May 14, 2007

Watching the Eurovision Song Contest

Man or woman?Over the last few years, the Eurovision Song Contest has become every time more something I don’t want to miss. Although I already used to watch with mom and dad on the sofa when I was five, I have now made myself believe it has something of a great significance, perhaps even of political importance. So do my friends, although some for reasons of genuine musical interest, something I find kind of hard to grasp, but no matter.

We decided to watch it together – a mixed audience of Spanish, French, Swiss, Belgian and Taiwanese students in a friend’s appartment. Although I arrived late due to some metro issues (the gates refused to recognise my somewhat wrinkled metro card), I managed to see a few of the songs, one of even more appaling quality than the other, and what’s more, with very few songs that stood out for anything.

There are some facts about the Eurovision you might not know, but that I think, if you managed to read thus far, might interest you. Here’s one: the four countries that contribute most to the European Broadcasting Corporation – the UK, France, Germany and Spain – enter automatically in the finals, even if their song is of such poor quality that it didn’t manage to get through the semifinals. I didn’t think the UK’s contribution was too bad though, the others I didn’t see. That brings us to the next fact. France and the UK, most notably the latter, traditionally receive very little to no points; I believe some PhD studies have been done about it.

Fact three. Russia on the contrary generally scores all the top points from its neighbouring countries. Most curious were Estonia’s 12 points for Russia, even though the two countries have a less than amicable relationship lately. Or am I mistaken in seeing politics in innocent pop? One other explanation may be the high percentage of Russian minorities in former Soviet states. In any case, Poland defyingly granted its 12 points to Georgia, new in Eurovisionland, and with an English-lyriced tune. Turkey by now traditionally scores the Netherlands’ and Germany’s 12 points. Only just not enough to make it to the top three.

And to finish this anyway overpoliticed piece in a further political tone: how come Israel participates in the Eurovision Song Contest? It’s not like they haven’t done so for the last x number of years, but geographically they really aren’t part of the European continent. If Israel is in it, shouldn’t Lebanon too, really? I’m sure there’s some politics behind that.

To go short, not much new under the sun. Another edition, another tiny country on the perifery added, another host of strangely glamorous artist taken from an inexhaustable stock – a really wonder what these types do throughout the year – another bombastic song wins the games in a year that won’t be remembered for its extravaganza. Serbia, take it away!

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