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The Decade Of


Decade Introduction

1990 - 1999

This decade saw the biggest changes in the competition since its beginning. Changes that led to the Eurovision Song Contest as we know it now. The enlargement of the contest in this decade led to new problems. The show still had to be around three hours long but it was hard to achieve when more than 25 countries decided to take part. Several possible solutions were proposed and used.

It was also decided that France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom, as the highest paying European Broadcasting Union subscribers, would automatically be allowed to take part every year, irrespective of their five-year point average.


Host City


Croatia's capital, Zagreb, was the choice of Yugoslavia's broadcaster JRT as host city for the 1990 Eurovision Song Contest.

22 countries participated, the same ones as in 1989. Many of the songs were about the political changes in Europe like the fall of the Iron Curtain and a united Europe. Norway's song Brandenburger Tor (Branderburg Gate) and Austria's Keine Mauern Mehr (No More Walls) reflected the German re-unification theme



1990 results



Host City


The 1991 Eurovision Song Contest was supposed to be held in the seaside resort Sanremo.

The city is known for its annual festival of Italian music, but host broadcaster RAI moved it to Rome at a very late stage. This meant that RAI was not completely ready on the day of the contest, there were still works on the set to be done.

The winner of the previous year and the co-host of this year, Toto Cutugno, had big difficulties with the pronunciation of the song titles and names of the artists and conductors. The other host was Gigliola Cinquetti, Italy's first Eurovision winner from 1964.



1991 results


Stories worth telling

The winning run

At the end of the voting procedure, both Sweden and France had 146 points each.

Because of that the newly created rule of 1989 was put in effect giving the victory to Swedish entrant Carola who got more '10 point votes' than France. Both Sweden and France had an equal amount of '12 point votes.'

Carola had already participated in 1983 with the song Främling which ended up 3rd in Munich. She had already tried to enter the 1990 contest in Zagreb but lost out in the Swedish national heats. In 2006 though, she would re-appear on the Eurovision stage in Athens, performing Invincible which came 5th.



Host City


For the third time after 1975 and 1985, Sweden was the host for the 1992 Eurovision Song Contest.

This time, the city of Malmö had the honour of hosting the contest. A new record of participating countries was set because the Netherlands returned to the contest this year, so 23 countries took part in the 1992 event.

The stage in the venue Malmö Mässan was a very interesting one as it was set in the shape of a Viking ship's bow with a dragon in the centre and stars on each side.



1992 results


Stories worth telling

Mr. Eurovision III

The runner-up in 1984, Linda Martin, won for Ireland this year with the song Why Me? composed by Johnny Logan who had already won twice before in 1980 and 1987.

Linda Martin managed to overcome the United Kingdom pre-contest favourite by Michael Ball who sang One Step Out Of Time as well as another song performed in English, Little Child by Maltese Mary Spiteri which ended up second and third respectively.



Host City


The small city of Millstreet, Ireland, was the host for this year's Eurovision Song Contest.

1993 was the first year to feature a pre-qualifying heat for Eastern European countries.

The dissolution of the Eastern bloc and the disintegration of Yugoslavia created many new potential applicants. Because of that, seven countries from Eastern Europe had to participate in a preliminary heat called Kvalifikacija za Millstreet in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Bosnia & Herzegovina, Slovenia and Croatia made it through the preliminary heat and made their debut in the song contest as independent nations. Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Estonia had to wait till the following year to be eligible to enter Europe's biggest musical event.



1993 results


Stories worth telling

Close call

Ireland had their second victory in a row with the song In Your Eyes performed by Niamh Kavanagh who shot to fame after featuring on the original soundtrack to the movie The Commitments.

After a nail-biting finish, Niamh managed to knock the United Kingdom entry into second place with the very last vote. The UK entry Better The Devil You Know by Sonia was seen by many as the favourite to win, as Sonia had had some international hits with the legendary producers Stock, Aitken and Waterman.



Host City


For the second consecutive time, Ireland hosted the Eurovision Song Contest, this time in its capital Dublin.

Due to the fact that so many countries wished to participate in the 1994 contest, the European Broadcasting Union decided to adopt a relegation system.

It would mean that the seven countries that finished at the bottom were relegated and couldn't participate in the 1994 edition of the show. Instead, Estonia, Lithuania, Russia, Poland, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia made their debut. However, Italy and Luxembourg withdrew voluntarily, so in the end only the bottom five countries of the 1993 contest in Millstreet - Turkey, Slovenia, Israel, Denmark and Belgium - were relegated.



1994 results


Stories worth telling

Three-time winner

Never before in the history of the song contest, had a country won three times in a row.

The Irish entrants Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan sang Rock 'n Roll Kids, which in the end was 60 points ahead of the runner-up and was the highest score ever at a Eurovision Song Contest to date. This overwhelming victory for Ireland would not be the last in this century, as just two years later in 1996, Ireland would win again.



Host City


And again to Ireland! For the third consecutive time, Ireland was the host of the 40th Eurovision Song Contest.

The contest was again held in the Point Theatre in Dublin - it was the first time ever that the Eurovision Song Contest took place in the same city for two years in a row.

As it was the 40th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest this year, the programme started with a three-minute compilation of previous contests.

In 1994, the European Broadcasting Union decreased the number of participants to 23 to make sure that the song contest would not last longer than three hours.



1995 results

The Netherlands

Stories worth telling


1995 was the year of the Scandinavian countries at Eurovision: Norway won, Sweden came third and Denmark came fifth.

Germany had its worst placing ever, only the Maltese jury awarded one single point to Stone & Stone's Verliebt In Dich.

Bookmakers thought that the Swedish entrant Jan Johansen's song Se På Mig was favourite to win the entire contest, but instead neighbouring country Norway took first place with the song Nocturne performed by the group Secret Garden. The lyrics of the winning song only consisted of 24 words.



Host City


For the 1996 contest, the European Broadcasting Union replaced the relegation system with an audio preselection.

This new system was tried out in order to find a more acceptable method of whittling down the large number of potentially participating countries. Apart from the host country of Norway, all other potential participants - 29 countries in total - competed in this audio preselection, in which the national juries solely listened to audio tapes with the recordings of the 29 songs.



1996 results

United Kingdom

Stories worth telling

Ireland returns

Ireland got its seventh victory with the song The Voice performed by Eimear Quinn.

This was the fourth victory for Ireland in just five years. However, the winner was not the biggest commercial success in record sales this year.

The United Kingdom's song Ooh...Aah...Just A Little Bit by Australian Gina G, did not go down too well with more conservative juries, who perhaps felt her Paco Rabanne coin-clad dress and fast-paced performance was too racy for the Eurovision Song Contest. The song went on to be a big hit in the UK and in the USA, and Gina G was nominated for a Grammy as the Best Dance Act.



Host City


Ireland hosted the 1997 Eurovision Song Contest for the fourth time and for the third time in Dublin's Point Theatre.

The 1996 audio preselection procedure was dropped for a new system: the average results of all countries in the last five song contests were measured, and the 25 countries that had done best qualified for the final. Israel withdrew voluntarily, and Bosnia & Herzegovina took their place. Belgium, Finland, Romania and Slovakia were forced to take a break this year.

Televoting was introduced this year in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland and Germany and it would be extended to almost all participating countries in the following 1998 contest.



1997 results


Stories worth telling

Love Shine A Light

The UK won for the fifth time in their history of Eurovision participation. With the song Love Shine A Light, Katrina & the Waves scored an unprecedented 227 points.

The total score for the United Kingdom included five sets of '10 points' and a record-breaking ten sets of '12 points'. The record was not matched again until 2005 when Helena Paparizou would win for Greece. However, in 2005, 39 countries would cast their votes, compared to a modest 25 in 1997.

Irish broadcaster RTÉ put a lot of resources into the set with great results: The stage was spectacular and gave the viewer the impression of a cave.



Host City


Extravagance and controversy in the United Kingdom.

The 1998 Eurovision Song Contest from Birmingham resulted in a thrilling voting with one of the most controversial winners in the history of the contest: transsexual Dana International from Israel.

It was a taboo-breaking year for the contest with Dana International and Germany’s balding singer Guildo Horn. Dana sang the fitting Diva while Horn climbed all over the stage during his crazy performance.

Guildo Horn's extravagant performance resulted in record-breaking viewing figures in Germany. Fans even travelled abroad to be able to vote for the German entry. However, Guildo Hat Euch Lieb only ended up 7th.



1998 results


Stories worth telling

Dana wins

The extravagant trophy of the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest went to the equally extravagant Dana International from Israel.

She received the largest amount of media attention both before and after the show. During the voting process, it quickly became clear that either Israel, the United Kingdom or Malta were going to win, but the last vote from FYR Macedonia did not give a single point to Malta's Chiara, handing the victory to Israel. The United Kingdom came in second, and the Netherlands obtained their best result since 1975 - finishing in fourth place.



Host City


In 1999, the long-standing rule that each country had to sing in one of its own national languages was abolished.

It was also decided that France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom, as the highest-paying European Broadcasting Union subscribers, would automatically be allowed to participate every year, irrespective of their five-year point average. Also, the requirement of an orchestra was optional.

The Israeli broadcaster chose not to use an orchestra, which meant that for the first time in the history of the contest, all entries would perform using a backing track. This change was criticised by Johnny Logan, who commented that the contest turned into "karaoke".



1999 results


Stories worth telling

Swedish surprise

The Swedish delegation was very surprised about their victory with Charlotte Nilsson's Take Me To Your Heaven.

In Sweden the song had been seen as old-fashioned, the European televoters thought differently though and saw the song as a charming homage to the ABBA-sound.

Sweden were threatened by the Icelandic and German songs during the voting, but when the Bosnian jury gave Sweden its 12 points while ignoring Iceland completely, it was clear that Sweden would be the winner of the 1999 Eurovision Song Contest.


Next Decade




Project & Content Manager

Marieke Duijts

Editorial contributions

Victor Escudero
Olena Omelyanchuk
Gordon Roxburgh
Jarmo Siim



Technical supervision

Wouter van Vliet

Digital Production

Elespacio - Lucas Onofre

Art Direction & Design

Elespacio - Brijan Powell
Elespacio - Samuel Hoh
Elespacio - Pavel Proshin


Elespacio - Jacek Zakowicz
Elespacio - Cristina Franco
Elespacio - Jonathan Icicson

Photo & video credits

Getty Images
Beeld & Geluid (Dutch Institute for Sound and Vision)
BBC Photo Library
ORF/Thomas Ramstorfer
Stijn Smulders
Jan Demulder
Wim Dehandschutter
Femke de Laat
Andres Putting
Thomas Hanses
Dennis Stachel
Sander Hesterman
Elke Roels
Marieke Duijts
Indrek Galetin
Alain Douit
Kenneth Thorén (SVT)
James Morley
Anthony Kelly
Sam Shaw
Peter Mackey
Philippe Schlesser
Polfoto - Jacob Maarbjerg
Jacinta lluch Valero
Gage Skidmore
Gustavo Devito
Robert Scoble
R Barraez D´Lucca
Asim Bijarani
Chris - RMS Olympic Broadside View Post-Titanic
Kamil Porembiński - RBMK-1000, Chernobyl
Dan Queiroz
François Péladeau / Vancityhotshots
NASA image acquired April 16, 2010
Julian Burgess
Alex Hill
Bryan Dorrough
South African Tourism
Maxwell Hamilton
Paisley Scotland
Alf Melin
Ross Fowler
Yukiko Matsuoka
Irish Typepad
hobvias sudoneighm

Special thanks to

Samuel Andersson (SVT)
Stephanie Caflisch (EBU)
Jeroen Depraetere
Maartje Jansma (Beeld & Geluid)
Gijs Kimenai (Beeld & Geluid)
Maiken Maimets (OGAE)
Helen Ridell (BBC)
Sarah Sadek (EBU)
Jon Ola Sand (EBU)
Dave Goodman (EBU)
David A Allan

A special thanks to all Heads of Delegations, members of the Reference Group, EBU Member Broadcaster representatives and fans who have contributed to this project.

Project Supervisor

Sietse Bakker

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