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It’s nearly Eurovision. It’s always Eurovision.

by | May 12, 2017

It’s nearly Eurovision. It’s always Eurovision.

by | May 12, 2017 | Eurovision, Featured | 1 comment

Some people think the Eurovision Song Contest is a television show that takes place on a Saturday in May. But we know better.

From the moment in late December when the Festivali i Këngës theme tune kicks in, to the dying strains of “Te Deum” after the ESC credits fly past at supersonic speed and the lucky winner faces a blitz of cameras, this is how we spend half of our year.

And the other half is spent dissecting what we’ve just seen, and looking forward to what’s coming next.

For me, the week of the contest itself has become an excuse for a holiday in the sun with some of the great friends I’ve made as a result of ESC. Even from a distance, we’re as engaged as any other fans – printing out voting sheets, speculating wildly about what’s going to happen during the shows, and hoping and praying that our villa will have the right TV channels and internet that’s fast enough to support half a dozen nerds all obsessively loading and re-loading YouTube rehearsal videos on their phones while sipping a poolside glass of something chilled.

Press centre, Lanzarote-style, complete with deformed cake

It’s a fine habit and a masterclass in glorious geekery – where else but with this gang would you hear “Esmer yarim” three times in a week? – but it’s a habit that’s kept me out of the press centre bubble more often than not these last few years, and it’s the reason my blogging this year has been mainly limited to betting posts and some idle analysis here and there. While I can’t deny the merits of hot weather and holiday food, every year I do find myself jealous of the friends and fan-press colleagues who make their way to the host city for the contest, and (to borrow from Brendan Murray) I’m dying to go back again – even if it’s just for the first week of rehearsals, like I did in Vienna in 2015 before escaping to the sunshine for the shows themselves.

Thanks to the usual boring time and money commitments, these days the host city needs to be somewhere actively interesting to me in order to justify a visit. Hence Vienna but no Stockholm last year – I love the Swedish capital, but I’ve been there almost every year of my adult life, so I don’t need to pay inflated accommodation prices for the privilege of yet another swing around the cobblestones of Gamla Stan. If the bookmakers are right, next year’s Euro-circus might well be rolling into Turin or Milan (where I’ve never been), Lisbon (where I’ve been once, on a day trip as an already sulky 12-year-old) or Sofia (where I’ve been as recently as last October, but I’d be delighted to revisit). Any of those would stand a very good chance of tempting me back into the bubble, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings in that respect.

Sofia calling?

Regardless of where and how we consume the contest, ESC week can be a surprisingly strange experience for the hardcore fan. Because it’s nearly all over. All that waiting and wondering, a whole season of it, is channeled into the intense rush of three shows in five days. We juggle multiple webstreams and mourn for what gets left behind in the national finals; we obsess over, analyse and overanalyse the songs that do make it; we place our bets, hold our preview parties, share our toplists, pore over rehearsal blogs and videos. Then suddenly, within the space of barely 48 hours, we find that 42 songs have already become 26. Our lovers get lost in Verona; blackbirds fall down the rooftops. The final running order comes out and we rush to start obsessing all over again, knowing there’s only a day and a half left for us to truly indulge in the joy of anticipation before “Te Deum” kicks in one last time to herald the start of our Cup Final, our Olympics, the culmination of our religious worship at the altar of Eurovision.

Yes, it’s a strange week. But it’s still the best week.

Tomorrow, of course, is when we’ll get messages from our friends and relatives, asking us who’s going to win and who they should look out for. As if we couldn’t have told them three months ago, or two months ago, or one month ago, or one week ago. With a different answer every time.

They think it’s just a television show that takes place on a Saturday in May, you see. But we know different. We know better. And whether our favourites take home the trophy or crash and burn in the semi-final, we know there’s always a next year, and a next, and a next.

The cycle will begin again. The cycle never really ends.

It’s the Eurovision Song Contest, it’s bloody marvellous, and it’s ours. Enjoy it.

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1 Comment

  1. Name

    This is my first Eurovision. I arrived as a cynic. I’ll leave (almost) converted. I admire your passion.

1 Comment

  1. Name

    This is my first Eurovision. I arrived as a cynic. I’ll leave (almost) converted. I admire your passion.

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Join the Chat!

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