We are absolutely bonkers for the Eurovision Song Contest — it’s like the World Cup of pop-music with lots of camp, sexiness and genius to spare — and if you’re not a fan, we’re going to do our best to convert you (to start, consider checking out all our previous coverage). The 2016 Eurovision Song Contest is still five months away, but tickets have already gone on sale for the 61st edition of the pop-music festival, and Eurovision gossip blogs are already abuzz with of the insane, annual pop-pageant.
Here’s all we know so far:
The event will be held in Stockholm from May 10 through May 14.
Traditionally Eurovision is hosted by whichever country won the previous year, and Sweden’s Måns Zelmerlöw won last year’s contest with “Heroes,” a somewhat generic but empowering ballad helped with the addition of cutesy animation and shiny pants.
Tickets went on sale a few weeks ago. It didn’t go so well.
It was a disaster: the ticket site glitched out, leaving many fans waiting for hours only; for others, the site would suddenly time-out, leaving them with no clue if they’d ever snag a ticket. Passionate pop fans taking to Twitter to express outrage about a ticketing website that couldn’t handle the burden.
None of the songs have been introduced yet.
Each participating country can decide their songs whenever they want. Some, like Sweden, opt for a televised event where viewers call in to decide their favorite choices. Other countries, like France, decide their winners privately, which is why Sweden tends to do very well and France not so much. Albania and France are the only two countries whose songs will be decided before the year’s over.
43 countries will participate this year — the most ever.
Actually, the competition had 43 countries participate in both 2008 and 2011, but it’s still the most participants the competition has ever had. Soon, 38 of 43 countries will compete in two semi-finals, where a total of 18 countries will be eliminated. Then, on May 14, they remaining countries will join the nations who always qualify automatically – host country Sweden, as well as the “Big Five” who finance the contest: Germany, Spain, Italy, France and the United Kingdom.
Re-entering the competition this year will be Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, and Croatia while Portugal has decided to sit this year out. The semi-final order hasn’t been announced yet, although Israel will compete in the second semi-final because the first occurs on the evening of national holiday Yom Haatzmaut.
Several of the participating artists have been announced.
Iveta Mukuchyan will represent Armenia. Here is her most recent single, “Simple Like A Flower.”
Minus One will represent Cyprus. The rock band attempted the contest last year with the song “Shine” but only placed third in the Cypriot national selection.
Kaliopi will represent FYR Macedonia for the second time. In 2012 she performed the power ballad “Crno I Belo”.
Bosnia and Herzegovina will be represented by a supergroup comprised of Dalal Midhat-Talakić, Fuad Backović-Deen and Ana Rucner. Longtime Eurovision fans will remember Deen from his very flamboyant performance at Eurovision 2004.
The Netherlands are sending a country singer-songwriter named Douwe Bob. Two years ago the Dutch representative was the band The Common Linnets, who placed second with the great “Calm After The Storm.”
And last but certainly not least, there’s Montenegrin trio Highway. It’s too early to bother having favorites, but these former X Factor Adria contestants are talented and also handsome in a way where they might be real contenders. Depending on how good their song is, that is.