Denmark has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 44 times since its debut in 1957. Having competed in ten consecutive contests until 1966, Denmark was absent for eleven consecutive contests from 1967-1977. Since 1978, they have been absent from only four contests. Denmark has won the contest three times.
Birthe Wilke and Gustav Winckler placed third at the country's first attempt in 1957. Denmark then won the contest for the first time in 1963 with the song "Dansevise" performed by Grethe & Jørgen Ingmann. The country would not return to the top five for over twenty years, until Hot Eyes finished fourth in 1984. Hot Eyes then finished third in 1988, as did Birthe Kjær in 1989. In the 1990s, due to poor performances in the previous years, the nation was eliminated from taking part in three contests (1994, 1996, 1998). They did make the top ten three times (1990, 1995, 1999), with Aud Wilken's fifth place in 1995 being Denmark's only top five result of the decade.
Denmark achieved its best result for nine years at the 2010 contest, when Chanée & N'evergreen finished fourth. A Friend in London then finished fifth in 2011. Denmark won the contest for the third time in 2013, with Only Teardrops performed by Emmelie de Forest. This is Denmark's highest scoring song ever with 281 points and Denmark has placed in the top five a total of 14 times and has an average score of 65.261 points. Denmark is, along with Sweden, the only country with two wins in the 21st century.
Denmark first participated at the Eurovision Song Contest 1957, held in Frankfurt, Germany. The country had intended to compete at the first contest in 1956, but had submitted its application past the deadline and was, therefore, not allowed to compete. Denmark was the first Nordic country to take part in the contest, with Sweden, Norway and Finland following soon after. Iceland, however, did not take part until 1986.
Denmark's first participants were Birthe Wilke and Gustav Winckler, who sang the song "Skibet skal sejle i nat" (English: The Ship Will Be Leaving Tonight). Their performance was controversial as, at the end of the song, the couple performed an 11-second kiss, which caused outcry in some countries. Nevertheless, the performance achieved a respectable 3rd place.
Denmark won the contest for the first time in 1963, when Grethe and Jørgen Ingmann sang "Dansevise" (Dance Ballad). The victory, however, was controversial. When Norway announced its votes, the presenter Katie Boyle could not hear the spokesperson and said that she would call them again later later. Viewers around Europe, however, did hear the Norwegian spokesperson, and when Boyle called the Norwegian spokesperson again, the votes had been changed, changing the outcome of the contest and giving the victory to Denmark at the expense of Switzerland. In fact, the reason why Norway had to announce its votes again was that the Norwegian spokesperson did not follow the right procedure the first time and, therefore, there was doubt whether he gave the correct votes on the first occasion.
The final result was valid and the victory went to Denmark. Accordingly, in 1964, the contest was held in Denmark for the first time.
After the 1966 contest and a record low 14th place, Denmark withdrew from the contest, as DR´s new head of entertainment Niels Jørgen Kaiser did not view the contest as being quality entertainment. Dansk Melodi Grand Prix was not held from that year onwards.
However, in the 1978 contest, after 11 years' absence, and following Niels Jørgen Kaisers departure from DR, Denmark returned to the contest, represented by Mabel and the song "Boom Boom".
Denmark's most successful time at the contest came between 1984 and 1990, with the country reaching the top eight in six out of seven contests, including four top-five placings. The duo of Hot Eyes represented the nation three times during this period. In 1984, they sang the song "Det' lige det" (That's Just It) and finished fourth. In 1985, they became the first and, as of 2014, only act to represent Denmark in two consecutive years. Singing "Sku' du spørg' fra no'en?" (What Business Is It Of Yours?), they could not repeat their success of the previous year and came 11th. In 1988, Hot Eyes represented Denmark again with "Ka' du se hva' jeg sa'?" (Didn't I Tell You So?). The duo scored its best result to date, finishing in third place, losing only to Celine Dion and Scott Fitzgerald. Denmark's other good results during this time were sixth place for Lise Haavik in 1986, fifth for Anne-Cathrine Herdorf & Bandjo in 1987, third for Birthe Kjaer in 1989 and eighth for Lonnie Devantier in 1990.
After 1990, Denmark fell from its high positions of the 1980s and was relegated from the contest on three occasions in the 1990s. In 1993, Tommy Seebach, who had previously represented Denmark in 1979 and 1981, finished 22nd, resulting Denmark being relegated from the contest in 1994. Aud Wilken sang "Fra Mols til Skagen" for the nation at the 1995 contest and came 5th, but this high placing could not be repeated in 1996, as Denmark's entry, "Kun med dig" sung by Dorthe Andersen and Martin Loft, did not qualify from the pre-qualifying round of the contest. In 1998, Denmark was once again relegated from the contest following a poor result in 1997.
However, since the introduction of semifinals in 2004, Denmark has qualified for the final on 9 out of 12 occasions. Another string of successful participations started in 2010, when Denmark finished 4th with "In a Moment Like This" performed by Chanée and n'evergreen. A year later, Denmark finished 5th with "New Tomorrow" performed by the band A Friend In London, and in 2013, Denmark won the contest for the third time, when Emmelie de Forest represented the country with the song "Only Teardrops". In 2014, Denmark reached the top ten for the fourth time in five years, when Basim finished ninth. However, the success did not continue into 2015, as Denmark failed to qualify for the grand final that year.
a. ^ In 1996 Denmark failed to qualify for the contest. There was an audio only pre-qualification round for all countries (excluding hosts Norway). The official Eurovision site does not count 1996 in Denmark's list of appearances.
b. If a country had won the previous year, they did not have to compete in the semi-finals the following year. In addition from 2004-2007, the top ten countries who were not members of the big four did not have to compete in the semi-finals the following year. If, for example, Germany and France placed inside the top ten, the countries who placed 11th and 12th were advanced to the following year's grand final along with the rest of the top ten countries.