I used to despair at trying to explain the phenomenon of the Eurovision Song Contest to Americans, it just seemed to defy description.
But my new friend, the children's book author, reminded me that this is no longer true.
"American Idol," he said.
Now why didn't I think of that? Because really, if you imagine it in terms of countries instead of people brimming over with insecurity, delusions of grandeur and a warped sense of self-worth and what is worthy of attention, trying their best to manufacture something that can be sold to the greatest number of people possible, well, there you have Eurovision.
To my surprise, this year the contest was won by a joke: Finland's, uh, "heavy metal band," Lordi. As we sat with A. the TV producer, her sister, C. the fashion photographer, the former football player and A.'s parents, everyone thought that it was sort of nice that Finland won, but they hated the song, everyone except the minor royal who thought it was all great.
I was, after the fact, disappointed not in the Finnish song, but that a much funnier joke, Iceland's "Silvia Night," didn't qualify for the finals. Especially after the actress playing the part of Silvia referred to Sweden's slightly scary born-again Christian contestant as ugly, old and a fucking bitch.
The Swedish word for the day is schlager. There is no real translation in English, but it is a word no doubt stolen from the German, and is a certain type of cheesy pop song that occasionally transcends its kitschness so far as to become indelibly printed on the culture.
- by Francis S.