Editorials & Opinion

What’s in a date? Analysing previous Eurovision finals hosted on 18 May…

Earlier this week, it was finally revealed that the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest would be hosted in Tel Aviv, the second most populous city in Israel. In addition, it was announced that the contest would take place on 14, 16 and 18 May.

This won’t be the first time a Eurovision final has taken place on 18 May. In fact, it will be the third time! So what’s in a date? Just as we did last year, let’s take a look back at the two previous finals to take place on 18 May…

18 May: A Eurovision history

The first ever Eurovision Song Contest took place in May. The Swiss city of Lugano hosted the 1956 contest on Thursday 24 May. Nevertheless, the contest wouldn’t be held in May again until 1977 when London hosted the contest on Saturday 7 May. 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, it was in Luxembourg in 1984 when Eurovision was finally scheduled to take place in May once more. Since 1984, most Eurovision Song Contests have taken place in May. Indeed, only twice since 1984 has the contest been hosted outside of May. In 1988 and 1994, Dublin hosted the contest on 30 April.

Oslo 1996

The first Eurovision Song Contest to take place on 18 May was in 1996. Norway hosted the contest in their capital city of Oslo following the victory of Secret Garden in Dublin with Nocturne. In 1996, the top 5 was as follows:

  1. Ireland: Eimear Quinn – The Voice
  2. Norway: Elisabeth Andreassen – I evighet
  3. Sweden: One More Time – Den vilda
  4. Croatia: Maja Blagdan – Sveta ljubav
  5. Estonia: Maarja-Liis Ilus & Ivo Linna – Kaelakee hääl

Remember that pre-qualification round?

Ireland secured the most recent of their seven Eurovision victories to date on 18 May 1996 with Eimear Quinn’s The Voice. The 1990s were a remarkable decade for Ireland, with four victories that included a run of three consecutive wins between 1992 and 1994. Norway came close to scoring back-to-back victories of their own as Elisabeth Andreassen finished in second place on home turf. It was Elisabeth’s fourth appearance at the Eurovision Song Contest, but her first as a solo artist. Of course, she won the contest on her second appearance in 1985, as part of Bobbysocks.

Neighbours Sweden rounded off the podium with One More Time’s Den vilda. Interestingly, Den vilda won the 1996 pre-qualifying round in which national juries chose 22 of 29 entries to join hosts Norway in the 23-nation televised final based on the audio of the entries alone. In this pre-qualification round, actual winners Ireland placed second and Gina G finished third for the United Kingdom with eventual worldwide megahit Ooh Aah… Just A Little Bit!

Croatia had only placed 19th in the pre-qualification round to scrape through to the televised final, but wowed national juries on the day to finish in fourth place. This remains to date Croatia’s best Eurovision result, matched by Doris Dragović who also placed fourth in 1999 with Marija Magdalena. Estonia rounded off the top five, making an impressive return to the contest after relegation in the previous year. This began a run of six top ten finishes in seven appearances which also featured Estonia’s one victory to date, Everybody in 2001.

Now, let’s find out what happened on 18 May 2013…

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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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