The 2020 Eurovision Song Contest was, well, not much of a contest. Blame the coronavirus pandemic for that.
For the first time in its history, the annual songwriting competition was shelved. No winner was announced. Instead, organizers the EBU went with a global virtual event featuring contemporary and past competitors, under the banner “Shine a Light.”
And there were a few surprises on the night, none greater than a two-minute speech delivered by Björn Ulvaeus, a member of Eurovision’s most famous alum, ABBA.
Ulvaeus tends to keep a low profile these days, though he appeared more than happy to share some thoughts on Eurovision and his group’s unforgettable appearance in Eurovision 1974, when their performance of “Waterloo” won ABBA the crown.
The Swede set the tone with a touching story of when his grandson, aged seven, realized just how famous his granddad was.
“He looked incredulous,” the Swedish pop hitmaker recounted in a pre-recorded piece. “He clearly found that very, very hard to believe,” pointing out that he was indeed the “chubby guy with the star-shaped guitar” in the classic clip.
“And to tell you the truth,” he continued, “when I watch that clip from the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton, 1974, I find that hard to believe as well.”
Eurovision is “one hell of a launching pad,” Ulvaeus noted, “and it still remains one of the most genuinely joyous events in the TV year. And it’s so disarmingly European, it so allows you to escape and be happy. Even forget about the coronavirus for a little while.”
At the close of the special, it was revealed that the song contest will return in 2021, taking place in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
ABBA has suggested new music from the group will be released at a future date, perhaps this year, though Ulvaeus didn’t share any updates.
Read his full speech below.
Good evening, I’m Björn Ulvaeus my grandson was about seven when he came home from school one day and said, my friends say that you’re a pop star grandad, is that true? Well, I said, you saw me on TV remember. I told you that the chubby guy with the star shaped guitar was me. He looked incredulous. He clearly found that very very hard to believe. And to tell you the truth, when I watch that clip from the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton, 1974, I find that hard to believe as well.
But then the ESC is one hell of a launching pad. And it still remains one of the most genuinely joyous events in the TV year. And it’s so disarmingly European, it so allows you to escape and be happy. Even forget about the coronavirus for a little while.
Everybody knows why there couldn’t be the usual Eurovision final this year but we hope this year’s show will comfort you in some small way, knowing that it’ll be back next year.
Very good title by the way, “Shine a Light”. I’m glad they didn’t choose “Waterloo”.