This is perhaps a strange conundrum that many a Eurovision fan will have come across at various times in their life, but certainly on a few occasions, when I’ve been getting to know new people, I mention that our beloved Eurovision Song Contest is a passion of mine and one person will pipe up with “Why?”.
It perplexes me a little that I have to justify why I like something. As a British gay man it may perhaps be a tad clichéd to be a little enamoured with Eurovision, but other stereotypical associations with particular subsets of society don’t come with the same questioning that I’ve encountered. You’d never ask a proud Welshman why he loves rugby so much, or question an English male being really into footie. It would be incredibly impolite to ask these things and you would look a little mad if you did, but if it pleases those people that once asked me why I like Eurovision, I will attempt to justify my interest.
To begin with, I think there’s something inherently interesting in Eurovision as a concept. Many diverse nations being represented by one three-minute performance with music and lyrics from within Europe’s borders and beyond–if it didn’t exist already, wouldn’t that concept really intrigue you?
I also love performing live myself and, having been in a few productions in my university years and more recently been part of an LGBT+ inclusive choir, there are many facets of Eurovision that interest me. Perhaps this is why Eurovision has broad appeal among entertainment industry professionals, as there are plenty of performers out there that want to support their colleagues or even dream of being on that stage themselves. I’ll take any chance I get to incorporate Eurovision into those parts of my life: at my choir’s online concert this last Christmas I sang both Anouk’s “Birds” and Carl Espen’s “Silent Storm,” and at a university talent show I came second with a stirring dramatic reading of Eric Saade’s “Manboy”. Alas, no recording was made of my “Manboy,” so that must be left to the imagination.
As well as the general musical side of things there’s also a massive interest for me lyrically. At heart, I’m very much a language nerd and love the potential that languages have. I love the dynamics of switching languages mid-song, or just experiencing hearing new languages that my ears have yet to hear, and I know my language knowledge would be much less if it wasn’t for Eurovision itself.
It’s not just the use of languages other than my mother tongue that interests me though. I’m wildly fascinated by the use of English too, and being able to work out the native language of the songwriter is a lovely little puzzle for my language-minded brain. I am sure there’s other aspiring polyglots out there that take a similar interest to the veritable smörgåsbord of linguistic delights on offer at the Eurovision Song Contest. There’s also a part of me that really desperately wants to travel, and I think I’ve been using Eurovision as a way to vicariously travel across Europe and the rest of the globe, whether it’s through watching a National Final or following the insights of various fansites from across the world or keeping up with the music releases of that newly discovered Scandinavian sensation.
I’ve also got a very keen eye for aesthetics and love how a stage show comes together in a visual spectacle in all aspects of design, from the costuming to the lighting to the camera angles and the dancing (my word, the dancing!). I learned to dance for a year while at university (and had a little dance training previously too) and I just love to see how physical movement is married perfectly (or imperfectly) with music. It’s just infinitely fascinating! It’s these multiple different lenses through which Eurovision can be viewed that make it endlessly intriguing, not only to me but to anyone with an interest in the various aspects of the show: dancers, photographers, stage technicians, even those who love dissecting people’s fashion choices (this being the main reason I am usually glued to the variously coloured “Carpet” welcome events).
As well as all of these more personal factors, I believe we as humans intrinsically love a competition. We love being a part of competitions ourselves and we love seeing someone end up victorious, especially if it’s someone we’re supporting. Something that all people need in order to function properly (at least in my view) is entertainment, and the Eurovision Song Contest is first and foremost an entertainment show made for television.
Ultimately however, the “Why?” of it doesn’t matter in the slightest. I love this contest and nothing’s going to stop me loving it. That is enough justification for me.