Milestone Moments: 2004 - Eurovision goes wild!21 September 2016 at 21:00 CEST
Turkey first entered the Eurovision Song Contest in 1975 but it took nearly thirty years for the country to win and host the event. Staged in Istanbul's Abdi İpekçi Arena, the 2004 contest saw a Semi-Final introduced for the first time. Albania, Andorra, Belarus along with Serbia and Montenegro all made their respective debuts and Monaco returned to the contest after a 25-year absence.
10 countries qualified from the Semi-Final to the Grand Final where they joined the top ten countries from the previous year as well as Germany, France, Spain and the United Kingdom. 2004 was also the year that the official generic heart logo was introduced where the flag of the host country came to be the centrepiece of the logo. The logo was refreshed in 2015 but still uses the heart symbol today.
Ukraine's Ruslana won the 2004 contest with her song Wild Dances. It was only the second time that the country had participated in the Eurovision Song Contest. Ruslana became a national hero in Ukraine and her victory provided the country with the opportunity to host the event in 2005.
The changes which took place in 2004 marked a new era in the format of the Eurovision Song Contest since it allowed every country the opportunity to perform on the Eurovision stage. In 2008 two Semi-Finals were introduced to cope with the increasing demand from countries eager to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest.