Eurovision basics

So you want to know about Eurovision?

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Where?

The final is held in the country of the previous years winner. There have been exceptions to this rule however usually due to the expense.

Hosting doesn’t come cheap. Do countries try not to win because of the expense? hmm UK I’m looking at you 😉 The UK has actually already hosted eight times, the most out of all the countries, with Ireland and Sweden close behind.

When?

Generally the competition is held in May but it has been held in April too.

Who?

Participation is not based on geography. Not in Europe? not a problem, there have been entries from Israel and Morocco. No wonder I’m so bad at geography.

In addition to the big five (UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, France), the host country and the other usual suspects, Australia has competed since 2015 and Justin Timberlake performed in 2016 so one could assume that soon the USA will be joining the line up. Possibly.

In the Semi finals 36 acts (excluding the big 5 and the host country) are whittled down to twenty, leaving a final with 26 acts.

Voting

You can vote via phone, SMS or via the Official Eurovision app in a 15 minute voting window after all the acts have performed. Viewers votes are collated with those of a music industry panel in each country, each worth 50% in deciding the final tally.

You cannot vote for your home country. This is a nice little Eurovision quirk, and a full on Euro popularity contest sometimes.

All 42 countries involved are permitted to vote, voting can take a while but it can be entertaining for a number of reasons including…

You might also witness a teesy little bit of political voting, maybe. Look out for votes between Ireland and the UK. Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Nordic states, Baltic states and Balkan countries voting for each other. And simply neighbours voting for neighbours. Turkey and Poland tend to get high scores from Germany due to their large populations there.

Songs

The length of each song is limited to 3 minutes. Give or take a few seconds, though most of the songs will however have extended versions recorded for release.

Only one song may be entered per country and it must be completely original (no sampling or covers) and cannot have been released previous to the preceding September and not at all in the entry’s country until after the contest.

Each performance may have six people on stage maximum. Oh and no live animals are allowed on stage. Pretty much anything else goes though!

Songs can be sung in any language, even made up ones. English reaches wider audiences but it can sometimes seem unpatriotic to ignore a mother tongue.

All vocal artists must perform live, backing tracks must not contain any vocals whatsoever. No fully instrumental performances have been allowed but a cappella (without accompaniment) is permitted.

What to expect? Glitter, Europop and a range of tuneful (and sometimes not so tuneful) entertainment. The show (which always, always overruns) and is usually around 3 hours in total, so settle in for a full night with a bottle of bubbles.

Not that you can actually know what to expect at Eurovision but, here’s a taste

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