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Eurovision 2009: It’s all over now

May 16, 2009

Norway has won the Eurovision Song Contest of 2009 (the UK came fifth) in a win which was assured long before the voting began, long before the actual contest’s rehearsals got under way. Alexander Rybak, the 23 year old reality TV star from Belarus, delivered his “Fairytale” in front of a packed crowd at the Olympic Stadium in Moscow. No other country could catch him even though some of us (or rather me) did think that maybe there might be a chance that the United Kingdom might trounce the guy and wipe the confident look off his face. 

No. Don’t worry. Don’t scroll down to the bottom of this page looking for the “Leave a comment” option. I’m not that bitter about it all. In fact, in comparison to last year’s hideous Eurovision experience when a producer screamed down the phone line that yes it absolutely was necessary for me to type up the scores on the website, this year’s Eurovision result hasn’t left me feel all depressed and despondent. I’m not in need of reaching for the rusty knives nor do I feel the need (like last year) to text my boss now and offer my resignation as a result of perceived ritual humiliation. 

No. It’s nowhere near as bad as that. If anything, I know that I will warm to Rybak’s song. There will come a time (possibly even tomorrow) when I can play it and not squirm uncomfortably at his obvious talent, his innate confidence and learned ability to deliver on screen. I will enjoy the song. There will come a time in the future when the sound of his folksy violin riff will transport back to May 2009. The niggles – his chiselled jaw and thick set eyebrows – will dissolve into the past. All we’ll be left with is the song. And I will enjoy it. I know I will. 

At around about the same time I’ll also remember that 24 hours before the final result was in I was writing about how pleased I felt about the UK’s efforts in making more of an effort in the show. I’ll remember how I made a point of saying how it didn’t matter where we came, it was how making an effort was sufficient and that I felt as though it was done all for me. 

That’s when I’ll also remember the painful reality as documented on Twitter (no, I’m not linking to it, you go find it if you have the time at when I appreciated exactly how competitive I really was. During a near-heated exchange with @owenblacker (he doesn’t realise it, but it nearly was) I came close to realising that I’m never happy unless there’s cast iron evidence that the country I’m resident in (or even me) is on top, winning and commanding an impressive lead. It’s all or nothing with me. I’m not someone who deals with anything less particularly well. 

Naturally, such brutal honesty doesn’t exactly sit well. Can you imagine if I was Jade and I was now going to the Eurovision wrap party? I’d be the one snivelling into my pint of lager, shouting obscenities at Norway and gesturing with a couple of fingers whilst my producers looked away asking each other when exactly their planes back home were the following day and whether they were travelling alone. 

None of this detracts (or should detract) from what I thought yesterday. Because what I thought yesterday was absolutely the truth. Our girl Jade did do a fantastic job so too everyone supporting her. It was a massive effort and one which everyone should feel proud of. 

What disturbs me more – and feel free to throw rotten eggs at this particular confession if you wish – is that this very afternoon I was staring into the bathroom mirror and imagining what it would be like if it was Jade up there at the end of voting. What would it be like? Would she be able to sing her song? Would she cry? Would I cry? 

That’s the truth. That’s what happens every single year, in case you hadn’t already realised. There comes a moment every single year when a little voice inside suddenly shouts loud enough and convinces me that yes there may well be a chance that we could clinch it. The unlikeliness of the idea suddenly makes it more plausible and little by little I’m becoming increasingly convinced it will happen. Then when it doesn’t happen I lurch clumsily from country to country berating them for not giving us the top marks I thought we deserved a few hours before solely because my internal dreamer got the better of me. 

Weird isn’t it. A three hour show running for 54 years commands this kind of hold over me (and presumably plenty of others) in the kind of scary, certifiable way it does with me. Is there anything else on TV which does that? Is there a treatment for such an affliction? Does it get better or does it get worse? 

Who knows. I only hope there’s a healthy cross over from the Eurovision Song Contest to the BBC Proms otherwise I truly am doomed.


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  1. I have to say, this year’s show is one of the most “normal” ones I’ve seen. Well done Russia! The opening piece was something to see. And then, those hanging pools of water… it would never pass OHS red tape here in Australia.

  2. Chris permalink

    Every Eurovision fan appreciates the contest in a different way. Glitz and glamour? The thrill of live television? Fervent national ardour? War without tears? 25 ways of spending 3 minutes on stage? A guilty pleasure? An excuse to party? They’re all relevant, valid responses. I’ve thrown myself into it for the last 42 years so have no alternative but to keep going with it. It’s a religion.

    So don’t be disturbed by any reaction you might have to the contest. No matter how many rehearsals, blogs, national selection shows one might have seen, the show on the night is three and a quarter hours of the unknown. You never know quite how things are going to develop. And this can make one get quite emotional, in all sorts of ways.

    My main thought about this year’s contest is that the semis worked so well – they really eliminated the majority of the less successful entries, so that the final was pretty classy. Only a handful of acts underperformed. The majority gave great accounts of themselves.

    The best money-moment of the show for me was the beginning of Patricia Kaas’ performance, being shown walking on to the bare stage from behind with scary theatrical lights hiding the darkness of the audience – coupled with the huge reaction from the crowd. These are things that dreams are made of.

    A marvellous result too. The best team won; our performer gave a fantastic performance; the ones that ended up at the bottom of the list largely deserved to be there, but no one got nul points. We held a great party (even though I say it myself) and everyone went home very happy.

    I love Eurovision.

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