Welcome to the Belgrade! Let’s Get Crazy! Eurovision wrapup 2008

Sunday 25 May 2008

It was a quiet Eurovision night at home in the Bunker, what with the girlfriend being ill and trying to cough up her pelvis. The codes in brackets refer to the drinking game tally.
The broadcast itself began with a long, long apology from the BBC; not for last year’s Eurovision, nor the televised competition to pick the UK’s Eurovision entrant, but for last year’s UK Eurovision nomination contest. The apology was a lengthy explanation of what happened to the money viewers were charged to vote by phone, regardless of whether their votes counted or not. No apology was forthcoming for sending Scooch last year.
Thus the evening began with us feeling a little confused and depressed. That Serbian woman who won with that uncannily forgettable song last year came on and immediately caused confusion among the drinkers at home by launching into a number which seemed determined to combine every Eurovision cliche into a single, ungodly monad. Debate raged over whether her BF, DKC and ITE counted for drinking points, given that the competition hadn’t actually begun yet. I’m not sure if the sturdy woman in the suit with the butch haircut surrounded by women dressed half-and-half as bride and groom (split lengthways) was trying to tell us something.
Drinking officially began when the two hosts appeared and immediately pulled a double-Viktor by kissing each other, with a lengthy, stilted explanation about how Serbia is all about Love.
Romania: Again, a slightly confusing and depressing start. Nico and Vlad are not the singer and piano guy, as it first appears. After about a minute of dreary ballading, they suddenly have a rethink and turn into a dreary Wayne-and-Wanda style Andrew Lloyd Webber duet sung flat with a previously hidden woman, who is more likely Nico than Vlad.
United Kingdom: For a British entry I didn’t mind this too much. Of course, I liked it a lot better eighteen years ago when it was sung by Madonna and called “Express Yourself”, but the canny Brits have figured that because most of eastern Europe is still musically trapped in 1989 this inferior imitation will get them some votes (ha!). The woman singing backing vocals seems to be really playing her electric guitar, even though its not plugged in and no guitar can be heard in the music.
Albania: A solo diva surrounded by three acrobatic guys is this year’s White Suit. Accessorise with a fierce headwind and voila! Instant Eurovision act. (DKC)
Germany: Four hard-ridden hookers from Hamburg dress and sing ugly to try to distract punters from their treetrunk legs. (SR)
Armenia: Another wailing woman cribbing from Ukrainian tribal pop. All that’s missing is a couple of fake drummers on stage. (CR, SR)
Bosnia & Herzegovina: I’m sure these two countries were hyphenated last year; don’t tell me they’re going to separate too. This is the Eurovision we come to see: completely batshit insanity. A gurning leprechaun of a man and a mad woman with an afro run around a clothesline bellowing tunelessly at each other while veiled women in wedding dresses stand behind them knitting furiously. They know they’ve got a lock on the Balkan vote, so they must be taking the piss, surely?
Station break 1: LET’S GET CRAZY WITH A SHOUTY WOMAN WHO CAN’T SPEAK ENGLISH INTERVIEWING OTHER PEOPLE IN THE CROWD WHO CAN’T SPEAK ENGLISH!!! FUN TIME!!! SERBIA IS LOVE!!!
Israel: You couldn’t half tell from looking that the Israeli broadcasters have decided that Eurovision entrants must have done time in the Israeli Defense Forces. It was presumably their idea to have it sung in Hebrew too. It may or may not have been their idea to make it as grey and dull as possible.
Finland: Metal is the new pop! It worked for them two years ago, so this is obviously as long as they could wait without seeing if lightning will strike twice. Metal + Eurovision should be a natural combination, when you think about it. The only fake drummers for the night, complete with battle axes. My girlfriend thinks the lead singer is “dead sexy”, but that might just be the wind machine he’s singing into. (2CR, DKC, WM)
Croatia: A mime-woman on a Lazy Susan tries to put off an old man and a really old man called – get this! – 75 Cents. Ha! Later she pretends to play a solo on what appears to be a set of bottles partly filled with blood, which are presumably on hand if Mr 75 needs a transfusion to get through the song. Later the old guy pretends to do some scratching on a wind-up gramophone for no reason whatsoever. (2WM)
Poland: At last, a white piano. And a forgettable power ballad from a diva who looks like a former footballer who decided he wanted to be Agnetha Faltskog, wearing a dress meant to show off her tits but instead makes her look chunky. So linguistically confused she may lapsed into French by the end, we’re not sure. (ITE?, SR)
Iceland: About time there was a Eurotrash House Anthem, so 1990 you could sing along without having heard it.
Turkey: Rather than trying to catch up with the rest of the world, the Turks decided simply to wait until all indie rock sucks as hard as their own bands do. That time has arrived. (ITE)
Station break 2: OMG BOTH HOSTS HAVE CHANGED OUTFITS THIS LOOKS LIKE A NEW TREND. THEY CROSS TO TWO SHOUTY PEOPLE BACKSTAGE WHO CAN’T THINK OF ANYTHING TO SAY, SO THEY SHOUT IT!!! SERBS WORK SEVEN DAYS A WEEK!!! (2WC )
Portugal: This would be the Toilet Break Song except the singer’s fat, which means you want to stay around and watch what might happen. I don’t know how that works. She has purply hair and looks like a goth chick who’s had to dress up nice for dinner at a restaurant with her family for Mother’s Day. (CR, DKC)
Latvia: They are Pirates of the Sea! Unlike those other types of pirates. Except the biggest pirate, who looks like Geoff from Accounts Payable who was brought in at short notice and had to grab the last pirate suit in the hire shop. Apparently being a pirate consists of jumping around to bad techno while singing “With a hi-hi-ho and a hi-hi-hey, we’ll steal the show, Jolly Rogers go!” I wish I was making this up. Where’s Adam Ant when you need him? (DKC)
Sweden: This was just last year’s song again, only with a scary stick woman instead of a MILF, struggling without the aid of a wind machine. All these 90s disco anthems are going to be back in style soon.
Denmark: Having read one too many Andy Capp comics they think they’re English, in the same cute/grotesque way that dogs sometimes think they’re people. (DKC)
Georgia: Two more mimes on Lazy Susans (no mime should be without one!) It’s grim out east, judging by this dirgey song sung by a tense woman who wears sunglasses and stands rigidly to attention, either because she’s blind or repulsively hung over. They change clothes under a tarpaulin, and generally sweat and strain to little effect. (BF)
Ukraine: Another tanned diva surrounded by acrobatic guys. That little head-jerking thing they do should be the next big thing in discos. Amazingly for Eurovision, the dancers seem to have rehearsed and manage to keep it together for the whole three minutes. (SR)
Station break 3: OMGWTFBBQ TWO COSTUME CHANGES AGAIN!!! IT IS SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO!!! (2WC)
France: They’re trying very hard to look like they don’t care, with male and female backing singers wearing fake beards and shades, while the bearded and shaded Sebastien Tellier rolls up a little late in his golf cart, dicking around with an inflatable globe of the world. Here we see why genuine, living, breathing pop singers like Tellier don’t do so well in Eurovision. His casual rapport with the audience gets lost amongst the choreographed glitz, and the cameras, used to tightly controlled stage routines, kept getting lost, treating viewers at home to random shots of his feet, a blurry arm, the floor. (ITE, LKW)
Azerbaijan: Operatic emo, complete with castrati angels and goth devil princes! They really throw themselves into it, showing the Georgians what a Caucasian backwater has to do to get noticed around here. (BF, ITE)
Greece: Another would-be diva surrounded by three acrobatic guys, although it sounds like a lot of the vocal work is being covered for her by the singers shoved ignominiously to the back of the stage. It seems a bit unfair.
Spain: OK, Spain has really given up caring about Eurovision and decided that if people are going to keep voting for crap, they’re going to get their faces rubbed in it. Some joker with an Elvis wig and toy guitar presents the Macarena’s retarded brother, with the assistance of four clumsy women wearing what seem to be, from a distance, gumboots. It feels like it goes on for about 10 minutes. You can hear all the atmosphere being sucked out of the room, the crowd get the message and start booing. Job done. (TaTu, ITE)
Serbia: The Toilet Song, two years in a row! (2CR)
Russia: Maybe eastern Europeans are really into dull, anguished ballads right now, because here’s another mopey git with no shoes and a friend pretending to play the violin with a fake emotional intensity rarely seen outside of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Then Randy Quaid appears and starts ice skating and the mopey git unbuttons his shirt. Yes, ice skating. The barefoot git is standing on the skating surface which may or not be real ice, so perhaps this is one of those Slavic toughness contests you hear about every now and then. (WM)
Norway: “Why ain’t anybody loving me?” moans this hyperventilating sad sack. It’s a woman, in case you care.
The voting: Another costume change for both the male and female hosts. (2WC) Rather than stage any elaborate half-time show, the Serbs just plonk a local wedding band onstage to do their thing until the votes are fixedcounted, which is actually a wise decision as they’re pretty enjoyable and no-one’s paying too much attention anyway. When they finish, the hosts reappear. Only the woman has changed her dress again (WC) and she barks a propos of nothing “That’s an unforgettable moment.”
OMGOMG THE SHOUTY PEOPLE ARE BACK THEY HAVE NOTHING TO SAY AND THEY ARE SAYING IT AND THAT IS EUROVISION!!! THEY MAKE A BIG DEAL OF INTRODUCING SOMEONE CALLED MR STOCKSELIUS!!! ROCK ME STOCKSELIUS!!!
Mr Stockselius peers over the top of his computer screen and announces to the world that “voting is the most exciting part” of Eurovision.
Everybody votes for the same people they vote for every year and the country with the biggest ethnic diaspora and most neighbouring countries dependent on oil and gas supplies wins. The bright spot of the evening was the return, after several years’ absence, of the generally incompetent announcers. They had been much missed.
The woman from Portugal felt compelled to stop and give a shoutout to the friends she made at last year’s Eurovision, and was given the hurry-up by the hosts. (2HU) The Czech announcer made a hash of announcing the votes (they only have to name three countries now, instead of ten like in the old days. How hard can it be?) and started corpsing. (2SS) The Swedish guy was quite obviously pissed.
MEANWHILE BACKSTAGE THE SHOUTY MAN HAS THOUGHT OF SOMETHING THE VIEWERS MUST BE TOLD!!! “SOMEBODY’S GOING TO WIN TONIGHT!!!” HE ANNOUNCES!!! THE RUSSIANS ARE OVERJOYED THEY GOT VOTES FROM BALTIC COUNTRIES WITH 40 PERCENT ETHNIC RUSSIAN POPULATIONS!!! (SF)
The woman in Denmark is also a little tipsy and tries to sing the chorus of her country’s song, but even she can’t remember it. The announcer from Montenegro gets booed by the live audience in Belgrade. Russia wins and lots of nothing happens, the camera panning aimlessly around an empty stage while the end credits music for Mario Kart 64 plays on a loop in the background.
Finally the mopey Russian guys and their figure-skating buddy appear. “You have to receive the flowers,” the lady host barks at them. Mopey git takes off his shoes and sings again while the credits roll.