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Benidorm Fest finalist Vicco

Malmö 2024: Pre-selection preparations underway

28 July 2023 at 09:00 CEST
Vicco finished in 3rd place at Benidorm Fest 2023 in Spain, going on to have a huge hit with 'Nochentera' RTVE
A round-up of all the national final news that has been announced since we left Liverpool, and what to expect from the forthcoming pre-selection season.

We’ve already got the Host City and dates for the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 - isn’t it about time we started thinking about the songs? Well, as it happens, some national broadcasters are already putting plans in place for selecting their entries for Malmö. 

Broadcasters can opt to choose their songs and artists internally. But more often than not, and in the case of the majority of the 37 countries that competed in the Eurovision Song Contest 2023, a broadcaster will choose to hold a national final which gives each country's television viewers a choice of songs and the power to decide (wholly or in part) the artist and song combination that will represent them on the Eurovision stage in May.

A country’s national final can be anything from a one-night to a multi-week affair. Our winner in Liverpool - Tattoo by Sweden’s Loreen - had to fend off 27 other competing songs across 6 weeks of the Swedish pre-selection Melodifestivalen, for example. 

Loreen wins Melodifestivalen 2023 SVT / Alma Bengtsson

Keeping up with all of the national finals going on across Europe can at times be a hefty task, particularly when it gets to Saturday nights in February, when fans are faced with 16 hours of live television in 8 different languages overlapping into just one evening (and often well into the morning - ciao Italia!).

But whether attempting to follow each and every national final, or opting to stick with just their go-to favourites, viewers always find themselves rewarded with a diverse selection of eclectic music that they would otherwise have never been exposed to. Pop fans annually unearth new gems to cherish - either in the form of songs that will remain keepers for life, or brand-new artists to discover and follow. 

In the countries that host pre-selections, interest does not begin and end with finding an entry to that year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Many of the other competing songs go on to become big hits in their respective territories too.

In Italy and Sweden, the daily Spotify charts in the days and weeks immediately following Sanremo and Melodifestivalen regularly have the competing songs take up a majority of the coveted space inside the Top 20. And in Finland this year, no less than 3 of the 7 songs taking part in the UMK selection took turns in occupying the number 1 position on Spotify.

Even the relatively new iteration of Benidorm Fest in Spain has already offered up some big domestic hits in its first two years. Nochentera by Vicco, for example, which finished in 3rd place in January, is currently still in the Top 10 of the official singles chart in Spain, in late July. 

With the songs of the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest taking off outside of the Contest like never before, expectations for hot new hits to enjoy are high as we approach the 2024 pre-selection season.

Some countries have already announced that they’ve been fine-tuning and finessing their selection processes that will begin next year. While others are already accepting songs and holding auditions.

Whether you’re a long-time follower of national finals, or you’re a potential first-timer who is curious about the competitions - we've put together a round-up of the Eurovision pre-selection news that has been announced since we left Liverpool. 

Reigning Contest champs Sweden have got some changes in store for the six-week entertainment juggernaut that is Melodifestivalen. 28 competing entries have been increased to 30, with 6 songs participating in each semi-final across 5 weeks, with the top two from each semi going through to the big final in week 6. 

In 2024, Melodifestivalen will greatly reduce the second-chance round that has been in place for over 20 years. Now, instead of the round having an entire live show dedicated to it, it will be a more succinct phone vote that takes place at the end of the 5th semi final. During the phone vote, viewers will vote on the 3rd and 4th-place finishers from each semi, to decide on a top two that completes Melodifestivalen 2024’s 12-song final - finding a successor to 2023's Eurovision winner.

In Italy, Rai have announced that the final of the 5-night Sanremo will take place on Saturday 10 February. In a change to recent years, all 26 competing entries will be performed on the first night of the competition, on Tuesday 6 February. And in news that will be disappointing to many who have tuned in to Sanremo over the past few years, the 2024 edition will be the final one for Amadeus, who will afterwards be stepping down as the beloved host of the competition. 

Luxembourg announced their big comeback to the Eurovision Song Contest back in May. And for their return, they are going down the pre-selection route. On Saturday 27 January, we’ll be able to watch as Luxembourg selects its first Eurovision song in 31 years, in a show broadcast live from the Rockhal in Esch-sur-Alzette. Submissions can be made in three categories: artists with a song, songwriters with a song but no artist for it, and artists with no song. For the latter category, auditions are already underway, with singers trying out in front of a panel throughout late July.

Song submissions are also already open in both Iceland and Ireland, with the two countries closing the submission window in September. In Iceland, the popular Söngvakeppnin pre-selection is returning once again. While in Ireland, national broadcaster RTÉ has requested songs and artists for an as-yet undisclosed pre-selection that will take place in early 2024 and through which Irish television viewers will be able to vote for the song that will represent them in the hope of giving the country its 8th win - which would break the tied position of most Contest wins, that Sweden secured alongside Ireland in 2023. 

Also confirmed to be coming back in 2024 is Finland’s UMK. And across the Baltic Sea in Estonia, the nation’s broadcaster ERR has announced that Eesti Laul will be returning to choose Estonia’s Eurovision song again in 2024, but under new management and with some changes to elements of the format likely to be announced.

Benidorm Fest will take us back to the Costa Blanca in Spain, with a final to be held on Saturday 3 February, and a first and second semi-final happening on the Tuesday and Thursday preceding it. In a slight change to the format, 16 entries will compete - reduced from the 18 that took part in 2023. The 16 competitors will be announced as part of the Latin Grammys in Seville in November. 

Norwegian broadcaster NRK has announced a big change to its pre-selection Melodi Grand Prix. For the 2024 competition, any song released from 1 September 2023 onwards will be eligible to be included in the Melodi Grand Prix lineup. This means that songs that have already become hits - either locally or internationally - will potentially be competing.

NRK’s rule change is a move away from the usual pre-selection tradition across Europe, with the national final songs normally all being released together, and by the broadcaster. But it’s not a totally new concept: Blanka’s Solo had already been out since September 2022 when Polish broadcaster TVP revealed in February that it would be competing in Poland's Eurovision pre-selection.

And finally, Israel has already announced that it is moving away from the internal selection option and into a large-scale national final that hands the decision back to television viewers.

In Israel, The Next Star (referred to as HaKokhav HaBa locally) will - after an absence of a number of years - return as Israel’s pre-selection for the Eurovision Song Contest. The competition has previously selected Israel’s Eurovision performer between 2015 and 2020, even gifting the Contest with a winner in 2018 - Netta!

More Eurovision pre-selections will be announced in due course. And if you’re planning on following any of them ahead of Malmö, check back on in the near future. As well as having a dedicated Calendar page outlining all of the dates and times of each of the pre-selections, plus links to where to watch them, we’ll also be previewing all of the national finals and, of course, publishing those all-important results. 

You can listen to all 37 songs of Eurovision 2024 via your favourite streaming service or watch the music videos on our YouTube channel.

The Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Malmö, Sweden on Tuesday 7 May (First Semi-Final), Thursday 9 May (Second Semi-Final) and Saturday 11 May (Grand Final) 2024.

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