Euro♥ision – A Guilty Pleasure?

Don’t worry folks, you didn’t miss Eurovision yet… I’m getting ahead of the game. For those of you not familiar with the contest (I have to assume you’re not European) it sounds like a nice idea. Not one that makes you think oh wow a genius thought this up but one that makes you patronisingly think oh bless you for thinking that will work. A bit like communism…

I’ll do a brief run down for those who have thus far avoided it. Way back in 1956 some Europeans got together and decided that they could find a shared sense of comradeship through the medium of music. Once a year every year it was proposed that each European country that wanted to get involved would enter an original song and performance into the competition. You’d be allowed a maximum of six people on the stage and no live animals. Then some judges and the public would vote on whose was best. They’d all compete to make it to the final, except the big five who get a free pass to it (UK, Germany, France, Spain & Italy). The winner would host the show next year and get to show off what makes their country great. Politics would be ignored for the event and people would just get along and forget any cultural and political tensions currently occurring. The show became a phenomenon. It launched the careers of many artists, you might have heard of a four piece Swedish group called Abba. Countries would get excited to enter their latest attempt at defining the European music scene. If I haven’t summed it up well enough for you, Sweden have done it better through song with Petra and Mans but it does contain a lot of in jokes.

However that was the goal and the vision many decades ago. Nowadays entering the contest is more a sign that your music career is on it’s last legs. And the politics is far from ignored when it comes to the contest. Neighbouring countries like to give each other maximum points. Last year Ukraine entered a song that was apparently about Stalin’s invasion of the country but could just as easily have been about Russia’s annexation of Crimea. And to give a big two fingers up to Russia, Europe banded together and said it was the winner (For those reading in America, the back of your two fingers is a swear sign not a peace sign). And as a way of putting our best feet forwards and showing that Europe supports individuality we’ve voted for a Heavy Metal band (Lordi) to win just for the fun and unexpectedness of it, we’ve voted for a bearded lady to win (Conchita Wurst). And having Conchita Wurst win could also have been another two fingers up to Russia to be honest, but I actually also really liked the song, it was very bond themey.

I have no idea how Russia became a Eurovision participant. I’ve never really considered the country to be a part of Europe, both culturally and geographically. They get all in a huff every time they don’t win, and start throwing wild accusations of cheating and fixing around. There are 43 countries participating this year, and after a lot of controversy between host nation Ukraine and Russia leading to Russia not entering, they again probably won’t win…

There are a lot of countries that don’t take the contest seriously any more. They just throw some shit at it and hope it doesn’t stick, because who really wants the expense of hosting the show anyway? No where is that more evident than with the UK and Ireland. Good lord they’ve thrown some tragic entries into the ring in recent years. Some countries have a tendency to be so whacky you’re not sure whether they are being serious or not… I’m looking at you Ukraine (Dancing Lasha Tumbai) And I’m still undecided as how hard Germany was trying when they sent a guy wearing shiny silver trousers with Dita Von Teese as a backing dancer (Confession time… I actually found Miss Kiss, Kiss Bang very catchy and still sing it to myself all the time).  But who can forget the sexy sax turned internet meme from Moldova?

As I live in the UK, I’ll be watching the show with Graham Norton’s critical and bitchy commentary. If sassy is your thing you’ll love it (examples), I certainly enjoy the addition. But it is just another example of how the show isn’t taken seriously, when the commentators main successes are the scathing ten word reviews…

As a continent we probably should have told Australia this before inviting them to join in… For the 60th anniversary of the contest we threw the European border out the window and said you know, Australia is basically Europe right? and invited them to come play for a year. I guess everyone was happy with the arrangement because now they get to perform every year.

Having said all that and highlighted all the failures of the show, I’ll still be watching it tomorrow night. Not only is it an excellent opportunity for a drinking game but I was born in a European country, I was brought up in a different European country, I’m a European. It’s a celebration of all the culture of Europe (all be it in a very camp way). The show is a representation of who Europe is (And Russia is the creepy, overbearing uncle that always accidentally get’s invited to the family reunion). I know Americans consider themselves to be living in the land of the free, but I’d happily put forward a great argument that Europe is decades ahead. We have our separate cultures but we have shared ideals. I know the UK voted to leave the EU but I don’t think their ideals have changed, Britons are just having a bit of a paddy at the moment, they’re too used to being a powerful sovereign nation.

When it comes to which country I support at Eurovision I’ve been fairly disloyal over the years. pulling countries out of a hat for drinking games will do that you… Though I’d love to see Sweden host again. They’ve won twice in recent years and both times had a fantastically witty host. Her name is Petra Mede and her Swedish Smörgåsbord performance was incredible. So, you go Sweden! I don’t watch the quarter and semi finals so I have no idea how good their entry is or even if they made it to the final…

So I hope I’ve gotten you pumped up for the gruelling three hours and twenty-five minutes that is tomorrow nights main event. Like I’ve said before, you’ll only make it through this show with alcohol. I’d also advise copious snacks and plenty of friends to make fun of the acts with. If the Australians can wake up at four o’clock in the morning just to watch it I don’t think anyone really has any excuse for not watching.

And that ladies and gentleman is how you do a post on the cheesiest thing to come out of Europe since fondue…

S. Hansen

P. S. If  you’re thinking of trying to enter yourself, Sweden and Petra have done us a favour by putting together a list of dos and don’ts or writing a successful Eurovision entry. Love, Love, Peace, Peace. And yes Petra with/without Mans has appeared three times in these links. Go Sweden!

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2 thoughts on “Euro♥ision – A Guilty Pleasure?

  1. We Americans who aren’t ignorant of the system we live under are well aware that most European nations are leaps and bounds ahead of us in rights, health care, and a myriad of other important areas. Land of the Free, my ass. However, any American with good taste also knows what the two finger salute means because we learned that from The Young Ones way back in the 80s. Great post; you made Eurovision sound very endearing.

    Liked by 1 person

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