Monday, 28 May 2012

Watching the Eurovision Song Contest

I watched the Eurovision song contest on Sunday. It was a ‘likely lads’moment – without the spoiled ending. I had spent the best part of Saturday night and the whole of Sunday avoiding the media coverage – to relive it ‘live’ in the comfort of my front room with Emma as she couldn’t be there on the Saturday. We have watched the Eurovision song contest for some time now. We watched it before we met. Now we watch it together.

I don’t watch it with ironic detachment.And neither does she.

I watch it as a pop show – a popular cultural moment. I know it doesn’t define Europe – or the ever widening boundaries of Europe. I know that Turkey’s charts are not filled with little numbers like their entry – all limbs and eastern Oliver as guys break danced in cloaks and formed boats. I get that – but there is a wonderful blurring of the popular boundaries and a reaffirmation that pop is just pop – ephemeral – a zeitgeist moment of simple melody and other people’s tunes.

Sweden won it.

I missed putting a bet on. I had it tipped. A David Guetta number it seems – with a few hairy dance moves courtesy of the local dance class from around my way. Not Kate Bush as some had suggested. I can see why it won – it tapped into that euphoric ‘club’ feeling but was lit in chiaroscuro and dressed in rags – all very austerity. Germany’s entry was shit though – economic power horse see – thought they could get away with murder.

But the Eurovision song contest has a place in my heart. And as I say it’s not that kitsch thing – or the misunderstanding of kitsch. You have to be sincere for kitsch to work. That’s why John Waters films work – they don’t reflect of revere. They just are. And that’s how I watch the programme – that’s my point of consumption. There’s always a moment in between the final acts and the scoring that sets the creative minds of host countries soaring in cirque to soliel excess. As if Leni Refienstal is back in style and the more pompous and bombastic the ‘filler’ is will result in regime change and the start of a new ‘european’ order. It kind of happened on Saturday/ Sunday as the boyfriend of the President’s daughter sang his new single – that seemed to sound like last year’s winner – amidst the history of the musical heritage of Azerbaijan and lasers. You’ve got to have some lasers. For the dark bits.

Yet on the semi final show [see I told you there is no irony here] on Thursday they brought together the previous five winners and segued into Waterloo. I didn’t need Scott Mills and that professional northerner Sara Cox adding witticisms from the comfort of their broadcasting box to make it work – or see it’s significance.

It was priceless and classy and utterly right.

Still the politics of the show are wonderful – not in a who’s voting for whom way – but in the way the songs reflect the current times. It’s better than Dylan. You get me? There’s lyrics reflecting chances and change and cold times ahead. There’s the frivolous and two fingered. There’s regret and national identity. It’s kind of Newsnight with tunes.

But there was one tune that was missing. Well two if you count the Netherlands – but they haven’t qualified for six years. Shame really. However, I am talking about Israel – all Prince – but more ‘queen’ playing a simple pop tune with integrity and a hint of show bizz. Not as grubby as T-Rex but as tubby when the Bolan was bingeing. These phone votes skew the system see – they rely on the immediacy of technology – of whim. Oh and of course the politics of it all.

Still it was a tune I would like to hear again.

But as ever with the fleeting, transient nature of pop – it bursts and melts into air. Some things aren’t meant to be saved- except they can be now – trawled up and held for prosperity – after the event. It’s not like home taping – but that’s another piece of writing for another day. So here’s to Israel. They didn’t make the cut on Thursday but they were in my Sunday final along with Engelbert – lost in the first flourishes of the final. A Johnny Cash twang to  a simple ballad that deserved more than it got.

Like this tune.