Eurovision Song Contest 2016 takes place in Sweden with surprise performance from Justin Timberlake

This+year%27s+Eurovision+Song+Contest+took+place+in+Sweden+with+the+theme%2C+Come+Together.

Photo via wikipedia.org under Creative Commons License

This year’s Eurovision Song Contest took place in Sweden with the theme, Come Together.

Natella Muradyan, Photographer

Saturday, May 14, marked the 61th year since Eurovision Song Contest has brought together European countries to celebrate music. Even though it seems like the purpose of the song contest is to enjoy the music from variety of performers, when so many countries come together with some of them being at war, politics intervene in the whole progress.

This year, 43 countries participated in the contest with only 26 qualifying for the grand final after evaluating the positions by combining the jury’s vote and the televote. Some of the qualifying countries included The Netherlands, Armenia, Russia, Hungary, Azerbaijan and this year’s announced winner, Ukraine.

For the first time ever this year, the contest was broadcast in the U.S. on the extended basic cable channel called Logo. A new exciting addition to the contest was the guest performance of Justin Timberlake performing his song, “Can’t Stop the Feeling.” For the first time ever in the history of Eurovision, a nonparticipant global singer would hit the stage. However, this became a controversial topic with some viewers saying that his performance will receive the spotlight while the other performances will not receive much attention. Others felt that this was a perfect way to bring in more of the American audience especially since it was going to be broadcasted in the U.S.

However, this year was not all about happy moments as many fans of the contest were disappointed by the new changes of the voting system. In previous years, selected spokespersons would announce the results of the televote, but this year votes were not announced the same way, which made many question if everything in the contest was fair.

While the artists were in Sweden to perform their songs, the political tension between some of the countries was evident. The disputed issue about the Nagorno-Karabakh region between Azerbaijan and Armenia showed its presence in the press conference room where the participants of both countries were invited after the semi-final 1 qualification round. Iveta Mukuchyan, the singer from Armenia, held the Karabakh flag as she celebrated her qualification to the grand final during the concert, which brought a lot of controversy. During the press conference, questions from the journalists were asked to Azerbaijan and Armenia regarding politics, which they tried to avoid answering with the coordinator reminding everyone in the press conference that Eurovision is about song contest and is not a platform to solve political issues.

No matter how much the producers try to make the Eurovision Song Contest to be solely about music, there is always going to be the politics that tag along.