What Is Eurovision?: Basic Questions, Answered

Since it’s inauguration in 1956, the Eurovision Song Contest (aka Eurovision) is one of the longest running television programs to this day. With an audience between 100 million and 600 million internationally, this broadcast is also one of the few television programs that is most watched that isn’t a sport event.

Today though we’re going to take some time to answer some basic questions about this widely popular event as it gives you a good taste for a variety of music that you shouldn’t ignore.

Who Participates?

As mentioned above this event is an international event with singers and bands from all across the world. At the time this is posted, there are over 40 countries that are allowed to compete and since 2015, Australia has been allowed to join, however only as a guest entrant.

What Do The Artists Get From This?

Considering the fact that there are millions of people who watch this event along with so many countries participating, you’d expect that the winning bands would get a lot of exposure right? Well in a sense you are right. Many winners in the past Eurovision have seen a lot of short-term success as a result of this.

As far as long-term success that is few and far between. There are some exceptions though such as ABBA (1974, Sweden participant), Buck Fizz (1981, UK participant), and Celine Dion (1988, Switzerland participant), but outside of them most only saw short-term gain.

What Are The Rules?

Of course the rules are numerous considering the size and how many parties are involved. That being said, there are some core rules that must be followed with regards to presentation. We’ll cover those here.

First off all music must be done live, therefore voices on backtracks isn’t allowed. That being said, a group can bring pre-recorded non-vocal backing tracks if need be. There is also the option of using the live orchestra which the host country is obligated to provide.

Second rule is there must be vocals. It follows the same idea as the first rule. Music isn’t simply based solely on the skill of playing instruments, but of vocals as well. The artist can choose to sing in whatever language they desire. Because of that there has been some fluctuation in English songs and native language songs during the event.

The last rule we cover is voting. Voting comes in two sets: one set from the five judges and the other set coming from televoting from the public.

What Are The Big Five?

Another important part to note about this contest is the qualification process. Although that’s another beast in of itself, there is one important thing to note about it and that is the Big Five. No matter what event you attend to you can expect a band representing these five countries to make an appearance and stay until the very end of this week long event.

The reason that is because the country is part of the Big Five. Those countries being France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and the UK. They became part of this group because France, Germany, Spain, and the UK are countries that contribute the most to this event. Italy joined in after not participating in the event for 13 years and was given this title.

Anyway what this rule stipulates is those five countries have an automatic seat in the finals regardless of their current position in the competition. Although controversial, what’s also important to note is since this rule was made in 2000, there’s only been one #1 victory from the Big Five.


Have you ever heard of Eurovision before? What’s your experience with it? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments below!