The Eurovision Song Contest Page has been updated for the 2006 contest
(in Greece). Here are a few ESC related links:
|and ESC 2006 (link
to separate page) New!
Of course, the party wasn't quite as big this year, but hopefully the
fondue and fun will be back bigger and better in the new year!
ESC In A Nutshell
The ESC is an annual competition where European countries come together
to each perform a song, and, through a voting process based upon the
merits of each song, to determine the best song for a given year. In
theory. In practice, this statement is misleading since there is no single
European musical taste, and the interaction between the voting,
performances and compositions is extremely unpredictable to say the least.
Important things to know are:
- The contest is split into two parts: performances and voting.
Countries perform in an order determined by lot. Since there are
twenty-six participants this year, this makes for a lengthy program.
- Songs are limited to three minutes and a maximum of six performers
are allowed on stage. All singing must be done live, but backing tracks
are frequently used for instrument parts. Songs can be performed in any
language, but English is the most popular choice for obvious reasons.
- "European" means a member of the EBU. So please don't say "But
Isreal isn't part of Europe" because, for these purposes, they are. For
a full list of members see the EBU site (the link is below).
- While I'm on the subject, neither the performer nor the composer (or
anyone on the stage for that matter) needs to be a citizen of the
country that they are representing. The national element is provided by
the national broadcaster (for example in the UK this is the BBC), and
they can choose whomever they want.
- The country that wins the contest gets to host it next year, and,
rather like the Olympics, this can be a costly but rewarding experience.
The bottom six (or so) countries get relegated and aren't allowed to
participate in the next competition. However, the four biggest TV
markets (UK, France, Germany and Spain) cannot be relegated.
- Voting is done by telephone (and anyone residing within a
participating country can vote up to three times), and each country
gives 12,10,8,7,6,5,4,3,2 and 1 votes to other participants.
The Eurovision is famous for pop music, fashion and voting fiascos.
Beyond this, I run out of words: you really do have to see to believe some
of the performances. Past performers have included Cliff Richard, Celine
Dion, Gina G, Julio Inglesias, Katrina and the Waves and, of course, Abba.
Over 180 million people watch the ESC every year,
and for some reason it has lasted almost 50 years. So although this may be
a scarey thought, no, I'm not the only the only Eurovision tragic!
History and Trivia
This section is intended to be about Shaun (ie me) and Eurovision. So don't expect the glossary of obscure facts that
are most often found under this heading (and, believe it or not, there are stacks of web sites out there that do
just that for the ESC).
First of all, check out something that I did during my computer science honours year (2001): a
data-mining project on the voting patterns demonstrated by countries participating in the ESC.
It should be fairly accessible to non-ESC fanatics and non-computer scientists alike (and after having
a quick look at it the other night, I still think it's pretty interesting. But, I can hear you all think,
this could just be me!).
I will add more content to this section when I can think of great moments in Eurovisions past. In the
meantime, the fact that I picked the winner two years ago (Estonia) and the runner-up last year (Malta) is
making it tempting for me to place a bet on the outcome this year. And I just checked, English bookmaker
Ladbrokes and Australian bookie Centrebet are taking bets for this year's
contest, and if you're confident the odds aren't bad at all!
[later in the year: making a bet on the outcome was a poor idea. I lost
all of my money, and that of a friend who was foolish enough to think that
I knew what I was talking about! Still, there's
always next year. For the record, I picked the Netherlands to win, and they came about ninth.]
European Broadcasting Union (EBU)
The EBU is the overall oganiser and co-ordinator
for the ESC. Its website is the place to go for administrative stuff like
the rules for broadcasters and participants, contracts (yay! Legal stuff)
and official information about entrants.
Offical ESC 2003 Web Site
Next year Turkey will be the host, so Turkish Television
has the job of running the show. The web site is pretty funky, with
downloads (audio and video) for all of the contestants. There are also
lots of pictures and (heaven forbid that any actually get used) screensavers
SBS Eurovision Broadcast Details
SBS, as always, is broadcasting the ESC in Oz this
year. The telecast will be delayed (but only by a few hours) and this year
they are sending their own correspondant. Just remember: don't watch the
news on Sunday night since there's always a "look at those wacky
BBC Eurovision Page
The BBC has a well-worn Eurovision groove, which
isn't a bad thing since their commentator - Terry Wogan - is always good
for a couple of drinks... oops, I mean jokes! The thing I find interesting
about the participating broadcasters (the BBC amongst them) is their
unflagging belief that their song, despite being a complete load a tripe,
cannot possibly fail to win.
Just one of the many sites on the web dedicated to all things Eurovision. Normally a good source
for polls and latest news.
Possibly the most frequently updated ESC web page.
A staggering amount of information (who has time to do all this stuff
anyway?) to wade through if you have the time and inclination.
The Baltic Times
A sponsor of the 2003 event, and a nice little
window into the Baltic pysche. It must be hard trying to find a place in
the world when you have negligable population and economy, and a rather sad
history of oppression at the hands of invaders.
CIA World Factbook
Get a snapshot of Turkey's vital statistics with
this comprehensive resource. Of course, just visiting the CIA site is
enough to cause a little healthy paranoia. Anyway, just visiting the site
won't do any harm. Probably.