Happy Monday everyone! Had a lovely day in Tynemouth, and I’ll probably upload the pictures tomorrow. Today, though, I’m going to talk about a very special Saturday night that I spent watching…(not sure why I’m doing this, the answer is in the title)
Oh yes. Eurovision, for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, is a yearly event that I have watched fairly consistently for the last ten years. It is an extravagant and very camp (if you watched it, you’d know what I mean) singing competition where acts from 26 European countries try to win the title for their country. It goes on for hours and hours (like four hours!); the first half of the evening you spend watching the acts perform and then the second half is where you wait for the winner to be decided.
How do they decide who wins? Well, the participating countries plus a dozen others (usually the ones who failed to reach the finals) all give out points (which is decided through a combination of the viewing public votes and a panel of judges; this combination sounds fair, but actually didn’t work out too well) ranging from 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10 and 12 to the competing acts. The act with the most points wins (it is quite simple, but I probably haven’t explained it very well). Very straightforward system. And very political. You can’t give points to your own country, but you sure as hell can give points to your neighbors (one of the reasons – as well as being rubbish – that the UK don’t do well in Eurovision is because we have nobody to rely on for votes) so most years it is won by someone like Denmark (who won it last year and thus got to host this year) or Sweden, who have lots of pals. In the past it was very predictable to guess the winner, but I have to admit it does seem like they are getting a bit fairer. Still awfully obvious how the voting works in some countries, but not as bad as before.
But hey, I’m not here to gripe. The point was that this was a special Eurovision for me, as it was possibly the last one I’d see. Well, the last one I’d see in the UK (for a while, at least). I have no idea if I’ll watch it in America. Is it broadcast there? I wouldn’t have thought so, but it is one of those weird things I can imagine Americans watching and wondering what the hell is going on. I have no idea.
Anyway, Saturday night we all gathered round to watch it. As part of the tradition in our family (I thought I’d talked about this before, but apparently not), I bring in a notepad and jot down all the countries involved so we could each score them individually. In past years we’d actually vote for the country with the highest combined score, but nowadays we can’t be bothered with that so we just, uh, hope they win it, I guess? Act all smug that we picked the winner? I don’t know. There is no real reason for doing it, but we do it. Tradition, you see. Here’s a picture of our final scoreboard. You may not able to understand some of it, but don’t worry, I’ll explain it below.
So, we have the countries listed down the left in order of performance. Then we have my scoring column, my dad’s scoring column, Sue’s scoring column and finally the total. I think we (by that I mean my dad and Sue, as you can see by the average score at the bottom; while I was giving a mean average of 12.8, Sue’s was a poor 10.5 and my dad’s was even worse 9.7) rated the acts harshly points-wise, but because it was consistent, the final standings were about accurate. Until the end that is, where I think the wine we were drinking seriously hampered the scoring because there was no way the UK act deserved to get 42/60, which put them right up at the top (and before you look at me, it wasn’t my score that put them there either). Otherwise though, I think we did pretty well.
What, then, does the scoring show (I’m going to assume you can’t read my writing)? How about I tell you in bullet points?
- Netherlands got number 1, with 45 points.
- UK *sigh* got second place with 42.
- Belarus and Romania shared third spot with 41.
- No other country breached 40, except for Sweden BUT that was given an estimate score for Sue as she was out the room.
- Most countries scored in the mid twenties to mid thirties.
- Dishonourable mentions go to Poland, who got 20, and France, who got thirteen.
- My favourite was Romania. I gave them 17, but I gave four other countries 16 points.
- My dad’s favourite was Netherlands. He gave them 17, and practically everybody else less than ten.
- Sue’s favourite was the UK (again, I think wine influenced this vote…or sudden patriotism), but she did like the Netherlands too.
- Lowest individual score was from my dad (1 point to France)
Uh, I think that is about it. Why was the Netherlands our favourite? Well, I’m not sure. It wasn’t very Eurovision-like as it wasn’t a ballad or a ridiculous pop number (the usual Eurovision fare), which you’d think would count against it (especially as our highest scorer, Romania, was very upbeat). I’d actually say it was reminiscent of American country…but you know, good (I’m joking Americans!). However, it was sweet, we enjoyed it and we would listen to it again. So I suppose on that criteria it deserved to be up there.
I do believe it also benefited from the fact there wasn’t very memorable songs in the contest, at least not to us. It came near the end so it was fresher in our memory so I think it scored well because we couldn’t really remember most of the acts before it. And, as I said before, we had been drinking.
BUT, in our defence, it did come second on the night, so we weren’t far off (admittedly, Romania, Belarus and the UK were nowhere near the top 5) with our scoring there. Do you agree? Here’s the video.
What about the winner? Austria’s bearded lady took the trophy. She didn’t score that highly with us, but we did like it, and we weren’t surprised that she won. She was very talented, and a deserved winner. She was very popular too, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you hadn’t already seen her or the winning song. But if you haven’t, here is the video to that too.
All in all, it was a good evening. We had wine, we had fun, and we had a trio of desserts, because we’re decadent like that. What was our trio? Uh, gooseberry ice cream (Sue’s purchase), blackcurrent jelly (my input) and tinned peach slices (my dad’s, uh, choice). All at the same time because, why not? It was…an interesting blend. Not sure I’d recommend having them all together like we did mind, but individually very nice.
So will it be my last Eurovision? I’d like to think not. I’d like to think I’ll be able to find it in the US and watch it with Vanna (record it, then watch it on the evening). I’d like to think she’d like it, and that we’d carry on the little scoring system, albeit only with the two of us. I’d like to think we would make a special occasion out of it, continue the tradition. Yeah, I’d like to think that would happen. I guess I’ll just have to see, won’t I?
Until next time,
P.S. Each country did a little introduction video to their act where they had to make their flag in an unusual place or in an unusual way. A lot of them (Iceland used ice blocks, and the UK used red double decker buses and people dressed in blue) were really cool, so if you can find a compilation video of those it would be worth watching.