When Should I Book Time Off?
Whilst the EBU has not released provisional dates for the Eurovision Song Contest 2020, I’m going to gamble and call it for Saturday May 23rd, slightly later in the year. Firstly, it nods towards the scheduling of another major televised event in Europe, the UEFA Champions League Final on Saturday May 30th. You also have the announced dates for the Danish National Final on March 7th. Assuming this isn’t clashing with Sweden, that puts Melodifiestivalen’s closer on March 14th, and the Heads of Delegation meeting on March 16th. It’s all running just a bit later.
There’s also a complication in the Netherland’s own social calendar… the return of the Dutch Grand Prix to the Formula 1 Grand Prix calendar, The classic Zandvoort circuit will be in use, just a quick tram ride from Amsterdam. The provisional date for that is Sunday May 11th. While you could have the Eurovision rehearsals running that weekend, are you going to run the opening ceremony that day as well?
Location, Location, Location
Even if you avoid the Dutch Grand Prix date wise, Amsterdam cannot avoid the Dutch Grand Prix. Handing the city two major events in close succession doesn’t feel like a smart political decision. If so, expect the bidding for the Song Contest to look for applications outside of the capital. Looking around suitable indoor arenas, with transport links, and sufficient hotel space, Rotterdam 2020 may be a good value bet.
PS… If it is Rotterdam, hosting the Grand Final on Saturday May 16th could come into play – it’s a tricky business second guessing a bidding process which already features six cities and climbing, so don’t make any solid commitments just yet!
More Personality, Less Tourism
Rotterdam (or anywhere) also takes the focus of Amsterdam as a destination. While there isn’t an active campaign of ‘Please Don’t Visit’, for many residents the city is over-run by tourists and popular locations and ‘tourist trap’ shops are being quietly removed. Don’t expect a massive amount of promotion around tourism in 2020’s Song Contest, expect more personal stories to be told and the nation-branding to be subtle and directed into different areas.
Let’s Talk Budgets
The Dutch Public Broadcasting System has a rather unique set-up – in essence there are eight member organisations who get a proportion of airtime depending on the number of members they have, with funding coming from general taxation. AVROTROS – the broadcaster who runs the Eurovision delegation – is one of those members. It has been confirmed that AVROTROS, alongside NPO and NOS, will be organising Eurovision 2020, and the first press conferences on early panning will take place in June. Budget wise I’m expecting Eurovision 2020 to be lower down the scale, nearer the 20-25 million Euro mark, roughly equivalent to Vienna.
No More Big Names Hijacking The Interval
SVT tried it with Justin Timberlake, but we all remember ‘Love Love Peace Peace’ from Stockholm 2016, not ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’. KAN tried it with Madonna this year. According to urban legend, UA:PBC had an offer for a similar ‘stunt’ interval act for 2017.
Portgual showed us the correct way to bring a big music name into the interval act with its pairing of Caetano Veloso alongside Salvador Sobral. There was a level of respect for the Song Contest from Veloso. Those who realised who it was were in awe, others saw a delicate reprise of the winning song from the year before with some new music.
More like that and less like the smothering presence of the Queen of Pop, please.
Cut Eurovision Down To Size
The Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2018 had twenty songs, and ran for 2 hours 45 minutes. The Adult Eurovision Song Contest in 2019 had twenty-six songs, but inflicted a marathon running time of 4 hours 11 minutes.
Adding six songs and their postcards covers takes 23 minutes, why do we need the other 58 minutes? Yes it’s a chance for a host broadcaster to show off a bit more, but there’s far too much cruft in the show. Less is more, and it will be more memorable.
Vote For Pleasure, Not Cruelty
As ESC Insight’s Ben Robertson says, “I see Eurovision as a competition of love, love, peace, peace, so therefore want the biggest focus to be on the positives.” That was not on show last night.
The new voting announcements ensured that there would be a cliffhanger ending, by reading out the televote results in the ascending order of jury scores. That meant we had moments of emotional pain with those scoring high on the jury and crashing in the televote , notably Germany’s Sisters and Malta’s Michela Pace, and the Czech Republic’s Lake Malawi, having the camera focused on them during the moment of defeat.
I’d much rather have KEiiNO’s televote victory be acknowledged as the last score, rather than the painful sight of Sweden being handed a humbling number of points live on camera.
This needs tweaked to find a way to keep the entertainment and tension but also respect the performers.
What About Eurovision In Concert?
The biggest promotional event on the calendar – the privately organised Eurovision In Concert – is held in Amsterdam every year. Will that still go ahead, take a year off, or be something the broadcaster can leverage? It would be a great time to have the artists film their postcards, but would it weaken or strengthen interest in EiC that ESC would be happening ‘close by’ the next month? All I know is that something is likely to change.
Maybe ‘In Concert’ should move to Italy for the year, given Mahmood finished second?
More Authenticity, More Emotion, More Storytelling
All songs are stories, but Eurovision over the lat few years has turned this into an art form. While the last few winners have not been from the same genre, they all have something in common. They feel real, they feel like they mean something, and the emotions on the show can be felt by the viewers at home (even if it takes two weeks of rehearsing to work out how exactly to do this).
Duncan Laurence brought heartbreak and a vulnerability to the stage. The song wouldn’t be out of place on the playlist of any major radio station. It’s not just a great Eurovision song, it’s a great song.
There are a lot of those out there.
Viewers can tell when there is no connection between the artist, the song, the staging, and the audience. That’s what Eurovision 2020 needs. Broadcasters ready to step away from ‘a Eurovision song’ and just sending us the best songs they can find. Let’s put aside the idea of manufacturing songs and focus on telling stories and creating more magical moments.
What are you looking forward to for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2020? What needs changed, what should stay the same, and what would be your wildest expectation? Let us know in the comments.