Friday, May 21, 2004

nul points...

Certain events draw us all together - universal things, things that touch everyone...

Yes, that's right, I resisted it so far but I think it's time I mentioned Eurovision. Not because it was any better or worse than usual, of course, although the winning song was, I think, particularly tuneless, but because there's plenty to read on the subject and lots of it entertaining. Andrew from Bedsit Bomber started the ball rolling with his minute by minute dissection of the songs as they played, creating some lovely descriptions along the way. Simon at No Rock and Roll Fun did the same, and - showing remarkable prescience - got behind Ruslana from the start. Between them there's a wealth of insight...

Bedsit Bomber: Holland. The singer's taken the whole "orange" motif a bit too literally, just remembering to leave a gap for the mouth.

No Rock And Roll Fun: Norway - Knut Anders Soren. A really, really cheap-looking silver suit here; they must have been collecting tinfoil all over the nation for this.

BB: F.Y.R. Macedonia. Wet-look hair, funny moustache; "string" beard; high-collared, fluted, Flash Gordon tunic; huge belt buckle; and enormous satin flares. Truly extraordinary look, but the song's pretty hard to digest. At best, 4/10.

NRARF: Croatia - Ivan Mikulic. Apparently this was a big hit in Croatia. He's got a tiny set of features placed on a very large face, like having a kid's meal on the All Day Breakfast plate. At times the song appears to want to turn into a James Bond theme - the AHa one, we think - but never quite works up the momentum.

Greece. "Shake, shake, shake ... give it some more". The girls get their costumes ripped off by the lupine guy in the white jacket and ripped jeans. Now they've ripped his jacket off! Where will it end?

Poland - Blue Cafe. Called 'Love song", which sounds like it was a working title and they forgot to change it. The singer is Betty Blue's more homely young sister, wearing a revealing dress which could have put a nymphomaniac in need of viagra; some guys in white suits with brass; a bloke with guitar - they all produce a bit of a mess. Betty Blue Junior sings Love Song "Laave Sung", like she's in fackin' eastenders.

United Kingdom. If Bernard Sumner had fallen off his yacht, been washed up on a Turkish beach after a week at sea, then dragged comatose to the Eurovision auditorium by the authorities and had an 80s suit put on him, you'd have the look of James Fox

Elsewhere, everyone got into a flap about the vote-rigging. But Jakester at The Uncertainty Principle is more relaxed. Block voting happened. And it was hilarious. He quotes Pop Justice...

"Let's not blame Fox's failure on block voting by neighbouring countries. After all, Ireland gave us our highest mark of the night, and we gave Ireland their only points, so it's obviously not favouritism that annoys the Wogans of this world, it's just the fact that not enough people actually like the UK for it to work in our favour."

Anyone with any sense at all ignored the ridiculous machinations of the voting systems, the vast majority of the music (and no sense of British superiority here - Sam Wallaston in the Guardian noted that James Fox's "lamentable song, Hold On to Our Love, made me want to shoot myself, and thoroughly deserved the nul points most people gave it.") and simply enjoyed the spectacle. If he can bear it, the normally infuriating Terry Wogan can have a job for life doing this. At one point Russia paid tribute to the Ukraine, and Tel noted, ironically, 'such a great history of friendship between the two nations'....

And Ruslana will be huge, there's no doubting it. Popbitch says

she's fabulous - drinks like a fish, loves Deep Purple and Bach, plans to write a Rock Opera, and vocally supports gay rights in Ukraine. When her Eurovision translator failed to translate her swearing properly Ruslana corrected him to make sure he said "shit" not "hell".

Most positive about it all was Joan Bakewell, who remarks in her Guardian column that it is a "a time-warp record of how we are and how we might be, left over from a more innocent age. It has become part of television's own archaeology, the strata of different eras laid down, yielding to the knowing viewer its clues to shifting allegiances and loyalties".

And what a demonstration of how Europe has changed and shifted.

"What a line-up the eastern countries made against the puny presence of old Europe: France, Britain and Ireland got hardly a look in. What came striding through with the vigour of a new world were the former Balkan and Soviet states"

I did read, cringing, a day or two later, an old interview with James Fox, our hapless entrant, from a few days before the contest. It appears he was pretty confident of winning. Oh dear. But Andrew sums the whole thing up best when he suggests that "There's no place for bitterness and recrimination. If James Fox is picked up in the early hours of Sunday morning, staggering through the dim-lit streets of Istanbul, swearing at revellers, and smelling strongly of alcohol, we should have no sympathy for the embittered former singer - it's just a bit of fun."

Fun!? Are you joking? For us bloggers this is serious business....

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