Lisbon, May 2018
Israel claimed its 4th Eurovision victory in a stunningly predictable finale, where taste was defenestrated and trampled, writhing and squirming, on the Portugese cobbles below. The UK and Bulgaria had outstanding entries, and we give honourable mention to Estonia, Holland and Cyprus. However, what with the jury vote and the televotes, bizarre results were in the cards.
We liked Elina Nechayeva with her dress of many colours and the operatic aria, ‘La forza’ sung in Italian, but Estonia came in 8th.
Bulgaria’s Equinox (see main image) featuring an East European Lady Gaga, had a dramatic pop-rocker called “Bones” (finished 14th) and SuRie, an Annie Lennox clone (see below), had a belter with “Storm” and carried on with aplomb even when some twit mounted the stage and stole her mike. (SBS Commentator Joel Creasey finally came up with an apt and succinct phrase, describing this fellow: “cockhead.”) However, the UK, a pariah on the continent well before Brexit, placed 24th (!) A Hollander with the unlikely name Waylon, also did well (but finished 18th in a field of 26). Norway’s annoying Alexander Rybak, winner in 2009, was back with his dubious fiddle (“That’s Not How You Write a Song.”)
Cyprus had an impressive, kinetic number with “Fuego” and duly placed 2nd.
Now for the rockers, punch-the-clockers, and shockers:
Netta, surely less likely to feature in Euro-voting than, say, a bearded lady, won with a weird #Me Too anthem called “Toy.” We gave it minus 10.
Two aging youths sang a duo for Italy – poor. (Believe it or not, they placed 5th). Sweden’s Benjamin Ingrosso, with tousled hair and tight trackie-pants, warbled something called “Dance You Off” – at least, that’s what we thought he was singing. 0 points from us. He came 7th. Hungarian heavy metal seemed singularly rusty – 3 points from us (they came 21st). Ireland offered a soulful ballad with what seemed like Jedward providing some odd background panto – very poor. Finland had an ex X factor contestant with a forgettable piece called “Monsters.” Denmark had a serious fellow called Rasmussen, who looked like Rasputin and sang “Higher Ground” (not by Stevie Wonder, unfortunately) quite well (we gave him 6/10; he finished 9th). Ukraine (a lad with asymmetrical eyes), Serbia, Slovenia, Albania, and Austria were middling (Serbia stood-out from this pack by having their song presented by what appeared to be Bluebeard and his Islamic wives). Spain had a dull love song performed by a real-life couple – judging by the sparks not struck, they could be in trouble. Neighbour Portugal, the host, had a pretty good song and an amiable gal with pink hair (6/10 from us) but came in dead last, possibly because everyone now realises what a monumental error was made giving their putrid song the win last year.
Before we turn to the best (i.e., the very worst) of Eurovision, we have to report that Jessica Mauboy, for Australia (finished 20th) was not at her best. She gave it her all, but the voice wavered, the song fell flat, and her wardrobe seemed to malfunction (a German newspaper said she looked like a dumpling, and we guess they’d know). The Sydney Morning Herald reported this assessment of her performance: “I’m sorry. I thought, actually, she’d escaped from ‘Wentworth’ and been let on stage. It was dreadful. She was describing herself in the media as Australia’s Beyonce. Clearly she’s never seen Beyonce.” Rod Liddle, in ‘The Spectator’ (19 May) was even more pungent: “The worst entry…was that vast caterwauling aboriginal (sic). I can’t remember her name, only that her performance convinced me still further that Australia might not, technically, be a part of Europe.” (Phew. Australia, let’s maybe take five?)
Now for the winners of The Varnished Culture’s Euro-Points Award, which focuses on the most embarrassing performances on the night. And what a rich array there was, as always! France was well in the mix, as usual, with one of their lacklustre chanteuses wobbling around one of those B-grade French songs that failed to make the cut of a Charles Aznavour record. The Czechs fielded a young chap in short hair, big glasses, a bow tie and striped pullover, pointlessly removing and replacing a backpack, trilling something called “Lie to Me.” A laugh riot. Lithuania went retro with “When We’re Old,” a sort of lower Baltic “When I’m 64” and projected images straight from a life insurance flyer. Germany was extravagantly lame with “You Let Me Walk Alone” (no surprise there) presented by a man who looked like a cross between Timothy Bottoms, Ed Sheeran and Mick Hucknall.
But leaving them all in the dust was plucky little Moldova, scoring an incredible maximum 10 Euro points from us with a song by DoReDos called “My Lucky Day.” We have no idea about the song – possibly about a ménage à trois – because it was presented by the three singers and three doubles, frantically charging in and out of doors and peeking cheerily out of windows. It was a cross between a farce by Feydeau and Rowan and Martin’s ‘Laugh-in.’ It was our lucky day – thanks Moldova, for giving us bad cabaret, bubblegum pop, a heavy sprinkling of cheese and drizzled sugar – the very essence of Eurovision.