This year marks the first time I ever heard of and got to watch the phenomenon that is the Eurovision Song Contest. The contest happens once a year. Countries within a certain broadcasting area (which actually extends beyond Europe to Northern Africa and part of the Middle East) are invited every year to submit a song to the contest. There's a semifinal round and then a final round, which we watched last night. The final round has 24 songs all performed live on channels in every country. Then at the end, everyone can vote by phone or SMS for their favorite, though no one can vote for their own country. Each country gets to give points to ten other countries - the top three getting 12, 10, and 8 points, and the remaining 7 getting 1-7 points.
The show is awesomely cheesy. A really quick breakdown of our thoughts on the final 24:
* Bosnia-Herzegovina - Boring ballad cheese. Really bad backup, uh, dancing. More like arm-swaying.
* Spain - Really bad Spanish boy-band. Bad singing, bad dancing, really bad!
* Belarus - This was good relative to the first two, but still goofy, with backup "dancers" splaying their black-dressed selves all over some white blocks in the background. Really goofy English too - some line like "yadda yadda power, you have the key to let me into your tower"...hahaha
* Ireland - I felt embarrassed for this poor band. The lead singer looked and sounded terrified. It was really awful. I don't know how they made it to the finals.
* Finland - Wins the whiniest lyrics award hands-down: "Leave me alone, I want to go home, and I feel like dying" or some such. Ugh. The music was pretty poppy though - it was the first song I thought could actually fly in the US.
* FYR Macedonia - Ballet dancers flopping around in the background and really forgettable music. I had to go look up the song to even remember it.
* Slovenia - Opera singing over dancy pop, and the chick had lights embedded in her glove which she lit up her face with. So easy to make fun of...yet I kinda liked it.
* Hungary - Hungarian blues. Nothing really good or bad about it. *shrug*
* Lithuania - A band named 4FUN, which had neither 4 people nor was it fun. Boring.
* Greece - Dancy pop lead dude with four horribly dressed bad backup dancers. Oh lordy. The song was mildly funny, but the presentation was just awful.
* Georgia - I can't remember why, but I kinda liked this one too. Pretty good singer with decently catchy song, and ridiculous male backup dancers wearing swords on their backs, which they danced with later. Hilarious!
* Sweden - This was not bad, actually, either, though still pretty goofy, with a big spinning disc the singer splayed himself on, etc. I guess the dude is a transvestite? He reminded Damon of Freddie Mercury somehow. I think it was Damon's favorite.
* France - I voted for France. Clearly I have bad taste because I think they got second-to-last. They kind of seemed like the French version of OKGo to me. All male, in black and hot pink outfits. The drummer had on fuzzy wings and one guy had a stuffed cat strapped around his neck. Well, I thought it was kinda cool....
* Latvia - Six choral dudes in top hats singing in Italian. It sounded nice but wasn't anything amazing.
* Russia - Chicks in head-to-toe black (outfits wouldn't be revealing enough for American pop culture) did a tune I think would catch on in the US...except for the really bad English lyrics. Did they seriously sing something about "my bad-ass feelings for you"???? hahaha... This is how I heard it and I couldn't stop laughing every time it was said!
* Germany - A guy doing a swingy song. It was actually just fine but there wasn't anything stand-out about it so it didn't do well in the end. It was so cute though at the end when the points were tallied, our little German announcer getting all excited whenever Germany got a point or two from some other country.
* Serbia - A chick with a great pop voice, but dressed in a suit, with short hair and a little bit of a double chin. Let me tell you how glad I was to see a woman with a great pop voice who didn't make herself look all glammy or like a tart. The performance was really kind of weird though, with some chicks with gravity-defying hairdos making goofy ultra-serious faces and putting their hands together to show off heart shapes they had painted on them. Eh?
* Ukraine - HILARIOUS. See video here: http://www.eurovision.tv/addons/mediaplayer/video/ukr.html . (All other videos are also available at the eurovision.tv site.) I almost voted for them. (There's my bad taste showing again - although Ukraine did well in voting.)
* United Kingdom - Really bad...I was embarrassed for them too. The band was dressed in flight attendant gear and pushing carts around the stage and making stupid innuendos.
* Romania - Twee group of six guys singing in six languages about the universalness of love. Yipee.
* Bulgaria - I like Bulgarian singing so I kinda liked this one...until the guy kicked in on the mic with some ...sounds...of some kind...then it was all over. Don't give that guy the mic, dude.
* Turkey - It was like the Turkish Ricky Martin.
* Armenia - Who TPed your tree, Armenia? Lame ballad, TPed tree. Worse than UK and Ireland.
* Moldova - Eh, catchy. At this point, who cared...it was getting so long...
At the end, there were 15 minutes for everybody to vote. I considered myself a truly objective outsider so I thought it was my duty to submit a non-political vote. In the end, though, I had a hard time choosing between France and the Ukraine and in my brain I was secretly asking myself, "What do I hate more: that the Ukraine gave us Oksana Bayul, or that there's always dog shit on the sidewalks in France?" Then, "No! I must not be political. Ukraine's song was hilarious but an overly obvious grab for the camp vote! I will give my vote to France's slightly-less-campy-camp!" Then France bombed. Serbia won, with Ukraine second.
Next year I hope to go to one of these Oscar-party-style Eurovision parties that people have, or maybe even host one myself. I love cheese.