Thanks once again to the glory that is the dumb internet that passes bits around without too much thought, I was able to spend friday evening eating roast dinner (not actually anything to do with the internet), drinking cheap red wine (ditto), and watching the Eurovision Song Contest (ah, that would be it). I had tried to keep the result a surprise, but this plan was scuppered by, of all people, National Public Radio, who on the Sunday after the contest let slip the result.
I've missed seeing the contest for the past couple of years (I think the last one I saw was in 2003 when I got obsessed with the Austrian entry [the actual entry where I explained in great detail the genius of his pasta-based lyrics has either got lost in the internet, or else I never actually wrote it]). As a self-acknowledged fan of everything camp, kitschy, glittery and novelty, this year's contest was a delight.
[RSS readers may have to open this entry to appreciate the full effect, if it works]
Latvia (or was it Lithuania? I'm always getting those two mixed up) led off with the awesomly hummable "We are winners of Eurovision Contest Song Competition!". They should have won with that.
Much has already been remarked about the German entry, in their controversial decision to feature a country song. International readers may note that the Teutonic peoples are not known for their life as cowboys, rounding up the cattle and having hoe-downs. Still, at least this entry from "Texas Lightning" wasn't as bad as it could have been: it could have been performed by Texas.
I had a soft spot for the Danish entry, in which the implausibly named Sidsel Ben Semmane revived the sixties dance flash-in-the-pan, the Twist, about the shocking ignorance of today's youngsters of forty-year-old dance crazes. The lyrics feature the fledgling romance between Johnny and the conveniently rhyming Connie, and ends with a plaintive cry that you should "be sure you know how to twist" before attempting to seduce your potential assonant conquests. I'm not sure what it is that appeals to me about this song: perhaps it's the mind-numbing simplicity of the lyrics, the utter anachronism of the tune, or the jaunty costume of its teenage performer. Er...
... which leads me on to the British entry, "Teenage Life", in which an implausible middle aged bloke in a tracksuit and a chorus of graduates of the Sylvia Young School in their late twenties dressed for a night out at the abhorrent SchoolDisco (TM) belt out a cod rap paen to the tribulations of being a teenager with enough fake emotion that you could almost believe that they could remember back long enough to when they were at school. The song was quite catchy though, so I was surprised that it did pretty abysmally in the voting. Perhaps it was something political, to do with Blair, Iraq or 9/11.
Of course, the main problem is that the lyrics make no sense.
What did you learn at school today?
That's what the teachers used to say
Firstly, when did your teachers ever say this? At least on occasion my parents would naively enquire what I learnt at school today. But why would teachers ever ask this question? If they were any cop at being teachers, then they should have a pretty good idea what you learnt, since they just taught it to you. (I refuse to enter into any complex discussions of the distinction between what was taught and what was learnt; this doesn't make sense and that's that).
Why do they always give advice ?
Saying "Just be nice, always think twice"
When it's been a long since they had a teenage life
Yes, why do they give advice? Especially when it is so anodyne as "Just be nice, always think twice". Although, again, in my entire life, no teacher ever gave such advice. Even if they had, it's surely sufficiently banal not to excite any response of great irritation that provokes young Darren to brood on it into his thirties before finally responding with an embittered and decidely Love City Groove/Love City Groove-influenced "rap" on the subject.
I could go on with how silly this song is. But there's not much more point except to remark on the fact (And getting told off Mr T how my life would be) that Al Franken and Mr T. share a birthday, and are about the same age.
And there's Bloody Las Ketchup! I'm sorry, I'll write that again, it should be Las Ketchup with Bloody Mary. As any experienced bar person should know, you don't make a Bloody Mary with Ketchup (it should be tomato juice and tabasco sauce). Still, surprising to know that "professional" singers such as Las Ketchup (who had a worldwide smash with, was it the Macarena? Or Gasolina? It'll come to me in a moment) could compete in the decidedly amateur Eurovision. In their last incarnation, there were only three of them, but now there's four, which, considering they are sisters, is a pretty good trick. Also, according to the official Eurovision website, "All four of them are young, attractive and friendly.". Which is good to know. Perhaps they are friends of Allen's.
While their last hit eventually emerged as a rip-off of Rapper's delight, I did not detect any obvious plagiarism here. Apart from the chorus of "Duty Free, Duty Free, Duty Free, Duty Free!", which was an obvious homage to Keith Barron.
Oh, Lordi, Lordi, Lordi.
Yes, at last we come to Lordi, the performance that had everyone talking. Before we begin, the anal-retentive/borderline Asperger's in me feels compelled to point that this is the Eurovision Song Contest, and that the official rules (which I've not actually read) insist that the prize should go to the best song, not the best bunch of blokes dressed up in stupid, stinking plastic costumes. (perhaps the youtube rendition of the performance is a little too blocky to see what is going on; try the googlevid encode instead).
Still, the lyrics do offer some solace:
The walls come down like thunder
The rocks about to roll
It’s the Arockalypse
On the day of Rockoning
It’s who dares, wins
Careful observers will note that what they've done their is taken words and replaced certain pieces with the word "rock". Very clever.
Anyway, that's enough of that. Let's finish by reliving some highlights of Eurovisions past:
Alf Poier -- Weil der mensch zählt
Gina G -- Ooh, ah, just a little bit
Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any archived videos of the performances of Love City Groove or Guildo Horn and the Orthopedic Stockings (they were his support band).