Monday, May 26, 2003

It seems that fashionable Euro-bashing has made it to the arts pages of The New York Times. This is from an article in today's Times about the Eurovision Song Festival:

The Eurovision performers are clad in overly self-conscious leisure wear, and their movements are choreographed with the accuracy of a Bavarian glockenspiel figurine; they smile with such unnatural intensity that they look as if they're on the verge of a manic episode. The singer seemingly becomes one with the song and can't get out. In short, a typical Eurovision broadcast looks like a cross between a chewing-gum commercial and a Leni Riefenstahl film.

Look, I'm an American, and I'm proud of the amazing popular music we made in this country over the last hundred years -- but it sure doesn't look as if we're going to another century like the last one. We used to have a right in this country to sneer at European pop, but not anymore. "Choreographed with the accuracy of a Bavarian glockenspiel figurine"? "A cross between a chewing-gum commercial and a Leni Riefenstahl film"? These phrases could describe any video or live performance by Michael Jackson or any of the dozens of acts influenced by him in the past two decades, from his sister Janet through Britney Spears, Cristina Aguilera, and all the boy bands (and no, that music isn't completely dead -- the first solo album by Justin Timberlake of 'NSync went double platinum within the past year). "They smile with such unnatural intensity that they look as if they're on the verge of a manic episode"? Sounds like a good description of this guy, or any number of other American Idol contestants. And notice who came in third in this year's Eurovision contest -- t.A.T.u., the pop-music world's current champions of ├ępater les bourgeois. Bob Dylan, Alice Cooper, Madonna, 2 Live Crew, Marilyn Manson -- not only did America make great pop music, but we regularly had pop stars who were the best in the world at shock (with a little competition from Brits like David Bowie). But now the shock crown has passed to two Russians -- they're not even from a country that was in the Coalition of the Willing! -- whose fake sapphic-schoolgirl act has made them superstars worldwide, even in America. So sneer no sneers at the Eurovision Song Festival -- we have Creed and Nickelback.

(UPDATE: Yeah, sorry -- Nickleback is a Canadian band. OK -- Darryl Worley, then.)

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