Talent in a Previous Life

Because It's Never Just About the Music

Monday, March 19, 2007

Flying the Flag (For Us) 

It says a lot, perhaps, about the state of Eurovision in Britain that, while we were more than prepared to spend our valuable time and money flying over to Stockholm to watch the Swedes chose their entrant, when it comes to finding out who our own entrant is, we can't even be bothered staying in to watch it, instead we went out instead and have only just got round to watching our video of the event. Still, we did pay the price for our lack of interest as Saturday night was, of course, St Patrick's night, which meant that every single place we went to was falling over itself to play Irish music, which seemed to consist entirely of a Westlife track, followed by a Boyzone track, followed by a Ronan track, with occasional bursts of The Irish Rover for a bit of colour and variety. Still, they did play Sham Rock's Tell Me Ma, so every cloud, and all that. Even if we were green - arf - enough to hope for a bit of B*Witched at some point.

So, anyway, Making Your Mind Up - Yes, they're still calling it that, despite the fact it would have seemed a dated title even a year after Bucks Fizz - was this year hosted by Terry Wogan, a man who seems to hate his job more and more with each passing year, and Fearne Cotton, who is ever lovely and who we are unlikely to ever have a bad word to say about and who was, of course, wearing a lovely dress. After some pointless banter between the hosts which served mainly to undermine the whole point of the contest and some digs at the less than impressive performances we've managed to muster in the preceding ten years - including blaming us, the British public, for voting for them in the first place, happily ignoring the fact that we can only choose from what's laid before us - Fearne voiced a VT piece on how to win at Eurovision, an interesting statistical study which was somewhat marred by the fact that all the footage was from last year's show which, if that's the only evidence availiable, can only lead to the conclusion that to win you must be Lordi. It's hardly conclusive.

On with the show and first up is the ex-Kitten, though not, alas, in the "Tied in a sack with some bricks" way, Liz McLarnon who, in her intro segment, was at pains to point out that she was a Scouser. This, presumably, because she uses 'having a home town' as a substitute for actually having a personality. We can only assume that her stylist was also trying to make up for her lack of substance and charisma as the first think that came to our mind when she walked out on stage was "Dear God, what does she look like?", with noodles for hair and a roll of unpleasant looking material wrapped around her instead of a dress, she was rocking a look that was at best 'interesting' and at worst 'Liz McLarnon looking as lovely as she could manage'. The song itself was identical to the retro sixties-esque forgetableness that she was trying to foist upon an uninterested public last time she tried to launch her solo career, but did feature some handclaps, for which it can have a point.

Voicing their opinions on the acts, for no discernable reason other than that they were availiable, were John Barrowman and Mel Giedroyc. John politely suggested that he wasn't sure whether it was a Eurovision song or not, while Mel claimed she was "Gina G with funk". Well, there was certainly the aroma of something unpleasant on the stage.

Next up was the in no way suicidal Brian Harvey, who is worried that the British public aren't getting to see the real him. "I think people would be surprised if they knew the real me". We know we would be, mainly at how small our social circle must have shrunk if we're so desperate for company we'd be prepared to hang out with Brian for the evening. His refusal to admit that he's suffered from depression is suffering from male pattern baldness has resulted in him sporting a hairstyle that makes him look like he has the world's largest forehead. His tune was a dull and pointless R&B ballad which featured him declaring at one point "I know I am someone!", which surprises us as we were pretty sure he was a nobody. His voice was cracking all over the shop as well which, if we were charitable, we'd put it down to him being a bit emotional but, as we're sure you'll have realised by now, we're not, so we'll put it down to it being a bad performance by a washed up popstar who should really let his dreams of stardom die and let the blessed waves of obscurity wash over him. The panel found it hard to find much positive to say about him as well: "Brian Harvey in a suit. Amazing", was the best Mel could think of.

Third on the bill was Big Brovaz, who Fearne described as "The credible faces of British R&B", though surely to be credible you have to at least be noticable. Big Brovaz themselves reckoned that they were the "Black Abba", and promptly launched into a track which, while admittedly being half decent, sounded like the sort of thing that could have easily been a leftover track from sessions at around the time they actually sold records and, indeed, probably was. The performance featured some drunk ballet dancers - whether intentionally or not wasn't made clear, but we know that if we were expected to share a stage with the Big Brovaz, we'd need a lot of dutch courage first. It was certainly entertaining, but waterloo it wasn't. "Awesome", was both Mel and John's considered opinion on the track.

After the excitement of hearing a track which bordered on being half decent, the audience clearly needed something to calm them down a bit, which is why Cyndi was wheeled on. Cyndi is French, but she's keen to prove that she's down with the Brits. To this end, her VT featured her pouring a pint in a village pub, which isn't a very British thing to do. Normally it's Australians who pour the pints in our experience. Her song played the ballad card to full effect, coming on like a cross between You Raise Me Up and The Bonny, Bonny Banks of Loch Lomond, although at least the latter is out of copyright, thus avoiding any nasty lawsuits. "It reminds me of my roots in Scotland, for some reason", opined John, presumably out of politeness given the obviousness of the steal.

The penultimate act were Scooch, who were playing up their pop credentials to the hilt, even to the extent that their intro VT featured them getting involved in some Monkees-esque japes which was all 'hilarious', in the 'teeth-grindingly embarassing' sense of the word. Dressed as stewards and air-hostesses, the boys and girls of Scooch pushed the airline theme as far as it could go, giving us an innuendo laden slice of pure popness which owes more than a passing debt to The Vengaboys - it doesn't really matter which one, they're all pretty much the same - and a dance routine that owes an even bigger debt to kids in the playground pretending to be aeroplanes.

Finally we have Hawkins and Brown, not a pair of solicitors, but a pair of, well, we'll leave that to your imagination. Justin was ready to take on anyone who felt that he shouldn't be there: "To all those who are surprised I'm taking part in Eurovision I say 'poppycock'". Although most people weren't surprised that he was taking part in Eurovision, merely surprised that anyone would even ask him to do anything with music ever again in his life. Their performance lacked balls, which was fair enough in Beverli's case and, well, given his singing voice, was fair enough in Justin's as well. Their backing singers were dressed as Chelsea pensioners and Beefeaters, and it was all a bit embarassing really, though it would clearly be a lot better if it didn't have Justin's awkward falsetto wailing all over the top of it. "You need the right amount of sexual chemistry", reckoned Mel, causing a million viewers all over the country to picture Hawkins and Brown having sex and promptly vomiting all over themselves.

After an entirely unrepresentative panel consisting of all the countries in Eurovision chose their favourite - Big Brovaz, apparently - the phonelines opened and it was time for us to choose our favourite. Despite the fact that finding a winner should simply be a matter of picking the act who got the most votes, the BBC decide to complicate matters by operating a sing-off between the top two acts in a bid to make more money from the phone vote increase the tension. Of course, to get to the top two, first you have to get rid of the bottom four and first to go is Brian Harvey, who looked crestfallen when he was told the news. Let's hope there weren't any potatoes in the green room. Next was Liz McLarnon who pretty much looked like a girl who'd expected to fail and wasn't too bothered by the result. Fourth place went to Big Brovaz, while third went to Hawkins and Brown. Justin took the news like a gentleman and promptly threw a hissy fit and stormed off the set, leaving Scooch and Cyndi to fight it out for victory. They both performed again before Lordi turned up to run through Hard Rock Hallelujah one more time and give the BBC enough time to take some phonecalls.

Terry and Fearne then got the two potential winners together to announce the result. After the usual tension building cause we've come to expect, thus reducing any possible tension that might exist, the pair simultaneously announced the winner. "Skindi!", apparently, as due to some sort of cock up Fearne and Terry managed to each announce a different act as the winner. Scooch, standing next to Terry, only heard Cyndi's name, so began clapping her and being the gracious losers, so looked incredibly confused and taken aback when Fearne took charge from Terry, who clearly didn't have a clue what was going on, and announced them as the winners. They performed again and everyone seemed happy and celebratory, except, presumably, for the show's producer in the gallery, who was about to have the unenviable job of kicking Terry's arse.

So, hooray for Scooch then. We weren't too keen on the song first time we heard it, and we still don't think it's a brilliant example of the pop genre, but with the dance routine it works, it's fun, and it'll be memorable enough in the highlights package so we should hopefully do reasonably well this year. Personally though, we feel that if we wanted to do well then Cyndi should have been our choice. Not because it was the best song there - it wasn't - or because we think it's a good song - trust us, we don't - but it would have ticked a lot of the right boxes and got us enough votes to put in a reasonable showing. Mind you, given the way we treat the whole affair, it's probably better we don't win. We really don't deserve it any more.

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