Tonight, Saturday the 23rd of May, is the Eurovision song contest. Of course if you live anywhere in Europe you already know this. But if you’re American, you might be asking: “What the hell is Eurovision?”
Eurovision is a song contest held every year in Europe. It involves dozens of countries competing live on stage- performing songs written just for the event. Viewers then call in to select their favourites, with points awarded country by country, until a winner is selected. In America, it’s virtually unknown, but in much of the rest of the world, Eurovision’s popularity is eclipsed only by the World Cup and the Olympics.
Here are 13 amazing facts about the Eurovision song contest:
- Held every year since 1640, the Eurovision song contest began when medieval refugees who had fled their home countries due to the plague, were thrown together into fire pits to burn the sickness out of them. Local peasants would often spare one of the foreigners from this flaming death if they screamed loud enough. Each year since, Eurovision has grown in popularity.
- Eurovision song entries must be less than three minutes long.
- Incidents of “straight bashing” at recent Eurovision finals have been taken very seriously by the organisers of the contest. Any straight males attending the contest will be assigned their own security detail. For their safety, straight men attending Eurovision are being asked to “tone it up” a little, in terms of their attire and behaviour, so as not to attract too much attention.
- Ireland has won Eurovision a record seven times.
- Swedish pop group Abba first shot to fame at Eurovision in 1974. Other superstar winners have included Helena Paparizou, the Olsen Brothers and of course, Sertab Erener.
- The first colour TV broadcast of Eurovision was in 1968.
- Russian leader Vladimir Putin is reportedly a huge fan, although his country has never had a winning entry. This is despite the fact that Russian soldiers have repeatedly infiltrated the Eurovision stage to sing songs disguised as Ukrainians.
- Despite being 12,000 miles away from Europe, Australia has been selected to compete in Eurovision.
- ‘Eurovision’ is also the name of the Munich-based eyewear company that sponsors the contest. The company jingle/slogan has become an unofficial anthem sung at the event: Wir haben keine dummen Lieder zu singen , wir sind Deutsche. Gehen Sie zurück an die Arbeit! Click here for Google Translation.
- Each time a country wins Eurovision, it gets the right to host the contest the following year. Last year’s winner, Conchita Wurst won it for Austria, and this year’s event is in Vienna.
- Despite success in 33 SuperBowls, 110 World Series and scores of NBA championships, America has never won Eurovision.
- The largest audience ever gathered for Eurovision was 38,000 people in Copenhagen in 2001.
- The fiercest rivalry at Eurovision is between Slovenia and Slovakia, with the two nations constantly accusing each other of “stealing their votes.” This year, Slovenia will dress in blue with white stripes, while Slovakia will dress in white with blue stripes, to avoid voter confusion. With that settled, Austria and Australia are figured to be the next big rivals.