As you may or may not be aware, the Eurovision Song Contest took place on Saturday and needless to say we didn’t win, again. After a deceptively promising start, we ended up 11th overall with 100 points, ten times better than last year but still not the win we had all hoped for.
Representing the UK this year was the ‘boy’ band Blue who you may remember, or have tried to forget, from the early noughties. I admit, I may have bopped around to ‘All Rise’ or ‘One Love’ in my time but there is no denying that Blue are now just a group of aging lads still able to force their pretty bodies and bulging egos into leather jackets and thrust around the stage in unison whilst Lee Ryan squeals out the top notes like a human bag-pipe.
I am being unnecessarily harsh, I know, but my anti-Blue vitriol can be put down to pure and unadulterated disappointment. I am not ashamed to admit that I am a vehement and devoted Eurovision fan and I frequently find the few days following our inevitable failure full of depression and tear-soaked renditions of God Save the Queen alone in my room. I am the type of person that will force her friends to come round on Eurovision Saturday each year and demand that they sit and watch it. I will print off score cards for them which they must fill in fastidiously (and seriously!) and I will make European flags which must be waved enthusiastically. This is an annual tradition that has been an unswerving presence in my life as long as I can remember. Santa sometimes forgets our house, and the occasional birthday has slipped by without much fanfare, but Eurovision is always reliably celebrated, lest I dishonour my forefathers.
Eurovision is like that surprise birthday party your parents throw you when you are twelve. You excitedly open your eyes having the heard the rustle of a Tammy Girl party dress crouching behind the sofa and you see the clown, the bouncy castle and the party bags and your heart sinks as you think, “I’m a little bit too grown up for this”. It seems to me that Britain feels the same way about Eurovision. We don’t want to refuse to attend the party for fear that it will ruin it for everyone else, disappoint our parents and make the clown go and cry in the back of his Nisan Micra. But that fact remains that Britain is of a different cultural species to everyone else at the party. Arguably we are trend-setters in music. For our size we produce an unprecedented number of international artists. Culturally we are more in line with what’s going on across the pond and have left the poppy bebop of European music behind us. But we still dutifully participate knowing that we will probably never, ever win Eurovision again.
So why did we do so badly? For one thing, no artist worth their salt really wants to volunteer to be the British meat sent to the abattoir of Eurovision because the chance of humiliating defeat is so high and because it’s seen to be such an embarrassing cheese-fest. Secondly, the voting has become so political that it is hard to see how we could ever garner enough support (Really, Greece? You’re giving twelve points to Cyprus? How surprising!). That’s even with the new panel of judges who account for 50% of the vote allocation, instated in an effort to counteract the predictable voting patterns. In my opinion the predictable voting is half the fun. But frankly, as much as I dream of the day when tic-a-tape will swirl in shrouds around a victorious British act, I don’t think we deserve to win Eurovision. We mock it. We are so preoccupied with wanting to be cool and sophisticated that we’ve forgotten how to let our hair down and participate in what is really just a frivolous, fun occasion intended to celebrate what is colourful and joyous about European culture.
So although Eurovision is a bit naff I also think that it is a unique tradition that should be indulged and enjoyed for what it is. If we could do that then we might all enjoy a jolly good shin-dig with our European neighbours with whom we have to rub along, no matter how much some may hope we are going to finally break away and float off in the direction of America. So next year, print off your score cards, wave those flags and maybe one day we will lift the Eurovision crown once again.