What does that song mean?

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Eurovision - And the winner is....

Posted May 25th 2011, 11:57 by Lisa Bondesio

Amongst the most pointless of human endeavours, the Eurovision song contest must rank up there with cheese rolling festivals and those weirdos who think that Morris dancing qualifies as a hobby. For those blog readers who are not familiar with the quirks of living in England, Morris dancing involves men dressed in funny clothes decorated with ribbons and bells who bang sticks together for a living and hop around a maypole! And I’m not joking about the cheese festival – people in Gloucester spend an entire day rolling a giant piece of cheddar down Coopers Hill. But I digress...

The Eurovision Song Contest was dreamed up in the days when the European harmony was still a cherished dream, untarnished by the horrors of the common agricultural policy & President Berlusconi’s sexual peccadillos. Nowadays it resembles an evil hybrid of Disney’s ‘It’s a small world after all’ crossed with the most hideous, and zero-talented entries on the X-factor. And that’s just the voting panel...

The way it works is that each member country in the EBU (European Broadcasting union) submits a song to be performed on live television. Votes are cast for songs to determine the most popular songs in the competition and points allocated on the basis of the result. The song with the most points wins. Believe it or not, the Eurovision Song contest has been broadcast every year since it’s inauguration in 1956, and is one of the longest running TV programmes in the world. It is also one of the most-watched non-sporting events, netting over 100 million viewers world-wide.

Clearly, history teaches us nothing. Two world wars later and we are still surprised by the fact that foreign countries we’ve never even heard of band together to vote for each other, but gang up against more established nations like the UK or France. Moldova’s entry involves a man using a marmoset to play some sort of tubular instrument while he yodels...this doesn’t seem to bother Latvia or Hungary who vote for the maximum number of points! This Euro-factionalism probably explains why the last time the UK actually won something at Eurovision was in 1997, with Katrina & The Waves singing ‘Love Shine a Light’.

And I haven’t even begun to talk about the songs yet. The jury is divided here...Eurovision songs seem to fall into one of two categories. a) Rubbish and b) Rubbish in a foreign language. The most notable exceptions to this rule were Swedish band Abba, who scored a hit with ‘Waterloo’ in 1974. They went on to become one of the most successful bands of all time. And French Canadian Celine Dion won the song for Switzerland in 1988 with ‘Ne partez pas sans moi’. Yep, that really rolls of the tongue doesn’t it? Also, how did she manage to get Swiss nationality for a day? Nevertheless, it made her an international star.

Recent oddities include the 2006 win of the ‘horror rock’ band, Lordi who made history with the most points ever (292) and for being the first Finnish band to win with ‘Hard Rock Halleluja’. Still, anyone who can write lyrics like:

The walls come down like thunder/ The rock's about to roll/It's the arockalypse/Now bare your soul’

...is worthy of a guest spot on Spinal Tap.

This year the Eurovision song contest will be held on 14 May. If you are willing to subject your ears to an evening of excruciating tonal abuse, you can always watch it online. Me, I’m hiring that Spinal Tap video.

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