So last night my husband and I armed ourselves with wine and settled happily on the sofa for our annual take-the-piss fest, the Eurovision Song Contest. The ESC, in which 42 countries that loosely call themselves European compete for best song and everyone in those 42 countries gets to vote, has been held annually since 1956 and famously launched the career of Abba. It is always an ode to kitsch, a celebration of tacky, a monument to bad singing, execrable taste and appalling clothes. So we, as you can imagine, were looking forward.
Last year’s winner, Russia, hosted the event at the Olimpiyski Stadium and it was, from beginning to end, slick, professional and very very smooth. None of the usual continuity bloopers, no technology failures and no faux pas from the comperes. With two semi-finals cutting out most of the dross, last night’s show was an exhibition of 25 relatively passable songs, and with the addition of juries to the voting process, every country managed to get a couple of votes – even the UK and Germany who are usually embarrassingly side-lined.
I had high hopes for Germany’s song, “Miss Kiss Kiss Bang”, which I saw at the Echoes in January. Despite the questionable lyrics, it is a boppy bit of swing, slickly performed by the duo Alex Swings Oscar Sings. Last night they employed the services of burlesque artiste Dita Von Teese, and I guess they read Europe wrong. Not in the mood for ersatz stripping, sexyboys and suggestiveness, Europe voted Germany into 20th place and punished them with 35 points (up from nul points last year, but still, not great). Kiss Kiss bombed.
With a recession firmly in place, Europe was in the mood for innocence and romance and the winner was clear almost from the beginning – the deeply cute and smily Alexander Rybak of Norway with his violin, acrobatic dancers and self-composed “Fairytale”. He was the runaway winner with 387 points, and even moved my husband to pick up the phone and vote (our first time ever, I might add. We also voted for France and Finland – who came last.) Anyway, here is Alexander with his Fairytale, and don’t feel shy showing it to your grannies and small children, this is family viewing:
Get used to it – the Otter Family Sofa predict it’s going to be all over your radio this summer. And here, for your entertainment, are some additional awards direct from that very sofa:
Sharpest suit and sideburns: Sasha Son of Lithuania
Best approximation of a waterfall: Yohanna of Iceland
Best political song: Noa and Mira Awad, an Arab-Israeli duo, for “There Must be a Better Way”. Amen to that.
Best backing visuals: Russia’s Anastasia Prikhodko for the visuals of her aging in her great song, “Mamo”.
Best audition for sappy hair: Bosnia & Herzegovina
Best attempt to be Ronan Keating: Norway’s Brinck, singing the song “Believe Again”, written by Ronan Keating
Best chest wax: Sakis, of Greece
Best separation at birth: Several identical blonde women, including Lijepa Tena of Croatia, Elena of Romania, Hadise of Turkey, Svetlana Loboda of Ukraine and Kejsi Tola of Albania.
Best disdain for fashion trend: Portugal. Rocking the folk look!
Best voice/worst song: Jade of the UK
Best mystery backing dancer: Albania’s green Spiderman.
See you next year in Oslo!