Eurovision: What’s the winning formula?

This year there seems to be more Eurovision excitement than usual in Malta, and it is not because the contest was missed last year following its cancellation due to the pandemic.  Malta’s 18-year old diva, Destiny, has a good chance at obtaining a positive result and is touted as having a shot at clinching the title – something that Malta so much coveted in the 90s.

While the Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam will have less flag waving than what we’re used to, allowing only a small COVID-tested audience at the venue, the contest promises all the usual camp, kitsch and glam that we have become accustomed to. Launched in 1956 as a means of bringing peace in Europe and uniting Europeans through music, the contest has now become one of the main European yearly events through which the LGBTIQ community increases its visibility and celebrates diversity.

Destiny is everything that Eurovision fans simply love. A down-to-earth fun-loving star with a bubbly character whose persona is bigger than life. To top it all off, a voice like no other that can hit all her notes, leaving her audience mesmerised and wanting for more.

And it does not stop there! The song choice is spot on. Je Me Casse is a happy flirty tune that gives a good vibe with a catchy melody carrying a message of empowerment – women’s empowerment mainly, while also empowering those who some wrongly assume of being the weaker party.

Je Me Casse is a happy flirty tune that gives a good vibe with a catchy melody carrying a message of women’s empowerment.

The eternal question that has no clear answer asks what it is that makes a song a Eurovision winner. Is there a winning formula? Analysing past winners, one can find a few trends.

Firstly, simplecatchyhappy tunes tend to do well. A tune that transcends language. One that puts a smile on one’s face and that many keep on humming after the first time it is listened to. A few winners come to mind like Alexander Rybak’s Fairytale, Fly on the Wings of Love sung by the Olsen Brothers and Diva by Dana International.

Secondly, politics. Not only in the sense of having a strong message like Molitva by Maria Sefirovic or Conchita’s Rise like a Phoenix, incidentally both having an LGBTIQ equality message; but also geopolitics where Europeans would seem to want to send a political message across. It has been seen in the past with regards to Serbia, Russia, Israel and Ukraine among others.

Thirdly, the singer’s stage presence and the song’s staging. Something that the audiences from home can remember either because of its beauty in simplicity like Nocturne by Secret Garden, Lena’s Satellite and Amar Pelos Dois by Salvador Sobral, or because of the choreography and effects that astonish, like Loreen’s Euphoria, Mans Zelmerlow’s Heroes, Helena Paparizou’s My Number One and Marie N’s I Wanna. The Swedes seem to have mastered this really well. It’s no coincidence that Malta’s delegation has opted for the Swedish model for staging.

Fourthly, pre-Eurovision marketing, if done well, is essential. Knowing the target audience, having the right message and wowing the many fan websites can achieve results. The network of LGBTIQ-oriented fan websites is a strong one and this year it seems that Destiny’s team have targeted the right people – winning the Wiwiblogs award poll as well as the OUTtv and OUTmusic award.

Finally, the singer, their voice as well as the way they manage to connect with the audiences at home while performing their three-minute song. Camera eye-contact, the charisma and telling a story.

Eurovision could be camper than Christmas. While winning it is surely of satisfaction to the song team and at times, gives a sense of national pride to those countries that still see it as a national event; it also gives an economic boost to the city organising it. The thousands of fans visiting the country for the two-week extravaganza, with their pink pound is definitely something worth investing it as next year’s contest aims to be bigger and cheesier as Europe comes out of the pandemic. wishes Destiny and the Maltese delegation, an unforgettable and successful ESC2021.

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