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5 things we learned from Eurovision 2015

Aside from the fact that Australia is a country in Europe (oh yes you are, Australia, and you can never go back. Read the small print), here’s what we found out…


1. You can spend €33 million on something that still feels really cheap

Even when it’s hosted in Vienna. The final cost of the 2015 contest is yet to be confirmed, but staging the famously ostentatious event costs a country an average of €33.6 million.

Good to know that austerity Austria, a nation running a national debt of 2.8% of GDP, is investing heavily in this sort of thing…

And this sort of thing…

 

2. Eurovision remained true to its motto of ‘building bridges’ – but only very short ones

Despite the enforced idealism and pan-European platitudes, often as not Eurovision throws a spotlight on deep divisions hiding under the surface. The current judging system – a 50/50 split between ‘X-Factor’-style telephone polls and points allocated by an expert jury – is intended to correct for the tendency towards geopolitical bitchiness and countries ganging up in culturally sympathetic voting blocs.

But if 2015 was anything to go by, it remains a carnival of passive-aggressive neighbour-favouring. Out of 39 countries voting in this year’s contest, 24 awarded its top allocations of 10 or 12 points to a nation with which it shares a border. And in clear appeals to stave off imminent invasion, douze pointes were awarded by:

Both France and the Netherlands to Belgium; Serbia to Montenegro and Montenegro to Serbia; Poland, Norway, Denmark and Finland to Sweden; Moldova to Romania; Malta and Albania to Italy; Macedonia to Albania; Lithuania to Latvia; Georgia to Armenia; Estonia and Belarus to Russia. 

 

3. The world is not yet ready for its electro-ragtime moment

Sadly for the UK entry, which came fourth from bottom in the end, the Mos Eisley cantina theme from ‘Star Wars’ remains way ahead of its time…

Mos Eisley cantina band:

 

British entry Electro Velvet:

 

 

4. But the winning song was actually pretty good

Yes, it fulfils all the usual Eurovision criteria for victory – a killer gimmick, a vague central message of self-affirmation and a chorus that’s ear-wormier than labyrinthitis. But Sweden’s winning entry ‘Heroes’ was a genuinely captivating couple of minutes.

Finely sculpted anthemic pop, elegantly choreographed into a live music video from the Peter Gabriel/MTV era, with the smiley Måns Zelmerlöw a deserving winner. Who knows what it all means, but yay you, Eurovision.

 

 

5. Never underestimate the redemptive potential of a girl in a white dress belting out a ‘Frozen’-style power ballad

That Russia, of all countries, can put forward a song about ‘praying for peace and healing’ and still come a close second suggests that in Eurovision’s weird Esperanto utopia there’s hope for us all.

So the UK’s best chance for a winning entry next year may well be Tony Blair doing a version of ‘Imagine’ with Alastair Campbell on piano.

 


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