(Via The Corner) Kieran Healy reveals the dirt on the Eurovision Song Contest:
But in terms of kitsch, tackiness, geopolitical tension, and sheer entertainment value the U.S. has nothing, but nothing, to match the Eurovision Song Contest. The Eurovision is the common cultural bond uniting generations of Europeans, the continent’s one true collective ritual.Well, it turns out the winner was Turkey complete with a cast of belly dancers. Martin Richards offers a snarky review at the BBC - Joy and humiliation at Eurovision:
Whatever about the songs, it’s the voting that brings out the worst in everybody. The anonymous juries pass judgement on the cultural worth of their neighbors, which makes for indignation and outrage all round.
The songs themselves have evolved in interesting ways. “Diggi-loo Diggi-ley” represents the high-point of the nonsense-chorus Eurovision song, designed to appeal to the multi-lingual audience. This lowest common denominator approach produced successes throughout the first thirty years of the contest, including such classics as “Boom-Bang-a-Bang” (UK), “Ding Dinge Dong” (Netherlands), “A-ba-ni-bi” (Israel) and of course “Diggey-loo Diggi-ley.” (I promise I am not making these up.)
The breakup of the Eastern Bloc and the Soviet Union in the 1990s caused all kinds of problems for the contest (too many countries) but also injected a fresh dose of bad taste. Countries like Slovenia, Estonia and Romania can use odd native instruments to produce Euro-Heritage songs, and also have the advantage of being 10 or 20 years behind the rest of the world in terms of popular music genres.
This year’s contest — the 48th — is being held in Riga. Defying the unspoken norm of sending unknown performers, the Russians have entered Tatu, the faux-lesbian duo beloved of Matt Yglesias. They’re the favorites to win, but are already pissing everyone off with their diva-like behavior. They clearly hope to treat the contest as a joke, win it anyway and further their careers. But the Eurovision really is beyond irony or parody, so Tatu will instead be tarnished by it, rather than vice versa. I hope they lose big. Then again, everyone’s a loser in the Eurovision. That’s what makes it so entertaining.
The majority of the acts were of a sub-S Club level of cheesy pop - some prime examples were host Latvia's Hello from Mars and Slovenia's Nanana complete with singers wearing neon pink boob tubes and silver moon boots.An apt description.
Ukraine's debut entry Hasta la Vista, which naturally received maximum points from neighbours Russia, had the most memorable stage act as a contortionist went through her repertoire behind singer Olexandr Ponomaryov.
Other noteworthy performances came from the Israeli dancing girls who performed a two-stage strip, and Poland's passionate peace anthem No Borders which tipped to do well but finished seventh.
But it is hard to be critical of a spectacle which year on year delivers to its legion of fans, exactly what they want.
At the other end of the scale Jemini's Cry Baby [the British entry] became a victim of the dreaded 'nul points', a victim of, as the BBC's commentator Terry Wogan bluntly put it, "the post-Iraqi backlash".
Chris and Gemma's rendition of Cry Baby was by no means the worst performance of the night, but as the esteemed Mr Wogan says, the European voting public is "as mad as a bucket of frogs".