Advertisement

KILLINGS, daily columns and blog —

2014 columns, Pop Culture

Why Eurovision 2014 was a bit disappointing

by Julia Tulloh , May 14, 2014Leave a comment

Conchita Wurst

 

When Austria’s Conchita Wurst began singing the James Bond-esque glamour number, ‘Rise Like A Phoenix’, at Eurovision this year, she stole both the show and Europe’s heart. Not only was her voice strong and in-tune (criteria one would assume are stock standard in a singing contest, but really aren’t in Eurovision), her performance was a perfect blend of camp and glamour that best epitomises the competition. The self-described ‘bearded lady’ who looks something like the lovechild of Kim Kardashian and Aladdin proclaimed a message of tolerance, acceptance and freedom as she won the contest with a whopping majority.

Apart from Conchita, though, I found Eurovision kind of boring this year. Of course, the contest, by nature, is a bit boring – performers are announced in advance of the competition and usually the songs have already been released as successful singles. Furthermore, artists perform the same version of the song in both semi-final and grand final, making for reasonably repetitive and predictable viewing. No one watches Eurovision to discover surprise new talent, or even to hear good singing. I watch it for the kitschy, pop-tastic visual onslaught which rarely fails to assault viewers.

This is why I was a bit disappointed with this year’s calibre. Many of the entrants seemed to be aiming for tasteful performances, and while there was nothing wrong with the entries from Hungary, Switzerland, Slovenia and Armenia (to name a few), there was also nothing outstanding about them. Where were the garish costumes? The inappropriate hairstyles? Some of the artists didn’t even have backup dancers! Norway and Sweden also showcased inoffensive solo acts with simple costumes, but they were compelling where others were bland; their performers sung incredibly haunting ballads with technical panache and a level of class that only Scandinavians can achieve.

Other groups had moments of kitsch that somewhat assuaged my hunger for shamelessness. An incredible circular keyboard appeared halfway through the Romanian duet ‘Miracle’, which the male lead actually seemed to be playing; Iceland’s entrants, dressed like the Wiggles, sang a great 1980s-style pop rock anti-prejudice ditty; France’s ode to the moustache was an interesting idea, if not very well executed. I admit that Georgia’s dissonant jazz/folk number with improvised scat/yodelling nearly won me over, their lead female singer bounding around like a crazed wood-sprite and their drummer tethered to the stage with a full-blown parachute.

Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but reminisce on the bombastic and daring performances of Eurovisions past. Have we so quickly forgotten the vampire-inspired falsetto-opera from Romania’s 2013 contestant, Cezar, who performed amidst a floating sheet of blood-red cling wrap? Or Moldova’s light-up, flame-filled, Katniss-inspired ball gown? Finland’s ‘Marry Me’ which culminated in an onstage lesbian wedding? Or the 2013 half-time entertainment provided by host-country Sweden, which included an ode to Swedish meatballs, a cameo from the Muppets’ chef, and poked fun at their anally retentive recycling habits? I first watched Eurovision in 2007 and was fundamentally changed for the better by Ukraine’s holographic, aluminium-clad ‘Verka Seduchka,’ a viewing experience which left me feeling as though the Pet Shop Boys had been reincarnated as disco balls and let loose in my lounge room.

The undisputed most tasteful moment of Eurovision 2014 was when Jessica Mauboy raised the Australian Aboriginal flag at the end of her half-time performance in celebration of Eurovision’s popularity in Australia. As for the rest of this year’s contest, perhaps I need to accept that Eurovision doesn’t necessarily equal Eurotrash. On that note, I leave you with a performance that, like Conchita, embodies the ridiculousness of Eurovision at its best: a white guy, singing reggae, in a jester costume.

Julia Tulloh is a freelance writer in Melbourne and is working on a PhD about Cormac McCarthy’s fiction. She tweets at @jtul and blogs at juliatulloh.com.

ACO logo




22454066

Jacinta Halloran

Medicine as Art: An interview with Terrence Holt

Internal Medicine turns on its head the commonly-held wisdom of power and control in the doctor-patient relationship. Holt’s doctor-narrator is conflicted and questioning, often exhausted and confused. His writing aims for something less slick than the sanitised television offerings of medical melodramas, where ‘what entertains usually falsifies.’ Read more »

2303400407_d25f8d8b8a_o

James Tierney

What Australian Literary Conversation?

I am concerned about the absence of a performative aspect of criticism in the public domain, which doesn’t necessarily assume specialised knowledge or recognised allegiances, but is prepared to discuss what criticism is. Read more »

9781847086273

What We’re Reading: Readings staff share their picks

Is your to-read pile looking particularly uninspiring at the moment? Or maybe you’ve just finished a novel and aren’t quite sure what to read next. Never fear! The staff from Readings bookshop have your back. Here they share what they’ve been reading this month. Read more »

gbbo

Rebecca Shaw

Crumbling the Great Wall of Heteronormative Assumption

You are just there to see a doctor, or have a haircut, when all of a sudden you are reminded that you are different. You are forced to come out to strangers over and over again. You are required to either refute their assumptions and risk having an awkward or unpleasant discussion with a stranger about your personal life, or you are forced to lie. Read more »

6314976-3x2-940x627

Rebecca Shaw

Out of Alignment: Religion, politics and priorities

Throughout your (hopefully long) life, you will often be forced to prioritise one thing over another thing.
Because we make these decisions based on what we personally think is important or morally right, the things other people choose to prioritise can be confusing or upsetting to us. I find this happens regularly when bearing witness to what some religious people or religious groups choose to place importance on. Read more »

Rebecca Shaw

TERF War: Transphobia in the LGBTQI community

I started to realise that I was ‘not like other girls’ about the time I hit puberty. From that point on I underwent an extensive and daunting process to emerge from my closeted cocoon into the beautiful lesbian butterfly I am today. An important part of that development was realising – mostly via the Internet (or very occasionally through people I met in real life) – that there were people like me all over the world. Read more »

anne-dorval-and-antoine-olivier-pilon-in-xavier-dolans-mommy

Joanna Di Mattia

All About His Mother: Xavier Dolan’s fierce women

Xavier Dolan has created an exuberant body of cinema that privileges women (and others on the margins) as complex, chaotic beings. Dolan’s fierce mothers are cleaved from the pedestal that so much of cinema places them on, so that they may dig around in the dirt that is life. Read more »

every-day-2012-005_cmyk

Anwen Crawford

Being Boring: Passing time with the films of Michael Winterbottom

What does it mean to film the same performers over the course of years, to have them age in front of the camera? Everyday pays careful attention to boredom, and at moments it manages to capture a sense of time that is both elusive and profound. Read more »

flock_roof

Anwen Crawford

Don’t be Sheepish: Why Ewe Should See Shaun the Sheep Movie

Shaun the Sheep Movie is the latest feature-length production from Aardman Animations (the folk who brought us Chicken Run), and it is a delight. Borrow a young relative for cover if you must, but believe me, you are not too cool for a kid’s movie when it’s this much fun. Read more »

TheSlap_Show

Genevieve Wood

The Slap: What’s lost when a cricket bat becomes a baseball bat?

‘A cricket bat wouldn’t make sense in an American context’, says Tony Ayres, executive producer of the US adaptation of Christos Tsiolkas’ The Slap. He’s right, of course – it wouldn’t. But when, in US playwright Jon Robin Baitz’s version, the eponymous slap occurs as the result of a swinging baseball bat, something’s not quite right. Read more »

empire-tv-review-fox

Anwen Crawford

Rise of an Empire

Watching Empire, I wondered why there haven’t been more television shows about record labels, the music industry being the cesspit of venality that it is. Forget TV dramas about police departments and hospital wards – a show about a record label comes with all that conflict, plus outfits, plus songs. Read more »

video-undefined-22D54AFA00000578-784_636x358

Matilda Dixon-Smith

Insufferable assholes and grown up Girls

Yes, our girls are growing, learning, discovering. But all they’re really discovering is how toxic and unheroic they are, and how to use that to their advantage. They’re not going to grow out of their asshole tendencies, because they are actually assholes. Read more »

DUKMRUTRHLU31425064919799

Katie Williams

The Currency of Games: The real world cost of in-game purchases

A new item introduced in World of Warcraft lets players purchase a month of playing time for the real-life price of $20, which they can then sell to other players in-game in exchange for virtual currency. It’s an exchange of real money for a virtual currency that has in-game value but none in the physical, ‘real’ world – and it makes me incredibly uneasy. Read more »

2011 Jesse Knish Photography

Katie Williams

Pilgrimage to San Francisco: Power and Privilege at the Game Developers Conference

Attendees talk about the annual pilgrimage to the Game Developer’s Conference with the same reverence as a child’s first trip to Disney World. It’s the Magic Kingdom for adult nerds. The weeks leading up to the conference are full of discussion about which parties to attend, and how best to make an impression on people who could be useful in furthering your game development career. Read more »

jakobson0052

Katie Williams

Storytelling vs. interactivity: What makes a highbrow game?

What makes a game ‘highbrow’? We don’t have solid criteria for deciding conclusively which games are masterpieces, and which are just dumb, explosive fun. Read more »

ForceM6609

Jane Howard

Witness and Connection at Melbourne’s Dance Massive

In a city where it feels not a day goes by without an arts festival, or three, happening, Melbourne’s Dance Massive is resolutely unique. Australia’s largest dance festival is by necessity heavily reliant on Melbourne-based companies and shows that will go on to tour independently of the festival. The festival is undeniably of, and for, the dance sector in Melbourne. Read more »

16475519129_bb489cf4ce_o

Jane Howard

Creative Space: The secret power of community theatres

Theatre is inextricably tied to space, and the best theatre spaces become more than buildings. They become communities of like-minded people: of artists and of audience members, intermingling their ideas and their lives. Read more »

Tessa Waters stars in Womanz

Jane Howard

Fringe Feminism: Women, comedy and performance art

Taken together, the work of these female comics and performers loudly proclaims that their ideas about gender, femininity, performance and comedy are not diametrically opposed. It is because of their performance backgrounds that their shows are hilarious, not in spite of them. Read more »