It’s Eurovision weekend.
As a kid, one of the best things about it was popping Ceefax’s subtitles on and seeing what they could get wrong.
Those nonsensical, whimsical and baffling translations were a genuine highlight.
It’s all a much slicker operation now – the technology’s better – and more and more acts seem to choose to sing in English. But all of this seems to have taken some of the charm away from the thing.
There are still highlights, though. The odd strange lyric, Conchita’s win restoring our faith in humanity… Lordi. It just doesn’t seem to be quite as reliably silly or surprising as it used to be – when you could never really tell what the subtitles would do next.
So this year it needed something big to get my attention.
BBC News has obliged nicely, pointing out a move from the Ukraine;
“The Ukrainian entry, jazz artist Jamala, which got through Thursday’s heat, has stirred political tensions with Russia.
Jamala is first ever [sic] Crimean Tatar to perform at the contest, and her song 1944 is about former Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin, Crimea and claims of ethnic cleansing.”
It’s not silly exactly, but it might be insane in its own way considering the notoriously ‘neighbourly’ voting that goes on… Is an entry that stirs political tensions in another country likely to get many points from them (or their pals)?
If nothing else, sneaking lyrics that deal with subjects like that onto a show with a ‘no politics’ rule is pretty clever. And clever lyrics are fun.
Doubly so if the subtitles don’t quite hack it.
The BBC even seemed to write the second bit of that quote in a suitable accent, which is a bonus. I’m going to choose to believe that it’s not a deliberate ploy to start undermining the song – but I’m going to have a great time pretending it is.
So, all in all, things are looking up. Good luck Jamala!