Fallout From Eurovision Scandal Continues To Destabilise Europe
Kyiv, The Ukraine
And months after the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest concluded, innuendo refuses to die surrounding supposed malpractice and corruption. These accusations which concern alleged favouritism, band doping and bungs have grown stronger as evidence is gathered by a team of investigators from the European Song Council.
"This year's competition was tainted, make no mistake about that." Asserted ESC Special Invigilator Trink Platter during a nervy phone call to Home Defence. "Everything went wrong when the producer of the German entry drove around Hamburg buying copies to get it in the charts and the event just degenerated from there. The level to which some acts will stoop to get their shot at glory beggars belief. I can't reveal too much until our investigation is complete, but suffice it to say some singers can expect to have points docked and may even face custodial sentences." When asked whether sparkly Greek winner Helena Papalazarou could have her title removed, Platter said: "I wouldn't be surprised."
The Eurovision competition markets itself as a celebration of the cutting edge in European music, but it ran into trouble from the start this year with many fancied acts knocked out in the semi-finals, including the hotly-tipped Irish entry; a ginger epileptic overcoming his disability to triumphantly perform a song about hope and love.
Come the night of the event, and many contestants stayed in the same Ukranian hotel, getting little sleep thanks to the rock star antics of some entrants, in particular Nowegian thunder-gods Wig Wam ("The hardest-working glam-rockers in Europe!"). This band were said to have launched a campaign of attrition against their opponents, keeping singers awake by letting off fire extinguishers then knocking on doors and running away while giggling. These Scandinavians, known as Flash, Glam, Teeny and Sporty, deny accusations of sabotage, saying their actions were unpremeditated, just normal "rock n' roll high spirits" adding, "we want to beat you with the rock" and, "did you know we have the darkest sunglasses in music?"
Whatever the truth, this behaviour certainly had an adverse effect on many acts, with Bosnian girl-group Feminnem not getting a wink of sleep, their manager telling a Scandinavian reporter on the morning of the contest his charges "looked like shit.". Meanwhile Moldovan five-piece Zdob Zdub had other problems, as singer Gerht Splay told HDUK.
"We'd just completed a 30-date tour of Moldova's classier venues plugging 'Granny Bangs The Drums', a song which features an eighty year old woman on percussion." The Zac De La Rocha lookalike explained. "It was imperative Granny get a good night's sleep, so we tucked her in about nine o'clock. We now believe a bribed hotel worker must have slipped something into her fruity tea because, come morning, we had to slap her awake. Even then she could only walk in small circles before falling over. It was obvious what had happened - someone nobbled our Granny!" Indeed, followers of Zdob Zdub attest that their performance on the night was hamstrung by a drummer who could barely keep the beat, Granny looking dead on her feet as she banged away. Unlike the rehearsals, where she'd been full of pith and vinegar.
While a panic-stricken Zdob Zdub forced strong coffee down their Grandmother's throat, the vote-counting teams in several countries noticed untoward scenes as they were driven to secret 'panel holes'.
"It all got a bit fishy." Admitted Jacques Petits-Chien, an independent adjudicator charged with monitoring the French vote. "Our bus stopped for ages at a service station, supposedly so the driver could smoke a really long cigar, but I definitely saw some guy in a pinstripe suit hand over a brown paper bag. What was in it I can only speculate, but when the evening rolled around we were told the French public, being French, hadn't bothered to vote, so our representatives were going to give the marks to whoever they thought people might like. I'd had a few glasses of red by then so I let it slide, but thinking back it was tres strange, as we say in Frogland."
France wasn't the only country whose supposedly public vote looks iffy in retrospective. The bean-counters in Switzerland were told their computer system was down so a group of local celebrities would be making the choice based on personal taste. Meanwhile the whole idea of a public vote made no sense in war-torn Serbia since there are only twenty-six working telephones in the whole country. Finally over in London an insider maintains that a clearly-sozzled Cheryl Baker was so shit-faced that, when called on to announce the results of the U.K. phone poll, she just awarded the points to random countries then fell off her chair. But with over forty nations voting on the night, including those without a song in the competition and some which aren't actually in Europe, the points-tally soon became so interminably boring no one watching paid attention long enough to notice anything was awry.
Today even those countries who kept their noses clean inside Kyiv's 'Sports Palace' are said to have based their awards on political favouritism rather than song quality. The event was supposedly broadcast to a hundred million music fans around the world, yet still vote-fixing was rife, prejudice which led twinkly-eyed commentary stalwart Terry 'El Tel' Wogan to cry; "this is terrible" before lapsing into mortified silence. In fact, by the end of voting, Wogan was predicting a new musical dystopia, one where the Southern part of Europe formed a pact with the Balkans to centralise the continent's pop power. Certainly traditional successes like Ireland and Spain found themselves cast out into the cold in 2005, and it's difficult to explain how a dozen other entrants, all of whom re-wrote Britney Spears' 'Toxic' very slightly, got ten times the points of the UK entry which did exactly the same thing. Angered at this bias, Javine could be seen towards the end of the contest, trashing her table in a fit of pique as country after country failed to award her a single point, the singer an innocent victim of Europe's political point-making, this former Pop Idol loser a scapegoat for our country's eagerness to kill a lot of people in Iraq.
But it wasn't just 'Y-O-Mi-Ni', finishing third from last and next year facing the ignominy of relegation play offs and possibly a penalty shoot-out, who suffered on the night. The four biggest donatees ended with the four 'worst' songs, despite the implausibility of the teenage girls who are the sole participants in pop phone-ins giving a fig for globalisation or politics (although they might explain why two teenage acoustic boy-muppets on stools from Latvia got 153 points).
What now then? What now for Eurovision? As the dust settles from the investigations, we find the
U.K. might have really pissed on its Freedom Fries by backing George Bush's neo-imperialism. The
wealthy countries of Europe may never again be able to win Eurovision, irrelevant of song quality and
whether they choose to employ another ringer like Katrina and her Waves.
Today budding entrants once more begin the process of using Missy Elliott's 'Get Ur Freak On' as the
basis for their compositions written with an eye on Greece 2006, and the UK reflects how only Ireland,
Malta and Cyprus give us points anymore (probably as a reward for well-behaved tourists). Meanwhile
the inquiry continues in the Ukraine, but whatever action is taken by the European Song Council,
Javine's measly 18 points are unlikely to be enough to win, even if most of the countries are disqualified. This leaves a whole generation of English TV presenters who dream of presenting the event, from Graham "Ooh, naughty!" Norton to Tess Daly, further away from their ambition than ever. And with the contest reportedly so desperate for cash it's willing to let any country with a bag of money enter, we could find ourselves in the humbling position of being beaten in future Eurovisions, not just by the likes of Kazakhstan and Israel, but other 'new' European countries, like Singapore, California or New Zealand. Well, we at Home Defence say no more! Get your house in order Eurovision! Return this noble competition to the cutting edge days of 'Boom Bang-A Bang' and Johnny Logan before the U.K. slips further down the world's musical playlists. Great Britain! Great Britain! Great Britain! I really need to sit down.