Austria wins Eurovision 2014

I first heard about the Eurovision Song Contest in the 70’s when a friend of mine turned me on to ABBA.  It’s great claim to fame was winning the title for Sweden in 1974 performing Waterloo.


Waterloo – I was defeated, you won the war

Waterloo – Promise to love you forever more

Waterloo – Couldn’t escape if I wanted to

Waterloo – Knowing my fate is to be with you

Waterloo – Finally facing my Waterloo


When I was living in Moscow, Russia, a British friend of mine invited me over one night for a Eurovision Party.  We all gathered around the television to watch the finals.  This was my first actual encounter.

I was hooked.  A little cheesy, a little flashy, a little corny, and sometimes surprising.

In 2009 the contest was held in Moscow and my favorite performance was from the Greeks.  Shirts open, hairy chests, hips gyrating, I have no recollection of the music. Very entertaining. They didn’t win but they did come in 7th place.

The European Broadcasting Union was formed in 1950 by 23 broadcasting organizations from Europe. In 1955 they came up with the idea of having countries compete for best song with the event broadcast simultaneously to each country.

There were no satellites so they had to use a network of microwaves. It is one of the longest running TV shows in the world. The first Eurovision Song Contest was held in Lugano, Switzerland on May 24, 1956. About four million people watched on TV’s at home, and in bars in Germany, Belgium, France, the UK, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Those were the first seven participating countries. This year 37 countries participated and the contest was broadcast to 45 countries with 180 million watching. I couldn’t find it on my TV but I was able to watch it on WebTV.

First contest in 1956


Switzerland won the first Eurovision Song Contest in 1956 for the song Refrain performed by Lys Assia. She is the only Swiss person to have won the contest. At that time only solo artists were allowed. They did not let Groups perform until the 1970’s.

Most winning songs are performed in English although originally the rules were people had to sing in their own languages. The most covered song was Nel Blu Di Pinto Di Blue by Domenico Mudugno. You might know it as Volare.

Volare 1959
Volare 1959


Six different systems have been used to pick the winner since 1956. Today fifty percent of the decision is made by the public and fifty percent by the jury. The jury is made up of five music professionals including a chairperson. The public votes via the official app, the telephone and text messages.

Everything is live so it makes for a long evening. There are three live shows performed over three days. The First Semi Final, The Second Semi Final and the Final. The Semi Finals narrow it down a little but this year there were 26 contestants in the final.

In 2013 the contest was in Malmo, Sweden. The winning song came from Denmark. That determined where the contest would be held this year. On Saturday, May 10, the finals were held in Copenhagen.

It started with Ukraine and ended with United Kingdom. The order is selected randomly.

"Conchita Wurst"
“Conchita Wurst”


This year’s winner:  Tom Neuwirth aka Conchita Wurst won the title for Austria performing Rise Like a Phoenix. It was a little different…. but not a bad song.

It is the second victory for Austria.