Sunday, May 15, 2011

Put On Your Best Lycra, It's Eurovision Time!

Eurovision. Yes, we are going there. Much easier to ignore in Australia when the competition is only broadcast on SBS, at least 12 hours after all the glitter’s been swept from the stage. Whole other matter when you’re in the UK and Blue is representing. Don’t know who Blue is? They’re the boy band referenced in Love Actually, the one that Billy Mack tried to knock out of the number one spot in the charts by gettting himself naked. I know, I thought they were fictional too.

Of course, there was the office sweep. I drew Ireland, which landed me with The X Factor winners Jedward. Not sure if you will have heard of Jedward in Australia. I hope not, for your sakes. Picture a yappy, hyperactive Chihuahua whose sad, lonely owner distastefully groomed with an overabundance of hairspray. Now picture that morphed into a human form. Then times the image by two. That’s Jedward. But, you know, I paid my one quid and naturally wanted to see a return so, for one night only, I got behind Jedward. I have no morals.

So, sitting at my (Australian) friend’s place last night with Indian takeaway and chocolate, we joined Dusseldorf and the rest of the EU and wondered whether we were about to witness the beginnings of another ABBA. I wasn’t hopeful. It also dawned on us that for the first time in our lives, we could actually legitimately vote in Eurovision. We didn’t. But it was nice to know we could.

Right from the beginning of the broadcast, I was on the edge of my seat. As the hosts welcomed viewers, and barely a minute into the show, Australian viewers got a special shout out by the hosts. Surely this qualifies us for an honorary entry in next year’s competition???

And then came the outrageous costumes, questionable lyrics and synchronised dancing. Here are my highlights for 2011.

Lithuania’s song ‘C’est Ma Vie’ was not only sung in French and English but also incorporated sign language. Any tri-lingual performance gets my tick of approval. Although, let’s pause to consider the hearing impaired community who, for the past fifty odd years, thought they had been spared the delight that is Eurovision. There’s no hiding now, friends.

I can’t tell you whether Ukraine’s song ‘Angels’ was any good. I wasn’t listening. But I was completely enthralled by the sand painting that was happening in the background. Expressive faces, birds and scenes of mother nature expertly crafted by hand on a projector screen while the singer, adorned in far too many feathers, performed her piece. There was a moment where the idea of a finger painter winning Eurovision 2011 was a real possibility.

Russia’s Alex and his posse of male dancers ticked all the necessary boxes – lycra, cheese factor, male dancers, winking to camera – and undoubtedly won the hearts of girls and boys alike.

France’s entry was a puzzle. That’s to say, I enjoyed it very much. The operatic Corsican piece ‘Sognu’, reminiscent of a revolutionary Les Mis musical number, far exceeded the quality required for a Eurovision entry. I think they may have walked onto the wrong stage.

Then came the process of calling through each participating country’s votes. How eccentric/psychotic are some of the hosts? I mean, where do they find them?? It’s like that 30 second spot is the first time on television for some of them. Compliment the host city? Fine. Compliment the lead host? Also fine. Belting out a few bars of your own ‘hit’ from yesteryear? Not cool.

So Blue didn’t win. Nor Jedward. I’m crushed. Mariah Carey look-a-like Nikki Jamal led Azerbaijan to victory with a pretty but not exactly memorable duet with a pretty boy. Here’s hoping they achieve half the success of ABBA.

Danke schoen Dusseldorf. Auf Wiedersehen.

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