Imagine 43 countries from all around the world competing to show off their musical talents. Yes, it’s real and it happens every year in a different country. It’s Eurovision. Every year, the winning nation becomes the host nation for the following edition, reinforcing the sense of multiculturalism and inclusivity that is the pillar of its founding philosophy. In 2019, the enormous Eurovision machine will go to Israel, home to this year’s winner Netta.
Her song “Toy” was one of the best received during and after the contest. Competition was tough, and Cyprus almost had the title with Eleni Foureira’s “Fuego”, but Netta’s upbeat energy, amazing voice and powerful presence took the audience’s hearts. The song might’ve clicked with the public because of its feminist overtones, and it was great to see a curvy woman being celebrated for herself, despite of where she comes from.
The Eurovision contest started in 1954 and it still continues to involve and excite thousands and thousands of people from outside the regional borders of Europe or the political ones of the EU: Australia is one of the contestants and Eurovision is very appreciated in China too. Yes. Believe it: maybe you haven’t ever heard of Eurovision until now, but it’s definitely a thing. A huge thing.
— BBC One (@BBCOne) May 12, 2018
This year, I spent four days in Lisbon, Portugal to follow Eurovision from the inside working as press (I also did a takeover on The Tempest Instagram!) and it was a truly overwhelming experience. Eurovision has completely entered the popular stage in millennial culture thanks to social media, live reactions and memes. It brings thousands of people together for four nights a year, where we share laughs, tears, pride and indignation.
The contest pretty much helps understand the meaning of the European Union. You see people from all over Europe (and beyond) and can feel how important the contest is for not just the people in it, but the people there to support their own country and others too.
Inside the working press area, the atmosphere was incredible: it was like stepping into another dimension. During the grand finale, there were 26 songs competing and every journalist obviously had their favorite. I was delighted to see that the Italian song, “Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente”, (translation: “you didn’t do anything to me”) by Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro, a song about all the bombings and the terrorist attacks that happened in these years all over the world, was widely appreciated. Even by people who did not understand most of the lyrics because of the language barrier, but who still got the general sense.
— Digital Spy (@digitalspy) May 12, 2018
I saw a colleague from Spain getting emotional about the song and I suddenly got emotional too. I’m Italian, and I am in love with Spain (with Catalunya in particular, an amazing region with a strong cultural background that really inspires a strong sense of pride and love). I was also moved by Spain’s song when I heard it during the first dress rehearsal. I was unable to sit still during Israel’s song, I was screaming during the Hungarian one, I was dancing during the exhibitions of Sweden, Czech Republic, and Cyprus and I had tears watching the video for French. Petty country rivalries are somewhat both reinforced and teared down when it comes to voting for your favorite.
During those four days I had the chance to work next to colleagues from all over the world, spoke in all the languages I know, and I felt so lucky to be part of something so huge, so important, so real that brings us all together. Yes, we’re talking about music, we’re talking about songs and artists and costumes and choreography, but it’s something very deeply connected with national cultures, national pride and politics too.
— TechnicallyRon (@TechnicallyRon) May 12, 2018
For example, this year the Irish song was censored in China due to the LGBT contents of the lyrics and the choreography; Netta’s was boycotted (Lisbon was full of flyers asking to give Israel 0 votes because of the Palestinian conflict). Russia didn’t make the final cut and lot of people thought it was unfair because of the singer’s disability. Turkey has refused to take part in the contest or even associate with it ever since drag queen Conchita Wurst won in 2012.
Eurovision is so much more than a simple music contest: it reflects what is going on in the world and it helps us understand others. This is one of the worst political moments in recent European history, (especially for Italy) but I firmly believe that initiatives like Eurovision can make it better, through communication and the free sharing of ideas. We are so lucky to live in a reality where borders are just a memory and we are already struggling with the borders we aren’t capable to cancel, so how could you not fall in love with the message Eurovision is spreading since its very beginning?
We can come from all over the world, speak different languages and have different cultural backgrounds, but when it comes to pop culture, music and memes… we are all European people, even our cousins from Australia.
If you want to be a part of a more unified world, be sure to follow the 64thedition of Eurovision in May 2019! There’s a big family of fans waiting to welcome you into their warm embrace.