Monday, April 1st 2013
With only six weeks to go now until the biggest musical event of the year, the 58th annual Eurovision Song Contest, coming this year from Sweden’s third major city, Malmö (where it was last held in 1992), the excitement is mounting – as it always does! For the second year in succession, Poland is absent from the event. Also taking a break this year are Bosnia & Herzegovina, Portugal, Slovakia and Turkey. So that leaves the number of participants in 2013 to just thirty-nine. The draws to determine which country went into which semi-final were made on 17th January, and Ireland drew a place in the first of these, and in the second half. On Thursday last, 28th March, the running orders for each of the semi-finals were announced by the EBU. For the first time ever, the order was not decided by drawing lots – as had been the case since the first edition in 1956 – but by the Swedish producers who felt that it should be them making that decision and not the ‘luck of the draw’, as they argued that The X Factor and other talent shows’ producers decided the running orders of their programmes; the EBU ultimately approved this. But the Eurovision Song Contest is not a talent show, nor is it a reality television show, and it never has been – it’s a song competition. So it’ll be interesting to see how this new decision pans out.
The first of the Eurovision 2013 semi-finals takes place on Tuesday 14th May. This will be shown on RTÉ 2 from 8.00pm, with television commentary by Marty Whelan. RTÉ Radio 1 will also cover the broadcast. Sixteen countries will compete for ten places in the Final on Saturday 18th May. Ireland’s Ryan Dolan, from Strabane, Co. Tyrone, won the right to represent the nation by winning the Eurosong final in February, and will sing in the first Semi-Final at No. 13. Viewers and listeners in Ireland will be able to vote for any of the other fifteen songs on the night. You can see the running order below:
Semi-Final No. 1 line-up (in order of appearance):
Similarly, on Thursday 16th May, the second semi-final will occur, also being screened on RTÉ 2 from 8.00pm. As Ireland is obviously not in this one, viewers and listeners throughout the country cannot vote in this semi-final, which will open with Latvia, winners in 2002, and close with Romania, who have yet to notch up their first victory. Again, ten of the countries below will be successful in competing in the Grand Final on 18th May.
Semi-Final No. 2 line-up (in order of appearance):
The Grand Final takes place in Malmö, Sweden, on Saturday 18th May. It will be screened on RTÉ 1, with television commentary by Marty Whelan. RTÉ Radio 1 will also cover this transmission. There will be 26 countries competing and already, there are six known finalists – host country Sweden (who automatically qualify as last year’s winners and this year’s hosts), plus the ‘Big 5’ countries who pump the most cash into the European Broadcasting Union in order to help fund the Contest. These countries are: France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, who never have to go through the semi-final qualifying rounds. Plus, of course, the ten successful countries from Semi 1, and the other ten from Semi 2. It is also known that host nation Sweden is the only country so far whose place in the Grand Final running order has already been drawn – this is so the hosts have no unfair advantage. The Swedes drew the No. 16 position two weeks ago. Again, the show’s producers will decide the running order of the final for the other 25 competitors after the second semi-final has taken place.
The 6 direct finalists (so far):
WINNERS’ TABLE 1956-2012
Want to know when Ireland’s seven victories were? How many times has the UK won? Or Luxembourg? Has Portugal or Cyprus ever scored a first? For these answers, you can consult the winners’ table below:
* In 1969, four countries tied for first place, when there was no tie-break rule in force.
‡ It is highly unlikely that Yugoslavia will win again as the country no longer exists, having broken up into – in terms of participating countries – six independent states: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia.
Portugal (not competing this year) is the longest-serving country in Eurovision without a single victory. Having first entered in 1964, the Portuguese still haven’t even finished in the Top 5.
Malta is now known as ‘the most successful country in Eurovision never to have won’. Since their return in 1991 (having only previously entered in 1971, 1972 and 1975): two second places, two third placings and one fifth placed entry – but no victory as yet!
Cyprus made its first appearance in Dublin’s RDS in 1981, and after more than thirty years they’ve clocked up three fifth-placed entries – but no top four placings yet.
Iceland made its début in 1986, and has achieved two runner-up positions and one fourth place.
On the other hand, Serbia (having separated from Montenegro in 2006) made its début in 2007 as an independent country – and won! Ukraine first entered the contest in 2003, and won the following year. Latvia débuted in 2000 – and won two years later. Azerbaijan was welcomed into the Eurovision fraternity in 2008, and won with their fourth entry in 2011.
Finland finally won in 2006, forty-five years after making its début. Its previous best placing was sixth in 1973.
Luxembourg, who last won thirty years ago, made their last Eurovision appearance in 1993.
Monaco took part from 1959 to 1979, then made a return to the event in 2004, but the principality’s last appearance was in 2006.
Italy made a comeback to the Eurovision contest in 2011, fourteen years after it left the competition.
And now another piece of trivia: the country with the most consecutive entries to the Eurovision Song Contest is the United Kingdom, who have been in every contest since 1959. Their first entry was in 1957, but opted out in 1958. Germany, having been there since the inaugural contest in 1956, broke their run of entries in 1996, when they failed to be selected for that year’s final, but have been there each year since 1997. As both countries are in the EBU ‘Big 5’ category, they will always have a place in the Final.