It’s hard to believe that Eurovision began in 1956 with only 7 countries. Since then 52 countries have participated over the years, and this year 42 countries competed against each other. From those 52 countries, 26 different countries have won over the years. Eurovision is always hosted in the country that won the year prior- which means that next year it will be in Stockholm thanks to Loreen and Euphoria!
This years competition was hosted in Baku, Azerbaijan. They have been competing since 2008 and won for the first time last year. The Azerbaijan venue truly set the stage for this years performances. Baku built a very impressive venue for the occasion, the Baku Crystal Hall, which holds 25,000 persons and a VIP lounge. The construction took eight months (completed only four weeks before the contest) and cost approx. 150 Million Euro (190 million USD). The hall was built with more than Eurovision in mind, wanting a notable landmark for the country, and it succeeded – I for one was in awe of it, inside and out!
Thankfully, Sweden will not have to undergo expensive and stressful last minute construction in order to host Eurovision 2013. Not only has Sweden already hosted the Song Contest four times in the past, but it has always been held at a different theater each year.
|After ABBA won in 1974 Eurovision was held at the Stockholmsmassan, which was constructed in 1971 and held a mere 4,000 people.|
|In 1985 Sweden used the Scandinavium in Gothenburg, which was built and used primarily as a sports arena, also completed in 1971, which could hold 14,000 persons.|
|Then in 1992 the contest was hosted at the Malmö Isstadion, which was built in 1970 with a capacity of 5,800.|
|Most recently, in 2000, the Globen, built in 1989, was home to Eurovision, where 16,000 spectators enjoyed the show.|
This time will be no different. In 2009 construction started on a new Concert Hall in Stockholm, and will be completed by November 2012. The Friends Arena will be the largest stadium in all of Scandinavia, with a capacity of 65,000 persons, a retractable roof, and a football (soccer) arena. A project that will cost 1.9 Billion SEK (170 million Euro/ 212 million USD). Alongside the venue, hotels and the largest shopping center in Scandinavia are also being built.
Sweden was the 11th country to participate in the Eurovision song contest in 1958. Since then, Sweden has won the competition FIVE times, which is the second most wins tied with Luxemborg, France, and the United Kingdom. Ireland has the most wins, with a total of seven. Since 1958 Sweden has only missed participating in the contest three times, out of those 52 times Sweden has ALWAYS made it into the final show, except once, when losing by five votes. In order to find the song that will be entered into Eurovision Sweden has its own competition every march, Melodifestivalen – which I wrote about here and here. Not only has this pre-contest generated five winners, but has also landed Sweden in the top FIVE 20 times, and the top TEN 32 times. This year Loreen’s Euphoria won with the second highest margin in Eurovision history- 113 points. The win was so predicted and expected after her show in the Semi-finals on Thursday that betting offices closed placing bets on her because the odds were too much in her favor. Right now Euphoria is #1 on the radio in 13 countries. #Sweden and #Loreen were top trending World Wide on Thursday during the semi-final and again last night.
The competition used to have a requirement that the song writers must be from the country participating. That is no longer the case, which is something the countries take advantage of, especially fond of using Sweden as it is known for having talented song writers, lyricists, and composers. Many entries through out the years have been created by Swedes, most notably last years winner. Ten out of the 26 finalists in this years contest were songs written by Swedish song writers. Additionally, the host country used Swedish back up dancers, song writers, choreographer, and wardrobe this year as well.
For many years it was required that all countries must sing in official languages of their country. This was put in place in 1966 after Sweden performed a song in English. Once the rule was lifted in 1973, Sweden won the following year with Waterloo- in English. Twenty-seven out of all the 56 winning songs have been sung in English. Three out of the five Swedish winning songs have been in English.
It was really exciting to be in the winning country watching Eurovision for the very first time. It was fun to watch and comment on, through both the good and bad parts. I didn’t expect to get so excited and nervous when the votes came in from the 42 countries, but I was sitting on the edge of my seat and applauding when ever we got any score above an Eight. (Only one country didn’t give us any points, and another only gave three points- all 40 other countries gave at least six points – but usually 10 or 12!). Grattis Sverige!!
Enjoy these clips from all the Swedish Eurovision Winners:
ABBA – Waterloo, 1974
Herrys – Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley, 1984
Carola – Fångad av en stormvind, 1991 (Caught by a stormwind) (With translation)
Charlotte Nillson – Take me to Your Heaven, 1999
Loreen – Euphoria, 2012
See the cutest-ever runners-up here. Russian Babushkis singing “Everybody dance.”