58th Eurovision Song Contest Final
This year we’re in Sweden for the 59th Eurovision. Me and Lorna love Sweden. We love the food. We love the people. We love the fact they enjoy paying tax. We love SFS, NUS' Swedish cousin. We love Ikea, we love "Le Kid" and we love this year's host city, Malmo. Last year they sent Tai Chi master "Loreen", who you’ll recall comfortably beat the "six susan boyles that all fit inside eachother" Russian granny act with "Euphoria" - a simple hook laden pop song dressed up as a mid 90's trance number that built and built until the snow fell and we all wanted to snog strangers.
So other than their own middling effort (a man who looks like Jake Humphry and Sandi Toksvig's unlikely love child), what have the Swedes got in store for us? Well, once the “Hello You Rope” stuff’s done, there’s all sorts of fun coming. The Fins for example have sent a wedding based novelty pop act- a bargain basement version of Katy Perry with a “controversial” lesbian snog at the end. If that doesn’t cheer you up, Gianluca from Malta’s generic lyrics of love, cheesy dad dancing, rictus grin and references to risk assessments certainly will- it gives off the distinct whiff of a low budget, summer months, BBC1 talent show (ironically).
When we get to Germany you think to yourself “this sounds like an Eastern european rip off of Cascada”, until you look up and realise that it actually IS Natalie Horler, stomping around the stage in leather boots belting out some of the most depressingly derivative pop house heard in the last decade. Georgia have this year's awkward, slightly creepy, Des/Mel duet with all the sexual chemistry of two thawing fishfingers being rubbed into your buttocks, and France as usual are all snooty as- a dark, easy listening Jazz funk thing with a mild bondage theme like something you'd hear in the background in an episode of True Blood.
The favourite is Denmark, who this year are in it to win it with a superb, punchy three minutes of celtic tin whistle pop, with shades of the Cranberries and stompy drums. Think B*Witched in an off key with no shoes on and you're there. Meanwhile Belgium have a slice of turgid, MOR whingepop with a middle eight "urban breakdown" that makes you literally want to have a breakdown in an urban area. “Love Keels (over and over)” he warbles, without a hint of irony passing his chisely lips.
Meanwhile the Azerbis have sent a man in a cube, Greece have sent a shouty bit of economic crisis-ska that doubles as biting social commentary on the single European currency, and Belarus have sent what Greece usually enter- bazoukipop with drums, four writhing blokes covered in oil, and a repetitive hooky chorus that appears to be repeatedly advising us to buy a Solero.
So many countries this year give off a whiff of not wanting to win. Take Spain, who have sent an album filler from their eighth best celtic pop rock group, sounding like the sort of nondescript dirge they play in the background as you board an Iberia flight. The song apparently "talks about two people who meet and rediscover love" but it may as well talk about having colonic irrigation in Ipswich given the plodding beat and melody.
The UK, meanwhile, are as complacent as ever- swaggering around Europe, blaming politics for the fact that we do badly every year. In truth, we do badly because we enter rubbish. This year for the second year in a row we’ve raided pop’s nursing home, this time plucking Bonnie Tyler (ask yer gran) from her nursing home in Bridgend, plonked her in the middle of Malmo and asked her to sing a plodding country ballad to 300 million viewers.
Still, there’s always the Ukraine, who as ever have chucked half their annual TV budget on the staging, proving that whilst you can't polish a turd, you can put a Ukrainian flag in it. The song sounds like Defying Gravity off of Wicked and at times it sounds like that Calgon commercial, and you'd think she was singing for her own life the way she belts it out (and very may well be according to Human Rights Watch), but it’s the opening 10 seconds that’s staggering. Ab-so-lute-ly, spit out a mouthful of beer staggering. We won't spoil it.
The Grand Final of the 58th Eurovision Song Contest is on BBC1 on Saturday night (18th May) at 8.00pm