Friday, 4 June 2010

Eurovision - Another Dismal Display

So another year, another Eurovision Song Competition…and another humiliation for the UK as they trail in last…again. We scored a measly 10 points against Germany’s winning 246 points despite the best efforts of 80s hit-makers, Mike Stock and Pete Waterman, all voted for by the great European public.

It’s the third time the UK have come bottom of the competition in the last eight years, a place usually reserved for Norway and I think it is now abundantly clear that we have no business entering this competition. Italy, another great musical nation, realised this years ago and has steadfastly refused to participate ever since.

The fact is that this event has not been a ‘Song Contest’, as advertised by its title, for some time and has become a gruesome parody of its former self where national interests prevail over any appreciation of musical prowess. The fact that we have been churning out substandard songs performed by inexperienced singers doesn’t help, but there is more at work here.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the old Communist Bloc has splintered into numerous independent countries, all of whom now claim the right to enter the competition in their own right. This has moved the centre of gravity of Eurovision culture eastwards and it has become clear that the cultural divide between the UK and the rest of the ‘new’ Europe has widened significantly. Not that it wasn’t wide to start with, after all Britain has been at war with France on and off for centuries, has crossed swords with Germany twice in the last hundred years and spent the cold war eyeing Russia and the Eastern Bloc warily – rivalries that continue into the various sports arenas to this day.

Traditionally, the UK has tended to align itself culturally not with Europe, but with the USA and North America generally both in lifestyle and music. We have more in common with US popular music than Romanian folk tunes so it is inevitable that our style does not always go down well with a European audience, even if we could come up with a half decent tune.

So, we have two choices. Either we adopt the Italian solution and drop out of the contest completely or we go for bust and devise songs based around eastern European folk tunes with a bit of grafted on hip-hop and silly costumes. Even then, as the UK has few political allies in continental Europe, there really is no hope so I guess the former is the best option. It seems we have more in common with the Italians than I thought.


Jayne said...

Ah Eurovision. I have many fond memories chuckling along to Terry Wogan's commentary, although Graham Norton did a fair turn taking the role as gently sarcastic narrator.

I think if the UK wants to be part of it they should stop treating it as a straight song contest. They need to look at the audience, see where the majority lives, and then make a show, for goodness sake. They need leather and lycra cat-suits, wings if preferable, pyrotechnics, some sort of flying harness, and an angelic woman with a fan blasting her hair. The song needs to come from current ‘hitmakers’ – Pete Waterman and Mike Stock were fab in their day, but that was over thirty years ago... no matter the current 80s revival. I thought the German song was excellent, actually, it was catchy, quirky, and I have been humming it off and on ever since. It totally deserved to win, and the UK’s lack of decent song/decent act sadly deserved its sorry place.

musicobsessive said...

Hi Jayne. Flying harness eh? Well, it might just do the trick! Interesting to look at our last winner - Katrina and the Waves (Shine A Light) in 1997. A few pointers:

Katrina is American but let's not quibble. Although no spring chicken at the time, she is an extremely experienced singer and was well able to engage an audience. Can't remember whether she brought her own fan. I've seen her live twice and she generally manages to keep her audience in the palm of her hand.

The band were allowed to write and perform their own song which clearly suited them and this transmitted itself to the voters. Kimberley Rew knows how to write a catchy pop tune (Exhibit A 'Walking on Sunshine', m'lud).

None of the above requires that an inexperienced teenager singing a song written for them by out-of-touch music-biz persons should be preferred.

Oh well, looks like it's the wings and flying harness...