The Eurovision Song Contest is a huge song competition that has been taking place every year since 1956. It attracts more than 40 countries (mostly in Europe) and over 180 million online viewers around the world. This year’s contest will be hosted in Tel Aviv and streamed via the European Broadcasting System (EBU) and YouTube, from May 14th to 19th.

How it works

The competition consists of three different stages: semi-final 1, semi-final 2, and final. Each participating country performs a chosen song live on stage, and following a long voting process, a winner is crowned.

Each country has a jury that gives out points to their ten favorite performances (12, 10, and 8 to 1 points), which amounts to half of the total votes. The other half is decided by fans watching at home, via tele-voting.

Below is a one-minute video from the EBU explaining the voting system with visuals.

The History

Eurovision was held for the first time in 1956 in Lugano, Switzerland, with only seven countries participating. The performers were required to use a live orchestra for their music, until the rule was changed in 1999. Since then, all countries have been using a digital backing track for their shows. This means that the famous “epic sax guy” wasn’t actually playing his saxophone during his iconic performance!

Image source: wiwibloggs.com
Epic Sax Guy”, Sergey Stepanov from the Sunstroke Project. His band represented Moldova in the Eurovision twice, in 2010 and 2017.

Originally, the EBU rule required every country to perform in their nation’s home language. This rule was reversed in 1973. The following year became a major year in Eurovision history, with the famous Swedish pop group ABBA winning the competition with a song written in English. Many artists kick-started their singing careers through Eurovision, such as Celine Dion – who won the contest in 1988 at the young age of 20.

Image Source: eurovisionireland.net
ABBA after performing their winning song “Waterloo” at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974.

The Competitive Edge

Currently, Ireland sits at the top of the leaderboard with seven wins. They are closely followed by Sweden (with six wins), who won the competition twice in the past decade. Swedish fans are hoping to overtake Ireland, but winning the contest is much harder when competing against so many countries.

Many participants return in the next year, which shows that the competition makes everyone feel welcome. Although some past winners attempt a second win, Ireland’s Johnny Logan is the only artist to have won the competition twice so far.

Image source: Pitchfork.com
Lordi, 2006 Eurovision winners from Finland with “Hard Rock Hallelujah”.

What to Expect from Eurovision 2019

Israel, the winner of Eurovision 2018, will be hosting this year’s competition from May 14th to 19th. There will be 41 countries participating, with five returning singers. The song and artist of each country are already made public on the Eurovision website.

According to an online poll from eurovisionworld.com, 21% of voters predicted that Netherlands will be the winner of the contest. Second and third place of the poll are taken by Russia and Italy, each with 7% of total votes.

Duncan Laurence (Netherlands) will perform “Arcade” in Eurovision 2019.

Favorites have not always won, and the suspense of finding out the winner is one factor that draws in many fans. Once the contest begins, you can vote for the best performance by telephone, SMS, or the official Eurovision app after all countries have presented. Tune into the competition in May and support your country!

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