But what exactly is it that gives Eurovision an appeal?Eurovision 2021

In my experience, it takes a concerted effort to avoid watching at least one year of the Eurovision Song Contest during your time at university. If not for the simple reason that it is an excuse to gather your friends, get drunk, and enjoy Graham Norton’s self-aware shade as he mocks the rest of Europe in their attempts at camping it up (and doing it better than the UK ever could…).

“For me, Eurovision was like a spectacle of absurdism where anything goes”

I had not watched Eurovision before coming to Cambridge. My only real knowledge of it was that Austria won a while ago with a bearded drag act, but the suggestion of Eurovision as a social occasion with the rest of my corridor in first year gave the event the promise of chats and alcohol, so I went along with it. Cut to ‘2021 Alex’ in a garden, under some tarpaulin, projecting the contest onto a bedsheet while rain pours down around her and her 10 friends. I knew all the words to Italy’s winning song and I can proudly proclaim that I was crushing on Damiano David before Queerbridge and Camfess got hold of him, so I think we can safely assume that I ‘took’ to Eurovision a bit more than most!

But what exactly is it that gives Eurovision an appeal? Because I can admit that it’s rarely the music…

'2021 Alex' under said garden tarpaulinGeorgie Moore

For me, Eurovision was like a spectacle of absurdism where anything goes (well, almost anything, clearly not Madonna). In my pre-university days, back when I was on the outside of it all, I, and those around me, knew of Eurovision as camp, trashy, nonsensical: basically, a competition to be as weird as humanly possible that was only beloved by ‘the gays.’ After watching it, I can confirm that I was probably only about 25% wrong in my assessment, but what I had been unaware of was the insane amount of fun that goes into Eurovision (and that it’s beloved by all identities in the queer community). The competition bears very little animosity; it is a space of pure, unadulterated enjoyment that prioritises giving its audience a spectacle above all else. It feels like one of the purest definitions of entertainment, even if you’re mainly laughing because you don’t know how else to react to a foam costume of a hand flipping its middle finger.

“We do, however, have two fantastic advantages in the Eurovision-watching experience: a lack of national pride and Graham Norton”

The contest is very much its own entity, its own type of music. I do also think that watching the contest in the UK is an experience unlike any other. The country as a whole seems to be one of the least enthused by the whole process — perhaps due to the fact we always come last, although that’s a whole cycle and I have no clue which is the chicken and which is the egg in that scenario. We do, however, have two fantastic advantages in the Eurovision-watching experience: a lack of national pride and Graham Norton.

The Brits can go into Eurovision with a degree of self-awareness. Knowing we have no allegiances to our own act, we are able to view the other competing entries and choose a favourite for reasons as superficial as the contest itself: be it the chaos of the weirdest entry, the absolute bop that is the disco entry, or pity for the good ol’ underdog. And all the while we get Graham’s beautiful commentary. As masterful as his radio show and talk show are, there’s nothing quite like seeing him ad lib shade about the irritating presenters, or the ridiculous costumes, and you can always count on Graham to point out if a contestant’s singing is off. But just as we know the competition is not that deep, we know that Graham’s shade is simply meant in jest.


Mountain View

An ode to my college

Will I continue to watch Eurovision when I’m off being a young professional or whatever it is people do when they leave Cambridge? I think so, because even without the original lure of friendly banter in a cramped university bedroom, the event still maintains that sense of fun for me, and it is something that I encourage everyone to watch at least once. Worst comes to worst, you can drink alongside a night of trash music (basically the same thing as clubbing), or you discover an annual night of escapism (seriously, it exists in a world where Australia is in Europe!) and, after the past year, I could not be more grateful for that.