Stats Corner – 2015 Results 2012 Style

Austria Eurovision nul points 2015 croppedThe Makemakes must have wanted to damage more than just their piano after the results came in last night. Together with Germany’s Ann-Sophie, the Austrian entrants had suffered the ignominy of leaving Eurovision with nul points. I think it’s fair to say that these are the best two nul-pointers of all time.

The big question for many Eurovision fans is not just one of whether Austria and Germany deserve to be ranked alongside Mil Etter Mil (Norway 1978), Opera (Turkey 1983) or, worst of all, Cry Baby (UK 2003). It’s also a question of how much the voting system is to blame.

Ann-Sophie with a big fat zero

Ann-Sophie with a big fat zero

Since the 2013 contest Eurovision has followed a different method to combine jury and phone votes. Each country ranks the entries first to last in each discipline, then the two rankings are combined to create the country’s 1-12 at the end. Previously the 1-12 points system had been used at every stage. Each juror gave out 1-12 points, these were added together to create a 1-12 jury score; which in turn was added to the 1-12 televote score to give a country’s result.

The advantage of the old system is it rewarded high achievement in one discipline, irrespective of how you did in the other. If you win the phone vote you will get points. The current system does the opposite. It penalises bad performance in one discipline irrespective of how you do in the other. If you’re bottom with the jury it doesn’t matter how much the public likes you. Consistency (and inoffensiveness) is key.

So what would have happened if we were fighting the 2015 Eurovision under 2012 rules? Like last year, I’ve done the numbers for the final.

2015 results 2012 style

Austria and Germany have reason to be aggrieved. While they’d still be near the bottom, they would have avoided the embarrassment of the zero. Austria would have got points from Latvia, Russia, Georgia and Israel, while Germany would have been saved by Finland, Belgium, Albania and the UK.

The UK would probably prefer the new system as they sit rock bottom, losing out to Germany based on only getting points from San Marino and Switzerland.

Further up the board, the big losers from the current system are Albania. Their surprisingly strong performance in the phone vote would have pushed them into the top ten. Probably the biggest winners were Russia. They would have slipped down to third if the old system was still in place.

Finally, I would like to point out that after I did this last year, I saw a lot of people claiming to show the 2012 style results and getting it wrong. These people simply convert the jury ranks into a 1-12 and then the phone ranks into a 1-12. They forget that the individual jurors also ranked 1-12. So if you see other people doing 2012 style results, take care.

Posted in Austria, Germany, Stats Corner, Vienna 2015 | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why Eurovision fans should boo Russia, and why they shouldn’t

Putin_Poster2 slimIn November, Russia’s Channel One broadcast the latest in a string of theories about the fate of flight MH17, which had been shot down over Ukrainian airspace earlier in the year, killing all 298 passengers and crew. While the rest of the world had established that it had been hit by a missile fired by Russian-backed separatists, Channel One was presenting a more complicated picture. Having already shown how the plane had been shot down by Ukrainian forces in a botched assassination attempt against Putin and redirected into the warzone by dastardly Ukrainian air traffic controllers, this time the channel discovered previously unseen satellite images that purport to show a jet fighter firing a missile at the plane. These images were clearly faked and the most basic interest in checking the facts would have exposed the story as false. However, journalistic ethics on Channel One always come second to unquestioning support for the state line.

In Russian tv's crude fake,  the aircraft are out of proportion to the landscape and cloud patterns suggest  the base image is from 2012

In Russian tv’s crude fake, the aircraft are out of proportion to the landscape and cloud patterns suggest the base image is from 2012

The media in Russia, especially television, is closely controlled by the Kremlin. Of the biggest channels, Channel One and Russia 1 are state-owned (these are the ones who participate in Eurovision), while the third, NTV, is owned by the state-controlled energy giant, Gazprom. These three toe the Kremlin line. Those who do not, such as independent channel TV Rain, come under pressure. Their access to satellite platforms gets taken away and they get evicted from their studios. Satellite tv stations have also been banned from making money from commercials.

In addition, there has been a recent crackdown on freedoms on the internet. Bloggers with over 3,000 readers now have to register as mass media, while the CEO and founder of VKontakte (VK), the Russian equivalent of Facebook, has been forced out and replaced by a friendly Oligarch. VK had previously been an important platform in the 2011 anti-Putin protests.

RT tries to promote itself as a counterpoint to biased Western news outlets.

RT promotes itself as a counterpoint to biased Western news outlets.

Following on from the 2011 protests, Kremlin tv has followed an increasingly nationalist theme. Samuel Johnson’s line about patriotism being the last refuge of the scoundrel comes to mind. While the country annexes parts of Ukraine, tv news leads the debate with stories of Ukrainian Nazis as they crucify children, blow up buses and shell civilians (and in doing so kill entirely made up 10 year olds). Of course these Nazis are encouraged and funded by the US and the EU. Meanwhile, Russia’s international propaganda station, RT (founded as Russia Today in 2005) is taking on greater prominence and telling the same lies to the wider world. Many of its journalists have quit the station, tired of working for a channel that has a complete disregard for the facts. I saw a poster for it in London the other day. They invite me to “Question More” and presumably not to believe other news sources’ misinformation.

In this context, I find it naive to think Russia’s state mouthpieces are not interested in their one chance a year for a three minute slot on television across Europe. Western media is justifiably negative towards Russia and they have a chance to present themselves in a different light. Russia has a clear strategy for Eurovision. For the third year in a row they will be sending a sweet and innocent young girl (or girls) to sing a big anthemic ballad about world peace. These clearly aren’t three separate artists each taking their own approach to the contest. It’s the same thing every time. Russia’s hand-picked entry is a cynically jury-friendly number that seeks to use big vocals and conventional ballad structure to achieve a result without any need to worry about doing something interesting or creative.

Aww, bless.

Aww, bless.

And the lyrics! Not a cliché is left unwarbled as they spout bland sentiments about coming together as one. The songs seem to have been written by a particularly unimaginative beauty pageant contestant. As someone who values high lyrical standards in his Eurovision songs, the Russian entries have a nails on chalkboard quality for me. I find it a physical effort to listen to them all the way through, before I even consider the politics. While, of the three, only last year’s entry referred to political specifics, with it’s lyrics about crossing a line to move closer to the crime(a), the hypocrisy of such an aggressively nationalistic regime sending this stuff is astounding.

These songs tell the continent that Russia isn’t the big undemocratic hate-filled warmonger we think it is. Russia also has pretty girls who love the world and its children. They also tell us that Russia isn’t some weird and backward foreign land; these songs are so slickly produced and formulaic they could almost be written by Swedes. In short, Russia’s songs invite the audience to question more.

This is why I will always defend those who boo Russia. They’re not booing the singers – they are mere puppets of the state media. They are booing the efforts of a country who is using the contest to adjust the image of their nation. They have every right to voice their objection to that image.

While discussing this with a non-Eurovision loving friend, she posed a very good question. Why does Russia do this? They know they are going to get booed. Why do something so inflammatory? It doesn’t work. They only draw attention to their misdemeanours. It’s an interesting question, because I think there’s another reason they turn up. I don’t think it’s just to project an image to the wider world. There’s also a useful message for their own people. To illustrate, have a look at this news report from Russia 1, the country’s other Eurovision broadcaster.

In this clip Russia 1 demonstrates how Western countries indoctrinate and sexualise their children by showing them genitalia in school textbooks and, most ridiculously, painting gay porn on the walls of their bedrooms. The video they use as proof is an obvious fake, which was originally made as a spoof of an American tv advert.

At the heart of Russia’s campaign against homosexuality, there is a nationalist agenda. The intention is to paint USA and Western Europe as a depraved pit of sin, where homosexuality is not just accepted, but strongly encouraged. Russia’s renewed Cold War is not just one fought with weapons in Ukraine and sanctions against Russian shops; it’s also presented as one of competing cultures and attitudes. Russia is the only one who can stand up for traditional family values.

It rather fits the narrative, once a year, to have a beautiful blonde Russian girl on tv, the purer and more virtuous the better, and arrange for her to be relentlessly booed by a roomful of Western homosexuals.

While I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments of those who will be booing Russia at Eurovision this year, I think it’s worth bearing in mind that doing so also plays perfectly into their hands.

Posted in Eurovision Politics, Russia, Vienna 2015 | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Lyric Audit: Goodbye To Yesterday

Elina Born & Stig Rästa

For the past two years, I’ve written a blog post running through all the best and worst bits of Eurovision lyrics. It’s not something I cobble together in a few minutes. The post is a culmination of months’ worth of irksome syntactical grumbles and bewildered searches for meaning where there is none. Sometimes this even extends to the songs I love.

Goodbye To Yesterday, by Elina Born and Stig Rästa, is, as far as I’m concerned, by far and away the best song submitted for Vienna and it has great detail in the lyrics. I do, however, find it hard to pin down exactly what happens on the day the song covers. This requires more than a one-paragraph skim-through in my annual lyric audit.

I Woke up at 6AM

What stands out for me from the start is how incredible Stig’s body clock is. He hasn’t opened his eyes yet, but he knows the time. There’s obviously no alarm involved as that would wake Elina up, nor would it be likely to be light enough outside this time of year in Estonia for Stig to get a sense of daybreak. I thought it could be possible that Stig had overheard early-rising binmen or milkmen, but that would suggest it was a weekday morning. We know from later on in the song that Elina has nothing better to do than lay in bed all day, so that seems unlikely.

Anyway, after an indeterminate amount of time, in which Stig could easily have drifted back to sleep, he decides to make a move.

Got dressed so quietly

I find it interesting that Stig’s keys would jingle specifically at the door. Did Elina lock him in? It certainly would open up a whole new interpretation of the song. Many consider it a breakup song, but maybe it’s an escape. That could be why Stig is so precise with his timekeeping. He’s planned this run for freedom meticulously, fashioned some rudimentary keys to pick his way out of the house and has taken advantage of the fatal flaw in Elina’s secure compound: the complete incompetence of her guard dog. The stupid mutt has one job to do. It doesn’t let out a single woof as Elina’s man walks out of her life.

I didn't wanna wake you upOkay, so maybe this is about a consensual relationship. First impressions here suggest   Stig is playing the role of the guy who’s pulled and has second thoughts in the morning. It’s interesting how he walks out due to low self-esteem, but at this point it seems to be a fairly conventional story of a one night stand. Elina’s verse makes things more complicated.

why would you think like that

Something else is going on here. The story is developing. We’ve gone from a hostage/captor scenario, to a one-night stand, to some sort of ongoing relationship. It may be that they’ve known each other for a while, but have now only just got it on.

I like the first line above. It’s not a particularly original phrase, but the sentiment is interesting. Elina isn’t angry and isn’t attaching blame for Stig’s departure. She’s trying to understand. She can also anticipate his responses, so it seems they know each other very well and there may be hope for them together.

From this closeness one could think Elina and Stig are boyfriend and girlfriend. They’ve had a fight and in the morning Stig’s done a runner. This scenario doesn’t explain why Elina’s naked, though.

I wouldn't want it any other way

It’s a bit of an odd line, isn’t it? It seems principally designed to make the listener imagine Elina naked, sprawled out on a bed with a phone by her side, as if she’s presenting an unusually quiet night on Babestation.

The phone bit, doesn’t ring true. It should really be “playing with my phone”. Any normal person would be obsessively checking their texts, whatsapp, facebook and twitter for signs of Stig. The only conclusion one can make is that Elina expects Stig to phone her on the landline. Who uses the landline? I don’t think my last girlfriend even had my home phone number. Unless Stig works in a call centre, that phone’s not ringing.

Aside from Elina’s surprisingly old school approach to phone technology, the main thrust of the story of the song is fairly clear with Stig gone and Elina wanting him back, except for one detail.

Why didn't you wake me up

Elina has doubts too. She’s sad now, but recognises that if her stupid dog had done its job and woke her up, she might have kicked Stig out anyway. There’s still a lot of room for ambiguity.

The line also makes Elina less of a victim. She may have been left behind and wants Stig back, and doesn’t have any clothes, but she doesn’t come across as desperate. The thought of a life without her man has crossed her mind.

let's try again and say goodbye to yesterday

Even here, I have no idea what they’re saying goodbye to. Most likely it’s the events before Stig walked, which could still either be an argument or a shag. Actually, what day is it? Did Stig walk out yesterday? Maybe they’ll carry on as usual and pretend Stig just went to the shops. “Yesterday”, doesn’t even have to be literal; it could be an event further back in their story that was the cause of their argument/shag/trip to the shops.

I love the lyrics to this song. The only other Eurovision entry I can think of that tells such a good story is Fairytale. Yet it’s also one of the great strengths of the song that they leave large parts of the narrative untold.

I may be picking the song apart and trying to figure out what’s actually going on, but the point isn’t for us to know everything. One can form a story for yourself and it becomes universal. Unlike its live presentation, not everything is black and white and I like it that way.

Posted in Estonia, Lyrics, Vienna 2015 | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Pros and Cons of the UK entry

electro velvet

So the big UK Eurovision reveal was last night and my thoughts on this year’s entry are, well, erm, I dunno. The reveal of Electro Velvet left me a little nonplussed. Twitter was naturally furious, but that’s pretty much the default response whatever we send. I’ve got plenty of good reasons to flit between love and hate, so taking inspiration from an old episode of Friends, I’m going to have to write a list of pros and cons. I just hope that Alex and Bianca don’t see it just as we’re about to get back together.

Pro – BBC have stepped out of their comfort zone

It’s such an unexpected approach for the BBC. I was all geared up to either hate the UK act for being a contrived ballad about world peace or love its contemporary pop sound, then they go and give us a genre act. There aren’t many of those currently on the plane to Vienna and I had been hoping someone would have picked something out of the generic pop mould. I wasn’t expecting us to be that country.

It also avoids the Eurovision cliche where a song is either about making the world a better place (Molly) or about winning Eurovision (Jade, Blue, Bonnie). It’s not called Shine either.

Con – It won’t be a hit

The flip side of it not being the credible pop song I was hoping for in my best case scenario is that I can’t see this getting big radio airplay or selling downloads by the electronic bucketload. That’s a shame, as it’s something the contest needs in the UK.

Muzzart won the televote this year in Belarus.

Muzzart won the televote this year in Belarus.

Pro – If someone else sent it, everyone would support it

Remember Muzzart? The electro swing act everyone loved in Belarus this year? Or !DelaDap the electro swing group everyone briefly went crazy over in the Austrian selection in 2012? My fear is that I’ve got BBC-goggles that cloud my judgement on this song.

Con – No one actually did send those songs

Pro – It’s identifiably British

I guess it’s more American than anything else, but if any European country were to send this sort of music, it ought to be us. This is the sort of era that Downton is currently set in and there’s probably a fair few people who think our upper classes still enjoy this sort of thing.

Con – Fat ankles

Everybody dance

Everybody dance

Pro – It should be easy to stage well

They’ll need a bunch of Charleston dancers, some of whom can double as backing singers. I’m hoping Alex and Bianca can Charleston too and there’s loads of instrumental parts to show it off. Throw in a bit where Alex dashes to the big mic to do his scat. It needs to be a bit crazy. The music video is a little on the tame and controlled side. If the singers aren’t a little out of breath at the end of their performance in the final, they’ve done it wrong.

 Con – It’s quite cheesy

The music video doesn’t exhibit  the cool aloofness that one might associate with this genre. !Deladap certainly had that. I don’t believe that Electro Velvet are part of any hip retro counterculture. This is more a Strictly Come Dancing interpretation of the Charleston than anything else. It doesn’t feel particularly authentic.

Pro – It has a very strong USP

It’s “the 1920s Charleston one”. It seems very unlikely that anyone else will send anything like it this year and it will be nigh on impossible to forget come the end of the night. Unlike some of our entries, this isn’t trying to please everyone. It will have it’s own target market and there will be some people who love it. Hopefully.

Con – It won’t win

This has absolutely no chance of bringing Eurovision back to Blighty. With a good staging, good camera angles, good vocals and a lucky draw, it might squeeze into the top half of the leaderboard. It certainly won’t give us any release from the normal post-show gripes about Europe hating us, everyone voting for each other and how it’s all political. In a few years time, a comedian called Russell will be inducting it into a Eurovision Hall of Shame and ask what on Earth we were thinking.

Pro – It’s a lot of fun

You can dance to it, you can tap your feet, you can smile. Isn’t that what Eurovision is all about? I can imagine my friends sitting around the tv at our Eurovision party enjoying it a lot; in the same way they loved Iceland last year and Greece the year before.

I’ve watched it a few times again this morning. I’ve decided I like it now. It’s not going to cure all of the UK’s Eurovision ills, but it’s unfair of me to expect it to. If I was the sort of person that made a regularly updated list of my favourite entries, Electro Velvet would probably make the top ten. I can’t complain about that.

Posted in United Kingdom, Vienna 2015 | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stats Corner – 2015 Semi Final Draw

2015 semi draw It was the semi final allocation draw yesterday, so Eurovision fans have been playing one of their favourite games.

“Country x is in the same semi as countries y and z. They’re bound to qualify.”

“Yeah, but they’re not in there with countries w or v. Plus y don’t really vote for them that much. And what about country a? Their draw is amazing!”

“What, a? What are you talking about? b aren’t in that semi and c pulled out because of their political dispute with d!”

“Whoa, let’s not bring politics into this. It’s a song contest.”

Alas, there are more than 26 countries competing this year, so I’ll have to end that little scene there. I am instinctively sceptical with these sorts of discussions. The real picture may be more complicated. Does one pair of countries’ mutual love affair really make that much difference when there could be fifteen other countries in the semi who won’t vote for either? This is where I open up excel and start investigating.

I’ve collated the results from Eurovisions going back to 2008 and each year I’ve compared how many points each country received from those voting in this year’s semi 1 with those voting in semi 2. I’ve used the same method as from 2013, except I’ve started using points from finals where countries qualify. It’s not perfect, because the semi is somewhat of a different beast, but otherwise there are too many gaps in the data.

I’ve excluded Czech Republic as an entrant, but have included the points they gave out. They’ve entered so rarely and scored so few points that there’s just no way I can try to derive any conclusions from their records.

So were my richly drawn characters correct about country x? Let’s have a look at semi 1.

2015 Semi 1 draw stats It turns out Belgium are the big winners. It makes a sort of sense. They’re in the same semi as Netherlands and may also get some nice votes from the French and Russians who can’t spell Belarus.

Finland have also done well, having been placed with their odd little bloc of Estonia and Hungary. Denmark will probably have no choice but to vote for them too as they don’t have Iceland or their Scandis in semi 1. Denmark are handily on the left hand side of the graph.

What’s surprising, though, is how badly Moldova and Romania do, despite being drawn together. Armenia also do far worse than the countries who you would normally place with them in the ex-Soviet bloc.

Time for semi 2.

2015 Semi 2 draw stats

Lithuania are the big winners here and the biggest winners of the lot. This may seem surprising when they don’t have Russia and co with them, but they do have UK, Ireland and Latvia on hand.

Israel are at the other end of the scale as the biggest losers. My knowledge of Jewish diaspora clearly isn’t what it used to be, as I thought UK and Poland could be a good source of points for them.

Azerbaijan are surprisingly on the negative side of the graph, which is surprising when you see they have the big Azeri diasporas of Malta and Cyprus in their semi. I guess they are more reliant on Russia and co.

Of course, none of this stuff takes any account of song quality, running order position, whether an entry’s called “Warrior” or not or any of the other really important things in deciding a Eurovision winner. This stuff is not designed to make predictions about results. I just take the “who’s got a good draw” game more seriously than most.

Posted in Stats Corner, Vienna 2015 | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stats Corner – 2014 Results 2010-12 Style

Poland butter eurovision 2014

Poland makes stats sexy. Their travails with the Eurovision jury/televote system this year have been well publicised. In both UK and Ireland The Boob Girls feat. Donatan & Cleo topped the phone voting, but were placed bottom with the juries. This meant that they ended up with no points from either country.

The problem is the new method of combining jury and televoting that came into force last year. Before, each juror gave Eurovision-style points 1-12 to their favourites. These were then combined to give a jury ranking which was again measured in points 1-12. Combine these with the televote 1-12 and you have your country top ten.

These days the same procedure is followed, but with rankings being made covering the entire field. This means two 13ths are as good as a 1st and a last. For a country as top-heavy with the phone votes as Poland, this means trouble.

How much trouble though? Thanks to the EBU’s new openness in revealing detailed results, we can calculate what would have happened if the contest had been fought under the 2010-2012 system.

Poland do indeed have reason to feel aggrieved. Had the old system been in force, they would have scored an extra 41 points and landed 7th place, equalling their second best finish. Switzerland had similar troubles of matching their phone and jury votes. For them, however, the change makes no difference at all. They stay in 13th either way. The biggest jumps are reserved for Azerbaijan and Malta. Their jury-friendly songs would have finished eight places higher in a more respectable 14th and 15th respectively.

eurovision spain 2014

Spain’s top ten would have gone down the drain

Going in the other direction, Spain would have plummeted out of the top ten to 17th, while poor Molly would have dropped to a miserable 21st for the UK.

The top and bottom of the table stays the same, which is to be expected. These countries have got to where they are by being consistent in both voting disciplines. However, the impact on the middle order is considerable. The change converts a strong result to a disappointing one and vice versa. It is certainly not the small change it may have seemed to some when first announced.

Whether the old system is fairer, I’m not entirely sure. I feel there is as much merit in a consistent performance as there is in one that skews heavily to one element of the voting. What I have the biggest problem with in the current system is the way it empowers the jurors to vote negatively. Where once you had only to make people like you, you now have to worry about those that hate you too.

The full table is below, so you can see how your favourites would have done.

Posted in Copenhagen 2014, Poland, Stats Corner | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Lyrics Are My Sad – 2014 Lyric Audit

Undo My Sad Sanna Nielsen

Oh Sanna. Deary deary me. There’s only one way I can start my 2014 review of Eurovision lyrics and that’s with the lyrics to Sweden’s Undo. “Undo My Sad” is entering the pantheon of all-time worst Eurovision lyrics. That lyric ruined my enjoy. It’s really strange because, in Sweden, their English is a good. They speak it better than most people who live in my near. Everyone listening will notice the incorrect from the first moment they do a hear. It’s inexcusable.

Sadly, for someone who is very picky with Eurovision lyrics, Sanna isn’t the only one this year to mar their entry with shoddy penmanship.

At least Albania has the language excuse that Sanna doesn’t. I think One Night’s Anger should have stayed in Albanian, because while it’s a quite nice little tale about a desire for reconciliation after an argument, the language issue tends to get in the way.

Ooh, these doubts are so tickly. Hersi’s boyfriend must be giggling uncontrollably with uncertainty. For some reason Hersi looks like someone who would enjoy tickling people. I have no idea why I think this, but I can’t get the mental image of her tickling people out of my head now. Luckily for Hersi, the poor English that led to this lyric also saves her from it. Her spoken English is so bad, I could only tell what she was singing from reading it. Let’s hope her diction doesn’t improve before the contest.

Ukraine presented its writers with a real lyrical challenge when they came to rewrite Tick-Tock for Eurovision. Untangling Maria Yaremchuk’s mess of casual incest and tricky ticky tock tock tocks must have been harder than writing a speech for Aram MP3 at gay pride. Unfortunately, they haven’t quite succeeded. 

Where Lulu’s heart goes Boom-Bang-A-Bang, Miss Li’s goes boom and Olly Murs’s skips a beat, Maria’s heart maintains a steady healthy rhythm that you could set your watch to. While that will surely ensure her fine health in later life, a pop lyric it does not make.

What makes it worse is that Maria then invites her beloved to kiss her until she drops. So his love makes her week at the knees but her heart remains unaffected. It sounds like they’re just in it for the fucking.

Belarus is another one that lets itself down lyrically. I really like the song. It has a cool funky vibe to it and I find Teo a very charismatic performer, but there’s some things I can’t quite let him get away with. As much as I would like to shut my brain off and enjoy a light hearted bit of kitschy fun, I can’t pretend that his lyrics are perfect. They’re quite plainly not and it bothers me greatly.

It’s YOUR sweet cheesecake! I don’t care that it has speech marks when it’s written down; it sounds wrong when sung out loud. Teo is not his own cheesecake. Why has nothing been done about this? It’s a simple change. It doesn’t affect the pacing of the song at all. It’s obvious. I just find it so frustrating.

Denmark frustrates me further. Cliche Love Song is a massive missed opportunity. There are so many clichéd lyrics in Eurovision, having one that addresses this head on is a great idea. Based on the title, Basim was onto a winner.

Where are the clichés? I want him to be climbing the highest mountain and swimming the widest seas. He should be getting down on his knees. This is not the time for jazz vocal improvisation! He gets a bit closer in the second verse.

Cliche Love Song Lyrics2

It’s cloud nine. How can he get the wrong pissing cloud? This guy is not qualified to write a cliché love song. If Basim had hired Gerard James Borg he would have got this song sorted in five seconds flat.

Borg, the author of Maltese national final classics such as Lovetricity and Loverdose, has worked his special magic on Russia’s song, Shine. Alas, he couldn’t unleash another of his fabled love puns on the world. He had to make do with the latest chapter in Shine’s ongoing contest with “This is/It’s My Life” for most clichéd song title. Borg is instead let loose on delivering three minutes of the blandest emptiest sentiment to fill a Eurovision song. Rising suns ride like the wind as the Tomalchevy Twins wish on a star and live on the edge. It’s a song about nothing. Well, almost.

Some have tried to suggest this is a subtle reference to Russia’s invasion of Crimea. It’s not subtle. If it is anything other than a piece of political bravado, one has to ask, what crime? There’s no mention of any sort of crime or wrongdoing elsewhere in the song.

Of course, none of the other lyrics have any relation to the rest of the song either. They’re just mild platitudes thrown together for little reason other than they sound nice. However, that’s also why “Closer to the crime” jars. It’s not a phrase. No one says that.

Another lyric that doesn’t quite work in Shine is “our love will last a thousand miles”. Something lasts a length of time, not a length of distance equal to roughly the journey from Moscow to Sebastopol. The song is blatantly about Russia’s takeover of Crimea. Fluffy lyrics about masterpieces of love and a cute pair of blonde twins are not enough to hide it. It’s shocking that no one’s made an official complaint. Russia should be disqualified for this.

The United Kingdom’s entry has no such problem with it being about anything. Like all UKish fans, I was massively excited when it was first revealed that we’d got someone through BBC Introducing. Then I found that the song had been written specifically with Eurovision in mind. This spelt trouble. A lame love and peace song was on the way.

Empty love and peace songs are my pet Eurovision hate. They’re lame, cynical, lazy, unimaginative and did I mention lame? Nothing like this ever gets in the charts or on the radio. The title alone makes my skin crawl.

That said, it’s a bit more revolutionary than the average love and peace song. The children want to own the universe, or maybe the edge of time. One way or the other, there will be dancing.

Molly sings about “Power to the people” and ending suffering. She wants some sort of wider societal change, but has no clear aims or message. It’s reminiscent of Russell Brand’s revolutionary nothings. It’s a call to overthrow some non-specifically rotten status quo and replace it with people and they’ll give power to them. I find it incredibly shallow.

Children of the universe lyrics2

No I don’t!!! What do you want, woman?!!!

On the other side of the coin, there are plenty of songs that satisfy my lyrical demands. Norway’s  is up there with the best. I particularly like the bridge.

I like how the first line evokes a manly power. Carl is the subject of the sentence, he’s active and he’s using his hands like a burly woodsman. Then in the second line he’s passive and powerless against the metaphorical bruises. He doesn’t know how this happened. Other parts of the song drop a little into cliché, especially when he’s flying, but the overall impression is very good.

I love the lyrics of France too, despite them being in Foreign. It’s just so typically French that a song as outwardly ridiculous as Moustache is actually a scathing critique of our individualistic consumerist society.

This song is more than just a cheerful paean to the style of a young Burt Reynolds. It is a tale of a desperately self-centred person who, despite his wealth and success, can never be satisfied. No matter how many worldly goods he collects, there is always a hairy nirvana that remains tantalisingly out of reach. He always wants what he can’t have. The moustache of the title represents more than a shaggy top lip. It is the neverending search for spiritual peace.

What is strange is that the lead singer of Twin Twin has a twin brother who sports a fabulous moustache. Maybe he’s not trying hard enough.

I think my favourite lyrics in this year’s Eurovision belong to Germany. Is It Right manages to contribute an instantly singalongable chorus without coming across as childishly simple. Then in the verses it approaches a grown up topic – indecision over whether to end a loveless relationship – and does it seriously and straightforwardly.

I wouldn’t say there are any great poetical flourishes in the song, but it’s nice to have a song that is about not being in love and approaches human relationships in a less black and white manner. I find it speaks to me on an emotional level far more than anything else this year and for that reason, it’s my number one.

Elaiza winners#

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