The Who, What, Where and When of the Eurovision Song Contest


Since I was five I’ve been a fan of all things ESC
(So I’ve a penned poem which forms a Contest ‘potted history’….)
It’s Italian in origin - for the Contest that we know
Is based upon a Festival (from city of San Remo)

The first ‘Official’ Contest (- 1956 the year)
Is held (and won) by Switzerland (with ‘Refrain’ from Lys Assia)
Seven countries in the contest (… and no scores are announced
Avoiding the embarrassment of a country getting trounced!)

In 1957 Frankfurt says: “Let’s host the show”
And the UK says: “Please count us in and let us have go”’
Austria declare that they will join this singing game
(A decision which is also reached by the debutanting Danes)

Cory Brokken is the victor – for Netherlands (and won
With a track called ‘Net als Toen’ and a score of 31)
Holland says: “We’ll host next year – head down to Hilversum”
And Sweden say… “Can we opt in? We’d really love to come”

It’s ’58 (with no UK) and France’s ‘Dors, mon amour’
with Andre Cleaveau gets the prize (and 27 is its score)
…All off to Cannes in ‘59 (with eleven in the Show
Luxembourg have opted out.. opting in are Monaco)

On the Riviera - Netherlands the winners when
‘N Beetje’ (scoring 21) comes first for Teddy Scholten
Then....to the Swinging Sixties – (although NTV had said:
“We can’t host in 1960… “ - so London do the job instead

They all come back to Blighty with thirteen nations at the start
(Luxembourg have now returned; ‘newbie’ Norway taking part
This year France are victorious, thanks to Jacqueline Boyer, who
Sings about her love ‘Tom Pillibi’ (… for a score of 32)

It’s Cannes in 1961 …. Sixteen countries joining in
We welcome Spain and Yugoslavia (and we say “Hei” to the Finns)
Jean-Claude Pascal, from Luxembourg is delighted when - job done
‘Nous Les Amoureux’ claims victory (scoring 31)

They say: “We’d love to host to the show; Luxembourg’s the place to be”
So in ’62 we reconvene in Villa Louvigny
‘Un Premier Armour’ is sung by Isabelle Aubret
A 26 point win for France - but they can’t host (… “We just can’t pay…”)

“We’d love to help you again’ say the good old BBC
So… the sixteen come to London for the show of ‘63
It‘s first place for a duo - Grethe and Jorgen Ingmann who
Sing ‘Dansevise’ for Denmark – and win (scoring 42)

Copenhagen, then for ’64 : Portugal .. come on in!
Though Sweden say: WWe’re opting out”- And Italy get the win
‘Non ho l’eta’ (scores them 49 ) sung by Gigliola Cinquetti
So in ’65 it’s Naples (for music… wine… spaghetti)

And Ireland say: We’re taking part” (… and the Swedes came back once more)
…. It’s a second win for Luxembourg (with 42 their final score)
Frank Gall the singer of ‘Poupee de cire, poupee de son’
So … ’66 back in Luxembourg … where Udo Jurgens won

For Austria with ‘Merci Cherie’ (scoring 31) and then a
Gathering of seventeen in ’67 in Vienna
(As Denmark have come back again)… but the 47 winning score
Goes to a ‘Puppet on a String’ – for the UK’s Sandi Shaw

So in 1968 we’re back in London once again
And the highest score (of 29) goes to Massiel (from Spain)
(The UK finish second – as Cliff (a superstar)
Is pipped by just a single point – losing out to ‘La La La’)

It gets slightly complicated when we get to ‘69
(Look it up on Wikipedia if you’re inclined and have the time)
Austria say ‘if you don’t mind – we’re not coming to Madrid’
So sixteen countries gather with their best songs in a bid

To top the chart at Eurovision… (18 is the highest score)
But no single nation gets the win – it’s an honour shared by four
Who are the ones that triumph? What was it that they sang?
Lulu - for the UK – with her song ‘Boom Bang-A-Bang’;

France’s Frida Boccara with ‘Un jour, Un enfant’ and
‘Vivo Cantando’ the song from Spain (which Salome sang)
There’s just one more name on this list and that is Lenny Kuhr
His winning song for ‘Netherlands is called ‘De Troubadour’

To.. Amsterdam in 1970 with only twelve (as Norway
The Finns, the Swedes, the Portuguese have all declared ‘no way’)
It’s Ireland (scoring 32) who secure the “winning sing”
Top spot goes to Dana with ‘All Kinds of Everything’

In Ireland… (eighteen gather here in 1971)
As some ‘opters-out’ return and Malta first joins in the fun
A new voting system introduced (meaning now, far higher scores
So I’ll carry on .. but won’t disclose the points scored any more)

(Back to Dublin) And it’s Monaco grabbing glory and the win
With ‘Un banc, un arbre, une rue’ (and the singer? Severine)
But they cannot find the space to host, so it’s Edinburgh who
Step up and say: “We’ll hold it here – see you all in ‘Seventy-Two”

So same eighteen met up again - Luxembourg shows who is boss
‘Apres Toi’ the winning song is sung by Vicky Leandros
Then it’s back to mainland Europe in 1973
When the capital’s Grand Théâtre is the only place to be

Time for Israel’s inclusion … with people asking ”Why?
- It is clearly NOT in Europe … so.. how do they qualify?”
The explanation’s simple – it’s all down to television
‘European Broadcasting Union’ is required for Eurovision

It’s membership of EBU that, to enter, is the key
You must be ‘part of the Union’ (… it’s not down to geography)
But Austria and Malta say ‘we don’t think it’s our scene’
So participating nations drop, by one, to seventeen

Anne-Marie David (with ‘Tu te reconnaitras’)
Proves there is really is no place like home as the Contest’s winning star
But Luxembourg are out of cash … so the BBC, once more
Say…”Come to us, in Brighton, for the show of ‘74”

They all meet up in Brighton Dome (with newcomers Greece in tow
Although France decide to sit it out and don’t take part in the show)
But Sweden…. unleash ABBA and their tale of ‘Waterloo’
(And dressed up as Napoleon, their conductor joins in too!)

’75 the host is Stockholm (with France and Malta here once more)
But as Turkey say ‘we’ll be there too’.. the Greek say ‘we’ll withdraw’)
And the Netherlands, with Teach-In sing their cheery winning song
So it’s to The Hague in ’76 (all due to ‘Ding-a-Dong’).

Sweden, Malta, Turkey – gone: but Austria are back
And Greece declares “We’re taking part” (so there’s eighteen in the pack)
But Brotherhood of Man with ‘Save Your Kisses’ as their plea
(..A request made to a three year old) seals a UK victory

So in ‘77 we’re all off to Wembley
(Yugoslavia aren’t coming but Sweden joins in happily)
Marie Myriam performs L’oiseau et L’enfant
- So next year it’s off to Paris as France finish at the front

’78 and twenty countries are all gathered once again
(As Turkey say ‘we’re coming back’… and are then joined by the Danes)
Izhar Cohen/Alphabeta (with their song ‘A-Ba-Ni-Bi’)
Win for Israel (…. Norway get Nul Points – the first in history)

Nineteen nations in Jerusalem in 1979
(Turkey were the only ones who sat it out this time)
The host nation had it in the bag – with Israel on the money
With a truly ‘Hallelujah’ win (as performed by Milk and Honey).

1980 … Now we’re in The Hague (Nineteen nations in the show)
As Israel couldn’t find the funds for two times in a row
Morocco joined the party (Turkey also came along)
(But Israel and Monaco said ‘we won’t submit a song’)

And Irish eye were smiling… (although others shed a tear
At Ireland’s heartbreak entry asking ‘What’s Another Year?’)
But tugging heartstrings seems to do the trick and Johnny Logan won
So the show comes live from Dublin in spring 1981

The year saw twenty gathered - Israel returned anew
(Yugoslavia came back as well – but Italy withdrew
….So too, did Morocco) : Cyprus asked “Can we join in?”
And Bucks Fizz grabbed the all glory for another UK win

‘Making Your Mind Up’ was victorious (ahead of Germany by 4)
But sadly, Norway’s entry, saw ‘nul points’ once more their score
And ‘82 saw eighteen nations head to Harrogate
(Although France and Greece had both announced ‘We won’t participate’)

Nicole’s ‘Ein Bisschen Frieden’ (with guitar upon her knee)
Scored a first (West) German win – so it’s Munich ‘83
Where Italy and Greece turned up (France made it twenty nations)
(It was Ireland who excused themselves with no participation)

The last entry of the evening…? Luxembourg… with winning ways
For ‘Si la vie est cadeau’(….sung by Corrine Hermès)
And the winning country said: “Of course we’ll host the show once more
- We’ll go back to the Grand Theatre for the show of ’84”.

Ireland say : “We’ll see you there” (but not so Israel
Who decide that they are pulling out ... Greece fail to show as well)
Sweden’s brothers Herreys are the ones who win day
Whilst dancing (in their golden shoes) to ‘Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley’

’85 in Gothenberg - Greece and Israel are here
But Yugoslavia and the Netherlands choose to stay away that year
Norway finish in first place (duo Bobbysox the singers)
With a song of love for rock and roll (in Norwegian ‘La det Swinge’)

Yugoslavia and Netherlands miss their Eurovision fix
So they both rock up in Bergen for the show of ‘86
We warmly welcome Iceland as newcomers to the show
But Italy and Greece drop out (declaring : “We won’t go”)

Twenty nations in Grieghall …and some controversy
Caused by the Contest’s winning song - entitled ‘J’aime la vie’
The lyrics say “I’m fifteen” but the Swiss are quite enraged
And say: “She should be disqualified at 13 years of age”

But the organisers say: “The win stands for Belgium” (so
Sandra Kim will always be the youngest winner of the show)
Next…to Brussels ’87 (Countries entered? Twenty-two
With Italy and Greece announcing: “We’ll be joining you”)

But it’s not so great for Turkey (who join the ‘nul points’ gang)
And then - people recognise the face as the winning song is sang
Johnny Logan begs us ‘Hold me now’ and enters history
When he’s first (again) for Ireland with his second victory

Cyprus say : “we won’t take part” in 1988
But the rest turn up in Dublin (April 30th the date)
Another ‘nul points’ entry (this time Austria don’t score)
And the winner is a singer we had never heard before

Representing Switzerland … with ‘Ne partez pas sans moi’
(Who knew that she would one day a global superstar?)
She beats UK by just one point… and so the Swiss have won
With a singer (born in Canada) and her name? Celine Dion…

And so next Contest in Lausanne (May 1989 )
See Cyprus in again (and Iceland get ‘nul points’ this time)
An 11 and a 12 year-old take part (the rules and changed and mean
Now, performers in the Contest have to be at least sixteen)

But win is Yugoslavian… ‘Rock Me’ finishes on top
With the track performed by Riva (the band’s genre? “Rock and pop”)
So 1990 we’re in Zagreb (no-one absent; no-one new)
Italy go on to win with ‘Insieme 1992’

Toto Cutugno the performer and as the Italians have won
Twenty Two take part in Rome in Eurovision ‘91
Malta have returned again – but the Netherlands withdraw
And for Austria ‘nul points’ ….the second time they fail to score

But ’Fångad av en stormvind’ by Carola steals the show
So Eurovision ’92... is broadcast live from Malmö
(The countries number 23 – the Netherlands are back)
There are no nul points and the Irish song is hailed the winning track

It is sung by Linda Martin – and its title is ‘Why Me?’
(And (as the writer) Johnny Logan claims a third-time victory)
So it’s off to Cork in ’93 but the Contest is expanding
Yugoslavia separates and now new states are demanding

That they take part (.. the answer’s yes) but … for the purpose of this rhyme
Things are getting complex.. and that the reason I’m
Not going to name the countries opting out or joining in
I’ll just state Nation, Title, Singer for each song that gets the win

So…. back to Ireland 93… and it comes as no surprise
When Ireland win (Niamh Kavanagh sings the love song ‘In Your Eyes’)
1994 in Dublin ‘Rock n Roll Kids’ wins the show
And again, it goes to Ireland (they win three times in a row)

Charlie McGettigan and Paul Harrison are the singers of the song
(And as Eurovision nation it seems Ireland can’t go wrong)
So same time, same place for ’95 – see you all next year
(IT’s déjà vu for everyone.. but so nice to be back here)

And Norway have the winning song (with the ‘nul points’ lessons learned)
Secret Garden the performers of the winning entry ‘Nocturne’
So it’s to the land of Vikings for Eurovision ‘96
But we’re getting overcrowded... so we need to find a fix

We somehow need to whittle down the ‘Eurovision Nations’
This is done (behind the scenes) by means of pre-qualification
(With 29 competing countries… pre-selection seemed to be
The fairest way to weed out six and leave just twenty-three)

‘96 the Oslo Spektrum and twenty three all want the win
Ireland bring along ‘The Voice’ (and it’s singer – Eimear Quinn)
And when the contest closes… it sits top of the board
Ireland winning for a seventh time (and, to date, it’s still the record)

’97 Back in Dublin : First-place song? ‘Love Shine a Light’
Beats the other 24 to be the winning song that night
So thanks Katrina and the Waves and the UK share their plan
To host it in the Midlands…bring it on in Birmingham

‘98 – Indoor Arena … Twenty-five are taking part
The same number as the year before (but different nations at the start)
The eighth time that the UK host, but the Swiss (poor things) are done for
They join the dreaded ‘nul points’ (with ‘Lass Ihn’ performed by Gunvor)

But another Dana triumphs … and gain’s ‘International’ fame
‘Diva’… is the song she sings… and she lives up to the name
Viva for the winning song - the ‘hat trick’ win for them
So it’s Israel in ‘99 – back to Jerusalem

With a slightly lower number ... Nations gathered? Twenty Three:
For the final Eurovision of the 20th Century
Charlotte Nilsson wins for Sweden (‘Take Me To Your Heaven’) then
The Swedes confirm it’s Stockholm for the new Millennium

2000 : When the ‘Noughties’ dawn - we’re at ‘The Globe’ once more
How many are competing? This time it’s twenty-four
‘Fly On The Wings of Love’ we hear the Olsen Brothers sing
And flying high, it tops the board .. and secures Denmark the win

’01 … In Copenhagen where twenty-three have come along
And Estonia grab the glory (… their first-ever winning song)
The title? ‘Everybody’ by Dave Benton/2 XL
(…And don’t forget Tanel Padar – he joined in as well)

They’re delighted (and have waited for eight years to get a win)
So… a brand-new destination in ’02 - the host is Tallinn
Twenty-four compete, the scores are added up and then
The winner is ‘I Wanna’ (and the singer Marie N)

It’s another first-time victory when Latvia beats them all
In ’03 the host is Riga (and the venue – Skonto Hall)
It’s getting rather crowded – twenty-six have turned up here
(Including new ‘Ukraine’… their first appearance is this year)

And another ‘nul point’ entry – Jemini (I’m sad to say
Don’t score a solitary point – so it’s last place for UK)
but the Turkish song’s no Turkey and Sertab Erener sings
‘Every Way That I Can’ and secures her country’s win

*But at this point things get crowded … Nations entered? Thirty Six
It’s impossible for just one show – so they introduce a fix
The ‘Big Four’ and last year’s top ten automatically go through
To the final… with a sing-off for the other twenty-two

The semi-final over with (in which Switzerland scored ‘nul’)
So who will win the ’04 final (which is held in Istanbul)
The votes have all be counted – a new nation once again
Has won – it’s ‘Wild Dances’ by Ruslana, for Ukraine

May ’05 we’re in Kiev (and 39 are taking part)
The semi-final cuts the numbers down and so it’s 24 that start
The final …And when votes are cast (after all the singing’s done)
Helena Paparizou with her song ‘My Number One’

Gets Greece their first-time victory and they say ‘we’ll see you all
In ‘06 - we head to Athens (the Indoor Olympic Hall)
The semi-final over with – the final twenty-three
Perform… and Finland rock us all with heavy metal Lordi

Their ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’ is astonishing.. and wins
(Which is quite a big surprise for some – although not for Finns)
As another brand-new winner Hartwall Areena is then planned
As the ’07 Contest venue in Helsinki (for hosts Finland)

And as over forty nations all qualify to sing
We get through the semi-final… and after all the whittling
24 sing live on Saturday… then the votes are counted which
Declare the winner - ‘Molitva’ (sung by Marija Serifovic)

For Serbia (in debut year) - they’re delighted and amazed
We’ll hold the contest in the Capital at the Arena in Belgrade’
But all forty-three cannot take part (it simply can’t be done)
So we’ll bring Semi Final Two (along with Semi-Final One)

The ‘Big Four’ and Host Nation get an automatic ‘bye’
So within each semi-final – only nine will qualify
And jury of professionals will then determine who
Is chosen as the ‘wildcard’ and gets in the final too

May 24th : In Serbia at the Final for ‘08
Dima Bilan, for Russia, has most cause to celebrate
He sings the winning song ‘Believe’ (which is co-wrote with Jim Beanz)
A first-time win for Russia.. who will host next year, which means

’09 … We’re in their Capital and the song that tops the pack
(By a monumental margin) is by Alexander Rybak
His song indeed a ‘Fairytale’ – as Norway win in Moscow
So ‘Twenty-ten’ .. we’re back again at the Spektrum (..central Oslo)

A slight kerfuffle in the final (a stage invader) – means that Spain
Are halted quite abruptly (but are allowed to start again)
But the limelight goes to Lena – she is triumphant on the night
And delights (united) Germany as she wins with ‘Satellite’

Dusseldorf ‘twenty-eleven’ and a first-time win once more
‘Running Scared’ by Ell and Nikki is awarded highest score
Azerbaijan victorious and next year it’s somewhere new
26th of May 2012 in the Crystal Hall, Baku

And it’s a moment of ‘Euphoria’ for Sweden’s star – Loreen
With her country’s fifth time victory – and 2013
We’re all back in Scandinavia as Sweden host the show
With twenty-five assembled for the final live from Malmo

And Emmelie de Forest, is rightly deemed Great Dane
When she beats them all with ‘Teardrops’ and Denmark wins again
A third win for the country which and they tell us that it means
Copenhagen hosts the Contest in 2014

It’s Conchita Wurst (for Austria) who has the winning song
‘Rise Like A Phoenix’ (sounding like a theme tune from James Bond)
2015 is when Vienna acts as host
And where Sweden (for the sixth time) have the song that scores the most

‘Heroes’ from Måns Zelmerlow (with cartoon-man on a screen)
and it’s Stockholm in the springtime for 2016
Jamala’s ‘1944’ secures victory for Ukraine
So … May Two-thousand-seventeen and we’re in Kiev again

Where (after forty-nine attempts) it’s a win for Portugal
With ‘Amar Pelos Dois’ (sung by Salvador Sobra
and co-written by his sister, Luisa) their win means
It’s All Aboard in Lisbon for two-thousand-eighteen.....