Sunday, 7 October 2012

Eurovision Song Contest 1998

 Dana International

Date: May 9, 1998
Venue: National Indoor Arena, Birmingham, UK
Presenters: Ulrika Jonsson, Terry Wogan
Orchestra: BBC Concert orchestra
Conductor: Martin Koch
Directors: Geoff Posner, Guy Freeman
Scruteneer: Christine Marchal-Ortiz
Host broadcaster: BBC
Price presenter: Katrina Leskanich
Interval act: Jupiter, The Bringer of Joviality
Duration: 3 hours, 1 minute
Number of entries: 25
Debuting countries: F.Y.R.Macedonia
Returning countries: Belgium, Finland, Israel, Romania, Slovakia
Withdrawing countries: Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Russia
Winning Song: Diva - Dana International, Israel
Voting system: Each country awarded 12, 10, 8-1 points to their 10 favourite songs



01. Croatia: Danijela - Neka mi ne svane (5th place, 131 points)
02. Greece: Thalassa - Mia krifi evesthisia (20th place, 12 points)
03. France: Marie Line - Où aller (24th place, 3 points)
04. Spain: Mikel Herzog - ¿Qué voy a hacer sin ti? (16th place, 21 points)
05. Switzerland: Gunvor - Lass ihn (25th place, 0 points)
06. Slovakia: Katarína Hasprová - Modlitba (21st place, 8 points)
07. Poland: Sixteen - To takie proste (17th place, 19 points)
08. Israel: Dana International - Diva (1st place, 172 points)
09. Germany: Guildo Horn - Guildo hat euch lieb! (7th place, 86 points)
10. Malta: Chiara - The one that I love (3rd place, 165 points)
11. Hungary: Charlie - A holnap már nem lesz szomorú (23rd place, 4 points)
12. Slovenia: Vili Resnik - Naj bogovi slišijo (18th place, 17 points)
13. Ireland: Dawn Martin - Is always over now (9th place, 64 points)
14. Portugal: alma Lusa - Se eu te pudesse abraçar (12th place, 36 points)
15. Romania: Mălina Olinescu - Eu cred (22nd place, 6 points)
16. UK: Imaani - Where are you (2nd place, 166 points)
17. Cyprus: Michalis Hadjiyiannis - Genesis (11th place, 37 points)
18. The Netherlands: Edsilia - Hemel en aarde (4th place, 150 points)
19. Sweden: Jill Johnson - Kärleken är (10th place, 53 points)
20. Belgium: Mélanie Cohl - Dis oui (6th place, 122 points)
21. Finland: Edea - Aava (15th place, 22 points)
22. Norway: Lars Fredriksen - Alltid sommer (8th place, 79 points)
23. Estonia: Koit Toome - Mere lapsed (12th place, 36 points)
24. Turkey: Tüzmen - Unutamazsin (14th place, 25 points)
25. F.Y.R. Macedonia: Vlado Janevski - Ne zori, zoro (19th place, 16 points)


The Eurovision Song Contest 1998 was the 43rd Eurovision Song Contest and was held on 9 May 1998 at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, England. The presenters were Terry Wogan and Ulrika Jonsson. Despite being one of the presenters, Terry Wogan still managed to provide his trademark comedy commentary to the contest for the BBC.

Dana International from Israel narrowly won this year's Eurovision, with the song Diva, written by Svika Pick and Yoav Ginai. The singer had attracted much media attention both in Israel and Europe since she had undergone gender reassignment in 1993, being the first openly transgender performer to enter the competition.


This year was notable for several reasons: this was the last year with an orchestra, the first year with mass televoting, and the last year with language restriction. The 1998 contest was also memorable because of the suspenseful voting, where the winner was decided on the last nation's 12 points. Greece, Germany, Slovenia, Switzerland, Malta, Israel and Belgium did not sing with an orchestra, they sang with fully backing tracks (although this did not stop both Germany and Slovenia presenting 'conductors' at the start of their performances). France utilised the violin section of the orchestra but as they did not bring a conductor of their own, no conductor was shown before their entry.


After the points from most of the countries were announced, it was clear that Israel, Malta, and the United Kingdom would be fighting for the top spot. Israel and Malta were apparently tied with 166 points after the penultimate vote (in fact, Spain's vote had been wrongly tallied and the real scores were Malta 165, Israel 164). Everything came down to the vote of Macedonia, who rewarded Israel with 8 points, United Kingdom 10, and in a twist awarded 12 points to Croatia not Malta, leaving Chiara to fall from first place to third. On the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel, Dana International brought the nation their third Song Contest victory. Also, Edsilia Rombley, who placed fourth with 150 points, ensured the best result for the Netherlands since their win in 1975.

For the second year in a row, at least one country went home empty-handed; Switzerland's Gunvor Guggisberg with her composition Lass Ihn failed to score a single point.

Other notable participants were Germany's Guildo Horn, whose shocking comedic act culminated in his climbing the scaffolding on the side of the stage. Controversially chosen to represent Germany, he was criticised for his lack of seriousness by the German press. However, after winning by 60% of the vote, the German people were firmly on Horn's side. Guildo-Fever spread throughout Germany during the weeks leading up to the contest, with Horn becoming front-page material in Germany. He was also noticed in countries around Europe, and the early criticism that had existed in Germany arose in those countries. Even though his 7th place was disappointing, to some Germans it was a revival for the contest in Germany, and was the beginning of 4 consecutive top-ten finishes.

Jill Johnson

Greece earned only 12 points, all of which came from Cyprus. After the contest, there was a correction made with the Spanish votes, who mistakenly awarded Germany zero points, rather than the 12 that were rightfully theirs.

In a BBC interview, future Eurovision entrant Nicki French said that one of her most memorable Eurovision moments was Ulrika's infamous faux pas during the voting. On hearing that the Dutch lady announcing the Netherlands' votes had previously been a contestant in Eurovision, Ulrika replied, "A long time ago, was it?" which was followed by much laughter and booing from the audience. In fact Conny van den Bos who sang for the Netherlands in 1965 said that she had gone to the contest many years ago; unfortunately for both Conny and Ulrika this wasn't heard above the noise of the audience. What was heard, however, was Ulrika's seemingly insulting comment.

Russia and Italy did not broadcast the event due to withdrawals. In 1998 the Russian broadcaster Channel One prepared to run internal preselections, but soon organisers realised that because of low average results in previous years Russia would not qualify to compete in 1998 (though there were rumours that Channel One had planned to name Tatyana Ovsienko as their representative, performing Solntse moyo). Because Russia did not participate, Channel One decided not to broadcast the 1998 contest. According to other sources Channel One had expected Channel Russia to broadcast the contest.

Mălina Olinescu


Spain originally gave its 12 points to Israel and 10 to Norway. After the broadcast it was announced that Spanish broadcaster wrongly tallied the votes and Germany should have got the top mark - 12 points - instead of being snubbed, as it happened. The mistake was corrected and so Germany was placed 7th over Norway. Israel and Norway both received 2 points less than originally and Croatia, Malta, Portugal, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium, Estonia and Turkey all received one point less than indicated during the broadcast.

With just one country left to vote, it was anyone's guess as to who was going to prevail, with Israel and Malta locked in battle with the scoreboard showing them with the same points total (although, due to the error above, Malta actually one point ahead), and the United Kingdom apparently nine points behind. When Macedonia came to award the decisive points, Israel was the first of the three contenders to be mentioned, receiving eight points. That was enough to knock the UK out of contention for victory, but left plenty of room for Israel to be overtaken by their principal rival. Next, the ten points went to the UK, nudging them into what looked like being an extremely fleeting spell in second place, since most of the audience assumed the twelve points were destined for Malta. Instead, there were gasps as Macedonia sent the final points of the evening to fellow Balkan nation Croatia, handing Israel their first win in the contest since "Hallelujah" in 1979.

It is also noteworthy that Israel only received points from 21 of the 24 other countries, whereas the United Kingdom received at least one point from every country, but finished second. Furthermore, whilst Israel received three sets of 12 points compared to Malta and the United Kingdom who both received four sets of 12 points, Israel received a seven sets of 10 points to help seal the win.

Michalis Hadjiyiannis

Participating countries

Macedonia, participating as Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, took part for the first time, after their 1996 entry did not make it past the internal selection by the EBU. Belgium, Finland, Israel, Romania and Slovakia all participated after their break from the previous year's contest; Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, Russia and Iceland could not participate because of their low average scores from the past five years. The Italian broadcaster, RAI, decided to withdraw from the contest, a move that would see Italy absent from the contest for 13 years before their return in 2011.

Returning artists

Two artists returned to the contest in 1998. Danijela represented Croatia in 1995 as a member of Magazin and José Cid, member of Alma Lusa, represented Portugal in 1980.

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