So we’ve reached the one week of the year where delegations from over 40 countries gather for a celebration of song, dance, pyro & crazy gimmicks… it’s time for the Eurovision Song Contest 2018!
For those of you outside of Europe, or that live under a rock, the Eurovision Song Contest is an annual musical competition for all nations within the European Broadcasting Union (including Australia, who are an associate member). The competition is currently in it’s 63rd year, and will be broadcasting from Lisbon, Portugal. The show is essentially a week long event, with semi finals being held on the Tuesday & Thursday, and the Grand Final on the Saturday evening.
Winning the contest normally leads to some short term success for the winners, but very few winners go on to long term success on a global scale. The exceptions to this would be Celine Dion, Bucks Fizz, and a little-known band called ABBA. Currently Ireland hold the record for the most victories (7), and they also won it 3 years in a row from 1992-1994.
To try keep things fair, there are a few rules that the entries must meet. The main ones are:
In order to qualify for the final, 37 countries will battle it out across 2 semi-finals. 10 acts from each semi-final progress to the final, and the scoring is calculated on a 50/50 split between Jury votes & Televoting. The qualifiers are announced in no particular order, so fans will not know for definite which song is most popular until the Grand Final. As the “Big 5” contributors to the EBU, Germany, France, Italy, Spain & UK progress straight through to the final, along with the host nation (Portugal).
Since 2016, the scoring of the Final has been split into 2 distinct parts; a jury vote, and a public vote. The top 10 for each vote within each country earns points ranging from 1 to 12 points (12, 10, 8–1). First, we travel around Europe and meet a “celebrity” presenter from each country, who gives us the results of their country’s Jury. The first 9 points scorers appear on screen, and the presenter then tells us who has received 12 points from their jury.
The 2nd half of the voting is where things get more interesting: The 1-12 points scorers from the public vote in each country are added together. Then the total points are read by the presenters, starting with the country receiving the least points from the televotes and ending with the country that received the most points. The aim of this is to make it so the winner is not known until the very end, and build the suspense a but more.
During the 2017 contest, Moldova managed to capitalise on strong public support to propel themselves from 8th place after the jury vote up to a 3rd place finish. This just highlights how this new scoring system can drastically change the overall result.
This year’s competition appears to now be down to a 2 horse race, based on early reports from Lisbon. The 2 songs in contention are “Toy” by Netta (representing Israel), and “Fuego” by Eleni Foureira (representing Cyprus).
Netta was the overwhelming favourite during the buildup, but during rehearsals her performances appear to have underwhelmed. The song is ridiculously catchy though, so a strong performance could still see her take home the crown.
Eleni, on the other hand, appeared to be biding her time during the buildup to the show. However since rehearsals she has wowed those in attendance, and is now favourite with most bookies. “Fuego” is probably one of the most complete songs the competition has seen in recent years, and wouldn’t seem out of place in the charts.
Apart from those 2, my own longshot to sneak the win is the returning Alexander Rybak, representing Norway. Rybak previously competed in the 2009 competition, where he won with “Fairytale”, a song he also wrote and composed. His song this time around is the annoyingly catchy “That’s How You Write A Song”. While the lyrics of it are nothing special, it is catchy enough that it could get a very strong public vote.
There’s also a trip down Memory Lane for fans of the X-Factor as Saara Aalto, the runner-up from 2016, will be representing her native Finland. The song is nothing spectacular, but Saara is a great performer live, so she could drag the song to a good finish.
If you want to catch a snippet of the rest of the songs, the following video has a sample of what each country has to offer this year:
Let’s be realistic, Ireland haven’t got a hope of winning the thing, so we won’t even joke about it. But the song, “Together” is a really nice, soft song, and the simple staging of it won’t distract from the song itself. Unfortunately Ireland have drawn the short straw and are in the stronger of the 2 semi-finals, but they are still a good outside bet to scrape through to the finals. It’s definitely one of the best songs we’ve sent in recent years. For anyone not familiar with the Eurovision, Ireland literally sent a turkey to represent them in 2008:
If you live in one of the participating countries, you can watch the show on your national broadcaster. The Semi Finals take place on Tuesday 8th May & Thursday 10th May, and the Grand Final will take place on Saturday 12th May. All 3 shows will kick off at 8pm in UK & Ireland. That’s 9pm for those in central Europe, and for our friends in North America it’s 3pm Eastern/ 12pm Pacific.
There is also a live stream on the official Eurovision YouTube, but unfortunately due to rights restrictions this is not available in North America. For those in North America wanting to join in the fun, Logo TV will be broadcasting the event for the 3rd year in a row.
So that’s about everything you should need to know to get yourself introduced to the Eurovision Song Contest for this year. You can also find much more information about the competition on the official Eurovision website.
DISCLAIMER: The show is always even more entertaining when drinking, but make sure to drink responsibly. We don’t want you to come crying to us when you end up having to get your stomach pumped because you drank for 3 minutes straight instead of paying attention to the pile of manure Georgia sent this year…