Well, I have made it through another Eurovision Song Contest without managing to throw up. Armed with a bottle of good red wine, I braced myself for the next three plus hours of musical pain. Eurovision is the annual European “competition” (and I use that term loosely), that supposedly launches the best singer in Europe. If we are to be geographically accurate neither Australia nor Israel are in Europe, but they both participate. We can lend a blind eye to the latter being across the Mediterranean and closer to Europe, but Australia is a quaint anomaly. This intentional “blind eye” what makes Eurovision more insidiously curious to follow. Like a car wreck; one is unexplainably unable to fight the compulsion to watch.
Eurovision is a combination of European kumbaya and back slapping that can be simultaneously borderline nauseating and hilarious. The country that hosts the event is the winner of the previous year. Hence this year, Eurovision was in Tel-Aviv, Israel. Amid political rhetoric and talk of boycotts by the far left loons like the BDS, the event sort of went off without a hitch.
My initial intentions were honorable. I endured the four quasi torturous hours because a young Maltese girl by the name of Michaela Pace qualified for the finals. Michaela has a beautiful clear voice which should not have bothered to participate in this competition. Eurovision singing expectations rate on the same level as your tone deaf uncle singing Elvis in the shower. Equally painful and ugly. Very few Eurovision winners ever gather any momentum or global success. Abba was a unique phenomenon that has never been duplicated or repeated. My patriotic sense allowed me to sit and listen through 25 more compositions. The wine numbed the pain.
The Eurovision commission put out a strict warning against politicizing the event . Whatever good it does, but Eurovision is all about image rather than substance. They did not disappoint us. Eurovision is all about perception. We are one happy family. The EU Waltons. The four presenters remained true to their role with fake smiles and camp jokes that played well with the uber enthusiastic audience. Flags waived. Love was in the air. Contestants performed and true to Eurovision fashion, at the end of each song cried out to the audience on how much they loved them and how much they loved Israel. Whatever. This was the good. The bad was yet to come.
Madonna, the middle-aged icon was scheduled to perform mid-way through the event. To be fair, despite harsh criticism from far left anti-Israel BDS Hollywood pin heads, Madonna has often entertained in Israel. She made the decision to perform at Eurovision amid similar visceral critiques which she waved aside as political inanity that has no place in music. On the final night at Eurovision, between the contagious excitement of voting and winning, Madonna gave a pep talk to the contestants telling them they were all winners, and that music brings everyone together. And that’s where Madonna’s cultist mystique ended for the night.
Like the rest and best of us, Madonna is getting on in years which is more than okay, because it irks the shit out of me that women in show business are expected to look 20 for the rest of their lives. I actually hope that she does not turn into a quilt like Cher. I have a disturbing image of Cher sleeping wrapped in Saran Wrap in case her face falls off. I am digressing. I also understand that ‘over the top” is a prerequisite to successful show business, but dressing like an over-aged Viking pirate did not win Madonna any points. Her long blond braid wig and eye patch did very little to enhance either the few extra pounds she managed to stuff in her brass brassiere, or her performance. The Madonna “what the fuck” experience was yet to tragically unfold on stage. The crescendo in excitement was evident in the presenters’ inability to breath the same air as the iconic Madonna. They couldn’t even utter her name without breaking into reverential sweat.
Madonna went back into her past with the 1989 hit “Like a Prayer”, unfortunately by the first note it was evident that she needed more than prayers to deliver the song. Out of tune, out of breath, and flat, she would have been fiercely given the red buzzer by Simon Cowell in the first ten seconds of her rendition. Must give her kudos for finishing the song; anemic as it was. Going into her new release “Future” with US rapper Quavo, the performance marginally improved but her struggle was still ongoing. What was supposed to be non-political became history when two of her pinhead dancers left the stage displaying a flag each on their backs: one Palestinian and one Israeli. Charming. At this point I was wondering what had been worse; Madonna’s performance, or the now all too familiar pandering Colgate smiles of the presenters, attempting to say something other than “Oy Vey”! But this is Eurovision and everyone must remain happy and upbeat.
After three plus hours of bad singing, bad music, and Madonna, we had to brace ourselves to the voting. An exercise in futility. The voting is allegedly part public and part judges. Each country gives 12 points to the “best” song. Of course that is a matter of opinion, but then after Madonna’s performance even the grunting anti-Semite Iceland heavy metal twits began to sound good.
As usual the Nordic countries think it’s cool to raise the bar on bizarre. It’s chic. They stretch their Viking birthright to stupid. But hey, each to his own. They could not contain their anti-Israel feeling any longer. So they displayed the Palestinian flag as the votes were cast. They went beyond Nordic pixilation; someone should have taught them some manners. If they intended to be rude to their hosts they should have stayed at home, no loss there. What happened to music being non-political? I guess they missed that memo. Iceland has the highest cost of living and inflation in Europe. They have to sell their first born to buy a beer, yet they have the unmitigated gall to criticize Israel. A country that leads the world in patents, technology, medicine, and music. What’s Iceland claim to fame? Their ancestors must have tied their Viking hats too tight.
As countries cast their votes, politics entered with a vengeance. Former Eastern Bloc countries referred to their votes as voting “for a friend”, or “a friend of a friend”. I guess Malta, UK, Spain, and Germany have no friends. Who was surprised that Hungary would vote for the Czech Republic, or that Cyprus would vote for Greece, raise your hand? But the pretense continues. Under irritating comic camp, forced EU camaraderie, and the pretense of one big happy family, is buried centuries of suspicion and dislike. Like Don Corleone, who would kiss you while driving a knife through your back, European hypocrisy disguised as intellectual acceptance is putrid.
When the voting started and with my wine gone, I switched to whiskey for strength and fortitude. But after four plus hours of sheer torture, my body gave in to mental Eurovision fatigue. Every year we all know how it will end and we don’t give a shit, because like all good Europeans we will make plans for another evening of bad music, bad costumes, bad entertainment, and an opportunity to pan the hell out of the event in 2020. I raise my glass of 12 year-old single malt to the winner and go to bed; hopefully a dreamless night.