The Eurovision Song Contest began in 1956 as a means of cementing new bonds of European togetherness, forged in the ashes of World War Two, using music and song to draw people together in peaceful intent.
While you could argue that things haven’t always been peaceful in ensuing years, the reality is that has provided an important focal point, one drenched in flamboyant spectacle, glitter and unexpected key changes, for the people of Europe to celebrate their diversity and their common ideals.
So it’s entirely fitting that The Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine (UA:PBC) and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) – Ukraine is hosting this year’s event which it will host in the capital Kyiv – have taken diversity as its theme.
It’s even more poignant a theme when you appreciate, and honestly at the moment you can hardly miss it, the state of the world right now with diversity taking a pounding from the likes of ISIS, President Trump’s fascist leanings, and Brexit to name just three.
If ever we needed to be reminded this is more that unites us than divides us, and that we should be looking for points of common understanding rather than sealing ourselves off in mutually-antagonistic ivory towers, it’s now and Eurovision has once more come to the party.
As Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest, Jon Ola Sand said: “The notion of celebrating diversity builds on last year’s theme of Come Together and is at the heart of Eurovision values: it is all-inclusive and all about countries around Europe, and beyond, joining together to celebrate both our common ground and our unique differences, as well as some great music”. (source: Eurovision.tv)
Even the beautiful logo includes this much-needed and welcome theme of inclusion:
Celebrate Diversity is the central message for this year’s event and is complimented by a creative logo design based around a traditional Ukrainian bead necklace known as Namysto. More than just a piece of jewellery, Namysto is a protective amulet and a symbol of beauty and health. It is made up of many different beads, each with its own design and celebrates both diversity and individuality.
The logo will appear everywhere during Eurovision 2017, reminding everyone that fun, loud and colourful though the contest is, that it serves a serious purpose too, one that is being celebrated in a year where that very ideal is more under threat than ever before.
Another major step forward is the allocation of the semi final draw.
This determines which of the 37 participating countries – there are actually 43 but the Big Six as they’re known which includes UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and last year’s winner which in this case is Ukraine go straight through to the Grand Final on Saturday 13 May – end up in which semi final, which will be held on Tuesday 9 May and Thursday 11 May.
The draw took place on 31 January in Kyiv live from the Column Hall of Kyiv’s City State Administration where the 37 countries were allocated their berth – see below in images courtesy of awesome Eurovision site Wiwibloggs – and which Big Six countries would vote in which semi final.
And the results, delivered by a drum roll and a stray Russian grandmother are:
And far as we who in the Big Six votes when …
To get the full lowdown on the minutiae of the voting and how Eurovision attempts combat bloc voting, once a scourge of the contest, go to Wiwibloggs.
And finally what is the point of everyone turning up to sing – who exactly that will be is being determined by a slew of national singing competitions at the moment with the best known, Sweden’s Melodifestivalen, kicking off this weekend – if there’s not a stage to sing upon?
Behold Kyiv’s beautiful stage, which is circular celebrating diversity and reflects the fact that Ukraine will be the centre of attention come May.
Let the singing begin!