My overview of Chinese is a’ comin’, but I had to make a short post about something that is currently capturing my attention 24/7.
Eurovision! Or more formally, the 54th annual Eurovision Song Contest!
What is it? For those outside of Europe, imagine a singing competition (think American Idol) that began decades ago. Throw in a lot of kitsch, cheezy pop/dance hits and ethnic tunes and a smattering of outrageousness and you have the Eurovision 2009.
ESC has been one of the few shows that continue to outrival other international programs in ratings. Though not widely known in America, the song contest has a lot of appeal, particularly among those who remember its disco-era days. As it turns out, Oprah is also a fan.
The premise: 42 countries select a singer, band or act to represent them. There are two semi-finals, each with roughly half of the entrants. After a continental selection via voting and selection from national juries, the winners advance to the final. Countries that automatically advance to the final include the UK, Germany, Spain and France due to their investment in the contest, along with the winner from last year. The winner gets to host next’s years contest in their capital.
I discovered the contest in 2007, when I heard from a news blog that a Ukrainian drag queen was set to win. Since 2008, I have followed it religiously. One of the most brilliant things about the contest is that, like the World Cup, it’s an opportunity to unite Europe and highlight music and culture from every edge of the continent. Linguistically, it’s also a treat because many contestants sing in their native tongues.
What song am I pulling for? There are many, but for the sake of the blog, I picked Spain’s Soraya Arnelas, because she sings (almost) entirely in Spanish:
ESC starts this week, with the first semi-final beginning today. To watch it live, visit the Web site.