Eurovision recognised by Guinness World Records as the longest-running annual TV music competition (international)
By Kevin Lynch
Guinness World Records can today announce that the Eurovision song contest is the Longest-running annual TV music competition (international) ahead of its 60th show on Saturday evening in Vienna, Austria.
A Guinness World Records adjudicator was in Vienna to present the shows producers with their award which helped kick start early celebrations ahead of the eagerly anticipated singing competition.
The event has been staged annually since 1956, under the original name of the "Eurovision Grand Prix" but then adopted the title of the Eurovision Song Contest, in 1968. The first contest featured seven European countries and was won by Switzerland's Lys Assia with the song "Refrain". This year 40 acts will be representing their countries at Wiener the Stadthalle in Austria, with Australia featuring as an entrant for the first time, the 52nd country to take part.
There are annual music competitions that pre-date the Eurovision Song contest, however, none of these contests are broadcast on TV (live or highlights).These include the Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition (Italy), 1949-present (held annually except 2002); ARD International Music Competition (Germany), 1952-present; Maria Canals International Music Competition (Spain), 1954-present (annual since 1956).
The ESC predominantly features member countries of the European Broadcasting Union or the Council of Europe, the exceptions being Israel (since 1973), Morocco (1980) and Australia (2015). Australia made a one-off appearance in 2015 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the ESC, when Guy Sebastian performed "Tonight Again".
Australia were the 52nd country to take part in the ESC since its inception in 1956. As of the 2015 edition, Germany (59 appearances), France (58) and the UK (58) had entered the contest on the most occasions.
Jon Ola Sand, Executive Supervisor for the European Broadcasting Union, and accepted the award on behalf of the Eurovision song Contest, said: "After 60 years, the Eurovision Song Contest is stronger than ever. We are proud of this title, which is a strong recognition for those who've kept the contest going strong over the past decades and encouraging for the many talented people who will contribute in the many decades to come."
Guinness World Records adjudicator, Eva Norroy, said: “‘Eurovision’s achievement was brought to our attention as they were celebrating their anniversary and, when we started to investigate, we realised there is nothing quite like it around the world. Guinness World Records are also celebrating their 60th anniversary this year so both organisations have a lot to celebrate in 2015.
To get you in the mood for tonight’s show, here are ten other Eurovision related world records.
Most successful Eurovision country
Ireland were unfortunately knocked out at the semi-final stage of this year's competition but can still take heart from being the nation to have won the competition the most, having been victorious on seven occasions. Their first win came in 1970 with Dana singing "All Kinds of Everything" and most recently, Eimear Quinn came first in 1996 performing "The Voice".
Least successful Eurovision country
Norway has the dubious honour of being the least successful Eurovision country of all time - having finished last 11 times and scoring 'nil points' on four separate occasions.
Oldest male Eurovision Song Contest entrant
Back in 2012, the UK's hope's were pinned on veteran singer Engelbert Humperdinck. At the age of 76 years 24 days, Humperdinck, who is most fondly remembered for his million-selling 1967 single "Release Me", set a record for being the oldest male Eurovision Song Contest entrant. Sadly for Engelbert, his song "Love Will Set You Free" finished someway off the pace from that year's winner Sweden's Loreen and her track Euphoria.
Oldest Eurovision contest winner
Representing Denmark in 2000, The Olsen Brothers (Jorgan and Niels), who won with 195 points the Eurovision Song Contest singing 'Fly On The Wings Of Love',at the age of 49 and 45 respectively.
Highest paid dancer
The contest's interval which takes place while votes from around the nations are deliberated and counted , has become something of a platform for new talent from different performing arts. Undoubtably the act to make the biggest impact during the break in the competition was traditional Irish music and dance performance Riverdance back in 1994. Led by dancer Michael Flatley, the 7-minute performance received a standing ovation at the Point Theatre, Dublin and went on to become an international phenomenon.
Following its success, Flatley went on to set a record as the world's highest paid dancer earning $1.6 million (£1 million) a week for his show Lord of the Dance at the peak of the show's success
Most points scored at Eurovision
Heavy metal band Lordi from Finland scored a then record 292 points in the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest in Athens, Greece for their entry 'Hard Rock Hallelujah' on 18 May 2006. It was the first win for Finland, having been last eight times before.
Alexander Rybak’s song ‘Fairytale’ for Norway amassed an incredible 387 points in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow, Russia to beat Lordi's seemingly unbeatable tally and take the record.
Largest gathering of ABBA impersonators
The Eurovision Song Contest provided a launchpad for Abba , one of the most commercially successful pop groups of all time, after they won the 1974 event by a narrow 6 point margin with the classic Waterloo.
The largest gathering of ABBA impersonators is 368 individuals, or 92 bands, and took place at Kew Primary School in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia,in celebration of Guinness World Records Day back in November 2011.
Highest annual earnings ever for a female pop star
Another huge act that had their career kickstarted by Eurovision was Celine Dion. Sing for Switzerland, the then shy 20-year-old blew the roof off the Point Venue in Dublin back in 1988 with the song "Ne partez pas sans moi" ("Don't Leave Without Me").
Celine went on to set a record for highest annual earnings ever for a female pop star after making an estimated $56 million (£33.5 million) back in 1998, a record subsequently beaten by Madonna in 2013 who made $125 million (£82 million) for that year.
Most questions asked by a TV talk show host
For British audiences, Irish comedian and presenter Graham Norton will once agin be commentating on this year's contest. With the marathon broadcast lasting over three and a half hours, Graham is thankfully never short of a word or two, having set the record for most questions asked by a TV talk show host in 6 hours back in 2013.
The Irish star managed an incredible 175 questions during the attempt for charity Comic Relief.