Eurovision certainly isn’t without controversy. Accusations of political voting ultimately led to King Terry Wogan of Sarcasm resigning as the UK’s commentator last year, and was replaced by Graham Norton. Who, after turning on the telly six songs in to hear Norton and wondering what happened to Wogan’s voice, was actually rather funny. Especially when he constantly thanked all the countries for voting for us. Nice to hear politeness nowadays, rather than the constant swearing that plagues our shows.
But that’s what Eurovision is all about. Light-hearted, family entertainment, served up with a slice of cheesy Europop and a side order of camp. So why, then, when we enter a serious song (Jade Ewen’s crowd-silencing performance, accompanied by seemingly regular Saturday night TV resident Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber) do we do much better than in previous years of joke entries?
Maybe it’s because trying to second-guess Europe doesn’t work. Take Lordi, the Finnish rock group who stormed the show in 2006. They were different. Nobody thought they were typical Eurovision entrants, yet they smashed the points record. This year’s winners, Norway, had a different act again, with the singer playing the violin live on stage. They smashed Lordi’s points record to become the most successful Eurovision act ever.
Being different doesn’t mean you’ll be successful, though. Ireland’s Dustin the Turkey entry last year was certainly unique, but failed to qualify for the final. Even some of the more quirky acts this year – Germany bringing on Dita Von Teese, Denmark thinking this was Stars In Their Eyes (Tonight Matthew, I’m going to embarrass myself in front of a whole continent) and several traditional costumes that looked like they had been thrown together at the last minute – failed to bring many points to the board.
In many ways, the Eurovision Song Contest is just wrong. It shouldn’t get the attention it gets. But there’s something in amongst the silliness that makes it addictive viewing. It’s a bit like Gordon Brown on helium. Wrong, but undisputedly compulsive.