Reviews

This Week in TV: Eurovision Song Contest

A bit of a quiet week so I thought I’d focus on the big colourful event of nonsense that is Eurovision.

Blue Eurovision 007 This Week in TV: Eurovision Song Contest
‘I Can, I Will’ were the motivational words in the chorus of the U.K.’s entry by a newly reformed and grown-up Blue. I really liked the song and thought it was our best shot in ages having a band that the Europeans have actually heard of with a song which is neither a boring ballad or a novelty song in the style of Scooch or Daz Sampson. However as we all know by now we got a respectable eleventh place on the night. Personally I knew we weren’t going to win and probably never win again but at least it was a consistent year and we got a couple of points from each country even though there was only one (point) love from some of our neighbours. Going right back to the night’s beginning we welcomed to the German epicentre of this year’s event by two lovely looking ladies and what seemed to be Robert Llwelyn obviously biding his time waiting for the next Red Dwarf to come around. To me the German hosts seemed to dominate and do a longer introduction than is normal, but then that’s the Germans for you if they’ve got the stage they will hog it for as long as possible. The introduction also included an odd segment in which the Llwellyn-alike took to the stage to do a cover of last year’s winning number by Lena, this was because she was back to sing Germany’s entry once again but despite this she did make an appearance in this weird interpretation of her song which to be fair was a lot more entertaining than some of the other country’s offerings. Opening the show was Jeff Brazier who seems to be carving out a new career as the Finish James Blunt. His song seemed to be about saving the world and about a mysterious figure called Peter who sadly never made it onto the stage but must’ve been disappointed with the 21st place position that they ultimately ended up with. Bosnia was up next with an elderly man named Dino who was apparently one of Bosnia’s greatest musical stars but the folky number came across a bit Mumford and Great Grandsons. Denmark’s entry was sung by the ensemble known as A Fried in London who are apparently massive in Canada and were a big hit with my lady friends on Twitter. Their song was a bit like an uplifting McFly anthem and was accompanied by big Prisoner-esque balloons towards the end of the song but was definitely the best thing so far. Fourth on were Lithuania who secured the deaf vote by bringing a sign language interpreter on towards the end of the performance while Hungary went full on Europop.

jedward Eurovision 1894680c This Week in TV: Eurovision Song Contest
The sixth entry was probably what most UK fans were anticipating more so than are own boys that was because it came from X-Factor stars and general nuisances Jedward. This was the moment in which the rest of Europe got to experience what we’d been suffering through whether it be on Money Supermarket ads or Celebrity Juice there’s no escaping the quifftastic Grime Twins. To be fair their song ‘Lipstick’ played to their strengths i.e. not much singing and a lot of dance routine. They’d also done well by securing some back-up singers who could hold a tune and so the whole thing came off quite well. But my enduring memory of the Jedward performance was wondering when they joined the late 1980s/early 1990s wrestling tag team The Legion of Doom. It seemed the rest of Europe, especially Scandinavia, was big on the Irish boys and they became one of only seven countries to get three or more 12 points from other countries but they only gave us 6, the swines. It’s strange that in the time of Bieber-fever only one country fielded a Bieber-esque act that country was Sweden and their entry Eric Saade spent most of the act trapped in a box. The best thing about Estonia’s entry was the staging as they seemed to incorporate a small model village in which the female vocalist sang between, I can’t help thinking that this is what their version of Godzilla is like. Greece bought something a bit different to the party which was part serious ballad part Linkin Park rap with neither style really gelling and some random breakdancing going on inbetween. Russia’s entry seemed like it was set in 1987 which is odd as it was written by one of the co-writers of Poker Face, which begs the question how many people does it take to write a simple song? The Russian song contained the words ‘gun’ and ‘running towards you’ and made me very edgy at times and even though this was turgid Europop I almost feel there was a subliminal call to arms in there somewhere. The bookies had given the best odds to France’s sexy operatic fella who was one of the best vocalists there but finished a disappointing 15th when all the votes had been collected. Continuing the journey around Western Europe the Italian entry also had classical notes but this was much more of a Michael Buble venture and was an actual, proper song and will later be heard in a soppy Robert De Niro movie. Last place went to the Swiss entry which I quite enjoyed a sort of Jason Mraz-esque number sung by a pretty girl was a lot better than some of the other rubbish nominated but then Switzerland doesn’t have many allies in the same way the Eastern Bloc countries do.

moldova eurovision2011 114182466 This Week in TV: Eurovision Song Contest
Graham Norton introduced the Blue performance by saying that there had been some sound problems in rehearsal which no doubt was the singing. The Blue boys were very ropey to start off with but soon got into their stride and really captured the mood of the contest. Lee Ryan hit all of his notes right and Anthony Costa’s involvement was minimal at best. While Blue’s overall placing was a bit disappointing they can find solace in the fact that they were actually fifth in the jury polls so the main problem was the block voting rather than the overall performance. Another problem for the UK was that they were completely overshadowed by the act that followed them from Moldova. The Moldovans obviously went the whole hog with the craziness and captured the spirit of Eurovision with their crazy song and big Smurf hats. On Twitter they got a lot of praise and they got 10 points from the UK voters who love to give ‘ironic votes’ to the rubbish acts to be honest I would’ve done the same thing if I had any money to fritter away. Lena couldn’t make it back-to-back wins for Germany with her much darker entry but it was just a kick in the teeth for us Brits that the Germans were able to get one place better than us. The Brits were also allowed to cheer for Romania as the guy singing their song was a Geordie and had moved to Romania after finding love. It was an amiable enough track but sounded like something Gary Barlow would write for a singer-songwriter type act who couldn’t actually write a song. Austria won the award for most boring act of the night and it was the only time of the night that I actually switched over the T.V. briefly. The fact that the Austrian entry was so dull may have been one of the contributing factors to Azerbaijan’s win. The Azerbaijan entry was okay but nothing special it seemed like a duet that had been written for Rihanna but sung by J-Lo and a guy who looked like he was about 12. After a couple of ballads, Slovenia raised the mood somewhat with their version of Evanesence complete with a rather scary woman adorned in a Basque.

Iceland sjonnis friends This Week in TV: Eurovision Song Contest
As I’m a sentimental bugger I quickly warmed to the Iceland entry by an act called ‘Sjonni’s Friends’ who were in fact the friends of the late Sjonni who was originally chosen to sing Iceland’s entry but due to his tragic death his friends decided to step in. It did sound like a group of locals at a pub crooning after hours but it was a charming number that had no hope of winning. Like us, the Spanish always get an automatic place in the contest but never win so they never take it very seriously. This year’s entry sounded like something that would play in a Tapas bar at a particularly touristry area of Marbella. After a blah ballad from Ukraine the Serbians upped the tempo with a Motown-esque number sung in their native tongue with some interesting lyrics available for us watching the contest with the subtitles on. The whole thing was finished off by Georgia whose lead singer looked like an evil Stacey Solomon who was backed up by the villain from LazyTown. After the usual puzzling intermission acts we had the last hour of voting to look forward to. As with every year watching the voting makes you appreciate some of the top notch presenting talents we have in this country as we fielded the very lovely Alex Jones from The One Show. Elsewhere a lot of the Eastern European males were milking their parts for all they were worth each sleazing over the female presenters and generally trying to better one another. This was the part of the evening in which Wogan always use to come into his own and Graham Norton her, and all night, was almost a little overly harsh. Norton’s style as a whole has always been to try and imitate what Wogan did but Wogan always seemed to have a love of the thing behind all the wry humour while Norton just sees it as one of his many BBC assignments and treats the whole thing with an air of snobbery like he’s above most of what’s going on. I am usually a fan of Norton’s, especially his BBC show, but I think someone fresh should provide commentary on this show. As the voting wore on it was evident that we weren’t going to win despite getting at least one point from the majority of the countries. A top 10 place would’ve been nice but eleventh was okay even though the Jedward boys came 8th. Azerbaijan’s win was good in a way as they’re only one of the European countries who aren’t going through financial upheaval and can afford to host the bloody thing in 2012.

As always with Eurovision it’s about the silly wigs and making fun of the weird Eastern European entries. I feel that this year was definitely a step in the right direction as a lot of countries fielded music that you would expect to hear in the charts but the Eurovision shouldn’t always be about this as Moldova showed us. Next year I want more of the same but wouldn’t mind a return from the Latvian pirates or the Belgian vampires.

What did you think of this year’s Eurovision? Who Should’ve won? Leave a comment below

Next Time on the Blog: The Baftas, Geordie Shore and Four Rooms

About MattD

TV Blogger and Podcaster. One third of the Custard TV podcast team. As well as running TV Bites I also write columns and reviews for Unreality TV and Chunk.ie. You can follow me on Twitter @mattstvbites

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