What to know as UK hosts Eurovision Music Contest for Ukraine Lalrp

LONDON — Final week, Britain crowned a king. This week, it would assist bestow Europe’s pop crown.

The Eurovision Music Contest is returning to the U.K. this week for the primary time in 25 years, however the coronary heart of the glitzy music competitors can be in Ukraine.

Britain is internet hosting the occasion on behalf of the war-battered nation, and organizers have vowed to make it a celebration of Ukrainian spirit and culture.

The competition will see musical acts from 37 international locations carry out authentic songs within the English metropolis of Liverpool, with semi-finals Tuesday and Thursday and a grand closing on Saturday watched by an estimated 160 million folks.

For followers and first-timers alike, right here’s a vital Eurovision information:


First staged in 1956, Eurovision was based to assist unite a shattered continent after World Battle II and to check nascent live-broadcasting expertise.

Initially a sedate affair that includes crooners in ballgowns and tuxedos, it started to let its hair down through the swinging 60s and reached pop perfection in 1974, when ABBA received with “Waterloo,” propelling the band towards superstardom and jump-starting Sweden’s music trade.

Since then, the competition has expanded throughout Europe and past – Israel and Australia are each entrants – with ever-more elaborate staging and eye-popping costumes.

Eurovision additionally has turn into a celebration of variety, with an enormous LGBTQ+ following that celebrated when Israel’s Dana Worldwide grew to become the competition’s first transgender winner in 1998.

Above all, the competitors is a crash course within the continent’s splendidly various musical tastes. Winners have ranged from Canadian chanteuse Celine Dion, who competed for Switzerland in 1988, to fright mask-wearing Finnish metalheads Lordi in 2006 and bearded Austrian drag performer Conchita Wurst in 2014.

Final yr, Ukrainian folk-rap band Kalush Orchestra triumphed, delivering a morale increase for a rustic battling Russia’s invasion.

Paul Jordan, an professional on the competition who is called “Dr. Eurovision,” mentioned the competitors has turn into a treasured a part of European tradition.

“You’ll be able to go to Spain, Slovenia, wherever — everybody’s heard of it,” he mentioned. “They might not like it, they could not prefer it, they could not watch it, however everybody’s heard of it. Everybody’s received an opinion. I feel it’s actually highly effective, and it’s an excellent icebreaker.”

Eurovision is about far more than music. It’s diplomacy with a disco beat, a discussion board wherein international locations can increase their profiles and play out regional rivalries.

Organizers try to maintain pop and politics aside; overtly political symbols and lyrics are prohibited. However international tensions have typically imposed themselves on the competition. Ukraine has a number of occasions used its entries to criticize Russia, successful in 2016 with a tune in regards to the expulsion of Crimea’s Tatars by Stalin in 1944.

Russia was banned from the competition final yr after it invaded Ukraine. Belarus had been kicked out the earlier yr over its authorities’s clampdown on dissent.

Dean Vuletic, an educational professional on Eurovision, mentioned that by banning Russia, Eurovision misplaced one in all its greatest nationwide audiences and “one in all its most enthusiastic members.”

“However Eurovision can be a platform on which values are expressed, round which values are constructed,” Vuletic mentioned, and stress from member nations pressured the European Broadcasting Union, which runs Eurovision, to behave.

Eurovision “has at all times mirrored cultural, political and social change in Europe,” he mentioned. “(It’s) a solution to measure the zeitgeist in Europe.”

Eurovision was lengthy related to fluffy 3-minute pop songs — earlier winners embody the likes of “La, La, La” and “Growth Bang-a-Bang.”

However Vuletic says it’s not “the competition with foolish songs, innocuous lyrics that it maybe was once.” He says a 3rd of this yr’s entries deal lyrically with “poisonous relationships, nervousness” and different mental-health points. One other batch of songs are about struggle.

Musically, contestants vary from pop ballads like “Energy” by Iceland’s Diljá and relationship-breakup dance observe “I Wrote a Music” by Britain’s Mae Muller to the electronica of “Coronary heart of Metal” by Ukraine’s Tvorchi. Austrian duo Teya & Salena supply an offbeat tribute to Edgar Allen Poe, “Who the Hell is Edgar?” whereas Croatia’s Let 3 belts out antiwar rock opera “Mama ŠČ!”

Eurovision’s advanced voting system, which awards factors from juries of music trade professionals in addition to viewers throughout Europe, makes winners notoriously onerous to foretell.

Bookmakers’ favorites embody Finnish entry Käärijä’s pop-metal get together tune “Cha Cha Cha” and energy ballad “Tattoo” by Sweden’s Loreen, who beforehand received the competition in 2012. Singer La Zarra, competing for France, can be extremely ranked for her Edith Piaf-esque chanson “Évidemment.”

The U.Okay. stepped in to host the competition for Ukraine after final yr’s British entry, Sam Ryder, completed second. As Ryder put it: “It’s Ukraine’s get together. We’re simply inviting them to throw it at our home.”

The ultimate can be co-hosted by Ukrainian singer Julia Sanina and can function a efficiency by Kalush Orchestra and different representatives of Ukrainian tradition. A number of thousand Ukrainian refugees in Britain obtained tickets to attend.

Ryder’s sturdy displaying final yr with “Spaceman” helped remodel Eurovision’s picture within the U.Okay. Lengthy seen as a responsible pleasure – amid perennial grumbling over the nation’s poor outcomes — it now a supply of delight and celebration.

A number of U.Okay. cities competed to host the occasion, and winner Liverpool is in get together temper. The port metropolis that gave start to The Beatles went via robust occasions as U.Okay. trade collapsed within the late twentieth century. It has since reinvented itself as a hub for sports activities, tradition and tourism – a resilience that matches nicely with Ukraine, Jordan says.

“It’s an actual inventive hub, and I feel it’s going to be an excellent host metropolis — aside from the climate,” he mentioned.

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