Ah, the Eurovision.
If there is one thing that can not only preserve the Union but hold the Euro currency steady it surely is the Eurovision. The latest installment took place over three days, Tuesday 10th, Thursday 12th, and Saturday 14th of February. You can’t get it on Netflix, can ya, ha? Pure cocaine-laced sugar dust for anyone who half-likes music but not too seriously was placed before us in three-minute bursts and there was not a child in any house washed.
I sat down to watch Thursday’s semi-final and was pleasantly surprised at the relatively fine quality of the songs on display. There was a Bulgarian Power Ranger Rihanna, an Australian on a futuristic box singing a finely bland song, and a Georgian band who were what would happen if Star Sailor had a hape of cans, listened to Franz Ferdinand and then played Killers covers.
There was the Irish entry that not only did not qualify but had the continent collectively scratch their heads and ask “Is that Ronan Keating?”
It wasn’t, it was Nicky Byrne, bless his cotton socks and wet sock of a haircut.
Listening to the radio the following day, there were the obvious, knee-jerk and pig-ignorant reactions that ranged from song-writers insisting that they would write a better song to people insisting that we “should withdraw from the competition because we’ll never win it again and sure it’s all full of foreign countries now and that’s how 9/11 changed everything.” (I believe this to be an exact quote from a disgruntled Liveline caller. gotta love dat irish folk yo)
At this point, I am glad that the country hasn’t experienced anything massively bad because if the reaction to this Eurovision is anything to go by, well… I’ll just say I don’t think we’d handle it too well.
But, Nicky Byrne’s song, even with him giving the best he could give, and really enjoying it, and everything else RTÉ employees said about his performance, as well as not taking any fee for it as it coincidentally was happening parallel to his solo career launch, was not fine enough to rise above the other fine songs there. It was quite bland.
It was a like a bad version of Beautiful Day. A really, REALLY bad version.
Ukraine won with their not-too-subtle song about Russia slaughtering people in Crimea entitled 1944 and you know what, fair play to them. I didn’t strike me as anything mad, but I might have been experiencing Eurovision fatigue by the time Jamala took the stage. Even though I annually cod myself into thinking I can do otherwise, one can only take so much Euro-pop and still hold their full attention on the broadcast.
That is, of course, until some Cypriots wake you up with distortion.
The real winner I felt was us, the viewers – oh, how quaint, Paul.
Not only was the average standard absolutely fine, stretching at times to be grand and even good, the broadcast was a real achievement on the side of the Swedes. The presenters, Petra Mede and Måns Zelmerlöw, had me at “Hello Europe!” on Tuesday at which point on stage right a curtain dropped and revealed Europe, the pop band, playing The Final Countdown. “No, no, not Europe the band, we mean Europe the continent!” They stopped playing. “That was embarrassing, we apologise.”
The humour never dropped from that point on, being showcased in the hilarious Nerd Nation Documentary, showing how something already ridiculous can be made funny. A particular highlight was the third part and the Loreen street kids who “just wanna hang out and listen to Euphoria. And other well known Loreen songs.”
The skill of their comedic execution was fully realised in the great song of Peace Peace Love Love that if nothing else, was certainly funnier than Riverdance. And Justin Timberlake is an adequate substitute for Michael Flatley, absolutely.
The opening act to the second semi-final was the gateway into the show’s comedy but the fact that it was funny, the entire show, independent of liking Eurovision or not and also that it worked so well shows the effort love and care that was put into it from all angles. I was rooting for Sweden and their fine song just so they could present it again, but then again it would only, as they sing, “bankrupt the hosting TV station.”
So, Ukraine next year. Not for me. Can it top this one? They have a year to prep. As does everyone else to see how they would combat the new scoring system which was introduced this year to heighten tensions. It worked alright.
It also worked on keeping the win confined to the continent at least, as under the previous year’s rules Australia would have romped home with the win, and Poland wouldn’t have gotten such a good score for such a pap song. Now that’s a talking point too. All’s changed, changed utterly.