As a fan of rubbish pop music, I enjoy watching the Eurovision song contest. Honestly, Americans, you're missing out on a good thing here. What happens is this:
- All the countries in Europe (plus a few others who are along for the ride) turn up for a massive jamoboree
- They each bring a song and someone to sing it, which represents the pinnacle of their popular music for that year.
- These songs are usually quite rubbish and/or uber-camp.
- Then every country performs their song
- And then the best song is decided using a combination of phone voting, tactical dancing, political wrangling and skewed patriotism (BEWARE THE BALKAN BLOCK VOTE!)
- And the the best song gets sung again, and the next year, that country gets to host the party.
- This year the party is in Kiev, Ukraine.
- This is because the girl in my icon (Ruslana, singer, wild dancer and participant in the Orange Revolution) won last year.
Here is my Eurovision preview: the songs, the singers and the snark.
This is quite pleasant. Some bird is hooting about her white wedding dress and how she's leaving tomorrow. It's in English, and the performance aspect is all "Albanian wedding" which I suppose is fitting. Worrying line: "Let the whole world shake as one?" The only bad thing is that it's trying too hard to be Wild Dances.
Andorra have sent us their homegrown version of Anastacia, Mari-An. The song comes fully equipped with an oboe break at the end of the verse and is in Catalan, which impresses me for some reason. It's a bit boring, though, but the video contains a good Mari-An and an evil Mari-An. And a running white horse during the key-change section. Yes. There's a key change.
This is crackers. It appears to be an oompah jazz folk band fronted by a girl I'm sure I've seen in Nuts magazine. Except then she was wearing a bikini instead of the wench dress she has on now. This is so utterly bizzarre that I think I like it. The lyrics are about a girl from Cuba coming to Austria to win the heart of a (slightly fit) yodelling accordion player. I shit you not.
These dudes have brought a massive 80s power ballad/euro-rave track to the party. I wonder if the handclaps are on the track, or if it's just the audience? This is really quite good in a Eurovision-y way. With a bit of tidying up, they could easily shove this into Dance Anthems on a Friday night. The backing dancers are all in black leather - they so want to be Ruslana.
Hurrah! The first shockingly bad single male ballad! The dude has impressive hair and a pink shirt and is singing in what I believe is GCSE French. This really is bloody awful. It's meant to be all stirring and "tonight is my big night" but it just sounds like a parody of a Lloyd-Webber musical. I had to grit my teeth to make it to the end.
Bosnia & Herzegovina
This is a band called Feminem. They are peddling a sort of 90s girl band with a happy pop song with backing music that sounds like Reach by S Club 7, and random vocals over it. The girls in the band are all jolly blondes and spend a lot of the video variously jumping up and down and pretending that they're going to snog.
Hahaha! A pervy male ballad. He's in the rain, he's in bed, he's trying to look sexy, and oh, how he fails. The music comes fully equppied with the subtle wah-wah guitars of "we had great sex once" and there's a lady in her knickers in the video. If Daniel Bedingfield recorded this, it's be a massive hit.
This song is called "Wolves Die Alone" and starts with a sort of bagpipe/tin whistle cacophony, but then veers miserably into single male ballad territory. Boo! The dude looks like the result of a genetic chimera containing Chris De Burgh, Alan Coogan and Jose Murinhio. In the video, the musicians are under little glass domes. It's certainly very interesting.
Another sub-Wild Dances effort. He seems to have gone for the route of having a band instead of foxy leather dancing girls. Schoolboy error! There's a nice sample of a girl singing between the verses - which by themselves would be quite boring.
Another single male ballad. Yawn. Apparently he's a teacher (although he doesn't look old enough). Egads! It goes into awful shuffly mid-tempo nastiness in the second verse. I feel sorry for the guy. If it were constantly played on the radio, it would probably get into your brain and eat it from within.
It's the Estonian Girls Aloud! They all have individual record decks and sing little bits about their individual skills. They look like fun, and have a nice bit where they are wearing 20s flappers dresses and lots of pearls. I like this already. There's a ridiculous guitar riff, a whooping middle 8 and a big old key change. Hurrah!
This song is called Why. It is a Serious Issue Ballad with bad rhymes and faux-gospel backing. It's achingly pretentious and there's a very disturbing synth noise on the chorus. Withhold your vote from this monstrosity.
The lady singing for France is pretty. But they've put her in a dreadful early 90s suit with pirate boots. Erk. The song is quite nice, like the kind of ditty you'd come back singing if you went on a civilised camping holiday in France. I can't comment on the lyrics, cos they're in proper French so I don't understand them.
Oh super! A man in a gilet and very nasty hat is getting his bump & grind on with 4 fillies in tiny white frilly outfits. The song is a bit weak and the sentiment ('Make my day, get away, I'm the boy who will break up with you to be free' or something) is not very Eurovision friendly. There is, however a dance break with bagpipes and mucho drumming.
The Germans always bring something crazy to the party. And yay, I am not disappointed. They've got a lady in Cher's old clothes and wig singing a somewhat Cher-esque rock power ballad. I rather like it - it's unashamed of it's pure cheese power. And it has a cracking synth line too.
Another Ruslana-esque number, with nonsense lyrics and a pretty lady singer. Apparently, this is the favourite, but I think the chorus far weaker than the verses. And *another* drums and bagpipes/fiddle dance break. Crikey moses.
This is wierd. Tin whistle, didgeridoo, more attempts to win the Ruslana vote. It's one of the more effective attempts, actually. I rather like this, especially with the Hungarian clapping Riverdance segment.
Oooh, dirty bass line. Big strings. Crazy singing lady, hlaf-mad with passionate intensity. The chorus is a bit of a let-down, but it's not bad.
This is a brother and sister act singing 'Love?' Is it an ode to incest? Probably not. Is it deliberately rubbish? Yes. Ireland staged Eurovision so often in the 90s that they just put crap in nowadays so they don't win. Ahaha, they've got an Irish dancing segment. That's so gratuitous.
This is more like it. Big frock, big piano ballad in Hebrew, backing vocalists in sober black dresses. It's probably your opportunity to get a cup of tea, or something stronger.
Yay! Obligatory two-blokes-with-guitars song! It's about War, and how it's not over. I think people should leave politics outside Eurovision. Especially if they're going to emote about the sorrow of war while twinkling into the camera. The blonde one looks like Peter Davison as a teenager. Bwahahaa!
Last year Malta had a lady in a pink dress and a man doing opera singing to a disco beat. It was on crack and it was brilliant. Now there's a lady in a deeply unflattering dress singing about being your angel. Nice sentiment, but where is the glitter? Where are the dancing girls?
Moldovan hippy rock & roll. With an ocarina. They are all wearing wierd tea-towels or rugs on their pelvic areas, and they do a shouty thing in the chorus. I haven't really got words to do it justice. And yay! Middle 8 with trumpet & a lady with a big drum.
A tad bland. Nothing to mock or reccommend. The saddest thing was the single applauding person at the end.
A lady in a pink lurex dress is dreaming of world peace or something. I think she said she'd fight the big bad wolf, too. The BBC are getting really obscure with these Bad Wolf references, eh? (That was directed at Doctor Who fen) The lady has a nice voice, it's just a shame about the song.
What. The. Fuck? This appears to be the Darkness, given a Norwegian makeover and put through the musical stylings of Def Leppard. The lead singer is obviously a rampant self-publicist. I think I like this, if only for the WTF? factor. God bless you, Norway. You even supplied them with a key change.
Back to the accordion polka stuff, then. A dude is trying to look boy-band-esque while his creepy mate in a white suit grins and plays mandolin behind him. The guitar break is a bit surf-guitar but then the accordion and mandolin come in and it's all a bit surreal. I think the songs about getting pissed. Which is nice.
An old school soaring Euro pop song with key change. It won't cut the mustard anymore, unless they've got a superb stage show.
Post-apocalyptic pop stylings from Romania. The lady is wearing desert gear and rolling on a dried up river bed, her band are hitting oil drums and the whole thing is a bit useless until the sun goes down and they set stuff on fire. I can only hope they bring the pyrotechnics to Kiev for the big night.
Guitar-based lady pop from an attractive redheaded faux-punk lady. Her voice is not unpleasant, but the lyrics are utter nonsense.
Dramatic fiddle playing. Empassioned boy band arm swinging. Church bells. Close harmony singing. That arabic vibe we've proved is a winner time and again. You know what to expect.
Slow burning single male ballad with ballet dancers en pointe in a puddle in the video. This is really, really boring. I keep hoping that it's going to kick off, but even when it does and the ballet dancers start head-banging, it's still a bit dull.
Bloody hell. It's the Ketchup Song, remixed for Eurovision. Apparently, the three sisters are meant to be witches and they hang about this town tempting men to shag them. This is so utterly random that I think I like it. And yay! There's a very dodgy Spanish rap at the end.
The singer dude thinks he's sexier than he is. He is singing about being 'here in Las Vegas' which leads me to believe that people have lied to the poor boy about where the competition is going to be. There's a great descending piano riff, but the whole thing is a bit soulless and bad Broadway musical for my tastes.
A slow start, with choral backing. The song, when it kicks in, is pretty terrible. It reminds me of that female-fronted hair metal band from the 80s, (Heart?) and the band name 'Vanilla Ninja' calls out for serious mocking.
More Arabic pop. This sound has totally taken over from the faux-latino sound which dominated only a few years ago. It's a shame this doesn't have much oomph to it, but it does have a certain carefree lilt to it. Pleasant.
*sniff* I wasn't allowed to watch this by my computer. Apparently it's omg, political.
We've got Javine. She's doing Arabic pop. We won't win.
So I can't predict who'll win, so I won't even try. I'll just give special mentions to Austria, Norway and Moldova for entertainment value alone.