Things You Genuinely Didn’t Know About The Eurovision
year, our fine continent’s cultural trouts and
tiddlers wriggle together to suck at the very Euroteat
of Eurodiversity. They wear Euroshoes, drink Eurobooze,
and then they sing some songs and invite each other to
pick the least worst one. The 45th version of
a contest referred to by the French cultural minister as
“a monument to drivel” will be held in a big dome in
Stockholm, Sweden (remember last year’s winner
Charlotte Nilsson? – thought not). Bubblegun salutes
the ESC in all its disturbingly compulsive, kitschy
first contest was held in Switzerland in 1956. It
was a by-product of a plan by all the state-run
European TV networks to pool their resources and
share the then-astronomical costs of actually making
TV programmes. With no satellites, landlines were
laid to link up the countries and cosy,
Euro-modulated sport, plays, news and documentary
shows were rustled up. Someone suggested calling the
landline link-up ‘Eurovision’. And then someone
else suggested a Euro-wide contest of songs. Hence
‘Eurovision Song Contest’. Is that clear?
official entry rules state: “The lyrics and/or
performance of the song must not bring the contest
into disrepute”. Which is why you’re unlikely to
see Cradle Of Filth’s ‘I Raped The Virgin Mary
And Hung The Bastard Christ’ receiving a
year, the UK will be represented by Nicki French,
with the fate-temptingly titled ‘Don’t Play That
Song Again’. You may not wish to remember that Ms
French had a hit in 1995 with an abysmal discoed-up
version of ‘Total Eclipse Of The Heart’.
German entry for 2000, ‘Wadde Hadde Dudde Da’,
is sung by a man called Stefan Rabb, who is clearly
TV’s Ali G.
memory tells us that Cliff Richard won the contest
in 1968, with retchingly up-beat, clap-happy love
song ‘Congratulations’. He didn’t. He came
have won the most times (7), while the accepted
emperors of ‘Nul points’, Norway, have actually
won more times than Germany (2 to 1).
1985, presenter Lill Lindfors’ skirt was ripped
off on-stage by a jutting nail in the set. It was a
stunt, but the European Broadcasting Union weren’t
amused and have since banned such needlessly
September, the EBU pointlessly ruled that
Croatia’s 1999 entry score be reduced by 33%,
because the song, ‘Maria Magdalena’ used
synthesised male backing voices, while no male
singers were on-stage.
before Titanic transformed Celine Dion into a friend
of the bereaved (‘My Heart Will Go On’ is the
most popular song to be played at funerals in the UK
and US), the moose-featured old squawker won at 1988
Eurovision with ‘Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi’, which
almost means ‘They Do Not Know Why I Am Without
Earnest Italian sweat factory Julio Inglesias denies
he ever participated in Eurovision. But he did, in
1970, with a sphincter-sealing monstrosity by the
name of ‘Gwendolyne’. Which didn’t win.
winners tend to spend a year milking their
decreasingly illustrious status on Finnish variety
shows and Eurotrash before slouching into obscurity.
Apart from ABBA. And one Udo Juergens, the 1966
German winner who went on to become an enormous hit
with post-menopausal Austrian and German women. In a
desperate attempt to shake off the Teutonic Barry
Manilow image, Udo recorded a manly, but ill-fated
album of football songs with the 1978 German squad.
stand a better chance of winning if you’re a lone
female artiste. Ignoring the bands, 27 Eurowinners
have been ladies, while only 7 have been men.
Israel’s 1998 winner Dana International was a bit
of both who, unsurprisingly, has since paid the rent
as a Shirley Bassey-wannabe mardi gras favourite.
She also fell over when handing the heavy trophy to
last year’s winner. Which was quite funny.
rubbish singer-songwriter John Shuttleworth once
genuinely tried to submit his song, Pigeons In
Flight, to Norwegian Eurovision officials
(“Pigeons in flight/I want to see you tonight/I
want to hold you/If I may be so bold to/And tell you
some things that you’d like/To hear/Oh my dear/In
your ear”). Shuttleworth impresses the entry
committee, but is thwarted by the lateness of his
submission. Trust us. It’s funny. Hear it on The
Shuttleworths 2 CD/Cassette from the BBC Radio
of the fun of watching Eurovision lies in tracking
the blatant cultural favouritism and political
sulking which never fail to seep out in the voting
stage. Norway loves Sweden and Greece loves Cyprus,
which hates Turkey. Croatia loves Bosnia, but Israel
hates Germany. Oh, and Russia are always pretty
sneery towards former Soviet republics Lithuania and
Estonia. This year, keep an eye on the
French-British angle (following the beef barney) and
see if Euro 2000 co-hosts Holland and Belgium are
extra-nice to each other.
45th Eurovision Song Contest is on BBC1,
Saturday 13th May, 8pm.