Recently in Bluffer's Guide to Eurovision Category
Amazing. That's a word so often applied to Eurovision 2006. Not necessarily because it inspired new hyperbole about the event, moreso because it was clearly Contest co-host Maria Menounos' favourite word in the English language.
All night, anything which crossed her path was described as 'amazing', be it a singer, a song, an outfit, a performance, the audience, a national vote reader-outerer or even a fly strolling across the stage. Not only did Maria call these things 'amazing', but she said the word in the manner of a very serious, very patronising (and slightly surprised) fashion expert on Oprah talking earnestly about the concept of putting buttons on a blouse to make it stay on the wearer. Amazing.
Still, let's not be over critical. She could have spent the whole night saying 'rubbish' or words which are far naughtier.
People had become used to seeing Kyiv, the Ukraine capital, on their TV screens by the time the 50th Eurovision Song Contest aired in May 2005. From November 2004 to January 2005, the Orange Revolution, which saw the people's choice Viktor Yushchenko, survive a mysterious poisioning incident, overturn a corrupt election result and be voted in as Ukrainian president by 52 per cent of the populace dominated news coverage across the globe. Mr Yushchenko was still bearing the scars of his toxic experience when he emerged onstage at the close of proceedings in Kyiv's Sports Palace to hand the trophy over to the night's winner. It was curious that such a milestone Contest was not handled by one of the event's old hands, but one which would only be entering for the third time when it acted as host.
But with far more accessible songs on offer than the drib-drab line-up in Istanbul the year before, it wasn't just the Ukrainians themselves who had a lot to be thankful for in Kyiv. It was a pretty good place for pop songs too.
It's the stuff fairytales are made of. Just over 10 years after Estonia wrestled free of the Soviet Union's grip, the nation whose people once had to listen to the Eurovision Song Contest via illegal receivers which picked up the audio signal from beyond the Iron Curtain was preparing to host the competition in an era where its inhabitants could now enjoy freedoms previously denied to them. And although the event is a source of major scoffing here in the UK, even the most hardened viewer ahd to admit there was something touching about the way Estonia embraced this opportunity to show the world it was very much a going concern on the European stage over three hours of entertainment television.
At first, nobody thought Estonia could afford to host Eurovision. In the immediate aftermath of the brash largesse of Copenhagen 2001, some thought Tallinn 2002 would see a brief return to the Contest's provincial theatre days of the late '60s and early '70s, with a minute audience, dodgy link-ups to the international juries and a scoreboard which looked like a prop from Acorn Antiques.
Nobody needed to worry. Not even a bit.
I've always struggled to like the 2001 Eurovision Song Contest. It's certainly not as lackadaisaical as the Italian effort 10 years previously, indeed, you have to admire the ambition of Danish TV that they were able to have a roof built over its national sports stadium, Parken, in the 12 months between winning in Sweden and hosting at home, so that the arena met the all-weather criteria of a Contest venue and 38,000 spectators could be accommodated to make the biggest live audience for the show ever. But the reason I don't like is that it tries too hard to be different.
The set is too big, so any song benefiting from a more intimate setting is scuppered straight away, there is absolutely zero atmosphere until the final song of the evening and even those who forked out cash for a ticket would have bene better off watching the whole thing from home on the telly instead of trying to work out if one of the dots on stage several hundred metres away is the lead singer or a backing dancer.
And then there was the decision to have the presenters speak in rhyming couplets. All night.