It’s here. The turbulent Technicolor sea of camp stage outfits is upon us. This year Denmark is hosting the gargantuan media pandemonium right here in AIAIAI’s backyard, the fair city of Copenhagen.
As music enthusiasts we can’t help being confused, fascinated and intrigued by the wide range of performances on display. This eclectic yet somehow homogenous succession of wide-eyed Europeans singing their hearts out in the hope that they will be crowned winner for the night. It's a spectacle, bathed in neon-tinted lights, which intermittently prompts the inevitable WTF!? outburst. A cultural phenomenon, which exists in a kind of parallel dimension, making it impossible to assess based on conventional criteria of taste and musical merit. But we will also make the claim that it used to be so much more interesting than it currently is. Step inside our guide and get acquainted with some of Eurovision’s more palatable entries before it all explodes in a kaleidoscope of wonky accents, confetti and questionable dance moves tomorrow.
When asked for his opinion on Eurovision, journalist Mark Beaumont once quipped: ‘You might as well have people competing over who makes the best cakes.’ And there is definitely some truth to this statement. Watching the contest, you do get the feeling that it’s about a lot of other things than music. Like nationalistic pride, advertising Euros, and tourism. Still, that doesn’t mean there aren’t positive aspects to the event. They’re just few and far between. Here are a few of the rare quality gems that the international song contest has produced over the course of its long-lasting existence.
Telex – Eurovision
These Belgian boys clearly don’t fuck around. Rocking a luxurious, white scarf and busting the stiffest (and thus coolest) dance moves ever, Telex’s entry for the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest - aptly titled ‘Euro Vision’ - is an eye-catching example of Eurovision done right.
Grethe and Jørgen Ingmann – Dansevise
Yet more proof that everything was so much classier back in the 60s. Rampant discrimination notwithstanding, this decade kicks our ass in multiple ways, which Grethe and Jørgen Ingemann’s melancholy ‘Dansevise’ are a delectable oldschool testament to.
Åse Kleveland - Intet er nytt under Solen
Fun fact: Åse Kleveland was elected Norwegian Minister of Culture back in 1990 and held office until 1996. Several decades earlier she stared intensely into the eyes of Europe and sang about life, death and the passage of time and - wait, what's that? Oh, it's only an ENORMOUS FUCKING LIVE ORCHESTRA totally nailing it with just about every instrument you can imagine. We wouldn’t be surprised if this has already been sampled by several Ninjatune artists. If not, they should get right on it.
France Gall - Poupée de cire, poupée de son
To be perfectly honest, the youthful France Gall’s singing leaves a lot to be desired here. And you could argue that the fact that we have included her singing leaves us open to accusations of Golden Age-thinking. But this isn’t just about us saying that everything was better in ‘the good old days’. In some strange way, France is just a bonafide star despite her terrible singing and a live orchestra tends to do wonders for just about any kind of performer. Contemporary Eurovision take note.
Loreen - Euphoria
But this top 5 isn’t all about sentimentality and nostalgia. Loreen’s rather breathtaking, manga-like trance odyssey ‘Euphoria’ from 2 years ago deserves a spot because it actually manages the near inpossible feat of staying true to the current Eurovision aesthetic while turning it into some kind of epic, larger-than-life, shamanic theater in the process.
And these were the result of the AIAIAI jury, concluding our guide to Eurovision’s Greatest Hits. Who knows, maybe 2014's edition of Eurovision will produce another memorable entry?
In any case, have a great weekend!