There's a scene in Bonnie Tyler's "Believe In Me" video where, for a moment, I was convinced she was walking across the dunes in Playa de Muro. When did that happen, I wondered. It hadn't. She was heading off to some wet, soggy expanse of beach with the tide well out. Somewhere on the Gower, I would imagine. As Bonnie demands that we believe in her, she can be seen sinking ever so slightly into the sodden sand. And sinking with her, no doubt, are hopes for a revival of the UK's Eurovision Song Contest fortunes.
Doing a pop video once past your sixtieth birthday is clearly a bit of an arduous affair. Bonnie's near geriatric gyrations were firmly feet on the floor. Or on the sand. Stuck to the spot in the case of the latter. But popdom demands that even sexagenarians have to haul themselves out into the middle of some beach for no obvious reason, clad in a hefty leather jacket that looks as old as she is and some rock-me shoes when, far more sensible, would be a pair of wellies.
Bonnie isn't as old as Engelbert Humperdinck, but then few people are. Those still groaning away in the pop world, that is. But as the UK has decided that pop stars of advanced years and venerable status are clearly dispensable in being held up to the annual ridicule of coming last or nearly last at Eurovision, why not opt for someone who is almost as old as The Hump? Bring back Cliff. Or Sandie Shaw. She can beat even Bonnie in the age stakes, and she could save on the costs of the wardrobe as she wouldn't need to bother with the shoes when doing the video on the sandy, soggy shore.
Forty-five years ago, Cliff should have won Eurovision. Or so everyone thought. These were the days when it was mandatory for the UK to win at least once every two years if not every year. Of course, Cliff didn't win. Franco got the voting rigged, or so it has been alleged, and "La La La" became Spain's first Eurovision winner. And with this win, Spain went on something of a roll. Winners again in 1969, fourth (Julio Iglesias) in 1970, second in 1971 and 1973.
Spain has had isolated moments of relative Eurovision success since those heady days, but the country has been stuck in the mid to lower regions of the Eurovision table for the past few years. Unlike the UK, there isn't the excuse that everyone hates Spain, because they don't. But though it can call on some fraternal help from the Portuguese, it otherwise has no regional block to text vote for it, unless the Andorrans are part of the voting contingent.
Of course, there may be another reason why Spain hasn't done too well in recent times. The same reason why the UK hasn't. The songs. Who can forget the horrors of 2006 - Las Ketchup with "Un Bloody Mary" - or of, far worse, 2008 when Rodolfo Chikilicuatre, a sort of Elvis impersonator crossed with Tucker from "Citizen Smith", came up with the classically awful "Baila el Chiki-chiki"? "El Chiki-chiki is a reaggaeton; Dance in Argentina, Serbia and Oregon; Give el Chiki-chiki to that little sister; With el Chiki-chiki; She's gonna like it mister."
Unfortunately for Rodolfo, she didn't like it mister. Not enough anyway. Despite the atrocity that Rodolfo had committed, he still managed to get 55 points and finish in 16th spot, some way ahead of the UK's Andy Abraham (who?) in 25th place.
And so to this year. While Bonnie's hopes are swallowed up by the fast-returning tide on the South Wales coast and she drowns under European indifference/hostility, Spain will be placing its faith in The Corrs. Or an act with a song which sounds as though it has been written according to the formula for folksy, Irishy style (a popular formula for Eurovision) plus some totally forgettable rock anthemising. "Contigo hasta el final" (With You Till The End) by El Sueño de Morfeo starts with bagpipes and vocal wailing, throws in a violin and, until the very end, is wholly unremarkable. It will probably do very well, therefore. With the Portuguese and the Andorrans and perhaps also the Irish.
Spain, bless 'em, takes Eurovision seriously. Seriously enough to believe that there might be a return to the days of "La La La". But there is the same awareness in Spain, as there is in the UK, that the voting dice are loaded. What Spain needs is a spot of vote rigging, and then it would be congratulations all over again.
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