Denmark - A spotlight
Denmark’s first appearance at the Contest in 1957 marked them as the first Nordic Country to participate. Sweden joined a year later in 1958, Norway in 1960, Finland in 1961 and Iceland in 1986. Let's start at the beginning with their very first entry: 1957 - Birthe Wilke & Gustav Winckler - "Skibet skal sejle i nat" (The ship is leaving tonight) The country came in 3rd Place in 1957, with duo Birthe and Gustav. Birthe, a popular singer in Denmark in the 1950s and 1960s, and won a talent contest whilst in her teens, and was nicknamed the Danish Doris Day. It wasn’t her only venture into Eurovision, as she return as a soloist in 1959. Gustav was compared to Bing Crosby and was a popular singer, composer and music publisher. During the early 1950s, he toured and performed in England under the pseudonym, Sam Payne.
Denmark have won the competition on several occasions, firstly in 1963: 1963 - Grethe & Jørgen Ingmann – “Dansevise” (Dance ballad) Husband and wife duo secured Denmark’s first Eurovision victory with this jazz inspired number. This was the first entry won by a twosome and also the very first victory by a Nordic country. Grethe and Jørgen continued their musical partnership until 1975, when Grethe then tried (unsuccessfully) to represent Denmark again as a solo artist through pre-selections.
2000 – The Olsen Brothers – “Fly on the Wings of Love” Leaving quite a gap (37 years!) this was Denmark’s second Eurovision victory. Surprisingly, this entry wasn’t the bookies favourite to win! The Olsen Brothers (Jørgen & Niels) were the oldest contestants to win the Contest and had made a total of six previous attempts to get to Eurovision, via Denmark’s National Selection Show, Dansk Melodi Grand Prix. This uplifting song was co-written by Jørgen. Celebrity fans of the brothers include Cliff Richard and Björn Ulvaeus of Abba.
2013 – Emmelie de Forest – “Only Teardrops” Emmelie's entry is a Eurostarz favourite, which she performed beautifully when she appeared at the EuroStarz concert in 2016. Emmelie de Forest is a Danish singer-songwriter of partial Swedish descent as her father is Swedish. She represented Denmark with the song "Only Teardrops" in the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 in Malmö, Sweden, winning the contest! De Forest was one of ten acts that performed in the 2013 Dansk Melodi Grand Prix for a chance to represent Denmark at the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 in Malmö, Sweden with a total of 281 points, 47 points more than second-place finisher Farid Mammadov of Azerbaijan.
Denmark withdrew from the Contest and was absent for ten years from 1967 to 1977, because Niels Jørgen Kaiser, the then Head of Entertainment of Danish broadcaster, DR, did not consider Eurovision to be of value. However, upon retiring from his post, Denmark returned in 1978. Although not winners, here’s a few other highlights Denmark has given us over the years: 1989 – Birthe Kjaer – Vi Maler Byen Rød (We’re Painting the Town Red) – 3rd place This was Birthe’s fourth attempt to represent Denmark at the Contest. She previously entered the Danish National Finals, Dansk Melodi Grand Prix in 1980, 1986 and 1987, coming in second place all three times, and she came in third at a further appearance at the National Qualifiers in 1991. She has also hosted Dansk Melodi Grand Prix in 1990 and 2009.
2009 – Brink – Believe Again - 13th place Niels Brink is a Danish singer-songwriter. An interesting tidbit about this entry – Dutch singer, Jeroen van der Boom, part of the trio The Toppers who represented the Netherlands in the same Contest, has recorded a splendid Dutch version of this.
2018 – Rasmussen – Higher Ground – 9th place Jonas Rasmussen studied music at Aarhus University and works as a teacher in Performing Arts Colleges. Besides working part-time as a voice and performance coach, he has also been acting in musicals such as West Side Story and Les Misérables. Rasmussen’s song Higher Ground was written, composed, and produced by two Swedes Niclas Arn and Karl Eurén.
And finally this year's entry: 2021 – Fyr & Flamme - Øve os på hinanden This year's 80's inspired tune will be the first entry to be sung in Danish since 1997! Made up of Jesper Groth and Laurits Emanuel, they won Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2021 beating seven other competitors for the crown. They will sing “Øve os på hinanden” in the second half of the second semi-final on May 20th.