Thursday, March 3, 2011

Stranger things are starting to begin

Perhaps this is the time of year that I always think this, but I'm beginning to seriously despair of the 2011 Eurovision crop. Of the songs I've heard from the national selections so far, a mere three have really reached out and grabbed me (although there may be some good ones I haven't caught up with yet), and of those, two failed to win the ticket to Düsseldorf. Admittedly there were special circumstances - a sympathy vote following the death of another song's original performer - that partly explain Jóhanna's failure in Iceland, but the overlooking of Nicki Ponte's I Don't Wanna Dance in this evening's Greek final is utterly beyond me.

The one gem that has made it through comes from that unlikeliest of sources - the hosts Germany. Much as I never found Lena Meyer-Landrut half as irritating last year as some people seemed to, I was still slightly dubious about the wisdom of allowing her to 'defend her title'. However, with a brave choice of song that once again suits her quirkiness down to the ground, it looks like it might just pay off - at least to some extent. Taken By a Stranger is probably a bit too low-key to win outright, but the way things are going it may well deserve to.

One thing that occurred to me when I was listening to it the first time round was that, just like Satellite, the lyrics seemed a bit too offbeat and intricate to have been written by a non-native speaker of English. Sure enough, they appear to have been penned by an American. That's surely one of the biggest downsides of the scrapping of the language restrictions twelve years ago - now that Germany have established it can be an advantage, we'll probably see more and more songwriters from English-speaking countries being drafted in, narrowing the contest's 'gene pool' considerably.


  1. I think it was a mistake to allow songs in English. I realise it is all about winning, and it's a contest so why not, but I think we lose something by having all, or at least many, of the songs in English. Homogenisation may make it a more level playing field, but it loses something along the way.

    I came across this
    light satire on the contest from sometime in the 1980s which I thought you might enjoy.

  2. Thanks, Tris - that's very funny! I never thought of Angela Rippon as having comic timing.

    I agree with you about the language rule. Fortunately there are a small number of countries (like Portugal and Serbia) that have held out against the tide, and usually perform in their own language. Indeed, a Serbian-language song won four years ago, so that shows it can still be done.