You never forget your first time (Or so they say) No, I’m talking about Eurovision! I think all of us who know and love the Eurovision Song Constest have a special place in our hearts for the first one we ever encountered. In this little series I’m going to talk to some Eurovision fans about their first contest, what they loved about it, what made them come back and why they still love it today – I thought I’d start with my own Eurovision journey…
This year will by my 26th Eurovision Song Contest. I first ‘met’ Eurovision in 1991 when I was 13. I don’t remember how I first heard about it, but I remember hearing Samantha Janus’ song ‘A Message to Your Heart’ being played on the radio (back in the days when they did play ESC songs on the radio!) and slowly hearing that it was our entry for some kind of music competition.
I think it was my friend at school, a guy called Tom, who first explained to me what Eurovision was, he was already a convert to the world of Eurovision. So I dutifully tuned in, and if I’m being honest I didn’t really understand what was going on! I knew the UK’s song a bit from hearing it on the radio, but hadn’t a clue about anyone or anything else!
I remember being impressed with the Swedish song, but of course I wanted the UK to win, but I wanted Sweden to come 2nd, I was fascinated by all things Swedish at the time as my Dad was working for a Swedish company and would regularly travel to Stockholm and Malmo. I had a Swedish penpal and was attempting to learn some Swedish (that fell by the wayside a long time ago and I can’t speak a word of it now!)
When it transpired that the UK wasn’t going to win, I quickly began to cheer on Carola and was utterly thrilled when she won. I remember grabbing my tape recorder, which I kept by the telly so as I could record top of the pops (some of you reading this will not remember crouching by the TV with your tape recorder next to the speaker and pressing play & record at the same time!) and I taped Carola’s winning performance, I must have listened to it all summer long!
By the time 1992 came around I was ‘in love’ and I couldn’t wait for the evening to come round. Tom and I had been talking at school about almost nothing else for weeks, and of course it was in the days when the first time any of us heard the songs was at the competition. The show opened and we saw the amazing set with the Viking ship with smoke coming out of it as the stage backdrop, oh yes I was impressed! I sat with my tape recorder recording the countries I loved (basically UK, Ireland, Sweden and Austria!) again I must have listened to those recordings all summer long. I was thrilled for the Irish entry Linda Martin, but of course none of us knew then that this was going to kick off the Irish domination of the contest in the 1990’s. (On a side note I’d never heard of Johnny Logan, don’t judge me!)
I also fell in love with the young Swede who entered that year, Christer Bjorkman, and I will confess to slightly loosing my senses at last years London Eurovision Party when Christer performed it just a few feet away from me, I may or may not have had a tear in my eye, as I was remembering back to the 14 year old me listening to my scratchy recording from the TV on my walkman whilst walking to school!
What I loved was the sense of being European that the contest gave me. I was always a fairly world-aware child but the idea that something else that I loved, music, could open a continent I had never even really thought about before, was just magic in my teenage brain. In the age before the internet it was just brilliant, the postcards gave a glimpse into countries I’d never heard of, people who seemed so exotic, music styles I’d never heard before – I couldn’t help but become a huge fan of the show.
Today I still love it. It’s changed so much in that time, as has Europe, nowadays I know virtually all the songs weeks before Eurovision and am so privileged to be a member of the Eurovision Ireland team. You may be surprised to know that my first ever time actually going to Eurovision will be this year in Stockholm, I have always watched it on the TV, never in person so where 1991 will always be special to me, so will 2016.
There is so much more I could write about ways in which this music competition has influenced me and the course of my life but if there were three people I could meet in person and say ‘Thank you’ to they would be Fazla (Bosnia 1993), Conchita Wurst (Austria 2014) and Garrett Mullhall (Editor in Chief, Eurovision Ireland) – actually Garrett I can do that with!
Next week I’ll be talking to more Eurovision fans about their first time and their love for the competition…
Which was your first Eurovision? What did you first love about the contest? Share with us in the comments section below, or on Facebook.
Author: Lisa-Jayne Lewis
Source: Eurovision Ireland