Five popular Eurovision myths

It’s so close you can almost feel the wind machine. 43 Eurovision acts are packing their bags and getting ready for a fortnight (or less) in Lisbon. It won’t be long before mainstream websites chime in with their own take on how Eurovision is a big old campfest, and in the case of the UK, why everyone hates us.

Time to explode a few myths.

It’s so political – everyone votes for their friends

This one isn’t helped by the almost ritual twelve points exchanged by Greece and Cyprus or Russia and Belarus. But the reasons behind this have less to do with ‘ganging up’ than having a shared culture. If an act is big in Germany, success often follows in Austria. And the same is generally true about the Greek and Cypriot music scene. It could also explain the occasional pity points awarded to the UK by the Irish.

On its own, neighbourly voting isn’t enough to win the Contest. If it was, Russia would win every year. If anything it hinders a song. Friendly votes often help a less deserving song into the final, but with 43 taking part, this often cancels itself out. Broad appeal remains key.

The former Soviet bloc has hijacked Eurovision

This is an extension of the friendly voting myth. Some insist Mamma Russia and her children dominate the Contest. They vote for each other and squeeze out former big shots like Ireland, France and the UK.

In the past decade, we’ve had winners from Russia, Norway, Germany, Azerbaijan, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Ukraine and Portugal. From that list, the only culprits would be Russia and Ukraine – and they’re hardly the best of friends.

You’ve got to have a gimmick

Let’s get one thing straight, it’s not a radio show. We’re talking about the EuroVISION song contest. Over the years, we’ve seen jugglers, unicycles, nightmare clowns and milkmaids. Since the public was handed a say, those taking part have increasingly relied on wind machines, light shows and background projections.

This year, RTP refused to fork out for LED screens, and so we can expect elaborate light shows, eye-catching outfits and high prop count. You don’t need a circus to win. Simplicity can be its own gimmick. Take away the lighting and Jamala, Loreen, Salvador and Conchita won by standing (or sitting) on stage and belting out a decent song. And yes, Conchita had a beard.

Everyone hates the UK

Politically, the UK might be as welcome as a skid-mark on a hotel towel, but let’s be fair, we’ve not exactly tried that hard. When asked to name previous Eurovision entrants, only the most dedicated fan would recall Scooch, Andy Abraham, Josh Dubovie, Molly or Electro Velvet.

The BBC briefly tried fading stars – Bonnie Tyler and Engelbert Humperdink tipped up with songs they wouldn’t have touched in their heyday.

It’s not been constant bad news. Jade Ewan ended fifth in 2009, and two years later Blue came fifth with televoters (the jury didn’t agree). After two deservedly bad results, Lucie Jones turned in a respectable fifteenth place.

The fact is, the UK tends to score as well as it deserves.

The songs are awful

It’s hard to debunk a myth based on personal taste. This year, the range of songs is wider than ever. Of course, there’s chart-friendly rock, pop and ballads, but there’s also Balkan balladry, reggae, rap, opera and Grecian drama. It’s hard to see how anyone with an open mind won’t find something they like.

Recent years have seen both winners and runners-up score huge hits, even in the UK.

In 2012, Loreen topped the charts in 17 countries. ‘Euphoria’ spent several days on top of the UK iTunes chart, peaking at No 3 in the singles listings and selling more than 250,000 copies, despite being almost universally snubbed by mainstream radio stations. Lordi topped charts across Europe with ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah‘.

Conchita, Jamala and Salvador produced very different winning songs, all earning plaudits from serious musical commentators.

Rehearsals start soon, and OnEurope will be on the spot bringing you reports from the hall, telling it how we see it – and sharing video where possible to help guide your predictions.

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Image Credits: M&M Productions.