Welcome Europe!

Welcome Europe!

If you know me at all, you’ll know about my obsession with the Eurovision Song Contest. I love everything about it. Now I’m not an idiot – I know that most of the music is terrible, I know the contest is mostly outrageous nonsense. But there’s something about it which I find captivating. It combines my love of questionable music with maps, flags and pointless statistics.

It all started in 1990. My family went to a wedding on the weekend of Eurovision (the 35th contest, all the way from Zagreb), meaning I couldn’t watch it. So I set the video recorder so that I could watch it when I got home. But after I’d seen it, I didn’t want to record over it and I hid the tape away in order to watch it again. Later that year, we went on holiday to Cyprus and I found a bootleg copy of all the music from the 1990 contest (among all the other bootlegs – Paphos seemed to be a hot bed of musical piracy). Suddenly, joy of joys, I could listen to all the songs on my Walkman! That is, apart from the Turkish number, which was strangely missing from the cassette…

From then on, I watched each contest, I recorded the songs off the radio and listened to them again and again. And then, when the EBU starting releasing official CDs, I bought those too. It might be hard to believe, but there are people who are more obsessed than me. I don’t buy the DVD, I don’t religiously follow the song selection process in Cyprus or Lithuania, nor do I listen to the songs in advance (I like the surprise when something absolutely baffling happens, such as this Israeli entry from 2000 – I distinctly remember staring at the screen in disbelief). Though, in the grand scheme of things, you could legitimately call me obsessive.

But, whisper it quietly, I think I’m getting frustrated with it all. The contest is now too big and self-important, too many countries try to use the contest as propaganda, the voting goes on too long, the semi-finals mean that all the surprise is gone. I kind of yearn for the days when I first started watching, where 22 countries sent a song, and the first time you heard each one was on the night (or on Gloria Hunniford’s preview programme on the preceding Sunday afternoon). This was a time when a new country was a thing of genuine excitement. In 2016, there are 42 competitors: Australia is here again, and South Korea, China and South Africa are only too desperate to join in. Where will it all end?

Maybe I should just go back to watching shows from the 90s, when Ireland reigned supreme and Katrina and the Waves won the contest for the United Kingdom. Or perhaps, if the Eurovision Song Contest continues the way it’s going, I should just say ‘What’s another year?’, turn the TV off and go and do something less overblown and ridiculous instead. Like panto.


  1. Venetia says:

    Oh Alex! How sad. Are you feeling middle-aged?!

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