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  • Writer's pictureRuby Daly

International Youth Day - Eurovision's youngest contestants

Today the world celebrates International Youth Day, and at Aussievision we have decided to pull out the history books and have a look at some of the youngest contestants to ever grace the Eurovision Stage.

Commencing in time for the 1990 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest came the age rule: which denoted that contestants be 16-years-old on the day of the contest.

This change, which in part led to the creation of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2003, was due to the controversy created by the entrance of the two youngest performers to grace the Eurovision Stage in the previous year, 1989: Nathalie Pâque and Gili Natanael.

Nathalie Pâque was 11-years-old and Gili Natanael 12-years-old when they performed on the Eurovision Stage for their respective nations France (though Nathalie was from Belgium) and Israel.

The selection of such young performers caused quite a controversy, due to the amount of pressure they were placed under, being children.

The selection of such young entrants, particularly with France as they chose Nathalie internally, was perhaps inspired by the success three years prior by the Belgian delegation, who won the 1986 contest with 13-year-old Sandra Kim and her entry, ‘J'aime la vie’.

Sandra remains the youngest ever Eurovision winner, and unless the current age restriction is changed, will continue to remain the youngest ever victor, despite lying about her age (she claimed she was 15-years-old) in her winning song.

Although not official contestants a number of children also performed as back up singers before the rule change.

In 1979 Betty Missigeo sang 'Su Cancion' (Your Song) for Spain finishing runner-up. Betty was joined by four children on stage through the performance that included 157 "lahs".

In 1985 the Danish duo Hot Eyes were joined by singer Søren Bundgaard's 9-year-old daughter Lea when performing 'Sku' du spørg' fra no'en?' (What business is it of yours?). They finished 11th on the night.

Following the rule change, the current youngest participant is ZENA, who performed ‘Like It’ in 2019 for Belarus when she was 16-years-old.

As today is International Youth Day, we should mention that this years theme is ‘Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health’, with the aim of highlighting that the success of such a global effort will not be achieved without the meaningful participation of young people.

Eurovision's most youngest contestant now compete in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. In previous years there have been entries that highlighted the youths concerns regarding the environment in addition to stirring movement, and embodying a theme of engagement for action.

With this years Junior Eurovision Contest it will be interesting to see if this years International Youth Day theme of ‘Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health’ will play a part in the entries come this December.


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