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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Eurovision: Don’t mention the wars!

posted by on May 15 at 10:00 AM

In recent years the big four tend to be the “bottom four”. Do they not make enough of an effort, are they not considered cool and hip, or…. as Terry Wogan seems to think, does Europe hate them and their alliance with the US? Hm, I hardly think someone in Hungary will say “ooh I loved that song from the UK, but since they’re at war in Iraq I refuse to vote for them. I know, I’ll vote for Albania instead”.
For me the Big Four generally don’t make enough of an effort, they send music that doesn’t appeal to the Eurovision audience and they tend to exaggerate. Spain and Germany got decent results in 2004. Even the UK did alright with James Fox in 2005 (in Belgian terms 16th place is nothing to mock). So there.
The Big four (specifically France and the Uk) are used to dominating the contest because they sung in languages a lot of other European countries understood. Since the free language choice they no longer have that edge and it’s taking some time to get used to it.
But still, let’s see what our big financial contributors (thank you for that by the way) are sending this year.

The UK sent some real horrors in recent years. Who could forget their first ever null points in 2003 (and really, get over it, do you know how many times Belgium got null points? And it was more than deserved). Jemini had problems with their earphones (that’s the story anyway). Result: no points. Surprising? No. The song was a decent-enough trashy dance song, but the vocals were horrid. They also tried with Daz Sampson, some kind of rap thing about school (urgh) and last year they sent Scooch: calculated camp, innuendos (four fifths of Europe didn’t get it, but still), flight attendant uniforms, European flags, the lot. I quite liked it, but when you’re on after Verka Serduchka, you really don’t stand a chance.
This year they’re going with Andy Abraham who’s singing Even If. It’s funky, it’s decent, it’s quite catchy, there are actual instruments on stage and Andy shakes his ass like there’s no tomorrow. The UK deserve a good place with this, but this song will probably be too “normal” to stick in the mind. If you’ve got the time (or the inclination) have a look at Michelle Gayle, runner up of the national selection in the UK: she brings a 50s kinda Birdie Dance. Just imagine her backing singers and the turkey from Ireland… what a team.

Speaking of that turkey, I just heard he brought his own wind machine to Eurovision. Eurovision needs more wind machines, it’s a fact.

Eurovision is the time where Germany proves that they do have a sense of humour (you heard it here first, folks). Back in 1979 they sent the incredible “Dschinghis Khan” with the song of the same name. A memorable performance. In 1998 they sent the magnificent Guildo Horn and his band “die Orthopädischen Strümpfe” (the orthopaedic stockings) with “Guildo hat euch lieb” (Guildo loves you), a man for whom the stage was one big jungle gym. Then there was Stefan Raab in 2000 with Wadde Hadde Dudde Da. And Lou who sang “let’s get happy and let’s be gay” in a very heavy German accent in 2003 and came 11th. (She claimed “let’s be gay” was not an intentional attempt to grab the gay vote. Right. Sure.) Unfortunately Germany seems a bit devoid of fun this year. With No Angels and the song Disappear they’re sending a completely unmemorable thing. We’ve got Big Hair Angel, Shabby Angel, Barbie Angel and Posh Angel trying to be sexy and making an attempt at flag-waving with parts of their outfit. They get points for that, but I fear it’s going to be Bottom Four for this one. One of the comments on Youtube was quite fitting: “with a song like this we’ll only get points from Austria and Switzerland”.
Oh, you bloc-voters, you.

Wah! Look at that, Jesus is taking part in Eurovision!! Quick, check his hands and feet for stigmata, to see if he’s the real deal. La douce France is entering Eurovision with a bit of a riot on their hands. Sebastien Tellier’s song (Divine) is… not in French. Probably the first year ever that a Eurovision song for France is not in French . France’s entry from last year (Les Fatals Picards ) could hardly be considered completely French either, but they sang in a kind of Franglais (“je cours, je cours, I’ve lost l’amour et without you, seul à Paris…”) and wore pink ties designed by Gaultier, so at least that was something . Those poor French! This year, half the contest starts singing in a foreign language but instead of French, they’re all picking Italian, and then their own representative claims he can’t sing about love in French, so he has to choose English. Apparently though, he has given in to the frazzled nerves of the French nation and agreed to sing parts of it in French. We’ll see. A friend of mine came up with the idea to have the English lyrics simultaneously translated on the backdrop during his performance. The French politicians will be happy and the rest of Europe gets a free French lesson, thus promoting the French language yet again. Not that the lyrics make much sense, but hey. You can’t have everything.
This song is unlike any other song in Eurovision, it’ s some kind of electro-y, disco-y, retro-y… er… listen, I don’t know what it is, let’s just say it’s something good, I do love it, but –alas- I doubt it’ll do much of anything vote-wise.

Coming up: Spain and Serbia.

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France, to me, has been this year's surprise. Not because he's singing in English, but because he's a legitimate musician with an actual career and no real need for Eurovision. My friends who are not enthralled by European camp know and like him (and have his records). The album that Divine comes from was produced by one of Daft Punk. France has picked someone who is actually involved with the interesting music coming out of France at the moment, which is pretty surprising. I hope it does well (I actually did like their entrant last year more than it seems anyone else did), but again, it's France so having a real musician may not make a difference.

Apparently Germany's entrant are also pop stars in Germany, but no one from Daft Punk produced their album and also, they're pretty un-memorable. I think they're on one of my collections of terrible German top 40 that I got while over there.

And the UK's was involved in one of those Pop Idol contests (X Factor?). I can't remember if he won or not. But he was a contestant. So I guess the theme for the Big Four this year is 'groups people may have heard of beforehand,' which is a start.

Posted by Abby | May 15, 2008 11:08 AM

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