The time has come for the EBU to reveal who is participating in next May’s Eurovision Song Contest. Well they missed their moment a little, since the rumour network had pretty much let the cat out of the bag about who was dropping out this year. Fortunately, the situation was nowhere near as grave as suspected, and the financial turmoil in Europe has only meant four countries pulled out this year. But let’s start with the list:
Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, FYR Macedonia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom.
That makes a respectable 39 countries in total, the same as in Oslo’s 2010 contest, but a little way short of the 42 in Baku’s 2012 show and the record 43 entrants in Belgrade’s contest in 2008.
The security concerns that the Armenian delegation felt at the prospect of appearing in Baku are now a distant memory, and they happily return to the fold after a year off.
Three countries dropped out citing financial difficulties as their reason for not coming to Sweden. These are Slovakia, Portugal and Bosnia & Herzegovina. It’s always a shame to see countries drop out, but I hope they find their way back in 2014. Portugal in particular have a long long history at Eurovision (albeit a terminally unsuccessful one), and Bosnia & Herzegovina have sent plenty of good tracks over the years. Slovakia have had trouble qualifying recently, I hope the year off can give them a shot of inspiration.
The surprising pull-out came from Turkey, a big hitter in Eurovision. They protested at the televote/jury split, and the status of the “Big five” qualifying automatically for the final. You can understand why, it’s not secret that Turkey have enjoyed a strong diaspora vote from migrant workers, notably in places like Germany and Belgium. The odd thing is that this system has already been used for 3 years, why now? Fair enough on the “Big Five” though… Why can’t we all just get along? I want ALL the countries in Eurovision!
That might shake things up a little, indirectly. 2011 was one of the rare occasions Turkey didn’t qualify for the final, and some cited that as a reason that Azerbaijan secured their relatively slim victory. Turkey and Bosnia & Herzegovina are also pretty sure bets for qualification too, will this free a few spots up for long-suffering entrants like The Netherlands – this year pulling out all the stops with one of their biggest pop stars, Anouk.
Or maybe San Marino, now rumoured to be harbouring a defector – none other than the original Eurovision winner Lys Assia. She turns up to every damn contest anyway, and while she was unsuccessful in the Swiss pre-selection for a second time running, it’s speculated that she’ll team up with the equally-floundering micronation. If she does, it’ll be 57 years after her original victory in Lugano, and the first victory for San Marino. The question then is how in hell would they be able to host it!? This is one of the more bonkers Eurovision stories I’ve heard, so I hope it turns out right!
Speaking of Switzerland, it may be back to the drawing board for them. They selected the first entrant for the contest, Heilsarmee – the Swiss version of the Salvation Army. Except you can’t promote organisations at Eurovision, so the EBU have told them they need to change their name and ditch the uniforms, or not come at all! No news yet on what the outcome will be, but trust the bloody Swiss to start causing trouble…