Another quick entry about Eurovision, which includes my thoughts on how to improve the contest. Keep in mind this is me just randomly throwing out thoughts without care if these recommendations/suggestions are actually feasible. I guess I should have named this entry what would make Eurovision better KOS, Ph.D. 😉 Gotta play up my only child syndrome whenever I get a chance.
Let’s do it. Errr. Like Effendi said: LET’S GO
Get rid of prerecorded backing vocals. From my understanding, the use of the prerecorded tracks was brought in for ESC21 as a COVID-precautionary measure. Sometimes, I get the feeling that some artists might rely too much on the prerecorded vocals. Ok, I get the prerecorded vocals will give artists more opportunities to elevate their performances. For instance, with prerecorded vocals, you can do more intricate/intense choreography and/or have more backup dancers instead of the backup singers. This brings me to my next point . . .
Increase the maximum number of folks on the stage. BTW, I do not mean an increase in the style of the American Song Contest where there are 50 million d*mn folks on the stage.
Instead, I mean increase the maximum number from 6 to like 8 or 9. That way, an artist can still elevate their performances with dancers and still have a decent number of folks who can do LIVE backing vocals.
Take note of artists’ mental health. I’m not sure if this would depend on a country’s budget for ESC, but I think the EBU should strongly suggest that delegations have at least one mental health specialist on call for their artists. This year, I noticed a lot of toxicity in the fandom and from general haters. Maybe it always has been there, and I hadn’t noticed. These folks send negative comments to the artists about their vocals, staging, personalities, weight, clothing, singing ability, etc. For some artists, ESC might be their first time performing on such a large, international platform. While the artist is the main performer, they are representing their country, which can be a huge weight to bear on one’s shoulders. I think many artists would greatly benefit from having someone to speak to about navigating potential mental issues that may occur during ESC season.
Press access. While I’ll never have direct access to artists or exclusive ESC content, I think EBU should close the 1st and 2nd rehearsals to the press. I get that folks nowadays expect to have access to anything they want, but I kind of see the 1st two rehearsals as sacred ground. Maybe, I’m being too dramatic with the sacred piece. Most artists prefer folks/fans/hater to see their final products rather than observing the process. In the case of ESC, I have read reports/blogs/tweets saying things like Country X struggled vocal during their rehearsal; Country Y really needs to get their staging together; or there is no way Country Z is going to qualify. I’m like let the artists work through their acts before you report on it as if it’s the final product. I’m not saying all reporters report on rehearsals as if they are the final performance. Now if the artist wants to release spoilers from their own performance, then I think that’s fine.
Bloc voting. Not sure if there’s anything EBU can do about this. On one hand, I get certain countries might vote for each other because they identify with the style/language of the songs from their neighboring countries (ex. the ex-Yugoslavia countries). But on the other hand, it’s clear that certain countries always vote for each regardless of the quality of performance (eg. Greece and Cyprus). By voting for, I mean the national juries (who are supposed to be professionals in the music industry) awarding the maximum 12 points to their “friends”.
Below is a cool infographic that shows Eurovision’s strongest international bonds in terms of voting.
While I have not fully investigated the research methods from this infographic, it does offer some interesting preliminary information. From this infographic, you can see that there has been a significant exchange of points between Greece and Cyprus; Romania and Moldova; Estonia and Latvia; and Russia and Ukraine, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. While the range of data is from 1975 to 2022, I wonder if these data have been normalized to the number of years that these countries participated in the contest. For instance, the number of participating countries from 1975 to 2022 has increased from 18 to 40 (keep in mind to some countries have left and returned to the contest over the past 47 years).
Songwriters (Buying locally). Over the past couple of years, I have noticed that the primary songwriters/composers are from different countries. For instance, Country X hiring songwriters from Country Y to work on its submission. I do not know why but I think it takes away from the authenticity of the song. One of the cool things about Eurovision is having the opportunity to hear culturally diverse music. For me, it’s not that much fun when many of the songs sound the same especially when they are from different regions of the continent (+ Australia and Israel). In my case, if an artist is from E. Europe, I want to be able to recognize the region from which the song originates without looking up the artist’s country. Actually, E. Europe was a bad example because many of these countries tend to send folk-based songs where one can identify the region. For me, I think that I would have a stronger sense of pride if the artist representing my country was singing a song that was created by folks from my country. Then again, I get that some delegations want to submit the best songs possible (or that they can afford). Also, maybe to the delegations, it does not matter because citizens of their own country cannot vote for their own countries’ songs. Also (again), this does not make much sense because many countries hold national finals for the song selection, which involve public voting.
Language requirement. Back in the day, countries had to submit songs in one of their official languages. There has been some information suggesting that this rule gave many of the English-speaking countries an unfair advantage. In the future, I would love to see more countries incorporate an official language into the songs. I don’t mean that the song should 100% be in the official language, but maybe at least 20% should be in an official language. In terms of the English-speaking countries, I would not mind seeing more non-English components in their songs (eg Ireland sending something in Irish).
Some trends of English vs non-English songs that finished in the top ten.
Top Ten Results of ESC 2022: Six out of ten songs were non-English songs (Ukraine, Spain, Serbia, Italy, Moldova, and Portugal).
Top Ten Results of ESC 2021: Five out of ten songs were non-English songs (Italy, France, Switzerland, Ukraine, Russia).
Top Ten Results of ESC 2019: Two out of ten songs were non-English songs (Italy and Iceland).
Top Ten Results of ESC 2018: Two out of ten songs were non-English songs (Italy and Estonia).
Top Ten Results of ESC 2017: Two out of ten songs were non-English songs (Portugal and Hungary).
Shucks, I was hoping for more of a trend of more top ten songs being sung in non-English languages. At least, during the last two ESC contests, at least one-half of the songs and both winning songs were not in English. However, three out of the winning five songs primarily were sung in a language other than English.
Questions of the Day:
-If you follow Eurovision, what changes would you like to see introduced into the contest?
-If you do not follow Eurovision, what changes would you like ot see introduced into your favorite singing contests.
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