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 , , , , | 2 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.

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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. They 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.

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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#

Posted in Albania, Belarus, Copenhagen 2014, Denmark, France, Germany, Lyrics, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Thank You Europe National Finals Awards

So another national final season draws to a close and the best part of Eurovision 2014 is over. I’m going to have to find something to do on my Saturdays other than tweeting about Estonian claymation pig spanking and booking a holiday through ROCS travel. Too ease the transition, I’ve been reminiscing on the highlights of the last three months and asking which is better? So here are the inaugural Thank You Europe National Finals Awards. Through a combination of an expert panel (me) and the occasional poll, I’m selecting the cream of the national final crop. I’m not interested in best song or best vocalist or stuff like that, though. These awards are for the stuff we really care about.

Best Advert

Four of our nominees

Traditionally a strong category for Malta, this one. ROCS Travel vs Mediterranean Bank is the Real-Barcelona of the Eurovision advert world. However, this is perhaps more through repetition than actual advert quality. In my opinion, Mediterranean Bank’s smug “20 year-old me” ad is comprehensively outclassed by the sheep bankers in Moldova. Meanwhile, Albania has a furniture retailer who hasn’t noticed the shape you make when you combine the maps of Albania, Kosovo and FYR Macedonia. Belarus has a parrot in a fridge. I don’t know why; it just does. Malta has some competition. I’m not going to pick the winner in this one. Democracy can decide.

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Most Androgynous

Winner!

Winner!

There have been a fair few dudes that look like ladies in this national final season. Obviously, there’s Conchita for starters. I’ve never been a fan of her myself. She’s like a Kenny Everett comedy character, but not played for laughs. Anyway, androgyny is more about subtlety. If you wear a dress you’ve gone beyond androgynous. Yohio put in a solid effort again this year. However, I think he was somewhat undermined by singing one of Ulrik Munter’s cast-offs. There’s also Glamboy P who matched his unique monk-fringe mullet with dancing straight out of Pineapple Dance Studios. However, I’m giving the award to my favourite moment in the Ukrainian final, where my twitter feed was suddenly filled with viewers excited to see a lesbian taking part. Then we found out he was called Eugene. No one trusted the Ukrainian set lists, though. We couldn’t be sure whether there’d been a mistake in the romanisation of his name. Even the broken English voiceover lady called him a she at one point. It was a proper mystery. You don’t get that sort of uncertainty these days.

Best Use of a Mode of Transportation as an Onstage Prop

A few contenders in this one. Madcraft had BMX riders on stage at the UMK final and Sandra Nurmsalu had a raft which rather awkwardly lifted he to the ceiling in Eesti Laul. Special mention has to go to the scruffy old guy in the convertible car in Armenia’s New Year’s Eve song reveal. However this category is a landslide victory for Santiano. They had a boat! A massive boat! It was huge!

BOAT!!!

Best Entrance

"Baby! Beautiful Baby!"

“Baby! Beautiful Baby!”

Alcazar came in in a giant flying disco ball.  Aram MP3 came went one better and had a disco Christmas tree. However, the best entrance has to go to Switter Boys. It was already quite an odd entry, even by Belarus’s standards, with a pair of hoodied Chuckle Brothers performing a repetitive dance song alongside some awkwardly tall twins singing about “Armani Prada Gucci”, but then the music suddenly stops. No one expected the big man in the white suit. Coming out from behind the screens to sing his heart out, he switched the song from odd to hilarious. Nothing topped that all season. 12 points.

Craziest Judge

NF judge corners

One of the weekly joys of Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu (other than trying to spell it) was finding out what the judges were going to wear next. I almost put a tenner on Pocahontas headdress before the final and ended up kicking myself afterwards. Between them Aija Puurtinen and Toni Wirtanen must keep the Finnish hat industry in rude health. Meanwhile, the highlight of Belgium’s weak national final was discovering what a nutter Ruslana is. I know there must be a language issue there, but she was also crazy in the eyes. She loved everything, to the point of singing “I Will Always Love You” at a distinctly nonplussed contestant. In Ireland, meanwhile, Linda Martin was not quite feeling the love. For turning Ireland’s Eurosong into The Late Late Jeremy Kyle Show, Linda has to be the favourite, but I’ll let the public decide.

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Best Use of Emmelie De Forest

“Hello [insert country name here]. A couple of years ago I was living in a small town in Denmark and did not even dare to dream about winning the Eurovision Song Contest. But I did.”

And she’s not shut up about it since, has she? Emmelie has been everywhere this year and has been sending annoying videos when she can’t get there in person. I’d say her performances in Malta and Denmark (the drummers had fire sticks!), but she was put to best use by Aram MP3 in Armenia. Take the piss out of her then sing her song better than she would in person.

Best Clown Medley

Screw the actual songs in Eesti Laul. The best three minutes came from the clowns. I’ve watched the videos more times than is healthy now. It’s not just because of my weird crush on the girl clown. They’re well put together. The first one, that focuses on Eesti Laul songs is clearly the best. Eurovision winning songs don’t work quite as well in clown form. I’m not quite sure what that says about the contest.

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Best name

A name can be a powerful thing. I first fell in love with Trackshittaz through finding their name on a list of Austrian entrants and googling them. Look where it got them. It didn’t get Swissters quite as far in Switzerland this year. Hungary performed quite well this year. I was going to give Bogi a nomination until I remembered they also had Group’N’Swing. It sounds like some sort of sex party exercise apparatus. Belgium also brought us the world’s worst-named boyband in the form of Bandits. All I want to do is put the word “arse” in front of it. Slovenia also had a band called MUFF. They put it in capital letters in case it didn’t stand out enough. I love Eurovision.

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Best Incest

Last award now. On behalf of all the winners, I’d like to thank their God. I’d like to thank their agents and managers and national finals organisers and ROCS Travel. But most of all, I need to thank their mothers: passionately, violently, with every ounce of my being. MOTHER!!!! There’s something very wrong about the Belgian entry. Maria Yaremchuk with her brother/sister relationship is a mere amateur. She doesn’t have the depth of emotion for her family that Axel does. Will Maria die for her incestuous love? I think not. Axel deserves this award more than anyone. I’m sure his mother will be very proud.

Posted in Albania, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Copenhagen 2014, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Malta, National finals, Slovenia, Ukraine | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Not Quite a National Final Review: New Year in Armenia

champagne

Sydney does it with a spectacular firework display, London does it with the bongs of Big Ben, New York does it with a ball dropping in Times Square. Yerevan does it with a scruffy old man with a mullet singing in a red convertible car. Welcome to New Year’s on Armenian tv.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=521402277967243&set=a.521402134633924.1073741841.273072886133518&type=3&theater

Where da party at?

I was only watching because we’d been promised the reveal of Armenia’s Eurovision entrant during the show, but by five minutes past midnight that had gone out of the window. I was sticking with 1tv through the night. Back in 2013, I had been sitting through a fairly staid, boring music show. Frankly, this is what I closed-mindedly expected from Armenian TV. As long speeches from the head of the orthodox church and the president of Armenia ushered in the new year, I was ready to get my entrant and go. I was not expecting the pimp daddy and his laydeez to come out. Remaining resolutely stationary in his car as the world whizzed by, he and his bevy of excitable beauties started up the maddest of New Year’s parties. I don’t think that was snow on the trees.

Whoa... trippy.

Whoa… trippy.

Just in case anyone was left under the impression that this show would revert to something resembling normality, the performance was followed up by a gaudy disco number, replete with dancing disco balls. The performance wasn’t at all bad, but the colours! I was just transfixed by the pretty pictures. And mesmerised by the prospect of one of these acts being our Eurovision entry.

happy new year

Happy New Year

It wasn’t just the viewers having fun, though; oh no. Between, and sometimes during, songs the cameras would cut to various Armenian celebrities in the audience who were having the time of their lives. This despite the fact that they never seemed to be shown drinking their champagne. The glasses were only there for clinking. Very loudly. I’m not entirely convinced that it’s possible to clink champagne glasses over the noise of a pop concert going on a few rows in front, but the Armenian sound producers made it happen.

I've checked. That's really Eva.

I’ve checked. That’s really Eva.

Two side games were being played as I was watching the New Year spectacular. One was to listen out over the champagne clinking for any mention of Eurovision, Europe, Te Deum or anything to do with Copenhagen. I had to occasionally remind myself that’s why I was originally watching. The other was to stare at the screen and say “Is that Eva Rivas?” It was hard to tell under all that makeup whether it was really her singing “Strong Enough” by Cher. I don’t understand how her lips became so big. Maybe she’s allergic to apricots.

Inga or Anush

I’m going to say that’s Inga. Or it could be Anush.

Similarly, I was joking when I called the buxom divas strutting across the stage and grinding with their dancers Inga and Anush. The closer I looked though, the less funny the joke seemed and the more funny the reimagining of Inga and Anush as Armenia’s answer to The Weathergirls became. Gone were the traditional bejewelled robes and in their place came lurid plasticky fifties dresses. It was wipeclean vintage. This show is amazing.

Nice swing, Lilit.

Nice swing, Lilit.

 

There was one Eurovision alumnus everyone knew for sure was going to be there. The annual Sirusho rumour machine went into overload as news spread of her rehearsals for this programme. Alas, her appearance came and went with no mention of Copenhagen. Like all the performances, it was playback, but she put on a good show. It was quite reminiscent of Kylie; very slick and professional. She didn’t really fit in. There were other slick performances to be fair. There was this one girl who did a nice retro sixties number and a nice performance from a girl I’ve since identified as Lilit Hovhannisyan. Lilit judged the occasion better, though; entering by being lowered from the ceiling wearing head-to-toe leopard print.

old guy fantasy

Armenia’s answer to Pele

old guy fantasy dance

Still got it

The one thing that was missing from the show up to this point was a viagra commercial. Luckily, Armenia knows what its public wants. Sitting alone at his table, this poor old man watches the lady on stage and he dreams. He dreams of his youth when he could have any woman he wants. He seems to want big women. That, or Eva Rivas would have been too much for his ticker to handle.

New Year’s Eve is a magical time in Armenia, where dreams come true. Our elderly observer will have this dance. Suddenly the entire studio is cleared. There’s no party going on, no clinking of glasses; just him, her and the music. We then go back to him at his table, watching the song alone. The whole sequence has been a dream. Maybe this whole new year’s eve show was a dream. Did I dream it. I was too ill to go out last night; maybe I was iller than I thought.

Armenia 2014 - Aram MP3

Armenia 2014 – Aram MP3

Any existential musings were cut short by a sudden burst of Te Deum. 2014’s Armenian entrant was next. And what an entrance. Aram MP3 is probably the first Eurovision entrant who has been introduced to me by way of revolving disco Christmas tree. On emerging he launched into an energetic cover of Jealousy by Martin Solveig (video below). I was really impressed. Obviously, the song wasn’t his and the singing wasn’t live, but Aram has a great stage presence. He is very watchable and given a good uptempo song in Copenhagen, he could do well.

I sincerely wish him and Armenia all the best and a happy new year. They know how to put on a party. I wish Jools Holland could be this good.

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