If you’ve ever wondered about the origins of artists like ABBA, Celine Dion, and even Riverdance’s international fame, then it’s time to unveil their origins. Each of these artists performed, whether as a contestant or as an interval act (in the case of Riverdance) in various Eurovision song contests throughout the years. Eurovision, which was founded in 1956 as a way to promote peace in Europe post-World War II through a non-political means, has contributed to the fame of many global artists and has had a major impact on the entire European continent. However, as more countries have joined the event and Eurovision’s scope has expanded, nations that are a part of Eurovision Broadcasting Union (EBU) but not Europe itself have joined in the fun. Each participating country is allowed to submit a single artist or group to participate in the actual contest at the end of May.
This year’s long-awaited contest will take place during and after exam week for Pace’s underclassmen, with Semifinals 1 and 2 on May 18 and 20 respectively, and the Grand Final on May 22. This makes it the perfect year to watch at least a bit of the event, especially if you are heading out of town on summer break and want a way to pass the time.
Because the winner of 2019’s contest, singer Duncan Laurence, is from the Netherlands, this year’s event will be hosted in Rotterdam. Laurence’s song “Arcade” is now nearing the top of global charts. Due to COVID-19 and a third wave of cases in many European countries, the event will not take place quite like normal. The Eurovision Broadcast Union is hoping to host somewhere between 40 to 60% of the usual number of spectators and will announce more COVID-19 protocol changes as the event nears. Otherwise, fans, participants and national jury members alike are hoping for an otherwise unchanged contest.
Since last year’s Eurovision was canceled, countries were given the ability to resubmit their artist with a new song instead of going through a typical internal selection process or national selection contest, which is essentially a mini-Eurovision where countries can pick their entry for a given year. Twenty-six of the 39 participating countries followed this method, simply setting a release date for their new entry song, although two of the 26 were re-chosen through a national final.
For the 13 new contestants, fans got to know them as they released their entry songs and fan accounts on YouTube created “national final (NF) season rankings.” Of these, some highlights were France’s Barbara Pravi, whose song “Voilà” is the perfect take on a classic French “chanson,” along with Norway’s fan-favorite Keiino, who represented the country in 2019 yet did not win Melodi Grand Prix, Norway’s national final. Melodifestivalen, the month-long Swedish national final ended with Tusse’s “Voices” taking the top spot, beating out former Eurovision winner Charlotte Perrelli and many other beloved former contestants.
For the acts that are returning this year, broad support for many of the songs is equally strong. While many say that a large proportion of these songs is worse than the artists’ first entry last year, some are perhaps even stronger. For example, in perhaps the most surprising turn of events since 2008, San Marino actually produced a good song. Senhit’s “Adrenalina,” which features possibly the most random guest possible, Flo Rida, is objectively an upgrade from her entry last year, “Freaky.” Gjon Muharremaj (Gjon’s Tears), the Swiss representative and Destiny Chukunyere, the 18-year-old singer from Malta, have also blown fans away with their updated songs, “Tout l’Univers” and “Je Me Casse,” respectively.
Undoubtedly, there was a fair bit of drama during this year’s song selection process. Armenia withdrew their participation among increasing political tension within their country with the hopes of returning in the future. This means that they are now joining the ranks of countries like Hungary that have stopped participating in Eurovision, although Hungary’s withdrawal last year is largely due to Eurovision’s support of LGBTQ+ issues.
This year, the far more dramatic exit was led by Belarus, who put forth a band, Galasy ZMesta, that was barred from participating because of their song’s violation of the non-political nature of the contest. This anti-democracy group’s song consisted mainly of their support for Lukashenko, who is currently suppressing pro-democracy protests in the country.
As the odds stand now, Chukunyere and Muharremaj are sitting comfortably in contention for first place, with bookmakers placing Chukunyere at about a 4% advantage. Currently, they are followed by France’s Pravi, Bulgaria’s Victoria, and Italy’s Måneskin.
After two full years since the last contest, this group of artist’s diversity in genre, language and background will undoubtedly make for an interesting and nail-biting Grand Final. To listen to full versions of each of the 39 participating songs, as well as learn more about the performing artists and the contest in general, you can find Eurovision on Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. To see the current odds, rankings from past years, and participating countries’ histories with the contest, head to www.eurovisionworld.com.