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How did they get the ticket to Oslo?

15 May 2010 at 17:07 CEST

Not just the Eurovision Song Contest itself needs a lot of time and effort to take place, also on a national scale, preparations have to start early. Every participating broadcaster has to decide on the way to select the singer and song to represent the country in Europe's Favourite TV Show. Many countries opt for the traditional and most widely used approach of having one TV show, where a certain amount of singers present one song each, and in the end, the winner is selected. This year, for example, Denmark and Armenia used this mode. In both cases, a combination of SMS voting and the verdict of an expert jury decided on the winner. With a lot of countries using this method, the number of participating acts varies greatly: While only five songs were in the running in the Irish final, the Russian TV viewers had to make up their minds on no less than 25 entries!

Some countries decided to have not just a national final, but several semi-finals to narrow down a bigger number of competitors. In FYR Macedonia, two semi-finals took place before the final on the two evenings preceding the actual final. But some countries have a lot more shows to get the public excited: The Swedish national selection procedure, Melodifestivalen, comprises a total of four semi-finals and a so-called Second Chance Round, giving those artists that did not initially qualify for the final another chance. The Slovak TV viewers saw an even further extended version of this format, with six quarter-finals, leading to two semi-finals and the final show.

Almost as many TV shows led to the German final, but in that case, a totally different approach was used: A talent show called Unser Star Für Oslo was set up, and only young singers who didn't yet have a record contract could take part. The process started with twenty singers, and in each show, a jury commented on their performances. In the end, it was the task of the TV public to narrow down the number of contestants step by step, until only two singers remained in the final show.

While the songs in the German final were selected in an open competition, some broadcasters also appointed a famous composer to write a song, and started the talent search only after that, as was the case for the United Kingdom, where Pete Waterman wrote the song, as well as the Netherlands. The Dutch entry, Ik Ben Verliefd, was written by Pierre Kartner, better known as Vader Abraham.

Of course, not only the composer can be internally selected. Some public broadcasters decided to first select a singer internally, and then search for a suitable song for him or her. Several countries did that through a TV show where the one selected singer presented several songs. That happened in Georgia, where Sofia Nizharadze presented six songs to the TV public, and also in Israel, where Harel Skaat sang four entries to chose from.

No matter which process was used, the national finals of most countries were among the most watched and highest rated shows on a national scale. However, some broadcasters still decided to choose both the singer and song internally, like France and Turkey, for example. This can be a good way to convince a well-known artist to try their luck in the Eurovision Song Contest, or in some cases, to give a new talent the chance to start an international career.