This editorial does not reflect the views of ESC United as a whole and the article is purely personal opinion of the author.
Back on January 9, 2015, where there were 5 songs released, we heard fans complaining that this year was going to be the worst Eurovision ever. I held an optimistic viewpoint and said let’s just wait until we hear all the songs. Now it’s late March and all 40 songs have been released. Still, we are hearing this is going to be the worst Eurovision ever. So maybe I have “egg on my face” as they say and should have put my “foot in my mouth.” However, I still think there are many great things we have to look forward to for the 60th Eurovision Song Contest.
It is being hosted by a country that has not won in almost 50 years. And Austria and Vienna is putting all its efforts in to make sure this 60th edition is not one to miss. I am impressed that the city has invested so much time and money and resources to help fans and press feel welcome. They have listened attentively to fan needs, ensuring that mistakes from more recent years are not repeated. The venue is not out in the boondocks as people complained about Copenhagen last year. Transportation needs are well met. And it is exciting to hear that events are happening across the city in order to help those fans travelling see as much of the city as they can. And the postcards. The more I hear about them and see preview clips, the more curious I am. These will a nice mix of highlighting the artists and the host country. So don’t count out what may happen yet! ORF may have something spectacular up their sleeves!
Slow songs, schmow songs! I personally think more people are pissed they cannot dance along. And as I argued in my last article about “Ballads, we are just seeing a bigger drop in the number of upbeat songs because 2014 had so many. But let’s talk about the songs. There are bit deeper messages than just peace and love. Those themes are still there, but there seems to be more substance. Romania and France’s songs are deep. Don’t deny! (See what I did there?) Poland’s song may be as the result of people extrapolating the artist’s situation: overcoming a horrible car accident, being paralyzed from the waist down, but still living her dream. Finland’s song is pretty much hated by a large section of fans, but most of us Eurovision fans are not really punk aficionados. I’d like to hear what real fans of punk music think about the song. If they think it is crap, then I’m a bit more sold. But lyrically, it is pretty neat to see how their music gives PKN a voice to bitch about the things that hold them back. Now this all gets into the debate about how Eurovision should strictly be a song contest. But that debate is for another day. This year, something about the ballads resonate with me and move me more so than previous years. For Eurovision being about crappy songs as non-fans think, I have to disagree and I can point to this year.
More participants. Things were looking bad as the counts were dropping from 43 (in 2011) to 42 to 39 to 37. People were scared we’d have to go back to the one semi-final format if things kept up. And then Ukraine dropped out! That’s when people started thinking “Oh crap!” But despite that, we have seen the first increase in participants in four years. Serbia and Cyprus are back! The Czech Republic and Australia! Who saw those coming? Some hate that Australia is a wild card. But this year is about Building Bridges, so the gesture to include an ally from across the globe makes sense. And next year, we should hopefully see the returns of Ukraine and Turkey. Maybe even Bulgaria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Croatia. And Kazakhstan anyone? (I’m totally speculating there, but seems to be the long persistent rumor, although I think technically they’re out of the EBU boundaries). Things may be looking bright in 2016 (even without the Aussies back next year).
The fans. The fans are going to remain faithful and true to the show. We hear so many complaints because we have fans that care so much about the longevity of the show. I have seen countless fans posting on the websites that Eurovision started going downhill in 2009 and that this year is going to be by far the worst. However, I question why those who say this are still watching after 6-7 years of supposedly bad song contests. If I hated the show as much as some of these people do, I would have stopped watching. That’s what I did with American Idol, Glee, and all these other shows that start off promising and then turn to crap. Sometimes I feel that we as fans expect too much, maybe too much perfection. We’re like sports fans. When great things happen, we are the first to unabashedly boast. If our team loses, it’s the end of the world. We talk about how much they suck after that, or how they blew it. But still, we come back ever so faithfully year after year. I guess my closing statement for this is if as a fan, you really think this year is going to be the worst, then don’t watch. And if you bought tickets to any live show, sell them face-value to the fans that really want to be there but were not able to get tickets. And one more thing. The EBU and the countries are listening. Don’t be surprised if we see more upbeat and fast songs next year in response (followed by the same fans complaining this year arguing that there are too many crappy dance songs and not enough slow songs).
I for one love Eurovision. I love how last year, my 71-year old father watched the show for the first time, was completely skeptical when he first saw that bearded drag queen, and then was won over by the end of the show. Truth be told, he has followed her career a hell of a lot better than I have. That to me is amazing. To have people across the world, of all ages, all creeds, all races, etc. come together for a few nights and revel in the greatness that is Eurovision. It is necessary to acknowledge that some people watch the show to piss on it. But there are more of us than them. Like Conchita said, “We are unstoppable!” This, plus the reasons above, is why I still do not think 2015 is going to be the worst Eurovison. I leave this editorial with a request that we stop talking about how this year will be the worst and try to focus on what you are most excited about for this year’s song contest. And trust me, I’ll be back in June to follow-up one more time. Feel free to shout out “I told you so!” if I’m still totally wrong!