OK time for a new feature. In about 6 weeks time, 42 artists will descend on Azerbaijan’s capital Baku to take part in the 57th Eurovision Song Contest.
For those of you who have never watched it, this contest takes place annually with over 100 million viewers, making it one of the biggest non-sporting events on television. Countries from all over Europe enter a song, and Europe votes on a winner. That’s the short version. Since the breakup of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, there are a lot of countries eligible to enter – you just need a national broadcaster that’s a member of the EBU, the European Broadcasting Union – so there are two semi-finals held in the week before the final, from each of which 10 countries qualify for the final. These join the “Big Five” countries who auto-qualify due to the size of their contribution to the EBU: Spain, UK, France, Germany and Italy. The host nation also qualifies, and earn that right by winning the previous contest. The winner is chosen by a 50/50 split of phone votes and a jury from each nation, with each country getting an equal vote.
I imagine most of you will know all this already so I’ll just carry on. I think if I cover one entry per day, I’ll manage to cover them all before the final week, so I hope you enjoy this! You can find the other entries easily by clicking the “Road to Baku” tag in the tag cloud on the right (once there are enough to show up).
OK let’s start with one of the countries with the strongest Eurovision record of recent time, Greece.
Some might comment that Greece aren’t in the best position to win this contest, given their precarious financial situation. Though seemingly holding a Eurovision isn’t the loss-making exercise that people make it out to be. Sure, I can’t imagine they could pour as much money into a show as Russia or Germany have done recently, but the tourism boost is supposed to make it a profitable venture.
But if the Greeks didn’t want to win it, you sure wouldn’t guess it from this strong contender. This woman brings back memories of Helena Paparizou’s victory for Greece in Kiev’s 2005 final, and a third place by Kalomira in 2008. Could this secure another victory? I certainly wouldn’t bet against the Greeks taking the prize, they’ve got formidable form, finishing top 10 in the last eight finals.
This song is instantly catchy, and I’m pleased to say unmistakeably Greek as their entries tend to be. Aphrodisiac has all the hallmarks of a holiday hit, with shades of Shakira in a confident mix of traditional Greek instruments and distilled pop rhythms, I can’t see how this can fail.
It’s very early to say things like “winner”, and a strong finish (or even qualification) is never guaranteed, no matter how big your migrant worker diaspora is. Turkey learnt this the hard way last year, but that song was nowhere near the mainstream hit that Aphrodisiac is.
A different country has won the contest each year since 1996, could Greece be the ones to break that chain? You’d have to be very brave to rule this one out.