Eurovision for Beginners
Hello Dear Readers!
This year, a Eurovision is reaching a wider audience than ever before! I’d thought it would be a good idea to create a quick reference post for newbies to the Contest. Here are the top ten things you need to know in order to understand and enjoy Eurovision.
1. The Contest began in 1956 in order to bring together war-torn Europe. Starting with just seven countries, the Contest has exploded as Europe welcomed new countries. There are a total of 42 countries involved in ESC 2016, spanning the continent and beyond.
2. The participating countries are randomly split in half based on their voting history and must compete in one of either two semi-finals. Ten songs qualify from each semi-final and meet the automatic qualifiers in the Grand Final.
3. The automatic qualifiers are the host country, which is the defending champion, and the Big Five. These are the countries with the five largest television audiences in Europe and pay the most to the EBU (the organization that runs Eurovision). These countries are: France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
4. The competitors are broadcasting companies (typically government-run) that select a representative to fly the flag. Countries can choose their entries any way they like. Some opt for a competition in which artists compete with songs, some choose an artist and song internally, and some do a combination of these things.
5. Songs can be in any language, but most choose English (or partially English) to broaden their entry’s appeal. Songs cannot have offensive, overtly sexual, political, or overtly religious lyrics. All lyrics can be found, in English and French, on the official website: eurovision.tv.
6. All performers (singers, backing singers, and dancers) must be at least 16 on the day of their first night of competition. No animals are allowed on stage. All music must be provided by backing track, but all singing must be done live. Songs must be no longer than three minutes.
7. Voting results are a 50/50 combination of professional juries and public vote (televoting). Each country provides a jury of five music professionals; they watch the second dress rehearsal (the evening before the televised show) and cast their votes then. Televoting occurs during the televised show during a fifteen minute window after the last song is performed.
8. Every competing country, regardless if they qualified for the Grand Final, vote for the winner. The results of the jury are revealed, country by country. The televoting is then revealed in ascending order, from least points to most points.
9. The winning song has the honor of being reprised at the end of the show. The winning artist gets a crystal trophy shaped liked a microphone. The winning composers and lyricists receive plaques. The winning broadcaster and country get to host the Contest the following year.
10. The Eurovision Song Contest is for EVERYONE. This openness & inclusion, along with a past history of being kitschy and camp, have brought a lot of gay male fans to the ESC. However, despite stereotypes throughout Western Europe, Eurovision is enjoyed by all kinds of people across the world and has the goal of uniting us ALL through music for one a week a year.
Craving for more information about Eurovision? Check out my ESC Notes that give a look at the history, rules, and notable quirks about the Contest. They were written with a particular eye towards those new to the Contest.
Want more information specific to ESC 2016? My country profiles will satiate your appetite as they cover information for each competing nation – their history and the background of their competing artists.
Wondering how you can hear great hits from Eurovision’s past? I have assembled playlists capturing different elements of Eurovision. This includes an Eurovision for Beginners playlist with twenty of the most influencial and historically important entries of all time.
This year during the Second Semi-Final, two great productions were made wherein hosts Petra Mede and Måns Zelmerlöw explain the Contest in fun ways.
Expecting my thoughts and reactions to the jury show for the Grand Final? Check back in a few hours!