Sunday, 15 May 2011

Eurovision Song Contest - same old outcome but I still love it!

So, Azerbaijan triumphs in Dusseldorf with a song which I'd have placed around 20th out of the 25 finalists. It invariably happens that way for me.
I've just looked up the country in my atlas and though I knew it was somewhere in the Black Sea/Caspian Sea area I wouldn't have had any confidence about giving its exact location - and even harder pushed to have named its capital (Baku) .
Anyway, if that song was what people wanted, who am I to argue?
I got a little consolation in that my second-favourite song also finished second, even though commentator Graham Norton seemed intent on running it down. ("Who would have imagined that a song like that could have finished in the top half, never mind in such a high place!")
Final results:-
1. Azerbaijan
2. Italy
3. Sweden
4. Ukraine
5. Denmark

My own placings:-
1. Iceland (Actually finished 20th)
2. Italy (2nd)
3. Ireland (8th)
4. Switzerland (25th = Last!)
5. Spain (23rd)

I suppose it just goes to show how my own tastes are largely out of tune with prevailing moods.

United Kingdom came 11th (a considerable improvement on last year's - last) with, for me a run-of-the-mill song performed by resurrected quartet 'Blue', even now reminding me too much of 'All4One's' biggie of 20 years ago, 'I Swear'. (The song's title 'I Can' tells its own story).

With TV audiences this year being allowed to vote from the time before the first song was even performed (why?) it was inevitable that regional rivalries would predominate yet more than usual with countries largely voting for their neighbours as they are not allowed to vote for their own country. We are assured that countries bordering each other do actually have strong rivalries, which I am ready to believe, and that they really vote for the cultural familiarity of a song, though I rarely notice any marked difference in the songs performed. They seem more or less interchangeable, especially when so often the song's composers come from a country other than the one the song is representing in the competition. If it's true that they really do tend to vote for their neighbours, then we in the west of the continent must be at a disadvantage as the break-ups of the Soviet Union and of Yugoslavia have resulted in a myriad of smaller countries, each carrying the same voting weight as the bigger states in the west, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the U.K.
Well, it's an oft-voiced argument but no one seems to have any idea of how to rectify the balance. But must we get so worked-up about it? It's only an entertainment, a game, a bit of fun, for heaven's sake!

Okay, then. Roll on 2012! The U.K. haven't won for 14 years now so let's see if the the gloves aren't off. Let's show all these 'Johnny Foreigners' how to beat them at their own game. HAH!!!


  1. I would have loved seeing this. Wish BBC America had broadcast it here in the US. Everything makes its way to YouTube and I watched the actual winner and your choice. Have to agree with you, Iceland was better - the song was wonderful. Reading some of the comments, people blamed politics as the reason Azerbaijan won.(Have to admit that I never heard of this country) The country that surprised me was Romania. I thought that they were absolutely great! Who would have thought?

    I do have a question: If this contest is European, why are most songs sung in English?

  2. Paul, for the first time this year it was being shown live in Australia, even though for some of them, it was starting at 5 a.m. Still, it's so camp and O.T.T. that I would imagine that it would get all the gays up who support events like the Sydney Mardi Gras.
    I'm surprised that none of the American channels have picked it up yet. There'd certainly be an audience for it. Maybe in the next year or two.
    Glad you liked Iceland. So it wasn't just me! It was, I think, the only straight performance of a song without any glitz or dancing or silly things going on, though it was performed with gentle humour. Very disappointed it finished so low.
    Italy - the actual contest was the very first time I heard their song - unlike most of the others which had to endure semi-final eliminations - and it struck me immediately as being superior to nearly all the others. Being jazz-based, it was so unexpected - but wonderful.
    I've checked on the notes that I was making during the show and I too rated Rumania highly. Definitely deserved to be higher than it did finish.
    They are nearly all sung in English (except that the French entry NEVER is - on principle!) because that is the international language of pop music. Sad, but true. They are allowed to sing in any language they want. In the 70s or 80s, I think, they made it a rule that countries must sing in their own native language, or one of them. This went down badly with both performers and audience because it was felt that it gave an automatic advantage to the U.K. (and Ireland), so it was dropped. The intention was good, but it didn't work out. Now, as I say above, the balance has swing another way for a different reason. But, hell, it's all for fun, isn't it? - though I'm still feeling a bit sore about Iceland.

  3. I can't believe you put Ireland on your list - I mean, seriously, Jedward. I know we're to blame for them, thanks to X Factor, but that's no reason to encourage them.

    I never actually saw the contest this year - just the recaps and the voting - but from the various clips I had chosen Serbia to win.


    P.S. There was one year where the French song dis have a chorus or verse sung in English!

  4. Andrew, I make no apologies for having Ireland as my personal third placed song - though it was the SONG rather than Jedward themselves. I copy here a paragraph I wrote as a comment on Stephen's 'State of the Nation' blog a couple of days ago, which explains my opinion:-

    "Jedward are always compulsively fascinating, even though I'm always wanting to plant a custard pie in their smug mugs and comb their hair down while they're trying to clear their eyes. The song, though gets points from me for being utterly unlike anything we've heard before, at least in Eurovision."

    I'll only add that there were three songs which were completely different from any of the other entries - and (I've honestly just noticed), they just happen to be my 1,2 and 3! (Well, maybe France & Austria qualify for that description as well.)

    I've just looked at the notes UI made during the show and seen (oh dear!) that Serbia I would have included in my BOTTOM five - but of course that doesn't mean my judgment is any better (or worse) than yours. The whole thing is subjective anyway.

    Now that you mention it, I do now recall France having a song which included some English, but they are certainly the most patriotic about their own creations - and good for them! In all the decades I've been watching it's been the French who have, for me, demonstrated the most consistently high quality entries. Their choice for this year was hardly a BAD song. In fact I think for the last few years the GENERAL standard of songs has been pleasingly high.

  5. People think Azerbaijan doesn't belong to Europe and they think next year winner will be China. LOL

  6. That's probably true here as well, Tai. A lot of people don't have a clue about where countries are on a world map - sometimes even after they've been on a holiday there!

    Actually, although it's called 'Eurovision' it covers those countries which are able to receive the 'Eurovision' TV signals, including north Africa and what we call 'the Middle East'. In fact Israel, though in Asia, always participates in this song contest but this year didn't qualify for the finals. I believe that some years ago even Morocco took part.

  7. Ray, for once, I'm ill prepared for a conversation. That's refreshing! The contest isn't shown here in the states as far as I know, not that it would have helped me see it. I 'll try looking them up on You Tube and tell you what I think.

  8. "I suppose it just goes to show how my own tastes are largely out of tune with prevailing moods." You and me both. We're 20+ years into this Hip-Hop crap here in America and I still scratch my head wondering why people like it.

    I wish Eurovision was broadcast here in the States.

  9. Please do, Kyle. I get a little feedback from my few British blogger-chums but a word or two from 'outside' would be REALLY interesting.
    Btw It's always such a gloriously campy affair. I love seeing shots of the audience, where the gay camaraderie among groups of men of all nationalities is so obvious, though the gay dimension of the whole event is rarely mentioned. Since last year the BBC have used the openly gay commentator, Graham Norton, whose perspective, if not always to be agreed with, certainly carries a gay sensibility.
    The winners always host the following year's contest but I've read that because of Azerbaijan's appalling gay-rights record (practically non-existent) a number of gay groups are threatening to boycott it, in the hope of showing a poorly attended event and provoking the question "Why?"

    Cubby, I wish it was shown in America too - but why isn't there an equivalent inter-state competition? An idea for the future, perhaps? - though I would imagine some of the bigger commercial sponsors would be horrified to support such a 'gayish' event.
    As for getting out of touch with current music, if YOU feel so, what hope have I got?
    For decades I used to record music I liked from the weekly singles pop charts every Sunday, but since about 8 years ago there were so few songs which I found attractive that I've just given up. One thing I can't get used to is that I just CANNOT make out the words they are singing - a far cry from the 1960s and, even moreso, the 50s, when every word was crystal-clear. Oh dear, once again I betray my age!