Boom Bang-a-Bang: The appeal of Eurovision

Eurovision returns to our screens this Saturday (26 May). It is one of the longest-running and most watched television programmes in the world, attracting as many as 600 million viewers. It is mocked and celebrated in equal measures for its cheesy pop and often bizarre performances.

Dr Catherine Loveday, a Chartered Psychologist, explains the appeal: “I think all competitions, especially those at a national level, will draw people in, but Eurovision has the added attraction of being centred around music, an activity that is not only inherently appealing but plays an important function in social and cultural identity and promotes feelings of unity and bonding.

“This is why mothers sing to their babies and football supporters chant on the terraces. It also helps to explain why patriotic music is particularly likely to provoke emotional responses like a shiver down the spine.

Although the event is a competition, there is a light hearted aspect to it, says Dr Michael Lowis, also a Chartered Psychologist: “The contest is keenly contested, but it is relatively innocuous and is fun. Nobody gets hurt. Nations have the chance to compete against each other without political interference - although we do hear of some manipulated block voting.”

Despite the fun element, the contest has been the target of human rights protesters. Dr Lowis says: “It is just sad that human rights protesters are trying to use this international gathering to make their feelings known, and at least one country has withdrawn. Regardless of the merits of such cases, why can’t we just sit back and enjoy some harmless, competitive fun?

“Music and singing is open to people of any age, gender, and ethnic group. Representatives of all possible combinations have represented their country in the competition. Individuals or groups who were previously unknown can end up representing their country.”

“The smallest, poorest nation in Europe can beat the richest, largest - there are many examples. Little wonder that it is entered into with enthusiasm.”