Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Eurovision a la Nee

Last Saturday night, we engaged in the lovely little ritual of squatting around the tv to watch musical groups from 24 European (and the term seems pretty loosely used in this case) countries compete against each other to win the Eurovision Song Contest. The German commentator alone was worth staying up until midnight for. He totally killed us with his snark-itude. Hannah managed to stay up until 11, but she reached that stage like when the batteries are dying down in a toy, and it starts to play loudly and at a high pitch and NON-STOP until it just conks out, which is quite unusual for her.

Anyhow, it was a learning experience for us, seeing how the Europeans conduct their musical popularity contest. A good friend in Austin lived in Britain for a while, and she is still fascinated by the whole thing, so this entry is dedicated to her.

Here are my notes on each country’s representative, including the type of music and any interesting tidbits we noticed during the show. And the occasional links to photos of some groups.

1. Switzerland—anthem?
A group of 6—3 men and 3 women—none of whom are Swiss. Huh? Their song was picked up to be the anthem by some non-profit group, if that gives you some idea of the „We Are the World“-ness of it.

2. Molova—pop/dance
The female singer kept going through costume changes behind the sail and kept coming out wearing fewer and fewer clothes. The male singer never did this. hmmm...

3. Israel—R & B
A black R & B singer from Israel—I don’t think anyone could have foreseen that. He even sang bits in Hebrew. Unfortunately, France was the only country that gave him any points, so he ended up in 23rd place.

4. Latvia—a capella
A group of 6 men. Nothing special, except for the PUPPETRY. Aack! My brain!

5. Norway—Enya-esque
In Norwegian. John liked it, but only lukewarm-ly.

6. Spain—pop
Las Ketchup (hee! Best. Band. Name. Ev-ah! It’s right up there with BananaFishBones.)
I particularly enjoyed some spectacular gender-bending among the dancers. Spain was an early favorite of mine.

7. Malta—dance
Hannah: That guy looks like he wants to eat our brains. I think he’s a vampire. (I couldn’t find any good brain-craving photos.)

8. Germany—country
No shit. Germany has a country band (fronted by an Australian, actually) that is already pro here, and I really like their music. They were John’s favorites throughout. They were not so popular with the rest of Europe, though.

9. Denmark—remake of beach music
Commentator: We’ve heard this thousands of times before.

10. Russia— “pop ballad”
A male singer who looked disturbingly similar to a member of the awful kid-targeted German pop band Banaroo. In addition to a couple of back-up singers, he had ballerinas. Plus an all-white ballerina who popped out of a hole in a grand piano covered with red petals. I didn’t get it.

11. Macedonia—dance music
Hannah commented that the main attraction was big boobs. She’s becoming a critical viewer—I can die a happy mother.

12. Romania—dance music
We found it to be pretty good up until the moment he threw in a little falsetto. *falsetto*

13. Bosnia & Herzegovina—ballad
Very pretty, Balkan-esque.

14. Lithuania
I don’t know what to call this song, because it was kind of unusual. Reminded me of The Pogues somehow. There was a row of male singers, and each was gesturing as he sang, except this stoic, Drew Carey look-alike, who finally broke down and performed a hyper-kinetic dance. And their song? “We are the winners of Eurovision.” Cheeky!

15. UK—rap
And a pretty bland rap. About school.

16. Greece—pop ballad (think Celine Dion)
Commentator: She’s 49—a few times.
A popular Greek singer, but getting up there with Cher and Madonna. Not that you could tell.

17. Finland—“heavy” metal
The infamous monster band, Lordi. No crap. They looked like rejects from Tales from the Crypt, or like they’d been digging through the trash in New Zealand after Lord of the Rings was done shooting. So basically they looked like Gwar, but they sounded like Spinal Tap. Hee! Needless to say, they spanked the other bands like red-headed stepchildren. They were so far ahead that it wasn’t strictly necessary to tally in the points from the last 5 countries.

The commentator warned viewers in advance that they might not want to let their children watch this part. Hannah said she had been more scared of slugs than those guys.

18. Ukraine—pop/dance
Commentator: That was Shakira, I mean...
I think she was wearing too many clothes for that designation.

19. France—chanson
This was a real French chanson (song), in French (duh!), and accompanied by a cello. It was my absolute favorite, so of course it only got 1 more point than Israel.
At this point, John said: The French think everyone will like them, just for being French, but the Germans just gave up and became Texans.
There’s a reason I keep him around.

20. Croatia—dance
John mentioned that it was a reflection of the “colorful local culture.” Just because the singer formerly acted in “adult” films.

21. Ireland—ballad
Sadly, bland. “Every Song is a Cry for Love”? Try “This Song is a Cry for Help”.

22. Sweden—dance/disco
Very Abba-esque (if it worked once, right?), but if they had been infiltrated by Dusty Springfield.

23. Turkey—disco
This lady was pretty cool. She was a single mom (and a hairdresser?), and she’s more tatooed than you normally see your Turkish women. And she wrote her song herself.

24. Armenia—pop/dance, with a Middle Eastern flavor
I almost forgot—MORE PUPPETRY! (But with people acting like marionettes, which still doesn’t excuse it.) What were these bands thinking?!

These are just the countries that made it through the various semi-final rounds. Every country gets to vote on the winners, which is done by call-in vote. The votes are divided up by percentages, and each country gives out 1-7 points, and then 8, 10, and 12 points. No country can vote for its own representative, so lots of countries end up voting for their neighbors. It’s interesting to see who votes for whom.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


I probably should just number these drive-by posts, because I have the feeling they may have that flavor for a while.

Still crazy busy, and not likely to dig myself out very soon. But Thursday is a holiday (Christ Ascension), so I plan to use a little of the time to update here.

Hannah just turned 9, so I put some new photos up at Flickr. I had been hoarding my space over there until after her party, but I might put up a few other things on Thursday.

'Til then!