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While a lot of people hear ‘Eurovision’ and roll their eyes, sneer and complain about how awful it is, I can happily sit here and instead of being one of those worked up, cynical killjoys, I smile. Eurovision fanatics like myself can appear to be a little eccentric or just downright deluded. Well, I’m not attempting to challenge that image because it’s pretty darn accurate. For most Brits it is that overly camp and glittery Saturday night in May hosted by the overly camp and glittery Graham Norton. The nation sits down with the rest of the continent – and even those further afield, with the contest covered on the likes of Australian national TV – to waste three and a half hours of their lives to watch a singing competition that showcases both a lack of ability to sing and a lack of competition because “it’s all political” after all. Well, not quite. Any Eurovision fan will tell you this is far from the full picture. Here is just four reasons to embrace it:
1. It’s not all political – So yes, Cyprus will probably give 10 or 12 points to Greece, and the Balkans will probably share the votes amongst themselves just like the Scandinavians will, but that’s not really why we watch. We don’t actually care which country wins. It’s a clichéd but accurate view that anyone sucked into the Eurovision bubble has respect for every performer no matter where they are from. It’s unavoidable that people will prefer some nations over others, but for true Eurovision fans it’s about the song, staging and charisma. Obviously political tensions between certain nations will always throw up a little drama but it’s all part of the excitement. Add to this the fact that 50 percent of the voting is now made up by independent national juries of industry professionals, the voting is in no way perfect, but for most fans it’s merely an elementary formality at the end of the show to pick a host for next year.
2. Yes, we know the songs are terrible! Believe it or not, Eurovision fans don’t watch it for the music. So lighten up and take it for what it is: entertaining and horrendously kitsch. From year to year you find Finnish rock bands heavily costumed to look like monsters and let’s not forget; a tinfoil-clad cross dresser. The songs are awful but also insanely catchy. I’ve found myself mumbling my way through lyrics in a language I didn’t know I could speak. I still have no idea what they’re saying but it’s all good fun and that’s what it’s all about. Some carry tacky messages calling for a change in attitudes whilst others simply shout about the most random of things. Take this year for example; whilst Iceland was trying to put an end to prejudice, France was just craving moustaches.
3. It’s HUGE – Eurovision is undoubtedly one of a kind. I enjoy revelling in the fact that I’m just a tiny bit obsessed with Europe’s most popular television show because of the sheer spectacle and uniqueness of the occasion. The corny part of this speech is that it’s the one event that annually brings our slightly disparate continent together for a night of wacky, light-hearted entertainment. But a nod has to go everyone involved in making it happen. From song-writing and national selections of each entry, to the venue, the theme, the stage design and the hospitality of the host nation also the technical broadcasting, voting and coverage from the EBU and the national broadcasters – so many people work so hard to put on what is, at the end of the day, an incredible show on the grandest of scales.
4. If nothing else, it’s an excuse to party – Eurovision parties are as amazing as they sound (and for anyone who isn’t sure, they sound amazing). It’s one night a year where, instead of huffing and puffing in your armchair wondering why Saturday night TV is so poor, you can get together with your friends and have some fun. You could try a sweepstake, some unusual foods from around the continent or why not play the legendary Eurovision drinking game. Wind machines, key changes, awkward presenters, national dress and every song that has the word love in its title require copious amounts of alcohol.