Friday, 22 May 2020

2020: Europe, Shine A Light... Eurovision's Coronavirus Moment!

2020s Eurovision Song Contest had to be cancelled due to the Coronavirus world pandemic, what would happen without the usual spectacle? With Europe in lockdown with the rest of the world, we need some hope! The Dutch city of Hilversum replaced Rotterdam, broadcasting 'Europe Shine A Light' as a celebration of Eurovision history with the pandemic in mind. Oh!

Broadcasted from Studio 21 at Media Park in Hilversum, The Netherlands, three presenters kickstarted the 'Europe Shine A Light' without any audience due to the Coronavirus world pandemic. Edsilla Rombley, Chantal Janzen and Jan Smit put on their best Eurovision smiles even though Eurovision in recent years has been presented by four people. Blame 'social distancing?' Through the medium catch-up television through BBC iPlayer I tuned in a few days after the original broadcast that was on the 16th of May 2020. For the first time in Eurovision history it was weird and very sobering to see the montage of European and Eurasian cities that were all in lockdown, a sombre mood for such a joyous event felt very weird and not normal for us all to see. The show was all about shining a light over Europe to remember the reasons for the contest, with optimism for the 2021 contest. Nul points to Miss Rona! Go!

Looking for a sign it was amazing to see that the original venue for the 2020 contest had been transformed into a 'field hospital' to help nurse Coronavirus patients who weren't in conventional hospital wards. The complacency that I had put on the Eurovision Song Contest had me feeling shocked, one way or another I have either watched the contest or observed who the winner was since 2003. To not have a contest felt very strange indeed! Rolling back to Eurovision's before my existence had me seeing that this contest had been around for a long time, only now in 2020 it had been forced to cancel its usual order of events! A special Skype like video performance brought back Ireland's winner from 1980, singing 'What's Another Year?' The message was that we needed to keep the faith, we just need to wait for 2021 to roll around. Johnny Logan had won the contest twice, I was learning more about the Eurovision Song Contest. The use of video technology had saved Eurovision 2020. 

The unique thing about 2020s 'Europe Shine A Light' was that all 41 participants would be featured in the commemorative Coronavirus show. During a normal year, at least 15 countries participants wouldn't make it through the semi-finals. Each country had their turn throughout the broadcast to feature a short clip of their song that was paired with a message of positivity, the general theme was to 'wish love', 'to stay safe' and 'to remember' that Eurovision would return the following year in 2021. Country's like Georgia and Belarus had their chance to feature as part of the broadcast, they weren't supposed to be performing in the final due to not making it past the semi's. Sweden's trio even made a song about 'washing their hands', that added some mild hilarity because the main feeling of the show was quite sombre considering the current ongoing situation with the Coronavirus outbreak. COVID-19, be gone! OK!

Portugal's 'Elisa' was one of the acts who hadn't made it past the semi's, she had the opportunity to sing a little bit of her song during her clip. Azerbaijan's 'Efendi' promoted a message of 'love', from a country with questionable LGBT rights, she made her voice heard for a cross-section of Azeri people who might not have the chance. The category was 'mental health awareness' with several of the performers speaking words that resonated with those under quarantine measures, uttering the statement 'It's OK to not be OK'. Each country delivered their little speech with added Eurovision humour and quirk. The celebration of 2020s artists was even more important because it would have been such a great contest, I still cannot believe that I haven't able to see Russia's 'Little Big' perform their Eurovision banger, 'Uno!' 'Little Big' please come back to Rotterdam in 2021 with your hit 'SKIBDI!' One thing I do know is that Israel's 'Eden Alene' will be back in 2021! Feker Libi was great but 2021 will shine! 

Placing focus on the 'key workers' from around the world and more closely in Europe, former Sweden winner 'Måns Zelmerlöw' performed an acoustic version of 'Heroes' from his house in London, England. The lyrics within 'Heroes' fitted perfectly, the key workers are 'the heroes of our time!' Panning across a Jerusalem under lockdown measures, 'Gali Atari' walked through the empty streets singing 'Hallelujah' with a sense of hope. 'Netta' who won the contest in 2018 for Israel took the mood nice and slow with her lockdown recorded single, 'Cuckoo' allowed us to breathe a sense of relief because lockdown life has made us go 'cuckoo! The stripped back performances through the medium of video broadcast gave 'Europe Shine A Light' the chance to give us Eurovision from a chilled and respectful point of view. From the streets of Belgrade, Marija Šerifović belted out her 2007 winning song 'Molitva', just like a 'Prayer!'

The usual political voting didn't matter, it wasn't about tactics or 12 points going to the best neighbour during the latter part of Eurovision's Coronavirus commemorative show. Flashing several locked down views from select locations across the geographical span that Eurovision takes in, seeing the London Eye and the Acropolis in the UK and Greece respectively hammered home how crazy 2020 has become. Going further back it was a great opportunity to remember Eurovision legends who had crafted their careers after their ESC victories. ABBA's Björn Ulvaeus popped up in a small video insert, he expressed his sorrow for the pandemic and the bands successes post-Brighton after the four piece Swedish band won with 'Waterloo'. Concluding the broadcast, all 41 participants performed a line or two from 'Love Shine A Light' with help from 'Katrina' who won with that song during 1997s contest with her 'waves!' Confirming Rotterdam 2021, we all know that the show will go on!

Nul Points To Miss Rona!

Joseph Harrison  

2 comments :

  1. It was so sobering watching clips of the worlds busiest cities in the world completely empty. I also liked the way they toned it down from the usual Eurovision madness, and made it more simple and more emotional. Eurovision 2020 has definitely been one to remember!

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    1. Thank you for taking the time out to read this blog, I appreciate it!

      Totally agree it being a toned down affair gave it that special meaning.

      For a car crash year, Eurovision 2020 happened one way or another!

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