“I don’t know about this song… I mean its one of those songs you’d listen to on your own because it’s beautiful, but not in Eurovision.”
“Come on, Eurovision has always been political. It’s a known fact…”
“… yea, but it was a good song wasn’t it. I get goosebumps everytime Jamala sings that song…”
“I don’t like it, I thought the Russian one was better.”
“No! Dami Im and Australia, I loved her, and she’s beautiful…”
“I still think Il Volo was awesome and should have won in 2015.”
“Oh yes! Definitely!”
“Damn, Moldova is good this year”
“Let’s bet, if Moldova wins, we’re all going there next year!”
“Well, you’re on, Moldova isn’t gonna win though… there’s too much politics…”
“Ohhhh no what do you mean…”
And so began another discussion around the table.
It’d been a while since we gathered together around a table, so the opportunity to enjoy this years Eurovision brought us all together again. It was an annual staple for most of them (seeing as they were all Europeans) a virgin experience for me.
Eurovision is an annual song competition involving most of Europe (and Australia and Israel for some reason). First run in 1956, Eurovision was set up as a means to bring a divided post-World War 2 Europe.
The idea was devised in Switzerland (which itself was neutral in the war) and the competition was devised in the following way. Countries would write songs and a competition would be held live with simultaneous live telecast to all the participating countries. Countries would have to vote for the best song from another country apart from their own, and the country with most points wins.
Different countries take the competition according to different levels of seriousness, Sweden for example is big on this competition while the United Kingdom, is generally united in their apathy. Is there a specific kind of winner? I don’t enough to day, although the Swedish hosts in 2016 took a hilarious stab at deciphering the DNA of a Eurovision winner.
The Swedes had fun making fun of their love of Eurovision when they last hosted the competition in 2016.
The competition has however been critisised for political voting. There are what is thought to be voting blocs with countries voting for their neighbours. For example, Cyprus always gives its maximum points to Greece and vice versa, UK tends to give points to Ireland, Scandanavian nations support each other, Baltic nations vote maximum for each other… you get the point. A sociologist analysed the competition from 2001 to 2005 and even made a bloc voting map.
The countries highlighted in the same colour basically vote for each other.
Then there’s political votes, which seemed to rear its ugly head last year when the winning song was by Jamala from Ukraine in 2016 after the experts vote. Her main competitor in Europe was Sergey Lazarev from Russia who won the audience vote. Crimea that was formerly Ukranian was taken over by Russia in 2014. Still politics is not the whole thing. The fact that Lazarev could be first in the audience vote does mean people do vote for talent too. And Jamala’s performance had a funky psychedelic edge to it.
Eurovision has also taken a whacky edge to itself on occasion, in 2007, Ukraine’s entry was Verka Serduchka a comedian. I can’t describe it, it’s those songs you listen to and go, I know its bad but its like ear wax and then you find your body moving to the music.
And if you thought people didn’t appreciate it, she (he) came in 2nd in 2007.
But back to this year’s competition. There’s quite a few good songs this year (in my view): Austria, Serbia and Portugal, although I get the sense that Moldova (see above) and Sweden are more pop-ish for such a competition.
For good measure, here’s a few of the other winners from previous years.
Alexander Rybak – Norway 2009
Lena – Germany 2010
Emmelie de Forest – Denmark 2013
Conchita Wurst – Austria 2014
Featured Image Source