Mark your calendar. Saturday, May 14, 2016. On this day, for the first time ever the European psychodrama known as the Eurovision Song Contest comes to the United States. Stream the event here or catch it in the US on the Logo channel.
Here’s a quick overview for non-Europeans. Eurovision is the annual, continent-wide song contest — rather like football’s World Cup (soccer, for my US readers). Over 40 nations compete for the honor of best pop song. Since its origin in 1956, Eurovision has expanded beyond the boundaries of Europe to include entries from Israel, North Africa and even Australia. Around 200 million people tune in to watch the finals. The winner is chosen by a panel of judges from each nation, combined with votes from viewers. This year’s event is broadcast from Stockholm — the venue is selected based on the nationality of the previous year’s winner.
What makes it so popular? Well, it’s camp and kitschy. But, above all it’s a nationalistic festival wrapped in bubblegum: patriotic one-upmanship under the guise of pop. Importantly, it allows nations to exhibit their superiority over neighboring countries without bloodshed. Let’s face it — if you’re British, there is nothing better than trouncing the French in Eurovision.
Read more details from NYT here.
Image: Jamie-Lee represents Germany in the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest with Ghost. From the semi-final. Courtesy: Thomas Hanses (EBU).