Petra Mede hosts Eurovision

Eurovision 2013

“So do you think all the Eurovision Parties in Sydney will always be shit, or do you think they’ll ever get better?”, a friend of mine asked me as we shared a drink last night. She’s from England, she’s attended Eurovision, and for the last few years she’s been living in Sydney. That’s how we met, actually.

“I think the problem is that in Australia we’ve fallen for the UK-mindset about Eurovision. That it’s camp, it’s trashy, it’s tragic, and it’s terrible”, I told her. In many respects, I think the media coverage of Eurovision treats the contest as a bit of a joke. It’s ABBA. It’s Disco Balls. It’s Mardi Gras. It’s all of that “stuff” you laugh at if you want to re-inforce an insular world-view.

Having been to a few of the bigger parties in Sydney over the last few years, I’ve yet to find one that takes the contest seriously. A contest where they don’t rely on the usual cliches about tacky costumes, bad English, and so-called “voting blocks”. The reality of this year’s contest is that Eurovision is generally speaking very slick, sophisticated, and definitely not the “amateur hour” that’s it’s often portrayed to be.

This is particularly the case with this year’s contest hosted by Petra Mede, who I think should be made the permanent host of Eurovision. She’s such a class act. She delivers the script beautifully, but then she can also deliver a wonderful dead-pan remark right off the cuff. For example, when one of the country officials was delivering the votes and was gushing about how good the contest was, she simply said “Oh that’s nice”. And when it was clear next year’s contest would be held in Denmark, she simply said “That’s twenty minutes down the road”.

One of the great highlights of this year’s concert was the interval act. Through a song and dance number, Petra sought to explain Sweden to the rest of the world. Of course, there were lots of jokes about ABBA, IKEA, Vikings, The Muppet Chef (and so on), but there were also some very funny jokes which probably made little sense outside of Scandinavia. The recycling, the queues, not talking on public transport, meatballs “seasoned with a bit of horse”. The bit about milk? It’s because something like 60% of the Swedish population is lactose intolerant, the highest level in the world, apparently. I’ve watched the clip several times now, and every time I watch it, I pick up a new line. Fantastic stuff, which showed the Swedes could laugh at themselves with sophistication.

The last time I really enjoyed an interval act was when Norway hosted the contest and they staged an international flash mob. In stark contrast to the humour of Petra’s half-time act, this was a beautifully touching moment about Europe coming together in song.

I eschewed the ritual of watching the SBS delayed Sunday night telecast of the Eurovision Song Contest this year and instead got up early to watch the contest live. As the votes from the different countries coming through were beginning to indicate Denmark was probably going to win I faced the dilemma: I couldn’t actually remember the song. In contrast, there were lovely sweet songs like “Tomorrow” by Gianluca Bezzina from Malta and “Love Kills” by Roberto Bellarosa from Belgium; the vocally amazing performance of “It’s My Life” by Romanian counter-tenor, Cezar; and the pop protest, “Marry Me” by Krista Sigfrieds from Finland. Despite the earlier memory-loss, I finally remembered the winning song. It’s quite good, though I doubt it will go down in history as one of the great moments of Eurovision.

Having watched it earlier in the morning, I was able to spend my Sunday in a fairly normal way. I didn’t have to avoid the media all day for spoilers and I didn’t have to sit up until nearly mid-night to find out the results. Personally, I would love to see SBS do what they’ve done with the Academy Awards, The Grammys and so on, and run it live, and then replay it later at night. The media world has changed, and the idea of people having to wait twelve hours to know the results is all a bit silly. They could run the version without commentary at 5am, and then have Sam and Julia on, as per usual on Sunday night. I doubt it would have much of an impact on night-time viewing figures.

3 comments

  1. I forgot to mention one fab thing about the Eurovision Party we attended was chatting for a while about the Swedish barman. We chatted about how fantastic Petra Mede was, and he mentioned in particular the lyrics for the interval act. Here they are…

    http://www.mathesonbayley.com/

    The Interval Act of the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest

    Lyric: Matheson Bayley, Edward af Sillén, Daniel Réhn

    I come from a country that’s hard to find
    Somewhere near the icy pole
    But though we are freezing, please bear in mind
    Sweden’s gonna warm your soul

    Our people are cold, but our elks are hot!
    A horny horde in every fjord
    Our moose may be loose, but they hit the spot!
    On our Swedish Smorgasbord

    A tour of our nation is certain to impress
    We’ve quite a few surprises for you
    A Swedish chef and Death playing chess
    And a girl with a dragon tattoo

    Pah-pah-poo!

    By winning this contest you get the chance
    To host a show you can’t afford
    But then sell your country through song and dance
    Here’s our Swedish smorgasbord!

    We’re green to our planet, with eco-pride
    Recycling is in our hearts.
    Mamma Mia! Ikea has gone world-wide!
    Good luck assembling all the parts!

    We’re strict and we’re structured, and seldom vent
    Don’t show emotion; never whine!
    Not easy to please, but we’re quite content
    When we get to stand in line!

    Does anyone know what this line is for?
    Well… I’d better stay and find out…

    Proper and polite and private is our style
    Never ever talk on a train!
    And if we see a stranger throw us a smile
    He’s either a drunk or insane!

    Every day we face it
    Fly on up and taste it!
    Try our Swedish Smorgasbord!

    Beneath the midnight sun
    The blondes have all the fun
    And if you long for stockings, say /“Amen!/”
    From Vikings we’re descended
    It’s frightening what those men did
    But see how we’ve evolved since then…

    Our roles are reversing
    Our daddies are nursing
    In all of our cities
    Though men don’t have titties
    They can still stay at home to raise the kids

    And our girls can handle their balls With the best kickline of them all…

    You may now kiss the groom

    Follow our example!
    Come and try a sample
    Of our Swedish Smorgasbord!

    It’s time for some dinner – we pray you’ll stay!
    Come and try our favourite course!
    We eat all our meatballs the Nordic way:
    Seasoned with a hint of horse

    For Strindberg
    And Bergman
    And Celsius – all rise!
    For Thor and Björn Borg
    And the great Nobel Prize!
    There’s Volvo
    And Garbo
    The best lingonberry
    And all of our problems
    Digesting our dairy!

    We gave you Carola, and Waterloo
    And Diggi-Loo – who all adored
    We’ll take you to heaven, Euphoria too…

    Come and join our party
    Come on up and chill
    There’s room for everybody
    Gravad lax and dill

    On our:
    Aquavit, crayfish
    Yucky salty liquorice
    Randy Scandinavian race –
    With H&M ’n’ Ace of Base –
    Our hurdy-gurdy-super-duper
    Fab-as-ABBA-Super-Trouper
    Swedish Smorgasboooooooooooord!

  2. Hi James

    The interval act for me was a real highlight. I was in Town Hall Square in Copenhagen when they won and it is a real once in a lifetime experience. The crowd were in a great mood from seeing the show and then to win really sent them over the top.

    1. Hopefully next year for me. In the meantime, I’m getting my head around a trip to South Africa in the first couple of weeks of July. Very excited for different reasons.

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