The Eurovision Song Contest
And so, here we are again. Another year, another chance for us Brits to get 'nul point' from our European neighbours. But where did Eurovision originate from? Here is a brief history of the contest we often love to hate.
The origins of Eurovision
The contest was started in 1956 by members of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), and has been broadcast every year since. Planning for the inaugural event began in 1955, when EBU were looking for a way to unite war torn European states with a common interest. Marcel Bezancon, Director General of Swiss television at the time, came up with the concept of a singing competition, and the idea was approved for first broadcast in Spring 1956. It was a highly ambitious project; broadcasting live across Europe with only a microwave transmission network. However, with seven participating states performing a total of fourteen songs, the first show was a great success.
While the competing countries now only submit one song, little else has changed in the last fifty-six years. The songs are all performed, viewers vote for their favourite (although not their own country!) and the results are shown in the second half of the programme. It strikes me that Eurovision forms the basis on which shows like Pop Idol, X Factor, American Idol and The Voice are based; a talent show for the masses. And like these shows, many artists have found fame after performing, including ABBA, Celine Dion, Brotherhood of Man and Bucks Fizz. Other artists have also performed for their country mid career, such as Katrina and the Waves and Twiggy.
In more recent years, the number of countries making entries has dramatically increased, creating the need for semi-finals in the run up to the main final. However, the host nation, as well as the five largest financial contributors to EBU (UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy) automatically go straight into the final. Without the so named 'Big Five', the competition could not go ahead due to a lack of finance. The host country is always the previous year's winner, with the 2012 show being held in Baku, Azerbaijan.
And so to the 2012 competition. While in the past few years, the UK entries have been dubious at best, this year we have chosen a bit of a legend to represent us, in Engelbert Humperdinck. Admittedly, I have only just discovered that he is not American (as I had always believed), but is in fact from Leicester, 30 minutes down the road from my house. And while I have never been his biggest fan, you can't help but admire a man that changes his name from Albert Dorsey to improve his professional popularity! His music has earned him an army of fans worldwide, and it is this that makes me think that this year, the Eurovision trophy will be ours!!
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