This Sunday the 17th of May at 8:30pm, SBS in Australia is screening Eurovision Shine A Light, the program that will replace this year’s broadcast of the Eurovision Song Contest, which will not be taking place at Rotterdam’s Ahoy Arena.
The real show was going to be a whopper. Early promotion of the production design indicated a huge, classy, thrilling arena vibe and some of the songs are outstanding. Instead, we’ll get, according to Eurovision, footage from each of the 41 contestants in their homes. Whether they perform new versions of their entries or provide something else, we’ll see. Eurovision has already run two YouTube shows featuring all of the songs as ‘official videos’, so it’s unlikely those will be repeated.
It’s all very sad but also a testament to the massive and singular community that is Eurovision fandom, a fandom of incredible love and support. So many Eurovision songs are about defiance, against homophobia, sexism, bullying, bigotry, terrorism and conflict. As the parody song from Stockholm 2016 says, the ultimate Eurovision entry is called Love Love, Peace Peace.
But songs such as Don’t Break Me and Fai Rumore from this year’s entries, and dozens more from years past (the competition has been going since 1956), such as Rise Like A Phoenix, A Million Voices, Heroes, Made Of Stars, Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente, Spirit In The Sky and even Euphoria can now be listened to as defiance in the face of the virus, and of the leaders who are refusing to respond to it reasonably. Covid 19 gives almost the entire Eurovision canon a new, and urgent, emotional resonance. Listen to Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente, which translates as You Haven’t Done Anything To Me, with the coronavirus – or Trump – in mind and tell me you don’t get goosebumps. If not, maybe Eurovision’s not for you. It is for me. Were it not for the virus, I would’ve been in Rotterdam right now.
Here are my top seven songs from the 2020 entries. Enjoy. Let them in. They’re all made with a whole lot of love. (Click on each country to see the official video for their 2020 entry.)