Fresh format, or the future fall of a fake fest?


It took me two weeks or so to read and reread the suggestions for a new format for the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest. I read what Mr. Stockselius said,

“We are convinced that the introduction of a second Semi-Final contributes to a more stable future for the Eurovision Song Contest..”

I went on to see how important commentators viewed the news, and finally got the nerve to have a say myself.

The facts:

  1. From next year on, we will have two Semi-Finals (something we expected to become a fact only after 2008). All participants must go through a Semi-Final, except for the “Big 4″ (or BIG $, if you keep the Caps Lock on all the time), who qualify directly for the Final… That is, the results from ESC 2007 will (except for the winner) have no meaning for the 2008 edition in Serbia.
  2. The two Semi-Finals will take place at the same time, the night of 22 May. Rumours have it that even a separate Semi-Final was discussed for Eastern Europe, having in mind top 10 from ESC 2007 (all 10 countries are from the Eastern bloc). If this happens, you will watch only one part of Europe at Eurovision… If you come from Russia, you will only watch the songs of the former Russian republics, the Yugoslavian satellites, and a few more… Okay, what if you want to watch the Danish songs, or the Norwegian one, or.. hm, wonder where Hungary goes?
  3. The results will be announced live for both Semi-Finals, while the artists are in the Green Room. Picture this… we have two Green rooms, or what?
  4. Some said that there should be a wild card for each Semi-Final, which will be granted to the song, preferred by the back-up juries.

I reckon the whole thing takes a lot off the flavor of the Contest.

No, I’ll start in a different way. When I first watched the ESC, years ago, I though “blah, it’s so unfair to have last-year’s results reflecting this-year’s edition.. Let all countries compete on a fair ground and see who’s the best THIS YEAR.” As I was growing up with Eurovision, I grew to like this rule. Indeed, it gave the event an interesting side – all countries wanted to perform better so that in the following year they could go directly to the Grand Final, or the finale grande… And then the problem with ‘neighbor’ or ‘gastarbeiter’ vote appeared, and it all was corrupted.

And we remember the good old times, when the winner would be chosen by the vote of an international jury. But today, there are the major international telecommunication corporations, which will never of earth let loose the pan-European crowds of zealous voters.

The ESC Reference group, as we get to know who pulls the strings, must agree on Rules that do not present the European pop scene one-sidedly. I can see that they want to make the Contest modern and fascinating for everyone. But I cannot see how two Semi-Finals will help solve the matter. Because this will mean more money, more flash, and less value of the true song.


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