Editorials & Opinion

What’s in a date? Looking at previous Eurovision finals hosted on 12th May…

Last week, it was revealed that the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest would be hosted in the Portuguese capital city of Lisbon. In addition, it was announced that the contest would take place on the 8th, 10th and 12th May. This won’t be the first time a Eurovision final has taken place on 12th May. In fact, it will be the third time! So what’s in a date? Let’s take a look back at the two previous finals to take place on 12th May…

12th May: A Eurovision history

The first Eurovision Song Contest to take place in May was in London in 1977. However, on this occasion, the contest was actually scheduled to take place in early April. Yet, due to a strike by BBC cameramen and technicians, the contest had to be postponed for a month. Therefore, the first May Eurovision was hosted in Luxembourg on 5th May 1984.

Since 1984, most Eurovision Song Contests have taken place in May. Taking this into account, since 1984 there have been five possible occasions to host the Eurovision final on next year’s final date, Saturday 12th May. 12th May fell on a Saturday in 1984, 1990, 2001, 2007 and 2012. Only on two of these five occasions did the EBU choose to take the 12th May option, in 2001 and 2007.

Nevertheless, looking at it from a different point of view, the EBU have chosen to host the Eurovision final on 12th May on two of the previous three opportunities. The only anomaly was in 2012 when Baku hosted the contest two Saturdays later. Therefore, we think there’s a very good chance that 12th May will be chosen again the next time it is possible to choose it… which is in 2029. So get your holidays booked for Saturday 12th May 2029, you can thank us later… a lot later!

Copenhagen 2001

As mentioned previously, the first Eurovision Song Contest to take place on Saturday 12th May was in 2001. Denmark hosted the contest in their capital city of Copenhagen following the victory of the Olsen Brothers in Stockholm. In 2001, the top 5 was as follows:

  1. Estonia
  2. Denmark
  3. Greece
  4. France
  5. Sweden
A victory against all odds!

It was Estonia that took victory on that night of May 12th, their first Eurovision victory. Unlike a couple of Estonia’s previous entrants, including Ines’ Once in a Lifetime in 2000, Tanel Padar, Dave Benton & 2XL were not expected to contend for the win. Nevertheless, Everybody’s feel-good nature appealed to the public all over Europe. Denmark came close to securing a second successive victory, with Rollo & King just missing out in front of the home crowd. Greece’s Helena Paparizou had her first taste of Eurovision success in 2001 as part of Antique. (I Would) Die for You took the bronze medal position. Helena would later return as a solo artist to achieve Greece’s first Eurovision victory in 2005.

France’s Natasha St-Pier finished in fourth place with Je n’ai que mon âme. This was a historic moment in French Eurovision history as Natasha was the first French representative to perform part of their entry in English. Since 2001, France has included English lyrics in their Eurovision entry a further five times: L’amour à la française in 2007, Divine in 2008, Echo (You and I) in 2012, J’ai cherché in 2016 and Requiem in 2017. Of these, Sébastian Tellier’s Divine is the only French Eurovision entry to consist of mostly English lyrics, a controversial move at the time.

Sweden rounded off the top 5 with Friends. The Scandinavian superpower would go on to finish in 5th place a further five times since 2001 becoming their most common finishing position of the 21st century! The bottom three positions were filled by Ireland, Iceland and Norway.

Helsinki 2007

Six years later, May 12th landed on a Saturday and the EBU once again chose this date to host the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest. Helsinki hosted the contest for the very first time following Lordi’s victory in Athens and the top 5 was as follows:

  1. Serbia
  2. Ukraine
  3. Russia
  4. Turkey
  5. Bulgaria
A debut victory for Serbia

In the first Eurovision Song Contest as an independent nation, Serbia took the victory with Molitva. Marija Šerifović was amongst the favourites, although all of the media hype was surrounding eventual runner-up Verka Serduchka of Ukraine. The victory of Molitva could be considered important in boosting Eurovision’s reputation during a tumultuous time for the contest, with one major criticism aimed at the contest being its decline in musical quality and increase in novelty acts. Many fans included the previous year’s winner, Lordi, in the latter category due to the band’s costumes.

Russia continued to build momentum with a second consecutive top 3 finish with girl band Serebro. This momentum would go on to peak the following year with Dima Bilan securing the Eurasian country its one and, so far, only victory. Turkey was also on a good run of form, and Shake It Up Şekerim ensured that form stayed high with a fourth place finish in Helsinki.

In fifth place was Bulgaria, who reached the Eurovision final for the first time in 2007 with Water. This turned out to be their only appearance in a Eurovision final until 2016 when Poli Genova secured a 4th place finish with If Love Was a Crime. This year, Kristian Kostov improved on this result further with a 2nd place finish! Bulgaria has managed the ultimate turnaround from one qualification in their first nine Eurovision Song Contests to two top five finishes in a row! The bottom three in 2007 consisted of France, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Lisbon 2018

So what do the Copenhagen and Helsinki contests say we should expect for our third ever 12th May Eurovision Song Contest? Of course, we don’t imagine 12th May has some sort of special Eurovision spell, but in the event that it does…

A country winning for the first time

Estonia and Serbia both secured their first Eurovision victories in 2001 and 2007 respectively. Estonia were rank outsiders whilst Serbia was amongst the favourites. Nevertheless, does this mean we should be on the lookout for another brand new winner in Lisbon? Estonia was on a great run of form at the turn of the century and that momentum finally built into that ultimate victory. Perhaps, Australia or Bulgaria could follow in the Baltic state’s footsteps and turn their current form into victory?

On the other hand, perhaps we’ll get a repeat of Serbia’s story: a victory in their debut Eurovision appearance? Could Kazakhstan make a shock debut in 2018? Perhaps Kosovo will finally come good on their promise to make their Eurovision debut, and take the ultimate prize on their first attempt? So many possibilities… we shall wait and see!

Ireland finishing inside the bottom three… in the final

There aren’t too many similarities to speak of between the 2001 and 2007 contest results. However, unfortunately for our Irish readers, one similarity was that Ireland found themselves inside the bottom three on both occasions. Although, perhaps this is actually a blessing in disguise? These bottom three placings were in the grand final! I imagine most Irish fans will be very happy with a bottom three placing in the final if that means their four-year run of non-qualifications has come to an end? Time to get excited Ireland!

An unpredictable top 5!

When comparing our two previous 12th May Eurovision top 5s, no country managed to appear in both. Of course, such unpredictability in Eurovision isn’t unique to these two contests and that is why we love it oh so much…

The beauty of Eurovision

Yes, the beauty of Eurovision is the fact that every year, every country gets to wipe the slate clean. All they need is that one song and they could go from semi-final no-hopers one year, to title contenders the next. Just ask Portugal! They hadn’t reached a Eurovision final since 2010. Then, 7 years later, they go on to take a dominant victory that would’ve broken Alexander Rybak’s all-time points record! Wouldn’t it be amazing for Lisbon to play host to a story just as unpredictable and just as remarkable as Portugal’s story last year? The fact that this could very much happen is the true beauty of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Engage with us!

What are your favourite memories from the 2001 and 2007 contests? Do you have any expectations for the 2018 contest in Lisbon? Tell us in the comments below and via our social media pages @ESCXTRA!

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Ryan Cobb

My first memory of watching the Eurovision Song Contest was back in 2001 and, over the years, my passion and enthusiasm for the contest has very much turned into an obsession. I adore music and I love geography, so this contest is a natural fit for me. If la la loving Eurovision was a crime, I'd certainly be a criminal!
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