I watched the Eurovision Song Contest at a friend’s house this year, so for this first time Eurovision was drunken for me. The consensus was that the standard in general was higher. I don’t think the others had seen it for a few years though, so I don’t think they were expecting all the big drums and the quasi-Asian / indiginous sound that Eurovision is becoming used to these days.
I thought the standard was higher than average, but there wasn’t a stand-out winner for me. In the end, through gritted teeth, I voted for Ukraine for the second year running because their song wasn’t bad and it had a meaning aswell. Everybody was surprised at the number of rocky numbers. In fact, my friend was so impressed with the standard that he ended up voting for three countries — Norway, Moldova and Germany!
Ruslana popped up during the show several times. I was disappointed to discover that most of her other songs are shite, and she didn’t perform Wild Dances at all. Bah! It is rare for a Eurovision song to be genuinely great; Wild Dances was one of them.
I had Norway down to win, and I was surprised they didn’t do better. At first the voting was all over the place — there must have been about seven different ‘winning’ songs. In the end it was Greece who won by a million miles though, with a standard Eurovision-pish song that I can’t even remember now.
Both me and my friend were in agreement that Terry Wogan is now well past his sell-by date. You can write his script. Insightful comments such as, “That chinky doesn’t look very Ukrainian to me,” and, “Look at that Cyrpus gave Greece twelve points” really don’t add anything to the Eurovision Song Contest any more. And why does he always have to relate everything to Riverdance? Time to punt Wogan off to Radio 2 where 50-year-olds can sit and listen to him for ever more, and leave the rest of us alone. Give Paddy O’Connell — who did a fine job commentating on the semi-final on BBC Three — a chance.
Of course, Wogan made his usual tired comments about “political voting.” Undoubtedly it exists. But Wogan makes it seem like the whole thing is a big eastern European fix. If Russia gives Ukraine two points it’s political voting; when Ireland and Malta give the UK three quarters of its full points haul it’s because the Irish and Maltese have good tastes in music! And if political voting plays such a big part, how come the same country doesn’t win every year?
Infact, if you want a political slant on the Eurovision Song Contest, notice that the bottom four were the big four contributors to the EBU: the UK, France, Germany and Spain! I don’t see what Germany and Spain did to do so badly. For a while, though, I thought that the UK and France would have something in common for once and share nul points status. Of course, Ireland and Malta were there to save the day for the UK; France scrounged a few points off Monaco. None of the big four will get relegated of course, because they contribute so much to the EBU. If you want to look even further in to it, Italy, Austria and Eurovision overachievers Ireland didn’t even get past the semi-final.
Of course the United Kingdom deserved to do as badly as it did. Our song was a bland song, trying to jump on the Brit-Asian bandwaggon; a bandwaggon which lost its wheels two years ago now. It was performed by Ms Blandness McBland of Blandshire with a *ahem* sore throat. Maybe this should be a wake-up call — not just for the UK, but for all of the big four who did badly.
It probably won’t be a wake-up call though. To the UK, Eurovision is a bit of kitsch, some light-hearted fun. Why not enter a cheesy song sung by a bland singer — a tactic the UK has followed for at least the past five years? France seem to be just about the only country left not singing in English.
But maybe it’s greater than the choice of song. I don’t see what was so bad with Spain and Germany’s entires. Infact, I thought they were quite good and didn’t deserved to be lumped in with the dire British and French entries. Perhaps this is political. Is the centre of Europe moving away from the traditional centre, and across to the east? Sometimes it’s difficult for the big countries in Europe to remember that they are only a part of Europe. Is there a genuine divide between ‘old Europe’ and ‘new Europe’?
Of course, I’m probably looking too much into it. To us, Eurovision is still a bit of fun. But that’s the problem. For eastern Europe, winning the Eurovision Song Contest is probably a genuinely proud achievement for a country. I mean, could you imagine Tony Blair sharing the stage with Javine in the same way that Viktor Yuschenko did with Ruslana?