image: EBU / ANDRES PUTTING
Good afternoon, Eurovision!
For once, I’m not actually having a coffee while I type this, but just imagine I do. Here’s my first public reaction about last night’s show.
Despite the camerawork being a bit rough, the sound mix being a bit unbalanced between music and audience (however much I do like to have the latter audible), and despite the unnecessary background music while the hosts talked, I really enjoyed this final of the Eurovision Song Contest. For some reason, it felt more “Eurovision” and more organic than last year’s show, which some found slick – I found it sterile.
I would have liked the camera on Gigliola for a few more seconds after she was done with her performance, that felt a bit disrespectful. But then, the hosts and their natural charm made up for it with their passion for languages in large parts, in and around the voting. It was clear that we’re watching Europe celebrating Europe. As it should be.
And of course, I also need to talk about the outcome.
Before I get to discuss the winner, my first congratulations go to the United Kingdom and their historical and important second place. Then, applauding the strong results for native languages this year. It feels good.
And then, congratulations to Ukraine.
“It won just because of politics!”, you might say. Most likely, yes. But while we can never find proof for the voting motives, I’d rather say Ukraine won because of empathy. And that’s okay.
Did this ESC result sabotage the contest’s own paradigm, that the contest is (supposed to be) unpolitical?
It’s quite easy: There is no rule that forbids people from voting for a country for whatever reasons. And that’s okay, too.
“This will bring the contest into disrepute!”, you might say. I understand your concerns, your worries. I would just like to invite you to worry a bit less. Even if Eurovision is considered to be political by the wider public, this shouldn’t be a problem for how fans get to experience the contest in the future. Some of the best years for fans were exactly those in which the contest had a massive image problem regarding neighbourly voting. I’m not saying it goes hand in hand, and I don’t wanna go back to those voting patterns and their effect on the contest’s image – but I’m just saying that the public’s perception doesn’t necessarily mean a less enjoyable contest for us fans in the future.
What happened last night was a moment of European togetherness. It’s okay. We’re living in abnormal times, and we can’t pretend as if Eurovision lives in its own universe. Historical events have an effect on Europe, and Eurovision is a part of this. Think about 2020, when the contest got cancelled – another sign of the times, another anomaly in Eurovision history. So yesterday’s sign of solidarity and empathy was another anomaly that reflected historical events. But I also think that it should stay a unique exception. A historical one-off. If it happens again next year, then we have a problem. But for now, I am not worried about the future of the Eurovision Song Contest at all. I am sure the EBU will find ways to deal with the situation in the short and long term, and they will manage to enable a new Eurovision era in a hopefully peaceful Europe, in which also the voting format gets a much needed overhaul, especially the jury part of it.
We all, including you, have had issues with a result before, with specific countries winning, because you didn’t like the songs or whatever. Because you couldn’t understand how Europe could vote for something you didn’t get. And guess what? Eurovision moved on, you moved on, you got to enjoy ESC again afterwards. I believe it won’t be much different this time.
Eurovision viewers vote with their hearts. They always do. And in this special year, in these saddening and harrowing times, it was an easy game for Ukraine to win exactly these European hearts. It’s okay.
There are more important things than keeping Eurovision within its rules and paradigms and all. There are more important things than worrying about the contest’s reputation. Eurovision is the beating heart of Europe, it’s the manifested love between nations. That’s actually its original purpose. And now that Europe is in pain, the heart beats in exactly this way.
I understand all of it.
It is okay.