April to May is a beautiful time of year in many parts of the world. It also means a treat for music fans: Eurovision!
The Eurovision Song Contest was launched by the European Broadcasting Union in 1956, in an effort to bring unified entertainment to the entire continent. Seven countries participated in the first Eurovision, sending their best performers and songs to Lugano, Switzerland. This year, thirty-six countries from around the world have signed on, so far.
Eurovision is usually held in the country of the previous year’s winner. This year, the Grand Final will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark. However, Eurovision can be enjoyed throughout the world. Participating countries must broadcast Eurovision on television locally, and the official website has offered access to all performances since 2000.
Each participant country submits one song, performed by a musical group. The song must include vocals, and can be performed in any language. Voting throughout the competition is on a point system. Viewers in each of the participating countries are encouraged to vote for their favorite performances via telephone or SMS. A jury of music professionals in each country is also part of the process.
Eurovision has produced winners who became global music superstars, including ABBA, Celine Dion, and Secret Garden. Others have captured the prize, yet faded into obscurity. Only time will tell what becomes of 2014’s winner!