clhollandwriter: (Default)
[personal profile] clhollandwriter
Last weekend I went round to a friend's to watch the Eurovision Song Contest. A lot of people who know me can't believe I actually like Eurovision, either because they think I'm too serious to enjoy it, or because they think it's crap. The first set of people are ones who don't know me that well, work colleagues and the like. I like plenty of silly stuff, I just draw the line at stupid. The second set are missing the point of why I like Eurovision. It's mostly cheese pop, yes, and some of it's not that great. But it's one of the few things around that exists purely for the joy of it (this year's Belgian entrant who looked like she wanted to cry notwithstanding).

I mean, think about it. The contest is so expensive to run that countries have been known to sabotage their own chances of winning it (I'm looking at you, Ireland). Quite a lot of the acts--winners included--disappear without a trace (certainly in the UK). It can be intensely political, with neighbouring countries voting for each other, and the Russian entry being booed in 2014.

However, despite all this the "big five" (countries who put up a lot of the money and so are guaranteed a place in the final) often don't do that well but pay up anyway. Countries undergoing economic and political crises still take part--for example the ongoing political situation in Ukraine meant it missed but still broadcast the 2015 contest and was back in 2016. Australia likes Eurovision so much it was invited to take part in the 60th anniversary contest in 2015, and got so into things it's been made an official participant. Portugal's win this year was the first in their 53 years of entry.

The whole point of Eurovision is the spectacle. Some of the songs are terrible, yes, but that's guaranteed if you listen to a couple of hours of pop music anywhere. Some of them are great. In recent years some entries have really upped their game on the visual side of things and it's great to watch, like Russia's stunning entry last year. It's amusing to watch for who's taking it seriously and who's not - last year the whole interval act was based on making fun of the contest. If you're in the UK you have the added bonus of Graham Norton upholding previous host Terry Wogan's tradition of snark.

And it's fun to play Eurovision bingo. Multi-lingual song! Fireworks! Mid-song costume change! Wind machine! Traditional dress! Yodeling! Also to baffle at what other countries thought were surefire winners. This year saw a song with both yodelling and rapping, a gorilla on stage, and a man duetting with himself (seriously, watch this one if no others, it's the work of a mad genius).

Everyone seems to be having a good time, which is what matters. We need more of that.

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