From pop to politics, what to know as Sweden prepares for the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest - SRN News (2024)

Tue, Apr 23, 2024 0 Comments

From pop to politics, what to know as Sweden prepares for the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest - SRN News (1)Enlarge

LONDON (AP) — It’s springtime in Europe — time for the annual blossoming of spectacle and sound known as the Eurovision Song Contest.

Taking place in May in Malmö, Sweden, the 68th annual competition will see acts from 37 countries vie for the continent’s pop crown in a feelgood extravaganza that strives — not always successfully – to banish international strife and division. And you don’t have to be in Europe to watch, or to help pick the winner.

Here’s a guide to all things Eurovision.

On one level, it’s simple: Eurovision is an international pop music competition in which acts from countries across Europe, and a few beyond it, compete in a live televised contest to be crowned Eurovision champion.

But it’s also much more — a celebration of diversity, national pride and the joyous power of pop. And glitter. So much glitter.

Launched in 1956 to foster unity after World War II, Eurovision has become a campy, feel-good celebration of pop music with an audience of hundreds of millions around the world. It has grown from seven countries to almost 40, including non-European nations such as Israel and Australia.

It’s now known for songs that range from anthemic to extremely silly, often with elaborate costumes and spectacular staging.

Paul Jordan, an expert on the contest who is known as “Dr. Eurovision,” said the contest “is almost indescribable in terms of its scale, in terms of its craziness — but I would liken it to probably the musical version of the Olympic Games.”

This year’s contest will be held in Malmö in southern Sweden, with two semifinals on May 7 and 9 followed by a grand final on May 11. Traditionally the competition is hosted by the previous year’s winner, and Sweden triumphed in 2023 with “Tattoo,” a power ballad by pop diva Loreen.

The Nordic nation is a Eurovision powerhouse that has won the contest seven times, a number equaled only by Ireland.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of a Eurovision’s most iconic moment, ABBA’s victory in the 1974 contest with “Waterloo.” The win propelled the band toward superstardom and helped jump-start Sweden’s music industry.

Fans are hoping for an appearance by the Swedish supergroup in Malmö, though the band members have played down those suggestions.

Eurovision’s motto is “united by music” and organizer the European Broadcasting Union strives to keep political divisions out of the competition, though it doesn’t always succeed.

Russia has been banned since its 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Last year’s contest was held in the English city of Liverpool because the 2022 winner, Ukraine, was at war.

This year, pro-Palestinian activists and some musicians have urged organizers to drop Israel from the event over its conduct in its war against Hamas, which has killed more than 33,000 people in Gaza, according to its Health Ministry.

Israel has not been suspended, but it was ordered to change the lyrics of its competing song, originally titled “October Rain,” an apparent reference to Hamas’ cross-border Oct. 7 attack that killed some 1,200 Israelis. Renamed “Hurricane,” the power ballad will be performed by 20-year-old singer Eden Golan.

With feelings running high, organizers issued a statement saying they “firmly oppose any form of online abuse, hate speech, or harassment directed at our artists or any individuals associated with the contest.”

Jordan said Eurovision organizers have sometimes been accused of inconsistency in setting the contest’s boundaries.

“You’re not allowed political entries …and yet Finland 2013 has a song about equal marriage,” he said. “You had other songs about world peace — technically they’re political too. So what is the division between politics and non-politics is quite a blurred line.”

Pro-Palestinian groups plan demonstrations in downtown Malmo during Eurovision week that they hope will draw thousands of protesters from Sweden and neighboring countries.

Malmö district police chief Petra Stenkula said security would be “rigorous,” with Swedish police reinforced by officers from Denmark and Norway.

Eurovision’s complex voting system, which awards points from juries of music industry professionals as well as viewers across Europe, makes winners notoriously hard to predict.

Jordan said there used to be a “typical” Eurovision sound -– a three-minute pop song in English with a key change — but the contest is now much more diverse. Many acts perform in their national languages and some draw on folk traditions and instruments, though slick production and electro beats still predominate.

Winners have ranged from Canadian chanteuse Celine Dion, who competed for Switzerland in 1988, to fright mask-wearing Finnish metalheads Lordi in 2006, bearded Austrian drag performer Conchita Wurst in 2014, Italian rock band Måneskin in 2021 and Ukrainian folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra in 2022.

Bookmakers’ favorites this year include nonbinary Swiss singer Nemo’s powerhouse song “The Code” and Croatian singer-songwriter Baby Lasagna’s earwormy electro number “Rim Tim Tagi Dim.”

Other entries to watch include the Netherlands’ Joost Klein with pop-rap song “Europapa,” “La Noia“ by Italian TikTok star Angelina Mango and “Teresa & Maria” by the Ukrainian duo of rapper alyona alyona and vlogger Jerry Heil.

Spain’s entry, “ Zorra” by the duo Nebulossa, has drawn controversy because its title can be translated as an anti-female slur.

The U.K., which has not won since 1997, is pinning its hopes on Olly Alexander’s vertiginous pop song “Dizzy.” Host country Sweden is represented by identical twins Marcus & Martinus -– who, confusingly enough, hail from Norway — with the confidently titled “Unforgettable.” Eurovision voters will be the judge of that.

The competition will be aired by national broadcasters in participating nations, on streaming service Peaco*ck in the United States and on the Eurovision YouTube channel. Viewers in the U.S. and other nonparticipating countries can vote online or using the Eurovision app; viewers in participating countries can also vote by phone or text message.

From pop to politics, what to know as Sweden prepares for the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest - SRN News (2024)


How do musicians in Sweden get selected to represent their country and perform in Eurovision? ›

Each country is de facto represented by its respective public broadcaster. It is at each broadcaster's sole discretion to determine who will represent their country at the Eurovision Song Contest.

Can Americans vote in Eurovision? ›

All viewers in participating and non-participating countries alike can vote using the official Eurovision App or go directly to

What is Eurovision called in Sweden? ›

The competition adopted its current name, Melodifestivalen, in 1967. Melodifestivalen has failed to be staged on three occasions. In 1964, the competition was cancelled due to an artist's strike; Sweden did not send a song to Eurovision that year.

Why can't the UK vote by text in Eurovision? ›

Text voting cannot be included in the Eurovision Song Contest UK vote due to the relatively short periods in which the vote is open and during which the result needs to be provided and verified.

How did Celine Dion participate in Eurovision? ›

The now 55-year-old competed for Switzerland at the song contest held in Ireland's Dublin. Before the life-changing performance, she was well-known in France and Canada, but the appearance began her global notoriety. Celine performed in French and sang Ne partez pas sans moi, which translates to Do not go without me.

Can anyone represent a country in Eurovision? ›

Each country is de facto represented by its respective public broadcaster, and it's at the broadcaster's sole discretion to determine who will represent their country at the Eurovision Song Contest.

Why are the USA not in Eurovision? ›

The Eurovision Song Contest has been broadcast in the America since 1971 and there are a lot of fans across the pond, but they have never participated in the yearly event. The obvious answer is that America isn't in Europe. But many nations outside of the continent take part.

Are any countries banned from Eurovision? ›

Belarus. Belarus has been banned from competing since 2021. The Belarusian entry that year, Ya Nauchu Tebya (I'll Teach You),' contained lyrics deemed to be politically motivated and potentially harmful.

Why does Israel participate in Eurovision? ›

Israel made its debut in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1973 as the first non-European country granted permission to participate in the event. The EBU allowed Israel to participate since the country's broadcaster was already one of its members.

Why is French in Eurovision? ›

Along with Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom, France is one of the "Big Five" countries that are automatically prequalified for the final, due to being the largest financial contributors to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

Why is Slovakia not in Eurovision? ›

Slovak music expert Juraj Čurný added that as television is underfunded, if RTVS were to return to Eurovision the participant would likely need to fund themselves as opposed to relying on the broadcaster. This was the case for their last participation in 2012, when Max Jason Mai represented the country in Baku.

What country has won Eurovision the most? ›

Since its beginning, a total of 52 countries have participated in the hopes of becoming a champion. Of all the countries that have sung their lungs out for the coveted prize, Ireland have won the competition more than any. As of 2022, Ireland has taken the crown a total of seven times.

Do you have to be in Europe to be in the Eurovision Song Contest? ›

Several countries geographically outside the boundaries of Europe have competed: Israel, Cyprus and Armenia, in Western Asia, since 1973, 1981 and 2006 respectively; Morocco, in North Africa, in the 1980 competition alone; and Australia making a debut in the 2015 contest.

How much does an Eurovision vote cost? ›

The Eurovision Song Contest imposes a limit of 20 votes per phone. In a country like the United Kingdom, where one vote costs 15p (€0.17), twenty votes would cost £3 (€3.40).

Can Eurovision countries vote for themselves? ›

Despite the winners' clear skill, however, the competition's process, in which each participating nation puts forward one song entry and votes for other entries, has made the contest vulnerable to criticisms of bias. Countries can't vote for themselves.

How are artists chosen for Eurovision? ›

To take part in the Eurovision Song Contest, you need to win a national selection or be selected by one of the participating broadcasters. Everything starts with sending in your song! Note that most broadcasters set their deadlines to submit songs somewhere between September and December.

How are Eurovision bands chosen? ›

Every year, countries whose national broadcasters are members of the European Broadcast Union (EBU)[3] choose a song and artist to represent them, either internally selected by the broadcaster itself or through a national song competition.

Who are some musicians that have represented Sweden in Eurovision before? ›

Ted Gärdestad, Lill-Babs, Tommy Körberg, Björn Skifs and Monica Zetterlund have all flown the Swedish flag at the Eurovision Song Contest, and are today still regarded as all-time music great at home.

How countries voted in Eurovision? ›

Back-up juries are used by each country (with eight members) in the event of a televoting failure. All countries use televoting and/or SMS-voting (50%) and five-member juries (50%), apart from San Marino which was 100% jury due to country size. This is so called jury–televote 50/50.

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