The competition is also full of musical oddities. Over the years it has evolved into a multi-genre assortment where dance divas clash with rock bands and rap artists rub shoulders with ballads. Last year’s ranking was led by the Kalush Orchestra of Ukraine; their winning song Stefania mixed hip-hop and traditional folk music with infectious pop hooks. It is customary for the winning country to host the following year’s contest, but due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, the 2022 runners-up, the UK, are hosting on behalf of the winners.
Eurovision has a rich history which includes launching the international careers of Swedish pop legends Abba, who won the 1974 contest with Waterloo, and Canadian superstar Celine Dion, who won for Switzerland in 1988 with Don’t leave without me. Four years before Grease made her a defining icon, Olivia Newton-John represented the UK at the 1974 event, finishing fourth behind Abba with Long Live Love. However, despite this impressive back catalog and the contest’s penchant for nostalgia – special guests this year include Liverpool-born singer Sonia, who competed for the UK in 1993 – Eurovision is not a institution in the shadow of its history: indeed, it is now more relevant than ever. According to the EBU, last year’s contest in Turin, Italy was watched by 161 million people in 34 markets where audience was measured. This represents an increase of seven million euros year-on-year.
The secret of its lasting success
More impressively, Eurovision is now particularly popular with Gen Z viewers, a demographic less attached to live TV shows than any other. Across the 34 markets measured by the EBU, last year’s grand finale attracted 56% of the total television audience aged 15-24, a proportion four times higher than the average. So it’s no surprise that for the second year in a row, youth-oriented social media app TikTok is partnering with Eurovision as the “Official Entertainment Partner”. Rob Lilley, presenter and producer of The Euro Trip, a weekly Eurovision-themed podcast, says the contest’s fast-paced format makes it incredibly “Gen Z friendly”. No song is allowed to exceed three minutes, and the “postcards” – or VTs – that introduce viewers to participants are only 40 seconds long each.