The first time I heard about the Eurovision Song Contest was in the late 1970’s when I read an article about my favourite musical group, ABBA. The article credited ABBA’s meteoric rise to international stardom to the Eurovision Song Contest and their 1974 win with the song “Waterloo”.
For this young Canadian, even though I had no idea what Eurovision was, it sounded like a big event! I knew just enough about world geography to know that if a music competition involved a whole continent, it must have been something special.
In the years that followed, and the many hours spent listening to MuchMusic, Eurovision came up a few times, whether in the “Rock News” reports or when the VJ’s (“Video Jockeys”) were presenting a video and providing some background into the song and the artist. I remained intrigued.
In 2002, I was finding myself a little bored with mainstream radio here in North America and found myself searching for other musical options. At the same time, I had changed cable packages and was introduced to “BPM TV”, a new music video channel focused on dance tunes from around the globe.
Over the course of BPM’s programming, I was introduced to the Swedish pop band Alcazar. With their very catchy pop-dance tunes, bright upbeat tempo, and amazing sense of style, glamour and showmanship, they quickly became my favourite band! They still are today!
In the process of getting to know Alcazar better through online research, the theme of Eurovision popped up again. Alcazar competed in 2003 with a song called “Not a Sinner nor a Saint”, in a competition called Melodifestivalen, Sweden’s national competition to pick a song to represent the country at Eurovision. This was where the journey began!
Check out Alcazar’s clip at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzCptf2ia5c
In early 2005, I read on Alcazar’s web site that they were competing again in that year’s Melodifestivalen. I was most excited as through the magic of Internet, I was able to listen in real time to the Swedish broadcaster, Sveriges Radio, and was able to enjoy the Melodifestivalen finals from the comfort of my Canadian home.
I had so much fun, listening to the competition, sending positive vibes to Alcazar, and feeling the same tension felt half way around the world as the voting results were announced. This musical energy and excitement was a life-changing sensation.
Now that I was invested in seeing who Sweden chose to represent them at Eurovision (that year, Martin Stenmarck was selected, with a song called “Las Vegas”), the logical next step would be to tune in to Eurovision. I was hooked!
Little did I know at the time that Alcazar, then Melodifestivalen, would become my formal introduction to Eurovision, enabled by the improvements in Internet connectivity! With a broadband/high speed Internet connection and a faster computer a few years later, the sky was the limit with viewing possibilities. Not only was I able to watch Melodifestivalen and Eurovision streamed live, but I also had the ability to check out other countries’ national competitions.
Perhaps that was the moment I graduated to “Eurovision nerd” (which I say with great pride), as I found indescribable joy in beholding each country’s interpretation on the competitive process, the voting process, the judging process and their grand finale show. Ultimately, the end result was the same: to pick the song and artist to represent the country. And of course, the variety in songs was music to the ears of this all-around music lover!
I even went one step farther and visited Sweden in 2008 and 2009 for the Melodifestivalen grand finale show and met some other Eurovision super-fans along the way too!
The Eurovision Song Contest has since become a permanent fixture in my world. The national competitions help pass the long Canadian winter. In spring time, I now routinely book a week off in May to watch the two Eurovision semi-finals and the finals (and get some spring cleaning and home maintenance done in-between the events).
In 2015, my partner and I were in New York City during Eurovision week. I took a break from our pilgrimage to Broadway to indulge in my passion for pop music and joined a Eurovision screening party co-hosted by the German and Swedish clubs of New York City. I had the time of my life, meeting and chatting with other Eurovision fans and in sharing in this global experience. To me, the icing on the cake was watching Swedish representative Måns Zelmerlöw win with the song “Heroes” and to hear the whole room singing the winning song as the festivities concluded.
To my friends who don’t know Eurovision, I usually describe it as an annual “pop music Olympics”. It is a chance to expand one’s horizons and explore the world of music on a global scale. It offers great entertainment, fresh new music, fun novelty acts and the opportunity to discover artists that could become the superstars of tomorrow.
I understand that some viewers take their Eurovision much more lightly than I do, and that’s OK. With an audience of roughly 200 million viewers, Eurovision is a tradition that can be experienced from many different perspectives, which I believe is consistent with the spirit of Eurovision itself.
To me, the fact that one contest can harness the power of music to focus on what brings us together as people rather than what sets us apart, is something to be admired, respected and revered.
For those reasons, I am proudly a fan of Eurovision.
For more information about Eurovision and its origins, check out the official website at: Eurovision.tv or the Wikipedia link at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurovision_Song_Contest
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