Since its inception in 1956, the audience has grown from 100 to 600 million people every year.
Did you know that ABBA and Celine Dion’s success is due in no small part to their appearances on Eurovision in 1974 and 1988 respectively? In addition to these little known facts, what makes the show so interesting is that you cannot vote for the representative of your own country. The question is then – have you already decided which country you will support? Are you partisan irrespective of quality of pop? If not, you still have some time to make your mind up this year as the contest is scheduled for 22 – 26 May.
We take a look at a few leading participants seeking your vote: who will be getting the big 12, and who the dreaded nil punkt…
This year, Ukraine will be represented by Gaitana, although her candidacy has provoked some unedifying ethnic disputes. Ukraine has been taking part in Eurovision since 2003, when Oleksandr Ponamarev debuted in the contest with his song Hasta la Vista taking 14th place. Next year, Ruslana went quite a bit better and won the contest with her Wild Dances, bringing Eurovision 2004 to Ukraine. Unfortunately, the next year’s representative, Gryndzholy, ruined Ruslana’s marvellous victory with their, quite frankly, abysmal offering sinking to 19th place. A revival of fortunes in 2007 and 2008 saw Verka Serdyuchka and Ani Lorak bringing home the silver. Now it’s Gaitana’s turn to do her best to emulate 2004. With her song Be My Guest, the singer seems to be inviting Europeans to come back to Ukraine next year, let’s hope that’s a winning formula!
Since 2003, Ukraine has been voting rather a lot for its closest neighbour Russia. This year, the country decided to impress the audience not with pretty boys like 2008 winner Dima Bilan or last year’s representative Oleskiy Vorobyov, nor with hot chicks like Anastasia Prykhodko or t.A.T.u, not even Russian pop kings and queens such as Alla Pugacheva and Philip Kirkorov. In 2012, Russia will be represented by Buranovskie Babushki (Buranovo Grandmas) – a folk band created 40 years ago and who became popular in 2008 for their cover versions of Russian rock songs, sung in the Udmurd dialect. The oldest member of the band is a sprightly 86. Unfortunately, she’s not going to Eurovision 2012, stepping (or perhaps shuffling) aside for younger members. The four competing grannies will hope to find your favour with their Party for Everybody.
Last year’s winner, Azerbaijan, hosts the contest this year. It will be the 5th time Azerbaijan has taken part in Eurovision, and in its short history the country has managed to achieve a great deal. In 2008, Elnur Hüseynov and Samir Javadzadeh debuted in 8th place. Then the country took 3rd and 5th places in 2009 and 2010, before Ell and Nikki broke through and took top spot last year; Ukraine gave them 10 points in the process, while Turkey and Russia went the whole hog with the maximum 12. In 2012, Sabina Babayeva will represent her country in Baku, trying not to let that famous victory leave the country. The singer had hoped to she would be the Eurovision rep in 2011, but only came third in the process leading up, so this year is her big chance! Sabina has chosen a beautiful song, When the Music Dies – the name sounds pessimistic but the song itself is life-affirming stuff!
Being one of five countries that automatically heads into the Grand Finals each year, Germany has decided to send Roman Lob to sing Standing Still this year. The Germans have been taking part in Eurovision since the beginning in 1956, managing to win the contest twice, in 1982 and 2010 (with the super Satellite by Lena). The odds seem against Germany in 2012, but Lob at least will give it his best shot. His career started back in 2006, when he entered the popular contest Germany Seeking a Superstar, and later joined alternative rock band Rooftop Kingdom. So, he’s hot, but perhaps dass ist nicht quite enough this year?
France has won Eurovision five times all told, they also famously mix up their entries a bit – some years going all classical, others all modern/street. Last year they just went plain dreadful. Total merde. This year, the Gallics have gone for a very hot singer, Indonesian Anggun, to represent her new motherland. She has already released 12 albums popular in Europe and her native land. Born in Indonesia, Anggun inherited her beauty and voice from her parents. Now though, her soul is seemingly French. For Baku, she has prepared a pleasing ditty called Echo (You and I), which has already conquered the French charts.
Legendary British pop singer Engelbert Humperdinck, who started his career back in 1956 (coincidentally the first Eurovision year), is going to Baku to fight for the Grand Prize this year. After his application was chosen, Engelbert started working with Grammy award-winning producer Martin Terefe and co-writer Sacha Skarbek, aiming to better Blue last year and Britain’s slightly patchy record in the competition overall, with his Love Will Set You Free. He was thought to be the oldest singer at the contest at one point, being as he’s 76, but Russian Buranovskie Babushki have easily out-aged him. The fact that he was chosen to represent his country at all proves that there is life in the old dog yet. How many votes that gets him remains to be seen, with many countries often choosing to shun Britain on political grounds. Try to listen past the not-really-part-of-Europe part, and hear what Engy has to sing! Maybe this old dog will have his day.
This year, Pastora Soler will be singing the beautiful song Quédate Conmigo in Spanish, mixing flamenco and pop in her performance. This very emotional song, translated as Stay With Me, will definitely touch the hearts of the audience, but will it be enough to win and take the contest to Spain next year? Pastora Soler started singing in her childhood and released her first album at the age of 14. Let’s wait and see how this Spanish beauty represents herself in Baku. To be honest, just showing up and keeping her mouth shut would be a considerable improvement on the last two years’ excruciating offerings from Espanol.
Italy was one of seven countries that took part in the very first Eurovision. Surprisingly, in 1997 the country took a break and came back only last year, taking second prize at the contest. This can really only have been a sympathy vote as Italy's song was about as enjoyable as driving on a bumpy road in an old Fiat Panda while drinking a warm carbonated beverage. To try and improve on that result, Italy is sending Nina Zilli to Baku. She has prepared a very feminine song called L’Amore È Femmina (Love is Female), so all the lady votes will be hers for sure. Together with her band The Jerks, Zilli has released two albums and won a couple of worthy awards, including her recent victory at the San Remo Festival, which was her ticket to the 2012 gig.
First Semi Final Group
Albania: Rona Nishliu – Suus
Austria: Trackshittaz – Woki Mit Deim Popo
Belgium: Iris – Would You?
Cyprus: Ivi Adamou – La La Love
Denmark: Soluna Samay – Should’ve Known Better
Finland: Pernilla Karlsson – Nar Jag Blundar
Greece: Eleftheria Eleftheriou – Aphrodisiac
Hungary: Compact Disco – Sound Of Our Hearts
Iceland: Greta Salome & Jonsi – Mundu Eftir Mer
Ireland: Jedward – Waterline
Israel: Izabo – Time
Latvia: Anmary – Beautiful Song
Moldova: Pasha Parfeny – Lautar
Montenegro: Rambo Amadeus – Euro Neuro
Romania: Mandinga – Zaleilah
Russia: Buranovskie Babushki – Party For Everybody
San Marino: Valentina Monetta – The Social Network Song (Oh Oh-Uh-Oh Oh)
Second Semi Final Group (24 May)
Belarus: Litesound – We Are The Heroes
Bosnia & Herzegovina: Maya Sar – Korake Ti Znam
Bulgaria: Sofi Marinova – Love Unlimited
Croatia: Nina Badric – Nebo
Estonia: Ott Lepland – Kuula
Macedonia: Kaliopi – Crno E Belo
Georgia: Anri Jokhadze – I’m A Joker
Lithuania: Donny Montell – Love Is Blind
Malta: Kurt Calleja – This Is The Night
Norway: Tooji – Stay
Portugal: Filipa Sousa – Vida Minha
Serbia: Zeljko Joksimovic – Nije Ljubav Stvar
Slovakia: Max Jason Mai – Don’t Close Your Eyes
Slovenia: Eva Boto – Verjamem
Sweden: Loreen – Euphoria
Netherlands: Joan Franka – You And Me
Turkey: Can Bonomo – Love Me Back
Ukraine: Gaitana – Be My Guest
Grand Final (26 May)
Azerbaijan: Sabina Babayeva – When the Music Dies
France: Anggun – Echo (You And I)
Germany: Roman Lob – Standing Still
Italy: Nina Zilli – L’Amore E Femmina
Spain: Pastora Soler – Quedate Conmigo
United Kingdom: Engelbert Humperdinck – Love Will Set You Free