As the metaphorical curtains fall on Europe’s greatest stage, and the literal Glass Microphone passes hands for the last time this decade, it’s time to take a stroll down Memory Lane. And as we do, we see some of the sights, highlights and firsts that the years 2010 to 2019 have given us. This is by no means a Top 10 list or a list of our favourite and least favourite moments. It’s simply remembering, celebrating and acknowledging the last 10 years of our all-time favourite live show. So let’s begin!
1. Italy returned (2011)
In December 2010, Italophiles rejoiced as Italy announced its return to the contest after a 14-year absence. In doing so the two-time Eurovision winner (and the country that gave us Eurovision classic “Volare”) turned the “Big 4” into the “Big 5”. But they definitely earned their automatic qualification. Their first Eurovision back, Raphael Gualazzi managed to garner a second-place finish. Since then they have achieved a third place finish (in 2015 with Il Volo) and another second place finish (in 2019 with Mahmood).
With the exceptions of 2014 and 2016, Italy has consistently finished on the lefthand side of the scoreboard. And they’ve done so as one of the few countries singing (mostly) in their own language.
2. We got our first “Big 5” win courtesy of Germany (2010)
The 2010’s started with a bang for the Big 5 nations of Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the UK. It had been ten years since the “Big 5” concept was introduced in 2000. And while the noughties started strong for them (the UK finished 3rd in 2002 with Jessica Garlick; Spain reached 8th in 2003 with Dime), things soon went downhill. A Big 5 country finished last in 2003, 2005, and 2008. So it was with renewed vigour and a youthful, catchy tune that Germany stormed the scoreboard in 2010 and won with Lena’s “Satellite”. Their song, much like Lena’s aim, was “straight and true”.
3. The first Parade of Flags (2013)
Sweden won the right to host the 2013 edition of Eurovision after Loreen’s landslide victory with “Euphoria” in Baku in 2012. The Parade of Flags had already been a part of Junior Eurovision since 2004, and the Swedes introduced it into Eurovision 2013. All of the finalist countries’ flags were shown, with the contestants themselves walking to the main stage via a bridge above the audience. This spectacle, bringing national identities and camaraderie together in an obvious and visual way, was repeated by the Danes in 2014 and the Austrians in 2015. It has subsequently become a tradition for the Eurovision grand final.
4. Måns came to Eurovision — and never left (2015)
The 2015 edition took place in Austria for the first time since 1967 — a whopping gap of 48 years! But the contest was remarkable for other reasons, too. It gave us Måns Zelmerlöw as winner with his song ‘’Heroes’’. And whether you like it or not, this would not be last time that we would see this charming, winning hero. Hosting the contest the following year, Måns and his co-host, Petra Mede, performed an unforgettable interval act – the now classic “Love, Love, Peace, Peace”.
But Måns’ Eurovision story doesn’t end there. In 2017 he doubled as both commentator for Swedish broadcaster SVT and as a personal instructor for the Ukrainian hosts. In a pre-filmed clip that aired during the Grand Final, we saw a dapper, Bond-like Måns give a master-class on how to be the perfect host. The hosting duties continued to pour in — he co-hosted the UK national final Eurovision: You Decide in both 2018 and 2019.
And, most recently, he returned to the Eurovision stage in 2019 in Tel Aviv (more on that below). Special shout-out to Måns for always giving back to his fans. He’s one of a handful of performers to have sung at the Wiwi Jam not once, but twice — slaying our stages in Kyiv and Tel Aviv.
5. The smallest distance Eurovision travelled since 1994/1995
Technically, the shortest distance that Eurovision has travelled between editions was…zero kilometres between 1994 and 1995! The contest, hosted by Ireland and won by Ireland, was held consecutively in the same venue and the same city – the one and only time this happened in Eurovision history. But the 2010’s saw the second shortest distance travelled.
With Malmö hosting the 2013 edition and Copenhagen the 2014 edition, the distance between the two contests was only…27km! While separated by the sea, the two cities are connected by the Öresund Bridge and a train ride between the two only takes 30 minutes! Even with the Double Dublin statistic, this marked the shortest distance between editions hosted in two different countries.
6. The greatest distance Eurovision travelled EVER (2019)
Israel’s win in 2018 in Lisbon meant that the following edition of Eurovision would cover the greatest distance between editions in the history of the contest – an unbelievable 4062km would be crossed as the contest moved to Tel Aviv. This equates to most of the length of the Mediterranean Sea and Spain.
This beat the previous record set by…Israel in 1998/1999. Dana International won the 1998 edition held in Birmingham and the following year saw the contest held in Jerusalem.
7. Azerbaijan and Portugal claim their first victories (2011 and 2017)
Over the past 10 years of Eurovision, nine countries won the glass microphone. That’s down to Sweden winning twice within three years — winning their fifth contest in 2012 and their sixth in 2015.
Of the remaining countries to come out on top this decade, Azerbaijan and Portugal saw their first ever victories. Azerbaijan, one of the more recent countries to join, did so just three years after debuting in 2008. While Portugal, which debuted in 1964, was, until its win, the country waiting the longest for victory.
Germany, Austria and Ukraine saw their second victories, Denmark its third, Israel its fourth and The Netherlands its fifth. Here’s to the next crop of Eurovision winners.
8. The Switch Song brought back legends of the past decade (2019)
As we mentioned in #4, Måns Zelmerlöw performed at the 2019 Eurovision in Tel Aviv. But this time he did so as part of the Switch Song Segment that brought together some of the most recognisable figures of recent editions. In addition to Måns, we saw 2014 winner Conchita Wurst (Austria), 2018 runner-up Eleni Foureira (Cyprus) and 2007 runner-up Verka Serduchka (Ukraine) performing each other’s songs in their own styles. They concluded by singing Israel’s 1979 winning song “Hallelujah” along with one of the original singers, Gali Atari.
With the exception of Verka and Gali, all of the performers competed in the last decade. Their mash-up will surely linger in Eurovision’s collective memory. Indeed, many of our readers (as well as the wider interwebs) are calling for “Switch Song” to become a staple of Eurovision Grand Finals.
9. The voting changed. Then changed again, before changing again.
One of the biggest changes that we have witnessed over the last decade has been the way that voting works — and not everyone is a fan. Up until 2012, the voting was split 50/50 between juries and televoters. Each segment would award the traditional 12-10-8… points to their top ten and then the two voting streams were added together, with the top 10 entries getting the most points earning each country’s final top point allocation. The televote points broke any ties.
In 2013 the system was changed — but only in the way that jury points were allocated. Instead of listing their top ten, juries now had to rank all of the performing songs. Scores were then calculated based on aggregates and added to televotes (with the televote serving as the tiebreaker again). As many people have pointed out, this gave the jury the power to create a “drag effect” — i.e., they could really drag an act down by ranking it 23rd, 24th, etc.
Only two years later, the voting changed again. For the 2016 show, the jury and televote scores were kept separate, meaning each country now had two sets of points to give out. In 2017 we saw the highest number of points ever awarded — 758 — going to Portugal.
A lot of controversy surrounds the various voting changes. Fans regularly re-calculate recent results under old systems, showing alternate winners (including Dami Im in 2016). But in the end, we have to accept that those that won under the rules under which they competed are the rightful winners, whether we agree with the result or not.
10. Australia officially joined the Eurovision Family (2015)
The 2015 edition brought Eurovision-loving Australia into the contest fold, with Guy Sebastian officially competing in the grand final with his song “Tonight Again”. It was billed as a one-time appearance — unless they won, in which case they’d be welcomed back. After Australia came fifth, the EBU allowed them back to the show in Stockholm.
Since then, Australia has been at every Eurovision and qualified for the grand final every time. Their best finish was second in 2016 with Dami Im’s “Sound of Silence”. Considering their enthusiasm, results and high-quality music, Australia will likely be in the contest for years to come.
What’s next for Eurovision?
The last decade of Eurovision has seen the 55th to 64th editions of the song contest. That means we’ve had 64 years of Eurovision – the “good”, the “bad”, the “wacky”, you name it.
And in case we didn’t get enough of Eurovision itself, we may soon witness the birth of Eurovision Asia and the American Song Contest in the coming decade. Does this mean that we could have a Worldvision at some point in the future – where the winners from each continent compete against each other? One can only hope. Until we know for sure, onwards to The Netherlands 2020!
What were your most memorable moments of Eurovision between 2010 and 2019? Do you want more of Måns or have you had your fill? Who do you want to see win next? What performers do you want to see in another Switch Song? And do you think the voting rules will change again in the next 10 years? Let us know in the comments below.