Eurovision fascinated me so much, that by 2016, I decided to watch the entire grand final… live. In Australia, this means waking up at 5am, watching the contest through bleary eyes as the sun rises outside. And what a show I decided to watch!
By: Joshua Mayne
For me, it all started in 2013. The nightly 6pm news bulletin was on the television, and there was a very short segment about the latest winner of the Eurovision Song Contest (that being Emmelie de Forest from Denmark, with her song ‘Only Teardrops’). I downloaded the song the following day, and couldn’t get enough of it for the remainder of the week.
Slowly, I began to learn more about the contest. And when Australia competed for the first time in 2015, it sparked my interest. However it was more than that which really drew me to the contest.
Watching bits and pieces of the show in Vienna from SBS’s broadcast, I was able to see the diversity of music, people and nations, which characterise the Eurovision Song Contest. Many songs including Slovenia’s ‘Here For You’, Sweden’s ‘Heroes’ and Australia’s ‘Tonight Again’ immediately made it into my playlist, on repeat for the following weeks. The contest fascinated me, and I wanted to learn more.
Eurovision at 5AM in Australia
In fact, it fascinated me so much, that by 2016, I decided to watch the entire grand final… live. In Australia, this means waking up at 5am, watching the contest through bleary eyes as the sun rises outside. And what a show I decided to watch! If anything was going to wake me up, it was that brilliant song contest held in Stockholm.
I was encapsulated in the spirit of Eurovision for all twenty-six songs, enjoying the wide selection and high quality of music that Europe had to offer. As I anxiously waited in the living room for the voting to commence, I was reminded that I needed to leave in the next five minutes, to go to a previously planned event.
Fortunately, my ‘crisis’ was averted. I found a live broadcast on SBS radio, which let me listen to the live votes unfolding as I travelled in a car. With Australia so close to victory, my heart rate reached a point it never has before. It spiked when hearing “the country that got the 8th highest score… with 120 points…. is…. Austria!”. I immediately thought that ‘Austr’ was going to be ‘Australia’!
My new passion: Eurovision
The final result didn’t go Australia’s way, but that was beside the point. After what I had seen (and heard), I knew that this contest was for me – my new passion.
Nearing the end of 2016, I integrated my newfound passion for Eurovision into my writing. For the past two years I’d been writing for sites, focusing on football. I sent an opinion piece to ESCDaily about possible artists for Australia at Eurovision 2017, and was fortunate enough to have had it published.
From there, I continued to write further material for the site, learning more about the contest every day. 2017’s contest in Kiev reaffirmed this for me. I was able to follow the preparation, tactics, selections and dramas involved with staging the Eurovision Song Contest. It really has all the interesting aspects that a big sports event should have!
The Eurovision Song Contest is exactly that – a sports event for music. I was first drawn to Eurovision because of its music, and it still entertains me today.
Sam Pang, one of Australia’s former Eurovision commentators for SBS, described the contest as a “food court of music”, a line that has resonated with me. After all, Eurovision offers such a large and diverse variety of artists, songs and composers, each with their unique style or flair. There is something for everyone, and, just like a food court, it can be extremely difficult to choose just one favourite… Watch just one grand final, and you will witness a broad selection of genres, whether it is pop, rock, ballad, alternate, rap, ethnic/indigenous music or even yodelling.
Not only can the music landscape be viewed in one show, it can be viewed across decades (six of them, in fact). Through sixty-two years of the historical contest, the shift of musical genres and styles can be seen. Eurovision acts as the perfect medium for one to view the progression of music in Europe, which, in many cases, is reflective of social change.
There’s not one musical genre that I’ve always listened to. I don’t sit down to listen to rock, or buy an album made by just one artist. Personally, I find that limiting. I open up and listen to a diverse range of music. This is why Eurovision has connected with me.
Generally, the quality of songs competing at Eurovision is high, as they share the common goal of wanting to create the best song possible. There are, of course, exceptions, but nations are there to win, and send their best entries in order to do so. If the song is enjoyable, regardless of its genre, background, performance or artist, I’ll listen to it, and Eurovision is home to an abundance of these kinds of songs.
Sport and Competition
At the age of four, I would pick up the Sunday newspaper, flip straight to the back, and start reading the sport section. I couldn’t read much at that age, but I could understand sport. This strong connection with sport, combined with a love of music, has blended perfectly to form my passion for the Eurovision Song Contest.
I just love sport and the competition it provides. That competition lasts 8-10 months a year! Although many see Eurovision as a one-week, or even one-night contest, it really is a long and gruelling process. Each country must carefully select an artist, a song and the way in which they wish to deliver their entry. And when the voting sequence commences after each country has sung at the grand final, the adrenaline associated with competition starts to kick in.
Olympic games or drinking game?
For some, Eurovision is a serious competition, which plays a vital role in European society. For others, it’s a light-hearted affair, nothing to be taken seriously. Steef van Gorkum discussed this idea in an editorial a few months ago.
Personally, I view Eurovision as a serious competition, but I appreciate how holistically enjoyable the contest is. I started watching because I enjoyed it. And as I continue to learn more, I appreciate and acknowledge the importance of Eurovision in terms of celebrating diversity, promoting acceptance and strengthening bonds within Europe.
Like sport, it is an opportunity for a team (in this case, a nation), to promote themselves in a way they wish. The goal is not only to win, but also to improve the team, and relationships with the teams surrounding them. Sport has the power to do just this. And so does Eurovision, hence, why I’ve connected with the concept so well.
The other aspect of the contest, which makes Eurovision so unique, is the performances. Entertaining, bizarre, boring or plain stupid – Eurovision has it all, and it results in varied reactions across Europe and the world. Some ‘unique’ entries that immediately come to mind are ‘My Słowianie’ from Poland in 2014 and Moldova’s ‘So Lucky’ in 2011…
Then, you can move to other unique entries that focus on social justice (for example, Conchita for Austria in 2014, Sanja Vučić for Serbia in 2016). Each act is presented uniquely to advocate a unique, important message. Eurovision is the perfect, public platform for songs like this.
The unique format of Eurovision blends perfectly with unique entries to create an extravaganza that can question, relate with and support European people. Nowhere else in the world can you find a continent-wide singing competition between nations, where entries vary from soft ballads sung by a jazz artist in a suit to dance songs where singers wear cones on their head. That is quintessentially Eurovision, and I love it. Europe is such a unique place, and Eurovision is the perfect reflection of this.
The Eurovision Song Contest is incredibly rich with history. Created in 1956 as an attempt to unify Europe after two world wars, the contest has played a historic and important role in Europe for over 60 years. The contest has embedded itself as a key aspect of European society. Not only as an entertainment show, but also as an annual historic event.
The evolvement of European society can be seen throughout each decade of the song contest. Values emerge and disintegrate, evident in the entries selected by each nation, and the manner in which the host city stages the show. Changes including language use, technology, voting and judging help to define the history of the Eurovision Song Contest.
Political protests are also prevalent in the contest. There are some that send a clear message or some that are more subtle. Including Jamala’s 2016 winning song ‘1944’, which was heavily disputed. Nations have the chance to represent themselves, and some do that in different ways to others…
Relating back to the idea of Eurovision as a ‘food court of music’, the contest is also a ‘food court of cultures’. Forty-two nations competed at Eurovision 2017, spanning across all corners of Europe. Apart from a lengthy and specific search on YouTube, in which setting can you sample and enjoy music from Finland, Azerbaijan, Australia, France, Ukraine and Germany?
Music enables us to view and appreciate new cultures, improving us as global citizens. Eurovision has not only taught me about European geography, but also the relations between nations, and the values they withhold.
Multiculturalism in Eurovision has captivated me so much. Next year, I will be researching how Australia has projected itself through the notion of multiculturalism in the contest. This will make up my major work in the subject of ‘Society and Culture’ in my final year at high school.
Multiculturalism characterises Europe, and makes it such an incredibly beautiful, diverse and accepting place. Eurovision has enabled me to learn about, appreciate and view the cultures that make Europe the continent it is today.
Eurovision is a genuinely positive event. Some nations utilise the opportunity for different reasons, but overall, this song contest is an enjoyable, fun and happy occasion. That’s exactly the way it should be. Since it’s origins as a contest to unite Europe, the core values of peace, acceptance and entertainment have remained. Even through to the 21st century.
Now, I remember back to watching the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest live at 5am. Belgium was first on stage, with Laura Tesoro performing the disco tune ‘What’s The Pressure’. That one performance contained the essence of Eurovision. Eurovision is a medium to achieve positivity. The main focus of the song – and ultimately, the contest – was positivity, something that the world needs more of. Eurovision, however, already has it. And that is why I love it.
With preparations for the 63rd Eurovision Song Contest now well underway, we’re pleased to announce that the ESC Insight Newsletter will be going back into regular rotation between now and May 2018. Check your inbox every second Monday for a roundup of all the latest news and analysis including updates from Lisbon, National Final developments, Artist selections and more.
We’ll also be providing coverage of the various other Eurovision events taking place between now and May, including the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in Tbilisi and Eurovision Young Dancers in Prague.
Subscribers can also look forward to in-depth analysis and punditry from our ever-growing roster of regular contributors and ‘friends of the parish’, including our monthly music recommendations, interviews and editorials, plus enough lovingly curated Eurovision stats to make Molly Sterling’s head spin!
In this week’s edition, we look at the latest announcements from the UK and The Netherlands, unpick the mixed messages surrounding Russia’s potential entrant Julia Samoylova and the team weighs in on their true feelings about Salvador’s victory now that the dust has settled on Kyiv 2017.
You can read our newsletter online, but don’t forget to enter your subscription details here to ensure you never miss another edition.
We also value feedback from all of our followers, old and new. So if you have any thoughts on how we could improve the Newsletter this season – or on any features you’d like to see us introduce – please let us know in the comments below.
Greek public broadcaster ERT has sent a letter to leading record labels regarding its national final for Eurovision 2018. Requesting songs, the letter makes clear that lyrics ought to be ‘exclusively’ in Greek and that the entries should preferably have a native sound, too.
As reported earlier, Greece’s ERT is working on putting together a national final for 2018. The public broadcaster is in the process of communicating with record labels, seeking entries for the selection.
The letter sent to these labels (seen in full below) makes clear among other things that the broadcaster wishes to make a change and select a song that will be typically Greek – both in regard to its lyrics, which will have to be in the native language, as well as to its musical style, which is encouraged to have a Greek sound to it.
A wish for quality is also evident in the letter. Last year’s representative, pop sensation Demy and her dance entry This Is Love, was internally selected and the decision had received a warm reception by the public. This year, it will be down to the record labels to come up with artists and songs and ERT stipulates that high musical quality and vocal ability are required.
See alsoGreece: ERT receives entry sung by Areti Ketime
There are more details about the national final itself mentioned in the letter. The deadline for submitting songs is 20th October. It appears that the songs submitted to ERT will be initially adjudicated by a specialist committee acting as a jury. The qualifiers will make it to the national final where the winner will be chosen solely by the public.
You can read a translation of the ERT letter below:
ERT, as in previous years, will participate in the pan-European Eurovision Song Contest, which will this year take place in Lisbon from the 8th to the 12th May 2018.
The target of the public broadcaster is to participate in this year’s event with a strong, quality song, performed by an artist of high vocal ability. This year we wish to make a difference, using exclusively Greek lyrics, in a song with a Greek sound. The candidate songs will be examined by the arts committee of ERT and those that qualify will be put to the judgement of the public in the context of a contest procedure (Greek Final), through which will emerge the one that will represent our country in this year’s Contest.
For this reason, we request that you send us – in so far as you consider that there is such opportunity and willingness on your part – until Friday 20th October, songs that you believe will meet the standards described above.
In the following videos, you can watch Demy in Kyiv, performing the 2017 Greek entry This Is Love as well as answering our Would You Rather questions.
For updates on exclusive videos like the above, you can subscribe to our YouTube Channel.
Ukraine will once again use the format with the shows called Vidbir to pick their act for the Eurovision Song Contest. Broadcaster UA:PBC announced this on Twitter.
In 2016 the format gave them Jamala’s song ‘1944’ (pictured above) which ended up winning Eurovision in Stockholm. On home soil, O:Torvald was less successful with a 24th place for their rock song ‘Time’.
Кастинг національного відбору України вже розпочато!
Casting for the #Vidbir2018 is starting now! pic.twitter.com/UhVzpUTTTc
— UA:Eurovision (@uapbc) 1 oktober 2017
Because of a lack of funds for broadcaster UA:PBC, commercial broadcaster STB will once again organise and finance the show for the third consecutive year. STB also jumped in for the actual Eurovision Song Contest in Kiev this year, as they were media partner for the event.
Portuguese broadcaster RTP invited new and old composers, known from anything between jazz and electro, some expected, but also some unexpected one. We take a look at what to expect from the 26 composers for the 2018 edition of Festival da Canção.
Last week, the line-up of composers for the Portuguese national selection were announced. Overall, 26 composers were selected. Out of those, 22 were formally invited by the broadcaster – RTP – while one was invited by 2017 Eurovision winner Salvador Sobral. The remaining three were selected by the radio station Antena 1, out of 346 submissions.
Next year’s show will be built off from two semi finals that will select seven out of 13 songs each. The 14 that will make it through to the grand final will be performed one last time, on March 4th in Muiltiusos Guimarães. One will be crowned the winner and represent the country on home field at the Eurovision Song Contest in May.
See alsoGreece: ERT receives entry sung by Areti Ketime
If we go back to Festival da Canção 2017, RTP reinvented the show by providing greater space for diversity and new artists. The mission was so well succeeded that Portugal won the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time ever and it looks like they’re not stepping back their game next year just because the country is guaranteed a place in the final. In fact, not only did they increase the number of composers, but invited a big mix of musical genres to make sure the right song is chosen.
1 Former Eurovision acts are back in the competition
2 RTP is ready to bring different cultures to Festival da Canção
3 Portugal’s current biggest popstar is among the composers
Former Eurovision acts are back in the competition
There is not one, but two former Eurovision acts that will return to Festival da Canção along with a third one solely related to the Portuguese’s national selection show: Fernando Tordo (1973), José Cid (1980) and Jorge Palma (Festival da Canção, 1975).
Let’s start with the older one (with all due respect), Fernando Tordo. One can expect the singer to bring some Fado to the table during this year’s Festival da Canção. Actually, it’s hard to recall an edition of the event where Fado wasn’t present. Either way, two other composers – Júlio Resende and Diogo Clemente – are most likely delivering songs in the same genre.
As for José Cid, this will mark his 14th participation in the show. The last one takes us back to 2007, when the singer was in charge of Na Ilha Dos Sonhos production. Even though the Portuguese legend is better known for his progressive rock music, his admiration for Salvador Sobral may direct him towards a jazz entry. In fact, Jazz may end up being one of the most explored genres in next year’s edition. Besides Cid and JP Simões, also Janeiro – Salvador’s invited composer – will most likely present a jazz entry despite of his rock and electronic influences. Rita Dias (chosen by Antena 1) could also go with an entry of the same genre as her music style could easily be compared to Salvador’s sister, Luísa Sobral. Either way, folk isn’t out of the way for the Portuguese singer.
See alsoUK: the BBC open for entry submissions for Eurovision 2018
Pop rock is another music genre that won’t be forgotten in Festival da Canção 2018 either, as Jorge Palma will obviously serve something alike. Nonetheless, he surely won’t be the only one. Miguel Ângelo – from the popular group Delfins – is also known for producing music within that genre.
RTP is ready to bring different cultures to Festival da Canção
While the Portuguese culture will be highly represented through Fado, there will be space for more cultures. Africa and Brazil, for instances, will also take part in Festival da Canção 2018. Paulo Flores, Tito Paris and the Angolan Aline Frazão will bring the African flavor to the stage while Mallu Magalhães will be in charge of a Bossa Nova entry.
Capicua, on the other hand, will prove that Portugal is not solely represented by Fado as the Hip Hop singer will bring unprecedented sounds to the show. Daniela Onis (chosen by Antena 1) and João Afonso will be in charge of the folk and acoustic sounds while Peter Serrado (also chosen by Antena 1) and Paulo Praça of simple Pop sounds.
A mix of alternative, indie and electronic music will also be part of the show with names such as Isaura (a Portuguese version of Halsey and the only one who will most likely sing in english), Francisco Rebelo (from the group Orelha Negra) and Armando Teixeira.
Three names are yet to be presented. All of them represent yet another music genre. Francisca Cortesão – part of Minta & The Brook Trout – has an old school vibe mixed with soul music. On the other hand, Benjamim will certainly be in charge of the happy tune of the year due to his Pop feel good music.
Portugal’s current biggest popstar is among the composers
Did we keep the best for last – that depends on everyone’s taste – we end the biggest surprise of the year: Diogo Piçarra. Diogo won Portuguese Idol’s fifth edition and later became one of the biggest names in Portuguese music. Mixing Pop with R&B, Diogo Piçarra can easily be considered Portugal’s version of Justin Bieber. Each song released becomes a radio smash hit and every concert he announces, sells out quite quickly.
Diogo will certainly be the reason a lot of people will tune in to watch next year’s edition, and too early to tell, but maybe also the favourite to win.
The Eurovision Song Contest’s official website has been nominated for a Lovie Award. The Awards celebrate all things European internet and eurovision.tv needs your votes!
Every year, the Lovie Awards pick out and honour some of the best features on the European Internet, such as websites, popular TV shows, best social video series, online advertising, branded entertainment, etc, all of this being accepted in a total of seven native languages. The Lovie Awards’ aim is to acknowledge the unique and remarkable talents and features the European Internet community has to offer.
See alsoElhaida Dani releases first single since her 2015 Eurovision participation
This year, in the 7th edition of the Lovie Awards, the Eurovision Song Contest’s official website, eurovision.tv, has been chosen as a nominee for the People’s Lovie Award in the television category.
The lines close on Thursday, the 5th of October! We would like to wish eurovision.tv good luck!