I swear it was but yesterday that I was knee deep – nay, waste-deep – in dushbara and dolma as the Eurovision extravaganza rolled into Baku Azerbaijan and after much singing, dancing and Russian babushka-adoring, crowned Loreen the musical queen of Europe with her hauntingly evocative get-and-and-dance-Kate-Bushesque song, “Euphoria”.
And yet with the glitter barely settled on the floor and the pyrotechnics canisters still smoking just off stage, I find myself only 100 days out from the Eurovision final, which will be held in Malmo, Sweden, and hosted by just one person (where will we get our witty repartee from I ask?), Swedish comedian and television host, Petra Mede.
So much spandex to sew, so many sardines to buy, so much Swedish flags to buy … and so little time!
To date, 39 countries have confirmed their involvement in this year’s contest – down from 42 last year – with 3 countries, Slovakia, Portugal and Bosnia and Herzegovina, confirming they won’t be in Malmo, attributing their non-participation to the European financial crisis.
Turkey has also pulled the plug on its involvement citing its concern over rule changes for the song contest run by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) which have reduced the influence the voting public on the final result. (These changes have been made to curtail the ability of unofficial national voting blocks from skewing the results.)
While it’s sad to see anyone pull out of the contest, and for their part, the EBU is sensitive to the costs of the contest saying they are ”sensitive to the economic pressures facing its members”, the fact that 39 countries can still find the money to attend speaks volume of the importance placed on Eurovision by participating countries.
And as you’d expect these countries are in full gear selecting the artists who will represent them in Malmo come May.
While countries like Hungary, Norway (the final of their Melodi Grand Prix will be held this Saturday 9 February) and host nation Sweden whose selection contest, Melodifestivalen is almost as major an event as Eurovision itself – there is a lot of pressure on them to pick a worthy successor to Loreen’s winning entry – are in the middle of selecting their national representative (who will carry the hopes and dreams of their fellow countrymen and women, not to mention their body weight in spandex), others are done and dusted (well, mostly).
Here’s the list so far:
Albania “Identitet” by Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko (semi-final 2)
Armenia Song-less but Gor Sujyan will sing it when they get one (semi-final 2)
Belarus “Rhythm of Love” by Alyona Lanskaya (semi-final 1)
Belgium “Love Kills” by Roberto Bellarosa (semi-final 1)
Croatia Oddly they have a song, “Mižerja” but no artist yet (semi-final 1)
Cyprus Song title to be announced – Despina Olympiou (semi-final 1)
Denmark “Only Teardrops” by Emmelie de Forest (semi-final 1)
F.Y.R Macedonia No song yet but Lozano & Esma will sing it (semi-final 2)
Georgia “Waterfalls” by Nodi Tatishvili & Sophie Gelovani (semi-final 2)
Iceland “Ég á Líf” by Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson (semi-final 2)
Lithuania “Something” by Andrius Pojavis (semi-final 1)
Malta “Tomorrow” by Gianluca Bezzina (semi-final 2)
Montenegro No song yet but an artist Who Sees (semi-final 1)
San Marino “Crisalide” by Valentina Monetta
Slovenia No song to sing but Hannah will sing it when they do (semi-final 1)
Switzerland “You and me” to be sung … the Swiss aren’t sure (semi-final 2)
The Netherlands Also no song but Anouk is the designated singer (semi-final 1)
Ukraine “Gravity” by Zlata Ognevich (semi-final 1)
No doubt in the next couple of months there will be a flurry of activity and dense clouds of glitter clogging the skies over the various capitals of Europe as the rest of the 39 countries get their entires finalised.
The UK is talking about reverting to a national song selection process, much like the kind that the rest of Europe uses, after last year’s Englebert Humperdinck debacle, and along with host country Sweden and Italy will vote in semi-final 1 while Germany, Spain and France will cast their votes in semi-final 2.
(The Big Five countries of the EBU, as they’re known and the host country get automatic entry to the Grand Final on 18 May.)
So strap yourself, transpose your normal speaking voice up an octave or two at the most unexpected moments and pretend to sing into your toothbrush as we get ready for Eurovision 2013 … you have been warned.