As per tradition, the Eurovision 2017 Song Contest will be held in Kyiv this May. While Eurovision is common knowledge throughout the continent and even beyond, many people “across the pond” often know nothing about it. Here are some interesting facts and figures about the song contest.
10. Eurovision is older than you may think
While you’d expect pop-song contest to be contemporary, the Eurovision Song Contest has a long history spanning 60 years. It was developed by the Switzerland-based European Broadcasting Union as a way to help unite the continent as it rebuilt after the Second World War and faced the emerging Cold War. The first contest was held in Lugano, Switzerland on 24 May 1956, but with only seven countries participating. Not surprisingly, Switzerland won the first competition.
9. Not just Europe
Many not familiar with the contest may be surprised to see clearly non-European countries participating. Participation in Eurovision is actually based on the broadcasting range of the European Broadcasting Area, which stretches as far as Iraq and even Northern Saudi Arabia. One very non-European country that came close to winning last year was Australia.
Read: EurJamala: Eurovision 2016 Winner
8. A successful launch
The Swedish pop-group ABBA won the Eurovision contest in 1974 with the song “Waterloo.” Since then their career rapidly took off, making them the most commercially successful Eurovision competitor.
7. Make a lasting impression
This may be the first time Ukraine has hosted the Eurovision Song Contest, but it’s not the first time it’s made an impact. Eurovision is synonymous with over-the-top performances, and in 2007 Ukrainian singer and comedian Verka Serduchka garnered international fame with this wild and outlandish spectacle.
6. Rules Change
Over the years the competition has change in a number of ways. For example, in the first competition each country submitted two songs. Other changes involve the voting system. Last year’s competition combined popular voting with a jury system that awarded a set number of points.
5. Winners and losers
Ireland has the most Eurovision wins with seven. By contrast, Norway has eleven last place entries. Nevertheless, they also have three victories.
Read: Eurovision 2017 Contest in Ukraine
4. Best of the Worst
Youtube has a video compilation of every Eurovision last place song so you can learn what not to do.
Most winning Eurovision songs are in English, with French being a close second. Hebrew songs have won three times. Meanwhile last year’s winner, “1944” by Jamala, featured a chorus in Crimean Tatar.
This year’s Eurovision theme is “Celebrate Diversity,” and the symbol is a traditional Ukrainian woman’s beaded necklace.
An estimated 180 million viewers watch the Eurovision Song Contest every year. With new countries participating in recent years, this will no doubt increase.