Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Eurovision 2012 - It's started!

Last night was the first semi-final in what is the biggest of all international camp-fests - though also probably the only one!
Eurovision Song Contest 2012 got off to a flying start with some gloriously O.T.T. acts - and a high proportion of the songs were pretty good too, a welcome change from recent years.
Twenty countries participated and ten were chosen by viewer votes to go onto Saturday's final. Semi-final Part Two will take place tomorrow night.
The U.K., along with France, Germany, Italy and Spain, are automatic qualifiers for the final in recognition of their being the main financial contributors to the event. The U.K. entry will be the bravely and imaginatively chosen, 76-year-old crooner, Engelbert Humperdinck, who had several monster hits in the late 1960s, and 'notorious' at having been the first artiste to have kept the all-conquering Beatles from off the British Number 1 in 1967 (with 'Release Me' blocking 'Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever'. I remember it well.) His ballad this year is, to my mind, not bad at all and certainly in with a fair chance.
             My major disappointment last night was that the country I would have voted for, Israel, did not make it into the final ten. I find it hard to think why - they had, probably, the campest of all acts  (and that really is saying something!) with a conspicuously hottie (for me) backing singer, not to mention the hairy, yummy drummer, and with their lead singer sporting a single outsize ear-ring, more of a chain-link pendant - and all with a  darned catchy, jolly song that could have come straight out of a 1950s Hit Parade - and I loved it! Shame on you, Eurovision viewers, for not recognising 'quality camp'!
   However, at least two of my other choices, Moldova and Latvia did get through, as well as, very pleasingly, from Russia the group of peasant 'grannies', as they are described, though I would have thought 'great-grannies' would have been nearer the mark. Good, folksy, up-beat song though.

All this takes place in Baku, Azerbaijan, under the politically-ghastly regime of President Aliyev, that country having earned its host status after winning the contest last year. The president and his family-loyal coterie of stupendously oil-rich hacks are squeezing the event for all its propaganda worth. It remains to be seen if any of the expected demonstrations against his cast-iron grip on power and his appalling crushing of all dissent will be manifested at any time in the next few days. His totalitarian style would have made Stalin himself green with envy. Aliyev's glamorous wife, who could give Carla Bruni a run for her money - though she, Mrs Aliyev,  would have lost - is herself in charge of television coverage. Last year, Azerbaijan, at enmity with neighbouring Armenia , not only pettily blacked out its TV screens when the latter country's entry was performing, but the police after investigation of the state's telephone records, hauled in for questioning, with physical force, anyone who had voted for Armenia as a form of protest.
    Aliyev's family, including his three teenage children, are living in such unimaginable luxury beyond the comprehension of the huge majority of Azerbaijani's fantasies, to which our own British Royal Family can hardly hold a candle. 'Filthy rich' doesn't even begin to describe it. At least we can say what we like about our Elizabeth and her dysfunctional family circle - and, indeed, we do!

  So all that leaves a sour undertaste. So many of the winners in recent years have been from politically repressive regimes that it'll be a pleasant change to have it held next year in a location we have less concern about. Though having said that, I'm still very disappointed that we won't be seeing the Israeli act again on Saturday night.


  1. I hope you continue to write about Eurovision. I want so much to be able to watch it, but it is not broadcast in America. I'm trying to find a way to watch it on the internet for free. In the mean time, I'll have to be satisfied with short clips on YouTube.

    1. I certainly shall write more on the subject, Cubby. These days there are so few 'excitements' in my own life but this event is always a highlight.

      I've just played the Israeli entry again on the official Eurovision website (and so good it still sounded!), so I wonder if you type in this address it will work for you? (Sorry, I can't manage to get a direct link.) I do hope so:-

  2. I was hoping that this year Eurovision would be televised here in the USA. But again, that's not the case. With technology advancing so rapidly, there should not be a problem. Looks as if I'll have to rely on my computer. I tried the link you gave Cubby, but it does not work, but it directed me to another site and it is sooooo much better than YouTube. Here in the USA, go to and click on 'All participants' They have made it so easy and have eliminated all the navigating you have to do on YouTube. Plus a HD picture and, if you have external speakers, wonderful sound. Really fun watching.

    As for the camp element, I don't believe today's generation neither understands nor appreciates it. To me, the illustration of camp is watching a Joan Crawford movie in her later year starting with "Mildred Pierce."

    I'm going to hold you to your promise to Cubby that you will write more. Thanks for letting us know that this event has started.

    1. I'm really chuffed that you too appreciate this event, Paul - and that you've found a better way to get to viewing it.
      Whenever I write on this subject I find myself wondering if any interest will be too parochially European, but after several years of drawing attention to it it's clear that there is a quite a worldwide fascination with this ridiculous and enjoyable razzmatazz.

      I agree that nowadays 'camp' is under-appreciated, if it's recognised at all. At the risk of betraying an underlying prejudice I also wonder if, where it IS seen, a societal-based bias starts interfering. Now that this contest covers the far south-east reaches of the continent where there is a significant Muslim population, as well as all of Turkey itself, I ask whether acts seen as exhibiting 'showy' traits will forfeit votes as being 'offensive' to religious 'values'. Additionally, there is the powerful influence of the Russian Orthodox Church in, of course, Russia as well as its adjoining states.
      I also reckon that there are those who are not going to vote for Israel under ANY circumstances. I may, of course, be mistaken on all these points - but what is now evident is that the voting is shambolic on so many levels and has little to do with the quality of the song itself or the act. Since Eurovision opened up eastwards some of the final results, including how the way certain countries can be predicted to vote have been simply laughable. But it's all part of the occasion. Take it or leave it!

      Btw: Re Films - Your superior knowledge of the subject puts me on the back foot - and not for the first time. I don't know that many pre-1950 films, 'Mildred Pierce' being one of them. In spite of Eurovision I'm not a great TV watcher, and don't very often watch films on TV, preferring the cinema medium for which they were intended. (I see that this film gets a fairly good 2 stars in my 'Halliwells' film reference 'Bible'.)

      Your suggestion in my last blog about reviewing each newly-released film as I see it, was sensible as I've now got quite a backlog to write about. Already half a dozen - at least two more next week - and I'm off in an hour to see 'The Dictator' which I hope will provide me with at least a few reasons to chuckle.

      So, it's Eurovision Part 2 tonight - which I'll blog about tomorrow.

  3. what an intriguing experience is this. Yanks have no understanding or experience of this. Sort of like 'football', they have heard it exists but haven't a clue more than this.

    1. Dr Spo, it's a great shame that Americans cannot watch this as it happens, let alone participate in it - though it is, in fact limited to those countries within Eurovision tele-broadcasting range, not necessarily inside the continent of Europe itself (such as Israel & most of Turkey).
      I'm sure that millions of Americans would love to be more involved in this glorious annual celebration of 'tat' - and they would certainly be among its most ardent fans, as well as being the most numerous - AND it would give your conservatives even more cause to grumble, but they wouldn't be able to see the laugh-at-itself joke of the whole event, as indeed a number of the countries of eastern Europe still can't. More fool them!

  4. Once again an example of Europe being more sensible than USA.

    1. There's a bit of a cliche here about Americans not 'getting' irony, Dr Spo. I think that's unfair - some do, some don't, as it is for all countries. But for Eurovision to be enjoyed, maddening though it often is, it really NEEDS an ability to laugh at oneself. I think those who for years have been calling for an end to the annual spectacle are totally missing the point. And those who make a huge deal out of the necessity of winning, even though it's understandable, is only PART of the whole story. If one can't see that, then of course it's just asking to be shot down.