Eurovision 2015 was disturbingly freak-free

This year’s Eurovision Song Contest was pretty good.

As reactions go, that’s roughly on par with saying you found the new Mumford & Sons album not in the least bit effete, or that you were moved by a recent episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

In fact, both observations have been made recently after recent instalments from the Mumfords and Kardashians pleasantly surprised critics. Which goes to show that just because a live, international television broadcast has been one way for an astonishing 59 years, that doesn’t mean it can’t achieve the unexpected.

This year, for its 60th anniversary, most countries somehow lifted their usual standards to produce a perfectly respectable, non-wacky effort. Which might just have made it the most disappointing Eurovision I’ve ever watched. In fact, it was so solid that one could almost have been forgiven for taking the whole thing seriously.

As I watched this year’s Eurovision, I found myself not really minding most of the songs, until I got up to Guy Sebastian and looked back to realise that very few of the staples of Eurovision, those tried and tested elements that have kept fans coming back for decades, were in place this year.

Where were the wacky wardrobe reinventions transforming an already-absurd national dress into something stranger? Where were the woefully out-of-tune pretenders? Where was the troupe oftuneless grandmothers singing about parties with dour looks on their faces? Where were the performers dressed like aliens whose home planet can only manufacture alfoil? Above all, where was this year’s monstrous Lordi?

If you take a wander through some of the Eurovision entries past, you will find that this year’s entries are all vastly better in musical terms and vastly worse in peculiarness terms, and both of those developments are most unwelcome.

The only truly odd thing about the 60th Eurovision Song Contest was the random inclusion of Australia, but when our representative turned out to be Guy Sebastian, there was no way that even the inclusion of a nation located thousands of kilometres from Europe could produce genuine bizarreness. SBS chose the safest possible pair of hands, and you can’t get any safer than Guy Sebastian without poaching staff from Play School.

I mean, the favourite from Sweden won. Could Eurovision 2015 have been any more predictable?

Admittedly, there were a few moments to remind us of the magnificent heights of eccentricity achieved in past years. France sent out an army of gold bodysuited drummers to accompany Lisa Angell for a touch of Les Gliterrables; Serbia’s Bojana Stamenov and her dancers seemed to have raided an under-resourced primary school’s drama cupboard for their outfits; and Montenegro’s Knez sported a pencil moustache, goatee and pronounced leer that surely frightened children across Europe.

Italy’s entrants mistakenly thought they could make opera cool by adopting wacky glasses, while defending champion Austria provided the night’s only moment of true amusement with a piano that burst into flame, but that still wasn’t enough to avoid last place. A valiant effort all round.

By Eurovision standards, though, these antics barely registered. It was as though the spirit of Guy Sebastian had infused the entire event, his unquestionable competence and professionalism seeping throughout the event to make it moderately, but not overwhelmingly, impressive.

I was genuinely proud of Guy’s effort on behalf of Australia, too. Not only is he a great singer, but his song attempted to infuse some much needed funk into Eurovision. Since we’d only been invited as a one-off, I guess I can understand why SBS chose the safest possible pair of hands, and you can’t get any safer than Guy Sebastian without poaching staff from Play School. Even Lee Lin Chin played her scorekeeping role dead straight, which must have taken considerable effort.

As expected, Guy’s performance was the opposite of embarrassing. Sure, that may also have made it the opposite of what I love most about Eurovision, but since he was representing Australia, he clearly did us proud. Finishing fifth overall is perfectly commendable, and he managed to do well without interfering with the major positions, like the perfect guest.

But Eurovision 2016 needs to let its freak flag fly. In particular, any song which could slot seamlessly into my gym’s playlist needs to be vetoed before it even hits the semi-finals.

The music industry is highly adept at producing radio-friendly chart fodder, and Eurovision should be the one time of the year where they don’t get to. Because while I was very proud of Guy’s efforts with ‘Tonight Again’, I’ve no desire to spend four hours watching a show like tonight again.