“The Funeral Song” is not a Eurovision entry. While all of the songs on her EP a little dramatic were options to represent Bulgaria in Rotterdam this year, Victoria chose “Growing Up Is Getting Old” instead. Probably a good choice.
But “The Funeral Song” is the song that has resonated with me the most this year because it is a song that came out precisely when I needed it. Two of my family members have been battling cancer for well over a year. It was becoming clear in April that one of those members didn’t have much time left.
I couldn’t help but think back to the Victoria’s performance of “The Funeral Song” during the a little dramatic concert. When she sang, “‘Cause in the end you realize/You already been through hell,” it was hard for me not to smile. That family member had not had the easiest life, but she was someone who handled all of her toughest moments with a sense of humor. I think she would have appreciated that lyric as much as I did.
She died the day before the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest. Even though I had fed myself a steady diet of “Zitti e buoni” each morning from Sanremo through the two weeks of rehearsal, I had “The Funeral Song” on repeat as I spent the day prepping for my first Eurovision party in two years. The entire day was a catharsis, fueled by cooking snert, hutspot, and nasi and by listening to a song that, despite its title, was the most life-affirming song I had heard this year.
My other family member died a couple of weeks later. She had been fighting cancer for so long that it was hard to believe that she wasn’t going to defeat it. Even though I had been prepped that her time on earth was almost over, the news was still a shock.
At a certain point, she came to realize that even if she won this particular battle, she was going to lose the war. As mentally sharp as ever, she recognized what her physical future held and she faced death with grace and dignity.
“’Cause in the end I realized/That I have no problems left.”
I came to Eurovision as a music fan. (And as a fan of kitsch, to be honest.) And it’s easy to get caught up in the the vanity, the glitz, the stories of the Song Contest. But underneath all of the gloss and all of the analysis and all of the drama lies song after song after song. Not just on a Saturday night in May, but on every Saturday night from December through March in every participating country. Sometimes I feel like it’s a bit of slog to sift through so much music, but finding that one gem each year makes that journey worthwhile. Especially when that one gem is exactly what I need to feel better.