Eurovision means lots of different things to lots of different people. For some it’s a serious battle for performance excellence. For some it’s a chance to break through to Europe-wide fame. For some it’s diplomacy. For students it’s probably a chance to consume various Europe-themed drinks under the guise of continental solidarity. In the UK, it’s at best a chance for Europhiles to celebrate with some questionable pop music, and at worst a day to get through while we once again have our hopes of victory cruelly crushed.
As one of the founding members of Eurovision, the UK automatically enters in the finals every year, regardless of the quality of our entries, which begs the question, should we even enter? Even though the last time the UK won was as recently as 1997, there has been a sharp rise in occasions of complete failure, with the dubious honour of last place bestowed on us in 2003, 2008 and 2010. With this in mind, there seems to be a bleak future for our hopes of singing our way to glory and victory, especially when there are Russian Grannies baking onstage and a fabulous Austrian drag act with whom to compete.
Meanwhile, with the accusations of tactical voting coming from hard-done-by contestants, it begs the question; can politics ever be kept out of a contest between nations with such a fraught and complex history? Everyone knows that diplomacy and politics to some extent influence the way a country votes, as is to be expected; you don’t want to offend your neighbour who you already have bad relations with by telling them their dubstep-opera mashup didn’t quite hit the spot.
While wars have probably never been started because of a score given in Eurovision, the politics of Europe inevitably affect its cultures, and these obviously come through in an international song contest. So while England may try to glitz up the competition with the brightest graphics, the most ostentatious backing dancers and the most empowering song, as long as tactical voting exists and the UK’s apparent unpopularity remains entrenched, we must still be content with 17th place and a fancy cake.
Fundamentally, though, does any of this stuff matter? For people who love a bit of camp Europop, it’s a great way to break up the tedium of exam term and venture into a glittering world of escapism; naturally aided by tenuously international fancy dress and European alcoholic beverages. Eurovision is something not to be taken too seriously if you happen live on this island; it’s best to forget credibility and tasteful discrimination between genres and enjoy the glitzy, amateurish fun of all that Eurovision has to offer. We should stop acting like it is a pared down battle between artists of genius talent and love it for what it is; the ultimate guilty pleasure.
So with the future of winning looking decidedly bleak, maybe we should just kick back, relax and enjoy the continent-sponsored cheesiness that will grace our screens every year for the foreseeable future. That way, if we win, it’s a massive surprise. If we don’t, it’s all a bit of fun, and if you really couldn’t care less; switch off the TV, log off Facebook and at least take comfort in the fact that we won’t be required to bankroll hosting it next year.