Eurovision Q and A

If you’ve been paying attention here in the past, you’ll know I’m a fan of the Eurovision Song Contest (which is only a few weeks away). You are free to check out all my prior posts on the matter, but just in case you had any questions about this whole “Eurovision” thing – and why I keep blathering on about it….

What is it, anyway?

An international singing / music contest. Think of it as an international “Battle of the Bands”.

Isn’t it sort of a Festival of Camp?

Well, perhaps it used to be that way. The scoring system in the past tended to favor the more outlandish costumes and performances, but it’s been toned down quite a bit as the scoring has been adjusted. You still get the occasional bit of camp. A performer has just three minutes to make their case, and they are competing against some two dozen other performers…. You’ve got to do *something* to stand out, especially if your song is just average.

What are all these non-European countries doing in it?

The host organization for the competition is the European Broadcasting Union – not a governmental agency. The EBU’s purpose is to promote cooperation and consistent broadcasting standards among its member nations. So any national broadcaster that is willing to pay their dues and play by the EBU’s rules is able to join. And the Eurovision Song Contest is open to all EBU member nations. So that’s why countries like Armenia are involved. But not the US. I doubt we’ll ever be invited to join the EBU.

What’s the deal with Australia?

Australia has been broadcasting the contest since 1983, and they have the biggest fan base outside of Europe. In 2014, they convinced the EBU to let them get in on the fun. It was supposed to be a one-shot deal in 2015, but they were invited back every year after that.

Why don’t they sing in their country’s native language?

Several reasons.

1. They tried it; it didn’t work. That used to be a requirement – but it led to songs with lyrics filled with “la la la la la” and nonsense words. So they scrapped it.
2. The performers are trying to reach the biggest audience they can. English is pretty much the second language of everyone in Europe. So even when the song is written in the national language, it gets sung in English.
3. What about the countries that don’t have their own language, like Austria? What are they supposed to do?
4. Many of them actually *do*. We’ve heard a lot of unusual languages and dialects in recent years. Belyorussian. Pontic Greek. Crimean Tatar. Udmurt….

Most of the songs are forgettable, aren’t they?

Yes, they are. Eurovision buffs will occasionally point out that ABBA got their start by winning Eurovision, and Celine Dion represented Switzerland (EBU rules allowed it) in 1988. However, most of the acts are rarely heard again outside their home countries. Some do go on to have reasonably successful careers afterwards, but those are the exceptions. To be fair, though, do you remember any songs from the Top 100 of five years ago? How many of the artists on that list have disappeared?

So what’s in it for the American viewer?

There’s the whole party atmosphere. The singers are all at least competent, and some are downright amazing. And the past few years, there have been a total of over 40 songs in the contest – each with an official music video in addition to the live performance. There’s going to be *something* you like!

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