The Voice

Eurovision: What is it?

Isabella Granqvist, Reporter

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Eurovision: an international phenomenon, a spectacular event, the most intense singing competition in the world… wait, what?

If you’re like most people in the U.S., you probably have no clue what Eurovision is. I myself was oblivious until I was introduced to it a few years ago, and I haven’t stopped watching since.

Eurovision Song Contest is a huge, televised singing competition that covers many countries, including but not limited to: Ireland, Cyprus, Australia, Sweden, the UK and so many more.

The competition was created in 1956 after World War II. Basically, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) wanted to reunite EBU countries with something lighthearted and fun, so they created an annual song competition involving countries of the EBU.

The first year, only seven countries competed; now, 43 countries take part. Each country submits one song and performs it; the choosing is completely up to each respective country.

I am half Swedish, so I always follow the Swedish process of choosing a song to enter into Eurovision. They have their own pre-competition called Melodifestivalen (“The melody festival”) in the months leading up to Eurovision, while some countries are more lax with their song choices.

At the end of the four-day event, each country will award points, 1-12, to 12 of their favorite songs. (Countries cannot give points to their own country, for obvious reasons.)

This often turns into a bit of a political game, as many countries will award higher points to neighboring countries for the sake of them being neighbors. For example, Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Denmark, Norway, etc. will often give high marks to each other… even if the songs aren’t necessarily the best.

The winning group (who represents their country) wins nothing more than honor and a trophy. Their country is given the responsibility of hosting the next year’s competition, unless they choose to bow out (which has only happened five times in the 63 years the competition has been happening.)

This year, Eurovision is in Lisbon, Portugal, as they won last year. The country with the most wins is Ireland, with seven wins. (Sweden is next with six, by the way!)

Besides being a singing competition, Eurovision is a full-on performance. Look at any country’s performance on Youtube, and you will find intense light shows, backup dancers, extravagant costumes and an overall spectacle, even if the song is subpar. (Russia’s 2012 entry consisted of six old women baking bread onstage as they sang.)

Most songs nowadays are in English, because that generally gives countries an advantage since English is a language more people are likely to understand. However, several countries choose to sing in their country’s language and this can create a very interesting performance.

I highly encourage everyone to tune into this year’s Eurovision (you can watch it on Eurovision’s official Youtube channel.) The semi-finals are on May 8 and 10, and the finals are on May 12. Of the 43 countries competing in the semi-finals, 26 will make it to the finals.

It’s sure to be an event to remember, and it’s a great way to be exposed to different languages and cultures through song and dance. Ultimately, Eurovision serves its intentional purpose: to bring countries together through a light-hearted celebration of the arts.

 

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Eurovision: What is it?