Not only am I a fortunate witch, but my earlier post on Bookwitch about it being a small world, is definitely true here. Less than four years ago Son told me about his teacher in one of his subjects at university. (Isn’t it nice that he talks to me?) It took me a while to make the connection, but his teacher began reading and commenting on the witch blogs. Apart from being nice, Lauren also knows more than I do about most of my Culture topics. If I need to know something, I can always trust her to sort me out. If I’ve seen something early, she saw it before me, and some. And she always has the DVD box set.
So it’s hardly surprising that she went to the Eurovision dress rehearsal last week. And she promised to bring me back a little something. I’m very grateful to her, and I apologise for any suffering that might have taken place in the interests of this post. Over to Lauren:
My initial comments after watching the dress rehearsal/jury final were as follows…
Intro act: surprisingly entertaining, and probably justifies Stefan Raab’s presence as host. He certainly wasn’t there for his English skills or suave appearance in a suit! (Question: will international audiences find German humour funny?) Anke Engelke is fantastic, however. We left the hall shouting ‘Danke, Anke’, and weren’t the only ones. But I’m fairly sure it wasn’t coincidental that she did all the linking moments which required actual brainpower…
The songs: My favourite – Iceland. Crowd favourites – Germany (obviously), Ireland, Sweden, UK. Grandma’s favourite – Finland. Bookie’s favourite – France (?). Dark horse – Azerbaijan. Trashiest outfit – Slovenia, closely followed by Hungary. Weirdest act - Moldova. Most of-out-tune – Lithuania. Most overshadowed by background action – Ukraine. What were they thinking? – Georgia. Dodgiest hair - Denmark and France. Most retro – Serbia. Welcome back – Italy. Nice but bland – Switzerland. Best ‘feelgood numbers’ – Romania, Spain, Iceland. Best voice – Austria. Biggest fear – that Ireland wins! (Does Europe have *less*’ taste than Britain?)
It was interesting to see how different things sound in the hall and at home on television. A few acts improved noticably between Friday and Saturday – Italy was much better, and more in tune, as was Serbia and Georgia (whom I still couldn’t stand, but at least resembled a rock song instead of a mistake) – while others remained abysmal. (UK, for a global pop act you really need to try and find a tuning fork somewhere…)
The arena felt smaller than it appeared on TV, but they had transformed the football stadium very well. The atmosphere was incredibly friendly, complete with face painting, cocktails and a lot of strange outfits. One amusing thing to note was how obvious the pyrotechnics are in the arena – the fireworks almost deafened us, and Greece’s flames felt rather like an instant blowtorch. I wouldn’t want to have been sitting any closer.
Also entertaining was watching the mock vote after the interval act (forgettable). Apparently the video links need to be rehearsed too, so we were witness to a selection of actual hosts and substitutes in dreadful clothes reading a selection of fake numbers. This requires more skill than you’d think – the ability to announce ‘This is the result of the Moldovan’ and recite 8, 10 and 12 points is not exactly universal.
I watched the actual final at a party with a group of dedicated Eurovision fans, and none of us could agree on a potential winner, so the fairly wide distribution of points didn’t come as much of a surprise. We tipped Italy, just, over Serbia (who we knew would never win given they didn’t sing in English.) However, we suspected Euro-popular but bland would probably just make it, so the eventual winner wasn’t a great surprise. (They’d been my dark horse). I think we thought Sweden might just make it over the line instead. Italy’s position caused great jubiliation at our party, and some irritation - not only did we vastly prefer the song, none of us can possibly travel to Baku next year.
That’s probably enough rambling to be going on with. The whole occasional was ridiculous, but it was certainly an experience, and I’m very glad I went, even if I couldn’t get tickets to the actual final.
Danke, Lauren. So grateful that someone is mad enough to travel far and wide for some culture.