Do you ever get the feeling that the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 has stepped up a gear? With more details on the shows in Rotterdam, the first wave of tickets on sale, and our fifth name (and first song title), that feeling is correct. But let’s go into more detail in the latest podcast.
Eurovision Insight News Podcast: And Then We Had Five
The latest news from the Eurovision Song Contest world, with Junior Eurovision behind us, Rotterdam ahead, and more song names and artists to announce for the Eurovision Song Contest 2020. Ewan Spence and the team round up the latest news, dates, and thoughts for Rotterdam.
More details on Second Cherry, Eurovision In Concert, ESPreParty, and Het Grote Songfestivalfeest can be found at their respective websites.
Our Spotify playlists for Qualified Artists, Australian Artists, Estonia Artists, and Swedish Artists.
As the National Finals for Eurovision 2020, stay up to date with all the Song Contest news by listening to the ESC Insight podcast. You’ll find the show in iTunes, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. A direct RSS feed is available. We also have a regular email newsletter which you can sign up to here.
Tickets will go on sale on Thursday 12th December – just in time for Christmas. Links to buying tickets can be found via the official Eurovision.tv website. Tickets will be released in three waves, so there will be further opportunities in 2020 to buy tickets, presumably once the camera positions are locked in and the exact space needed for equipment is known.
As well as the live broadcasts, tickets are also available for the second dress rehearsal (the Jury Show) which has fifty percent of the votes available for each act, and the third dress rehearsal (the family show) which is the last run through before the broadcast.
Prices do vary, again check the website for details. Note there are discounts on the Semi Final tickets if you buy in this first wave. Accessible tickets are also available with prices matching the tickets available for the second tier. Each accessible ticket allows a second ticket to be purchased for a companion. These must be arranged directly, and again details are on Eurovision.tv.
OGAE Fan Packages
A number of Fan Packages of tickets are being made available to OGAE clubs. There will be 2286 packages in total (each with six tickets to the Jury Shows and Live Shows of the two Semi Finals and Grand Final), with allocations to each club on a pro-rata basis. Each club will have a different way of distributing their allocation, so you should check with your club’s committee on how to proceed.
Secondary Market Tickets
We’ve previously looked at the issue of ticketing around the Eurovision Song Contest. Although some of the more radical ideas have not been implemented (a full public ballot, or awarding queue skipping power-ups to engaged fans), Eurovision tickets will be paired up with names after purchase to reduce the potential for ticket touts.
That said, once tickets go on sale a tidal wave of secondary ticketing markets will offer pricing for Eurovision ticket that will be in excess of the listed ticket price. The majority of these are expected to be ‘futures’, in other words these agencies could sell you the ticket at a huge mark-up before they go and try to find a ticket for you. If they can obtain a ticket for less than the exorbitant price you paid, they are in profit. If they can’t, your order may be cancelled.
ESC Insight would strongly advise you to only buy your ticket via the official website to avoid disappointment.
There is one change this year to secondary tickets. TicketSwap is partnered with PayLogic (which is the official ticketing partner of the Song Contest, making TicketSwap the official re-selling partner), and will allow those who have legitimately purchased a ticket that can no longer be used to re-sell it to other fans.
If you are looking to buy a ticket from another fan, we would strongly advise you use TicketSwap, which limits the ‘mark-up’ someone can add to the ticket to twenty percent of the original sale price.
Rotterdam is also expected to have open-air viewings of the Eurovision Song Contest throughout the city, so if you are unsuccessful in obtaining tickets there will be some great locations with atmosphere to watch the Song Contest.
The modern take of Eurovision scoring systems splits up the jury scores from the public vote For us who follow the Contest religiously we now have our heads around the drama this creates in the final few minutes of programming, but it’s not a easy for the public.
Some of our hosts in recent years have come unstuck with the voting presentation. The tweaked system that debuted in Tel Aviv, where points are read out in jury score order, does make the broadcaster’s job easier to tell the story of ‘who’s in first and challenging for first’ during the process.
The downside with the new system though is the potential for failure to be visible on screen (as seen in Tel Aviv, notably with Malta’s Michaela Pace and the Czech Republic’s Lake Malawi). It also puts more focus on the jury winning songs rather than the public favourites.
We had huge concerns that the storytelling required in the voting sequence would be cruel on the Junior Eurovision performers. During Junior Eurovision we saw and felt the tension, but we did not see failure on the screen. When scores were revealed the focus was on the hosts, not the artists, and the picture cut to the Green Room when the results created a moment of celebration.
This is a much needed improvement from Israel where we saw such cruel moments of failure live on TV.
We also had an excellent host who clearly understood what was happening at every moment, how many points were needed and when to get excited as we had a new leader. Arguably Ida Nowakowska beat the benchmark of Petra and Måns from 2016’s scoring sequence, and would be a great example for any future host. The few complaints about her impartiality during Poland’s victory are unfair, as soon as we know that point of victory has come, the party has already started, and the job of a host is to convey that excitement..
Poland might need another Eurovision host in…I don’t know…twelve months time. She would be a great choice.
This Should Be Game Over For This Version Of Voting
Two days prior to the day of the final we published the article ‘Are Poland Unstoppable In The Online Vote?‘. In fact they smashed the online vote more than we ever imagined, 62 points ahead of second placed Spain. Considering the impact of voting for three to five songs was designed to spread out the impact of a heavy favourite, it is no hyperbole to call this a landslide on the scale of ‘Fairytale‘ or ‘Euphoria‘.
With more knowledge and awareness of how Junior Eurovision works as a competitive event, broadcasters with resources used the voting window to push hard in a classic ‘get the vote out’ campaign. Some of these broadcasters used all the tricks of the trade, from shout outs from celebrities, throughvoting instructions in news bulletins, to huge website banners linking straight to the voting pages. This game was a learning experience when it was introduced in 2017. Now it has been mastered.
Homepage of Khabar Agency the day before the Junior Eurovision Final
This engagement is great for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest as a production. However the correlation between larger countries and broadcasters doing well in the online vote is just staggering. Poland, Spain and France make up the top three, with Albania, Wales and Malta at the bottom end. Junior Eurovision is a competition for children and way the system works increases the unfairness, turning the public vote into a popularity contest rather than a musical contest.
I would say it would be harder for a smaller delegation or a broadcaster with a smaller budget to find a path to Junior Eurovision victory with a good song than the Eurovision Song Contest. That doesn’t sit easy at all with my ethics of a childrens’ competition.
In short, for all the benefits of the online vote, it is too powerful. It needs to be weakened to level the playing field. One obvious option would be to alter the voting split away from 50/50 and bias towards the jury. You could go further and have the online vote, an adult jury, and a kids jury, each with a third of the points.
A change is needed.
The Beginning Of The End For Press Conferences
The individual artist press conferences after each rehearsal were scrapped by the EBU, and we applauded the decision earlier in Junior Eurovision week.
As expected it gave broadcasters more time to cover media requests as they wished, and many of then voluntarily hit the Press Centre for interviews with the different sites. So much so in fact that the press centre became too busy and noisy to be effective, and some interviews took place in the corridors. Breakout spaces will be needed to cope with this demand in the future.
However some press conferences rightly remained, namely those held by the EBU and the host broadcaster regarding the Contest. These were a great way of getting quotes on the record from the Contest’s executives.
The Joint Press Conference held on Saturday afternoon with all the artists’ was not a good use of anyone’s time. The hosts going round each artist one by one for a ‘group question’ that was as safe as possible (such as favourite foods), left little time for the press who got the chance to pick out one artist at a time for a question.
The planned Meet and Greet session following the press conference with the artists was shortened to just 15 minutes and many delegations rightly didn’t bother at all… perhaps something to do with scheduling it less than two hours before the Jury Final?. A meet and greet looked the best solution beforehand – one session where nineteen questions could be asked at the same time to nineteen delegations at once – would create far more content.
Melodifestivalen in Sweden has a lot more experience with this method. The artists all come onto stage, smile for the camera as a big group for the press and are immediately led to their own individual table. Each interview can’t take more than a couple of minutes, and priority goes to press members reporting for broadcast media so they can collect the material they need for news bulletins etc. I recommend the EBU head out for a busman’s holiday and visit the Arctic Circle in February to witness this in action.
The Coop Norrbotten Arena, host venue for Luleå’s heat of Melodifestivalen 2020 (Photo: Luleå Kommun)
The First Rehearsals Are Definitely Not For Us
Journalists at the 2019 Junior Eurovision Song Contest were not allowed to see the first forty-minute rehearsals for each act on stage. While not an extensive survey, most press we spoke to accepted the need for that change.
And delegations are quietly pleased. Multiple costumes can be tried without being discussed, camera angles can be worked on without worrying about the performance, technical faults can be fixed before we need to see it. The very first time on stage should be their time, not our time.
Jon Ola Sand speaking at the EBU Press Conference at the Gliwice Arena (Photo: Thomas Hanses, EBU)
At the EBU Press Conference, Jon Ola Sand suggested that there are no plans for this change to carry over to the Adult Contest in Rotterdam, although they might close off the “very first run through” from journalists’ eyes. Frankly, that is a weak compromise. Screens off for the first three minutes may be good for a technical check , but it doesn’t give delegations the chance to experiment or to make any changes following that first run-through without the media hype-train watching.
Make the decision to close the whole rehearsal, or leave it totally open. The suggested middle ground is a horrible compromise that satisfies nobody. Junior Eurovision has proven that a closed rehearsal period works in terms of making a good TV show, while delegations has shown that the media can still engage with the artists in the first few days.
The argument has already been won.
How Big Can Junior Eurovision Get?
The Junior Eurovision rule book states that between 12 and 18 countries can take part. In 2018 and 2019 we have had more countries than the regulation’s upper limit, thanks to each Contest getting special dispensation from the EBU.
Poland’s top level production and commercial success as a winner is likely to motivate other broadcasters to take part. For a 2 hour 30 minute show one can assume twenty songs would really be the maximum in terms of Contest. The Steering Group should have that conversation early in the planning for next year to avoid upset and disappointment in later stages.
As the production becomes larger, the division between broadcasters in terms of production becomes clear, both musically and visually. While little can be done musically, visually the gulf between the haves and haves not is huge, and just paying for extra hotel rooms for a week is a prohibitive cost for some delegations. Are there little steps that could be taken to equalise the playing field that would increase the overall impression of the show further?
A Foundation For The Future
The Junior Eurovision Song Contest has been seen as a testing ground by the EBU. Some ideas, such as the ‘Flags Of All Nations’ opening introduction of the artists have been integrated into the Adult Contest. Other ideas have not made the jump or reflect the unique nature of November’s Contest. The EBU and its members can learn a lot from this year’s Junior Eurovision Song Contest.
The press format at Junior Eurovision 2019 has been most informal that I have ever witnessed. Post-rehearsal press conferences were out the window. Interview rooms did not exist. Instead it was a free-for-all with interviews happening here there and everywhere, plus speed-dating style sessions at the Opening Ceremony and just before the Jury Final for quick fire questions.
And quick fire as the approach I took. I asked each artist one question and one question only.
“If you could have chosen any song in the entire world to perform at Junior Eurovision, what song would you have chosen?”
This article feeds off our articles about songs in Junior Eurovision from before the Contest. Firstly we released our piece about how adults often misjudge songs competing in Junior Eurovision. Secondly we asked ESC Insight team members and fellow journalists about their Eurovision tastes as a child, and if they changed.
This article completes the trifecta. Rather than worrying about our tastes, let us think about what tastes the kids performing actually have. Has Junior Eurovision, and the music on show, been relevant to the tastes of our competitors.
Below I present our survey results. Note that we have if an artist did not name a particular song, or reason to explain their choice, that has been left blank.
Isea Çili (Albania)
‘Idontwannabeyouanymore’ by Billie Eilish…
Because that shows emotion and it shows my feelings. I like emotional songs.
Jordan Anthony (Australia)
‘This Is Me’ by the cast of ‘The Greatest Showman’…
Loved the message of the song, it’s so powerful and I think it would be a great song.
Lisa Misnikova (Belarus)
‘Pepelny (Ashen)’ by Liza Misnikov…
This is my song and this is a part of my life. If I sing this song, all will be super.
‘Halo’ by Beyoncé…
She has an amazing voice and she’s my idol. Because she dance, sing and they are my two favourites.
Giorgi Rostiashvili (Georgia)
Anna Kearney (Ireland)
It’s her whole package. Makes me so happy when she sings. I just love her voice and how she performs.
Marta Viola (Italy)
‘Spirit’ by Beyoncé
Yerzhan Maxim (Kazakhstan)
‘Adagio’, Made famous in modern music by Lara Fabian and Il Divo, amongst others
Eliana Gomez Blanco (Malta)
‘Rhythm Inside’ by Loïc Nottet…
So since the first time I heard it I fell in love and his voice is incredibly, his personality is amazing and I just love it. It would be very nice to perform it, it is such a cool song.
Mila Moskov (North Macedonia)
‘I Was Here’ by Beyoncé…
Beyonce for me because she is the image of a pop star. She inspires all of us in the music industry she is strong and very inspirational. We all love her, she is the queen.
Viki Gabor (Poland)
‘I Have Nothing’ by Whitney Houston…
It’s an amazing song and I think it would do amazingly well
Joana Almeida (Portugal)
‘Vem Comigo (Come With Me)’ by Joana Almeida…
Because it is about saving the planet and I really love it and the nature.
Darija Vračević (Serbia)
Because she is so powerful.
Melani Garcia (Spain)
‘Nessum Dorma’, from the opera ‘Turandot’…
Because I love opera. Because it’s the first song of opera I sang well when I was ten years old. It’s my first moment of opera. I love that song.
Matheu (The Netherlands)
‘Lost In Japan’ by Shawn Mendes…
Because the melody is nice. I also like the uptempo.
Sophia Ivanko (Ukraine)
‘The Spirit Of Music’ by Sophia Ivanko…
I like my song because I’m songwriter. I wrote the lyrics and the piano part.
Erin Mai (Wales)
‘Anfonaf Angel’ by Bryn Terfel (and others)…
It’s a Welsh song, very meaningful, very emotional. It’s all about how sending an angel about how loving and caring it is.
The Beyoncé Effect
There are few artists globally today who can carry the lantern as a role model as well as Beyoncé. Not only does she have a wide repertoire of global hits, the fact that are bundled together with one of the most dynamic and powerful performers only adds to her overall package. Combined her artistry with her philanthropy, including huge donations for education and healthcare in developing countries, Beyoncé offers few reasons not to like her.
The artists I interviewed used words such as ‘powerful’, ‘strong’ and ‘inspirational’. These young artists have plenty of growing to do, but Beyoncé is an aspirational image that they want to achieve and emulate.
The Widespread English Language
Junior Eurovision has a rule where the song has to at least partially be sung in a national language of your country. Only two of the artists in this list mentioned a song that was not in the English language. We note that Erin Mai was selected from S4C, a dedicated Welsh language broadcaster, which is more likely to find young artists who would also want to promote the uniqueness of the language. ‘Nessun Dorma‘ is an unsurprising choice too, with few popular operatic songs in English, but note here that the song isn’t in Spanish either.
To me the overwhelming results are evidence that growing numbers of acts are comfortable with English, and that the language rule in itself may be a hindrance rather than a blessing for them. Populations move across the world so much more in this century, Viki Gabor for example grew up in England as a child, after being born in Germany. Surely a mor e child-respectful rule would be one for the student to perform in their native language, rather than that decreed by a broadcaster.
At any rate the level of English at Junior Eurovision feels far higher than it was ten years ago, with the majority of artists able to hold an interview in English without any help. This may be because learning English is increasingly popular across school curricula from East to West. For example in Russia learning a foreign language at school is now part of the school curriculum, and English is the most popular choice for schools to offer. Watch below how 9-year-old Tatyana Mezhentseva helps to interpret for her duet partner.
Yes, It’s Pop Music, But…
The list features many hit songs and contemporary artists. Unsurprisingly the pop stars of the future want to emulate the pop stars of the present. The list of songs doesn’t include what many of us would consider to be children’s music. Eliana’s choice of ‘Rhythm Inside‘ is cool and hip. It’s not Pollapönk.
What is notable is even within that is a diversity of tempos and moods, with some going for the sentimental and emotional tracks while others picking the uptempo floor fillers.
There’s also plenty of other choices being made. It’s little surprise that Melani Garcia chose opera, or Erin Mai chose Welsh, but all the musical styles they have chosen adds diversity naturally. The artists have picked songs they are comfortable with and what they would like to perform. It’s no surprise that it’s pop-dominated, but it’s less surprise that actually young people also show an independence to choose what they want.
On that note let me take you to the conversation I had with Sophia Ivanko representing Ukraine. Sophia was not accepting any possibility that she would want to sing any other song on the Junior Eurovision stage. In a rarity for the modern Junior Eurovision, ‘The Spirit Of Music’ is her song and her passion. I gave her the option of any song in the entire world. She didn’t twist. Having her song mean something to her meant so much more. Liza Misnikova didn’t switch either, and is also a credited songwriter for ‘Pepelny (Ashen)‘, and Joana Almeida has highlighted how her message is important to her after Portuguese forest fires in 2017.
The Voice As A National Final?
Quite a few of this year’s perfomers have came to Junior Eurovision after appearing on editions of either The Voice or The Voice Kids. These shows have brought many young people to a national TV audience, and thus the jump to Junior Eurovision is comparatively smaller.
I count Jordan Anthony, Carla, Melani Garcia, Yerzhan Maksim, Viki Gabor and Karina Ignatyan as alumni from this specific brand.
I note that Jordan, Melani and Yerzhan all chose performances not just from appearing on those shows, but specifically from the finals of their specific competitions. Psychologically it appears that the success these young artists had was due to that springboard, so those performances are really ingrained in them as their pinnacle.
In conclusion I see a group of Junior Eurovision artists who all want to go on that stage and show off themselves at their very best. If Junior Eurovision more matched their styles the show would undoubtedly be a great spectacle. It would be still be musically diverse, but a touch more contemporary than what is on offer in Junior Eurovision. It would be more English language, but not exclusively so.
The one thing we may lose are the songs with a deep message. I doubt there would have been multiple climate change/save the planet songs on show. Are young Junior Eurovision performers looking more to tell a story of personal growth on stage, whereas us adults are looking for them more to be the voice of all young people today? I will leave that question with you.
And that was Junior Eurovision 2019. Poland have won the first ‘back to back’ JESC trophies, and there’s a lot to unpick from the Contest. Before we all leave Gliwice, we gathered around the microphone to talk about the results.
Eurovision Insight Podcast: Our Final Daily News From Gliwice, Monday 25th November
Reviewing the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2019, examining the voting, thoughts on the performances, and our highlights of the show.
With Ewan Spence, Ben Robertson, Richard Taylor, John Stanton, and David Webster.
Winter is coming, but Rotterdam is on the horizon. Stay up to date with all the Eurovision discussions by listening to the ESC Insight podcasts. You’ll find the show in iTunes, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. A direct RSS feed is available. We also have a regular email newsletter which you can sign up to here.
While Junior Eurovision hurtles towards its conclusion, the buildup for next year’s adult Contest in Rotterdam is also accelerating quickly. Here’s a brief roundup of the latest major developments…
41 countries will participate in the Contest next year, according to a press release from the EBU. Sadly, Hungary and Montenegro have both withdrawn, but their places will be filled by the return of Bulgaria and Ukraine, both of whom sat out 2019.
The official slogan for 2020 will be ‘Open Up…’ an intentionally incomplete statement representing the open minded values of the Dutch people and the Eurovision Song Contest itself.
The official Euroclub for 2020 will be held at the Maassilo, a multi purpose event venue on the Rotterdam waterfront which can accommodate up to 5,000 people across several distinctive party halls.
Two artists have been announced for Eurovision 2020 to date. Belgium will be represented by the internationally popular ambient pop group Hooverphonic, while former boyband star Blas Cantó has been internally selected to sing for Spain. ESC Insight is building a Spotify playlist of all Eurovision 2020’s selected artists, which you can subscribe to here…
Finally, while a 2020 comeback is unlikely, the Principality of Andorra may be preparing to return to the Contest in the near future. Having firmly denied rumours of a return since their withdrawal in 2010, the micro state’s broadcaster confirmed that they were in talks with the government to secure funding for a future Eurovision bid. Could they soon earn their first ever place in the finals? Time will tell…
You can stay up to date with all of the latest Eurovision news and analysis right here on ESC Insight. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.