The Eurovision Song Contest, the longest-running annual international televised music competition, has announced the long-planned US version, the American Song Contest.
To help introduce the states to the contest, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) partnered with Netflix to broadcast last year’s final and semi-final (it has since been removed due to Netflix’s ever-changing library but past shows can be found on YouTube) and the film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. The film, which became Will Farrell’s most successful film, saw Will Farrell co-write and co-produce the after his wife introduced him to the contest.
This year’s Eurovision, which was slated to be held in the Netherlands during May, was canceled due to COVID. Due to the cancellation, the Netherlands will get another opportunity to host the event in 2021 as normally, the winning country from the previous year gets the honor of hosting the following year’s contest. The 2020s contesting songs––including The Mamas’ “Move” and VAL’s “Da vidna” are not eligible for the running.
Eurovision was started in 1956. Each year, over 40 countries compete to be voted the top song. Since 2019, over 59 individual countries have participated. It is easily one of the most-watched non-sporting events each year, including the Super Bowl. After a semi-final round, the finalists compete in a live, televised event. Ten songs from each of the two semi-final rounds and six countries that automatically pre-qualify for the final round, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, and the host country are included in the finale. Votes are counted in two sets: public viewers and each country’s jury of five music professionals. No one is allowed to vote for their own country.
The American Song Contest, which was announced earlier this year, will take some traits from the Eurovision Song Contest. In the Eurovision version, each country would send a song, in the American spinoff it will feature competitors from each of the 50 states. The American Song Contest Academy will be formed along with public votes from regional audiences to select all the 50 participants of the contest.
There’s no word on how voting will work, how they will narrow down the 50 participants to a broadcastable show, or where the show will be broadcast. Typically, the winning countries’ broadcaster assumes the role and is broadcast without commercial interruption. To help produce the show, the group has tapped Ben Silverman, who was co-president of content at NBC and has been behind several successful TV shows, including The Office, The Tudors, and Ugly Betty.
The show’s selection process is slated to start sometime in 2021, with a final show within the holiday frame time of 2021. It is yet to be known what effect COVID has to play on the timing.
It’s in a strange consequence that the American Song Contest could help reunite the country after several years of failed leadership. The original Eurovision Song Contest was created to help reunite European countries after two World Wars. The contest “can unite it by celebrating its diversity, its distinctions and in pulling everyone around its love of music and its love of song,” says Silverman.