or to put it another way
Hi there Eurofans. I’m back on my Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) blog once again. As with the last couple of years I have not travelled to the host country and host city of the Contest. I will enjoy it watching from home, like most of you. This year Israel hosts the 41 participating countries in sunny Tel Aviv. By all accounts an amazing city on Israel’s Mediterranean coast.
Whilst I’m not at the rehearsals and bringing you all the scoop from inside the ‘Eurovision bubble’, I’ve still got some opinions on the runners and riders this year, and I’ll be pre-viewing and re-viewing what happens in Tel Aviv this week. See if you agree with me. I’ve also got ‘my man in Tel Aviv’ who will be sending me some pics and the goss from Tel Aviv.
And yes, regular readers, Sweden are in the mix and one of my favourites!
Our main task during the week is to predict the ten semi-finalists from each of the two semi-finals that will progress to the Grand Final. Yes, the ‘napkin of death’ is back! FYI, the semi-finals are on BBC4 on Tuesday 14 May and Thursday 16 May at 8pm. The Grand Final is on BBC1 on Saturday 18 May at 8pm.
As you know the ESC has a theme each year, usually through which the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) imbue a sense of community, cohesion and cosmopolitanism. This year something slightly different – the theme is Dare To Dream. For some countries, the dream will be short-lived, and you know that some of the songs are going to be a bit of a nightmare! Last year I found the first semi-final the stronger musically of the two. This year the first semi-final (as we will see and hear) is the more musically diverse of the two, with more songs not sung in English, giving a more eclectic mix of music styles.
For some people it is problematic that the ESC is taking place in Israel, for various reasons. The politics of the region is complicated and something I will not be drawn on this week. The spirit of the ESC and the principles of public service media that the EBU have established ensures that the world’s most popular music event continues to take place in a space outside of nation state politics. Music has brought 41 countries together this year, not politics. Whilst politics is played out at the periphery of the Contest it is important that it continues to transcend race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity and probably most importantly, politics. I did a research paper following the ESC in 2017 if you would like to know more on my thoughts about pop and politics at the ESC, search for “The Politics of Belonging at the Eurovision Song Contest”.
Last night (Sunday) was the opening ceremony in Tel Aviv, which means that the individual rehearsals for each country (which started on 4 May) are now over, ahead of the first full dress rehearsal of the first semi-final this afternoon. This will be followed tonight by the Jury Final, where the national juries cast their votes before the live semi-final on Tuesday night. Once again the vote is 50/50 to the national juries (comprised of a melange of music industry professionals) and the televote (that’s us folk watching wherever and however we do).
So, let’s get this Eurovision party started! My next post will be a preview of the first semi-final. Thanks for joining me once again at this giddy time for me and other Eurofans, and please do share your comments as always!