I’ve been debating with myself whether I even want to post this entry because it is a little petty, but it’s been playing on my mind and I just can’t resist. As the title suggests, this is a tale about how the Eurovision Song Contest destroys families, at least for a few minutes when two sisters who rarely agree on anything anyway cannot agree on how they judge different Eurovision entries.
So, as we know, Eurovision Song Contest was held during the last week in Turin, Italy, and finally wrapped up over the weekend. My little sister (Emma) is suuuuuuuper into Eurovision, and I at least feel “OK” about it. I haven’t watched it in a few years, because there was that one year everyone boycotted as part of the BDS campaign against apartheid Israel, and then there was Covid, and then I think I forgot it was even on last year because we were in lockdown and I didn’t have my little sister reminding me.
Anyway, I’m not the kind of fanatic who will wake up at five in the morning to watch it live and cast my votes. (My sister is.) But with Viv away at his mum’s holiday house for a couple of nights, I thought I’d watch the semi-final replays on Friday and Saturday nights, and I even took notes on the different acts and rated them out of ten, just for fun. On Sunday night, my folks came for their usual weekly visit, and we all sat down to watch the grand final replay together. Fun times, you might think. And I guess mostly it was. And yet…
So, to preface a bit, when I’d watched the semi-finals, my favourite acts were definitely Iceland (from the first night) and Estonia (from the second). There’s a few others I’d have ranked very high too – Lithuania, Netherlands, Portugal, Serbia, even France1 – but the two I mentioned were my faves. As I mentioned to the others, my criteria for judging Eurovision acts is very simple: it’s basically just, “Would I listen to this song in my own spare time, outside Eurovision? Would I add this song to the Spotify playlist I have for songs of this genre?” I can enjoy a bit of visual spectacle, and have a laugh at something that’s “Eurovision wacky”, but they’re not going to make me elevate a song I fundamentally don’t like very much in my ratings. That’s just my personal bias 😛
My sister haaaaaates my personal bias, lmao. She cannot stand it. So anyway, an argument broke out during Iceland’s performance in the grand final. For me, hearing the song the second time made me like it even more: I like folk music generally, and I loved the intricate stringwork and harmonised vocals of their song. My dad (not such a fan of folk music) wasn’t so keen, complaining it was repetitive and “the same song the whole way through”. Emma vehemently agreed, saying, “They needed to switch gears somewhere during the act and kick it up a notch.”
I was a bit perplexed by this criticism, and asked, “Well, what do you suggest?” I mean, it’s not like the song was stagnant the whole way through, although it’s true they didn’t transform from an acoustic beginning into a mainstream generic pop song the way a lot of Eurovision songs do. (And the way Estonia did, for that matter, even though I liked them.) My musical terminology isn’t great but the song did go through “stages” where different instruments were more or less dominant, the vocals followed different rhythms or ducked out for a bit to let the instrumentals shine, etc.. Emma admitted she had no idea what improvements she wanted the song to make. Dad said the song was OK but he just didn’t think it had what it took to be a Eurovision winner. I mean, that’s probably a fair comment, considering Eurovision tends to favour dance/pop music and flashiness. So OK then, whatever.
So then we all moved on and kept talking about other things, but the act after Iceland was Moldova, and Emma basically screamed over the top of us, “SHHHHHH EVERYONE SHUT UP THIS IS THE BEST SONG IT’S ONE OF MY ABSOLUTE FAVOURITES SHUUUUUUUSH!!”
So OK, forced into silence. Wonderful. Now look, when I watched Moldova in the semi-finals, I thought their act was fine. The lyrics were repetitive as hell but it was a bit of chaotic silly fun. It was definitely not the kind of song you can justify forcing others into a reverential silence to experience though. Anyway, once Emma had started chattering, and broken the reverential silence she herself had imposed in the first place, I couldn’t resist pointing out, “You know, you guys said the last song was too repetitive, but this one is like, literally the same line 60 times over in three minutes.”
Well, sucks to be me, because Emma got really mad that I had dared impugn her favourite song. She put on her sassy voice and went, “OK, but at least this song is fun.” I was like, OK, but the other song was something I actually enjoy listening to. Like, the Icelandic song is one I would unironically put in my folk music playlist and listen to on shuffle.2 No one is ever going to listen to the Moldova song again except maybe in a compilation of “Eurovision’s kookiest songs”, and to be honest maybe not even then because Eurovision has had a lot of kooky songs over the years and IDK if it makes the cut. Emma retorted, “Excuse me, I have listened to Moldova’s song hundreds of times over the last few months.” And I went OK, well, 99% of people…
I mean, for context, this was Moldova’s entry. If you do voluntarily listen to zany chaotic music then I cast no judgement on your choices, but I hope it’s fair to say it’s not just something you randomly put in a playlist for casual listening. I am going to start second-guessing reality if people start telling me nahhh this song is totally mainstream, I heard it over the speakers at the local café as I was buying my coffee, lmao.
Anyway, my response sadly enraged Emma further, because before I knew it she’d leapt out of her seat on the other sofa and was standing, towering over me screaming, “Anyway, I didn’t say Iceland’s entry was repetitive, I said it was BORING!!” I shrugged and went look, it’s a folk song, I have a ten-hour playlist of songs that are all in the same style as that, it just sounds good that way OK. If you don’t like folk music, then nothing I say will make you like it, but if you do like that style of music then it’s not boring. I just think it’s clear one of these acts actually made an effort musically and the other just tried to be a bit of zany fun. And it was zany fun, but let’s not pretend it was a musical masterpiece just because of that lmao.
Astonishingly this did not calm her down. She rolled her eyes and stormed off out of the room muttering, “Oh well, if you think Iceland’s entry was any good, I guess you’re gonna get a rude shock from the results then.” I shrugged again and called out after her look, I can’t help it if the televoters of Europe voted “for the zane” rather than for good songs, but that’s not somehow objective proof that I’m wrong for liking Iceland’s entry. Then she came back and said if I was on a Eurovision jury, I’d be one of the jurors the Eurovision fandom demands to have guillotined, so you know, RIP my totally real ambitions to be a Eurovision juror I guess. She also claimed she was only being nasty about Iceland’s entry because I had forced her by “aggressively attacking [her] favourite” 🙄
Naturally, my parents were very uncomfortable this whole time. My dad is mostly a great dude but he does have this one flaw that with literally any argument he takes the position that you should just placate the angrier person, and considering Emma was getting hysterical and I was all flippant and smirking harder than the kid playing ScoMo in this Sammy J satirical skit , well yeah. Meanwhile my mum had to wait like five minutes until Emma had calmed down a little bit before finally piping up, “I really liked the Icelandic sisters, Jess.” Apparently they reminded her a bit of the Corrs (who she also really liked back in the day), especially the part where they had their brother in the dark at the back thanklessly playing the drums. Apparently the Corrs’ mum also told them that they “had” to take their brother with them on tour to “give him something to do”, so there you have it. At least I eventually got SOME backup! 😂
The only good part was that this argument went on for so long that we missed the start of Sweden’s entry, and only restarted paying attention once Sweden’s entry finally reached the part where it got good. I cracked the joke that Emma had actually had an altruistic ulterior motive for dragging out that fight, which was to help me appreciate Sweden’s entry more (I hadn’t liked it too much in the semis because I just thought it took too long to get going, but if you skip ahead to once it’s got going, all good, right?). I think that helped diffuse the tension.
Anyway, a couple of days on I have indeed listened to the Icelandic song a few more times, and the Moldovan song only once (I wanted to show Vivian how bad it was, and he agreed, but then he said the Icelandic song was also bad 😤). He did at least say, and honestly I agree, that it was not worth having a dumb argument over. Incidentally I will lose my mind if someone starts arguing with me in the replies to this post, so please don’t. I can’t resist pointing out holes in what my little sister says but I am not that invested in Eurovision overall 😂 Would you believe me if I said now, at the end of this entry, both me and my little sister are in our late 20s?