Eurovision Song Contest 1974

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The Eurovision Song Contest 1974 was the 19th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, held on 6 April 1974 in the Dome in Brighton, United Kingdom. Organised by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and host broadcaster the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and presented by Katie Boyle, this was the fifth time that the United Kingdom had staged the contest.

Eurovision Song Contest 1974
Dates
Final6 April 1974
Host
VenueThe Dome
Brighton, United Kingdom
Presenter(s)Katie Boyle
Musical directorRonnie Hazlehurst
Directed byMichael Hurll
Executive supervisorClifford Brown
Executive producerBill Cotton
Host broadcasterBritish Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
Websiteeurovision.tv/event/brighton-1974 Edit this at Wikidata
Participants
Number of entries17
Debuting countriesEurovision Song Contest 1974 - Wikidata Greece
Returning countriesNone
Non-returning countriesEurovision Song Contest 1974 - Wikidata France
  • A coloured map of the countries of EuropeBelgium in the Eurovision Song Contest 1974Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest 1974Netherlands in the Eurovision Song Contest 1974Switzerland in the Eurovision Song Contest 1974Germany in the Eurovision Song Contest 1974United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest 1974Monaco in the Eurovision Song Contest 1974Luxembourg in the Eurovision Song Contest 1974Spain in the Eurovision Song Contest 1974Yugoslavia in the Eurovision Song Contest 1974Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest 1974Denmark in the Eurovision Song ContestDenmark in the Eurovision Song ContestFinland in the Eurovision Song Contest 1974Norway in the Eurovision Song Contest 1974Portugal in the Eurovision Song Contest 1974Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest 1974Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest 1974Greece in the Eurovision Song Contest 1974Malta in the Eurovision Song ContestAustria in the Eurovision Song ContestFrance in the Eurovision Song Contest
         Competing countries     Countries that participated in the past but not in 1974
Vote
Voting systemTen-member juries distributed ten points among their favourite songs.
Winning songEurovision Song Contest 1974 - Wikidata Sweden
"Waterloo"
1973 ← Eurovision Song Contest → 1975

Although Luxembourg had won the 1973 contest with the song "Tu te reconnaîtras" by Anne-Marie David, which made Luxembourg the presumptive host in 1974, the Luxembourgish broadcaster Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Télédiffusion (CLT) opted not to host the event in 1974 as they had staged the contest in 1973, following their win in 1972. Spain, which had placed second the previous year, also declined the opportunity to stage the contest. The Israeli broadcaster IBA, and the British broadcasters the BBC and ITV, all subsequently made bids to stage the contest, with the BBC ultimately winning out. This was the fourth time that the BBC had staged the contest after another broadcaster declined the opportunity, having done so previously in 1960, 1963 and 1972.

Entries representing eighteen countries were submitted for the contest, with Greece making its first appearance. However, France ultimately did not participate as the contest coincided with the death of French president Georges Pompidou, and with a national day of mourning scheduled for the date of the contest the French broadcaster ORTF deemed participating in the event to be inappropriate. The voting system used between 1971 and 1973 was scrapped, and was replaced by the system last used in 1970, with ten people in each country awarding one vote to their favourite song.

The winner was Sweden, with the song "Waterloo", composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, written by Stig Anderson and performed by ABBA. Italy and the Netherlands placed second and third respectively, followed by a three-way tie for fourth place between Luxembourg, Monaco and the United Kingdom. It was Sweden's first contest win. After previous success within European markets with "Ring Ring", with which ABBA had attempted to represent Sweden at Eurovision in 1973, "Waterloo" gave the group their first global hit, and their Eurovision win was a launching point for ABBA to become one of the world's best-selling music artists. Olivia Newton-John, who represented the United Kingdom at this event, would also go on to achieve worldwide success in the years following the contest.

Location

 
The Concert Hall of the Dome, Brighton – host venue of the 1974 contest

The 1974 contest was held in Brighton, United Kingdom. It was the fifth time that the United Kingdom had hosted the contest, having previously done so in 1960, 1963, 1968 and 1972. The selected venue was the Dome, completed in 1805 and originally built for the Prince Regent as stables and a riding school for his personal use. Sold by Queen Victoria in 1850, the stables were converted into a concert hall and assembly rooms in 1867, and the riding school into a market for corn merchants in 1868. The concert hall could normally seat up to 2,102 people, but for the contest some seating was removed for the commentator booths and technical equipment, leaving space for an audience of just over 1,000 people.

Among the other venues considered to stage the event by the BBC were the Royal Opera House and Royal Albert Hall in London, the latter of which had previously staged the 1968 contest. Both venues proved to be unavailable however, with the broadcaster then looking outside of the capital for potential venues. The Dome was then ultimately selected, and this choice was announced publicly by the BBC and EBU in July 1973.

Host selection

The 1973 contest was won by Luxembourg with the song "Tu te reconnaîtras" performed by Anne-Marie David, which according to Eurovision tradition made Luxembourg the presumptive host of the 1974 contest. The country had staged the event on three previous occasions, in 1962, 1966 and 1973, each time in Luxembourg City. As Luxembourg had also hosted the event the previous year, the Luxembourgish broadcaster Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Télédiffusion (CLT) declined the opportunity to stage the event for a second consecutive year due to the financial strain such an undertaking would entail. Spain, which had come second the previous year, was also considered for the event, however the Spanish broadcaster Televisión Española (TVE) also turned down the opportunity to stage the 1974 contest; Spain had previously hosted the event in 1969.

The contest organisers, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), originally asked the BBC, as the participating broadcaster for the country which came third, not to make an offer at this initial stage, in order to determine if other participating broadcasters were willing to stage the event. Of the four previous events held in the United Kingdom, three of these had been staged in place of the previous year's winning country, specifically the 1960, 1963 and 1972 events. Two offers were subsequently made, from the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) and from the BBC's commercial rival ITV. Concerns were raised about the prospect of Israel hosting the event; the country had just joined the contest in 1973 and it was felt some countries would not be prepared to accept an Israeli-held contest. Israel was also some distance geographically from the core of Western European nations which participated in the event at this time, and IBA still lagged behind many European broadcasters from a technological perspective. A successful ITV bid would have effectively barred the BBC from participating, as only one broadcaster from a given country can participate in the event, resulting in the BBC submitting a counter-offer which the EBU accepted on 7 June 1973.

Participating countries

Eurovision Song Contest 1974 – Participation summaries by country
 
Gigliola Cinquetti (pictured in 1966) had previously won the contest in 1964 for Italy, and competed again at this year's event.

A total of eighteen countries submitted entries to compete in this edition of the contest, comprising all seventeen countries which had participated in 1973, and Greece, which was making its first appearance in the contest. Turkey had also expressed an interest in competing, but the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation had been too late in submitting their request to the EBU and were subsequently informed that, as the scoreboard with space for eighteen countries had already been constructed, its planned entry would not have been possible. Ultimately, however, only seventeen participating entries were performed at the contest, as France made the decision to withdraw from the event due to the death of French president Georges Pompidou on 2 April. With the state memorial service and a national day of mourning scheduled to be held on the same day as the contest, it was deemed by French broadcaster Office de Radiodiffusion Télévision Française (ORTF) that competing in and broadcasting the contest would be inappropriate. France would have been represented by the song "La Vie à vingt-cinq ans", written by Christine Fontaine and to have been performed by Dani, with Jean-Claude Petit scheduled to conduct the orchestra during the performance.

Among the participating artists were a number of acts which had competed in the Eurovision Song Contest in previous years: Italy's Gigliola Cinquetti had previously won the contest in 1964 with the song "Non ho l'età"; Romuald, representing Monaco at this contest, had previously represented both Monaco and Luxembourg, in 1964 and 1969 respectively; and Norway's Bendik Singers, supporting Anne-Karine Strøm at this event, had represented Norway in the previous year's contest, with Strøm having also been a member of the group in that contest.

Production and format

The Eurovision Song Contest 1974 was produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Bill Cotton served as executive producer, Michael Hurll served as producer and director, John Burrowes served as designer, and Ronnie Hazlehurst served as musical director, leading the BBC Concert Orchestra. A separate musical director could be nominated by each country to lead the orchestra during their performance, with the host musical director also available to conduct for those countries which did not nominate their own conductor.

Each participating broadcaster submitted one song, which was required to be no longer than three minutes in duration. As with the previous year's event, artists were able to perform in any language, and not necessarily that of the country they represented. A maximum of six performers were allowed on stage during each country's performance. Each entry could utilise all or part of the live orchestra and could use instrumental-only backing tracks, however any backing tracks used could only include the sound of instruments featured on stage being mimed by the performers.

Rehearsals in the contest venue began on Tuesday 2 April, involving technical rehearsals with the production team, the orchestra, and tests of the voting system and scoreboard. This was followed by rehearsals with the competing acts over subsequent days. The first rehearsals for all countries were held over two days on 3 and 4 April, with each participating act having a 50-minute slot on stage to perform through their entry with the orchestra without their stage costumes. A second round of rehearsals, this time in costume, was held for all acts on 5 April, with each country given 20 minutes on stage, followed that evening by a complete run-through of the whole show, including dummy voting. Further technical rehearsals were held on the morning of 6 April, and a second full dress rehearsal was held that afternoon; this rehearsal was also recorded for use as a back-up in case technical failure meant the contest could not go ahead as planned.

Security in Brighton was tight in the lead-up to, and during, the contest, due to the threat of actions by Irish republican militants. There was an increased police presence, and tanks could be seen in the streets of Brighton during the week of the contest. The contest presenter Katie Boyle also recalled being ferried in bulletproof coaches between the hotel and the contest venue, each time taking a different route.

Voting procedure

Due in part to the closeness of the voting in the previous year's contest, a new voting system was planned to be introduced for this event, which incorporated elements from the two previous voting systems used in the contest: each country's jury would comprise ten members, which would be based in their own country, with each member awarding between one and five votes for each song, with no abstentions allowed and without the option to vote for their own country's entry. This would have resulted in each country potentially awarding a maximum of 50 votes and a minimum of 10 votes to any other country's song; with eighteen planned participating countries, this would have meant that the highest possible score any country could have received was 850, and the lowest possible score was 170. In case of a tie between two or more countries for first place, these acts would have performed again and each country not involved in the tie would have had one vote each to determine the winner. A lottery element to the voting, in order to add greater suspense, was also devised: the order of the voting would have been determined on stage during the voting segment, with cards being drawn at random to decide the order in which countries would vote.

During rehearsals however, it quickly became apparent to the organisers that they had misjudged how long it would take to conduct this new voting system, as well as mounting concerns that any issues with totalling the scores live could exacerbate the problems. Although a computerised system to calculate each country's total had been investigated, this was rejected for cost reasons. Ultimately the contest's executive producer Bill Cotton took the unilateral decision to abandon the proposed voting system and, given the jury structure of ten people had already been established and jury members had most likely already been recruited by the broadcasters, determined that the only alternative was to revert to the scoring system last used in 1970: each of the ten jury members had one vote to award to their favourite song. The lottery aspect of the voting system was, however, retained, although due to timing and sound quality reasons this draw was held before the contest by the EBU's scrutineer Clifford Brown.

Contest overview

 
Prior to the event, Dutch duo Mouth and MacNeal were considered among the favourites to win the contest.

The contest was held on 6 April 1974, beginning at 21:30 (BST) and lasting 1 hour and 49 minutes. The contest was presented by the British television presenter and actress Katie Boyle, who had previously presented the contest in 1960, 1963 and 1968. Having hosted the contest four times, Boyle holds the record for most contest appearances as a presenter as of 2024. Following the confirmation of the eighteen planned participating countries, the draw to determine the running order (R/O) of the contest was held on 5 December 1973; prior to its withdrawal, France was scheduled to perform in fourteenth position, between the entries from Ireland and Germany.

The interval act was a pre-recorded video montage featuring the Wombles, a novelty pop band based on the children's characters of the same name, in various locations across Brighton. The medallions awarded to the winning songwriters were presented by the Director-General of the BBC and the President of the European Broadcasting Union, Charles Curran.

The winner was Sweden represented by the song "Waterloo", composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, written by Stig Anderson and performed by ABBA. It was Sweden's first contest win.

Results of the Eurovision Song Contest 1974
R/O Country Artist Song Points Place
1   Finland Carita "Keep Me Warm" 4 13
2   United Kingdom Olivia Newton-John "Long Live Love" 14 4
3   Spain Peret "Canta y sé feliz" 10 9
4   Norway Anne-Karine and the Bendik Singers "The First Day of Love" 3 14
5   Greece Marinella "Krassi, thalassa ke t' agori mou" 7 11
6   Israel Poogy "Natati La Khaiai" 11 7
7   Yugoslavia Korni Grupa "Generacija '42" 6 12
8   Sweden ABBA "Waterloo" 24 1
9   Luxembourg Ireen Sheer "Bye Bye I Love You" 14 4
10   Monaco Romuald "Celui qui reste et celui qui s'en va" 14 4
11   Belgium Jacques Hustin "Fleur de liberté" 10 9
12   Netherlands Mouth and MacNeal "I See a Star" 15 3
13   Ireland Tina Reynolds "Cross Your Heart" 11 7
14   Germany Cindy and Bert "Die Sommermelodie" 3 14
15    Switzerland Piera Martell "Mein Ruf nach dir" 3 14
16   Portugal Paulo de Carvalho "E depois do adeus" 3 14
17   Italy Gigliola Cinquetti "" 18 2

Spokespersons

Each country nominated a spokesperson, connected to the contest venue via telephone lines and responsible for announcing, in English or French, the votes for their respective country. Known spokespersons at the 1974 contest are listed below.

Detailed voting results

Jury voting was used to determine the points awarded by all countries. The announcement of the results from each country was conducted in a predetermined order chosen at random, with the spokespersons announcing their country's votes in English or French in performance order. The detailed breakdown of the points awarded by each country is listed in the tables below, with voting countries listed in the order in which they presented their votes.

Detailed voting results of the Eurovision Song Contest 1974
Total score
Finland
Luxembourg
Israel
Norway
United Kingdom
Yugoslavia
Greece
Ireland
Germany
Portugal
Netherlands
Sweden
Spain
Monaco
Switzerland
Belgium
Italy
Contestants
Finland 4 2 1 1
United Kingdom 14 1 4 1 1 2 1 1 3
Spain 10 1 2 1 2 1 3
Norway 3 1 1 1
Greece 7 1 4 2
Israel 11 2 1 2 2 1 3
Yugoslavia 6 1 1 1 1 2
Sweden 24 5 1 2 2 1 1 2 1 3 1 5
Luxembourg 14 2 2 1 3 1 1 1 1 2
Monaco 14 2 1 1 1 2 1 1 2 1 2
Belgium 10 3 2 5
Netherlands 15 1 1 1 3 2 1 1 1 3 1
Ireland 11 2 1 2 1 2 2 1
Germany 3 1 1 1
Switzerland 3 1 1 1
Portugal 3 1 2
Italy 18 2 1 1 5 1 1 2 4 1

Broadcasts

Broadcasters competing in the event were required to relay the contest via its networks; non-participating EBU member broadcasters were also able to relay the contest. Broadcasters were able to send commentators to provide coverage of the contest in their own native language and to relay information about the artists and songs to their television viewers.

As well as the participating nations, which, with the exception of Italy, all broadcast the contest live on television, the contest was also reportedly aired, live or deferred, by broadcasters in Algeria, Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, France, Hungary, Japan, Jordan, Iceland, Morocco, Poland, South Korea, the Soviet Union, and Tunisia. In addition to television coverage, participating broadcasters in Belgium, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom were also reported to have relayed the contest via radio. Although the script for the contest's opening remarks by Katie Boyle suggested that around 500 million viewers were expected to watch and listen to the contest, the EBU later put the actual estimated figure for the total audience at 231 million.

Known details on the broadcasts in each country, including the specific broadcasting stations and commentators are shown in the tables below.

Legacy

ABBA (left) and Olivia Newton-John both achieved considerable worldwide success after representing Sweden and the United Kingdom in the contests respectively.

The 1974 Eurovision Song Contest has retrospectively gained notability for a number of aspects, particularly due to the success of some of the competing acts, as well as political developments within Europe that have indirect links to this edition of the event. Two competing artists at this year's event in particular went on to sustained worldwide success after the contest: Sweden's ABBA and the United Kingdom's Olivia Newton-John.

The individual members of ABBA had made previous attempts to reach Eurovision, participating in Sweden's national selection, Melodifestivalen, several times, both as a group and individually. Anni-Frid Lyngstad participated in Melodifestivalen 1969, placing fourth with the song "Härlig är vår jord", while Benny Andersson competed in the same edition as a songwriter, placing second with the song "Hej clown" performed by Jan Malmsjö. Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus subsequently competed as a songwriting partnership in 1972, penning the Lena Andersson song "Säg det med en sång", which placed third. Following the formation of ABBA, the group (performing under the name "Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid") competed in Melodifestivalen 1973 with the song "Ring Ring", which ultimately placed third. While "Ring Ring" was popular within European markets, wider success for the group, particularly in English-speaking markets, proved elusive, and the group saw Eurovision as a launchpad for exposure among these markets, resulting in a further attempt to get to the contest in 1974. Although "Waterloo" had been written with Eurovision in mind, the group also considered submitting the song "Hasta Mañana" to Swedish broadcaster Sveriges Television (SVT), as the latter song was felt to be more in-line with the songs that had done well in Eurovision in previous years. Ultimately, however, "Waterloo" was chosen, given it was more likely to be unlike other entries submitted, and therefore would stand out more; "Hasta Mañana" was also mainly sung only by Agnetha Fältskog, whereas with "Waterloo" all four members of the group could give their vocals to the song.

Following the group's win, "Waterloo" went on to top the charts in multiple European countries, including the UK singles chart, as well as reaching the top ten in the Billboard Hot 100. Long-term success for the group, however, did not materialise until the release of "SOS" in 1975, which allowed the group to shrug off a perception of being "one-hit wonders" and led to a string of hits through the rest of the 1970s and early 1980s which catapulted the foursome to become one of the best-selling music groups of all time. ABBA's international success within the global music scene, starting from their Eurovision win, additionally led to a large growth in the accessibility of Swedish pop music worldwide, with Sweden often considered a superpower in the realm of music export and claims made by the 2000s of being the third-largest exporter of music globally, behind only the United States and United Kingdom.

Olivia Newton-John was in the early stages of her career when she was approached by the BBC to represent the United Kingdom at Eurovision; she had achieved previous success in the charts in both the UK and US, particularly with country pop songs, and had been a frequent guest on the It's Cliff Richard show, fronted by two-time Eurovision entrant for the United Kingdom Cliff Richard. Newton-John had performed six songs at that year's A Song for Europe contest, with "Long Live Love" being chosen by the viewing public through postcard voting; although it was considered a favourite to win the contest, she later told the press after placing fourth that she felt the wrong song had been chosen and that she would have preferred to have performed a ballad. Newton-John subsequently achieved considerable success in the United States and global recognition after starring in the film musicals Grease and Xanadu.

Following the contest, the Portuguese entry, "E depois do adeus" by Paulo de Carvalho, played a large part in the launching of the Carnation Revolution, which ultimately led to the overthrow of the authoritarian Estado Novo regime, setting Portugal along a path towards the reestablishment of democracy and ending the country's war with its African colonies. The broadcast of the song on radio in the evening of 24 April 1974 was used as a signal to alert rebelling officers in the Portuguese army to begin the coup, which kicked off overnight following the playing of another song, "Grândola, vila morena" by José Afonso, in the early hours of 25 April.

The Italian broadcaster Radiotelevisione italiana (RAI) did not air the contest for several months due to the content of its own entry. The contest coincided with the campaigning period for a referendum on abolishing divorce within the country, which was held one month after the contest, and there were fears that the Italian entry, "" ("Yes") by Gigliola Cinquetti, could have been seen as an attempt to sway the result of the vote. The contest was, however, available to watch in parts of northern Italy where transmissions of Swiss and Yugoslav Italian-language television were accessible. The contest was eventually broadcast on RAI in June, one month after the referendum.

Notes

References