(Quick note: This is a cross-post with my awesome Caitlin at Drawnward.com, who has done undeservedly beautiful drawings of some of the event’s finest moments. There’s also a gift to you in the form of a recipe you do not want to live another day without. The full write-up is here, but the drawings and recipe can only be found there. Head over there to check them out, and then read everything else she’s ever written. Totally worth it.)
HALLOO RIGA! Welcome to the annual Eurovision recap, coming to you this time from beautiful downtown Malmö, Sweden. Please don’t eat the horses.
I know that many of you are new to Eurovision, and I’m honoured to have the chance to lead you through this scary world of shiny pants and wind machines. With luck, we’ll all come out the other side – a little sadder, perhaps; a little more afraid of the future of this poor world; but wiser and more in touch with the darkest, most sequined corners of our tired souls. Strap in, nibble a lingonberry or two, and join this year’s commentary team, in order of appearance:
• Colleen, my lovely fiancée. She was sorely disappointed in Trader Joe’s twist-and-pop biscuits. ‘They’re no Pillsbury,’ she hissed, and tossed them aside.
• Karen, a.k.a. Flattie Galore. This year it was her turn to bring the pizza rolls. There’s still a bag left in our freezer, waiting for the night when I’m all alone and feeling *really* bad about myself.
• Kari, Karen’s girlfriend. Kari provided homemade guacamole and the most earnestly upbeat attitude I have ever seen applied to insensible European pop music. She sang along. This is unprecedented. (Eurovision rookie)
• Alison The Chef. You could tell she’s the food professional, because she brought fancy imported honey mustard for her pigs-in-a-blanket. She also brought an Entenmann’s Louisiana crunch cake. Don’t try this at home, kids.
• Jen, who is always called by her first and last name and it’s driving me crazy to single-name her right now. She is gloriously tall and brought wine that outclassed everything else about the evening by roughly 48 billion per cent. (Eurovision rookie)
• Erin and Jay: Erin is Colleen’s colleague, and Jay is her lovely husband. Erin has Eurovision hair: it cries for a large fan and a spotlight. Jay buys our dog get-well presents. Together they brought an impressive salami-and-cream-cheese concoction, chased by a tube of cookie dough. (Eurovision rookies)
• Amy, who is another first-and-last-namer. This is making me long for the anonymity of my own tiny blog. She brought some very lovely toffee-and-macadamia-nut cookies, as well as a tray of corn bread that might not have left her lap at any point in the evening. I appreciate her devotion to the theme.
• Caitlin: You might not think you need me to introduce you to her, but let me just say this: I have known the girl since I was three months old, but until she made me a tater-tot burrito? I didn’t know her at all.
• Leslie: Colleen’s former workmate, South Shore badass, and so committed to the hedonistic splendour of the night that she didn’t make it through her first sentence before applying herself to a bottle of pre-mixed margarita that she pulled out of her purse. This is all true. (Eurovision rookie, not that you’d know it from that move)
Oh, and I should introduce myself too: I’m Elena. I brought the weird plague that is Eurovision Fever home to Boston with me after many years’ exposure in Australia. Like all viruses, it is constantly seeking new hosts. Tell my friends I’m sorry.
To start the evening, Colleen, Karen, Kari, Alison, Jen, Erin, Jay and I watched last year’s winner, Norway’s Loreen, singing ‘Euphoria’. This was the song that prompted last year’s guest commenter Megan to murmur, ‘my life will never be the same after tonight’.
Jay: So wait, she’s representing her country?
Elena: Yes, and think about what that means.
We followed this with a quick Greatest Hits, consisting of Turkey 2012:
Jen: I’m wearing those exact pants right now. They’re a slim-fit Capri.
…Spain 2008, as requested by the newly-arrived Amy:
Jen: That’s the drag king I always see in Jamaica Plain!
Alison: Isn’t Spain a first-world country?
Erin: This is where Psy came from.
…and, of course, Serbia 2010:
Colleen: That’s a ladyman!
Erin: Are you sure that’s not just a lady?
We then watched the introduction to the first of this year’s semi-finals while we waited for the archive of the final to be posted. Mind you, I would have insisted on watching it anyway, because it was incredible. The beginning is actually quite good: we skip among the participating nations, all performing traditional-to-their-cultures-versions of ‘Euphoria’. Nifty idea, and pretty well executed. It was after we entered the stadium that things took a dark turn – both literally (the room was lit like the Phantom of the Opera’s sex dungeon) and figuratively:
Karen: Oh god, that kid is going to kill you.
Amy: He looks like he has boobs.
Jen: Why do they all have bouffants?
Colleen and Elena: CREEPY LADY BEHIND TINY PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN!
And then, finally, it was time for the main event. Eurovision Grand Final, Malmö 2013: we’re ready, bitches. Do your worst.
Everything starts out mildly enough, as we follow a caterpillar on his journey through the Eurovision countries, on his way to becoming the famous Eurovision ButterflyTM (Flags Of All Nations Wings sold separately).
Erin: Aw, he’s in transition!
Karen: Like those transgendered children we saw earlier!
Amy: He’s a hairy little bugger.
Erin: Well, he’s European.
When his cocoon bursts (all: OH!), we fly along into the stadium to watch the performers strut down the catwalk. Upskirting: Sweden’s National Pastime!
Karen: I feel like we’re watching the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics.
Elena: But much, much gayer.
Amy: Yeah. They thought we needed a gay Olympics. They were wrong.
Karen: I swear I saw Nick Lachey walk by.
And then it’s time to meet our host: the one, the only… Petra Mede. My minimal research indicates that she’s Sweden’s Julia Zemiro, which will make sense only to the Australians in the audience. Anyone watching her try to land a joke may be surprised to learn that she’s officially a comedian, but to be fair, I can’t imagine that an arena full of screaming drunken Eurovision devotees is anyone’s ideal audience – apart, obviously, from the Eurovision performers, but that a side of their characters that is best ignored, or possibly medicated.
Jen: We are literally watching the Hunger Games. And she is wearing a wizard coat.
Colleen: A Pepto Bismol wizard coat.
Amy: For a lot of clothing, there’s not much coverage.
Colleen: That’s an aggressive satin.
I have since tried to find a clip of Ms. Mede pronouncing her name and was tragically let down by the Internet. I wish I could share it with you because she wrung 47 syllables from those 9 letters and I’m still fascinated by it. If someone does come across one and feels like investing (wasting) their time and developing a ringtone, hit me up in the comments and I’ll give you my first-born.
In the meantime, the performances await, and our majestic Swedish Vergil leads us first, as she must, straight to Hell.
France kicks the night off with an entirely competent performance that is utterly unsuited for Eurovision. This woman belongs on an NPR Tiny Desk Concert, not on a stage famous for Abba and Lucite pianos. No amount of black rubber fringe can hide that.
Colleen: Hello, Courtney Love. Jesus.
Karen: No, she’s not skinny enough to be on crack. And here’s a tip: don’t use backlighting if you have arm fur.
Amy: I can see the shadows of your back-up singers. You’re not fooling us. We can see you’re not alone.
Karen: Do you think she opted not to have the Eurovision Fan? Because she doesn’t have the Eurovision Fan.
Amy: But she did touch herself on stage.
Jen: With shaking hands.
Instead of the usual look-how-pretty-our-country-is video clips, this year’s interstitials are background pieces on the upcoming contestants. It’s a heartwarming glimpse into the private lives of the young men and women about to bare their souls on an international stage.
Colleen: ‘I’m pretending to be straight in front of my parents!’
You know how there’s a stereotype about Eastern Europe being stuck, pop-culture-wise, in the ‘80s? And you know how good and sensible people are supposed to be in the business of breaking down stereotypes? Well, let’s just say that good and sensible people shouldn’t watch Andrius Pojavis and leave it at that. He also has a raging case of the CrazyEyes and is an early leader in the ‘learned my song phonetically’ stakes.
Andrius: ‘I have to tell you something’
Colleen: Oh good! Lay it on me!
Karen: ‘I went to the store… they were out. of. crackers…’
Jen: ‘My eyebrows can catch snowflakes.’
Alison: I can see him homeless in Central Square.
Amy: DON’T LIFT YOUR ARMS AGAIN. YOUR SHIRT IS SO SHORT.
Karen: I think what he wanted to tell her was that he’s numb from the waist down.
Elena: ‘Because of my shoes’?!
Karen: Yeah, they’re so heavy he can’t move.
Colleen: What happened to all the relaxing moments we got last year?
Aliona Moon delivers the first serious Eurovision crazycakes of the night, complete with lightning effects, Personality Hair, and a dress that grows up out of the stage like the tree in ‘The Nutcracker’. And if that doesn’t fill you up, we can add a steaming side of catsuited contortionists who are but one roll of toilet paper away from the full Mummenschanz.
Elena: Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh no.
Colleen: Oh fuck yes, Eurovision. You are DELIVERING.
Colleen and Karen: IT’S LA ROUX!
Erin: How is her dress expanding?
Colleen: I don’t know. How is her dress on fire?!
An open memo to the Republican National Convention:
If you are looking for a way to set the cause of same-sex marriage back by 1.2 billion years, please contact Ms K. Siegfrieds, who I think could give you some ideas. As long as you’re not allergic to crushed velvet.
Hugs and kisses,
Karen: Elena, mark it right now: this is getting my vote.
Amy: If you can’t dance, march!
Amy: So, is she saying she changed her name before she got married to entice the person?
Elena: Are you asking me to apply logic to this?
Karen: I’m enjoying these little breaks.
Erin: You kind of need them to recover.
Karen: Except I feel like she’s about to explain the benefits of Kashi Go Lean to me.
Spain opened with a lone bagpiper, and that was quite nice. As soon as the singer chimed in, though, it all went rapidly downhill. Here’s a tip: sometimes, doing something that no one else has ever done makes you innovative and exciting. And other times, it makes you try to sing along with a bagpipe.
I strongly urge you to check the guitarist’s face at 1:06. It’s moments like this that make live performance entirely worthwhile.
Jen: It was so cute until she couldn’t sing.
Amy: Eurovision wind!
Jen: If you can’t sing, blow up your skirt!
It was right about this time that Caitlin joined us, and asked the obvious question:
Caitlin: So how are the interstitials this year?
Colleen: Kind of dull.
Caitlin: No running horses?
Colleen: No. It’s no Azerbaijan.
This very special piece of work sparked an interesting conversation about Eurovision’s weird back-up dancer policy. The story I’ve always heard is that the dancers are provided and assigned to the performers by the host nation; they do not come from the performers’ own countries, and therefore don’t get much time to learn and perfect their choreography.
I’m not sure why this is: it might be to ensure that everyone has equal opportunity to put on a big production number, regardless of how much money their home country has to put towards it; it might be to boost the host nation’s all-important Dance Employment Quotient (or DEQ); it might just be a way to make sure that none of the performances actually look polished, so as give the rest of us something to giggle at.
I couldn’t find confirmation of this policy online, so it might be a pack of lies. But who needs confirmation when you have Belgium as evidence?
Colleen: They’re dancing to a different song!
Caitlin: ‘We’re going to give you Robert Palmer’s dancers.’
Elena: Oh, we just had the Dubstep Drop.
Amy: Did they? Or did the dancers just start dancing as if they did?
Colleen and I got a preview of this song earlier in the day when we were dry-running the tech by testing the streams of the semi-finals. (We’re nothing if not professionals over here.) The most memorable thing about the performance was that they started her lit in black-and-white, then dropped in the colour right before the first chorus. They did exactly the same in the final, which might not come as a shock but which definitely didn’t do her any favours, at least in Colleen’s mind. Also not doing her any favours was the 12,000 yards of gauzy curtain she was sporting as a dress. Birgit: You are young. You are beautiful. You are on Eurovision, for fuck’s sake. Make with the gams already, damn.
Colleen: This girl is hot as shit, but they keep starting her in black-and-white.
Jen: She is not that hot.
Colleen: She is in colour!
Now here’s a young lady who got the memo about costuming. And prop usage. And back-up dancers. And and and.
Amy: Oh man. When you come out of a disco ball….
Colleen: It’s the Belarusian Shakira!
There may have been a misunderstanding elsewhere, though, as it seems like she was performing the dance steps for the first time ever. Her back-up dancers seemed way more across the moves than she did, which is a shame because I have a strong suspicion that they were trying to create a ‘Macarena’-style dance craze; instead, it just kind of looks like she’s tipping over a lot. But then, maybe this sort of thing plays back home. I don’t know how they do in Belarus.
Alison: So who provided those men?
Elena: Sweden provided those men. Those men are courtesy of Malmö.
Amy: And all of them hiding behind the singers! I guess that’s all Swedish dancers can manage.
Karen: The four elements of EuroVision: fire, water, wind, and lasers.
Jen: He likes guitars and picnics.
Jason Mraz has a lot to answer for. And his hat appears to be making a cameo on Gianluca’s guitarist.
Colleen: Wow. You are gayer than this room, sir.
Erin: His eyebrows look like exclamation marks.
Amy: I love that this guy thought his lyrics were so good they should be projected behind him.
Elena: It’s a Manic Pixie Dream Girl love song.
Elena: It’s a Manic Pixie Dream Girl love song.
Amy: But when does the dubstep come in?
Elena: What’s with the crotch of his pants, by the way?
Alison [concerned]: Something’s not right.
I feel like someone watched a lot of Kelly Clarkson’s awkward early performances – back before they gave her fun songs to sing and clothes that weren’t designed and sized for a seven-year-old – and thought, ‘You know what was missing here? Giant glowing orbs. BOOM.’
Colleen: So you’re 19, but you sound like you’re 90. There is a dichotomy here.
Jen: Their outfits are so almost good.
Karen: Props that she just showed up and sang.
Amy: No she didn’t. She put bubbles all over the stage.
Jen: She likes orbs. She’s not the first. She won’t be the last.
Elena: Her back-up singers are from IKEA.
Colleen: They are! They’re made of particle board!
Jen: They were shipped in 78 pieces, half of which were missing….
This young lady created a small storm of controversy in our living room:
Kari: It’s Jessica Simpson!
Colleen: No, it’s Faith Hill!
Karen: She’s a little Carrie Underwood….
Jen: No, she’s what’s-her-name, from ‘Nashville’ and ‘Friday Night Lights’
Amy and Caitlin [with matching blue steel glares]: SHE IS NO TAMI TAYLOR.
The take-aways from this are 1) that all blonde white women look the same to us, and 2) everybody better step the fuck off Connie Britton.
Amy: She dropped the dubstep in the intro. That was unexpected.
Amy: I hope to god she doesn’t try to walk down those stairs. That is not going to end well.
Alison: If there are stairs, she’s walking down ‘em.
Amy: Once again they’re keeping the back-up singers in the dark. There are some amazing things happening back there, but we’re not allowed to see them. It’s like a government conspiracy.
Every year there are a few ‘what is this world coming to?’ ballads mixed in amongst the lasers. In that spirit I present Dorians, in all their denim splendour.
Karen: He’s wearing the Canadian Tuxedo!
Amy: His eyebrows match his facial hair in an unbecoming way.
Elena: So much fire!
We rejoin our fearless leader, the inimitable Petra Mede:
Amy: Oh, she’s back!
Alison: I was starting to miss her.
Elena: To be fair, there’s only one of her and she has to manage all of that dress as well. She doesn’t have much free time.
Amy: But don’t you think the hair counterbalances the dress?
And then came the Lynda Woodruff bit. Baffling. Completely and utterly baffling. What I think is happening is that we’re being taken on a tour of Sweden by a comedy British stereotype. What might actually be happening is that we’re being taken on a tour of Sweden by a slightly damaged real British person and we’re being asked to laugh at her reduced level of function. Either way, it was utterly unfunny and more than a little uncomfortable.
Elena: Are we thinking that’s a satire?
Jen: The eyeshadow says yes… the clipboard says no.
Jen: Oh wow. This is serious.
Amy: That’s not going to help her voice.
Jen: She’s got a little man in her. I can appreciate that.
Caitlin: I heard some stuff about this one. I heard it’s all about death and wanting to kill yourself and stuff.
Colleen: I want to kill myself.
Caitlin: Not yet you don’t.
Caitlin wasn’t wrong. The chorus refers to birds falling out of the rooftops like raindrops. And yet, Anouk spent the entire time smiling benignly like the Dalai Lama.
Colleen: It’s Fiona Apple!
Karen: So that’s what she’s been doing all this time.
I don’t have a whole lot to add to this, so instead I’m going to send you on a five-minute tangent to the funniest story about birds falling from the sky that I’ve ever heard. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Welcome back! And let’s all thank Anouk for being so dull that I was inspired/forced to share that with you.
Karen: She’s hot.
Colleen: No she’s not.
Kari: Whatever, if she worked in your office you’d totally do her.
Amy: No you wouldn’t, because she’d still be talking about her feelings.
Karen: THAT’S A DUSTER! SOMEONE IN THE CROWD HAS A GERMAN FLAG DUSTER!
I seriously don’t have the words for this. Crazy operatic delivery, dubstep crashes, naked tableau dancers, impenetrable lyrics… I mean, the first words are ‘Love is so blind/Like a diamond in the light’. What the fuck am I supposed to do with that?
I am therefore handing the reins over to John O’Driscoll of RTÉ (Ireland) news, who was on location:
How to describe it? A hellish Hieronymus Bosch tableau, choreographed by Count from Sesame Street and sung with the falsetto delicacy of un-anesthetised surgery. It's probably how Al-Qaeda imagines the West. It'll probably win.
As Cezar himself put it, ‘Thank you. You are my soul.’
Amy: MAN IN A VOLCANO!
Jay: This makes it all worthwhile.
Colleen: There is a lot of penis here.
Jen: Are they penises? I thought they were tampons.
Colleen: Romania is coming out of the closet. As a nation. Right now.
Amy: That is not a man.
Caitlin [satisfied]: This is what Eurovision is all about.
Bonnie Tyler. Bonnie. Freaking. Tyler., y’all.
The room went crazy, with the requisite spontaneous group-sing of ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ wafting over from my left. To my right, though, was favourite exchange of the entire evening:
Alison [to Caitlin, quietly]: Is that really Bonnie Tyler?
Caitlin: Yeah, it is.
Alison [still quietly]: …No really, is it?
Caitlin: Yeah, it really is.
Amy: Why is her voice four octave lower than the guy who just sang?
Elena: I’m not entirely sure she’s singing in English.
Elena: Oh no, she is. She’s just had so much plastic surgery that she can’t move her mouth right anymore.
Amy: You know, if they have all those lights on you in HD, we’re going to be able to see the camel toe.
This song marked the arrival of the tater-tot burritos, and I’m sorry, but everything else faded into the background. I know that there were lots of comments about make-up, Nick Lachey, and low-slung crotches, but my main association with Robyn and his aggressively minimalist earth-tones is a craving for salt and carbs. Damn you, Caitlin.
I’m a little disappointed that I already used my snore on Bonnie Tyler. At least she had some stage presence, even if a lot of it was located in her camel toe. This guy, the eponymous ByeAlex, could not have looked less interested in what he was doing. Fortunately he was able to outsource his emotional connection to the song to his boppy sidekicks, a Roxette-looking back-up singer and a white male guitarist with Rihanna hair. This freed Alex up to undertake the role of Hat Wearer-in-Chief, and also to politely mumble thanks before leaving the stage. I’ve seen more vivacious performances in cadaver labs.
Elena: Oh, it’s the Zoomaster remix, y’all!
Amy: How do you live-perform a remix?
Jay: I liked the original better.
Alison: How did they make it to the finals?! They’re not even interesting!
Amy: Alison, I think you were in the spirit before and feeling their feelings. You need to give them time.
Jen: No, I think Alison’s in her gut. She knows what’s working for her and what isn’t.
Elena: Oh, more 12-year-old girls. Awesome.
Once again, I was spoiled on the winner; and once again, I was disappointed and annoyed by the winner. In a year where we have Romania’s wild excesses, there is no excuse for giving 12 points to another barefoot white girl with artfully mussed hair. The most outrageous part of this performance was the uncomfortably sexual way Emmelie looked at her flautist, but even that wasn’t upsetting enough to rescue us from an overwhelming sense of ‘eh’.
Colleen: Oh, she’s so young… I feel gross.
Elena: What the hell is falling from the sky?
Elena: I should have known.
Amy: You’re fired.
Jen: Leslie, where have you been all my night?
Leslie: I was home twiddling my thumbs, because… [pulls drink from purse and applies herself to it].
Colleen: ‘Sorry ladies, gotta get to my drunk.’
This actually happened, you guys.
It’s got to be a lonely life, being a Norse god past your prime. That’s the only excuse I can come up with for Thor‘s chucking on an ill-fitting suit and ballading us all into submission. Not even a thunderbolt in sight.
Some amazing hand action, though. Very expressive.
Amy: I KNOW YOU HAVE BACK-UP SINGERS. JUST BRING THEM OUT.
I think young Farid has a good career in front of him: good-looking guy, pleasant voice, solid stage presence. I can see him making a splash in the Azeri version of Tiger Beat, and that’s more than most of us can expect out of life. He may have to let the guy out of the box eventually, though.
Colleen: Glass box + shiny suit? Promising!
Elena: What’s that guy doing in the box?
Leslie: This is a metaphor. That’s his shadow. His soul is in the box and he’s trying to get out.
Amy: …Thanks, Leslie.
Jay: I think that guy actually can’t breathe.
Colleen: Azerbaijan wants it back, baby!
Jay: Well, I didn’t see any horses, but….
Did you know that there are Greek ska bands?
Did you know that at least one of them is really very good?
And did you know that this really very good Greek ska band would see a Eurovision bid featuring skirts, glow-in-the-dark instruments, and a guest performance by an aging man playing the world’s tiniest bouzouki as their logical next step?
No, me neither. Not a clue. But then, who the fuck would see that coming? Good on you Koza Mostra, for keeping us all on our toes.
Jen: ‘Alcohol is free! It’s free in Greece because our economy is in the toilet!
Caitlin: Give Greece credit: they couldn’t possibly afford to host, but they never throw the game.
Jen: I feel like this whole night is just the Jonas Brothers playing every song from every country in the world.
I’m sure you’re all familiar with the theory of Chekov’s gun: if you show a gun in the first act of the play, it must be fired before the play ends because otherwise you leave the audience hanging. This year’s entry from Ukraine demonstrates the Eurovision corollary to this, which is that if you show the audience an 18-foot-tall Viking-helmeted behemoth of a man carrying the tiny, tiny singer girl onto the stage and then lumbering off into the dark, you need to bring him back out for some kind of resolution later. Otherwise you leave everyone wondering what the fuck that was even for, and also thinking about this.
Also mysterious: was her dress tailored by blind people with hooks for hands? On a stage full of insane costumes – including the goddamned Viking – Zlata stood out as being the worst-dressed. You could see the pins, for fuck’s sake. I am sincerely bothered by this. Fifteen counties didn’t even get the chance to perform at the finals, and Ukraine can’t manage a run to the Malmö Contempo Casuals to find the poor girl a dress that fit? I’m calling for an official inquiry.
Colleen: You’re hopping! It’s boring!
Jen: I don’t like her hand.
Leslie: Well, she can’t get off that rock, so there’s not much else she can do.
Jen: She needs some Spanx. She needs to Spanx it.
Colleen: The straight man wants to know what Spanx are.
Jay: I mean, I know what a control top is….
Jen: Casio makes a big show in this.
Amy: So does Hipster Hat.
Colleen: This is more of an ad for rohypnol.
Marco Mengoli has watched a lot of ‘American Idol’. Marco Mengoli learned everything he knows from watching ‘American Idol’. Marco Mengoli even appears to pronounce his native Italian with an American accent, I suspect as a result of all that ‘American Idol’. We really need to do something about Marco Mengoli.
Colleen: What’s on his pants?
Karen: His penis.
Jen: That’s what we call ‘subliminal advertising’.
Amy: ‘Hey, take me sailing with you!’
Leslie: Oh, this is Norway?
Colleen and Elena: More like Snoreway!
Tits and hips and lasers, all so Margaret Berger can feed us her love. I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean but it sounds creepy as hell, and there’s all kinds of hate-sex overtones in the lyrics. It’s not an awful song, but it misses at what it’s trying to do. Manufactured blonde pop chicks shouldn’t be attempting Aphex Twin, and they really shouldn’t be smiling blandly while they do it.
Caitlin: They should have Frizz-Eased her.
Leslie: I’m sure they have smoothing serum in Norway.
Amy: Hello shoulder pads!
Elena: Yeah, they’ve been really stingy with the shoulder pads this year. The shoulder pads were a highlight of Baku. I miss them.
And now for the annual duet between a man and woman who lack any emotional connection whatsoever. There is nothing more uncomfortable than watching people like this touch each other. You can actually feel them pulling away from each other every time they get close.
Jen: They sleep in separate beds.
Fortunately for Nodi and Sophie, though, it’s Eurovision: there’s NOTHING you can’t cover with cheap special effects!
Leslie: Oh snap! Here comes the steam!
Jen: It’s like they’re ice dancing.
Leslie: …Into my heart.
It’s a well-known bit of Eurovision lore that after their four wins in the 1990s, Ireland decided that it could never again afford to host and has basically been throwing the contest ever since. Don’t believe it? Consider this: a country that prides itself on its traditions of music and storytelling has sent Jedward. Twice. And in 2008, they went so far as to send a puppet named Dustin the Turkey. This is no accident, you guys.
This year, though, they seemed to be making a sincere effort. Ryan Dolan’s a good-looking boy in the Eurovision way (lacquered hair, spray-tanned, lots of teeth), and it’s a big production number with tribal-tatted dancers brandishing bodhráns, massive kettle drums, and a big, chunky, reach-for-the-lasers bassline. They had lots of positive buzz, they had lots of fire, they even had the highly-prized final slot.
And they came last. 26th out of 26.
This was frankly shocking. I don’t have any serious national affiliations – as far as I’m concerned, Eurovision is always the winner on the day – but having Irish and Albanian grandparents means that I do tend to barrack a bit harder for those countries. I knew Ireland wasn’t going to win, but I figured they’d finish well. I was, and remain, surprisingly cranky about how poorly they placed.
Leslie: They speak English in Ireland, no?
Elena: Oh, they’re singing in English.
Leslie: They… are?
Erin: Did he oil himself, or is that somebody’s job?
Jen: ‘Look at me: I’m playing the big drum!’
Jay: ‘I’m the Big Drum Guy!’
Introduction to the voting
Petra takes the stage once again to lead us through the voting process. And once again, it’s her outfit that matters most to us.
Elena: She’s wearing pants under that dress, yo.
Jen: I’m telling you, she’s wearing a businessy wizard’s cloak.
Erin: Well, it is double-breasted.
Last year’s winner, Loreen, returns to perform a medley of her songs ‘We Got the Power’, ‘My Heart Is Refusing Me’, and the 2012 winner, ‘Euphoria’. It’s honestly pretty badass and I would lose it to this in a club, but the Eurovision-on-the-barricades, ’Les Miz’-in-coveralls bushwa was unnecessary. Also, her back-up dancers spend a lot of time doing that little hop-while-spinning-your-hand-over-your-head move that will be familiar to anyone who’s seen MDMA in action. Unacceptable. You’re paying choreographers, Loreen. Make them work for their money.
Elena: Do you know how many turkeys died for that dress?
Jen: She got some money over the last year, but no one touched her with a brush. Not once.
Now this is where Ms. Mede earned her money. ‘Our people are cold but our elks are hot’?! Sweden. My love. You had me at ‘elks’.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a host nation so brilliantly pillory both itself and the whole business of Eurovision: ‘By winning this contest you get the chance/To host a show you can’t afford/Then sell your country through song and dance’. Fucking amazing. And despite how much glowing press this song got, the video is nowhere to be found on the official Eurovision site. Funny that.
The link I chose includes the full lyrics, and I strongly encourage you to read along. She says ‘titties’ and refers to the super-dykey soccer team handling their balls. She name-checks lingonberries and talks about the national propensity toward lactose intolerance. It’s spectacular. It would have been causing coronaries throughout Eurovision officialdom.
If the actual performances were this good, the show would be no fun to watch.
DENMARK: Announcement of the winner and encore performace
We skipped through the hours of results (even though I do delight in the annual Festival of Awkwardness that is 26 time-delay-riddled conversations between the on-stage hosts and the voting nations’ sanctioned representatives) and went straight to the announcement and the winner’s encore. The reactions at our house were delayed – no one remembered what Denmark had done – and then vehemently opposed once the penny dropped.
Jen: Oh my god, it’s these motherfuckers?
Colleen: SKIN FLUTE! SKIN FLUTE!
Colleen: I think she’s overwhelmed. She’s, like, 13.
Jen: No, she’s like, ‘I only bumped enough coke for one performance. I’m really down right now. Somebody get me some shoes.’
We were wildly unsatisfied with the result, and decided we needed a palate-cleanser of the most uplifting Eurovision entry in history: Russia’s adorable Babushki, from 2012:
Leslie: Next thing they’ll do a remix with Li’l Wayne.
…And that was it. I think that this year was more of a slow burn than most; when we were watching it a lot of us were saying it seemed kind of slow, but on reflection and re-watch there was a lot of memorably mental bullshit: Robert Palmer’s dancers, birds falling from the sky, giant Eastern bloc Vikings. Margaret Berger feeding us her love and Greek men in utili-kilts plying us with free alcohol. And Romania, who prompted this snippet:
Erin: What country was the Satan and the vagina?
Caitlin: See, that is why Eurovision is awesome: you can have conversations like this.
So once again, I thank you, Eurovision. Even when you’re comparatively sane, you’re nuts by any normal standard. Don’t go changin’, and we’ll see you in Denmark in 2014. As Erin said, with a contented sigh, ‘We’re glad this happened.’