We Yanks like to think that the success of reality-competition shows like American Idol reveals something very special (good or bad, take your pick) about our national soul. I won’t argue with that. As so often happens, though, Europe got there first. Not only is our own Idol a knockoff of the U.K.’s original Pop Idol, but both of those shows are mere upstarts compared to the venerable Eurovision Song Contest. Every year since 1956, artists from across the continent have come together to vie for voters’ hearts. Each country fields a single band or singer to represent it; only one can win.
Hundreds of millions of Europeans watch every year, and they take this stuff pretty seriously. In this year’s contest, which wrapped up last weekend in Helsinki, 22-year-old Marija Serifovic took home the gold for Serbia with a solid if boring ballad. The night’s sore losers, thankfully, were far more entertaining. The U.K. and France shared a stinging tie for next-to-last place; the notoriously intemperate British press immediately fell to heaping abuse upon their national representatives, the campy (and fairly lame) disco act known as Scooch. Germany, meanwhile, beat the Brits by three places, but they felt like complaining, too — and how. “It is obvious that eastern European countries engage in dirty trade with points every year,” hissed one German singer; another newspaper suggested that “western Europeans are losing their enthusiasm for the Eurovision Song Contest because the East has become triumphant.” Yikes!
Variety reported yesterday that a team including longtime Sacha Baron Cohen associate Dan Mazer is planning to film a comedy about Eurovision, though the story was tanatalizingly vague as to whether this would be a documentary or a fictional feature. Given Mazer’s previous oeuvre, I’m hoping it’s closer to the former. If results like this year’s have shown us anything, it’s that you hardly need to add a thing to get pure comedy gold. I personally think Ukraine’s second-place entry (see below) was robbed — and just tell me you wouldn’t want to see Verka Serduchka’s trippy transvestite dance-off joined by one Borat Sagdiyev.
So what do you think, PopWatchers? Any brilliant performances I missed on YouTube? Would you pay to see Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Contest of Eurovision in theaters?