66th Eurovision Song Contest grand finale kicks off in Turin

After two rounds of semifinals, on Saturday, performers from 25 countries compete in Turin, Italy, in the annual Eurovision Song Contest grand finale organised by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

The 2022 Eurovision Song Contest began at 9 p.m. CEST. The host country this year is Italy, whose representatives, the Måneskin band, won the 2021 edition. Representatives of 25 countries take part in the competition, 20 who qualified during the semifinals held earlier in the week, and the automatically qualified “Big Five”. The “Big Five” includes the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy, who are the biggest financial contributors to EBU. The host country is also always automatically qualified, but with Italy hosting this year, this point is moot.

Poland is represented by Krystian Ochman, a 22-year-old musician born and raised in the US. Ochman came to Poland four years ago, on the advice of his grandfather, the famous Polish tenor Wiesław Ochman.

This year, the EBU has banned Russia from competing over its invasion of Ukraine. As per a statement issued by the EBU on February 25, one day after the invasion, “in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine, the inclusion of a Russian entry in this year's Contest would bring the competition into disrepute.”

Oleh Psiuk, one of the members of Kalush, who represents Ukraine at the Eurovision 2022, commented on his country’s participation in the event: “Our main message being here is to show that Ukrainian music and Ukrainian culture are alive. They are very beautiful. They have their ethnic code in it and its own special signature.” Kalush is also among a small number of performers who decided to perform their entry in their native language, Ukrainian, instead of English, which is the most popular language of lyrics of songs performed at Eurovision.

All members of the EBU can send their representatives to the semifinals if they choose to do so, although not all countries participate every year. In addition to European countries, some non-European countries also send their performers to the contest. Israel is a member of EBU and debuted in the contest in 1973. Morocco, also an EBU member, participated once, in 1980. Interestingly, Australia, where Eurovision has been very popular for years, was invited to participate in 2016. It was supposed to be a one-off, in recognition of the Australian viewers’ dedication to watch the broadcast in spite of the time difference: Australians have to get up early on a Sunday morning to watch the contest live on TV. The idea was so well received, that Australia has participated in every Eurovision since, and has qualified for the finals this year.

Once all 25 bands or singers have performed, viewers will be able to vote for the best performance, with the caveat that it is not possible to vote for the representatives of one’s own country. The result is combined with a jury vote. Each country awards its own points to their own favourites separately. In the end, all votes are added.