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‘Inside the Eurovision Song Contest’ Book Published


eurovision logoEurovision Song Contest – Former head of delegation for Ireland and RTE official, Julian Vingoles, had published a book about his Eurovision experience. He takes us behind the scenes and part of the book has been previewed in the Irish Independent this weekend.

Julian Vignoles was a member of the Contest’s ‘board of directors’, the Reference Group, for four years. He reveals the debates that led to changes in the rules, and the political disputes behind the bright lights and glitter of Europe’s most popular TV show.

julian book

Julian says,

“There are many reasons, I think, for Eurovision’s survival for 60 years. The first is competition; winning and losing and watching others experiencing that fate compel us all. Secondly, the Eurovision has what I’d call a built-in dynamic; every country’s broadcaster wants to show proudly that they can be as spectacular as the previous host. So the contest is always state-of-the-art television entertainment.

“The Eurovision is exciting to be around; it’s not just the bright lights, the spectacle and the music. It’s the things that go with that – glamour, excitement and even intrigue.

“There are many reasons, I think, for Eurovision’s survival for 60 years. The first is competition; winning and losing and watching others experiencing that fate compel us all. Secondly, the Eurovision has what I’d call a built-in dynamic; every country’s broadcaster wants to show proudly that they can be as spectacular as the previous host. So the contest is always state-of-the-art television entertainment.

“The Eurovision is exciting to be around; it’s not just the bright lights, the spectacle and the music. It’s the things that go with that – glamour, excitement and even intrigue.

“Artists who come with a strong song can falter in the big arena with all the pressure that’s on them. Elaborate and costly preparations can come to nought if the singer isn’t up to the demands that the contest makes. I always recall the ease with which Ireland’s singer in 2006, Brian Kennedy, took to the stage for his first rehearsal – he was totally at home with all the lights and cameras and attention.

“Since I grew to love and admire it, I get annoyed when people put it down. Some don’t like the music, but the songs are as good as most pop music we hear elsewhere?

“Others think it’s camp and over the top. But the fact is that up to 40 countries are trying to stand out and so go home with a good result. To do this, you make your mark in the three minutes you’re given. How different countries have done that is what gives the contest some of its magic.

“That’s why some reach for outrageous stunts, fireworks coming out of guitars, singers sprouting butterfly wings, a singer hanging up washing on a clothesline. But that all just adds to the gaiety of the event. If songs were all performed ‘unadorned’, the Eurovision would not have survived.

“It’s an opportunity for theatricality unrivalled all year in television schedules in over 40 countries.

“Can Ireland ever win again? Of course we can. Our time will come – though I don’t know where or when. Look at Austria; they triumphed in 2014 after 38 years in the wilderness of poor results. But expectations have to be realistic. Ireland can’t expect to do well or win if we don’t send our best artists and invest more in our participation. And our seven-victory record is great, but irrelevant in the 21st century.

“Our first victory was in 1970 when only 12 countries competed. Up to 40 countries, sometimes more, are competing now. We – and the UK – had an advantage in the pre-televoting era; we sang in English in the jury, when other countries were required to sing in a national language.

“Now the playing pitch is level – nearly everyone sings in English. Also, RTÉ doesn’t really want to win. The costs are enormous. But if we did, watch professional pride kicking in? And Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland are great at seeing a marketing opportunity.

“There’s a ‘but’ however. We – and RTÉ – have to treat the Eurovision like, for example, the IRFU treat the Six Nations Championship. And let’s not be complaining about the pitch or the referee, in other words, the voting?

“If you’re getting on in years, watching the Eurovision might make you feel young again. That’s the way I felt working with Jedward in 2011 and 2012. Being around John and Edward was exciting in itself. Really, they personified one of the Eurovision’s best qualities – fun.

“Jedward’s infectious merrymaking, from Dusseldorf to Baku, with other singers, press people and organisers, challenged us all to keep up with them. And that’s a good thing.”

With contributions from winners like Linda Martin and Niamh Kavanagh, as well as critics, fans and the legendary ‘back room man’, former Executive Supervisor Svante Stockselius, this book is a must read for all those who love – or love to hate – Eurovision.

‘Inside the Eurovision Song Contest- Music, Glamour and Myth’, by Julian Vignoles, with photos by Kyran O’Brien, is published by The Liffey Press. It’s available from bookshops and from http://www.theliffeypress.com. It costs €16.95.

Source: Irish Independent, Liffey Press

4 comments on “‘Inside the Eurovision Song Contest’ Book Published

  1. Spoke to him for an hour or so in Baku. A very interesting Man (when he wasn’t yelling)

    This should be a good read

  2. Baku was very stressful with the severe security arrangements and the Jedwards trying to escape the hotel against the rules! He was great to us in Dusseldorf, got lots of us passes for parties and stuff. He told us a bit in Dusseldorf too about what they looked for in a song as jurors etc too. I’m looking forward to reading the book.

  3. Just finished reading it and there are a few errors in there but it was interesting enough. Met him in Dublin when I was on the jury back in 2008 and he was quite pleasant.

  4. Offtopic, BoNF 2015 came to a climatic end and all votes have been uploaded here: https://eurovisiontimes.wordpress.com/about-5/morgans-stuff/bonf/bonf-2015/

    I also added all links to the 15 yt videos I made for the finalists if you wanted to rewatch!

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