Just to tide us over…Eurovision, By The Numbers!
Here we are, a month or so before delegations, journalists, and fans alike all descend on Düsseldorf, awaiting the spectacle that we’ve been fantasizing about since Lena took the Eurovision crown in Oslo last year. This month, however, is generally seen as “the calm before the storm”. All of the songs have been released, and while an occasional promotional video or tour might pop up here and there, and bookies might argue amongst themselves over who will win, there’s really not a lot of major news that arises between the unveiling of the final song and the start of rehearsals.
So, what’s an ESC blogger with too much time on her hands going to do? (The same thing she does every night, Pinky…tries to take over the world!)
No…wait. That’s not it. Tempting as it might be, I have no plans for world domination. Yet. What I will do, however, is crunch some numbers and try to come up with some interesting bits of trivia for you all!
– As we all know, we’ve got 43 nations competing against each other this year. Out of those 43, twenty-two have previously won the competition at some point. The nations that have competed the longest without a victory are Portugal (44 songs since 1964, never cracking the Top 5), Malta (23 entries since 1971, with two runner-up placements), and Cyprus (28 entries since 1981, with three 5th-place finishes). The only nations to have taken a victory on their debut entry are Switzerland in 1956 (although this could be argued, as everybody was a debuting entrant that year, and “Refrain” was the second of two Swiss songs presented that night), and Serbia in 2007 (which could also be argued, as Serbia had performed in conjunction with Montenegro in the past). Other nations to have recently won an ESC title while in their Eurovision infancy were Ukraine (winning on their second attempt in 2004) and Latvia (with a victory on their third try, in 2002).
– Out of the 43 competing nations, 10 debuted during the 1950s, 5 in the 1960s, 4 in the 1970s, 2 in the 1980s, 11 in the 1990s, and 11 in the 2000s. Ten nations entered for the first time between 1993 and 1994 alone!
– The next nation to debut will most likely be Liechtenstein, as they finally established their own broadcaster in 2008, and have applied for EBU membership. Lebanon has also flirted with the idea of entering the ESC, but we haven’t heard much from TéléLiban since their failed 2005 attempt to enter the contest. Radio Television of Kosovo has expressed an interest in competing, but as they are not fully accepted by the United Nations, the broadcaster hasn’t been officially enrolled in the EBU, voiding any chance of participation. Finally, Qatar has also expressed an interest in participating, but we will need to wait until next year to see if this comes to fruition.
– Other EBU-member nations that have not sent a song to Eurovision as of 2011 include Tunisia (who supposedly had tried to send a song to compete in 1977, but withdrew), Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, and the Vatican.
– There are six nations (not counting those that are defunct) that have participated in the ESC in the past, but have withdrawn for one reason or another. They are Luxembourg, Monaco, Morocco, Andorra, Montenegro, and the Czech Republic.
– The last time that Germany hosted Eurovison (1987, in Munich), only 20 nations took part. Out of those twenty, only two no longer participate (Yugoslavia, for obvious reasons, and Luxembourg). In 1987, however, 17 of today’s participating countries didn’t even exist in their current form! Between the division of the former Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia, plus the merging of East and West Germany, Europe’s borders have gone through a pretty significant overhaul.
– Over 50 languages and dialects have been represented on the Eurovision stage, including this year’s introduction of Swahili (in Norway’s “Haba Haba”). However, as many countries choose to sing in English over their native languages, this is becoming a rarer phenomenon. We have yet to hear Georgian, Azerbaijani, or Belorussian at a Eurovision, for example. (I’m also still holding out hope for an entry in Welsh, but it might be a long shot.) The languages heard at Eurovision with the fewest active speakers seem to be Romansh (spoken by about 35,000 people and sung by the Swiss in 1989), Võro (spoken by about 70,000 people and sung by Estonia in 2004). Three songs have been sung (at least partially) in imaginary languages: Belgium in 2003 and 2008, and the Netherlands in 2006.
I might add more to this list as other facts and figures strike me…feel free to add your own contributions in the comments!