The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio are in full swing. As swimmers do the breast-stroke and gymnasts perform splits in handstand position, we can’t help but see similarities with National Final season. And it’s not only that both events rush by so fast. So light your Olympic flame (or, if Baku is on the mind, Light your fire!) and let’s take it to the Eurovision!
Albania’s Festivali i Kënges and the Olympic Opening Ceremony
You might not like it, but recognise this: Albania’s national selection rules. It’s impressive how a low-budget station like RTSH manages to compel thousands of Eurovision fans across the continent — whose knowledge of the Albanian language consists of mirrëmbrema, te dua and gezuar — to tune in to a show (that could have been produced in the 90s) for three consecutive nights during Christmas. Kudos for that, Albania!
The Olympics Opening Ceremony is much of the same. It’s insanely long, but it’s so long-awaited. Once it begins you just can’t keep your eyes off the screen. The show features crazy performances, colourful clothing and (eventually) your country’s flag bearer. At FiK absolute stunners like Flaka Krelani or Lindita Halimi can appear at any moment and slay your world until the next selection.
After watching both The Olympic Opening Ceremony and FiK, a little voice inside your head asks, “What have I done with the last 5 hours of my life?” Another one replies, “That was amazing and this is just the beginning!” And then maybe, just maybe, another part of your brains hums, “AND THAT’S WHY I LOVE YOUUUUU OH-OHHHH“.
Estonia’s Eesti Laul and canoeing
Estonia’s national selection gets better and better every year.
Despite the frequently disappointing results (hey Jüri!), ERR throws a great show in which WTF! acts like Meisterjaan can qualify for the final.
As Robyn commented during the Eesti Laul 2016 Wiwi Jury: “Prior to this point in my life, I was unaware that I needed an electronic excursion into the world of the jaw harp, but here it is, in all its urgency”.
That sense of wonder when you realise you need something you never thought about needing is also present at the Olympics.
As when you’re randomly watching TV and canoeing appears. Because prior to that point in your life, you didn’t know you had to watch an impressively fit male or female battle the wild waters of a race course. They have to turn their canoe, and sprint, and then turn again, and avoid falling, and turn again… it finishes and you’re mesmerised, while you think: “F*ck that, I didn’t even know that was a sport!” all the while knowing you wouldn’t have lasted even one gate.
Then you become a fan of canoeing, and you’ll be forever devoted to it, as much as you are to the alternativeness of Eesti Laul. That is, in the next Olympics/season, because of course, you won’t remember about it until it’s announced again on TV or you read about it on wiwibloggs.
The point of no return is when you prefer a modest canoeing heat to a more talked-about swimming final or basketball match. That’s the “Eww, how can you watch the Melfest semifinal when there’s Eesti Laul!” moment of the Olympic Games.
Malta’s MESC and road cycling
Malta isn’t an ideal location for road cycling, mostly because a single stage would require three laps around the island. However, the sport and Ira Losco’s homeland have a lot in common.
For example, where else can you find such an insane amount of advertisements?! Cyclists place them almost everywhere on their body, just as TVM seems to place them everywhere in their annual broadcast (except in the middle of songs).
Maltese songs are frequently generic and a bit dated to European audiences. You feel like you’ve heard them before, and probably sometime in the late 90s.
In much the same way, watching road cycling offers plenty of déjà vu moments. All of the broadcasts are pretty much the same — it’s just roads, mountains and insane fans yelling at the cyclists. Still you tune in to support your country’s representatives while they dehydrate in the streets of Rio. It’s a similar feel to listening to yet another Maltese love ballad, punctuated by a commercial from Mediterranean Bank.
New year, same faces. Chris Froome or Vincenzo Nibali appear again and again with a yellow maillot. Much like Claudia Faniello, Christabelle and Jessika, who you don’t think about until they slip into a glittery outfit for MESC. Once they’re there, you’re actually glad to see them again. They’re fine and they are doing their thing. It’s kind of comforting.
The UK’s selections and men’s football
When you think of the UK music industry, you think of a thriving sector with first-class artists selling millions of records around the globe. It’s the same with British football. There’s this paradigm of opulence and megalomania, which attracts viewing figures comparable only to those of Eurovision and the Olympic Games.
Sadly, good ol’ GB struggles to live up to its music and footballing prowess when it comes to ESC and the Olympics.
The BBC’s selections tend to be weak, filled with unknown artists — and maybe just one well-known name in the songwriting credits. And then there’s football in the Olympics: teams like Fiji, Honduras or Denmark (no offence to them, but lesbihonest) are participating instead of the likes of Italy, France, the Netherlands, Uruguay or Spain. And of the power houses who do show up — like Portugal, Germany, Argentina and Brazil — they tend to bring lower calibre players. Yes, Neymar might be playing, but who else?
No stars, no media attention, little interest. Apart from that, there are much more exciting competitions to watch during the Olympic Games, including basketball, water polo, gymnastics, and athletics.
It’s similar to Eurovison. Who would be watching Eurovision: You Decide in the UK when there’s a stream or replay of Hungary’s A Dal, for example?
Ukraine’s selections and synchronised swimming
Eurovision and synchronised swimming have something in common apart from the glitter: Ukraine slays the pack in both.
Year after year, Ukrainians mesmerize Europe at Eurovision. And at the Olympics the Ukrainian team is always up there battling for the medals. Whether you turn on the TV for Ukraine’s NF or the Olympics, you expect Ukrainian extravaganza, sumptuousness, big flashes here, big splashes there! Troops of powerful women serving tons of cleavage (and slayage). It all keeps you wanting more. How could we live without it?!
These are just five similarities between the NF season and the Olympic Games, but there are many more. What other sports do you link with Eurovision national selections? Get creative and tell us in the comments section!