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Dean Whitbread 2013

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Written on May 17, 2009, and categorized as Television.
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I watched television with 100 million people last night – Eurovision, where music competes across borders, a strange orgy of entertainment which is at least better than war. Norway will be very happy today, having won the contest the day before their National Day. Considering that the world is in a pit of economic despair, Russia’s lavish, no expense spared production did an amazing job of lifting 100 million people out of their depression for one evening.

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The joy of the Eurovision Song Contest is the clash of cultures as each country attempts to produce a song which other entirely dissimilar countries will like, and the only way to enjoy this camp festival of fun is to not take it seriously, but with 42 countries competing for the right to host the next show, thousands of television hours in every country, and lots of cash for everyone taking part, of course, it is completely serious.

This year was a revised Eurovision, rescued somewhat from the partisan voting which means countries vote fot their neighbours by arriving at the results via a combination of 50% audience telephone voting and 50% “expert panels” – though the make up of the panels was anything but clear. Alternative commentary from Ewan Spence in Moscow via audio recorded at the Final Dress rehearsal and Twitter added to our enjoyment. Even bewildered Americans were dragged into watching the three hour show via internet.

snufkin32This year like many previous years, most songs were centred on the circus / fairground musical thread which binds Europe together. The beat of Eurodisco which predominates derives far more from oom-pah bands than Detroit. Despite this lowest common denominator and a tendency for hilariously bombastic stagecraft, standards ranged from the instantly forgettable to the sublime.

Norway’s Fairytale song won hands down. Written and performed by a 23 year old Snufkin look-alike, with the sonority and harmonic cadences to appeal to east and west, it struck a chord across ethnically and musically diverse Europe. Jade and Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s UK entry did passably well, but with a rather understated stage show, and a song modern and American in style, the UK would never win.

My personal favourite for straight musical reasons was Iceland’s entry, sung by Yohanna, notable for a strong, uplifting vocal melody, chiming harmonies and classic pop-rock structure. Lyrically it was remarkably similar to the winner – his a fairy tale, hers a fantasy – typical recession fare – unsurprising in these troubled economic times.

I think this song is somehow reminiscent of Tasmin Archer’s big hit, Sleeping Satellite. What do you think?

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This thing has 3 Comments

  1. Posted 17 May, 2009 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    As I twittered last night ; “Can anyone remind me of the relevance of the Eurovision song contest…Any clarification would be welcomed…” “Eurovision Song Contest is to popular music, as karaoke is to live music. It’s a total throw back to an age best forgotten.”

  2. Posted 18 May, 2009 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Being on the wrong continent, I missed watching this. I enjoyed Ewan’s tweets about it, some of which prompted me to hit the ‘net to search out some of the performers on YouTube in the hopes of discovering some new, wonderful, “out of the box” artist to embrace. Sadly, I was disappointed. Most of what I was able to find was little more than homogenized fluff. I was really hoping for something unique. Norway’s pretty boy winner, however, does play a fun bit of fiddle (I did enjoy that, but still could only make it halfway through the song before becoming bored and moving on to something else). I do agree that Iceland’s entry is much better lyrically (and appeals to my inner adolescent), but still felt very contrived and generic to me. My daughter would love both.

    And yes, it does sound like “Sleeping Satellite” but not quite as good.

  3. Posted 18 May, 2009 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    That pear gives me a chubby.

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