Melbourne, AUSTRALIA – For Eurovision fans, the worst time of year has come. The time of PED: Post Eurovision Depression. That time of the year just after the Eurovision Song Contest where fans are missing the contest, enjoying the songs performed and eagerly counting down the days to the next year’s competition.
But what is Eurovision, you may ask. Let me explain. It is a yearly competition where countries, mostly in Europe, compete in a singing competition. They send a singer and an original song and the song with the most votes wins.
To compete, a nation’s national broadcaster must be a member of the European Broadcasting Union, or EBU. These countries don’t necessarily have to be in Europe, hence why Israel is able to compete and why countries such as Morocco have competed in the past.
Sometimes associate members are invited to compete, which is why Australia has competed since 2015. The song that gets submitted must not have been commercially released before September of the previous year and must be no more than three minutes in length.
The winner gets a trophy and the right to host the competition the following year.
This year’s competition, which was held in Portugal’s capital Lisbon, was one of the most even in many years. Although the bookies had obvious favorites for months, it was not even clear who would qualify from the semi-finals.
In semi-final one, the favorites were entries from Bulgaria, Estonia and Israel. Estonia sent an opera song in Italian while Israel’s song was about #MeToo with chicken noises in the middle of the song. It was unclear to me on first listen that it was actually about #MeToo.
Most fans and experts have said that Semi-final 1 is a lot stronger than Semi-final 2. But this is not what I believe. I would argue that the semi-finals are more even than most people think. There were a lot of quality songs in both semi-finals.
Although the favorites with the bookies all qualified, not all the fan favorites qualified and there were some shock qualifiers. It seemed to me that this year there were more shock qualifiers than in previous years. Maybe it’s because I was more invested in the contest this year.
There is an unwanted tradition at Eurovision that continued again this year – block voting, also known as political voting. The European Broadcasting Union is constantly trying to keep politics out of Eurovision, but no matter how hard they try, politics gets into the competition.
This is my only issue with the contest. Some of the voting can get so predictable it’s annoying. Take Cyprus and Greece as a perfect example. Unless one or both are not in the final, they will each give each other the maximum points, which is 12.
This year, the winner was from Israel. The singer’s name is Netta, and her song – the one supposedly about #MeToo with chicken noises in the middle – is called “Toy.” Second place went to fellow favorite Cyprus, whose song “Fuego” was very Beyonce-esque.
If you’re American, you may be wondering why you should care about something that the United States does not compete in. Well, you may be surprised to know that Americans do in fact compete in Eurovision. Two members of Equinox, the singing group that represented Bulgaria this year, are American. Also, you do not need to be a citizen of a competing country to be interested in the contest. You can pick an act that is your favorite and barrack for them. It doesn’t matter what country they are from.
Safety concerns have already been raised about next year’s host country, Israel. As everyone is well aware, Israel is not the safest part of the world. The ongoing conflict with Palestine has raised red flags already.
There appears to be many more safety concerns already then there were at all in the lead up to last year’s contest in Kiev, Ukraine. Despite all of these concerns and the conflict with Palestine, Israel has, in the past, successfully hosted the contest three times.
Although I’m not pleased with the result as I did not like Israel’s song, I look forward to next year’s contest with anticipation. Bring on Eurovision 2019!
Alyce Collett is a Senior Reporter for Youth Journalism International.
For more, read this article about how a YJI reporter’s family in Scotland uses food to explore different cultures while watching Eurovision.