Eurovision (EUROVISION!!!!!!)

A friend of mine happened to mention a song of which she was fond, and one thing led to another and we soon discovered that we are both big fans of Eurovision but had never realized we shared this interest because we normally only talk about books. My friend said “Eurovision is like finding a twenty in the pocket of your jeans skirt: a welcome springtime surprise.” True story, y’all.

For those who don’t know about Eurovision, oh God, educate yourself. I promise it is worth the time. Eurovision is this amazing international song competition that stretches over all of Europe and includes a number of countries that aren’t really part of Europe but somehow they get to participate anyway and the show airs on their TV channels but poor American me can never watch it live because BBC America doesn’t carry it and neither do any other American channels and it’s really really really unfair and I totally fell for this because I wanted so desperately to believe that America would come to care about Eurovision and then they would air it and I would get to see it live…  Um, hem. Where was I?

Oh yes. Eurovision. All the countries of Europe choose a song and a singer to represent their nation. They all put on cracked-out costumes (cat on shoulder why?), give even cracked-out-er costumes to their back-up dancers (Roman centurions why?), and create a public spectacle. Then everyone in all the participating countries gets to vote on which song they like best, and after two rounds of semi-finals, a winner is declared.

If I might direct your attention to my 2011 favorites, which I cannot wait to see performed live with the attendant loony costumes:

Estonia: “1 – 2 – 7 – 3, Go to Rockefeller Street!”

Sweden: The artist in question is singing “My body wants you girl” as he is undressed from behind by dudes in leather. Make of that what you will.

Germany: This girl won Eurovision last year and is adorable, although I’m not sure she quite understands the sort of spectacle Eurovision contestants should be creating. I may or may not own her CD. I don’t have to tell you.

Belarus: My actual favorite. It’s upbeat and cheerful! There are dirndls! She is gonna every day give Belarus her love!

I like it when, as Belarus, the contestants really bring their A game. Sometimes a country will submit a song and I am all, Dude, have you even seen Eurovision? Like Israel. Year after year, Israel seems to think that Eurovision is about melancholy ballads and maxi dresses. Israel, no! It’s about inexplicable props, charmingly ungrammatical English, homoerotic subtext, awkward dance moves, costumes that suggest freshly killed animals, and unrestrained enthusiasm. (Other countries missing the point in 2011 include the Ukraine, France, and Romania. Come on, people. Don’t you know your competitors are going to be in mime costumes?)

By the way, Belarus is ruled by a dictator, and nearly got kicked out of Eurovision for being a jerk about the rules. So, I’m torn. Part of me feels like I shouldn’t encourage propaganda music (“I am free, friendly, and young” is rather pointed). The other part of me has heard it is rather grim living under a dictator, and wants the Belarusian people to have their moment in the sun. That part of me is also the part that’s catering to how semi-unironically charmed I am by this song. Anyway, decide for yourself, and if you live in Europe, vote on my behalf. I am not Eurovision-enfranchised although I would like to be.

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55 thoughts on “Eurovision (EUROVISION!!!!!!)

  1. HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAH I detest Eurovision for making Europe seem so weird and backward and musically impoverished and utterly unrepresentative of anything that people in Europe actually listen to, but I love this post!

    • It doesn’t! It doesn’t, I swear! I don’t think anything bad about Europe when I’m watching Eurovision. I only think joyful thoughts about Europe being awesome.

  2. Jenny you are adorablz. However you have failed to mention what is clearly the best Eurovision entry ever (from my country, so no bias there then) which is the number by Scootch where everyone is dressed as cabin crew. Are you aware that the blonde guy in that band went on to be in a program where men from defunct boy bands dressed as women, recorded a song and tried to get labels convinced they were women? That is a man who brings the spirit of Eurovision into his very life.

    Ahem, anyway. As soon as you said cat on shoulder I could see the entire thing in my mind again – why? I think outside of Britain my fav entry is probably the one where Germany had a guy climb up into the metal rafters – just for the energy he showed. Or maybe the monster rock one, by um..dunno which country maybe Estonia, where everyone wore masks. There was also this year where the half time entertainment was Aqua (of Barbie Girl fame) doing nu-metal versions of their own pop songs. That was a good year.

    Oh and to add to your list of countries who do not get it – Ireland. They always bring the ballads and yet they’ve won a whole lot.

  3. Oh Jenny! You are just too much! 🙂

    We talked about this – Eurovision is dreadful. What’s even more dreadful is the fact that despite being up against people singing songs such as the one from Belarus you mention, the UK still can’t manage to get more than 10 points, ever, apart from the year when Katrina and the Waves won, which was pretty awesome, even though Katrina isn’t British at all. Hmm. Maybe that’s a clue.

    ANYWAY I am glad I shall be missing Eurovision this year. And the Royal Wedding too. I picked a good year to turn American!

  4. Holy crap,this was a funny post! I have never even heard of Eurovision! Where can I find this??!!? I live in the U.S. as well, and cannot imagine why the U.S. denies us this amazing entertainment. From what you say, this competiton sounds like a whole lot of crazy and wonderful, which is just what I am looking for right now. I am off to scour the web and see if I can find anything. Thanks for this!

  5. This reminds me of the time a couple of years ago that my kids discovered that song “The Rum Tum Tugger” from CATS was available in various languages on YouTube and found that the Czech version was their favorite…

    • You have no idea how wide my eyes got when I read this. Are all the Cats song available in YouTube in other languages? I’m going to investigate this also!

  6. Thanks, Jenny, I just choked on my drink!!!

    The voting system is it is and always has been 100% political, music just doesn’t come into it. I haven’t seen it for many years, but from your description it doesn’t sound like it’s changed much.

    • I know, I know, I know it has nothing to do with the actual merit of the actual songs. But if I were voting? I’d vote totally based on the merit of the songs. I would nevertheless possibly have voted for the girl who won last year, from Germany, because she is adorable and reminds me of my little sister.

  7. Ahhh Eurovision is hilarious. I hate it that nowadays that many of the songs are in English. I like cheesey Europop to at least be sung in a different language.

    UK’s last few entries have been absolute rubbishy rubbish lately I’ve found myself groaning with embarrassment. Half the time the can’t sing. Course, with all the political voting we don’t have much of a chance of winning nowadays, even if we had a song that was any good.

    I remember when we did win… Katrina and the Waves. After all those years of Ireland winning… and it was so exciting.

    Ah well.

    This one has got to be one of my favourites: (it’s absolutely awful) Spain 2008: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJDh1ANu-UU&feature=related

    I find it hard to believe that Europe actually takes Eurovision seriously. But no one can seriously take that song seriously. It’s so rubbish, it is good.

    I think 2008 was my favourite Eurovision in a long time. because I don’t watch much TV nowadays on schedule I haven’t really watched the whole show for a few years.

    I do actually really like Armenia’s 2008 entry though: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpXBekq2qC4

    and Bosnia’s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0k9jWCrFtnI

    Anyway… I have no hopes for this year’s UK Entry… Blue? Weren’t they some old big pop band of some not too long ago? Blergh.

    • I have mixed feelings about the language thing. Part of me loves the mangled English, and part of me really enjoys inventing translations. Like, for this year’s Macedonia entry, in my mind the lyrics of the song are “I’m going to do the girls in all these rooms! / Aaaaalll these rooms! / And these girls in these rooms, and these boys in these rooms too! / I’m going to do them all! Hooray!”

      Yeah, poor Britain. Y’all don’t get the diaspora vote that the others do.

  8. Also, How come you didn’t attach the most all-time-amazingest Ruslana singing “I Dahnce Wiz Ze Wolfs?” I will add it so no one will be deprived.

  9. Wonderful post.

    My generation Europeans … we tend to hate, hate, hate it … but we nevertheless watch of course 😉

    I think it hasn’t always been a spectacle. In the old days it was dead serious … with mostly dreadful songs.
    Now it is split — into people who still take it serious (ballads and stuff) and hilarious contributions.

    For some member countries it is difficult to nominate good contestants since among serious artists participating is considered to be an absolute no-go. It used to be like that in Germany.

    • What I’m curious about is, do other people take it seriously? I know the Brits don’t, but do the, I don’t know, do the Ukrainians? And the Russians? Or does everyone think it’s silly?

  10. A friend of mine found this and posted in on my Facebook as I had posted my 2 favorite songs on mine. Anywho….

    Being an American myself, I have followed Eurovision religiously for the past 5-6 years. As mentioned before it unfortunately is not available on TV here, but it is available live at http://www.eurovision.tv (and without the annoying commentary so many of the European networks have between songs, during voting, etc).

    FYI Jodie — The monster rock song (which actually won) was Finland in 2006. 🙂

    For those of you who haven’t ever heard of it or watched it, I highly suggest you do. It’s 3 hours of great entertainment from the really very good songs who deserve to win to the cheesy camp songs that are just funny to the crap songs that even sometimes win. The semifinals are May 10 and 12 with the final on May 14. You won’t be sorry you did.

  11. I may need to do some research* here. How could I have been missing all this MADNESS??

    *(watch Eurovision youtube videos for 8 hours straight, giggling, as the children eat peanut butter straight from the jar and watch a Law & Order marathon while throwing paring knives at each other during commercial breaks.)

    • Hahahaha, if I had children this would be an exact description of the day I remembered about Eurovision this year. Except with me, my marathon also involved chatting to my Eurovision-loving friend about which ones we liked best.

  12. How have I not heard of this? It sounds like that show that’s always on whenever you turn on the TV, and you watch it because it’s always on, and the next thing you know, you’re addicted. Like the Hairy Bikers’ Cookoff, only without cooking families. And with weirder costumes (the people on Hairy Bikers’ Cookoff just wear street clothes and aprons). Also, with music and internationalness.

  13. Now that I’m home and can actually watch youtube, I have to put in a plug for my two all time favorites. 2007 Eurovision…Ukraine’s Danzing and Israel’s Push the Button. Go ahead and google them. I dare you.

  14. Also, Mumsy? that wolf song MADE MY DAY. I watched to twice and marveled both times.

    I think my favorite part was the random guy with the giant drum who popped up every few seconds. He and Wind-Blown Singer definitely had their serious faces on.

  15. Yay for Eurovision! My funnest night out ever was with some friends having a Eurovision party. We all loved the German entry where three scary big girls sang Ve Vill MEK You Party! Yes Ve Vill!! The voting drives me mad (and Britain will never ever win again, because that’s what being an island does for you) but I love the crazy song routines. And also the commentary, which is traditionally cheekily rude about the whole thing.

    • Ah yes, the commentary! If you watch Eurovision you absolutely MUST watch it in a country that has a really snarky commentator. It’s at least half the fun 😉 The other half is the sheer ridiculousness of the thing.
      Watching it in a group with representatives of various European countries is also good fun, although it can limit how much you can mock some of the entries, and it can be a bit embarassing because the British entry is often quite rubbish…

    • Oh, but, isn’t the commentary in not English? I can’t understand any other languages well enough for the commentary — I might just about get the gist of the French, but not enough to enjoy it properly.

  16. I love your post, Jenny! Eurovision here in the UK is seen as a bit of a trash TV special – no-one takes it seriously (except maybe Lord Lloyd-Webber and those people in the UK music business who feel that our inexplicable lack of success in the competition could be solved by a better song). The whole point is to dress up and make fun, and possibly make bets on who will win…

    Have you ever seen the ‘Father Ted’ episode where the priests are chosen to write a really bad song for Ireland’s entry, since they (Ireland, that is) were so fed up of winning the thing and having to host the show? Ted comes up with ‘My Lovely Horse’… 🙂 (and if you haven’t seen ‘Father Ted’, it is much, much better than Eurovision!).

    • I’ve never seen Father Ted at all! I’m sure it’s better than Eurovision, but I’m not so sure that it’ll give me as much unalloyed happiness. Eurovision is just so cracked-out crazy.

  17. The Belarusian song slays me. IT HAS A CIMBALOM. But the cimbalom and folf costumes are transplanted into every gay bar dance track I’ve ever been subjected to.

    (By the way I LOVE CIMBALOMS AND I AM LISTENING TO MY NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOR PLAY ONE RIGHT NOW)

  18. You are funny Jenny. Watching Eurovision is like watching a freak show or circus performers performing an Aria or singing some cheesey love songs. They don’t gel.

    I’m still puzzle as to why Britain never get any votes from other European countries since we are the most tolerant and most kind to European diaspora who keep coming into our shores…. (with millions handing out as benefits to those who came in and declared incapacity or claiming child benefits, with more and more social housing in short supply etc. etc.)

    Anyway, ABBA is a product of the Eurovision. After they win the competition they went on and became a legend in the music industry. I’m watching it this year and see what Belarus come up with this time!

    Thanks for the post. 🙂

    • I knew that about ABBA, actually, though of course didn’t learn it nearly as soon as I wish I had. I just think of all the lost years watching Eurovision on Youtube… Sigh.

  19. Isn’t it AMAZING that America isn’t in on this thing? It’s been going on since 1956, and is the second most watched annual television event on the planet … the Superbowl is #1 and the Oscars are #3 … but it isn’t shown in the US at all. Maybe it doesn’t have enough commercial breaks?

    Be advised that Eurovision.tv really messed up their internet stream last year – totally unwatchable, because they got cute and tried to send a separate backstage stream simultaneously. Also be advised that if you plan to attempt to watch it live (3 PM Eastern, Noon Pacific), you will need to install a free plugin on your computer beforehand. Don’t wait until the last minute. The site will have the show available to stream for at least a month afterwards, but by then the winner is spoiled, isn’t it.

    If you are into the bittorrent thing (tsk tsk), this site: http://thebox.bz can hook you up with a copy of the BBC broadcast a few hours after it airs, and a high-def copy a day or two later. Warning – the BBC’s commenter is SNARKY. They also have past contests available, as well as the semi-finals (they happen this Tuesday and Thursday) and that Father Ted episode – which is NOT better than Eurovision, but is definitely funny. I don’t know if thebox is accepting new members at the moment, but it’s worth a check.

    Other acts that have participated in the contest besides ABBA: Olivia Newton-John, Celine Dion, Cliff Richard, Nana Mouskouri, Julio Iglesias, Silver Convention, Brotherhood of Man, and Mocedades. American hits that came from the contest include Volare, Waterloo, Love Is Blue (L’amour est Bleu), Save Your Kisses for Me, Eres Tu, Ciao Ciao Bambina, and Ooh Ahh Just a Little Bit. The contest also presented the world debut of Riverdance, which was created as a 7-minute “interval act” to fill the time while the votes were counted.

    Musically the contest has improved tremendously in the last few years, but the costumes are still just as bonkers. Unfortunately most of the REAL crazy gets weeded out in the semifinals, now that most of the countries have to go through them to get to the final.

    Anyway, thanks for the article, Happy Eurovision Week, and ESC IN THE USA!! (PS – Go, Norway!!)

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