Eurovision

So – just because it’s been four weeks since the most joyous weekend of the year (ie Eurovision), don’t go thinking that it’s not on my mind…

I adored this year’s event, held in Malmö in Sweden. From the opening moments of the first semi-final (with a choir singing – and signing – last year’s winning song, ‘Euphoria’), to the crowning of Denmark’s Emmelie de Forest, it was a blast.

It had everything: rapping astronauts, Hungarian hipsters, the Azeri boy-in-a-box, Icelandic Thor, dancing meatballs, wind machines, crazy Belgian eyebrows, a same-sex kiss, the requisite eye-candy backup dancers, questionable sobriety (hello Bonnie Tyler), and the mighty Cezar, dressed a like a vampire but singing popera over dubstep (naturally).

All of it was hugely entertaining – and it brought back many fine memories of Eurovisions past. Over the past decade I have occasionally been in Europe researching a guidebook when Eurovision is held, so I have watched the main event in some far-flung places:

  • In 2002 I was on the Swedish island of Gotland, and watched the appallingly named Swedish entry Afro-dite (a Destiny’s Child rip-off) lose to Latvia.
  • In 2003 I was on the Greek island of Corfu when Turkey won. That victory didn’t go down especially well with the parochial Greeks. And watching Eurovision with Greek commentary proved a novel experience.
  • In 2006 I was in Malta when Lordi from Finland won, and the outrage was palpable – in the days that followed, countless letters to editors were published in local newspapers demanding the heathen hard-rockers be stripped of the title.

For other, more recent winners – including a mullet-haired Russian popster accompanied by an ice skater, a cute-as-a-button Norwegian fiddler and a sweet German with a seriously catchy tune and an unplaceable accent – I have been in the company of appreciative Melburnians happy to revel in the exuberance and the kitsch, and the many WTF? moments…

I’m also pleased to report that while many in Australia may scoff , the contest itself is taken seriously in Europe. Wee Malta is desperate to win Eurovision one day (they nursed collective broken hearts after coming second in both 2001 and 2005). Estonia still speaks with pride about winning in 2001, and shining the spotlight onto the Baltic region only 10 years after busting out of the Soviet Union. Bless.

And anytime I’m travelling in northern Europe, I’m guaranteed to hear that year’s winning song played ad nauseam on commercial radio (in both Estonia and Iceland last year, ‘Euphoria’ was everywhere. And that wasn’t a bad thing at all.)

And so Denmark won the crown in 2013, and will host in 2014. This brings me more joy than I can explain – and I plan to be there, fulfilling a lifelong dream to see the event in person.

I’m also on tenterhooks until the host city for the 2014 event is announced. The likely host is Copenhagen, of course, but the contender is a small-ish town called Herning, smack bang in the middle of Jutland. It’s well off the tourist radar and has a population of only 50,000, but it’s home to a new state-of-the-art arena that is perfect for the Eurovision event.

Herning is also where I lived in 1989, as an exchange student. I’m not sure I have the words to convey how poetic it would be to return to my Danish hometown, 25 years after living and studying there, to witness an event that has come to mean so much to me and brought me so much happiness. Ah, gods of Eurovision, please let it be so!

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