December 17, 2017

Travels by Eurovision 2014

An annual blog of plans by PHILIPPA BURNE

It seems to have been the year of austerity at Eurovision 2014. A lot of singers trying to fill the stage alone, sometimes supported only by one nimble sidekick and a piece of circus apparatus. A few of my favourites couldn’t even afford a song this year so they were no shows: Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey – where were you?

 

Denmark showed a huge amount of resourcefulness by recycling a piece of shipyard to make one of the best and most versatile stage sets ever in the history of this fine competition. (Not that the staging is part of any national rivalry – of course not.)

 

So, in homage to this year of poverty, and to Denmark, I shall make all my travels this year budget ones: I shall work my passage around the world by cargo ship on sea and by donkey on land. Taking this into account – and the woeful performances put in by many countries – this year I shall visit fewer countries than usual. The worthy are:

 

 

ARMENIA

Beam me up, Armenia. If the crew of the Starship Enterprise met Dracula and produced spawn, Aram MP3 would be it.  There are flames, there is heavy metal, there are two distinct halves to the song; he is like a soul divided.  An Armenian shapeshifter! He is singer, comedian, pharmacist, and mechanic. I love it.

 

 

UKRAINE

Oh god, there is a big torture wheel on stage. With a man running running running inside it. And there’s yet another very strong sexy Ukrainian woman. Sure, the song goes around in circles a bit like that poor hamster-man. But you never disappoint on the Eurovision stage, Ukraine, year after year, crazy after crazy, the only constant being strong women and happily-dominated men. Is this why Putin hates you?

 

 

THE NETHERLANDS

Out of desperation, the Dutch have turned to Nashville and country music to rescue them from yet another Eurovision humiliation. Country sung with a Dutch accent –it’s just so crazy it kind of works. It feels like fog creeping up on you beside a canal on a dark night – not wholly unappealing.

 

 

MONTENEGRO

So few of the Balkan states made it to Copenhagen for this year’s singalong but Montenegro somehow raised the cash – best to ask no questions – and sent a tall, handsome seducer plus an ice-skater lashed to a pair of rollerblades. He was one of the few to sing in his own language and those dulcet smooth tones, unknown words and that untrustworthy seductive smile – well, let’s just say it’s not the first time I’ve fallen for it.

 

 

GEORGIA

They are completely nuts and I love them. What were they thinking – even they seem to have no idea. Had they even met before tonight? Did they ever have a conversation to come up with a common vision? Send an email? Even a tweet? Clearly not.  I love it – especially the guy who brought his own parachute. It’s like the worst-conceived drugs of the 70s, the ones even Timothy Leary stayed clear of, have just landed in Georgia and written a song.

 

 

POLAND

Poland has discovered feminism, filtered it through folk costuming, soft porn and teen movies and brought it to Eurovision… I think it might be a declaration of war between the sexes. Or someone’s PhD topic.

 

 

AUSTRIA

Conchita Wurst, you light up my life. You are a true diva, with a genuinely catchy, stirring song. You know how to work an eyebrow too. You are what the world needs right now and the fact that you had such a resounding victory has given me back faith in the people of  Europe’s opposition to repressive governments everywhere. Encore, encore, encore.

 

 

LITHUANIA

A strong gutsy woman in an excellent black rubber tutu. A man who shelters beneath said tutu but is no woosy sidekick. Equality of the sexes seems to rock in Lithuania. Snaps to you for both fashion and song.

 

 

SWITZERLAND

The sweetest, handsomest man. But why are you hanging around with such a bad crowd? A banjo-playing hipster – the world does not need such a thing. Can the tambourine, the whistling, the double-bass get me past the banjo-barrier? And then throwing a violin into the mix? Such a confusion of naffness and appeal. Will I understand it better if I climb to high altitudes and have my oxygen levels restricted? It’s worth a try. Because the singing is just so sweet and appealing.

 

 

FRANCE

Do you ever take this seriously France. No, and I thank you for that, because everyone around you is taking it far too slick and dark this year. Who knew the French could be the funniest people at the party? And your campaigning to get moustaches in and beards out – well, we all thank you.

 

 

Countries to be avoided even if my ship founders on dry land or my donkey stumbles to its knees with hunger and fatigue:

 

LATVIA

Is the cake a metaphor? God, I hope so…

 

 

ESTONIA

They used containers to make their flag and I am a sucker for all things shipping… Would they let me play with the cranes if I went there? Lots of white clothing and bare feet, which often spells winner. And she can hold a tune while being thrown around. But still, I am unconvinced. Mainly by the oft-repeated lyric, Stay Amazing Lie. What? Don’t lie to me, Estonia.

 

 

ICELAND

You Vikings can usually show the hipsters of the world how beardage is really done. And yet somehow now you just look like hipsters yourselves. Or Viking teletubbies. A sense of humour and a couple of synchronised dance moves can’t lure me in this year, I’m afraid.

 

 

SWEDEN

Don’t try to pretend your song was not written by Ikea. There are some essential components missing making it hard for us to connect the parts. It’s all shiny and flimsy and just won’t stand the test of time.

 

 

ALBANIA

Her lace dress looks like a misty forest, her legs like tree trunks. It’s a dress my mother would have warned me about if there were going to be bright lights around. The intensity of the song cannot outweigh the beigeness of the outfitting.

 

 

RUSSIA

So, you sent some twins who won Junior Eurovision, you joined them at the hair extension, gave them futuristic walking sticks and put them on a seesaw. I feared they were going to rip off their dresses until a scary minder type appeared to rein them in…. and rise the sun. A manifesto of world domination hidden in song?

 

 

AZERBIJAN

Trapeze! And I’m a sucker for cathedral and city projections but…. The song was way too serious and contemplative. Her voice was good but she was way too smiley – what’s she trying to hide?

 

 

 

 

 

BELGIUM

Light opera about his mother – Freud would have a field day. And is that his demented mother dancing? Hitchcock would also love this pair. Frankly too weird even for Eurovision.

 

 

MOLDOVA

Brilliantly crazy outfits and wrestler men. Very low vocals. Vintage Eurovision – they get why they’re here. And then, cripes, she ripped off her ponytail – why why why? I like my hair. I won’t go to Moldova.

 

 

SAN MARINO

You might be small, but must you keep sending the same person – Europe let her win so she can retire, poor thing. She trembles with desperation… it’s a bit sad, but I won’t fall for such begging. If you want me that much I just lose all respect – my problem I know.

 

 

PORTUGAL

Strip club cabaret Portuguese style. Suzy – for that is your very Portuguese name – you seem very interested in flaunting your body and not so worried about the whole singing thing, nor dancing really. And what is that weird seam, label thing on your frock at waist level – I shall not be buying clothes or music or attending any strip clubs in Portugal this year.

 

 

HUNGARY

Well this is certainly different to the usual Eurovision fare! A song about child abuse and domestic violence. He can sing, very intensely, he can throw chairs and run. I’m not sure he quite understood the brief and I’m not sure the audience should be waving their little flags and smiling while he sings.

 

 

DENMARK

If the Jackson 5 had been in a John Hughes movie during the 80s this would be the result, but somehow it lacks the charm of either. Who are you Denmark and why should I care when you are giving me this sort of silliness.

 

 

MALTA

It’s just a confusion, of wardrobe, of instruments, of family connections. What’s going on in Malta??

 

 

ISRAEL

Interesting deep husky tone – sounds like she spends all day yelling.  Very intense backing singers who look like they could cut through a brick with one blow. I’m a bit scared, yet could go there for empowerment… But on balance  fear outweighs fight.

 

 

NORWAY

Trying to out-Viking the Icelanders but it’s a depressive form of leather-panted Viking there in Norway.

 

 

FINLAND

One Direction meets Bieber meets Arctic Monkeys. If I were 20 years younger and had heard much less music maybe I’d be impressed.

 

 

IRELAND

When are they going to get over the river dancing? And what was her dress designer thinking?? I’m without words that are not sweary ones.

 

 

BELARUS

I don’t think I’m target market for this mens cabaret, sort of Justin Timberlake lite. They do look fun and happy though so shall I go there and have some cocktails and shop with them, perhaps eat some cheesecake? But no, it is the year of austerity.

 

 

FYR MACEDONIA

Strong winds appear to have blown her hair all to one side.  A creepy man in a white hoodie suit is flinging himself around. I do not like wind or creepy men. And I shall definitely not be going there for a haircut.

 

 

GREECE

Started strong and just went downhill really fast. Even trampolining couldn’t save them.

 

 

SLOVENIA

There’s a confusing lack of direction here. And she’s left herself nowhere to go with that flute….  Trying to pass the baton but there are no takers. Sorry, Slovenia, you are on your own.

 

 

ROMANIAN

They made a busty woman disappear – I just wouldn’t feel safe.

 

 

 

UNITED KINGDOM

You’ve gone from caring too little to caring too much – it’s always just one extreme to another with you, Britain, isn’t it.

 

 

SPAIN

You know austerity has really bitten when you can’t even afford to dry your hair. Your curvy fabulousness can’t disguise the dullness of the song. Poverty has broken your Spanish spirit. I shall send you a hairdryer.

 

 

ITALY

Imagine my horror when the acknowledged world seat of fashion serves up such a debacle of foundation garmenting – what is going on with your bra, Italy? Perhaps you can only do outerwear. But even that was a bizarre misjudgement this year. I couldn’t even hear the song over all the sparkle coming off that low slung bosom.

 

 

GERMANY

Oh dear. Even a double bass and an accordion could not save this debacle of song.

 

 

Eurovision 2014, you made me laugh too little, you made me cry too much. Without Conchita, all would have been lost. See you soon, Austria.