's minds. Israel's entrant, Ilanit, sang her number wearing a
30 Security was so heavy in 1973 that the audience
was politely advised to remain seated while applauding, to avoid being
mistakenly shot as a terrorist.
31 The 1974 Contest was the one that famously gave
the world ABBA - Eurovision's biggest success story to this day. In
spite of the fame the group was to achieve, they only just made the
cut that year after two previous failed attempts to represent their
32 ABBA's historic win also broke a couple of
Eurovision records. It was the first time a group, (rather than a
soloist or duo) had won. It was also the first time the winning song
was performed in a language other than their country's native tongue.
33 ABBA is also the name of a well-known fish-canning
company in Sweden, and itself an acronym. The group negotiated with
the canners for the rights to the name.
34 On Eurovision's 50th anniversary in 2005, ABBA's
winning song, ‘Waterloo', was voted the most popular Eurovision song
of all time.
35 Also in 1974, Italy refused to broadcast its own
entry, a song called ‘Si' (‘Yes' in English). The country was smack
dab in the middle of a referendum on divorce, and it was feared the
song title might be seen as a subliminal message to voters.
36 ABBA's success spawned some clones. In 1976,
British quartet Brotherhood of Man won the Contest with their bouncy
song ‘Save Your Kisses For Me'. The two-male-two-female group's clean
cut image was suspiciously similar to ABBA's.
37 More ABBA cloning occurred in 1981 with another
British quartet, Bucks Fizz. This clean cut, two-male-two-female group
won the Contest with the even bouncier ‘Making Your Mind Up'.
38 In 1975 Greece, still annoyed from Turkey's
invasion of Cyprus three years earlier, withdrew from the Contest
because of Turkey's inclusion.
39 The following year Turkish television refused to
broadcast Greece's entry.
40 Then in 1978 Jordan refused to broadcast Israel's
entry, showing viewers some pictures of flowers instead. Annoyingly
for Jordan, Israel ended up winning, so Jordan television dealt with
this inconvenient reality by simply cutting the broadcast and telling
viewers that runner-up Belgium was the winner.
41 Ireland's favourite son, Johnny Logan, is the only
performer to have won Eurovision twice. First in 1980 with ‘What's
Another Year?' and then in 1987 with ‘Hold Me Now'. Ironically, at the
time of his 1980 win he was technically still an Australian citizen.
42 When Britain's Bucks Fizz won the contest in 1981
they caused a sensation with their Velcro rip-away skirts. This
gimmick caused Velcro to be completely sold out across the country in
just 48 hours.
43 Four years later in Sweden, presenter Lill
Lindfors had an "accidental" on-stage wardrobe malfunction
when her skirt was yanked away by a nail (yes, Velcro again). Everyone
giggled but she had her wrist slapped afterwards by organisers.
44 Italy boycotted the 1981 Contest saying it was
"too old fashioned".
45 When Belgium won the contest in 1986 it was
revealed that the performer, Sandra Kim, was only 13 years old, three
years below the minimum of 16. Second-place Switzerland threw a hissy
fit, demanding Kim's disqualification.
46 Celine Dion sang for Switzerland in 1988, which
launched her international career.
47 The 1994 Contest in Dublin was the one that gave
the world Riverdance. It was performed during the 7-minute interval,
and was given a standing ovation.
48 The idea of televoting by the public was trialled
in 1997 and it proved successful. The following year everyone was
encouraged to vote this way. These days people can also vote via SMS.
49 The 1998 Contest featured Dana International, a
transgendered diva representing Israel, which caused much controversy,
gnashing of teeth and street protests amongst Orthodox Jews.
Complicating matters even further, Dana International won that year's
50 In 2000 there was more controversy surrounding
Israel's entry, a group with the bouncy name of Ping Pong. At the end
of their song ‘Be Happy', they waved Syrian flags and called for
peace, causing all of Israel to clutch their pearls in horror. It was
revealed later that two members of the group were journalists and
they'd entered the comp as a joke.
51 The 2001 contest, hosted by Denmark featured the
largest venue in the contest's history, Copenhagen's Parken, seating
52 In 2004 when Ukranian singer Rusiana won the
contest she was rewarded with a seat in Parliament!
53 Norway won the contest in 2009 with 387 points,
the highest total in the history of the competition
54 In 2009 Georgia was accused of evoking the
previous year's Georgia-Russia crisis and mocking Russian Prime
Minister Vladimir Putin with their song ‘We Don't Wanna Put In'. They
were ordered to change the lyrics, something they flatly refused to
do, spat the dummy and pulled out of the contest.
55 Australians have taken part in previous years
representing other countries: Olivia Newton John represented the UK in
1974, Ireland's two-time winner Johnny Logan, and Gina G (UK, 1996)
and Jane Comerford as lead singer of German entry Texas Lightning (2006)
56 The largest number of nations to take part was 43
57 When Russia qualified for the finals in 2014 they
were heavily booed, most likely because of Putin's move in Ukraine and
58 The current holder of the Eurovision crown is
Austria's Conchita Wurst, "the bearded lady". Some men
shaved their beards off in protest while many women drew on fake
beards as a sign of support.
59 The sixtieth anniversary 2015 Contest will be
hosted by an all female trio - the first in the Contest's history
60 Australia has been invited to compete for the
first time in 2015 as a guest country. If Australia ends up winning,
the 2016 Contest won't be coming ‘Down Under' but will be staged in a
European city of Australia's choosing.