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Spokesperson stats

I’ve added the names of voting spokespeople from their first year, 1957, to the present day – so now we can pull out some stats and facts.

Caveats: some of the sources for earlier spokespeople have conflicting information, so I’ve done my best to untangle it, and there are 30 occasions for which I have no data (spokespeople for Denmark 1963; Germany 1980-82; Luxembourg 1960-61, 1963-65, 1967-75 and 1992-93; Malta 1975; and Monaco 1959-1970). If you can fill in any gaps or have any corrections, please let me know.

Spokespeople who became hosts

Eleven people who gave their countries’ votes have gone on to host a subsequent Contest – 10% of all hosts.

  • Helga Vlahović, who co-presented Yugoslavia’s only time hosting the Contest, in 1990, was the country’s jury spokesperson in 1969, 1974 and 1981.
  • Israel’s 1999 host Yigal Ravid announced their votes in the year before.
  • Renārs Kaupers of Brainstorm gave Latvia’s votes in 2001 before hosting the Contest in 2003.
  • Korhan Abay, who hosted the 2004 Contest, read Turkey’s scores in 1990 and 1992.
  • Pavlo Shylko – who also wrote the lyrics to Tina Karol’s Show Me Your Love – hosted 2005 in Ukraine having been their spokesperson in 2004.
  • Jovana Janković hosted in Belgrade in 2008 having given Serbia & Montenegro’s unique non-participant votes in 2006.
  • Leyla Aliyeva revealed Azerbaijan’s votes in 2008 and presented from Baku in 2012.
  • Copenhagen 2014’s Lise Rønne previously announced the Danish votes in 2011.
  • Filomena Cautela, one of the four hosts of the 2018 Contest, was the Portuguese spokesperson the previous year.
  • Similarly, Lucy Ayoub from Tel Aviv 2019 gave Israel’s votes in 2018.
  • And 2020/21 host and two-time entrant Edsilia Rombley has given the scores for the Netherlands on three occasions: in 1999, in 2015, and – following her failure to qualify for the final that year, in 2007!

The first performer to become a spokesperson

Edsilia nearly leads us on the next question. Spokespeople initially tended to be TV station employees, radio presenters, commentators, newsreaders and the like, calling in their votes unseen. So who was the first entrant to go on to announce a country’s votes? And what about the first winner?

The answer is Luxembourgish singer Camillo Felgen. He represented his country in 1960 and 1962 and went on to call in their jury’s scores in 1966.

It was nearly 30 years before another entrant gave their country’s votes, when Switzerland’s 1994 scores were announced by their 1991 singer Sandra Simó.

But since 1996, every Contest has featured at least one former entrant calling with the votes. In 2019, no fewer than 11 of the jury spokespeople were prior entrants, the earliest being Izhar Cohen from 1978 and 1985.

The first winner to present her country’s votes was Corry Brokken, who did so for the Netherlands in 1997 – and only a few minutes later, Marie Myriam did the same for France. Corry Brokken also hosted the 1976 Contest, making her the first entrant and first winner to present in a subsequent year.

Who were the most frequent spokespeople?

Over the years we’ve come to recognise familiar faces like Alexis Kostalas of Greece. So who’s given their country’s votes most often?

It may not be a surprise that the answer by some margin is Colin Berry, who announced the United Kingdom’s votes on 24 occasions.

Michel Stocker of Switzerland is the runner-up with 20 occasions, followed by Sverre Christophersen of Norway with 18.

The highest woman on the list is Anna Partelidou of Cyprus, who is sixth with 13 occasions.

Alexis Kostalas, in case you’re wondering, presented the Greek votes 11 times – which is a lot of occasions to have to say “12 points to Cyprus” with a straight face.

Which countries have been the most consistent?

In other words, which countries have had the fewest number of spokespeople per year participating?

Albania has had only three spokespeople across 16 Contests so is the clear leader with 5.3 years per spokesperson.

Next is Turkey with 10 spokespeople over 34 Contests (3.4 y/s), Luxembourg and Austria with 3.3 y/s, and Greece with 3.1 y/s.

The most fickle countries are Andorra and Serbia & Montenegro, who switched up the spokesperson every time they took part, followed by Latvia with 19 spokespeople for 20 Contests.

And finally… what’s the most simultaneous spokespeople a country has had?

Three! On two occasions, a country’s votes have been given by three people at once – when Alcazar, in a trio phase, announced Sweden’s scores in 2014 and when O’G3NE did so for the Netherlands in 2018.

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The winners who tried again

Eurovision Song Contest winners have achieved a feat shared by few others. But even within that hallowed group, some try to return to Eurovision, whether just to relive the experience or to attempt to match Johnny Logan’s unique two wins as an artist.

Where people already in the Six on Stage database appeared in national finals, I’ve now added this information too. As a result, it’s now possible for me to cross-reference appearances at Eurovision with participation in national selections.

While no-one else has done the double, a number of winners have indeed made it back to the Eurovision stage – so let’s look at 27 winning performers who didn’t make it through a national final despite their gilded status.

The early winners

The first two winners of the Contest tried to represent their countries again in later years.

Lys Assia won the Swiss selection the next two years after her victory in 1956, but she was unsuccessful when she tried again – for the 2012 Contest, more than 50 years after her last go.

Corry Brokken too represented her country in the first three years of the Contest. She tried again much sooner, unsuccessfully entering the Dutch national selection in 1959. She would instead return as host, in 1976.

Melodifestivalen

No fewer than six previous Eurovision winners have tried and failed to win Melfest – and only half of them won the Contest for Sweden!

  • Elisabeth Andreassen of Bobbysocks took part in 1990, in 2002 (with Kikki and Lotta) and in 2011. She has also entered Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix five times since La Det Swinge, representing Norway again in 1994 and 1996 but not winning the selection in 1998, 2003 or 2015.
  • Katrina Leskanich of “and the Waves” fame competed as Katrina & The Nameless in 2005.
  • Carola took part with Andreas Johnson in 2008 (she did, of course, win two years previously).
  • Charlotte Perrelli returned in 2012 and 2017 (after winning for the second time in 2008). And she is back this year to try again.
  • Helena Paparizou, 2005’s Eurovision winner for Greece, took part in 2014 with Survivor.
  • Loreen in 2017 notoriously failed to make it out of Andra Chansen with Statements.

The 1991 hosts (allora)

Gigliola Cinquetti took part in the Sanremo Music Festival the year after her 1964 win, reaching the final. She actually won again in 1966 but, as each song was performed by two artists, it ended up being Domenico Modugno who made the ill-fated trip to Luxembourg with Dio Come Ti Amo.

Toto Cutugno took part in 1997’s edition of Sanremo, finishing 17th.

Chanteuses of 60s and 70s

  • 1962 winner Isabelle Aubret, who also represented France in 1968, took part in their national selection again in 1970, 1976 and 1983.
  • Grethe Ingmann, who won for Denmark with her then-husband in 1963, tried again in 1978, 1979 and 1980.
  • Having represented Luxembourg twice, Vicky Leandros entered the German selection in 2006.
  • The French contribution to 1969’s four-way tie, Frida Boccara appeared in their national finals in 1980 and 1981.
  • Séverine won for Monaco in 1971 but went on take part in Germany’s national finals in 1975 and 1982.

Returning men

Izhar Cohen won alongside the Alphabeta in 1978 and represented Israel again in 1985. He was, however, unsuccessful in Israel’s national selections of 1982, 1987 and 1996.

Dima Bilan won Eurovision for Russia at his second appearance. He tried to represent the country again in 2012, competing in the national finals with Julia Volkova from t.A.T.u.

Band members

Our last set of returnees may be less well known as they all won Eurovision as members of groups.

  • Reuven Gvirtz, Shmulik Bilu and Yehuda Tamir were victorious in 1979 as three-quarters of Milk & Honey. Those members of the band tried to represent Israel again in 1981 and 1989, and Yehuda Tamir also tried as a solo artist in 1986.
  • Emilija Kokić was the lead singer of 1989 winners Riva. She took part in the Croatian national finals three times, in 2001, 2003 and 2008.
  • Five years after their win in Sweden, Olsen Brothers Jørgen & Niels entered Danish Melodi Grand Prix again with Little Yellow Radio. Jørgen returned to the competition as a solo singer in 2007.
  • 2XL won in 2001 with Dave Benton and Tanel Padar and three of the four members have since taken part in the Estonian national finals. Kaido Põldma, Lauri Pihlap and Sergei Morgun were all members of Soul Militia in 2007 and 2012. Additionally, Lauri Pihlap took part in 2009 and 2014, and Sergei Morgun in 2018 as one-third of Tiiu x Okym x Semy.
  • Sampsa Astala, aka Kita from Lordi, returned to Finland’s national selection in 2011 as Stala in Stala & So.
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You’re a fire, and desire

It’s a cliché itself to suggest that Eurovision songs overuse the clichéd rhyme fire/desire. But how well-founded is that gripe?

I’ve run an analysis of all the lyrics I could get my hands on and identified just (or, depending on your view, a whopping) 18 songs that feature this word pair as a rhyme. The most tenuous is Tina Karol‘s Show Me Your Love, where the words are in separate verses but still clearly intended to rhyme; the most blatant is the only song to pull this off and take away the win, Helena Paparizou‘s My Number One. There are, unsurprisingly, many examples that didn’t make it to Eurovision hiding away in national finals (to take a random one, Survivor by, er, Helena Paparizou…).

One reason there aren’t more cases is the national language rule that was imposed for much of the Eurovision Song Contest’s history. For those periods, only the UK, Ireland and Malta were eligible to sing in English. There is a single song that I’ve identified before the rule changed in 1999 – also the earliest of this trope – and that’s Vikki‘s 1985 UK entry Love Is… The desire (ahem) was there though. One year earlier, Waiting in the Rain, the English version of Hot Eyes’ Danish entry Det’ lige det, gives us:

I never used to play with the fire
I always used to follow the stream
But now I’m burnin’ up with desire
‘Cause it’s for real, not a dream

While 18 songs of more than 1,600 isn’t a lot, they are bunched up, and nearly all from the 21st century. The 2004 Contest saw no fewer than three songs sneak that rhyme onto the stage: the Netherlands’ Without You, Denmark’s Shame On You, and Greece’s Shake It.

Red bars indicate fire/desire rhymes. Blue bars indicate the even more notorious fire/desire/higher triple, exemplified by The Roop in 2020.

Now that I’ve mentioned both examples, it will be apparent that Greece is also one of the four countries to use this lyrical pearl more than once.

The triples include Romania’s Playing With Fire and Poland’s Flashlight.

While it’s tempting to blame Vikki for introducing the trope to Eurovision, so much time passed between the first and second occurrences that I’m inclined to look beyond the Contest. Lyricists have used the same pairing plenty of times in the pop charts. For instance, it was in 1999, the year of the next incident, that the Backstreet Boys released their hit I Want It That Way: a much higher profile culprit, and at the very time the rest of Europe began to sing in English.

Should you desire to set your heart on fire and make your pulse get higher, you can enjoy all 18 songs on my Fire/Desire YouTube playlist or the 14 of them that are available on Spotify.

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Running in the family: parents and their children at Eurovision

As I’ve been working through the data on Six on Stage, I’ve found lots of family relationships between participants. Sometimes they’ve been relatives within an act (e.g. the sisters of Las Ketchup); sometimes they’ve been many years apart.

Here are some of the most notable.

Jacques Pills and Jacqueline Boyer

Jacques Pills was Monaco’s first representative at the Eurovision Song Contest, in 1959. He came last. But his daughter Jacqueline Boyer did somewhat better just a year later, winning the Contest for France.

(Every time I read the name Jacques Pills I hear it to the tune of Roberto Bellarosa’s Love Kills…)

Irma and Nina Tapio

Irma Tapio was a member of Ystävät, who performed for Finland with Fredi in 1976, and she returned two years later to provide backing for Seija Simola. Nearly 30 years after Irma’s debut, her daughter Nina Tapio was a backing artist for Geir Rönning’s 2005 entry Why.

Fredi and Hanna-Riikka Siitonen

Speaking of Fredi (aka Matti Siitonen), who first appeared at Eurovision in 1967, his late daughter Hanna-Riikka was a backing artist on several occasions, including alongside Nina in 2005.

Side note: Eva-Riitta Siitonen, Hanna-Riikka’s mother and Fredi’s wife, had a successful career in Finnish politics. She’s been an MP, an MEP, a provincial governor and Mayor of Helsinki.

Bo Halldórsson and Svala

Another father and daughter Nordic pairing is Bo Halldórsson, who represented Iceland with Núna in Dublin in 1995, and his daughter Svala, who represented them with Paper in Ukraine in 2017.

Lyubomir  and Dian Savov

Lyubomir Savov (aka JuraTone) and his son Dian Savov (aka DJ Dian Solo) were two of the founding members of Deep Zone Project, who represented Bulgaria in 2008. DJ, Take Me Away came 11th in its semi-final.

Knez and Ksenija Knežević

When Knez (Nenad Knežević) performed Adio for Montenegro in 2015, he was supported by his daughter Ksenija Knežević as one of his backing vocalists. This year she’ll be back as a lead artist, representing Serbia as part of the group Hurricane.

Michèle Arnaud and Dominique Walter

This is another pair who represented different countries as solo artists. Michèle Arnaud was one of the two singers to perform two songs at the inaugural Eurovision Song Contest in 1956 (the other being the winner, Lys Assia). Michèle did so representing Luxembourg.

Her son Dominique Walter represented France a decade later with the song Chez Nous.

Benny Andersson and Peter Grönvall

We finish with one of the biggest names in the history of Eurovision, ABBA’s Benny Andersson, who needs no introduction. His son Peter Grönvall represented Sweden 22 years after ABBA’s victory, performing as part of the group One More Time. They came 3rd behind the winners Ireland and hosts Norway.