Sunday, 9 March 2014

Welcome to the Eurovision Song Contest 2014

Can you believe the Eurovision season is here again?

I look outside my window to 17degrees and bright, sunny weather. Time is going much too quick! I'm now in my second year at university, and another new setting in which to blog about the Eurovision season from. This is now my third year as a blogger, and I think I'm starting to get the hang of things.

There couldn't be a better day to start blogging - the day after Melodifestivalen. Once more, the Swedish National Final delivered a grande evening of entertainment. The winner for Sweden was Sanna Nielsen and the ballad "Undo". Good Luck to Sanna! Once more, it looks as if Sweden will be in the mix on the poll sites and feature come voting time on Saturday 10th May in Denmark.

Denmark also held their national final yesterday; Dansk Melodi Grand Prix. The winner was Basim and the song Cliche Love Song. I'm likely to be doing a review of the best and the worst songs, but in my very first post of the season, I'm tipping Denmark for top 3 with this disco gem.

So what of our hosts? Denmark are one of the oldest competing nations, having come 3rd back on their debut in 1957 (the second ever contest). The first win for Denmark came in 1963 with the ever-so popular 'Dansevise' by Grethe and Jorgen Ingmann. They saw off stiff competition from Switzerland to win the contest. They have had varied success since then, and after taking a 10 year hiatus from the competition between 1967 and 1977, they didn't reach the top 3 again until 1988 with Eurovision regulars Hot Eyes. The turn of the millennium has provided varied success for Denmark still, but that has included two wins. Denmark won the Eurovision Song Contest for the second time in the year 2000 with "Fly On The Wings of Love" by the Olsen Brothers. Another very deserved winner, who some in the UK (and mainland Europe) might remember by the XTM dance remix. The last few years have seen personal favourites of mine, including 'Believe Again' in 2009 and 'All Night Long' in 2008, however Europe's personal favourite last year, 'Only Teardrops' by Emmelie de Forest has resulted in Copenhagen once more hosting the competition.

The 2014 contest sees no big changes to the rules. Turkey's boycott of the competition due to dissatisfaction of the big 5 and mixed jury/televoting has continued. They even held their own Turkvizyon Song Contest last year, with countries and regions who speak Turkish or have Turkish ethnicity eligible to participate. Azerbaijan took home the crown, and the contest will potentially return again this December. There have been reports that Turkey will return to the Eurovision Song Contest in 2015, but that's a year away, and a lot can happen in between now and then.

Serbia, Croatia, Cyprus and Bulgaria have all withdrawn from the 2014 contest, citing financial concerns for their non-participation. It has been sad to see them go, especially the likes of long time competitors Cyprus and the ever-so successful Serbia, producing some of the best songs since their participation in 2004. The absence of Bosnia & Herzegovina and the fact that Kosovo is still yet to be recognized as a country means the former Yugoslavs are quite under represented this year, with just FYR Macedonia and Montenegro flying their flags.

And what about the rest? The minnows of Andorra, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Monaco don't look like returning any time soon, especially with the effects of the 2008 global financial crisis still lingering. The Czech Republic and Slovakia announced their continued absence from the contest, little to the surprise of most, and one time competitors Morocco still don't look like competing either.

But welcome back Portugal and Poland! Fingers crossed for Portugal - 46 entries and not a winner (best place 6th) so hopefully it can finally happen for them! I very much look forward to hearing their song for the contest. They are 1 of 11 countries yet to release their song, but it appears the next week or so will rap up all the songs for this year's contest, and then the season will well and truly have begun.

Just a mention to the Junior Eurovision Song Contest! Congratulations to Malta for winning the JESC 2013 last November! However, the version of the contest looks like it's soon to reach an end. With only 6 countries confirmed to participate and many nations withdrawing, the contest potentially could well be in it's final year. As a UK fan, the Junior Eurovision Song Contest only ever appealed to me twice, when the UK came 2nd and 3rd (or something like that) about 10 years ago-ish (need to do my homework!). I was 10 years younger, and so as a child the JESC was more exciting than the actual contest. Maybe the UK not competing means I have no interest, or perhaps it was the fact I was child 10 years ago and now I'm an adult (just about). Whatever the case, it seems a lack of interest across Europe has been the reason for the downfall of the competition. A very sad day if it does go, but perhaps something new and better will come out of it! I'm still hoping for a Worldvision Song Contest to occur, even just as a one off. The likes of China, USA and Brazil taking on the Eurovision powerhouses like Azerbaijan would be one exciting battle!

Good Luck to all the participants in this year's Eurovision Song Contest. Let the season commence!

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