Null Points for the Eurovision Song Contest

It was odd to have a conversation my folks at the weekend and to find them all stoked up about the Eurovision song content. My folks don't get excited about much apart from every five years when they replace the lavatory seat so this was quite something.

A kind of distant memory stirred in me at those three words - Eurovision Song Contest. I recalled funny hurdy gurdy voices distorted now as if underwater from a long way away, using expressions such as "null points." There was a dim sense of shame and defeat as the German jury came in to deprive the UK of the points it needed to win.

Buck's Fizz won Eurovision quite a few years before this picture was taken - Man Alive

Some psychologist probably has a theory that helps us deal with the Eurovision song contenst. There are four stages of Eurovision - belief, disappointment, shame and displacement. When you are a certain age you actually want your country to win. Later on you feel disappointment when it doesn't. Soon afterwards you realize that winning is more embarrassing than losing. The song contest, you soon realise, is that dorky Trainspotting/coin collecting club you were a member of at school. You want to forget it ever existed. You blank it out.

But when it comes to one's parents the psychologist will be confounded. They never left stage one of belief, bordering on stage two when the United Kingdom inevitably lost. No chance, now they told me - the song contest is dominated by the disparate parts of the former Yugoslavia which all vote for each other and are hell bent on delivering Blighty a good kick in the Balkans.

Frankly this surprised me as I couldn't imagine the Serbians enthusiastically voting for Bosnia and Croatia given that they were lobbing grenades at them a few years ago, but I let it go.

"So who won?"


"Um right."

I winced as my mother compared the Swedish entry to Kate Bush as you really just can't compare Kate to anyone. Then my folks proceeded to get all sentimental about a group of Russian grannies who took second place.

It appears they were talking about Buranovskiye Babushki. Now call me cold hearted but I find it hard to warm to a group of aged peasants in period costumes. Maybe I have read too many Tolstoy novels but it's hard for me not to be weirded out by Russian peasants, not least because the only famous Russian peasant  I can think of was Joseph Stalin, a not altogether nice all round dude.

Nor was my parents' complaint that the United Kingdom never wins Eurovision exactly accurate. I remember Brotherhood of Man and Buck's Fizz, albeit a few years ago. When Rolf Harris filmed his show from our school hall, showcasing his big ol' didgeridoo, Brotherhood of Man were the featured band. I recall their Rolls Royces outside our beat up school hall and the smug superstars emerging in fur coats as if they were the Rolling Stones after they followed up their Eurovision success with one hit. And that was it. And who ever thinks about them now? Well me - obviously. But just because I'm on the subject.

Bucks Fizz were more successful but nobody ever took them seriously. The United Kingdom last won the contest in 1997 with Katrina and the Waves.

André Claveau at the 1958 Eurovision Song Contest in Hilversum

Apparently the UK's 2012 entry was by someone called Engelbert Humperdinck who was 76 and I had last heard about in 1976, although what appeared to be repeated botox treatments made him look - well like a tortoise of indeterminate age.

And the contest was held in Baku - which is nowhere near Europe when I last looked. Apparently most countries don't want to win it because it costs a fortune to host it the next year.

America is blithely oblivious to this weird time warp competition. I can't say I miss it but there's something curiously reassuring about it, like coming across the arm chair you used to sit in as a kid. I sometimes find it odd that my parents never change with the times. But, in saying that I'd be way out of my comfort zone if I turned on the webcam one day and they were bopping round the coffee table to Rihanna.


  1. I'd completely forgotten about Brotherhood of Man and Bucks Fizz. So glad you reminded me about them... Terry Wogan was the best bit about Eurovision with the way he took the piss. That's the way they commentate the show here too, not that I watched it (someone told me).

    I don't see any point to Eurovision now. The songs are crap, the voting system is a farce and the entertainment value nul. The only thing it's good for is as a laughing stock and even that gets old.

    1. yes and even Terry Wogan isn't there anymore. Right - the joke wears thin after a while.

  2. PS My mother certainly doesn't watch it! :)

  3. I have absolutely no idea what this post is about. Is the competition like American Idol?? But for old people? Hmmm...

    I did catch the name Engelbert Humperdinck. I have a couple of his CDs. My editor burned them for me three years ago when he discovered I was into vintage things. :S

    1. wow - you are more into vintage than me - yup. I don't think Eurovision has ever been shown over here.

  4. Well, I guess I must be a typical American because I've never heard of this contest. It was interesting to read about it though. I liked your last paragraph--made me smile. :)

    1. thx Daisy - maybe America needs one between the states!


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