If you’ve never watched Eurovision, or are one of our American friends from across the pond – this is going to sound absolutely mental. But I shall do my best to explain.
Imagine, if you will, a Hunger-Games style ‘music contest’, where the countries of Europe offer up a tribute to compete against forty one others in what can only be described as a wild, one-night glitter-fest. Of course, there’s also a lot of underlying political shade being thrown, but the overall message that’s usually yelled in happy tears by the winner is: ‘Peace and love for everyone! Come together! Goodnight!’
I know, right? It’s a fever dream.
But we all love it.
Last night, I spent my first Eurovision on my own, watching the Youtube livestream without the supplement of alcohol and live-tweeted the whole thing. Traditionally, in my family, Eurovision is marked with a night in and a bottle of wine, listening to Graham Norton’s snarky commentary and placing our bets on who’s going home with the crystal microphone.
And this years Eurovision was actually rather good!
Held in Stockholm, last years winner Måns Zelmerlöw teamed up with Petra Mede and made incredibly funny and dry presenters, producing some very slick comedy in between the voting portions. (Although Petra’s ‘strait-jacket’ and ‘crazy is the new black’ jokes left a bad taste in many people’s mouths. Yikes. Perhaps leave the mental health stigmas alone?)
However, their song, ‘Peace Peace Love Love’ shoved together previous legends of Eurovision in an odd but very catchy recipe on how to win. Apparently, all you need is a hamster wheel, snow, a few babes churning butter and some blokes on skates.
I promise you, I’m being entirely truthful with this:
As for the competition, some acts were a little lacklustre in my opinion, whilst others became entirely explosive. (This might have been due to the overuse of strobe and pyrotechnics, though.)
Australia sang in a bejewelled prom dress, surrounded by Tron-esque special effects (and everyone on Twitter thought she was possibly giving a naughty nod to phone sex with the lyrics: ‘trying to feel your love through face time’.) Russia entered a Troy Bolton sing-a-like jumping around on 3D illusions and Isreal bunged in a bloke who relived his MySpace scene-kid days, to name a few of the contestants. An odd mix, but one of the more interesting competitions of recent years.
Our entry, Joe and Jake weren’t half bad, with an early One Direction inspired song that thankfully, made sure we didn’t finish last.
We finished 24th.
Overall, whilst there were no Conchitas, singing grandmothers or monstrous looking rockbands, (google it) the competition was tense. Australia, who is not a member of the European Union returned for a second time this year (why? I’m not sure, really) and stormed the critics’ charts – pipping everyone else to the post.
I was bereft. If Australia won Eurovision, this would mean waking up at silly o’clock in the morning to watch their hosting, and I am not a morning person. Also, whilst the UK is absolutely shocking in Eurovision, Australia winning would be a double-kick to the teeth. We have nothing against them, but it’s a bit like your talented younger sibling coming to your school, making all your friends love them and beating you at the talent show.
It’s incredibly petty, of course. But so is bloc voting.
However, it was the viewers’ votes that saved the day, (sorry ‘straya) – and underdog Ukraine shot to the top of the leader-board.
Now, Ukraine was something of a phenomenon this year. For a start, their entry Jamala, had managed to get her song ‘1944’ through the initial Eurovision judging panel, despite very heavy political undertones (which goes against the rules, apparently.) The song itself is a very powerful and heartfelt retelling of Stalin’s ethnic cleansing of the Crimea, with Jamala being the very first Crimean Tatar to perform at the event.
Dressed in a purple cape and dress, she swirled amongst projected yellow flowers and wisps, which then created a tree at the very climax of the song. Whilst it wasn’t an immediate standout compared to the general theme of strobe, glitter and ring-twirling backing dancers, it certainly made an impression with those at home.
According to bookmakers, Ukraine was set to come at least third, but unexpectedly beat Russia, the firm favourite to win. It was a tense and politically-laced moment, with the latter having annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and have reportedly been angered by the song.
Ah well. Alls well that ends well. And with Ukraine set to host Eurovision 2017, my fingers are crossed that it’s these wonderful lot that will be hosting from their entry back in 2007. What an absolute banger.
So, you lovely lot! Who else watched Eurovision 2016? And if you did, how’d you find it? Who were your favourite acts? Personally, I’m a big fan of the cheese.