How do I describe this?
The basic premise is that a race of bird like creatures makes first contact with Earth (literally everybody on Earth at the same time.) Having discovered our radio signals, the Esca more or less demands humanity send a representative to the Metagalactic Grand Prix, where humanity will compete against the rest of the galaxy's life forms in a singing competition to prove that humanity is sentient. Come in last, humanity will be destroyed.
Among the list of acceptable performers are such luminaries as Yoko Ono and Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes, of which the latter gets sent. Kind of like a cross between Gary Glitter and David Bowie, the band used to be a trio, until the female backup singer died in a car crash. Decibel and Oort, on the other hand, are alive and taken to the center of the galaxy to compete. Along for th eride are a string theory/quantum universe leaping representative of a race of sentient Red Pandas and the bird Decibel keeps calling Roadrunner.
Seems part of the Prix's semi-finals includes races trying to disable the other entrants, since the rankings not only determine if new races are sentient but also the division of galactic resources. Given Decibel is essentially pansexual and going full on Captain Kirk, this doesn't go particularly well. Oort, on the other hand, does his best to fade in the background, particularly after Roadrunner gifts his cat with the gift of speech.
There's quite a bit of comedy throughout, including the 321, a sentient AI who chooses a form it thinks humans will find most helpful and trustworthy.
Which is to say knowledge isn't wisdom.
There's also a bit of angst, since Oort and Decibel haven't spoken in years, and the reasoning is actually kind of sad.
It's kind of like Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett teamed up to write a book on Eurovision with the help of an American ghost writer.It's not what I would consider to be great, and other than a flat ending, pretty memorable.