The lights are on for the first semi final tonight in the 2011 edition of the Eurovision Song Content, the final of which takes place on Saturday 14 May, in Düsseldorf, Germany. Malta’s entrant Glen is strutting his stuff and singing ‘One Life’ to win. But not in the final if we go by the predictions.
While competitors have been rehearsing for months, academics, researchers, pundits and pollsters have been working even harder. This, the world’s largest TV show, offers up myriad issues to base research networks on, and be the subject of books, columns, papers and even PhDs. Take your pick from any of the following and add ‘Eurovision’ as an epithet: nation-building; the new Europe; voter patterns; popular culture; mass media; popular engagement; geo-political affiliations; creative quality; national feelings; and more. All are subjects worthy of study that emanate from what the average viewer sees as Eurovision madness and a rather bizarre left-over from the ’60s and ’70s and the Abba era.
For the punter, the event is, at best, a night in or a night a bar somewhere, downing some alcohol to get through the jamboree of genre (mostly pop, a bit of ballad, a dash of rock and some piss-take added in) of the talented (who never make it) and the untalented who quite often do.
That a whole machine surrounds the Eurovision Song Contest is evident. We’ve all seen the blatant voting for neighbouring countries and mutual friends among the nations that take part. Malta – small, isolated and irrelevant to most geo-political voting blocs – has lost out many years on account of the politicking. We also seem not to have the clout to leverage votes behind the scenes, well before the likes of a Glen step out on stage.
Maltese-born academic and long-time Eurovision observer Dr Toni Sant, Director of Research at the University of Hull’s School of Arts & New Media, UK, says that it would be “…miraculous [if] Malta returned to the final without first establishing a significant pan-European presence for either its entry and/or the performer it selected to represent it”. Dr Sant should know. He was involved in the Malta entry back in 1991 as head of press and reporting for TVM, and runs a popular podcast on Maltese music each week. He is also in Dusseldorf right now, as a member of the Eurovision Research Network of broadcasters, journalists, bloggers, fans, and academics. Dr Sant has his own predictions here.
Glen’s demise is predicted on Eurovisionary.com by a pundit blogger here: “Apparently, Glen fancies his chances of winning. The public might go for it in reasonable numbers, but the industry professionals will see nothing in it worth scoring highly. It will be this factor that stops Maltese participation in the final.” People power in the voting isn’t enough.
There are several blogs detailing the event to the minute if you want up-to-date predictions and gossip: check out All Kinds of Everything, esctoday.com, and wiwibloggs as well as the official Eurovision site.
Good old Google has devised its own predictor tool, which from past experience has shown it’s pretty good, for an algorithm, as the picker of the winner.
10 May – First Semi-Final
12 May – Second Semi-Final
14 May – Grand Final
Eurovision fever discussed in Maltese: listen to Dr Sant interviewed for Australia’s SBS Radio here.