Eurovision – And the Band Played On

Eurovision 2014The Eurovision Song Contest is like herpes. There is no cure. The overblown glittery bandwagon pulls into Copenhagen this year, no doubt costing the Danish economy more than the Nazi occupation. Reduced to back-slapping bonhomie between neighbours and century-old foes, the songfest has been given an extra political frisson this year by the nasty homophobic laws in Russia and Tsar Putin’s annexation/repatriation (delete according to taste) of the Crimea; continued unrest in eastern Ukraine might earn Kiev a few sympathy votes from other former Soviet Republics and old Warsaw Pact nations. In a strange twist of fate, the people of Crimea can vote for Russia because the telephone service hasn’t yet switched sides, so it could be douze points from Ukraine. They may be the only points Russia gets. We can only hope.

Last year, Turkey threw a hissy fit and withdrew from the competition. It hasn’t entered this year either but nobody’s noticed, well apart from Liam who is terribly upset. In any case, Prime Minister Erdoğan’s probably banned the extravaganza along with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Alan Carr’s Chatty Man. Britain’s entry is Children of the Universe sung by Molly Smitten-Downes. No, me neither. We could enter the Teletubbies for all the difference it would make. Our money’s on the Austrian drag queen if only to get up the noses of our more reactionary cousins east of the Oder-Neisse Line.

The lead up to the show always causes a flurry of excited emails between Europhiles and Eurosceptics. This year was no different in the Scott-Brennan household. Here’s a small selection:

“Talking of Eurovision, your thoughts on Molly’s effort? We like Sweden, and there are a few anti-Russian efforts which should add to the event. I’m sure the TV sets in Moscow will go blank when the first bars of Austria’s entry wail in. We can only hope. Really looking forward to the annual camp-fest. Oh, I’m such a cliché.”

“Actually, we’re not quite in the Euro groove yet – we’re fashionably late this year with our research. Yes, we have heard the Brit entry- bit of a screamer who’ll probably sing flat on the night. They always do, you know. So what’s the Russian entry this year? Orthodox nuns with Kalashnikovs trying to reclaim the Kattegat?”

“For the record, my votes go to the Albanian diva and the Austrian drag queen. Not that I’m gay or anything. And I haven’t got a clue why the awful Armenian dirge is hot favourite. Especially looking forward to the Irish muscles boys and their out-of-sync diddly-diddly dancing, the Latvians on how to bake a cake and possibly the worst song ever presented to Eurovision, a misguided torch song massacred by a fat Belgian. It’s gonna be a corker.”

And the band played on.

Eurovision 2012

The campest cabaret has come to town. This year, the good burghers of Baku are proud hosts to the financially crippling annual Eurovision Song-fest. At least the well-oiled Azeris can afford to stage the ritzy affair without going cap in hand to the IMF. Various tone-deaf bottle blond painted divas with floaty hair, mincing pretty-boys in tight white lycra and hairy ruritanians in ethnic pantomime drag have parachuted into town to compete for the most infamous music prize on the planet. The Azeri autocrats are rubbing their hands in glee. As usual, votes will be cast along political and ethnic fault lines regardless of the quality (or otherwise) of the compositions, most of which will be badly sung in banal single-syllable pop English. It’s music, Jim, but not as we know it. Expect plenty of back slapping Balkan bonhomie between recently befriended old foes, top marks from the Turkish jury to their Azeri pals, the usual love-in between Athens and Nicosia and friendly hands across the Baltic. Pity poor Engelbert, he hasn’t got a hope in Hell. To not come last will be a decent achievement. Regardless of the shameless predictability of it all, we’ll be popping our euro-corks courtesy of a lovely Bitez Babe. We’ve promised not to trash the joint as Engelbert’s nul points come rolling in.

The glitzy shindig has caused quite a ruckus in the Caucasus. A couple of Eurovision websites have been hacked by anti-gay cyber attacks, leaving the catchy slogan “here is no place to immoral gays in Azerbaijan. Leave our country, no place to stay in Azerbaijan for gays who look like animals.”  Now, who are they calling an old dog? The Iranians have thrown a hissy fit at the prospect of all that decadent fun and frolics from the sexually suspect just across the border. The Iranian ambassador has been withdrawn in protest, there’ve been riots by the great unwashed and a fatwa or two from the mad mullahs. Like the Puritans of old, it seems the Iranians have forgotten what is it is to have a little glittery fun. These days, what passes for Saturday night entertainment on state-controlled TV is ‘Lynch the Queers, Live”.  Now, where did I put my knitting needles?

While I’m looking for them, check out the Russian entry from the singing grannies.

You might also like:

Singing For His Pension

Eurovision Helps the Aged

Eurovision Song-fest Fever

Eurovision Helps the Aged

After the epic drama of yesterday’s post, I give you something light and frothy. Eurovision fever has come early this year. Armenia has withdrawn from the competition because of a problem with the Azeris (all about the frozen dispute of Nagorno-Karabakh), the Russians will be represented by a group of grannies called, er, The Grannies and Blighty has chosen our very home-grown wrinkly in the form of Engelbert Humperdinck, 75 years young. And why not? It gets camper every year and we love it.

The Turkish entry was selected last month. No doubt it was an instant hit right across the smoky salons of this wintry land. Zimmerless Can Bonomo (that’s Jan Bonomo to non-Turkish speaking pansy fans – C is a hard J in Turkish) will be bouncing about the stage in Baku, the Azeri capital, to the beat of his energetic ditty, Love Me Back. It’s in English (well, Globalish) and features a gypsy riff. The jury’s out on whether jumping Jan will make it through the semis. What do you think?

Eurovision trivia – In the history of its involvement, Turkey has awarded the most points to the UK and received the most points from Germany. I didn’t think anyone voted for Blighty these days.

From Russia with Hate

I’m incensed, really pissed off. The parliament of St Petersburg, Russia’s cultural capital and second largest city, has just passed a law making it a crime to write, speak, discuss or meet about anything ‘gay’ (and I don’t mean happy). Offenders face a fine of up to $16,700.  Is this the action of a sophisticated, civilised, European nation?  I hardly think so. And some people think Muslim nations are backward. I can’t see this nasty little law ever being proposed in Turkey.

Take a look at the clever video below from the people at All Out. I hope it persuades you to lend your support. There is a chance that the Governor of St Petersburg will veto the bill. Please do what you can to convince him that this stupid law damages the international reputation of this great city, a city that I visited when I was 14 years old.

Tarty Chic

We sank a jar in a glitzy overpriced watering hole along the marina promenade and observed the rich-kids at play. The children of the Turkish urban elite are a strange breed. Many of the boys wouldn’t look out of place in Soho and the girls drape themselves in expensive tarty-chic virtually indistinguishable from the Russian ladies of the night who ply their trade discretely around them. It all conveys an emancipated image that I suspect is illusory given the deeply conservative nature of society even at the highest echelons.