It’s World Animal Day today! This is traditionally a day where we give our furry friends some extra attention. At the Eurovision Song Contest, live animals are not allowed on the stage but the past shows us that some countries have definitely tried to bend the rules!
The official rules state that it is not allowed to bring live animals on stage, but we have seen some countries to work around this. Whether isn't people dressed as animals, or even cardboard cutouts, the Eurovision stage has seen many a beast appear!
Alf Poier, an Austrian artist and stand-up comedian, represented Austria in Riga in 2003. The song, and the stage act, were a parody of the contest’s excesses. Lyrically, the song is about farmyard animals and their habits. The performance itself is also memorable, as the animals mentioned in the song appeared behind Alf, in cardboard form.
Ireland brought Dustin the Turkey to the Eurovision stage in 2008. Dustin the Turkey, a puppet character performed by John Morrison, is a top class popstar, builder, politician and Irish TV personality. A multi-talented Turkey, Dustin has enjoyed considerable chart success in Ireland and has released six albums and twelve singles!
He’s had numerous number ones and has sung with Bob Geldof, Chris De Burgh, Boyzone and Irish Showband legend Joe Dolan to name but a few. Dustin performed alongside Kitty B (Kathleen Burke) and Ann Harrington as backing vocals, along with three male back-up dancers. Sadly for Dustin though, Europe didn't appreciate the act and Ireland failed to qualify.
Ivan, the Belarusian representative in 2016, allegedly wanted to perform naked surrounded by live wolves but wasn’t allowed due to the contest’s rules. He couldn’t take real wolves on stage, so they, and naked Ivan, were added to the performance as a hologram. The animals have a very special meaning for the singer and symbolise his love of nature.
Host Mäns Zelmerlöw paid tribute to Ivan by appearing naked during the show, covering his modesty with a toy wolf!
Italy was one of the most anticipated acts in 2017. During Francesco Gabbani's performance, he was joined on stage by a dancing gorilla which is specifically related to the meaning of the song. "In the end we become aware that after all we’re naked apes," Francesco explained, meaning that at the end of the day we are all humans.
Azerbaijan's Dihaj brought a man with a horse head to Kyiv. As the song describes: It tells the story of a strong woman who is passionate about a bad guy. Dihaj allows herself to be led by her feelings and emotions, but at the same time remains self-controlled.
Over the years there have also been songs performed that are about animals..C
The Netherlands 1956 - De vogels van Holland
1956 was the first year of the Eurovision Song contest and the only year in which a country was allowed to send in two songs. The Netherlands sent Corry Brokken and Jetty Paerl. Corry’s song was called Voorgoed Voorbij (Forever over), Jetty’s song was called De Vogels van Holland (The birds of Holland). It is a song about how the Dutch climate and Dutch girls make the birds so musically talented, in comparison to the French, Japanese and Chinese birds who only sing ‘Tudeludelu’.
United Kingdom 1959 - Sing little birdie
Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson participated in the 1959 Eurovision Song Contest with a song called Sing Little Birdie. Teddy admitted that he had never heard of the contest when we spoke to him in September 2017.
Teddy and Pearl agreed to meet with the BBC and enter the national selection: "We went to the offices at Shepherd's Bush in London where we selected the songs. In hindsight I was surprised they allowed a duo as there were no groups. There was one song that nobody wanted, it was called Sing Little Birdie and as soon as it played, Pearl and I looked at each other and agreed to do it. The rest is history, we are still singing the damn song!"
The Netherlands 2013 - Birds
Anouk, the Dutch representative in Malmo 2013, sent in a song called Birds. It was the song that got the Netherlands to final for the first time in nearly a decade. In an interview with Eurovision.tv Anouk described Birds as "a song that is simple and very much like me.”
Whilst the rules concerning animals on stage are unlikely to change any time soon, it doesn’t mean that we won’t see further appearances from creatures great and small in the future!