"I only saw a little bit of it, and only for a short time. I think we were in the country for maybe 45 minutes, almost all of it at a Metro hipermart, before we turned around and came back home. My impression was 'Wow, what a dump'. Shortly after crossing the border your nose is assaulted by a sulfurous stink that makes you wonder whether you just crossed the Danube, or the River Styx. The parts of the country that I saw were all really run-down and grim. It's possible this is just the area we happened to pass through- but boy what a mess. The industrial parts were like something out of a dystopian-future sci-fi movie, and the residential blocs were dirty and really ugly. But hey, now I can say I've been"
Yes here we are in Bulgaria, one of those Eastern European countries we only catch glimpses of on shows like the Eurovision that we look down on. Maybe every four years you see a Bulgarian champion weight-lifter at the Olympics, or maybe you’ve spotted a curious packet of old Bulgarian stamps at a car boot sale, identified by a Russian-looking alphabet, communist motifs, and skilled drawings of prized cows. Maybe you remember seeing a late-night 1980’s-era TV documentary laced with heavily moustached Bulgarian taxi-drivers talking about politics and America whilst the women made home-made yoghurt and darned socks. Bulgaria. You know Bulgaria. A grim, poor, ramshackle, communist, Iron Curtain mess of a country where there are more donkeys than cars.
Maybe that's what really irked Wogan. That all of it is nonsense. That seven of the eight tallest skyscrapers in Europe are in Russia. That Budapest has the newest subway line in Europe. That Romania has the fastest internet anywhere on the continent. That the entire carefully crafted image of Eastern-Europe as a backwards, drab, grey, muddy, dangerous, poor little cousin of Western Europe is absolute donkey shit. And that's why they keep doing well in the Eurovision. Because unlike us and Germany and France and Spain, they are not lazy, incompetent, imperialist arseholes with a saviour complex.
We've got Zhana Bergendorff- winner of the second season of Bulgarian X Factor in 2013 (who is neither Beyonce nor Alexandra Burke); Vlado Mihailov, a Bulgarian singer-songwriter who starred in a big cheap thrills Bulgarian film this year ("after 15 years in prison a talented racing driver and mechanic returns to life to fulfill his last promise to his dead beloved- to bring back the car bearing her name, and to dispense justice"), Georgi Simeonov off of dismal Bulgarian boyband 032, a man called Johnny who toured with N*SYNC (what as? A caterer?), and Trey- the man who "wrote" Alexandra Stan's 18th hit single "Boom Pow" in which he manages to rhyme volcano, J-Lo, pesos and baby. Mr Saxobeat it is not.
It's all a bit too mysterious and moody for it's own good to be honest- a sort of Kygo n Bone man mash up that has the arrogance to start with the line "love is like a blackhole– everything is dark" which will hardly cheer up that house party you're dreading going to. "Welcome to the world of Equinox, where light and darkness meet to celebrate the love beyond the unknown" drones the press release, and overall it's as if the Bulgarians team this year work in a stockbrokers and have been up all night on vodka red bulls and coke and are trying to pull in an O'Neills before it chucks out.