The final of Turkvizyon 2013 took place yesterday, so now seems like the perfect time to reflect on the first ever Turkvizyon Song Contest. To summarise it has been the biggest challenge I think I’ve ever personally faced in trying to cover an event but looking back now I can say that it was worth it.
When the contest was announced back in September, it immediately caused division among fans, those who thought it was killing off Eurovision and Turkey betraying the contest and those who wanted to see what happened with it. My decision to cover the contest when everyone else was ignoring it did cause a bit of controversy. But come on when you see a challenge, sometimes it’s worthwhile to give it a go.
From the moment the 20 countries taking part were revealed, it was obvious this was going to be an uphill struggle. The fact that a fair few of the places I’d never even heard of before let along say where it is on a map made it clear that this wasn’t going to be as simple as covering Eurovision or Junior Eurovision. The first major hurdle came with the confusion of who on earth Fazile Ibraimova was actually going to represent in the contest, she seemed to be jumping around from Crimea to Ukraine to Crimea and back again every couple of days. Even last week I was still finding news reports saying that Fazile was representing Crimea.
The break through moment came with Kyrgyzstan, finally a country that had their act in order and published things regularly. I must say thank you to the lovely person whose name I haven’t a clue of, that ran the Facebook account for the Kyrgyz selection process. They made coverage of their national final a breeze, they helped find me articles that I could translate over into English. Which brings me onto the realisation that no matter how good Google Translate is, you still can’t translate Kyrgyz on it. Azerbaijan also showed us how long you can keep a national final going for without publishing the names of the people who actually qualified from the audition shows.
Kazakhstan showed clearly what the contest can mean for a country, no country got so behind their national final. The fun I had when the official website falls for a publicity stunt on YouTube by Luina, when I knew that Kazakhstan were holding a national final a couple of weeks later. I found myself a points wondering whether the official website was doing anything at all. The amount of times that they seemed to ignore national finals or selections that were taking place. But then really I shouldn’t be complaining, I’ve had a fair few slip ups trying to cover the contest.
I think a special mention should go out here to Emir & Frozen Camels from Bosnia & Herzegovina who I think will get my award for the act that managed to put up with me the best. Pestering them most weeks about their song I can imagine may have got very tedious, but in the interview I did with Emir, in his responses, he comes across the type of person that you’d like to be around. The band was put in the worst position out of all of the competitors, they were instantly caught in the Turkvizyon vs Eurovision debate. That’s pressure that shouldn’t in an ideal world have existed, but last night they proved what they were made of finishing in 6th place.
In terms of endurance though I think there was one national final this year that beat out all. Yes, I’m looking at Northern Cyprus. Never in my life have 10 acts taken so long to perform their entries. Sitting in front of a live stream for four hours, takes its toll. Although incredibly entertaining when you’re sat watching a full-blown argument between one-act and a juror for 15 minutes when you haven’t got a clue what is being said. But to top it all off I’d like to question Kibris Genc TV on why on earth they have 30 minute long advert breaks, there is only so many times that you can watch an advert for a car park where its selling point is the fact it has toilets and security.
Bashkortostan scope the award for most terrifying reason for the cancellation of a national final. In case you happened to miss it the restaurant at the “Lights of Ufa” caught fire whilst the national final was taking place, so smoke-filled the venue eventually causing everyone to get rushed outside.
The last 3 weeks before the contest have been the most hectic though. In terms of Eurovision it’s like suddenly finding out that 4 countries are now taking part in the event that were never even mentioned in the 2 months before hand. Yes Romania suddenly popped out of nowhere holding a national final that near enough no one knew about. Then the fun of Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachy-Chekessia deciding that they’ll send a joint entry but not explain that very clearly just saying that they held the national final in a restaurant in Nalchik and having a song sung in Balkir.
But really how a contest can leave it until 3 days before the final to announce all of the 24 participating countries along with their acts and songs doesn’t make sense. Which brings me onto the things the contest needs to work on:
- Being more organised – Have everything ready at least 3 weeks before hand, don’t leave it all so last-minute. Also make sure you make the official Twitter account clearer, the amount of fake accounts on Twitter and Facebook was unbelievable.
- Give us the songs when they are announced, make it clear when a song is a cover and when a song is actually a country’s entry.
- Explain the rules more clearly – You had some countries saying songs had to be new, others that went back into their artists back catalogue to perform at the contest.
- Vote announcing – The announcement at the end of the final left a lot more to be desired. You had judges from the 24 countries there, why no just have them read out their points live on air, instead of going through each country announcing the total points for each.
But really as much as it seems that I’m moaning there are things that I have to praise the contest for. The first being opening a lot of peoples eyes to the world, there is more to the world than just these big countries like Germany, France and the USA. Not many people can say that they’d heard music from the Altai Republic, Kemerovo or Yakutia before Thursday. What we heard in the semi finals was a mix of styles that would never normally make it to the international stage, go back and look at the songs in the semi final, we had throat singing, cringe worthy Georgian pop and beautiful ballads.
The second thing that needs to be applauded is the fact that I can now say I’ve talked to people from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan (Yes Nilufar Usmonova). The site now has a following of people who are specifically here for Turkvizyon news which was something I don’t think I ever saw coming.
But finally thank you to the contest for enabling me to say that “I covered the first contest”. The contest brought thousands of people to the site in just 3 short months and proved that a small site can cover a big event successfully.
So with that, I say a massive thank you to everyone who has come to the site and read the Turkvizyon articles. I look forward to covering the 2014 event in the knowledge that it isn’t just me who is interested in the event.