Eurovision - nul point?
May 20, 2006 1:23 PM   Subscribe

It is Eurovision Song Contest time tonight - is it just the UK or is it a joke to the rest of Europe as well?

A widely held belief here in the UK seems to be that only the Brits treat Eurovision as a joke (to be enjoyed ironically in a very camp way), while to the rest of Europe it is a major source of national pride to be won at any cost. Eurovision has been discussed in the blue before, but I haven't heard the view from the mainland. Can any euro-mefites from outside the UK shed some light?
posted by badrolemodel to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Pretty much a joke over here in Poland as well. I don't think any nation takes it seriously, especially on the 'guy-on-the-street' level.
posted by jedrek at 1:36 PM on May 20, 2006

I'm watching in Germany, and the commentator's making jokes about most of the acts. Not as good as Terry Wogan's jokes, but still reasonably funny. So I think it's a joke here too...
posted by ciaron at 1:46 PM on May 20, 2006

"Norvège: 0 points"
It's a both a deadly serious game and a big farce here in Norway.
posted by fondle at 1:57 PM on May 20, 2006

It's the same in the Netherlands as fondle describes for Norway. Personally I prefer the commentary deadly serious so I can slag the thing my own way. Wogan doesn't know as much about the contestants as the Dutch commentator does. That level of detail makes it more funny, I think.

A recent survey said most Dutch would prefer the return of the orchestra and for the countries to sing in their own language.
posted by prolific at 2:22 PM on May 20, 2006

Heh, it's a widely held belief due to the fact that Brits like to think they're the only ones with a sense of humour.

Or perhaps as a result of Wogan slightly overdoing the "oh aren't they all ridiculous and unlike us they don't know it" act.

Anyway, fondle has it, that's pretty much the attitude across participating countries.

Go Finland!
posted by funambulist at 2:33 PM on May 20, 2006

No first hand experience, but I thought the Ukranians and other countries on the periphery took it as a fairly serious sign that they were a part of Europe?
posted by Meatbomb at 2:48 PM on May 20, 2006

Yeah I think for Eeastern European countries recently entered in the EU there has been a bigger symbolical investment, plus the other general factor adding to the serious side is the winner getting to host the next show, and then there's all the political considerations about who votes for who, still, it's mostly just a lot of kitsch fun for everybody. (There's also nowhere near the kind financial investment as in a sports championship...)
posted by funambulist at 3:06 PM on May 20, 2006

Here in Finland it's definitely a joke. But it's still a contest. Like a limbo contest or a karaoke contest. It's a lot of fun, not supposed to be at all classy or anything, but winning still kinda matters.

Oh and.

posted by insomnus at 3:24 PM on May 20, 2006 [2 favorites]

Eurovision became more than a joke, more a kind of curse, when Ireland won it three times in a row in the 90s and was forced to bear the burden of hosting it again, and again, and again. For further reference, see Father Ted episode "Song for Europe" for further details. There was a national sense of relief when Norway won it, and then a collective gasp of horror when Ireland won it again the year after that. Luckily though, that seems to have been a fluke and Ireland has not won since. The plan is working out *perfectly*.
posted by meehawl at 4:31 PM on May 20, 2006

fondle has it. Here in Denmark it is only taken seriously when we win.
posted by sveskemus at 5:01 PM on May 20, 2006

Okay, so if the rest of Europe gets that it's a big joke why is much European pop music just as shit as the music in the Eurovision song contest? I am prepared to be countered with examples of good quality mainstream pop acts from around Europe. Something doesn't add up.
posted by nthdegx at 5:11 PM on May 20, 2006

nthdegx: I'm trying very hard to think of a European pop act that is popular here in Denmark which is as bad as anything on the Eurovision Song Contest. But nothing comes to mind.
posted by sveskemus at 5:18 PM on May 20, 2006

And I don't mean to slate European music. The folk traditions, and in specialist genres there's a lot of terrific music to be heard. But honestly, when it comes to European mainstream pop I have only heard garbage. I am sure this has a lot to do with my ingorance of Euro-pop, but from where I am the responses in this thread are just slightly fishy.
posted by nthdegx at 5:28 PM on May 20, 2006

Speaking as an American, I'm pretty sure most mainstream pop anywhere pretty much blows.
posted by squidlarkin at 6:13 PM on May 20, 2006

English mainstream pop is nothing to write home about either, mind, and Terry Wogan who has done so much to bring ridicule on the Eurovision over the years is Irish.

According to my parents who are musicians, the Eurovision was kind of a big deal back in the 60s and 70s when songwriters and performers actually got famous off it (songs must be original). Songwriting contests were all the rage then and this was the biggest potential payoff. I think the musucal side of things became a total joke somewhere between Bucks Fizz and Father Ted. The political bias in the voting has always been a joke as far as I know.

While we're contemplating the place the Eurovision has in popular culture let us not forget that it ws the first to bring us Riverdance causing it's bastard opffspring and Michael Flaherty very shiny chest being on billboards all over the world. So we have that to thank it for too.
posted by fshgrl at 6:15 PM on May 20, 2006

But Eurovision is not the same thing as regular mainstream pop. It's not even about the music, especially today, it's the show.

That mainstream pop in any of the 25 countries can still be crap, depending on where and what, but you don't get mainstream popular acts going on Eurovision. Not since ABBA.

Just look at the history of UK entries themselves. The most famous participants were Cliff Richards and Katrina and the Waves. Hardly the pinnacle of British pop music.
posted by funambulist at 6:18 PM on May 20, 2006

Eurovision is oddly political.

I was a first time viewer this year.

And I was especially interested because my "adopted home country," Armenia, was entering for the first time.

It was weird how no one voted for France but Andorra. And all the former socialist states voted for each other.

Then - what does Cyprus? Turkey or Greece? Greece all the way.

You could write a book on the voting trends.
posted by k8t at 6:31 PM on May 20, 2006

Oh, and Ireland and UK swapping votes is interesting too.

My Irish friend said that Ireland almost went broke from hosting it, so it would be good for a poorer country to win.
posted by k8t at 6:33 PM on May 20, 2006

Is it really so expensive to host it, no return at all?

I have to say I really don't find the political voting that odd, it's very obvious it should happen. It's not a serious music award thing about the quality of the music, there's no financial prize for winning act, no or next to no impact on the charts, so, might as well turn it into a harmless outlet for national sentiment and regional/political sympathies. Certainly far more harmless than football.
posted by funambulist at 6:47 PM on May 20, 2006

The European Song contest has always had a Pop-feeling to it, and I agree with Sveskemus that it is only taken serious in Denmark when we win.
There was a series of television shows ahead of the final to sort out the finalists(I think) that were hilarious, though as the panel deciding on whom to vote for was very well casted.
Oh yes, tonight the Danish commentary was all about explaining how a non-pop-song could win, what countries we could "expect" point from and they were basically crying on the microphones that it was Finland who won and not one of their favorite pop songs. I was LMAO! :-)
posted by KimG at 7:59 PM on May 20, 2006

"... but you don't get mainstream popular acts going on Eurovision. Not since ABBA."

Didn't Celine Dion sing for Switzerland one year?
posted by PenDevil at 3:05 AM on May 21, 2006

I was a first time viewer last night in Germany (where I do not have citizenship) and I was equally thrilled and aghast at how terrible it all was. The Germans I was watching with seemed to have accepted this long ago and were just screaming for a win from Texas Lightning (which isn't even german, go figure). I don't think that any country whose first language isn't English, however, could truly appreciate the awfulness of some of those contestants attempts in English. I actually enjoyed both Croatia and BiH because they both didn't jump on the English-train.

And as far as seriousness goes, Lithuania got most of the votes of the room I was in.
posted by liverbisque at 3:25 AM on May 21, 2006

PenDevil, yeah but it's more like the exception isn't it? Just look at the charts across the world, and in this case, Europe specifically. The top ten is usually at least one half American or British acts, or from English speaking countries in general, the rest is popular local acts of all kinds, from melodic pop to hip hop, and then there's inter-european hits, mostly dance/techno-pop stuff.

There's Eurovision acts that may be already popular in their country (like this year's winners), or grow more popular after the contest maybe, but they never get internationally huge thanks to Eurovision, and despite the few exceptions like Dion the biggest selling acts across Europe never enter Eurovision. The UK itself doesn't send Coldplay or even James Blunt, and those are in the charts all over the place. Eurovision is just not supposed to be the Grammy awards of Europe and reflect that kind of popularity.
posted by funambulist at 6:13 AM on May 21, 2006

(I should have probably said the top forty is at least one half US/UK stuff, because the top ten tends to be at least 70%...)
posted by funambulist at 6:16 AM on May 21, 2006

everyone's been taking the piss about it here in France.... Even very serious radios interviewing the french singer.... laughing. Good times. 'Our' song sucked!

posted by Sijeka at 9:54 AM on May 21, 2006

[I]s it just the UK or is it a joke to the rest of Europe as well?

New Zealand thinks it's a joke too.
posted by The Monkey at 10:07 PM on May 21, 2006

Ever since Stefan Raab and Guildo Horn entered the contest with "joke songs", nobody really takes it seriously anymorein Germany.
posted by bloo at 3:53 AM on May 22, 2006

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