19 May 2008

Eurovision Song Contest (Part One)

It's Eurovision Song Contest week, ladies and gentleman, and I'm afraid it's beyond my ability to ignore that very significant fact. Whilst the songfest is often mocked by people who haven't watched it in over a decade and therefore seldom know what they're talking about, lovers of backwater pop oddments (which must be you - what are you doing reading this blog otherwise?) will find at least a few ditties to treasure every single year. They normally crash and burn on the final scoreboard, of course, as the majority of international voters favour middle of the road efforts rather than the more peculiar aural trinkets out there.

The trouble is, whilst the contest might seem like easy meat for a blog like this one, it's difficult to find entries that haven't already had maximum publicity elsewhere in the media. If they're unfathomably bad, chances are the BBC showed them in their slightly condescending "Crikey, look at these funny foreigners who think they're talented! Who'd have thunk it, eh?" historical summaries last year. And the year before that. And the year before that one as well. Repeat to fade. Any artist who finished with nul points at the bottom of the board enters an unenviable hall of fame, and becomes known in a manner they almost certainly wouldn't be if they'd just released their song on a small record label and let it sell the twenty copies it was probably destined to.

There are exceptions, however. The rather marvellous Telex from Belgium - bottom rung finishers in 1980 - deliberately entered the ridiculous Kraftwerk styled "Eurovision" to scattered applause. Their concessions to choreography on the night revolved around the gentle movements of their scarves, a piece of sly subversion which would have earned them a vote from me at the very least.

If you're in any doubt that the above isn't especially representative of the band's fare, here's the video to "Moskow Discow", which proves they were utterly ace when they wanted to be.

If you think such electronic diversions are a rarity in Eurovision, you wouldn't be entirely wrong... but the times they are a-changing, as Georgia's Bjorkish entry for last year's contest proves. Sopho's "Visionary Dream" is still on my iPod playlist now, a full year on, and shows that when you combine throttling diva-ish vocals with squelching, honking keyboards, you get something which... doesn't perform that well on the final scoreboard, really. Nonetheless, this is genuinely one of my favourite Eurovision songs of the past decade:

And finally, for this entry, let's finish on the only Ska entry there's ever been on Eurovision (to the best of my knowledge), Athena's "For Real" in 2004. If the lead singer hasn't considered growing himself some hair and becoming the Turkish Kevin Rowland on the tribute band circuit, he certainly should do - there would be a pretty penny in it for him, and that's for sure. This finished in a quite creditable sixth place at the time, though it deserved to romp home given the feeble competition that year.

Apologies for the rather distorted sound, by the way - and it should be me apologising as well, since I uploaded the damn thing.

I will be back with some more Eurovision material later in the week, before the main contest on Saturday night. Meanwhile, on to that bloody Second Hand lucky dip entry I've been promising for ages...


Cocktails said...

I cannot believe how much of my lunchtime I have just spent looking at these fine examples of all that is... strange... about eurovision. I love the Telex entry, particularly the party vibe suggested by the pocketfuls of confetti. Not convinced about the Athena track though...

23 Daves said...

I freely admit that the Athena track is probably notable for two things only - firstly, being a ska track in the middle of the Eurovision Song Contest, and secondly for being the best entry in a perplexingly poor year for the event. Also, I think it sounded a lot more interesting live on the night than on the recorded version above.

Anonymous said...

More magic madness from Belgium :
(and check the booing at the Belgian preselections).

Lyrics are :
Maar de maat is vol
En mijn kop is toe.
Use Google Translate to understand ;-)

Check more of video and other arts artist Walter Verdin, too...

23 Daves said...

Thanks, Anonymous. That really is briliant. If you don't mind I think I'll use that video in my Eurovision update for 2009 - because there almost certainly will be one.