2020

#EDITORIAL: Shine a light

#EDITORIAL: Shine a light

As usual, the devoted Eurovision fan community will be picking apart what happened on the evening of Eurovision Day. Except, it was no normal Eurovision Day (is there ever?). In place of the usual riotous cavalcade of quality song, we had a pared down show, with music and chat, but none of the voting.

We all know why. Thanks to a global pandemic, we’ll have to wait another 12 months before we can descend on a city somewhere in Europe and celebrate our favourite TV show.

But how was it? We’ve seen online every opinion possible, from “what a waste of time” to “what a wonderful show”. We’re in the second camp. It would never be a normal Eurovision Day, and what we saw from Hilversum was a fitting tribute to the hard work put in by 41 broadcasters around Europe (and Australia), proving that there’s life in the old Eurovision dog yet.

AVROTROS threw together the show in seven weeks with so many constraints it was unbelievable. The broadcaster had borne in mind that it needed to appeal to over 100 million viewers, so it was always going to be a tricky balancing act, with what to include and what to omit.

In celebrating the past, Eurovision Ireland was more than happy to see Mr Eurovision performing his winner from 40 – yes, 40 – years ago. It’s natural that Johnny didn’t look quite as fresh-faced as he did in 1980, but he can still carry a tune. Måns has still got it too, and he’s fully aware that as a Swedish winner, he’s popular for at least two reasons. Even your passing viewer will probably have heard of him. And performances from Marija Šerifović and the legendary Gali Atari showed that we are all in this together and those empty scenes from Belgrade and Jerusalem would have been the same in every major city in Europe.

As for the present, naturally the main focus was the 30-second extracts of the songs. “What a joke”, was what some have said. But when you’re making a programme for a pan-European audience, you need to appeal to muggles like Mr Ivanov in Sofia or Mrs Kristjándóttir in Kirkjubæjarklaustur. They would normally be your televoters, and I’ll wager your average televoter may have made a decision on whether they like a song in those thirty seconds anyway. While the fans punch above their collective weight opinion-wise, a fan community of only a few thousand is still only a very tiny fraction of the Eurovision Song Contest’s viewing public and target audience.

We looked to the future, with JESC winner Viki from Poland. JESC is often derided by many in the fan community (shame on you), but they are the stars of tomorrow, and a number of them have already made the leap. Viki will be representing her country at big ESC one day we’re sure. After all, look at Destiny…

But the crowning glories of last night were the two takes on ‘Love shine a light’. Could it be that this song will stand the test of time more than the rest? An orchestral version would (and did) send many into floods of tears. And then there was the climax, and what a climax. Who had a dry eye? If you did, you must be a hard-nosed individual. You could tell some of the acts were reading the lyric, rather than performing it by heart. But it summed up the mood in the continent (and Australia) in just under four minutes.

So, what now? It’s likely we’ll be in Rotterdam in May 2021. We’ll see many of this year’s acts there, obviously with new songs. As the potential acts now know their competition, we’re going to see something special at the Ahoy. Eurovision is not dead – AVROTROS and Co is just keeping it warm for us.

Thank you to all the broadcasters, for coming together in these unprecedented times. Thank you to the EBU for pulling it all together. Thank you to the performers for sticking with it, despite obvious disappointment. And thank you to the fans for embracing and generally getting behind what we’ve seen instead. It would be a dull old world if we all liked the same rubbish, but together we can see this through and come out stronger. Next year will be an even bigger party than usual. And as a certain great-grandmother recently said: “We will meet again”.

Author: John Stanton

Source: Eurovision Ireland

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