Well, I’ve been gone a while, attempting to catch up on my university workload and celebrating my 18th birthday (thankyou, I appreciate the well-wish), but now I’m back with much to chat about. I want to start by expressing my joy upon receiving three new Eurovision DVD’s for said birthday. Here’s the plug – http://www.euro-heaven.com stocks all ESC DVD’s from 1957 at a very reasonable price. Yes, they are burnt copies but how else can you obtain them for your collection? Yes, there is a possibility they might malfunction (like my 2003 disc which skipped from the plasticine opening sequence to Lys Assia’s lament. Luckily, all the performances were fault-free) but I had to take the chance. As for my new ones (2000, 2001 and 2002) they are all fine in that department, and as I sat watching them in a marathon of Eurovision fandom last week I felt a special tingle inside, one that I only get from the big ESC. But I also really noticed the difference between the then and the now of the contest, from the quality of songs to the entertainment, the stage, everything really. A decade is only a slice of the Eurovision pie, and yet since 2000 it has developed so much into the flashy show we know today (I mainly mean 2009 when I say that. What brilliance! Top that Oslo! Really, please try…it would be fantastical!). I started viewing chronologically with 2000, and seeing the full broadcast for the first time rather than fractured YouTube clips gave me a thrill (as I mentioned above). But as the first few songs came and went, my tension over expecting the whole thing to skip and freeze gave way to disappointment. Israel’s ‘Be Happy’ was the worst opener I have ever seen. Not only did it make Jemini’s ‘Cry Baby’ look like a contender for the Grammy Awards, but it also forced me to admit that I know where all the Eurovision critics out there are coming from when they rubbish it. Don’t get me wrong – I’m always at the ready to leap to the defence of my beloved contest – but this was all too much. It took my tolerance of the less-than-impressive efforts from Linda Wagenmakers and Nicki French before Estonia came onstage and burst my bubble of doubt over ESC’s merit. God I love that song. Where was I? Oh yes. It was then that I came to the conclusion that the quality of song has far improved since then, or maybe that’s just my penchant for modern pop/world music taking effect. You can see how slick the performances too have become. How does Finland’s ‘A Little Bit’ compare to such efforts from recent years as Ukraine 2008 and Turkey this year? Answer? It doesn’t. These opinions don’t dictate how I feel about these past contests though because I love them all the same. And just to prove it, I will let you in on what I felt to be the gems of: 2000 – Estonia, Romania, Russia, Denmark, Croatia and Latvia; 2001 – Iceland, Bosnia & Herzegovina, France, Estonia, Greece and Denmark; and 2002 – Greece, Russia, FYR Macedonia, Denmark, France and Malta. So there! Well I just felt like having a bit of a vent. But now I think I’ll go off and watch my burnt DVD’s again. I’m having withdrawals!