On 12th May 2023, as Eurofans were eagerly anticipating the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest, they were treated to a surprise announcement: former Eurovision powerhouse Luxembourg confirmed they would be returning to the contest in 2024 for the first time in 30 years! As we await confirmation of how they will select their 2024 entry, let’s take a look at Luxembourg’s history in the competition.
1956-1983: The Golden Years
Despite being a small landlocked country (2021 census records estimate a population of 643,941), the early years of Luxembourg are marked by success. With the exception of 1959, they have participated in every Eurovision Song Contest from 1956-1993 and have accumulated five wins alongside the Netherlands, United Kingdom and France, second only to Ireland and Sweden.
Initially, Luxembourg sent songs in French but took a gamble in 1961, sending Camillo Felgen‘s ‘So laang we’s du do bast’ in Luxembourgish. Unfortunately it was not a gamble that paid off: the song finished in last place and only received one point from the juries. Luxembourg quickly reverted to sending songs in French for the 1962 contest and it was here they received their first win with ‘Nous les amoureux’ by French comedy actor and singer Jean-Claude Pascal. The lyrics describe a thwarted relationship, rejected by others and Pascal (himself a gay man) would later explain the lyrics were about a homosexual relationship but could not explicitly refer to the lovers’ genders due to homosexuality being illegal in the 1960s. You can listen to the song below:
Luxembourg would host the 1962 contest in Luxembourg City (as they did with four of their five wins) and again sent Camillo Felgen, albeit with a song in French, ‘Petit bonhomme’. He would finish in a respectable third place this time.
Fast forward three years and 1965 saw Luxembourg secure their second win, this time with 17-year-old France Gall‘s ‘Poupée de cire, poupée de son’. The song was penned by world-renowned French singer-songwriter and composer Serge Gainsbourg and also made history for being the first pop song to win the Eurovision Song Contest. You can listen to it below:
Luxembourg would again make history in the 1970s when they won in 1972 and again in 1973. Although Spain had won back-to-back contests in 1968 and 1969, their 1969 victory was famously shared with three other countries, meaning Luxembourg are the first country to have won back-to-back on home ground exclusively. While 1972’s entry ‘Après toi’ was another French song, the song was sang by Vicky Leandros and co-written by her father Leo Leandros, both of whom are Greek. You can listen to the song below:
It was back to Luxembourg City in 1973 and the winning entry ‘Tu te reconnaîtras’ was the only winner to have some local involvement, with conductor Pierre Cao being Luxembourgish. This win would also mark the only time Luxembourg opted not to host following a win, citing the financial pressures of hosting the contest two years in a row. You can listen to ‘Tu te reconnaîtras’ below:
A decade later, Luxembourg secured their fifth and final win at Eurovision, this time with Parisian singer Corinne Hermès and her song ‘Si la vie est cadeau’, bringing them to an equal number of victories with neighbouring France. You can listen to the song below:
1984-1993: A Downward Turn and Withdrawal
In 1984, Luxembourg again elected to host the contest in Luxembourg City but unfortunately they did not have the same success as in the previous decade. While Sophie Carle finished a somewhat respectable 10th place with her song ‘100% d’amour’, this marked a shift in fortunes for the country previously regarded as a Eurovision powerhouse. 1986 saw Sherisse Laurence earn third place with ‘L’amour de me vie’, leaving some hopeful that Luxembourg were back on form. However, their 1987 entry ‘Amour, amour’ by Plastic Bertrand saw the country second-to-last on the leaderboard.
By the 1990s, Luxembourg’s history of success at Eurovision was looking like a distant dream which potentially led to a switch in tactics. Having not sent an entry in Luxembourgish since 1960, they would try again in 1992 with ‘Sou fräi‘ by Marion Welter and Kontinent. In 1993, their entry ‘Donne-moi une chance’ contained both French and Luxembourgish and was performed by the band Modern Times, who were Luxembourg nationals. Unfortunately, the songs would place 21st and 20th in their respective contests.
More misfortune was set to strike Luxembourg: with an increasing amount of countries wishing to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest, the EBU decided that in 1994 the bottom seven countries in 1993 would be forbidden to take part in that year’s contest, meaning they were out. This was the final straw for Luxembourg. Having not enjoyed success in Eurovision for some time, they ultimately withdrew from the competition.
The Return of Luxembourg
Despite rumours swirling since 2004 that Luxembourg wished to return, they have never come to fruition until recently, with financial strains usually being cited as the main reason for Luxembourg’s absence. However, in December 2022 it was announced that Luxembourgish prime minister Xavier Bettel was interested in returning the country to the contest and had even assembled a government team to ensure this happened. However, their sudden announcement in May that they would be returning for the 2024 contest still came as a shock to many.
It seems that Luxembourg are really throwing themselves back into the spirit of Eurovision, with Luxembourgish broadcaster RTL confirming they will broadcast the shows live with local commentary. The government have also confirmed they have scope to host the contest in 2025, indicating they don’t just have their sights set on participating in 2024 but on winning the contest too. Could we see Luxembourg trying to catch up with Ireland and Sweden next year?
In a recent article by RTL Today, it was confirmed that we can expect information about Luxembourg’s selection process on Monday 3rd July, with the publication reporting:
A national selection will be organised to determine the country’s participant on the Eurovision stage. While the specific criteria have yet to be disclosed, the conditions required to be a candidate will be unveiled on 3 July.
RTL, the official partner of the competition, will be entrusted with the responsibility of conducting the selections.
The government has indicated that the candidate must have “a Luxembourgish cultural background,” which implies that international candidates may also be considered.RTL Today
Due to Luxembourg’s small size, they have historically selected entrants internally and mainly from France. However, there have been entrants from all over the world, including Ireland, Belgium and Canada! Will Luxembourg internally select a local artist or could we see a national final that allows artists from around the world to participate, like Una Voce Per San Marino? Watch this space to find out and don’t forget to follow our socials.
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