If music be the food of love, it’s time to get indigestion.
Phrases like Ah-Bah-Nee-Bee-Nee-Bon-Nee-Beh and Diggi-Loo-Diggi-Ley will soon be echoing from 70 million television sets across 30 European counties as the Eurovision Song Contest unites Europe (and Israel) through the universal medium of song on Saturday night.
This three hour bad-taste jamboree is a chance to catch up on what the Lithuanian music industry has been up to during the past 12 months and proof that Ukip is right: European union is doomed.
The Swedes have Loreen’s Euphoria to thank for handing them the event this year after she took home the cheese in 2012. The tune desperate to avoid nul points for Britain this year is Believe In Me, performed by gravel-voiced 80s rocker Bonnie Tyler, who’ll be donating her legendary lungs to the cause to add to the UK’s five wins.
Unable to coordinate a song contest with its Middle East neighbours, Israel arrived on the scene in the 1970s and promptly won the whole shebang twice – Yizhar Cohen with Ah-Bah-Nee-Bee-Nee-Bon-Nee-Beh in 1978 and then on home soil with Milk and Honey’s ‘Halleluyah’ in 1979.
Twenty years later transsexual Dana International (formerly officer ‘Dan’ in the Israeli army before a sex change added a second ‘a’ to his name) gained worldwide celebrity with her winning anthem, Diva. This year’s Israeli offering is romantic ballad Rak Bishvilo, crooned by 21-year-old Moran Mazor.
Not that it really matters how good or very bad these songs are. Countries only show up to play a game of bad-taste brinkmanship, as ancient rivalries are fought out in the name of song. Turkey and Cyprus are yet to award each other a single point, but that’s no problem for Cyprus who swap maximum marks with Greece every year. Russia counts on douze points from Latvia and Estonia while Sweden, Norway and Denmark have some sort of Scandinavian you-rub-my-back thing going on. Germany votes for Israel but the Jerusalem jury won’t give any points to Poland or Bosnia – instead siding with Croatia and Romania. Everyone else opts for Ireland.
Yes, Eurovision might be a hellish three-hour earache, but let’s thank heaven for small mercies. At least it’s not as rubbish as The Voice.