Between 1993 and the inception of the semi final in 2004 the EBU were constantly tinkering with the format of the show to try and accommodate the ever increasing number of nations wishing to take part. In 1996 they experimented with an audio-only pre-qualifying round whereby national juries voted on the 29 countries hopeful of competing, and all but the bottom seven songs went on to join hosts Norway in the final.
Unfortunately for Germany their entry that year, Leon’s Planet Of Blue, was one of the seven rejected songs. It was the first time Germany hadn’t taken part in the contest and was the main reason this particular selection method was never used again.
For most Brits the biggest surprise of 1996 was how poorly Gina G’s Ooh Aah Just A Little Bit fared in the final – it had already topped the UK chart and was beginning to make waves in America too. Voted 3rd in the audio pre-selection round, it finished a disappointing 8th on the night. On reflection, though, maybe a bigger surprise was the performance of Sveta Ljubav by Maja Blagdan: it placed a lowly 19th in the preselection, its 30 point total a mere four from relegation, however in the final it romped home in fourth place, a position Croatia has equalled on only one occasion since.