Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia's debut in Eurotrashfest

heoretically, I love the idea of Eurovision Song Contest and reckon it has great geo-cultural value. For the population of Europe, it's nice and educating to learn -- at least once in a year -- that pop songs may be sung in languages other than English and that in countries like Romania, Estonia or Greece (let alone Malta) they do have show business, composers and performers -- not only refugees, terrorists and vineyards. It's just a great pity that a good idea is completely, talentlessly wasted and drowned in a syrup of bad taste. I'm referring to the musical side of the contest, which is traditionally as awful as one can imagine. Some of my sophisticated Western friends say it's very funny and even hip to watch the ESC, because it's the ultimate musical kitsch. Well, if it's trendy, it's sick, indeed. Out of 25 songs performed this year, I'd rate two (British and French) as "not so bad," while all the offers range from incredibly, unbelievably awful (Finland, Croatia, Switzerland, Estonia, Netherlands, Lithuania, Norway, Greece and Spain) to simply awful (Sweden, Iceland, Romania, Malta, Slovakia, Bosnia, Austria and Russia) to just mediocre and boring (Ireland, Cyprus, Portugal, Germany, Hungary and Poland). The entire Eurovision event seems somewhat mysterious and vicious. It's vicious because, knowing the European pop scene quite well, I can assure you that in each country, be it in Scandinavia, Central or Southern Europe, they do have good songwriters and performers, who could use such a unique opportunity to represent their national music. But they're nowhere near the contest -- most probably because of its dodgy reputation and kitsch traditions. Honestly, I don't know why this stuff has to be so disgusting. The only logical explanation I can think of is that nobody actually wants to win the damned contest -- because the winning country will have to host next year's event, and that would cost about $50 million. In the case of Russia and other poor post-Communist states, that would be really hopeless -- considering the fact that this year Russian Television couldn't even pay for the official national delegation to go to Dublin. They all traveled through the help of sponsors (Thank you, 555! -- as they gratefully acknowledged the cigarette brand in the final credits.) Russia's much-hyped debut at the Eurosong Contest went down nicely: we did not win, thank God (see above), but unlike Estonia (2 points) and Lithuania (0 points) didn't drop to the very bottom of the list. In a way, watching the contest may have had a soothing effect on many: the songs were as stupid as all of Russian pop music is -- which meant that we are not necessarily the worst. When our national jury was interviewed right after the broadcast, only Murad Kazhlayev, the sole serious composer on the board, dared to say what every professional should have said -- that the contest was boring, the songs banal... Congratulations to Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Israel and Turkey -- the countries that didn't bother to participate in the Eurovision Song farce. I hope next year the list of defectors will be much longer and eventually it'll make the organizers change the stupid formula. Simultaneously with the contest MTV hosted a parody rock-video version -- a show called Grand Prix Euro Video Awards. Again, the concept was very good, but the result was far from perfect. Besides being way too long, messy and packed with commercial breaks, the selection of videos (one from each of twenty represented countries) was unimpressive. The really good ones were from France (by Les Rita Mitsouko -- the winner), Finland (Walttari), Israel (Shlomo Gronich), Italy (Jovanotti), Holland (Valencia), Ireland (Cranberries), but the majority could have been a lot better. Russia's entry (apparently selected by Biz Enterprises) was the 1992(!) "Look into My Eyes" by Natalia Vetlitskaya which, with 9 points, landed in 19th position -- ahead only of some rash-metal Austrians called Ballyhoo. And the next day, I watched as racing driver Ayrton Senna got killed live on Eurosport. I wish I'd never watched TV that weekend.