Eurovision of the Future: We Won’t Win

Practicing her cheeky-cheery nil points face?

Practicing her 'undeterred despite being awarded her fifteenth "nul points" in a row' face?

So: it’s approaching quickly now, with all the malevolent glee of a crazed Dick Cheney driving a dump truck full of C4 plastic explosives towards a big Mosque. It’s the phenomenon no one really understands, and nobody wants to: the Eurovision Song Contest. A cheerful, harmless explosion of very intrinscially European insanity, all simperingly sincere bald men singing dreadful love songs, and tarted-up Eastern European ladies hoping an exotic drumbeat and some half-hearted hip swivels will sway the continent to vote for them. It’s glorious in its own drunken, self-sustaining madness: recent winners include a demonic Norwegian hair metal band, a Russian pop crooner aided by Timbaland, and computer-animated rubber band from Bulgaria (maybe).

Of course, the only reason I mention all of this is because Ireland’s entry was selected this past weekend from a shortlist of six hopeless, dead-eyed potentials, ranging from the genuinely awful Out of Control by Laura Jayne Hunter to the so-earnest-it-hurts, enthusiastic but incredibly, toxically boring Johnny Brady. In previous years, this selection process occurred in the form of a musically-stunted reality show, optimistically dubbed You’re A Star. But this year, it was all just shunted into the middle of the Late Late Show, and the reason is plainly obvious. RTE could never have gotten away with calling this You’re A Star – ‘You’re Gonna Have To Do’ would be more fitting a title.

The winning entry, Et Cetera, as performed by Sinéad Mulvey & Black Daisy, is – and this is a bold prediction, so hold onto your hats, seats and elbows – not going to win Eurovision. It sounds like someone took the chorus melody from Blondie’s Maria, and surgically grafted it, Frankenstein-like, onto the limp cadaver of a Belinda Carlisle b-side from the late 1980s, then methodically, joylessly lopped off an interesting bits with a rusty shiv, like a jaded serial killer blearily hacking at his latest victim after forgetting why he’s so angry in the first place, and getting a bit bored with the whole endeavour. Meanwhile, Mulvey is decked out in a slinky black number, topped off with – for some unknowable reason – shiny purple leggings, and takes the opportunity during an instrumental break halfway through the song to either engage in a very, very basic dance with the bassist, or commit some kind of vague, boring sexual harassment – it’s impossible to tell.

It wouldn’t be so bad if she didn’t appear to be in the process of deciding whether she’s actually capable of singing the song or not. The final chorus has the inevitable key change, as it builds to what the writers are deluded enough to believe is a rousing conclusion; but even though Mulvey attacks the first line with gusto, she kind of loses confidence in herself, and lets the next few notes drop like a sack of potatoes, except the sack is made of industrial lead, and and the potatoes aren’t actually potatoes, but potato-shaped bricks. It sort of kills any enthusiasm you might have built up about the song, because Mulvey clearly doesn’t know what she’s doing with it – much like the people who wrote it, I guess.

It’s emblematic of the kind of tripe Ireland has tried to pass off as “fashionable” entries in the last few years – vaguely Euro-pop influenced, but mostly stuck in a rut of outdated, crap B*Witched rip-offs. We used to excel at the kind of dignified, minimalist stuff most European countries wouldn’t dare enter if it could retroactively undo both World Wars – songs like The Voice and Rock n’ Roll Kids. Of course, even if we entered an actual good song, we’d still be kicked in the underpants by block voting, but at least we’d keep our dignity, dagnabbit. Um… whatever dignity you can take from the Eurovision song contest.

Either way, no one’s going to bother watching this year, since Terry Wogan’s relinquished his brilliantly sarcastic throne to the annoyingly histrionic Graham Norton – which will be a bit like Fawlty Towers being remade with Alan Carr and Justin Lee Collins playing Basil and Sybil Fawlty, and instead of a hotel, it’s just a big honking klaxon, around which they do tribal dances. Gone are Wogan’s sly, gentle, loving jibes at the sheer ridiculous, overblown, badly translated spectacle of it all – the knowing winks at the uncomfortable, awkward tension that inevitably arises between the presenters – and in, I expect, are lewd innuendos and cheap references to an imagined tawdry lifestyle that Norton probably never lived.

Then again, maybe Norton’s the perfect man for the job. His chat show was always one step away from gaudy Eurotrash-esque nonsense – his willingness to embrace the stupid and obscene might work to his advantage in this case. Maybe the sole reason I’m clinging to the Wogan years is because his healthy cynicism about the whole thing matched my general worldview: everyone is rubbish, so let’s laugh at them.

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One Response to Eurovision of the Future: We Won’t Win

  1. Pingback: Prince of Persia: A Semi-Retraction « Mister Hands

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