Sunday, May 13, 2007

Eurovision 2007

A slightly underwhelming Eurovision Song Contest this year, I thought. Last year, Finland won with their rock zombies Lordi, while Lithuania put in an impressive contribution with a supergroup of respected local musicians in a display of glorious contempt for the whole fiasco. (They still came sixth.)

This year, things are more subdued. The arrival of the eastern bloc nations has completely changed the contest, since they all vote for one another - partly out of loyalty, partly because they share similar tastes, and partly because the major eastern nations tend to enter established acts who already have a fanbase in the neighbouring countries. As a result, none of the western countries got past the semi-finals. Except the ones who got a bye, either through being major funders of the show, or through placing high last year. The UK qualifies automatically each year on the "giving lots of money" basis, which really annoys the countries that take the show seriously.

Serbia won with an utterly dreary power ballad, the appeal of which eludes me. You can see it here if you really want, but I'm not going to bother embedding it. Interestingly, the Balkan nations all vote heavily for one another (by a phone vote, at that), which I suppose is nice in a way.

The Germans continued their annual tour of wholly inappropriate musical genres with a swing number, the Finns entered a cut-price version of Evanescence, and most other countries opted for Europop or the usual plaintive wailing about spreading love across national borders. Only the Ukrainians seemed in the mood for complete insanity, getting a top three position with this remarkable effort:-

It's hard to top that, if you're going for the novelty vote. It helps that Verka Serduchka is a well-established act in that part of the world. He used to have his own chat show in the former Soviet states.

The French had a stab with this thing, but the basic gag (the lyrics are a hideously mangled combination of English and French) is a bit of a French domestic gag - most other countries aren't as bothered about their linguistic purity. Still, at least they remembered to write a tune.

Sweden made an interesting bid for the David Bowie / Glam Rock vote. It's also the one of the few songs from this year that you can genuinely imagine somebody buying without irony.

But... is it just me, or have they lifted the verse from Edison Lighthouse's "Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes"?

The Russians continued their policy of entering genuine local pop acts - Serebro were manufactured for this contest, but include somebody from an established band, and a girl from the Russian version of Fame Academy. Once again, they were rewarded with more votes than they truly deserve - especially because the girls didn't sing it very well. It sounds much better on this official promo video, but it's still full of unintentionally hilarious garbled English. (Yes, the chorus really is "Oh, don't call me funny bunny / I'll blow your money money / I'll get you to my bad ass spinning for you / Oh, I'll make it easy, honey / I'll take your money, yummy / I got my bitches standing up next to me.") But to be fair, hearing this version, I can start to see what people saw in it. By the way, this is the single edit; the Eurovision performance doesn't have the Michael Jackson stuff in the middle.

Meanwhile, over in Georgia, the memo about "three minute pop songs" seems to have got lost somewhere. Either that, or the Georgians really, really like Bjork. This is Not Eurovision on a very fundamental level. There's too much to take in on a first listen, and it's just too musically odd for transcontinental mass appeal. But all credit to them, because it's actually quite good. I voted for it. It's just hopelessly wrong for this contest.

And what about the British? Well, we came second last - only Ireland and Malta voted for us. And even that strikes me as generous, because the UK voting public thought the way forward was to reunite Scooch.

Don't watch it. Really, don't. Every time I hear this song, I wish I was French.

Did you press play? You fool. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Quite why anyone thought the rest of Europe would be interested in some camp people pretending to be air stewards is beyond me, and I think it's based on a very outdated notion of what the Eurovision electorate is voting for. Schmaltz does well, and so does spectacle. And established acts. But just plain tackiness... no. This is dire, and deserved to go home with nothing. It's not selling at home either, by the way - it's been available on download for weeks, and it hasn't made the top 75.

We're lucky that we automatically qualify for the final on financial grounds, because we really did deserve to get relegated over this thing.