Sunday, May 27, 2012

First night: Over the Hump - Eurovision 2012

We've all had some time for it to settle in now: apparently Engelbert Humperdinck wasn't a secret weapon at all. Indeed, I'm hoping he was just using the Song Contest as a cover for a jewel heist in Baku, otherwise it'd be questionable why he was there at all.

Graham Norton seemed genuinely concerned that Hump was going to be distraught at the result, quickly forming a theory that this wasn't a vote against him, just an unfortunate side-effect of having gone first.

Plausible, I suppose - at a rough estimate, a couple of million people would have spent his song bellowing "Mum! It's starting!" or "Is this part of the contest?" or even "Лайно, де вони отримують цю страшну розминка хлопець з? Він одягнений, як він прийшов на похорон." But that would probably shave your score by a couple of dozen votes at most, rather than nearly the lot, surely?

Engelbert is sounding upbeat, to judge by his words to BBC News:

The 76-year-old said he "did the best for my country".

"I've had many highs in my career and Eurovision has been a wonderful experience," he said.

"I want to thank everybody, especially my fans around the world for their words of support.

"I did the best for my country, the rest was out of my hands."
The BBC said that at least he was spared the humiliation of Nul Points. But that might have been all he was spared, to judge by the Associated Press copy:
Amid the usual jamboree of youthful exuberance — and questionable taste — this year's Eurovision Song Contest featured a pair of elderly acts among its most high-profile contenders.

The night opened with some two-note crooning by the UK's black-clad veteran act Engelbert Humperdinck, who Scottish comedian Robert Florence acerbically remarked on Twitter looked "like an inaccurate waxwork of Johnny Cash."

Russia's Buranovskiye Babushki, a group of six grannies, offered a similarly static stage show, but did liven up their act "Party for Everybody" with some choreographed baking in an onstage oven.
The Press Assocation ran a ruler over just how bad things were for Englebert:
Questions will be asked about the decision to hand the baton to a 76-year-old, leading to one of the worst outcomes for the UK. Until 2011, the public had a say in who represented the UK and with which song, but that was abandoned when boy-band Blue were chosen to sing I Can, in the hope an established name could bring home the title. They managed to come 11th last year, a respectable position in comparison to this year.
Yes, he's managed to make the awful Blue performance look like some sort of high-water mark.

The Telegraph worries that even as a failure, this fell short of spectacular:
Sweden are officially the winners! And we didn't even manage to come last. Second last is more embarrasing than last, really, because it's not even funny. Poor Engelbert. Bet he's got the right hu... never mind.
The Mail might have spotted the weak link in our entry:
Humperdinck’s song was written by Sacha Skarbek - who teamed up with James Blunt to compose You’re Beautiful - and record producer Martin Terefe.
So, next year it's off to Sweden - a rare opportunity to enjoy Eurovision in a nation where gay people don't get hit on the heads with batons. It's normal to joke that winning the contest is a bit like getting an expensive and ugly gift, but the head of Sweden's SVT is quite confident, she tells Dagens Nyheter:
SVT can be trusted with the job of organising one of Europe's largest television events, says Eva Hamilton, stressing they have no intention of spending crazy sums of money. The event is also expected to create jobs.

- I cannot say what this will cost, but I can say that we have no ambition to keep up with the constant arms race and demand the entire country's GDP for this kind of thing, she says, referring to Azerbaijan.
So are Sweden enjoying their moment? Yes, but - if Svenska Dagbladet is any indication, not so much as they're enjoying the discomfort of their neighbours:
It could not have gone worse for Norway in yesterday's Eurovision Song Contest in Azerbaijan's capital Baku. Not only did the country came last with only seven points, nearly half of those came from eternal rival Sweden, who also swept all before them and won the whole competition.
Ah, yes, poor Tooji. At least Engelbert has a long career he can point to. Norway's Tooji is still young, and will have a lifetime of living down his loss. Could you imagine any way the night could have been worse for him?

Actually, Norway's Aftenposten points out it was his birthday yesterday as well. Still, he's philosophical:
It wasn't so bad it deserved seven points. I am not worse than Ireland, who entered hyperactive Teletubbies. I know that I'm not, so it must be something that the universe is trying to teach me.
The Irish Independent is delighted that those hyperactive Teletubbies have saved some cash:
JEDWARD'S bid to win Ireland's first Eurovision prize in 16 years fell as flat as their hairdos last night, as the twins finished in the bottom half of the table.

That Ireland won't have to host the competition next year will come as a relief to some at the head of RTE, given its accumulated losses of €50m.

Despite it being their second time in a row to represent their country at the Eurovision, their rendition of Waterline in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku failed to attract the affection or the votes of the millions watching the competition across the continent.

The Grimes' twins, John and Edward, 20, from Lucan in Dublin, delivered a solid performance and gave it their all, but it was a devastating return after the high expectations ahead of last night.
And the decision to go ahead with the event in repressive old Baku? Did that create an awkward evening, a sense of trying to have fun while ignoring the screams outside?

Not a bit of it:
Azerbaijan and the city of Baku have proven to be worthy hosts of Europe’s favourite TV show with a wonderful evening of entertainment put on by host broadcaster Ictimai Television. The show was opened in a very impressive fashion with a stunning fireworks display around the hall and amazing night time vistas of the Azerbaijani capital. This was followed by a very impressive display of Azerbaijani dancing in the hall after which last year’s winners Eldar and Nikki performed their winning entry Running Scared.

The interval act was equally impressive, featuring Azerbaijani superstar Emin who kept the audience and viewers entertained whilst the votes were being verfied.
Mind you, that's just the verdict of the Azerbaijan official news agency. They might be a bit biased.

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