I’ve had an idea for a song. It’s about freedom. No, it’s about community. No, it’s about triumph over adversity. No, it’s about cultural oppression. No, it’s about mental health issues. No, it’s about rainbows and machine guns. No, it’s about fear and friendship. No, it’s about world peace and Winnie Mandela’s favourite rent boy. No, it’s about war and hot dogs. No, it’s about care homes and croissants. No, it’s about climate change and bow ties. No, it’s about men with vaginas. No, it’s about liberalism and bondage. No, it’s about adoption and arson. No, it’s about immigration and ice cream. No, it’s about equal opportunities and photocopy toner. No, it’s about smoked ham hock and homosexual hamsters. No, it’s about Napoleon and miniskirts. No, it’s about women with testicles and three-legged zebras. No, it’s about Donald Trump and Tia Maria. No, it’s about all those things and none of them at all. In my head I’ll be singing it wearing a shiny tutu and Doc Marten boots and a t-shirt that says ‘#allforlove@loveforall’ and my hair will be curly and blue and I’ll be backed by a gospel choir of juggling midgets and behind me a big screen will be showing clips from The Wizard Of Oz and Titanic and there will be fireworks and confetti and enough flashing lights to make you think that celestial stars were colliding in your own living room. The song, of course, will be absolutely, unbearably shit, which is why there would only be one home for it. And that would be Eurovision.
How have we sunk so low that Eurovision is no longer simply an event but rather a way of life that we must come to terms with without ever being given the choice of opting out? It seems to always be almost out of sight or suddenly chasing our heels. It is omnipresent. It has become an inexplicable musical landmark when in truth, behind all the glitter and oil and sweaty grins it is simply the best go-to excuse for very bad music and even worse taste. Years ago, it was delivered as a wry aside. There was an unspoken but almost tangible admission of its own sense of crap; it didn’t matter who won because every act and every performance was already so bloody awful that you couldn’t tell where the next grim assault on your senses was going to come from. It felt like it was ok to say you liked Eurovision because no-one would ever believe that you were telling the truth. Now it’s become something far more serious. Still camp, and crappier than ever, but behaving like it has something meaningful to say. Like it has true socio-political heft and can wave an agenda to change the world without breaking out into giggles. This is all utter nonsense and I beg you not to be fooled. It may look like fun, but Eurovision is in truth the final nail in the coffin of culture. It is the light being switched on in a room full of children’s corpses and then pretending there’s nothing wrong with that. Eurovision is our acceptance that we are becoming artistically redundant. It isn’t art and it isn’t all a big joke we can join in with. Instead, it is about as much fun as swallowing forks and shitting knives. Eurovision has decided it might have the power to change the world, but it doesn’t. It only has the power to lather up and gloss, and far less than little else.
As you probably know we have Ukraine to thank for this recent upgrade of Euro-aggrandizement, or rather Mr Putin trying to get frisky in them in the prison shower. In Britain we’ve been so used to being battered in the Eurovision finals that coming second last year with the catchy-like-syphilis ‘Spaceman’ took us by surprise (the same sort of surprise that somehow made Katie Price seem like a viable option at one point a few years ago) and immediately Sam Ryder was declared some sort of instant national treasure. But the voting system is so shallow and generally mean-spirited and the songs so uniformly bad that it barely conceals the fact that the whole thing is all about having a big non-binary, bitchy bash and acting as if the world is about to end, not as if it has a chance of being saved. Ukraine being battered in another fashion means, as they keep saying, that this year it is still their party but it’s being held at our house. In this case our house is Liverpool, a city that hasn’t seen anything this big, depressing and pointless since Jimmy Tarbuck. From the moment they were announced as hosts it feels like we’ve been deep throated with Eurovision build up, graced by every shouty, talent free presenter popping up to tell us all how excited we should be, not to mention grateful.
In magazines and newspapers and on TV we have been treated to lists of the best Eurovision moments (though it really means the least appalling) of all time, if one is prepared to accept that all time began in 1956, the very same year that fucking dreadful music was invented. These lists are all tear-inducingly predictable with Nordic troll whores Lordi, skirt snatching grin monkeys Bucks Fizz and eternally baffling woman with a beard Conchita Wurst all featuring highly. But the top spot will forever be given to ABBA and ‘Waterloo’, a song that is far more terrible than anyone remembers. We think of ABBA as some kind of saviours, but while they may have had a way with a catchy tune they are more like someone’s idea of impeccably disposable; a temporary pick-me-up for a wet drive home after work. It is ABBA that lie behind what we know of Eurovision today. I’m as much a fan of cheesy pop as the next person and fans of Eurovision will tell you that’s the name of their game, but what you really get with Eurovision is a spandex dressed bucket of bleach and effluent, stirred together and left out in the sun to pollute the air around us. And, worse still, this year will be the template for the next. We now live in a world where almost everything imaginable is being made into a musical because there are no good ideas left, and where ABBA are so popular they don’t even have to turn up to their own fucking concerts. At first our sense of taste got lazy, but now it’s long term unemployed and applying for a gastric band and a mobility scooter. There was once a time when I would watch a little bit of Eurovision night, just for the sport, but I’m being sucked under no longer. Liverpool, a city that thrives off the ghosts of what good music used to sound like, will be in ecstasy tonight, but will wake up tomorrow with a bad taste in its mouth and a guilty look on its face. There’s no going back now, Eurovision is about to become an uncontrollable beast. Be careful, one day Eurovision will be all there is left. And then you’ll be sorry.
G B Hewitt. 13.05.2023