Stars in their Eyes

If you're a sucker, as I am, for kitsch Euro TV, then you won't have missed last Saturday's Eurovision Song Contest, from Oslo. This year's high-tech super-extravanganza of Euro-multiculturalism and, er, singing (worldwide audience: 120 million), was remarkable for two main occurrences, especially from the point of view of an English person living in Spain. The first was Jimmy Jump (for that is his name)'s stage invasion during the performance of the Spanish song. When it happened, I nearly fell off my chair laughing, as the man in a hat ripped the piss out of Leo Sayers-lookalike Daniel Digers' generic, pedestrian ballad (with a pierrot, for god's sake). The sight of him leaping onto the stage, throwing his arms open wide and singing along, was way more entertaining than any transparent Romanian pianos, bewinged and besequinned Belarusians, or androgynous Serbians. And it has brought Diges unexpected (though probably not unwelcome) attention. The other was, of course, the fact that Britain came last - oops. The Spanish TV discussion panel expressed amazement that this country, which produces some of the best groups and songs around, couldn't come up with something bettter. And they're right. Along with the US, the UK plays a hugely important role in the global music industry, but we couldn't even manage to produce a decent song. The work in question, That Sounds Good to Me, was pathetic - Pete Waterman has clearly lost his populist commercial touch, compared to his heyday in the late 1980s (Kylie, Bananarama, ABC). The singer, 19-year-old Josh Dubovie from Essex, wasn't the worst technically, in terms of being out of tune, apparently. A report claims that Serbia's entry was worst (Mr Stankovic hit all the wrong notes, let's face it, right from his clothes to his hair), with Belgium's the most in-tune (one of my personal favourites; BBC Eurovision presenter Graham Norton described it as Tracey Chapman-esque), followed by Cyprus (who was, in fact, Welsh). Even the winner, German Lena, was third-worst in terms of missing her notes. Yes, but her song was miles better than Waterman's dreadful pap. She was - is - young and fresh, not something you could say about all the other entries, especially the tight-white-shirt-and-trousered electro-Bouzouki Greek lot. High on entertainment value, they sang "Oh-pah!" like something you'd see in a restaurant on Paxos, prior to smashing a few plates. Heaven help us -and they even did quite well! Those Adriatics and Baltics have a good thing going on there, in terms of voting for each other - the British don't have any immediate neighbours, except for Ireland, while the European landmass, especially the eastern part - the Baltics and former Yugoslavia area - are choc-a-bloc with groups of countries all voting for each other. One British newspaper report this morning claims that licence-payers are so fed up with the BBC shelling out 200,000 pounds of their dosh every year to take part, that next year they don't want the UK to pay its whack which, along with Spain, France and Germany, guarantees us a place in the final. Dubovie is a true pro, a real sweetie (or perhaps just mildly deluded) - he was quoted as saying "This has been one of the best experiences of my life, no matter where I've come in the contest. It's been a privilege to represent the UK, I will keep performing and I'm still smiling." Just make sure you find a different songwriter next time. It's interesting to note that out of the 25 countries, only six sang in the own language, as opposed to in English (Spain, Portugal, Greece - hmmm - don't they have some other common economic thread?; Serbia, Albania and Israel). They all came midway down the board, except for Greece, which came 8th, for some unknown reason. Scotland wants to provide its own entry next year, and who can blame them. They can't exactly do any worse. One successful Scottish songwriter (Westlife, Boyzone) has already proposed this. His opinion of poor Josh is harsh but honest: "I've actually heard better karaoke singers, performing after 10 pints... I totally respect Stock, Aitken and Waterman for what they did for pop music but this song sounded like one of their B-sides or a reject from 1981. Josh didn't stand a chance." Here's to a devolved Britain putting up a better - well, less embarrassing at least - showing at next year's extravaganza in Germany.
Blog published on 31 May 2010