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People always say 'Tom, this has gone too far!'
May 23, 2010 at 02:50:56
A number of you that know me probably know that I've been watching the
Eurovision Song Contest for
pretty much all of my natural life. SBS-TV here have been screening
a delayed broadcast of that infamous Contest where kitsch is king
ever since then, my family and I have been cheering on Yugoslavia
 and (when that country
disintegrated into seven million pieces) Croatia. So you could say
that I've been a long-time fan of Eurovision.
What most of you probably don't know is that, ever since 2008, I
have been listening to each of the finalists' songs from each of the
forty-odd countries that now participate each year ,
so that I could familiarise myself with the songs well before the
actual finals take place and so I could have a crack at trying to
gauge who the winner might potentially be. After all, most people in
Europe have already heard the songs long before the Contest and hence
have some idea as to who will win, especially if an entrant has been
heavily promoted beforehand . Also,
despite what people say about the predictability of the voting patterns
each year (if the Greeks don't give "douze points" to the Cypriot
entry and vice versa, then Benedict XVI is not Catholic), you can
never be sure of who is going to win each year .
Unlike Terry Wogan,
I haven't lost faith. I live in (naive) hope that,
amongst the chaff, there will be three minutes of (comparative) musical
heaven, so the Contest still holds my interest to this day.
This year, however, I've done two things differently. Firstly, I refused
to listen to each song following the announcement of each country's
"Song for Europe"  until I had
collected all of them, so that I could listen to them for the first
time in one sitting, in order to make choosing my favourite(s) fairer. Secondly,
just a few days before the scheduled start of the Contest on Tuesday
the 25th of May, I went through each of this year's songs, made a
few comments on them, and published them online for you to read ;)
What to make of this year's 39 entries,
or just over two hours worth
of music, if played back-to-back, which is significantly less than
the eight-or-so hours in total of the three nights of the Contest that
features, in addition to the on-stage performances of the songs, "postcards",
interval acts, forced, awkward banter between the invariably male and
female presenters whose first language is neither English nor French
(that is charming in its own way) and, of course, the voting. Well, to
tell you the truth, after listening to all of the songs several times, no
one entry really stands out for me. No surprises, but that's what you get
when you aim for middle-of-the-road, as is the case for most Eurovision
entries most years.
There are, of course, a few songs that I like:
As for songs that I don't particularly like:
- Eva Rivas'
"Apricot Stone" has
a nice ethnic flavour and an incredibly catchy hook for a chorus and
the song is really about Rivas' homeland, since the apricot is the Armenian
- Belgium's Tom Dice and his gentle ballad
"Me and My Guitar", which
probably won't make it to the final (shame), is all about following
your dreams despite the odds.
- I like the quirkiness of Germany's
entry (good to see a
country is trying) and Lena Meyer-Landrut's distinct enunciation in her
song "Satellite" -- she's
amongst the bookie's favourites and a better chance than Azerbaijan in my
opinion (see below).
- Now, Denmark. Before I had even heard a single
note of Chanee and N'Evergreen's song
"In a Moment Like This"
I knew exactly how the chorus would sound. Then, as I was listening
to the song, surprised that I managed to predict the chorus, I said to
myself "Key change at the end. Big finish. Definitely." and lo and behold
there was a key change! For its utter predictability, I love this song. It
doesn't stand a chance in hell, though.
- Kuunkuiskaajat add some much-needed
traditional folk culture amongst the overwhelming sea of pop and
schlager with their upbeat ditty
(One lives by working). Unfortunately, since Finnish is a weird language completely
unrelated to most other European languages (it's not even classified
as "European"), it too doesn't stand a chance. Maybe it'll get to the
final as a jury-selected wildcard entry if it's lucky.
- The French are also
another Big Four nation trying this year, by capitalising on
the FIFA World Cup taking place next month with Jessy Matador's soccer
anthem "Allez! Ola! Ole!.
Will their gamble pay off or will Europe see through their blatant
exploitation of a song and award it "nul points"?
- InCulto's ska-esque
song "Eastern European Funk"
is quite a hidden gem. If you've resisted the urge to "get up and dance"
as the chorus suggests, you might've noticed the politically-charged
lyrics. Lithuania might very well have joined the EU in 2004, yet --
according to InCulto -- are still being treated as "second class
citizens". It'll be in the final, not because of the lyrics, though.
- Slovenia's entry, Zlindra and Kalamari and their song
(People's Celebratory Rock, or simply (and less literally) Folk Rock)
seems to me like an attempt at recreating a typical Yugoslav entry from
the 80s. It's friggin' awful - it won't win - yet I like its kitschiness
and that's what Eurovision's all about, isn't it?
Apparently, for some bizarre reason, the favourite at the time of
writing with the bookies is Safura's
"Drip Drop" (Azerbaijan).
It's not a terrible song by any means - definitely one of the better
ones - but it doesn't really do much for me. Besides, I just can't
imagine the contest being held in Baku next year. Then again, I was
surprised when Sertab Erener won it in 2003 and it was quite a mind-blowing
experience getting used to the notion that the Contest would be held
in Turkey (of all places!) for the first time in 2004, so you never
know...Sweden's entry "This is my life"
by Anna Bergendahl will probably
do well, yet it's another song that does little for me.
...and the rest I'm rather indifferent to, as they haven't really grabbed
my attention in any way. I neither like them nor dislike them. I'd be well
surprised if they make it past the semi-final stage.
So...who's gonna win? I dunno. I'm no clairvoyant, astrologer, bookmaker
or actuary . All I've done was tell you
which songs I like and which ones I don't and perhaps suggest which songs
have a chance of winning or coming close. Take from that what you will. Put a few
bets on my favourites, if you like (if it's legal in your country). The only thing
I can predict with great certainty is my whereabouts next Friday,
Saturday and Sunday evenings -- on the couch, watching Eurovision, enjoying
the "best" vocal talent Europe has to offer. Join me!
I've gone back to footnotes -- it's the only way for me...
 and other smart-arsed remarks we've all heard before since no-one
has been able to come up with a unique way to disparage Eurovision since
nineteen-dickety-seven (I say "dickety", because the Kaiser stole our
word "twenty" - Simpsons joke ;)
 the ONLY communist country to have regularly participated in
Eurovision. Early on in the picture, Tito told Stalin to
(one of the few people brave enough to do that), so his little
"communist paradise" refused to hide behind the Iron Curtain and consequently
had many dealings with Western Europe -- trade, tourism, televised song
contests -- you name it.
 oh, to return to the days when there were just twenty (dickety!) or so
countries participating and the Contest ran for one night only. Simpler times.
Then both an actual and a metaphorical wall fell...madness ensued.
 e.g. the winner of ESC 2005, Greece's
Elena Paparizou, who might very well have been pleasing to mine eye,
but I was most underwhelmed by her song
"My Number One". I really
wanted Norway's Wig Wam and their Bon Jovi-inspired number
"In My Dreams" to win.
Alas, it wasn't to be...
 e.g. Lordi's "Hard Rock Hallelujah"
was about as un-Eurovision as you could get. It was
a breath of fresh air the Contest needed and, deservedly, the Contest
took place in Finland for the first time in 2007.
 all the songs are chosen in many and varied ways by
each country, be it via a national contest similar to ESC or by internal
selection by the national public broadcaster -- none of which are chosen at
the exact same time, but most are chosen by mid-March.
 professional prediction-makers from biggest bullshit artists to smallest,
left to right.
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- I know that - as someone of a Croatian background - I am "supposed"
to both like and support "my country's" entry, regardless of
its or the performers' musical or artistic merit. To act otherwise
would be treason, yet I can't, for the life of me, bring myself
to like Feminnem's "Lako Je Sve"
(Everything's Easy). It just doesn't grab me by the balls, I'm sorry.
- Oh, and Mr. Har'el Ska'at from Israel? Nice song there about words
(hence the title "Milim"). Too
bad it depresses me. No song in a predominantly minor key (i.e. the
"depressing key") has ever won - or ever will win - Eurovision. Well, at
least you're not singing about "the conflict" unlike
two years before that...
- Netherlands - just as awful this year as last year. Nothing else to say.
- Serbia - your turbofolk is getting tiresome and - no offence -
but "Ovo Je Balkan"
(These are the Balkans) is a lame title. No, I'm not
having a go at you because of my background - most of us have moved on
from "all that". I actually liked your song
last year. Too bad it didn't
qualify for the final.
- And finally, the United Kingdom. You blow me away
last year with
an Andrew Lloyd-Webber composed piece and a sublime performance
by Jade Ewen, filling me with hope that maybe -
just maybe - you actually want to host Eurovision again like you did in
the olden days many times. You redeemed yourself in my eyes. I was proud
of you. Then you go and disappoint me this year with....this piece of
garbage. Josh Dubovie claims
"That Sounds Good To Me". Well, to
put it as politely as possibly (because I want to 'keep it PG') your song
"sounds abominably horrible to me"! Nul points for you, sir.
Tomislav "Tom" Bozic
a "recovering hikikomori"
and "Croatian mirepoix"
was born on
14th Iyyar 5744, or
27th Floréal CXCII
and spends most of his time within the
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
(the rest shall be revealed in due course...)