The Eurovision Song Contest is a yearly musical extravaganza, a European musical phenomenon, a singing free-for-all, battle royale and it’s also referred to as, “the Olympics of Song/Singing Contests”. Similar to Marmite, you either love the contest or hate it. “Good evening, Europe!”, “Europe, let the Eurovision Song Contest (insert year)… BEGIN!!!!”, “Europe, start voting now!” and “Europe, stop voting now!”, those are the exact, familiar phrases I hear from the hosts/presenters during every contest. The Super Bowl is to Americans as the Eurovision Song Contest is to Brits and Europeans. This contest is created numerous years ago to bring peace and people together in harmony to become one big, happy family. In the words of Madonna, “Music brings the people, come together, yeah”.
Believe it or not, the contest inspired my writing with each passing year whether the writing pieces are fanfictions, articles, reviews, retrospectives and what have you.
While the contest is a method to unite music communities as one, it’s first and foremost a singing competition. Thanks to the Eurovision Song Contest, I appreciate Europe even more.
The contest is split into two semi-finals and the grand final which typically occurs every May on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays respectively.
Each representative (whether if it’s a band or a singer) from every country gather at a venue in a European country to pour their hearts and soul into their song and performance. After every country finished their performances, the audience are offered the opportunity to vote for their favourite song via their landline telephones, smartphones/mobile phones or the Eurovision Song Contest app. While the CEO of the contest and his team tallies the votes and points up, the intermissions are performed by guests, musicians, singers and bands from the music industry and the recaps of all the performances are shown in numerical order. Once all of the votes from the public and the jury points have been accumulated, the chosen countries advance to the grand final while the other nations which aren’t picked are eliminated. Every participating country obviously isn’t allowed to vote for themselves (otherwise it will be cheating and being biased) but it doesn’t stop the countries from voting for their neighbours. In the grand final’s case, the presenters and the juries meet and greet each other and exchange a conversation before the aforementioned juries from every country/continent award their points to their favourite songs or songs that are deemed the best. “Douze points” (twelve points) are regarded as the magic words and the highest amount of points provided to any chosen nation. Which nation with the largest score in the leaderboard will emerge victorious and take home the coveted Eurovision Song Contest trophy. The winning singer or band is given the chance for an encore for all to see. Whichever country wins will determine where in the world the next contest will take place.
In recent years, the scoring system have been switched up a bit in order to liven up the contest. This time, said system is divided into two categories: the national juries and the public. The amount of points is given to each country is determined by how well they impressed the audience. This in turn the votes are converted into points. Starting from the bottom of the leaderboard, every nation is bestowed upon them their own set of points and are announced by the hosts.
On that note, the voting system and the annual contests themselves as a whole are unfortunately accompanied with its controversies, scandals, outrage (due to speculations and accusations ranging from rigging the votes to Azerbaijan accused of buying votes or people taking to social media to express their outcries seeing as they perceived the contest rigging the results since their country didn’t progress to the grand final, they’re furious with the outcome or their nation didn’t win), backlash and political standpoints from all different points of views. Heck, there are times when the competitors receive negative reception normally due to political reasons. It’s a shame when people or competing nations are committing these heinous acts which goes against everything the contest stands for.
Speaking of the participating countries, “The Big Six” consists of the following nations such as the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Germany and the host country. The Big Five contribute the most money to the contests every year. As a result, they are always automatically qualified straight to the grand final and they’re never required to compete in the two semi-finals.
Of course, the meat and potatoes of the contest are the songs, the singing artists and the performances. The music tastes vary from person to person, depending on what kind of person you are. For example, Iceland’s entry for this year’s contest is the worst song of the entire Eurovision Song Contest 2019 and Iceland’s worst entry ever to date and I hated Ukraine’s entry from a few years ago. She may be expressing her political woes but it’s like as if she’s yelling out her lyrics. Her so-called victory is totally undeserved. How the heck it won is beyond me. I didn’t loathe Iceland’s entry due to political reasons, it’s because of their questionable emo, goth, heavy/death metal fashion sense and their performance which gives off an uncomfortable, haunting vibe.
Why do I watch the Eurovision Song Contest every year since 2007, you may ask? Allow me to reveal these reasons such as watching and listening to all walks of life putting their blood, sweat and tears into an elaborate, musical performance and giving their all to belt their hearts out to their songs in their national language, English, broken English or rarely, in a whole different language, checking out various European cultures, the controversial, outrageous shenanigans ranging from stage invasions to a Ukrainian prankster suddenly mooning at the audience during an intermission performance, the eccentric mixture of costumes, face paint and makeup, the sparkly spectacles are usually complete with flashy, colourful, strobing lights and pyrotechnics and energetic back-up dancers and singers and so forth.
We all have to start somewhere. Such as the case when I suddenly stumbled upon an article within the Metro newspaper about Scooch representing the United Kingdom for Eurovision Song Contest 2007 is where it all started for me. I had no clue about Scooch at the time despite I owned Smash Hits magazine issues dating from 2000. Curiousness turned into intrigue and intrigue soon turned into lust. Before I knew it, it reached to the point where I loved every second of every contest I watched on BBC (BBC Two and BBC Three) back then and nowadays, YouTube. In short, I’ve become a long-time, avid viewer of the contest.
Whenever Eurovision week hits, I took a week-long hiatus from my hobbies and interests and I did whatever it takes to make sure I didn’t every ounce of the contest. I went through great lengths and I went the extra mile by refusing to head outside, taking a shower/bath early and having my dinner much earlier than my normal dinnertime.
In regards to Twitter, just like any form of entertainment media, the contest is composed of their official account, Twitter accounts of the broadcasting television channels and community-based Twitter accounts consists the likes of BBC Eurovision (which centres around the contest itself) and Wiwibloggs (a blog dedicated to all things Eurovision), to name a few.
Because of the contest’s continental success, it spawned numerous spin-offs such as the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, Eurovision Young Dancers, Eurovision Young Musicians and Eurovision Choir of the Year.
Out of all of the contests I watched throughout the years, my favourite iterations of the contest so far are Eurovision Song Contest 2009, followed by Eurovision Song Contest 2011, considering Jade Ewen (of Sugababes fame) and Blue did well for the UK respectively. Jade performed “It’s My Time” while Blue performed “I Can”. She came in a commendable 5th place in Eurovision Song Contest 2009 and Blue ended up in 11th place in Eurovision Song Contest 2011 in the rankings. I’ve said this time and time again, 2007 is a memorable, kick-a** year for video games and music.
Throughout the years, there are moments from every instalment of the contest I remember and looked back on fondly. Such notably moments such as the UK commentator is met with a shower of confetti, followed by each commentator shared the same treatment as explosions lit up every commentator booth before engulfing them, the stage/auditorium and the green room with colourful and golden confetti to Germany receiving zero points from the public votes in the grand final of Eurovision Song Contest 2019.
During the duration of the contest, Eurovision parties are held either at home, out in the streets or in pubs. If people are partying at their homes, they’re decorated with European-themed decorations while the aforesaid people break out European food and are decked out in Eurovision-inspired outfits. If die-hard fans are throwing shindigs outside and within pubs, they celebrate with alcohol or watch performances from previous Eurovision participants live or on an outdoors massive widescreen.
Despite the drama surrounding every contest, they make for lively, entertaining nights and nights to remember for many years to come.