That the Eurovision Song Contest grew out of an Italian competition, the
San Remo Song Festival, meant to foster European unity after World War II.
That Eurovision is the name given to a network of communication channels—founded in the 1950s—that links state TV stations across Europe. The system minimizes the cost to each member of transmitting pan-European news and sports footage. In an effort to scare up programming to justify the network, members thought up the
Song Contest and the first was held in Switzerland in 1956.
That a young songwriting team, Elton John and Bernie Taupin, wrote one of the songs for Britain’s national
Eurovision Contest in 1966. It lost to Lulu’s Boom Bang a
Bang—which went on to win at the finals.
That Irishman Johnny Logan has won the Eurovision Song Contest more than any single individual. He won in 1980 and 1987; he wrote the 1992 winning song, which was performed by Linda Martin.
(See CITY PAPER’s interview with Logan, here.)
That Turkey has given Germany the maximum 12 points in the Eurovision finals every single year since 1990. Germany has reciprocated for the most part, giving Turkey an average of 10 points over the same period.
That the Eurovision Song Contest is one of the most-watched single events in the world. At least 300 million TV viewers in Europe, as well as Asia and North America, are expected to watch the 2002 Contest; some say the total number could exceed 400 or even 500 million. For the 2001 contest, 95 percent of the Danish viewing public tuned in—the highest percentage in Europe.
That Celine Dion and ABBA got their big breaks by winning Eurovision.
That in 1974 France didn’t participate in the Song Contest out of respect for French President Georges Pompidou, who had passed away that year.
That one of the hosts for the 2002 Tallinn Contest, Annely
Peebo, is an accomplished mezzo-soprano who performs frequently at the acclaimed
Vienna Volksopera and Staatsopera. Marko Matvere, the co-host, is a well known Estonian movie and Shakespearean actor; he also plays accordion in a folk group.
That the youngest winner of Eurovision was 13-year-old Sandra Kim, of Belgium, who won in 1986. Several years later a minimum age of 16 was set for participants.
That any nationality can participate in the Contest representing a Eurovision member. Greek star Nana Mouskouri represented Luxembourg in 1963; American-born Katrina Leskanich (and
The Waves) won for Britain in 1997. Dave Benton, with Estonia’s winning 2001 team, is from the Caribbean island of Aruba; his singing partner, Tanel Padar, is Estonian.
That rules limit the number of performers on stage to six.
That Norway came last in last year’s Eurovision final in Copenhagen. Haldor Laegreid, singing
On My Own, won just three points.
That Eurovision’s rulebook encourages entrants to reflect the national identity of the country they’re representing, including by using folk dress and instruments; singing in the native tongue is also encouraged, though not required. From the looks of this year’s competitors, the call to feature one’s local culture has been roundly and whole-heartedly ignored.
That the 2002 Song Contest logo, designed by Estonians Veiko Tamjärv and Margus
Klaar, was allegedly meant to celebrate the diversity of European culture—represented by shapes of different colors and sizes. As a whole, it’s also roughly the shape of Estonia.
That Finland has participated the most times in the Eurovision finals without winning. It’s taken part
37 times. It’s best showing was in 1973, when Marion Rung came in sixth with Tom Tom Tom.