An American Version of the Eurovision Song Contest

A lot of things have happened in the crazy world of Eurovision this year. Firstly, 2020 was the Eurovision Song Contest’s 65th anniversary but this important milestone became just another victim of the “Covid-19 ruins everything” group due to its cancellation and replacement with the substandard and underwhelming ‘Eurovision Shine a Light’ which we talked about in a previous blog post. This also appears to be the year that the USA finally held their hand out for a piece of the euro action starting with the movie release ‘Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga’ starring Will Ferrell and Rachael McAdams. We were not enthusiastic about the idea of America making a movie about Eurovision for two reasons; firstly because of a general concern about the movie being subpar, but mostly because of our worry that it would have the same effect as, for example, ‘Titanic’, where it becomes the first thing anybody thinks about when Eurovision is mentioned and are subsequently surprised to learn that it is a real event. We have yet to see the movie ourselves but – even though the reviews for it are mixed – we do acknowledge that some of the moments we have seen are in the true spirit of Eurovision such as the style and tone of the songs and some of the jokes. Maybe at some point in the future we will suffer through it and give it a proper review.

But there’s even more meddling by the USA! Just this week they have announced plans for an American version of Eurovision (starting in 2021) where each of the States take part in the competition and follow a similar format and rules to the original show. Reading a few articles on this gives us the impression that a major reason for its launch is to ‘bring the divided country together through the power of music’. In theory this is a nice idea but anyone who knows Eurovision understands that this couldn’t be further from the truth! The day that politics are left outside of the Eurovision Song Contest arena and tactical voting ends will be the day on which that sentiment might mean something! It also seems unlikely that this idea was purely inspired by the release of ‘Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga’ … there must have been months (years?) of talks leading up to such a big decision.

We will reserve judgement on ‘Usavision’ or ‘Amerivision’ or ’50-vision’ or whatever it’s called until we can see it, experience it, and judge it properly however we have a few doubts at the back of our mind. For one, what is the genuine reason for replicating the Eurovision Song Contest in America? If it’s to try and unite everybody in these bleak times then fair enough (also good luck!) but if it’s just a case of looking across the pond and thinking ‘hmmm … that looks fun and successful … we’d like a piece of that … ‘ then the project may be doomed. It has taken over 60 years to make it ‘a thing’ in Europe and that journey has been a tough one. It has had to continually adapt and fine-tune itself to maintain an audience, and whilst modern audiences are more open to talent show formats than those back in the 50s, 60s, 70s, etc., its current success in Europe is built as much on tradition as it is on the entertainment value. Currently – from our on-line research – it appears that a significant number of Americans view the Eurovision Song Contest with either indifference or mockery!

Another issue we have is that it feels … well … just a little unnecessary. America already has an abundance of talent shows where contestants from across the country (and from around the world) take part to make a name for themselves. Adding ‘American Eurovision’ to the list loses the uniqueness of having different countries with diverse cultures showing the world their talents. It wouldn’t surprise us therefore if ‘American Eurovision’ doesn’t just become another talent show by transforming Eurovision into a ‘Got Talent’, ‘X Factor’ or ‘Voice’ style show. If the format ends up with a host chatting to each of the contestants after their songs and a panel of judges giving cookie-cutter ‘You nailed it!’ compliments from behind a desk then we’re out!

Also, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that you guys in the States have a habit of claiming show formats as your own! ‘Got Talent’ and ‘X Factor’ are all exports from the United Kingdom despite what you may think 🙂 Hey, we don’t blame you for thinking they were born in the USA because you’ve totally owned them! … and just for further information ‘The Voice’ was created in the Netherlands.

In conclusion, we are very interested to see how popular the American version of Eurovision is across the States but please don’t let it fall victim to the repetitive talent show format. America! … it’s up to you now. Don’t let us down.

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