How a silly song contest turns us into patriots

So tonight I ended up watching the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC). I pretty much surprised myself because I really am not a fan of this happening. But I guess it was too easy to pass on as I caught it streaming on YouTube.

I did ask myself what I was going to take home from it, though, and this is what I came up with:

  1. The stunning performance of The Grey People, shining a light on the plight of refugees and immigrants, was undoubtedly the highlight of the show. The contemporary dance piece was brilliant in and of itself. But furthermore, it managed successfully to portray the fear, anguish, danger, hope, and dreams of refugees. The ending, with the refugee-dancers climbing into the audience and being welcomed, was sublime. Now, let’s try to translate this into reality.
  2. Watching the ESC while live tweeting is super fun! Actually, it’s the only way to watch it.
  3. Love it or hate it, the ESC is a massive event – during the show and for a long time after, it peaked as the top worldwide trend on Twitter, and, at time or writing, it was clocking in over 540K tweets.
  4. It’s also a great feeler for the shape of things to come – for example, take France’s entry, did I get it right, are they singing in English this year?! That is SHOCKING! For a country that invented a word for computer (ordinateur) just so as not to use the English equivalent. Should we read anything into this?
  5. The ESC needs humour, desparately, and this year’s hosts pulled it off. It’s a great Scandi-lesson in learning to laugh at ourselves – not-so-subtle hint, Malta, take it!
  6. There is really, objectionably, very little GOOD musical talent on that stage. And by talent I mean the song and voice. The pyrotechnics, costumes, crazy instruments are all part of the fanfare that is Eurovision, granted, but they do not a good song make. And the ones that take a risk (within the standards of the ESC), like Cyprus and Armenia did this year, stand out.
  7. Why is it that so few entries sing in their national language? How much poorer is Europe for this?
  8. Even though I’m not at all invested in this contest, I was holding my breath together with the rest of the country, probably, as Malta was called out at the very end. So there it was, I got caught up in it too – what is it that brings out the patriotic side in us? I really couldn’t say. Also – I got just an teeny inkling of what the competitors themselves must go through as this last entry is called out. Oh my! I’m not sure, but it looked like Ira sank further into the sofa in relief when Malta’s name was called. [Though she actually said that she was the most relaxed member of the delegation when addressing the winners’ press conference afterwards.]
  9. And finally – if we can come together for this, let’s really pull our socks up and feed back life into the real European project. It’s the only healthy future possible.

I think it’s these guys that get my vote this year (at least so far):


Oh and I’ll probably be live tweeting the final too, it was too much fun :) Follow me on twitter: @zyng

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