XTRA Debate: Eurovision All-Stars?

During the summer, the debate team recently approached the hypothetical of a Divided Kingdom to Eurovision – where each nation of the UK would could enter the contest. This week, we look at another hypothetical.  Should the Eurovision Song Contest make room for an All-Stars edition?

What is an All-Stars format?

An ‘all-star’ was a initially a term used in sports but in recent years, has been applied to other forms of media including reality television. Players or performers are given another shot to win a coveted first place. Typically speaking, this would not involve the winner in their respective field but instead fan favourites and high-performers. An all-stars edition tends to only happen once in a blue moon.

In a Eurovision context this spectacular event could occur as a way to celebrate the end and beginning of a new decade. It could either be a standalone show or in conjunction with the celebratory show organised for a contest anniversary.

Similarly, it could mimic the main contest when it comes to voting. Perhaps a portion of proceedings is donated/price-matched to charity a la Junior Eurovision 2008?

I think the commemoration of the 50th edition of Eurovision offers an counter to the claims voting would be impossible. Adapted with more robust, comprehensive voting rules (such as not voting for your own country!) the show could be electrifying. Acts could be selected online at a national level, with a small weighting based on international voting. Providing you can find a host, you already have a lot of the preparatory work sorted!

Benefits of an All-Stars

It goes without saying an All-Stars format would fundamentally be lip-service to the Eurovision fandom. The chance to see their favourite acts grace the stage once more with their entry (or even another song?). However, this could potentially have long-term positive ramifications for the main contest. In showcasing the success stories of the last decade, the EBU and broadcasters alike have the opportunity to reshape the trajectory of the public perception of the contest. 

The UK immediately springs to mind as a beneficiary of this idea. Over the decades, the UK has developed a… fascinating relationship with the contest. I think this culminated in our song choice (choice being the operative word!) in 2007 and 2010. 

In recent years, however, it’s become apparent that the BBC and audiences at home have undergone a renaissance of understanding the enigma of Eurovision. However, as evidenced by Eurovision: You Decide (as well as other national finals around the continent), the tendency to fixate solely on novelty acts alongside ‘Waterloo’ and ‘Euphoria’ creates a problematic echo chamber. It unintentionally marginalises songs in the contest as either twee bubblegum pop/gimmicks or the rare hit. You just need to look at the chart success in 2016, 2017 and 2018 to recognise this is not the case. 

Should we add to the Eurovision ‘go-to’ collection?

Potential hindrances?

Starting again on a fan level, it seems there is an obvious point that undermines the potential of a Eurovision All-Stars: OGAE Second Chance. We already have a contest that works in a similar fashion… right?

OGAE Second Chance 2018 scoreboard

Simply put, yes and no. 

However, the point of OGAE Second Chance is giving acts and songs who didn’t win a national final a chance for the limelight. An All-Stars version of Eurovision would celebrate and showcase the best act/song a nation has selected that decade. 

Beyond the fans, who would watch it? I doubt anyone could claim the chance to see Eleni Foureira, Sergey Lazarev, Aminata, Željko Joksimović among others compete once more wouldn’t pull in an interest and audience!

Participating in Eurovision events tend to be cost-effective for many broadcasters. Therefore, it works out to be relatively cheap tv for a decent audience share.

Hosting, budgets and exact nature of the format of course would meet differing issues. It is logistically unrealistic to have all 40 or so countries participate in a single show… so how and what would the selection criteria be for a country? That said, it seems like the EBU is keen to continue the tradition of a celebratory show every decade after the precedence of a 50th and 60th anniversary. If they can manage to select acts and resolve the operational elements of the show, I’m sure this won’t be as big a problem as it initially appears. 

Vincent: Hvala, ne!

The problem I have with an “All-Stars” show for Eurovision is that, in this debate, it is suggested as a competition. It would obviously be impossible to organise an entire All-Stars ESC (which would be close to the way reality tv does things). It would also be very hard to do it like it’s done in sports: one game, or a very short competition (like in the NHL). You can’t do another Eurovision week of strong acts, but even a whole night is hard.

Practical questions 

Why? Because it would be hard to get the vote: only Eurovision fans would really care enough. Would 40-something broadcasters accept to broadcast it and open the voting lines for very weak number of voters AND viewers? How would we even count the votes? In a Eurovision-style with countries being equal, or just using raw numbers?

Maybe we should just use an app-vote, but we know how faulty such voting systems can be. And would an international show be put in place for this? Maybe it should be done entirely online. The best example I can think of is 1in360, but let’s just imagine a better stage…

But this is hardly going anywhere. We already have All-Stars Eurovision shows, and they are not the OGAE Contests. They are the celebratory shows. In sports, All-Stars games are games in which the two teams are made up of the best players in the league, regardless of team (although they can be geographically gathered: the best players of Western teams vs. the best players of Eastern teams). They are exhibition games, they are here for the show more than for the win.

We don’t need an All-Stars contest, especially when there can be years of difference between the songs (unlike in sports, where players are all actively playing in the league). We need an All-Stars festival which we already have, assuming we’ll get a show for the 70th anniversary.

What do you think? Could an All-Stars format benefit the main contest? Or would it be too frivolous to even bother? Let us know in the comments and on social media @ESCXTRA!

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