Americans don't get it. The Spouse and I don't anyhow.
I've lived in Europe since 2001, but I never paid any attention to this 53-year-old song contest until Moscow won the right to host this year.
It's all over town. Posters. Billboards. Buses. Everywhere you look. And the venue, the Olympic Stadium, is just around the corner from us.
I had to google it and find out exactly how this thing works. There are a few past winners whose names I've heard of. ABBA won in 1974 for "Waterloo." I know ABBA. Lulu, France Gall, Celine Dion, Katrina and the Waves . . . these are all Eurovision winners whose names I've heard of, even if I can't immediately hum one of their songs.
Before The Spouse and I sat down to watch the final last night, I had the distinct impression that Eurovision was known for the sort of European pop music that makes Americans shake their heads in disgust. The expectation for performers these days seems to not only be to sing a song, but to provide a whole vaudeville act complete with doo-wap girls, acrobats, and skimpy costumes.
We were late to the program, and came in about midway during the finals (Malta). We noted that the performers all seemed capable of belting out a tune with skill. They had stage presence. But when I tried to imagine hearing the respective songs on the radio, or getting them stuck in my head (an "ear worm" as the Germans call it), nothing really struck me.
My personal favorite was Denmark, but this is probably because their entry was very American in style. I even voted for them.
The scandal was Georgia: kicked out of the competition for including provocatively political lyrics in their song, "We Don't Wanna Put In." Eurovision strictly forbids any mention of politics. After that little disagreement between Russia and Georgia last summer, it's hard to take them seriously when they maintain that there is no reference to the current Russian Prime Minister here. But the attention has brought them more attention than they ever could have garnered via the contest. They're loving all the free PR.
But the winner. Sheesh. We heard this guy perform and remarked, "NO way! What a stupid song. The boy sure is cute. But NO WAY this will win."
Shows what experts we are in Eurovision tastes.
Not only did the cute boy win, he won with a record high number of votes. And when he returned to the stage to sing his song again, he didn't just sing the song, as I expected, but they did the whole act again, complete with the flips and push ups.
The Spouse, staying true to form, has already changed the name of the winning song from "Fairytale" to "Hairy Tail." He sings it to the cats.
Now, in Russia, every story has a dark side. And Eurovision is no exception.
Apparently Eurovision rivals Ice Capades in its attraction to the gay community. It is a musical White Party. An editorial in the latest issue of The Moscow News says,
Pride in hosting Eurovision surely has to go hand-in-hand with the traditions that the event is associated with, such as kitsch acts (transsexual Dana International was one winner, for example) and millions of gay and lesbian fans.
But it really came as no surprise that Moscow refused to give a parade permit to the local gays and lesbians who wanted to hold an event and thought Eurovision might provide the right tone and positive attention since Russia isn't exactly a gay-friendly place. What would be funny, if it weren't so sad, is that the OMOH, Russia's elite police force . . . the SWAT and SEALs of Russia . . . are what gets sent out whenever a few gay men and lesbians want to have a parade.
But there is cosmic justice in the universe, and every now and then you see their emblem in a mirror. I don't have to spell it out for you, do I? Think about it backwards . . . H-O-M . . . I'll leave you to it.
I'm told their paraphernalia is all the rage among the gay community in Spain. Anyone know for sure?
Waiting... - *In October on Manezh Square, outside of the Kremlin* It's the final countdown until the Olympics... Here's a link to an article that was in the "Russia ...
4 years ago