Eurovision Song Contest 1996

The Eurovision Song Contest 1996 was the 41st edition of the annual Eurovision Song Contest. It took place in Oslo, Norway, following Secret Garden's win at the 1995 contest in Dublin, Ireland with the song "Nocturne".

It was held on 18 May 1996 in Oslo Spektrum. The presenters were Morten Harket and Ingvild Bryn. Harket, lead singer of a-ha, opened the show with a performance of his single "Heaven's Not for Saints", which was a hit in Norway at the time. Twenty-three countries participated in the contest, with Eimear Quinn of Ireland crowned the winner after the final voting, with the song, "The Voice". The song was written by Brendan Graham, who also composed the 1994 winner "Rock 'n' Roll Kids". It was also a record seventh win for Ireland and the most recent win of Ireland.

A non-televised audio-only pre-qualification round was organised by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), in order to shortlist the number of participating nations that would compete in the televised final from twenty-nine, to a more manageable twenty-three. , , , , , , and all failed to qualify. Macedonia eventually went on to make their debut in . The 1996 contest remains the only Eurovision without a German entry at the Grand Final of the contest.


Oslo is the capital and the most populous city in Norway. It constitutes both a county and a municipality. For the first time, the Norwegian capital hosted the contest. This was the second time the event was staged in Norway, after the 1986 contest in Bergen.

Oslo Spektrum, a multi-purpose indoor arena, was chosen as the host venue. Opened in December 1990, it is primarily known for hosting major events such as the annual Nobel Peace Prize Concert and concerts by artists of national and international fame


The European Broadcasting Union continued to experiment in their efforts to find a broadly acceptable method of whittling down the large number of potential participating countries to a more realistic figure. This year, they reverted to the pre-qualifying round that had been used for the , but this time with just one country exempt from the process - the host Norway. The audio-only pre-qualification round, which was never televised or broadcast on radio, was used by the EBU in order to shortlist the number of participating nations that would compete in the televised final. With exception to the hosts , audio entries from twenty-nine countries were played to national juries, of which only twenty-two proceeded to the televised final in Oslo. , , , , , , and all failed to qualify. As a result, Macedonia's submission was never classified as a debut entry by the EBU, the nation eventually went on to make their official televised debut in .

It rapidly became evident that this system was no more sustainable than any other the EBU had tried, as it meant that several countries had gone through their traditional full-blown national selection procedure to come up with an entry, only to suffer the anti-climax of having their challenge quietly extinguished without even having had the opportunity of presenting the song to an international audience. As a leading financial contributor to the contest, Germany were particularly aggrieved that their entry, the techno song "Planet of Blue" performed by Leon, was one of the seven cast aside. It was the only year in the history of the ESC in which Germany did not participate in the final.

The 1996 contest also featured two novelties — which similarly failed to become a tradition — firstly a short 'good luck message' for each entry, recorded by a political leader or official from their country. The seniority of the figure who delivered the message varied wildly from country to country, ranging from Presidents and Prime Ministers on one end of the spectrum to junior ministers or ambassadors on the other, but a few very significant European political figures did appear, including long-serving Swedish premier Göran Persson, President Alija Izetbegović of Bosnia and Herzegovina and future UN Secretary-General António Guterres, then Prime Minister of Portugal. But of course the only good luck wish that was fully rewarded in the end was that of Irish Taoiseach John Bruton, who introduced the song that took his country to a fourth win in five years.

Secondly, the voting section was conducted using "blue screen" virtual reality technology provided by Silicon Graphics. The host Ingvild Bryn introduced the viewers to the 'blue room', upon which a 3D scoreboard, views of the green room, the jury spokespersons and country graphics appeared. The only physical aspects were Ingvild herself and two podiums. For the first time in the Eurovision history, during the voting a spokesperson came to stage (exactly the blue room) down next to Ingvild: the Norwegian one, Ragnhild Sælthun Fjørtoft.


Each performance had a conductor who maestro the orchestra.

  • Levent Çoker
  • Ernie Dunstall
  • Eduardo Leiva
  • Pedro Osório
  • Stavros Lantsias
  • Paul Abela
  • Alan Bjelinski
  • Mischa W. Krausz
  • Rui dos Reis
  • Michael Rozakis
  • Tarmo Leinatamm
  • Frode Thingnæs
  • Fiachra Trench
  • Jože Privšek
  • Dick Bakker
  • – Bob Porter
  • Noel Kelehan
  • Olli Ahvenlahti
  • Ólafur Gaukur
  • Wiesław Pieregorólka
  • Sinan Alimanović
  • Juraj Burian
  • Anders Berglund

    Returning artists

    Pre-qualifying round

    Countries listed below submitted entries for the audio-only pre-qualification round, which was never televised, and was used by the EBU in order to shortlist the number of participating nations that would compete in the televised final. Despite a submitted entry from Macedonia, it was never classified as an official debut entry, although the nation would eventually make their official televised debut in .


    Voting structure

    Each country had a jury that awarded 12, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 point(s) for their top ten songs. One year later, televoting would be introduced in only some countries, such as Sweden and the United Kingdom. When Belén Fernández de Henestrosa, the Spanish spokesperson, announced the votes of the Spanish jury, she awarded two points to "Czechoslovakia" (while meaning 'Slovakia'). Furthermore, she awarded six points to "Holland" (the Netherlands), which host Ingvild Bryn misheard as "Poland." The official results table corrected this error, and the Netherlands' seventh-place result was restored at the expense of the United Kingdom, who ultimately finished eighth. Because originally Poland awarded six points from Spain, Greece was placed 14th over Poland after the official results table corrected this error. Norway's entry, "I evighet", is notable for being the only runner-up not to receive a single "12 points" score in a Eurovision final since the current voting method was introduced in 1975.

    Score sheet

    Pre-qualifying round

    12 points

    Below is a summary of all 12 points in the pre-qualifying round.


    12 points

    Below is a summary of all 12 point in the final:

    Qualification for the 1997 contest

    In addition to the host country of the 1997 contest, Ireland, the 23 countries with the highest average scores between 1993 and 1996 were allowed to take part in the Eurovision Song Contest 1997.

    Automatic qualifier
    Replacement qualifier

    Good luck wishes

    In 1996 all contestants were wished good luck by a politician from their own country in their own language. Those wishes were shown right before their performance. This was the only year in Eurovision with such wishes. These are the people who wished their country's participant good luck (language in parentheses):

  • - Süleyman Demirel, President of Turkey (Turkish)
  • - Virginia Bottomley, UK Secretary of State for National Heritage (English)
  • - Don Alberto Escudero Claramunt, Spanish ambassador (Spanish)
  • - António Guterres, Prime Minister of Portugal (Portuguese)
  • - Glafkos Klerides, President of Cyprus (Greek)
  • - Edward Fenech Adami, Prime Minister of Malta (Maltese)
  • - Zlatko Mateša, Prime Minister of Croatia (Croatian)
  • - Elisabeth Gehrer, Federal Minister of Education, Science and Culture of Austria (German)
  • - Michel Coquoz, Swiss Chargé d'affaires (French)
  • - Caterína Dimaki, Greek Chargé d'affaires (Greek)
  • - Tiit Vähi, Prime Minister of Estonia (Estonian)
  • - Gro Harlem Brundtland, Prime Minister of Norway (Norwegian)
  • - Philippe Douste-Blazy, Minister of Culture of France (French)
  • - Milan Kučan, President of Slovenia (Slovene)
  • - Aad Nuis, State Secretary of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands (Dutch)
  • - Luc Van den Brande, Prime Minister of Flanders (Dutch)
  • - John Bruton, Taoiseach (Prime Minister of Ireland) (English)
  • - Riitta Uosukainen, Speaker of Parliament of Finland (Finnish)
  • - Davíð Oddsson, Prime Minister of Iceland (Icelandic)
  • - Aleksander Kwaśniewski, President of Poland (Polish)
  • - Alija Izetbegović, Chairmen of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosnian)
  • - Vladimír Mečiar, Prime Minister of Slovakia (Slovak)
  • - Göran Persson, Prime Minister of Sweden (Swedish)

    International broadcasts and voting

    Voting and spokespersons

    The spokespersons announced the score from their respective country's national jury in running order.

    # - Ömer Önder # - Colin Berry # - Belén Fernández de Henestrosa # - Cristina Rocha # - Marios Skordis # - Ruth Amaira # - Daniela Trbović # - Martina Rupp # - Yves Ménestrier # - Niki Venega # - Annika Talvik # - Ragnhild Sælthun Fjørtoft # - Laurent Broomhead # - Mario Galunič # - Marcha (Dutch representative in ) # - An Ploegaerts # - Eileen Dunne # - Solveig Herlin # - Svanhildur Konráðsdóttir # - Jan Chojnacki # - Segmedina Srna # - Alena Heribanová # - Ulla Rundqvist


    Most countries sent commentators to Oslo or commented from their own country, in order to provide coverage of the contest, such as add insight to the participants.

  • – Ernst Grissemann (ORF1); Stermann & Grissemann (FM4)
  • Dutch: Michel Follet and Johan Verstreken (BRTN TV1), Guy De Pré and Bart Pieters (BRTN Radio 2) French: Jean-Pierre Hautier and Sandra Kim (RTBF La Une); Alain Gerlache and Adrien Joveneau (RTBF La Première)
  • – Sead Bejtović (TVBiH)
  • – Aleksandar "Aco" Kostadinov (HRT 1); Draginja Balaš (HR 2)
  • – Evi Papamichail (RIK 1); Pavlos Pavlou (CyBC Radio 2)
  • – Jüri Pihel (Eesti Televisioon); Marko Reikop (Raadio 2)
  • Erkki Pohjanheimo and Sanna Kojo (YLE TV1); Iris Mattila and Pasi Hiihtola (YLE Radio Suomi)
  • Olivier Minne (France 2); Laurent Boyer (France Inter)
  • Dafni Bokota (ET1); Giorgos Mitropoulos (ERA ERT1)
  • Jakob Frímann Magnússon (Sjónvarpið); Jakob Frímann Magnússon
  • Pat Kenny (RTÉ One); Larry Gogan (RTÉ Radio 1)
  • – Charles Saliba (TVM)
  • Willem van Beusekom (Nederland 1); Hijlco Span (Radio 2)
  • Jostein Pedersen (NRK 1); Stein Dag Jensen and Anita Skorgan (NRK P1)
  • – Dorota Osman (TVP1)
  • – Maria Margarida Gaspar (RTP1)
  • – Stanislav Ščepán (STV2)
  • Miša Molk (SLO1)
  • José Luis Uribarri (TVE1)
  • Björn Kjellman (SVT1), Claes-Johan Larsson and Lisa Syrén (SR P3)
  • German: Sandra Studer (SF DRS), French: Pierre Grandjean (TSR), Italian: Joanne Holder (TSI)
  • Bülend Özveren (TRT 1); Ümit Tunçağ (TRT Radyo 3)
  • Terry Wogan (BBC1); Ken Bruce (BBC Radio 2)

    Non-participating countries

  • – N/A (SBS TV)
  • Jørgen de Mylius (DR TV1); Camilla Miehe-Renard (DR P3)
  • – Ulf Ansorge (WDR Fernsehen/N3); Thomas Mohr (Deutschlandfunk/NDR 2)
  • István Vágó (MTV2)
  • – No commentator
  • Vlado Janevski (MTV 1)
  • - Doina Caramzulescu and Costin Grigore (TVR1)
  • – Vadim Dolgachev (RTR)
  • – Mladen Popović (RTS2) (one day later)

    National jury members

  • Melih Kibar, Sonat Bağcan, Erol Evgin, Nursal Tekin, Merter Beton
  • – James Cohen, Kevin Pilley
  • Montserrat Marial (businesswoman), Juan Diego Arranz (psychologist and teacher), Elvira Quintillá (actress), Álvaro de Luna (actor), Mónica Pont (actress), Mikel Herzog (singer, future Spanish entrant in the Eurovision Song Contest 1998), María Mayor (model), José María Purón (composer), Anabel Conde (singer, Spanish entrant in the Eurovision Song Contest 1995), José Sancho (actor), Asunción Embuena (TV hostess), Pedro Bermúdez "Azuquita" (singer), Adriana Vega (actress), Antonio Pinilla (student), Mabel Alfonso (singer and composer), Manuel Redondo (make-up artist and gemologist)
  • Nucha, Jan van Dijck, Pedro Miguéis
  • Elias Antoniades, Marios Kalotychos
  • Adrian Muscat Inglott
  • Agni Hatzikotaki, Antonis Papaioannou, Litsa Sakellariou, Giannis Dimitras (singer, Greek entrant in the Eurovision Song Contest 1981), Andreas Hatziapostolou, Spiros Papavasiliou, Stamatis Mazaris, Nikos Tsolakis, Artemi Plessa, Sofia-Marina Athanasiou, Eleni-Zina Bilisi, Sokratis Rousopoulos, Kiriaki Tzekou, Nikolaos Papanikolaou, Ioannis Trahanas, Panagiota Kesari
  • Urmas Lattikas (Estonian conductor in the Eurovision Song Contest 1994)
  • Coot van Doesburgh, Frank Wetsteyn, Miron Komarnicki, Bart de Wit
  • Villemarkus Elorinne, Maarit Hurmerinta
  • Paul Oscar (future Icelandic entrant in the Eurovision Song Contest 1997), Reynir Þór Eggertsson
  • Justyna (Polish entrant in the Eurovision Song Contest 1995), Kayah, Grzegorz Ciechowski, Ewa Bem, Urszula
  • Helena Krajčiová, Martin Hudec, Dana Gavaľová, Radovan Slaninka, Dagmar Livorová, Juraj Žák, Daniel Kucej, Štefan Baksa, Eva Tunegová, Pavel Zajáček, Terézia Vojtková, Mária Puškárová, Marta Kružíková, Jozef Ďurďina, Beáta Hanulíková, Anton Vranka

    Notes and references