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Euroschlock Song Contest

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Some people couldn't avoid it. Others could have but didn't.

Out of perhaps a perverse masochistic urge. Or perhaps only to see how their respective country's contestants totally tanked on the obscenely large Muscovite stage.

But the world's most feared international event in Europe went off last evening as it always does: with everyone the loser.

It's only a few years since Swedish-Greek Elena Paparizou won the contest with her immortal 'My Number One'. Here are the lyrics. Enjoy and be edified.

First the verses - all of them.

You're my lover undercover
You're my sacred passion and I have no other

You're delicious so capricious
If I find out you don't want me I'll be vicious

Say you love me and you'll have me
In your arms forever and I won't forget it

Say you miss me come and kiss me
Take me up to heaven and you won't regret it

You're a fire and desire
When I kiss your lips you know you take me higher

You're addiction my conviction
You're my passion my relief my crucifixion

Never leave me and believe me
You will be the sun into my raining season

Never leave me and believe me
In my empty life you'll be the only reason

Now the glorious chorus.

You are the one, you're my number one, the only treasure I'll ever have
You are the one, you're my number one, anything for you 'cause you're the one I love

Eurovision has by all accounts always been terrible. But the question is if it's ever been this bad. When it started over fifty years ago in the dissipating wake of the second world war it must have seemed like a good political move. And the few countries then calling themselves Europe participated with songs in their own language. How totally appropriate. But there was never any rule to that effect.

Then came Brighton in 1974 and ABBA came and sang in English and literally crushed the opposition with 'Waterloo'. ABBA weren't your typical Eurovision act - they deliberately used the contest to garner attention. They'd tried to win the Swedish final the year before with 'Ring Ring' but were defeated by a gay duo calling themselves 'Malta' and singing a song called 'The Summer That Never Tells Me No', ostensibly about a very cooperative female. But who knows? The memorable line in that song's lyrics probably went a long way to selling it to the Swedish judges. It mentioned something about 'your breasts are like swallows in mating'. It doesn't seem to make a lot of sense but who cares? It's the Euroschlock Song Contest. And ABBA were back the following year and swept the stage floor in Brighton with the competition.

ABBA's victory was so crushing in fact that a new rule was quickly instituted: all nations must sing in their own language. This wouldn't apply to the winners of course - once they'd actually won that is. They'd be asked to come back on stage and once again perform their 'hit' and this time they'd sing it in English as it was this language which even back then had become the lingua franca of Europe.

And so it went. The perceived advantage countries like Sweden had had because of their grasp of English was supposedly wiped away. High hopes.

Today contestants in the Euroschlock Song Contest are allowed to sing in any language they like. And almost all sing in English. With the noted exception of France where people stubbornly insist their own language might be a more appropriate lingua france. How foolish of them.

Of course use of the English language necessitates enough proficiency (and artistry) to use it with skill, erudition, and tastefulness. Some nations are capable of this on occasion. One such example is the otherwise rather terrible England contribution by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Diane Warren. Most people have heard of Andrew Lloyd Webber by now: he's the West End composer responsible for the same power ballad being recycled there for the past thirty years or so.

And Diane Warren has actually an impressive string of 'real' hits to her credit. Songs such as 'I Don't Want to Miss a Thing' by Aerosmith, 'I Get Weak' by Belinda Carlisle, and a thousand more for artists such as Cyndi Lauper, Ace of Base, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, Michael Bolton, Gloria Estefan, Peter André, LeAnn Rimes, Cher, Laura Branigan, Patti LaBelle, Boyzone, Olivia Newton-John, Reba McIntire, Toni Braxton, Ringo Starr, Ronan Keating, Richie Sambora, Celine Dion, Tom Jones, Travis Tritt, Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston, Lionel Richie, Lisa Stanfield, Westlife, Aaron Neville, Scorpions, Dionne Warwick, Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, Mary J Blige, Ziggy Marley, Cheap Trick, Elaine Page, Mandy Moore, Joe Cocker, Bette Midler, Chaka Khan, Bon Jovi, Backstreet Boys, Meat Loaf, Heart, Enrique Iglesias, TLC, Chicago, Roy Orbison, Joss Stone, Chris Isaak, Milli Vanilli, Alice Cooper, Agnetha Fältskog, 'N Sync, Mariah Carey, James Taylor, Natalie Cole, Carrie Underwood, Sheena Easton, Trisha Yearwood, Al Green, Wynonna Judd, Ricky Martin, Jennifer Hudson, Aretha Franklin, Kiss, Billy Ray Cyrus, Rod Stewart, Nancy Wilson, Clay Aiken, Vaya Con Dios, Mary Wilson, and the Sugababes - just to name a few.

So together they could be expected to come up with a hit. Dame Andy has never been the lyricist but hopefully Diane was. How well would things go without Dame Andy's perennial sidekick Tim Rice? If you've heard the song being sung by the gorgeous Jade Ewen then you know - and you feel sorry for her. Crash on day one of what should have been a brilliant career. Perhaps the worst is how Dame Andy just swallowed the line I'm not going to let go of it and took it in stride, all the while music lovers were cringing and scratching their heads over the incomparable clumsiness.

First the verses again. Enjoy. It's all downhill after this.

I've been down, down so long, but those days are gone now
I've got the will, I've earned the right to show you it's my time tonight

I'll break through, I've made my move and my faith is strong now
I've got the heart to reach the heights to show you it's my time tonight

There's a sort of middle eight or coda as well. Yuck it up.

I've got the will, I've earned the right, tonight tonight

And now the chorus that shrinks cotton.

It's my time, it's my time, my moment
I'm not gonna let go of it
My time, it's my time, and I'll stand proud
There's nothing I'm afraid of, I'll show you what I'm made of
Show you all it's my time now

Call it vapid or fetid if you want. You won't call it inspired. That's for sure. But it's almost decent English. Although with lyrical assistance from over the pond one cannot be too sure.

But Dame Andy - and to a lesser extent the hit wonder Diane from the US - do in fact have English (or a closely related language) as their native tongue and use it daily in highly practical situations. The kindest words one could use are 'hopelessly superficial'. Diane is probably hoping the British don't call next year; Lloyd Webber will return to his life's work - rewriting his one and only song for further West End productions.

In the meantime there are twenty four other contestants that have to be dealt with.

Norway's 'Fairytale' won the contest. Their entry featured a 'singer' pretending to play a wicked violin (but it was of course all prerecorded and the strands of a partially broken bow could be clearly seen). The singer wrote the song himself.

Years ago when I was younger I kinda liked a girl I knew
She was mine and we were sweethearts, that was then but then it's true

Every day we started fighting, every night we fell in love
No one else could make me sadder but no one else could lift me high above

Chorus:
I'm in love with a fairytale even though it hurts
Cause I don't care if I lose my mind, I'm already cursed

'That was then but then it's true'? Then what is true? Oh who cares! Who listens to lyrics anyway! 'No one else could lift me high above'? Really? You're in love with a 'fairytale' because you don't care if you lose your mind? Is that what prompted you to become a songwriter as well?

Jóhanna Guðrún Jónsdóttir performed Iceland's entry. Her exoneration comes by virtue of the fact she had no hand in the song's composition.

You say you really know me, you're not afraid to show me
What is in your eyes, so tell me about the rumours
Are they only rumours? Are they only lies?

Did you tell me you would never leave me this way?
If you really knew me you couldn't do this to me
You would be my friend

If one of us is lying there's no use in trying, no need to pretend

Chorus:
Falling out of a perfect dream, coming out of the blue
Is it true? Is it over? Did I throw it away? Was it you?

Azerbaijan got third place. Yes really.

Always on my mind, always in my heart

I've been waiting for you night after night
Like a shadow staying close to the light

Suddenly you stand beside me and I see a million burning stars

Oh

Chorus:
You are always on my mind, always in my heart
And I can hear you call my name on a mountain's high
Always on my mind, always in my dreams
I wanna hold you close to me, always all the time

I believe I'm addicted to you, in your eyes I see dreams coming true
Finally I have found you and now I will never let you go

No

'On a mountain's high'? What part of a mountain is its 'high'? Three year olds write better rhymes than that.

Turkey came in fourth place with the song 'Düm Tek Tek' [sic].

Baby you're perfect for me, you are my gift from heaven
This is the greatest story of all times
We met like in a movie, so meant to last forever
And what you're doing to me feels so fine

Baby I read all answers in your exotic movements
You are the greatest dancer of all times
You make me feel so special, no one can kiss like you do
As if it's your profession, feels so fine

Chorus:
Angel, I wake up and live my dreams endlessly, crazy for you
Can you feel the rhythm in my heart, the beat's going 'Düm Tek Tek'
Always out it like there's no limit, feels like there's no way back

Sixth place went to Estonia who had the gall to compete with a song in their own language. So strange then: their chorus makes more sense than the others.

See on tee, nad rändavad nii päevast päeva, see on tee, nad rändavad siis ajast aega
See on tee, ta nähtamatu rajana kulgeb, nende tee, ta ootab kui riskida julged

Sakis Rouvas came in seventh place for Greece. Amongst the terminally dumb in Greece Rouvas is immensely popular. He's a 'gay in the closet' who's been busted (and immediately released) so many times by the ever-cooperative Greek police for drug abuse it's not funny. A major cringe moment.

Take a chance and take a hold, give it all and turn it to gold
Time has come, so make a stand on your own and take command

Beat the odds, you will survive, stronger now, you feel alive
Rising up, get into place, feel it in your heart when you are winning this race

Counting down the night of nights, getting now to stand and fight
Don't back down, just look within, do it now, I know you will

Link:
When I look into your eyes it comes as no surprise

Chorus:
This is our night, fly to the top baby, yes we can do it, just wait and see
This is our night, time for a change baby, get rid of the old, take a hold and be free
This is our night

Magnificent stuff. Fully in the class of Paparizou's 'My Number One'.

France surprised no one by singing in French. The Finnish finished in last place. But no shame in that.

I don't wanna lose control but I'm falling falling down

I got this panic emotion that I can not describe to you
My world is tumbling down what am I what am I gonna do
Ca-can't deny it deny it what am I going through
Ca-cannot fight it can't fight it now I'm looking for the truth

I'm on a critical mission got my destiny in my hands
Like Peter Piper I take control put a spell on the mass
I cause hysteria worry yourself that's how I roll
It's not a drill I'm for real I'm a man who's out of control

Chorus:
I don't wanna live a lie, checking on my sanity
Cos' maybe baby I can do without, is it all a fantasy
I don't wanna live a lie, is this my reality
It's spinning round and round day and night

Had enough? Sorry. There's one more that's absolutely obligatory. The Ukraine entry. Fasten your seat belt. This one goes under the memorable (if perhaps a mite unintelligible) title (hold on) 'Be my Valentine! (Anti-crisis Girl)'. It was sung by Svetlana Loboda who also wrote the less than even remotely memorable music but to her credit didn't write the lyrics - no, for that she relied on someone more proficient in English.

You are so sexy BOM
Gonna make me crazy BOM
We're gonna do the BOM BOM
Ain't that amazing BOM

I'm very busy BOM
It's not so easy BOM
I'm gonna tease you BOM BOM
Without a reason BOM

I'll call you on the phone
You speak in monotone
Don't want to be alone
Because I'm crazy BOM

Baby
Baby you're so fine
Be my
Be my Valentine

Of my pride and prejudice
I will just reminisce
These are the things you can't miss
Come on give me a kiss

There's nothing dangerous
I know what's waiting on us
We'll keep each other restless
Oh boy you look impressed

The charm that I possess
Will put you to the test
To satisfy my interest
Come over be my guest

I'll show you to my nest
You're under arrest
The others may be jealous
Cause you're the one who's blessed

Baby
Baby you're so fine
Be my
Be my Valentine

Baby I can save your world!
I'm your anti-crisis girl!

Had enough now? Sorry! This is the last. Guaranteed. This is the crowning achievement of Euroschlock Song Contest 2009 and will probably be an international summer hit across the continent. It's the Romanian entry and it's called 'The Balkan Girls (Like to Party)'.

It's time for me to unwind
I'm gonna start my weekend with gin tonic and lime
My girls take me for a ride, ready to party and looking so fine
I wonder if beyond this there could be something better
Cause I feel so good tonight, don't wanna end this night

Chorus:
The Balkan girls they like to party like nobody like nobody
For crowd delight we'll shine all night
The Balkan girls they like to party like nobody like nobody
For crowd delight we'll shine all night

My hips are ready to glow, this record is so hot and I have so much to show
I'll find a boy for a kiss, who knows maybe he'll be my prince

I wonder if beyond this there could be something better
Cause I feel so good tonight, don't wanna end this night

Chorus:
The Balkan girls they like to party like nobody like nobody
For crowd delight we'll shine all night
The Balkan girls they like to party like nobody like nobody
For crowd delight we'll shine all night

You got to live your life if you didn't find out what love is about
And if you're lonely baby just open your mind you're one of a kind
You got to live your life

Chorus:
The Balkan girls they like to party like nobody like nobody
For crowd delight we'll shine all night
The Balkan girls they like to party like nobody like nobody
For crowd delight we'll shine all night

It actually starts out making more sense than most of the others. 'Time for me to unwind/I'm gonna start my weekend with gin tonic and lime' - that's actually pretty cool. But then things unwind in the lyrics too. 'For crowd delight we'll shine all night'? And that true classic: 'my hips are ready to glow'? What is she wearing anyway? Does she live close to a nuclear reactor?

Had enough? OK so here's the deal. Thirty five years ago a clever former schoolteacher named Stig Anderson decided that to sell records in polyglot Europe you had to come up with phrases in a lingua franca that everybody understood. Things like 'SOS', 'I Do I Do I Do I Do I Do', and of course 'Waterloo'.

Where are those happy days, they seem so hard to find
I try to reach for you but you have closed your mind
Whatever happened to our love I wish I understood
It used to be so nice, it used to be so good

You seemed so far away though you were standing near
You made me feel alive but something died I fear
I really tried to make it out, I wish I understood
What happened to our love, it used to be so good

Shakespeare by comparison. After reading comparatively literate lyrics by Anderson and Ulvaeus one begins to suspect these Euroschlock Song Contest composers are too high on too many drugs too often. And one'd probably be right.

So is the solution to force them to compose in their own languages again? Disregarding the fact there's too much money involved in this travesty: yes, it would at least spare most people the pain of knowing just how stupid (and drugged out) these supposed composers really are. But the fear is any attempt at translating their lyrics into a lingua franca would leave people feeling just as perplexed as before.

So it's all circumstance? The evolution of language? Not quite. And here's a clue: for every year there are a few entries that are so 'properly terrible' as Graham Norton said of the ghastly Swedish entry that you have to ask yourself: could people really vote for such trash? And the simple answer is: no they could not.

The voting system in the ESC changes all the time but presently it's like this. Using Moscow as an example.

  1. All contestants get to sing. All 25 finalists one after the other with hardly an interruption. Once or twice there are obviously local Russian commercials (or possibly international commercials) and for the ad-free networks it's Irena Ponaroshku from Russia's MTV who interviews people on the street.

  2. The hosts of the show establish a direct audio and video link with the International Space Station.

  3. Two of the astronauts/cosmonauts onboard declare the voting lines open. Now people will (if they're at all interested) rush to their telephones in a panic to vote. They'll have to be very alert to pick up and remember the different numbers to call for each contestant - in some countries they're only flashed on screen a single time.

  4. A mere fifteen minutes later the voting lines are closed. It's all over. For all those millions and billions spent on publicity and who knows what and - as with an unplanned Sunday evening walk through the Bois de Bologne in Paris - suddenly it's all over!

  5. Each of (currently) 42 countries will now contact the concert centre and give them their votes.

But here's the deal:

All those millions of votes cast in those fifteen minutes? They only count for half. And the other half? 'Judges'.

Judges? Judges where? What judges? Anything you want, dude. And that's the way it used to be in the old days. Europe with its state-owned media companies, with its government employees - they'd choose their respective country's entries.

And who are these people? Musicians they're obviously not. They're simply apparatchiks holding down relatively low-paying jobs with lots of perks as compensation. Do they know anything about music? Of course not. Their tastes in music are not going to lean towards the inventive, the new; they're the kind of people who think Britney Spears is the greatest thing since Kiri Te Kanawa. And they wouldn't know a Vivaldi circle of fourths if it came out and slapped them in the face.

Euroschlock Song Contest entries are often musical plagiarism, borrowing shamelessly from other 'well known' ditties, as the composers know the dimwitted judges won't have a clue but will be immediately sucked in by a 'hook' they're already familiar with (but in their gross ignorance won't consciously remember). Euroschlock Song Contest winners rarely go onto become true musical successes. ABBA are probably the only major exception and ABBA expressly used the contest to their own ends.

It's really asking for miracles to expect an audience to hear a song a single time and then be able to judge which of twenty-five of them deserves a vote. There's a lot of 'haphazard' in there and the powers that be would never settle for that.

Instead they send their contestants on huge tours to promote their songs to the people who really matter - the judges. The Greek government and Paparizou's record company shared a bill of over $1 million to promote their entry to the win. And that win was almost guaranteed not by the quality of the song (which was ridiculous) but by the pockets that were 'Greeced' and the feeble minds that were impressed. A chance to meet a 'star'; the red carpet treatment all the way through. And each country doing the same. The judges live well.

Is there any way to save the Euroschlock Song Contest? Perhaps. But people with more erudition and less greed would have to restructure it completely. For the moment people all across Europe are already starting to get upset about the fact there'll be a new Euroschlock Song Contest in just under a year's time.

If you want to read more of the pearls of wisdom ensconced in the lyrics of this year's contest then proceed to the following page and for each contestant click on the red link in the middle of each row entitled 'complete participant profile'. On the next page you'll see a link right under the song title: 'lyrics'. Click that and a sort of 'WordPress' popup will appear. Welcome to the Euroschlock Song Contest.

http://www.eurovision.tv/page/moscow2009/the-participants/final

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