reede, mai 15, 2009

svetlana, i want those boots

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.

16 kommentaari:

Rainer ütles ...

"Svetlana, I want those boots."

Interesting, you too noticed that one.
Goes well with the rest of power display, doesn't it?

Lingüista ütles ...

For me (a Brazilian), it sounds like a normal comment. 'I want these boots!' is the kind of thing a talk show host might say in Brazil (in a show that interviews, say, mostly pop stars). I remember having heard one say once 'I'd kill for that skirt!' (or maybe it wasn't a skirt, I'm no longer sure)...

Inner monologue ütles ...

It amazes me to no end how Europeans can be so sophisticated and so cheesy and tasteless at the same time.

All of this music is simply awful. Including Estonian song Rändajad.

An European needs that eurobeat in everything they listen to. It's like russians and the mayonaise - you can't separate the two.

Kristopher ütles ...

Estonia appears to have many women with black hair.

Inner monologue ütles ...

So this is the song that won, huh?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiH4BFTELME

WTF? No, really? You gotta be kidding.

I am not even going to look up the other ones.

Andres ütles ...

Hmm, didn't see the show. Well, back-flips did it for Tanel Padar and Dave Benton, I guess they couldn't fail also for the Belarussian kid.

Giustino ütles ...

You're just jealous, because you know the Norwegian-Belorussian singer got hella laid (as they say in Boston) after the show by his backup singers.

And did you notice that Estonia gave Russia points and Russia reciprocated? Maybe there isn't so much hate out there.

Heli ütles ...

Russia´s points to us were really amazing and I had same thoughts as Giustino, I mean there must be something "good" if country, who should hate us, gives nice points and it kind a gives hope that politics isn´t everything between our 2 countries. And Slovakkia gave us 12 points?!
Inner monologue I don´t get, if it´s not some high-level sarcasm which I´m not able to understand. What makes Rändajad awful? Even my husband, who listens only Burzum and black and death metal, "liked" the song.

Lingüista ütles ...

Russians aren't bad people, and many of them are actually very nice. I'm not surprised that they gave points to Estonia (but then again I wouldn't be surprised if they hadn't either). That probably means they were thinking only in terms of music, not politics; which is as it should be in a song contest. If you had asked the same Russians questions about politics, or "occupation", however... (Have a look some day at the Wikipedia article on the "adjunction" (Присоединение) of the Baltic countries; especially the discussion page, with all the back-and-forth about 'occupation'.)

Giustino ütles ...

If you had asked the same Russians questions about politics, or "occupation", however... (Have a look some day at the Wikipedia article on the "adjunction" (Присоединение) of the Baltic countries; especially the discussion page, with all the back-and-forth about 'occupation'.)But those are the kinds of people who seek out that issue. It's like trying to judge Estonian national opinion by reading comments on Delfi, except all the local crazies hang out on Delfi, making it inherently non representative.

Kristopher ütles ...

That debate takes place in Russian; does the rest of the world at large really read the Russian Wikipedia?

If someone used the word adjunction in English language wiki, it would be probably changed rather quickly to "annexation" on pure grammatical grounds. Adjunction is what happens to over-the-hill professors, no?

Lingüista ütles ...

Since the Russian for "annexation" is aннексия, not присоединение, I didn't know how to translate the title of the article. "Adjunction" does look strange, but has anyone got a better translation?

But those are the kinds of people who seek out that issue. It's like trying to judge Estonian national opinion by reading comments on Delfi, except all the local crazies hang out on Delfi, making it inherently non representative. I agree, Giustino, you're right. Yet... is it not strange that you can't seem to find people with a different opinion on the "occupation" matter actually having an effect on the Russian wikipedia? Wikipedia has a structure with admins etc. who don't necessarily have a stake in politics; still the "присоединение" group won (not the "оккупация" group) just because (they claim) the borders of the USSR including the Baltic states were "de facto" accepted in the Yalta and Potsdam conferences. I suppose this viewpoint is indeed very popular among Russians.

Where do you think one should go to find what Estonians' real opinion about Russia is? Or, for that matter, what Russians' real opinion about Estonia?

Giustino ütles ...

It's kind of funny the weight some Russians put on the postwar settlements at Yalta and Potsdam. Wasn't it basically scrapped within a few years? The Cold War evolved out of an argument over what to do with Germany -- that was unilaterally decided at first. So, in some ways, there never was really any definitive settlement. The effort to create a settlement failed.

Lingüista ütles ...

I suppose people could argue about that as well, using claims about de jure and de facto situations, implicit vs. explicit acceptation of a state of affairs as a fait accompli, the importance to be given to treaty A rather than treaty B when they happen to disagree on some specific topic... In principle, this should be a discussion for specialists; but so many people make their "patriotic" emotions depend on the "correct" interpretation...

Giustino ütles ...

Lingüista,

The occupation versus annexation or "adjunction" argument is a legal one. Only a person who is familiar with the international legal context from 1940 can really analyze that. Even after reading several books and many articles on the topic as well as taking lectures from different historians, I am not sure if I could even offer a thorough discussion.

Lingüista ütles ...

Does that mean the European court decision (in the Zhdanka vs. Latvia case) which agreed that there had been an occupation didn't settle the legal issue? Is it still debatable for specialists, or only in the general public?