I’m sad that America doesn’t get involved in Eurovision. Granted, it would then defeat the term “Eurovision.”
Much like how we don’t get football (or soccer as we call it) Eurovision has been going on since the Magna Carta was signed, which was before the US existed so I didn’t have to learn about it. I had heard fleeting bits about it from random music shows, like how ABBA won it and so did Celine Dion (who is rocking a massive perm btw). But to truly experience Eurovision you have to be here, in the moment, with your randomly drawn countries that you’ve been wedded to win then and there.
This year’s Eurovision was held in Oslo. It appears that when your country wins Eurovision you are granted the crippling expense of hosting the competition next year. Apparently the television group who chose to produce the show had to give the rights of hosting World Cup to do this – which is an incredibly noble choice considering that this competition takes place over a couple of days and World Cup – like Christmas – goes on for six months. The show itself has three hosts, and we get a further one host who talks over the three hosts and is far more entertaining. Of course, it’s Graham Norton – who is a marvelously wicked man and he tells us fun things like “the guy hosting the show is a junior fly fishing champion” and “this group is called 3 + 2 because apparently their country has no word for 5.” He also had the honor of being “visited” by the three hosts mid-way through the show (a segment that was pre-taped) in which he mocks himself.
The people who compete have to be “unknowns.” This is a definite “” for me because, as I found out, several of the top finishers were already known through very strategic marketing that bends its way lovingly around the rules. Voting is also completely arbitrary, with an apparent 50% vote coming from the people and 50% vote coming from mysterious judges. There is definite politics going on as countries vote for their neighboring countries (or don’t, depending on what is going on) thus meaning that if you have a song that really sucks you can still finish well. Except if you are England, but we’ll get to that.
There are two truly wonderful things about the competition:
1. Unlike American Idol where each group suffers critique after completing a performance, they just leave the stage. This gives our voiceover host Graham Norton to comment on things like the over-use of eyeliner on the male dancers before we move to the next train wreck.
2. There aren’t any commercials – meaning that the contest does not become like the 4-5 hours of Oscar coverage. They zip along as fast as humanly possible. This is even more exciting to watch as they often have to comment in two or three languages, which can make for some interesting gaffes. (One judge asked the host how she was doing in his native language, to which she just sort of stared blankly at the camera before he remembered to ask her in English.)
During their days of competition they widdle the countries submitted down to 25 and in one blistering night we get to see the 3 minute performances (no more or they pull the plug). The countries bequeathed to me were Spain and Norway. Norway, having already won and having the burden of hosting, decided to send on a super fine piece of eye candy who couldn’t carry a tune. This, I believe, was a political half-statement. “Yes, we’re happy we’ve won and but we’re not up for another year. So please, look at our fine Norwegian men instead.”
Spain brought me a fluffy-haired male with the use of many diminutives (itos and itas) in Spanish. There were two rewarding parts to the performance: 1. The stage was raided by a man in a pink hat and 2. His back-up singer ran onto the stage with even fluffier hair and made the macho-man stance dance his own…
By far one of the best performances belonged to Moldova, who got totally screwed in the votes but proved the 80s aren’t dead – they’ve just moved to Moldova (along with spin and wind machines). Massive props to their mini-sax player and his ample use of pelvis:
This of course was dwarfed when Greece took the stage. I don’t know their names but our host called them “Gorgeous and His Friends.” This is a case study in masculinity. Take note, emo people:
What makes them better is that the official video they did completely upped the sex factor by 600%:
I can’t believe they worked an entire minute and a half of various body parts and deep breathing into it. Why they didn’t win is simple: Greece is broke. But it’s done wonders for housewives all over Europe. For that alone they should charge per viewing. Put Greece right back on top of the economy.
Now, before you think I’m oogling the men, Armenia brought their Angelina Jolie singer, albeit with bad extensions, and her ample bosom:
They were awesome enough to include an 84-year-old flute player and a man-child who leaps about a stage. It’s something for everyone.
Russia disappointed me to some level, as they brought their stereotype to Eurovision. Fake snow falling, misery, and well… a conversation that strangely happens in the middle of the song. Our host put it best as, “one of those songs that will become a massive drunk pub singing hit”:
But the winner for the truly most odd form of mixing David Bowie looks with traditional Serbian dance trumpet disco goes to this guy:
I spent the three minutes entranced with his cheek bones and the women’s plastic dresses.
Now considering that I am in England and should’ve been rooting for England what I have to say is this: The song is AWFUL. The poor kid who was tapped to sing the song “That Sounds Good to Me” cheesed his way through 3 minutes of hell. It is so bad right now I can’t even pull the video clip off YouTube. I feel he was, like Norway, the sacrificial lamb except he wasn’t eye candy. If he was at least that much he wouldn’t have finished DEAD LAST.
The winner of the night was Germany, who did the most well placed marketing known to man in order to secure this crown. They held a competition for the winning singer and let Germany decide. It was placed just far enough before the actual competition the song had spread throughout Europe. It is sung by a very odd girl named Lena who exhibits a flair for Cockney English, except she isn’t, and refers to toenails as… toenates. Enjoy:
It was explained that the competition is normally nail-biting. No one apparently really knows who will win until the bitter end, with the exception of this one – the German machine was, as ever, flawless. They won with the closest competitor 70+ points behind.
This experience was, by far, one of the most enriching nights culturally in a long time. Granted, if we based all our assumptions on countries based on these performances I think war would never exist. After all, wind machines make everyone look amazing – who would want to fight about that?