Euro Visions

Yesterday was the final of the Eurovision song contest, and my first year watching from outside of Europe. It was actually the first year I’ve watched in quite some time, but you get nostalgic for certain things when you’re overseas. Most days I’d happily stab an eagle for a Cadbury’s Double Decker. I hope I can’t be deported for saying that, but it’s one-hundred percent true.

I knew that Eurovision was a show that my American counterpart (my wife) would need to experience at least once. She was hooked after the first couple of songs. I’m happy that she enjoyed it, as long as this doesn’t lead to the United States getting any ideas about joining in. I love this country for a lot of reasons, but there’s about fifty countries I’d choose to join before the USA. Australia also wouldn’t have been one of them, but we live in trying times.

The show kicked off at 1pm Mountain Time, which was strange because I was only a little tipsy by the time the acts began to perform, instead of absolutely hammered. We grow up so fast, we’re not in college anymore. We’ve got to get our weekend drinking out of the way early, so we can still get an early night.

Oh, side-note, we were watching on a BBC1 stream that I assume was absolutely above board. We caught the last fifteen minutes of an episode of Pointless, the celebrity version, and I felt home-sick for the first time since moving out here. Do I miss my family and friends back home? Absolutely. But are they two witty comedians who run the most successful tea-time quiz show in BBC history, that is as interactive as it is entertaining?

No. No they’re not.

That was going to be rhetorical but I realise that as an Englishman, there’s every chance that Alexander Armstrong could be an uncle. Or my secret Dad.

So the show kicked off with some vampiric teenager rising out of a coffin that turned out to be a piano. We were vintage Eurovision from the get-go. Then two Spanish singers looked into each other’s eyes for three minutes as they sang. If you’re currently in love then it was easy to stomach, otherwise it must’ve been like some awful body horror film.

My wife’s family, a few generations back, were originally from Slovenia. So we were really pulling for them. They weren’t that great. They just had some pink hair and a few dance moves. So, a bit of a disappointment from the homeland.

Other things happened and a fairly generic sounding pop-song from Austria got a huge reaction from the live crowd. This was a reminder that I don’t actually like much of the music produced during Eurovision, and I can give or take the talent-show-live-final format. The reason I enjoy Eurovision is that it’s hard not to celebrate something that brings nations together, and that promotes equality as well as freedom of expression. When I was seventeen, a friend described Eurovision as “the gay Olympics”, and whilst her description wasn’t totally accurate or socially sensitive, it’s probably the most apt way to describe the show in three words or less.

Also, the Olympics themselves are pretty gay. It’s great.

Then, about eight songs in, something happened. An Estonian woman’s head and torso were removed from her legs and left to float on stage as she sang. It was terrifying for the first few seconds- until the reveal. It turned out that she hadn’t been mutilated at all, and that her legs were still very much attached to her body. They were just hidden by a dress bigger than a blue whale. It flowed the length of the stage, out into the crowd and around the world (twice)! On the dress they projected images that told a story, and I (two whiskeys deep) stood up and shouted “This is Eurovision!”

The UK performed soon after and I actually enjoyed our entry a lot more than songs we’d put forward in prior years. It still wasn’t amazing, but we at least looked as though we’d tried. Then some absolute bell-end stormed the stage, grabbed the UK singer’s microphone and began to shout about something.

Hey mate, British people are allowed to shit all over their performer, but the second someone from outside of our pathetic little island decides to rail on us, you’re going to feel the wrath of an apathetic nation sir! I hope this guy rots in a Portuguese jail for trying to take away the last shreds of our non-racist patriotic pride. Our entrant was silent for ten seconds, but then she received a new microphone. All before belting out a chorus about not giving up and being strong. What a true Brit, somebody get her a mug of tea, for god’s sake!

Other acts happened. Lots of young and attractive people performed the most mediocre pop-songs I’ve heard this year. One of the generic sounding songs was called Dance You Off and it sounded like something Bieber would’ve released in the late 00’s. Instead it was some thirty-year-old looking bloke attempting to moonwalk atop the digital map of The Crystal Maze. Bollocks.

Vikings! Denmark put on a great show by having five vikings sing a track that sounded like the motivational song from a Disney movie. I can picture it now, a young viking boy has to convince his village to stop with all the raping and pillaging. His horned hat is too big for him and he has a baby walrus as a sidekick. He sails off on his tiny longboat to find the entrance to Valhalla, in order to commune with Gods about changing the ways of his people. All whilst this song plays. Tell me you wouldn’t watch that.

Just when it looked as though one of the pretty people singing a Bruno Mars inspired pop-track was going to walk away with the title, Israel happened. You’ll probably have seen the video already. A woman clucks like a chicken and performs a truly original sounding pop track, all whilst maybe appropriating asian culture, but you’re not quite sure because Bjork did that in the 90s and everyone was okay with it? Yep, sounds like Eurovision!

She went on to win the popular vote and therefore the entire contest. I wish the presidency was decided in a similar way. Where we ignore the panel of experts and listen to the people. I also wish that American campaigns were less bitchy, outlandish and extravagant; like Eurovision.

If you’ve never seen the show before, give it a try next year. It’ll be in Israel so I would expect a lot of anti-war messages to be the theme of 2019. And who knows, the entire world might actually be at war, making the messages even more crucial.

Eurovision is one of those ridiculous human spectacles that we can proudly show to the aliens when they arrive. Just like sex, MMA or monkey tennis.

Today is Sunday, May 13th and we’re all going to die one day, but hopefully not soon.

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