I’m 42, male and married with two kids. Oh and straight.
So not exactly in – the ‘primary segment’ – as w&nky marketers like me would say, for a Eurovision Song Contest fan. But yet how I love thee Eurovision – let me count the ways.
The Eurovision lurve begins.
Sadly I have to admit that my fascination with the Eurovision Song Contest began laughing – at – and not – with – it. This was in the early 2000s. It was spectacular and kitsch in equal measure and I fell for it immediately. It was a beguiling amalgam of big hair and even bigger accents, dangerously powerful wind-machines and more skin-tight white pants than you could throw a camel toe at. It was a beautiful amalgam of bombast and bawdy.
I also loved it because it was, well – European. I had lived in Europe for many years and travelled much of the continent. It was, and is, a special and unique place to me.
Fundamentally though if you pick your way through the awkward hosts, political-vote-casting and eye-popping outfits Eurovision is all about the music. And I love music.
In fact I used to have a Eurovision party to celebrate the final and it was more than a little bit serious. Our neighbours would join us P.K (pre kids) regaled in a suitably gaudy costume replete with dashing accessories and I would design & supply the voting forms (did I mention it was serious?) Two key categories to vote on were Key Changes & ‘X Factor’. Back in the day nothing could be considered a serious contender for the Eurovision title without at least one, but preferably more, tonsil exploding key changes. It was just de rigeur.
… a beguiling amalgam of big hair and even bigger accents, dangerously powerful wind-machines and more skin-tight white pants than you could throw a camel toe at
The ‘X Factor’ criteria was more open to judges interpretation. Some Slovakian singer ripping of her nuns habit to reveal a luminous spinning tiara was good. Lithe backup singers somehow entwining to form a poignant emotional symbol – excellent and a dancer exploding like a dove out the top of a white piano (yes that did happen) simply magnificent. This sort of over-the-top choreography would score highly with myself and my fellow judges in a little house in Brunswick, Australia.
The Politics. “And 12 Points goes to…”
Then of course there’s the voting. More rigged than a magicians hat. Sweden gives Norway 12 points, Norway gives Sweden 12 points; Something-a-Stan gives Russia 12 points to avoid invasion and no-one gives the United Kingdom any points. That was the voting modus operandi for decades but it is changing somewhat in this digital age. To be fair the voting ‘reveals’ of some 40 European nations is both time-consuming and tedious. Luckily any tedium is normally muted at this stage by the fact that you are too drunk to care – Terry Wogan anyone?
But then, in 2012, one word changed everything!
Sweden seem to have a fixation with Eurovision and it is a very, very ‘big deal’ indeed to many, if not most Swedes. In fact I have even heard rumours that Ikea executives cease plotting new ways to trap you in their megastores whilst the Swedish entrant is being announced. And sometimes they really nail it – Waterloo by ABBA of course and 2012’s epic entry – Euphoria sung by Loreen.
Euphoria, in my opinion changed Eurovision. It’s sweeping, bombastic, anthemic but most of all very, very contemporary. The song won its year by an enormous margin and went on to be a global phenomenon in clubs and on radio alike. I don’t think the ESC has been the same since. In many ways I believe kitsch has been replaced by schmick. Glossy production values, well-groomed & professional hosts and cutting-edge social media strategies.
Luckily though not all has been sanitised. I also consider that as the suite of music has contemporised we have all become the beneficiaries. Crisp pop tunes tighter than Nicole Kidman’s forehead are still interspersed with a good laugh or two. Think back to 2014’s buxom Polish butter churners (Google it, or maybe not!) and the epic 360 degree circular piano keyboard – they were fun. My family and I also sung along to Iceland’s 2014 entry by Pollaponk for months afterwards with broad grins upon our faces. And that is, I guess, why I like Eurovision so much – it just makes me smile.
So as a veteran Eurovision aficionado please see my predictions for 2015. I think the winner will come from one of these three:
- Australia. Novelty, good song, Guy Sebastian is a master performer with the best voice in the competition.
- Italy. Pure Eurovision! Key changes, operatic drama, brooding youthful good looks, crescendos and red spectacles. Performing last helps their chances greatly.
- Sweden. Similar to Loreen a song sure to be a post competition favourite in the European clubs. I think Sweden will probably win because of all the maximum point votes they will received from their Scandinavian neighbours.
(Late honorable mention to the Estonian entry. I can’t stop listening to it. Potential dark horse)
Let’s see how I go
If you haven’t given Eurovision at try before – why not make 2015 your first go.