Sunday, 17 May 2009

Eurovision Song Contest 2009

Final Place, Country (link) & My Live Armchair Comments

01. Norway - Little cutie with a cheeky monkey face singing about how he is in love with a fairytale. Lots of violins and the triangle to create a Mr Sandman, 1950s feel. Will probably win because he is so likeable and the song is fun and cheeseball. Standing ovation.

02. Iceland - Proper early 90s power pop, the singer is wearing a 1970s bridesmaid's dress. Crap lyrics but massive key changes. Will make the top 5.

03. Azerbaijan - A couple in terrible white outfits belting out lines like "Always in my mind, always in my heart", "I believe I am addicted to you. In your eyes, I see dreams coming true." Summer feel - can imagine doing this in a Congo line at a cheap holiday resort. Very catchy. Tad Shakira. Ended with "Always, all the time." Will come in top three.

04. Turkey - Sluzzy bellydance pop. Suspicious use of pretty girl at front and then two oldies helping out with vocals. Heavy reliance on wind machine. Easy tune and effective use of hip drops. Crowd loved it.

05. United Kingdom - Lord Webber at white piano, pretty Jade in floaty dress. As she came down stairs, she was nearly brained by a violinist (who really didn't need to be as determined with his long stroke given that all instrumentals are mimed). Biggest power ballad of night. Perhaps too polished and not fun or interesting enough. Standing ovation. Top five unless UK still not popular on the continent.

06. Estonia - Very pretty girl with blunt, shiny fringe in long elegant dress. Lots of cellos, pain, classical emo pop. One to watch.

07. Greece - Former gymnast jumping around to early 90s club music. Very Ricky Martin - white jeans, white tight t-shirt, lots of chest pops and crude hip action with legs spread out. Beaucoup de pointing at crowd and acting out the words with hand gestures. Same stylist as the Russian winner from last year. Copped some nipple action for my troubles.

08. France - Classic French megastar with timeless beauty and a striking (deep) throatiness at end of each line. I feel like I am back in the mid-90s. Strange choice to end with some free dancing when in a classic LBD.

09. Bosnia & Herzegovina - Military folk song by a boy band in marching band outfits.

10. Armenia - Twins in traditional gothic get-up rhyming a load of one-syllable words. Mixture of folk, cabaret and green strobe lighting. Truly do not know how to interpret. Makes absolutely no sense to me. [Got to say this song made more sense to me this morning when I heard it again. What does this mean? Do I need to get back to Oz for some festival rock?]

* * *

20. Germany - Another little man. What's it with little men singing pop? Tight black shirt, shiny silver pants. Does not look interested at all in the female back-up dancers. Burlesque, gay (showtime) pop. Dita Von Teese appearance. What was she thinking? She is trying to seem icy and untouchable at Eurovision. Not on, Dita.

21. Sweden - Hulk Hogan's sister singing pop opera that sounds like an airline commercial. Female back-up dancers in black suits holding masks covered in cut glass. Mind-boggling.

22. Malta - Disney ballad from a larger lady with a fabulous voice. Straight from the Lion King or Cinderella. Will be a quiet achiever.

23. Lithuania - Angry emo boy tries a bit of Juzzie Timberlake. Ends with a flame coming out of palm of hand - gratuitous. Could be something the Euros are into. Wouldn't be surprised if it does well, although perhaps disadvantage to be on first?

23. Spain - Ballroom dancing pop with a traditional Spanish twist. The lyrics and feel are completely unoriginal and will be swallowed up by other acts. Good night Spain. Take a bow now.

25. Finland - White rapper with baseball cap joins diva to produce some irrelevant club number. Even the fire stick guys in the back looked bored.

The song that caused me the most discomfort:

12. The Ukraine - Celina Dion and Christina Aguilera in the worst sense - Skinny singer with short, shredded red dress, long black boots, legs spread apart, fake boobs, gladiators carrying her around. She took to drums and smashed it up. Early 90s pole-dancing music. Central line in song: "I'm your anti-crisis girl." Saw on live Twitter feeds that people thought she was singing "anti-Christ girl". Truly disturbing. Apparently she mortgaged her house to fund the props. Poor dear.

The song that I was secretly hoping would win:

15. Portugal - Happy times song straight from Harold and Maude sound track and reworked for contemporary crowd. Chubby-cutie singer with super voice. Pretty flowers, colours, accordians and traditional dress (traditional dress or all white the two uniforms of the competition). Happiest band of the night.


Anonymous said...

good stuff. however, I think the crucial factor in Norway's win was the fancy push-ups/rabid frog impressions done by the backup dancers...

John Flood said...

You missed out Albania with blue man and 2 little wierdos. She had nice legs though...

Good Enough Woman said...

The winner really is a cutie-pie, and it's quite a catchy song and definitely entertaining. But it does strike me that these types of shows (in both the U.S. and in Europe) give evidence to some of the different entertainment aesthetics we've got going on. Can anyone put these differences into words?

Academic, Hopeful said...

ALG and JF - You're right, foolish oversights. Thank you. I skipped 11-19 to save space, but the Albanian oompa loompas/ tutu combo was v special, as was Russia's depiction of the aging process.

GEW - Not sure if you mean bad music/entertainment on reality TV in both USA and Europe versus other music/entertainment or whether you mean USA versus Europe entertainment tastes. All I know for sure is if it is the latter, most Brits would want to be well out of it. They pride themselves on being more sophisticated than the Euros and love to mock Eurovision. Not sure if this counts as evidence for anything though. In any case, see:

Also, I did ask a Greek student here whether she thought her entry 'smelt of Ricky Martin's pants' and she wrote back with a long description of his career and reputation in Greece and said he was expected to do better. She saw no need to pick up on the Ricky comparison. So yes, clearly some different reference points.

I would like to keep that discussion going though? Any ideas British pals?

Academic, Hopeful said...

Not sure why extra ?, but go with it please.

Good Enough Woman said...

Yes, I was referring to the latter--the U.S. versus Europe (or UK) in terms of entertainment tastes. Very funny Ricky Martin comment (although maybe not to the Greek student). I'll have to check out that entry.

I haven't seen much European television, just some in the UK. But there does seem to be a high "cheese" or "kitsch" factor on the European side of the Atlantic. Is this my imagination? Do we Yanks just take ourselves too seriously? I, too, would love more discussion on the differing aesthetics.

Academic, Hopeful said...

Reply from English boyfriend:
(re. do Yanks take themselves too seriously?) "Yes, absolutely, in every way." He has walked off now and probably won't expand.

I have said before that there is a greater sense of play and ridiculousness on UK TV than Aussie TV...They seem to want to explore more aspects of human existence too, in the way they interact. But then they would see Ricky Martin style singing as too serious/earnest/unsubtle in its way as well. Hopefully, we'll get to the bottom of it, GEW.

Academic, Hopeful said...

Thinking it may have to do with the relative youth (in terms of whitie settlement) of our countries (Aus and USA). We're still eager to impress and we seem to strive for a perfection that, here, seems full of effort, blatantly consumeristic and fake, and therefore low brow. Might come from the fact that ladies and gentlemen don't concern themselves with money and new teeth. Wit gets you further here. Still doesn't explain the rest of Europe though.
Help anyone? Miranda?

John Flood said...

The Brits aren't all that sophisticated--think of farce from years back and some of the comedy you get on BBC3 (compared to R4). Think of Coronation St...ecch! God, we even had Cliff Richard represent us once!!

The Greeks take themselves far more seriously than we do, and their music scene is so insular that they fail to understand why their singers don't do well outside the mother country. They depend on the Greek diaspora for support. Anyway Ricky Martin/Enrique Iglasias have more going for them. The Latino market is huge. They do passion so much better than others. Look at the Tango. Even the Gotan Project look good because of that.

I have the dubious distinction amongst us here of actually having attended a Eurovision contest. Yes, you may be gobsmacked! I went to the Athens one when the mad Finns won with those alien costumes.

And that brings me to my final and most damning point. I was bored stiff at Athens because the commentary you get on British TV was missing. That's what makes it work. (The Greeks took all too seriously.) Apparently other countries have their versions of Terry Wogan: I know Spain does. The piss has to be taken out of Eurovision. So I was terribly disappointed with Graham Norton. He never really let go and be really, really snarky. That's what it needs, then you feel good, as though you've fulfilled a destiny.

John Flood said...

Your blog clock is still wierd. It's 11.40pm now and according to your blog clock I posted at 15.40??

Academic, Hopeful said...

John - Your status has just gone to a whole new level in my eyes. That Finnish entry was superb.

I guess there's a few different things going on: Brits have often described their pop music to me as more forward-thinking and less cheesy than Euros, but then you're right there is so much completely farcical and goofy comedy/ entertainment. Then all these cross overs.

Maybe explained by the English tendency to want to keep pretty much everything ambiguous and with an exit option - no one wants to be locked into predefined categories or heavy-heartedness (says Kate Fox).

V interesting last post on your blog, btw.

Been trying to change my clock and haven't cracked it. Think it's US time. Please enlighten me.

Good Enough Woman said...

AH, Interesting point about us youthful countries needing to strive for perfection (teeth, etc.) and that such striving is, to the English, considered low brow. I do think out television shows look more polished, but there was a show I saw when I was over there, "QI" I think?, that was absolutely, brilliantly funny. But the sitcoms and drama over there just don't do it for me. But again, my sample is small.

Love the comment from the English boyfriend. What would be your Australian answer to your own questions? Do we Yanks take ourselves too seriously? If so, how? What's wrong with nice teeth?

Anonymous said...

rather than post what was starting to turn into the most epic blog comment EVER, I've actually just responded to this interesting discussion via my blog... if you're interested!

Academic, Hopeful said...

My comment on Aliteralgirl's blog:

Thank you, thank you, thank you!! You neatly tied up the themes of the discussion into a ball and then propelled it to another level of analysis.

That fourth para is compelling. I completely agree. There's something so much more self-consciously familiar and accessible about Brit entertainment. This is obviously true of the ubiquitous quiz shows where the panellists look like they just popped over for a natter on their way home, but even when you watch period dramas you're aware of the actors and the producers (BBC). It's like watching theatre in many ways. There is none of this space when you (happen to) watch US rich bitch reality TV. It's more intense, but without any intimacy. But, if seriousness means that sensational programmes like The Wire are made (technical perfection!), I am all for it! Pick n Mix, I say!

And you're right to single out Eurovision. Last year, the Brits tried uber Euro cheese and bombed out and this year they fared better with a more American Idol-style performance, but I think that was just too safe and polished for the Continent.