Last night I watched the Eurovision song contest. It was the visual spectacular it always is. You find yourself saying ‘surely they wont win with that gimmick?’ Or ‘What a dreadful song that was!’. Truth is there is nothing quite like the razzle dazzle of Eurovision.
I grew up on Eurovision. It was a must in our house and we all voted for our favourites. It is dearly loved by me and has a special place in my heart. However, in recent years I have begun to believe that all that glitter is hiding a rather ugly heart. A few years ago, I stopped watching it completely. It wasn’t the songs – it was the voting. I used to wave it on and say it’s funny, but it stopped being funny many years ago and now leaves a rather bitter taste in one’s mouth.
Let’s backtrack to last year. There was no Eurovision Song Contest. The songs were available to hear and I was invited to be a judge on a panel in an Abba Facebook group. It was a wonderful night with representations from many different countries taking part. We listened to all the songs and voted for our favourites. Nothing to do with outfits, gimmicks or which country is our neighbour. It was the pure essence of what the song contest should be. We were voting about what songs we like. What lyrics moved us. What melody was our favourite. This is how the real Eurovision song contest should be. Sadly, there isn’t any of that. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying I did not enjoy watching the acts and deciding on my favourites. I still score every entry. However, I found myself getting more and more angry at the votes this year. Once again, the UK has nil points. Now I am not suggesting we should have won, but I am saying there is something fundamentally wrong with the system. Firstly, how old fashioned is it to have a jury to make a decision? I think it should be purely a public vote alone. You can still have a representative for each country trying to get their 10 seconds of fame in to wax lyrical about the spectacular show or promote themselves by singing etc, as that is always enjoyable and gives the show a nod to the old days. But come on – we don’t need a jury to tell us what to like. Secondly, and sadly on a more serious point, the voting is not about the song. It's not even about the artist or performance. It's about who are your neighbours/friends and how much they like you. Greece and Cyprus always vote for each other no matter what the song. And all those eastern European countries vote for each other. Terry Wogan used to laugh at it and Graham Norton also tries to laugh – but I find it really sad. It’s also very questionable about which countries are allowed to enter. How is Australia European? Israel? Russia? How did Israel get points with the fighting and troubles that are currently going on there and UK didn’t? Yes, this does feel rather personal when you look at it that way.
We pay an awful lot of money to buy our way into the final every year. But out of the last 26 artists, I do not believe we had the worst song. The UK entry was upbeat and James has a good voice. He could have moved more and given a more animated performance, and that coat was a bad choice – he must have been sweating buckets, but still not the worst song in the room. Last night Italy won. I love Europe and have visited many of the countries in the top 26 including Italy. In fact Italy is my favourite European country, but even if you take the UK entry out of it, I just cannot see how Italy won it. There were many better entries in my opinion – I loved Malta and Iceland. I even enjoyed San Marino and thought Germany demonstrated its sense of humour. How Italy won with its poor Suzi Quattro impression is beyond me.
Please don’t anyone try to tell me that the UK got nil point because of Brexit. Oh no… this fiasco has been growing for decades. The UK have not won since 1997 (Katrina and the Waves with Love Shine a light). If this is how Europe feel about the UK then perhaps that is a hint into why Brexit happened. For example, if the UK had won the year before the Brexit vote, I honestly believe that it could have swung the vote to remain. The UK feel unloved by Europe and certainly over this last year when they tried to block our vaccines being distributed to the UK (when the UK was proactive in ordering them quickly), its just left us feeling that perhaps Europe doesn’t love the UK anymore. The votes speak for themselves.
It breaks my heart. I love travelling to Europe (in non-covid times) and I have many European friends that I adore. Will I watch it next year? Honestly, I don’t know right now. Probably but I do feel hurt and upset at how our European friends treat the UK.
On a final note, my favourite clip of the night was when the Icelandic jury said that they voted for Ja Ja Ding Dong. That is the classic film about Eurovision that was a surprise hit last year in lockdown. Gotta love a bit Ja Ja Ding Dong.