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Not everyone knows what Eurovision is, how the contest is organized and what its importance is. Moreover, even some loyal fans of the contest do not fully understand the range of processes within it. So, we are going to analyze all these details through the prism of what the fans will not tell you. The opinions expressed in this article are solely personal and subjective.

Do not focus on bookmaker bets

When Ukrainian TV-channels talk about the Eurovision Song Contest, journalists often start mentioning betting odds, as if they are an indicator of who has a good chance and who does not. However, in reality, betting figures are not relevant.

Firstly, bookmaker bets are mostly bets made by the fans of the contest, and their taste in music is quite limited and focused on music within the “Eurobubble”. And although bookmakers have "guessed" most of the winners in recent years, the coincidence with the actual result is greater after the first rehearsals begin, rather than a few months before the show.

Second, odds can be manipulated. If you work thoughtfully with the fan audience and get into the pattern of their taste or simply buy them, you can easily get the first position. A similar precedent occurred in 2021 with a representative of Malta, which was later investigated by Maltese politicians. The results of the audit found nothing wrong, but the full version of the audit report was not made public because its authors forbade it.

Thirdly, it is quite irresponsible for journalists to refer to these rankings, as it creates an unequal playing field for the contestants. For example, if the news constantly talks about the main song, which is in first place in terms of betting, the memory of this remains in the mind and will pop up when an ordinary viewer watches the contest. For them, this song already stands out from the rest, which can lead to confirmation bias. Like, everyone has been talking about this song, so it must be the best. However, this takes away the possibility of fair competition from other countries and songs.

Eurovision fandom is toxic

It seems that the fans of the contest are positive, accept everyone without prejudice and spread an atmosphere of mutual respect both among themselves and the artists. At least that is how the organizers of the contest and the fans themselves try to position it. However, in recent years, fandom has become quite toxic.

It is no longer uncommon for fans to mock, for example, the winners of some national finals because they won instead of their favorites. There have even been death threats, such as in 2020 against the winner of the Finnish selection because he ended up beating the fan favorite. Also, at one of the parties before the competition in 2023, the audience booed and shouted insults at the representatives of San Marino because they won instead of the fan favorite, even before their performance began.

This also applies to how fans evaluate the contest songs. If they do not like a song, it can be ignored and, even if it is successful outside the competition, it can end up being left out of the final simply because the performer either did not interact with the fan press very much or their song does not fit the format they imagined. It is very strange to see this in contrast to the situation with this year's Israeli participant.

The situation with the coverage of Israel's participation in this year's contest shows the shortcomings of Ukrainian fandom media

Israel's participation in this year's contest is shrouded in scandal. The country will be represented by a singer who has lived in Russia for most of her life. This is Eden Golan with the song Hurricane, with references in the lyrics to the Hamas terrorist group's attack on Israel. Israel's participation in the current circumstances has caused a lot of outrage, especially given that the broadcaster representing the country in the competition during its mixed selection show (in the format of a talent show where only a representative of the country is chosen and the song is written for him or her afterwards) politicized it with numerous inserts with military propaganda. In addition, the original version of the contest song was called October Rain and was even more politicized. There are already precedents for disqualification of "politicized" songs at the contest - in particular, in 2009, a Georgian song called We Don't Wanna Put In was not allowed to participate (the contest was held in Russia at the time), and in 2021, two Belarusian entries were disqualified for lyrics that ridiculed protests against Alexander Lukashenko.

However, the European Broadcasting Union allowed the song Hurricane to participate despite the fact that it contains minimal differences compared to the October Rain.

At the same time, the Israeli broadcaster and the singer's management have ignored Russia's aggression against Ukraine and express their disrespect for Ukraine (i.e., one of the participating countries) in general. In particular, Eden Golan lived in Russia for a long time, participated in the show The Voice Kids on the Russian Channel One and in group concerts with Russian propagandists, and was a participant in the Russian selection for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2015 under the guidance of a Russian talent manager and composer Igor Krutoy. In response to questions from several Ukrainian fans about why her parents still have their business in Russia despite having ties to Ukraine, Golan blocks these accounts and ignores these questions.

However, they are ignored not only by her, but also by the majority of Ukrainian Eurovision fans. In the largest Ukrainian-language fan communities, Eden Golan's Russian background is not mentioned, and only neutral or positive posts about her are published. That is, the administrators of these communities are setting the audience up for a positive reaction to the singer. In an attempt to clarify the whole context, Ukrainian fans argue that if Ukraine is allowed to politicize the contest, then so is Israel. They reference the victory of Jamala and the Kalush Orchestra as an example of this. Allegedly, their songs were also political. However, while this year's Israeli song is based on events that are still ongoing, Jamala's song 1944 tells the singer's personal story through the prism of the events of the twentieth century, and the song Stefania about maternal love was written before the full-scale invasion and also tells the personal story of the band's frontman, Oleh Psiuk. In other words, while in the case of Ukrainian entries it is clear that this is a sincere impulse, the songs are not made to comment on current events, in the Israeli case, the artificiality and conjuncture are obvious. It is very disappointing that in the third year of the full-scale war, Ukrainian fans of the contest are still running away from reality and deliberately ignoring what is happening to us.

Preparties are only for entertainment and cannot be used as a criterion for evaluating the entries

In the period between the end of all the national finals in March and the contest itself in May, a number of so-called "preparations" take place, i.e. parties where participants come to perform their contest songs. They often take place in private clubs or other venues in different European cities. The most popular among them are parties in Amsterdam, Madrid, London, and Barcelona. Until recently, these concerts were perceived solely as entertainment, but in recent years, fans have begun to attach too much importance to these events.

In particular, many people have even started to make video ratings of performances at these parties and evaluate these performances for live performance. Often, fans ignore the fact that the sound in the halls where these events are held is poorly tuned because their acoustics are not adapted to such concerts. Instead of leaving room for improvement, fans cross off the contestants who performed poorly from the list of contenders and ignore changes in the main performance. This was the case with last year's representatives of the Netherlands, who did not perform well at one of the parties. Because of this, they faced criticism from both foreign fans and their compatriots. As a result, even a much improved performance at the contest itself did not help the duo reach the final, and the harassment of the performers continued after the contest. Proponents of this approach argue that a good performer should perform well in any hall. However, this is not The Voice show, but a song contest, and a live performance should only help to "sell the song."

There are whole delegations that aim to participate in all the parties during the contest and consider them part of the promotional tour. However, given that only ten songs from each semi final still make it to the final, this is not a guarantee of success at the contest. In addition, such an intense schedule can lead to burnout among the participants.

Australia deserves to participate in Eurovision

Many people who are not involved in the contest ask themselves: why does Australia need Eurovision? It is not Europe! It's good when this question is transformed into curiosity, as it was for the public in 2015 and 2016, when this country took part in the contest for the first time. However, since then, this question has been raised again and again, and Australia has become a country that is very well judged by the jury but receives extremely few points in the public vote. It is a shame that Europeans cannot fully accept Australia, despite the fact that its musical culture is close to that of Europe, and the show has been enjoying huge ratings in the country since the 80s.

Of course, one can attribute the "conspiracy" to simply bad performances. But even if we put aside subjectivity, Australia has tried different genres and different styles that appeal to both the jury and the audience. Even the Australian contestant's performance in 2019 received 131 points from the audience and was ranked seventh in the final.

Entries that contained elements of Australian indigenous culture scored even lower. Sometimes there is a feeling that Australian culture, both modern and traditional, is perceived by Eurovision viewers in a biased way, despite the whole facade of "tolerance for all" and the statement about "diversity of cultures" as one of the main goals of the contest.

Sometimes it is useful to take a year or several years off and not participate in Eurovision

Every year, fans argue with each other about the number of countries participating in the contest. It is clear that they want to see the list as long as possible, and therefore the refusal of any country to participate (for some, even the disqualification of Russia) is perceived as a small death. They say that if less than 37 countries participate in the competition, then why is it needed?

However, the main thing is not quantity but quality. Sometimes it is better for countries to take a short break and rethink their place at Eurovision. The example of Bulgaria, which did not make it to the final for a long time and took a break in 2014, is illustrative in this regard. In 2016, the country returned with a new, more thoughtful approach to participating in the contest. As a result, Bulgaria had its most successful few years at the event and has since made it to the finals, including a second place finish at Eurovision in Kyiv. The happy period was interrupted in 2022, when the country failed to reach the grand final. And since 2023, the Bulgarian broadcaster has sometimes shown faint signs of wanting to return, but cites financial problems. It is not surprising - for many Balkan countries, the increase in the mandatory financial contribution for participation and the overall costs of the competition, where even the use of special effects is paid, has become a real challenge.

Ukraine needs a healthier approach to the competition

Ukraine has a very successful history of participating in Eurovision, and the songs that we have represented at the contest have become hits in our country (not every participating country manages to achieve this). It is good that we have a responsible attitude towards Eurovision, but it should not go beyond that and put pressure on the artists. The position is just a bonus, the main thing is the opportunity to perform in front of hundreds of millions of eyes around the world and present the musical culture of your country. A low place in the end does not mean that it is a bad performer or even a bad song. The result is a consequence of a number of different factors, many of which may not even be within the control of the participants or organizers. Therefore, it is not necessary to harass the artists who took 15th or 25th place in the final. There are countries in the competition that have been dreaming of reaching the final for years or for whom the same 15th place is a great result.

In addition, it is important that foreigners see Ukraine as different. At a time when Russia wants to show us as something primitive and outdated, it is vital not to parasitize on folklore and show that Ukrainian culture can be part of a global context and is multifaceted. It hurts when ordinary Ukrainians write something like "this is very nice, but we do not need it, because it will not rank high" under songs without folk elements every year. This can discourage many talented niche musicians from trying to participate in the contest. Eurovision should be an opportunity, not a test, as far as it goes.

The 50-50 voting system is the best

Last year's situation opened up a Pandora's box as to whether the current voting system is a good one. There are opinions that it would be better to either make it a fully spectator-based vote or to increase the share of spectatorship to at least 60%.

Recent controversial situations with jury voting show that the issue is not the format or proportion itself, but the composition of the jury. In particular, it lacks diverse representation of genres and people who understand how the competition works. There were cases when jury members voted incorrectly. After a scandal involving collusion between national juries in several countries in 2022, the organizers decided to remove jury voting from the semifinals entirely. There were fears that there would be less quality music at the contest, as there was almost none during the era of exclusively audience voting at Eurovision (late nineties and noughties until 2009 with a little jury participation in the semifinals in 2008). Thanks to the jury's presence, we were able to hear such stylish tracks as City Lights by the young Blanche in 2017 and The Wrong Place and Release Me by the legendary Hooverphonic in 2021 and 2020, respectively. The year 2024 was a surprisingly strong one at Eurovision. And no one decided not to change the proportion, even despite calls for it from Norway.

Eurovision has always been politicized and that is a good thing

Even though the official rules of the contest state that the contest should remain completely apolitical, politics is not absent. And we are not talking about any conspiracy theories about the politicization of the results. First of all, the competition is already politicized, as the participants represent their countries. And without the element of competition between countries, it would be less interesting to watch.

In addition, Europe has always been distinguished by the fact that art in Europe was a reaction to social and political changes and could influence them. Yes, we may not hear political party advertisements or support for defense alliances at Eurovision, but artists reflect on how the world is changing in their work. That's why year after year you can find songs about mental and physical health, the problem of migration, the eternal question of war and peace, etc. And this is good - art without restrictions, without censorship by the state and self-censorship by the national music industry, helps the development of the country, improves its international standing and helps break negative stereotypes about it. Finally, even if you do not believe in the official legend that Eurovision was created to "unite post-war Europe" and perceive it solely as a television show, even on it you can observe certain geopolitical trends that are rarely seen at official meetings. Therefore, it is definitely worth watching Eurovision as a phenomenon even for those who live only in politics.

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