Saturday 7 December 2019

Cheesy songs do not get any better with age

Conchita Wurst, representing Austria, performs the song
Conchita Wurst, representing Austria, performs the song "Rise Like a Phoenix" during the second semi-final at the 59th annual Eurovision Song Contest at the B&W Hallerne in Copenhagen
Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst gestures during an interview with Reuters in Vienna April 24, 2014. Wurst will take to the European stage as Austria's contender for Eurovision, the song contest that pits nation versus nation and launched the global careers of ABBA and Celine Dion, Wurst's idol. Picture taken April 24, 2014. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Eilis O'Hanlon

Lorcan Murray was sitting in for the great man himself on last week's Marty In The Morning on Lyric. The host of Weekend Drive was an amiable enough host, if less chirpy than Mr Whelan (maybe mornings don't agree with him), but he did blot his copybook twice on the first day.

First, by opening Tuesday's show with Ronald Binge's Sailing By, better known as the song which accompanies the Shipping Forecast on BBC Radio Four, surely one of the most insipid and irritating pieces of music ever recorded. Second, by following that with the words: "You certainly won't get a more gentler start than that." More gentler? Come now, Lorcan, double superlatives are for the coarser backwaters of FM104 and other such monstrosities, not for refined Lyric.

Marty, of course, was in Copenhagen for the Eurovision Song Contest. So was Mooney, which sounded like a great idea except, of course, that this meant he had to play lots of songs from Eurovisions of yore, which were/are invariably awful. This is music so cheesy you could be forgiven for thinking the Ronan Collins Show had overrun.

On Tuesday, Derek interviewed Austria's entry, drag artist Tom Neuwirth, aka 'Conchita Wurst', aka 'The Bearded Lady', whose presence annoyed the Russians so much they threatened to black out the screen. "It wouldn't be the Eurovision without controversy," as Mooney put it diplomatically. Neuwirth was charm personified and made a touching appeal to people to "be tolerant and accept difference", which was all lovely, but I'm not convinced drag queens are such a great thing. Why is it acceptable for gay men to camp it up as exaggerated parodies of womankind whereas, if straight men were to do the same, it would be regarded as misogynistic and downright hostile?

Shay Byrne seemed a little confused as well during Thursday's Eurovision Semi-Final Special, broadcast live on RTE Radio One in place of the usual John Creedon Show. "She was there or he was there?" he inquired. "What do I say?" Co-host, Zbyszek Zalinski, whose day job is as a researcher on the John Murray Show, put him right: "She was there." Zbyszek, however, then forgot his own advice after hearing the Austrian entry by declaring: "Fair play to him." Oops.

Byrne and Zbyszek were terrific company for the contest either way, though they had a thankless task on their hands as most people were surely watching the show on TV instead. Byrne was particularly taken by the six Polish women who apparently sang their country's entry whilst "making butter erotically on stage and dancing around". As you do. The surreal image was a reminder that sometimes only pictures will do.

Coincidentally, Ivan Yates was also away from the microphone last week. Was he at Eurovision too? He must've been kicking himself, whatever the reason. After weeks analysing every twist and turn of the ongoing controversies around the justice minister, Yates missed the resignation of Alan Shatter. Timing, dear boy! And was it just me, or did Shane Coleman and Chris O'Donoghue, both doing an excellent job co-presenting Newstalk Breakfast for the week, nevertheless sound so uncannily alike that it was hard to tell at times which of them was speaking?

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