Friday, June 15, 2012

Snappy in Stockholm

Saw this sign in Stockholm after I wrote this post. Spooky
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I'm off to Stockholm in a few hours, so I thought I'd do some preparation. I've checked the weather forecast. It's going to rain on Saturday, and on Sunday there'll be apocalyptic storms. I'm going to take my sunglasses along anyway. I'm an optimist. That's not true. Actually I'm an absurdist, which is literally neither here nor there, nor anywhere.

When you think of Sweden, what pops into your mind first? If you don't say Eurovision Song Contest, you're definitely not from this side of the pond. If you are from this side of the pond and the first thing that pops into your mind is not ABBA's snappy performance of "Waterloo" in the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, how on earth are you reading this blog post from under your rock? Does your rock have internet access? If so, that's very cool but actually defeats the purpose of living under a rock. Just sayin'.

Did you know that ABBA performed in the 1973 Eurovision Song Contest yet did not win? Wait, you say. What the hell is the Eurovision Song Contest? Well, I'll tell you. Since 1956, the countries of Europe have come together to compete every year to determine the best song by popular vote (with often upwards of 600 million viewers). It was started as a bit of superficial fluff to get Europe's mind off its differences, to bring the countries together for some light entertainment. But not only Europe! Israel won the contest in 1998 with the song "Diva" sung by the transsexual pop star Sharon Cohen, better known professionally as Dana International. As you can hear from this clip, people don't always vote for the best performance. Sharon/Dana was pitchy the whole song. I still voted for her, as I recall, because the song was snappy.

And Céline Dion's career was given a boost when she won in 1988 (before my Eurovision days). As you can see from this clip, Céline Dion has an incredible vocal gift and this song has its snappy moments. You can also see Céline before her millions and millions of hard-earned Canadian dollars transformed her. Say what you want about this sweet passionate woman with her quirky accent, but please be kind: She's an incredible singer--and the voters in the Eurovision Song Contest heard this even when she wasn't as polished as she is now. In 2010, a girl named Lena from Germany won the contest. Just a few months before the contest, Lena was a no-name, but Europe fell in love with her. I think she represents a new generation of 20-year-olds who don't care where you're from or who you're sleeping with. They just want to have fun with you--and isn't that wonderful? I mean that. I think it is wonderful. Lena's song was not choreographed. She wore a simple, little black dress. She's just Lena, and I think that's what people need these days: for people just to be themselves. So, why am I obsessing over the Eurovision Song Contest (or the Grand Prix for us people in the know)? This year, Sweden won the contest. I wanted Serbia to win. Here are these two performances. Why don't we have a little vote at I Must Be Off!

As you can see in this video, the audience actually begin to snap. I think I have found the secret to doing well in the ESC!  

OK, the song is a bundle of pop sweetness, and she kills it. The vocals have to be live. She's singing this, and she's not pitchy at all. The Grand Prix has come so far from the seventies, but it's always a celebration of, yes, light entertainment. Long live superficiality! If we all just wanted to have fun, maybe we wouldn't be so mean to each other.
If you only watch one of these videos, please watch the one below. It's Norway's Madcon performing "Glow" with the people of the European Union, all dancing together. We really should dance more together. Really.

I must be off,


Christopher Allen writes fiction, creative non-fiction and of course this here blog. His work has appeared in numerous places both online and in print. Read more about him HERE.