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The Eurovision Song Contest is one of the longest continuously running television shows in the world, and has been held yearly since 1956. Since its inaugural pageant in the 1950s, the Eurovision contest has become one of the most widely watched television programs in the world, and, despite continual criticism over the quality of music, is believed to have an audience of between 100 and 600 million viewers per year.
In the aftermath of World War II, members of the European Broadcasting Union thought it would be a fun and community-building experience to hold a music competition for the best new song from one of the member nations. From its inception, it was meant to be a television broadcast, utilizing the new TV technology that was sweeping the globe. The first Eurovision Song Contest had participants from seven countries: France, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Since then, more than 50 countries have competed at least once, including the new 2008 competitors, San Marino and Azerbaijan.
Through local and national contests, each nation chooses one song to be performed at the Eurovision Song Contest. The methods for selection vary from country to country, some using traditional judging standards while others allow citizens to vote for their favorite. The international competition has grown so large since the beginning of the 21st century, they have also begun holding a semi-final round, to narrow the number of songs performed at the final judging.
Judging in the finals is traditionally done by scoring a song between 1-12, with nations not being allowed a vote for their own country’s entry. Recently, the individual countries have begun allowing tele-voting, or voting by regular phone or text message. This new trend continues the competition’s legacy of incorporating new technology into the broadcast whenever possible. The winner of the contest is awarded acclaim and a trophy, and the winning nation almost always hosts the next competition.
Probably the most successful group ever to win the Eurovision Song Contest is the sensationally popular Swedish band, ABBA. In 1974, the group stormed to first place with their song “Waterloo,” before quickly rocketing to stardom on the international stage. However, the contest is consistently criticized for featuring extremely poor and somewhat hokey music, and ABBA remains a solitary success story for post-competition success.
Regardless of the future careers of winners and the good-natured jokes at the expense of the venerable competition, the Eurovision Song Contest remains an incredibly popular event throughout Europe. Host nations traditionally hold Eurovision Week prior to the competition, filled with lavish parties and local activities. The goals of the original founders are unquestionably fulfilled in the modern show, where diverse countries work beautifully to create both friendly competition and a sense of connection between very different lands.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Eurovision Song Contest and when did it start?
The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual international song competition held primarily among the member countries of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) since its inception in 1956. It features live performances from new original songs representing each participating country, with the winner being decided through a combination of jury and public votes. The contest was created to foster unity and cultural exchange in post-war Europe and has since become one of the longest-running and most-watched non-sporting events in the world.
How does a country win the Eurovision Song Contest?
A country wins the Eurovision Song Contest by securing the highest combined score from both the professional jury and public televoting. Each participating country provides a set of points from 1 to 8, then 10 and finally 12 to their favorite songs, excluding their own entry. The song with the most points at the end of the voting process is declared the winner. This system aims to balance professional assessment with popular opinion.
Can countries outside of Europe participate in the Eurovision Song Contest?
Yes, countries outside of Europe can participate in the Eurovision Song Contest. While the contest is primarily for members of the European Broadcasting Union, this includes countries that are outside the geographical boundaries of Europe or are associate members. For example, Australia has been competing since 2015 due to its broadcaster's associate EBU membership and the country's long-standing love for the contest.
What impact has the Eurovision Song Contest had on music and culture?
The Eurovision Song Contest has had a significant impact on music and culture by providing a platform for the exchange of music and cultural identities across borders. It has launched the careers of many artists, including ABBA and Celine Dion. The contest also reflects contemporary music trends and social issues, often showcasing diversity and fostering inclusivity. Its cultural influence is evident in the way it unites viewers and artists from different backgrounds in a celebration of music.
How can viewers from around the world watch the Eurovision Song Contest?
Viewers from around the world can watch the Eurovision Song Contest through various means. Many participating broadcasters televise the event live. Additionally, the contest is streamed live on the official Eurovision website and YouTube channel, making it accessible globally. Some countries also broadcast the event even if they are not participating, allowing international audiences to enjoy the performances and participate in the excitement of the competition.