Photo courtesy of European Broadcasting Union

Eurovision is a song contest where countries that are a part of the European Broadcasting Union compete to determine the most popular song. This year will be the 60th anniversary of the contest. The contest is viewed all over the world, reaching about 180 million people. Any country that is an active member of the EBU can participate.

During its 60-year run, the most famous winner it has produced is the Swedish pop group ABBA. Each country participating usually has its own competition in order to choose a representative. During the Eurovision Competition, each representative will sing the same song that they sang to become the representative of their country. Then, each song is ranked in each country based of off popular vote (think “American Idol”) and the judgment a jury of musical experts. This small competition is done in each country and then the votes of the different countries determine the winners. Each country cannot vote for their candidate.

There are two semi-final rounds and in each semi-final round ten contestants move on to the final round. There are six guaranteed spots in the final round given to the host of the competition and then France, Germany, the UK, Italy and Spain. This year it will be held in Vienna, Austria on May 19-23 because of their historic win (the first since 1966) last year. Interestingly enough, other rules of the competition include that each contestant must be at least 16 years of age on the day of the final round of competition, no act can include live animals, and no song can include political messages or endorse any organization.

This competition illustrates the diversity of Europe by allowing each contestant to sing in the language of their choosing, yet allows for the European community to participate together in a common culture.

Betting on the winners is a big deal before the competition. This year the big contenders, based of off the bets, are as follows:

Estonia is going to be represented by Elina Born and Stig Rästa signing “Goodbye To Yesterday.” Interesting fact: 79% of the votes in Estonia were cast for this duo during their countries prelims.

Albania is going to be represented by Elhaida Dani signing “I’m Alive.” Interesting fact: Elhaida won The Voice of Italy in 2013.

Russia is going to be represented by Polina Gagarina singing “A Million Voices.” Interesting fact: Polina has been the winner of the International Festival New Wave as well as various Russian musical awards.

Sweden is going to be represented by Måns Zelmerlöw singing “Heroes.”

Australia is going to be represented by Guy Sebastian singing “Tonight Again.” Interesting fact: this is the first time Australia will compete in the Eurovision Competition.

Finland is going to be represented by Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät singing “Aina Mun Pitää.” Interesting fact: “the members of our band are four middle-aged, mentally handicapped men. The music is, of course, Finnish punk,” says Sami Helle, Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät

All 40 participants in this year’s competition can be found on Eurovion.tv. All videos of the performances from the country prelims can also be found there, for those interested in following the competition to its finish.