Eurovision 2017 – it’s back!

You can sense it in the air – it’s that time of year again, yes, it’s Eurovision 2017! The time where we can all indulge in cheesy music, have a heated discussion about countries’ allies and enemies, and marvel at the bizarre and the ridiculous.  With the semi-finals taking place this week and the Grand Final airing all over the world on Saturday 13th May, it’s time to cancel all of your plans and indulge in your favourite guilty pleasure.

Where is it this year?

This year, Eurovision will by hosted in Kiev after Ukraine won the contest last year with a strong and passionate song ‘1944’ performed by Jamala. This win wasn’t without controversy, as politically motivated songs are usually banned under Eurovision rules and this song had a definite political undertone. It will be interesting to see if any political songs slip past the judges during the competition this year.

Eurovision is one of Europe’s favourite competitions, a time for the old rivalries to be aside (at least in theory) and for the best singing talents from across the continent to showcase their pipes. But wait – why are more and more non-European countries entering the ring?

Australia… Really?

Last year, Australia came in second in the contest. This made many people ask, ‘why are Australia allowed to compete in Eurovision at all’?

Australia joined the Eurovision party in 2015. It was the song contest’s 60th anniversary, and the chosen theme was  ‘Building Bridges.’ The Eurovision decision board invited Australia to compete as a kind gesture, and as a fun approach to the topic of bridge building. Australia loved the opportunity to compete, with millions of Eurovision fans in Australia tuning into the musical event. This is especially impressive when you realise that in Australia, the contest doesn’t start until the early hours of the morning.

The real reason that Australia is now allowed to compete because the Australian TV broadcaster SBS is now a part of the European Broadcasting Union. While the contest has been shown in Australia for over 30 years, the ratings skyrocketed when Australia had their own Eurovision contender. This ratings success made it well worth SBS’s while to pay the small fortune it costs to take part and broadcast the event.

And Israel?

Similarly, countries like Israel also take part for the same reason: TV broadcasting licenses. The Israeli Broadcasting Authority is a member of the Eurovision governing body. Quite simply, the Eurovision bosses remind us that the event is called the Eurovision Song Contest, not the European Song Contest. Any members of the European Broadcasting Union can take part, and this means that in the future we could see any country in the world putting forward a song in the contest.

Australia and Israel aren’t the only non-European countries to participate; countries such as Morocco, Azerbaijan and Georgia have also had entries. Interestingly the Vatican City also belong to the European Broadcasting Union, wouldn’t you love to see them compete?

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