As winners of the 1995 event, with the song Nocturne sung by Secret Garden, Norwegian broadcaster NRK had the task of organising the 1996 contest.
It was all changed again to decide who would be in the Final of the 1996 Eurovision Song Contest; the only country which was certain to be in it was the host nation Norway. The other nations would have to go through a Qualifying Round for the remaining 22 places. Although not participating in the Qualifying Round, Norway would be included in the voting.
On Wednesday 27th March and Thursday 28th March 1996, juries assembled across Europe to listen to all 29 songs. Each jury member ranked their top ten favourites, in the usual manner of 12 points to their favourite down to 1 point for their tenth favourite. These marks were then added up, and an overall top ten was arrived at, with any tie in the top ten resolved by a show of hands. The results were then sent to the EBU in Geneva on the 28th March. Jury members in the Qualifying Round were not allowed to be on the jury for the 1996 Eurovision Song Contest Final.
The following entries were eliminated:
- Hungary: Fortuna sung by Gjon Delhusa
- Germany: Planet Of Blue sung by Leon
- Denmark: Kun Med Dig sung by Dorthe Andersen & Martin Loft
- FYR Macedonia: Samo Ti sung by Kaliopi
- Russia: Ja Eto Ja sung by Andrej Kosinskij
- Israel: Shalom Olam sung by Galit Bell
- Romania: Rugă Pentru Pacea Lumii sung by Monica Anghel & Sincron
The draw for the running order for the Final was held on Friday 29th March, which at the same time revealed which countries had failed to qualify for the Final. Perhaps the most notable absenteeism was Germany, which had been in every contest since its inception in 1956.
NRK chose two hosts for the contest, one of them being the instantly recognisable Morten Harket, lead singer of the highly successful pop group A-Ha, the other was Ingvild Bryn, a journalist and news anchor presenter. Rehearsals commenced on Monday the 13th of May.
The Final Participants
- Turkey: Besinçi Mevsim sung by Şebnem Paker
- United Kingdom: Ooh...Aah...Just A Little Bit sung by Gina G
- Spain: ¡Ay, Qué Deseo! sung by Antonio Carbonell
- Portugal: O Meu Coração Não Tem Cor sung by Lúcia Moniz
- Cyprus: Móno Gia Más sung by Constantinos
- Malta: In A Woman's Heart sung by Miriam Christine
- Croatia: Sveta Ljubav sung by Maja Blagdan
- Austria: Weil's Dr Guat Got sung by George Nußbaumer
- Switzerland: Mon Coeur L'aime sung by Kathy Leander
- Greece: Emis Forame To Himona Anixiatika sung by Marianna Efstratiou
- Estonia: Kaelakee Hääl sung by Ivo Linna & Maarja-Liis Ilus
- Norway: I Evighet sung by Elisabeth Andreasson
- France: Diwanit Bugale sung by Dan Ar Braz et l'Héritage des Celtes
- Slovenia: Dan Najlepših Sanj sung by Regina
- Netherlands: De Eerste Keer sung by Maxine & Franklin Brown
- Belgium: Liefde Is Een Kaartspel sung by Lisa del Bo
- Ireland: The Voice sung by Eimear Quinn
- Finland: Niin Kaunis On Taivas sung by Jasmine
- Iceland: Sjúbídú sung by Anna Mjöll
- Poland: Chce Znac Swój Grzech sung by Kasia Kowalska
- Bosnia & Herzegovina: Za Nau Ljubav sung by Amila Glamocak
- Slovakia: Kým Nás Má sung by Marcel Palonder
- Sweden: Den Vilda sung by One More Time
For the first and only time to date the scoreboard was presented in virtual reality. Presenter Ingvild Bryn was standing in a ‘blue room’ set, and the graphics for the scoreboard were superimposed. The Norwegian spokesperson Ragnhild SaelthunFjortoft appeared in person on stage to deliver the Norwegian jury votes.
The voting was the last time to date that 100% juries were used before televoting was phased in the following year. The traditional top ten method of 12, 10, 8 points etc was used.
Unusually the first eight juries awarded their 12 points to eight different songs, giving the voting an exciting start, and it was only in the second half of the voting that Ireland started to run away with the lead, giving Ireland their fourth win in five contests and their seventh victory overall. Host nation Norway managed to achieve second place, despite not receiving any 12 points from any jury. A full breakdown of the voting can be found on our 1996 history page.
It was the second time in three years that composer Brendan Graham had written the winning song in Europe's Favourite Tv Show, following Rock'n'Roll Kids in 1994.
The biggest commercial success though was the United Kingdom entry, Ooh...Aah...Just A Little Bit sung by Gina G reaching the top ten in several European charts, and the top 20 of the US Billboard Hot 100.
Watch Gina G perform Ooh...Aah...Just A Little Bit
Several countries achieved their best result to date in the 1996 contest, including Portugal with O Meu Coração Não Tem Cor sung by Lúcia Moniz finishing in 6th place, which is still the best result for the nation. More recent recruits to the Eurovision family, Croatia and Estonia also achieved impressive results with fourth and fifth place respectively.
Watch Ivo Linna & Maarja-Liis Ilus perform Kaelakee Hääl
About the Winner
Born in Dublin, Eimear Quinn was part of a very musical family. She started singing choral music from a very young age and joined her first choir at just 4 years old.
In 1995 she became a solist in the chamber choir Anúna, which is where she was discovered by Brendan Graham, and he suggested she sang his song, The Voice, at the Eurovision Song Contest.
Following her victory, Eimear was much sought after both in Europe and further afield in countries such as Australia and the United States. Since then she has gone from strength to strength, continuing to record and also becoming a successful composer.
In 2007, Eimear appeared in a documentary about her music on broadcaster RTÉ. Most recently she performed from HM Queen Elizabeth II in May 2011 during her historical state visit to the Republic of Ireland.