Or so it would seem from Russia's runaway victory in last night's Eurovision Song Contest (as it is still whimsically called). The winning song was a tedious blast of bad power pop (and you'd have thought power was something the Russians would know about), enlivened by an ice skater circling pointlessly around the singer.
I recently heard a new explanation for why the eastern bloc countries get all the votes - it's the ethnic minorities who find themselves living in the 'wrong' nation states and assert their identity annually by voting en masse for their mother/fatherland. Eurovision as a protest against the nation state? Well, maybe.
It was a poor result anyway, after the two previous winners, who had both been completely insane choices (monster rockers Lordi, and Serbia's mystifying answer to k d lang). And it wasn't as if there weren't madness galore on offer. At Nige Towers, much hilarity was occasioned by Bosnia's entry, an impenetrable drama involving a doll-like woman pegging out washing while a man with a painted-on moustache pranced around and tricoteuses in wedding dresses knitted away. Croatia's act, involving an old man in a hat, was almost as mystifying, and Latvia's deranged pirate song was inspired, perfect Eurovision fare. France too managed a classic - an impassioned song which, according to the subtitles, was all about 'Chivers', with which the singer seemed to have an agonised relationship (English marmalade perhaps? You know what the French are like...). The subtitles throughout were fascinating, not only in yielding no meaning at all 90 per cent of the time, but in establishing that most of these acts were in fact singing in English, though so heavily accented that you'd never have known. English, the international language of bad pop music, oh dear...
The great Terry Wogan did his head-shaking stuff superbly, as ever, but rather let himself down at the end by seeming to take the outcome seriously (I think he couldn't get hold of a drink, so he was probably crotchety). We should, he suggests, either pull out, or cut eastern Europe adrift and let western Europe have its own, supposedly non-political, merit-based contest. But where would the fun be in that? The whole point of Eurovision is its madness, its total divorce from any notions of musical quality (even at this base level). It proves to us year after year, in the most diverting way, that, when it comes to pop/rock music, those unfortunates on the far side of the Channel simply haven't a clue. Here at least we of the English-speaking world have got those continentals licked. So let's keep it coming, and the madder the better.