TV review: Eurovision 2014’s surreal mix of music, politics and a bearded lady

Right at home… our acerbic guide Graham Norton. Photograph: BBC/ Nicky Johnston
11 May 2014 @ 11.04 pm
| News
Right at home… our acerbic guide Graham Norton. Photograph: BBC/ Nicky Johnston
Right at home… our acerbic guide Graham Norton. Photograph: BBC/ Nicky Johnston

Over the years, the Eurovision song contest has always been a bit of an odd affair, usually spent with family or friends and accompanied by copious amounts of alcohol as 26 countries drag out their best (or their worst) musical acts for millions of viewers.

As a Brit, I don’t make a habit of watching this amazing spectacle of snarky commentating, political voting and awkward and awful on stage scenarios.

The last one I managed to sit through was won by the quirky Lena from Germany in 2010 so I can’t really own up to being a Eurovision enthusiast.

However, some pestering from my family ends up with a group of eight of us squeezed into the living room, nibbles galore, ready for the trauma.

Surprisingly, the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen, Denmark is shiny, polished and thankfully well turned-out all round.

If you excuse the presenters reeling out incredibly wooden and stilted dialogue, it’s relatively pain-free experience.

In fact, all in all I quite enjoyed it (but don’t tell anyone or my reputation will be ruined).
Rather than go through all 26 – which can be accessed here – I’ll skip through the best and the worst. Which is all a matter of opinion (and politics) I suppose.

The pick of the pops

Ukraine’s Mariya Yaremchuk gets the ball rolling with Tick-Tock. A scantily clad woman in a flowing leather dress and a dapper young man – I’m not kidding you – jogs the metal slats of a human sized hamster wheel.

Complete with multicoloured suits, it’s clear that Iceland’s Pollaponk‘s seemingly fun romp No Prejudice is a nod to Russia’s anti-gay laws. Ah, nothing like some political “up yours” in Eurovision.

Some boring and downright awful acts later (I’m talking to you Armenia and Montenegro, I had a quick power nap while Sergej Ćetković was crooning into the camera) it’s on to some Polish rap.

Donaton and Cleo sing Moj Svijet accompanied by some hilariously borderline pornographic clothes washing.

Austria has a novel idea with Conchita Wurst’s Rise Like A Phoenix drag act with gold dress and beard, but her voice is something to be admired.

Sweden catch our eye with a tasteful black dress, simple lighting and a lovely voice and then France bring back the cheese with Twin Twin and Moustache. Clearly someone’s not taking it seriously.

Russia have a nice twin act, but there are boos all round for the poor girls.

Spain and Italy are (yawn) a bit samey with their rock power ballads and dramatic dance moves but Basim from Denmark themselves run out a tune which is catchy and tasteful without being too much. Quite a feat really.

The Netherlands have a weird country duo – of which one part is depressingly flat – but who later do well in the polls, because hey! no one has anything against country music, or the country.

San Marino are 25th with their Valentia Monetta singing Maybe (Forse). “Maybe I won’t be listening to that song again,” said commentator Graham Norton and we giggled appreciatively.

Finally to Britain’s very own Molly, with Children Of The Universe. She does a nice X-factor worthy performance and we all agree that we should get more than zero points, because at the end of the day, everyone is a winner.

Toasting the winner

After a few drinks and a wonderful performance from last year’s Danish winner Emmile de Forest the votes are in.

Now comes the most idiotic part of the contest: watching the awkward hosts awkwardly phone up every single one of the 37 countries and ask them for (thankfully) only their top three.

This is the time for Graham to voice everything that we are muttering at the TV and make snarky comments for us “well that wasn’t embarrassing”.

Austria pick up the majority of the points and poor Conchita is inconsolable, I will use Graham Norton’s witticisms to sum up my feelings about the whole experience: “This is like the gay wedding I’ll never have! Oh sh*t there’s some confetti in my wine.”