It’s the American spin-off for the Eurovision Song Contest we’ve been promised for years. Now, the American Song Contest has finally been confirmed and is due to make its debut in the 2021 holiday season — late in the year.
While American audiences have been enjoying the depiction of Eurovision in the Netflix comedy Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, now they will have a chance to experience the magic firsthand.
American Song Contest 2021
Variety magazine confirmed that the American version of the contest, which has been in the works for years, will debut in 2021. While a specifc date has not been set, the magazine says the contest will screen in the American holiday season period — which suggests some time from late November to early January.
The American Song Contest will take its cue from the Eurovision Song Contest. Instead of each European country sending a song, each of the 50 US states will a representative. Like Eurovision, the entries can be solo singers, duos or groups of up to six members.
Variety says that the American Song Contest’s format will be similar to that of Eurovision, with semi-finals and a grand final. However, one notable change is that there will also be qualification rounds preceding the semi-finals. With 50 acts competing and no automatic qualifiers, there are a lot of acts to get through!
And unlike Eurovision, where the competing acts are selected by each country’s national broadcaster, the American version is doing things different. California-based production company Propagate Content will create the “American Song Contest Academy”, made up of professional musicians from across the United States. The academy — along with public votes from regional audiences — will select all 50 participants of the contest.
There’s no word on now voting will work in the contest. The 50 competing states involve six different time zones, with a range of five hours between them.
Another big unknown is where the show will screen. The American Song Contest team had previously been pitching to big American networks, however the streaming service Netflix currently has the strongest Eurovision connection, with both the Eurovision film and having the US broadcast right to the contest.
While the proposed version of the Eurovision Asia Song Contest was directly connected to the EBU’s Eurovision format, the American Song Contest does not use the Eurovision name and appears to be shaping up as its own unique format.
Behind the scenes
Sweden’s Christer Björkman will produce the show. He has long been involved with both Sweden’s national final Melodifestivalen, as well as with recent productions of Eurovision itself. Björkman is due step down from his role as Melfest producer in 2021, so he’ll have a new gig ready in the United States.
The Swede was enthusiastic about the American Song Contest, saying “To have a chance to use everything you know about the format and redo it from the beginning and to bring it to an audience that has no history with it is such a privilege.”
The show’s executive producer will be the American Ben Silverman who says he’s spent 20 years trying to nab the Eurovision format. The experienced produced has previously been involved with American versions of UK imports “The Office”, “Big Brother” and “The Weakest Link”. Of Eurovision, Silverman says, “I just love the format.”
But news of the American Song Contest comes in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. There’s no word on how the pandemic might affect the song contest, but with the production essentially starting from scratch, producers have plenty of time to build any pandemic restrictions into the show.
The Eurovision Song Contest itself was formed to unite a war-torn Europe after World War II. The contest could play a role in bringing America closer together. As Silverman says, “When America is more fractionalized than ever and we are dealing with so many issues that divide us, the one [thing] that truly unites us is our culture. … It can unite it by celebrating its diversity, its distinctions and in pulling everyone around its love of music and its love of song.”
What do you think of the American Song Contest? Will you be watching it if it airs in 2021? Let us know in the comments!