Saturday, May 26, 2012

Eurovision: The Grail Within Reach

Almost 12 noon: I woke up this morning, put together a little low-cholesterol breakfast and fired up my new Roku 2 TV box. I had plans today to drive out to Malibu if the weather was nice - order lunch, take a few pictures, walk the beach. But it slowly dawned on me that all signs pointed to the airing, at 8:00pm GMT, of the Eurovision song contest. Screw the outdoors.

Eurovision 101, for Americans who aren't familiar: once a year most of the European countries select a song and act to represent them, and they compete live in a televised competition. This year it's coming from Azerbaijan. It's just started there, and it's already after midnight.

12:10pm I'm getting a live feed via Roku2, but it's spotty, pausing to rebuffer every minute. This is frustrating and at the same time, it may keep me from going insane.

12:15pm A little explanation about that last remark. Pop music is a delicate thing and it seems that it works best when there are as few hands on the ladle as possible. Imagine then, a process where the entire country is weighing in on the song. Now imagine a song so bland, so homogenized, that an entire continent can approve of it. That song will be the winner of tonight's competition.

The most famous Eurovision winner is Abba's Waterloo. Just sayin'.

Jedward - twins in both blood and hairstyle
12:20pm Last years British entry was Jedward, who they just teased will be performing tonight. Probably out of competition because they opened with the British* song, a lugubrious slow entry performed by Englebert Humperdinck. The anti-Jedward, if you will.

12:23 The woman performing right now, an Albanian, has a hairstyle and dress straight out of The Fifth Element.

12:26: 4 songs in a row, all sad. 3 ballads and one emo-rock piece. Austerity has its fingers in everything!

12:29 Now a song from Bosnia & Herzegovina. Another slow ballad performed at the piano by a woman who looks uncomfortably like Tom Petty in drag.

12:32 I was right, the buffering is exactly what I needed. I'm getting just enough of these songs to see them without having to sit through the whole things. It's like a live, automatic, highlight reel.

12:34 It's the Russian Grannies! This is the weirdo gimmick that everyone is expecting to take the prize: six old Russian ladies who look like potatoes in dresses, singing a little neo-folk ditty. Part of the staging is they're clustered around an oven where they bake biscuits.

Yes, the crowd loved them.

12:38 Iceland is on. I can't accept anything from that country that isn't Bjork.

Out for a minute while I mix up a batch of pesto

12:52 Now that's a coincidence! I come back and the Italians are performing. I hear they sat out of the contest for 14 years... apparently they were honing that song during the time.

12:58 A little electronica from Norway. Meh.

1:02 Per Jedward expert Graham Linehan: "Hearing reports from stadium that every time a song ends, the applause dies down, someone can be heard begging for their life"

1:08 Song from Romania features a bagpipe hook. GYPSY THIEVES!

1:12 From Denmark - The Captain AND Tenille, rolled into one.

1:17 Greece: I think it's an ode to Levitra. Maybe?

1:19 Shout out to the staging of this thing. They have these huge, screen filling numbers every 3 minutes, with about a minute in between during which they show picture-postcard footage of Azerbaijan. It can't be easy to make this show work. And most people agree, it doesn't. But that's not the producer's fault. Like most international incidents, no one is to blame and everyone is.

1:26 Hat off to you Turkey! it takes genius to try to evoke nostalgia for things that no one ever liked in the first place.

1:35 Okay, I'm calling time of death at 21:35 GMT.

The contest is half over but this liveblog is done.... I can't go on. Thanks everybody! I'm makin' lunch.

3:27 Okay, one more thing. Re the * above: Jedward represents Ireland! Ireland is a whole different animal than England and they competed with Humperdinck. Go figure.

I'm throwing in a few links from the parts of the show that I did see. I decided that I couldn't bear the burden all by myself.

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