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Eurovision Corner: 2020 and Eurovision at a glance

Okay, now you’re probably wondering why you even clicked on this link when you’re not interested in Eurovision.. I’m glad you asked. In this article I will do my best to convert Eurovision fans-to-be to give the best music show in the galaxy a chance, I will also summarize information about this year’s virtual Eurovision for all those who are lost in it. Let’s dive in! (Behold my Photoshop skills. Also, credit to EBU.)

What the hell is Eurovision!?

Eurovision or the Eurovision Song Contest is a music competition organized every May by the EBU (European Broadcasting Union – they are behind biathlon too) and consists of two semi-finals and a final, and is held in the country that last won the competition (so Eurovision moves every year to another country! Well, if the same country doesn’t win twice in a row hah). The competition first started in 1956 and at that time 7 European countries took part. Today, around 40 countries take part in Eurovision and not all of them are necessarily in Europe. *cough*Australia*cough*

So Eurovision is mandatory for Europe!?

Whoa. How many times has your country participated? And how long does Eurovision run? Okay, if your country is a part of the Big Five then this does not really add up.. Uhm, no, participation is not mandatory. Every year, each country decides whether to participate (usually money and the interest of the country’s inhabitants play a role, as was the case in the Czech Republic at the turn of the last decade; and not an extensive and high-quality music scene haha). For example, Slovakia last participated in 2012 with Miro Šmajda (who performed under the pseudonym Max Jason Mai for some reason). The Czech Republic tried it for the first time in the years 2007 – 2009. We finally returned in 2015 (with Marta Jandová and Noid) and since then we have been participating every year. Our best result so far was in 2018, when Mikolas Josef settled in 6th place with the song Lie to Me. Germany has taken part every year since 1956. Yeah, mind-blowing.

Okay, so anyone can sing any song?

Sorry, mate, it’s not allowed to sing covers. Each European country that confirms its participation in the next year of Eurovision must present a representative and a competition song (No later than March? Or around that time of the year). Anyone can be a representative (Celine Dion sang for the Swiss for one year, Karel Gott for Austria) – a singer or a group (there can be no more than 6 members). But when it comes to songs, there are rules. The song must not be longer than 3 minutes and both the lyrics and the melodies must not be released commercially before September of the previous year (ie for this year’s Eurovision, the date was September 1, 2019, for Eurovision 2019 it was September 2018, etc.). This means that the song is written specifically for this competition. However, the song can be written in any language, or even several!

So how does it work? Forty songs sound like a very long show..

The EBU is also aware of this. That is why Eurovision works in the format of two semifinals and one final. The Big Five and the organizing country are automatically in the final. The Big Five has existed since 2000, and it is the group of European countries that invests the most money in the EBU. Namely, Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the United Kingdom (not that it would help Britain and Germany in any way the last few years haha). Each year, the other countries are divided by random voting between the semi-finals, where they compete to get into the finals. In practice, this means that about 20 contestants will sing their song on the Eurovision stage twice (during the semifinals and once again during the finals). The mix of votes of national juries and audience decides who will advance to the final (and the final ranking as well as the winner).

Okay. I see. But why should I watch it anyway??

Damn you, man! Because it’s the best music competition in the whole galaxy! Because we have Australia in Eurovision since 2015, but not the USA and Canada. Because songs like Waterloo (yes, the Waterloo by ABBA), Hard Rock Hallelujah, Wild Dances, Euphoria, Satellite or Heroes were written especially for Eurovision! ABBA won Sweden’s Eurovision and it helped kick-start the band’s commercial success around the world. Because where else can you see Jesus playing the burning piano, man running in a giant wheel for hamsters, Russian grandmothers, contestants singing with the whole hall when the electricity goes out, crazy dance creations, amazing vocal ranges, stunning costumes, breathtaking performances, emotions .. But what is the very best in the whole competition? It doesn’t matter who wins! This competition unites Europe … uh, until the voting hits. But shh, we won’t talk about it. Everyone has to experience it for themselves.

Where else will you see the most iconic performance of them all??

Hm, Eurovision was cancelled this year anyway, soo..

Ha man! You fool! You ignorant creature! Eurovision as we know has been cancelled. Rotterdam may not be singing this year, but the EBU has decided to hold a digital version, where it will honor all 41 of this year’s competition songs – without voting. Soo..

Fine! When? Where? How?

The Eurovision Song Celebration 2020 will take place on Tuesday 12 May and Thursday 14 May at 9 pm Prague time. During these two evenings, all 41 songs of 2020 will be heard, as already mentioned – without the possibility of voting. The first evening we will hear the songs that were supposed to be heard during the original first semifinal, and the Netherlands, Germany and Italy will join them. The EBU has also announced that the so-called “Switch Your Genre” game is back and it looks like all the competition songs for the evening will change their genre. In addition to these songs, as usual we can look forward to interval entertainment. On the second evening, May 14, the remaining half of the “competitors” awaits us, plus the other half of the Big Five, France, Spain and the United Kingdom. There will also be interval entertainment and they promised a tour of the kitchen of one or two contestants. You can watch both evenings on the official YouTube channel Eurovision Song Contest.

On Saturday, May 16, from 9 pm, the so-called final or Eurovision: Europe Shine a Light awaits us. You can either watch the show on the mentioned YouTube channel or on TV. The show will last about 2 hours, so we will not hear the competition songs again, however, we can look forward to a lot of Eurovision memories from the rich history of this music competition. This year’s contestants will also come together to sing the 1997 winning song “Love Shine a Light”.

As for special performances, Michael Schulte (representing Germany in 2018) and Ilse DeLange (The Common Linnets, The Netherlands 2014) are singing together Germany’s first winning song from 1982, Ein Bisschen Frieden. We can also look forward to the Israeli winner from 1979, who will join forces with former contestants from the Junior Eurovision Song Contest (yes, there is also a children’s version) to sing her song Hallelujah together. And if you aren’t so interested in the last century, then you can look forward to Måns Zelmerlöw, the Swedish winner of 2015, and his hit Heroes. Also Maria Šerifović (Serbia, 2007) with the song Molitva and of course Netta, the Israeli winner of 2018, who sings the acoustic version of her new song. All joined by the last Eurovision winner, the Dutch Duncan Laurence and his new song Someone Else. The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and a special fan sing-a-long moment await us too. Saturday, May 16 from 9 am Prague time. TV. Or YouTube Eurovision Song Contest.

I don’t know the names at all, but it sounds … interesting?

I think so! Turn your alarm clock on. Also, if you happen to be interested, know that this year is really special and in the last 8 weeks eight episodes of Eurovision Home Concerts have been released, where various contestants sing not only their songs, but also covers of other Eurovision songs (mostly Euphoria and Satellite, but there are never enough of them). More information and all parts (except for the upcoming last Friday) can be found on the Eurovision website.

And if all this is not enough for you as a reason, then think of all the new memes. Because, and I can guarantee you that, the amount of memes that are created every year thanks to Eurovision is bigger than dissatisfied Eurovision viewers during the annual vote.