In two weeks, my favorite guilty pleasure will be unleashed on the world stage. Back in college, thanks to several travel abroad experiences and close friendships with students from several European countries, I was introduced to the music, the drama and the spectacle that is the Eurovision Song Contest. The ESC is essentially a European-wide version of American Idol, only its amped up to heights even the craziest reality TV moguls could only dream about.
Eurovision is a song contest which was first broadcast in 1956. It was initially based in the European countries, although in modern times countries which are normally not considered European (the most recent example being the admittance of Australia) have been permitted to submit acts as well. Each participating country holds an Idol-style competition to chose a musical act to send to the full contest, which is hosted in the country of the previous years winner.
This years contest will feature acts from 42 countries in total. 18 countries will compete in two semi-finals aired on May 10th and May 12th, with the Grand Final contest on May 14 featuring a selection of winners from the two semi-finals and six pre-determined finalists. France, Germany, Italy, Spain, The United Kingdom as major funders of the contest always enter in the Grand Final; Sweden is the winning country from last year’s competition and is thus entered in the Grand Final and also has the honor of hosting the contest in Stockholm. In previous years, winners were determined by a combination of votes from a professional jury in each country and by popular vote from citizens of the country who submitted votes via SMS (text) message. This year, a new two-tiered voting structure has been established which promises to make the results even more dramatic.
Watching Eurovision is a microcosm into a lot of different things. Its a lesson in diversity, as some countries send acts which are representative of their home country’s culture. It’s a lesson in politics, as everything from current events to old political alliances will inspire countries to vote for or against other countries acts simply to express their support or anger. It’s a lesson in controversy, as acts and votes stir discussion of issues that can be inflammatory. It’s also just plain fun, watching acts that range from “What a great song and that singer is amazing!” to “What kind of crazy came up with that?”. Not to mention, watching the contest is a great way to supplement your IPod or your Spotify account with songs that are great for cardio or other workouts.
But I have found that the Eurovision Song Contest can also be a mirror for the variety of people, personalities and even workplace cultures you will run across in your career. Whether you currently work with them, or whether you have worked with them in the past, it’s easy to see colleagues and cultures past or present echoed in Eurovision. From now until the Grand Final on May 14, we’ll take a dive into the music, drama, controversy and spectacle that is Eurovision, and see what lessons we can draw for our careers. Enjoy the show!
The Eurovision Song Contest will be presented on May 10th, 12th and 14th of 2016. For those of us outside Europe, you can stream the contest in real time or watch it again after its conclusion via the Eurovision website and their WebTV page.