The Eurovision Song Contest is now entering its 60th year, its diamond anniversary. It was the brainchild of Swiss broadcaster Marcel Bezençon who wanted to bring the nations of Europe together after the ravages of the Second World War.
You might think the Eurovision is the contest that no-one really cares about and that the UK always does really badly at, but if that is the case you would be completely wrong. The Eurovision Song Contest is so much more than an evening of singing sometime in May. There’s a fascinating process behind putting on the show, with much planning involved where the host broadcaster is concerned.
Their first decision is the host city, which may seem like an obvious choice to make but it isn’t always in the capital of the nation that wins the year before. As recently as 2013 Sweden decided to host the contest in Malmö rather than Stockholm as it was cheaper to host and cheaper for the fans also (with Stockholm being one of the most expensive cities to live in in the world).
This coming year the contest will be hosted in Austria because of Conchita Wurst’s victory with the Bond theme styled ballad “Rise Like A Phoenix”.
Over the summer the Austrian national broadcaster ORF (Österreichischer Rundfunk) had to decide where to host the contest. Many cities put forward their proposals to host and there were three they were deciding between; Graz, Innsbruck and the eventual winners of Vienna.
The host broadcaster also gets to decide the slogan for the contest and happily they’ve moved from sounding like a cult last year with the slogan “#JoinUs” to the as yet unknown quantity of “Building Bridges”.
I say that because they’ve announced only the slogan and not any of the artwork. But as well as the host broadcaster having a lot to think about, each of the participating countries has got to somehow decide which artist and what song to send to Vienna.
The more traditional method is to have a National Final where the broadcaster get a collection of artists together and make them perform their songs and the public get to vote on which they send to the contest. These will be the main focus of these reports on the road to Vienna next May.
There are quite a few National Finals that have a fantastic standard of music and if you let go of the prejudice you have against Eurovision music you will find some fantastic tunes, one of which that sticks in my mind is Ace Wilder’s “Busy Doin’ Nothin’” from Sweden’s Melodifestivalen which you all ought to give at least one listen.
If that isn’t really to your taste you will find something you like amongst the vast collection of songs in the National Final season which begins very soon, with Macedonia and Malta having theirs on the November 13 and 22 respectively.
And finally , the UK are rather good at the Eurovision song contest, having won it five times and come second an astonishing 15 times, so take that to heart the next time you think we aren’t going to win, as you never know, maybe the BBC just needs to put a bit more effort in!