"My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together." “When I hear people say politics and religion don't mix, I wonder what Bible they are reading.” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)
"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4.19
"Work out your salvation with fear and trembling." Philippians 2.12
Sunday, May 15, 2011
All other songs can be found HERE
The old certainties are gone. Last night's competition from Dusseldorf was won by a country most of Europe's viewing public would be hard put to find on a map and I feel strangely adrift in a world where such other international musical giants as Bosnia-Hertzagovina beat the United Kingdom. Are we the nation who invented pop music and gave the world the Beatles?
Our entry, the reformed and former regular chart-topping boy band Blue, were given early false hope by a maximum vote from Bulgaria but subsequently only managed the crumbs of other nations' votes to end in a less than creditable 11th place. Their career suicide is all but guaranteed.
O.K. oil-rich Azerbaijan may be about the only country on the continent able to afford to host this extravaganza but a winner? Really? Of course this result ignites the usual controversy about the distinction between those countries who are really part of Europe and those which subscribe to the Eurovision T.V. Network. Arezbaijan, a European nation. Who knew?
However, of more interst to me was the lamentable standard of many of the 43 entries. Could there be a link between a desired early exit and the prohibitive cost for the winner of hosting next year and bankrupting the T.V. budget for the next millenium?
It's not all about the singing, of course. The Hungarian singer wore a dress so short you could see her vagina according to my elder daughter who also described the Russian singer as a sleaze-ball. The sulky (when it became clear he wasn't doing well) French Tenor dressed and sang as if his was a little known number from Les Miserables and Iceland's group would have been better called Take Fat. The Ukraine's singer gave it her all but I rather felt that her accompanying sand painter (yes, really) was conducting a dirty protest in the background which is perhaps why I have no idea what the song sounded like.
And what are we to make of Jedward, Ireland's twins, John and Edward Grimes with their gravity defying hair and red sequins? It was a cleverly written song in that the boys' lack of musical talent was hard to spot in a song so relentlessly upbeat their voices hardly stopped long enough on a note for us to register their tunelessness.
I was shocked, on attempting to vote for Italy to discover I'd misdialled only to vote for Moldova, a country represented by a group of men in tall pointy hats resembling the Smurfs accompanied, to little obvious purpose, by a fairy on a unicycle. Georgia seemed to do well for sympathy votes but only because the country is so poor that the singer had clearly had to make her own frock out of some green curtain trim. And don't get me started on the Bosnian singer. I know they are still in post-war austerity but wearing charity-shop trousers really isn't the thing on international T.V. and as far as I'm concerned Serbia should still be in internationally imposed purdah becuase of its slaughter of Bosnians and Croats. Keep poltics out of Eurovision? Puleezee! Anyway their singers looked like the girls who advertise Sheila's Wheels car insurance only more Mary Quant.
And where was The Vatican City's entry? Hey, if San Marino can muster an entry I'm sure with all the musical and vocal resources at the Vatican's disposal they could have come up with something.
And the ones that didn't make it to the final: Portugal's protest song from a group of middle aged citizens about the unfairness of the financial cuts seemed, one felt, to have missed the mood somewhat and poor Israel's Dana International couldn't progress to the final what with transvestism being so last decade.
In short, the whole programme was an extended party political broadcast for UKIP and I kept expecting Nigel Farage to join the German compare team; talking of whom we had another object lesson on humour failing to cross national boundaries.
And so to the voting.
There had been some effort in the semi-finals to split up the usual suspects so they were in different heats and couldn't therefore vote for each other. Cyprus was lost to music in this way which left us with the historic and unprecedented spectacle of the Greek jury having to give its maximum marks to someone else in the final. My fervent prayer (apart from "Make it stop, Lord" obviously) is that both Greece and Cyprus are voted out in the semis one year soon and then we can watch the national emotional melt down of two countries whose citizenry sit drooling in front of the T.V. during the final rendered incapable of making a decision without a Greek language song to automatically vote for.
Even so, the Scandinavian, Balkan and Former Soviet blocks still managed to try to stitch the voting up although true reciprocity was often stymied by the elimination of one half of the partnership. Bosnia and Croatia voted for Slovenia, Serbia for Bosnia (my, how short memories are when Eurovision's on), Romania for Moldova and vice versa, Iceland for Denmark, Norway for Finland, Belarus and the Ukraine for Georgia, Armenia for the Ukraine and so on. But we in the west of the continent are learning belatedly to organise , so the U.K voted for Ireland, Austria for Germany, Belgium for France, San Marino for Italy, Portugal for Spain and Turkey for Azerbaijan.
No one voted full marks for Russia.
Still at least we've got the well worn phrase "And now to our neighbour and Dear Friend (insert name of country) our maximum 12 marks" down to a mere six expressions this year. This galls the U.K. audience as we have neither friends nor neighbours.
And was it just me or did anyone else notice the Danish lad, in a fit of gratitude to the fragrant young Dutch presenter who had just given him 12 marks, shout to the camera "I want to F*** you"? At least I think he was talking to her. I doubt it was me, although while we are on that subject, did anyone else note the almost total lack of women in the audience? It could have been Manchester's Canal Street on a sunny Saturday evening. This does not bode well given Azerbaijan's poor record on gay rights. There could be no one in the audience next year.
So next year, Ulan Bator.
Is that the capital of Azerbaijan?