Saturday, 2 May 2009

A Satirical Look At Eurovision 2009

For 53 years, men have defended their country for pride, honour, and glory, in an ongoing war, full of heartbreak and tear shed. Every May, Europe becomes a battlefield, a place of carnage. In just one night, the fate of over 50 countries is determined. There can only be one winner each year, leaving the others in a state worst then death- a condition known as total humiliation, the symptoms of which are disgrace and mild embarrassment. This is the world of Eurovision, where guns are traded for mics and bullets for glitter. Who marches when you can dance?

Since before I can remember, the nations of the EU have fought over money and power, but who knew that they also cared to see which country has the best singer (or band) - and maybe a little too much. This annual display of song and dance is known to us as the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC), although you can't quite escape it. With its long history, one would assume it to be worthwhile. It's not, but at least it is interesting, and in that aspect it doesn't disappoint.

A majority of countries take it very seriously, whilst some very close to home, don't. I'm talking about the UK. While others propel their biggest stars through Eurovision into European, even international, stardom, we send our Z-list acts even further off the radar into artist abyss, only to be remembered for getting "nil points". Even Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, world renowned composer of musical theatre, can't stand our recent disgraces at Eurovision and has composed the song for this year, for our country's sake. How patriotic. But it gets worse. Instead of sending an artist of any kind, we've elected a "nobody" from the general public and the worst part is; she's good. Jade can actually sing!

Andrew's song will be pitched against a hoard of Euro-hits/trash (delete appropriately) for example, last year's catchy tune "Qele Qele" (Come on, Come on) from Armenia, which fared extremely well, even though the rather hot singer in a shrunken vest, Sirusho, could barely project her voice and sounded like my sister Cherry singing in the shower. Qele!! Not quite the Um-b-rella, ella, ella effect it needed to have, but props for trying. The year before, Russia shot to third place with Serebro (Didn't we already talk about her? No, they just sound pretty much the same) with lyrics "Put the cherry on the cake and taste my cherry pie." Err... No comment. Let's just say my sister was less than impressed.
So obviously, it's not just the song that counts, which moves us nicely onto costume. Walking in on the wrong act, one cannot be blamed for thinking that either Cirque De Soleil or porn was being displayed on their family friendly TV screen. In 2008, quite a few countries thrusted pretty girls onto centre stage: Greece, Ukraine, Armenia, Andorra... Show a bit of flesh and the men will be scrambling for the phones. Talking of men, one man followed this trend. Hunky Russian pop artist, Dima Bilan, who came 2nd in 2006, found the winning formula for 2008: unbuttoning his shirt after every verse and chorus, so that by the end, his well toned torso was broadcast throughout Europe. Well, I know who all the women voted for and it certainly paid dividends. On the other hand, some choose to be a little more erratic; as if that could happen! We've seen angels singing opera, pirates dancing and Finland's demonic monsters-who actually won. The list goes on. It just shows that one of the most important ingredients to a successful Eurovision act is elaborate and fun costume- or lack of.

The final ingredient to a WOW-ing performance is dance. Dance? I won't even go there, because they're just distractions, as proven by Maria Serifović. Her passionately sung Serbo-ballad "Molitva" was a hit with Europe, making her winner of 2007. I certainly didn't like it, much. She looked like a school boy half-way through his sex change and her scruffy uniform was just that. Scruffy. Avril Lavigne can teach her a lesson or two on mastering that tie. Nevertheless, a win is a win and thanks to Serbia's butch bonanza, the contest the following year was certainly more kinky boots than dirty trainers.

Under all the glitter and glam, we're indeed back to politics. It might not be the singer, the song, the costume or the dance, but simply because of a country's popularity or unpopularity which determines the winners and losers, as demonstrated by the UK's annual struggle to climb up the leader board. A phenomenon known as "Bloc Voting" has been observed, where countries close to each other vote for each other, an example of which is the Nordic Block: Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland; all giving high scoring points to each other. As they say, birds of a feather flock together. How convenient that the UK is an island and the only "douze points" we get are from Ireland, and that's if they decide to be kind.

Perhaps that's the reason why the UK ceased to care, sending the likes of Daz Sampson (with his "entourage" of young teenage girls in skimpy skirts) and Scooch (with a sex-fuelled-flight theme) to the chopping block, forever imprinting into our brains the idea of paedophilia and in-flight rape. For ten years, the UK's position on the leader board rarely escaped double digits. But we still have hope. In 2002, Jessica Garlick finished in third place with her power ballad, Come Back. Hopefully, with Andrew Lloyd Webber's power ballad It's My Time, Jade will reach similar success, and will come back with Eurovision glory. Maybe, just maybe, it really is our time. But don't count on it.

No matter who wins, each contest provides a platform and an opportunity for talent to be recognised. Once upon a time, Lulu, Celine Dion and ABBA all performed at the Eurovision Song Contest, all of which are now known worldwide, moving on to global success. In addition to "good" music *cough cough*, viewers can obtain cultural insight, whether it's through a Denmark drag queen (watch out Thailand!) or a beautifully sung Norwegian folk song. Even if we don't learn much from Eurovision, we're certain to get a good laugh.

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