Last weekend H watched her first ever Eurovision. We allowed her to stay up a bit later than usual – much like I did back when I was her age.
When it started, when the first performers arrived on stage, H greeted the occasion with an amazed “wowwww!!” – she had never seen anything like it. People performing songs on stage, taking their turns from various countries who were eligible to compete.
“Are these people really singing?” she asked, as I confirmed this and felt sad inside. See, H is growing up in the world of the music video. Of YouTube or whichever visual streaming place you choose. A place where live performances are rare, and pre-recorded ones are normal.
When I grew up it was the opposite. There’s one reason why she’s never experienced this – because we don’t have Top of the Pops any more. Sad but true.
We would watch Top of the Pops every week when I was young, I’d be loving the Bay City Rollers, and indeed after my first Eurovision a bit of ABBA too. This was an exciting fast-moving world, bands playing live and performing on television.
Heck, I hate to say it as I don’t tend to like most of the bands, but these days programmes like Later With Jools Holland are where I get that fix. Not so for H.
It’s sad isn’t it? For just one night a year she can watch twenty six people perfoming live on stage to get that buzz back again. Performances, silly things, anything. The kind of thing which was normal when I was young. Sure, there’s Christmas Top of the Pops, but that isn’t the same – if you don’t have that connection with the songs on a weekly basis (and we don’t – we currently don’t have a radio other than the one that wakes me up in the morning) then it means very little.
But then this is the digital age, this is where you find it yourself. This is where the older kids, older siblings play it as they’ve found it and the younger kids or younger siblings pass it on to their friends. A different kind of word of mouth.
When I was at school in the eighties I wrote the Top 40 down pretty much every week, stopping around 1987. We’d sit huddled around a radio scribbling down the countdown (and that took some work) then look forward to Top of the Pops later in the week. These days the Top 40 is on the BBC website, you can click on a link and you’re taken to the music. You don’t have to sit through the rubbish (yet sitting through the rubbish helped me appreciate the good stuff) and there are occasional gems.
We recorded the second half of Eurovision and H watched it the following day. The only song she’s remembered a fair chunk of? Our British entry – Molly’s ‘Children of the Universe’. For its poor final score, the fact a four year old can remember it says to me it wasn’t a bad song. I got the Common Linnets (Netherlands) in the work sweepstake, and most of the Top 100 is peppered with Eurovision songs – with this one being the highest. H recognises what she hears, knows where she knows them from.
For all the ridicule Eurovision might get, this is our kids of today’s Top of the Pops. It’s just a pity it’s only once a year!