It’s A Knockout – In Praise Of My Secret Love. The Eurovision Song Contest
I fucking LOVE The Eurovision Song Contest. On the face of it, this should be a really peculiar anomaly in my life. I’m quite well educated and reasonably intelligent. I read books. Lots of them. I watch documentaries about quantum physics. I follow Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s attempts at making time travel a reality with avid interest. But still, I fucking LOVE The Eurovision Song Contest.
I am not alone in this. I have a friend, Carl, who is quite literally the cleverest person I have ever met in real life. And he’s even more nuts about it than I am. Every year we watch it together. We don’t watch it in the same room though. Not even in the same house. The emotion is too raw. We sit on our respective sofas and text each other about the amazing event taking place on our television screens. A great deal of beer is wasted by being inadvertently spat out in shock mid-swig.
So what is it that I adore about it? No amount of interest in kitsch or car crash entertainment can explain my enthusiasm for the thing. The answer is simple. The Eurovision is War without the death. Actually, that’s not quite true. The Portuguese revolution of 1974 was started by a secret signal : the playing of Portugal’s Eurovision entry for that year on the radio. Other than that though, the event is pretty much corpse free.
It’s like a massive game of Risk, but without all the tedious dice throwing. It’s the Cold War with a back beat. Politics in action that you can drunkenly dance and sing along to. I love it when the countries all block vote and I get to scream at my TV screen at the unfairness of it all. It was great hearing Terry Wogan’s commentary as he got more and more inebriated and thus more and more bitchy and indignant about the whole thing. Graham Norton is an admirable replacement, but he doesn’t get drunk enough.
The Eurovision is a wonderful alternative universe I can step into once a year and come out the other side feeling tired but strangely refreshed. A universe in which Cliff Richard at the height of his powers, singing “Congratualations” can come second to a Spanish girl whose entire song consists of her singing “La, La, La, La” over and over again. An alternative dimension in which Sandy Shaw can win with “Puppet On A String” purely because she wasn’t wearing any shoes and her backing band was playing German Oompah music.
Bucks Fizz won in ’81 because the boys tore off the girls’ long skirts, thus revealing much shorter skirts, and nobody had seen a short skirt on Eurovision since about 1973. The fact that the girls didn’t appear to be wearing any knickers probably helped too. This event happened at a very crucial time in my youthful development, if you catch my drift. So maybe that memory fuels my love of the Eurovision, which I am now trying to justify with all this “living politics” nonsense. If you think that, you may well be onto something.
Recently though, there have been some interesting developments. Just when you think The Eurovision is all “La La La” and “Diggy Loo Diggy Lay”, Ukraine wins it with “Wild Dances”, which was an absolutely mental song in the best possible way. Then a couple of years or so later, Lordy Lordy it’s Lordi! The Finnish theatrical metal heads sweep the board with “Hard Rock Hallelujah”.
And now, the United Kingdom is sacrificing proven musical talent on the Eurovision’s cruel altar. It didn’t work out too well for Engelbert Humperdinck last year, so this year we’re trying Bonnie Tyler. Yes, THE Bonnie Tyler. Total Eclipse of the Heart Bonnie Tyler. The most talented purveyor of sheer, pure musical emotion of her generation. She’s got no chance.
Personally, I think we should exploit the loophole that only the song has to belong to the country. Anyone can sing it. Celine Dion won for Switzerland, and she’s Canadian. I say we club together, save our pennies and draft in another Canadian. Get Justin Bieber to sing our next Eurovision entry. We’ll have to compensate him for trashing the entire rest of his career, but he’s got to win surely?
He might not though. The Eurovision is a very strange beast indeed. The strangest thing about it is this though. Even though 125 million people watch it, NOBODY WATCHES IT. Except me and Carl. Spooky, that.
P.S. I wrote this last year, and we now know that an Austrian transvestite called Conchita Wurst won it. Look her up on You Tube and you’ll realise why YOU should love The Eurovision too.
© Copyright Michael Grimes 2013