An American at Eurovision

Update 2 May:

When I wrote this post, I thought my top 5 picks were locked in. I was wrong. After listening to my favorites over and over again, one song managed to move itself up on the list: “What They Say” by Victor Vernicos from Greece. I’m still including “Carpe Diem” in this post, though, because it’s worthy of recognition.

The first time I saw Eurovision was at the age of 3. Our family was living in France for a few months and just happened to be there when the contest aired on television. My mom had grown up watching it, but hadn’t seen the broadcast since moving to the United States, so I’m sure she was excited to see it again. And the winners that year, in 1984? The Herreys, a trio of Swedish brothers—who also happened to be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—with their song “Diggi-loo Diggi-ley.”

Of course, I don’t remember watching Eurovision in 1984. I do, however, remember listening to my mom’s LP of “Diggi-loo Diggi-ley” every time there was a thunderstorm (listen to the song to learn why). I grew up knowing that, every year, all of Europe would get together to sing and dance and enjoy good music. As I got older, I learned that ABBA—another band our family often listened to—had won Eurovision in 1974 with their song “Waterloo.” In the mid-2000s, my mom found the Eurovision website and we were finally able to follow the contest virtually.

Then came 2021. I was talking to my mom on the phone and she told me she was watching Eurovision. I thought she had found a way to watch it online, but she told me she was watching Semi-final 1 on Peacock.

What?! Eurovision on Peacock?! In the US?!

I tuned in on Thursday and, sure enough, Semi-final 2 was on Peacock. Brett was able to watch the final with me that Saturday and he was hooked, too. Now, we follow the contest together and look forward to it every year.

So, what is Eurovision?

In an effort to create unity in Europe that transcends politics, the continent’s central broadcaster, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), created an annual song contest and invited member nations to perform. It began in 1956 with 7 countries. This year, 37 countries will participate. Each country chooses a song and artist they like best to compete with the rest of Europe and the winning country hosts the next year’s competition.

When it comes to choosing the overall winner at Eurovision, there are two voting bodies making that decision: a jury of music professionals and a public televote. Countries are not allowed to vote for their own entry, ensuring a fair vote. When both bodies have cast their votes, through a point system, the points are added up and a winner is selected. In the past, voting has been limited to the nations competing in the contest, but this year, for the first time, the EBU is allowing fans around the world to vote, even if their nation is not performing.

After all these years, for a small fee, I will finally be able to cast my votes for my favorite songs.

Some fans choose not to listen to the competing songs ahead of time. They would rather watch the live performance and take in the live music and lyrics and choreography before choosing which songs they like the best.

I am not one of those fans.

So, who are my favorites for Eurovision this year? I’ll give you my top 6.

Australia – “Promise” by Voyager

This track stood out the first time I listened to Spotify’s unofficial Eurovision playlist. It has an 80s rock sound to it. The lyrics are simple, the music has a futuristic synthesizer run, and it boasts this year’s best melodic line (“cross my heart ‘til the sky turns red in the sunrise”). The music video is gorgeous, too. Australia doesn’t always send the best contenders, but I have high hopes for this year’s entry.

Estonia – “Bridges” by ALIKA

Estonia’s 2022 entry was number 3 on my list, so they’re moving up. “Bridges” is a ballad with a beautiful, orchestral melody. ALIKA has a strong voice and sings with a great deal of power. The message of the song is positive and uplifting, which is always a plus for me.

Serbia – “Samo mi se spava” by Luke Black

Last year (2022), Serbia sent an avant-garde, alternative-niche song called “In corpore sano” by an artist named Konstrakta. It was number 4 on my list and finished 5th in the overall competition. This year, Serbia has chosen an avant-garde, techno-niche song. Once again, I am entranced. Luke Black’s personality is a big part of the appeal of the song. The lyrics are a subtle social commentary and the music is danceable with a strong beat.

Greece – “What They Say” by Victor Vernicos

“Well, you know what they say, lost souls make sure no one loses their way. Hurt ones can’t stand seeing others in pain.” I believe my connection to this song comes from the fact that I know someone who is very much like this. Even when he feels lost or hurt, he hates to see those feelings in others and will do what he can to help them.

This song from Greece is a pop song with a strong beat and dramatic tone changes, and it was written by a 16-year-old Athenian.

Germany – “Blood & Glitter” by Lord of the Lost

At first listen, this song doesn’t seem like the sort of song I would like. But, the more I listen to it, the more I love it. Yes, it’s glam-metal. Yes, it’s weird. But it’s a good weird, in the way only Germany can do. Where you might expect a metal song to be dark and brooding, this song has an unexpected lightness and positivity. The lyrics point out some of the opposites we can choose between, then urge us to choose happiness. I look forward to seeing the live performance and hope to see a high result for Germany this year.

Slovenia – “Carpe Diem” by Joker Out

Lately, I’ve been feeling nostalgic for the alternative music I listened to when I was a teenager in the 90s. Artists like The Cranberries and Counting Crows. “Carpe Diem” by Joker Out has a sound that hearkens back to those bands I used to listen to. The lyrics are in Slovenian, which I don’t speak or even understand, but I’ve read the English translation and I like it. The Slovenian words have a pleasant sound. It’s a nice song to have playing in the background, even if I can’t sing along.

It has yet to be confirmed whether or not Peacock will broadcast Eurovision this year, but fans are hopeful. If they do, it will take place on May 9, 11, and 13 in the middle of the day. I plan to do a countdown on social media where I will share my top 20 songs, so keep an eye out for that. I’m including plenty of links in this post for those who want to check out the contenders for themselves. If you do, I would love to hear what you like.

In the meantime, enjoy some good European music while we look forward to seeing a great European spectacle. It’s bound to be fun.

Published by Vibeke Hiatt

I am a wife, mother, and lifelong writer.

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