Euroblindness 2012

Thanks to the 44 Americans (and one Pole) who deliciously crowded my house on Saturday for a taste of Eurovision and donated to our local library.  Although we did not keep score as rigorously as in the past, Russia’s Grandmothers from Buranovo were the big winners in the house, though there was also some grudging acknowledgment of Serbia, Sweden, Albania, Malta and Cyprus and widespread incredulity at Ireland and Turkey.

The most skepticism, however, was reserved for the between-song cut pieces which, unlike the past several years, made no reference at all to the country performing (except in the rather clever lighting of the performance hall) and instead focused on beautiful but ultimate quite repetitive images of Azerbaijan’s scenic highlights (the Maiden tower, horses, the flaming skyscrapers).  Nor did were they stirred by the segement titles such as “Azerbaijan: Living in Movement”, “Azerbaijan: Horsemen Land”, “Azerbaijan: Land of Carpets” or the lovely oxymoron, “Azerbaijan, Land of Water.”  One guest suggested the image of TV writers sitting around a table brainstorming: ok, Land of Oil, Water, Fire, Snow, Horses, great.  Only 17 more to go.  And then we had suggestions:

  • Azerbaijan, Land of Land
  • Azerbaijan, Land of Phallic Monuments
  • Azerbaijan, Land of Soil
  • Azerbaijan, Land Partially Controlled by Another Land
  • Azerbaijan, Land of Heavy Machinery Production
  • Azerbaijan, Land of Political Prisoners

We observed, too, that there was no cutting to any public gathering of locals watching in the main square (too risky?) and there was praise for the oblique comments of German score-announcer Anka Engelke about the joys of democracy.  If America could participate (my 6-year-old predicts Eurovision will come to Lansing, Michigan in 2029, we just might see a Fox news score announcer taking Sweden to task next year for the bad example set by its welfare state.

Eurovision 2012: What’s in a title?

It’s that time again.  European readers do not need any additional information, but Americans, especially my local neighbors, still need to know why they should become obsessed (or at least interested) with the Eurovision Song Contest. 

Exhibit A.  Last year’s entry from Moldova: three foot conical hats, unicycles, monocles, and intercontinental ballistic gnomes.  It is impossible to ask for more.  Few of the other acts were as consciously absurd, but unconscious absurdity is almost as good, and between absurdity and breathtaking emptiness (like last year’s winner), Eurovision is a damn fine show. 

Exhibit B. The list of artists for 2012.  It’s very hard not to want to watch a musical show with artists such as

  • Rambo Amadeus,
  • Sinplus,
  • Compact Disco,
  • Trackshittaz,
  • Jedward,
  • Litesound, and …
  • Engelbert Humperdinck (yes, the Englebert Humperdinck, of “After the Lovin” fame).

Exhibit C.  The song titles (and hopefully the songs themselves) occupy the full spectrum from banal to ridiculous.  Imagine the insights into human love and life that must be contained in songs such as

  • You and Me,
  • Echo (You and I),
  • Black and White,
  • The Sound Of Our Heart

But there are also some on the inexplicable side like

  • Euro-Neuro,
  • Woki mit deim Popo

Others opt for the full sentence approach.  Together these tell a story (though not a good one).

  • Would You.  Be My Guest.  I Believe. Love Will Set You Free.  Isn’t Love Something?  These Steps I Know. This Is The Night.  We Are The Heroes.

Of course it’s hard to take this too seriously since another song title insists

  • I’m a Joker.

Another set of songs appear to identify things you will not get during the 3 hours spent watching this competition (or might actually end up losing):

  • Beautiful Song, Euphoria, Aphrodisiac, Heaven, Party For Everybody, My Life, La La Love, Love Unlimited, Time.

And some of the entries read like pleas to viewers to reject and keep watching despite their natural inclinations:

  • Stay, Stay with me, Don’t Close Your Eyes, Listen, Love Me Back, Love Is Blind [and, with any luck, deaf].

And there are other songs that appear to describe how viewers actually feel:

  • Standing Still, Out Of Love, When I Blunder, Oh Oh-Uh-Oh Oh (The Social Network Song). Never Forget.

Perhaps the best advice about watching the show, given in retrospect, is that of Denmark’s Soluna Samay’s:

  • Should’ve Known Better.

Fittingly, the best description of the show overall—at least the ten years of it that I’ve now seen—is that of defending champion, Azerbajan, whose entry Sabina Babayeva has will be singing a song called:

  • When The Music Dies.

And that’s why anybody who lives in the Detroit metropolitan area should show up at my house on Saturday the 26th to watch: