It’s an European thing
It’s that time of the year again. They’re dusting off their feather boas, bringing out their leotards and working up a synchronised dance routine you can’t distinguish from last years. It is time for the European play-offs in the bad taste league, the cultural extravaganza to bring a whole continent together for a laugh and a cheer. Personally, I wouldn’t notice if they skipped a year. In fact, I think every four years like the Olympics would be a sufficient interval. There’s no hope of that happening with all the money involved, though…
Oh, I’m sorry, you may be from another continent and not get this. The rundown is that every year in May, all countries in the Eurovision organisation are eligible to participate in a song contest where a few (20-something) are selected to compete for the audiences favour (and a professional jury) in the finale. The winning country will be the host of next years arrangement. There’s major prestige in this, although some countries (particularly the smaller ones) tend to take it more seriously than others. Plus the money of course. Not prize money, but guaranteed appearances all over the place and endless high rotation on radio. Even for some non-winning participants there is a piece of pie. This amounts to a huge circus of advertising money, record companies looking for the next big thing, and scores of hopefuls yearning to break internationally. With all this at stake the last few years have seen an increase in activities. In Sweden they had a whopping six events before choosing a winner to send to .. Sweden. Since Sweden won last year, with a single girl dancing barefoot on stage, they are the hosts this year. Hopefully they wont win again now, as that would be too taxing on their cultural budget or whatnot. Poor Ireland won 4 times in 5 years back in the nineties, and I don’t think their economy have recovered yet.
As for the songs, it is pretty much what you’d expect from Europe. Here are some of the titles included in this years
semifinals: Hold Me, Marry Me, You and Me, Believe in Me, and Alcohol is Free… at least occasionally one tries to stick out from the crowd. Sometimes the music has some cultural flavour from the originating country. Most of the time it’s just the lowest common denominator, meaning artificially sweetened peppermint bubblegum. You never really know who is going to win, though. In 2006 Finland won with their metal contribution: Hard Rock Hallelujah by Lordi. Pretty toothless for metal from a Nordic country, and yet it was still refreshing to see these growling beasts of metal outwin the usual lovesong trifles.
If this competition was anything like the original Olympics, the performers would have to train together for two weeks, eat the same food, receive the same service, and perform naked. Well, they don’t. It’s really not all about the song anymore, if it ever was. Stage presence, fireworks, costumes, orchestra etc. all come into account. It’s a show, and a pretty spectacular one at that. No inflatable pigs or Stonehenge on stage – I’m sure there are restrictions, but some are really clever at making the most of it. I expect some bizarre creativity this year like others. So, that’s where the entertainment lies for me. All these years I wowed to skip this hoopla, and yet I’ve ended up in front of the TV with the rest of my Scandinavian friends and family. Every year not wanting to. But still, there is some amusement in commenting cleavage and silly antics. What I always felt lacking was a way to systematically ridicule the ESC. Last year I made this scoring sheet I tested out with my wife. It worked out fairly well, we had a good time, so now I’m sharing it here. Hope you’ll enjoy it too.
(I’ll make sure to have one ready for the finale by the 18th as well, of course.)
Röstformulär ESC 2013 Deltävling 1 och 2
Scoresheet ESC 2013 Semifinals 1 and 2