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.