Today marks three years since the first edition of the Turkvizyon Song Contest was announced in Turkey. We look back at the competition created to bring Turkic regions together, that lingers in the shadow of the Eurovision Song Contest.

On 21 September 2013 at a press conference in Turkey, the Turkvizyon Song Contest was revealed to the assembled press with the assistance of Eurovision 2011 winners from Azerbaijan, Ell & Nikki. From the start the contest has caused tension among fans of the Eurovision Song Contest, with the contest being perceived as a cheap copy of the contest and format that they love. In essence the contest uses the basic premise of the Eurovision Song Contest, but has in subtle ways adapted it for a Turkic audience.

Forming of a semi final and then a final, the Turkvizyon Song Contest searches for the best talent in the Turkic world. It celebrates the diversity of the Turkic world and brings together the Turkic population from both countries and small regions in an annual song contest.

So what are the rules and how is it different to Eurovision?

The Turkvizyon Song Contest is open to countries and regions who are home to an ethnic Turkic population, this for example being Kazakh’s, Turks or Uzbek’s. The participating countries and regions are not required to be a member of a broadcasting union. A television station backing the performers is not required either, instead a cultural organisation can organise the selection of a representative.. The rules for the songs are simple:

  • Songs must not exceed 4 minutes in length, but cannot be shorter than 3 minutes.
  • Songs must be performed in a Turkic language, English is not allowed to be performed.
  • There is no limit on the number of people who can be on stage.
  • Backing tracks are allowed for the live performances, lead vocals must be live.

Unlike the Eurovision Song Contest the language rule still exists at the Turkvizyon Song Contest. This has meant that languages such as Shor (spoken by 2,800 people), Gagauz (spoken by 590,000 people) and Tuvan (spoken by 230,000) have all been performed at the contest. Furthermore unlike Eurovision, televote is not used to decide who wins the contest. The voting is down to one juror representing each country or region, who can award between 1 and 10 points to all of the performances.

Turkmenistan competed in the Turkvizyon Song Contest 2014

Turkmenistan competed in the Turkvizyon Song Contest 2014

But who can participate?

The Turkvizyon Song Contest has seen a diverse number of countries participate in the contest since its first edition in 2013. From Germany to Yakutia a total of 33 countries and regions have taken to the stage, the list is as follows (Click on the country’s name to hear one of their entries):

As it currently stands Stavropol Krai in the Russian Federation is planning to debut in the 2016 Turkvizyon Song Contest in Turkey.

Issues facing Turkvizyon

The Turkvizyon Song Contest has faced a number of issues and hurdles in the first three years of the contest. Listed are a summary of the issues that the contest has:

  • Voting transparency – Only in 2014 has the points and how each country voted been revealed to the public. In both 2013 and 2015, only the final scores of each country were revealed.
  • Lack of promotion – The contest suffers from a lack of promotion in most of the countries and regions that participate in it. The lack of promotion is not helped by the organisers of the contest who do not regularly throughout the year update the official website.
  • Last minute nature of the contest – It is common for the majority of the songs participating in the contest not to be revealed before the contest takes place. Furthermore countries and regions participating in the contest have been revealed on the week of the contest before.
The 2015 Contest was held in Istanbul, Turkey

The 2015 Contest was held in Istanbul, Turkey

Common misconceptions

There are a number of common misconceptions that people have regarding the organisation of the contest and how the contest itself works.

  • “The contest is organised by the Turkish national broadcaster, TRT” – This is not correct, TRT helped with the organisation of the first contest but has no involvement with the contest. The contest is organised by TMB a Turkish music channel, they own the rights to the format.
  • “It’s a copy of the Eurovision Song Contest” – While the Turkvizyon Song Contest uses the basis of the Eurovision concept, it cannot be compared to the current Eurovision Song Contest. Turkvizyon focuses on the Turkic world, it has no desire to compete with Eurovision, instead offering a format for Turkic audiences.
  • “Turkey made the contest just so they could win” – To date Turkey has never won the Turkvizyon Song Contest, their best result is a 3rd place in 2015. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are the only countries who have won the contest to date.

Summary:

The Turkvizyon Song Contest offers a contest unlike any other. In no other setting would you find a Tuvan woman performing a song that features throat singing to a dub-step backing track, a singer from Yakutia performing with dancers wearing wolves fur or a singer representing Kosovo actually able to compete on an international song contest. While the contest has its flaws and its issues, it continues to intrigue a core of fans and viewers across the Turkic world. It offers and insight into little known regions, into cultures that rarely receive international attention, and offers a different experience to a commercialised and English dominated contest.

Eurovoix-World.com provides in-depth English language coverage of the Turkvizyon Song Contest throughout the year, follow the latest news here. If you have more questions about the contest or want to share you views on the contest tweet us @EurovoixWorld.