Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

Belated Eurovision liveblog

Eurovision 2008 logoForgot it was on, damn it. The perfect illustration of how Europe can come together to ridicule cheesy pop. And be expanded to include the likes of Turkey, Israel, Russia and Azerbaijan… (Why can’t we get Japan in there? The only possible way Eurovision could be improved is with a bit of J-pop.)

Highlights of what I’ve seen so far – Croatia’s superb Balkan Godfather piece and Iceland going all out for the traditional Europop vibe. Perfect stuff – if Iceland’s entry isn’t played on a constant loop in G-A-Y down at the Astoria for the next few weeks, I’ll eat my hat.

The only thing to have unduly concerned me so far (bar Israel’s muscle-bound out-of-tune semi-Arabic oddness) is that Turkey’s entry appeared to be sung by Sylar from Heroes… Is this yet another example of how the eeeeeevil muslims are going to invade and create Eurabia, slice open our heads and then steal our superpowers? (Can any of the nutty right-wing islamophobes who believe in the Eurabia nonsense fill me in on what I’m supposed to be scared of again? It’s all so silly I’ve forgotten…)

More to come, no doubt. Plus videos, when I find them… Any chance of anyone telling me what I missed in the first 45 minutes or so?

Update: Wow. Portugal’s entry’s being sung by a squashed Princess Eugenie in full goth gear. Result!

Croatia’s entry – the Balkan Godfathers:

Iceland’s super-gay Europop genius: (albeit with a far less gay outfit in this video)

9:05pm update: Hmmm… Latvia have gone for a pirate theme. Very bland, though – and a good couple of years too late to ride on the Johnny Depp in dreadlocks vibe.

9:07pm update: Jesus! What in the hell happened to that poor Swedish woman’s face? Looks like Cate Blanchett after she’s been put through a mangle and stamped on a few times…

I love Eurovision.

9:11: Actually, scrap that. Denmark’s entry’s so blandly unimaginative it’s bored me rigid in the first 30 seconds. Derivative and uninspired’s the order of the day with Eurovision, but this is entirely the wrong kind of cheesy – wearing a flat cap and braces while prancing around doesn’t make you a cheeky chappie, it makes you like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, and thus worthy of no more than a bullet to the brain.

9:14: Now THIS is more like it. Georgia’s gone for the weird bleached blonde men doing bizarre dances while a seemingly blind female dwarf trying (and failing) to do an impression of Audrey Hepburn somehow manages to switch from an all black to an all white costume for no discernible reason. Good effort! (This video nowhere near as stupid as the end result, sadly…)

9:18: Now come on, Ukraine – you’ve made far, far too much effort. A genuinely saucy-looking female lead singer, rather than the usual slightly deformed or dumpy types that normally get to sing Eurovision entries? A song that sounds like someone actually put some effort in? Shame on you! It’s like Ruslana all over again – and she’s gone on to appear in GTA IV. You don’t get more Western than that – and that’ll never do while you’re still in the middle of a geopolitical tug of war between Russia and the EU. Tut! Less effort next time – far less, if you know what’s good for you…

9:23: France have done it as well – made an effort and come up with a genuinely decent little song. I’d forgotten about old Sebastien Tellier (he of the “oh noes! He am singing in teh English! Teh lingua franca est finis!” controversy). Top stuff – good effort, and once again I find myself rooting for France at Eurovision (just as I will be in Euro 2008):

9:26: Scrap that. Azerbaijan to win! Brilliantly over the top rubbish, topped off with dancers in g-strings. Result! Give them immediate EU membership to boot! Whether they want it or not!

9:31: Oh dear. Greece, Greece, Greece – where did it all go wrong? You guys invented European culture, and now you’re reduced to a fielding a sub-par brunette Britney Spears doing a Beyonce pastiche. Yawn. (Still, at least she follows the unwrittten Eurovision rule of lead female singers not being as attractive as they’re evidently supposed to be…)

9:35: The Spanish. Not known for their sense of humour. Shame.

9:40: *Yawn* Sorry… I think I nodded off during Serbia’s entry. What is it with Eurovision and identikit ballads? If you like that kind of toss so much, go and buy the back catalogues of Boyzone and Westlife, and leave the rest of us to the sort of nonsense we expect from Eurovision. This is no place for competently-sung blandness – we want over-the-top cheese and rampant idiocy, or our money back, damn it.

9:43: Christ – Russia’s gone for another one. This one featuring a massive-nosed ice skater on the smallest (round) ice rink ever – so bonus points for stupidity of presentation (with a couple of extra for the pretty-boy singer opening his shirt at the end to try to bring in the gay vote – though gay people in Russia are more likely to be punched in the head by fascists than allowed to have a say in anything…), even if the song itself has no merits whatsoever.

9:47: And wrapping it up comes Norway – a perfectly passable pop song, well sung – of the kind that you can hear on Radio One every day of the week (should you be so inclined). So what the hell’s it doing in Eurovision?

9:53: Judging by the recap, the only thing that it was possibly a shame to miss was Bosnia’s effort – one of those “ho ho ho! Aren’t we wacky?” efforts that surfaces every year, hoping for the kinds of votes that Labour supporters assume are the only reason Boris Johnson became mayor of London:

Final analysis – if France don’t win, there’s something deeply wrong.

The voting: Yawn. Macedonia – third to vote – gives 10 points to Serbia, 12 to Albania. Can I really be bothered to point out the politics behind it? Ukraine’s up fourth – 8 points to Azerbaijan, 10 to Georgia and (surprise surprise) 12 points to Russia.

You could have knocked me down with a feather.

The only surprising thing after five countries voting is that Greece (bland Britneyalike) has got two lots of 12 votes – from Britain and Germany. After Estonia (also 12 points to neighbour Russia, unsurprisingly) the UK is still on nil points. Because everyone hates us and our song was shit.

10:55 update: Voting’s still going, and still utterly predictable. So much has been said about the political nature of Eurovision voting it’s barely worth mentioning again.

One thing that is nice, though, is how neighbour always seems to vote for neighbour – even when those neighbours haven’t necessarily been getting on via the usual diplomatic fronts (Estonia voting for Russia? ALL the Balkan countries doiong happy vote exchanges, where a decade ago they were murdering each other?).

It all gives scope for hope, surely? Yes, Cyprus may well have voted for Greece and Armenia in a nice two fingers to Turkey after that invasion business (with Greece giving 12 points to Armenia to boot), but still… Turkey gave 10 points to Armenia to make up for that whole genocide thing, so that was nice of them.

(Oh, and Fistful have also been liveblogging – have a gander…)

And Russia take it – with votes from ex-colonies and neighbours like Ukraine, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Lithuania, Belarus, etc. etc. etc., the amazement isn’t that Russia’s won, it’s that Russia doesn’t win EVERY SINGLE SODDING TIME. As good old Terry Wogan so accurately points out, this is no longer a song contest – and there’s little point in Western European nations even turning up any more.

So, is Eurovision really a vision of Europe’s future? Is this where our fates lie? Dominated by Russia and the east?

Well, ermmm… Quite possibly yes, as it happens.