Sunday, May 30, 2010

I even painted my toenails for you, I did it just the other day

Well, owsabout that for a prediction, then? I had to rub my eyes in disbelief at the way it worked out - what with all the pre-contest uncertainty, I thought the odds were heavily against picking the right winner, let alone the top three all in the correct order. Admittedly, I seem to have had something of a blind spot about the Icelandic entry, but all in all I think I'm entitled to say (not for the first time) - eat your heart out, Keith "The Oracle" Mills!

It's obviously a fantastic outcome for the contest to have such a genuine international hit take the crown, although for me it's tinged with a couple points of regret - a) it would have been a real breakthrough moment for Eurovision if a song like Turkey could just have gone one better, and b) I had been looking forward to a photo-finish in the voting for the first time in a few years, but instead (to everyone's huge surprise) we had yet another runaway winner. With the benefit of hindsight, perhaps it should have been obvious that Lena's fame across the continent would sweep her to an easy victory - but then people thought the same about Tatu (among many others).

It was, shall we say, an interesting experience for me watching the contest this year, because I was with two people who took an instantaneous and highly personal loathing to Lena, that frankly bordered on the homicidal. The ubiquitous words "Allemagne, douze points" were greeted on each and every occasion with groans that were probably audible from Germany itself. During the reprise of the song at the end, they turned to me and said "so what do you think of it, then?", and I had to sheepishly say "I didn't think it was that bad, to be honest...". My middle names are 'Moral' and 'Cowardice'.

I can of course completely understand why Lena would seem a bit irritating to some, but one thing I can't really relate to is the moaning about her singing in an exaggerated English accent. Why would that be intrinsically any more objectionable than the countless continental European singers who routinely adopt an American twang when they perform in English?

A few other random thoughts :

Exactly as I observed last year, the victory of a western country is masking the fact that the reintroduction of the juries has completely, spectacularly, utterly failed to resolve the problem of political voting. It's maybe diluted it by about 20% at best. The amount of obviously political voting for Russia in particular was as obscene as ever. I'm struggling to see what the solution is, though, because presumably eliminating televoting altogether has now become unthinkable, while the public would feel conned if their voice counted for less than 50%.

The genie's probably out of the bottle now, but I still think the two-hour televoting window is a terrible retrograde step for the credibility of the contest. I promised myself I wouldn't do this, but as I'd more or less made up my mind to vote for Portugal, I went ahead and made the call before they actually performed. I can't have been alone in doing that, and it really makes a mockery of a competition that in the past has always hinged on the live performance of each song.

On the other hand, although the organisers will be mortified by it, the 'pitch invasion' during the Spanish entry at least reminded us that, for all the new-fangled computer technology and backing tracks, Eurovision remains a completely live event with the welcome potential for unscripted catastrophe. Although this incident was a first for the main contest, something very similar happened in the Lithuanian national selection four or five years ago - except on that occasion the intruder remained on stage for half the entire song, and for good measure the performer's microphone stopped working as well. Bona fide TV gold - and if anyone ever manages to track it down on YouTube there might just be a fun-size Aero in it for you.


  1. I still think Romania should have won, they were much better than Germany's song. Still, at least they got third place, which is very respectable considering the only country they get "mate's votes" from is Moldova.

    I wonder if the UK would do better if they had a famous singer, rather than getting X-Factor rejects all the time? I bet Brian Higgins, the guy who writes Girls Aloud's tunes, could write the UK a winning song, assuming they got a decent singer for it. Cheryl Cole, even!

  2. You've hit the nail on the head, Doug - in the early 90s (and also in the 60s) the BBC used to select a famous singer every year, while now they select a famous songwriter. You'd think it would be a no-brainer to simply combine those two strategies!

  3. Tip ma hat tae ye James, excellent prediction. Thought it was a bit flat overall, naebody set the hoose alight. Mibbe its the Depression settin' in. The only laugh ah had, an' it was a pretty dry ironic yin was Belarus gettin' 12, puttin' us in last place. Couldnae have been scripted better.

  4. You did well. I reckon a wager next year based on your thoughts is in order.

  5. Smart lad, well done. Like Sophia I didn't think there was anything that set the heather on fire but the best song won.

    Time we had top class singers and less 'safe' composers. Our lad was just erm - I'll be kind - average.

  6. STV is a full member of Eurovision, perhaps they should consider putting up a Scottish entry for 2011. We could help the UK by giving them more points than they are getting at the moment.


  7. I pointed out that the right to proportionate self-defence is enshrined in law in the UK.

    Perhaps in theory this is true, but as a practical matter in practice it is not. (sadly)

  8. Only about seven million light years off-topic, Mike, but I'll let it pass.