The Ugly Truth About Eurovision


As the smoke settles for another year, the arguments begin again. I’m not going to describe Eurovision as a guilty pleasure, because there’s nothing to feel guilty about. Eurovision is the best and worst of Europe all crammed into one gloopy, over-sugared, glorious mess of an evening. All the factionism, petty political point-scoring, all the eccentricity, all the glamour, all the weirdness. All there, all singing, all dancing, all for you, you lucky punter.

And once again, the bitching from the UK camp about how badly our country has done over the past few years have re-emerged. Terry Wogan has threatened to stop doing it, citing exactly the kind of openly partisan voting that’s made the competition much more fun over the past few years. Which is of course, hardly a big surprise as it’s been going on for as long as the competition’s been running. Mewing “no fair” at this point in proceedings is disingenuous, to say the least.

Despite all the griping about the Russian victory, (I was rooting for the crazed rock opera of Azerbaijan’s entry) let’s not forget that the song is a heartfelt if slightly dull ballad about believing in yourself and following your dreams – in effect, it’s a song about Eurovision. Factioneering aside, it was always in with a good chance.


Let’s be frank. We’ve hardly been sending our best and brightest out to the contest lately, have we? While France, for example, have a song produced by Daft Punk, Germany have sent their equivalent of Girls Aloud, and most of the ex-Russian protectorates have voted in their biggest selling and most popular artists, what have we got? An X-Factor reject with a duff piece of disco-lite. In fact, we’ve been sending out reality show rejects to die on their feet for the last five years or so. The last time we won was in 1997, when proper band Katrina and the Waves won with a proper Eurovision song, Shine A Light. I’m still of the opinion that the great lost opportunity for the UK was the failure three years ago to sign Morrissey up for the cause. That would have been something.

Did we deserve to come last? Well, our attitude to the contest doesn’t help. With the element of complacency and the irritating smugness that comes with our pretense that actually, we’re a bit too cool for this nonsense, being the place where all the good music comes from and all, yes, we did rather deserve the drubbing we got. Why not throw a proper, credible band into the contest next year? I say, Radiohead for Eurovision. If we lose then, we may as well pull out of the contest altogether.

(decidedly odd photo credit: werewegian on the BBC Eurovision Flickr group. And that’s by no means the strangest photo on there.)

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Writer. Film-maker. Cartoonist. Cook. Lover.

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