Everyone’s talking Eurovision, and by everyone I mean me. Actually, other people are too, now that the contest is in town. It was the first semi-final last night. This year’s contest looks like being a great one, in the same league as the Eurovisions of 2006 and 2010, both of which were awesome. Last year’s was disappointing with very few good songs and no real nutcases.
But we’re back on track this year. The show opened last night with Montenegro’s truly weird and awful song but generally got better, apart from the glitches that were Albania, Latvia, Austria and San Marino. Of these only the wailing woman of Albania (with a snake round her neck) snuck through to the final, so that’s good news. Sadly leather-clad Switzerland didn’t make it, the one let down of the night. That guy had an amazing voice but the song was admittedly naff.
Ireland’s entry from the bizarrely attired perpetual-motion twins Jedward was surprisingly enjoyable, as Denmark’s song. Romania, Greece and Cyprus were all catchy but forgettable numbers by girls with wind-whipped long hair and very tinyy dresses. (Romania also supplied the moonwalking bagpiper, I kid you not.) In Greece’s case you can see why they may have needed to skimp on fabric costs for pressing financial reasons, but not for the other two countries. They just knew their singers had good legs and wanted to show them off!
But the night went to the Russian Grannies – Buranovskiye Babushki – whose average age is 75. (They have a lot in common with Creuse then!) The name means Buranovo Grandmothers. They come from the Udmurtia Republic (go and look it up to find out where it is like I had to!). Their song, ‘Party for Everybody’ which they wrote themselves, is a cross between pop and traditional Russian choral music and also blends English (sort of) and Udmurt. The grannies beat 24 other groups in order to represent Russia at Eurovision. They only took part to try and raise money to rebuild their village church in Buranovo which was destroyed by Stalin. They’ve been singing away for 40 years to this end.
No thigh flashes or streaming locks from the babushki. They were dressed in bright, cheery peasant attire, woolly socks and firmly tied pretty headscarves. And they’re not looking for fame. As Granny Olya says, “Grandmothers don’t need glory and wealth”. They’re happy with their families. But I’m not so sure. I think they’re quietly ambitious and have victory as their goal. And this being Eurovision, as everyone knows, anything could happen.
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