Eurovision 2006

I’ve been a fan of the Eurovision Song Contest from before even understanding what it was exactly. Mind you, I first discovered the song contest in my mid-20s and I had no concept of it as being something that fags were interested in—I just knew that I cared about it.

Now, of course, I know better. It is one of the most important European Gay Events out there, and at the risk of alienating my readership, I am going to take the time to review the 2006 contest entries—Not all 37, just a few here and there. Please see the extended entry for more details about the contest.

My top three songs this year are:

Sweden with “Invincible” by Carola. Invincible is a fairly upbeat and fun song, although it is a bit on the serious side. Although it’s one of my favorites, I doubt it will win the contest.

Malta with “I do,” by Fabrizio Faniello. This is a very upbeat song sung by a previous Eurovision contestant. Plus he’s cute. If the performance is strong, and Fabrizio is well dressed, I could see him getting one of my votes.

Lithuania’s song, “We are the Winners,” by LT United is a very amusing song. There’s absolutely positively nothing remarkable about this song, other than the fact that the principle lyric is that “We are the winners / of Eurovision.” If the voters have a sense of humor, and most viewers do, then this song has a pretty strong chance of convincing voters to “vote for the winners,” as the lyrics request and demand.

In the upper echelons of my personal ratings comes two songs—well, actually there are nine, but I will only list two.

The United Kingdom has a chance of doing well with its song, “Teenaged Life,” which actually asks a somewhat important question: “What did you learn at school today / That’s what the teachers used to say / but they don’t know / don’t understand / do they.” Although the song is probably meant to be a slightly light-hearted look at the past, it could also be a question for Tony Blair and the state of the British Education system.

Iceland brings to the stage a song similar to Lithuania’s presumptuous ditty, but although it has a good beat, it lacks a sense of humor about being the winner.

The worst song of 2006 is the one from Spain: Las Ketchup doing “Bloody Mary.” The song is absolutely positively horrible, as is the group. Las Ketchup is better known for their song, Aserejé (or The Ketchup Song), a song so bad, yet so popular, that people across Europe were known to scream at just the first note. Thankfully the song never made it over the Atlantic. Las Ketchup proved that it was possible to perform something worse than country music.

And oh yes, Germany, since I live here: It’s a country song, and it’s not actually that bad, although I don’t really like country twang. I wouldn’t vote for it (and I cannot since I’ll be in Germany for the contest), but I imagine it could do well in a pan-European vote.

The preliminaries are the May 18th, and the finals are on the 20th.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Eurovision Song Contest, basically this is what it is: Each country that is a member of the European Broadcasting Union is allowed to participate. To participate they submit a 3 minute song that is sung during the contest. Each country has a different method of picking their submission, some do it in an American Idol type of contest, in others the entry is picked by a committee.

The four biggest countries are guaranteed entry into the finals, the remaining countries are either in the finals based on their success in the previous year, or attempt to get into the finals through a preliminary round held two nights before the finals.

The night of the finals, each country performs their three minute song live—with the show broadcast live across Europe, as far east as Russia, as far west (this year) as Iceland. At the end of the program, each song is shown again (maybe 15-20 seconds), and a phone number is posted for each country. Viewers of the show are allowed to vote for the country they think did best—except for the country they are phoning from (e.g. a German in Germany cannot vote for Germany, but a German phoning from the United Kingdom could vote for Germany, but since they were in the UK, they could not vote for the UK).

After telephone voting has concluded, the public counting of votes starts. Much like the alphabetical roll call vote at the Democratic and Republican Conventions in the United States, each country usually makes a brief speech about how delighted they are to participate in Eurovision and why you should visit their country. Like the US political conventions, the smaller and more insignificant the country, the more they talk. You’d be surprised how much there is to know about Andorra , and how little you care when you realize that there are 36 more of these speeches to listen to.

Once they have finished describing their countries, the local presenter announces their votes. The winner from their country gets 12 points, second place gets 10, and third gets 9, and so on. The biggest insult is for a country to get “nul point” – the votes are announced in English and French, in part because the French refuse to realize how insignificant their language is when it comes to international communications, but in this case it creates the most memorable moments of the show. The UK earned nul point from all other countries in 2003 in what was viewed as either a penalty for their singer performing out of key, or, and more probable, the fact that UK had sided with the United States in invading Iraq.

After all of the votes have been announced by all 37 countries, the country with the most votes is declared the winner.

The prize is getting to host the next year’s contest—hence, since this year’s contest is in Athens, that means Greece won last year.

It’s debatable whether coming in first is really winning or not. It might be better to come in second.

3 comments to Eurovision 2006

  • I remember watching it in 2003 and us getting nul point. The funniest thing was the ensuing media debate as to whether it could possibly have anything to do with the out of key singing, or whether we would all face up to the fact that our Government’s political choices had really angered the rest of Europe.

    The French never vote for us though.

  • What ever happened to Sertab, the Turkish singer who won the contest w/ a cover of Bob Dylan’s “One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below)” ?

  • Jerry, Sertab is still around, according to Wikipedia she released an album in 2005 called “Aşk Ölmez”

    That said, she didn’t win with a cover of Bob Dylan. She won with a song called “Every Way That I Can.” The cover you are thinking of was released after her win. Contest rules prohibit doing covers in the contest–work must be original and not commercially released prior to the contest period (the rules are complicated, but essentially about 9 months before the on-air contest).