Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 25, 2008
By: Cheryl Rofer


We don't hear much about the Eurovision song contest here in America, but it's big in Europe, particularly the countries that used to be part of other countries. I was in Estonia for the finals a couple of years back, and we were all feverishly texting our votes in to make sure our guys won. They didn't that time around.

The winner's country gets to host the next year's finals, so they'll be in Russia next year.

Some of the contestants get pretty outrageous. Here's the YouTube channel for you to check them out. I haven't been following closely this year, so I can't make any recommendations.

Cheryl Rofer 3:59 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (18)

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Oh, so when you mentioned the winner, you weren't talking about the Indy 500 winner...

Posted by: on May 25, 2008 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

I would love to have a US version of the Eurovision Song Contest. How else can we find the next ABBA?

Posted by: adlsad on May 25, 2008 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

A good measure of how piddling and neurotic a country is: how seriously it takes the Eurovision Song Contest.

A few years ago it finally dawned on the Irish that the Eurovision is a joke. That marked a passage into maturity more profound than anything produced by the conflicts of the previous century.

By contrast in the Balkans Eurovision is still obsessed over, and presumably always will be. They concentrate on voting tactically for each other, in accordance with ancient grievances and hatreds.

Posted by: bert on May 25, 2008 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

Quirky songs from this year's constant: Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, and Azerbaijan. The first two I enjoyed, and the second was the coolest, mellowest song in the competition (but the performer ended up being a wee bit too irreverent when he sucked up some helium and belted out a few lines like Alvin from the Chipmunks). The last is horrible, horrible, horrible... but the east, and some of the crazy youngsters in the west, ate it up.

Other songs that might be of interest: Turkey's rock song, a lovely Balkan ballad from Serbia, various sorts of bubble-gum pop (some more tawdry than others) from Armenia, Ukraine, and Greece.

Joke songs (songs actually meant to be funny, as opposed to unintentionally funny): Latvia with some bouncy pirates and Spain with a strange new dance "fad".

Russia worked hard to win this one, and it's their first victory. A lot of money invested in promotion. They brought in the singer who placed #2 two years before. They trotted out a well-know violinst with a Stradivarius. Out came Evgeni Plushenko, former Olympic gold medalist and World champion ice skater, to skate on some sot of plastic thing. The song's opening is just a wee bit similar to Cat Stevens's "Wild World". A costume malfunction at the end wraps it up with the singer's bare chest. No wonder it won.

Sweden's polished (or maybe over-produced) bit of pop fared quite poorly, a remarkable turn when considering nearly every significant fan and media poll (including a multi-country one from the BBC) were touting it as the favorite going into the semi-finals. But it just did not connect with the audience. Oh well, there's always next year, though I suspect we'll be sending a joke song.

As far as tactical voting, it exists to some degree. But is it very shocking that the Balkan countries have a somewhat different musical landscape to the Nordic countries, who in turn have a different taste in music from the eastern countries? To some degree the tactical voting is an illusion created by the fact that if one very similar country liked something, another very similar country will probably like it too.

But ... there is definitely some real block voting there too.

Posted by: Elio Garca on May 25, 2008 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: Dustin the Turkey on May 25, 2008 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Screw that nonsense. Click here for some groovy animation of the Phoenix Mars Lander that is supposed to touch down in about an hour. Way-y-y more cool....

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on May 25, 2008 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

I'm here in London and watched the Eurovision contest on TV. I was first disturbed by how snotty the British commentator was (the broadcast originated in Serbia, but is broadcast into many countries). Then, as the voting came in, I became annoyed at how the results skewed. Russia & Greece were dominating with - what seemed to me - to be rather tepid pop entries. At least Turkey's entry was decent - and even France's entry from Sebastien Tellier, reminiscent of the Beach Boys, got a few votes. But England's entry, which seemed pretty decent, came in dead last. Following my increasing irritation on Twitter, you could sense me turning in the John Bolton of European pop music.

See more here: Eurovision: pop or geopolitics, asks Terry Wogan

Posted by: The Pop View on May 25, 2008 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the real-time coverage of Phoenix.

Posted by: Cheryl Rofer on May 25, 2008 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

And while we're at it, let's have more soccer coverage in the United States too!!!

Posted by: adlsad on May 25, 2008 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

Eurovision's become much more professional in recent years, but as a result it's lost a measure of quirkiness and charm- many of the contestants are Idol lookalikes, grimly desperate to get noticed by big producers. The best part of the Contest (for english speakers) is Terry Wogan's droll commentary on the contestants and the voting biases.

Still, it's far better that the countries of Europe play soccer and have a song contest than have actual wars. Perhaps the USA could make a lasting contribution to Middle East peace by encouraging a similar contest in the Middle East ....

Posted by: Number 6 on May 25, 2008 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

That's fuckin' A!
That's fuckin' A for Phoenix!
That's fuckin' A for LPL!
That's fuckin' A for the Universty of Arizona!
That's fuckin' A Hoorah!
That's fuckin' A You rock!

-- Regards, a former Pioneer 10/11 and Voyager team member.

Posted by: has407 on May 25, 2008 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

Nothing's going to beat the year Hard Rock Hallelujah won, man. Lordi, baby!

Posted by: Kryptik on May 25, 2008 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

I prefer David Cook.

Posted by: lulz on May 26, 2008 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

I prefer David Cook.

Posted by: lulz on May 26, 2008 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

Russia's act was pretty bad. I mean, all the Eurovision acts are usually pretty horrible, which is part of the fun, but Russia's was bad without competence or any redeeming campiness, just dully bad.

But I still enjoyed the show.

Posted by: Royko on May 26, 2008 at 4:04 AM | PERMALINK

So THAT'S the real reason why Kevin went to Europe, to watch the ESC.

Posted by: Oscar on May 26, 2008 at 4:13 AM | PERMALINK

Ireland stopped taking the contest seriously after they won it 18 times in a row. Winning a lame and sad contest that many times-it's almost like the Universe is trying to tell you something about yourself.

But I love how third world countries send these parodies of Rock Icons to represent their little village. Guy's with long curly blonde hair and 80's style leather jackets and leather pants. These guys love dry ice. I swear they have dry ice machines installed in every room in the house just in case they happen to frequent it. And their usually called "Sven" or "Nero". The Eurovision will do a 5 minute video diary on how they spend their days( drinking Espresso at an outdoor coffe shop on the Volga composing lyrics and signing farmers autographs). And the video will say something lame like "People know the rock side of Sven,but there's another side.A side he hides from his public and where he writes poetry, Poetry meant for his eyes only. Ladies and gentle men,please give a round of applause for Sven Van tandilans and "Venom".

Posted by: Dublin on May 26, 2008 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

(Eurovision girl comes in.)

Girl: And that's the final entry. La derniere entree. Das final entry. And now, guten abend. Das scores. The scores. Les scores. Dei scores. Oh! Scores. Ha! Scores! (cut to scoreboard in Chinese) Yes, Monaco is the winner - hall Monaco is the winner- oh yes, man, Monaco's won de big prize, bwana ... and now, here is Chief Inspector Jean-Paul Zatapathique with the winning song once again.

(The accompaniment starts as the singers hum the intro. Cut to flashy Eurovision set. Zatapathique steps onto podium.)

Voice Over: (hushed tone) And so, Inspector Zatapathique, the forensic expert from the Monaco Murder Squad sings his song 'Bing Tiddle Tiddle Bong'.

Zatapathique: (spoken) Quoi? Quoi? Tout le monde, quoi? ... mais, le monde ... d'habitude ... mais ... je pense ...

Zatapathique and Singers:

Bing tiddle tiddle bang
Bing tiddle fiddle bing
Bing fiddle fiddle tiddle tiddle
Bing fiddle tiddle tiddle BONG!

(Credits over. Zatapathique finishes and bends over exhausted. An arrow indicates his rear)

Voice Over: Number thirty-one. The end.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on May 26, 2008 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK



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