Eurovision 2016

It’s probably expected that anyone writing for a mostly American audience explain what the world’s largest song competition is about when discussing Eurovision.


Think of “March Madness”, the national college basketball championship tournament. Picture the fan following, the media coverage, the statistical analyses, and even the betting. Now imagine that instead of basketball, it’s all about a “Battle of the Bands”.

That’s what Eurovision is like in Europe.

This year, forty-three countries have submitted entries. Though the actual competition isn’t until mid-May, all the official videos for the songs have been released. You can easily find them on YouTube or the Eurovision website; I won’t link to them here. But I will note that the videos rarely have anything to do with the actual performance of the song in the competition. The fans posting their lists of Eurovision favorites might be influenced by the video. I recommend playing the videos in the background or minimizing the video window while you’re doing something else.

One thing I realized this year is that often a country chooses their performing artist separately from the song. That’s why you might keep seeing the same names in the writing credits for the songs – and why the songs sound similarly bland. Writers are penning songs that fit the “Eurovision” mold rather than ones that showcase the performer’s talents. Ten songs this year are written and produced by teams from Sweden. Two of the songs list Thomas G:son in their credits; he’s been involved in ten songs in the past ten years, including the 2012 winner, “Euphoria”.

This year, there’s nothing that really stands out to me. The songs are far too similar; especially when compared to the variety we’ve seen in previous years. Maybe as I listen to the songs more…..

I’ve watched all the videos, and put together a spreadsheet with the basic data:


Country, Title, and Artist are self-explanatory.

Performers: Solo, Duet, and Group are what they are. “Solo+” is a song with a lead singer and a backup chorus or other musicians/singers.

Singer-Songwriter: Does the artist, or at least one member of the group, appear in the songwriting credits?

Genre: I’m not very good at determining song styles and genres; these are my best guesses.

Ballad – A slow, down-tempo song
Country – Sounds like it could have come from Nashville
Dance – It’s got a good beat, you can really dance to it.
Power Ballad – The standard Eurovision type. A solo singer belts out a tune. “America the Beautiful”, as we usually sing it, is a “power ballad”.
Rock – Guitars, drums, keyboards….
Other – A style that I can’t identify, or something that doesn’t fit the other categories.

English? Most Eurovision songs are in English, as it’s the “lingua franca” for the continent.

Y – Yes, it’s in English.
N – Not in English, but I can’t identify the language.
Both – Parts of the song are in English, other parts aren’t.

Video Type:

Artsy: Lots of animation or artistic cinematography.
Live: A recording of a concert performance of the song.
MTV: The standard music video type, with a mix of studio performance, outdoor scenes, and artsy shots that supposedly relate to the song.
Studio: A recording of a performance in a studio or other enclosed, limited space.

This year, the first round of semi-finals will be on May 10, the second on May 12, and the Grand Final on May 14. You’ll be able to watch the shows online.

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