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More songs for Europe May 15, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Caught the last half of the Eurovision final on Saturday night. It never changes, it never stays the same. I’ve no particular hostility to it, more a bemusement at the whole thing. This is even though way back in 2008 I wrote on this site that although I can’t stand much/all of the music, I came away sorry that I hadn’t seen the whole thing (Eurovision and camp…). And that still held true fourteen years later.

Marty Whelan on RTÉ sounded in better health than he had last year (Songs for Europe). I decided to avoid most of the voting and felt all the better for it. I don’t need to be stressed out over the placing of songs that I won’t remember tomorrow, or come to think of it today. 

If you’d asked me hand on heart to say what song I least disliked it would probably be Norway’s which was no great shakes. If you asked me which I most disliked it would probably be the affably sung one from Britain which seemed to reference no end of other songs – Bowie and Babylon Zoo in there in the mix. Bar the strange electro-pop and sub-metal efforts or odd tilts at folk every year now seems to throw up (and just on that, Serbia?), I have a real dislike for stuff which is rock or glam or whatever lite which the British song seemed to typify entirely. Eurovision seems to be really about the grand gestures or the odd bit of a pop sensibility. Anything in between seems destined to fail. 

No great surprise then that Britain came in second to Ukraine. No great surprise Ukraine came in first. It was a spectacle.

Maybe next year a live thread would be entertaining because I have to admit there was some entertainment value in the whole thing.

Comments»

1. crocodileshoes - May 15, 2022

10 days ago in the pub my nephew was collecting for a Ukraine charity. Half-joking, I said they must be a shoo-in for the Eurovision and we should back them to double our money. The charity has done well, though not without some nerves last night as Ukraine were only fourth after the jury round.

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WorldbyStorm - May 15, 2022

I did wonder at that pint would they win it or would factors other than sympathy kick in!

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2. Krista Marson - May 15, 2022

I keep trying to watch clips of it in the US and get the “this video can’t be viewed in your country” response. grrr.

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WorldbyStorm - May 15, 2022

You could try a browser with a built in VPN. Might work. YouTube doesn’t have some of the highlights?

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3. Wes Ferry - May 15, 2022

ThIs quip from a Scottish Greens MSP (and Eurovision fan) on the Ukraine votes upset some top Tories.

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4. Tomboktu - May 15, 2022

The joke I saw last night is what do Russia and Britain have in common?
Being beaten by Ukraine.

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5. mal - May 15, 2022

I had fun watching the Eurovision this year – it’s a good excuse for having friends over and throwing a bit of a party. Nonetheless I found it difficult to draft this comment because it’s hard to discuss all the different aspects of Eurovision without either sounding like you’re taking it far, far too seriously or like you’ve guilelessly bought into the propaganda/marketing of the event runners. Like the Olympics, it’s a strange meeting of capitalists, nation states and the media, all for an event that claims to be motivated by high principles and noble political neutrality but has no tolerance for dissent. See? I take it far, far too seriously. For a counterpoint, I’ll say that I thought the UK’s effort was pretty good, not a winner but a decent effort from a country that just last year scored nul points from either the jury or the public. If Ukraine got sympathy votes then so surely did the UK – who may end up hosting it if we’re all still alive in a year’s time as it seems unlikely the Ukraine will have the basic infrastructure to do it by then.

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WorldbyStorm - May 15, 2022

“I found it difficult to draft this comment because it’s hard to discuss all the different aspects of Eurovision without either sounding like you’re taking it far, far too seriously or like you’ve guilelessly bought into the propaganda/marketing of the event runners.” I had a similar problem writing the post – it’s a real example of a butterfly on a wheel albeit an armour plated and unusually aggressive and problematic butterfly.

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6. Phil - May 16, 2022

I don’t understand the hostility, frankly. I don’t know how much the EBU does these days apart from the ESC, but it seems pretty much a good thing. As for the ESC, as far as I’m concerned it’s three nights of different and interesting takes on the three-minute pop song, with some styles reflecting national preferences and others rooted in the history of the contest itself, and others again that seem to come out of nowhere. And if you don’t like an act, another one will be along in… well, three minutes.

Five songs* that are still going round and round in my head, three days after the final, are

– a moody piano ballad reminiscent of Broken Bells, with lyrics midway between “Take me to the River” and “Pyramid Song” (redemption or suicide note?)
– an unclassifiable combination of angular prog (intro), minimal house (verse) and blissed-out psychedelia (chorus); the Cardiacs on E**
– a torch song about an inevitable break-up, with vocals threatening to get lost as a pounding dance track builds
– a song about missing someone or something, sung in four-part harmony over an ambient backing of keyboards and handclaps
– a turbo-folk celebration of a new railway line with the immortal chorus “Hey! Ho! Let’s go! Folklore and rock’n’roll!

I wouldn’t expect a lot of enthusiasm for the UK on this blog, but this year’s entry was pretty good (and it’s been a very long time since I could say that). A soaring, exultant ballad about the moment when depression lifts enough for you to realise how unhappy you’ve been – what’s not to like?

There was some generic “Eurovision” material too, even in the final, but there was a huge range of styles and some proper songwriting – and a lot of very different performers really going for it. It was a really good year for Eurovision, and on that basis I unironically like it a lot. (And yes, Ukraine got the solidarity vote – depriving the UK of an otherwise deserved win – but so they should. Whether it’s going to be staged in Kyiv next year – let alone Mariupol, which apparently Zelenskyy has suggested – is a different question.)

*Poland, Georgia**, Sweden, Portugal, Moldova
**Didn’t make the final, but well worth checking out on YouTube (“Circus Mircus”)

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WorldbyStorm - May 16, 2022

Yeah, that’s a great overview. Don’t think there is any hostility any longer. It’s beaten down everyone’s defences. And you’ve a real point re there being something for everyone. Good selection too that you have running through your head after the event.

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mal - May 16, 2022

The songs have been very good the last few years. I didn’t think the UK deserved a win (although they did deserve a nice high spot on the leaderboard) and Moldova’s song set my teeth on edge. I thought Ukraine had a very strong song this year, their song last year was good too. Australia had the best costume despite a fairly boring song.

The EBU’s wikipedia page is not super informative about what they actually do, besides running a whole host of Eurovision-style competitions I’ve never heard of. I will say though that the EBU’s decisions about what is acceptable and unacceptable from competitors seems fairly bizarre, perhaps even biased. Russia was rightfully excluded from the Eurovision this year, but Israel has been a long-time competitor and has hosted three times, twice in Jerusalem. Francoist Spain was also allowed to compete back in the day, while more recently the government of Azerbaijan was accused of various human rights abuses in the lead up to their turn hosting in 2012. Eurovision is like the Olympics in that it’s a genuinely enjoyable spectacle, but not politically neutral

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7. John O Brien - May 16, 2022

The UK song was rubbish in my opinion. I think the jury voting should be abolished. It didn’t reflect the public mood.

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