The views expressed in this piece are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of the rest of the ESC United team.
It’s a worrying trend that has been growing in recent years. The national final season is for some people the highlight of the whole Eurovision experience, as each country treads their own path to find a suitable representative. But for the last few years there has been an increasing amount of these selections that are opening up their borders to foreign artists, composers and writers. With the revelation this week that Moldova’s selection announced various artists from the United Kingdom, Russia, Spain, Ireland, Norway and even as far afield as Canada, it begs the question – why do countries feel the need to look elsewhere?
Of course, in a contest that aims to bring together Europe as a continent, it seems churlish to suggest that there should be absolutely no mixing of nationalities. For years there have been cases of broadcasters choosing non-domestic talents – most notably Switzerland’s choice of Canadian Céline Dion in 1988 and my own country’s last win; Katrina Leskanich from the USA.
But when a selection with just 68 entries, and only 18 that need cutting, ends up saying goodbye to some of the few domestic entries, it really does make you question the ethos behind the entire process. It wouldn’t be unreasonable of me to suggest that the Moldovan music industry is hardly vast, but where is the growth going to come from if broadcasters won’t even give their countrymen and women a chance to prove themselves?
I don’t want to point the finger at one country, however. It happens everywhere, especially if an open selection is the norm. Switzerland’s national final has in recent years also seen the same level of foreign intrusion (coincidentally many of the same names entered songs for Switzerland and Moldova this year), albeit with the broadcaster being less accustomed to shunning Swiss talent. And the influx of foreign songwriters across the continent is not an alien concept either – Ralph Siegel and Thomas G:son are Eurovision veterans for more than their own country.
Should there be something done about it? Or should it still remain the choice of the country? I know for sure that if I was a Moldovan and most of the artists wanting to represent my country didn’t really represent anything to do with Moldova, I wouldn’t be very happy about it. Being from the UK and knowing what kind of media response would occur if the BBC dared to choose a non-Brit, I’m probably not too qualified to pass judgement on other countries.
But as a Eurovision fan, a fan who wants to see what Europe has to offer? From this point of view, it worries me that some countries don’t have the confidence or the willingness to promote their own talent.
What are your thoughts? Should more be done about nationality rules in selections, or is the situation at the moment understandable? Let us know your thoughts below or join the discussion with other Eurovision fans on our forum!