What’s kind of like a cross between the World Cup and American Idol, and has been broadcast annually since 1956? Besides your mom, that is. If you don’t know (this seems to be a particularly American affliction), then you’re missing out on one of the largest secrets of Europe (as well as the Maghreb and Levant), what between 100 and 600 million people watch every year. It’s called Eurovision, and we are currently a mere one month and six days from the live broadcast of Eurovision 2009 from Moscow.
If you’re wondering what the fuck I’m talking about, here’s a quick rundown:
Eurovision has been broadcast annually since 1956. It was conceived as a way to help rebuild morale in postwar Europe by frenchman Marcel Bezençon.
Seven countries participated initially, and in 2009 we’re up to 42! Only 25 compete in the final competition, though, which means that there are also two semi-finals (May 12 and 14).
Participating countries can select their representative song either through public competition (most do this) or internal decision.
Four countries (Germany, Spain, France, and the UK) don’t have to compete in the semi-finals, because they provide so much financial support. They always go straight to the finals, as does the host country’s (last year’s winner’s) entry.
And you can’t vote for your own country.
It used to be that the host country had to provide a live orchestra, in case anyone needed it to back them. In fact, it was this way until 1998, but now no longer. The only thing required to be live now is vocals (both lead and backing), but everything else can be pre-recorded.
Since you’re trying to curry the favor of pretty much all of Europe, most entries are pretty bland bubble gum type pop music. In 2006 Finland broke damn near every rule, however, with Read the rest of this entry »