The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual competition held among active member countries of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), in which participating countries each submit a song to be performed on live television; then proceed to cast votes for the other countries’ songs, in order to find the most popular song in the competition. Each country participates via one of their national EBU-member television stations, whose task it is to select a singer and a song to go forward to represent the country in the international competition.
It’s difficult to understand how influential and strange the contest is unless you’ve experienced it from Europe. It’s kind of like a hyper-intensive, pan-continental American Idol (originally Pop Idol in the UK, I should point out), now in season 51. I still don’t get Eurovision, and this is my third year in Europe.
A number of well-known artists got their start, or made an appearance, in the contest. These include CÃƒÂ©line Dion, Lulu and ABBA. I fear those names are pretty reflective of the kind of music featured on Eurovision. For a boy raised on rock and roll, the Europop is a bit hard to take.
Wikipedia says its one of the most-watched non-sports events in the world, citing an international audience anywhere from 100 to 600 million viewers. I don’t know that it ever airs in North America–I’ve never seen it on TV. The coolest part is how each country gets to vote on all the other country’s songs. You get these weird bloc voting patterns.
To give you a sense of how closely the contest is watched, I read an article in The Malta Times yesterday reviewing their entry’s second rehearsal (the photo must be seen to be believed).
No item about Eurovision would be complete without referencing the hilarious Father Ted episode, “A Song for Europe”. Here’s a plot synopsis and Ted and Dougal’s classic entry, “My Lovely Horse” (and the rock video version).
UPDATE: I should have mentioned that this whole entry was inspired by Toni, who’s in Helsinki at this year’s contest.