I had a cultural experience last night. Without even leaving the apartment. DCP and I took in the Eurovision Song Contest 2008. It was amazing. Disgusting. Intriguing. Addicting. I don’t have enough words to describe it.
Basically 43 countries in Europe take part in a singing contest. There are semi-finals and finals and all of that good stuff. Last night we watched the finals from Belgrade. There were 25 entrants. Now some countries take this very seriously. Others… not so much. For example, Latvia sent a group dressed as pirates called Pirates of the Sea. Their song? Wolves of the Sea. I can’t make this stuff up.
Sweden takes it pretty seriously. They have their own competition to decide on who will be sent. And over a million people watch the stuff on TV. This is a country of nine million. Keep that in mind. It’s a long winded affair that sees all kinds of well established Swedish artists take part. This year’s winner was Charlotte Perrelli. In Sweden, her song, Hero, has been playing non-stop for months. Luckily you can’t see her on the radio. Because unfortunately Charlotte, or Lotta as I will so lovingly call her, has an alien face. Eyes very far apart, huge forehead. It’s a bummer. The French even made fun of her referring to her as a bad advertisement for plastic surgery.
Regardless this is a singing contest and Sweden was considered by some to be a dark horse favorite to beat out Russia, the eventual winner, and Ukraine. Perrelli didn’t even come close. Lotta came in 18th. Out of 25. That’s not good. She actually lost out to the Latvian pirates.
Luckily, for those of you who read Swedish, Dagens Nyheter gave us a running diary a la Bill Simmons from ESPN. But let me sum it up for you. We were inundated with horrible English from the hosts. Who, to their credit, gave a damn good effort. We laughed in horror as the hosts threw it back to the green room where we were assaulted by two hosts hopped up on something butchering their English lines and making fools of themselves. Questions were asked that were never answered because they just didn’t understand each other. In between all that my ears were attacked by some sort of music. Ranging from ballads in Hebrew (Israel apparently counts as Europe here) to Latvian pirates, to a Portuguese woman who looked like Ursula from The Little Mermaid. All the while the Swedish commentators were making snide remarks, commenting on others English skills (which granted I have done but I’m a native speaker and feel that I can make these sorts of judgments), and just kind of being assholes. I was a little disappointed in the Swedes. Luckily, they were often overshadowed by Spaniards singing about “El Robocop” and a blind woman from Georgia singing about peace. Incredible. Hell, Vlade Divac even made a guest appearance and launched a basketball into the crowd. All in all just an amazing night.
Along with the cultural experience I learned another thing. It is possible to get drunk on 3,5% beer. It just takes a few extra.
Welcome to Sweden.