The Eurovision song contest is a never ending source of wonderment to me, mostly for how wrong it can go. The bland songs never draw me in; it's the way they chuck spectacle at the screen in an effort to stand out somehow. One of the singers is five months pregnant and I was honestly surprised that they resisted the temptation to have the baby come out and join in.
Moldova are the first outbreak of traditional goofiness, sending a hairdo the Leningrad Cowboys would have sold their winkle-pickers for; there must have been a song underneath it, but between the quiff and the I-wanna-be-Hell's-Christmas-tree dress, it's not like I had a lot of attention left over for music. Hot on the heels of that, Finland's back in touch with its inner Lordi and sent us Krista, who seems to have picked her costume after all the backing group got first call on the clothes that fit. Belgium's sent a song and some dancers which have me honestly wondering if they just asked the European Commission to temp for them; it's like watching the world's most awkward dad being turned into a young woman and then told to groove it at a wedding.
The whole Maltese team looked so delighted to be there, and also as though they'd only been told at the last minute that they were on telly that might and had run over to the studio in whatever they were wearing when the call came in. Which was somehow adorable but it's probably just as well they weren't going to win, because I don't think there's room for a Eurovision in Malta unless all the actual Maltese take a holiday that week someplace else. I was disappointed that Germany broke a great streak of weird US pastiches and sent a taped-off-the-radio of last year's winner instead. But at least this way I know what Austria will send next year….
The standout of the show - at least at the half way mark it's hard to imagine anything topping it - has to be Romania, who sent Ming the Merciless to sing countertenor while standing on a huge pink binliner. If they win with this, I have no idea how the Galactic Empire will run itself, but clearly a heck of a lot less fabulously. Hungary, in the meantime has had a complete irony bypass and sent a lovely little low-key love song performed by a charming gang of hipsters who had a backdrop of those weird cartoons we used to get from Eastern Europe when I was a kid.
Best choreography idea has to have been Azerbaijan, who put their dancer in a box; sounds dumb, but it was pretty clever when they did it. And it feels safe to say that most fun song of the evening is going to be the Greek one, which is bonkers in the best possible way. The Eurovision has to be one of the few places where you can say "It's not safe out there, bring an accordion" and have it work out perfectly. Ukraine may have nailed the worst choreography medal by getting the tallest man they could find in the Ukraine to show up in plaid just to carry their singer on stage and walk back off again. They didn't even let him say "Hodor."
Italy have - to their eternal credit - made the French mistake. They hired a good singer, got him a good song, and sent him on stage in a beautifully cut suit, for all the world as if he was in some kind of song contest. It's so outside the box, it might even work.
Ireland, for the first time in ages, actually seems to have decided to act like they cared. It was a perfectly good song and they didn't send a joke double act to sell it. I'd never realised quite how Spartacus celtic drummers could be made to look, but there always has to be one act with oiled up muscle men in every Eurovision. With any luck we won't actually win, but it's nice to look like we actually give a crap.
This may be a surprising year, because some of the circle jerks of past years have been disrupted; the Balkans and Cyprus are out of play, giving no handy bloc to pass all those votes around, and there's less of the Baltic than we usually see as well. And Denmark seems to be running away with it with half the votes in, while Ireland is firmly in bottom place. I'd like to think it can only get better...
But it didn't. Dead last, in a world where Jedward could get a respectable score last year by acting like kids who'd been let loose in a toy box. So much for trying to take it seriously. We should send them Dustin next year.