Monday, November 18, 2013

Eurovision Song Contest


As I suggested in my previous post, the Eurovision Song contest has been on my mind as of late. Perhaps it’s the fabulous new artists that come from each year’s exciting competition, or the politics behind the voting process that is always under scrutiny, or perhaps I just wanted a reason to post this video of Loreen winning in 2012 with Euphoria. Regardless, get excited because I am about to provide all you world music junkies out there an outlet and resource that you can utilize and explore for years to come.

The first Eurovision Song Contest took place in 1956 in Lugano, Switzerland. The idea behind the contest was to attempt to bring together all the participating countries as a means to help reunite Europe following the Second World War. At the time, it was quite the feat to broadcast one show across that many countries, especially since satellite had yet to be invented and so the only option was to use a terrestrial microwave network.

Although the contest still works to unite the European nations with its annual splendor, the contest has expanded over the years from the original seven European participating countries to their present +30 entrants from around the world. No longer just for Europeans, Eurovision now has participants from multiple countries outside of Europe such as Russia, Cyprus, Israel and, the most recent addition, Azerbaijan.

With all of these countries coming together for a competition, it was only a matter of time before some sort of tussle broke out. Now, there have been many political issues with Eurovision, but the country sitting front row for a majority of those issues is none other than Israel. Since certain countries refuse to recognize Israel as a Nation state, it has been an issue regarding what can be broadcast within those nations.
For example, in 1978 Jordanian broadcasters decided to show images of flowers on screen rather than broadcast the Israeli contestant’s performance. It was an even bigger problem when Jordan then announced that Belgium had won the contest for that year, even though in truth Israel won the contest and Belgium came in second. Another situation with Israel arose when Lebanon intended to participate in the contest, but refused to broadcast the Israeli entry since it is against Lebanese law to allow the recognition of Israel. The Eurovision Song contest would not allow for such a breach in the rules a second time, therefore forcing Lebanon to withdraw and pay a massive fine.

Another major political problem with Eurovision that has caused multiple countries to discontinue their participation is the “Big Five”.  The Big Five consists of the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy (added in 2010) and are named as such because they are the greatest financial supporters of the European Broadcasting Union; the group that manages the entire contest. As such, they have now established the rule that every country within the Big Five will automatically qualify for the final round regardless of their contestant’s scores. On the one hand, that fills five spots on the already limited line-up, and yet since the rule was established in 2000, only once has one of the Big Five actually won the competition (Germany in 2010). Here is an interesting article about why Turkey has chosen to withdraw from the contest, supposedly due to the Big Five ruling. 

The final highlight regarding the Eurovision song contest would have to be the crazy, phenomenal and always quirky costumes. Each year it is always entertaining to see what the contestants and their stylists come up with next. Some tend to go for a very traditional look, but it seems that a majority are attempting to be as flamboyant as possible. Rather than explain at length all the various costumes that have debuted over the years, why don’t I just show you a sneak preview? We cam only hope that 2014 will provide us with just as much excitement. . .

Alright, so on a closing note (musical pun intended), here are a few of the “Eurovision Greats” that everyone should either know or get to know because they are simply fabulous, and yes I’m a bit biased. For more phenomenal artists, check out this link.

#4. Celine Dion performing Ne partez sans moi for Switzerland performed in her native French Canadian tongue

#3. Lena performing Satellite for Germany

#2. Volare! performed originally by Domenico Modungo of Italy.

#1. ABBA performing Waterloo for Sweden (it was after winning the 19th Eurovision that they were skyrocketed to stardom internationally)

Now, hopefully my rambling blog has helped generate some excitement for the next Eurovision song contest. Unfortunately, we still have a decently long wait till the 2014 edition. 172 Days to be exact. No worries though, that just gives you time to plan your trip to Copenhagen or catch up on all the competition for the 2014 season. For more details on the contest, check out their website. 

1 comment:

  1. I saw Eurovision 2006 winners Lordi in concert at Ozzfest 2007. It was... interesting.
    Here they are.