The Eurovision Song Contest

Magazine – The Eurovision song contest

Many Europeans see the Eurovision Song Contest as the best show on Earth. And now, the rest of the world is starting to discover it too. What is so special about this annual song competition?

Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercises.


Every year on a certain Saturday night in May, something quite unique happens in Europe. Millions of people turn on their TVs and prepare to watch their nation compete. But this is no ordinary international competition. It has no footballs, athletes or fast cars. This is a contest based on something much more important: finding the perfect pop song.

What is the Eurovision Song Contest?

In short, the Eurovision is an enormous, televised concert which is full of fireworks, wonderful dancing, lots of colours and shiny clothes. Oh, and pop songs, of course! Each participating country sends a singer or group to perform a song live at the Eurovision semi-final. From these performances, 26 are chosen for the Saturday-night Grand Final.

Which countries participate?

Most of the participating countries are within Europe or are nearby (e.g. Israel, Azerbaijan, etc.). However, due to the popularity of the competition with TV viewers in Australia, this country has been included since 2015.

How do they choose the winner?

After the performances at the Grand Final, each country votes for the best song. TV viewers can vote using their mobile phones, but each country also has an official jury who decide 50 per cent of the votes. Obviously, it is not permitted to vote for your own country. In the end, the song with the most votes wins. The winning country will then host the Eurovision the following year.

What is the origin of the competition?

Although it might seem like a normal TV talent show like The X-Factor or The Voice, the Eurovision has quite historical origins. The Second World War ended in 1945, leaving Europe very divided. In the 1950s, the European Broadcasting Union started to think of an event which would both entertain and unite Europeans. This led to the first European song contest in 1956. It happened in Switzerland and included just seven countries. Decades later, it has grown into an enormous international event with hundreds of millions of viewers.

What are the rules?

The competition's central rule is that each song needs to be a maximum of three minutes. This is shorter than most commercial pop songs, but the organisers decided that this limit was necessary so that the entire Grand Final (including voting) can happen within three hours. While performing the song, there is another rule that the maximum number of people on the stage is six. This includes the singer(s), musicians and dancers. Songs can be in any language, even though most countries choose to sing in English.

Are there any Eurovision stars?

The competition has certainly had some success stories. The Swedish super-group ABBA won the Eurovision in 1974 and then became huge stars with hits like 'Dancing Queen' and 'Mamma Mia'. In 1988, Céline Dion won for Switzerland before finding world fame with songs like 'My Heart Will Go On' from the film Titanic. In 2006, Finnish rockers Lordi won the competition and captured the world’s imagination with their metal music and monster suits. Other winning songs which became international hits were the electro-hit 'Euphoria' by Swedish singer Loreen (2012) and 'Heroes' by another Swede, Måns Zelmerlöw (2015).

What next?

The popularity of the Eurovision has grown more and more each year. Outside of Europe and Australia, the Grand Final is now also watched by viewers in the USA and many other countries. Organisations in certain countries like China and Qatar have even expressed an interest in participating in the competition. So, who knows? Perhaps international unity will finally be achieved not through governments but through three-minute pop songs.

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Submitted by Oksi1001 on Fri, 13/05/2022 - 14:22


I really like these competition. You can enjoy new and cool songs.
And we have a lot of talanted singers in our country. They were in high positions on Eurovision last yers. But now we are descualifyde, sadly.

Submitted by agim on Mon, 18/04/2022 - 15:50


Eurovision is a very old contest like it was said in the article it was made more than 50 years ago. This contest in the beginning had a very good idea to unite Europe through tough times and it did its job but nowadays Eurovision contest has gotten worse year after years. Like it was written many countries that are not from Europe want to enter this contest which goes against the contest itself because this was made for Europe and not for the entire world. No one is saying that singers form outside the world should not sing and it was shown very well in last years Eurovision when Flo Rida a American singer competed for San Marino. Another problem for me is the voting system by the years it has gotten worse. Im not saying that the problem is the entire voting system but the jury because countries juries vote countries that have good relationship with each other and not countries that had good songs. A main example is Britain since Brexit in Eurovision this country in the grand finals has gotten always last place and for 2 years in a row has gotten 0 points just because the countries jury didnt vote them even if they had a decent song. There are other examples such as the Greece and Cyprus friendship where the juries give maximum points to each other for years and now it just seems normal. Next month there is Eurovision in Italy and i dont expect any changes for good. I just hope that things dont get worse than they are now.

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Submitted by danisep on Mon, 22/02/2021 - 16:12

The first time that I heard about this contest was in a comedy movie on Netflix. I don't watch too much Tv and I don't enjoy singer contests like before likewise I think that one famous singer that could perform very well at that contest could be Shakira.

Submitted by PALLAVRPATIL202 on Fri, 12/02/2021 - 10:36

This is awesome! First time got to heard Eurovision and the idea awesome. Through the music lacs of people will come together to get the best. Its healthy competition. In future it might possible that in future may one very popular song will dominate heart of the world. I wish my country also participate with its diverse music culture. Surely this is great platform to showcase our music and exposure to worldwide audience. Looking forward ahead to attend this concert online. Meanwhile I congratulate the initiator of this unique concept.
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Submitted by OlaIELTS on Mon, 08/06/2020 - 19:32

My opinion on the Eurovision Song Contest is that through its three minutes pop songs, this might aids achievement of international unity. I suggest 'Davido' a singer from Nigeria would be a good performer at the Eurovision.

Submitted by Muhammad Bagir on Sat, 06/06/2020 - 05:04

i don't understand with the command in task 2

Hello Muhammad Bagir

What you have to do in task 2 is put the sentences in order. For example, of the ideas in those sentences, the first one is the number of countries, so you put that one first.

When you move the sentences, you have to click or press on the small white hand on the right side. You click or press there to 'pick up' a sentence and then also click there to 'drop' the sentence in a new position.

Let us know if you need any more help with this.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by JS.39 on Tue, 02/06/2020 - 13:33

you can hear this article or others read officially be the British council on "British council podcasts" app on AppStore or play store. the podcast's name is "Magazine: special days".

Submitted by parisaach on Mon, 19/08/2019 - 05:40

Our country never participate in Eurovision or any contest like that . but our people love music they listen to music and go to concert and dance. They are trying to be happy though our government dosen't like happy people. so maybe we can participate in eurovision. I watched Eurovision a few times sometimes I find it unfair competition for example last year Israel won the prize though there were better groups there. Eurovision is interesting contest but I like X-factor and American Idol more. Actually I like Simon Cowell , and I like English singers who are judge of these contests.