ESC birthdays 25 May – Those Moldovans can do lunacy

Io Moon

Yesterday I mentioned that Belgium had had it good of late. On the other hand, little Moldova has been struggling a little. They had luck when that cheeky little scamp Pasha Parfeny was writing songs for TRM. He’s disappeared of late and so have his country’s ability to make the final. It must have been that incident with Amandine Bourgeois in Malmö. In that year, he wrote this little song for birthday girl Aliona Moon. Aliona is 26 today.

La mulți ani, Aliona!

 


Phil Explains the Eurovision – Part 2 – 20th-11th… well.. sorta

20th – Georgia – 104 Points.

Real music by a real band which bore out the jury results and it’s 80 points but, as expected, the televoters of Europe saw “Noise” and just couldn’t vote for it.

19th – Hungary – 108 Points

Shock result as far as I am concerned. Almost 50/50 jury televote split but no one, apart from me and teh gayz seem to have got this. Good song, performed well, but just failed. Think the draw scuppered it. Too early and better songs put it down the list.

18th – Serbia – 115 Points

SHOUTY MC SHOUTFACE!! – She grabbed the televoters by the balls, made them vote for her in enough numbers (80) but the juries seem to have killed its chances. Small points from it’s neighbours ( and Belgium and UK).

17th – Azerbaijan – 117 points.

This got this high due to it being Azeri. I suspect there might have been some brown envelopes as it got 44 jury points ( The Swedish jury thought this was the 2nd best… somehow) and televotes from the usual places but not enough widespread support for a song that was sung in a different key than it was written in.

16th – Italy – 124 Points

Again, another cracking little song with everyone in the press centre but the earlyish draw scuppered this one. Televoters hated it apart from in Albania, strangely, but the juries saw the potential.

15th – Latvia – 132 Points.

One of the easy televote and jury splits. Roughly the same. Drawn 20 all of the big hitters had gone and arguably was at the end of a cracking run. Just no where to place it for the juries and the televoters were all Russia’d out and then they saw Ukraine and the votes dried up.

14th – Israel – 135 Points.

Despite it’s massive gay following, this got the result it deserved. A ballad sung by someone who believed he was better than the song got mullered by the televote because Hovi just looked an unconvinving performer. They didn’t believe what he was saying. Juries, however, saw the craft of the song and it resonated but they probably marked it UP for being a ballad.

13th – Austria – 151 Points.

This is the exact opposite of Israel. The juries saw light pap written in French that would not be populist in the real world, the televote saw something familiar, harking back to the halcyon days of Eurovision, a comfort blanket if you will, and so it was marked UP for being in foreign.

I was about to write 12th and 11th (Malta and Netherlands, The) but I have come across an anomaly…. more shortly….


ESC birthdays 24 May – Who’s up for a song about a former Yugoslav?

Macedoinne

Are you recovered from Stockholm’s fun and games yet? Were you happy when it was all over? Personally, I think the sniping about whether Ukraine should have won should stop. I wasn’t happy when mumbling Loreen won but didn’t campaign for another country to be given the Grand Prix. There, I’ve said it. Now one country that’s surprised in recent years is Belgium. Apart from a little wobble, three of the last four songs have made a final, all deservedly so. Should other countries have a look at what Belgium is doing right? Today’s birthday boy Philippe Lafontaine is a plucky little Belgian and gave it his best shot when he sang about a Yugoslav in Yugoslavia. Philippe is 61 today.

Bonne anniversaire, Philippe!

 


ESC birthdays 23 May – He was a snowman!

Sun child

I’ve been able to sneak away from whatever it is I do to give you a birthday, especially as I know you love them. Not one, but two winners were born on 23 May, but I’m saving the other one for a future 23 May. Our birthday girl today has been treading the boards quite a lot over the last few years, and you may have seen her at one of the any pre-Eurovision events. I’ve seen her perform, and I think she really does know her audience. And it may surprise you to know that Anne-Marie David’s two performances were in the 1970s. Yes, the contest did exist then too. Anne-Marie is 64 today.

Bonne anniversaire, Anne-Marie!

 


Phil Explains Eurovision 2016 – 26th to 21st 1

26th Germany. 11 Points

This is one of the easier explanations I will have to give this year. It really *is* that bad. It’s a song of no quality sung by someone that the televoters laughed at because she looked “quirky” – How about writing a decent song first rather than going for a look.

25th Czech Republic – 41 Points

And from one of the easiest, to one of the most complicated. This looked and sounded great and as the 41 points shows, the Juries thought it was above average but the televoters didn’t connect with her or vice versa and as such, a big fat 0 (23rd best on the Televoter average). Perhaps they just saw a dirge who knows…

24th United Kingdom – 62 Points

Thankfully this result doesn’t reflect the reality of the song. Joe and Jake sung and wrung every point out of this, the jury score was the highest we have had for years, meaning that we get what it is to write a good song, but 8 televote points suggest that staging wise and visuals and memorability, we still have a way to go. But it’s getting there.

23rd Croatia – 73 Points
This is a cracking song, spoilt mostly by the “Vision” bit in the title of the competition. If this was a radio contest without looking at her two hideous dresses, Europe would certainly have ranked this higher.

22nd Spain – 77 Points
Flattering to deceive as all Spanish songs do, this one is no different. Barrei failed because the song just wasn’t strong enough. It appealed to it’s usual constituency (Spaniards) but everyone else saw through this.
21st Cyprus – 96 Points
Just too shouty for Europe to pick the phone up. They are not used to rock in this competition and whilst this was a huge slice of schalger tailored rock,


ESC birthdays 20 May – Sing like what I do

Erica

Controversies, we’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention. I hope people haven’t got their underwear in too much of a twist after a certain recent result. It’s only a song contest after all. Yeah, I know, they’ll hunt be down and burn me as a heretic for saying things like that, but get real chaps. And it gives you somewhere cheap to save for. Well, for some of you anyway. And it’s a ‘happy’ accident that the last time the contest was in sunny Kyiv, neighbours Russia sent today’s birthday girl Наталья Подольская/Natalia Podolskaya. She wasn’t even Russian! Natalia is 34 today.

С Днем Рождения, Натали!

 


ESC birthdays 19 May – Chickens from Trondheim

Vision On

Remember the times when we saw Norway competing in a Saturday night final? Back in those heady days of yesteryear. Every year there were there. Except for a few. And to prove what jolly fun some of those Norwegian songs were, here’s from the 1990s when they were without a care in the world. And who is this carefree singer from Norway? Why, it’s Merethe Trøan of course. Merethe is 46 today.

Gratulerer med dagen, Merethe!

 


Monty: Was that just the perfect Eurovision?

And so the dust settles on another Eurovision season. Were it not for the fact that I was at home for most of it I’d say it was damn near a perfect event. Oh, and I suppose there wasn’t really any great songs, but in the end the quality proved steady and consistent, and the TV show itself feels like it might, just might, have moved Eurovision on within popular culture. Oh, and politics played its part too…

Let’s start with Stockholm: I’m yet to hear a substantive negative comment about the city or its hosting. It might even have been the best host city yet in all I have visited. The compact centre and extensive existing tourism means it’s set-up to accommodate plenty of guests and the city went out to welcome its Eurovision visitors.

The support to build the EuroClub venue was phenomenal. I tried to imagine a similar set-up should the UK win and London host (both unlikely scenarios I know, and if the first were to happen I’d much prefer a Eurovision away from the capital anyway): positioning the EuroClub outside the Royal Palace is akin to slapping a Eurovision Marquee down The Mall outside Buckingham Palace. I suppose the spring timing would allow them to keep it up and double with whatever Jubilee The Queen would be celebrating on her official June 2nd birthday, but it’s unlikely to be part of Plan A.

Hats off to the Melodifestivalklubben members who worked with the City to pull off the venue and put on a programme that included opportunities for OGAE fans and the general public to access the hallowed preserve of those with EBU accreditation and enjoy the venue by day, with fans permitted to join the party in the evenings too. Being purpose-designed to provide a private area for artists and delegations was a shrewd move permitting more of them to enjoy the experience without the hassle of us pesky fans. I hope the lessons learned from this can form a blueprint for future Clubs: it’s not always been the best experience in recent years (Vienna, I’m talking about you).

Away from the EuroClub there seemed plenty to do for the public, although leaving early meant I didn’t get the full force of this with the Eurovision Village, Operaterassen or Tele 2 events, but even those lacking accreditation seemed spoilt for choice, with big names accessible at free events throughout the city. I enjoyed too the Swedish love for the Eurovision spirit: niceties like the NK department store window display were a lovely and quirky touch, and the long-engrained embrace of Eurovision and Melodifestivalen opens up genuinely lovely conversations with almost any Swede encountered.

The shows themselves were triumphs: beautifully staged, shot and presented. It was hard to find a song not enhanced by its staging (or at least not the part the producers could help with; the performers’ talents were purely down to them). The set-pieces from the hosts were well considered and delivered with incredible skill and humour. With six shows now under her belt the ever-popular Petra Mede has every right to the title of the Katie Boyle de nos jours, and if – as is quite probable – Sweden equals that seven-win record anytime soon I can see no reason why she wouldn’t be invited back for more.

But this was a competition and the competitive element needs to chime with the audience who want excitement and suspense. Boy, did we get it! Once we got there (a minor gripe that perhaps the voting window was open just a teensy bit long – extended perhaps by a late addition of a superfluous Justin Trousersnake) it certainly delivered! I was wary of the 1 – 10 appearing with only the announcement of the 12, but with a little bit longer on screen to process the first allocation this didn’t feel as rushed as I feared. Perhaps it was the knowledge that we had the new super-powered televote to come? Petra’s no-nonsense style kept us focussed without losing the iconic element of the pan-continental link-up.

The amalgamated televote worked a treat, delivering exactly what it promised. The lower votes were perhaps a little bit quick; the surprise of low votes eliminating countries instantaneously from the running recreated a feeling of the magic of the full announcements where a country would score a 12 from one jury only to get a shock single point as soon as the next commenced, but whilst it was satisfying to see low televotes roll in for the likes of Malta, it was undeniably deflating to see such a quick expulsion of the United Kingdom having built our hopes up for a mid-table finish after the juries. At the other end of the scoreboard the system created all the drama we could have hoped for, right down to the last set of points with the twist of a ‘surprise’ winner and defeat snatched from the jaws of victory for the poor Aussies. A few tweaks to be made from its first execution, but overall I felt the new system to be a most welcome addition.

Of course, the result gave us not just a winner: however much the EBU publicly state this is an apolitical beast the very act of pitting countries with conflicting political agendas against each other in song cannot help but reflect some of the broader socio-political issues of the day, and Jamala lit the musical touch paper and stood well back to watch the display. In keeping with all the best traditions of former Soviet artists she said everything she needed to by not saying what we all knew she meant. In a deft masterstroke of genius, she gave the EBU nothing to claw away from her without forcing an interpretation upon the song. There was no need to boo Russia this year: she allowed those with a conflicted conscience to enjoy Sergey unabashed and boo silently by simply picking up the phone and voting for her.

The aftermath has been priceless: it feels like every Russian dummy has been spat out wholesale along with every last matrioshka tossed from the pram. A futile petition gained fast and short shrift from the EBU. The cries of ‘worst winner ever’ have met equally robust defence in a keyboard war of social media clicktivists. It’s certainly the most divisive winner I can recall, but in no way do I think that’s a bad thing: its lack of hit potential seems insignificant against its broader socio-political consequence in the Eurovision winners’ roll call. It remains to be see what, if any, impact the emergence today of a video (since restricted) which appears to show Jamala perform a version of the song a year ago, and a full three months before the commercial publication deadline, will have, but with a negligible view count I suspect the EBU will deem it not to have had any unfair advantage. The bigger questions involve the capacity of the Ukrainians to stage the show next year in the face of a belligerent – and provoked – neighbour pipped at the very last post.

Same time next year, folks. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

Monty x


Well now i’m home

Well i’m home now Europe, and about time too I hear you cry.

So, what’s left to do…

Well this week i’ll be doing my usual ” Where did your song finish” spiel…. then hopefully getting the site back to a normal look and feel!!

I know you love it 😉

Phil


So, Nicky, Back to the old party line is it. 4

Reader, I read with dismay that Nicky Byrne has decided to trot out the tired party lines in his interview in yesterday’s Irish Times entitled ” I Feel worse than yesterday”.

http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/music/nicky-byrne-i-feel-worse-than-i-did-yesterday-to-be-honest-1.2647359  if you are so inclined but, in case you aren’t, here are some of the highlights.

I thought we delivered a very good performance. I’ve been on stage for 20 years and you know when you’ve nailed it.

My personal favourite :

We were in there with Latvia, Serbia, Lithuania and Belarus amongst others and they all vote for each other to make sure they’re all in the competition on Saturday as a bit of a stand against Russia. So Switzerland, Ireland, Norway and Denmark fall by the way . . . Is it even about the quality of the song anymore? I really don’t know.”

and…

Is he sticking around for the final? No, he says. He has changed his flights and will be flying home on Saturday.”

So, it seems the RTE press machine, or his press machine, have been working overdrive to tell the Irish the narrative that has been doing the rounds for the last few years… The one the Brits have come up with… ” Its all political lads”…  But is it? – Let’s look at it.  HE thinks that the nailed the performance.

Personally, I don’t know if “nailed” in the Nicky Byrne lexicon is the same as mine but if he thinks that not looking at the camera once in three minutes, having a weak voice for a song, not interacting with the viewing public at all and then getting his on stage image wrong is “Nailing it”, then i’m not surprised he was not the lead singer in Westlife.

The song itself was indeed written by people that have helped Westlife in the past, but lets look at some of the lyrics of the chorus shall we?

“Just touch who you wanna
Kiss who you gotta
Fight like we’re winners
Love like beginners
Dance like you mean it
Sing like you feel it”

Yes, cos that doesn’t sound trite at all oh dear me no.  And these people who wrote this are supposed to be seasoned song writers that know a good lyric when they write it? – It begs the question how much of a rush were they in to get the song out if they didn’t bother with the lyric?

Then, just when he can’t justify anything he did on stage any more…. he brings out the tired old ” It’s all political” cliche.   I particularly like the fact that he has neglected to mention that NO Scandic countries qualified and that only TWO Balkan countries qualified… so clearly all their neighbours vote for each other.  In fact, that argument is so weak that it’s tired as hell.  It’s cultural and not political.  If the UK gave points to Ireland, he or his machine won’t be crowing about that will they?

The facts are plain.  The song was weak, sung by a singer that connected with the crowd rather than the television viewer who is 50% of his vote, it’s lyrically trite and unappealing.

If you want someone to blame Nicky, look at the team around you and don’t blame it on everyone else.