Tuesday, 23 May 2006


Did you watch this year's Eurovision Song Contest? I did. And I must say that I enjoyed several songs and I even had fun because of the humour that some countries displayed (amongst others that of LT United from Lithuania with 'We are the winners'). But I really could have cried when they started distributing the votes.

There was a rumour that Greece, the host country this year, did not wanted to win because the organization of such an event is far too expensive. Anna Vissi, who represented Greece for the second time, was of course the centre of all the media attention. Her song 'Everything' was to be heard every 5 minutes on radio or television. I saw at least 3 different clips shown with that song, amongst others one with images of her visit to Amsterdam.

In the song contest 'Everything' impressed me even more. However I was especially charmed by the beautiful voice of Sibil Tüzün from Turkey who sang 'Süper Star', and the mixture of pop and folklore of Hari Mata Hari from Slovenia-Herzegovina. But who am I? I am an old fashioned Festival watcher who in earlier times despised all festival songs, but secretly watched the festival because of the excitement over the presentation of the votes. La Hollande: douze points!

But the festival is not the same anymore. I mean, that is what I think. Was it a shock for the old in 1974 when the pop song Waterloo by Abba won, or was it a shock for Israel when their transsexual Dana International won the festival in 1998? This year it was a great shock for me that Monsters from Finland could win. What has hard rock to do with a Eurovision Song Festival? In the early days you had millions of rules. How the song should be, how the singers should be dressed and so on for everything. Now the Song Festival looks like a free market and what maybe started as a joke for Finland ended up for me as the Downfall of the Song Festival.

Yes. I am getting old. The Song festival has always been a matter of favouritism. According to an analysis of the voters by the Institute of Advanced Computer Science (Leiden, the Netherlands) Greece and Cyprus are lonely leaders at the top of countries giving each other the most votes. This year it was explained to me that it is thanks to the young that the Finnish horror show won. They like to sms and they do it quickly. And they certainly like such a group which goes against all the traditional rules.

Well, that whole matter of sms is a weakness. How can such a small country as Holland compete with such a big one as Russia? You'd be better to count the mobile phones in each country and you'd probably have the same results, without going to the trouble of organizing a Song Festival. The only thing which can save you is to behave extravagantly. That's also become difficult nowadays because everybody tries to put on as striking a show as possible. Like Finland. And they won.

Paul de Leeuw, a cabaret performer who presented the Dutch votes, understood quite well how it works. In the minute he got for presenting the votes, while millions of people were watching, he made a pass at the Greek host Sakis, trying to exchange telephone numbers.

The Sunday after the festival it was the name days of Eleni and Kostas. Our English neighbour Helen was surprised by an enormous lunch that afternoon. There it seemed that many guests had been watching the analysis of the Song Festival in the morning on television. Especially the Greeks were wondering who this crazy Dutchman was. First I did not understand it. Were they confusing somebody else with the Dutch representatives? Treble, consisting of three drumming Dutch girls, was already out of the contest by Thursday. Then it struck me that they were talking about Paul de Leeuw. And I was a little ashamed to explain to them that he is a popular anchorman in Holland. 'Trello ine'. He is crazy. And so Holland did at least make a bit of a mark at the Song Festival.

I do not know if after this Paul de Leeuw will travel to Greece to visit Sakis. Sometime in this spring he made the Dutch viewers of his show believe that Lesvos is the island for lesbians. That is totally wrong. Paul de Leeuw, come and see the island. Except for in Eresos there are no gatherings of women, only of people who love nature and peace and quiet.

Copyright © Smitaki 2006

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