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Eurovision explained: Powerful and majestic starts

13 November 2020 at 17:00 CET
Loreen won the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in Baku with the song Euphoria Andres Putting
“Step 1!: Get everyone's attention" with a "powerful, majestic start". Petra Mede and Måns Zelmerlöw’s interval act “Love, Love, Peace, Peace” made light of all the many weird and wonderful ways artists have tried to grab the audience's attention over Eurovision's rich history. Let's take a look at how some of the participants sparked our interest - or how some didn't start at all!

There can be over 40 countries each year vying for the attention of fans and their votes so it's little wonder these artists put so much effort into making an unforgettable opening to their performance. Take Lithuania's 2014 entrant Vilija Matačiūnaitė for example, whose first words were literally "attention, attention." She even loudly projected them right into the microphone for us to hear loudly and clearly. However, despite all her efforts she finished in 11th place in the Second Semi Final in Copenhagen.

Of course there are limitless ways to get an audience's interest. Think of Loreen's performance of Euphoria in 2012 where she used dramatic bass, a barrage of flashing, white lazer lights and mysterious dance moves to set herself apart. In this particular case her song and powerful introduction took her all the way to first place and right into the Eurovision history books. It was so memorable in fact that her act is still considered one of the most popular of all time.

There was also the time Montenegro literally came out with a bang - or several, with Who See's Igranka in 2013. We wouldn't be surprised if you jump right out of your chair when you hear the beginning of this startling act.

And nothing quite surprises you like the totally unexpected. In 2006 Finland's representatives blasted the sound barrier and took their costumes to a whole new level with Lordi's Hard Rock Hallelujah. Again, their quick-start performance and unusual attire must have done something right because the Finish group became the country's first and only win in the competition so far.

A clash of heavy guitar playing, drum bashing, head-banging and striking blue and white lighting is what led Viszlát Nyár's AWS out of the gate for Hungary back in 2018. Despite making it to the Grand Final in Lisbon, they ended up finishing in 21st place. Unfortunately the beginning of their performance did not quite result in the ending they had hoped for.

Maybe a dramatic entrance isn't always a winning solution like Måns and Petra indicated in their song back in 2016. Some participants have chosen the complete opposite direction and gone for a much more subtle opening. PÆNDA's performance of Limits for Austria in 2019 began with a barely lit stage and a spotlight that slowly shone over the singer before she angelically sung the lyrics to her song.

Pænda represented Austria at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2019 EBU / Andres Putting

Monica Zetterlund's performance for Sweden in 1963 resembled the time of old-school Hollywood glamour with her entrance for En gång i Stockholm. It started with the camera focusing on the conductor and quickly panned to a close-up shot of her heels as she walked up the stairs. Then came the sound of the harp that played alongside the moving camera which moved up to reveal Monica's face as she sung "kom med mig, sa min vän [come with me, said my friend]".

Monica Zetterlund performing for Sweden in 1963 BBC

Zeljko Joksimovic's performance of Lane Moje in 2004 for Serbia and Montenegro had a more subtle entrance. The performance began with a beautifully enchanting instrumental solo that then smoothly blended into the beat of drums and continued on with his dreamy vocals. Although he didn't literally open with "a battle horn of some kind" like Måns and Petra suggested, his song went on to be extremely successful and landed in 2nd place in the Grand Final. The performance continues to captivate Eurovision fans just like it did back then and is considered by many as one of the best non-winning songs ever in the Contest's history.

Then there are the starts that go off with a bang, but not quite the bang they were hoping for. Spain's 1990 entry Azúcar Moreno and their song Bandido did just that. The sister-act suffered a major mishap when their backing tape didn’t start on time, causing the sisters, the band, and the conductor to miss all their cues. The duo ended up storming off stage in confusion, only to reappear seconds later to try again. In spite of their 2 start performance the Spanish representatives went on to finish in 5th place in the Grand Final in Zagreb. The mishap featured in our video about awkward moments at the Contest.

It wouldn't be a complete story unless we included all the "powerful and majestic" starts of every Eurovision Song Contest: the opening and flag parades! It's the moments when the host broadcasters can get everyone even more excited for the show to come. There have been so many eye-catching starts to Eurovision, from the Cirque Du Soleil acrobats in Moscow in 2009 to the performance of We Write The Story by Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Avicii in 2017, to the classic fireworks display that launched the 2012 Contest in Baku.

Stay tuned for part 3 of Eurovision Explained to learn even more about the Contest.