Eurovision 2015 - The Curious Case of Norway and Denmark

May 22, 2015

With the Eurovision semi-finals now out of the way - no doubt you tuned in and voted last night, right? - all attention turns to the final in Vienna on Saturday. The excitement can barely be contained. From the Spinal Tap-esque staging of Armenia's entry (be sure to watch out for that) to the Avicii-lite Swedish favourite, it's all to play for! But can we learn anything from Eurovision's of the past? Well, maybe.

During our research, we uncovered a rather curious pattern involving Denmark and Norway...

To begin, it makes sense to talk about the fact that the big prize of winning Eurovision is that your country gets to host everyone's favourite music contest the very next year. Of course, this comes at great cost to the country, hence the whole Father Ted 'My Lovely Horse' storyline all those years ago when Ireland won four times between 1992 and 1996.

Many countries of Europe perceive (or at least seem to perceive) winning the contest as a great honour, so do their utmost to create a brilliant circus-like spectacle that the whole world will enjoy. Not Europe, the world. Yes, Australia are even entering this year, obtaining a free pass to the final becuase it's the 60th Anniversary! Which is relevant because... Umm... Well it's hard to say.

Anyway, there follows an intriguing amount of chatter amongst Eurovisionistas (Oxford English Dictionary, feel free to get in touch about that one) that after hosting the competition, the very next year the country is 'cursed' and does badly. It's not a bad theory, but for the fact it has been completely wrong for the past few years. Germany placed 8th after hosting in 2011, Azerbaijan surged to 2nd after hosting in 2012 and Sweden put in a solid 3rd placing last year after hosting in 2013.  

So does the curse actually exist? Or do some countries do brilliantly, need to save face by selecting a good song when they're hosting it and can then ease off a bit a year later when everybody's focus is elsewhere? Well in the case of Norway and Denmark, it certainly seems there's something going on, especially from the nineties onwards where the cost of hosting the competition has soared.

Norway have hosted the competition in 1987, 1996 and 2010 - the latter of those being earned through the behemoth that was Alexander Rybak's Fairytale (the one with the violin), which is still the highest scoring Eurovision entry of all time with a whopping 387 points! But what happened after the competition visits Oslo? Well, it seems that those in charge of the Norwegian entry either give up altogether, don't want to win due to the cost or submit some dodgy track they hold back in the folder 'Post-Eurovision Host Entry LOL'. It's hard to fathom quite why but the Danes seem to want to beat their record and are also giving it a good go, hacking into the folder and submitting their own worst stuff as their city recovers from Eurovision fever. Go Scandinavia! Incidentally, they hosted in 2001 and 2014. So if you're interested, here's what happened in 1988, 1997, 2002, 2011 and 2015...

Before the costs rose incredibly, Norway still sort of tried. In 1988, Kate Gulbrandsen managed a respectable 9th as Johnny Logan thrashed the competition to bring it home for Ireland (who else?) By 1997, things were a little different. Fresh from welcoming the world to Oslo the previous year, Norway did their level best to avoid spending any money the next year, delivering Tor Endresen's San Francisco. The video is below. You be the judge (we love the costumes). As Katrina and the Waves brought the competition back to English soil, poor Tor went home with the dreaded nul points.

Next it was Denmark's turn. Fresh from winning in 2000 with a singer-guitarist duet and putting on a solid enough showcase in 2001 with Never Ever Let You Go by Rollo & King (second place), Malene travelled to Tallinn and clocked up a dismal 7 points, enough for...last place.

Sensing a pattern here? In 2011 - a year after hosting and with semi-finals now in full swing - Norway managed to come in the bottom three of their semi-final, going the intriguing route of singing their song in Swahili. 

Finally, this year - just one year after the competition was beamed to us from Copenhagen - Denmark too have managed to be eliminated at the very first hurdle. There are no results for where they came in the vote on Tuesday night, but in the battle to not host, the bets are high that it limped out with a whimper rather than a bang.



So now you know. If Norway or Denmark ever win again, feel free to bet on them the year they're hosting but for the love of all that is holy, keep your money away from them the very next year. We suggest perhaps investing in alcohol to get you through the competition instead. (Drink responsibly).


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By Henry Fosdike