Mark your calendar. Saturday, May 14, 2016. On this day, for the first time ever the European psychodrama known as the Eurovision Song Contest comes to the United States. Stream the event here or catch it in the US on the Logo channel.
Here’s a quick overview for non-Europeans. Eurovision is the annual, continent-wide song contest — rather like football’s World Cup (soccer, for my US readers). Over 40 nations compete for the honor of best pop song. Since its origin in 1956, Eurovision has expanded beyond the boundaries of Europe to include entries from Israel, North Africa and even Australia. Around 200 million people tune in to watch the finals. The winner is chosen by a panel of judges from each nation, combined with votes from viewers. This year’s event is broadcast from Stockholm — the venue is selected based on the nationality of the previous year’s winner.
What makes it so popular? Well, it’s camp and kitschy. But, above all it’s a nationalistic festival wrapped in bubblegum: patriotic one-upmanship under the guise of pop. Importantly, it allows nations to exhibit their superiority over neighboring countries without bloodshed. Let’s face it — if you’re British, there is nothing better than trouncing the French in Eurovision.
Read more details from NYT here.
Image: Jamie-Lee represents Germany in the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest with Ghost. From the semi-final. Courtesy: Thomas Hanses (EBU).
If you grew up in Europe or have spent at least 6 months there over the last 50 years you’ll have collided with the Eurovision Song Contest.
A quintessentially european invention, Eurovision, as it is commonly know, has grown from a handful of countries to embrace 43 nations across Europe in 2012. Countries compete for the prize of best song and the honor of hosting the contest the following year. While contestants and song are not usually guaranteed long-standing commercial success, the winner usually does claim 15 minutes or so on the spotlight and at least a singular one-hit-wonder. A notable exceptions was the Swedish group ABBA, which went on to generation-spanning superstardom.
Frank Jacobs over at Strange Maps offers his cartographic take on Eurovision.
[div class=attrib]From Strange Maps / Big Think:[end-div]
The Eurovision Song Contest is a resounding success in at least one respect. Set up as a laboratory of European harmony – musically, audiovisually and politically – its first edition  featured a mere 7 participating countries, all Western European. The 57th edition, next May in Azerbaijan, will have 43 countries from all over the continent vying for the top prize, and the honour to host the 2013 edition of the event in their capital city.
Mission accomplished, then. But a chorus of critics – swelling, as the turn of phrase suggests  – finds the annual event increasingly tacky and irrelevant. The winner is determined by a tally of national votes, which have less to do with the quality of the songs than with the degree of friendliness between the participating countries.
[div class=attrib]More of the article here.[end-div]