(Hard Rock Hallelujah!)
Despite the Eurovision Song Contest historically being a front to allow European powers to test satellite technology aimed at connecting all of Europe in times of crisis, and being a ‘pile of wank’ (Emma Blackery 2013) on an annual basis in the present day, I love the Eurovision Song Contest.
It could be because of my vain hope that Scandinavia will throw up a metal act for Graham Norton to laugh at and the general, pop-saturated, public to vote to victory based solely on ‘Wow, that’s so different!’ like Lordi in 2006; I love Lordi in their own right, but they’re hardly the heaviest band in the world.
But I think that I secretly engage in the traditional British sport of mocking people from other countries and cultures, purely because they are different, and the competitive element of Eurovision seems like a foil, to help us pretend that we are applauding the variety of culture and music from across Europe, whereas we’re just picking which would look the least out of place in a nineteenth Century travelling freak show.
Remember the Russian Grandmothers from a few years ago? They finished second, for God’s sake, neatly fitting my generalisation of Europe as being appreciative of genuinely decent pop music – Euphoria wasn’t bad that year – and voting it to number one, but from second place down it’s a free-for-all, where weirdness is loved as much as actual musical ability.
This is also helped by the fact that Britain and Ireland ritualistically include the worst acts imaginable, from the unspectacular and rather unsuited for a glitzed-up Europop celebration Engelbert Humperdinck to the downright unholy Jedward, meaning that we can laugh at the funny foreigners without being on a high horse ourselves that we can be pulled down from: you’re an git if you mock people beneath you, but you’re a lad if you mock those equal to you.
And so I fear for our ‘genuine contender’ this year in Molly Smitten-Downes’ Children Of The Universe; if she does well, Britain will go from a nation of sarcastic jokers to a nation of xenophobic bastards within 194 seconds, the fastest turnaround since Neville Chamberlain’s ill-fated relationship with Nazi Germany. I don’t particularly like the song, but it ticks all the boxes of a Eurovision not-failure: attractive singer, sing-alongable chorus, and subtle, foreboding verse that builds suspense ahead of the final audience shout-along-in-a-bad-English-accent that should really be a tradition by this point.
Still, it promises to be a great competition; I’ve not paid any attention to the acts, apart from skim-reading a few Guardian articles, to maximise the unexpected factor, and with the contest having (totally realistic) EU-shattering implications, this could be the most practically influential performance of music since I decided to play bass in a music group for two months, and meet the kinds of awesome people that reaffirmed my faith in humanity bring a force for anything other than abject evil and fart jokes.
So I’m looking forward to this evening’s musical shenanigans, partly to learn what ‘pop’ music is, but mostly to laugh at people that are different to me; here’s to Eurovision, and the hope that something like it will never spread to Japan!