What is this all fuss about?

62. 42. 5. 13. 26. – no, those are not the winning numbers in the next jackpot draw but crucial numbers of this year Eurovision Song Contest which took place on 13th May in Kyiv, Ukraine. This year’s slogan was #celebratediversity.

The Background

Marcel Bezencon, a Swiss entrepreneur, suggested the idea of Eurovision Song Contest based on the famous Sanremo Music Festival which is held in Italy.  The idea was to create an international TV programme – a song contest – in which European countries will participate. At the same time it was perceived as a big technological experiment in life broadcasting.

Finally, on 24th May 1956 the first contest was held in Lugano, Switzerland. Seven countries took part, each presenting two songs. It was the only contest in which more than two songs per country were performed. Switzerland won and since 1957 only one song per country is allowed.

The Rules

  • Each country taking part in the contest is allowed to sing one song live. Maximum six people performing and song maximum three minutes in lenghth, not released before 1 September of the year preceeding. No live instruments are allowed and no entirely instrumental composition has ever been allowed.
  • The song must be original in terms of songwiritng and instrumentation.
  • Grand Final is limited to 26 songs; they consist of:
    – the ‘Big Five‘ – German, Italy, Sapin, France, United Kingdom – the largest economic contributors,
    – the host country – the winner of last year competition,
    – 10 qualifiers from semi-final 1 which is held on Tuesday before the Grand Final,
    – 10 qualifiers from semi-final 2 which is held on Thursday before the Grand Final.
  • Performers must be 16 and older and countries can be represented by artists who are not nationals of that country.
  • The language. Since the first Contest the rule concerning the language of the songs was changes a few times. Since 1999 the songs may be performed in any language. As a result, great majority of the songs presented in the Grand Final are partially or completely in English. Free language rule was fully used by Belgium (“Sanomi”) in 2003 and the Netherlands (“O Julissi”) in 2006 who used artificial language especially created for the song.
  • After all songs have been performed, each country is asked to give two set of 1 to 8, 10 to 12 points One set is given by five music industry professionals (jury) and the second by the viewers at home who are voting by mobiles (SMS or official app).
  • Voting for your own country is prohibited.
  • In the Grand Final, the jury and the viewers  from all 42 participating countries can vote after the performance of 26 finalists.
  • The winner will perform again and take home the glass microphone trophy.

Australia… wait… what?

No, you’re not going crazy – Australia definitely isn’t in Europe. Nevertheless, since 2015, the singers from the other side of the Ocean started taking part. Austarlia was invited in a gesture of good will for the 60th anniversary of the Contest which theme was ‘Building Bridges’. Guy Sebastian was welcomed with open arms yet mainly because it was suppose to be a one-off event. Australians found another exuse to take part in the Contest again.

“The simple fact is, Australia’s host TV broadcaster SBS is part of the European Broadcasting Union, otherwise known as the EBU. And this is a qualification requirement for entering the Eurovision Song Contest. So that’s why we’ll see them in May.” a  former Bake Off host Mel Giedroyc explained on BBC’s Eurovision: You Decide.

Unlike in 2015, Australia will not receive automatic qualification for the next Eurovision Song Contests.

Why do we even bother?

Eurovision Song Contest in 2016 was seen by more than 200 million viewers.

“We are thrilled that the Eurovision Song Contest continues to grow its audience and now reaches over 200 million people around the world,” the EBU’s Director General Ingrid Deltenre said. (source: https://eurovision.tv/story/eurovision-song-contest-attracts-204-million-viewers).

It’s the 62nd edition of Eurovision Song Contest. And even if it seems to be quite similar every year, people still watch it and want to see who will be the winner of (most probably) the most popular Song Contest in Europe. Sometimes boring, sometimes surprising but still we find the time to sit and stay for around three hours in front of the TV. Unconventional performances are definitely another reason why we watch Eurovision with open eyes. All of us remeber Lordi with “Hard Rock Hallelujah” from 2006 and Conchita Wurst with “Rise Like a Phoenix” from 2014 – both winning performances. We love to feel the thrill when the points are given after the all performances. Will the countries support their neighbours or really give the 12 points to the best song?

We like watching Eurovision because it’s a tradition and we are simply curious to see what kind of music our country is competing with. What’s more, it’s fun to comment and make fun of the Eurovision songs. In the last few years Eurovision became less of a song contest and more a way to entertain people. And that’s a fact.

Eurovision 2018 will be held in Lisbon, Portugal for the first time thanks to Salvador Sobral who won this year with “Amar Pelos Dois”. After announcing the results, Salvador said:

Nowadays there is just music without a content. Music is not fireworks, music is a feeling.

Let’s hope that will be the slogan for artistis performing next year in the capital of Portugal.

Beata Jaranowska

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