How does the Eurovision Song Contest work?
Each country selects an act with an original song that must be performed live onstage. The song is picked either by the national broadcaster or through some kind of contest. (For example, Sweden has the “Melodifestivalen” to choose its entry.) There are a number of rules that entrants must follow, including a limit of three minutes on song length and a ban on lyrics or gestures deemed by the organizers to be political .
Despite the name, countries beyond Europe’s traditional geographical borders also compete in Eurovision. Israel debuted in 1973, for example, and Australia has been taking part since 2015. This year, Armenia and Montenegro are returning to the contest after not competing in 2021. Smaller nations are also represented, such as San Marino, a landlocked enclave in Italy with a population of just over 30,000. Last year, San Marino’s entry, performed by the singer Senhit, featured an appearance by the American rapper Flo Rida.
The winner of Eurovision is chosen by a combination of votes by viewers at home and by national juries in each country. The scores from the national juries are tallied first, then the fan votes are announced, act by act, starting with the countries that received the lowest jury points. This part of the show can be tense and even uncomfortable to watch, with cameras last year showing entrants from Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain each receiving the dreaded “zero points” from the public.
After the two semifinals have whittled the entrants down, the qualifiers join entries from the “big five” countries – Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain – which have an automatic pass to the final because they contribute the most financially to the running of the contest. Twenty-five countries will compete at the final this year.