Love it or hate it there’s no denying that the Eurovision Song Contest is the biggest music event in the world. Started in 1956 as a way to bring Europe together and ease post-war tensions, it is now one of the longest running and most watched broadcasts in the world with the 2016 final being watched by over 200 million people. This longstanding tradition is rapidly changing, what with performances from Justin Timberlake, the first big established star to perform in the contest’s history, and the fact that Australia nearly won despite being about as far away from Europe as you can get! What does the future hold for the competition?
On paper Eurovision seems like an amazing idea. A grand competition, a musical Olympics with each nation performing the best song that their country has to offer. Sadly it’s never quite worked out like that as the music has mostly been… well, to put it bluntly, crap. With the exception of ABBA no contender has earned both fame and respect for their participation in the competition. The idea of some continent wide musical hunger games will never live up to the ideal as the voting will always be heavily political, each nation will have a different idea of what constitutes good music and no respected artists will dare risk embarrassing themselves.
Instead Eurovision has become a celebration of human creativity and sheer lunacy. The fact that some of the most notable entries in the contest’s history include dancing grannies, drag queens in tin foil and heavy metal monsters just shows how beautifully deranged we all are. All the big ballad entries that take the competition seriously are just an excuse to go to the loo and grab a drink, the competition is really about Europe collectively getting wasted and having an aneurysm from laughing too much at the surreal scenes unfolding onstage.
Recently however the fun is starting to fade, the past couple of years have been positively sensible. With Justin Timberlake making an unprecedented performance I can see future competitions becoming more commercialised. With Australia suddenly dropping into the competition, and with the contest being broadcast to more countries each year, I can see more nations from around the world trying to intrude. People are simply trying too hard, not least the UK. Stop the futile attempts to transform it into an actual music competition and just pick the most bewildering act your nation has to offer to give Europe something to smile about for just one night a year. At least I’m not the only one that misses the good old days…