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The Talent Show of All Talent Shows – Vote For Your Favorite Country
It’s the eve of the Eurovision Song Contest finals. The production will air in 42 countries. Viewers by the millions will tune in, cast their votes and tell us how they feel about more than music.
Watching the Eurovision Song Contest finals typically requires a good sense of humor. The music has, until recently, been rather predictable (read: boring) and the real fun is watching the production, the dreams and, of course, the voting.
This years’ broadcast will likely defy gravity. Millions will tune in just to see glam-rock stars Lordi reprise their winning performance from 2006. And there’s something to be said for expecting the unexpected, a rather mundane concept for television but, nonetheless, a consistent audience draw.
The production itself attracts viewers. While Eurovision, the television production side of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), oversees, the host country’s public broadcaster produces the event. This year Finland’s public broadcaster YLE shows off its flair for live television by virtue of home-town band Lordi winning last year.
It’s the voting, ebbing and flowing from one country to another, that attracts much of the attention and certainly much of the country to country commentary. This years’ finalists – 24 all together – offer an interesting matrix of voting possibilities. Without question, the eastward shift in the finalist list shows the powerful influence of European expansion and a fair amount of interest in places we’ve heard of but rarely know.
France, Germany, Spain and the UK are automatically entered each year and their entries occasionally win, more often those from the UK and France. Last years top finalists also get spots this year. Ireland almost always makes the list. Their performers have won more often than any others.
The balance comes from the semi-finals, voted on or off yesterday (May 10). These artists are ones to watch. (the complete list in the EBU press release can be found here)
The ten countries added to the finals are a picture of the new EU. They represent also a dramatically eastward cast to the vision. Latvia, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovenia are new EU Members, joining the club in the last three years. Turkey – sometimes – wants to join. Serbia and FYR Macedonia – with Slovenia – were part of the former Yugoslavia. Georgia, Belarus and Moldova are challenging States on Europe’s border with Russia. No Western European country represented in the semi-finals moves on to the final show.
Serbia, according to British bookmakers, is the odds-on favorite. Reviews of last nights’ semi-finals said Serbian singer Marija Serifovic “outclassed” the rest but she “looked, dressed and performed like “an accountant.” The odds, obviously, are based on the performers’ strength and the song. But home country is certainly a factor.
Singers from Bulgaria and Georgia will be in the final event for the first time. Bulgarian duo Elitsa Todorova and Stoyan Yankoulov will perform “Water” based on a Bulgarian folk song. 20 year old Georgian Sopho Khalvashi – also not bad to watch – will perform “Visionary Dream.”
Dreams and aspirations fit into the whole Eurovision Song Contest idea. But dreams are easily dashed, as they were in the semi-finals for Malta’s Olivia Lewis and Israel’s Teapacks. The Israeli bands’ tune “Push the Button” – with an anti-nuclear message – pushed the limits of Eurovision’s non-political rules earlier this year.
Often Eurovision Song Contest winners are based on national themes, but not always and not recently. Russia’s entry – “Song Number 1” by three young tarts called Serebro – is also highly ranked by the bookies. The lyrics and the singers are, well, sexy. Do we remember Tatu ?
London’s bookies ranks Sweden’s entry, glam-rocker The Ark, as the second best bet.
Saturday night’s broadcast will be the 52nd annual event. Check TV local listings and don’t miss it.
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