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May 2011 19

by Secretary

This last weekend Europe united for the Eurovision Song Contest, an annual event which a whole continent loves to hate, yet, like a car crash, is compelled to watch. For anyone who hasn’t had their lives touched by the force of nature that is Eurovision, allow me to explain. Founded in 1956, it was supposed to bring post-war Europe together in the spirit of friendly competition, but has since become a leviathan of campery, one-upmanship, tactical/political/block voting, ludicrous gimmicks, and people taking themselves far, far too seriously. It’s a yearly televisual event which serves as an excuse for the whole of Europe to sit down in front of the TV for one colossal drinking game (see rules), and is probably the best indicator of contemporary European politics we have.

Forty-three countries entered this year, and were whittled down to 25 finalists during two semi-final rounds ahead of Saturday night’s main competition. The winners were selected using a combination of televotes and jury votes. Ostentatiously, people were voting for the best song in Europe, but the entrants tend to be remembered for the spectacle rather than for their musical chops. From Britain’s Buck’s Fizz, who memorably ripped the skirts off their female members in 1981, to 2006 when Finnish rock band Lordi managed to temporarily unite the whole of Europe behind latex monster costumes, it’s the visuals that make Eurovision. I had planned to write this as the show was broadcast, but the mandatory Eurovision drinking game was particularly brutal this year, and all I’d managed to type by the next morning was “bbbbbbbbRRRRRRRRRRRRRR,” which I’m sure made a lot of sense at the time.

Anyway, now my hangover has finally subsided, I give you the Dedicated Follower of Fashion’s guide to the critical style moments of Eurovision 2011.

Paradise Oskar, Finland – Into the spotlight steps a kid with all the worldliness of a newborn fawn, blinking his way through his very own attempt at a Michel Jackson-like “Earth Song.” Oh, the earnestness of it! Having been bestowed myself with a slightly unfortunate real-life name, I was judging his mother harshly for calling her son Paradise, but then I found out that it was his stage name, and he actually quite liked it. Prior to this knowledge, I assumed that his mother had also chosen his disgusting shirt. Now I’m not so sure. Nil points.

Kati Wolf, Hungary – Cheap blue rutched satin, it looks like the sort of thing I’d wear to a party on a yacht paid for by a drug cartel. Nil points.

Jedward, Ireland – Although they were officially Ireland’s entry, Jedward occupy an interesting place in the British psyche (England being my own country of residence). As entrants on Simon Cowell’s taste-defying reality TV juggernaut X Factor (coming to an unfortunate American audience soon!), twins John and Edward Grimes stole newspaper headlines by inexplicably managing to stay in the contest week after week through the sheer force of their combined ADHD, despite having no discernable musical ability, while more tuneful, boring acts were sent packing. They didn’t win the contest, but have gone on to make a career out of being poster children for Ritalin and rocking quiffs that many people would happily see die in a fire. Their identical Eurovision costumes evidently took inspiration from a deep and meaningful conversation they had about what would happen if Transformers started questioning their sexuality; The striking result involved structured red-sequined jackets with stacked shoulder pads up to their ears. Dix points.

Getter Jaani, Estonia – Fashion, who cares? Anyone have her number? She does magic, her dress is adorable, and I think I’ve just fallen in love. Douze points.

Blue, United Kingdom – It must have seemed so obvious at the time. “I know guys, we’re called Blue, and to reinforce the point, we’ll wear blue! Shiny, shiny blue suits. And because our fanbase are mostly females and gay males, let’s make our suits super tight, and rip some sleeves off so you can see how bulky our arms are! What could possibly go wrong?” In unrelated news, the Japanese government later announced that they’re incentivizing their salarymen to ditch suits in the workplace, and instead embrace Hawaiian shirts. How’s that for a coincidence? Deux points (only because my GBF would kill me if I gave them nothing).

Zdob si Zdub, Moldova – this is where my text-vote went. Just when you thought the whole show was in danger of being a bit tame by Eurovision standards, along come Moldova. Their entry consisted of a handful of guys who rocked a gnome-like look, complete with colorful waistcoats, strange pants, and meter-tall pointy cone hats perched upon their clearly addled bonces. Then, just as you thought you couldn’t marvel any more, onto the stage rode a unicycling angel, who also sported a pointy hat, and was rather randomly playing the horn. Douze points.

Lena, Germany – Whilst stone-cold fox Lena wore a simple black jumpsuit (and hair a la Cheryl Cole), her backing dancers featured this year’s first use of silver lycra bodysuits, a la Hole in the Wall (which is what happens when the BBC try to beat the Japanese at their own gameshows). As far as Eurovision is concerned, tin foil getups are as classic as a Chanel little black dress. Cinq points.

Mika Newton, Ukraine – This woman looked like she’s ransacked the ‘Kate Moss for Topshop’ range. Nevertheless, she actually put together an outfit that was quite pretty without being entirely unmemorable. What the hell was she thinking? This is Eurovision woman, not the back pages of Vanity Fair! Deux points.

Nina, Serbia – Taking inspiration from the ’60s with a song to match, the Serbian entry actually managed to come across as being cutesy sweet without making me want to throw up. Ok, I wouldn’t wear the backing singer’s all-over color schemes myself (the tights might be a little too much), but this is performance with merit so screw it. Dix points.

Eldrine, Georgia – Oh Jesus, it’s hypnocrotch. The mind-bending dress had a structure all of its own. It was worn by a lady who wanted us to understand that she was very, very angry (although, surprisingly, not with her costume designer). The fact that we were all mesmerized by the good lady’s happy place didn’t ensure a victory though, so I’m sure she must be even angrier now. Coming to a low-budget grindhouse release near you soon: The Terror of Hypnocrotch – This Time, it’s Personal. Cinq points.

Even though I was watching when they announced the results of the actual song competition, it took me three more days, and some serious post game YouTube studying/memory jogging to figure out who’d won the style contest. Ultimately, it was a dead heat between Moldova’s man-sized gnomes, Zdob si Zdub, and my new GF Estonia’s Getter Jaani.

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In the spirit of the occasion, here’s a photo of my Eurovision party crew: (left to right, top to bottom) SG members ObviousPrime, DrewBeckett, CreamyGoodness, LaurenZombie, Wilona and yours truly. Why the hats? Who knows? At least this year I didn’t wake up naked in a pile of crisps (trans: potato chips) with a moustache.

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