What to think about Eurovision? It's an annual gathering of obnoxious go-go dancers and mind-numbing pop balladeers from across the continent, and yet it is one of the few occasions where these people called "Europeans" gather together within the same room.
This year's contest takes place in Moscow, the capital of the Russian Federation. In another year it would be a great way to show off the country's stability and economic growth, and yet Russia is now hurting like the rest of us. But wars, shriveling GDP numbers, and troublesome Georgians don't exist within the walls of this song contest: no, what exists is flag waving, comical hosts with outrageous accents, and experimental hair cuts.
Watching the Russia-hosted contest is interesting for me because I have never been to Russia. Yet the cultural differences are readily apparent. A choir of male singers in military uniform singing "Kalinka" and then backing faux lesbian pop duo t.A.T.u., in "Not Gonna Get Us"? Sword-fighting ballerinas? Parading polar bears? Break-dancing cossacks? What kind of country is this?
A country of silly people, at least. For example, the female host complimented the Ukrainian pop diva after her performance by telling her, "Svetlana, I want those boots." There are a lot of boots for eastern European ladies to choose from on the program. The Romanians, the Albanians, the Hungarians, the Azerbaijanis ... even the Finns brought flexible backing singers to the party.
Estonia's delegation to Moscow is led by Urban Symphony singing "Rändajad." The Estonian language is well suited for ethnopop with its preponderance of vowels and rolling 'r's. Urban Symphony pairs this haunting melody authored by local songsmith Sven Lõhmus with strings and an electronic rhythm section. In some ways, I think that Estonia should always send entries in the national language. It distinguishes the country and maybe it is one of the reasons that Estonia finally advanced to the finals this year. So don't be ashamed of your Baltic-Finnic tongue, wannabe Eurovision entries. Flaunt it.