Sunday, May 25, 2003

My Nul Point Hell: Eurovision 2003

Eurovision, 2003. From Latvia. No Rock used hard liquor and a biro to get right the way through. Unsurprisingly, we completely disagreed with everyone else. These are our notes, more or less, turning into some sort of review:
Iceland - Big flares, big eyes, big flower in her hair and white trousers. "Just open your heart to me" she sings. It's all a bit over-ambitious - the string arrangement isn't lush enough; her vocals can't cope with ranges; her lungs can't make the length of word needed. The backing singers cling together out of fear.

Austria - His backing musicians are cardboard cut outs with cat and cow heads stuck on top. He's a character, you see - wearing a beret and singing a song that is the sort of oompah nonesense that fills much of Saturday night TV light entertainment shows in Austria and Southern Germany, only with a heavy metal chorus.

Ireland - This year's attempt to avoid winning the contest entering a Pop Idol type with a green guitar and - in lieu of a song - the repeated contention that "we've got the world tonight." Later, viewers in the UK will vote this the best thing - showing how polluted Simon Cowell has made our collective judgement.

Turkey - Belly Dancing and J-Lo impersonation - together at last. The wannabe J-Lo is dressed as if she's just had to parachute onto stage. "You make me want to uh-ah" she says. The feeling is mutal for No Rock; but the rest of europe seems to want to, as this is the eventual winner.

Malta - She starts sitting at the piano deliverign a song which sounds like the theme tune to a second string Australian soap. But just when you're reaching for the "Victoria Wood" reference, she's stood up. More white trousers, and apparently Mandy Dingle is one of her backing singers.

Bosnia & Herzegovina - As Terry Wogan points out, this is Sex Bomb delivered not by Tom Jones but by a bunch who hope black will turn out to be as slimming as everyone claims. They swap to English halfway through - "is it true I was the fool who would die for you?" - but its passionately delivered. In the same way as the chef's special in a Harvester would be.

Portugal - Blimey, it's Shakira. Only she's singing a Celine Dion song.

Croatia - Steps under Communism, then. Bright eyed boys and girls (three pairs of lilac trousers and one bikini from Ethel Austin) sing and dance to a song that might be about love and joy, but inescapably sounds like an update on tractor production in the Balkans.

Cyprus - Enrique Ingleisias, only with a much tighter budget. Fewer shimmering dances, spending the savings on a lyricist would have been a plan.

Germany - A short, red-haired woman who looks and sounds like "only" sonia from Fresh Fields sings a positive song about how a fight in the disco can be averted because everyone should be friends. The lyrics were clearly spewed out by a teenager on their first tab of E, but the tune is the best thing so far. It's the first song that sounds how a eurovision winner is supposed to sound.

Russia - shorn of Trevor Horn's production, they're very shrill and rather mechanical - in fact, this sounds exactly like the sort of Euro entry the east would offer before the collapse of communism. After all the rumours and threats and teases, the performance is limited to the pair of them wandering round stage and a little bit of hand holding - all rather sweet and chaste. There's absolutely no chemistry between them at all, and if they're really lovers, they need to get in touch with Relate quickly. If we hadn't known who they were, we'd have been reduced to making cheap cracks about the poor state of post-soviet hairdressing.

Spain - More white trousers, but coming straight after Tatu gives her a boost because here's a girl who realises that a song, to be sexy, has to be sung in a sexy way; not merely dressed up with the impression that it's sexy because the singer has mumbled in interviews about being a lesbian. A spot of spanish guitars gives just enough taste of national identity to keep the purists happy. Not great, but about thirty times better than Tatu.

Israel - The backing singers start out dressed like Tatu, which may be an amusing in-joke or just a lazy coincidence. That they then have their clothes ripped off (a la Bucks Fizz) makes me think it was knowing all along. The singer clearly loves himself so much no mere voting is required for him to get the affection he needs.

Netherlands - A dutch cruise ship is missing its star turn tonight. But not much.

UK - She looks and sounds nervousd, as if she's suddenly realised that offering up something that sounds like a Rick Astley b-side (off the second CD) isn't going to cut it. He still looks like a farm hand's son who's found a talking pig. The moment where he yells out "c'mon Latvia" is the precise moment where the UK is doomed to a shaming nul points.

Ukraine - A dancer in turquoise pirroutes and contorts while a singer who really wanted to be doing opera tries to come to terms with the demands of this 'pop music'. "Hast la vista, baby, baby bye-bey" he sings, like The Terminantor at a Bay City Rollers Gig. It reflects badly on all of us, I think.

Greece - It's Shakira again. Only this time her breasts are struggling to break from the confines of her pleather dress. The song is another ballad with an awful lot of ice, like David Arquette's coke.

Norway - He looks ever so slightly Osmond, and his song is a little Peter Skellern. It's pleasant, and we'd give him a bed for the night.

France - The dress is cheap, but she's actually quite sexy in a not obvious way. Or maybe I'm getting tired. The song sounds fully formed, too, unlike most of the things tonight which come across like they're first drafts. France knows: cheese, wine, singers, songs - some things improve with maturity. This would have been our winner. It ends quite near the bottom. Shows what we know.

Poland - A peace song in Polish, Russian and German - throw in Klingon and Esperanto and you'd have all the languages of romance there. Sung by Rob Newman with red hair, and Jo S Club.

Latvia - The hosts offer two clean cut young men in white suits and a girl with that body glitter that everyone was wearing in last year's contest. They sing about saying hello from mars. Although they go down well with the gay viewers, their efforts go largely unrewarded.

Belguim - A whole mess of folk music, like Kershaw playing three CDs at once. Over a dance beat. Despite the accordian, they manage to pull it off. This is about the only track No Rock and the Great European Public seem to agree on.

Estonia - It's called 80's Coming Back. And they're not joking - here's Billy Joel to prove it.

Romania - The dancers hold up the things those floor cleaning machines use to scrub, for some reason. The singer has a red suit, a powerful voice and some music looking desperately for a John Hughes movie to soundtrack.

Sweden - It appears to be the bloke from Norway again, this time in an Abba-stye arrangement. Thank god Britain don't keep entering Cliff Richard over and over again.

Slovenia - Dressed as a bridesmaid, the Slovene sings a song called Na Na Na. It's not good, but it's as good an ending as we're going to get.

[UPDATED 2013: To fit more recent No Rock & Roll Fun template]

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