The rest of Eurovision 2005: click here
for part one. Quotes, including the fine example above from the Belgian contestant after rehearsal, are from the performers themselves, taken from the official website
. Surprisingly, Belgium didn’t make it to the final.
Serbia & Montenegro
“We have spent the last six months preparing for this. It feels great to be here. Vote for us. We are the best!”
More drums! A boy band! With six boys. Being at war with all their neighbours throughout the nineties made them take their eye off the ball when it comes to churning out identikit pop music. Two sets of drums, big ugly brown tympani which one guy is left pounding away on up the back for most of the song. The surplus boy is evidently the autistic brother of one of the band members, or else the token Montenegran. This is appalling, but I can’t help admire their thriftiness in buying one suit each and then swapping around pants and jackets to look like they have a whole wardrobe of mix’n’match.
“Everyone can be a singer. Obviously some people are better than others, but the main thing is to enjoy it – it doesn’t really matter if you make a good sound. It helps if you have a good bathroom though.”
Scarily enthusiastic redhead chap who looks like he’s either joined one of the more disturbing cults or is about to address an Amway convention; he has what can only be described as a shit-sucking smirk plastered over his gob from start to finish. Surprisingly, we’re told he wanted to teach music in a primary school but they wouldn’t let him. The mind boggles. For his backing group he has the world’s oldest boy band dressed like El Lissitsky’s idea of what gay cowboys look like. Hey, more black and red!
“How can you sing about a town that you’ve never been to? So I went. But I didn’t see Céline Dion.”
A man dressed like George Michael dressed like Fonzie sings a song I cannot remember but seemed to think wasn’t too bad at the time, considering, while backed by the four surviving Solid Gold Dancers who are all members of the Kill Bill Fan Club. Of course everyone was hoping they’d whip out the samurai swords and do a number on him at the end but instead they handed him a stick, which he then leaned on because he was getting a bit fagged. Or they’d forgotten to bring out the oil drum he was going to hit it with. You may have noticed I’m not saying much about the songs themselves, because by this stage I was very much the worse for drink.
“Eurovision is very big in the former Yugoslavia. There is competition among the countries but they support each other. It’s not a conspiracy, though.”
I remember. Australian readers: next summer all the bogan girls will be dressed like the chicks dancing around in this one. All the cheapo shops in London are pushing this flouncy peasanty print crap for summer. The other highlight in this one was the blokes in the background, especially the one on the right. Seriously, that was Senator Bob Brown
up there. And he was showing all the dynamism and vivacity as we’ve come to expect from him. The guys are dressed like two bogans at Jooce on a Friday night, and dancing like it: chambray shirts and shuffling to and fro. While guy on the left is pumping his fist in the air Senator Bob lets his hand hang limply in mid air: he does so
not want to be here! Some half-arsed and apologetic zorba-ing ensues. And of course there’s a guy banging on drums, some big ugly brown tympani they stole off the autistic Montenegran backstage. Seriously, they were exactly the same drums.
“People in Europe who don’t know Ukrainian still enjoying the song because it has a simple rhythm and melody. People enjoy its wholesome energy.”
Mlle Fifi: This is like that song off that Beastie Boys album.
Me: Which one?
Mlle Fifi: The one that sucked.
Everyone’s been betting that Ukraine won’t try to win again because they can’t afford to host the contest two years running. They play up to the home crowd by bunging on the theme song of the Orange Revolution, complete with Attila the Stockbroker rapping over some beats and guitar. You feel slightly ashamed when you say that as nu-metal hip-hop goes it’s not bad for a bunch of Ukranians, but at least you don’t have to sit through it with an embarrassed, fixed grin like Prince William having to spend his birthday listening to the Poet Laureate attempting to freestyle. So, I’m conflicted: was it a worthy gesture combined with a cynical attempt to blow the contest, or did they really think the rest of Europe really does give slightly more than a rat’s arse about what happens in Kiev? Hey, it’s Green Jelly!
“Although I hurt myself a bit, I’ll keep on jumping around.”
Speaking of not being able to afford hosting next year, it helps to understand Germany’s entry by remembering that they’re already hosting the World Cup finals next year. Take the self-styled ‘rock chick’ from your local breed of Pop Idol, put her in a bikini, have her sing a song almost identical to 4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Up” (which is itself almost identical to “Don’t Worry Be Happy”), then have her denote emotion through tuneless bellowing, and voila: no need to trouble yourself planning a Eurovison in your country until at least 2007!
“He’s escaped from a mental hospital. They don’t even know that he’s here. We just keep giving him his medication.”
AAAAAAAAGGHHH RUN FOR THE HILLS, IT’S CHRIS DE BURGH!! He’s working the stage like Denis Walter on the Midday Show hoping to pull some hot granny action when they’re off-air. And because Eurovision is a fever dream from which I shall never wake, there is a mad drummer who does his own choreography: namely, at the end of the song he stands on his head. Because tonight he’s playing wingman to granny-pulling Chris De Burgh. Expect him and that Moldovan crone to be all over New Idea real soon.
“I think I’m a woman now; not a girl.”
Safe and strong, the sort of thing that steamrolls the competition at Eurovision. At least they actually hired a choreographer so they didn’t shamble around on stage at random like all the others; no Norman Gunston ‘expressive’ hand gestures here! (There were two singers who did the fingers-down-the-cheek move when they sang about crying. I forget who, but I pegging Albania and Israel.) Better still, they zorba like they mean it dammit, and they pull out two of the best Euro-batshit manoeuvres of the night: a Busby Berkeley-style aerial-view number ‘1’, and (in the best appropriation of Turkish entrants yet) the chick standing on a guy’s back while pulling some strings out of his arse and playing them like a cello. Best of all, she makes that last move look almost normal! The singer chick manages to look much hotter than she probably really is, and more or less keeps it together for the whole song, which is more than many of the acts have managed tonight. Winner: all that’s missing is the Bucks Fizz move.
“‘America’ just rhymes with ‘little Erica’, so it’s just a lyric.”
Complete with cheap wig and plastic mac with nothing underneath, one of Russia’s crackwhores is rescued from working the streets in Rotterdam and given a second chance at life. If she wins Eurovision glory for the mother country she will get back her passport and see the people-smuggler who tricked her into indentured servitude brought to justice. But there are many obstacles in her way: an inability to sing and a tuneless dirge of a song which, despite being one of the few tonight written in english by someone who actually speaks the language, consists mostly of the words “Nobody hurt no-one” droned over and over. If she can just sing a little louder maybe, just maybe she can triumph! Louder still now, and hold your hand up to your ear to make sure your wig doesn’t slip off when you tilt your head back for that high note…
Bosnia & Herzegovina
“My father owns a vineyard, and if we win my father will make a special wine for you all to enjoy when you come to Bosnia & Herzegovina next year!”
Fake Abba, mostly Waterloo (another Eurovision winner, are you starting to see a pattern here?) Everyone picks it as fake Abba. Newborn babies turn their heads towards the telly and sniff, “Hmmph, they’re doing fake Abba.” It’s so blatantly, shamelessly fake Abba soliciting your approval that no-one will want to vote for it; everyone’s just gonna bust out their old Abba records one more time. So no Bosnian plonk for you! I hate Abba. Never liked them. If you liked Abba at my school you were a girl.
‘Cool Vibes’ is a song about a tiger.
The canny Swiss have pulled a Fine Cotton and hired mercenary Estonians Vanilla Ninja in a naked attempt to harvest some votes from the plethora of newly-minted, busted-arse Baltic states. Vanilla Ninja are four hot-enough chicks, brave enough to wear white after last year’s snowblinding fiasco, who rock as hard as their name i.e. slightly. They’re a ‘rock’ act who doubtlessly list Redd Kross and Josie and the Pussycats as their big influences. Despite being a band none of them play drums, which on any other night would seem like a cop-out but tonight is a refreshing twist. So it’s a good thing.
“We think some performances can be a bit ridiculous.”
Two blond kids who didn’t get the memo that white suits are so 2004. They sit up on stools strumming their little guitars like that chick in Vanilla Ninja, desperately trying to imitate those two Danish blokes who won in 2000 with their anthem to Australian beach volleyball champs Kerry Pottharst and Natalie Cook, only with added teen appeal and without the tune. Because they’re the only Baltic country left in the comp they know they have a lock on the votes from the myriad of tinpot ex-soviets strewn around their borders, so they get cocky and do a dance routine they choreographed all by themselves. Namely, they stand up and walk towards the crowd, doing Norman Gunston-style hand gestures to go with the lyrics. This is a bad idea, if only because it shows that the Latvian on the left is really, really short. Like, that singing duo from Popstars Live
last year, which you probably never watched.
“In France, we want every country to be made to sing in its native language. It makes it more interesting. Last year, we had 24 countries in a row singing in English, and so songs in French have no chance.”
A typically French attitude, that competition results can be legislated. This is a wonderfully nutzoid idea, considering that the UK is about the only country which could legitimately enter a song sung in English and they come near-last year after year. Besides, the Latvians could come out with their hands stuck in their armpits and make fart noises for three minutes and still nearly carry it off with 12 points each from every 20-acre backwater east of the Dnieper. If you really want a fighting chance of winning Eurovision, have a civil war so you break up into lots of little countries that all vote for each other, duh!
What the French really meant to say was, “We want every country to suck as hard as we do.” Which is: hard. This was the country that last year entered a midget in a white tuxedo timidly serenading a mime on stilts. I honestly doubt you can pin the failure of that one on language. And this year we had another fiasco: sleeveless chanteuse and backup boys giving us the San Remo moves in spades. The stage is awash with flashing armpits as everyone tries to make up their own dance moves on the spot without breaking up their clusterfuck. The song is atrocious and by the end the singer is going armpit-happy and is visibly struggling. It’s not because you sing in French that no-one ever votes for you, it’s because you make a deal out of refusing to sing in anything else, and want to tell everyone else what language to sing in. And because your music sucks.
Special mention must go to the Amazing Klitschko Brothers, special celebrity guests who lit up the stage with all the flair, panache, and media savvy of a couple of footballers brought onto the set of Hey Hey It’s Saturday in the 1970s. The sight of Ruslana attempting conversation with a Klitschko by unsuccessfully reading cue-cards spelled phonetically while holding a large golden horseshoe aloft was trainwreck television to live in the memory forever.
Of course everyone votes for their neighbours unless the neighbours are French. The only high points were the Ukranian announcer going the full Sandra Sully and having to start over the voting results twice – she must have been previously employed as a Russian electoral scrutineer or a sporting official – and the observation that the women from Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria etc were all ferociously blonde, while the Swedes and Danes were proudly brunette.
The best thing is seeing the performers getting really excited about it, like Cyprus honestly can’t believe they got 12 points from Greece like they do every year. It’s like they actually think it’s because they were any good. They suffer a strong lack of insight, which I expect is a prerequisite for entering this thing anyway. Can I stop now?