MY LOVELY HORSE (Father Ted & Eurovision)
Image by Fergal of Claddagh
Ireland failed, yet again, to win the Eurovision. I endured quite a bit of it this year for the first time since 1994 (Riverdance?) and cannot remember a single tune from it. I genuinely didn’t enjoy it; it’s not that good really. I liked the Jedward song; but it was a bit like an enjoyable street entertainer; you stop to watch it, enjoy it and move on humming the tune, delighted that you saw something nice – then suddenly you cannot remember the tune. And you didn’t really catch the lyrics in the first place.
For me, the biggest loss in the Eurovision Song Contest is the fact that the songs aren’t actually songs. Yes they’re words set to a tune but surely a song has to be more than that? The words and notes have to strike a chord but most of what I heard was instantly forgettable. Depending very much on your age you might remember the words and tune of the PUPPET ON A STRING (1967), most of us are probably familiar with ALL KINDS OF EVERYTHING (1970) and other winning songs like WATERLOO (1974). But how many people know the songs that won in the last five years? I haven’t heard any song make it as a popular song since A LITTLE PEACE (1982). I do not think that I am being a snob by stating that I believe a song is something that you should be able to sing. If the top-selling domestic single was entered the line up might have been far more interesting.
Maybe if the best selling single from 2010 was used to represent the country in 2011:
JOE McELDERRY would sing THE CLIMB for Ireland,
TINIE TEMPAH would have sung PASS OUT for the United Kingdom;
LENA would have sung SATELLITE for Germany
CHRISTOPH MAÉ would have sung DINGUE DINGUE DINGUE for France
and MANUEL CARRASCO would have represented Spain singing QUE NADIE.
All of these songs have sold well in the respective countries and are more representative of successful songs. Of course OZAN DOĞULU & SILA would have represented Turkey singing ALAIN DELON which is likely to be a lovely song too. I can’t say that I am familiar with any of the songs I have listed so they would all compete at an equal level. Now I appreciate that Lena won the actual Eurovision in 2010 and that explained her high sales in Germany. However there is only so much research that can be expected off any man using Wikipedia as his source for an academic fact! It also seems that Beyoncé would be representing most of the 43 countries if the domestic rule didn’t apply.
Or maybe leave it as it is and grumble about the fact that every village west of the Oder declares itself a nation simply to give twelve points to the neighbouring village-state. It always amazes me that people are upset when this happens. We almost seem to believe that these people should appreciate the way we interpret music in the west. Maybe they don’t like the style? The preening boybands of the west are quite unlike their strutting brothers in the east. And the sequined chanteuses of the west in their dresses designed by Gráinne Seoige just aren’t as agile and unencumbered by clothing as their sisters in the east.
The songs didn’t do it for me – I went off into psychology mode. And I noticed a difference in the performances of east and west. Bluntly put, eastern contestants danced with a primeval acceptance of assigned gender roles (read Frasier’s Golden Bough, all of it not just the dust cover!); the men did their war-dances and their women wove webs of lure and intrigue. Their western cousins, by comparison, were trying to seduce…., you know, to seduce… well, who knows?
The headlines screamed; ARE JEDWARD GAY?
The correct answer to that question is; IT’S NONE OF YOUR BLOODY BUSINESS!
The question is more interesting than the answer is. That question reveals that we do not know what or who is being addressed in their performance. Audiences identify with characters, and as most songs are about love/romance/sex, identification is essential. Let’s be honest, Jedward is marketed to a cosmopolitan market. In its effort to reach everybody it ended up reaching very few for longer than a few minutes.
Could the average nineteen-year-old man in west Dublin identify with them?
Mostly not! So who would?
The answer to that is the source of the confusion about their sexuality. They are performers of a whacky show, a mixture of the traditional arts of the clown, the dancer and the singer. Their songs and costumes are the props of an act – beneath that act lie two young men with the same dreams, hurdles, skills and handicaps of every other nineteen-year-old man in west Dublin. But that is not visible through the act. The act does not connect with most nineteen-year-old men, they might like the catchy tune, but the act embarrasses them. It’s not what they are. And if it embarrasses him why should the Moldovans or the Latvians be expected to give it twelve points?
And, to finish with Jedward I would draw to your attention that they are the fantasy of young girls and not of a continent that parties with the abandon of Babylon and the virtue of Bethlehem. I presume that because they were singing about lipstick that I was watching the performance of two off-the-wall males singing about girls. I enjoyed how these clowns were making the young girls laugh and enjoy themselves and grumpy old men secretly delight at the daftness of the fun. I would however be concerned if the young girls’ reactions were replicated in a nineteen-year-old girl. Older people who find them attractive might find a resonance of peahen in their DNA should they ever get it tested! Like Zig and Zag and Dustin they delight something here (granddaughters, nieces etc…), but the rest of Europe isn’t interested.
And apart from Jedward you had the sexless BLUE representing the United Kingdom in name but styled in a way that they could pose for Men’s Health – a strangely ambiguous magazine, a David Ginola wannabe howling opera and a bizarre act from Austria with six adulating women staring up at a stoic diva – add to that a Nordic Boy-band with a wardrobe from Ann Somers that got their primary school religion teacher to write their lyrics – and it might become obvious why the east don’t vote for the west. The western acts might be highly polished, perfectly choreographed, perfectly marketed … but in the end the people don’t buy into it. Sooty and Sweep on speed didn’t do it for most of Europe and Ireland, once again, felt cheated and betrayed.
I know there are a lot of people who really enjoy Eurovision and maybe we make too much fun of it. Even Father Ted had a go at it with his infamous MY LOVELY HORSE
My lovely horse, running through the field
Where are you going, with your fetlocks blowing in the wind?
I want to shower you with sugar lumps, and ride you over fences
Polish your hooves every single day, and bring you to the horse dentist
My lovely horse, you’re a pony no more
Running around with a man on your back, like a train in the night
People remember the words and tune of that one… maybe we should have entered it in reality!