Last night, it was the 67th Eurovision, and was hosted in the UK for the first time in 25 years. Here’s Vision’s experience of watching Eurovision!
Before the international festivities began, we swung by YUSU and YSTV’s Roger Kirk Center watch party for some local Eurovision fun! Starting the night with speciality cocktails, weird games and a healthy bit of competition in a UoY CollegeVision (congrats Goodricke!), the party had all the makings of a fabolous Eurovision extravaganza. YUSU President Pierrick Roger even escaped being tied to a chair in a segment called ‘Un…tied by music.” And no I can’t explain it.
But Eurovision isn’t just a weird cacophony of bizarre costumes and flashy music, it also has a whole lot of heart . Vision spoke with some of the gathered York Eurovision fans to discuss the vast importance of the event and whether Australia should even be in Eurovision!
YUSU Community and Wellbeing Officer Hannah Nimmo, shared “It looks absolutely fantastic. The whole of the UK is excited for it to be here.” A lifelong Eurovision fan, she noted it’s a unique “Celebration of culture, of diversity, of what makes every person different. Just putting all of that on the screen for the world to see.”
YUSU President Pierrick Roger, a first-time viewer, was looking forward to seeing “Everything and more. It’s just fun!”
YUSU Activities Officer Rohan Ashar, who organised the campus watch party, noted, “Loads of people were wanting Eurovision events on campus this year. It’s exciting that it’s in the UK, but it’s also sad for Ukraine, hopefully sometime in the future we can actually have one over there.”
“It’s people just expressing themselves. Celebrating music, celebrating different nationalities.”
Ukraine’s co-hosting position remained an important part of the festivities, even as the event took place in the UK. I spoke with some blue and yellow-clad members of the Ukrainian Society and Ukrainian students studying in York, who were deeply touched by the support the UK is showing. Society President Vitalani shared “Even though the UK hosts this year, the representation of Ukrainian culture and Ukrainian singers is huge,” while Anna added, “You feel like you’re almost in Ukraine.”
Speaking about their contenders in the event, they were particularly excited to see how ‘Ternopil’ would continue to combine Ukrainian culture “in a very brand new and modern type of music.” However ultimately, they noted how Ukraine was a bit distracted this year. “All Ukrainians these days are thinking about the other victory that we will have very soon.”
Die hard fans Ava and Mia were keen to note the dual hosting duties of this years event. While Mia highlight how its “crazy to have it so close to home,” Ava felt that “they could have appreciated Ukrainian culture more. It’s a bit too much British culture for something that’s supposed to be about Ukraine.”
Of course the wacky, weirdness of Eurovision is memorable for all viewers. Mia elaborated; “It’s extremely camp. If you want to watch something cheesy or something to make you feel better about yourself you watch Eurovision. And I look forward to it every year.”
YSTV host and massive Eurovision fan Keoni added, “It’s a big camp party of fun.”
“I’ve been to three shows in Liverpool so far… regrettably for my bank account.”
Other fans were not so lucky, with friends Megan, Sophie, Ana and Rebecca unable to watch in Liverpool due to train cancellations. Fans of the deeper nuance Eurovision always brings, they shared “It’s a chance for the countries in Europe to get together, I’m really into history and it’s very much sort of a political piece.”
Grace and Rachel also enjoy the cultural experience of Eurovision, and were looking forward to seeing “singers singing in their own languages.”
And this inclusion of culture became particularly evident when I asked everyone if Australia (famously not in Europe) should be in Eurovision.
While some people were confused “Why would they, its Eurovision!”, others remained securely lukewarm “I don’t think we should kick them out.” Most however, in the spirit of weird and wonderful inclusion of Eurovision, noted “the more the merrier,” “I’ve never really been a fan of geography anyway” “As long as they have nice songs,”, “They are a bit left out all on their own.”, ““Anyone should get to join in right”…. with Eurovision novice Pierrick concluding “Oh is Australia in Eurovision?”
So cocktails ordered, crowd warmed up, games played, bingo cards ready, and Australia’s position in Eurovision decided … it was time to start the official festitvities! As the broadcast headed across to Liverpool to welcome our wonderful hosts for this evening, York Vision, the UK, Europe, Australia and the World settled in for an fabulous night of Eurovision fun.
And we’re off… with some random artsy intro! Pretty catchy opening song! Flag parade time and wow you can’t say we don’t put our all into Eurovision – it’s absolutely amazing (if you give in to the campness of it).
This year’s Eurovision was hosted in the Liverpool arena by Graham Norton, Alesha Dixon, Julia Sunina and Hannah Waddingham, with Graham also acting as UK commentator. After all, who else could do the honours? He’s a necessary part of the fun! He was helped out by Actress and TV host Mel Giedroyc, who certainly brought her own hint of charisma too the festitivities.
“Graham naughty boy, naughty, the voice of Eurovision”Mel Giedroyc, Eurovision UK Commentator’s Box
“I want to see Mel churning butter some more.”Graham Norton, in regards to Mel’s surprise appearance as a milk maid.
With over 7,000 people in the Arena and Convention Centre in Liverpool the atmosphere was certainly electric from the start. And trust us we could practically feel it vibrating out of the TV.
Martin Osterdahl, the Eurovision Song Contest Executive Supervisor said “In this exceptional year, we are not only celebrating the diversity of a continent but through the multitude of languages and genres seen in the songs from the 37 competing nations”. The theme of this years competition was ‘United in Music’.
It’s a language we all speak. Music unites us
Now I’m not going to try and take you through each act, because after all, there were twenty-six! A lot of cake, nachos, gin and beer were consumed to get us through this whistle-stop tour of Europe (and Australia for some reason), but we made it. Here were our highlights!
- Norway– I can’t decide if it’s giving more Six, Anne Boleyn or Penny Mordaunt at the Coronation
- Finland– “cha, cha, cha, cha”, I’m sure Kuda and Salvos will have a field day this remix of sometime soon
- Sweden– Wow, that was a strong one. Moving, I would say. “It just reminded me of Dune”
- Austria– “po, po, po, Edgar Allen Edgar Allen…”, a weird opening but I guess it set the tone!
- Australia– Why was there a car? Was anyone in Australia actually awake to watch them?
- Czechia– Just lots of identical women with plaits really
- Germany– I mean, you can’t fault the costume. In Graham Norton’s words: “I’m never a fan of these things so here goes”
- Croatia– Sums up Eurovision, in a nutshell. It’s what everyone was craving. “This is the weirdness I’ve been waiting for!”
- Serbia– The soundtrack was very impressive, not too sure about the singing. Is that too harsh?
- Israel – The dancing was a surprise… as were the unicorn horns that dominated the Jury voting
In extraordinary circumstances, creativity and collaboration can certainly thrive
And the winner is…
As the evening of colourful costumes, explosive pyrotechnics, clever commentary and even some subtle (and not so subtle) anti-war messages wrapped up, we reached everyone’s favourite part of the evening. The Jury Vote.
We raced round the globe as 37 nations gave their coveted 12 points to their favourite acts/neighbours/Sweden. And saw some ‘interesting’ sights along the way.
“Bonjour Eiffel Tower”, “Hello Graham” and Hannah’s slow descent into later night madness, then there was Hallo Iceland’s “slow strip tease”, as well as some interesting goggles from Georgia’s representative. The nations used their minute of voting stardom in some very interesting ways last night – although none more so than Greece giving Cyprus a measly 4 points! Scandal!
Although in the end it was Sweden’s Loreen who dominated the Jury vote with her song ‘Tattoo’.
Public votes from around the world then decided the final tally for the evening. Finland’s Kaarija gained a whopping 200 points in the public vote, with crowd favourite Cha Cha Cha. And I really do mean CROWD favourite, as the in-person audience in Liverpool disrupted the presenter’s vast efforts to keep the night rolling with repeated renditions of ‘Cha Cha Cha’. The UK recieved a meer 9 votes, finishing second to last. “It’s not coming home.”
But after a tense wait and a lot of mental maths (“This tension is actually horrible”), Sweden took the competition from Finland by a mere 14 points in a dramatic end to a tight Eurovision Song contest.
And it’s good news for all you ABBA fans out there, as homeland Sweden will now host Eurovision for the 50th Anniversary of ABBA’s debut, no wonder Sweden went all out in picking Loreen to represent them once again.
In a Press Conference following her win, Loreen said “Everything feels surreal, I’m overwhelmed. One feeling that has taken over is gratitude, I’m so grateful to you guys.”
Winning once before in 2012, Lorren made history last night as the first female performer to win Eurovision twice. When asked about this she simply said “I’m proud.”
“It’s like coming back to a family.”
When asked about the difference between her 2012 winning entry Euphoria and the 2023 entry Tattoo, Lorren shared “Euphoria is the moonlight and Tattoo is sunlight, both is needed.”
“It’s all about creativity, it’s about performing. It’s about us creators sending something out to you guys.”
Discussing Ukraine’s struggles in hosting this year, Loreen noted the great love she has for the war-striken nation. “I love the people there, it hurts me to see what is going on. And our flags have the same colours!”
Wrapping up with a little insight into the key ingredient needed to win Eurovision (twice), Loreen concluded: “Being authentic, you need to know yourself.”
“We create something out of nothing… that’s pretty magical isn’t it.”
Some Random Quotes from Vision’s Night… Make of Them What You Will!
“As an effort of TV, it’s massive”.
“All of Eurovision is about 10 years behind where we are now”
“I’m wearing my flag of impartiality”
“Luxembourg wants to join next year.”
“I’ve got to say the staging, props and lighting are incredible.”
“It is interesting that the strongest performances have been solo females”
“This is just pitch perfect at this point”
In response to the UK’s 9-point public vote and the crowd’s subsequent booing: Hannah Waddingham urged “We’re all friends, my friends”
In response to Finland’s massive public vote, “This is why the voting system is so good. It’s democracy!”
“What a sad time for York: We lost Roses, Long Boi, Eurovision and the future of the Monarchy in just a few weeks.”