Duncan Laurence, representing the Netherlands, performs live Arcade after winning the Grand Final of the 64th annual Eurovision Song Contest held at Tel Aviv Fairgrounds on May 18, 2019. Photograph: Michael Campanella, Getty Images
20 August 2020
Eurovision: The Olympics of singing. A celebration of culture, costumes and friendly competition packaged in our universal love of music, is sailing across the pond to America, the EBU has confirmed.
The American Song Contest will pit the top-talent from all 50 American states head to head. First, in a series of televised qualifiers before they hit the stage for the prime-time finale and one-act is crowned champion.
Solo acts, duos and groups of up to six members are allowed to compete. The regional audiences, along with a panel of notable industry artists and producers, will vote to decide who has the honour of representing each state.
It isn’t surprising that the US wants a slice of Europe’s favourite TV show.
Eurovision’s worldwide popularity has a legacy spanning 65 years, and its grand finale is one of the world’s most-watched events, inviting 200 million viewers annually.
The Eurovision Song Contest has famously made the careers of previous winners, including ABBA and Celine Dion. Even Madonna and Justin Timberlake have taken to the stage as interval acts to release their new singles to the European audience.
Another driving factor is sure to be the popularity of Netflix film ‘Eurovision: The Story of Fire Saga’ starring Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams. The movie, released in June, parodies an Icelandic duo enrolled in the completion, and it proved to be a massive hit, especially with Americans.
Will it work in the US?
Concern hides in the question of whether the American sister song contest with be able to recreate the unique Eurovision magic.
The blending of cultures is so paramount to the competition, born in the aftermath of World War II in an attempt to unite countries again through the power of song. Given the scattered state of the American political climate, it may be an opportunity for a similar unification.
There’s a particular pride and identification that locals feel towards their musical heritage, and those in the US are no different. The Latin beat of Miami and the pop studios in the heart of Hollywood will make for a smorgasbord of artistic tradition in the American competition.
We may expect a Texas cowboy’s twang on stage in the same way Russia throws their traditional squat dancing into performances.
It’s become something of a joke how predictable some neighbouring European countries cast their vote each year – and the hilariously low score the UK often finishes on. Given those European habits, it’s likely the US version could see itself as a microcosm of Eurovision’s political point sharing.