Friday, 19 May 2006

Vintage Post: The Super Eurovision Preview Post 2006

The Super Eurovision Preview Post 2006

Hurrah! It's that time of year again. It's Eurovision! That wonderful jamboree of European song, from the continent that gave you The Beatles, ABBA, Serge Gainsbourg, Kraftwerk and Plastic Bertrand.

I wasn’t going to pseudo-liveblog the Eurovision semi finals. And then, three songs in, after a Mount Olmypus-full of Ancient Greek deities had danced to previous Eurovision hits in a style that made an Olpmic opening ceremony look like Samuel Beckett, I decided that things this absurd come around too rarely to let them pass by. Well, I say they come around rarely, but there’s the final on Saturday and that’s clearly going to be even more loopy than this extravaganza of tastelessness.

So, here were my brief thoughts on the contestants:

- Armenia - Male vocalist, fake Arabic sounds, a bit catchy but not a winner. Thinks he’s a bit of a looker. Isn’t. The stage performance included ladies tying up the blokey in a saucy bondage style.

- Bulgaria – I seem to have written nothing about this song, because I can’t even remember any of it and according to my notes I heard it twice. All I wrote was “DULL” in a kind of pained scrawl.

- Slovenia – A traditional upbeat europop dancey business with a wacky chorus bassline. Not Bad.

- Andorra – A massive 80s power ballad, nicely set off by a troupe of comely dancers in stockings, suspenders and basques. It was in French so I have no idea what it was about, but it sounded painful.

- Belarus – The Belarussian Girls Aloud style effort. Lots of torn clothes, silly dancing and no discernable song. The lead singer was a girl with massive ginger hair and tiny red satin hotpants. The song rattled painfully on and finished in a style I’ve referred to as a “Big Jazz Finish”

- Albania – Odd electro pop folk, fully equipped with bagpipes and fiddles and dudes in tasseled slippers. Not unlistenable, but Albanian doesn’t seem to be the language best suited to popular song.

- Belgium – Abba mixed with Danni Minogue. I quite liked it and there was quite a good thing with light-saber mic stands. Also, the male backing dancers are wearing leather corsets. When did Eurovision go fetish? I totally missed that memo.

- Ireland – Dull, dull, dull. Relates to popular song in the same way that Vogon poetry relates to the Common Book of Prayer. Could therefore do quite well.

- Cyprus – Massive piano and strings ballad delivered by woman in fugly yellow pleated dress. Horrible and depressing.

- Monaco – ‘La Coco Dance’. A joyously camp ukulele based summer-holiday pop record. Male dancers topless and in jeweled MC Hammer pants. Nice.

- Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia – Or Fyrom, to its friends. A slice of fem-dom saucepop with a cool mosquito lead guitar line. Shuffles sexily along, like a woman in heels too high. Namechecks Shakira in a nicely postmodern touch.

- Poland – Deeply unusually costumed foursome (think Louis XIV achieved solely with second hand sofas), one with green hair and the voice of the scary man from Aqua.

- Russia – Has ‘13’ painted amateurishly on his white muscle vest, wears a mullet with conviction and accompanies a heartfelt pop ballad with ballet dancers. AND A WOMAN JUST CAME OUT OF A WHITE GRAND PIANO!!!! Who cares about the song?! (Well, it’s kinda ok. Think Timberlake’s Cry Me A River but in Russian and without the ace production)

- Turkey – “Süper” “Stār” indeed. A butch tattooed lady in a showgirl costume warbles offkey through a hi-octane disco number. And finally, we have a proper Eurovision key change! Go for it, whoever you are, scary tattooed lady! Reach for the stars!

- Ukraine – A Pretty lady in a tiny white dress speed yodels a fairly good jerky pop song about showing her your ‘love’. It’s no Ruslana by a long chalk, but the ninja Cossack (or whatever) backing dancers are good. Features live skipping, tambourines, twirling and a marvelous pair of lungs used to great effect.

- Finland – What we’ve been waiting for. A group of orcs and cave trolls (one in a jaunty Finland top hat) screech and holler through what sounds like an old Europe B-side. The overenthusiastic Valkyrie sang somewhat out of tune and Lordi’s battleaxe looked suspciciously light. And yes! Oh yes! Fireworks coming out of their guitars! That’s better than *two* keychanges! (The postmatch interview proves them to be nice, polite and likeable chaps. Jolly good show.)

- Netherlands – Three likeable blondes, probably hippies, singing and energetically drumming. Nonsense lyrics, rump-shake dancing, ahhh, this is what Eurovision is all about.

- Lithuania – It was this bad:
“Hello? Is that the international criminal court at the Hague?”
“Yes, how can we help you?”
“ I’d like to report a musical crime against humanity”
“Is this about Lithuania, madam?”
“That’s not actually even music. I’m afraid it’s out of our jurisdiction.”
“Oh shit.”
“I know. I really know.”
Was not unlike being repeatedly coshed by a Tory local election canvasser. This song has all the style, wit and subtlety of a shit-flinging monkey.

- Portugal – Hussies in leotards and hats, ripping off Waterloo and coming in too early. Not great.

- Sweden – I expected big things. And big things I got, in the shape of a super gay disco song about being invincible and insatiable, while a wind machine blows off the singers billowing blue frock. Maidens wave flags, glittery things glitter, and the camp level reaches truly unspeakable heights at the final keychange. A Eurovision tour de force.

- Estonia – Old fashioned groovy pop by a blonde in blue and white outfit with thigh boots. Not awful or dull and not an ‘authentic folk’ beat in sight. Will therefore perform very poorly.

- Bosnia and Herzegovina – Rather likeable example of the ‘pop folk’ genre. Simply performed, backed by pretty ladies with fiddles. Atmospheric and verging on being emotionally moving.

- Iceland – Sheer theatrical genius. A fictional character hoots a fairly decent song about being fabulous. Includes boys in gimp masks, awesome costuming, a slide shaped like a shoe and a phonecall to God. Utterly bonkers and fantastic.

So after all that kerfuffle, the following countries qualified for the final on Saturday.

Former whatsit thingy of Macedonia

Bosnia & Herzegovina
United Kingdom

So out of that awful lot, there's some that I still haven't seen yet. But I like Denmark and Croatia in a sort of non-committal way. Predictions for the top ten include Ireland, Sweden, Germany (with their frankly bizzare country and western effort) Ukraine, Russia, Malta and Armenia and probably Lithuania as much as I hate myself for saying it.

My vote is firmly sticking with Finland, for their sheer balls in entering a theatrical death metal band in a pop contest, and as is becoming usual, the UK entry will be ignored by all.

And all you Americans laughing at our quaint Euro-customs can stop it right now. The format has been sold to one of your networks so that you can have an inter-state song contest. I for one am looking forwards to hearing the Arkansas entry...