Let there be light! 10 Eurovision songs to drive away the darkness (and the shade)

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Last week — on October 10 — we stumbled across a confessional YouTube video from the UMK 2017 contestant Emma. The “Circle of Light” singer spoke bravely and boldly spoke about her struggles with depression, which resulted from a difficult performance at Finland’s Eurovision selection and unkind words found online. Coinciding with World Mental Health Day, her video gave us tingles and reminded us of the importance of staying positive and remembering your worth — whether you’re facing self-doubt, financial woes, the death of a relative, relationship troubles or bullies and trolls projecting their insecurities on you.

It’s an incredibly timely message. In September the British think tank IPPR revealed that suicide rates among UK university students had reached an all-time high. And earlier this year the journal Psychiatric Services published a startling paper that found more Americans suffer from stress, depression and anxiety than ever before. It’s a pattern repeated across many countries and one thought to have intensified partly because of social media, where people have a habit of comparing their real lives to the highly curated lives of others. The rise of online bullying doesn’t help. At the end of last year, UK charity ChildLine — which helps children facing online abuse — reported an 88% increase in reported incidents. And as all of us know, abusive behaviour isn’t limited to children. Adults have a habit of hiding behind their computer screens and letting rip, too. The sad reality is that many people wallow in their own toxins and put other people down as a sport. It’s attention-seeking at its worst.

To all of our readers and YouTube viewers, we want you to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel — even if you have to squint really hard. A better day may seem distant and elusive, but we can all take small steps to push through whatever troubles and hiccups we face. It’s not easy and some of you will no doubt face challenges that friends and family cannot fathom. But music is therapy — and Eurovision songs are frequently the perfect medicine, if only for a moment.

So, with love and our best wishes, we are happy to share the wisdom of 10 singers from the world of Eurovision. Read on and let there be light!

Nathan Trent — “Running on Air”

So often in life you have to fuel your own journey. Try something new and people may doubt you, ignore you or even laugh at you. And then as you move toward your goals the cycle starts again with people trying to bring you down or stop your momentum. More often than not it means you’re doing something right, so don’t let their internal issues trip you up. Austrian singer Nathan Trent knows all of that and proved it with his sweet Eurovision 2017 number “Running on Air”. The emphasis here is on running. Let the others stop and talk. You have places to go.

“Running on Air” lyrics:

Hey now, if you push me down I’ll get up again
Hey now, if you let me drown I’ll swim like a champion
I’m sure, there’ll be good times, there’ll be bad times
But I don’t care…’cause I’m running on air

Conchita Wurst — “Rise Like a Phoenix”

In their attempt to gain self-esteem, or sheerly as the result of a damaged heart, haters try to bring others down and want to make people question their chosen paths. The great irony is that their hate actually has the opposite effect of driving people forward. All that negativity flowing from them can become a source of fuel. This shouldn’t be a revelation: Just ask Taylor Swift (“Shake It Off”) or Beyoncé (“Survivor”).

No Eurovision artist conveys that sentiment better than Conchita Wurst. Initially mocked as “the Wurst decision for Austria,” she held her nerve, continued to do her thing and walked away victorious. As Tyra Banks once said on America’s Next Top Model, the opposite of love isn’t hate. It’s indifference. By booing and jeering and spewing acid, Conchita’s detractors just added more wind to her sail. Danke schön.

The lyrics of “Rise Like a Phoenix” make that abundantly clear. Conchita may have been burnt, but she rose from the ashes. So thank you so much for being her flame.

“Rise Like a Phoenix” lyrics:

You wouldn’t know me at all today
From the fading light I fly
Rise like a phoenix
Out of the ashes
Seeking rather than vengeance
Retribution
You were warned
Once I’m transformed
Once I’m reborn
You know I will rise like a phoenix
But you’re my flame

Maria Haukaas Storeng — “Hold On Be Strong”

Love kills…over and over. And while relationships may end, you, my friend, should and will go on. It’s an idea that Norway’s Maria Haukaas Storeng gave rhythm to at Eurovision 2008, rocketing all the way to fifth place. Clearly aware of how tough break-ups can be, she sings that love “can make you depressed and angry.” But she also knows that loneliness is temporary and that it’s important to put yourself out there so you can come into contact with people who care — be they friends or potential romantic partners. So don’t sit at home and mope for too long. By holding on and being strong, you can improve your day-to-day and ultimately enrich your life. Long story short: Life is better when you let people in.

“Hold On, Be Strong” lyrics:

But there’s always someone out there who’ll be there for you
There is always someone out there who’ll care for you
There’s always someone out there who’ll be true, true, true
Hold on, hold on, be strong

Helena Paparizou — “Survivor”

The act of persevering usually involves holding on. But sometimes that means letting go, particularly in matters of the heart. In her Melodifestivalen 2014 song “Survivor”, Sweden’s Helena Paparizou reflects on her “instinct to run” and the fact she failed to do so in the past — even though her man’s love “is the killing kind.” Well not this time. She has a reckoning with herself and realises it’s time to say Bye, Felicia!

Her song seems to tackle romance. But you could apply the basic themes of walking away and growing stronger to a number of scenarios — from real life friendship to more tenuous online connections. You are what you eat…and you’re also what you absorb from your environment. Sometimes it’s important to walk away from people who drain you of energy or who project negativity and bitterness into your atmosphere. Unfollowing and unfriending shouldn’t be seen as an act of war — it’s merely putting yourself first and creating an environment where you can flourish. Ultimately you have to take care of yourself first.

“Survivor” lyrics:

Just call me a survivor
Have to be a fighter
Gonna let you go, let you go
Just call me a survivor
Such a strong desire
Gonna let you go, let you go

Julia Samoylova — “Flame Is Burning”

Eurovision performances aren’t judged merely with the ears — they’re judged by the eyes and the heart. And that might explain why Julia Samoylova’s “Flame Is Burning” burns so bright, despite the decidedly vintage sound (and the geopolitical spat that led to her ban). Nodding to Soviet-era pop, the video is tender, breezy and stirring — an ode to perseverance and hope that Julia embodies so well. Tell her she can’t be a singer because of her wheelchair? She goes on Russia’s version of X Factor and wins over a nation with her talent. The unfortunate situation surrounding her planned participation in 2017 only helped her star rise higher. Hard work pays off — so long as you keep your inner fire burning.

“Flame is Burning” lyrics:

After the night there’s a light
And in the darkest time a flame is burning
It shines so bright

Deep in the night love is alight
And in the dark a flame is burning
A flame is burning

Ruth Lorenzo — “Dancing in the Rain”

Sometimes problems come in twos….or threes and fours. Like when you split from your long-term partner and lose your job while at the same time dealing with a broken foot and the debt collector. You may feel like you’re stuck in a storm and being drenched by the rain. But before you reach for your umbrella, cue Spain’s Ruth Lorenzo, who took the rain (the rain…the rain…) and used it as inspiration for a glorious Eurovision performance in 2014. Hitting her high notes and mixing pop with a dose of opera, she won over millions of fans en route to a Top 10 finish for Spain — all the while working slicked back, water-drenched hair. When life gives you rain, don’t worry about getting wet. You will dry off one day — and you might just stumble upon a few brilliant ideas in the process. Trauma hurts, but it’s invaluable.

“Dancing in the Rain” lyrics:

So, live
Like you’ll never stop
Take this chance
And give it everything you’ve got
Come on and let the rhythm drop
We’re dancing in the rain
Dancing in the rain

Ace Wilder — “Don’t Worry”

At Melodifestivalen 2016 Ace Wilder sang of several petty problems: cold coffee, old cars and slow wi-fi. It was amusing. But the fact remains that on a bad day little things like that can really add up and leave you feeling blue. A bit of positive thinking and repetition can go a long way in helping you get your happy back — and you don’t have to repeat namaste. Try “Don’t Worry” instead. This mambo-esque number gets in your ear and starts to loop rather quickly. Fake it till you make it? Better to take it until you feel it — it being those carefree, “Don’t Worry” vibes. Good luck!

“Don’t Worry” lyrics:

Just when you think it can’t get any worse
Dressed as a clown you show up drunk and high
In church

I’m not a preacher but I’m tellin’ you
It’s gonna be ok
Just hurry up and wait

Don’t worry it’s alright
Don’t worry it’s alright
Don’t worry it’s alright

Barei — “Say Yay!”

Barei’s staging at Eurovision may have underwhelmed many, but that doesn’t take away from her feel-good studio track that never failed to make me smile or bob my head. Barei, an independent artist, had to do so much by herself before securing the Eurovision bid. And then she got it through sheer grit, determination and, of course, talent.

Turning away from broken mirrors and diving into her own struggles, Barei brings perseverance to life with this uplifting dance number. Her vocals carry passion and power and, supported by ample bangs and clangs, make me say yay while pumping my fist and shaking my tail. The lyrics are at times cringeworthy, but she ropes me back in with a simple and uplifting chorus that could motivate the most down-trodden soul. It’s a fun and catchy song with a great message: If you fall down, get back up again.

“Say yay!” lyrics:

Come on and raise your battle cry
You are the one who never dies!
Hurray sing it lalalala!
Go on singing lalalala!
You keep on climbing over hills
Right now you’re following your dreams!
Hurray sing it lalalala!
Hurray!
SAY YAY YAY YAY!

Tamara Gachechiladze — “Keep the Faith”

Self-belief is important — and it’s something that our favourite divas have in abundance. From Sabina Babayeva to Lindita Halimi, these ladies know they’ve got the talent. They’ve also got the drive and the will to be heard.

And so it goes for Tamara Gachechiladze — aka Tako — who sang of keeping the faith in her Eurovision 2017 song. From the very first note she makes it clear that you need to write your own story, even as detractors try to shape your narrative. “Who told you to hide behind the veil?” she asks. “Who told you to get out of the way? Don’t you let them steal your dreams. Feel the courage, spread your wings and breathe.”

So when Tamara was disqualified from Eurovision 2009 as part of Stephane & 3G she didn’t roll over and stop singing. She got better — not bitter — and kept on slaying. Now a household name in her native Georgia, Tamara keeps bringing it by believing in herself. We believe in her too.

“Keep the Faith” lyrics:

Who told you that I reached that point of no regrets?
Who told you that my life is a book of fairytales?
I have lost many times
But I’ve never lost my hope
Keep the faith
Keep the faith
Remember you are not alone
Hold my hand and come along

JOWST — “Grab the Moment”

People talk. And when you put yourself out there people talk even more. Amid all the voices you hear, the most important one is your own. You’ve got to focus, cut through the noise and remember what you want and are willing to work for.

JOWST and Aleksander Walmann get it. The “voice” they sing about in “Grab the Moment” could represent many things — from their own self-doubt to negativity from the outside. But they also know you just have to squash the drama and seize the day. As others marinate in negativity and bitterness, you can just get on with your work and with taking risks. And if you have any time, you may just want to say a prayer that your detractors find peace and turn to the important work of addressing their own issues.

“Grab the Moment” lyrics:

I’m gonna kill that voice in my head
I don’t care about falling
I’m gonna grab the moment

What Eurovision songs inspire you during difficult times? What music has helped you through break-ups, deaths, illnesses and social media non-sense? Share your thoughts below. We’d love to read them. 

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