Friday, 1 June 2012

Friday Five: Aussie Vision Song Contest

The Eurovision Song Contest is phenomenally popular in Australia. I know, really! This may be surprising for a festival of kitsch in which tiny fragmented Eastern European nations try to wrest some significance from the Western heavyweights, hosted by truly appalling presenters who give mannequins a bad name. For the channel that televises both of the semi finals and the grand final (SBS) it is their biggest event, attracting 420,000 viewers. Many of these people host parties, at which they generally play the Eurovision Drinking Game – there you go; that’s the appeal.

There are drinks to be drunk for such things as people wearing all-white ensembles, removing items of clothing, playing an accordion or an instrument that you can’t identify, wearing a cape, dramatic key change, and singing in a language that you assumed to be foreign but that turns out to be English. So, here we go then (in alphabetical order)...

Shout to the top - or actually fifth
Albania – Suus (Finalist)
The scary Medusa-haired woman yells at the audience, until they are petrified into letting her through to the next round.

Austria – Woki Mit Deim Popo
The band is called Trackshittaz; they live up to their name. Their brand of tacky hip/hop with lecherous sexism and lime green scantily clad pole dancers to distract from the awfulness of the song, is apparently known as tractor party gangster rap – one to avoid on this evidence.

Azerbaijan – When the Music Dies (Automatic Finalist)
We’ll know who to blame, Sabin Babayeva. Looking like a swan in a white feather dress she sings, ‘You’re cold, cold, cold’ and just a little flat. It’s probably very rude to insult the host, so let’s stop there, shall we?

Loving the microphone technique
Belarus – We Are the Heroes
Are you indeed, Litesound? True, you do win the award for the best Dr Seuss-inspired microphone stands. And I can imagine this being played at second-rate fairgrounds all over the land. They sport statement haircuts (Gorillaz in the shitz?), bend over backwards with their choreography, and take chain metal tank top fashion to a whole new level. I actually quite like it; it seems I am in the minority.

Belgium – Would You
No, I wouldn’t. A young girl with the unlikely name of Iris sings a song about any guy will do, while dressed like a lampshade.

Bosnia Herzegovina – Korake Ti Znam (Finalist)
A woman (Maya Sar) stands in a single spotlight at a piano. She manages to look very intense and meaningful in a glittery shoulder pad-heavy outfit while being blasted by a wind machine, which is no mean feat and the only reason I can assume she gets through to the final as the song itself is a pile of poo.

Incidentally, SBS has an insightful interview with Melanie from Germany, who operates the wind machine and has done so for the past seven years. She’s a dab hand now; they have ways of making you talk alright, although not always sing...

Bulgaria – Love Unlimited
Sofi Marinova appears to be a Grace Jones look-i-like-i who can sing as well. She may have worn a leather sofa and boots to match, but I can imagine clubbing to this – maybe without the pyrotechnic Catherine Wheels. Lots of native language with the final tag ‘I love you so much’ thrown in to win over the audience – it works for me, but I’m a sucker.

Croatia – Nebo
I quite like this effort from Nina Badrić during which her backing vocalists/dancers appear to be struggling to fold a sheet – bless them. She’s a bit like the Woman in Black – by the time you’ve seen her, it’s too late!

Cyprus – La La Love (Finalist)
Ivi Adamou mimics Beyoncé doing techno. Sample lyric: ‘Feel the energy/ Between you and me’ suits the Two Unlimited or Venga Boys ethos.

La la la Lift!
Denmark – Should Have Known Better (Finalist) She should certainly have known better than to wear that outfit, consisting of a dodgy military tunic and cap. Sample lyric: ‘Should have known better, now I miss you like Sahara misses rain’. There is clearly a talent-drought in Denmark.

Estonia – Kuula (Finalist)
Some bloke who wants to be Eastern Europe’s answer to Ronan Keating (Ott Lepland) stands in a spotlight and belts out a ballad with many a key change and emotional holler. It’s a refreshing change from all the gaudy glitz and jerking about. I haven’t a clue what he’s singing but he sounds pretty good.

Finland – När Jag Blundar
The home of air guitar brings us a very dull song in which a woman dressed in a flowing green curtain sings something while a bloke plays a cello in a desultory fashion.

Vive La France!
France – Echo (You and I) (Automatic Finalist)
Anggun, Queen of the Dancefloor, gives the impression that she doesn’t really give a toss, but then she is French, so who can tell? She is buffeted by the wind machine as she flings out the odd word in English and male acrobats cavort around her – no one’s listening to the song anyway.

Georgia – I’m a Joker
You can say that again – actually, please don’t; once is enough. There is a lot of effort made with Gregorian monks in red habits, Russian folk music backing, a circus performer swinging around by her hair and some random tune thumped out on a white baby grand piano. Singer Anri Jokhadze seems to have lost a glove and the overall effect is extremely messy – á la Rocky Horrible.

Germany – Standing Still (Automatic Finalist)
The casual, cute, young, beanie-clad Marti Pellow imitator may be proof to the cynics that only three of the competing nations – Azerbaijan, Russia and Sweden – actively want to win the competition and have to host the incredibly expensive 2013 final during a Eurozone depression.

Greece – Aphrodisiac (Finalist)
A gorgeous lead singer (somewhat improbably called Eleftheria Eleftheriou) with great legs shows them off to advantage with some Greek dancing (probably to differentiate it from the very similar Cypriot entry). She’s a cross between a diminutive mermaid and Botticelli’s Venus rising from the clam shell. Sample lyric: ‘You make me dance, dance like a maniac/ You make me want your aphrodisiac.’

Greece goes manic
Hungary – Sound of Our Hearts (Finalist) In this electronic ballad with a message about following your dreams, the Sherriff of Nottingham meets Depeche Mode. It’s all angst and The Matrix apart from the smiley bloke at the back, who ruins the staunch image somewhat.

Iceland – Never Forget (Finalist)
A surprisingly decent duet, probably better-suited to musical theatre – maybe Chess?

Jedward hold fast against the wind machine
Ireland – Waterline (Finalist)
 Jedward dressed as knights in shining armour, give it cartwheels and out-of-synch robotic dancing. Hyperactive and erratic like a faulty wind-up toy, they finish up with a cold shower, which is probably just as well.

Israel – Time
Israel, Nooooo! This is like a cross between something out of The Fast Show and Borat complete with dodgy permed hair and a drunken woman who looks like Amy Winehouse’s mum.

Italy – Lamore E Femmina (Automatic Finalist)
Clearly a professional performance from Italy’s answer to Gwen Stefani; even walking in those heels is impressive.

Latvia – Beautiful Song
Despite the songstress Anmare and her dodgy back-up not-quite-sober bridesmaids’ claim that this is a beautiful song, the audience and judges seem to disagree.

Lithuania – Love is Blind (Finalist)
But unfortunately not deaf. Donny Montell begins his routine wearing a sparkly blindfold which he whips off halfway through – DRINK!!! – while cramming every possible cliché into his song.

Lithuania play pin the tail on the donkey
F.Y.R. Macedonia – Crno I Belo (Finalist)
A power ballad with a hint of Forever Young from a woman called Kaliopi in a black trouser suit with some screaming, some quiet moments, and a violin and guitar break. FYI, I learned that F.Y.R. stands for Former Yugoslav Republic – who says it’s not instructional?

Malta – This is the Night (Finalist)
Despite the rubbish female drummer (even I could mime hitting something in time better than that) I like this uptempo dance number. Lyrics such as, ‘This is the night I’ve been waiting for. This is the night I’ll be back for more, singing hey, eh, eh, eh, ye eh hey, eh, eh’ are offset with a little bit of acrobatics and some shonky dance moves.

Moldova – Lautar (Finalist)
The theatrical dancing and outfits remind me of Outkast or Panic at the Disco with a lead singer looking like Ed Norton. The fact that he wants to win a girl with his trumpet is not a euphemism apparently. It’s like a fun circus act or puppet show and I like it – it’s my third favourite.

Bring it on, Moldova!

Montenegro – Euro Neuro
The audience is highly perplexed by this offering from Rambo Amadeus, in which he looks like no one’s favourite drunken uncle.

A cry for help from The Netherlands

Netherlands – You and Me
Joan Franka sounds a wee bit like Dolores O’Riordan from The Cranberries but she looks nothing like her. In fact, against a background of camp fires and wearing an American Indian headdress she looks more like she is auditioning as the new lead singer for Dexys Midnight Runners.

Norway – Stay (Finalist)
After an acrobatic start, lead singer Tooji brings the sexy back in a techno romp with distracting dancing that looks as though a bloke has joined the Spice Girls. This song comes last in the competition, although I really didn’t think it was as bad as all that.

Tooji brings the sexy back for Norway
Portugal – Vida Manha
Filipa Sousa wears an ill-fitting gold lame sheath but despite this and the multiple key changes, it is still a very dull effort. Down with the Euro, you’re going down with the Euro, etc.

Romania – Zaleilah (Finalist)
May win an award for comedy instruments, including a very odd-looking set of bagpipes. The lead singer sits sideways on a drum and smiles when it’s hit – she sure gets her good vibrations. The men all wear white (Drink), she sort of wears a scrap of flimsy red material, and they all do a spot of pogo-dancing, which seems to be perennially popular. Sample lyric: ‘Everybody, everybody’.

Russia – Party for Everybody (Finalist)
Buranovskiye Babushki comprise six old women (there are actually eight of them – but the rules state that only six are allowed on stage), one of whom is 77. They will definitely win the cute factor and back it up with the curious prop of a rotating oven – it appears to be on fire at one point but provides a tray of baked mini pies as audience bribes. I bet this is number one in Britain with a rave party beat over the sample lyric, ‘Everybody dance/ Come on and dance’. It’s my second favourite.

Dance, grandma, dance!
San Marino – The Social Network Song (Oh Oh – Uh – Oh Oh)
Valentina Monetta is working the whole Abba/ Madonna look in her song about on-line dating. Sample lyric: “Do you want to make love with me? Am I really your cup of tea?” Perhaps she should have sung in her own language as she is unlikely to get through to the final with an overtly sexual song – and she doesn’t.

Serbia – Nije Ljubav Stvar (Finalist)
The wistful nationalistic number features a soulful male singer with tortured eyes (and vocals) supported by violins, drums and a wooden instrument no one can name, which means drinking points if nothing else.

Slovakia – Don’t Close Your Eyes
The band claim to be influenced by Whitesnake and the music is quite speed metal, although the vocals are more soft rock. Singer Max Jason Mai sports a bare torso and black leather but he has lovely clean hair. The audience are perplexed.

Slovenia – Verjamem
Dressing as virginal nuns in see-through dresses isn’t enough to help this all female Phantom of the Opera number go through to the finals.

Spain – Qudate Conmigo (Automatic Finalist)
The Statue of Liberty rang; she wants her dress back. And Evita wouldn’t mind her song when you’ve finished with it, either.

Sweden – Euphoria (Finalist)
The pre-competition favourite has a slightly Goth element, although singer Loreen sounds more like a cross between Julianne Regan (All About Eve) and Amy Lee (Evanescence). I’m not impressed by the barefoot moon-walking or the Kate-Bush-escapes-from-a-lunatic-asylum schtick. The snow globe effect (that’s really overworking the wind machine!) and the failed attempt at yodelling don’t do it for me either, although the gratuitous male dancer perks things up a bit. What do I know; this is the clear winner on the night according to the countries’ democratic voting process.

Loreen is given an airing
Switzerland – Unbreakable They sing a song about following your wildest dreams and claim to have been influenced by U2, although they are not nearly so dull or pretentious.

Turkey – Love Me Back (Finalist)
Good intro, followed by a song which actually delivers on the initial promise. Can Bonomo are a likely bunch of excessively-eyelinered jaunty nautical types with a heap of sailor motifs and whirling cape action to augment their sea shanty. The Turkish Sid Snot lead sings such sample lyrics as, ‘Don’t you ever sink my ship and sail away’ in a Fiddler on the Roof style. Okay then, it floats my boat and is, in fact, my favourite song of the contest.

Ahoy there, me Turkish hearties!
UK – Love Will Set You Free (Automatic Finalist)
It’s different. By about thirty years. A surprisingly sharp texter points out that he is older than 22 of the countries represented at the competition. One question: Englebert Humperdink; why? This ballroom dancing dirge finishes second last (thank God for nul-point Norway). Actually, here’s another question: did anyone think it would be otherwise?

Ukraine – Be My Guest (Finalist)
Gaitana pulls out all the stops in this derivative dance anthem about welcoming visitors to her country: moving panels and visual effects, a rented flashmob, a shower curtain and cap outfit, lashings of trumpet, tempo changes and chest beating all aim for Mardi Gras entertainment value. It’s still crap.

I couldn't walk a minute in Nina's shoes!
 Five Favourite Eurovision Songs:
  1. Turkey - Love Me Back, Can Bonomo
  2. Russia - Party for Everybody, Buranovskiye Babushki
  3. Moldova - Lautar, Pasha Parfeny
  4. Italy - L'Amore È Femmina (Out Of Love), Nina Zilli
  5. Malta - This is the Night, Kurt Calleja
And, for what it's worth, the winners were:
  1. Sweden - Euphoria, Loreen
  2. Russia - Party for Everybody, Buranovskiye Babushki
  3. Serbia - Nije Ljubav Stvar, Željko Joksimović
  4. Azerbaijan - When the Music Dies, Sabina Babayeva
  5. Albania - Suus, Rona Nishliu


Anonymous said...

It's not just the Aussies that play drinking games during Eurovision. I remember about 6 years ago, staying with Paul and Helen in Aberdeen were we stopped in to specifically watch EuroVision.... I had just broken my leg and the niblings were still small, so we wouldn't have gone out. Tim, Paul and Helen were all 'worse for wear' the following day! Tee, hee, hee!
Love Scarey x

Kate Blackhurst said...

Right, that's it - party at our place next year - you're al invited!

Kate xxx