I have watched the Eurovision Song Contest regularly throughout my life. As a very young child I enjoyed it purely as an opportunity to stay up late. In my teens I loathed it as it appeared to be the antithesis of my own musical tastes at the time. So I watched it purely to mock and deride. It is only in recent years that I have learned to love it for what it is and have finally understood its purpose. Sadly, the UK has a somewhat skewed outlook on many things, due to it’s history and island mentality. We’re often too blinded by our national achievements as well as burdened with a sense of pride and “self-importance by proxy”. As a nation our accomplishments our prodigious, so subsequently we have a tendency to over think matters. With regard to Eurovision we seem to focus on a “killer song”, rather than embrace the spirit of the competition. And that spirit is camp, kitsch and frivolous. Eurovision is theatrical. It’s about tapping into your countries heritage and expressing it as a light hearted, theatrical vocal meme.
Last night, I watched Eurovision 2018 while chatting with friends on Discord. Last year I had an equally good time doing similar but via Twitter. Eurovision is so much better if treated as a fun communal experience. It is not a song contest in the traditional sense, in so far that it is not the most technically excellent, or most intelligently written composition that wins. It’s about delighting the audience with a flamboyant performance and an insanely catchy hook. That is why Netta won and SuRie didn’t. The former gave a suitably over the top and colourful performance of a song that had a refrain not to dissimilar to Seven Nation Army. A perfect “earworm”. It simply wasn’t something you were going to forget. The latter, however, was hindered by a far more formal pop song written by people that seemed to be oblivious to the core tenets of Eurovision. Although I admire SuRie for continuing her performance despite the stage invasion, song wise it was very much a case of “bringing a knife to a gunfight”. Frankly my favourite songs from this year’s show were the silliest and most ostentatious, like Moldova’s entry. Oh, and as an aside, Moldova were robbed in 2017.
In recent years Eurovision has transcended its traditional geographical boundaries and started finding a truly international audience. It’s nice to see American colleague’s reaction to the unique nature of the show. The contest has become sufficiently well known globally, that 20th Century Fox have decided to make it one of the many subjects of the Deadpool 2 marketing campaign. Frankly, if Canada wants to participate I won’t object, but it’s not down to me. On a less cordial note, due to Brexit, knee jerk nationalism and misplaced anti-European sentiment, there are many in the UK who are naturally hostile toward Eurovision by default. Such individuals even manage to leech the enjoyment out of this glorious international pantomime by muddying the waters with their petulant politics of hatred. However, the best solution to such “rage” is simply to mute the appropriate twitter feeds, ignore the tabloid press and focus on the business in-hand, namely having fun. So, I will no doubt find myself back again in twelve months’ time, marvelling on social media with like minded friends at the delicious awfulness that is Eurovision. I may even put a tenner on Moldova in advance.