Thursday, 31 May 2012

Predictable But Disappointing: This Year’s “Euro” Lacks The “Vision”

Every year there's one televised event that I actually write into my diary months in advance. This year I managed to somehow double book myself and had to resort to watching Eurovision on time lapse almost after the competition had actually finished. Seeing Stewart Francis in action, I was at least able to allay my fears his quick-witted one liners would become tiresome for an entire one-man show. Stewart had me chuckling for the majority of his set which is more than I can say for Eurovision.

Last year we made a party out of Eurovision and had friends round, bringing dishes representative of their allocated country. We second-guessed costume/performance/vote patterns and made bets on who would win. This year, The Boy and I returned to Echo to watch a recording of the show with only the Major to keep us company. Eurovision used to be about mullets, crazy costumes, spandex, insane firework or lighting displays, Europop, traditional dress and Terry Wogan's snide remarks but then Lordi came along in 2006 and paved the way for more adventurous genre experimentation.

This year, although the venue in Baku was certainly impressive, the show seriously lacked with no mullets in sight, generally conventionally glamorous costumes and few entries digressing from the dreary ballad formula. The Italians entered a fairly talented Amy Winehouse wannabe (Nina Zilli),

Germany's song was written by Jamie Cullum, Greece managed to find a Shakira impersonator (Eleftheria Eleftheriou) and Romania opted for some bagpipe nonsense (Mandinga). Lacking the element of surprise, Russia's grannies (Buranovskiye Babushki) weren't quite as amusing as first predicted:

Once the blindfold had been removed, Lithuania's offering (Love is Blind performed by Donny Montell) had little to keep viewers interested. As laughable as they are, Jedward actually had one of the best songs with Waterline - high energy 80s' sounding feel-good nonsense:

Graham Norton was noticeably silenced by shortened country intros between songs, giving him less chance to make bitchily witty remarks. Of course he still managed a few, cattily warning Serbia's entry to "Hurry up - before your ears fall off”, referring to the enormous earrings their vocalist braved. Ukraine’s backing dancers were apparently young offenders and decked out in hideous costumes, Norton dubbed their “punishment”.

Moldova’s mediocre offering completed twenty-six performances from entrants before somewhat predictable voting began. Norton had warned Sweden were favourites to win and was clearly in the know as they ran away with the prize over 100 points ahead of the runners-up (Russia’s untalented but enthusiastic party-loving grans):

Countries too poor to host Eurovision next year generally didn’t get a look-in (Spain, Greece...) and the normal “political voting” went on, making it easy to guess which countries would give courtesy points to each other.

The UK entry was undoubtedly one of the weakest and our failure to get more than twelve points can’t simply be blamed on Engelbert Humperdinck performing first and therefore easily being forgotten. Despite him being a bit of a legend, his performance was less impressive than other artists’ and “Love Will Set You Free” entirely uninspiring as a song. At least we marginally beat overall losers, Norway, to avoid the humiliation of coming last:

Eurovision may have lacked the variety, unintended humour and energy of previous years but Norton at least managed to do a grand job poking fun where he could and enlightened viewers of some of the competition rules so we could pass the time checking each entrant was above board (only six to an act...). Now the question remains, will Ireland enter Jedward for a third year running? To find out, we have less than a year to wait...

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