Europe,  Music,  Nationalism


Guest post by Jon d

Forget the credit crunch and marvel at the stage made out of flat screen tellys. It’s that time of year again when the nations of Europe (and selected neighbours) put aside their differences for one magical night and come together to celebrate the healing power of the universal language that is popular music.

Yeah right.

Already Georgia has been disqualified for allegedly tweaking the nose of a foreign leader in the title and lyric of their entry ‘we don’t want a put-in’ and the Dutch threatened a last minute walkout if the unauthorised gay rights demo planned to coincide with the finals was violently broken up as promised by the Moscow authorities. Sadly they’ve been preempted by the semifinal phone vote and won’t appear anyway.

This year to limit the extent of the traditional political block voting patterns a hybrid system is to be used where half the votes from each country are to be cast by ‘musical experts’ and half by public phone in, because of course nothing suspicious happened when it was all musical experts as anyone who’s old enough to remember will tell you.

The inside word is that the western countries have pulled out all the stops this time, the UK entry being a Whitney Houstonesque number penned by no less a personage than Andrew Lloyd Webber. The Danes have a full-on Ronan Keating impersonator singing a Ronan Keating song. Ireland are doubtless regretting not making Ronan a better offer as despite winning more times than anyone else, their Avril Lavigne knock-off hasn’t made it past the semi this time. Israeli readers will doubtless be aware that their national entry is a fairly traditional Eurovision message song, ‘There Must Be Another Way’, sung as a duet by a Jewish and an Arab woman.

It’s through to the final and although I quite like it, it’s not well fancied (150/1).

Could the west rise again after being laid low by eastern voters blowing each other kisses last year? The bookies seem to think so. Even the Germans, who’ve never won, are in the top 10 favourites with their entry, which sounds to me like a mash up of Minnie the Moocher and Ricky Martin.

The favourites:

6/4 Norway
6/1 Greece
8/1 Bosnia Herz.
10/1 Turkey
16/1 UK
18/1 Azerbaijan
22/1 France
25/1 Ukraine
25/1 Germany
33/1 Malta

Nothing is certain; who’re going to be this year’s sweethearts and which nations will be the Eurovision voters’ whipping boys? Will anyone even be able to afford hosting this extravagance next year?

British viewers can tune into the final at 20.00 on BBC1. True believers can watch a documentary ‘Jade’s Story’, about the UK’s singer, at 18.20 on BBC1.