What’s a bored Eurofan to DO?

There are a couple of periods during the year when an avid Eurofan is let down by the schedule. After the contest ends in May almost nothing happens in Eurovision-world until the first rumblings of the national final season in October and November. That’s a LOOONG dry period when you love the contest… There is also a little dry period in March and April between the finalizing of the entries for the year’s contest and dress rehearsals for the event about six weeks later. Sure the various entries travel around Europe on goodwill promotional tours and perform at local shows like “Eurovision in Concert”, but by the first of April an excited (ok, RABID) fan has already listened to all the official entries dozens (ok, HUNDREDS) of times and needs some more Eurovision excitement to stoke the flames!

Enter the worldwide fan club for devoted Eurofans. the OGAE (Organisation Générale des Amateurs de l’Eurovision, meaning General Organization of the lovers of Eurovision). The OGAE has 37 branches in most of the EBU member nations (and in an OGAE Rest of the World branch that groups together fans from such far flung outposts as South Africa, Australia, and the US). The OGAE organizes several Eurovision-related contests during the year, including the two big ones that coincide with the two dry periods on the ESC calendar.

General organization for lovers of Eurovision

General organization for lovers of Eurovision

During the promotional period between the national final selections and the contest in May, the OGAE branches each meet for their most important annual meeting (either physically or online in a virtual event) where members vote on the year’s crop of Eurovision entries. In true Eurovision style, each national branch then awards points to their favorite entries and scores them Eurovision-style (12 or douze points to the top favorite, then 10, 8, and 7 through 1). The aggregate scoreboard grows through April till the finals scores dribble in just before the actual ESC contest week.

The winners of the OGAE Eurovision contest only partly correspond to the actual voting results to come. But they represent an early feeling of which entries are hot and hyped (and MAY crash and burn during the week’s performances). Artists and songwriters that lead the OGAE scoreboard are happy to receive the recognition but are wise enough to know that being an early fan favorite is not ultimately the point, as this comparison of the top of the OGAE scoreboard with the actual contest results shows:

OGAE 2011 Final Lineup
Rank…Country…………….Points……Actual ESC results
1……Hungary………………277…………22nd
2……France……………….270…………15th
3……United Kingdom……..253…………11th
4……Sweden………………238………….3rd
5……Estonia………………183…………24th
6……Bosnia Herzegovina..119…………..6th
7……Azerbaijan……………117………..winner
8……Denmark………………56………….5th
9……Germany………………50…………10th
10…..Norway………………..43……..(not in final)
11…..Poland…………………34……..(not in final)
12…..Italy……………………28…………..2nd

The other big OGAE contest is unique to the organization, and takes place during the summer and fall AFTER the year’s ESC. It gives members a chance to “go deep” into the less renowned prospective entries and revisit all the national finals that chose the entries that year to rectify the injustice that only ONE entry from each nation is allowed to enter Eurovision. The OGAE Second Chance contest gives a prize to favorite entry from the national finals that DIDN’T go on to represent the country at Eurovision. Here is something for the curious, the full 40 minute Second Chance 2011 finals from Göteborg, Sweden last October.

In 2011 they awarded Yohanna from Iceland, who might have been Iceland’s official entry if one of her major competitors hadn’t died during the course of the country’s national selections. That tragedy threw their contest into a tizzy that ended up with a tribute performance of the dead singer’s entry (by his surviving friends) becoming the sentimental favorite propelled to victory. Yohanna had been 1st runnerup in Eurovision 2009, and with her strong ballad in 2011 many fans believed that she would have won it all if she had made it through the Icelandic selections.

The second place winner in the 2011 Second Chance contest was a slice of pure Swedish ABBA-pop, courtesy of songwriter Thomas G:son and singer Jenny Silver. Jenny seems to be channeling Abba’s Frida for the modern generation with her joyful “Something in Your Eyes” which had somehow got lost in the shuffle at the Swedish Melodifestivalen that year.

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