Full disclosure before we begin: I am a Eurovision nerd. I have an agenda here, and that is to make you a Eurovision nerd too. I want as many of you as possible in my gang of happy, sequin-swaddled, flag-waving misfits, so that eventually we can take over and become the mainstream – like football fans, or Beliebers.
All I ask is that you keep an open mind, ok? Don’t judge before you really understand. Here are the reasons you should cancel whatever cool thing you were planning to do on Saturday night and watch The Eurovision Song Contest instead.
1. The hilarity
Guys, the hilarity. Anytime a Eurovision hater wrinkles their nose and asks, “but WHYYY would you watch that?”, the best and truest answer, like so many things in life, is: “for the lols”. So many lols. Lols on top of lols. Lols that sneak up on you while you’re still trying to get your breath back from the last one and so you end up snorting Fanta out of your nose.
Think about how much you laugh watching The Great British Bake Off, when you don’t even care about baking. Now imagine that The Great British Bake Off is three and a half hours long, and instead of cake and biscuits there are weird interpretative dance routines and a lot of skintight pleather, and instead of Mel and Sue you have a gang of Russian grannies singing a song about partying over a funky dance beat, or a Finnish heavy metal band dressed as terrifying monsters with badly-translated lyrics about Jesus. Or Jedward.
And if that wasn’t good enough, Graham Norton is then cracking his own piss-take jokes over the top. It’s so funny it counts as an abs workout. It’d be unhealthy NOT to watch.
2. The love
Like a warm, inclusive hug so big it encompasses a whole continent, Eurovision is for everyone. Whether you’re a drag queen with a luscious black beard who wants to own the stage in a fabulous evening gown, a long-forgotten star who wants to make a comeback or a giant turkey puppet who just wants to make themselves heard, there’s space on the stage for you – and your troop of kooky backing dancers. “Come on up!” says Eurovision. “We don’t care if you’re a weirdo! We don’t even care if you can sing!”
“Except you, Britain. You can’t sit with us.”
3. The spectacle
So bold, bonkers and glitter-fabulous it makes the final of RuPaul’s Drag Race look like Newsnight, Eurovision is a feast for ALL your senses. Except maybe your sense of taste.
Expect: big dresses that open out into BIGGER dresses; costumes apparently made from tin foil; makeup that looks like a YouTube tag challenge; people wearing things as hats that were definitely not intended to be hats; confetti cannons; acrobats unfurling from the ceiling on… unfurling things; pyrotechnics so violent you worry for everybody’s eyebrows; dancers you have to squint extra hard at to double-check they’re not naked. Sometimes all in one entry.
The bonding potential
Whether you use it as an excuse to spend some quality time with your family (why not be super cool like mine, and watch it with your own individual scorecards?), gather your mates for a viewing party (why not be super cool like mine, and watch it with your own individual scorecards?) or just cosy up by yourself with every Korean sheet mask in Superdrug (why not be super cool like me, and watch it with… haha no but, seriously), Eurovision is the kind of fun-packed cultural event that solid gold memories are made of.
And it only comes around once a year, so cherish it while you have the chance.
The underdog stories
This year marks 20 years since the UK last won Eurovision (with Katrina and the Waves’ belter of a ballad, Love Shine A Light – check out the velvet trouser suit). Sob. In recent years our track record has gone from average to embarrassing, to ‘oh s**t’, to now, where we probably wouldn’t win even if our entry was Adele, riding a giant unicorn, wearing a t-shirt that said ‘SORRY ABOUT BREXIT’ on it.
But that’s also part of the fun! Because we get to learn humility, and weep along when the underdog rises up to claim the victory. We get to pretend that we were, like, obviously only joking for that 10 minutes we spent passionately telling everyone we might stand a chance after Ireland gave us a whole six points, and we get to listen to our Dads’ traditional “but PAH, we produced THE BEATLES!!” speech at the end after they’ve had a few Belgian lagers. Fun!
6. The musical heritage
Right so, admittedly Eurovision tends to give us more in the novelty nonsense category than it does in the ‘actual music you might listen to the rest of the year’ realm, but over the past 61 years there have been a few legitimately brilliant hits. For one thing, ABBA became famous after winning Eurovision in 1974. Without it, there would be no Mamma Mia and therefore no Dominic Cooper singing Lay All Your Love On Me in his swimming trunks. So let’s be thankful for that.
And even our own little island was one of the popular kids, once. Watch Lulu’s 60s stonker Boom Bang A Bang, Brotherhood of Man’s 70s twee-fest Save Your Kisses For Me and Bucks Fizz’s 80s classic Making Your Mind Up for a taste of simpler times, when all we had to do to impress our neighbours over the channel was backcomb our hair huge and do a silly dance. Sigh.
The snack potential
Everyone knows that the correct way to watch Eurovision is in front of a vast buffet of Euro-themed treats that cover every country on the list. But if your local Tesco is fresh out of Moldovan cabbage rolls and Ukrainian pig’s trotter jelly, hummus and pizza will probably do.
It’s basically educational
I mean, do YOU know exactly what the capital of Slovakia is, or how to pronounce Bosnia Herzegovina? No don’t lie.
We might win!
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA obviously we won’t. There is more chance of Prince, David Bowie and Whitney Houston all coming back to life and forming a supergroup with Prince Phillip on drums than of the UK winning Eurovision this year, or any year for the foreseeable future. But hey, we still *might*! It’s not technically impossible!
And if we DO, mate, trust me – you are going to want to see that.