I’m the only straight man I know who actually enjoys watching Eurovision, as far as I know. I understand how much the yearly song contest has become a matter of pride for the gay community, as well it should, but I’ve always wondered why it has never found more of a mainstream audience. I mean, it’s as over-the-top and fan-serving as any other show on television, and there’s the added schadenfreude that comes with the whole traditional division between the Baltic and ex-Soviet states. It’s like a history documentary wrapped in a ballgown made from gold foil and covered in Christmas lights.
Now, with Australia’s official entry into Eurovision, it looks like there’s gonna be a whole new wave of interest in the show. Last year’s guest spot obviously made a good impression on the gaggle of eccentric European nobles that head Eurovision, with Jessica Mauboy pretty much killing it voice-wise in a competition that’s more often all about epilepsy-inducing lasers and the back-up dancers’ abilities to dodge pyrotechnics. There’s a lot of mixed feelings to be had about all this, if you want to get all serious about it. For instance, is this all some kind of draconian attempt to re-attach ourselves to the colonial European world of the past? Or is this all some clever ploy to create a pathway for Australian artists to reach mainstream European audiences? While I hope the latter comes into it somehow, I think it more stems from our apparent inability to avoid anything that’s as eye-numbingly ostenatatious and campy as Eurovision is.
Without any official artist announced, there’s been a slew of acts thrown around on social media as potential representatives. I’ve boiled them down to the top few most likely, and have judged them all on a VERY SPECIFIC set of categories that I’ve developed over a few years of watching Eurovision, drunk and alone. They are:
CAMPINESS: The ability of the artist or act to meet the very high standards of Eurovision in areas of choreography, spectacle and overwrought sexual energy.
RELATABILITY: The ability of the artist or act to relate to European audiences in areas of family history, personality and “consitution” (ability to hold liquor)
AUSSIENESS: The ability of the artist or act in fairly and proudly representing Australian audiences in the areas of patriotism, character and love of beer and meat pies.
POLITICAL CONTENTION: The ability of the artist or act in causing a major political coup between the traditionally participating states, merely by their presence.
Each category will be marked out of ten, and at the end of it we should have a pretty reliable idea of who will represent us in what is, let’s face it, the Colosseum of the modern age.
FIRST CANDIDATE: KYLIE MINOGUE
Kylie Minogue is 46 years old, and she still have a fantastic arse. I have no idea how that plays into her chances – i really just wanted to share a fact that was a strong developmental driver during my adolescence – but it really should, because Kylie’s behind area is a beutiful, beautiful metaphor for her career. Throughout the last 20 or so years, she’s pretty much stayed at the top of her game, so it’s pretty easy to see why she’s an immediate favourite. Order of the British Empire; the key character in an Australian soap episode watched by over 20 million people; 16 goddamn ARIAs on top of her Hall Of Fame spot; the main catalyst in a generation of Australian women named “Charlene”. She’s an Australian icon, but how do the numbers add up?
CAMPINESS: Kylie Minogue is probably the biggest icon in the Australian pride movement. Her music, style and general artistry measure out into the amount of people shouting “WOOOOOOO” at her shows. SCORE: 9/10
RELATABILITY: She lives in London, starred in one of our more famed televisual exports to the UK, and has toured countless times through Europe. She also has a great arse, which I’ve heard is popular in Europe. SCORE: 7/10
AUSSIENESS: She’s a great representative of Australia, what with all her philanthropy and great arse and all. She was also in The Delinquents and The Wiggles Go Bananas, so full Aussie acting credit. But she obviously doesn’t eat many pies. Not enough meat pies? I’ll leave that up to you. SCORE: 6/10
POLITICAL CONTENTION: It’s pretty hard to see Kylie making any kind of aggressive statement at Eurovision. Unless Come Into My World is mistakenly interpreted as an invitation to invade. SCORE: 2/10
OVERALL SCORE: 24/40
SECOND CANDIDATE: JESSICA MAUBOY
CAMPINESS: She was in The Sapphires, which I guess is a pretty campy movie. Again, she’s very attractive as well, but I don’t think she can match the sequins-and-lens-flare count of Kylie. SCORE: 4/10
RELATABILITY: Being Indigenous earns her points straight away here, because if there’s one thing Europeans are waiting for from Australia, it’s probably a bit more traditional culture and a lot less drunk bogans pissing on statues of famous generals. SCORE: 6/10
AUSSIENESS: Her dad’s an Indonesian immigrant, her mother’s Indigenous, she was born in Darwin, she got in to Australian Idol through the Alice Springs audition, plus the Sapphires and Bran Nue Dae. She couldn’t be more Australian if she completely ironically wore a shirt that said “Fuck off, We’re Full”. SCORE: 9/10
POLITICAL CONTENTION: Jessica Mauboy is about as cute and inoffensive as recording artists get, so she’s a pretty safe bet for not causing sociopolitical rifts across borders. And I don’t think there’s that many racists involved with Eurovision. At least I hope there aren’t. SCORE: 2/10
OVERALL SCORE: 21/40
THIRD CANDIDATE: THE WIGGLES
If you don’t know who The Wiggles are, you may as well get the fuck out of Australia right now, because we don’t need that kind of negativity right now. The Wiggles have been Australia’s pre-eminent child entertainment performance act for around 76 years or something, and show no signs of slowing down unless you count all the random amateur actors who have filled in the various roles. I don’t like to talk about it too much, because it just reminds me that Geoff’s narcolepsy obviously became an overwhelming problem for him.
CAMPINESS: Well, there’s the blindingly colourful skivvies, the choreographed dance routines, the exacerbated hand movements, the weird sexual tension between blue skivvie guy and the dinosaur… yeah, pretty camp. SCORE: 7/10
RELATABILITY: I have it on good account that psychadelic drugs are very popular in Europe, especially around the Mediterranean, so I imagine four brightly-attired people rhythmically wiggling in unison while a dinosaur waters plants and a pirate dry-humps the stage setting will go down a treat. SCORE: 7/10
AUSSIENESS: Love them or hate them, The Wiggles have pretty much raised a generation through their songs and performances. Yes, I know your musical awakening was probably your drunk dad blasting A New World Record while screaming, “Jeff Lynn is a fucking GENIUS”, just like me, but many more have Hot Potato and Big Red Car as nostalgic moments. SCORE: 8/10
POLITICAL CONTENTION: Now here’s a problem: with so many different partisan movements happening in Europe at the moment, a bunch of guys who all wear different coloured shirts might cause a bit of confusion. You may think it’s a bit far-fetched, but a band of Fascist Democratic Royalist Star Trek extras might not go down well with certain countries. SCORE: 7/10
OVERALL SCORE: 29/40
FOURTH CANDIDATE: MIDNIGHT OIL
Joining a long list of luminaries including Angry Anderson and, well, not too many other people, Midnight Oil’s frontman Peter Garrett is one of the Australian musicians most likely to permanently blind the Eurovision crowd when all those lasers bounce of his domed head. Midnight Oil boil down (get it? because its oil? I think you boil oil) everything about Australia into beige casual evening shirts, wide-shots of dried-out creek beds and a dancing style straight from the bowels of hell.
CAMPINESS: Midnight Oil managed to keep up with the latest of styles in the 80’s and 90’s, if you count looking like a lonely science teacher as fashionable. Peter Garrett looks too much like a dick, literally, to be tongue-in-cheek in any way. Yes, I know that sentence sounds weird. SCORE: 4/10
RELATABILITY: I remember the first time I saw Midnight Oil. I was about six, and I was watching Rage. It scared the living shit out of me. Something to do with Peter Garrett’s resemblance to the eyeball monster from Pan’s Labyrinth and the fact he sounds like if Nigel Thornbury huffing ether put me right off. I imagine this will be the same reaction Eurovision audiences would have. SCORE: 2/10
AUSSIENESS: Do you own an Akubra? Does it have corks hanging form it? How about a Driza-Bone? Do you regularly eat damper, bush turnips and wallabies? Do you drink billy tea out of a dead dingo’s dick? Well shut the hell up, because you’re still nowhere near as Australian as Midnight Oil. SCORE: 10/10
POLITICAL CONTENTION: Garrett was environment minister, and while his time in the role will forever be remembered by that emoticon of shrugging shoulders, holding a cabinet position probably earns you a bit of polarizing status in Eurovision. I can only imagine that Garrett’s environmental message will be lost in the judge’s fears that he will enter their houses through their nightmares and feast on their firstborn children. I’m pretty sure he does that, it wasn’t just special effects in that movie. SCORE: 8/10
OVERALL SCORE: 24/40
FIFTH CANDIDATE: TISM
Ahhh, TISM. Just yesterday, I shouted in unironic shock when I found out one of my housemates had never heard of them. “How can you not know who TISM is?” I said. And TISM is a favourite of many other conceited arseholes like me. Apart from that, they’re utterly unique, and like many contemporaries have found that if you cover your face on stage, you can get away with pretty much whatever the fuck you want. At least it doesn’t take nine of them to make shitty nu-metal.
CAMPINESS: Seven men, in matching suits and ski masks, screaming about River Phoenix’s overdose while smashing guitar pedals against their genitals? I’m no expert, but that’s Pink Flamingoes-level camp in my book. SCORE: 10/10
RELATABILITY: Have you seen the news lately? Go turn it on to SBS now. Give it some time and you’re sure to see some youth in a cardigan and ad-hoc facial covering throwing chunks of limestone at riot police. That’s a lot of Europe right now. TISM take that same rebellious energy, but direct it into songs about being caught wanking and such. There’s not much difference, there’s still a lot of emotional confusion going on in both situations. As a wise man once said, “It’s not where your anger comes from, but which hole you decide to push it out from, that makes you a man.” SCORE: 9/10
POLITICAL CONTENTION: Look, I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but if TISM do manage to make it to Eurovision (like a scary amount of people want them to), then we can pretty much say goodbye to Western Europe, because there are few bands capable of turning zeitgeist into violent surrealism like TISM. But, since I used that exact idea as one of my categories, it looks like we must be responsible for global catastrophe if we really want to make an impression. SCORE: 10/10
OVERALL SCORE: 39/40
Well, by a clear margin, this totally scientific process has resulted in TISM being the clear favourite. And that can mean only one thing: with the odds on that Australia will somehow win the fucking thing, it’s only a matter of time until mum actually agrees that this is indeed serious. Should probably let TISM themselves take this out: