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Sunday, May 22, 2005

the grisly aftermath

Well, it was a fun evening. The winning entry was a complete non-event, and much better performances were overlooked, but that happens a lot. For the Yanks who constitute the vast majority of my readers, a quick rundown of the Way It Works may be in order. You can also read the official rules, if you have loads of time and infinite patience. I haven't read them.

Right, so it's a contest, obviously. Each country sends a performer to do the song that won their local contest. Countries used to be able to do two songs each, back when only five countries participated. Now, with all these new countries popping up in Eastern Europe, there are so many competitors that they had to break the contest up into two events, a semifinal and a final. The top 14 automatically get a place in the next year's final, and everyone else who wants in has to compete in the semifinal. The top ten go on to the final, but every participating country gets to vote. The voting takes a long time. There is one exception at work here, or rather, four: Germany, France, Spain and the UK always get in, no matter how bad they sucked last year - I'm not altogether sure why; that's probably in the rules somewhere. Interestingly, those four countries came in dead last this year.

Of course the voting is political. Austria will never have a chance, because they don't have any kind of lobby. On the other hand, Malta generally do well because nobody hates them. And Greece automatically gets top points from Cyprus, Macedonia and Albania. The Scandinavians always vote for eachother. So part of the fun is trying to predict how the voting will go, with all the various competing factors, because it's never totally about the music.

Anyway. It was a fun evening, even if the best song didn't win. Best songs; there were several I would have jumped up and down for.

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