The month of May has to be one of the most exciting times of the year—and not just because it includes my birthday. No, this exciting time of the year contains something far bigger: nations coming together to compete in the most glamorous and glorious song contest on the globe.
I am, of course, talking about Eurovision.
My love affair with the contest has grown in the last few years to the point where this weekend is a solid fixture in my calendar. I even have a special watching process (don't you?).
The Friday and Saturday night semi-finals are for me to watch on my own—I don't want to have the songs interrupted by people around me. So I connect with others and 'discuss' what I'm seeing via a Facebook comment thread.
The Sunday night final really brings the party to lounge rooms across Australia. I've been to several Eurovision gatherings—fun-filled nights etched in my memory bank of happy times.
What's to love about Eurovision? I'm glad you asked, even if with such skepticism. There's SO much to love but here's the top five.
1. Wind machines, flames, pained facial expressions, wacky costumes, amazing choreography and endless key changes.
Eurovision is an entire evening of rousing songs on broad themes of love, unity, passion, heart break, and more, with all the production values of every single Olympic opening and closing ceremony that has ever been and will be.
Singers ooze expression—their faces, their hands, with flying hair (sometimes intertwined—thanks Russian twins)—as they stand alone in the spotlight or melting under the flames and sparklers.
If a song is ever feeling a bit flat, all you need to do is wait for the inevitable key change—or two... or three—and immediately, the song could be in the running to win the whole thing.
2. Bringing friends together in mutual disbelief and mockery
Now, I must confess, part of the appeal of Eurovision is waiting for that one weird country to put together an entry that defies any commentary. And I wouldn't want to say I'm laughing atsome entries but I also wouldn't want to be called a liar. The best way to digest these sometimes-incomprehensible acts is with friends, food and a desire to be entertained.
A highlight of SBS's last few years of coverage has been the Twitter feed. There's some solid comedic effort going into it and I'm rarely disappointed by the tweets chosen as they often mirror my own response to a particular contestant.
3. Australian participation is now a reality!
Years ago, we could only dream Australia would have the chance to show Europe what we're really made of when it comes to musical talent. It started when Jessica Mauboy was chosen to perform a special item.
In 2015 a national dream came true (or, you know, my dream) when Guy Sebastian had the honour of representing Australia as an actual entrant who could attract votes! He did us proud, coming in at 5th place.
In this year's contest, I look forward to watching the ridiculously talented Dami Im represent our country.
4. The awkward hosting and voting process
Look, committing to Eurovision is not something you should take lightly. Once the performances have finished the night is still young—as all the votes are tallied.
Endless repeats of hosts with plastered on makeup and smiles dealing with slightly delayed video links and attempting to be witty in two minutes is never a great viewing combination. But take heart, the voting is when you restock your refreshments to power on through because by now you've seen the acts and you are invested in finding out who wins.
A serious Eurovision watcher will have actually watched the crowing of the winner live, but for those who can't, it's a good idea to have a self-imposed news and social media blackout until you've watched the delayed telecast.
5. The commentary; Australia's Julia Zemiro and Sam Pang
Australia used to have the privilege of watching Eurovision with commentary from BBC's inimitable Terry Wogan. In his place, a couple of our own Australian hosts have deeply enriched my Eurovision experience with their knowledgeable commentary (well, mainly Julia's) and hilarious back-stage interviews with the contestants (Sam's).
Julia represents the excitement of die-hard Eurovision fans while Sam represents the confused-yet-amused watchers of the program and they just meld together in a charming duo to make the event even more fun.
When I watch Eurovision, it's like watching a fantastic party; just look at the crowd and try to find someone who isn't enjoying themselves. So for one night, we can forget about moments of darkness, uncertainty and hatred for there's always Eurovision; the giant sparkly disco ball lighting up the calendar, bringing joy and smiles to people all over the world.
Eurovision 2016 will be held in Stockholm, Sweden on 13-15 May, 2016.
Sarah Urmston lives in Toowoomba with her husband, Stephen. She loves God, her family, writing, colouring in, crochet, and creating lists. Sarah works full-time at home and seeks to faithfully serve Jesus in many different ways using the time she's given.
Sarah Urmston's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/sarah-urmston.html