This weekend was the host of a Very Large Checkmark In The Con Column in the lives of many people who are tired of living in America. No, I'm not talking about the release of Indiana Jones IV or some mishap involving a bbq grill and a can of lighter fluid, not even of Hillary Clinton vaguely alluding to Obama getting assassinated during the California primary, although that was certainly awkward. No, my friends, this weekend saw America once again missing out on perhaps the greatest spectacle ever to be simulcast on televion: EUROVISION.
Why is it that America, land of the free, home of the brave (eh, ish), inventor of the light bulb and the phone and cable tv cannot enter Eurovision? WHY? Oh, because we're not European? So? Who wants to be European anyway?
Well . . . I do. But only vaguely European. Like, can I be European, but only with regards to cheese? Would that work?
Even though Eurovision coldly and without good reason prevents the United States from joining the competition, it's still one of the greatest things in the world. I first learned of Eurovision like I learn of many things: through television. In this case, I learned about it through an episode of Father Ted, in which Father Ted and Dougal decide to enter a song in Ireland's Eurovision qualification competition. Their song is a MASTERPIECE, obviously:
In all honesty, I didn't realize that Eurovision actually existed. I thought they'd just made it up for the show. I mean, a giant, multi-country contest about SINGING? Seriously? The Olympics aren't cheesy enough, now we have to add power ballads to the mix? This opinion wasn't helped by Father Ted's video for "My Lovely Horse."
I think I persisted in thinking that Eurovision was a made-up comedy bit for about two years, until Courtney sat me down very gently one day and said, "no, no, Erin. You see, Eurovision is REAL. That's where ABBA comes from."
Which is true, ABBA did win Eurovision for Sweden. And even MORE AMAZINGLY, Katrina and the Waves won it for, I guess, England. (Germany? Where the hell are Katrina and the Waves from? I always thought they were Canadian. Don't tell me Canada's allowed to enter!!)
But perhaps you, like me, were unaware of the existance of Eurovision. Or perhaps you, like Meredith, are unconvinced of the awesomeness of Eurovision. Never fear! Thanks to youtube, all your musical prayers are about to be answered.
This year's Eurovision final was held in Belgrade, because Serbia won the contest last year. See, the winner hosts the next year's contest. This was Serbia's winning song/performance last year:
This gives you a general idea of your typical Eurovision entry. There are ALWAYS interpretive dancers in crazy costumes. ALWAYS. Sometimes the interpretive dancers are dressed like VAMPIRES, like in Switzerland's painstakingly literal entry from last year, "Vampires are Alive:"
By the way, the exclusion of "Vampires are Alive" in last year's finals really threatened to put me off Eurovision. For some reason, the people voting (uh, Europeans, I guess) are not quite on the same page as to what Eurovision is supposed to be about. It is NOT supposed to be uplifting Celine Dion-esque ballads performed by spunky lesbians. It is DEFINITELY supposed to be techno songs about vampires. Jeez, Europe. Get a clue, would you?
This year, I missed out on watching the English airing of Eurovision, with Terry Wogan's wry, steadily-getting-drunker commentary about all of the shitty performances, as well as his conspiracy theories about the Eastern European voting bloc and how Eurovision is merely a herald of the eventual rise of Eastern Europe and the fall of London and Paris. Sometimes I think poor Wogan's been through too many Cold War drills. But I can still bring to you some select highlights from this year's Eurovision contest:
Here we have Azerbaijen's entry. As you can tell from the DEVILS and ANGELS and their DANCE BATTLE, this country has the right idea about Eurovision entries:
Germany's entry, however, is not so great. In fact, the less said about it, the better. I do wonder how Heidi Montag (surely that is her, the blonde in white?) got a girl group together and managed to convince Germany to let her perform their entry.
And then . . . we have Bosnia. What they do well, they do REALLY WELL. I mean, crazy Flashdancing by a woman dressed as Raggedy Ann? Robotic lead singer who looks like a Hedwig reject? People in overalls doing dances with brooms for which I can only imagine is an homage to the Buffy musical? Yes, please. And yet, they had to RUIN EVERYTHING by putting a live bird ON STAGE. Bosnia! What are you DOING to me?? The 90s weren't bad enough? Now there have to be birds involved?
And now, let's narrow it down to the winners, shall we? Greece came in third, with their impression of a pre-breakdown Britney cribbing moves from Bob Fosse:
This video reminds me of one of the STRANGEST things about Eurovision: non-English speakers singing songs in English. I don't know why they do it, unless they're pandering for votes from the UK, but it always tickles me, because the songs don't make any sense. "To win a destination in the center of my heart?" Huh? What does that even mean, Greece? Sing in Greek! It's a lovely language! Why are you trying to sing in English?
Also, who is directing this show? Does he have to use the bathroom, or something?
Ukraine came in second, because their Fossian moves were better, plus the entire performance was a bit more eau de strip club:
But because Eastern Europe is going to rise up and take us all over soon, Russia won the show with their song from some guy who enjoys writhing around the floor and singing with a lisp. Well, who doesn't? I presume that they won for their addition of a random, nonsensical ice skater:
Seriously . . .why is there an ice skater? What am I saying? This is EUROVISION. Why isn't that ice skater wearing a live turkey on his head, that's the question I should be asking.
Still, though, if I had anything to say about it, and, as an American, I think we've established that I should have EVERYTHING to say about it, I would have voted Latvia as the winners of Eurovision 2008. I mean, how can you beat PIRATES? You seriously can't.
Sarah, Mere, why didn't we get these guys to play the Pirate Party? Would have been amazing. Plus, I am sorry, but "Wolves of the Sea" is really catchy. See if you don't start humming it to yourself at work.
I mean, it's no "My Lovely Horse," but what can be? Actually, Ireland's entry from this year, Dustin the Turkey, comes pretty damn close:
If you can't beat them, write a song mocking them and have it performed by a giant puppet turkey with what looks like disco balls for boobs, that's what I always say.
Okay, now that you've seen some of the videos, what is YOUR favorite part about Eurovision? And don't you think Americans deserve to enter, even thought we're not technically a part of that continent??