In just over a week - on the 14th of May, the whole UNIVERSE will be torn open to receive the telecast of the planet's most Vivacious, most Bodastic, most NOISY and SPARKLY and LED-clogged Pop Music Contest! Yes!! It's the Eurovision 2011!!!!
And this is a good thing - a very good thing - if you like a) pink flamingos and b) really big frocks and c) aren't terribly picky about music as long as it's d) loud and e) overproduced and f) has fireworks going off during the noisy bits -
If you like all that, you'll LOVE Eurovision.
Here's how it works:
Once a year almost every country in Europe (see boring fine print) abandons taste, sense and musicality and offers up a Eurovision entry - mostly by throwing glitter and a treble clef at a wall and seeing what sticks.
Occasionally this happens at a level of national policy (in which case the classic trope 'designed by committee' generally comes out to play and live up to its dishonorable reputation. See: Great Britain, almost every year.)
Other times bands stump up the money themselves and make up the difference with dogged determination and extra spangles and duke it out with each other for the dubious honor of the national title. Occasionally there are a couple of musical instruments involved as well.
These national winners are sent to the Europe-wide semifinals - and then, we have the (glitterbombed) FINALS. Last year's winning country hosts this year's event and opens the show with last year's winning song (generally tarted up with bungee dancers and showers of ticker tape).
And it's BIG.
As a F'erinstance, here's 2008's Dimla Bilan, opening the 2009 Russian Eurovision tournament:
The Eurovision Finals last for HOURS. The hosts are vapid and follow the teleprompter like they're mainlining novocaine. The Mediterranean contestants run on treadmills and the eastern Europeans spill fake blood down their bare backs and the Finns dishonor rap music AND chainsaws (often simultaneously) and power ballads lean heavily on the over-use of epileptic LED backdrop animations and cleavage- but the cleavage comes covered in sequins and you can always hope for a Balkan singer to do something wonderful with a tambourine or a kettle drum and shout "Oupa!" and seven billion people sit in front of their televisions drinking cocktails with little umbrellas on sticks (as a prelude to the heavy liquor - THAT comes out later, during the voting marathon). And then, sometimes, once or twice in a show, something magic happens - and in between the teleprompters and the big billowing frocks, there's actual music going on.
In honor of the 2011 Eurovision Song contest, I have exhaustively trolled the past 4 years (I had to establish a cutoff SOMEWHERE or we'd be here all month) for the trashiest, tartiest, splendid-est, rip-roar-rousing-est, most generally-FANTASTIC-est Eurovision numbers of all time!*
*What? Empty hyperbole is de-rigueur! It's not ABOUT the music, people!! It's one vast delirious explosion of pink plastic flamingos!!!
Ukraine, 2007, Dancing Lasha Tumbai: