Eurovision Back In Time

1958: the one where the juries couldn’t spot a worldwide smash hit Written by: Andrew Brook

Eurovision Back In Time

In the run-up to the 2018 contest we’ll be taking a look back at earlier editions from years ending in ‘8. And to begin with we go right back to the 1958 contest, when Eurovision was in its infancy.

Things could hardly have been more different; the contest took place on a Wednesday, and lasted just over an hour. The first of just ten songs started barely a minute from the start of the show, whilst the presenter – the wonderfully named Hannie Lips – didn’t take to the stage at all until all the songs had been presented.


Hannie Lips


The venue for the contest was the small town of Hilversum. And if you have to ask “Où est Hilversum?” then you’re too young to remember the bakelite radiograms, with a dial that proudly displayed the name of Hilversum alongside Florence, Vienna, Paris and London.  

The set for 1958 was modern in design. The names of the songs were presented on the new-fangled scoreboard in thrilling lower case. The logo for the contest was a funky piece of modern art, which was intended to be represented on the tiny stage, but ended up looking more like a rickety window frame with some net curtains draped over it. And flowers. Tulips everywhere. It is a wonder the orchestra didn’t spend the evening sneezing! 

And so to the songs. In what was only the third contest the winners of the previous two editions returned, with mixed results. The reigning champion, Corry Brokken, performed second - and came last, with a song that didn’t seem noticeably worse than her winning song the year before. An early example of the curse of performing second? Corry is the only singer to have come both first and last. She is very fondly remembered by Eurovision fans for her appearance during the voting at the 1998 contest, where a pre-rehearsed exchange presenter Ulrika Johnsson went wrong, and Ulrika’s comment “A long time ago, was it?” sent the entire audience into hysterics.

Returning to the contest for the third and final time was the grande dame of Eurovision, Lys Assia. She sung a jaunty little ditty called ‘Giorgio’, which had more than a passing resemblance to ‘The Ballad Of Davy Crocket’. It went down well with the judges, and after the penultimate round of voting was one point behind the leader.

The contest was won by France with ‘Dors, mon amour’, sung by André Claveau. The song itself is long forgotten, and turned out to be the swan-song for M Claveau’s career, who fell into obscurity shortly afterwards and retired from the music industry.

But if the winner of the competition itself didn’t set the world alight, one of the also-rans certainly did. The winner of the San Remo Festival ‘Nel blu dipinto di blu’ came a distant third, in spite of being performed twice as a result of a technical difficulty. Maybe Domenico Modugno’s performance was deemed a little too eccentric for the jurors. Maybe they found the brass accompaniment to be too avant garde. Maybe they couldn’t get their heads round the title (The blue painted blue). Maybe they all just had cloth ears.

Better known as ‘Volare’, the song went on to win Song of the Year at the inaugural Grammy Awards (the only Eurovision song ever to do so) and went to number one around the world, including in America. The song went on to sell an estimated 30 million copies, and has been covered hundreds of times, notably by Dean Martin, the Gipsy Kings, Luciano Pavarotti and Il Volo. 

All the main participants in the 1958 competition have, sadly, passed away; most recently, of course, Lys Assia. But whilst memories of the participants will fade, Volare will live on as one of the most popular songs in the western world. It will be remembered when it is a hundred years old in 2058, when it will almost certainly still be the best selling Eurovision song of all time.

Categories: ESC Social News


Vote and get involved in the Eurovision Grand Final

How to vote in tonight's Eurovision Final? Look for the numbers onscreen when they are announced or download the offical Eurovision App. We'd also love to hear your party shoutouts for Graham to read during the show. Follow our BBC Eurovision feeds on Twitter and Facebook or leave a comment below. Also make your Eurovision party go with a swing with our scorecards!


Categories: BBC News


Eurovision 2017 - UK song entry now open!


Today we are opening the public song submissions process to find the UK’s entry for the 62nd Eurovision Song Contest in Kyiv, Ukraine next May! Information on how to submit a song is detailed below.

As last year, all public entries will be carefully considered and shortlisted by a representative panel of official UK Eurovision Fan Club (OGAE UK) members. At the same time, entries are also being sought from leading professional songwriters, with guidance from Record Industry Executive and Music Consultant for the BBC, Hugh Goldsmith.

Hugh Goldsmith says: “I am looking for songs which have the capacity to make a true impact on the 200 million people that will watch Eurovision live in May 2017. Good is not enough.... Great is required! The winning song will need to combine emotive lyrics and memorable melodies with a brilliant production. Writers should not be constrained by genre - Best in class is what we want! If you think you have the perfect song, we would love to hear from you.”

Guy Freeman, Editor, BBC Special Events and Formats said, “ This is the moment for anyone who passionately believes they've written an outstanding song that could win over the hearts and minds of millions of European TV viewers and professional juries, to go for it and submit their entry. "

A final shortlist of songs, from either route of entry, will again be showcased to TV viewers, who will have the chance to vote for their favourite in Eurovision: You Decide, details of which will be announced later in the year.


• If you would like to submit an entry, it must adhere to the EBU competition rules
• The song must not exceed 3 minute duration
• All vocals must be performed live
• No more than 6 people can take part in the performance
• The song must not have been publicly released before 1st September 2016; it should not have been performed in public or officially published on any media including but not limited to radio, TV and the Internet
• The song cannot be a cover or sample another artist’s work
• The song must be original with regards to songwriting and musical instrumentation
• Each singer/s must be 18 years old on or before 1st January 2017
• Composers and song writers may only submit one entry
• The closing date for entries is Tuesday 1st November 2016
• The BBC reserves the right to use a performer of its choice for any song submitted for consideration. Employees of the BBC and EBU or their close relatives or anyone connected with the contest are not eligible to enter
• The right is reserved to cancel the contest at any stage or amend any of the terms or details if necessary
• The BBC, its sub-contractors, subsidiaries and/or agencies cannot accept any responsibility whatsoever for any failure in the postal system, any technical failure or malfunction or any other problem which may result in an entry not properly registered
• These terms are governed by the law of England and Wales

To register your interest in representing the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest 2017, please email the title of your song, the name of your artist(s) and the name of your composer(s) to the following email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Please do not attach your video to the email. Terms and Conditions apply.

Within 72 hours of sending the email you will receive instructions on how to upload your video to the BBC Eurovision portal.

Categories: BBC News


Eurovision: You Decide is back!

Eurovision: You Decide, our national song selection for the UK entry returns! The show will take place on Friday 27 January 2017, live from London's world-famous Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith.

This year, for the first time, it will be broadcast live on BBC Two at 19.30 with self-confessed Eurovision superfan, Mel Giedroyc, returning as presenter.

After a nationwide search, the 90-minute show will feature performances of six brand new songs. The performers will take to the stage in a bid to impress both the viewers at home and a professional panel. They will compete for the honour of representing the United Kingdom at the Final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 in Kyiv, Ukraine. The winner will be revealed on the night after a live public vote.

A panel of three experts will be on hand to provide insight and their thoughts about the songs and the artists, and how they could translate the performance to the Eurovision Final in Ukraine.

These six competing songs will be revealed on Monday 23rd January on The Ken Bruce Show on BBC Radio 2 and here on the official BBC Eurovision site!

Presenter, Mel Giedroyc said, “I am positively giddy for Eurovision 2017 and chuffed that Eurovision: You Decide is back! I’ve been hearing great things about the standard of the songs this year and I just wish January would hurry up so that I can hear the songs and meet the performers! We’ve got an even bigger venue, exciting guest performers and a brilliant expert panel. It’s going to be great.”

Click here for ticket information. The night will also feature performances from musical guests soon to be announced.

BBC Four will broadcast both semi-finals of the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 on Tuesday 9 and Thursday 11 May. The Grand Final itself will be broadcast on BBC One on Saturday 13 May 2017.

The BBC opened the submissions for public entries on the 6th October 2016, they are being carefully considered and shortlisted by a representative panel of official UK Eurovision fan club (OGAE UK) members. At the same time, entries are also being sought from leading professional songwriters, including BASCA members, with guidance from Record Industry Executive and Music Consultant for the BBC, Hugh Goldsmith.

Categories: BBC News


Eurovision: You Decide 2017 Panel announced!

On Friday 27th January, six talented acts will take to the Eventim Apollo stage in Hammersmith for Eurovision:You Decide! One winner will go on to represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Our panel will be right there beside them to offer their thoughts and opinions on the songs, the artists, and how they’ll translate to the world-famous Eurovision stage in Kyiv. Today we are pleased to announce they are Bruno Tonioli, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and vocal coach CeCe Sammy!

And you can expect not one, but TWO live performances from our special celebrity guests: former Eurovision winner Alexander Rybak will perform his classic tune, Fairytale and The Vamps are set to wow us with their song All Night. If you fancy seeing all the fun in person, pick up a ticket to the event via the following link:

We'll be previewing the songs right here and on the Ken Bruce Radio 2 show, next week on Monday 23rd January. Then tune into BBC Two at 7.30pm and find out which act will be crowned the winner of Eurovision: You Decide 2017.

Categories: BBC News

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