Serbia wins Euro songfest

War may have sunk U.K. entry

LONDON — Serbian performer Marija Serifovic won the annual celebration of kitsch otherwise known as the Eurovision Song Contest — but the U.K. entry bombed and outgoing British premier, Tony Blair, may be responsible.

British group Scooch, hammered in the U.K. press for their dire perf and described by one critic as “the laughing stock of Europe,” finished joint 22nd in a field of 24 at the competition held in Helsinki Saturday.

Given Blighty’s long-standing success in popular music — only the U.S. generates more coin from the music biz — questions are being asked about why Scooch bombed at Eurovision.

Viewers from 42 European countries vote in the final, which attracts an audience of roughly 100 million worldwide. Based on these votes, each country awards a maximum of 12 points to each contestant.

Only two countries considered the British entry worthy of points — winning seven from Ireland while Malta gave Scooch full marks.

One long-standing cultural commentator, broadcaster and writer Paul Gambaccini, reckons the Brits are being beaten by their continental European neighbors because of mainland Europe’s hostility to the war in Iraq.

“The vote (for Britain’s entries) plummeted when the U.K. invaded Iraq and it’s stayed in the cellar,” Gambaccini told BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program.

“It is the elephant in the room,” he said. “It might be the strangest reason for ever ending a war, but if you want to win the Eurovision Song Contest you bring the boys home.”

At least the event remains a big draw for the BBC, which won a peak viewing share of 50.8% for its Eurovision coverage.

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