Friday, May 22, 2009


This past week, millions of people sat in rapt attention watching and supporting young hopefuls as they sang their hearts out for the chance at glory.

I'm referring, of course, to Eurovision, the annual song competition that drew in contestants from 42 countries that began in January and culminated with the finals in Moscow last Saturday. Now, sadly, the participants aren't acts already well-known in the U.S.. Can you imagine, back in the '90s, Oasis repping the U.K. against Sweden's Ace Of Base? Hell, an all-Britpop slugfest to even qualify for the competition back then would've been amazing fun.

Even if they're relative newcomers, Eurovision's participants seem to fall into a category fans of pre-packaged lowest common denominator reality-show swillAmerican Idol are well-acquainted with: goofy-ass pop. Witness the entry from Greece, Sakis Rouvas -- and watch out for his pelvis!

Now, the route to the finals was a lot more controversial than its' American counterpart. For instance:

* The entry from Georgia, "We Don't Wanna Put It In," stirred up a ruckus because - get this -- it had unfavorable political connotations. Obviously, given the song title
* When the Moscow Pride Parade was held the same day as the finals, following a pronouncement by the city's mayor that homosexuality was "satanic," 20 people were arrested, and some of the contestants took the opportunity to express solidarity with the cause.
* The second semi-final round was broadcast on a tape delay in Spain, without the option of televoting -- a violation of contest rules.
* A disagreement flared up between Armenia and Azerbaijan (the latter fielded the 3rd place finisher, "Always") after Armenia used a statue in a promo video that sits on land disputed between the two countries. How's all that for drama?

Compared to this contest, your precious Idol is a spring chicken. Eurovision has been around for 54 years. And apparently, even if these folks aren't well-known here now, they might be, in time: past participants include ABBA, Julio Iglesias and - gulp - Celine Dion. So that's where the blame lies.

The eventual winner, Norway's Alexander Rybak, looks like he's already got a leg up on post-Euro life: "Fairytale," shown below, is already charting heavily across the continent. So if he's annoying the hell out of you by this time next year, well, don't say I didn't give you fair warning.

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