Eurovision Song Contest | History, Rules, Countries & List of Winners (2024)

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Also known as: Le Grand-Prix Eurovision de la Chanson Européenne

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Michael Ray Michael Ray is an assistant managing editor who has worked at Britannica since 2003. In addition to leading the Geography and History team, he oversees coverage of European history and military affairs....

Michael Ray

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Last Updated: Article History

Eurovision Song Contest

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Also called:
Le Grand-Prix Eurovision de la Chanson Européenne
Key People:
Céline Dion
Julio Iglesias
Related Topics:
music

See all related content →

Top Questions

What is the Eurovision Song Contest?

The Eurovision Song Contest, also called Le Grand-Prix Eurovision de la Chanson Européenne, is an annual singing contest organized by the European Broadcasting Union. The performers, selected at the national level by each participating country’s public broadcasting service, are from across Europe and represent virtually every genre of popular music.

How many countries were in the original Eurovision Song Contest?

First held on May 24, 1956, in Lugano, Switzerland, the inaugural proceedings of the Eurovision Song Contest featured solo artists from just seven countries.

What does the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest get?

In addition to a cash prize, the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest earns widespread recognition; moreover, traditionally, the victor’s homeland is accorded the right to host the contest the following year.

Recent News

May 31, 2024, 9:24 AM ET (AP)

ABBA get a prestigious Swedish knighthood for their pop career that started at Eurovision

May 20, 2024, 8:32 PM ET (AP)

No points from Erdogan. Turkey's leader claims Eurovision Song Contest is a threat to family values

May 13, 2024, 11:01 PM ET (AP)

The EU is angry that Eurovision banned the EU flag from the song contest and wants to know why

May 13, 2024, 9:29 AM ET (AP)

Dutch artist expelled from Eurovision Song Contest is likely to face charges, Swedish police say

Eurovision Song Contest, annual singing contest organized by the European Broadcasting Union. The competition, begun in 1956, gathers performers—selected at the national level by each participating country’s public broadcasting service—from across Europe and representing virtually every genre of popular music.

First held on May 24, 1956, in Lugano, Switzerland, the contest was one of the earliest attempts to broadcast a live televised event to a large international market. The inaugural proceedings featured solo artists (duos were admitted in 1957, but groups would not be allowed to compete until 1971) from just seven countries. That number would more than double by the time the 1961 contest was held in Cannes, France.

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Contestants were originally evaluated by a “jury” of representatives from different countries, who awarded points for each performance. The early 21st century saw the addition of a popular vote that allowed viewers to participate via telephone or text message. Although scoring was tabulated in such a way that viewers could not vote for entrants from their own countries, blocs soon emerged along regional or ethnic lines. Indeed, much like the Olympic Games, Eurovision offered a broadly appealing cultural spectacle, but the political dimensions of the contest often became stories in themselves. Turkey, host of the 2004 competition, used the event to emphasize the importance of integration between Turkey and the European Union. When Azerbaijan hosted in 2012, attention was focused on that country’s human rights record. In 2014, as Russia was widely criticized for its adoption of antigay legislation and its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, the Russian contestants were booed by the studio audience, and the competition was won by transvestite performer Conchita Wurst of Austria.

The winner earns widespread recognition and a glass trophy in the shape of a microphone; moreover, traditionally, the victor’s homeland is accorded the right to host the contest the following year. While an appearance in the competition does not guarantee future commercial success, the Eurovision Song Contest was instrumental in launching the careers of Julio Iglesias (Spain, 1970), ABBA (Sweden, 1974), Céline Dion (Switzerland, 1988), and dancer Michael Flatley, whose intermission performance in 1994 stole the show and launched the global phenomenon known as Riverdance.

The table lists the winners of the Eurovision Song Contest and the country they represented.

Eurovision Song Contest
year song, songwriter (performer, country)
1956 "Refrain," Émile Gardaz, Géo Voumard (Lys Assia, Switzerland)
1957 "Net als toen," Willy van Hemert, Guus Jansen (Corry Brokken, Netherlands)
1958 "Dors mon amour," Pierre Delanoë, Hubert Giraud (André Claveau, France)
1959 "Een beetje," Willy van Hemert, Dick Schallies (Teddy Scholten, Netherlands)
1960 "Tom Pillibi," Pierre Cour, André Popp (Jacqueline Boyer, France)
1961 "Nous les amoureux," Jacques Datin, Maurice Vidalin (Jean-Claude Pascal, Luxembourg)
1962 "Un Premier Amour," Rolande Valade, Claude Henri Vic (Isabelle Aubret, France)
1963 "Dansevise," Sejr Volmer-Sørensen, Otto Francker (Grethe and Jørgen Ingmann, Denmark)
1964 "Non ho l'età," Nicola Salerno (Gigliola Cinquetti, Italy)
1965 "Poupée de cire, poupée de son," Serge Gainsbourg (France Gall, Luxembourg)
1966 "Merci chérie," Udo Jürgens, Thomas Hörbiger (Udo Jürgens, Austria)
1967 "Puppet on a String," Bill Martin, Phil Coulter (Sandie Shaw, United Kingdom)
1968 "La, la, la," Ramón Arcusa, Manuel de la Calva (Massiel, Spain)
1969 four-way tie: "Vivo cantando," Aniano Alcalde, Maria José de Cerato (Salomé, Spain); "Boom Bang-a-Bang," Peter Warne, Alan Moorhouse (Lulu, United Kingdom); "De troubadour," Lenny Kuhr, David Hartsena (Lenny Kuhr, Netherlands); "Un Jour, un enfant," Eddy Marnay, Emile Stern (Frida Boccara, France)
1970 "All Kinds of Everything," Derry Lindsay, Jackie Smith (Dana, Ireland)
1971 "Un Banc, un arbre, une rue," Yves Dessca, Jean-Pierre Bourtayre (Séverine, Monaco)
1972 "Après toi," Klaus Munro, Yves Dessca, Mario Panas (Vicky Leandros, Luxembourg)
1973 "Tu te reconnaîtras," Vline Buggy, Claude Morgan (Anne-Marie David, Luxembourg)
1974 "Waterloo," Stikkan Anderson, Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus (ABBA, Sweden)
1975 "Ding-a-Dong," Will Luikinga, Eddy Ouwens, Dick Bakker (Teach-In, Netherlands)
1976 "Save Your Kisses for Me," Tony Hiller, Lee Sheriden, Martin Lee (Brotherhood of Man, United Kingdom)
1977 "L'Oiseau et l'enfant," José Gracy, Jean-Paul Cara (Marie Myriam, France)
1978 "A-Ba-Ni-Bi," Ehud Manor, Nurit Hirsh (Izhar Cohen and the Alphabeta, Israel)
1979 "Hallelujah," Shimrit Orr, Kobi Oshrat (Gali Atari and Milk and Honey, Israel)
1980 "What's Another Year," Shay Healy (Johnny Logan, Ireland)
1981 "Making Your Mind Up," Andy Hill, John Danter (Bucks Fizz, United Kingdom)
1982 "Ein bisschen Frieden," Bernd Meinunger, Ralph Siegel (Nicole, West Germany)
1983 "Si la vie est cadeau," Alain Garcia, Jean-Pierre Millers (Corinne Hermès, Luxembourg)
1984 "Diggi-loo diggi-ley," Britt Lindeborg, Torgny Söderberg (Herrey's, Sweden)
1985 "La det swinge," Rolf Løvland (Bobbysocks, Norway)
1986 "J'aime la vie," Marino Atria, Jean-Pierre Furnémont, Angelo Crisci (Sandra Kim, Belgium)
1987 "Hold Me Now," Sean Sherrard (Johnny Logan, Ireland)
1988 "Ne partez pas sans moi," Nella Martinetti, Atilla Sereftug (Céline Dion, Switzerland)
1989 "Rock Me," Stevo Cvikich, Rajko Dujmich (Riva, Yugoslavia)
1990 "Insieme: 1992," Toto Cutugno (Toto Cutugno, Italy)
1991 "Fångad av en stormvind," Stephan Berg (Carola, Sweden)
1992 "Why Me," Sean Sherrard (Linda Martin, Ireland)
1993 "In Your Eyes," Jimmy Walsh (Niamh Kavanagh, Ireland)
1994 "Rock 'n' Roll Kids," Brendan Graham (Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan, Ireland)
1995 "Nocturne," Petter Skavlan, Rolf Løvland (Secret Garden, Norway)
1996 "The Voice," Brendan Graham (Eimear Quinn, Ireland)
1997 "Love Shine a Light," Kimberley Rew (Katrina and the Waves, United Kingdom)
1998 "Diva," Yoav Ginay (Dana International, Israel)
1999 "Take Me to Your Heaven," Gert Lengstrand (Charlotte Nilsson, Sweden)
2000 "Fly on the Wings of Love," Jørgen Olsen (Olsen Brothers, Denmark)
2001 "Everybody," Maian-Anna Kärmas, Ivar Must (Tanel Padar, Dave Benton, and 2XL, Estonia)
2002 "I Wanna," Marija Naumova, Marats Samauskis (Marie N, Latvia)
2003 "Every Way That I Can," Demir Demirkan, Sertab Erener (Sertab Erener, Turkey)
2004 "Wild Dances," Ruslana Lyzhichko, Aleksandr Ksenofontov (Ruslana, Ukraine)
2005 "My Number One," Christos Dantis, Natalia Germanou (Helena Paparizou, Greece)
2006 "Hard Rock Hallelujah," LORDI (LORDI, Finland)
2007 "Molitva," Vladimir Graić, Saša Milošević Mare (Marija Šerifović, Serbia)
2008 "Believe," Dima Bilan, Jim Beanz (Dima Bilan, Russia)
2009 "Fairytale," Alexander Rybak (Alexander Rybak, Norway)
2010 "Satellite," Julie Frost, John Gordon (Lena, Germany)
2011 "Running Scared," Stefan Örn, Sandra Bjurman, Iain Farquharson (Ell/Nikki, Azerbaijan)
2012 "Euphoria," Thomas G:son, Peter Boström (Loreen, Sweden)
2013 "Only Teardrops," Lise Cabble, Julia Fabrin Jakobsen, Thomas Stengaard (Emmelie de Forest, Denmark)
2014 "Rise like a Phoenix," Charly Mason, Joey Patulka, Ali Zuckowski, Julian Maas (Conchita Wurst, Austria)
2015 "Heroes," Linnea Deb, Joy Deb, Anton Hård af Segerstad (Måns Zelmerlöw, Sweden)
2016 "1944," Susana Jamaladinova (Jamala, Ukraine)
2017 "For the Both of Us," Luisa Sobral (Salvador Sobral, Portugal)
2018 "Toy," Doron Medalie, Stav Beger (Netta, Israel)
2019 "Arcade," Duncan Laurence, Joel Sjöö, Wouter Hardy (Duncan Laurence, Netherlands)
2020 Not held because of the COVID-19 pandemic
2021 "Zitti e buoni," Damiano David, Victoria De Angelis, Thomas Raggi, Ethan Torchio (Måneskin, Italy)
2022 "Stefania," Ivan Klymenko, Oleh Psiuk, Ihor Didenchuk, Tymofii Muzychuk, Vitalii Duzhyk (Kalush Orchestra, Ukraine)
2023 "Tattoo," Jimmy Jansson, Jimmy Joker, Loreen, Moa Carlebecker, Peter Boström, Thomas G:son (Loreen, Sweden)
2024 "The Code," Benjamin Alasu, Lasse Midtsian Nymann, Linda Dale, Nemo Mettler (Nemo, Switzerland)

Michael Ray

Eurovision Song Contest | History, Rules, Countries & List of Winners (2024)
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