Sunday, May 21, 2006

Eurovision: The Verdict

As last year's winner was Greece, this year's Eurovision came out to us from Athens, with the hosts flying onto the stage like Greek gods. As mentioned previously, now that we are living in America, we had to watch it as a video stream over the internet. The picture was quite pixilated, but the sound quality was very good. It did keep freezing if we tried downloading the latest Dr Who at the same time, so we had to hold off on that until after the contest was over. There were no adverts, just footage of Greece between songs. There was also no Terry Wogan commentary (I'm not sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing). It was funny watching it in the afternoon (3-6pm) instead of at night (8-11pm). As children we were allowed to stay up and watch it as a special treat, if we were good.

But what of the contestants?

Finalists this year were:

Armenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, FYR Macedonia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova, Norway, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom

Those who didn't make it to the final were:

Albania, Andorra, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Iceland, Netherlands, Monaco, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia

Note the complete absence of some countries -- Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Luxemburg. What happened to them? Perhaps they've fallen out with the whole Eurovision Song Contest phenomenon?

For the uninitiated: the way it works is that each country collects telephone votes, then gives points to the top ten countries in their poll -- 12 points, 10 points, 8 points, 7 points ... 1 point. The winner is the one with the most points by the end. Obviously, a country cannot give itself points.

We decided to enter into the spirit of the thing by rating each song. They were either Turkeys, So-So, or Good. The terms are relative to the fact that we are talking about the Eurovision Song Contest, so the category "Good" can be interpreted to mean "my ears didn't start to bleed"; "So-So" means "my blood didn't curdle" and "Turkey" means "I'd rather listen to Vogon poetry". Bear in mind, as well, that after a few songs, one's critical faculties are eroded so that even the worst songs start sounding not too bad, or quite good. Either way, all discernment goes.

The Goodacre favourites were Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Ukraine.

The runaway winner was Finland, with 292 points, followed by Russia with 248 points and Bosnia & Hertzegovina with 229. There were no "nil points" this year, with Malta managing to scrape a lone point towards the end. The UK, despite delivering what was obviously the best song and the best performance (perhaps a bit of bias here?), managed to scrape a measly 25 points, eight of which came from Ireland and one from Poland (I guess they've almost forgotten WW2 by now).

When I was a child, the contest tended to be a bit more balanced. Since the breakup of Yugoslavia and the USSR, however, the contest has been mainly dominated by Eastern Europe. The increase in the number of countries in Europe has also meant that heats have had to be introduced to reduce the number of countries in the final. The other interesting thing is that neighbouring countries tend to vote for each other. Every year, all the former Yugoslavia countries vote for each other; Ukraine always gives 12 points to Russia, but Russia doesn't always reciprocate; and Cyprus and Greece always give each other 12 points.

As Finland won, next year there are likely to be lots of outlandish costumes and heavy metal entries. Looking forward to it.


Jonny Goodacre said...

Austria, Luxembourg etc entered but didn't get through the qualifying rounds. How bad must they have been?!

There was obviously a strong rebellion element this year - hence Finland winning because it is so non-Euro. Also, Lithuania did well in UK for similar reasons because this was some kind of football chant. A number of the countries seem to make the mistake of imitating last year's winner rather than trying to strike out on their own.

I thought that the UK entry was okay and well-delivered - though not sure about the school girl backing - thought that was rather tacky.

Terry Wogan's commentaries just get better and better and are actually the main reason for watching it - so a shame you can't get it: 'France lost the plot long ago'.

Viola said...

Thanks for clearing up the "case of the missing countries". I don't really know how the Eurovision heats work and have never cared enough to find out, but maybe I should.

I liked Lithuania's football chant, but thought that singing "we are the winners of Eurovision" might be considered a bit audatious, so I doubted that they would do too well (I can't remember where they actually came in the contest).

I agree with you about the UK entry, although I quite liked the schoolgirl backing. It was still very safe for Eurovision and, as you say, this year saw a bit of rebellion.

Even though we didn't have Terry, we had Mark who took on Terry's role for this year. At times we did look at each other and theorise as to what Terry might be saying at that moment. When push comes to shove, we probably did miss him.