My History with the ESC
I was 19 and studying abroad in Denmark when I discovered the Eurovision Song Contest, and never before in my life had I felt an innate yearning toward something. Not having any idea as to what the ESC was, I had no expectation for what was going to happen beyond my host family saying “It’s just like American Idol” (a statement that I loathe, and is a pet peeve of mine) and the one semi-final I saw of that year’s Dansk Melodi Grand Prix (which I did not quite grasp the purpose behind when I viewed it). Learning that DQ won over the more deserving James Samson a few weeks later, I had low hopes for the contest for which he qualified himself.
Imagine my surprise on Thursday, May 10th when the first semi-final came on. I was captivated from the start of the Opening Act! I was so intrigued by the concept of countries competing against each other with original songs; I was hooked from the first notes of “Water” through the final chords of “Questta Notte.” So hooked, that the next day, while buying souvenirs for family, when I heard a song from the Contest playing over the store’s loud speaker, I ran to the clerk and demanded to know where the store had purchased the album. Twenty minutes later, I am on the train heading back home (having canceled my evening plans in the city) with my brand new CD. Eighty minutes later, I am listening to my favorites from the previous night and listening to the fourteen contenders I had yet to hear. Come Saturday, the evening of the 12th, I was more than ready to watch the Grand Final! The only problem was that my host parents were not too keen on watching it, given that Denmark did not qualify for the Final. After some back and forth, I convinced them to turn it on right as Te Deum was starting. I was once again mesmerized. But it was seeing Marija Šerifović’s performance, and seeing Molitva win, that made me a true fan. Had any other song won, I do not think that my obsession would have developed.
With that said, had I saw any of the previous additions, I do not think that my passion for the Contest would have grown to the heights that it has. I would know, thanks to YouTube, I have seen each of the 51 winning performances preceding 2007, as well as the full running of the Contests from 1998-2006 (and I am continuing to work backwards through time). In addition, I watched the 2008 and 2009 via the website (and many, many times after that via the official DVD). Recently, I began watching the Junior edition of the Contest, but both times, only after knowing who won.
I look forward to what the future has in store for the Eurovision Song Contest: possibly an Arabic nation fixture in Qatar, possibly the return of Italy or one of the other countries whining on the sidelines, possibly even the political headache of a possible entry attempt from Kosovo.