Photo: Reuters/Yves Herman
From my very first year of living in Australia, Eurovision had always hung about in my peripheral knowledge. It was around this time of the year in 2009 that I first heard whispers of excitement during lunch break about it, usually from girls who’s families’ ethnicities originate from European countries. Which I think explains a lot about Australia’s fascination with the program itself despite this year’s Austria location being a cool 30 hours of travel away from the land down under. Australia is mini planet Earth, you name it we’ve got someone with the dual citizenship for it. I mean I’m fairly sure it wasn’t two weeks ago that S.H.E., the Taiwanese voice of my generation of Malaysian SJK (C) students, had their concert in Sydney. The real Mr. Worldwide is an Aussie bloke.
Last year I had the absolute pleasure of watching my first ever Eurovision finals while in Europe, Jordan’s corridor in Swedenland to be exact. It was probably the most quintessentially European cultural experience I had in Stockholm, a feat that isn’t hard to beat considering 80% of my Swedish adventures were spent at the Game On 2.0 exhibition at Tekniska Museet, eating hummus and Middle Eastern ozi rice for dinner and just generally avoiding snow. Stockholm was awesome, you can see more of my exchange posts here. Eurovision 2014 finals night was the night I realised that despite the approximate 50 countries in Europe, there were really only three different kinds of Europeans:
Europeans who love Eurovision
We began our Eurovision screening with traditional Swedish fare of Peking duck and cold soba noodle salad, supplied wholly from the local only Asian grocery store in Stockholm run by Thai descents. When the show began, cue Daisy and Armin who provided the most intelligent yet “too crass to repeat to my mother” commentary that I felt my stomach was going to explode from laughing.Not that Eurovision really needed it, it was early in the night but I’d already lost it to Romania’s top shelf CGI and state-of-the-art PianoArc white elephant. Was Ovi really playing it? According to Romania it doesn’t matter as long as it glows because everything from Paula Seling’s dress to the futuristic cube cage certainly was.
Europeans who don’t understand Europeans who love Eurovision
As more of our friends started to pour in, the diverse nationalities almost warranted us to have our own Eurovision right there and then. I remember seeing Andrea’s deadpan face through the blurred tears in my eyes after witnessing Poland’s We are Slavic, performed by my favourite Donatan & Cleo. He was clearly a veteran Eurovision viewer who needed more than butter-churning and washboarding pseudo-porn to be entertained.
Gif: The Roosevelts
Andrea of course changed his tune when Sweden’s Sanna Nielsen came on stage to perform Undo, a song that held a special place in his heart. After hearing it at countless of karaoke session’s at Stockholm’s Soft Kök bar, he knew it word for word. But for more or less of the rest of the night, a number of our group remained mostly unimpressed. No doubt the garish “special” effects and have worn off during the years. But for the fledgling that I am, Eurovision is still magic. Which brings me to the last category.
Honourary Europeans who love Eurovision
I’m setting aside as much of my Sunday morning as possible beginning from 5 am to watch the finals with the rest of the exchange group via Skype. It’s very likely that this plan will not work and to make this year’s Eurovision as entertaining as the last, I will probably have to start drinking at 8 am. This year I will be rooting for the down-underdog, Guy Sebastian, in Australia’s first ever opportunity to participate in the competition. Not only is he Australian, but as every Malaysian knows, he was also born in Malaysia. Because if some famous person’s aunt’s second-cousin’s cat is Malaysian, we make sure the world hears of it. More hotly anticipated than Guy’s performance though is probably Lee Lin Chin (Australia’s spokesperson)’s wardrobe for the event. I hope there are dress changes.
Are you guys watching Eurovision this year or does its tackiness make you want to tear your arm off and throw it at your TV?