One question, Eurovision. Why so serious?
All these years, you’ve been so gloriously chintzy, with your sappy songs and your wind machines and your over-the-top costumes and your out-of-step dancers and your quest to corner the world sequins market.
But this year, there was a distinct lack of cheese. The homage to fromage was notably absent.
First, the costumes. Sure, Armenia’s leotard with train shows Eurovision continues to break new ground in bad fashion.
But far too many contestants looked… how to put this… tasteful. And disturbingly normal. Like they’d come straight from the movies. It’s just not on.
Fortunately, Germany’s Jamie-Lee didn’t get that memo. She was too busy raiding Katy Perry’s wardrobe.
A special mention also to Croatia’s Nina Kraljic, who had by far the most inventive outfit, an 18-kilogram creation that rendered her incapable of movement beyond the odd flap of her arms.
She was supposed to be a lighthouse. I thought she was a wigwam.
Next, the dance moves. Where were they? Thank goodness for Spain’s Barei, who single-handedly resurrected daggy dancing. Tune in at the 1:00 mark of this video if you need a refresher course.
Azerbaijan’s back-up dancers were so deliciously clunky, they briefly distracted attention from Samra’s gold spray-on onesie. No mean feat.
But what makes Sweden, Italy and the aforementioned Croatia think they can stand at a microphone for three minutes and Australia’s Dami Im imagine that she can sit almost through her entire performance?
In the final ignominy, the wind machines, for so long a Eurovision staple, were pretty much retired this year. The special effects that took their place pushed Eurovision dangerously into the realms of cool.
Russia used them to best effect, with a mind-bending climbing-the-wall routine that had Sergey Lazarev tagged as the favourite going into the final.
Georgia couldn’t decide which special effects to choose. So it went with them all. Every single one. Sometimes all at once. I think I detached a retina.
When Justin Timberlake came out of semi-retirement to do the half-time show, Eurovision’s transition into something approaching serious credibility was almost complete.
Fortunately for diehard fans, there remained a handful of kitschy holdouts. I’ve got to hand it to Hungary for the theatrical drummer and trio of whistlers. Just the right amount of offbeat.
In the hair department, it was all about the curl. So many curls, I thought the spiral perm was making a comeback.
Belgium’s Laura Tesoro channeled Nicole Kidman from her BMX Bandit days, just with sequinned silver shorts and jacket. As you do.
Overall, the women were seriously outperformed in the hair department, though I must thank France’s Amir for daring to look like an actual bloke.
At the other extreme, Israel’s Hovi Star’s locks would have been the envy of every woman in the competition. They were lush, they were lacquered, they were gravity defying, coiffed into a permed combover Donald Trump would kill for.
And let’s not forget Poland’s singer, part Sergeant Pepper, part Cousin It.
But it was the songs that confirmed Eurovision is changing, perhaps forever.
So dreary, so serious.
Spain and France gave it a good crack with some highly catchy dance numbers. But also in the repertoire were songs about domestic violence, the lack of time, social dislocation and war. It was like watching the news to choreography.
In Ukraine’s winning dirge of a tune, Jamala trilled ‘everyone dies’ and ‘don’t swallow my soul’. It was so un-Eurovision.
“It was not the Ukrainian singer Jamala and her song 1944 that won the Eurovision 2016, it was politics that beat art,” sniffed a Russian senator.
That said, I suspect Vladimir Putin is mightily relieved that Moscow will be spared the onslaught of Eurovision’s largely homosexual fan base next year.
Still, I blame him for denying Australia’s Dami Im. She stole the show with her perfectly pitched Eurovision anthem and came within a whisker of stealing the prize.
Former Aussie PM Tony Abbott took the opportunity to shirtfront Vlad from a comfortable distance.
“I have a lot of goodwill, as you’d imagine, for the (sic) Ukraine,” he said. “They have suffered a lot over the last couple of decades and I think they’re currently suffering at the hands of a bully, so if this helps their morale then I think we should be prepared to accept second place.”
He has no idea. That said, I suspect Tones is mightily relieved that Australia will be spared the onslaught of Eurovision’s largely homosexual fan base next year.
And so we say goodbye to Eurovision and its ever expanding global TV audience for another year.
It remains a unique competition. But let’s hope that next year there’s a little more fondue.