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Friday, May 11, 2007

You've only got yourselves to blame


One by one they fell. The great stalwarts and bastions of Eurovision. Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, favourites to go through with prancing vampires; Belgium and the Netherlands. Iceland, Israel, Portugal and Malta. Austria.

Among them, some great winners. Who could ever forget "Ding a Dong" from the Netherlands? Or the first transsexual winner, Dana International from Israel?

The voters of Europe (boundaries loosely defined for the purposes of this programme)turned their backs on western Europe and voted in the young pretenders: Georgia (first time), Serbia, FYR Macedonia, Belarus, Latvia, Bulgaria, Slovenia.

You've only got yourselves to blame. I can imagine that in Georgia there was probably huge excitement around this glittering festival of song and although the people couldn't vote for their own entry, a Tango'd woman with a strange head movement reminscent of Foghorn Leghorn, they voted in droves for their nearest neighbour.

While in western and northern Europe, I can imagine that the good burghers of Norway, if they were even watching, didn't bother to pick up the phone for Denmark and vice versa.

Fortunately, as I said yesterday, the Big Four, UK, Germany, Spain and France, were exempt from the semi-final and lording it over the rest as the bankers of the show. And we still have some famous Eurovision countries with us: Greece, actually represented by a London lad; Ireland; defending champions Finland (another rock entry) and Sweden, represented by a glam rock group called The Ark (most of their clothes indeed came from it).

So what of the songs, the stars of the show?

The songs I liked best came from Norway, the Netherlands, Andorra, Albania (where was Greece when they needed them?) and Iceland. But of course they all fell.

It seemed there were three distinct types of song. One, the eccentric, where strangely dressed shouty people clown around (Israel) sprinkled with transsexuals (Denmark, though it was hard to be certain). Two, overblown songs intended to represent the country's traditions. Lots of whirling dervishes in the background, backcombed hair, dresses like Morticia Adams and too much make-up (Slovenia, FYR Macedonia). And three, the traditional Eurovision shanty. A jolly little tune with a nice chorus that sticks in your head like a mallet: Norway, Belgium, Netherlands.

So in Saturday's battle we'll have traditional Eurovision battling it out against the New Pretenders and a couple of eccentrics (Germany from what I saw of them). The only song that was noticeably different was Serbia, where a female soloist who looked a bit like a man simply sang with no dancers, dry ice or outlandish costumes.

The outcome is fairly predictable. Unless western and northern Europe throws off its apathy, the newcomers will undoubtedly reign. Here's a picture of Scooch, the UK entry. It's probably the last time they'll appear in print.

Maybe next year we should reach some pacts for the semi-final. The Big Four should each officially support their neighbours to help them get through. UK could vote for the Nordics, Germany for Austria and Turkey (no change) and Poland; Spain for Andorra, Portugal and Malta; France for Belgium and the Netherlands. What do you think?

Join me tomorrow (Sat) as I assess the likely winners...and on Sunday as I lament (or celebrate?) the result.

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