By MARY WARD
The white suits are pressed, the wind machines are in working order, and, somewhere in Sweden, a television host is practicing how to count from one to twelve in French.
Yes, it’s Eurovision time and, as a self-professed Eurovision nerd who may or may not have originally decided to study journalism as a pathway into Eurovision commentary, it is this time of the year that I fully assume my role as an advocate for Europe’s greatest gift to the world of kitsch.
Thanks to Sweden’s win last year, this year’s festivities will be held in Malmö. To celebrate Eurovision returning to the land of ABBA and, hence, its spiritual home, I have presented my own excellent, educational, Eurovision drinking game that can be used to bring a bit of Eurojoy to your Sunday night.
When the host has a costume change?
Sip your drink. This rule does not apply after the first four costume changes (and, yes, there are sometimes more.)
When the host does a shout-out to those viewers watching from outside of Europe?
All members of the party call out: “’Straya!” Everyone finishes his or her drink.
Fun Fact: This year is the 30th year that SBS have broadcast Eurovision in Australia. They originally simulcast the BBC broadcast, but have been sending Sam Pang and Julia Zemiro as the official Australian commentary team since 2009. Because this is such a special year for Eurovision in Australia, the first semi final (broadcast down under on Friday night) featured this little snapshot into life for Aussie Eurovision fans:
When reference is made to the possibility of this song winning the competition… within the lyrics of the song?
This is a surprisingly common occurrence. But, alas, no country engaging in this technique has ever actually managed to win the contest.
Example One: “When I join this grand parade of winners/and I make this song a worldwide hit/I will buy my own mic to sing in/and all the jobs I had before I’m surely gonna quit.” – Latvia, 2012.
Example Two: “We are the winners of Eurovision.” (Repeat x 1000.) No, seriously. These were the lyrics of the song performed by Lithuania in 2006. Watch below:
When tautology is used/new words are created solely for the purpose of rhyme?
It’s easy to understand why this sort of wordplay is widely accepted amongst Europop circles. While English is the language of choice for most entries, most of the songwriters don’t have English as their first language. But this is okay, because most of the audience don’t either. In the land of Eurovision, rhyme trumps grammar, pronunciation and conjugation.
Example One: “The whole world will be lighted/all people will be reunited.” – The Netherlands, 2009.
Example Two: “Always in my mind/Always in my heart/And I can hear you call my name on a mountain high/Always in my mind/Always in my heart/I wanna feel you close to me always all the time.” – Azerbaijan, 2009
When an act dresses in all white?
White is a popular choice for Eurovision entrants. Some say that it evokes a sense of freshness and supremacy. However, I suspect that when an entry from the frozen north of Europe turns up in all white, it is mostly an attempt to pretend that the performer has a showbiz tan.
When a key change is accompanied by both pyrotechnics and a wind machine?
Sip your drink. (Note: both factors must be present. Playing an either/or game here will surely result in hospitalisation.)
Key changes in Eurovision are really big business. Look at this graph I found on the internet and MOST DEFINITELY WAS NOT LAME ENOUGH TO MAKE MYSELF. (Although I can’t judge the poor soul who did make this, because I once tabulated the results of the Junior Eurovision Song Contests 2003-8 as part of a ‘study’ program for the Junior Einstein Factor. I never made it on the show.)
So, as the science tells us, while songs with key changes are in slight decline, key changes do increase an act’s chances of having made it in to tonight’s final from the preliminary rounds. So, like I said; no either/or.
When there is magic?
Illusions can make or break a Eurovision performance.
Example One: A very successful use of illusion by Belarus in 2007 (skip to 1:25):
Example Two: A rather poor use of illusion by Spain in 2009 that only worked because the person who ‘disappeared’ just wasn’t shown on camera for a bit… (skip to 2:05):
When a formerly Yugoslav country gives 12 points to another formerly Yugoslav country?
Sip your drink.
The same goes for the Armenia-Azerbaijan-Georgia, Moldova-Romania, Russia-Belarus-Ukraine, Spain-Portugal-Andorra, Greece-Cyprus, The Netherlands-Belgium and Norway-Sweden-Denmark-Finland voting blocs.
The voting system has been criticised as resulting in the creation of geographic voting-blocs, as certain languages and cultural elements are going to resonate more closely with the countries that an entry is friendly with.
However, sometimes Eurovision diplomacy breaks down, and that’s when things get a little awkward. If a country is blindsided (i.e. If Belarus gives Russia 12 points, but Russia only gives Belarus 2 points in return), finish your drink.
When a vote announcer reveals their country’s 12 points by trying to sing the song of the country they are being awarded to?
Finish your drink if no one actually knew which song they were singing until they announced it.
When anyone in your party complains that the UK should have placed higher?
All other members of the party call out: “Wogan!” The offender finishes their drink.
This is what we call a ‘Wogan.’ Terry Wogan did the commentary on the BBC for decades until he ‘resigned’ (read: the BBC realised that he ended every contest with a borderline racist tantrum about all of the Eastern European countries ganging up on the naturally talented and superior UK.) The best of his tanties came after the results of the 2008 contest, when he equated Russia’s win with the end of Western Europe. Possibly a bit much.
I couldn’t find a video that showed the whole rant (it started as soon as he realised the UK had no hope of winning) but here’s a sample of the end of his commentary career:
No one wants to be a Wogan, so it is best to accept that the ol’ Motherland is not exactly a Eurovision powerhouse (they’re sending Bonnie Tyler this year, for goodness sake), and throw your support behind the winning country, which brings us to…
When the winner is announced?
Finish your drink!
Dance and sing! Get all of your Eurofabulousness out of your system, because you know that you’ll have to wait another year before any of this is even remotely socially acceptable again.
Note: Please keep this page a spoiler-free zone. Some of us avoid all media consumption for the whole of Eurovision weekend so that the Euromagic isn’t ruined tonight. (Okay, by ‘some of us’, I mean me…)
Are you a Eurovision fan? How will you be celebrating tonight?
Mary is an intern at Mamamia, and a Media and Communications/Law student from Sydney. She can do the splits, wiggle her ears and tell you who won Eurovision in 1973. You can follow her on Twitter here.