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Which of this year’s acts have been involved before?

The class of 2024 have been selected and their songs confirmed with the EBU – but not all of them are newcomers to the Eurovision Song Contest. Seven of the artists taking part this year were already part of the Six on Stage database from a previous contribution.

1. Hera Björk

By some margin the best known to Eurovision fans is Hera Björk from Iceland. As well as representing her character as singer and co-writer with Je Ne Sais Quoi in 2010, she has provided backing vocals on multiple occasions (2008, 2009 and 2015) and been a vocal coach. She also came close to representing Denmark in 2009 with Someday.

2. Natalia Barbu

Our other returning artist this year is Moldova’s Natalia Barbu, who also performed Fight for Moldova in 2007.

3 & 4. Zaachariaha Fielding & Michael Ross

The duo Electric Fields are another fan favourite, coming to prominence in 2019 when they came second in Australia Decides with 2000 and Whatever. Finally representing Australia this year, their success in their national final saw them announce the Australian jury’s 12 points in 2019.

5 & 6. Marcus Gunnarsen & Martinus Gunnarsen

Although they’re flying the flag for Sweden this year, twins Marcus & Martinus are Norwegian and it was for Norway that they revealed the jury scores in 2017, when they were just 15. (We’re going to have to do another post about the times a country had more than one spokesperson…) Earlier the same year they had performed an interval act during Finland’s national final.

7. Raiven

Raiven took part in the public selection for Eurovision three times in Slovenia and this year finally makes it to Malmö via internal selection. But back in 2018 – between her second and third attempts – she was chair of the national jury and, unanimously with her colleaogues, gave her top score to Dance You Off.

An honourable mention too to Kaleen from Austria, whose previous roles have included being a creative director at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, acting as an artist stand-in during Eurovision rehearsals, and being a dancer and choreographer for interval acts in 2018.



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Who’s had the most Eurovision roles?

There are lots of roles at the Eurovision Song Contest and plenty of people have taken on more than one – not least every songwriter who’s delivered their own song on stage. But who has performed the most roles at Eurovision?

First, some caveats. We’re talking about people representing their country. There are lots of roles at Eurovision beyond this – in TV production, website and social content, stage management, etc. But when it comes to countries’ participation, Six on Stage identifies the following specific roles:

  • Lead artist – the credited singer or group for an entry
  • Backing performer – dancer, backing vocalist, puppeteer – anyone performing an entry on stage who’s not the lead artist
  • Songwriter – you’ll see this broken down into composers and lyricists on song pages (and where that information isn’t available we list credited writers as both), but for this analysis we’re considering the role of writer as a single one
  • Jury member – someone who has been a member of a country’s professional jury
  • Spokesperson – someone who has announced the country’s scores (or, in the current format, their jury’s 12 points)
  • Host – slightly different as it’s not linked to any entry and only the host country provides these each year, but we record this not least because so many hosts have also been involved in other ways
  • Other – we’ve started trying to note creative directors, choreographers, stylists… This is pretty much unlimited and dependent on suitable sources so is never going to be complete. That’s why it’s a generic “Other” category.

Lots of people fall into three or four of these categories as it’s common for a singer-songwriter to also serve on their country’s jury and sometimes be a spokesperson too, but two people in the Six on Stage database fall into five categories.

Germany’s Stefan Raab has a long history with the Eurovision Song Contest and that’s reflected in the number of roles he had between 1998 and 2011. He was his country’s named artist in 2000 with Wadde hadde dudde da?, which he also wrote; he wrote and was a backing performer for Max Mutzke‘s 2004 entry; he wrote the legendary Guildo Hat Euch Lieb and turned up to “conduct” the orchestra (who weren’t playing); and finally in 2011 he was one of the Contest’s hosts in Düsseldorf.

The only person who can match this is Slovenia’s Lea Sirk, and arguably her six roles count more strong as they don’t include hosting. Her first involvement was actually in 2012 as a jury member before going on to provide backing vocals for Tinkara Kovač in 2014 and ManuElla in 2016. She’s best known for her own entry in 2018, Hvala, ne!, which she also co-wrote, and returned a year later to reveal her country’s jury scores.

Now if Stefan could come back and sit on Germany’s jury or Lea could host for Slovenia, they could complete the set…

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Two-time winners

With her victory in Liverpool, Loreen became only the second person – and the first woman – to win the Eurovision Song Contest twice as a lead artist.

The other person to have achieved the feat is, of course, Johnny Logan, who has the distinction of also having one twice as a writer: for Hold Me Now and Linda Martin’s Why Me. Like Logan, Loreen was a credited writer only on her second winning song.

But Loreen wasn’t the only person to achieve a second win this year. Two of the other writers of Tattoo were also writers of Euphoria: the prolific Thomas G:son, who has had 15 songs at Eurovision for 7 different countries (plus a 16th/8th if you include France’s 2020 entry), and Peter Boström, whose previous achievement involving Euphoria was having written the songs that came both first and last in the 2012 final. (Ironically, that last placed song, Norway’s Stay, is his only Eurovision song not co-written with G:son.)

They join a select group of writers with multiple Eurovision victories:

  • Willy van Hemert (Netherlands 1957 and 1959)
  • Yves Dessca (Monaco 1971, Luxembourg 1972 – notable for winning with different countries, in successive years, and having a 100% success rate with his only two Eurovision entries)
  • Rolf Løvland (Norway 1985 and 1995 – and as artist for the latter as a member of Secret Garden)
  • Johnny Logan (Ireland 1987 and 1992)
  • Brendan J. Graham (Ireland 1994 and 1996)
  • Thomas G:son (Sweden 2012 and 2023)
  • Peter Boström (Sweden 2012 and 2023)

No writer has yet had three wins – if anyone for that list is going to achieve another, it’s G:son or Boström.


We should also note that a number of backing singers have been involved with winning songs, some more than twice. They are:

Finally there are a handful of conductors. Back in the days of the orchestra, many conductors were regular fixtures for their countries and could also conduct for another country when Eurovision was on home soil. Consequently, three conductors have held the baton for multiple Eurovision winners: Dolf van der Linden (Netherlands 1957 and 1959 and Ireland 1970); Franck Pourcel (France 1958, 1960, 1962 and 1969); and the most prolific of all Eurovision conductors, Noel Kelehan (Ireland 1980, 1987, 1992, 1993 and 1996).

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Who were the 2023 jurors?

Much of the discussion following the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 has been focused on the differing choices of the national juries compared with the public vote. But who were this year’s jurors, and which of them had been involved with the Contest before?

Let’s take a look at the jury members who’ve been involved in the Eurovision Song Contest before, and stick around to the end for some controversial notes…

Artists

Sixteen previous Eurovision entrants leant their experience on stage to a dozen national juries this year. They were:

Backing performers

Six on Stage particularly celebrates backing performers and at least 11 former Eurovision backing vocalists, musicians and dancers were on their countries’ juries this year. In addition to some of the artists above, they were:

David Badalyan was also one of the writers of Armenia’s winning Junior Eurovision song Qami Qami in 2021.

Songwriters

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a big group of jurors were composers and lyricists, including at least 25 who have written for Eurovision. Some notable members of this group, excluding those already mentioned:

And also…

Falling into none of those categories and sitting on Denmark’s jury was Birgitte Næss-Schmidt, who has directed the staging of their entries on eight occasions between 2005 and 2022.

Norway’s jury included a couple of unsuccessful Melodi Grand Prix finalists, Emmy from 2021 and JONE from 2023, while Sweden’s included Clara Klingenström from Melodifestivalen 2021.

Returning jurors

At least 25 former jurors returned for a second (or third!) go at judging Eurovision songs, many of them already featured in the lists above. Those who’ve had the role more than once before include:

The earliest returning juror was Matjaž Vlašič, who last did the role 14 years ago in 2009.

So here’s where it gets a little controversial, if only because I don’t have a copy of the current rules for selecting jurors.

In previous years, there have been a number of rules for the selection of jurors, two of which are:

  • Jurors can’t have sat on a Eurovision jury in the previous two years (which for this year would mean not in 2021 or 2022).
  • Jurors cannot have any direct connection to the songs and/or artists (exactly what this means isn’t set out).

Last year I highlighted a few 2022 jurors who had been jurors for the previous two contests, and this was also the case for one of the Samminese jurors in 2021. This year there are two jurors who were listed as jurors for their countries in 2021, which as far as we know isn’t allowed: Lise Cabble for Denmark and Sokol Marsi for Albania. Given it’s apparently been broken three years in a row, I’d be interested to know if the rule has changed – after all, a lot did because of Covid.

On the second rule, a link to your own country’s song or artist may be unavoidable and it’s reasonable to suggest that it isn’t much of an issue given jurors don’t rank their own country. But since the rule doesn’t specify that, it’s worth noting in passing that Gustaph performed as a Eurovision backing vocalist for both Sennek and Hooverphonic, while Aliona Moon was a backing singer for Pasha Parfeni and 2012 and her 2013 song was written by him. Music is a small world and there are probably other examples too. None of that should imply wrongdoing, but if the rule is still in force it would be interesting to know if it only applies to songs jurors can vote for.

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10,000 and onwards!

Six on Stage has reached a big milestone with 10,000 people connected to the Eurovision Song Contest now listed on the site!

That includes 5,632 people who have performed on the Constest stage at in some capacity as part of a country’s entry, 2,880 songwriters (some of whom performed as well), 833 national spokespeople and 1,765 jurors. There are also 339 conductors – the only number that’s not going to increase any time soon.

With national final season for 2023 now underway, more people will be added to the site in the coming weeks. The 9,999th person I added was Sidorela Kelmendi, one of the newly-selected family group representing Albania alongside Albina Kelmendi in Liverpool.

But the 10,000th person was a juror from 1974. Lawyer Basil Herwald was interviewed on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme by guest editor Björn Ulvaeus. They discussed Basil’s contribution to the 1974 Contest as one of the UK jurors – none of whom gave their one vote to ABBA. And if anyone knows who the other 9 jurors were, please get in touch!

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Research

Name that skiffler

How do you identify a backing singer when there’s no footage of them performing?

That’s the problem with Luxembourg’s 1964 entry, Dès Que Le Printemps Revient by Hugues Aufray. Most of the Contest is lost, but on the audio you can hear backing singers repeating back lines from the song. There was no indication in other sources that there was anyone on stage with Aufray, but there must have been. These are the only unidentified performers from Eurovision 1964 – so who were they?

My first stop was Hugues Aufray’s skiffle group. You can see them performing a different song together in 1964 here:

Given Aufray had a regular band, it seems likely that at least some of them joined him on stage in Copenhagen in 1964.

The YouTube video description names five members of the group who accompanied him in concert that year: guitarists Tatcho Fantini, Claude Mevel, Freddy Street and Michel Langouet, and double bassist Francis Dunglas.

For some time, I thought this was as far as I would get. But then I saw this new colourisation of a number of photos I hadn’t previously been aware of:

The black-and-white originals in the DK archive indicate that Aufray had two backing performers. One is shown fairly clearly; the other is unfortunately obscured in every image.

At least we stand a chance of identifying at least one.

Helpfully, the photographer Tony Frank took a range of photos of the group in the 1960s and has put them on his website. Here’s one from 1963 – the guitarist on the left of Frank’s photo appears to be Aufray’s visible musician in the photo above. The names in the caption match those we got from YouTube, although it’s not clear if the order in the caption is a left-to-right match with the band members in the photo.

For a start, we can discount the double bass player. With a bit more research and cross-referencing with different sources, I’m confident that the man we can see on stage in 1964 is Tatcho Fantini.

One down, one to go. Even though we can’t see the other guitarist’s face, we can see one useful clue: he’s playing left-handed. And if you watch the YouTube video above, only one of Aufray’s contemporary group played the guitar that way round. That’s the fifth person in Frank’s photo, smiling at the back.

A bit more cross-referencing with other images and videos and a process of elimination and we can be fairly sure the second guitarist and backing singer, whose face we never see, was Freddy Street.

And with that the list of performers for 1964 on Six on Stage is complete!

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Trains at Eurovision

There was good news for lovers of both railways and the Eurovision Song Contest this year as Moldova’s Zdob și Zdub returned to the competition to celebrate a train journey between Chișinău and Bucharest.

But trains, stations and railway are nothing new to the lyrics of Eurovision, with over 25 songs featuring them in some way. So here is a rundown of the 10 most railwayish entries from 66 years of the Eurovision Song Contest.

I try to avoid subjective comments on songs on this blog so these are ranked entirely by how much they embrace the theme.

Hey ho! Let’s go!

10. Where Are You? – Imaani – United Kingdom, 1998

The UK’s best placed entry until this year’s Space Man, Where Are You? is packed with -ain rhymes of which “train” is one – specifically the ideal commuting experience of “Riding alone on an empty train.”

9. Valentine Lost – Eiríkur Hauksson – Iceland, 2007

In the last chorus, we hear “a train stuck on a broken track” and with that attitude it’s no surprise that Iceland has no public railway system.

8. La mia città – Emma – Italy, 2014

In the chorus Emma tells us in Italian “voglio prendere il treno.” This translates into the admirable English sentence “I want to take the train.”

7. Retour – Henri Dès – Switzerland, 1970

“Et moi qui prends le train pour l’Italie,” sings Henri in the opening stanza, telling us he’s taking the train to Italy, which was appropriate for this year’s Contest even if it isn’t very impressive if you’re only travelling from Switzerland.

6. Mrs Thompson – Just 4 Fun – Norway, 1991

“Undergrunn’ er alltid sen og toget ute av rute” (“The Underground is always late and the trains don’t run”) is the song’s pessimistic opening before it notes that you fall asleep on the train home (“på toget hjem igjen når du sovner”), something I have definitely never done.

Just 4 Fun included Eiríkur from Iceland 2007 who must really like trains – or, based on the lyrics of his two songs in this list, really not like trains.

5. I treni di Tozeur – Alice and Franco Battiato – Italy, 1984

Now we’re steaming ahead: this one has trains in its title! A classic Italian ballad with passing trains providing the scenic backdrop to the lyrics: “Passano ancora lenti i treni per Tozeur” (“Still the trains for Tozeur are passing by slowly”).

4. Ciao amore – Ida and Vlado – Yugoslavia, 1984

We stick with 1984 for this tale of a couple saying farewell at a snowy railway station. The translated lyrics include “We stood on the platform, you and me” and “You had to leave by the first train.” Good railway content.

3. Un train qui part – Marie – Monaco, 1973

Marie too has a train in the title (“A train that leaves”), and more besides as this brassy number features train visuals throughout its lyrics. There is a train ticket crumpled in a pocket (“un billet de train froissé dans une poche”), blue eyes looking at a train that arrives (“des yeux bleus sur un train qui s’approche”), a train scouring the countryside to take the protagonist to Paris (“le train bat la campagne l’emmenant vers Paris”), and the refrain, which translates as:

A train that leaves is a bit like a home
A train that leaves
For the one who never knew a home
A train that leaves
A train that leaves is a bit like a song
A train that leaves
For the one who doesn’t hear songs being sung
At the departure

Aw.

2. Trenulețul – Zdob și Zdub and Frații Advahov – Moldova, 2022

Of course there is a high placing for the song that inspired this countdown. While superficially about a train journey (and the music video leaves you in no doubt about that), the mode of transport is used as a metaphor for the connections between Moldova and Romania, considering the similarities and differences between the two countries.

The train is leaving! Where are you?
Chișinău to Bucharest!

But if they weren’t number 1, then who?

1. Hengaillaan – Kirka – Finland, 1984

Finland win the prize for the trainiest song as we go back to 1984 yet again! They really loved trains at the 1984 Contest – and we haven’t even mentioned that year’s Austrian entry, Einfach weg (“you get on the train and everything is the same for you”), or the Belgian song Avanti la vie, which slips in a couple of train metaphors.

But our winner is Hengaillaan, a whole song about trains, about waiting at the station between the last and first services (that happened to me at Manchester Victoria once), and about leaving your luggage on board.

The last train left at 22.45, but who cares
At 5.30 in the morning from track 2
Another train’s going to leave

Let’s just hang around tonight
And not sleep at all
At the station we’ll play and swing around
While we wait for the train

The last train took my bag away
The trains are busy, not me, no way!
You can catch the train of life anytime!

Read the full lyrics
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Who were the 2022 jurors?

Last year after the Contest I looked back at the 2021 jurors and – despite six countries’ jury votes being disqualified – this year I’m going to do the same.

The names of the those jurors, for Azerbaijan, Georgia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania and San Marino, were not published on the official list so they are not included in the information below.

As in 2021, some of the data is a bit messy – Cyprus’s jurors have no surnames provided, helpfully, and historical data is hit and miss – but we’ll do our best with what we have.

With 34 countries and 5 jurors each, that should leave us with 170 names, but in fact there are 171: one of the French semi-final jurors was replaced for the final (likely they became unavailable and one of the reserves stepped in).

  • Of the 171 jurors, 26 had been jurors before. Rita Guerra was a juror in 1994 (and in between those 1994 and 2022 represented Portugal in 2003).
  • 2 jurors had been on the panel twice before, in 2014 and 2017: Kaspars Ansons of Latvia and Michael Cederberg of Sweden.
  • 7 jurors have written Eurovision songs. Of them, Maian Kärmas wrote a winning song (Estonia’s Everybody from 2001).
  • 3 jurors had previously given their countries’ votes as spokespersons, all of them previous artists: Rasmussen, JOWST and 1993 winner Niamh Kavanagh.
  • 2 jurors were artists who took part in 2021: Montaigne and Tusse.
  • 2 jurors have been involved in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. Swedish juror Josefin Glenmark co-wrote San Marino’s 2015 JESC entry Mirror while Gaia Cauchi won the 2013 JESC for Malta with The Start.
  • 26 jurors have taken part in national finals over the years, 12 of whom did not go on to perform at Eurovision. 6 took part in selection shows for the 2022 Contest: Spain’s Blanca Paloma, North Macedonia’s Yon Idy, Norway’s Mari Bølla, Croatia’s Mia Negovetić, Denmark’s DJ Speakr (from Fuld Effekt), and Czech Republic’s Annabelle.

While we’re here, let’s remind ourselves of the voting rules, which state that:

To increase diversity, music industry professionals can only take a seat in a national jury if they have not been in the jury during one of the previous two editions of the contest.

But according to the published data, Finland’s Amie Borgar and Lithuania’s Darius Uzkuraitis were jurors in 2021, while Belgium’s Alex Germys was listed as a juror in 2019 (there having been no edition in 2020). Hopefully there is a clerical error somewhere…

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2022 and all that

Rehearsals for the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 are in full swing at the PalaOlimpico in Turin (aka the Pala Alpitour with its sponsorship removed). Thanks to the official Eurovision channels’ photos and video clips, that’s provided lots of opportunity to spot and identify dancers and backing singers and so the 2022 page has been filling up with new information.

I’ve recently added a new “other” role to the site to capture delegation members who’ve been helping behind the scenes, such as creative directors and choreographers. This is particularly of interest where they have been performers themselves – for example, Austria’s vocal coach Monika Ballwein was a backing singer for the country four times between 1997 and 2013, while Sam Ryder’s vocal coach Annabel Williams did backing for James Newman last year.

This information is much more hit and miss which it partly why it has its own category. I’m aiming to add more over time but hopefully what’s already there will be of interest.

Back to this year’s performers, though, and I’m happy to say that the data is pretty complete. I’ve got numbers of performers for every country but it’s possible that some could have extra people that didn’t appear in the official media. Please let me know if you spot an omission.

There are four countries where I know I’m missing credits, so I’d love you to get in touch if you can help fill in the gaps:

  • Czech Republic: We Are Domi are supported by one unidentified backing singer.
  • Denmark: Reddi have an unidentified backing singer off stage. Sorted!
  • Norway: The three masked dancers are unidentified. (Perhaps one day I will be able to update the names of Jim, Keith and DJ Astronaut too.)
  • United Kingdom: Outside Sam Ryder’s massive light cage are a keyboardist, guitarist and drummer. (As far as I know the people moving the rig are stage hands from the host broadcaster and not part of the permitted six.) Sorted!

Typical that my own country is one of the ones for which I’m lacking information!

Once again, if you know any of the missing names, please drop me an email (ideally with a link to a source) to [email protected]. I will continue to add any new info but I might be slow correcting errors over the next week because I too will be in Turin!

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With all my corazón

Benidorm Fest has concluded and we have a winner in the form of Chanel’s SloMo. Listening to the entries this week, I was reminded of the word that always jumps out at me as a non-Spanish speaker: corazón, the word for heart.

SloMo features it in the plural, corazones, but it was by no means the only Benidorm Fest entry to use it: both Mejores by boy band Unique and Make You Say by Sara Deop featured the word in their lyrics.

But what about at Eurovision itself? Of Spain’s 60 entries up to 2021, no fewer than 22 feature the word corazón in their lyrics:

  • 1961: Estando contigo – Conchita Bautista
  • 1964: Caracola – Los TNT
  • 1965: ¡Qué bueno, qué bueno! – Conchita Bautista
  • 1977: Enséñame a cantar – Micky
  • 1979: Su canción – Betty Missiego
  • 1981: Y sólo tú – Bacchelli
  • 1988: La chica que yo quiero (Made in Spain) – La Década Prodigiosa
  • 1990: Bandido – Azúcar Moreno
  • 1991: Bailar pegados – Sergio Dalma
  • 1992: Todo esto es la música – Serafín Zubiri
  • 1993: Hombres – Eva Santamaria
  • 1997: Sin rencor – Marcos Llunas
  • 1998: ¿Qué voy a hacer sin ti? – Mikel Herzog
  • 2001: Dile que la quiero – David Civero
  • 2002: Europe’s Living A Celebration – Rosa
  • 2004: Para llenarme de ti – Ramón
  • 2006: Un Blodymary – Las Ketchup
  • 2007: I Love you Mi Vida – D’Nash
  • 2010: Algo pequeñito – Daniel Diges
  • 2012: Quédate conmigo – Pastora Soler
  • 2013: Contigo hasta el final – El Sueño de Morfeo
  • 2015: Amanecer – Edurne

The word also appeared in the national final version of Ruth Lorenzo’s Dancing in the Rain before the second verse was switched to English.

Of course it’s not only Spanish entries that are able to use Spanish words. Mendez’s 2003 Melodifestivalen entry Carnaval includes corazón among it’s mix of English, Spanish and Swedish lyrics. Bombo by Adelén was a finalist in the Norwegian selection show Melodi Grand Prix in 2013. One of few Spanish words it used to add a Mediterranean air to its English lyrics? Corazón.

And then there are the Spanish translations of Eurovision songs…