Enhance your Experience: the Eurovision Scoring System

Ah Eurovision, the institution that enriched our lives with such classic acts as ABBA, Celine Dion and the infamous  Moldovan “Sexophone” guy.
(Who, thanks to Herm Trololol, can be viewed thrusting away for ten glorious hours, right here).

Endless-Epic-Sax-Guy

Eurovision, the reason why millions tens of Australians know that Azerbaijan is actually a country.

Eurovision, a phenomenon that divides nations, communities and living rooms, between “Bleurhrhjrgh not this sh*t again. Can I change the channel now?” and
“ERRR MAH GERRRRDDD!  I’m SO FRICKEN EXCITED! This year I’m coming as UKRAINE and I’m bringing CHICKEN KIEVS!!!”

Look - a self conscious Italian with Peroni and an enthusiastic Ukranian with Kievs, on their way to a Eurovision party!

Look – a self conscious Italian with Peroni and an enthusiastic Ukranian with Kievs, on their way to a Eurovision party!

Watching Eurovision is a cultural activity.  Like all new cultural activities it can be a little uncomfortable, a little confusing,  and maybe even a little (lot) bit frightening until you get used to it. The best way to overcome Eurovision-induced culture-shock is to turn watching it into a game, where points are awarded to countries for including one or more of the following elements in their performance.  By keeping watch and tallying points, even the most reluctant viewer will be drawn deep into the experience of melody and glitz.

Crazy Costumes
Lets face it – one of Eurovision’s biggest draw cards, and the main way many acts seem to get into the competition (also something about… singing?)
Giant poultry , Pocahantas , Zombie Apocolypse, Little Bo Peep … the list goes on. Basically, if you look like you escaped from Vegas,  Mardi Gras or Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, you get a point. Or many!

Choreography
Now this one needs to be handled with discernment. Most Eurovision acts involve some form of choreography, ranging  from insipid arm waving,  to group routines so tight they’d bring a tear to the most hardcore N*Sync fan’s eye.

Points for choreography can be awarded for complexity, originality, visual impact, execution, and “I can’t believe they had the balls to do that in front of millions of people”.

Big hair
Nuff said.  One point.

 Key Changes
Prominent in the Hillsong back catalogue,  a key change is a tried-and-true method of rousing the crowd. Two key changes in the one song? You decide whether to award an additional point… or subtract the original one.

Reveal / costume reveal
One of the true gems of Eurovision, the “reveal” usually happens when part of a costume is (dramatically) removed or expanded to reveal a completely different costume (or even additional backup dancers!) However, the reveal is not exclusively bound to costume changes (skip to 1:50 to see what I mean).

Pyrotechnics
Shooting flames, a shower of sparks, or even a strategically placed angle grinder will all score you a point for pyrotechnics (especially if it’s attached to a sexy robot).

Cheesy ballad
Lets face it, they’re agony to sit through so they may as well score a point!

Bad weather (Precipitation/ Wind machine)
Not exclusively bound to flowing locks or mid-stage fountains,  countries have also scored points under this category for simulated snow (including last year’s winner, Loreen from Sweden.)
For the record, Loreen also scored major points from me for her Hammer-pants dance.  Technically that comes under “choreography” though.

 Unnecessarily sexual content
Are the male backup dancers dressed as Roman soldiers, and gyrating around the stage in small metallic loin cloths?  Award points as you see fit.

Singer also playing an instrument
Sometimes it’s legit.
Sometimes it’s so obviously not plugged in, it’s painful.
(See also the overly sexy lady’s non-drum-solo at 2:20)
Worth a point either way? You decide.

Cross dressing
Are you Ukraine’s answer to Mrs Doubtfire, wrapped in tinfoil? (Elton John was actually papp’d wearing this costume soon after the competition).
Perhaps you are the hairiest air hostesses Slovenia has ever seen?
(Would you award choreography points for completing the Safety Talk?)
Here we see a fine example of cross-dressing COMBINED with a costume reveal (3:00). No wonder Latvia won in 2002.

Circular camera work
No, you haven’t developed vertigo in the last 3 minutes, that’s just the camera spinning round and around the lead singer (who magically manages to keep his eyes locked on it nearly the whole time. Maybe he studied ballet?) Award one point.

 Mismatching elements of the performance
Do the costumes have nothing to do with the lyrics have nothing to do with the choreography have nothing to do with the fact that a large paper mache unicorn just swooped down from the rafters and burst into flames?  You’ve scored yourself a point.

Gratuitous use of sequins/ sparkles
Is Eurovision, is shiney!
If the lead singer looks like she’s been vomited on by a mirror ball, award one point.

Circus arts
Aerial cartwheels, swallowing a giant glowstick sword and riding a bicycle that’s swinging around the ceiling on wires will all get you points for circus arts. Think I’m joking? Check this out.
(These guys technically weren’t competing, and lucky that they weren’t. They also score highly in the categories of choreography, big hair, and mismatched elements. There’s even a reveal).

Shameless channelling of an already famous act
Trying to secure a place in the top ten by riding on the established popularity of Twilight / Pirates of the Caribbean / Michael Bolton ?  You’ve scored yourself a point, my European friend, but not necessarily a ticket to success.

This scoring system was introduced to me by my friend KT Danger (who isn’t actually Ukranian). At that time I was still relatively fresh to the Eurovision phenomena.. and to be honest, still a little bamboozled at times (“obviously the last act was hyperbole, but are these guys serious? I can’t tell. Eurhghr, what is that?? Hold me!” )

Scoring the acts has truly revolutionized the way I watch the competition, and solidified my status as a hardcore fan. My hope is that you too might have your enjoyment enhanced through the use of the above (or a similar) scoring system. Take it and make it your own, tweak it in any way that you want, turn it into a drinking game (or something more G rated).

In the spirit of Eurovision, don’t take yourself too seriously and HAVE FUN!

Eurovision is screening on SBS one and SBS HD in Melbourne, at 7:30pm tonight for Semi-Final 2 and Sunday night for the Final.

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Things my mother taught me. (Happy Mothers’ Day Mum!)

Biting is bad.

One day when I was about four, I bit my sister Meaghan during an argument (probably over who got to be Gumby and who was Pokey).   I remember screaming “noooo!” as Mum held my wrist and lifted my hand to her mouth as though she were about to bite me back as punishment.
“What? You’re bigger than she is and you bit her.  I’m bigger than you are, so I get to bite you. Isn’t that fair?”
Of course she didn’t actually bite me, she didn’t need to.  I’m definitely using this tactic if my kids are biters. It was a lasting, and still relevant lesson on the abuse of power, and not exploiting others’ vulnerability.

“Air on a G string” can be both giggle-worthy  and culturally enriching.

I remember as kids groaning in agony as Mum filled the house with Bach, Mozart or the warbling of German tenor Fritz Wunderlich.
“I don’t care, it’s culture, and I find it relaxing” she maintained.
Not so relaxing when we made up our own lyrics – her favourite track “Caro Mio Ben” became “Come comb your beard” , but she thought it was hilarious.

While we whinged at the time (and occasionally still do, for old-times sake) Mum’s genuine love for classical music was contagious for all of us. Just last weekend I tortured my husband by swapping spotify from Greenday  to  Debussy.   I loved it.

Listening to someone is a way of loving them.

In 1991, my sister Meags and I caught chicken pox.  After our bath we would stand like scarecrows in front of the fire, and mum would dab the itchy red spots with soothing calamine lotion.  Nooma, who was two at the time and hated to be left out of anything involving her older sisters, would stand naked next to us, searching desperately over her creamy white skin for anything resembling a pock.  I remember her pointing to a freckle on her arm and saying very seriously
“Mummy,  pickenpox!  ”
Meags and I laughed our heads off “it’s just a freckle!” but Mum nodded very seriously and carefully dabbed the spot with a clean cotton ball.  Nooma was so proud the day a real chickenpock appeared, but until then Mum made sure to dab her over just as gently as she did her legitimately spotty daughters.

Gardening is like painting a picture that slowly changes over weeks.

Mum is a very gifted artists, but not many people know this.  I remember asking her why she didn’t paint more, when I was a teenager. She replied that she preferred to be outside in the sun where the wind could blow the cobwebs out of her head.  “The garden is like my canvas. I get to choose my colours, choose what to plant where, move things around if I don’t like them. New things are always growing up, old things die back.  It’s like a painting that’s always changing so I never get sick of it.”

“The Proverbial” is not an actual body part.

Maybe this is something I learned in spite of Mum. I will admit, it took me until half way through  Anatomy in first year uni to discover that “the proverbial” is actually “of the proverb”.  I always assumed it was an anatomical structure located somewhere near the rectum, because where other people said “you’re being a pain in the bum”, our mum said “you’re being a pain in the proverbial.”
True story.

Being selfless is a mother’s gift to her children.

Whenever a treat came in a four-pack, like chocolate yogos or something else delicious, Mum  would give one to each of us and the last one to Dad. I remember thinking it wasn’t fair, but was far too selfish to give up my one so she could have it (sorry Mum, I would these days!).
I still love chocolate yogos and have decided to only have two children so that I always get one,  but Mum’s consistent selflessness  made a lasting impact and will certainly shape the way I parent my own children . The only thing I ever remember her demanding was some privacy as, once again, we all crowded in to ask her questions while she was on the toilet. We haven’t done that for at least three years though so, you know … children do learn.

Who you are is good, and you shouldn’t feel pressured to be anyone else.

Mum is a wonderful woman, a unique woman, who wasn’t like many of the other mums we grew up around.  I am ashamed to say, there were times during my school years that I wished she was a bit more “mummish”.  I am more ashamed to say that I think I even told her that.

Other mums baked biscuits and had prepared snacks laid out ready for their kids when they got home from school. (Those kids are probably 27 and still living at home.) Our mum would come home from work to find us all sitting at the table reading in silence. Never the fool, she’d run her hand down the back of the TV with a knowing grin.
“Riiiiight. Still warm hey? ”
She would then walk into the kitchen and cry out in anger “GIRLS!” at the exploded mess of baked beans and congealed cheese that encrusted the inside of the microwave.

Other mums spent all afternoon preparing elaborate dinners. As a kid, I was envious of those dinners… but now that I’m a grown up, I’m definitely less like those mothers and more like our mum.   Tired from a day of work, she would stick some veggies in the steamer, chops under the grill, and start correcting essays on the couch.
“Naomi, can you come here please?”
“What?”
“Just come here please.”
“Mum why?”
“Because I asked you to.”
“Ok, what is it”
“While you’re up, can you put the kettle on? Thanks!’

Other mums braided hair and painted nails. How boring! Our mum was challenged to regular wrestling matches. I remember when I was twelve, making a Mothers Day card that said something like “I love my mum because we joke around a lot. She says that when I’m bigger than her she’ll still be able to beat me up because she’ll take steroids, even if they make her hairy”.

I am incredibly blessed to have been raised by such a woman, a lover of literature, footy, and chips.   A total dag with a razor sharp wit, she taught me to be articulate, courageous and kind.

Happy Mothers’ Day Mum! I’m sorry for any time I made you feel like you weren’t enough. You are more than enough, and always have been. I am so grateful for all the parts of you that ended up as me.   We three are very lucky to have you, and as I’ve always maintained,  “you’re the best Mum I’ve ever had!”

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