22 May 2008

Eurovision Song Contest (Part Two)

Apparently, Bob Dylan only watched the Eurovision Song Contest once, in his hotel room during a tour in the year 2000. Sat with his various band members and friends, he critically dissected all the entries with a voice of disgust. We do not have a record of his precise comments, which is something of a shame - clearly Bobby does not keep a biro and pad by his side during the contest, like you and I both do at home - but he apparently expressed disbelief that something so ridiculous should occupy so much television schedule time.

When Lativa's entry (Brainstorm's "My Star") came on the television screen, however, his mood changed somewhat. Pointing an authoratative digit at the lead singer Renārs Kaupers, he announced "That guy... he's got something... what's he doing taking part in this crazy circus?" Whenever Renārs was asked this particular question, he simply shrugged and replied "We have taken part in many song contests before Eurovision". So there you go, then.

Dylan had a point, though. Brainstorm were a genuinely eccentric proposition on the evening, delivering the decidedly poppy "My Star" in a bow legged, pie-eyed manner that managed to disturb plenty of people, but not enough to prevent it from climbing into third place on the final scoreboard. The band are successful throughout Eastern Europe, having supported bands such as Supergrass on regional tours, and continue to do well on the continent to this day. In fact, they're possible candidates for a Second Hand Store dip entry in themselves, since their albums can frequently be found scattered around stores in East London, presumably discarded by people from other countries (their discs sold poorly here, despite being hyped to Kingdom come by none other than Jonathan King).



If Brainstorm had indie-ish leanings, it should be noted that last year's contest had a fantastic entry of that ilk from France which barely anyone voted for. Les Fatals Picards "L'Amour a la Francaise" was a wonderful piece of string-laden pop which in places sounded slightly like Jack at their poppiest (who of course had an entry on here of their own some weeks ago). It was, quite simply, far too good for a contest which traditionally attracts a middle of the road audience, and bombed near the bottom of the board. It did go on to become one of the biggest sellers of the contest on iTunes in the UK, though, proving that it wasn't totally ignored. The video for the track should be viewed first:



But their performance at the final - which partly consisted of a man in a pink suit running around going beserk with a stuffed cat on his shoulder - may have alienated some:



And finally, let us not forget Iceland's entry from Paul Oscar in 1997. Here was a man who clearly predicted both the eighties revival and Hoxtonite stylings way before anyone else had even bothered - roundly mocked at the time, I wouldn't be at all surprised if nobody batted an eyelid at this now. Then again, the stageshow was perhaps a bit much.



Enjoy the second semi-finals tonight, and the finals on Saturday night. Remember, Bob Dylan was right - the Eurovision most definitely is a circus, but it doesn't hurt to indulge in such frivolities once in a while. No doubt I'll be back with another entry next year talking about all the goodness that finished poorly this year too.

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