Commentators—well, OK, the newsreaders during Radio 4’s Broadcasting House—have been saying what a surprise it was that Lordi won the Eurovision Song Contest yesterday. Any musicologist who saw the video to Hard Rock Hallelujah would’ve immediately seen evidence of the bloodline of (for Eurovision) heavy-rock bands—Rammstein’s Feuer Frei, or even Nirvana’s very own riot in the school hall—and realised that here was a band to finally shake the whole contest up.
As the Finnish ambassador implied this morning, one oughtn’t to take Lordi with anything less than a whole heap of salt. Such a technicality—that Lordi are in some ways a joke band, and have nothing to do with the Eurovision’s original remit of promoting European oh something or other—might well get them disqualified, and there’s a sense in which they are bringing the contest into disrepute.
But Eurovision has been trading off having its tongue firmly in its own po-mo cheek for years, with effectively joke bands obeying the letter of the contest rules while, as in Gina G’s case, coating their naked selves in chocolate. I don’t think that happened on stage, though, but if it had then the decidedly unsexy and ill-choreographed antics of Tatu a few years ago (am I really that old?) gives one an indication of precisely how unattractive and unprofessional a sticky, sweaty lead singer trying in vain to follow the changes in camera angles, as Cadbury’s finest drips off her clammy limbs onto the floor might really be. Slllllip! There goes two backing dancers, off the podium at the back!
By ignoring all the po-faced posturing of “what Eurovision is all about”, Lordi might have instead tapped into… what Eurovision is all about. For years we’ve wanted the apparently market-unfriendly—for some marketable value of market-unfriendly—to be pushed through to Eurovision and actually show everyone else how it’s done; all we’ve been offered is more of the same old watered-down pop. Occasional novelty acts break through the barrier of one particular nation’s internal wrangling, and maybe that’s all that Lordi really is, but when such a band actually wins then all music lovers can do is pray for a sea change.