This week I am celebrating a birthday, a very special birthday, if you are fond of cheese, homosexuality, glitter and kitsch hum along mindless lyrics. The Eurovision Song Competition has just celebrated its 60th birthday.
Now you can hum “Congratulations…. And Jubilations….” By the wrinkly pop dinosaur Cliff. Sorry now you will be humming it all day.
The British are very excited about the upcoming competition and looking forward to coming last again. Norway have come last more than any other country 11 times so we have a wee bit to go to wrestle that title from them.
There was a concert in London last week where Eurovision types got together to perform their hits or other people’s hits or whatever but it was a huge chance to let us giggle at how much weight they had put on, who had had surgery and who now has a bad hip. The audience was full of large men, hairy faced wearing sparkly frocks in honour of Conchita, last year’s transgender bearded winner. She’s the one who tries to confront gender stereotypes wherever she goes. Ok that bit confuses me but as a human being Conchita is very warm and witty– she’s hosting the green room this year so look out for her (she’s difficult to miss – nice frock, nice facial hair).
The concert was hosted by the very rude Graham Norton who just says what we are all thinking, and the very talented Petre Mede, of Sweden who just says what we are all thinking in six languages. Fluently.
Petre Mede was the one who sang the interval song in Sweden 2013, which mentioned recycling, H & M, Ikea, Abba, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Bjorn Borg, queueing, Vikings, and same-sex marriage. It made us yearn for the simple days of Boom Bang A Bang.
We just love Eurovision. Like car crashes and visible panty line – you know you shouldn’t look but somehow you just can’t keep your eyes off it.
You are not the slightest bit interested but nobody has ever said ‘Null points’ its “pas de points” or “zero point.” Norway has scored most nuls (four). But they do not have the worst overall record – that belongs to the Portuguese who have never made the top five since their debut in 1964.
The competition began in 1956 with a remit to unite nations through song. So, just to keep in the spirit of the thing in 1978 Jordanian TV showed some flowers instead of the Israeli entry. And when Israel won, Jordan pretended it was Belgium.
Instrumental music is banned and so are acts that contain live animals except the Finnish entry Hard Rock hallelujah, which was performed by the vanguard of the Orc army. Lordi. It was the first heavy metal song to win.
As you will know from reading this blog, the competition is open to any country who receives the Eurovision TV Network signal and I have heard a rumour that this year, we will be joined by the Australians.
There is a custom that the winner hosts the following years competition and Spain have usually entered terrible songs so they never have to host maybe Norway has cottoned on to that idea. But some of the winners have pleaded poverty to be excused their hosting duties. The Netherlands, France, Monaco, and Luxembourg should all hang their heads in shame. For some reason, the UK always steps in to host… we have done that all four times. This might explain the national debt.
Italy boycotted the competition in 1980- something because it was too old fashioned.
We used to do well when we sang about toys; jack in a box or puppet on a string. When we copied Abba; Brotherhood of Man, Bucks Fizz, Coco. Or if it was sung by Cliff Richard.
I think it is fair to say that a certain silliness of lyric does well- something that sounds catchy no matter what language might your native tongue be. ; Sweden’s Diggy-Loo Diggi-Ley won, Holland’s Ding-A-Dong won, Spain’s La-La-La won or fellow Glaswegian Lulu belting out Boom-Bang-A-Bang.
The shortest title was Si (Spain, 1974).
The longest was Man Gewöhnt Sich So Schnell An Das Schöne (West Germany, 1974). You can translate that yourself but it is something about being beautiful quickly. Or something.
Two familiar Eurovision faces are Dutchman Dolf van der Linde who has conducted for Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland and German songwriter Ralph Siegel, who has taken part 22 times.
The youngest entrant was Belgium’s Sandra Kim, 13 (she won) and the oldest was not UK’s Englebert Humperdinck, 78, but Switzerland’s 95-year-old Emil Ramsauer.
It does get political of cours, the block voting by the ex-soviet states. Malta tends to give us 12 points, Spain and Portugal always vote for each other. Turkey and Cyprus never vote for one another. Turkey and Armenia tend to vote for each other.
But there is a childish honesty in that, so what if they vote for their pals.
The UK has won five times! Ireland have won seven times.
Yip I will be glued to the TV as this year, it is not the same weekend as Crimefest.
And, like most brits, I don’t watch it because it is a good song competition, I watch it because it is hysterically funny.
'The silly songs, the spectacle, the grandiose foolishness of it all,' as host Terry Wogan once said.
Current host Norton said when taking over, ‘Sir Terry is nothing less than a legend and is an impossible act to follow, but I just couldn't say no. I can't wait to get to Moscow. With a combination of cheap vodka and a language barrier, what could possibly go wrong?'
So to all the European Bloggers and readers, get out your glitter and dance yer feet aff!
Here are the stars of the concert - then and now...
The Brother hood Of Man
Ann Marie David
Cliff then and now
Conchita then and now
Petra doing her stuff in a glam frock.
Tearful as she sang it again and realised she could have career as JK Rowling's body double,
And then with shoulder pads and mullets...
and looking so much better now..
Johnny Logan then...
Caro Ramsay 10/04/2015