The Eurovision Song Contest – The Novelty Wager Of The Year

Eurovision 2016- Sweden Ukraine controversial song

The sounds of battle begin. Nation squares off against nation, their best leading them forward, beginning again the ancient conflict, the old war, once more bringing these great powers into direct competition, to see who will remain at the end, who will be the last standing, who will win. There is only one thing any of us can be certain of; The Eurovision Song Contest is going to be FABULOUS!!

Yes that’s right folks it’s that time of year again and the event once described as “The Gay Olympics”, the Eurovision Song Contest starts to get underway again providing that little frisson of excitement as it once more guarantees a competition of ghastly music, ridiculous stereotyping and European political kerfuffle all set against a backdrop of pure distilled, unadorned, wholesale, “showbiz”, and once more it’s the perfect novelty bet for those that like to bet on sports in the UK at Bet365 to track through to the finals.

Eurovision Song Contest

• 2016 Finals in Sweden
• Russia angry at Ukraine
• Voting rule changes

This year’s finals will be in Sweden and that’s good news for those of us that instantly became fans of Tommy Krangh the sign language interpreter who stole the show on Sweden’s coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest last year, we’re all very much hoping to see him take on a prominent role in the cavalcade of camp to come. If you don’t recall Tommy, or didn’t get to see him sign to some of the numbers in last year’s contest here’s a clip of him give it everything and then some.

Of course whilst Sweden nabbed the Eurovision Song Contest title last year, this year’s competitors are only just becoming evident as various nations hold their qualifying competitions and others have already had theirs and presented their chosen song to the world. Interestingly the UK is holding a live vote show to decide their entrant and has picked BBC Four to air it on, giving the entire process rather more gravitas that hitherto, dear old Aunty Beeb neatly separating Eurovision viewers from the commoners.

Eurovision Song Contest Gets Rule Change

What effect that’ll have on voting is anyone’s guess. Away from BBC1 and ITV where the pod-people vote on Celebrity Big Cake Jumper (or whatever) there’s no knowing what might happen, and worse, those ghastly poor people might actually start watching BBC Four and mess the whole thing up, although if you’re in the UK gambling laws of probability pretty much guarantee they won’t, I suspect you’re probably right. So then, a much more targeted audience, and a more cultural one at that.

There is perhaps no greater indication that this grand old dame of a competition has finally in all it’s camp silliness gained some level of respectability than BBC Four hosting the UK coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest, and yet, of course, there will still be those that rubbish this delightfully ridiculous song competition, and even better there has already been controversy and drama with both the first change in the voting rules since 1978 and a somewhat inflammatory song from the Ukrainian entry.

The rule change is a sensible nod to the modern reality that national juries don’t always match their choices with those of the public who also vote, and in years gone by the addition of these two figures nullified each other, so this time round the public vote will be saved till the end and then added in to provide a massive finale moment of excitement avoiding the know-before-the-end victors of previous Eurovision Song Contest incarnationss, and you can expect the producers to make the most of it on the night.

1944 Haunts New Eurovision Contest

The real drama however not stemming from the voting rule change but is from the Ukrainian entry by Jamala, actually born in Kygyzstan and owning the real name Susana Jamaladinova, which takes as its theme Joseph Stalin’s deportation of Crimean Tatars to Central Asia in 1944 which saw thousands of them die in cattle trucks or of disease and hunger on arrival in their exile.

Susana Jamaladinova Jamala Eurovision song against Russia

From Ukraine, with (anything but) love! (Photo: Reuters/V. Ogirenko)

So a bit of a touchy subject then given that Russia only recently re-invaded Crimea and is, to at least some minor degree, at war with Ukraine.

“All entries for the up coming Eurovision Song Contest,” said a Spokesman for Eurovision, “including the Ukrainian song, will be assessed under the rules by the EBU”. Now that’s problematic because the European Broadcast Union’s rules do not allow “political messages” and Jamala will be singing her song just days before the anniversary of the deportations of 1944, and frankly is full of rather grim lyrics describing a grim period in history. Not that Russian politicians see it that way.

I’m gambling news that some Russian politicians have reacted badly to Ukraines choice of song, will surprise none of you. They claim this is just dredging up ancient history to denigrate Russia for annexing the Crimea in March 2014, which is possibly true, but will the assessors agree? We await on tenderhooks and in the meanwhile look to our own nations to produce entries worthy of backing at Bet365 as the deadline for entries for the Eurovision Song Contest on March 14th marches ever closer.

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