Sunday, 15 May 2011

Eurovision Triumph

TV's Eurovision is the world's most watched non-sporting event, drawing more than 120 million viewers each year. For a moment, the show's feeble acts and songs achieve an ironic greatness. Remember these are the finals, the contestants chosen after weeks of national selection competitions. Tacky it may be, but suspend musical taste and Eurovision becomes a toe-curling delight.

Last night, Moldova's troupe included a woman on a fairy-cycle and a sprinkling of post-Devo pot-head pixies. Anastasiya Vinnikova delivered a patriotic ode called "I Love Belarus" while flames shot a hundred feet into the air, symbolising recent riots there. From the Norwegian hip-hop scene - yes, really - came a rendition of political refugees starting a new life up north.

France's entry featured a Cecil B DeMille 1950s Technicolor background, while a shouty cube-headed man frightened children for Georgia. Switzerland's song went "Na na na na na na", sensible in a country of three languages - everyone can join in! And for sheer vocal power, the young Slovenian girl with crotch-high stockings and shiny chaffing bodice was hard to beat.

In such surroundings, even Jedward might have flourished. Carrying Ireland's hopes, the little cretins skipped around chanting a few simple phrases over and over again. A win wasn't to be, but afterwards in the green area as they sat with colouring-in books, the twins seemed happy with their lot. They should be.

Then came the results. From all around Europe and even beyond, presenters chimed in with the traditional bent scores. Britain hasn't any close international pals in the old USSR way, states which so wanted independence from mother Russia but continue to stick together for Eurovision bloc-voting. Neither are we in the Eurozone, or part of the Germany/Austria axis. We don't have a bosom buddy in the way Greece and Cyprus are chums. So sadly, Britain will never win Eurovision.

For me, the show's real stars were the people who held it all together. Salute the brave German anchor - named Anke, would you believe - and her porky colleague who probably lies about his age. Above all though, praise the tinkling stream of sarcasm, irony and gentle malice, all in real-time, from UK presenter Graham Norton. Combined with a bottle of wine he brought tears of evil joy to London Acres. Can't wait for next year in Azerbaijan - miss you already!

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