Europe plays the beautiful game, soon after thanking ABBA for the music


Over the next month, the world will be watching as 24 countries vie to be the men’s European football champion. It comes just weeks after Eurovision, the world’s most watched cultural event. This Week, Those Books offers crucial context and conversation starters on the glittery, nearly 70-year-old, glittery pop contest and conversation starters. Sign up at and get the post and four-minute podcast the day it drops

Image by Andrew Ebrahim, Unsplash

The Big Story:

The Eurovision Song Contest, the world’s most watched cultural event, gets to its customary glitzy end on a high note of controversy.

Happier mood music revolves around the 50th anniversary of ABBA’s international breakthrough at Eurovision 1974 with the hit song Waterloo.

Since 2023, the whole world has a vote in Eurovision

The Backstory:

  • Eurovision, generally known for wacky performances such as singing Russian babushkas and a Finnish heavy metal band dressed as monsters, attracts at least 160 million viewers.
  • The world’s most watched non-sports event, it is surpassed only by the Olympics and the World Cup.
  • It is not restricted to the European continent, has no direct connection with the European Union and a country can participate if its national broadcaster is a member of the EBU.
  • Israel made its Eurovision debut in 1973 as the contest’s first non-European country…


This Week, Those Books:

  • A hilarious look at decades of Eurovision’s “silly costumes, terrible lyrics”.
  • A solemn study of how a song contest changed to keep pace with the politics of its times.
  • The Good, the Bad and the Wurst: The 100 Craziest Moments from the Eurovision Song Contest

By: Geoff Tibballs

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group

Year: 2016

This book is almost as entertaining as a Eurovision final. It celebrates Eurovision as “about much more than the music”, which Geoff Tibballs adds, “is just as well”. Paying homage to its “over-the-top extravaganza, a feast of lamé, latex and leather”, Tibballs quotes a BBC presenter:


  • Postwar Europe and the Eurovision Song Contest

By: Dean Vuletic

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Year: 2018

The author, considered one of the world’s foremost authorities on Eurovision, designed “the world’s first university course” on it. Here, he charts the contest’s evolution, taking it through the Cold War years, a changing Europe and its shifting institutional architecture. Making clear at the outset that he is a Eurovision enthusiast, Dean Vuletic dismisses criticism of its “cultural kitschiness” as “unfair”. He points out that Eurovision has launched popular superstars (ABBA, Celine Dion and Olivia Newton-John to name just three)…


Originally published at This Week, Those Books

Want another read? Europe debates its destiny — and Ukraine

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