Saturday, May 15, 2010

Two weeks from tonight...

It will all be over.

To borrow/paraphrase from that one-time potential Eurovision entrant Morrissey, "has Eurovision changed or have I changed?"

Well, I think the answer is that Eurovision has changed. A few days ago I had my annual reminder that I haven't totally enjoyed a Eurovision Song Contest since 2003: coincidentally the final contest which worked on the relegation-rule and only took place on one night rather than three. Add some brilliant staging and....well of course you had me at "Renars Kaupers co-presenting"....anyway tonight I thought I'd feature some of my favourite things about Eurovision 2003...

1. Iceland.

Aww...Birgitta Haukdal. She's so sweet. "Open Your Heart" was such a lovely way to start off one of my favourite contests:

2. Estonia.

"Eighties Coming Back" - as un-Eurovision as you'll get, but one of my favourite entries of the last 10 years by Claire's Birthday, a.k.a. Ruffus:

3. Norway.

"I'm Not Afraid To Move On", although it did pretty well, still remains for me one of the most underrated entries by this year's host nation:

4. Royaume-Uni.

Here's what you get when you send untried competitors to Europe's biggest light-entertainment event, with the combined double-whammy of the Iraq war and not being able to hear your backing track = comedy gold, and arguably our most legendary Eurovision result ever:

5. The interval act.

All others pale into insignificance - step forward Latvia's finest, Brainstorm, with the great "A Day Before Tomorrow" and the previous year's winner Marie N with the very nice "I Feel Good" (after a recap of the full contest in reverse order)

Since that time, the landscape of the contest has changed, in particular that post-Ruslana/Paparizou effect: all drums and dancing girls. Happily, with the change in rules last year and the reintroduction of the jury-vote, the result was a very popular victory for Norway's Alexander Rybak. "Fairytale" was (is) a pretty worthy and memorable winner, and you can't really say that for some of the winners which preceded it over the last few years.

Strangely though, the collective consciousness this year dictates that ballads are in - I'm not a ballad fan though, and most of them aren't very good. This year it has been decreed that Azerbaijan have it in the bag with "Drip Drop". Of course we thought the same this year with Melodifestivalen, that Peter Joback had it in the bag too, and then we all realised that "Hollow" wasn't much cop after all. Maybe Europe's viewers and juries will surprise us all and feel the same way about "Drip Drop", two weeks from tonight. But then again, it's Eurovision - and recent years have shown that the "pre-determined" victory is usually....determined, and the quality of the songs is irrelevant when voting time comes around.

Back to 2003. There are still so many songs from that year which I still play, and still have a very high regard for. Unlike recent years, where I've struggled to find any more than 2 or 3 songs which I would play long after the contest is over.

Fast-forward to 2010: of course my feelings about this year's Swedish entry, and how it was chosen, have been well documented elsewhere, and I'm over it now. With the passing of time however, I realised that it was probably better that my favourite song didn't win: but there were other songs in MF which, again with the passing of time, I would have felt very happy with as the Swedish entry - dare I say "Manboy" or "Kom" - rather than a boring, unmemorable ballad.

So who will win Eurovision? If not Azerbaijan? At this point I wouldn't write Germany or Romania off...but what do I know? I've only been watching the flippin' thing for almost 40 years and I still can't figure it out :))))

Two weeks from tonight it will all be over, and we will know where Eurovision is heading - both geographically, and also musically. The countdown is on...

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