Since 1956 the Europeans get particularly excited for one night in spring and that’s because of the Eurovision Song Contest. In this night the new song for the year will be announced with a happy singer and even happier composer and lyricist. In every year the competition between the different countries is a very big part of the special atmosphere this show is famous for.
The enthusiasm in the participating countries varies from year to year, or from period to period. There have been years, when countries have been very successful e.g. Ireland in the 90’s. Ireland has won three times after another 1992, 1993 and 1994. The ‘Eurovision Spirit’ went over Ireland like nowhere else. The entire country was keen to watch the ESC, to get more information of the singers and the songs have been sold very well. Even the music of the interval act was a bestseller in Ireland (Riverdance 1994). After this enormous high level of interest it’s more than natural that it will fall down to a normal level as it could not be kept forever. Due to new rules especially the introduction of the semi-finals, Ireland has suffered a lot lately.
Watching the ESC without the home country is half the fun. This situation happened for a lot of other countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal or Finland. Countries which have participated for decades do now fail with their qualification to the grand final. Well, the competition has become stronger; especially with a lot of strong songs from the Eastern European countries. On the one hand this might be a frustrating situation, but on the other hand, countries are more forced sending better songs to the contest. The voting system has often been criticised as well. Therefore the juries came back, but during the time when there was only jury voting, the criticism was equally high. Nowadays it’s a good mixture of jury and televoting to guarantee an almost fair contest.
Another example is Finland. The Finns could not achieve very good places in the past; nevertheless, Finland has been trying hard to win the contest year after year. When Lordi could win for Finland in 2006 this has changed everything. The entire country has been transformed into “Lordi-Land”, children have been wearing Lordi masks and there were unforgettable images of the totally crowded Senate Square, just right after Lordi came home. The similar atmosphere delighted Helsinki during the time of the Eurovision Song Contest 2007. The entire country has been thrilled by triumph and especially that Finland has been in focus of the news for several weeks everywhere in Europe.
In other countries like Germany or the UK, the Eurovision enthusiasm changes from year to year. After Lena’s victory in 2010, the German went crazy watching the contest and enjoying ESC parties. This has looked very differently when looking back into the 90’s, when Germany was mainly unsuccessful and the viewing figures demonstrated less interest.
It’s natural that the enthusiasm in some countries increases when there is a victory. The level of interest goes up and down. But sometimes countries deny because of rule changes. Lately Turkey has withdrawn this year’s participation as the Turkish were not happy with the fact that the host country Sweden is able to set the running order of the final manually. In some years some countries have withdrawn their participations due to political reason (1969) , due to unfair voting systems (1970) or that some new countries could not accept that certain countries will participating in the same show, because they are not friend with Israel like Tunisia in 1977 and Lebanon 2005. Or lately Armenia has withdrawn from the ESC 2013 in Azerbaijan due to similar reasons.
Generally said the enthusiasm for the Eurovision Song Contest can be high in every participating country, but in some countries the general acceptance and enthusiasm is higher than elsewhere like the Scandinavian countries, but also Ireland, Malta, Israel or Spain.
As the Swedish national selection called “Melodifestivalen” is of very high interest even though. It is to be expected that the Swedes will be very enthusiastic while the ESC comes to Malmö this year. The Swedes will have a ball in May!