In a period of perversely intense British euroscepticism, those of a lighter/more liberal disposition rejoice! It’s May, and that means it’s time for the annual festival of irreverent pop nonsense that is the Eurovision Song Contest.
The UK has a well publicised love/hate relationship with Eurovision, though it’s our own fault for torturing ourselves with the prospect of a victory that lies well out of our grasp. Terry Wogan famously jettisoned his duties as the BBC’s Eurovision commentator in 2008, citing overtly political voting that further served to diminish the UK’s chances (block voting does tend to disadvantage island states). But to focus solely on the British experience is to somewhat miss the point. Delve a little deeper into Eurovision, and you discover a subtle blend of the brilliant and the complete, off the wall insane.
Let’s get serious business out of the way early on. The Eurovision Song Contest has the capacity to produce legitimately decent pop songs. Last year’s winning entry ‘Euphoria’ by Loreen is a case in point (since beating all competition by a handsome margin, the track went on to sell over 1m copies across the continent). The conception that the competition is the reserve of downright chintz is at least a decade out of date. This year’s heavy favourites are Denmark, represented by Emmelie de Forest, and with it’s organic beats, ethnic flutes and absolute earworm of a chorus, I think you’d agree that it’s the kind of pop song that the UK chart’s been crying out for for some time.
And now for the interesting part… The Eurovision Song Contest is an infamous refuge for the downright deranged, and it’s these golden nuggets of insanity that elevate Eurovision above the likes of your average talent show. Plumping for an ‘original’ act doesn’t always work (see Ireland’s turkey of 2009, or Scooch, who embarrassed the UK in 2008), but when the critical mass of bat shit/quality tune is attained, the results are truly special. Finland’s Lordi brought an elaborate fantasy back story and hard rock to proceedings in 2006, with their ultimately victorious ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’, though the undisputed reigning champions of thorough nonsense are the Ukraine, thanks to 2007’s runner up, ‘Dancing Lasha Tumbai’ by part-time female Verka Serduchka. Incidentally, the similarity between the words ‘lasha tumbai’ and ‘Russia, goodbye’ didn’t go by unnoticed. Despite Ms Serduchka’s assertions that the title was derived from a Mongolian phrase for ‘whipped cream’ (not even nearly true), there was more than an unlikely hint of Orange Revolution about the Bacofoil clad chanteuse’s outstanding display.
As the second semi final drew to a close late on Thursday night, it was looking like 2013 was going to be devoid of such silliness. This was before act number 17, Cezar, put the ‘mania’ back into Romania, like some fabulous love child of Dracula and Ming the Merciless (whose sensational falsetto was reminiscent of ‘Female Homer’ from the Big Brothers episode of The Simpsons). Either way, it made the final, and will once again be available for your enjoyment on Saturday night.
If, like me, you plan to drink along to Saturday’s grand finale, full rules can be found on my tumblr. My housemate also wrote a good article on the topic, which can be found here, If this particular post did anything for you then I’m sure that this one will as well.