Music/Popular Culture

Liveblogging Eurovision 2014

Ah, Eurovision. Or more properly, The Eurovision Song Contest. If you’re a lover of serious music, look away now. On the other hand, if you’re devoted to crass, cheesy, over-wrought and overproduced pop, often in some indecipherable language, occasionally played with accordions and zithers, in frequently bizarre and often distracting costumes, this is the show for you. It’s all part of the grand plan to unify Europe, which more or less works in the middle, although not necessarily on the periphery, as events of the past couple of years have shown. Still, points for trying. And it works here–everyone sings the same crap, but it’s fine.

Britain has never done well here. Which means they usually come in towards the bottom in terms of points. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but much is made of it here. But it’s important to keep all this in perspective. This is a cultural event that, over the years, has brought us…Abba? That’s about it, I think. But it’s watched by a gazillion people, and stretches the bounds of Europe beyond recognition, Azerbaijan? Israel? Armenia? All Europe, apparently.

Once again, the BBC has Graham Norton announcing for the UK broadcast. Norton’s great—an Irish flamboyantly gay comedian/talk show host, who once commented that people in his home village in Ireland used to say “Every village has someone who goes out and does well. Why does it have to be you?” He’s smart and funny, a perfect host for this sort of thing. His show often resembles this, in fact.

The cute thing they’re doing this year is showing a film of each of the contestants making the national flag out of something before they perform. It’s cute.

Sadly, I missed the first couple of contestants—well, more like the first half. Actually, they all sort of sound like each other, so it doesn’t really matter. About half of this is all that anyone can reasonably be expected to take. So the first one I’m seeing is….Russia? Russia—jeez, they’re on this big see-saw contraption. And they’re twins, blond twins of course (the Scandinavian blood of the Rus coming through even after a thousand years), and they’re singing in, well, English. More cheesy pop.

Italy, on the other hand, sounds like it’s singing in Russian. They’re all dressed in white, dressed like centurions, in fact, with lots of gold lame all over the place. Lots of strobe lights, too. They make their flag out of food—basil leaves, cheese, and tomatoes. A bit obvious, I think.

Ah, on to Slovenia. It’s cute the way they have a little film about the performer before the act—this one they have in the library, making her flag out of books. She’s quite pretty, which of course will help. Ah, she’s playing the flute too. Multi-tasking—will that help or hurt? Too soon to tell. She’s singing in Slovenian. As far as I now, there has never been a Slovenian winner.

Finland is up next, and the little film shows them making an igloo flag—easy since it’s only two colors, white and blue, and ice comes in both. It’s a boy band. Which is a step down from the goth heavy metal band they had several years ago that waltzed away the winner. These guys are just creepy, not helped by the fact that they’re speaking Finnish. Who speaks Finnish? I bet more people speak Slovenian. Finland constantly wins polls for the most desirable country in the world on any number of measures. Still, that’s not excuse for this. Lots of strobe lights here as well.

The Spanish lady up next just wove a Spanish flag right in front of our very eyes. On the film, actually, but still. It’s only three solid colors, but still, I’m sure it involves a skillset of some sort. At least I recognize the language—it’s English. It seems to be a ballad, “Dancing in the rain,” which is probably a song I’m supposed to know—going for the soft pop vote. I have no idea if that’s a good strategy, but it seems to be good for emoting. And more strobes.

Switzerland sends us someone who starts this little rollicker with a lot of whistling. It’s another boy band. They seem popular. He’s whistling again. Now he’s playing the fiddle, which isn’t a bad strategy—they’re all bouncing around the stage now. Ah, he’s pounding the drum. Jeez, it took me this long to figure out he’s singing in English.

Next up is a kid from Hungary. He’s making his flag with a Rubik’s cube, Get it? Rubik was Hungarian. Wait, he’s running around a lot now. Singing in English too. He’s also black. I don’t imagine there are too many Hungarians who are black. There are also some dancers around behind him. The song is about a woman running away from this crazy life, or something I think, but the dancers keep embracing, so I’m confused. Red strobe lights now, probably to remind us of something about Hungarian’s past.

Next up is Malta, who make the Maltese flag out of fireworks. There look to be about fifteen of them, and they all look like they’re from California. They do a pretty good US country imitation, actually, and they smile just like country singers. Of course, everyone smiles all the time, so that might not mean much. Still, it’s nice having all these attractive people smiling at me all night. The two singers are brother and sister, we’re told, and I’m happy for them. They’re singing about coming home.

Next up is Denmark, who is hosting the event this year, since they won last year. They obviously feel bad about that, because they have like the worst boy band I’ve ever seen, in an obvious attempt to make sure that someone, anyone else wins this year. The wrinkle here is that this is a boy band of six boys, not the usual five. What’s that all about? Is this a message about something? Wait, one of them is a girl. It’s not really a boy band after all. It’s just a bad imitation of one. Still, since this is actually in Denmark, the home crowd is going wild.

Next up, a duo from the Netherlands, who make their flag out of—good lord, they really are—tulips. They’re both playing guitars, so it’s sort of a folkie thing. Actually, it’s another attempt at ersatz American country, but it’s not bad—she’s got the make-up, he’s got the cowboy hat. They’re not dancing, either, which is a plus in my book. This is remarkably soft-key for the event—it almost doesn’t fit. I like this entry. Which means for sure it will never win.

Next up is a babe from San Marino—yes, San Marino can apparently enter Eurovision, even though it’s not really a real country–who is painting her flag. She’s cute, and has a cute little hat on while she’s painting. Now she’s singing, though, something that sounds like an old Whitney Houston song, if I actually knew any, and it probably is. I’m sure this is a good strategy. But who’s actually going to let San Marino win? Honestly.

Finally, Britain’s entrant, Molly Smitten-Downes. She made the flag out of busses, directing from one of those things phone repair guys stand in when they’re fixing wires or something. She’s also loaded with tattoos, which, I should hasten to add, is by no means anything that would disqualify anyone from this event, based on what I’ve seen. Unfortunately, this is pretty bad. Not as bas as the year Engelbert Humperdink was the Britain contestant, but still. Something about children of the universe dancing on the edge of time. I’m sure I’m supposed to know this song. LOTS more strobe lights, which may help.

Ah, now the voting starts. I bet you didn’t know that you could actually download all these songs. The voting takes forever, so they always show clips of the contestants again, so I can catch up. Ah, there’s the trans-sexual from Austria. The Polish girls are dressed in peasant costumes, with lots of cleavage, which probably can’t hurt. The guys from Iceland are all wearing different colored neon suits. France just looks weird, but they’re doing a lot of jumping. Montenegro had an ice skater in the background, for reasons I couldn’t possibly express. Greece has someone jumping on a trampoline in the background, which is either more or less impressive than an ice skater.

And now we’ve got something I’m not sure I can completely describe, lots of people in white suits climbing ladders, singing Beethoven’s Ode to Joy—or some variant of it. Actually, I can’t imagine these are the real words. Some cheering, but not a lot. Norton says they’ve shortened it from the horrible earlier version.

Now we’ve got a couple of the hosts—well, all of them, frankly, which is a larger number than you might expect—singing a duet about Eurovision. Or about the number 12, which is most votes you can get. And there are films of people floating in space. Yes, it really is, as it turns out, a song about the number 12, involving about 100 people.

And we just had an extended tour of the Museum of Eurovision History. Now we’re having interviews with the contestants—the guy from Malta just was handed the English breakfast he couldn’t get in any hotel in Copenhagen, apparently to the embarrassment of the Danes. The French guys, who seem to be modeling themselves after The Village People, got some take-out from the favorite Chinese restaurant, all the way from Paris. Now we’ve got last year’s winner, Emmelie de Forrest (from Denmark, natch, which is why it’s here in Copenhagen) doing last year’s winning song, Between Us, surrounded by dancers pretending to be trees. And then singing a new song, “especially commissioned as an anthem,” according to Graham. There are about fifty dancers on the stage, and lots of strobe lights, of course, and dancers in the moat (yes, there’s a moat) pretending to be water nymphs, I suppose. Now all the contestants are in the background, singing backup to Emmelie. The audience has joined in on the chorus. Denmark, Mrs W says, is doing a great job here, and she’s right.

Ah, finally, the voting. Azerbaijan gave 12 points to Russia, which has triggered a round of booing. You knew that was coming. Greece also voted for Russia, but gave their top votes to Austria, who, I have to say, looks great in the gold lame gown, which melds nicely with the black beard. So far, Netherlands is doing well. So is Hungary. So far, no votes for Britain, and it’s pretty spread out. Ah, finally some votes for Britain. So we won’t be last this year. So far, the top three are Sweden, Hungary and Netherlands, which seems about right, based on what I’ve seen.

Whoa, Romania just put Austria, in the personhood of Conchita Wurst, professed trans-sexual, in the top three. For some reason, Russia didn’t give any points to Ukraine. But Austria is still getting lots of votes. This will be tight. I’m not sure what the reaction outside of Europe—especially in the US—will be if a trans-sexual from Austria wins. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure no one in the US pays any attention anyway, so it doesn’t matter. France, of course, is giving us their votes in French, and has just put Austria in the lead—and the UK just kept them there. Norton is having a ball with this, and just referred to the Austrian guy/gal as the Queen of Europe.

Wow, this is fun. There’s sort of a group at the top that is pulling away from the pack—Sweden, Austria, Netherlands, Hungary and Armenia. Whoops, Armenia just gave points to Russia, which triggered another round of booing. Macedonia is voting now, and just gave 12 points to Montenegro, which somehow figures. Halfway through, and the tension, as they say, is mounting, or something. Israel just pushed Austria even further in the lead, as did Portugal. It’s starting to turn into a runaway, with only the Netherlands looking like it might keep up, and Sweden in third. But there are still about a dozen countries to go. Ukraine and Russia are now tied, by the way. Austria is still in the lead, but the Netherlands is keeping it close. Moldova just put Ukraine ahead of Russia.

Yay—Ireland just gave 8 points to the UK. Good for them. And another 12 points for Austria. Ditto from Finland. Hey look—the delegate from Austria is wearing a false beard. Austria keeps pulling away here, with only Netherlands and Sweden even keeping it close. Britain is not doing well, here, I have to say. Ukraine is pulling away from Russia for 6th or 7th place, and, of course, who cares? Ukraine now voting—how will this go? I don’t see any flames in the background. And Ukraine actually gave Austria 8 points, somewhat unexpected.

Austria has just been announced the winner—no one else can catch them now. So Conchita, Queen of Europe, is near tears, which is sweet, I suppose, but does look a bit weird with the beard and the gold lame gown. But the voting goes on. Next up is Georgia. Will they give Russia votes? They might—and just did. Cue more booing. I feel bad for the Russian girls—they’re only 17, and weren’t bad—but sometimes politics intrudes, doesn’t it. Georgia also gave points to Austria, another a surprise. So right now, Austria wins, followed by Netherlands, and then Sweden in third. Which seems about right, actually.

So another great year! If you like this sort of thing, which I have to admit once a year I do. So now we’re going to get to hear Conchita sing again, maybe, if she can pull herself together. I love living in Europe! This means, by the way, that next year’s contest will be held in Vienna—a good excuse to go. Maybe we will—I imagine this is the sort of thing that really has to be personally experienced to be appreciated. It sure looks like one great big party. Party on!

Categories: Music/Popular Culture, World

Tagged as:

4 replies »

  1. Russia did give Ukraine points so yh……… I think it is really unfair that they got booed for no reason, they didn’t do anything wrong.

  2. Yes, three or four points, or something. Nothing meaningful. I agree, the girls didn’t really deserve it–but they were probably warned that it might happen, so they didn’t look too surprised.

  3. I need you to liveblog more things. Like this summer – I want you liveblogging any game in which England goes to penalty kicks. And any game in which Neymar is diving. So pretty much all Brazil games. I’d kill for a liveblog of any episode of Chrisley.

    I’ll think of more, I’m sure.