Is this the most chaotic Eurovision Song Contest ever?

It’s going to feel pretty awkward drinking and making fun of the costumes this year, knowing about the geopolitical psychodrama that’s been playing itself out in miniature backstage

Ryan Coogan
Saturday 11 May 2024 18:48 BST
Eurovision’s Bambie Thug says pro-Palestine protests 'putting a cloud above everyone'

Eurovision’s great, isn’t it? There’s just something about it that feels really special. It brings people from all over the world together to revel in a bit of silly fun, bringing a little something to the table for everyone: outrageous costumes, bright lights, corny jokes, overwhelming geopolitical tensions…

Wait, back up – run that last one by me again?

Yes, this year, to perhaps nobody’s surprise, Eurovision has held a kind of camp, glittery mirror up to our global political situation, with rumours of contestants getting into fights backstage, disappearing mysteriously, and threatening each other with legal action.

Irish artist Bambie Thug, a favourite to win the competition, missed their dress rehearsal earlier today, and has suggested they may not perform at this evening’s event. The performer said they had raised a “situation” they had “felt needed urgent attention” from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which caused them to miss their rehearsal. While the contestant later apologised to fans, telling them they hoped to see them at the event, it had raised doubts that they will attend.

Worse still, the contestant representing the Netherlands, Joost Klein, has been disqualified from the final of the competition following a police investigation into a complaint of threatening behaviour made by a female member of the show’s production crew.

All of this is happening against a backdrop of anti-Israel sentiment, as thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets in Malmö, Sweden, where this year’s contest is being held, to protest against the country’s involvement in the show.

Also nobody likes the UK entry, but I suppose that’s pretty par for the course.

It seems as though this year’s iteration of the contest is doomed, and no amount of withering remarks from Graham Norton is going to save it. Even in a world where things go broadly according to plan, and we get to hear all the songs… well, that isn’t really the point, is it?

If anything, most years, you enjoy yourself despite the music, not because of it. For me and my friends it’s usually an excuse to play increasingly self-destructive drinking games (take a sip every time somebody does something cringy. What do you mean you’re already drunk? We’re only on the second act!). Other people place low-stakes bets, or paint their faces with their country’s flag, or get really, really into Slovenia’s entry even though they aren’t Slovenian.

It’s going to feel pretty awkward doing any of that this year, knowing about the geopolitical psychodrama that’s been playing itself out in miniature backstage. Good luck making fun of the unhinged costume design when the voice in the back of your head keeps reminding you that the way points are allocated probably tells you something about how World War Three would play out.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if things don’t settle down soon, this one bad show could have a knock-on effect that taints the contest for years to come. People have been complaining for years that the show has become “too political”, and this year they might actually be right. I’m as big a politics guy as they come, but even I don’t want to be reminded of the terrible state of this terrible world while Austria is demanding that “we will rave”.

As far as I’m concerned the only way to remedy this is for Bambie Thug to take the stage, win the whole thing, and let us do next year’s contest in Ireland. Those guys know exactly how to have the craic, even in the most dire of political circumstances.

Or, you know, we could stop all this global strife and just learn to get along. No? No takers?

We’re all rooting for you, Bambie.

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