Happy Birthday!

In the words of Aylin Vatankoş, summer is over. With the 2019 season underway, what better way to kick things off, than a look back at the long hot summer of 2018 and what happened (or didn't) in the world of Eurovision?

RSVP

First off, Eurovision 2019 is taking place in Tel Aviv, Israel. It was always taking place in Israel. Israel won in 2018. There was a call for host cities to 'bid' for the honour of being its home base, with only two real contenders - Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. One of the potential host cities (Haifa) didn't even get their bid in on time. There was a fair bit of faff around money, but only the foolish would have bet against a deal being struck.

Jerusalem was never truly in the running for various reasons that you can read on absolutely any fan site. Tel Aviv won, and nobody was even slightly surprised. Anyone previously warned off booking flights or hotels can now go ahead and take their pick of flights and the (now) overpriced accommodation around the weekend of 18 May 2019.

Way back when Netta won, various (unofficial) groups talked of boycotting the 2019 contest. No broadcaster paid a smidge of attention.

Too busy washing their hair

And who won't we be seeing in 2019? Pretty much any of the countries Reddit fans insisted would be making their debut. The usual suspects Kosovo and Kazakhstan won't be there. Johnny-come-lately Liechtenstein is also not welcome. And Turkey hates the gays, so they're still out.

RTK Kosovo is still not a member of the EBU and is unlikely to become one any time soon (it isn't a member of the ITU). Many participating nations don't recognise Kosovo as a country. There will be a vote on membership in late December, but I think we all know which way that's going (for now).

Channel 31 Kazakhstan is also not an EBU member and is outside the European Broadcasting Area. The country is also not a member of the council, of Europe. It's ineligible on every count. And before you point out Australia is also outside the area, their broadcaster is an associate member of the EBU. Channel 31 is not. That said, the EBU has offered them a (making up numbers) space in the increasingly bizarre junior spinoff show.

1FLTV Liechtenstein has apparently not been in touch with the EBU about membership, and it's not like you can apply one day and join the next. They won't be in Tel Aviv.

İbrahim Eren, the general manager of Turkish TRT made it clear that Turkey won't be back while the show allows things that could scare children and horses. “As a public broadcaster, we cannot broadcast live at 9 p.m. — when children are still awake — someone like the bearded Austrian who wore a skirt, does not believe in genders and says that he is both a man and a woman.”.

Eren also whinged about voting and 'big five', but given Turkey always did OK regardless, these remarks sound like an attempt to water down the bigoted part of his comments.

Already thinking about an outfit

A few broadcasters have kicked off their search for a song. It's business as usual in most places, though a few toys left a few prams in Malta. After a string of dreadful songs and deservedly poor results, TVM has dropped its national final. The performer will be selected through a local franchise of The X Factor. In Switzerland, a decision has been taken to more or less ape the German process - two panels (one public, one 'expert) pick the entry. Again, that means an end to a televised national final. Some potential songs are already online.

Ireland had another of their songwriting camps where they made a lot of grand statements about wanting to win and taking it seriously. As if they'd say anything else ... Looks like a similar process to last year. Expect another wheezy ballad.

In Italy, this year, rather than involve the newcomers in the marathon slog that is Sanremo, they get their own warm-up competition, just in time for Christmas. This 'new' competition is open to artists under the age of 36. 24 acts will compete with songs introduced from 17 December in TV preview shows. Two shows - each with 12 acts - air on 20 and 21 December. The winner of each scores a place in the 2019 Sanremo festival.

Nearby San Marino is preparing for another serving of vanity project 1in360. There's a rebrand taking place ... because that was what was so wring with the process in 2018. No details have yet emerged about who will bankroll the 2019 contest. In fact, the broadcaster has yet to confirm a spot at the contest.

Austrian ORF will once more pick their singer and song without public involvement. London-based Austrian singer-songwriter Joe Traxler has revealed he's in the running with a post on Instagram - he's 'stoked' about it, apparently. Sara de Blue has also dropped unsubtle hints that she'd be up for it after failing to buy secure the winning place at San Marino's 1in360 this year. An announcement is due in December.

The French will pick next year's underachieving fan favourite with a second outing for Destination Eurovision. The format carries over from this year, and a submission process is underway.

Broadcasters in Norway, Sweden and Denmark are all accepting songs for 2019, with no suggestion of any format changes to their Melodi shows. NRK has already received 1000 potential songs and SVT just confirmed dates and cities for Melodifestivalen 2019.

Lithuania was the last of the Baltic nations to confirm their place for next year. Whilst Estonia and Latvia have said they will repeat their existing national final formats, LRT has yet to settle on a way to draw out its song selection.

Serbian TV is up for another Beovizija and the call is out for songs - though anyone entering has to keep their identity a secret - it's just more fun that way.