As each country entering the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest has announced their song, there’s been an interesting reaction online. To be honest it’s been a little bit upsetting reading all the diehard fans bemoaning the state of the songs and deciding that the hundreds of thousands of voters across Europe have “chosen the wrong song.”
While it’s brilliant that we all have our opinions and can happily discuss them online, there have been moments when it has strayed away from constructive criticism into the realms of bitterness. For a Contest that was built on bringing people together through song this is a little bit disappointing.
Perhaps more upsetting is the general air of “it’s not as good as it was in my day” present in these conversations. Perhaps the joy of the Song Contest is becoming a treadmill for some?
Nevertheless, all I would say to them is this. For tens of thousands of people this will be their very first Eurovision Song Contest, the first time they come across this riot of sound, colour, politics, fashion, rivalry and music. Do you really want to be ‘that old person’ in the corner trying to spoil it for everyone?
The music might not be to your taste this year, but Eurovision has constantly shifted with the musical times. It would be fair to say that the hardcore fans have a perchance for the more schlager/campy numbers in the National Finals, but that the viewing public are passing these over for more contemporary numbers. Listening to the 2011 slate and there’s a lot of performances that would not look out of place in the modern day singles charts.
There’s a little for everyone in the mix this year, and I’m sure every fan will have their favourites. That all 43 songs don’t conform to a single genre or even fall predominantly under one category is not a failing of the Song Contest, it’s one of its greatest strengths. Who really wants 43 songs that all sound the same? That would just be the death knell for our favourite song contest to cater to just one group of tastes and one type of people.
Eurovision has proven adept at changing with the times and with an advance guard in Alexander Rybak, the raiding party of Lena Meyer-Landrut last year, it’s clear that the Contest is pivoting once again to remain fresh and relevant as it approaches its Diamond anniversary.
Come May, we honestly know you won’t be standing in the corner being ‘that old person’ bemoaning the quality of each song – you’ll be up and dancing or singing along at the likes of Euroclub/Eurocafe in 2011 with everyone else. So why do it now?
2011 may actually, on reflection after the event, stand as the strongest line-up of songs in over a decade. It’s diverse, it’s full of proven talent and it replicates what many of the 125 million viewers would listen to elsewhere. This might not be a year of ‘Eurovision’ songs, but a song contest pure and simple. We ask you to listen to the songs as a field rather than independently, judge not on your personal taste but as a whole. Then comment, constructively.
If we are right with our thinking, this is a moment that deserves to be praised and rewarded. History may remain memorable, but it never repeats.