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  • Writer's pictureSteven Garner

Marcel Bezençon Award recipients: Eurovision's other winners

Whilst most focus is - rightly - directed towards the recipient(s) of the iconic glass microphone, the trophy lifted since 2008 by the winner(s) of the Eurovision Song Contest, a further set of awards has been conferred on competing artists since 2002: the Marcel Bezençon Awards.

These three awards - the Press Award, the Artistic Award and the Composer Award - were the brainchild of two Swedes: Christer Björkman (former Melodiefestivalen producer, ex-Swedish Head of Delegation and his country's 1992 Eurovision entrant) and Richard Herrey (winner of Eurovision 1984 with 'Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley' alongside brothers Per and Louis).

But, echoing (kinda) an already-seemingly ubiquitous Austrian-inspired phrase, you might ask "who the hell is Bezençon"? What/who do the awards recognise? And which songs, artists and countries have been recipients to date?

Marcel Bezençon: Eurovision's founding father

Inspired by the success of Italy's annual Sanremo Music Festival, launched in 1951, a Swiss journalist and then European Broadcasting Union (EBU) Director by the name Marcel Bezençon tabled the idea of a multinational song competition in 1955.

The idea was approved, Bezençon's native Switzerland hosted the inaugural event in the city of Lausanne the following year and the rest, as they say, is history. Bluntly put, we all owe the man a great deal, and it should come as no surprise therefore that prizes recognising artistic achievement and musical prowess at the Contest bear his name.

What do the Bezençon Awards recognise? And who decides the winners?

As its title suggests, the Press Award is bestowed upon the year's entry that receives the highest score in the votes cast by accredited media outlets and press officials attending the event.

By contrast, the Artistic Award is presented to the best act as voted by the Contest's commentators (and prior to 2010 by previous Eurovision winners), and the Composer Award goes to the best composition as determined by a jury consisting of the year's participating composers.

And the winners are...

So, which artists are former Bezençon Award winners? Which entries have taken home more than one award? Which countries lead the running in terms of award recipients? And how have Australian acts and songs fared?

Notable winners

Unsurprisingly, past Eurovision-winning entries account for a proportion of Bezençon Award winners, although perhaps a lower percentage than you might expect: just under 25% of Press Award recipients, a third of Artistic Award winners and just two Composer Award victories (Thomas G:son and Peter Boström for 'Euphoria' in 2012 and Luísa Sobral for 'Amar pelos dois' in 2017).

However, entries, artists and composers achieving a "podium position" at the Contest represent a significant number of winners of the prestigious awards, including fan favourites such as second-placing 'Lane moje' (2004 Press Award), 'Dancing Lasha Tumbai' (2007 Press Award), Ani Lorak (2008 Artistic Award for 'Shady Lady'), Eleni Foureira (2018 Artistic Award for 'Fuego') and Mahmood (2019 Composer Award for 'Soldi').

Nevertheless, receipt of a Bezençon is not conditional upon marked success - and current name recognition - at the Contest itself: Paradise Oskar's 'Da Da Dam' (21st at Eurovision 2011 for Finland), Harel Skaat (who finished 14th in 2010 with his song 'Milim') and Borislav Milanov (who with others won in 2018 for 'Bones' performed by Equinox) are, respectively, past Press, Artistic and Composer Award winners.

Multi-award winners

Since the Bezençon Awards were first awarded at the 2002 Contest in Tallinn, four Eurovision entries have "done the double" and clinched two of the coveted trophies.

Alongside the aforementioned wins for 'Euphoria' and Loreen (Press and Artistic Awards, 2012) and 'Amar pelos dois' and Salvador Sobral (Artistic and Composer Awards, 2017), both The Common Linnets' 'Calm After the Storm' (Artistic and Composer Awards, 2014) and Barbara Pravi's 'Voilà' (Press and Artistic Awards, 2021).

But one entry has achieved “the triple crown”: Israel’s 2010 entry 'Milim' swept the awards ceremony, with soloist Harel Skaat and his team taking home all three trophies. Will another act repeat this feat in Liverpool?”

Most favoured nations

Given the Eurovision fortunes of competing nations in the 21 years since the introduction of the Bezençon Awards, the countries whose entries, performers and writers have enjoyed the most success should come hold few - if any - surprises.

Sweden, France, The Netherlands and Ukraine (in that order) are the awards tally leaders, with seven wins for the Scandinavian powerhouse, six for La belle France and four each for The "post-Anouk" Netherlands and 100%-qualification-record-holding Ukraine.

Whilst France has collected the most Press Awards - for 'Il faut du temps' (Sandrine François, 2002) and 'Mercy' (Madame Monsieur, 2018) in addition to 'Voilà' -, the other two categories are dominated by Sweden.

Swedish acts have won the Artistic Award on four occasions (Afro-dite in 2002; Carola with 'Invincible' in 2006; Loreen in 2012; and Måns Zelmerlöw in 2015), and the Swedish songwriting teams have scooped three Composer Awards (for 'You' in 2013 and 'Hold Me Closer' last year, as well as for the perennial Eurovision classic 'Euphoria').

Have any Aussies taken home a Bezençon?

Despite taking part in only seven Contests at which Bezençon Awards have been handed out, Australia has a pretty good record: entries from Down Under have claimed two trophies to date.

The first - a Composer Award - was given to founders of Australian songwriting and music production company DNA Songs, Anthony Egizii and David Musumeci, for Dami Im’s silver-medal-winning 'Sound of Silence' in 2016. Unsurprising really given how taken Eurovision fans were with the song, especially when performed live by the exquisite Ms Im.

Three years later, one of Australian Eurovision’s other queens, Kate Miller-Heidke, took out the Artistic Award for 'Zero Gravity' in Tel Aviv, reaching both vocal and actual highs with her jaw-dropping, pole-swaying, globe-encircling performance. Brava, KMH!

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