The 2013 Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden, will be held at a time when many parts of the eurozone struggle with recession and austerity measures prompting protests in some major cities across the continent.
The costs associated with participating in the event and potentially hosting should they win, have seen countries like Portugal, Poland, Slovakia and Bosnia-Herzegovina pull out of this year’s show.
Sweden, which is staging the contest thanks to Loreen’s winning entry “Euphoria” last year, is downsizing the event, spending around $20million. It’s about half of the estimated production cost of the 2012 show in Baku, Azerbaijan. That’s not including the $100million it forked out to fast track its new arena, dubbed the Crystal Palace, where last year’s Eurovision was held.
But if you were to measure success by the number of eyeballs focussing on the production, then a success it is. More than 125 million people watched Eurovision in 2012, making it one of the world’s biggest televised events.
There has been much criticism of its voting system, with political or bloc voting often evident.
This year though, it will be interesting to see if the sympathy vote is used. That is, will countries struggling with their own harsh austerity measures give their 12 points, to other countries going through the same thing?
As for my 12 points, they’ll be going to the song which leaves a lasting impression in my head. In fact, I’ve already downloaded two singles from this year’s contest from iTunes.
Eurovision for me, dates back to my childhood in Wollongong.
My family would get together on a Sunday in May, and watch the spectacle, rooting for Portugal, which typically, never did very well.
Given most of my family migrated from Madeira, Portugal, more than 33 years ago, watching the event was a way of my family connecting with their heritage.
When I was younger, there was never really a chance of finding out who the winner was ahead of Australian broadcast time, because of the limited technology.
But these days, it is hard to avoid.
I go on a total media blackout on Eurovision day. No internet, no Twitter, no Facebook, no television. If I’m rostered on to work at SBS, then there’s no chance of turning a blind eye to the result on the day it’s broadcast, because SBS is Eurovision’s home in Australia. Luckily, I haven’t been rostered on, yet.
There have been times in the past, when a friend has text me the result ahead of the SBS broadcast.
Once one of my parents inadvertently told me, what they thought was the result. Dad, I’m looking at you.
Mum visited me at my home in Sydney on the day of the show one year. She asked me if I knew the winner. I said no. Dad jumped in, innocently mind you, and said, “It was Germany, wasn’t it?” Azerbaijan won.
So my passion for Eurovision extends far beyond the often trashy clothes, laughable dance routines, and sometimes catchy pop tunes.
It represents tradition.
These days, it’s an excuse for my friends and I to carry the family memories, by getting together and watching the show.
We even have our little scoring system, and the person who guesses closest to the top 5, generally gets the opportunity to host our Eurovision party the following year. OTT? Maybe. Fun? Yes.
We score by a combination of the songs we like, and how we think Europe will vote. Yep, it’s complex. We take it seriously. Kind of.
So my favourites this year?
I’ve got a very heavy bias towards dance, electro and pop tunes. Combine all three, and you’re a winner in my books.
There are two clear standouts.
My 10 points, would go for Germany. Its entrant this year is Cascada with “Glorious”. Cascada is already well known globally, with hits like “Evacuate the Dancefloor” and “Everytime We Touch”. The song is catchy, fun and is prime for some great dance remixes. Natalie Horler, the lead singer of the group, also has a powerful pop voice.
My favourite this year is 27 year old Irish pop/dance singer, Ryan Dolan. His single, “Only Love Survives” hits the mark and follows the popular clubbing genre of today, following similar styles of DJs like David Guetta. Again, I can already hear the potential remixes of the song should any producer be looking for a project. 12 points! But like any dance or club song, its execution will be important, because sometimes the music overpowers the vocals. Last year, it wasn’t a problem for Loreen.
That doesn’t mean, I think he’ll win. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least, if Finland, Malta or Sweden takes it out. Their sounds are very ‘today’ mimicking the likes Ke$ha, Bruno Mars, Coldplay and Birds of Tokyo.
I must give a special mention to Serbia’s Moje 3 with “Ljubav je svuda”. No, I don’t understand what they’re singing. But just take a look at their stilted and awkward dance moves, devil, angel and gold outfits, facial expressions and questionable singing ability, and it’s pure Eurovision. Oh, and the hair whip #pureeurovision.
Wild card goes to Emmelie De Forest’s “Only Teardrops” from Denmark. Annoyingly catchy, modern, and she performs it on the floor to start with, barefoot… it worked for Loreen last year.
The grand final will be shown on SBS One at 7:30pm Sunday May 19.
You can watch my interview with Eurovision 2012 winner, Loreen below.