Eurovision 2009

Ah, Eurovision – that one event of the year when the whole of Europe comes together to gaze in wonder / horror at the TV and really get to know its neighbours. I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a Eurovision junky – I watch it every year and love its crazy mixture of cheese and awe in equal measure. Some years it’s good, some years it’s bad, but it’s never boring.

A change in the voting procedure had a profound effect this year – everyone seemed to up the ante as they realised they couldn’t rely on socio-political issues to affect the outcome, the introduction of a jury ensured that the top five really deserved to be there. Once again with the aid of beer I sat through the whole wonderful thing.

And so without further ado, comments on all twenty-five finalists;

Albania – Good start, but was soon to be overshadowed by other performers. For a song to win from the early stages it has to be spectacular as voters memories aren’t that great. Good, but nowhere near catchy enough.

Israel – Ahhh – bless them, they’re singing about peace across the divide. They didn’t stand a bloody chance.

France – A typical “we don’t care what the rest of Europe thinks” entry, nowhere near as endearing as last year’s effort but was pretty good.

Sweden – Hmm, mediocre would be a kind word.

Croatia – See Sweden. Obvious why some of these were at the start of the show, save the big guns till last.

Portugal – It could have worked, the last couple of years “ethnic” rather than “bland” pop has won – don’t think that was going to happen this year. Plus, no-one’s going to win wearing national dress.

Iceland – First of the big guns and bloody hell she could sing and the song was pretty good. Almost a third of the way through and hadn’t resorted to drink yet which was a good sign. Graham Norton’s comments started to grow on me when he commented “It’s a good song and she’s a good looking girl, but that dress looks like it came off a toilet roll in the seventies.” High placement in the end (second) indicates how good the song was – suspect juries had a hand in placing this rather than viewers.

Greece – Why on Earth is he dancing on top of a staple gun? First of the cheesy Euro-pop-didn’t-stand-a-chance brigade and by far the most boring. Why did it finish so far up the table?

Armenia – Good song, terrible presentation. Started to need drink at this stage.

Russia – I hated it at first, but a second listen showed it was actually a bloody good song but far too miserable to win. The Benjamin Button ageing effects behind were very weird and did little to sell it. However, Russia did put on a bloody good show and probably need to recoup some cash before staging this all again.

Azerbaijan – More Euro-pop and instantly forgettable. Placed third!

Bosnia & Herzegovina – Good song but terrible position and soon to be overshadowed by other countries. Being in the middle of the table did them no favours.

Moldova – Oh look, more ethnic costumes. Must be the middle of the show…

Malta – Another case of bloody hell she can sing, but presentation is a good fifty-percent of this and she’s going to be a hard sell. Song’s pretty mediocre as well.

Estonia – Really liked the song, presentation was nothing spectacular but didn’t need to be with this strong an effort, all shown in its position just outside the top five – God bless that jury panel.

Denmark – Or was it Ireland? Was never going to work despite being the most chart friendly offering so far.

Germany – We love you Germany with your mad never-say-die attitude to giving us cheesy crap. Show tunes! Camp male dancers! Dita Von Teese? What? Second beer required.

Turkey – Never mind the song, look at the women! Blatant attempt to distract from a mediocre effort with scantily clad women that obviously worked given its final score.

Albania – Crap song enlivened by David Lynch stage direction (well, it could have been). What the fuck was with the two midgets and the glitter ball gimp? So bad it was actually good.

Norway – Insanely catchy tune, he could sing and it was fun. Easy to see why it won in the end as good tune, good presentation and superb placement (20 out of 25) all in its favour. Plus was easily the best song on offer.

Romania – Pity the country that had to follow Norway, understandably more bland Euro-pop. Plus naughty Romania – using a pretty front to mime whilst the real singer stands at the back.

Ukraine – Mad Max inspired porn spin-off, utterly bonkers presentation married to terrible song – we see a high table placement ahead! Centurions in leather thongs and a dominatrix up front is an interesting way to sell your countries image.

UK – We actually stood a chance, we played to our strengths (we’re good at musicals) but unfortunately most people were still humming along to Norway’s entry. Bodes well for future years however as high score probably reflected by judges rather than voters – UK still needs to work on its political image with Joe Public.

Finland – Middle-aged Eminem did little for credibility. Has it really been two years since Lordi?

Spain – Utterly forgettable.

And that was it, onto the interval act before the voting which had me questioning just how much I’d had to drink (scantily clad dancers body slam Perspex panels suspended over the audience – imaging watching mud wrestling in jelly from below and you’ll get the idea). On to the voting and very little political voting getting in the way this year. Norway thoroughly deserved their win in what was once again a song contest.

Good year and hopefully Eurovision’s back on track. Norton deserves kudos for overcoming understandable nerves at first and finding his own stride (spirit of Wogan but not a slavish copy) in the end.

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