Bring out the flags, organize the drinking game, wear your highest platform boots and prepare those ABBA sing-alongs: The Eurovision Song Contest is back, baby! In these dark times of political uncertainty, fractured international relations and the seeming unstoppable rise of Ed Sheeran, it’s a comfort to know that we can turn to the never-surpassed joy of Eurovision to cure what ails us. Where else in the world would you find this sublime mixture of unabashed camp and geopolitical pettiness? This is the closest we’ll get to The Hunger Games without having to actually murder people, although if you set such violent maiming to a good enough beat, you’d probably still get douze points.
This year, the competition is taking place in Lisbon, Portugal, giving the country its first win in the competition in 53 years. Amar pelos dois by Salvador Sobral is a sweet little ballad, the kind of European love song you’d hear in a Parisian cafe, but it’s not necessarily a Eurovision song. Usually, when simple ballads win the competition, I get salty as fuck. We’ve already got enough douchey white boys with acoustic guitars poisoning our airwaves, we need to keep Eurovision sacred. Still, I did like the song and was glad it won, although I’m unsure it deserved to become the highest scoring song in the history of the competition.
This year sees some familiar faces return to the fold. Alexander Rybak, the Norwegian singer who won the contest in 2009 with Fairytale - at the time the most successful scoring song in the competition’s history - is back with That’s How You Write a Song. It’s not as good as Fairytale, but we expect it to do very well. The Netherlands are sending Waylon again, after he performed in 2014 as one part of The Common Linnets (their song placed second).
Notably, Russia are back this year, having pulled out of last year’s competition due to political strain. Their entrant for 2018 is Yuliya Samoylova, who was supposed to attend the contest in Kiev last year. The song is mostly meh, but Russia are known for bringing out the big guns for Eurovision year after year, and this feels like such a phone-in. If you’re going to be the peacock strutting country who’s determined to show how much better you are than everyone else, at least bring your A-game to the table.
By contrast, Ukraine are sending a fellow named Melovin, who looks like every man I ever wrote fan-fiction about as a teenager. His song, Under the Ladder, is much better, and look at that controlled wind machine use. He knows what he’s doing.
One of the most hyped songs of the year comes courtesy of Israel. Toy by Netta sounds very off the moment and walks that fine line between being utterly entrancing and essentially the worst thing you’ve ever heard. In other words, full on Eurovision.
As always, in matters of Eurovision, one must turn to Sweden. Benjamin Ingrosso’s Dance You Off is not a high point for the nation that brought us Waterloo, but it does sound exactly like something Shawn Mendes would sing, which makes me think it’ll do very well.
For me, the Scandinavian peak of contestants this year comes courtesy of Denmark, who are sending some sort of bearded rocker named Rasmussen. I appreciate it when Eurovision singers go full Miss World in their lyrics, and this one is all about solving conflicts through peaceful means, aww. The song is much better than that sounds, I swear.
As always, five countries plus last year’s winner get through to the final without having to qualify, because Great Britain wouldn’t have a chance any other way. Our entrant this year is a woman called SuRie (that’s how she spells her name), with a song called Storm. For a change, we don’t seem to be sending someone who came 5th or 6th on The Voice, so we’re moving up in the world. Storm is fine, but by British Eurovision standards, it’s bloody brilliant. A bit bland, but more in line with the Europop of years past than whatever we’ve been sending for the past decade or so. I’m just waiting for us to bite the bullet and send Steps or whatever One Direction member needs the money the most.
Fortunately for you American souls, you’ll actually be able to watch the final live, as Logo TV have the broadcasting rights. In lieu of Britain’s commentator, Graham Norton, you’ll get Ross Mathews and Shangela. Halleloo.
The world is dark and pop music makes me happy, so I look forward to Eurovision every year, even if I just end up watching it on my own with a few bottles of prosecco and a curry from my local take-away. The bonding that comes with tweeting along with my fellow fans is a true joy, and beats trying to explain to my parents why Eurovision isn’t shit.
What song is your favourite entry for 2018 Eurovision? What’s your favourite Eurovision song ever? Let’s be honest, it’s probably Waterloo, so what’s your favourite non-ABBA Eurovision song? I’ve got to go with Alcohol is Free. Share your answers in the comments!