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Saturday, September 17, 2011

The WOW! Factor. Or Not.

Many thanks to Lisa Allen for taking up my slack once again, and incidentally showing us that Europe actually does have something bigger than Bieber. 

"It just didn't wow me like I expect Eurovision to."

The above was said by one of my friends that I've introduced Eurovision to. We were gathered around to watch the latest one, with everyone happily munching on snacks, while I recorded their scores for each song.

The Devil Went Down to Oslo
We had been doing Eurovision parties for a few years now, introducing them after our first time, the 2008 competition which I talked about previously. Unfortunately, 2009 was a boring year - we didn't even remember any of the entries, and there weren't any fun or silly ones.  The exception was the winner, an exuburant young fiddler from Norway who bounced around the stage like a happy, enthusiatic otter.

One of these is not like the others...
 The next year made up for the dullness of the previous one, and showcased one of the strengths of the show. The songs for 2010 were overall good (though very ballad-heavy), and there was even a bit of excitement when poor Spain got punked by a young man who slipped onto the stage with background singers before the security guards chased him off. Lena, Germany's winning entry, really deserved it, but it was the interim show done while the votes were being tallied that warmed the heart.

Norwegians. Really.
Believe it or not, Norway has black hip hop artists called Madcon, and they are good.  They led the large audience thru a dance routine, and then through the wonders of the internet and flash mobs, all of Europe joined in. Viewers saw groups in cities across the EU gather and dance the same dance. Webcams had been mounted in homes of each of the participating countries, so you also got to see families joyfully dancing on their furniture or with their dogs.

Lithuania rocks....
    There was even a lone  guy standing out on a rock in the North Sea, getting his groove on. The song really energized the audience (both in the arena and around Europe) and became what my husband calls "a moment of pure joy", a snapshot in life where you can see a person, or group, doing something that makes the event the happiest moment of their lives, up to that point. Such moments are infectious to watch, and draw you into the moment to share the joy.

...and so does the population of this island.
My friend's comment about the  2011 winning  song not "wowing" her was about the pretty, but banal entry from Azerbaijan. My husband reminded her that she had only seen four out of fifty-five contests, so she was kind of new to the scene for that kind of statement. But such is the impact of Eurovision, good and bad, it makes a BIG impression.

"Excuse me, darling. When does the flash mob start?"
 Historical note: The first Eurovision song contest had been started back in 1956 partly to promote the  wonders of television, partly as a poke in the eye to the Eastern bloc nations, kind of a way to say, "Hey! Look at all the fun we're having!". Over the years the contest has weathered denunciation from the Pope, competition from the Soviet Bloc, controversy every  year over the scoring (the worst was the year Franco practically bought the win for Spain), launched a few careers (the most famous and successful being ABBA in 1974), and even started a revolution. 

Perhaps the most useful knowledge the contest imparted was the desire to learn geography,like where Slovenia and Slovakia are.

Next year should be interesting, since holding Eurovision in Azerbaijan is going to be like holding the Olympics in the Sandwich Islands.


Anonymous said...

Guilty, Guilty, but it really didn't wow me, and it was late, I deserved wow!!!!!

Amy Mullis said...

At the risk of ending up in the "time out" group, I'm with you on this one. *grin*