The Eurovision Song Contest is almost upon us. Francesca takes a look at the elements of story telling within it.
It occurred to me recently, after hearing an announcement about this year’s UK Eurovision entry, that the contest has many of the elements of a story telling, encapsulated in one evening.
For a start, there are a whole host of diverse characters who appear to have been drafted in from several different genres. Who could forget Lordy, the Finnish heavy metal band who won in 2006? They’d surely stepped out of an episode of Star Trek. Jedward, who represented Ireland in 2012, were dressed as futuristic sci-fi characters as envisaged in the 1970s, with their insane silver space suits. At the other end of the scale, grandmas who would have been at home in a Russian epic took to the stage in 2012, namely The Grannies of Buranovo. In 2013 Romanian Cesar brought horror with his (accidental?) depiction of a modern day Dracula, while singing, perversely, a sugary love song. And these are just a few of the many crazy personalities representing their countries.
History is recalled in Abba’s Waterloo. For weird comedy, I present you with Ireland’s Dustin the Turkey, a puppet, who sang Irelande Douze Pointe in 2008. This turned out, appropriately, to be a ‘turkey’, not even qualifying for the show. Nil points before they’d even started.
Of course, romance abounds. Feel the profuse declarations of love in Lulu’s Boom-bang-a-bang (1969) and Cliff Richard’s Congratulations (1968), the sweetness of Dana’s All Kinds of Everything (1970). Cry at the heartbreak in Johnny Logan’s What’s Another Year? (1980).
Romance, history, dystopia, comedy, sci-fi and fantasy – it’s all there. You might say crime is represented, as some of the songs are murdered (Jemini’s UK entry in 2003 anyone?). And there’s mystery – how on earth did some of them even get picked?
The show itself begins with ‘conflict’: who will triumph, who will fail, who’ll make a complete wally of themselves? The scoring, by far the best part in my opinion, provides nail biting tension. Friendships and rivalries surface, even if quite a lot of inevitability sets in. There is disappointment and elation as the show moves towards the denouement and we discover the winner.
But then, sometimes there is a twist. Take 1968, when Cliff lost by one point to Spain. 1969 saw four winners. In 1988, the UK’s Scott Fitzgerald was ahead by the time they reached the penultimate vote. Then Yugoslavia gave Switzerland six points, making Celine Dion the winner by one point. Gripping stuff.
Not long now till the next episode of the saga known as the Eurovision Song Contest. What new elements will be thrown into the plot this time, what new declaration of love, what rivalries, what totally bonkers characters? Whatever they are, have a good time loving it or hating it!
One thing you could do to generate story ideas is to look at the Eurovision song titles, maybe combining two or more of them to add other elements. What would you make, for instance, of Better the Devil You Know, Knock Knock Who’s There and Waterloo?
For more information on this year’s contest: Eurovision Song Contest
My writing competition post at the RNA blog. Still some comps open for you to enter.