When one is asked “why do you love Eurovision?” the answers tend to be laced with irony and snark. Some people love the “so bad it’s good” quality of the songs.1 Sometimes it is the over-the-top performances that catches one’s fancy. There is pageantry, there is drama, there are bizarre choices…I guess the irony and snark can be justified.
However, one of the things I genuinely love about the Contest is its efforts in achieving accessibility. This is a competition where a trans contestant won 15 years before trans issues entered the mainstream discussion. For the past several years, there have been performances that reached out to the deaf community. And the geographic expansion has allowed the Contest to reach populations with cultures and values different from Western Europe—adding sounds and traditions that have enhanced the musical output of the event.
This year, Finland contributes to the accessibility advancements with their selection “Aina mun pitää” (“Always I Have To”) by the punk band Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät. Take a listen:
Here’s the deal: Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät formed a few years ago at a workshop for developmentally disabled adults. The members of the band have been diagnosed with autism or Down’s syndrome. If their story sounds familiar, it was featured in the documentary The Punk Syndrome, which won an audience award at SXSW in 2013. How cool is that?
Anyway, the song. I am quite intrigued by this entry. First, Finland is always full of surprises, sending a song of a different style and genre every single year. Traditionally heavy metal does not do well at the Contest, with the exception of Finland’s sole win in 2006 with Lordi’s “Hard Rock Hallelujah.” Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät have worked with Mr. Lordi in the past, so they have that going for them as well. You may have also noticed that the song is only about 90 seconds long—half the permitted time for any entry. This could mean either an elaborate performance with pyrotechnics up the wazoo as bookends, or trying to stand out with a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it entry in the lineup.
Finland will be a country to watch out for at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. There is a strong story accompanying their entry, which can resonate more with an audience than the actual song. Entries like this are why I love Eurovision.
- Even though some songs are objectively good. ↵