eurovision: an introduction (and a bit of emotion)

This year's Eurovision Song Contest, being held in Düsseldorf, Germany, will see 43 participants battle it out to be (unofficially) the best act in Europe!

As I imagine a lot of people won't know about Eurovision, I thought I'd do a little introduction...

The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual singing/song contest. The contest was devised in 1955 when the European Broadcasting Union, based in Switzerland, were trying to think of a way to bring together all the countries of the EBU. It was first held in 1956, and has been held every year since. Each EBU member country (there are 56 of them in total!) are eligible to enter a song into the contest, as long as it has been written (or co-written) by someone of the nationality of the country it is representing (though the performing artist need not be from that country). The chosen song from each of the countries are performed in a live final, and the songs/acts are all then judged by the other countries in the competition, using representatives from each country as well as public phone votes. Whichever country wins the most votes is given the opportunity to host the next Eurovision Song Contest. Germany won last year, with Lena's song "Satellite", so they are the hosts this year.

Germany's winning entry 2010

Although Eurovision is thought of as being a European thing, many of the countries in the EBU are not considered European, but are still eligible to enter, for example Azerbaijan, Israel, Armenia and Georgia. Even some countries in North Africa are eligible to enter, though they don't.

The sad thing with Eurovision in the UK is that it has pretty negative associations...
  • the voting system is often seen as being "fixed" - there are certain countries who always give each other the highest marks, despite the quality of the song
  • similarly, a lot of the voting may be based on politics or relationships between countries, and the UK generally have a poor relationship with the rest of Europe. No matter how good the UK's song is, it is unlikely to win as people will not vote for a country they do not feel participates fully or respectfully, or is not politically in tune with the rest of Europe. As you can probably guess, I don't generally support the UK - I support whoever has the best song (that is the point, after all!)
  • although it is taken very seriously by the vast majority of the competitors, the UK entry is rarely serious or even very good, but is often jokey or takes the mick, which the rest of the participating nations do not appreciate, understandably
Unlike in the good ol' days, the perception of Eurovision has greatly changed in the last 20 years - people see it as being overly camp, ostentatious and humorous, which yeah, sometimes it can be, but it is also an amazing showcase of talent from a variety of countries with incredible cultures, many of whom sing in their own language. It is an inexplicably beautiful thing to see and hear someone representing their country with the passion that is shown in the contest, made even more so if they are singing in their national language. There is nothing quite like Eurovision anywhere else in the world and I genuinely feel a part of the wider world when I'm watching it, whether live in an arena (where there is an ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE atmosphere, I can't even try to describe it) or in the comfort of my own home. I rarely feel as connected to the rest of Europe (or the EBU countries, I should say) than I do during those few hours every May. I find it hard to explain the rush of emotion I feel when watching the show: it's the most enchanting feeling, and it fills me with such utter delight - don't even get me started on the thrill of the results coming in, it's like I'm one of the participants myself: I feel nervous, sad and jubilant on behalf of every country.

I have never met anyone who is quite as emotional about Eurovision as I am, and I know it must sound absolutely ridiculous to have this kind of emotion about something so seemingly trivial, but Eurovision is one of my biggest joys in life, certainly my favourite day of the year, and I'm not ashamed to admit it!

P.S. Only 10 days to go until the final!

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