Monocolumn

A daily bulletin of news & opinion

3 May 2013

Dreams do come true. On 18 May, the largest and campest music event in the world will take place in Malmö – and I will be there.

You might think this weird. Why would a Brazilian be interested in a music festival with Europeans wearing colourful costumes? Well, it might be my Brazilian side that’s interested in the carnivalesque clothes but I’ve been a fan of the Eurovision Song Contest since a certain Dana International won for Israel in 1998.

It was love at first sight. For me, the event is just like the World Cup – but without the football. Like the World Cup, there are lots of countries involved – 39 this year – there are the semi finals, the preparation and the little random facts you learn about the tiniest of countries. It makes it an incredible season for me.

The tickets have been bought and the excitement increases by the day. I’ve written a spreadsheet already with my favourites in this year’s contest. I wouldn’t say this is a vintage year (far too many rock songs and boring ballads) but here and there you come across some masterpieces, such as the Bulgarian entry called Samo Shampioni (Only Champions) by Elitsa Todorova and Stoyan Yankulov. Very Eurovision, and with some interesting chanting in the beginning.

There are other highlights, such as the sleek Scandinavian electro pop of Margaret Berger, a good Norwegian entry this year, and the unusual Greek entry from Koza Mostra. The name of their song is Alcohol is Free.

What makes it even more exciting is that this year the festival is hosted in Sweden again, for the fifth time to be exact. This is a country that gives the event the respect it deserves and doesn’t treat it like a comic event that you watch once a year while you are a little bit tipsy. Yes, I mean you, UK – although to be fair, the TV ratings were quite high in recent years.

Some countries dropped out this year. Portugal and Poland withdrew due to financial reasons and Turkey quit because it didn’t agree with the way the voting system works: 50 per cent of the votes come from the jury and 50 per cent from televoting. But hey, Armenia is back in the competition and they were last represented in 2011.

My worry is that the event might become too polished or boring with so many ballads and artists that are trained for those music reality shows, the ones in which they have to cover sub-Mariah Carey generic ballads. But I keep my hopes up when I see entries like Serbia, a girl band influenced by K-pop, or the dramatic opera-disco entry from Romania.

So, see you in Malmö. I just can’t wait to see who will have nul points this year.

Fernando Augusto Pacheco is a researcher for Monocle 24.

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