Last night the Eurovision Song Contest returned in triumph1
This is a wonderfully eccentric and eclectic programme, which I have watched every year since childhood and there is much to love about it. It is wacky and over the top in just about every way you can think of.
These days it tends to be staged in huge auditoriums with vast numbers in the audience - although this year because of the ongoing Covid pandemic numbers were strictly limited and monitored. Yet it still clings to some of its original rules such as 'only six people can be on the stage at any time' so heaven forfend if your group consists of seven people, someon will have to miss out. However this also limits the number of extras ie dancers, backing singers and other entertainers who can be on stage with the main singer(s).
Note I said 'other entertainers' because over the years there have been all sorts of extra folk on with the singer, and sometimes you do wonder if they are there to draw attention away from the singer and their truly dreadful song.
We have seen jugglers, mime artists, fire eaters, a Russian Olympic ice skater on perhaps the smallest ice rink ever, naked bodies - or as naked as they can get away with - wild animals and a whole lot more.
There are huge costumes! The Australian (yes, Australia! In the Eurovision Song Contest!) on a long bendy stick comes to mind. This year there was the Russian entry in a vast Russian doll costume. Oh and the entries do also try to go in for 'the biggest' entry in whatever sense they can manage. So this year we had the highest note ever sung in a Eurovision song, and allegedly the longest held note, oh and the biggest prop ever! This was a huge silver 'moon' which hung menacingly over the singer, although I was disappointed that it was simply a ginormous silver ball with none of the crates and features of the Moon's surface.
The music is often either generic 'Euro-pop' or very niche, appealing only to people from the singer's own country. We have had yodelling and yoiking, and we always used to play 'spot the accordian', but these seem to have finally vanished from the competition.
This year I absolutely loved the Ukraine entry, 'Shum' by Go A, which is a folk rock style song with a catchy tune and driving beat, which seems to be a celebration of the return of Spring. To me it would be fab circle dance music, or great for shamanic rituals and one I would have on a loop and really annoy other people with.
It was nice to see that the songs Graham and I both particularly liked all ended up in the top six or so, including Iceland, Switzerland, the Ukraine and Graham's favourite Italy which was a heavy rock song and won!
The French entry which ended up second, was very French - of the torch singer, Edith Piaf variety. It was staged very simply, with the singer in a spotlight. It was one I could appreciate rather than be fully enthusiastic about, but it was nice to see France near the top of the leader board.
The voting, as always, was incredibly idiosyncratic and some might say biased and political. Certain countries always vote for each other and, unfortunately for our entry, nobody seems to like the UK, and so (as usual) we ended up with 'Null Points!'
It doesn't matter whether our song is good or bad - and this years entry was by a prize winning composer - it would appear that we are always going to end up with 'Null Points!', so I hope our chap was prepared for it.
Overall the competition and performances were brilliant and we thoroughly enjoyed them.
And, as always, I remember the immortal Sir Terry Wogan who commentated on the competition for many years. Alone in his commentary box with just a bottle of Irish Cream to keep him company, his comments became less politically correct as the evening progressed and the level of the Irish Cream went down. Until his crowning comment one year, on two presenters who, because of their costumes and demeanor, he referred to as 'Dr Death and the Tooth Fairy.' !
Long live the Eurovision Song Contest!