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Note: I wrote this post after finishing my review of the season 6 finale of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. That will come out Friday morning!
The first ever Eurovision Song Contest, then known as the Grand Prix of the Eurovision Song Competition (French: Grand Prix Eurovision de la Chanson Européenne), was held exactly 67 years before the day I am writing these words—on May 24, 1956. It boggles my mind how long Eurovision has existed. The contest is 44 years older than me, and it was first held when my grandparents were teenagers. Two grandparents who lived in Germany and might have known of the contest; two grandparents who lived in the United States and probably had no way to know it existed.
There are innumerable ways the Eurovision of then differed from the Eurovision of today. Imagine if you could tell a European in 1956 that people all over the world can watch the contest using telephones, or that the contest has so many countries that it now spans five days, or that Australia is now a competitor. But what I find most striking is how much of the first contest is lost to the sands of time. We don’t know any rankings besides the winner, we don’t know who most of the commentators are, we don’t know if some contestants are still alive*… but most importantly, we don’t even have video footage of the contest, except the winning song’s reprise. I wonder if anyone in 1956 was a huge enough Eurovision nerd to keep track of all information on the contest they could, then preserved the papers they wrote it on when the Internet age began? If anyone like that is alive today, their claims would be hard to prove.
Putting aside the incredible evolution of technology, here are some basic facts about Eurovision 1956. It was broadcast on radio and TV, though most people consumed it via radio. It was hosted near the center of the seven participating countries in Lugano, Switzerland, and in an excellent example of early installment weirdness, each country sent two songs. It’s one of two Eurovision Song Contests with no songs in English; half the songs were in French, and the others were in German, Dutch, and Italian.
Now what are we waiting for? Eurovision 1956 review, let’s begin! I’ll list the songs in order of broadcast.
* French Wikipedia claims Mony Marc is dead, while Spanish Wikipedia claims she’s alive. Perhaps because little is known about her, she has no English Wikipedia article.Continue reading