Monday, 20 May 2019

History repeating...

We wuz robbed! Again.

The UK entry in the Eurovision Song Contest might not have been our taste, but it (and singer Michael Rice) wasn't so bad that it deserved to come last in the contest - there was certainly a helluva lot worse on offer on Saturday night...

Our gang gathered en masse at the completely flag-bedecked Dolores Delargo Towers once more - all dressed for the occasion, and champing at the bit for the "Gay World Cup" to come. As ever, I do the allocations for the guests - one country for costume/flag, one for booze and one for food each - and as ever, they did not disappoint!

Among the representatives, we had a Swedish flag on legs, a character from a Breugel painting (Netherlands), a Thor (Norway) and an S&M Viking (Iceland):

... and there was a frou-frou Czech national, a Portuguese peasant, an Israeli girl folk dancer with a beard - and... Bernadette from Priscilla Queen of the Desert (Australia)!

Every surface was creaking with morsels (and drink, of course) in the copious buffet, and we had plenty of time for libations and merriment (and an "ooh-ah" at the extensive gardens) before - scorecards in hand - we prepared for the "songs" to begin.

As is expected every year, it was a mixed bag. We loathed the "virtue signalling" French entry, the German "sisters" and the execrable (and most peculiar-looking) couple from Slovenia; but on the whole, a vast number of the entries committed the cardinal sin of just being boring - including the eventual winner from the Netherlands. As my sister said, loads of “we are all one, love, unity, love, children, bunnies”.

Host Graham Norton was on top form, as usual, with his sly back-handed compliments and hilarious asides - but even he could not save us.

The official voting system (first the jury votes, then the public ones) caused some wild variations in the final winners' table - for the first half of the voting, it was a neck-and-neck race between the North Macedonian and Swedish entries, but the public preferred Italy, Russia (of course, given the number of Eastern European ex-pats), Switzerland and the Dutch:

1 Netherlands
2 Italy
3 Russia
4 Switzerland
5 Norway

We, on the other hand, had a rather different Top 5. In ascending order:

Our ultimate favourite Norway was the only one that was in the "real" Top 5 (in fifth place). It is a fabulous production number - and where else but Eurovision would you hear rapping in Saami (the language of Lapland)? And yes! We did love those "rebellious Icelanders" - the ones who, controversially, waved Palestine flags at the camera during the voting, to piss off the Israeli hosts - BDSM and all. However, although he did not get as low a score as in the real contest, the UK entry was not one of the most popular round our place...

And what of Madonna's much-vaunted half-time performance? Hmmm. Not one of her best, we agreed. As Ed Power in his (two-star) review for the Telegraph summed it up perfectly:
Coming on after an evening of glitz, kitsch and Australians wobbling on huge sticks, Madonna seemed to find it difficult to read the room. The result was a turn that felt skittish and which, for all its ambition, never truly connected.

It didn’t help that her voice didn’t quite hit the peaks we know it can. Nor at any point did she appear to be be enjoying herself. Her trip to Israel had been condemned by pro-Palestine groups. Madonna had responded by saying she would “never stop playing music to suit someone's political agenda” and would pray “for a new path toward peace”. She certainly presented an unbowed figure on the night. But had the criticism unmoored her slightly?

The idea that Madonna could turn up at Eurovision dressed as a one-eyed space pirate, surrounded by humming monks, yet fail to add to the camp quotient obviously sounds absurd. Nevertheless, she did slightly suck the heat out of the room as she kicked off with a scary goth version of Like A Prayer.

She appeared at the top of a stairs that seemed to have been pinched from the set of Game of Thrones. This in itself was a distraction. Madonna and steps haven’t had the happiest of histories and her tumble at the 2015 Brit Awards will have been on the minds of many watching at home (you can bet it was on Madge’s).

But, to her credit, she made it all the way down. There her treat was an appearance by two further singing monks carting huge styrofoam battering rams.

The excitement wasn’t over (actually it hadn’t really begun) as she segued into her new single Future, for which she was joined by rapper Quavo [in an interview beforehand Quavo revealed he was delighted to be at Eurovision despite seemingly having learned of the existence of Eurovision five minutes earlier].

Here Madonna abandoned any pretence at trying to win over the Eurovision audience. This was a grim, auto-tuned number that wanted very badly to be a Soundcloud rap banger. Her dancers were obviously now wearing gas-masks while the video screens projected images of flames and grim-looking world leader types. It takes a lot to reduce a Eurovision audience to a mass of restless moochers. But Madonna managed it.

Perhaps the crowd was fed up from all the waiting. All evening we’d been teased about an exclusive Madonna appearance. We knew she was in the building, having arrived in Tel Aviv earlier in the week on the private jet of Israel-Canadian billionaire Sylvan Adams.

The expectation was that once all 26 singers were done, we’d cut to a mad-for-it Madge and her monks. Instead the slightly seat of its pants production forced us to watch the “one of the world’s greatest mentalists” and to then applaud a woman dressed as a banana singing about bananas.

This was weird but not nearly as weird as Madonna in the contestants’ green room. She was in full intergalactic corsair outfit and being interviewed by one of the terrified hosts. When she failed to laugh at one of his jokes and instead glared at her trousers you could almost see his soul leave his body. It got stranger – of course it did – as Madonna forced the Eurovision hopefuls to sing the chorus of her 2000 quasi-hit Music, in furtherance of world peace. Even with world peace on the line they didn’t really seem into it.

All of which led up to the actual performance. Madonna, her monks and gas masks having creeped out 200 million viewers at home, will have concluded that she at least got our attention. The organisers may have wished they’d asked Kylie instead.

For us, the best part of the whole evening was the segment where four previous winners of the contest were invited to perform winning songs originally done by other artists...

Sorry, Madge - but that's what Eurovision is all about... [And all eminently suitable for a Tacky Music Monday, of course!]

Same time, same place, next year? Of course!


  1. Give it up Madge. Time to practice looking gracefully regal from the sidelines.

    1. Either that or regain her instinct for entertainment - someone obviously thought that recreating her brilliant Met Gala performance would be a good idea for a two-song PA in Tel Aviv when, given the audience and atmosphere, the Material Girl "Marilyn" number or something queeny like Vogue would have worked far better. Them's my thoughts, anyhow. Jx

  2. That's the first time I've heard Norway's entry it was far too good for Eurovision.

    What Mr P said about Madonna. Poor old lass, she was really struggling.

    1. "Too good for Eurovision" - very true. The winning pile of sentimental old schlock was far more what we're used to these days...

      Madge was definitely not on best form. We felt a bit let-down, after all the hype. Jx

  3. Right then! No need to read any other reviews. Anyway, I'm still flumoxxxxed trying to work out how Australia and Israel can be in Europe.All this and the Federal Election...
    Looks like a proper party, though.

    1. Well, traditionally "Eurovision" is not actually just "European" - it's a broadcasting network that encompasses a lot of countries around the Mediterranean (including Turkey, Israel, Morocco, Algeria, Jordan, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Lebanon) and beyond (Azerbaijan's hardly Europe, either). Australia got in only a few years ago because it has a huge fanbase there (and presumably, your TV networks pay for the privilege).

      It was a fab party indeed! Jx

  4. A fabluous party indeed. Only just recovered now and The History Boy is still struggling ;-). Roll on next year and perhaps (if its not too much to hope for) some good songs? xxx

    1. Ah - the joyful combination of copious quantities of alcohol, bizarre food combinations and a helluva lot of shouting "rubbish!" at the telly does tend to take it out of one...

      Good songs at Eurovision are always few and far between, as we well know. But we wouldn't be without this "season calendar" highlight - it was a hoot! Jx

  5. I still like the Denmark entry, and the big chair.... yeah, I know it was cutesy, and circa 1990, BUT...
    Yes, the Madonna interlude was odd!

    1. We liked that one, too - but as you say, a bit "cutesy".

      Can't imagine Madge doing a cover of it. Jx


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