It seems a rare thing to find a fan of the Eurovision song contest within the United Kingdom but I am an avid one. Ever since I can remember me and my family have all gathered to watch the acts, eat food and laugh at the ridiculous song lyrics sung by the people of Europe (although always keeping in mind that their English is a lot better than my Norwegian or Greek, say) and this year was no different. As we sat down to enjoy the four hours of pure European entertainment we were under no allusions that the United Kingdom will ever make it to the left side of the scoreboard, we just want to enjoy the cheesy euro-pop and awful dance moves. And, as always, we did not receive that from our own act this year. Although I cannot deny that Bonnie Tyler was a better representative for the United Kingdom than Engelbert Humperdinck last year that’s not saying much. Most people know her for singing the 80s classics “Total Eclipse of the Heart” which is undeniably a great song but the song she used to represent the United Kingdom in this year’s competition was poor. For a start, she looked a little bit wobbly while she was singing; she could barely stand up! I’d like to blame this on nerves and age rather than drink and drugs. However, although the song was terrible the thing which struck me the most was how old she looked. Although she’s not ancient she’s still no spring chicken at sixty one years old, which really showed and made her and her song look worn. Bonnie’s age particularly struck me when she was shown amongst Belarus’ twenty seven year old Alyona Lanskaya and Denmark’s twenty year old winner Emmelie de Forest. Surely the fact that a twenty year old won the contest for Denmark should tell us something about Eurovision tact!
That being said, Bonnie scored us a lot more points than we’ve received in previous years: we received twenty three points and came in at nineteenth place! It does seem pathetic that the United Kingdom can celebrate a score of twenty three when the winning country scored two hundred and eighty one, but I think we’ll take our positives where we can get them. Plus we did incredibly better than Ireland; Ryan Dolan only managed to secure Ireland a score of five with the United Kingdom only awarding them one point! Clearly the Eurovision song contest was missing Jedward this year who, in the previous two years, managed to provide the right balance of cheesy performances and euro-pop for the European viewers’ pleasure.
I like to think I’m usually pretty good at predicting which countries will do well in the competition and which will not meet Europe’s approval, but this year I got it all wrong. This year was the first year in ten years that the Netherlands have qualified for the final – and I thought “it’ll be their last” after hearing their song – but they did surprisingly well with the voters. Similarly, I thought Ireland’s song was quite catchy and suited Eurovision with its amounts of cheese and pop but it only ended up receiving a measly five points! I also expected Finland to do well with their catchy, up-beat song about marriage and becoming someone’s slave (I like to think something was lost in translation) but they only received thirteen points, less even than Bonnie! I really hope the lack of votes for Finland was to do with a dislike of the song and not the fact that Krista Siegfrids’ performance ended with a lesbian kiss.
There were two same-sex kisses within the show which I think is a really positive thing for Europe. It was nice to see an attempt to normalise the occurrence of same-sex kisses on worldwide television but I hope this did not wound Finland’s chances of winning. The second kiss came within an elaborate song performed by the Swedish host Petra Mede celebrating the delights that Sweden has to offer, such as meatballs, Ikea and the legalisation of same-sex marriage. The performance included two men kissing as a part of the song, which I thought was a positive addition. I would hate to think that Europe was prejudiced enough to not vote for a country just because their performance showed a same-sex kiss, especially as the host country showed one too! Perhaps I’m being a little bit too analytical and I would like to think that the voters simply didn’t like the Finnish song. I have faith in the European voters and will claim that something was just lost in the translation of their strange song about marriage, masters and slaves and will stand by the view that Europe is not homophobic. Perhaps it is even wrong of me to think that a country may receive fewer votes for showing a same-sex kiss and perhaps I’m the one in the wrong and the voters didn’t even consider this while they were watching. I shall stick with this optimistic view of the continent for now, until proven otherwise.