It’s that time of the year again…
The all-European camp-fest known as Eurovision Song Contest is here again… And isn’t it just the perfect way to waste a Saturday evening (or, Sunday morning in Australia). How else could you overdose on cheesy music and crazy costumes?
As I have a lot readers outside Europe, let me briefly explain what it is all about. This annual TV-show brings together the corniest, tackiest, and just weird performances from all over Europe. It’s not that this is the intention; in fact, Eurovision Song Contest used to feature really good music (in the 60’s and 70’s mostly), and more than one superstar can trace their breakthrough to it (remember ABBA?). But these days it’s a different story. And that’s what makes it such compelling viewing.
Anyway, there are two semi-finals (on Tuesday and Thursday) and the Grand Final on Saturday. The show takes hours. Yes, hours of mostly really bad music… and then there’s the results, which also takes ages, and is totally predictable.
Who in their right mind would watch crap like this?
Of course, a lot of people are way too cool to get excited about it. At least in Finland… I mean, there’s nothing less cool than cheesy pop music… which is why nobody would admit to actually watching Eurovision. Oddly enough, on Sunday everyone knows not only which country won but also which performers had the tackiest costumes and cheesiest lyrics…
Yes, I know, sour grapes… Finland doesn’t exactly have a stellar record when it comes to success in this contest… This year’s entry (a 90-second punk rock rant by a band consisting of middle-aged men with learning disabilities or down syndrome) did not qualify for the final, either. However, Finland did win the contest in 2006 (yes, that’s the only time…), with this. I know, it’s a weird performance, even by Eurovision standards, mostly because it’s not ironic (there are two things you should never mock in Finland: ice hockey and heavy metal; we take our national obsessions very seriously…). Yes, it’s a real band. And no, nobody has ever seen what they look like under those masks…
Anyway, Eurovision Song Contest has always been, at its best, a true festival of tolerance (e.g. last year’s winner), not to mention a unique chance to see totally weird performances by artists nobody has ever heard of. And this year there is a very special new contestant.
This year the powers-that-be have got their geography a bit mixed up and decided that Australia is part of Europe, at least for the duration of the contest. But since Australian TV audience is new to this fine tradition, I thought I should provide a beginner’s survival guide to help them endure hours of mind-numbing lyrics and excruciatingly bad performances (and my other non-European readers: the Eurovision Song Contest website features all the entries, including the songs that never got past the semi-finals, so you can share the fun…)
You need a survival guide…
There is only so much bad music you can stand, without your head exploding, not to mention the voting results, which takes ages… So, you must be prepared. This is what you need:
- a group of like-minded friends, a good sense of humour is a must
- a map or Europe (to help you understand the results and play the game)
- some food; nothing fancy, and nothing that requires you to step away from the telly
- lots of booze, preferably wine or beer (you may want to avoid anything with high alcohol content as you’ll be hammered by the time the contest ends)
Now, in order to make the most of this event, you’re going to play a little game. It’s really simple: you have a drink every time you see
- people dressed in funny costumes, or as a giant chicken
- too much cleavage (don’t worry; you’ll know it when you see it. But you can also watch this entry from last year to give you an idea…)
- an Eastern European singer shaking her booty in an overtly sexy, way too short, skimpy dress
- lots of fireworks or a light show as part of the act
- ethnic costumes
- a violin
- someone singing about peace / tolerance / equality / fairness (a double shot if two of these are mentioned in the same song)
- anything shamelessly appealing to your sense of social justice
- long hair or the trail of a long dress blown by wind machines
And, if you’re still standing when the results are in, you continue the game and have a drink every time
- countries give top points to their immediate neighbours (this is where the map comes in handy)
- the person reading a country’s results gives a long speech or flirts with the presenters
If all goes according to tradition (and why wouldn’t it), you’ll be drunk as a skunk long before the results are in and don’t give a shit if you favourite act gets zero points…
I wish you a pleasant evening watching the camp-fest of all times, and would love to hear how you survived it.