Eurovision 2016 – Sweden
The Eurovision Song Contest takes place every year and is watched by millions of people across Europe. The show is broadcast live to Europe and beyond, with viewing figures around the 500 million mark. Started in the early 1950’s to help bring the countries of Europe together emphasizing shared culture after the second world war, the contest has grown exponentially. In 1956 eight countries took part, with Great Britain joining in 1957.
As the Soviet Union broke up, and the former Yugoslavia separated into smaller independent countries, the number of nations eligible to participate grew. For the 2013 contest in Malmo, Sweden 39 countries took part. 2016 contestants for Sweden haven’t yet been confirmed.
There are some oddities, as the definition of Europe for Eurovision purposes is the member countries of the European Broadcasting Union, so Malta, Morocco and Israel are European for the night.The extra countries mean that there are now semi-finals to get into the big night so in 2016 there will be semi-final contests in May, ahead of the grand Eurovision Final.
In a world of weird, 3 million Australians also regularly watch the show. In 2015 Australia was European for the night. To celebrate 60 years of fandom there was a one-off Australian entry. Everyone in Europe can vote for the winner (although semi-final voting is restricted to fewer countries), the one important rule is that no-one can vote for the country they are in.
There’s plenty of political intrigue surrounding the contest and the voting, and money to be made and lost in betting on the outcome.
For 2015 it looks like Israel will not be able to participate as the government shut down the state broadcaster which was Israel’s member of the European Broadcasting Union. Ukraine has already pulled out citing financial difficulties.
People in Europe will often hold Eurovision parties at home to watch the broadcast with friends and family. Think SuperBowl parties but much, much camper.
Beer and wine will come from different nations across Europe and there will be a buffet table with foods from across Europe, luckily a well stocked cheese board can tick off a dozen nations. Little cocktail stick flags to represent the nations are a fun addition.
People may dress up either in national costume, or the unofficial Eurovision costume of ABBA style disco outfits.
In the UK the BBC provides print at home voting sheets so you can award points for each song, performance and outfit, and you can even set your TV to have the lyrics appear as subtitles allowing you to sing along.
Who Will Win Eurovision 2016?
The bookies haven’t yet opined but expect Sweden and Russia to feature in the betting.
There’s a big risk of booing in the stadium throughout the Russian entry. No songs are allowed to be overtly political, but fans can boo. It will be a shame for the singer, but it is to be expected with what’s happening in Ukraine. In 2015 Vienna deployed special software and audio equipment to neutralise booing.
The other little political delight is that Sweden is a hugely open and accepting place. Expect equal rights to be a key motif throughout, which once again will not please Russia (although Putin does enjoy taking his clothes off with other men).
Finland became heroes in 2015 when they selected PKN as their entry. A punk band made up of people with Down’s Syndrome and Autism, they’re aiming to raise awareness of how people with disabilities and mental health issues are treated.
The UK Entry 2015
The UK will not win. Ever. Despite the massive impact the UK has on the world’s music industry, and UK artists outselling every other European country combined in music sales worldwide, the UK does not enter winning songs, and even if they did, no-one would vote for them.
This has led to the UK entering some very strange songs delivered by odd acts.
I’m Still In Love With You
Where is Eurovision Held?
The Eurovision Song Contest is held each year in the home country of the previous year’s winner. In 2016 that’s Sweden, for 2015 it was Austria.
As Denmark won in Sweden in 2013, they got to host in 2014. Most countries choose their capital to host the contest,Copenhagen was a great choice for Denmark as it’s just across the Oresund Bridge from Malmo in Sweden (the host city in 2013), meaning the contest is in a large metropolitan area with plenty of hotel rooms for fans as well as the army of audio visual experts and event planners require to host such a spectacular show.
The political shenanigans in Eurovision voting are legendary. The winner has been selected in recent years by a Europe wide telephone vote. Each nation’s votes are then calculated and ranked to give points to ten entries. No country can vote for its own entry, to ensure fairness, but predictable patterns emerge.
Greece and Cyprus almost always award each other the maximum ‘douze points’, the UK vote highly for the Irish entry, and the countries of the former Yugoslavia vote for each other regardless of song quality.
The UK has fared badly in recent years on this basis, with few firm friends in Europe, and Germany is unlikely to get votes from Greece this year. The voting turns up some interesting patterns reflecting migration within Europe. Turkey often gets high votes from Germany because there are plenty of Turkish ‘guest workers’ in Germany, the UK has started to vote for Poland more frequently, and the Financial Times in England will often deliver a winning prediction based solely on historic voting patterns and immigration trends, without ever listening to the songs.
The semi-final process is another bone of political contention. The ‘Big Five’ nations of the European Broadcasting Union – the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy – get an automatic entry into the final, bypassing the semi-finals as they contribute the lion’s share of the Union’s budget. This irks smaller contributors and in 2013 Turkey cited it as a reason for withdrawal. Portugual have also withdrawn, for the more prosaic reason that they simply can’t afford to enter.
Who Won Eurovision 2015?
2015’s winner was Sweden, as predicted by the bookies, but not my poll which had Italy’s Il Vivo running away with it. Whilst Italy had the best singers, Sweden had incredible staging and a really cute man singing.
Staging in 2015 was excellent, and the quality of entries was much higher than recent years.
Sweden Is The Spiritual Home Of Eurovision
ABBA are the biggest success associated with Eurovision, and every year Sweden takes the contest to heart. Over 80% of the Swedish TV audience on Eurovision final night tunes in. Whilst people may associate Swedish art more often with their Scandinavian Noir offerings like Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, there is a great tradition of communal singing and the Allsang pa Skansen outdoor singing events held every summer Tuesday in Stockholm are a thing to behold. The Swedes know how to have fun, even at their own expense, and they have a good understanding of how the outside world views them.Here’s Sweden’s tribute to Eurovision, it’s a delight.
By far the most famous Eurovision Song Contest winners are ABBA, having won in 1974 with Waterloo, they went on to take the global music market by storm with hits like Mamma Mia, Fernando and Dancing Queen. It’s hard to think of a more famous Swedish export than ABBA, brought to a global audience by Eurovision.
Who won Eurovision in 2014?
The 2014 winner was Conchita Wurst, the female drag alter ego of Tom Neuwirth. This was something of a surprise, as it showed that Europe was ready for a bearded man in a dress to win.
There’s a bit of a battle for the soul of Europe with a liberal west being unconcerned by the sexual and gender choices of others, and a conservative east obsessed with sexuality and gender roles. As Eurovision is very popular in the east, and taken seriously as a contest by the population, whereas the west tends to see it as camp fun, no-one thought Conchita stood a chance, but her voice and performance were outstanding (and no-one much likes Putin, so a vote for Conchita was a vote against him).
Rise Like A Phoenix
The classic Eurovision spoof, written at a time when Ireland kept winning so had to keep hosting the show, at great expense, Father Ted and Dougal are selected as Ireland’s entry with a song so bad it couldn’t possibly win.
When a country in financial difficulties trots out a terrible song it’s usually suspected that they are “pulling a Father Ted”.
Who Won Eurovision 2013?
2013’s winner was, as predicted, Denmark’s Emmelie de Forest with her song Only Teardrops. It was a competent pop song, and we heard it in bars all over Europe. Classic Eurovision moments came with Romania’s bizarre falsetto opera singer on stilts, Belarus’ starlet bursting out of a disco ball in a tiny dress, and Finland’s wedding dress outfit. Finland’s girls kissing each other would not have gone down well with the Azerbaijan entry, which featured a man trapped in a perspex box.Greece’s cheery ‘Alcohol is Free’ performed with traditional instruments was our favorite, but we didn’t really want them to win, as each year’s winner hosts the next year’s event, and with costs said to be in the $50-75 million range, and Azerbaijan pushing that up over $300 million by building a new stadium to host the event, it’s not a game Greece wanted to win. Ireland may have felt sad at coming last, but they couldn’t afford victory, and on seeing Spain’s entry I think they were actively trying to lose.
Famous Eurovision Winners
While many outside Europe have never seen the contest, most will recognise contestants like ABBA, Julio Iglasias and Englebert Humperdink.
Celine Dion was perhaps a surprising Eurovision success as she is Canadian, but the rules state that the song must be written by the represented country, but not necessarily performed by a national. Celine Dion won for Switzerland in Dublin in 1988. It took a little while, but after switching to singing in English, Celine Dion’s career really took off.