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.