Editorials & Opinion

🇺🇦 Beyond Eurovision: Tina Karol

🇺🇦 Beyond Eurovision: Tina Karol

Over the summer, we are premiering a new series called ‘Beyond Eurovision’. Every week, we look at what happened to Eurovision stars since they took part in the contest. Next up in the series is Tina Karol, who represented Ukraine in the Eurovision Song Contest 2006 with the song “Show Me Your Love”, placing seventh. Where it all began Tina Karol (birth name Tetyana Liberman) was born in 1985 to a Ukrainian mother and Ukrainian Jewish father in Magadan Oblast, Russia. In interviews, she has spoken about being bullied at school due to her Jewish surname. The discrimination she faced in her childhood, alongside advice from producers, lead to her changing her stage name to ‘Tina Karol’, as to not be associated with being Jewish as she sought to build her career. In a 2006 interview, she claimed that she was glad she changed her name, because she felt like it had “hindered her in her life” up until that point. This did not define her, however. From a young age she engaged in music, performing with the Kiev branch of the Jewish Agency, which eventually lead to her travelling to the US to perform. Having been awarded a music scholarship, …
REVIEW: Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

REVIEW: Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

**SPOILER ALERT: This article will contain spoilers of the plot of the film** It’s finally here! The initially mysterious ‘Eurovision movie’ is now available to stream on Neflix. We, the ESCXTRA Team, rushed to our devices to watch the film as soon as possible. We’ve watched, we’ve discussed, and now we’re ready to judge… Having been developed for decades, filmed over the past two years and delayed by an additional month, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is finally here! Now, we didn’t know what exactly to expect, but this is undoubtedly a big step for the contest. With Netflix investing in the Eurovision brand, we are perhaps looking at a future with far more interest in the contest outside of Europe (particularly in North America) than ever. OR it’ll have no impact whatsoever and we’ll all seek to forget it. Only time will tell. Early signs are positive, the film has been well-promoted by Netflix upon release and should introduce the contest to some new viewed. Further, the song “Husavik” already gathering some momentum in streaming and iTunes downloads. Irrespective of our views on the film itself, we all [mostly] agreed that we’re happy the film exists. …
BLM and the fallacy of ‘celebrating diversity’ in the Eurovision Song Contest

BLM and the fallacy of ‘celebrating diversity’ in the Eurovision Song Contest

This has been an incredibly painful few weeks. Attempting to crystallise my thoughts has been equally painful. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests has prompted a broader discussion of the ideas of privilege and a reappraisal of popular culture. It has also unearthed some toxic and problematic mindsets in a number of individuals within the fandom. Of course, for a handful of us, we already had a hunch… BLM within the Eurovision fandom We need to be prepared for uncomfortable conversations and questions. These discussions are thought-provoking, eye-opening and enriching… but they are also hard. It is difficult to explain to colleagues and peers why they might be allocated more privilege than someone else. To illuminate systematic inequality, or the violence that has knowingly or unknowingly occurred through our language or actions. Similarly, it is difficult recognising that you may enjoy systemic privileges over others, the stages of privileged racial identity development. It is equally difficult to relive the violence of racism to those who ‘don’t get it’ over and over to try and help them understand. I hope the widespread peaceful protests of BLM leads to positive change and enables these conversations. I also hope that the BLM movement …
Editorial: BLM and the Eurovision fandom – Committing to long-term change

Editorial: BLM and the Eurovision fandom – Committing to long-term change

Firstly, it’s important to acknowledge that we as Eurovision writers sit among a range of sites, representing fans from across the continent and beyond. Many of these sites, us included, have spoke about issues around diversity and representation at the contest before. For example, Eurovision podcasters Isobel Chillman and Roland Bodenham spoke to this on a segment for ESCInsight. Ellie Chalkley also published a phenomenal piece around Mahmood’s journey to Eurovision last year that included similar themes. More recently, as we stand in this moment of increased discussion around issues faced by Black communities in the West (and beyond), a number of fellow Eurovision sites have used their platforms to speak out on this issue. For example, Connor from ESCUnited published an editorial about why Eurovision fans should care about the Black Lives Matter movement. Wiwibloggs also published an incredible editorial about Black artists’ contributions to the contest throughout its history. We of course must note that a number of these came in response to a Eurovision fan posting a thread of sites featuring Your Face Sounds Familiar on Twitter. This show frequently features blackface as a form of light entertainment for European audiences. In 2020, I personally do not …
🇲🇩 Slideback Sunday: Moldova’s dynamic debut

🇲🇩 Slideback Sunday: Moldova’s dynamic debut

As the Euroverse slips into the most surreal spate of PED, let’s alleviate some of the symptoms with a slideback to 2005 and a country making its bold Eurovision debut. Zdob și Zdub had the honour of being the first Moldovan representatives, performing ‘Boonika bate doba’ in Kyiv. About the song The entry was written by two of Zdob și Zdub’s founding members, vocalist Roman Iagupov and guitarrist Mihai Gîncu. Translating to “Grandma beats the drum”, there was no mistaking how this folk-punk song would be represented on the Eurovision stage. The band went full throttle with the latest chapter of the Eurovision handbook, hurling traditional culture into the mix, something instinctive to this band who had already been blending Moldovan folk with punk and ska for a decade. Despite being drawn to perform fourth in a 24-song semifinal, Zdob și Zdub qualified in second place, ultimately finishing in sixth place in the grand final. This strong debut remained Moldova’s highest finish at Eurovision until Sunstroke Project’s second attempt reached third place in 2017. Full of energy and never letting your attention slip. ‘Boonika bate doba’ was worthy of its top six finish and has stuck in my mind and …
XTRA Opinion: Our running order for semifinal 1

XTRA Opinion: Our running order for semifinal 1

Tonight, we will finally see what the running order for the first semi of the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 would have looked like. However, like in previous years, we’ve also given this a go ourselves. Below you can find our train of thoughts and the running order we would have chosen! No “Euro Neuro”… Opening the show is a big task and when you’re producing the show, you really want something that makes an impact here. You want something powerful enough to keep viewers interested. That also means it needs to be a relatively okay song, otherwise you start off with a bit of downer. Just think about “Euro Neuro”, the Montenegrin entry in 2012. How many people will have turned off after that? That is why you want something upbeat, interesting and captivating. So we will go with The Mamas for Sweden as our opener. After that, we often see songs that aren’t expected to make a huge impact. In 2019, D Mol and Sarah McTernan were given the #2 slot. Looking at this first half, we therefore only see one option: Belarus. To make sure we spread the genders evenly as well, we will then opt for North …
🇮🇹 Slideback Sunday; Soldi! Soldi! Clap-clap!

🇮🇹 Slideback Sunday; Soldi! Soldi! Clap-clap!

For the past (almost) 20 years I’ve been (almost) 100% sure no Eurovision song would ever knock my favorite entry down off the top of the podium. I mean; It’s been there since 2001, and though quite a few songs have come close, it was still there 18 years on. Of course I’m talking about the masterpiece that is “Lady Alpine Blue”, performed by the best band ever; Mumiy Troll! But last year, the (almost) unthinkable happened. Stop, don’t say that it’s impossible… It might not come as a huge surprise that it was an Italian entry that did it. It seems a certain Swede was right when he said he knew it was possible. I have loved so many of the Italian entries, both before they took their upsetting break from the contest and after their return. “Nel blu dipinto di blu” (the David Bowie cover is even better!), “Per Lucia”, “Gente di mare”, “Madness of Love”, “L’amore è femmina”, “L’Essenziale”…just to mention a few. However, it took until 2019 for a new song to take over 1st place on my “Eurovision top 10 (or top anything, really) in the history of ever” list. Soldi + Mahmood = 1st …
From also-rans to Eurovision superpowers: How Bulgaria, Cyprus and Israel transformed their fortunes

From also-rans to Eurovision superpowers: How Bulgaria, Cyprus and Israel transformed their fortunes

Bulgaria. Cyprus. Israel. What do these nations have in common? Three of the most south-easterly participating nations at the Eurovision Song Contest? Tick. They all have wonderful weather and beaches? Tick. Three nations that show that you can turn around Eurovision fortunes with some clever thinking and direction? Big tick! Making a change in selection process Bulgaria, Cyprus and Israel have all experienced a run of at least four consecutive non-qualifications. Bulgaria achieved six-in-a-row between 2008 and 2013 whilst Cyprus and Israel suffered a run of four consecutive non-qualifications between 2006 to 2009 and 2011 to 2014 respectively. Yet, since 2015 these three nations have qualified for the Eurovision final on every single occasion they’ve participated. Just how does a nation manage to bounce back from a poor run of results? If you ask BNT, CyBC and IBA/KAN, it’s all about making a change in your selection process and perhaps taking a bit more control in proceedings to steer the ship back onto the right tracks. Bulgaria: Only one final appearance in ten years Bulgaria had one of the most dismal records in the contest up until 2016, with just a solitary qualification with “Water” by Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan …
🇬🇧 Slideback Sunday: A pop song with a message

🇬🇧 Slideback Sunday: A pop song with a message

Another Sunday, another slideback. Today we’ll revisit United Kingdom’s 1991 entry “A Message to Your Heart” and see what the team thinks of this topical plea wrapped in a catchy pop song package. I’ve followed every contest obsessively since I first became a fan, but I think a lot of Eurovision fans can relate to having less exposure to entries of the past. “A Message to Your Heart” is one of the few pre-2000 UK entries that I’ve listened to, but it’s always stuck with me. Is it the best vocal performance? Definitely not. Is the song original? Not in the slightest. In fact, it might be ticking the most Eurovision boxes thematically in its cry for a better world. It’s catchy though, and that’s all I really need in a pop song. Samantha looks every bit the Popstar Barbie and the performance isn’t bad. The disconnect between the lyrics and the vibe of the entry may throw some people off but we’ve forgiven much more questionable decisions in the name of Eurovision, haven’t we? About the song “A Message to Your Heart” was written by Paul Curtis who previously penned the country’s 1975, 1984, and 1990 entries. It finished …
When should we expect the Eurovision 2020 running order announcement?

When should we expect the Eurovision 2020 running order announcement?

Just under seven years ago, the EBU revealed the first-ever producer-determined running order draw following the introduction of the rule ahead of the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest. With the EBU confirming that preparations for the contest are continuing as planned, we are now awaiting the reveal of the running order for the 2020 Eurovision semi-finals, we’ve taken a look at exactly when the announcement has happened in every contest since the rule’s introduction. Looking through the archives To do this, we’ve simply looked through eurovision.tv‘s archives and found the following data: The date of each year’s semi-final running order announcementThe date of each year’s mid-March head of delegations meeting. This tends to run over a Sunday to Tuesday period, we have taken the Monday with it widely agreed as the key date during the meeting.The date of day one of each year’s rehearsal schedule. Our findings ContestOrder RevealDays After DeadlineDays Before Rehearsals🇮🇱 Tel Aviv 20192 April22 days (11 March)32 days (4 May)🇵🇹 Lisbon 20183 April22 days (12 March)26 days (29 April)🇺🇦 Kyiv 201731 March18 days (13 March)30 days (30 April)🇸🇪 Stockholm 20168 April25 days (14 March)24 days (2 May)🇦🇹 Vienna 201523 March7 days (16 March)49 days (11 May)🇩🇰 Copenhagen 201424 …
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