One of the strange but perhaps obvious beauties of the new social media confabulation is that platforms like Facebook and Twitter can be used by people across different timezones and locations in order to get together and share their thoughts on a particular issue. Like Eurovision.
In my case, I’ve occasionally dabbled in the weird world of the Facebook comment party, in which friends comment on a particular status update in order to produce a kind of rolling-thunder live-comment stream on a specific event.
One of my personal highlights was a live comment party I hosted during the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, which received an astonishing 880 comments over the sheer agony of its two- (or was it four-) hour length.
Another highlight over the past four years (oddly, coinciding with my sojourn in Stockholm, Sweden) has been cranking up the FB in order to share expert commentary on the spectacle that is the Eurovision Song Contest final and, closer to home, on Sweden’s Melodifestival, from which the Swedish representative in Eurovision is chosen.
I could write a whole book on Melodifestivalen, with its seemingly rotating cast of performers—Danny Saucedo, Eric Saade, Sanne Nielsen, Loreen—singing songs by the same group of Swedish songwriters each year.
In fact, can I just make a little diversion here with a few videos of entrants from the past two years who did not make it through to the final but whose performances I love, mostly due to the exceptional work of the backing dancers?
Yes, I can.
Here’s Ace Wilder’s superb ‘Busy Doin’ Nothin’ (Melodifestival, 2014), Anton Ewald’s drop-dead hilarious ‘Begging’ (2013: 2.12 onwards is where the real backing-dancer action starts) and, um, Mary N’Diaye’s ‘Gosa’ (which failed to make it past the first heat in 2013 but I don’t care).
Anyway, where were we? Oh yes, this year, for some strange reason, my partner sought to ban me from opening up a comment thread on the Eurovision finals in Vienna, Austria.
To be honest, I wasn’t particularly interested in this year’s event, and didn’t even make the effort to watch the semi-finals (in which the real gems compete, most of them never to be seen again . . . ).
But, after some prodding from a couple of friends, I realized that there’s a world of people out there who need to comment on Eurovision, and so I posted a status update informing all and sundry of the ban, but inviting friends to post their own comments anyway.
While I did not end up garnering as many comments as I usually would have liked, as soon as my partner went to bed (conveniently, just as the voting marathon began), I posted a few observations on other peoples’ threads, and received a few responses on my own.
Having watched this year’s final in its entirety, I would agree with the general observation that the entrants this time around were mostly lacking in the somewhat indescribable pizazz that in my opinion is compulsory if you want to win Eurovision.
Sure, there was no shortage of wind machines, key changes, big hair and Eastern European cleavage but by the same token there were no Russian babushkas (‘Party for everybody’, anyone?), very few songs in the national language and an excruciating number of meaningless slow-tempo power ballads.
Honestly, give me Cezar any day over that kind of toejam!
Ironically enough, then, Estonia’s Elina Born and Stig Rästa rocked my boat with their glacial ‘Goodbye to Yesterday’ (although not as much as their compatriots Winny Puuh did in 2013, when they sadly failed to qualify) despite the fact that their entry was a direct rip-off (conceptually) of ‘Calm After the Storm’ by the Netherlands’ ridiculously named The Common Linnets, a melancholy country–pop song that came second in 2014.
But how great was Elina Born’s manufactured tear? Not many performers can pull that off.
The Baltic is certainly a hotbed of Eurovision talent these days, and in this respect Sweden (the true Eurovision powerhouse) is no exception. But let’s be perfectly honest: I can’t stand Måns Zelmerlöw. His song, um, ‘Heroes’, should have been used in a Saab commercial (and probably will be, eventually) and would have been nothing without the animation effects.
Furthermore, given the controversy over Zelmerlöw’s apparently homophobic comments in 2014, his ‘we are all heroes’ line to host and 2014 winner Conchita Wurst was pretty lame, really.
How apt, then, that Wurst was so graceful, despite Måns’ idiocy and seeming lack of self-awareness as he clutched his phallic winning trophy.
However, looking forward, I am thrilled that the majority of my Swedish TV licence fee will, once again, go towards staging the finals in 2016.
I hope they hold them in Kiruna.