Tonight is the final of the annual Eurovision Song Contest, which the United Kingdom will lose. But don’t despair, because tonight we will also be treated to the annual Eurovision Whinge Contest, which the United Kingdom will win – hands down.
(If you want an assessment of the Eurovision runners and riders, visit Will Howells’s blog).
As usual, we will blame our dismal result on bloc voting. The Nordic countries will vote for one another, as will the former Soviet republics. But there is no Turkish entry this year, so the Turkish-German alliance can’t happen. Likewise, no Cyprus means no mutual back-scratching with Greece. And none of the former Yugoslav countries has made the final, so we will be spared the sight of incestuous voting by people who were literally slaughtering one another less than twenty years ago. The absence of these blocs won’t stop the accusations.
Then there will be British incredulity at the, er, musical tastes of East Europeans. How can people write, perform or enjoy anything so naff? Was the defeat of communism for this? (In an era of Simon Cowell’s talent shows, no one seems to notice the irony or hyprocrisy of this stance).
As Fraser Nelson reminds us, the British don’t get Eurovision. He also points out that this year’s British entry (‘Believe In Me’ by Bonnie Tyler) has failed to enter the UK’s top 100. Even we don’t like our own entry, so why should anyone else?
British reactions are conflicted. We know that Eurovision is an orgy of kitsch yet we wonder why there is no cutting-edge, quality pop. We think we should win yet make no serious effort to succeed. And then we wallow in the ensuing xenophobic media coverage, where the ‘unfair’ Eurovision will be used as a stick to beat Europe.
Britain needs to make up its mind. Either Eurovision matters or it doesn’t. If the UK wants to win, it should set about the task with ruthless efficiency – and could easily do so, given that the British have produced more quality pop than the rest of the world (apart from the USA) put together. Or we can decide that the whole thing is a joke, make no serious effort and accept that the victors will be countries for whom winning really means something.
But so long as Britain enters mediocre songs performed by has-beens or nonentities, self-righteous indignation is not an appropriate reaction.