Once upon a time it was terribly uncool to say you watched – far less liked – the Eurovision Song Contest. Now it seems the very opposite is true. So when BBC Breakfast presenters like Louise Minchin confirm with a snigger that they will not be watching, all us Eurovision lovers know we are on the right rainbow-coloured team.
So when did Eurovision get its credentials? It didn’t happen overnight, you know. From flickering b&w folks with evening dress and received pronunciation in the 50s. To candy-coloured childhood days of 60s innocence. Onto the difficult gawky teenage years of the 70s. The 80s and 90s were wilderness years in a way with too many nights lost to too much cheap alcohol and E Number snacks; such was the response to the increasingly ridiculous image of Eurovision which in turn was a therapeutic response to the increasingly momentous events in Europe. From New Romantics to Brit Pop Britain was far too preoccupied to be bothered.
A new millennium and a brave new Europe with Eurovision serving as a crash-course for those without a clue. Who knew there were so many countries that had previously been swallowed up by the Soviets? And – shock horror – they could do things cheaper and better. Okay, maybe there were still mullets and stone-washed denim – but they were getting there.
Now well into the 21st century, Britain – and the old Europe core of countries who always pay but never win – are pretty much nowhere. The vast majority are in it to win it; they put forward their best artists, they take it seriously and they work hard. Any parallels with Europe proper can’t be a coincidence.
As for tonight’s favourites – Sweden is indeed special with existential angst lyrics teamed with very clever visuals. Belgium also plays to type with a deliciously surreal feel that has Magritte written all over it. Australia is well crafted with a typically upbeat mood. Italy channel Il Divo, going all the way over the top and coming back for more. And whilst not a favourite, the UK also play to type with lyrics about catching nasty diseases, self-medicating and getting into fights – with a tune nicked from the potato waffles ad!
Whoever wins though it’s going to be a memorable night with the inimitable Conchita holding court. And with the (potentially positive) result of the gay marriage referendum winging its way from Ireland you can be sure Ms Wurst will put that centre stage – about the only thing that could grab the limelight from her!
So get the party started – and wish the old girl (I don’t mean Concheets!) a huge rainbow-coloured happy 60th!!