By all accounts the annual Eurovision song contest is a campy, kitschy, trashy spectacle that reasonable people can tolerate only when accompanied by the caustic commentary of the BBC’s Terry Wogan, who unfortunately stopped covering it years ago. It’s enough to make one think European culture must have been on an inexorable downhill trajectory since Lascaux, or at least since Wagner. However, I have to admit that some of the actual music from Eurovision that I’ve heard hasn’t been awful.
This year, Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler upheld the UK’s entirely admirable tradition of always doing badly at Eurovision, finishing 19th in a field of 26. However, I thought her entry was somewhat more inspired than the winning song, Denmark’s Only Teardrops. Tyler’s song, Believe In Me, opened with a promising line for us atheists:
You say you don’t believe in signs from up above…
If an old-fashioned American country song started off that way, the doubter would find True Love and experience a change of heart as a result of some obviously miraculous chance meeting with a beautiful stranger about a third of the way through, and they’d live happily ever after while praising the good Lord for having brought them together. Believe In Me, however, doesn’t go in that direction. In the chorus, Tyler sings:
Believe in the way I look at you and stand beside you
The way I speak the truth, I’d never lie to you
If you just believe in the things that your eyes can see
Believe in me.
I can get behind that. We mortals have no business believing in signs from above, but now and then we can believe in each other.
In good conscience, I should mention that lyrics.com claims Tyler actually sang
If you’d just believe in the things that your eyes can’t see
Believe in me
That would have a very different import, and one less friendly to skepticism, but I’m pretty sure that I’m right and lyrics.com is wrong. Tyler’s enunciation is relatively clear (at 61 she’s obviously still got it and, in my opinion, also happens to put the sex in sexagenarian), and my version of the line makes a lot more sense in context. Would it be paranoid of me to suggest that whoever transcribed the words for lyrics.com might have been culturally conditioned to expect a nod to the value of faith in things unseen at some point in the song? Of course, I might be fooling myself because I would prefer that there not be any such nod. Cognitive biases are hard.