2017 Wishlist

It’s already been over a week since the 2016 season of ESC ended, and Post-Eurovision Depression is kicking in. (In my case it also means start binge-watching South Park and meeting up with friends to hopefully avoid PED getting too bad). But since the 2016 season has ended, I can start wishing about 2017:

  1. I’ll actually be able to watch the contest live on TV: I’ve been following the contest since late 2010, but I’ve never been able to watch the entire contest. Part of it’s due to living in the USA and being in the wrong time zone (as in: 3pm isn’t the best time to watch TV), but it’s mostly due to family members trashing my interests and saying that I’m wasting my time, so they just tell me to run errands in the middle of the contest. So thanks, specific people. If it’s possible, I’d love to watch the contest with other fans as well. This year I spent half the contest messaging a friend in the UP and snarking over performances with him; while that was fun, it would have been even better if we were commenting in the same place.
  2. More songs that are non-English or at least partly non-English: Given the recent trend of trying to get everyone to understand the story, almost everything is in English. This is really disappointing for people who want exposure to new languages or aspects of countries’ cultures; instead of getting to hear the sounds of various languages with the right syllable count, they get songs co-composed by Google Translate fumbling over words that don’t rhyme or emphasize words in the wrong syllable (e.g. “all my trouBLES” or “sound of siLENCE”). But now that Ukraine, Bulgaria, and France achieved top 10 with songs that weren’t 100% English (Especially Ukraine’s win with Crimean Tatar, a language that’s never been heard at the contest prior to this year), there’s a chance that delegations will get confidence to select entries to show off their languages once more. The audience won’t have to understand the lyrics; they just have to feel the emotions from the tune and syllables in order to vote.
  3. Fewer songs that are literal Swedish dishwater: Okay, so I’m talking mostly about Azerbaijan, who managed to maintain its 100% qualification record with a confirmed Melodifestivalen reject and entered 8 Swedish composed entries out of 9 years’ participation. Yes, the acts are (mostly) staged well, but it would be nice if the country decided to enter the contest one time with something less like a Swedish import, like in 2012 and 2014 when they threw in a balaban into the tune, or maybe something that was *gasp* locally-composed or even something with the language. Azerbaijan’s not the only offender though; out of 43 42 entries (sorry Romania), 10 entries had Swedish involvement. I’ll say that yes, Bulgaria was actually pretty good, but unlike Azerbaijan this year they had a performance that a) depended less on backing vocalists, b) focused more on the singer and less on the choreography, and c) seemed more “authentic” through the screen than staged.
  4. More marmite entries: YouTube ranking results (if people take the time to compile 1400+ rankings) are usually able to gauge which entries are in the top 10-15. However, they tend to be wildly off when it comes to the “nice/middle-of-the-road” entries and the “bad marmite” entries. While YouTube ranks the “nice” entries in the middle and the “bad marmite” entries in the end, voting results tend to go the opposite direction due to the “bad” entries often going OTT with staging. It didn’t matter that the audience loved or hated Cezar; Zdob si Zdub; they at least remembered the dubstep vampire singing really high and the fairy/gnome on a unicycle. Unfortunately, this also meant that entries such as Jüri Pootsmann and Melanie Rene were ignored despite decent songs and performances. I’d like to see more experimental entries or songs that don’t fit the ESC stereotype that aren’t just in because they’re radio friendly, and that the audience can only love or hate with nothing in the middle.
  5. Verka Serduchka making some kind of performance: She’s awesome. Enough said.
  6. Less overall drama: 2016 was definitely not short of drama and shitstorms. First there was alleged corruption in the EBU when Kath Lockett and Vladislav Yakovlev got fired from questioning the fate of YouTube traffic ad money, then the new voting system gets announced in February (way after countries announce participation) and details about it keep appearing well into April, TVR got expelled from Eurovision three weeks before rehearsals began due to a €14.5M debt and poor communication with the EBU, and right after the contest Americans found out that the YouTube stream, official YouTube performance clips, AND the stream on the official Eurovision page were geoblocked due to contract details with Logo TV. Could there be less drama next year? Even three shitstorms instead of four would be nice…
  7. More references to the host country: Due to the circumstances that Sweden hosted only three years prior to hosting this year, SVT decided that they weren’t going to go the 2013 route show off Swedish culture/talent/usw and decided to cover more global issues instead, like the migrant crisis and making fun of Eurovision itself. However, next year we’re going to a country that last hosted in 2015 and has been on the news portrayed negatively due to drama surrounding Crimea and Donetsk. While these aren’t going to take center stage, Ukraine’s going to have to pull up some kind of positive stereotype or at least focus a lot more on cultural aspects to distract the audience.
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