France, as represented by group Twin-Twin, ended up with their worst-ever result at the Eurovision last night in a contest that was won by a man dressed as a woman singing in Europe’s new official language (Eeenglish)
Representatives from nations all across Europe gathered once more for the pan-continental entertainment extravaganza that is the modern Eurovision Song Contest. One hundred years after Mr Zamenhof invented the international language Esperanto, however, 21st- century Europeans have found themselves a new common dialect: Eeenglish.
A poorly-pronounced basic pidgin-esque sort of English – or “Eeenglish” – has crept across Europe like a volcanic ash cloud, replacing other erstwhile important languages of communication such as German, French and Russian. Everywhere you go, you will hear “Eeenglish” spoken in airports, cafés and public transport; the sound of people attempting to communicate in a language they don’t really understand and, in the process creating a new one – sort of.
It’s true that having one language to communicate which is common to all nations is something of a convenience and English seems to be it. But the truth is that the vast majority of people in Europe don’t speak English. They may think that they do but it’s far removed from the language spoken across the long dinner tables in Buckingham Palace or across the bar counters of pubs in West Cork.
Welcome to the New Europe; the one where English is the mother tongue of a small minority, where it is spoken fluently as a second language by a smaller minority and where for everywhere else, the official language is “Eeenglish”. The Eurovision Song Contest presents a window on this bizarre world every year, showcasing as it does, songs from across the continent, most of them written in bad English and which are then mispronounced by those singing them.
Until we overtook them about 20 years ago, the French were the record-holders in Eurovision for the most titles ever won. You have to go all the way back to 1977, however, to find the last time that France came away with the premier European song contest prize. Last night, they ended up in last place, collecting just two miserable votes along the way.
We in Ireland can feel their pain. After our lofty heights of achievement, we ended up coming last on two occasions (in 2007 and last year); each time with the kind of songs that might have won in a different era.
There is no logical explanation as to how it all goes, of course. These days, wise juries form part of the picture, but it looks like an unseen horde of hormonal texting teenagers has most of the final say in matters Eurovisionistic. There is certainly a strong element of block voting amongst the former Eastern bloc countries, who are also the most enthusiastic about it. This can be seen at work with Russia’s votes last night, for example, when they gave all their big points to their former Soviet satellite dominions. This rule only goes so far in explaining voting patterns, however: The Netherlands came second and both Spain and Italy polled reasonably well and, of course, Denmark and Sweden (who both did very well last night again) have been recent winners.In order to win the competition, it seems that you have to firstly succumb to the idea that your song must be in Eeenglish or English. The act that can do the best impersonation of an American will always score highly. The important thing to remember about this rule is that if you just can’t do a convincing impression of an American singing, then you must carry on in your own language with unapologetic gusto. This is an area where France falls down almost every year in recent times, I’ve noticed. They tend to still sing in French in an up-beat manner, but with a few English words thrown in to try to win the crowd.
But the teenage Euro-masses don’t like this. Last night, Twin-Twin for France started off shouting out a few applause instructions in Eeenglish before jumping into their song “Je veux une moustache”. The chorus line includes a translated line in English (I wanna have a moustache!) and the whole mish-mash just smacks of lack of confidence. If you’re not going to tow the Euro-line and pretend to be American, then you should be like the Italian entry – a mini-skirted rock chick belting it out for all her worth in a heavy-beated melodic entry or be like the Montenegrin entry – a tuneful ballad sung with confidence and pride in every syllable and consonant of his native language.
The sad thing about what is, after all, a cultural European event is that this deference to Americana has become an all-consuming viral disease amongst singers and songwriters. There seems to a be a growing sense of something approaching national shame about their languages and musical traditions. They all seem to feel that it is necessary to sing in English with a very American flavour. There are plenty of exceptions to this rule that prove that even the mass of Euro-teens out there still have a hunger for something original and expressed beautifully. The level of excellence of impersonation, however, is rising with every passing year and the Dutch entry gave us a very sweet country-and-western duet sung in perfect Texan accents.
If you do want to be sure of winning the Eurovision Song Contest, however, you need to send out a guy in a dress. Dana International did it for Israel back in 1988 and even with a sleep-inducing, insipid ballad sung in Eeenglish such as Austria’s “Rise”, Conchita Wurst showed that a man in a dress will win this thing every time.