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  • Writer's pictureSamuel Lee

Host entries that have opened a Eurovision final

On March 11 at the Eurovision 2024 Head of Delegation meeting, host country Sweden was randomly drawn to the number one slot in the show.

This means on May 11 for the first time in 54 years the home entry will open the Grand Final of Eurovision. Such a situation doesn't happen often.

So we've looked a the five entries that not only represented the host country, but also opened the Eurovision final.

Jeann Philippe - 'Oui, oui, oui, oui' (France 1959)

Result: 3rd out of 11 participants

With the Eurovision song with possibly the most French title ever (no translation needed), Frenchman Jean Philippe was the first competitor to perform for the host country in the number 1 slot, opening Eurovision 1959 in Cannes.

Delivering an energetic and camp performance, Jean gave France another podium finish after their win in 1958 and runners-up placement in 1957.

Jean would later sing for Switzerland at Eurovision 1962, with the aptly titled song 'Le Retour' ('The Return' in English). By doing this he became the first person to represent two different countries at the contest.

Bryan Johnson - 'Looking High, High, High' (UK 1960)

Result: Runners-up out of 13 participants

The following year, the host country would again open the show with a song with another repetitive title.

This time Eurovision was being held in London - with runners-up the UK stepping in after Eurovision 1959 winner, the Netherlands, declined to host the contest for the second time in two years.

The UK was represented by Bryan Johnson who was hoping to go one better than his sister-in-law and brother Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson, who had finished second in 1959 with 'Sing Little Birdie'.

Despite an impressive and commanding vocal performance, the UK had to settle for second again, with Bryan unable to overcome the charm of France's Jacqueline Boyer with 'Tom Pillibi' (one of this writer's personal favourites from the 60s).

1960 was also the year that Katie Boyle made her Eurovision hosting debut, the first of a record-breaking four ventures.

Ronnie Carroll - 'Say Wonderful Things' (UK 1963)

Result: 4th out of 16 participants

Another Eurovision contest where the UK had to step in with hosting duties, after 1962 winner France declined to stage the show for the third time in four years. It was another contest hosted by Katie Boyle in London and another contest where a male soloist performing the home entry opened the show. On paper, there are a lot of similarities with Eurovision 1960 and 1963. ,

In reality though, the 1963 Contest was groundbreaking. It was one of the only contests to be held in a television studio, with boom microphones used on all the entrants.

This allowed for more close-up shots to be employed, creating a higher level of intimacy with television viewers.

Furthermore, a variety of props and special features could be used in the studio setting during the performances. These technical advancements did not benefit all competitors - with Luxembourg's entrant, future Greek star Nana Mouskouri, struggling in the conditions.

The UK decided to go with the same performer it had at the previous Eurovision contest - Ronnie Carroll. In 1962 he sang the onomatopoeic 'Ring-A-Ding Girl' and finished fourth. 1963 saw him return with three female back-up singers performing the more refined 'Say Wonderful Things', only to gain the same placing.

It seemed there wasn't much hometown advantage for Ronnie, with British having to wait another four years for their first Eurovision winner.

Patricia and Hearts of Soul - 'Waterman' (Netherlands 1970)

Result: 7th out of 12 participants

1969 infamously saw four countries jointly win the contest, meaning it wasn't immediately clear who would host Eurovision 1970.

Spain and the UK were ruled out after having hosted in 1969 and 1968 respectively. This left the Netherlands and France battling it out to see who would stage the show. After lots were drawn, it was decided that the former would be host of the 1970 contest.

Opening the show in Amsterdam were Patricia and Hearts of Soul. These Indonesian-born sisters had competed in the Dutch national selection as simply Hearts of Soul.

However, Eurovision rules at the time stipulated that groups of more than two were not allowed. Hence why Patricia had to step forward, with Bianca and Stella relegated to glorified backing singers.

These regulations were updated the following year, when up to six performers were allowed to be on the Eurovision stage.

The Maessen sisters only finished seventh on this venture, but have returned to the Eurovision stage multiple times since. In 1977 they represented Belgium with Bianca's boyfriend at the time, Luc Smets, as Dream Express. Their song 'A Million in One, Two, Three' again finished seventh, despite being the bookies' favourite that year.

Stella represented Belgium as a solo act in 1982 with 'Si tu aimes ma musique' ('If you like my music' in English), finishing a respectable fourth. Patricia was a backing singer for Sandra Kim in 1986, who ended up being Belgium's first ever Eurovision winner with 'J'aime la vie' ('I love life').

Marcus & Martinus - 'Unforgettable' (Sweden 2024)

Result: TBD out of 37 participants

In 2024 Sweden will be represented by Norwegian twins Marcus and Martinus with 'Unforgettable' after they won this year's Melodifestivalen. They will be the first of 26 finalists to perform. Will they live up to their song title and be unforgettable even though they are in the opening slot? We will have to wait and see on May 11.

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