Saturday is the Big Day.
No, not in my life in particular. Fact is, I was rather looking forward to hiding in the basement, but it turns out my wife’s cousin and her family are coming over to watch the Big Event. Holing up with a Star Trek DVD would be considered decidedly anti-social.
Sweden’s contribution to the Eurovision Song Contest is going to be selected.
To my English-speaking friends, this will not appear to be a big deal. Americans don’t know what the fuss is about, and the Brits get their entry selected by some unknown people at the BBC who simply announced that their entry would be performed by Engelbert Humperdinck on an otherwise unremarkable day.
Over here, this is the climax of several months of increasingly hysterical publicity, escalating over the five weeks of preliminary qualifiers, flags flying from the petrol stations that got selected to start selling the CD only minutes after the last contestants had played their entries on live TV, millions given to charity as part of the televoting procedure, and in all, we’re approaching the media event of the year.
Presumably, they do this because they make millions out of it. The BBC should come have a look. Cameron should come have a look; if our government had reason to announce massive budget cuts, Saturday at 7.45 would be a good time because it would go completely unnoticed.
The reason I’m mentioning all this in a blog supposedly about writing is that this year’s official controversy—they have one of these regularly, and I think it’s part of the dramaturgy—has been that a bloke called Björn Ranelid entered. He is, arguably, the most famous author in Sweden. Yes, considerably better known than Stieg Larsson, and at the very least giving Astrid Lindgren a run for her money. Because none of the others ever entered the Eurovision Song Contest qualifiers, that’s why.
That’s not, in itself, controversial. He walked around a bit, performed something that was more like a public reading of a poem or something, and had a troupe of dancers and a singer do a reasonably dull disco style chorus. I’ve seen worse, and if bad rapping or mediocre songwriting was a crime, our prisons would be full of artists.
Bu the had the bad taste to get voted into the final.
It’s televoting, so there’s very little wriggle room for anyone claiming that the wrong song was selected. But the artists of Sweden, almost to a man, were incensed. It’s sort of tough on all these people, who spent tens of thousands of pounds on their dresses, and practiced their moves in front of a mirror forever, and even took singing lessons, and asked famous songwriters to come up with a tune for them, to realise that they, for want of a better word, suck.
Because Ranelid really, really stinks at singing. Of course, the size of his ego means it doesn’t bother him one bit. He’s also been on the local edition of Dancing with the Stars, and he’s utterly unable to move in any sort of rhythm. You’d be forgiven for believing that he thinks he’s got five legs.
But he’s understood the bit about ”The Author As A Rock Star”.
And given how the Swedish people usually react to things like being told that they don’t understand what they like, there’s a fair chance that you’ll see him at the ESC in Azerbaijan in May.
Remember that you saw it here first.