A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Friday, October 4, 2013

ESC 2014: how few can we be?

It feels like the Malmö final was just the other weekend, doesn't it, and yet we are beginning to know a little bit more about next year's final already. We know that Copenhagen is the chosen city, we know the venue and we know the dates.

Unfortunately, we had some bad news in the shape of withdrawals as well.

In Malmö, I thought 39 countries felt a bit few to fill up two semi finals. With thirty-three countries going through the semis, it left one semi with no more than 16 songs. Honestly, I already find that number balancing on the edge of being too few.

What do we know about the Copenhagen lineup, then? We know that Croatia and Cyprus have decided not to take part. Apart from being a lean year for countries beginning with the letter "C", it would bring the number of participants down to 37 unless the EBU members absent in 2013 decide to come back.

That doesn't look too promising either. Out of the non-participants of 2013 only one - Portugal - seems to have stated any sort of ambition to be back. That would leave us with 38 countries and 16 songs per semi. Acceptable, I guess.

But what if the hard times pushes another country or two out of the Copenhagen final?

The problem with having too few songs per semi final is that it makes non-qualification even worse. Say that you have thirteen songs in a semi and only three songs fail to make it to the final - the national press would rip their flunked performers to shreds.

So where do we draw the line? Is it acceptable to have 15 songs per semi? Or 14? At the same time as you cram the final with more songs than you really have time for?

I'd still push this old idea of mine and have fewer songs in the final. If there are sixteen songs per semi, it is more than enough if eight songs qualify per heat. That would make a neat and manageable final of 22 songs.

And the day all countries come running back to the Eurovision Song Contest - then you just change it back again. Well worth a try if you ask me.