by Aubrey Aikens
I. Love. Eurovision.
There’s not much in this world that will make me stop in my tracks and sit in front of a television for days on end. Even though I am a writer-which often seems to be associated with feelings of reclusiveness and long periods of sitting in oversized armchairs-I do not love being stationary.
If I am going to be totally honest with you today (which is kind of the point of this blog), I should just admit Eurovision is the only thing that will keep me focused for more than an hour.
For all you people who are currently asking themselves “what on The Home Planet of Bill Murray is she on about?” The Eurovision Song Contest-also known simply as Eurovision-is essentially the singing Olympics. Each participating country selects a representative artist who submits an original song to be performed live on both television and radio, then international viewers and professional judges cast votes for their favorite songs which are counted in order to determine a winner. The winner’s country becomes the “host” for the next year (for example, Netta Barzilai, an Israeli singer, won the 2018 competition and consequently the contest was hosted in Tel Aviv in 2019).
There is nothing more exciting than seeing live performances of artists from all over the world. The general exposure is great for the individuals themselves, and the idea that countries can lay down their past differences and sing is a concept that I will always get behind. Events that foster camaraderie internationally are imperative towards learning how to love one another; events that feature music as the binding agent between countries are even better.
Music is a truly unbridled form of communication. There are no rules about using words, and there’s no need to understand different languages…in many cases, people do not even need to be able to hear in order to enjoy music. My friends in the Deaf community have always enjoyed going to experience their favorite artists live, and it has been fun to explore with them the many amazing facets of music that are not limited by the sound itself. Music is something that you can feel both emotionally and physically. There is no stopping someone from loving what music can do to the body. I don’t know how many of you watch the sign language interpreters at festivals and concerts, but man, do they know how to get into the groove. I swear, they are some of the most funky people on the stage.
Additionally, music most certainly can be used to convey important information. Embedded into some of the most beautiful melodies are some of the most brutally honest critiques of society, the most raw recountings of horrific events, and snippets of the most soul-crushing moments of a person’s life. Profound sadness, mind-splitting fury, pure elation—there are no limits to what music can communicate to a listener, only those that the artist puts upon themselves.
But I digress.
Eurovision’s true beauty lies in its ability to provide access to exploring new countries. It is essentially giving people a free pass to learn about cultures, languages and opinions other than their own without having to do too much work. The competition collects music and puts it in one place, ready for consumption. The best way to learn how we, as international neighbors, can create a better, more unified world is to open ourselves up to diversity and practicing tolerance which hopefully develops into love and acceptance. What better way to do that than jamming out to a song for three minutes? That’s an awful short amount of time to dedicate towards something so important…
Although Eurovision for this year has ended, I still feel like there are some great things to talk about regarding the entrants. As of right now, I’ve listened to all the songs available and I’m not “underwhelmed” exactly, but I’m definitely not what you could consider blown away. Many of the songs over the last few years have started to run together in my ears, and personally, do not speak to me on a level that makes me exclaim “they’re getting my vote!” I often forget who is who, because nothing is sticking out as much as I would hope. That being said, Iceland and Australia have absolutely won my heart over. Iceland’s own Hatari entered with Hatrið Mun Sigra, which is a divisive song that utilizes a level of intensity that is contrasted quite beautifully with the angelic melodic line. Kate Miller-Heidke of Australia brought forth Zero Gravity which dips its toes into a genre that I affectionately like to call “Popera”—but this time with a twist. Unlike singers such as Estonia’s representative from 2017, Elina Nechayeva, Kate seamlessly blended pop and opera techniques into one song, rather than simply making an operatic song sound like it belongs in more “Top 40” genre. There is no doubt in my mind that both songs will end up on my favorite Spotify playlist.
Take my little commentary as you will, but be both know that this is never the end of my Eurovision discussion. As the time grows nearer to the next competition in The Netherlands, you better believe I will discuss the new songs in greater depth, so strap yourselves in. Miller-Heidke and Hatari were my favorites this year, and despite both countries having no previous first-place winners, I think that their respective entrants are both of a high caliber and unique vocal presentation. This gives them a unique opportunity to make an impact on the audience and are an excellent representation of their beautiful countries.
Let the games begin!