Sunday, May 25, 2008

Russia/Serbia LoveFest Continues (in Eurovision)

So Russia's won the annual Eurovision song contest, held this year in Belgrade! Another blow has been struck in the battle over who will form a Serbian government! Or has it?

One could argue that having the contest in Belgrade was a victory for pro-European forces in Serbia. The contest -- though its songs are largely abysmal -- is one of those bits of glue (or cheese, or gooey sticky melted cheese) that holds Europe together. People say they don't watch it or pay attention but they do. And after some agitation to yank the contest from Belgrade after the riots over Kosovo independence, guarantees were offered and the City of Belgrade was made 100% safe for pop.

But who could have seen a Russian victory coming? The song ("Believe") by Dima Bilan was pretty terrible. (Despite the assist it got from US mega-producers Beanz and Timbaland.) And all of Europe, not just Serbia, votes on the winner. But it's hard to see the Russian victory being anything but a propaganda coup for isolationist forces. Right?

Yes, I'm kidding. But the issue of regional bloc voting has got longtime UK host of the program Terry Wogan mighty pissed, according to the Guardian's news blog. He believes that the deck is now definitively stacked against Western European entries.

I have to decide whether I want to do this again. Western European participants have to decide whether they want to to take part from here on in, because their prospects are poor.

Boo freakin' hoo, Terry! Europe is deluged by British pop music 364 other days a year. Can't the South, Central and East of the continent get a little love?

But when you look at the voting, it turns out Wogan's right. These regions are asserting themselves. Russia took 12 points (the highest total that can be awarded by a single country) from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia and Israel. That block was 84 points for Russia's winning total of 272 . Finland, Hungary, Romania, Moldova and Serbia each kicked in 10 points. Hell, even the continuing Russian-fomented unrest didn't effect Georgians -- who kicked in 8 points from Tbilisi with love. And Ukraine came in second with 230 points, largely culled from the region and its neighbors

Ah, for the days when it was all much simpler (1965, France Gall, singing a Serge Gainsbourg song -- "Poupee du cire, poupee du son" for Luxembourg) or more complicated (1998, Dana International sings "Diva" for Israel).

Photo is a delightfully "royalty-free" (!) goodie provided by the contest. Huzzah!

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