Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Poles apart on Eurovision

So, Eurovision then. This is not going to be an entry about the winner - it's just a bloke in a dress*, Kenny Everett played the queen whilst sporting a beard as far back as the '80s, for crying out loud, can we all just move on? - rather, it's about the fundamental motives that lie behind where the votes are cast.

One thing that's come out about the voting patterns since the competition finished is that the juries set up to try to mitigate the worst excesses of the political voting, of which more later, differed wildly (in more than one country) in their opinions from the telephone-voting public. In some countries, those differences were dichotomically opposed, which gives the impression that the two entities are casting their votes based on entirely different criteria. Britain was one such country. We're one of the rare voting masses in Eurovision whose vote is not always predictable. There's an established voting form for most of the eligible countries which goes something like this:

  1. Maintain good neighbourly and political relations with your important trading or ancestral partners.
  2. Political point scoring about some contemporary issue, as the Russians found out to their cost this time round.
  3. Does it have a rising, anthemic quality, and at least one key change? (As a musical ignoramus, I don't know what this is, but I'm assured by my more knowledgable friends that it's of vital importance).
  4. Alright alright, in the event you can't think of anything else, I suppose you could vote on whether the song's actually any good or not.
Now I'd always thought the British vote was slightly different from others in that, Ireland apart, we're not surrounded by neighbours we feel duty-bound to oblige with points. Quite the opposite, in fact. This time's voting pattern in Britain seems to confirm that view. But in the great differences between jury votes and public votes, one song really stands out (you'll see what I did there in a minute…) - the Poles'.

If you'll excuse another list, here's how I personally regard the nature of most of the songs in this competition, year after year;

  1. The aforementioned rising, anthemic, key-change carrying stuff.
  2. Euro-pop.
  3. Quaint, folksy, doesn't-really-fit-any-category type stuff that may be better than 1 and 2 above but isn't going to win.
  4. For Christ's sake don't vote for us, we're too skint to host this next year, so we've entered this shit. (I'm looking at you, France).
Poland, however, eschewed these conventions and went for boobs. Never mind the song, check these puppies out. I thought, when I saw this, that they'd misjudged their audience. Eurovision is, of course, a huge event in the gay calendar, and therefore watched by large numbers of gay men, and is also evidently much more popular with women than men anyway. I didn't think the large-breasted sirens provocatively doing their laundry and churning milk would strike the right note. However, their busty ploy might well have worked for them, but for those meddling juries. Now there are a lot of Poles in Britain, I accept that, but not enough to make them runaway winners of the British public vote, as they evidently were. Same applied in Norway. And the Ukrainian public were clearly sufficiently diverted from their present political troubles to pick up their phones and vote for Poland in their droves. How many votes did Poland get from Britain? Nil. From Norway? A measly two. Ukraine? A healthy seven, but not the 12 the public had thought it due.

The Germans had no such qualms, firmly placing the Poles at the top of the, er, pole. Their jury must think like their public. Our own jury, and others, clearly missed the point of the Eurovision Song Contest completely, casting their votes based on the songs, of all things. Weird. (This means, incidentally, since they placed Poland last, that they regarded that French atrocity as a better song than the Poles' heart-felt paean to love and loss, We Are Slavic ('shake what your momma gave you'), a decision which is frankly baffling.)

So, a final list. It seems the British public voted based on the following criteria:

  1. Tits!
  2. Dunno. That girl's got a beard, though. That's definitely worth a few points.
  3. Had a nice holiday in Malta once, I did. Points for them.
I think you'll agree those are considerations which are much more in keeping with the whole tone of Eurovision. We obviously get it in a way that quite eludes the experts. We should think about the composition of our jury a bit more carefully next time.

*On a more serious note for a moment, it's quite easy to take for granted the vote for the Austrian from Britain, living as we do in a liberal, open-minded society. What is gratifying is the fact that this vote was so widely reflected across Europe - it's been seen by various media commentators as a vote for diversity and against homophobia. But even that raises its own questions of our jury - were they expressing their support (understandably if so) for the right to express your identity and sexuality as you see fit, or did they genuinely think that was the best song of the 26?

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