I admit it. I began watching Eurovision and laughing at it rather than with it. That was probably around ten years ago now.
It was gauche, camp and gaudy and kept me smiling from the first key change to the 20th. And that was often in the same song, back then!
I often envisaged a back-stage pre performance run through as going something like this:
- Wind machine set to maximum (gale force) – check
- White blazer or similar – check
- White hugging tee – check
- Skin-tight white pants/ hint of camel-toe – check
- Key change#1 ready – check
- Key change #2 ready – check
- Boundless enthusiasm & Passion to burn- check, check, check!!!
And out they leapt on to stage.
For me and those at my Eurovision parties in those days it was about the performance, the passion and the Chutzpah! Not really about the music so much.
In fact when a good song came along it was almost a pleasant surprise and, in any event, by the time it arrived Terry Wogan, myself and my party guests were all too drunk to notice.
Loreen changed everything
Then in 2012 Eurovision changed. And it changed forever. At least in my opinion.
The agent of change was named Loreen and she hailed from Sweden.
The song was bombastic and anthemic. It soared like an eagle to crescendos hitherto unseen in this contest. And it was a commercial and club uber hit around the globe. And it sounded contemporary. Almost cutting edge and that was the thing.
As much as I loved Eurovision one could never have said it was modern. Certainly not in any way – a la mode. It was more than a little bit out-dated and in fact to the mainstream it was quite unfashionable. And I think for many fans like me this retro-facet held much of it’s appeal.
It was kind of like someone wearing a peach-coloured Miami Vice suit in the Naughties and believing they were cool.
But Loreen changed all this. Eurovision ever since has been a different affair.
Eurovision turns Professional.
Since 2012 I have noticed profound change. Kind of like a sport transitioning from amateur to professional or a football club being promoted to the Premier League.
Eurovision is now slicker than a Mafia Don’s hair do.
- Slick – A mere 90 seconds between performers to change-over the entire stage set.
- Slick – On stage choreography & lighting. Ye gads there’s even live CGI on stage.
- Slick – The amazing Webby-Award-Winning Eurovision website and fully integrated social media platforms.
- Slick – Stylish, well spoken and composed hosts…
Oh how I long for a return of the old days. When Somewhereastan’s hosts, Borat & Betina, almost spat out their teeth whilst wrestling with the English scripts scrolling cruelling down their teleprompters before them. And then there were the indeterminably long pauses where no-one, certainly not Borat nor Betina, had any clue what was:
- happening, nor…
- what was supposed to be happening.
Part of the joy of my Eurovision experience over the journey has also been the TV commentary. The doyen amongst these commentators of course being the British voice of Eurovision – Terry Wogan. Sadly now lost to us all he possessed a wit drier than the Sahara in drought.
The changing face of the ‘ESC’ has also effected this aspect of the spectacle.
True, the commentary of the Graham Nortons or Sam Pangs et al has never actually been so rude as to poke their tongues directly out at the performers. That said those tongues have always been pressed firmly into the side of commentary cheeks throughout the call. And that has always been part of the fun.
But it seems this ‘taking-the-mickey’ approach is getting harder and works less well these days.
“Is Eurovision becoming Cool?”
Quipped a bemused Sam Pang (Australian SBS co-commentator) after uber cool Justin Timberlake grooved & styled the roof off the Globe Auditorium in Stockholm. It was indeed a fair point.
It might be time to head down to the Drôle-Office perhaps gents?
2016. Year of the ‘Meh’?
Because of this new-found focus on the music and less on choreography and cleavage a new hazard has emerged. What if the songs are no good or below-par?
Each year individual countries vote and submit their own song independent of others. There is no centralisation. The last few years, in my opinion, have produced many, many great songs but luck may have deserted us this year.^
In fairness I’ve been fairly busy and haven’t finished my ‘research’ yet but what I have heard so far hasn’t set the excitement-meter aflutter. From a trawl through some of the forums too the consensus seems to be that there has been better years.
But not to worry. Eurovision 2016 will still be…
Big, brash and bold!
And it will likely be a slick, high quality production too.
Most of all though it will be – FUN – and I can’t wait.
I actually ended up really liking quite a few of this year’s songs after watching the live performances. See the power of Eurovision! As I edit this post I am actually listening to a few of the tracks. My favs ended up being:
Sweden, France, Belgium, Germany & Bulgaria.
Lest we forgot the past. The very white and very, VERY enthusiastic past.