So it is that time of the year again– the time of the Eurovision Contest 2016. The Eurovision Song Contest or often shortened to ESC or Eurovision, is the longest-running annual international TV song competition, among European nations. The competition has been in existence since 1956. Each participating country submits an original song to be performed on live television and radio and then casts votes for the other countries’ songs to determine the most popular song in the competition. The contest is one of the longest-running television programmes in the world.
Way back in the eighties, with just a little black and white television set and a handheld radio in homes for entertainment, information about contests such as this, was minimal. My father had a strange fascination for the Eurovision contest from his younger days, and would somehow manage to keep a track of it. I distinctly remember him tuning into a black hand held radio, that had this really long antenna. Every night, it would be pulled out, and placed against the parapet wall of the balcony in Bangalore. He had demarcated spots where the signal would be at its best. And lying on straw mats next to it, we would listen to the contest, as we gazed at the stars in the sky. I distinctly remember one his favourites. It was the West German entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 1979, performed in German by Dschinghis Khan- a 6 member group.
Over the years, as I got entangled in the process of growing up and living life on my own, this small pleasure of listening to the international shows and music, disappeared from my life. My dad left this world a couple of years back and one of the things he left behind for me was the black hand held radio. I sat last weekend tuning in wondering if it would be of any use, when all of a sudden, the signals came back, all loud and clear. It was Eurovision time again!!!! And was I glad.
Despite social media having come up in many ways, despite online telecasts on You Tube, the joy of listening to the songs from that black box was immense. The radio had a magical mood enhancing effect!
Eurovision 2016 will be hosted in Sweden. The country clinched the top spot in 2015 thanks to Mans Zelmerlow and the song Heroes. This year’s competition is set to be a banner year with a revamped voting system , the return of some nations that were absent from recent years, and a special guest country making another appearance. The first semi-final for Eurovision 2016 was on Tuesday May 10 with the second following on Thursday May 12. The 20 successful countries will join the Big Five and the reigning champions Sweden for the grand final on Saturday May 14.