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May 26th, 2008

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12:10 pm - Soviet blocking
Maybe it's 25 years of exposure to bad music, or maybe someone slipped sodium pentathol into his breakfast gin, but Terry Wogan certainly cracked the shits at the end of last night's Eurovision, calling it a 'debacle' and threatening to quit announcing. His main problem seems to be the UK entry coming joint last and not deserving it as it has for the last couple of years (it was pants but not utter pants), along with Russia's bland entry scooping the Eastern Bloc voting pool to beat Greece.

I don't share Wogan's nationalistic malaise, but I was kinda disappointed with a lot of last night's show. Not just because of the outcome - Azerbaijan were robbed, sure, and there's no way the UK should have been beaten by pisspoor efforts like Spain's or Portugal's. But the strongly regional/political feel of last night's show takes away from the thing I really like about Eurovision, that it's so earnest - that countries work so hard and care so much about this cavalcade of straightfacedly-ridiculous music. That's why winners like Lordi or Ruslana were so awesome - not just because they were musically different to the rest, but because they threw themselves wholeheartedly into their music and their acts. And that's why I came to really respect Serbia's hosting this year, with their everyman salutes to the various competitor nations and their interminable, awful and so very serious half-time folk music.

Russia's entry was slick and polished and produced and never felt real - it felt calculating and cynical, especially compared to glorious nonsense like Latvia or Azerbaijan. So did Greece, actually, but at least their number was catchy. And then you have comedy acts like Spain, Estonia or (shudder) Ireland and their glove puppet, who are just taking the piss and being deliberately silly rather than accidentally.

Eurovision is a breath of fresh, cheese-flavoured air in a cynical and homogenized world. With occasional cleavage and short skirts. And I'd hate those fundamental elements to be lost in a wave of Pop Idol winners and Slavic tourism promotions.

Ah well. Next year in Moscow, and we'll see if Terry Wogan passes the torch to a new generation or not. My vote goes to Stephen Fry.

(14 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:May 26th, 2008 02:36 am (UTC)
One thing that struck me was how often Sir Terry was able to predict where the top votes would go, based on who was voting. As he said last night, it's now less about the music and more about political allegiances.

I felt it was a disappointing result. Mainly because I thought Russia's song was crap and that there were some MUCH better performances.
[User Picture]
Date:May 26th, 2008 02:39 am (UTC)
It has gone a bit Idol, hasn't it?
[User Picture]
Date:May 26th, 2008 02:56 am (UTC)
I tend to think that it has less to do with politics, and more to do with culture and economics: the of the three major blocs, two are composed of nation states that were formerly parts of larger nations (Yugoslavia and the USSR) - both of which still function largely as one market across national boundaries. (The Scandinavians, on the other hand, are more a cultural bloc, distinct from the rest of Europe in that regard.)
[User Picture]
Date:May 26th, 2008 04:04 am (UTC)
'Politics' is too simplistic a label, true.
[User Picture]
Date:May 26th, 2008 03:19 am (UTC)
The russian song was total crap, I was very disappointed. And the figure skater was impossibly fruity, to the point where I was wincing and hiding my eyes.

Poland didn't do it for me this year either - too middle of the road. Germany were horribly out of tune.
Date:May 26th, 2008 04:08 am (UTC)
I enjoy Wogan's commentary and he seemed generally excited with the UK entry, describing it as the best British entry for years. But it was horridly bland in the old tradition of Eurovision.

Russia's entry was blander and contrived. I'm sticking with France as my choice. It was a nice song, they didn't go overboard with costumes (who needs more than women in fake beards?) or cuteness, and the helium balloon added just a touch of wackiness.
[User Picture]
Date:May 26th, 2008 04:38 am (UTC)
My vote goes to Stephen Fry.

Mmmm, no. Our dear Mr. Fry is far too nice a gentleman. Let it be said that his vitriol could corrode a hole in tank armor from a hundred paces but I just feel he's too nice a person for the random laying about that Eurovision commentary requires.

Personally, my vote is for Rick Wakeman or Jeremy Clarkson. :)
[User Picture]
Date:May 26th, 2008 10:23 am (UTC)
It felt a bit like Eurovision has begun to be assimilated by the MariahWhitneyCelineBeyoncBorg of PlasticSexPop. I hope it can fight back with all the vampire-pirate-grandpa-dragqueen-puppets it can find. I fear it's become too popular to maintain the sincere kitsch.
Date:May 26th, 2008 12:06 pm (UTC)
I found it a bit disturbing that a number of acts seemed to have sprung freshly from "American Idle".

The voting-bloc phenomenon was more pronounced/overt his year, exacerbated by the lack of any singularly outstanding act (such as Lordi or Ruslana).

While I was happy to see Greece's early votinglead eroded, Russia's win left me kinda nonplussed.
[User Picture]
Date:May 26th, 2008 11:24 pm (UTC)
Hey...don't go blaming the Idol trend on the Americans! We didn't start the awfulness (for once)!
[User Picture]
Date:May 26th, 2008 01:54 pm (UTC)
I'll take anyone for a new commentator, as long as they don't use the phrases "block vote" or "political vote" every other sentence. Russia wasn't my favourite, but it wasn't a particularly _unworthy_ win -- and as for the English entry, it was the blandest crap I have ever seen or heard. I couldn't even remember a fragment of tune to hum it a minute after it was over.

There is another point that I think is worth considering; regional voting is affected by the fact that geographical regions often have similar tastes in popular music. Which in turn is going to affect the sort of Europop they like hearing and will vote for.

(Personally, I voted for Latvia. But Portugal was my musical favourite.)
[User Picture]
Date:May 26th, 2008 10:36 pm (UTC)
That's an interesting point.

But darling, Portugal? Really?
[User Picture]
Date:May 26th, 2008 10:39 pm (UTC)
Question not my musical taste, and I shall not question yours.

(I like opera and folk as well as Blue Oyster Cult. So sue me.)
[User Picture]
Date:May 29th, 2008 11:08 pm (UTC)
In the aftermath, I tend to judge by which song is still stuck in my head 3 days later. This year it was Bosnia & Herzegovina. (Even though the only lyrics I could make out were 'la la la'.) Or perhaps it was because of the knitting ladies. Either way, I want to figure out how to make her dress.

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