Saturday, 26 May 2012

The 2012 Barrel; presumably awash with oil

Eurovision has become quite staggeringly vulgar over the years; not the individual acts, but the ever ratcheting visual flash of the staging by the organizers. Azerbaijan rustled up a hall for this year's extravaganza in seven months, and still had money left over to fill the place with pyrotechnics; maybe it's time that they started applying something like US campaign funding rules to Eurovision and telling the hosts that they can't spend any more money than the first one cost.

The UK don't seem to have noticed what happened to France last year and so they sent a singer to sing an actual song, albeit a singer older than my dad and a song which makes him look young. As a nul points contender, it's got everything going for it. Hungary seems to have discovered a stash of 1980s vampire wannabes and has decided to see if the stage lighting will do the same thing as sunlight; sadly not, though I can't remember anything about the song thirty seconds after they stopped. And; this just in; Albania has its own Bjork. Keeping up the 1980s theme, she looks like a rejected costume drawing for the Flash Gordon movie's evil queen, with the comedy bonus of a hairdo that mixes the best of a beehive and ludicrous pony tail.

Lithuania is going even further back in time with a guy who thinks it's a shame the rat pack don't still dominate the world. Because the song is about how love is blind, he started it off in a blindfold; it would have been kinder to offer it to the audience. Neighboring Russia have had an epic irony bypass, and sent a banderilla of babushkas, all of whom look like veterans of the Great Patriotic War, but apparently one of them is only 44. Flesh colored boom mikes are never a great idea, but on a crew this old, they really look like big warts from just about every angle. But the crowd goes wild, so what do I know?

More than France, possibly, who seem to have caught up with what this is all about and have sent a shouty woman in a nightdress and half the French olympic gym team. I suspect this is going to capture the attention of a much smaller subset of the population than they were planning for; specifically all the people who've been hoping Cher would start touring again because she's SO fabulous.

Italy are now short of money that they've sent necromancers to dig up Amy Winehouse; honestly the only difference I can see is that Nina Zilli hasn't felt the urge to illustrate herself. Not often that the Eurovision has me mourning what might have been in the real world. Norway appear to have found themselves wondering what would happen if Justin Bieber tried to channel Eminem; the answer is that you get something disturbingly like a live action version of Flynn Ryder from Entangled; and perhaps it's best to avoid having your lead spastically flailing around the stage yelling "I don't know what I'm doing tonight." when it's so obvious that he doesn't. 

Just when I thought the Eurovision had forgotten its essential madness, Romania have saved the day with a traditional number; an overadrenalised hot chick in a tiny dress babbling gibberish at the top of her voice and a backing band all in white and playing an assortment of instruments that should never be seen together let alone played together; including a set of bagpipes and a French horn with a bundle of vuvuzelas stuck down the barrel. A welcome return to form for the show. And it seems to signal it getting back into stride; the Danes showed why they're dominating murder dramas but not pop music, and now the Greeks have rolled out with a completely mainstream piece of zorba-inflected bubblegum consisting of English catchphrases and a whole bunch of vowel sounds. That's more like it.

There's always at least one number which makes you think that the country's been subjected to a musical theatre coup, but Turkey seems to have decided that what they really need for next year is a gay tourism bonanza, possibly with vampire overtones. I don't think I've seen anything this camp since I first found out what camp meant. Amazingly, the phrase "Hello Sailor" wasn't used, but it would probably have been overkill.

Jedward have now been and gone, another cunning move in our struggle to ensure that we never have to pay to host this thing again. It's impossible to dislike Jedward, but it's equally impossible to believe that they pay attention during the choreography rehearsals, possibly because they think that as twins they have the superpower of moving as one and so don't need to practice. The outfits this year were arresting; If 1980's Flash Gordon had had a subplot where screamingly fabulous aliens invaded the earth, their armour would have looked just like Jedward's; sensibly, they didn't see any need for head protection.

Voting went pretty much the way it always does, including the ritual humiliation of the UK, who only missed placing dead last by virtue of Norway doing as badly as they traditionally do. Seems like people feel even more hacked off about the Vikings than they do about the Empire.

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