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Eurovision 2009

There has been a massive seal of approval on the song contest. So many people laugh at me when I say I like it, for it is oft maligned and ridiculed, but no longer. Why? People will no doubt talk about the win being "back in the west" thanks to the new voting, but really if you look at the songs, the strong ones were those that went back to basics and realised that a song contest is about a song. Sure, flashy routines help, there's no doubt about that as Svetlana (Wild Dances) and Lordi (Hard Rock Hallelujah) prove, however the basic premise of a song contest is the song. With strong competition, a bouncy flashy routine to a lacklustre song will simply wither. Ask Greece. A couple of years ago Sakis might have won it. This year, the competition was just too strong.

But that's not the seal of approval. Not even the return of the violin in practically every song (including being played by the winner).
Oh no. The seal of approval is what the Russians put out. I said in my review that the contest wouldn't be better if the Americans had done it, but I'm now beginning to doubt that. I have a niggling feeling that the Russians have outdone everybody. Really, the whole thing, from the first semi final to the final, was awesome is scale, scope, size, technical ability... you sometimes see nifty camera routines (remember that one from the mid '90s where a camera rolled right around the performer vertically?), but this year was just full of difficult shots, fluid movements, no loumas passing through the shot or anything like that. As for the interval act and those plastic pools. It was mental, and jawdropping. Oh, and did I mention that astronauts aboard the ISS started the televote? I'm not 100% sure that was live, but never mind, that it even turned up was pretty amazing. Russia put in the sort of programming that one might expect if it was the Olympic opening ceremony. I'm not kidding. In a few years, when London hosts the 2012 games, I want you to watch the opening stuff. Then dig out your videotapes or DVD-R or whathaveyou and watch the 2009 Eurovision final. I bet you'll say ESC was better.

As I write this, I am transcoding some songs for my Zen. The ones I liked. Which is a fair few as the bar was raised this year. Numerous serious songs. I guess it went about as far downhill as it possibly could when a latex chicken was on-stage ridiculing the very contest it was taking part in. I recorded it on my PVR (which seemed to suffer numerous audio hiccups, I think so much was going on that the DSP couldn't cope), VHS tape, and for the grand final, also with my computer's capture card. If I could have run two satellite receivers in parallel with a portable generator (or a UPS), I'd have done that too. There's not enough overkill when you have a great contest to watch.
Yes, a great one, in italics and everything. I liked 2002. I loved 2009. I don't think we've seen anything like it in over half a century of Eurovision history, and I really don't think we'll see anything like it again (um, unless Russia wins it again?). It was simply incredible. Incredible also that Russia could afford to do this in the middle of a massive economic screwup that nearly derailed capitalistic society. I don't want to say "incredible" too many times, but it's nearly 3am and I'm not a walking thesaurus. So instead I will simply say: Russia, respect.


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