Review: Eurovision 2010
PHOEBE LUCKHURST reviews the spectacle that was Eurovision 2010: ‘it’s all about gentle xenophobia and offensive comments about the contestants’ physical appearances.’
The United Kingdom’s entry promised to ‘bring the good times’. Perhaps it did for some.
Graham Norton’s commentary – that he obviously thought was dry, wry and justifying his £2.5million/year salary – chattered inanely in the background, at one point relating that that the UK’s very own Eleanor and Arnold – or something, I wasn’t really listening – had just got engaged at a Eurovision party. A proposal with such grotesquely tacky beginnings that it can only end in a Cinderella carriage, His and Hers thrones and the happy couple screeching off into the distance – in one of those hot pink Hummer limos which usually have twelve adolescent chavs hanging out of various vehicle orifices, waving and catching their hoop earrings in each others’ hair extensions. Norton also kept reminding me not to vote for the United Kingdom because this is against the rules. As if there was any danger of me desiring to waste a single Vodafone Stop The Clock minute.
The sprightly blonde Norwegian presenter effused about ‘all of tonight’s artists!’ I’d quibble with him on the semantics of this effusion (‘artists’ is generous); not to mention the fact that no one watches the Eurovision song contest in order to get a few sneaky download tips that’ll make you the envy of all your friends. It’s all about gentle xenophobia and offensive comments about the contestants’ physical appearances.
Armenia: Apricot Stone (‘artist’: Eva Rivas).
I’m not really sure what an apricot stone is. Rivas writhed around holding some kind of pendant but it didn’t remind me particularly of a fleshy fruit, or of a boulder. It actually reminded me of a clearance sale at Claire’s Accessories. But Rivas had particularly pneumatic breasts, and although she looked like she was on-stage with the leftovers from a Dungeons and Dragons speed-dating evening, this only made her look even better, reaffirming a former boyfriend’s assertion that girls from weird countries that you couldn’t stick your finger on on a world map without squinting really hard for five minutes, tend to be much fitter than your average UK girl.
The moment when the camera panned onto, ‘The man, the myth, the executive producer of the Eurovision song contest’.
When I heard the news that I might, actually, just possibly, get a glimpse of this esteemed figurehead on real life television (!!) I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to look. Like any time that someone sustains an injury to the eye or whenever I have the misfortune of seeing Sarah Jessica Parker’s face, I thought I might have to actually cover my eyes with a pillow and curl up in a foetal ball, such was my trembling, the butterflies, the sweaty palms and fluttering nerves that accompanied this much-vaunted promise. Music commenced, reminiscent at first of the Psycho soundtrack before swelling into a Disney-esque crescendo. I let out a squeak. The camera panned. I wailed. Oh how it panned. I actually wept. It panned so much in fact, that it panned to a man whom it became very obvious very swiftly was The Wrong Man. The Wrong Man inclined his head to the left a few times, wide-eyed and indicating the error. Then he actually pointed. Camera pans to sheepish girl. Wasn’t her either. By this point I’d actually blacked out from the suspense.
My primary problem with Norton’s commentary was its indistinguishable tone. It wasn’t overtly snide, but its sincerity rang hollow. So you couldn’t locate a sneering ally nor could you poke fun at his enthusiasm for this acute spectacle of international humiliation. He was distinctly underwhelming and possibly being paid by the word. I understand the concept behind 'commentary' but I feel the great British public could have done without what he clearly held as some of his more piquant mots justes.
– Re: Alexis, the ageing Greek presenter who delivered his country’s points allocation: ‘Nice to see him again! I wonder if we’ll see him next year!’
– ‘Bonsoir Audrey!’. Increasingly, Norton tried to pretend that the disparate presenters were a group of eccentric amigos or distant relatives, thrown together once a year at someone‘s birthday party, but deeply, deeply fond of one another. He seemed unable to comprehend that he was not actually in dialogue with Alexis or Audrey or any of the others whose names he was reading off his producer’s notes.
– 'Germany usually vote for us!' Norton. Doing his bit for Anglo-German relations since 1963.
– ‘Interesting that Belgium are doing so well. It was a very simple performance’. Obviously, Norton thought the subtext of this comment was blindingly astute. Either be scathing, or don’t be scathing, don't just form meaningless words.
France – Allez, Olla, Olé (’artist’ – Jessy Matador)
The ‘official music video’ to this performance features grinding almost as prolific and vigorous as the live performance – I checked. This wasn't just an enthusiastic performance for Eurovision, where every action anyone makes has to exaggerated e.g. handshakes becomes handflails, pats on the back become thwacks on the back, smiles become broad rictus grins. This might just be how he dances. I wallowed in perplexment for the first minute because I thought the Norwegian commentator had introduced Jason Derulo. He didn't. The white costumes – straight off the back of a lorry headed to a Sports Direct outlet centre – were blindingly tacky in a sea of grotesque costumes.
The United Kingdom
‘Obviously we didn’t do well! We came last!’ Another piece of blinding insight from Norton. Yes. We deservedly came last, overtaken by Belarus at the last moment. Josh squawked like an X Factor reject playing a teen disco in a village hall. The male backing dancers writhed in boxes while the females tapped their feet and tried to avoid tripping over their inexplicable bridal veils and grinned, dead-eyed into the camera every time it unfortunately panned at their faces.
The male blonde Norwegian presenter gushed, the relief oozing out of his pores: ‘Just as we promised, we have a winner!’, as though he had been sitting backstage, chewing his nails over the torment that that this competition might fail to deliver a victor altogether and might just go on, forever, he and his fellow presenters doing a poorer and poorer job of pretending that they actually wanted to be there, Norton opening his mouth more and more and letting the vodka do the talking.
Lena, with 'Satellite', the winning entry for Eurovision 2010
Lena, the German victor of Eurovision 2010, who sings in a bizarre almost mockney accent, took to the stage and was given a paper mache construction with feathers sticking out that unconfirmed rumours suggested had been created by the remedial class at an Oslo school round the corner where ‘the man, the myth, the executive producer of the Eurovision song contest’ sat on the board of governors.
The stage opened to reveal the Green Room where the other contestants had been sitting backstage, congratulating each other, or pretending they didn’t hate each other on instinct based on the pockmarked history of our miserable little continent and everyone had long since stopped talking to Josh since no one likes the British anyway, especially not a British loser to whom they didn’t even have to pretend to pay deference. I feel it might have been better just to keep them all caged in there.