“The show was truly a miracle.” So spoke the Romanian presenter, whose penchant for wild exaggeration, like so much of Eurovision, escapes further scrutiny by merit of a sort of crazed audacity which withers under a truly critical eye.
This review must begin with a confession. Until earlier this week, I had never heard of Eurovision. I am lucky enough to trespass on British soil for the duration of my degree, but I come from across the Atlantic, from a distant land whose residents rarely undergo the awakening I have since experienced. That awakening is as follows: Europe is weird, and weird in the way which makes for uniquely excellent television. I did not ease into the world of Eurovision. To do so would have perhaps been wise, but markedly less entertaining. No sir – I was thrust straight into the heartland of Kopparberg, Europop and nationalism in a viewing hosted by Oxford’s own Scandinavian Society. It will tell you all you need to know about these good people to say that they clapped not disingenuously for every point earned by the United Kingdom. I do not need to tell you that they were not clapping often. They answered patiently my dozen questions about the convoluted scoring system, the bizarre songs, and the weirdly omniscient hostess.
Among such attractions as hamster wheels, circular pianos, and breakdancing apostles, it seems almost inappropriate to single out any event as the most bizarre. There was a Finnish presenter who both looked and rapped like Macklemore. There were women with beards. There were Polish butter girls. Here I struggle to level any real criticism: any event that gives me cause to use the phrase “Polish butter girls” in a coherent English sentence is fabulous in my books.
To be honest, I haven’t the faintest clue where most of the performers came from, and I doubt that I am alone in this. Several PPE students assured me that “nobody really gives a damn, it’s all just political anyways.” Articles will probably be written examining the significance of the points awarded to Russia by the Ukraine, and they may well be intelligent and insightful, but this is not one of them. All I can tell you is that Russia entered twins attached by their hair, while the Ukraine produced a performance of “Tick Tock” which had in common with the Ke$ha song forgettable lyrics and an unremarkable beat.
It would be remiss if I were to end this review without a single mention of the winning entrant. There is a particular saying in television which refers to a show coming into its own, denoting the point at which a sharp increase in quality occurs. That phrase, named in honour of the follicles of a character on Star Trek: The Next Generation, is “growing the beard.” Fittingly, Saturday night picked up tremendously with the entrance of Conchita Wurst, a drag performer from Austria. Conchita claimed this year’s Eurovision trophy for her country sporting false lashes, stilettos and full facial hair. It is difficult to know whether she won despite or because of this fact. I myself must say that I am not particularly inclined to care, because it made for darn good TV.