This weekend I was sitting at the harbor in my town here in Finland on a beautiful Saturday. I asked my friend as I sipped my coffee,”Whaddya gonna do this weekend?”. My buddy, a young Finnish guy, told me he was going to watch the Eurovision Song Contest.
Up until 2005 I had never heard of this show. However, when I arrived to work in Saudi Arabia and told people I was coming from Finland, they would inevitably respond,”Oh yeah-Lordi!”
If you are at least a young European adult, you probably know who they are. If you are not? Well, they are a Finnish band that won the Eurovision Song Context in 2005.
I returned to Finland in 2006 and the show was a big deal here. That’s because the country whose representative won the previous year gets to host the next contest.
When I got to a computer (I don’t have a TV), I managed to find the site streaming Eurovision 2012. It was being shown from Baku, Azerbaijan. Their singer won last year.
I hardly know anything about his country. What I do know is from a friend who recently spent some time there.
It didn’t matter, though, because between each of the 26 singers the organizers showed a touristy highlight of Azerbaijan. This contrasted with the snarly tweets next to the screen by those watching with me.
Azerbaijan is apparently a relatively cruel dictatorship. Interspersed with tweets about the performances were comments and sarcastic remarks about its human rights record.
What I did know about the European Song Context was its reputation for campy groups and performances. Lordi I think won because they were just that. (If you’re North American, think of a Kiss takeoff.)
In fact, Mr. Lordi produced my favorite moment of the whole 2012 event. He salvaged what to me was an interminably long results section of the show.
As the program began at 22:00 my time, I was happy to see how fast the performances went. Groups and singers quickly got up to perform and got off, and the next act began.
However, at around 12:15 the show began to plod. Sad interviews by bogus hosts. The reporting of results from a cohost located in each country. Zzzzzzz.
Then, Finland’s turn came around, with results from Mr. Lordi. He labeled each ”winner” from Suomi as “cute”, ”hot”, “babes”, etc., even six Russian babushkas and the male singer from Estonia.
He was hysterical when he announced the points for the latter. Mr. Lordi stuck his head up and twirled his tongue like a lizard (which fit his costume quite well).
Good looks and sex appeal didn’t seem to help the contestants as Mr. Lordi’s comments would suggest. There were tweets about the hotness of the Justin Timberlake wannabe from Germany. The singer from Greece tried to pull of a “Jennifer Lopez”. Neither of these performers did well.
My biggest disappointment was with the overall lack of bizarreness in this year’s show. Most of the groups were just semi-talented, normal singers or bands, or worse.
However, there were exceptions. Romania, for example, had a group featuring a guy moonwalking with bagpipes. There was also an Irish boy band with two fellows who were dressed up like some aliens in silver suits.
Flat out weirdness came from Moldavia. A tweet commented on their strangeness, noting that the country produced the same kind of “out-there” act the year before.
The tweets added to my enjoyment of the show. For example, one tweeter noted that the Turkish entry looked like an “Oliver” production.
Another commenter discussed the resemblance between the Albanian woman singer and Princess Leia from Star Wars. Frankly, all the lady from Albania did was bellow and scream.
My favorite, however, were the grannies from Russia. They smilingly pranced around stage singing some traditional tune. To me, they are what the Eurovison Song Context SHOULD be.
Alas, they finished second. First went to some space cadet from Sweden.
This woman sang a song called “Euphoria”and did what appeared to be some kind of interpretive dance. She indeed looked like she was on drugs.
During the results part of the show, she was interviewed halfway through. She cooed something about “friggin loving you”.
The host doing the interview wasn’t much help. Her question concering what she she would do if she won actually produced a coherent response -”probably cry”.
However, the interviewer followed up with some question like “are you sure?” or something equally inane. The Swedish woman just looked at her like she had lice in her hair.
I think the selection of Sweden was political. The show seems to be very much like the Olympics in that regard.
However, unlike the Olympics, the judges are the populace from all the countries. They tend to vote for their political allies or neighbors. (I was however surprised that Finns voted for Sweden given the animosity between the two countries during hockey season).
I think Miss Sweden won partly because she met with anti-regime folks in Azerbaijan. (Plus, as tweeters noted, Sweden can afford to host the thing next year, unlike their fellow EU members Greece, Spain and Italy!).