The Eurovision Song Contest - Why the Haters Are Wrong

11/05/2016 12:47 | Updated 11 May 2016

It's the Eurovision Song Contest this Saturday - but a recent poll has found the UK would vote 'Leave' if there were a referendum on our participation, in some kind of musical Brexit.

This must surely be one the most depressing results of recent times. One can only extrapolate that in these times of austerity, us Brits are cutting back on our sense of fun too. Or, Michael Gove, Nigel Farage, IDS et al are right and we just really hate Europe. *(see foot of blog post)

Irrespective of the chances of the UK entry (and actually, Joe and Jake's You're Not Alone is one of the best songs we've had in the competition for years), for me the wondrous Eurovision is an annual must-see and a movement that we must always be part of.

It's a very British tradition to hunker down on the sofa, whether at a big themed party, with a few friends or just on your own with a glass (or bottle) of wine and lose yourself in the sheer camp spectacle of it all.

There's a huge amount of fun to be had attempting to squawk along to indecipherable lyrics, predicting what political voting is going to ensure that a dreadful Baltic ballad ends up in the top five, or just inventing interpretive hand gestures to go with the words (yes, even if you are on your own).

And no, I'm not hate-watching in that dreaded arch 'so bad it's good' postmodern way. Aside from the increasingly over-the-top staging to be enjoyed, Graham Norton's arch commentary and the aforementioned sometimes hilariously blatant favouritism when it comes to dishing out 'null points', there's pure music joy to be had.

In a previous life I was a music journalist, and despite years writing for indie-centric titles like NME, my love of pop has been constant - sparked at a young age when I fell in love with ABBA, who of course shot to fame when they won the 1974 Eurovision with Waterloo (no I don't remember it, I'm not *that* old).

This year, the contest is being held in Abba's pop-loving home country of Sweden (I am so hoping for a surprise appearance on that Stockholm stage from Benny, Bjorn, Anni-Frid and Agnetha) and the UK has a 25/1 shot of winning.

Historically we used to do really well with the likes of Sandie Shaw's Puppet On a String (1967), Lulu's Boom Bang-a-Bang (1969 joint winner with Spain, the Nederlands AND France), Brotherhood of Man's Save Your Kisses For Me (1976), and Bucks Fizz's Making Your Mind Up (1981) landing the top spot.

Okay, the last time we won was back in 1997 with Katrina and the Waves' Love Shine a Light, but we've had some great entries over the years even if we haven't scooped first prize.

Gina G's Ooh Ah Just A Little Bit, Belle and The Devotions' Love Games and Scooch's Flying the Flag are all pop stompers in their own right. Plus, Joe and Jake's catchy entry would be a massive worldwide hit if Coldplay or One Direction released it (it sounds like their bastard love child).

And just looking at my Ultimate Eurovision Party CD (stop laughing at the back), there have been some total belters from other countries, including possibly my all-time favourite Eurovision entry, Teach-In's Ding A Dong (Netherlands 1975), as well as Dana International's Diva (Israel 1998), Baccara's Parlez-Vous Francais (Luxembourg -1978) and Nicole's sweet A Little Peace (West Germany - 1982).

Plus you never know when the next Lordi, Conchita or a troupe of folk-singing grannies will appear.

Basically, if you're not planning to be glued to your telly on Saturday, I feel a bit sorry for you and your cold, shriveled, pop-hating heart. In fact, why don't you come round to mine? I've got a bottle of wine and I've been practicing my interpretive hand gestures...

* (NB - the Eurovision is nothing to do with the EU, but is run by the European Broadcasting Union. The organisation has active members in 56 countries and associate members in another 20 from Iceland to Egypt and is an alliance of public-service broadcasters with an interest in or broadcasting from the region of Europe. It launched the Eurovision Song Contest in 1956 in a bid to bring the still-ravaged post-war countries of Europe together in one live 'light entertainment' broadcast - which surely can only be applauded).

The 61st Eurovision Song Contest takes place on Saturday 14 May and is shown on BBC One from 8pm.