The Best Episodes of Eurovision Song Contest

Last Updated: Jan 18, 2019

The Eurovision Song Contest (French: Concours Eurovision de la chanson since 1973; sometimes popularly called Eurovision or Grand Prix but not to be confused with the Eurovision network that broadcasts it) is the longest-running annual international TV song competition, held, primarily, among the member countries of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) since 1956. The competition was based upon the existing Sanremo Music Festival held in Italy since 1951. Each participating country submits an original song to be performed on live television and radio and then casts votes for the other countries' songs to determine the most popular song in the competition. The contest has been broadcast every year for sixty-two years, since its inauguration in 1956, and is one of the longest-running television programmes in the world. It is also one of the most watched non-sporting events in the world, with audience figures having been quoted in recent years as anything between 100 million and 600 million internationally. Eurovision has also been broadcast outside Europe to several countries that do not compete, such as the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and China. An exception was made in 2015, when Australia was allowed to compete as a guest entrant as part of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the event. In November 2015, the EBU announced that Australia was invited back as a participant in the 2016 contest after their success in 2015. Following their success again in 2016, Australia competed again in 2017. Since 2000, the contest has also been broadcast over the Internet via the Eurovision website. Winning the Eurovision Song Contest provides a short-term boost to the winning artists' career, but rarely results in long-term success. Notable exceptions are ABBA (winner in 1974 for Sweden), Bucks Fizz (winner in 1981 for the United Kingdom) and Céline Dion (winner in 1988 for Switzerland), all of whom launched successful worldwide careers after their wins. Ireland holds the record for the highest number of wins, having won the contest seven times—including four times in five years in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1996. Under the current voting system, the highest scoring winner is Salvador Sobral of Portugal who won the 2017 contest in Kiev, Ukraine, with 758 points. Under the previous system, in place from 1975 to 2015, the highest scoring winner is Alexander Rybak of Norway with 387 points in 2009. In the 1950s, as a war-torn Europe rebuilt itself, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU)—based in Switzerland—set up an ad hoc committee to search for ways of bringing together the countries of the EBU around a "light entertainment programme". At a committee meeting held in Monaco in January 1955 with Marcel Bezençon of the Swiss television as chairman, the committee conceived the idea (initially proposed by Sergio Pugliese of the Italian television RAI) of an international song contest where countries would participate in one television programme to be transmitted simultaneously to all countries of the union. The competition was based upon the existing Sanremo Music Festival held in Italy and was seen as a technological experiment in live television, as in those days it was a very ambitious project to join many countries together in a wide-area international network. Satellite television did not exist, and the Eurovision Network comprised a terrestrial microwave network. The concept, then known as "Eurovision Grand Prix", was approved by the EBU General Assembly in a meeting held in Rome on 19 October 1955, and it was decided that the first contest would take place in spring 1956 in Lugano, Switzerland. The name "Eurovision" was first used in relation to the EBU's network by British journalist George Campey in the London Evening Standard in 1951.

The 55th Eurovision Song Contest (Norway)

#1 - The 55th Eurovision Song Contest (Norway)

Season 1 - Episode 55

The 20 acts that qualified through the two Semi-Finals will join the five pre-qualified countries: Norway (the Host Country), France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom. Viewers and professional juries in over 40 participating countries will vote. Viewers and professional juries each have a 50 percent stake in the outcome. The professional juries will feature six members in each country. The running order of the represented countries in the FInal will be determined by draw, right after each of the two Semi-Finals. While she had been the main favourite to win for months, still, the victory of Lena for Germany with her song Satellite still came as a total surprise for many. Her simplistic performance gathered votes across Europe and became one of the biggest hits in Europe. She went on to defend her title the year after and managed to earn another a top 10 position with her entry Taken By A Stranger. Spain’s entry had to be performed again as the original performance was interrupted by a stage invasion. The Norwegian broadcaster had decided they wanted to take the contest back to the basics and after the contest in 2009, where LEDs were widely used, they used none. The 2010 was produced on a considerably lower budget than the year before. Some delegations, including the UK and Ireland travelled to Oslo by boat after the eruptions of the Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, which caused widespread disruption to air travel across Europe.

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The 58th Eurovision Song Contest (Sweden)

#2 - The 58th Eurovision Song Contest (Sweden)

Season 1 - Episode 58

The 2013 Eurovision Song Contest was in the Malmö Arena in Malmö, Sweden. 26 countries qualified for the Grand Final and took the stage in front of a live audience and millions watching at home. The opening act of the Grand Final started with a Eurovision Song Contest anthem called We Write The Story by Benny and Björn from ABBA and the Swedish worldwide sensation Aviccii. Petra Mede presented the show alone, the first time that there had been a solo presenter since 1995. The slogan for the 2013 competition was We Are One. In the end, after all the excitement and millions of votes, it was Emmelie de Forest who the trophy home for Denmark with her song Only Teardrops. There was a mechanism built into the catwalk of the stage that could elevate the artists however it was only used by Loreen in the interval act and the UK participant and the UK participant, Bonnie Tyler. Ukraine's performance featured Igor Vovkovinskiy who is the tallest person living in the United States. Igor carried Zlata, Ukraine's representative, onto the stage during her performance.

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The 59th Eurovision Song Contest (Denmark)

#3 - The 59th Eurovision Song Contest (Denmark)

Season 1 - Episode 59

The Grand Final of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest took place on 10th May 2014. The slogan for the event was #JoinUs which was an attempt by the producers to incorporate social media into the shows. Austria won the 2014 contest with Rise Like A Phoenix, performed by bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst. Immediately after her victory Conchita became a household name. The Netherlands finished in second place with Calm After The Storm performed by The Common Linnets, which became a big hit following the contest. Under new rules, the names of all jury members were announced on the 1st of May. Additionally, the ranking submitted by each individual jury member for all shows were published right after the Final. To increase diversity, music industry professionals could now only take a seat in a national jury if they had not been in the jury during one of the previous two editions of the contest. Valentina Monetta took part for the third consecutive time for San Marino and for the first time, the country qualified for the Final. The 2014 contest was held in a former shipyard, the B&W Hallerne. 37 countries competed in the competition in 2014 195 million viewers tuned in for the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest. The show was co-hosted by Pilou Asbæk, who had become world-famous in the political drama Borgen.

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2 votes
The 54th Eurovision Song Contest (Russia)

#4 - The 54th Eurovision Song Contest (Russia)

Season 1 - Episode 54

This year there are 42 entries to the Eurovision Song Contest, with San Marino withdrawing due to financial difficulties and Georgia being forced out of the contest as their song breached the rules of the contest, while Slovakia makes a return to the contest after an 11 year absence. The 54th Eurovision Song Contest is being hosted by Moscow, Russia, following Dima Bilan's win for Russia in the 53rd Eurovision Song Contest. The Contest will take place in Moscow's Olympic Indoor Arena. Following the complaints of many broadcasters, the voting system for the contest has been greatly changed. Instead of the general public having the only say, a jury will also cast their votes, counting for 50% of the overall votes. This has been done to crack down on countries simply voting for their neighbours. There will be 25 countries competing in the final, comprising the top ten from the first semi-final, the top ten from the second semi-final, the Big Four (the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain) and the host nation and last year's winner, Russia.

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The 56th Eurovision Song Contest (Germany)

#5 - The 56th Eurovision Song Contest (Germany)

Season 1 - Episode 56

For the first time since 1983, Germany hosted the Eurovision Song Contest. The 2011 Eurovision Song Contest was held in Düsseldorf following an open selection process. A total of forty-three countries took part in the 2011 contest held in Düsseldorf. The city emerged as the winner of an open selection process which saw several cities compete for the right to host the Eurovision Song Contest. The biggest news of this contest was the return of Italy, after more than ten years. Italy joined France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom to form the so-called Big Five countries that have automatic qualification to the Grand Final. Italy went on to take second place in the Grand Final with the song Madness Of Love by Raphael Gualazzi. One of the most famous German comediennes, Anke Engelke, TV anchor Judith Rakers and all-round showman Stefan Raab hosted the event. Raab had also been part of Lena’s winning team in 2010. Azerbaijan's Ell and Nikki triumphed in the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest. Italy's Raphael Gualazzi finished second and Sweden's Eric Saade finished third. It was the very first victory for Azerbaijan and meant that the contest would go to its most eastern location in the history of the competition the following year. The broadcast of the Grand Final won the Rose d'Or award for Best Live Event. Lena, the winner of the previous year, came back to defend her title with the song Taken By A Stranger. She ended up 10th in the final. The UK was represented by a high-profile act in 2011, Blue. The group finished 11th in the Grand Final with I Can.

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The 57th Eurovision Song Contest (Azerbaijan)

#6 - The 57th Eurovision Song Contest (Azerbaijan)

Season 1 - Episode 57

The 2012 Eurovision Song Contest was held in Baku, Azerbaijan. It is the furthest East that the contest had ever been held. Baku provided a unique setting for the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. The slogan for the competition this year was Light Your Fire, which was fitting given that the event was being held in Azerbaijan, the Land of Fire. The United Kingdom sent its oldest ever participant, 76 year old Engelbert Humperdinck, whilst Russia was represented by the Buranovskiye Babushki who had a combined age of more than 500! Sweden's participant Loreen had been the main favourite ever since she appeared in the widely popular Swedish selection show, Melodifestivalen, earlier that year. Her song Euphoria took Europe by storm and Sweden won the 2012 competition by a landslide. The song went on to be a worldwide hit and reached number one in several countries selling more than two million copies. 42 broadcasters took part while initially 43 had signed up. It was the Armenian broadcaster ARMTV which pulled out at the last minute. The ruling champion of the contest, Eldar "Ell" Gasimov also co-hosted the shows in Baku Euphoria received the highest number of 12 points of any entry in the contest's history with eighteen countries giving the song top marks. Rona Nishliu took one of the highest notes in the history of the contest in her entry Suus The world-famous twins, Jedward took part for the second year in a row for Ireland

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The 61st Eurovision Song Contest (Sweden)

#7 - The 61st Eurovision Song Contest (Sweden)

Season 1 - Episode 61

26 countries competed in the final, which was the first to be broadcast on live television in the United States. The Czech Republic managed to qualify for the final for the first time in five attempts since its debut in 2007, while both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Greece failed to qualify from the semi-finals for the first time ever, the latter being absent from the final for the first time since 2000. In the final, Australia finished second, improving on its debut in 2015, while Bulgaria finished fourth, its best result since its debut and first participation in a final since 2007. Justin Timberlake performed during the interval act of the final. A record-breaking 204 million viewers worldwide watched the contest, beating the 2015 viewing figures by over 5 million. The slogan for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest was Come Together. The theme artwork, inspired by the dandelion, symbolised the power of resistance and resilience but also of regeneration – when the seeds fly away from the dandelion new life is created where they touch down. There was considerable interest in hosting the Eurovision Song Contest in Sweden with several cities bidding for the opportunity including previous host cities Malmö and Gothenburg. The Grand Final was broadcast in the United States for the first time. During the Grand Final the points from the juries and televotes were presented separately. Germany finished last for the second year running. Australia won the jury vote and Russia won the televote, however Ukraine scored steadily throughout and received the most points overall. 1944 is the first song in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest to be performed in Crimean Tatar.

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