L’Eurovision Song Contest è il più grande concorso musicale del mondo! Tutto cominciò così… Negli anni ’50, in un Europa che stava cercando di rinascere dopo le devastazioni della guerra, l’European Broadcasting Union (Unione Europea di Radiodiffusione) con sede in Svizzera, istituì un comitato ad hoc che studiasse un modo per riunire i paesi membri attorno ad uno show di intrattenimento leggero. Nel 1955, tale comitato decise di organizzare un concorso canoro internazionale in cui i paesi, rappresentati dalle loro rispettive emittenti televisive pubbliche, avrebbero potuto partecipare ad uno show televisivo, da trasmettere simultaneamente in tutte le nazioni partecipanti. Questo progetto fu concepito durante un incontro a Monaco nel 1955 da Marcel Bezençon, il Direttore dell’EBU-UER. Il concorso, che prendeva spunto dal Festival di Sanremo nato nel 1951, fu anche visto come un esperimento tecnologico in diretta televisiva. A quei tempi, quello di mettere insieme molti paesi in un’ampia area di network internazionali, fu considerato un progetto molto ambizioso. In quel tempo la rete Eurovisione era costituita da una rete terrestre a microonde.
Il concetto, allora conosciuto come Eurovision Grand Prix fu approvato dall’Assemblea Generale dell’EBU-UER in una riunione tenutasi a Roma il 19 Ottobre 1955 fu deciso che il primo concorso avrebbe avuto luogo nella primavera del 1956 a Lugano, in Svizzera. Il nome “Eurovision” fu utilizzato in relazione alla rete dell’EBU-UER dal giornalista britannico George Campey nel London Evening Standard nel 1951.
Il primo concorso si svolse, quindi, nella città di Lugano, in Svizzera, il 24 maggio 1956. Parteciparono sette paesi, ognuno dei quali presentò due brani, per un totale di 14. Questa fu l’unica gara in cui venne eseguita più di una canzone per ogni paese: dal 1957 ogni nazione poté eseguire solo un brano. Il concorso 1956 fu vinto dalla nazione ospitante, la Svizzera.
Come già detto, il programma fu noto come Eurovision Grand Prix. La denominazione “Grand Prix” fu adottata dalla Danimarca, dalla Norvegia e dai paesi francofoni, con la denominazione francese che diventò Le Grand-Prix Eurovision de la Chanson Européenne. In Italia è stato comunemente chiamato ‘Eurofestival’, ma le denominazioni ufficiali nelle due edizioni ospitate dall’Italia furono ‘Gran Premio Eurovisione della Canzone’, usata per l’edizione del 1965 tenutasi a Napoli e ‘Concorso Eurovisione della Canzone’, usata per l’edizione del 1991 tenutasi a Roma nello studio 15 di Cinecittà. Negli anni la denominazione di “Grand Prix” è stata eliminata e sostituita con Concours o Contest, rispettivamente in francese e in inglese, le due lingue ufficiali dell’EBU. Oggi il nome ufficiale è Eurovision Song Contest o Concours Eurovision de la Chanson.
Il logo è stato introdotto per la edizione 2004 per creare un’identità visiva coerente. Ogni anno nel cuore centrale viene inserita la bandiera del paese ospitante.
L’Eurovision Song Contest (francese: Concours Eurovision de la Chanson) è una gara annuale tra canzoni che si tiene tra i paesi membri attivi della European Broadcasting Union (EBU-UER). Il Consorzio Eurovisione, con sede in Svizzera, raggruppa tutte le emittenti pubbliche dello spazio televisivo europeo.
Il Concorso è stato trasmesso ogni anno dalla sua inaugurazione nel 1956. Ogni emittente televisiva, in rappresentanza della propia nazione, seleziona un cantante o gruppo musicale e una canzone da eseguire in diretta televisiva e poi ogni paese vota per le canzoni degli altri paesi per determinare la canzone più popolare al concorso. La selezione del cantante o gruppo musicale e la canzone può essere demandata a una commissione interna o essere affidata all’esito di una selezione nazionale.
Si tiene nella primavera di oggi anno dal 1956 e di regola è ospitato dal paese che ha vinto l’anno precedente. É uno dei programmi televisivi più longevi del mondo ed è anche dei più seguiti eventi non sportivi in tutto il mondo, con audience tra 100 milioni e 600 milioni a livello internazionale (contro i 12 milioni di Sanremo, per fare un paragone). L’Eurovision Song Contest è stato anche trasmesso al di fuori dell’Europa in luoghi come Argentina, Australia, Brasile, Canada, Cile, Cina, Colombia, Egitto, India, Giappone, Giordania, Messico, Nuova Zelanda, Filippine, Corea del Sud, Taiwan, Thailandia, Stati Uniti, Uruguay e Venezuela, nonostante il fatto che non sono in concorrenza. Dal 2000, il Concorso è stato anche trasmesso via Internet, con più di 74.000 persone in quasi 140 paesi che hanno visto la edizione del 2006 online.
Alcuni studi rilevano che i blocchi di voto sono un fattore importante, con alcuni paesi che tendono a formare “gruppi” o “cricche”, a volte a causa della condivisione di simili comunità culturali e / o etnica, dalla frequenza di voto per un altro, e che questi blocchi su almeno due edizioni del concorso hanno fondamentalmente influenzato il risultato del concorso.
Artisti le cui carriere internazionali sono stati lanciati direttamente sotto i riflettori dopo la loro partecipazione e la vittoria in Eurovisione comprendono ABBA, che ha vinto il Concorso per la Svezia nel 1974 con la loro canzone “Waterloo”, e Céline Dion, che ha vinto il Concorso per la Svizzera nel 1988 con la canzone “Ne partez pas sans moi”.
The Eurovision Song Contest (French: Concours Eurovision de la chanson), sometimes abbreviated to ESC and often known simply as Eurovision, is an international song competition organised annually by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) which features participants representing primarily European countries. Each participating country submits an original song to be performed on live television and radio, transmitted to national broadcasters via the EBU’s Eurovision and Euroradio networks, with competing countries then casting votes for the other countries’ songs to determine a winner.
Based on the Sanremo Music Festival held in Italy since 1951, Eurovision has been held annually (apart from 2020) since 1956, making it the longest-running annual international televised music competition and one of the world’s longest-running television programmes. Active members of the EBU, as well as invited associate members, are eligible to compete, and as of 2021, 52 countries have participated at least once. Each participating broadcaster sends one original song of three minutes duration or less to be performed live by a singer or group of up to six people aged 16 or older. Each country awards two sets of 1–8, 10 and 12 points to their favourite songs, based on the views of an assembled group of music professionals and the country’s viewing public, with the song receiving the most points declared the winner. Other performances feature alongside the competition, including a specially-commissioned opening and interval act and guest performances by musicians and other personalities, with past acts including Cirque du Soleil, Madonna and the first performance of Riverdance. Originally consisting of a single evening event, the contest has expanded as new countries joined, leading to the introduction of relegation procedures in the 1990s, and eventually the creation of semi-finals in the 2000s. As of 2021, Germany has competed more times than any other country, having participated in all but one edition, while Ireland holds the record for the most victories, with seven wins in total.
Traditionally held in the country which won the preceding year’s event, the contest provides an opportunity to promote the host country and city as a tourist destination. Thousands of spectators attend each year, and journalists are present to cover all aspects of the contest, including rehearsals in venue, press conferences with the competing acts, and other related events and performances in the host city. Alongside the generic Eurovision logo, a unique theme and slogan is typically used for each event. The contest has aired in countries across all continents, and has been available online via the official Eurovision website since 2000. Eurovision ranks among the world’s most watched non-sporting events every year, with hundreds of millions of viewers globally, and performing at the contest has often provided artists with a local career boost and in some cases long-lasting international success. Several of the best-selling music artists in the world have competed in past editions, including ABBA, Celine Dion, Julio Iglesias, Olivia Newton-John and Flo Rida, and some of the world’s best-selling singles have received their first international performance on the Eurovision stage.
The contest has received criticism for its musical and artistic quality, and for a perceived political aspect to the event. Competing entries have previously been derided for spanning various ethnic and international styles, and in recent years a tendency towards elaborate stage shows has been highlighted as a distraction. Concerns have been raised regarding political friendships and rivalries between countries potentially influencing the results. Controversial moments from past editions include participating countries withdrawing at a late stage, censorship of segments of the broadcast by broadcasters, and political events impacting participation. Eurovision has however gained popularity for its kitsch appeal and emergence as part of LGBT culture, resulting in a large active fan base and influence on popular culture. The popularity of the contest has led to the creation of several similar events, either organised by the EBU or created by external organisations, and several special events have been organised by the EBU to celebrate select anniversaries or as a replacement due to cancellation.
Origins and history – The Eurovision Song Contest’s founding stemmed from a desire to promote cooperation between European countries in the years following the Second World War through cross-border television broadcasts, which gave rise to the founding of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) in 1950. The word “Eurovision” was first used by British journalist George Campey in the London Evening Standard in 1951, when he referred to a BBC programme being relayed by Dutch television. Following several events broadcast internationally via the Eurovision transmission network in the early 1950s, including the Coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953, an EBU committee, headed by Marcel Bezençon, was formed in January 1955 to investigate new initiatives for cooperation between broadcasters, which approved for further study a European song competition from an idea initially proposed by Sergio Pugliese. The EBU’s general assembly agreed to the organising of the song contest in October 1955, under the initial title of the European Grand Prix, and accepted a proposal by the Swiss delegation to host the event in Lugano in the spring of 1956. The Italian Sanremo Music Festival, held since 1951, was used as a basis for the initial planning of the contest, with several amendments and additions given its international nature.
Seven countries participated in the first contest, with each country represented by two songs; the only time in which multiple entries per country were permitted. The winning song was “Refrain”, representing the host country Switzerland and performed by Lys Assia. Voting during the first contest was held behind closed doors, with only the winner being announced on stage; the use of a scoreboard and public announcement of the voting, inspired by the BBC’s Festival of British Popular Songs, has been used since 1957. The tradition of the winning country hosting the following year’s contest, which has since become a standard feature of the event, began in 1958. Technological developments have transformed the contest: colour broadcasts began in 1968; satellite broadcasts in 1985; and streaming in 2000. Broadcasts in widescreen began in 2005 and in high-definition since 2007.
By the 1960s, between 16 and 18 countries were regularly competing each year. Countries from outside the traditional boundaries of Europe began entering the contest, and countries in Western Asia and North Africa started competing in the 1970s and 1980s. Changes in Europe following the end of the Cold War saw an influx of new countries from Central and Eastern Europe applying for the first time. The 1993 contest included a separate pre-qualifying round for seven of these new countries, and from 1994 relegation systems were introduced to manage the number of competing entries, with the poorest performing countries barred from entering the following year’s contest. From 2004 the contest expanded to become a multi-programme event, with a semi-final at the 49th contest allowing all interested countries to compete each year; a second semi-final was added to each edition from 2008.
65 contests have been held as of 2021, making Eurovision the longest-running annual international televised music competition as determined by Guinness World Records. The contest has been listed as one of the longest-running television programmes in the world and among the world’s most watched non-sporting events. A total of 52 countries have taken part in at least one edition, with a record 43 countries participating in a single contest, first in 2008 and subsequently in 2011 and 2018. Australia became the first non-EBU member country to compete following an invitation by the EBU ahead of the contest’s 60th edition in 2015; initially announced as a “one-off” for the anniversary edition, the country was invited back the following year and has subsequently secured participation rights until 2023.
Eurovision had been held every year until 2020, when that year’s contest was cancelled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. No competitive event was able to take place due to uncertainty caused by the spread of the virus in Europe and the various restrictions imposed by the governments of the participating countries. In its place a special broadcast, Eurovision: Europe Shine a Light, was produced by the organisers, which honoured the songs and artists that would have competed in 2020, in a non-competitive format.
Naming – Over the years the name used to describe the contest, and used on the official logo for each edition, has evolved. The first contests were produced under the name of Grand Prix Eurovision de la Chanson Européenne in French and as the Eurovision Song Contest Grand Prix in English, with similar variations used in the languages of each of the broadcasting countries. From 1968, the English name dropped the ‘Grand Prix’ from the name, with the French name being aligned as the Concours Eurovision de la Chanson, first used in 1973. The contest’s official brand guidance specifies that translations of the name may be used depending on national tradition and brand recognition in the competing countries, but that the official name Eurovision Song Contest is always preferred; the contest is commonly referred to in English by the abbreviation “Eurovision”, and in internal documents by the acronym “ESC”.
On only four occasions has the name used for the official logo of the contest not been in English or French: the Italian names Gran Premio Eurovisione della Canzone and Concorso Eurovisione della Canzone were used when Italy hosted the 1965 and 1991 contests respectively; and the Dutch name Eurovisiesongfestival was used when the Netherlands hosted in 1976 and 1980.
|Year(s)||English||French||Other languages||Official logo language|
|1956–1964||Eurovision Song Contest Grand Prix||Grand Prix Eurovision de la Chanson Européenne||N/A||French|
|1965||Gran Premio Eurovisione della Canzone||Italian|
|1967||Grand Prix Eurovision de la Chanson||French|
|1968||Eurovision Song Contest||Grand Prix de la Chanson||English|
|1969||Festival de la Canción de Eurovisión||Spanish|
|1973||Concours Eurovision de la Chanson||French|
|1979||תחרות הזמר של האירוויזיון||Hebrew|
|1991||Concorso Eurovisione della Canzone||Italian|
- Albanian – Festivali Evropian i Këngës
- Arabic – مسابقة الأغنية الأوروبية (Musabaqat Al’aghniat Al’uwrubiya)
- Armenian – Եվրատեսիլ երգի մրցույթ (Yevratesil Yergi Mrtsuyt)
- Azerbaijani – Avroviziya Mahnı Müsabiqəsi
- Basque – Eurovision Abesti Lehiaketa
- Belarusian – Конкурс Песні Еўрабачанне (Konkurs Pyesni Yurabačannye)
- Bulgarian – Песенен Конкурс Евровизия (Pesenen Konkurs Evroviziya)
- Catalan – Festival de la Cançó d’Eurovisió
- Croatian – Pjesma Eurovizije
- Czech – Velká Cena Eurovize
- Danish – Europæiske Melodi Grand Prix
- Dutch – Eurovisiesongfestival
- Estonian – Eurovisiooni Lauluvõistlus
- Faroese – Eurovision Tónleikakappingin
- Finnish – Eurovision Laulukilpailu
- French – Concours Eurovision De La Chanson
- Georgian – ევროვიზიის სიმღერის კონკურსი (Evroviziis Simgheris Khonkhurski)
- German – Eurovision-Liederwettbewerb
- Greek – Διαγωνισμός Τραγουδιού Eurovision (Diagonismós Tragoudioú Eurovision)
- Greenlandic – Europami Erinarsornermik Unammisitsisarfik
- Hungarian – Eurovíziós Dalfesztivál
- Icelandic – Söngvakeppni Evrópskra Sjónvarpsstöðva
- Irish Gaelic – Comórtas Amhránaíochta na hEoraifíse
- Italian – Concorso Eurovisione Della Canzone
- Jèrriais – Concours Eurovision D’Chant
- Latin – Certamen Cantus Eurovisionis
- Latvian – Eirovīzijas Dziesmu Konkurss
- Lithuanian – Eurovizijos Dainų Konkursas
- Low German – Lederwettstriet Vun De Eurovision
- Luxembourgish – Eurovision Liddersconcours
- Macedonian – Евровизија (Evrovizija)
- Maltese – Il-Festival Tal-Eurovision
- Manx – Cohirrey Arraney Eurovision
- Monégasque – Eurovision Cuncursu Da Cansun
- Northern Sami – Eurovision Lávllagilvvohallan
- Norwegian – Eurovisjonens Musikkonkurranse
- Polish – Konkurs Piosenki Eurowizji
- Portuguese – Festival Eurovisão da Canção
- Romanian – Concursul Muzical Eurovision
- Russian – Конкурс Песни Евровидение (Konkurs Pyesni Evrovidyenye)
- Scots Gaelic – Farpais Òran Eurovision
- Serbian – Песма Евровизије (Pesma Evrovizije)
- Slovak – Veľká Cena Eurovízie
- Slovene – Pesem Evrovizije
- Spanish – Festival de la Canción de Eurovisión
- Swedish – Eurovisionsschlagerfestivalen
- Swiss German – Eurovision Liedswettbewärb
- Turkish – Eurovision Şarkı Yarışması
- Ukrainian – Пісенний Конкурс Євробачення (Pisenniy Konkurs Yurobačennya)
- Welsh – Cystadleuaeth Cân Eurovision
The history of the Eurovision Song Contest began as the brainchild of Marcel Bezençon of the EBU. The Contest was based on Italy’s Sanremo Music Festival and was designed to test the limits of live television broadcast technology.
The first Contest was held on 24 May 1956, when seven nations participated. With a live orchestra, the norm in the early years, and simple sing-along songs on every radio station, the Contest grew into a true pan-European tradition.
In the beginning, it was obvious for the participants that they should sing in their country’s national language. However, as the Swedish entry in 1965, Absent Friend, was sung in English, the EBU set very strict rules on the language in which the songs could be performed. National languages had to be used in all lyrics. Song writers across Europe soon tagged onto the notion that success would only come if the judges could understand the content, resulting in such entries as Boom-Bang-A-Bang and La La La. In 1973, the rules on language use were relaxed,
and in the following year ABBA would win with Waterloo. Those freedom of language rules would be soon reversed in 1977, to return with apparent permanent status in the 1999 contest.
The voting systems used have changed throughout the years. The modern system has been in place since 1975. Voters award a set of points from 1 to 8, then 10 and finally 12 to songs from other countries, with the favorite being awarded the now famous douze (French for 12) points. Historically, a country’s set of votes was decided by an internal jury, but in 1997 five countries (Austria, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom) experimented with televoting, giving the public in those countries the opportunity to vote en masse for their favorite songs. The experiment was a success and from 1998 all countries were encouraged to use televoting wherever possible.
Nowadays viewers may also vote by SMS. Whichever method of voting is used, jury, telephone or SMS, countries may not cast votes for their own songs.
The end of the Cold War in the early 1990s led to a sudden increase in numbers, with many former Eastern Bloc countries queuing up to compete for the first time. This process has continued to this day with more and more countries joining.
For this reason, in 2004 the Semi-Final format was introduced by the EBU, which turned into two Semi-Finals for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2008. Now all countries, except the ‘Big Five’ (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK), together with the host country, must be in a Semi-Final top-10 to qualify for the Final.
In 2015, the Contest celebrated its 60th anniversary. The BBC hosted a grand show in London, featuring over a dozen former participants. And to honour Australia’s Eurovision Song Contest commitment for over 30 years, having continuously broadcast the show since 1983, the organizers invited SBS to participate for the first time ever.
After more than 65 years, the Eurovision Song Contest is one of the biggest live TV entertainment spectacles in the world.