There’s a secret about today. August 31st is the quietest point of the Eurovision Song Contest year. There is an eerie stillness on the internet. Everyone is waiting, everyone knows what is about to happen, and everyone is very excited. The journey is about to start. To coin a phrase, it’s the calm before the storm.
September 1st is a line in the digital sand for fans of the Eurovision Song Contest. Songs that are ‘commercially available’ before this date are ineligible for next year’s Song Contest. But any song released from today can be considered as a potential (assuming it meets all the other rules). For the last few years, the community has decided that the first is the end of the ‘off-season’ and the Contest will be once more under way.
Tomorrow, the grand game of culling ten thousand songs down to just one will begin again.
Every Song That Was Ever Considered
Yes, ten thousand songs.
For the last five years I’ve kept a track of the number of songs that have been announced as entering a National Final. Not every broadcaster announces the number every year, and each year there is a bit of give and take in the numbers that enter… but when everything smooths out, the number of songs that are submitted to broadcasters each year is close enough to ten thousand that it’s become my personal rule of thumb.
I don’t think anyone has ever managed to hear all of them. Apart from the time required (at eight hours a day, you’re looking at nearly 63 days, nine weeks non stop), many of the songs are submitted to a broadcaster and never revealed. Latvia’s Supernova may have had 168 public submissions in the 2016/17 season, but there isn’t a handy playlist for all of these songs.
The widest reach is beyond everyone. But there is a solid foundation, the eight hundred odd songs that make it through to be shortlisted in such a way that the public can hear them, be it in the live National Final shows, or on websites looking to whittle the lists down before a live round.
In that mix you will find every single genre.. There will be your classic schlager alongside screamo metal core, a power ballad beside an RnB stomper, and some light jazz nudging up to a dash of opera. An army of creative thinkers are about to cry havoc and let slip songs of war, songs of peace, songs of love, and songs of… well, pretty much anything.
All of that is waiting to be discovered in the run up to May. Yes, one song will walk away with the pride of winning, but every performer should be able to hold their head high as they look towards one of the biggest musical nights in the business.
Don’t Stop Believing
This is a journey to be enjoyed. I believe that in our collection of ten thousand songs, there will be a handful of songs that will enchant, entrance, and enthrall me. Songs that will stick with me for ever more. Maybe they will reach a televised round, maybe they will get to Lisbon, maybe that’s the one song that will lift the trophy.
While that matters to the history books, in a sense it doesn’t matter at all. This year, Eurovision is going to have a song that you fall in love with. All you need to do is keep listening and you’ll find a tiny moment that you will fall in love with.
That’s the real secret of August 31st. It’s the pause, the quiet moment, the silence… where everyone is together on the same page, excited to find out what the year holds. This is the moment where the community stands as one.