Who *Are* The Winners of Eurovision? A Statistical Analysis
Throughout the Eurovision Song Contest’s 64-year history there have been a total of 67 winners. And there's been no shortage of diversity amongst those victors: to quote Dana’s Eurovision 1970 winning entry, the Contest really has offered ‘All Kinds of Everything’.
From club bangers to romantic duets, from a monster metal band, to a 13-year-old girl, all manner of entries and entrants have secured victory at Eurovision. But which format is the most likely to be successful?
Here at Aussievision, we’ve crunched the numbers and discovered the following.
Of the 67 winning acts, 50 of them (75%) have been soloists, six (9%) duos, and eleven (16%) groups (an act consisting of 3 or more artists/musicians for the purposes of this article).
In addition, 15 winners have been male (i.e. a male soloist or a duo or group consisting of men only), 40 female and twelve duos/groups of mixed gender. This equates to a 22% victory percentage for men, a 60% winning record for women and an 18% success rate for mixed-gender acts. (N.B. We have included Conchita Wurst in the female winners, even though Conchita herself is a stage persona of Tom Neuwirth, a male.)
Although a less than 1 in 4 chance of a man winning Eurovision on his own or with another man or men are not fantastic odds, today's male Eurovision hopefuls should at least be thankful that they were not competing in the Contest's early years.
The Beginnings of Eurovision: The Ladies’ Club
Over the first 18 years of the Eurovision Song Contest’s history, there were 21 winners (thanks to the four-way tie of 1969). Of those 21 winners, three (14%) were male, one (5%) was a mixed-gender duo and the other 17 (a whopping 81%) were female.
Those percentages were influenced not least by the fact that all four winners in 1969 (Frida Bocara, Lenny Kuhr, Lulu and Salomé) were women, forming part of a seven-year period of female domination from 1967 to 1973. All three Contests won by male singers in this era were also in years with high levels of female entrants, perhaps lending credence to the idea that the men won by standing out from the rest.
[From left to right: Lulu, Salomé, 1968's winner Massiel, Frida Bocara and Lenny Kuhr]
A massive 95% of all winners over this time period were solo artists, with only one duo lifting the Eurovision trophy at the end of the night. This was - in part - a result of the rules in the Contest's early years, but things were about to change.
1974-1984: The ABBA Effect
Although a rule change introduced in 1971 allowed up to six people to perform on the Eurovision stage, it was not until 1974 that one such larger group managed to triumph.
ABBA’s win in the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with the song ‘Waterloo’ was nothing short of groundbreaking. The impact of the Swedish group’s momentous victory was so great that it inspired countries from all over Europe (and Israel) to send their own groups to the contest to try their luck at topping the scoreboard.
From 1974 to 1984 seven of the eleven Eurovision winners were groups, including Teach-In from The Netherlands, two groups from the United Kingdom (Brotherhood of Man and Bucks Fizz) and two Israeli groups (Izhar Cohen & the Alphabeta and Milk and Honey).
1985-2014: Girl Power 2.0
The early-established trend of female domination would continue for the next 30 years of the Contest. Of those 30 winners, 18 (60%) were female, seven (23%) male and five (17%) acts of mixed gender. In addition, 21 (70%) of the winners were soloists, five (17%) duos and four (13%) groups. These percentages are more in line with the overall pattern of Eurovision winners outlined in the introduction to this article.
During this period, male artists (or groups/duos led by men) achieved at most two consecutive wins, whereas the longest spell of girl power extended from 1995 to 1999. Female soloists were also victorious each year for a further four-year period, from 2002 to 2005.
[From left to right: Eurovision winners from 2002-2005, Marie N, Sertab Erener, Ruslana, and Helena Paparizou]
Moreover, it's clear from the televote results that TV audiences certainly loved the ladies, as this was the primary method of voting from 1997 to 2008 when women most often achieved Eurovision glory. Over that twelve-year period, seven (58%) of the winners were female, two (17%) were mixed groups and the remaining three (25%) were male.
Since 2015 there has been an alternating pattern of winners between the genders, although one thing has remained constant: all the winning acts have been solo artists. This perhaps bodes well for Australia's 2021 entrant Montaigne who, as a female soloist, fits the bill of a statistically likely Eurovision-winning act, if the gender/act composition statistics and previous patterns continue.
But where are the groups?
Since 2012 only soloists have triumphed at Eurovision, and a group with more than three members has not won since Lordi’s victory for Finland in 2006 with 'Hard Rock Hallelujah'. Given that three groups were the hot favourites for the 2020 contest before its cancellation, namely Iceland’s Daði og Gagnamagnið, Russia’s Little Big and Lithuania’s The Roop (see image above), will 2021 be the time for another group to shine and beat the overwhelming odds to win in Rotterdam next year?
Only time will tell.