Monday, 16 May 2011

Kovács and Kováts on Eurovision

My friends K&K posted a neat piece about the Eurovision song contest, this year held in Dusseldorf, Germany and won by Azerbaijan. They've also lamented the bad performance of the Hungarian entry(*), the seeming lack of originality and the dominance of English. Here's my two pence...

I tend to agree with you in the general, although some aspects of Eurovision you find baffling are quite simple, really. As the great Terry Wogan observed sometime in 2005, in the run-up to the yearly songfest, that non-English pop songs are, as he put it, quite silly, really. English is the language in the music industry – unless you are Gainsborough and set your sights on the French charts – so there’s nothing surprising that the restriction on the language was eventually lifted. It would be quite pointless to carbon copy Take That or a Katy Perry and then release a song that’s only understood by a fraction of your intended audience. I’m sure “Waterloo” would be charming in Swedish, which would have probably spared the world from the phenomenon into which ABBA developed.
Second, I don’t actually find it strange that only few of the songs exhibit any sign of national character. When Nox run in 2005 (?) with their folk tunes, Wogan immediately dubbed them “gypsies’, which didn’t particularly went down well, to say the least, with certain Hungarian viewers. But at least it neatly highlighted the limitations of originality and acceptance. Don’t tell me you didn’t at least smile at those chaps with their pointy hats from Moldavia.
Then, you say the Hungarian entry languished at the bottom throughout the voting – and with a good reason. Wolf Kati may sing very nice and she’s an attractive woman, to be sure, her performance lacked what is necessary to win here – the ‘wow’ factor, the show, the eye candy. She didn’t try to woo the spectators, hardly even moved throughout the song, just standing there in dressed practically a blue satin bedsheet. I’m not sure who predicted her to be one of the top performances, but look at Germany, Austria – solo girls were not the vogue this time…
Finally, while I congratulate the Azeris on winning the contest, I wasn’t particularly impressed with their song either – when they sang after the vote, their voices seemed to be powerless and faded. However, it’s a great testament to this continent and its people that a duo from one of the most obscure corners of Europe could win this contest, despite accusations of sympathy voting and regional blocks.

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