As you’d expect, I’ll be blogging about the Eurovision Song Contest in the coming days. Not sure what I’m going to focus on this year because there are a couple of different things I’m interested in this time. The Eurovision Research Network has its inaugural events and I’m heavily involved, as you can imagine. Then there’s the almost €400,000 that Malta is spending on this year’s entry.
The main reason I’m in Oslo this year is for the inaugural events of the Eurovision Research Network (ERN). This is a new organization I co-founded with two other UK-based media performance scholars interested in taking a closer look at the Eurovision Song Contest. ERN already has 40 members from 20 countries. The first event is a panel discussion at the Litteraturhuset in downtown Oslo on Eurovision and the “New” Europe on Thursday. On Friday we’ll be having our inaugural symposium at the University of Oslo, around the theme Setting an Agenda for Eurovision Studies. If nothing else, I can now confidently say that Eurovision is something that is attracting a solid body of scholarship and professional research around it, which contrasts nicely with the impression of frivolity many people associate with the Eurovision Song Contest.
Riding the bus to a wonderful party (I try to avoid using superlatives whenever I can, but this party was really a highlight among all the many Eurovision events I’ve attended over the years) thrown by the Georgian delegation at the amazing Oslo Opera House I had a very interesting conversation with an EBU staffer about the amount of money some countries spend on their Eurovision entry. Azerbaijan has clearly gone overboard this year, spending millions of euros on promotional ideas. They are very intent on winning the contest this time. Apparently, Malta still thinks that winning Eurovision is about having a great 3 minutes on stage during the contest broadcast. Still, from my conversation on the way to the Georgian party (how much did that cost?) I gathered that most countries are equally oblivious of actual ROI (return on investment) when it comes to Eurovision spending.
An ROI analysis, possibly including a comparative study, is the third on my areas of research interest around Eurovision. The first starts being articulated with the inaugural ERN symposium on Friday. Once that’s established, my next topic of research will be a performance studies approach to understanding Malta’s love-hate relationship with Eurovision, through an analysis of the songs Malta has entered in the contest since 1971, and how they compare to the songs that won and/or endured over the years.
While I was at the fabulous Oslo Opera House for the Georgian party, little Thea Garrett was singing a duet with Marcin Mroziński (this year’s singer from Polish) from The Phantom of the Opera at another venue where a smaller party by the Polish delegation was organized. I’m sure she enjoyed every minute of it but I wonder how many votes from Poland that will win her.