19 March 2020
The European Broadcasting Union have decided to cancel the Eurovision Song Contest of 2020, originally scheduled to take place in Rotterdam between 12-16 May, due to “the uncertainty created by the spread of COVID-19 throughout Europe – and the restrictions put in place by the governments of the participating broadcasters and the Dutch authorities”. Uncertainty about the virus meant postponement was no guarantee the event could be held, while a remote Eurovision was contrary to the “values and traditions” of the event where “it’s in the DNA of the contest is to bring delegations, artists and fans together in one place and provide an equal platform for all artists to compete together on the same stage and the same opportunity to shine”.
Discussions will continue to determine if Rotterdam will host the contest in 2021. You’d think that is most likely to happen. Whether entries for 2020 will be allowed to enter in 2021 will be determined by the Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group. If 2020 entries are allowed, the final decision would be with individual broadcasters. Some, notably those with internal selections, would probably send the same entry. Bulgaria has already indicated Victoria will go again and they want the same song, Tears Getting Sober, too. Others might allow the same entry to appear in their 2021 national final (complete with a revised stage presentation) or the same artist automatically gains an entry to the national final with a new song, while others will start from scratch. Estonia has confirmed Eesti Laul 2021 will proceed and a semi-final spot has been guaranteed to Uku Suviste if he wants one. Sweden has confirmed Melodifestivalen 2021 will proceed too.
The EBU have come to the right decision. Eurovision is about the mega spectacle, the live audience, and all festivities around it. A remote Eurovision would have been weird and denied Netherlands their reward to host a proper Eurovision, while a Eurovision with no audience was never an option.
As for Rotterdam 2020, it’s not over quite yet for this blog. Expect the National Final Injustice and the Fab Five posts as per tradition. The Fab Five, in which all songs are reviewed and ranked, will be in early April while the NFI post will be this weekend. For the Eurovision week itself, the Top 10 Best Ever series will be revived, and each day I’ll present one of the entries that made the top 10, culminating with a post declaring the final order and therefore the number one song. For this year, the category will be the Top 10 Best Ever Infectious Eurovision Songs.
Previous Best Ever posts…
The Best Ever National Final Losers will need an update after Erika Vikman missed out for Finland with Cicciolina and there’ll be one from this year’s Melodifestivalen, while Norway’s D’Sound from 2019 will be added as well. Perhaps it’s poetic justice Rotterdam 2020 was cancelled. If Erika Vikman couldn’t go to Eurovision then nobody else should.
21 March 2020 – Update
The Eurovision Reference Group have confirmed 2020 songs will not be eligible for 2021. That is consistent with the actual rule that forbids a song from being commercially released before 1 September of the preceding year. This decision also clears the way forward to honour the 2020 entries via alternative programming (not a competition) and on online platforms. The other positive is that, according to an instagram post by Croatian broadcast HRT, the 2020 songs will get an official release on CD. That really is the perfect way to honour them.
The EBU and the Reference Group have made the wise decision. The debate whether the same entries should appear next year or a remote Eurovision held this year, it’s over. The community need to understand that when Eurovision 2020 is cancelled it means exactly that: cancelled. It’s over, terminated, kaput. It has run its course. Now, after the final stage to honour this year’s entries, we move forward to a new Eurovision. Eurovision 2021.
As for whether the same artists go again next year, that’s up to individual nations. Many, mostly those with internal selections, have already confirmed or offered it. They include Netherlands, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Romania, Spain, Switzerland and Ukraine. Estonia and Sweden have confirmed their national finals will proceed as normal. Estonia’s 2020 winner Uku Suviste has been offered a direct spot for 2021 and has said he’s almost certain to enter.
There’s no right or wrong answer with 2021 selections, nor is right to say it’s fair that all 2020 artists must go again. That would mean cancelling the 2021 national final season, which would mean denying countless emerging artists their chance to shine. Hardly fair to them. Please be respectful that the Wuhan Coronavirus (COVID-19) doesn’t choose its victims. Almost everyone suffers in some way, and many people are making far greater sacrifices – like loosing their job, or their business, or even losing a family member. That an artist might miss out on their Eurovision experience, sorry, big deal.