To be printed 03/06/10.
If election night was “like Eurovision for straight people”, then this year’s Eurovision was like election night for people who prefer their politicians wearing giant sparkly butterfly wings. And better than election night, the whole thing was over in a measly three hours and we came out of it with one conclusive winner (though a coalition of the German and Greek entries I would definitely like to see).
I’ve long thought that Eurovision, far from being the outdated and irrelevant cultural car crash many believe it to be, is actually a great, albeit distorted, barometer of our times. It’s like viewing the music industry through a circus mirror, or maybe a haze of morphine. For starters, Lady Gaga references were all over the shop, which was no surprise. It is only natural that the woman who once performed on a giant toilet will find her spiritual home among the Boom Bang-a Bang clan.
Meanwhile the Serbian entry presented a glimpse of a future where Jedward advertise GHD straighteners, while Spain gave us that most glorious of things, a stage invasion far more entertaining than the performance itself. Far more worrying, though, are the acts you genuinely like. Eurovision, draws you in, seduces you to a point where you lose all semblance of personal taste.
It’s just like clothes shopping on holiday, when the oddest items ever committed to lycra suddenly start looking chic and interesting next to all the other dross. You buy them, get them home, hold them up on British soil and realise you’ve purchased yourself something Sue Pollard might wear to clean the bath. And so it was on Saturday, when I found myself listening to Belgian entry Me and My Guitar, saying “this is EXCELLENT. I am truly, deeply moved. I might have it as the first dance at my wedding.”
Then there was our offering. By picking a song titled That Sounds Good to Me, I can only assume we’ve moved beyond national fondness for irony to a point where we’re just handing the continent a ready-made gag-on-a-plate. Up and down Europe, people were sitting in front of their tellies saying “nah…. too easy.” Next year I hope we go with t-shirts reading, “You were right about all the wars, now can we have a piddling point please?”
It didn’t help that they’d dressed him as a first year Durham law student out on the razz (suit, semi-unbuttoned shirt, shiny square-toed clown shoes), or that his backing dancers gave him the appearance of an embarrassed husband who’s been pulled up onstage at Priscilla Queen of the Desert. But the worst crime was choosing a song that just didn’t sound like Britain. At all. There was no whine, no grumble, no shades of grey or threat of a rain shower or tinge of Marmite-infused melancholy. With its cheery brand of Bublé-lite pop, it was like watching one’s Dad try to pronounce items off a Spanish menu. It smacked of trying to be something we aren’t. There may as well have been a bidet onstage.
So until we get to a point where election night features David Dimbleby in a sequinned catsuit, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to play to Eurovision game. But as I like to remind whoever will listen, year after year, it’s ok – we had the Beatles. They can never take that away from us.