It is Eurovision week this week. For those of you who aren’t from Europe – it is a singing contest held each year in May. Each participating country (usually from Europe, but in recent years countries from outside Europe have joined it) sends a song to this contest – the song was chosen by the public and a jury at a national contest a few months prior. There are two semi-finals (because so many countries participate), and the best 10 from each semi-final get into the final. The final is held on a Saturday – you have 20 countries from the semi-finals, last year’s winning country, Australia, plus the big five (UK, Germany, Spain, France, and Italy) in the final. Votes are cast by viewers and a jury in each of the participating countries (televotes account for 50 % and jury votes for the other 50 %), and the top 10 that get the most votes by the two are then awarded 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, and the famous 12 points. The country which gets the most points is crowned the winner.
OK, so let’s go to the reason for me writing this blog post. Every year, countries get accused of giving the highest number of points to their neighbouring countries and this is seen as a political thing, not as actually liking that song. This was also the reason why they introduced the televoting, where the public also has their say. In the past, votes were probably political, but now when everyone can have a say, things have not changed that much. The main reasons, in my opinion, why countries give their neighbouring countries a lot of points are:
– the melos (succession of musical tones constituting a melody) of the song is familiar to them. I know that music from ex-Yugoslavia (Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro) has a melody that seems like it is our own Slovenia) even though our national melos and instruments are completely different. It evokes feelings of familiarity, home, and happiness.
– the artists representing the neighbouring country most likely have a strong fan base in the country that has awarded them points. This is also the case when it comes to my home country Slovenia. As mentioned above, we used to be part of Yugoslavia, so musicians from other states belonging to Yugoslavia were considered our own, their music was played on our radio, we could often see them on TV, and they gave concerts in our country as well. Just because we are no longer part of Yugoslavia doesn’t mean that we stopped playing their songs – you can still hear them on the radio, on TV (hey, there is even MTV Adria), and they still come to our country to perform (and they usually attract a bigger audience than our own musicians).
– their language is similar so people understand what the song is about (if they sing it in their mother tongue). Understanding what someone sings about can definitely get you a lot of votes. I only learnt Croatian (or Serbo-Croatian as it was known back then) for one year in primary school, yet I can watch their TV with not problem and no subtitles. I understand most of what they are saying because I grew up listening to this language – either by watching TV (Santa Barbara comes to mind), listening to their music on the radio or on cassettes (oh my, I am old 😉 ), or going on vacation to Croatia (the Adriatic sea is one of the most beautiful seas out there, and because there are no real waves or strong currents, you can swim for miles an miles which is something I love doing; and because they would play their traditional songs, whenever I hear that melos it just brings me back to a wonderful and relaxing place and who doesn’t like that? 😉 ).
I will leave you with a clip of this year’s entry by Latvia – it is Aminata with Love Injected. I played it before the semi-final and I must admit that I stopped it after a few seconds because it wasn’t according to my taste, but when I hear the lady sing on Thursday I was in awe. I don’t think it will do great tonight, because it isn’t ”Eurovision material”, but it deserves to be listened to.