Well what can we say about the contest?
Quite a lot actually, where do we start? And where should we end... We could say the contest started back in 1956. That ABBA started their career in the contest back in 1974 by winning it with Waterloo. That even Céline Dion once won the contest, although she isn't even European. That it was our favorite show already when we were kids and were allowed to stay up late that one evening in the year. That at some point countries still had to sing in their own language. That until the late nineties an orchestra was still part of the setup for the evening, etc... etc...
But there are quite a lot of prejudices about the contest too. Things we have to explain over and over again. Not that we really care because we remain passionate about the contest anyway, but still, as of now we can refer to this page. Let's look at a hard to beat Eurovision prejudices, or well, some of them might even be true too... Not yet sure if we will admit though.
"1" | "Is it all about the circus?"
In 2002 we all were surprised to see Latvia win the contest. Well, we actually still are. Anybody even remembers Marie N? No, of course any of you Eurovision sceptics would remember her, but even most fans would have to think hard to get her tune back in mind. She was quite clever though, she involved show in her act and even a dress change. A trend was set, Sertab winning for Turkey in 2004 understood the show part too. Ruslana one year later and especially Lordi in 2006 knew exactly that it took more than just singing. By now we've grown used to dress changes and yawn while seeing any excessive dancing. In 2011 the contest is more of a SONG contest again rather than a EuroVISION one....
"2" | "No musical quality at all and inferior artists?"
I wouldn't call them inferior, but many artists don't have an international carreer going on before or after their Eurovision appearance. Quite a few of them not even in their home countries. But there are big names around, like Kate Ryan who represented Belgium in 2006 and especially Patricia Kaas, who was waving the French flag in Moscow. The clip below (Georgia 2010) demonstrates some musical quality that once and for all demonstrates that quality is not necessarily forbidden. We must admit there is quite some crap raching the stage too however. One more reason to adore the contest!
"3" | "It's only Eastern European countries voting for eachother, right?"
Yes, that is right. Cyprus shares a cultural background with Greece, Belgium with the Netherlands and Norway, Sweden and Denmark too. This, added by the fact that some of these countries just take some more time to regard the songs produced by their neigbor countries, results in some more votes for neighboring countries than only quality can be blamed for. This also goes for Eastern European countries. The Baltic countries share quite some history. The former Soviet states do as well, and also 6 or 7 countries in the Balkan still were one nation like 20 years ago. Having said this, it takes more than some twelvers from your neighbors to win the contest. Votes from all over the continent are needed to win the contest. If the neighboring mechanism would be the strongest one in the Eurovision voting system, it would have been impossible for Germany to win last year for instance. Germany has quite some neighbors but hardly any of them would traditionally give more votes to them than to any other song ... and still Lena won with quite some more points then her competetors. From all winners in the last decade half are not from the former communist Eastern Europe.
"4" | "Such a waste of money!"
Hosting the Eurovision Song Contest costs quite a lot. 27 Million Euro is what the contest in Moscow costed, 24 million is what the Norwegians had to pay in 2010. Quite a sum of money for a city and a broadcaster, but there are revenues too. Direct ones, this counted up to approximately 9 million in 2010, for ticket sales and tele voting. But more than that indirectly it can give a big boost to the public relations of a city, a region or an entire region. Latvia, Estonia and Serbia, to name a few, used the contest to show themselves to the rest of the continent. To show they were not communist and grey nor war aggressors anymore. But even the city of Oslo's tourist department reported slowly after the contest that the contest had provided them with more than a hundred million euros of free publicity.
"5" | "All songs in the contest are eurotrash"
Well, we love Eurotrash! Most of us do at least... ooh aah just a little bit!But for those who don't like it, the majority of songs are actually classy ballads, rocksongs and genuine pop charts material, not too much trash.
"6" | "Israel should not participate, it's not even in Europe!"
In 1980 Morocco took part in the contest. Unfortunately only once. Since 1973 Israel is taking part, and with three victories on its account quite successfully so. Wether or not in Europe is not relevant when it comes to this contest. Being member of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) is what counts. This means that also Algeria, Egypt and Libya could enter. In 2005 Lebanon had even selected a song to actually initialize its active participation, but had to withdraw the beautiful Quand tout s'enfuit by Aline Lahoud. When Télé-Liban was asked to guarantee that the Israeli entry also was going to be broadcasted, they failed. Because of this they had to withdraw from the contest. Geographically speaking most of Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia are not in Europe. Armenia and Cyprus are not either. But who cares, all of them added quite some nice songs to the Eurovision repetoire....
"7" | "Eurovision is Gay Gay Gay!"
Well, why would we want to deny this? It is! Ofcourse not all of the followers are men that like men, nor are the fanclubs exclusively open for gay men. But having a look around you in the audience at the actual contest makes it hard to not see that there is a correlation between the Eurovision and being gay. We don't really know why, but we don't really care either. let's get happy and let's be gay, Lous sang for Germany in 2003.
"8" | "Shouldn't we just drop out?"
This question pops up in many of the non winning countries, every year again. The Netherlands are currently a good example of this way of looking at the contest. Since 2004 the country has not been able to get into the final and general opinion seems to be very negative about the chances the country has to qualify, let alone win the contest.
"9" | "Can a country without friendly neighbors win the contest?"
The best recent example to illustratet that this question should be answered with a full Yes, is germany winning in 2010. With 246 points German Lena got quite some more votes then the countries she left behind. And that regarding the fact that only one of its semi friendly neighbors, being Switzerland participated that year. The year before Norway managed to reach the top spot, and would have done so too if all other Scandinavian countries would have rewarded Alexander Rybak with nill points. Useless to say, that they did not.
"10" | "Is it racist? Do blacks really not stand a chance?"
Popular believe says that Eastern European countries don't vote for black artists. To be honest, we don't really know, has anybody ever really investigated this? This Year Norwegian Stella Mwangi did not make it to the final. Was that because of her skin color, because of the sound quality or just because the song wasn't good enough?
"11" | "It's all so commercial...."
Yes it is... do we mind? Mmm, no, not really...
"12" | "And in the end Ireland wins"
Ten years ago we would have answered yes to this question, with five victories in the 1990's it sure looked like Ireland generally stood a big chance of winning the contest. In the last decade they did quite a bit worse however, with a top 10 position last year being the best they did in years. With a total of seven victories Ireland is still in the lead however, followed by France, the UK and Luxembourg who all made it five times and Sweden and the Netherlands with four wins on their record each.