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  • Writer's pictureFord Carter

Curses of the Eurovision Song Contest: The curse of number two

The Eurovision Song Contest is – by the superstitious, at least – believed to be plagued by curses.

They’re curses that can cause bad results or even have countries leave the contest.

In this short series, we take a look at a few of these Eurovision curses. We started with 'The Curse of 43' last week and this week we continue with the curse of number two.

If there’s one Eurovision phenomenon famous enough to be known by most fans of the Eurovision Song Contest, it’s the curse of number two.

So called due to the fact that no country performing from the second position in the running order of the Eurovision final has ever won the contest at all, the second position is now often referred to as the ‘death slot’ by fans and commentators alike.

The first curse

The curse of number two is almost as old as the contest itself, haunting those countries that are placed second in the running order for over six decades.

The first instance of the curse took place at the third edition of the contest back in 1958. The winner of the 1957 contest, Corry Brokken, had returned to represent the Netherlands for the third consecutive time, this time competing with the entry ‘Heel de wereld’ on home soil. The entry was placed second in the running order.

Performing following Domenico Modugno’s ‘Nel blu dipinto di blu’ and before André Claveau’s ‘Dors, mon amour’, at the end of the voting, the song came equal last in the field of ten, receiving just a single point.

Until 2015 when Austria received zero points, it was the lowest score received by a host country in the history of the contest.

Nul points

Second position in the running order has not seen a single winner. But that's not where it ends.... it has also produced the song coming last on the scoreboard on nine occasions, including three times where the entry received the ever-dreaded “nul points”.

The first time a Eurovision entry failed to receive any points also happened to be an entry which had performed second in the running order.

Belgium’s Fud Leclerc performed the song ‘Ton nom’ (‘Your name’) in Luxembourg in 1962, and was one of four nations to fail to receive any points at the contest, alongside Spain, Austria, and the Netherlands.

The following year, in 1963, the Netherlands suffered from the fate of “nul points” for the second year in a row, this time from second position in the running order. Annie Palmen’s ‘Een speeldoos’ (‘A musical box’) was one of four artists again to fail to receive points at the contest, alongside the artists from Norway, Finland, and Sweden.

The song was about the romance between a shepherd and a shepherdess, both of whom were figures in a music box who could never moved closer to each other.

It wasn’t for another fifteen years, in 1978, that an entry performing second in the running order failed to receive any points. This time, it was Norway’s Jahn Teigen with ‘Mil etter mil’ (‘Mile after mile’) who fell as the unfortunate victim of the curse.

Jahn was not a fan of the jazz ballad arrangement of the song performed at Eurovision, and when the song was released on record a few weeks after the contest, it was released as a rock version with drums and guitars.

Australia's own Gina G

Back in 1996, Gina G originally from Brisbane, competed at Eurovision for the United Kingdom. After winning the national selection with the modern pop number 'Ooh Aah... Just a Little Bit', she was seen as a big chance of taking out the title. She finished 3rd in the pre-qualifying round before the contest.

On the night she drew the dreaded second position and finished in a slightly disappointing 8th place.

In recent years

Beginning in 2013, the running order of the Eurovision Song Contest changed from random order to one chosen by the contests producers. The idea behind this was to give the show a better flow and to allow all of the songs the opportunity to shine.

While the producer-decided running order of the show has definitely improved the flow and given songs a better chance to shine (we now no longer see all of the ballads lumped together, or all of the pop numbers), it hasn’t led to an improvement or elimination of the curse of number two.

In seven years of the current running order system, only two entries in the grand final have made it into the top twenty, and none of the entries have made it on to the left hand side of the scoreboard. The seven entries have an average finishing position of 21.4.

The fourteen semifinalists who have competed over the seven years have also failed to be successful, with only four qualifiers (28.6%), and an average finishing position of 12.2.

One of those songs to miss out was 'Goodbye' from The Humans. This was Romania's first ever non-qualifier.

This years entries performing second in the running order in the semifinals are Slovenia’s Ana Soklič with ‘Amen’ and Estonia’s Uku Suviste with ‘The Lucky One’, who are sixteenth and thirteenth in the odds to qualify from their semifinals respectively.

Can Ana or Uku defy the odds and history and make the final with a good result? We'll find out in May...


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