As of yesterday, all 40 songs for Eurovision 2015 have been officially unveiled and – more importantly – posted on YouTube, which means we now get to spend the next 62 days listening to them on repeat and speculating over who the all-important winner will be.
But of course, Eurovision wouldn’t be Eurovision without the obscure trivia and pub-quiz questions, so let’s have a look at what we know about this year’s contest so far.
1. Eurovision is 60 years old
Yep, that’s right – it’s been 60 years since the very first Eurovision Song Contest was held in Lugano, Switzerland in 1956. (Switzerland won, FYI.)
As part of the celebrations, Australia are making their much-publicised first appearance in the contest as an entrant. Their song is actually pretty good, so it could be an Aussie victory, in which case Australia will co-host the next competition in a European city.
2. The UK’s entry is shit
Another well-publicised fact about this year’s contest is how terrible the UK entry is. Now normally, I am full of support for whatever entry the BBC decides to send for us (I even got on board with Engelbert Humperdinck) but I think this entry more than ever shows just how out of step we are with Europe.
Sure, the song is a bit daring and the choice of genre is unique, but I refuse to believe that anyone involved in the process of choosing the song could honestly say they believed this entry would win. And if they did, more fool us.
Put simply: it is a half-arsed job and it makes us look like a joke. And God only knows what they sound like live. Beyond disappointed.
3. There are a LOT of ballads
The reason our entry should stand out this year is because it’s up-beat. If you’re not a fan of ballads, 2015 might not be your favourite contest…
4. The return of the Czech Republic
This year sees the return of the Czech Republic to the contest, after an absence of five years. One of the last countries in Europe to enter (in 2007), the Central European nation has not been successful in previous years. In three attempts, the country failed to reach the final and withdrew in 2009.
5. Armenia has upped its game
One country that is taking Eurovision seriously this year is Armenia. The Caucasus country was initially very successful in the competition, finishing in the top ten the first five times it entered. However, Armenia went through a bit of a rough patch, before finishing 4th once more last year.
This year, the nation is represented by Genealogy, a super-group composed of Armenian descendants who live around the world. The singers, who each represent a different continent, were revealed one a week as part of Armenia’s overall campaign.
The reason? This year marks a century since the still-unrecognised Armenian genocide, which was perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. Today, many states refuse to acknowledge the atrocity, the most vocal of whom is successor-state Turkey.
The entry’s official video makes subtle references to this, showing a traditional family posing for a portrait at the turn of the century as one by one their chairs are left empty. Most glaringly of all, the song was originally entitled ‘Don’t Deny’.
6. The languages of Eurovision
I think it’s always interesting to see which countries choose to perform in a language other than English. This year, only seven countries have chosen to do so: the usual suspects (France, Spain, Italy, Portugal), as well as Romania, Montenegro and Finland.
Interestingly, this year’s contest will be the first time Serbia performs in English.
7. Diversity & disabilities
The Eurovision Song Contest is known as a great bastion of diversity and this year is no different, featuring several acts with disabilities.
The Finnish entry, punk rock band Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät was formed in a workshop for adults with development disabilities, while the Polish entrant, Monika Kuszynska is a wheelchair user, after a car crash in 2006 left her paralysed from the waist-down.
8. Controversial scenes in Germany
Eurovision is no stranger to controversy and this year it started fairly early. After winning the German pre-selection competition, Andres Kümmert turned down the chance to represent Germany in Vienna, giving up his title to runner-up Ann Sophie. Shocking stuff.
Of course the real winners should have been Laing, a minimal-electro group who performed on cycling machines.
9. Russia will almost definitely do very well again
In recent years, Russia has become the villain of Eurovision – most probably because its government is aggressively attempting to oppress much that the contest has come to represent. It’s the little things, you know? Famously, the Russian entry was booed consistently last year.
Despite this reputation, Russia finished in 7th place last year and there’s every reason to believe they will perform similarly well this year.
The reason? The Russian entry will be performed by Polina Gargarina, a famous singer who won the Russian version of X Factor/Pop Idol/The Voice back in 2003. She’s since gone on to have plenty of top-selling albums, meaning she is probably well known across the Baltic States and Eastern Europe.
(And who does the UK have? A Mick Jagger impersonator…)
10. There are two Warriors
Interestingly, there are two songs entitled ‘Warrior’ this year, both song by female solo artists. One will represent Georgia, the other Malta.
11. Unbroken record for Russia, Romania, Greece, Azerbaijan?
Since the current format of semi-finals was introduced in 2004, only a handful of countries have qualified to the final every year: Russia, Greece, Romania, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Bosnia & Herzegovina. The latter two countries are not participating this year, but will the others make it through again?
Tense stuff, isn’t it?
12. Odds-on favourites
Looking now to favourites and according to a cross section of UK bookies, it seems like Sweden and Italy are the popular choices to win the competition. Italy was favourite for several weeks, before Sweden’s entry was announced.
Also high up there are Estonia, Finland and Slovenia.
13. Personal favourites
Of course I couldn’t write this post without mentioning my own personal favourites, who will no doubt end up towards the end of the scoreboard, if previous competitions are anything to go by.
Regardless, my current favourites include (in no particular order) Belgium, Estonia, Ireland, France, and Slovenia. And definitely not the UK.
14. Where is Eurovision 2015?
Eurovision is being held in the Wiener Stadthalle in Vienna this year, following Conchita Wurst’s impressive victory in Copenhagen last year.
15. When is Eurovision 2015?
The two semi-finals will be held on Tuesday 19 May and Thursday 21 May respectively, while the final will be held on Saturday 23 May. The UK will be able to vote in the second semi-final.
So, there you have it: your first fill of Eurovision trivia.
To read some more, try these:
Don’t forget, I will endeavour to live tweet the semi-finals and finals (though I will be in Mallorca at the time), so if you enjoy my witticisms, don’t forget to follow me on twitter here.
What do you think? Do you have any early favourites?