Eurovision is the pop show from another dimension a big production international extravaganza celebrating the unifying force music at its most trite.
It is the show where nations set aside their differences and pretend to care about what passes for pop in Belarus glory in the shared values of simple chord sequences and singalong melodies and thrill to the realisation that blow dried windswept hair looks exactly the same from the valleys of Wales to the furthest reaches of the Georgia. But 26 songs is a lot for anyone to get through in one sitting a double albums worth of power ballads techno folk and cheesy europop.
Under the circumstances staging is often more significant than the song since even if you can t remember the chorus of the anonymous Ukranian ballad you re never going to forget the giant in a Viking suit who carried the singer on.
If only he d have stayed on to add backing vocals do a dance routine and exit with the vocalist slung over his shoulder we d all be tuning into the concert in Kiev next year. As it was they were narrowly seen off by Denmark s tin whistle.
It seems an appropriate symbol for a year that may well be remembered as the austerity Eurovision. A lot of countries seem to have decided that the appropriate response to the dismal economic climate was understatement. France opened proceedings with a dirty little left field pop rock ballad delivered by a scruffy blonde whose idea of choreography was to jerk about like a mime artist experiencing a nervous breakdown. I actually quite liked her.
The Netherlands were even more audaciously restrained sending an actual singer songwriter who warbled a kind of wayward Sondheim meets Joni Mitchell orchestral ballad about a bird who can t fly with the casual flair of a beatnik poet in the backroom of a coffee house.
Italy sent a scruffy bearded guy in a suit with no band no backing vocalists no contortionists dancers dry ice or lights. They might be in worse economic shape than they re letting on.
There were actually a lot of young men with beards affecting that scruffy slob in a suit look as if they didn t really care whether they won or not until cameras caught them screeching and sobbing waiting for votes to come in.
Only Finland and Belarus really gave it the full Eurovision cartoon blondes hunky dancers and lots of uh oh a ding dong lyrics. Seventeen of 26 finalists chose to perform in a language bearing a vague resemblance to English only with more vowels and less sense. Germany gave us Glorious or to pronounce it as the singer did Glo oh oh oh oh oh oh orious .
Lithuania s scruffy guy Andrius Pojavis had the best Eurovision lyric of the night It becomes untrue because of my shoes I m wearing today one is called love the other is pain . No me neither.
As for Bonnie Tyler well what can you say Every Eurovision performance needs a gimmick and Bonnie opted for Botox. If she had any more injected she could have bounced on as a perfectly smooth and spherical ball of skin and hair. She may be 61 and her song may be a by the numbers power ballad written by a team of American hacks but she has that cheese grater soul voice that can make even the most throwaway lyric sound like a matter of life and death.
She came she sang and she rose up on a platform with wind blowing through her hair smiling like a superstar who was convinced no one would dare give her nul points. It made little difference to established voting patterns. Maybe next year we should send a pop singer not as close to retirement age. Or tanks.