EVERY year, I plough through the entries for Eurovision ahead of the semi-finals in the vain hope there will be an obvious winner.
In a contest that has become a flagship for equal rights while claiming to remain apolitical in recent years, trawling through the songs can be a bit of a chore.
For example, there’s always a twee little ballad about the ability of love to change the world, usually sung by a naive young thing with little understanding of human nature. Then there are the novelty numbers; remember the singing grannies and the bearded drag queen?
There are the downright painful, singers with an inability to pitch and those who think they are being original by slipping a bit of opera into the proceedings - pop-opera to be precise, which to work must be exceptional. Few are.
Then there’s the staging, almost as important as the song in this age of instant visual gratification, hence Australia swinging on poles this year, the ‘bamboo’ variety not the Polish entrants, who, by the way, fell into that novelty act category. Grown adults, the girls sounded like a primary school choir. Strange.
And talking of this year’s Eurovision, I have to confess that having watched the two semifinals, I couldn’t find the will-power to sit through the Final.
From what I heard, I missed a bullet, the car crash that was, reportedly, Madonna’s guest appearance, complete with eye-patch. Cool! As the kids might say. Em... No. I doubt they would.
A couple of songs did catch my attention. Iceland’s visually bizarre Hatari and their electronic noise dragged Eurovision into the present, while the eventual winner, The Nederlands, proved catchy with a clever hook.
The obvious winner, as far as I was concerned, was Norway’s Keiino with Spirit In The Sky.
Perfectly structured and with some joyous joiking - a native singing style from the Sami region of Norway - it was pure Eurovision gold.
At the other end of the spectrum, the song during which to take a pee break was Georgia’s Keep On Going, while Italy’s Soldi afforded the opportunity to brew a cuppa.
In between, a host of reality stars gave the semi-finals the feel of an international edition of The X Factor.
Their inexperience showed, some sounding like the dodgy bloke who is always first up at the karaoke, while others warbled away like the old granny woman you hear trilling away above everyone else if you’re ever unlucky enough to stumble upon an episode of Songs of Praise.
Of course, as is the way with Eurovision, the overly-complex voting system ensured Norway failed to win, despite being the public favourite - Keiino’s public score of 291 points was some 30 more than the eventual winner.
By then though, the National Juries had done the damage.
In this day and age, it’s hard to see what purpose the juries actually serve, unless... No, that would never happen.