All entries for May 2008

May 25, 2008

Notes on the Eurovision Song Contest

So, another Eurovision has passed, and we all slink back to our hidey holes, shame-faced at only receiving 14 points (8 of them from Ireland, who, quite frankly, deserved a place in the final with Irelande Douze Points. It was much more entertaining than the Russian Ice Skating thing, even though the Turkey puppet made me feel slightly sick).

It was nice to look out over Warwick SU’s marketplace during the show (I was the person up in Grumpy John’s, doing revision). There was a very nice feel, with friendly rivalries, International Students going mad waving flags about (it really made me appreciate having a large international community), and the whole thing was light hearted and enjoyable. Just what Eurovision should be about. I can’t help but feel the Russians knew they were going to win, because they were out in droves, and seemed to be celebrating before any results had even been announced. Maybe they knew in their heart of hearts that a camp ice skater and, quite frankly, dull song was just what Europe needed.

So what can we do to boost our chances next year? Well perhaps we need to look at how we view Eurovision. It was set up to be a contest between countries, showcasing the state of music between nations. And so why have our recent entries been nothing like what we would usually have in the charts? On the cheese front (glossing over the embarrassment that was Jemini), we’ve had Scooch. This is a band that used to be in the charts, but disappeared along with Steps once everyone lost interest in the novelty. Everyone gained interest in them again when the girls were in Nuts or Zoo, but they’ve once again disappeared into obscurity. This year we’ve had whats-his-face, a man with a forgetable name and a forgetable tune, that never in a million years would have captured people’s hearts without the help of X Factor and now Eurovision. It seems the nation played it safe, voting in someone who was nothing but inoffensive (no personality, no wow factor, and certainly no display of what the British can do). In the interest of fairness, in his defense, I thought he made the most of what he was given last night, and no country has ever won Eurovision when they were second in the line-up.

That gives us option number 1 – change the views of the music industry into thinking that Eurovision could actually be a little bit cool. After all, it did completely revive the career of Sandy Shaw, and gave us treasures like Lulu and Celine Dion (we’ll pretend Sir Cliff never happened). It’ll allow anyone who actually has a shred of credibility to enter the competition, providing a better example of why our music has gone from strength to strength over the last few years (even though it did manage to destroy Top of the Pops).

Option number 2 requires an entirely different take on Eurovision. It is, after all, the strangest, campest, and craziest competition that has ever graced my television screen (one presenter yesterday declared “Welcome to Belgrave, the city where you can’t sit down”. Did someone nick all the chairs or something?). Maybe we should really start pandering up to it all. Granted, that approach didn’t work for Ireland this year, but there’s camp and then just plain bizarre. Take, for example, the genius of Lordi. Hard Rock, yes, but accessable to all because of the sheer campness of it all (“It’s the a-rock-alypse”, anyone? Or how about “on this day of rockening…”?). That year also brought us the delights of “We are the winners” from Lithuania, made even more funny by the fact that their accents made it sound like “We are the weiners”.

So option number 2 would, in fact, be the direct opposite of option number 1. We should ignore the music that we normally listen to, and bring back some of that 90’s trite, like Lolly, or The Cartoons (were they British? I forget). We could have had an amazing trio that reminded me of the dolly girls who entertained the troops during the war, instead of Blandy McBlandy the singing binman. However, it is worth noting that not many of the countries in the final this year actually went for this approach, except Spain (which I’m sure would’ve made more sense if I had put the translating subtitles on, because I could not understand why that dancer kept falling over and looking like she was going to die). The result made for a very bland Eurovision, with most of the women looking like clones of each other, wearing pretty much exactly the same dress. Where were the costume changes of old, where the singers got progressively more naked? Perhaps Bucks Fizz have had their day…

There is another option, which I personally find too hard to consider. And that is to bring back the cheesy “we love everybody” style of Katrina and the Waves. “Love shine a light in every corner of the world”, indeed. Pile of tosh, and even Katrina thought so, as I seem to remember her saying “A lot of people will lap this crap up”, or something along those lines. However, it seemed to work. Maybe what we need is a catchy, heartfelt song all about loving thy neighbour, that can hopefully overcome the hate that everyone else in the World feels towards us, due to all our war-mongering ways. Perhaps it can be called “We’re Sorry About Iraq; The Musical”.

Failing that, we can throw a hissy fit and threaten to pull our funding if we don’t make the top five. Who pays for it anyway? I’ve never been sure. Is it the BBC? Am I right in thinking Eurovision is, in fact, organised by the national Broadcasting Associations? I seem to remember the excuse used not to allow Leichtenstein to compete one year being due to them not having an equivalent of the BBC. It is, after all, only our funding that means we make it to the final every year, along with a few others (I think Germany and France might be in there?), implying we do spend an awful lot. Maybe a bit of blackmail is the only way we have a shot, although that’s not very British. And I don’t think that such a threat would work. The other nations would probably think “Awesome, now we don’t have to listen to their rubbish songs, and don’t have to broadcast in English any more”. Maybe it’s best if we just keep to our tried and tested stiff-upper-lip approach, and clap politely when Sweden, surprisingly, votes for Denmark.

Well, I suppose this isn’t something we have to consider for another year, but it would be nice to enter something that truely does have “Eurovision” stamped all over it: Either an awesome display of modern British style (including all the cosmopolitan influences we’ve got) or camping it up big time, in the style of the Village People. I, personally, prefer the latter idea, but then, it’s not up to me.


May 02, 2008

Quick note before I get back to my baguette…

How brilliant is South Central? Best brie and bacon baguettes ever. Yum.


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