Saturday, April 25, 2015

Eurovision

It's getting to be Eurovision time and it's a very big deal over here in Euroland.  The annual Eurovision Song Contest is one of the longest-running TV programs in the world.  It's also one of the most watched non-sporting events with international viewers ranging from 100-600 million.  Next month is the 60th anniversary so here's how it works.

Each country submits an original song that is performed on live television.  The song may be in any language (but English and French tend to always win).  There are two semi-final rounds and the final.  After each night of performances callers vote for their favorite songs.  But here's the catch.  Voters in each country may not vote for their own song.  You have to vote for your favorite song from another country.

Countries give 12 points for the favorite song, then 10 points to the second favorite then 8points down to 1 point for the next eight best songs.  The song with the most points wins and the winning country gets to host the following year's competition.  Each country gets an equal number of points to distribute regardless of size.  So tiny Luxembourg has just as many points to give out as Russia does.

France, Germany, Spain, the UK, and Italy are known as the Big Five.  They automatically make it to the final event.  I believe it has something to do with these countries being the top financial contributors.  Just as in European sporting events Israel also competes.  And to commemorate the 60th anniversary next month Australia will compete as a guest entry, with an automatic berth to the finals.  I'm pretty sure that for Australia it's a one-time thing unless they happen to win.  

Winning Eurovision is a matter of national pride.  It does help the performers but it normally doesn't result in any performer making it big.  The two big notable exceptions are ABBA, who won in 1974 for Sweden, and Céline Dion, who won in 1988 for Switzerland.

Ireland holds the record for the most wins with seven.  Sweden, France, Luxembourg and the UK all have five wins.  The UK has the most 2nd place finishes coming in as runner up 15 times.

Czechoslovakia never competed in Eurovision.  While Slovakia entered in 1994 the Czechs didn't enter until 2007.  Czechland competed in 2007, 2008 and 2009, without ever making it to the finals.  This year the Czechs are back so maybe the fourth time will be the charm.

Here's the Czech entry for next month's contest.  The song, in English, is Hope Never Dies by Marta Jandová and Václav Noid Bárta.

video
 ©Eurovision Song Contest

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