For some broadcasters (cough… SVT) the planning for Eurovision 2013 is already under way. A few will wait till 2013 actually dawns before making any serious moves towards the Song Contest (that would be the BBC). We here at ESC Insight suspect that a lot of 2012 delegations are looking back on their campaign to see where they were right and wrong, and to use that to improve next year’s entry.
One bit of analysis that’s been mentioned by many Eurovision sites is the joint survey being conducted by Bulgarian broadcasters BNT, in conjunction with Eurovision-bg.com. Information is key to any analysis, so this is a smart move on their part, but I fear it is misguided.
The only people left who are looking for Eurovision news and commentary online are the hardcore fans. Two weeks after the Song Contest, traffic to many sites (including ESC Insight) is dropping back rapidly to the ‘base’ level that never goes away. There’s also the scope of the questions; “what style of song do you expect from Bulgaria?“, “…which songs have impressed you most in Eurovision between 2005 and 2012?“, and “…arrange the following elements of the song presentation in order of importance (choreography, lighting, camera angles, stage effects, graphics, pyro, etc).”
I think a survey to find out what people think of Bulgaria’s Eurovision campaign is an excellent one, but I worry that so much of it seems to be focused on finding a Eurovision formula, and which Bulgarian songs strayed from this path. My gut feeling is that if BNT, and the rest of the Eurovision delegations, pay incredibly close attention to surveys like this we’ll end up with rather a lot more Kati Wolfs or Joan Frankas entering the contest because they match some mythical methodical approach.
This is all proceeding from a false assumption.
There is no magical formula that can predict a winning Eurovision song. It’s simply impossible to find a way to link Lordi with Loreen, Sertab with ‘Satellite’, ‘Wild Dances’ with Molitva, or any other combination of Eurovision winners. Take thirty minutes out and have a listen to the last ten winning songs (with this handy YouTube playlist we’ve thrown together)
Actually that’s not true, there is one link. They are all good songs, that stand on their own, that can easily have a life outside of the Eurovision Song Contest.
Here is the truth about the Eurovision Song Contest that many people forget in all the glitz, glitter, and glamour. It’s a song contest, and good songs win contests. If delegations are looking for a cookie cutter approach to a winning song, they won’t find one. There is no template. The only real answer is to spend time finding a spectacular song that you will be proud of, a song that is simply brilliant, no matter the genre, no matter the name, and with no need to refer back to songs you have previously sent.
The easiest way to do that is to not ask for one good song, or one good singer. It’s to ask for lots of them. Have a submission process that gives you a range of styles to choose from, and then find the best of the best. You want to keep any internal broadcaster bias out of the process as much as possible, and let a similar demographic of voters who vote on Eurovision – ie the general public – help make that decision. That’s why National Finals are so popular, and have a far better success rate than any internal selection process that presents a single artist with two song choices to the public, or even the fait accompli of the entire entry with a ‘we know best, this is the entry’ approach.
I don’t want to knock internal selection too much, it has some benefits, reduced cost to the broadcaster being one of them, the potential guarantee of a star name as your singer (such as Engelbert Humperdinck or Zjelko Joksimovic) being another. But it doesn’t hand you a song that has earned its musical combat spurs. The Eurovision Song Contest is exactly that. A Song Contest, not some sort of examination in who can follow a formula.
I applaud any broadcaster who reaches out to the people who did not vote for their song to find out why they did not follow the song, but that only provides hindsight. Looking forward, there is only one piece of advice that is genuinely useful.
Write a good song, and send it with a good singer.