The Eurovision Camp Factor – II

Well, another Eurovision has come and gone. Portugal’s Salvador Sobral won everyone over with his passionate love song, “Amar Pelos Dios”.

But of course, no one watches it for the songs, right? You all want to see wacky staging and crazy costumes!

A few weeks ago, I posted a “Eurovision Camp Factor” scale, setting up scores from 1 (a basic, straightforward performance) to 10 (way over the top in everything). How did the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest turn out?

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Eurovision: The Camp Factor

Another Eurovision approaches, and commentators here in the US are, if they talk about Eurovision at all, will often bring up the “campiness” of the proceedings, and go on in a snarky attitude about how silly the whole thing is.

While it’s true that the show has been campy in the past (thanks in part to scoring rules that tended to favor spectacle), and still gets there occasionally, the acts you see are more like those who would appear as the musical guest on a late night talk show. The performances aren’t really different than what you’d expect to see for an act with a similar career arc (a few years in the business with an album or two under their belt) at a similar venue.

If you insist on watching the show for the campiness and not for the great number of fine performances, here’s a handy 1 – 10 scale for judging the Camp Factor of a performance (with examples from the past five years of Eurovision). There’s no “zero” score (or “nil points”, to use the Eurovision term) for campiness. Simply by association, you get a bit of campiness rubbed off on you.

(lots of embedded videos after the jump)

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Random Thoughts from Eurovision 2016

No Love for the Czech Republic? Gabriela Gunčíková got gornischt from the televoters. This was the first year that the C.R. made the cut for the finals, and although “I Stand” got some points (41) from the jurors, not a single country’s televoters saw fit to toss them a point or two. I suspect that this was due to the flat and uninspired staging. The song was fine, her performance was fine, but there was nothing in the staging to help Miss Gunčíková stand out. No fireworks, no light-up costume, no backup dancers, no cool graphics or lighting. In a competition this intense, you can’t afford to miss any aspect of the performance.

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So, How’d They Do?

Thanks to the new method for announcing the scores, it came down to the very end. Only forty-three points separated the Top Three. Here’s the Top Ten, and the predictions from my post last time:

ACTUAL
RESULTS
Bookies EurovisionTops ESCape Wiwibloggs
1. Ukraine Russia France France  Russia
2. Australia Ukraine Russia Russia  France
3. Russia France Spain Australia  Bulgaria
4. Bulgaria Sweden Bulgaria Spain  Iceland
5. Sweden Australia Hungary Ukraine  Croatia
6. France Malta Australia Croatia  Australia
7. Armenia Armenia Croatia Bulgaria  Ukraine
8. Poland Israel Latvia Latvia  Spain
9. Lithuania Italy Italy Italy  Malta
10. Belgium United Kingdom Azerbaijan Hungary  Cyprus

Looks like the bookies had it best, but even so, they had quite a few misses in the Top Ten. Everyone overrated France, YouTubers blew it on Ukraine, and the expert fans at Wiwibloggs…. Well, let’s hope no one lost too much money on the outcome…..

I’ll have some personal thoughts and observations in my next post.

Eurovision 2016 – The Predictions

The rehearsals are all done; the first semi-finals are tomorrow.

Now’s a good time to take a look and see what songs are predicted to win Eurovision this year. I’m going to go by country names and not song titles or artists, because that’s what everyone else does. I know it’s not really fair to them, but that’s the way it is.

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Eurovision 2016

It’s probably expected that anyone writing for a mostly American audience explain what the world’s largest song competition is about when discussing Eurovision.

So….

Think of “March Madness”, the national college basketball championship tournament. Picture the fan following, the media coverage, the statistical analyses, and even the betting. Now imagine that instead of basketball, it’s all about a “Battle of the Bands”.

That’s what Eurovision is like in Europe.
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Final Thoughts on Eurovision 2015

The kitsch / camp / cheese factor that the contest has been known for seems to have vanished this year. There were no truly bizarre costumes or “WTF?” staging. The UK’s Electro Volta did have light-up costumes, but given their music video, something like that was to be expected. Same thing for the “air violin” woman with Slovenia’s Maraaya.

Even though there are breaks in the show where one could insert commercials or sponsorship announcements, I don’t think we’ll ever see it on TV in the US. No network, even a cable one, is going to want to sacrifice four hours on a Saturday afternoon without being able to get advertising dollars; and the European Broadcasting Union is not going to alter their format for a country that isn’t part of the festivities anyway.

People take it WAAAAY too seriously. Oh no! Did a malfunctioning smoke machine hurt Nina Sublatti’s (Georgia) chances? France says their poor showing is an “injustice” and are thinking of withdrawing next year!* How could the juries have scored Italy so low when the song was so awesome? An Australian juror knows one of the people who wrote Russia’s entry!!! SCANDAL!  Jeez. It’s just a song contest. The biggest in the world, to be sure, but still a song contest. It doesn’t decide which countries get to be part of the EU or anything really important. If you really want something to complain about, ask yourself why San Marino (population 32,000) and Malta (population 446,000) have as much influence on the results as France (population 64 million) and Germany (population 80 million). Chill out, and instead of whining about the unfairness of it all, just go out and buy the music from your favorite artists.

* The performance was very impressive, and the song in and of itself was quite good, but it probably wasn’t a good idea to bring a song that was essentially a memorial to war dead to Europe’s biggest party….

While it is OK to make a little fun of the singers, I wonder if the UK would do better if they weren’t so snarky and condescending about the whole thing.

All the songs – even those that don’t make it to the final, or those that get the dreaded “Nil Points”, are actually pretty good. Even at their worst, they are still worth a listen or two.

Eurovision 2015 – Part 4

The first round is just a week away. The performance order in semi-finals is set, the stage is built, rehearsals are underway… There’s only one question left to answer. Why does the United Kingdom keep sending such rubbish acts? To read the comments from the UK, it’s either that complaint or a snobbish comment that the entire competition is utterly beneath them.

The real question, of course, is who will win….

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Eurovision 2015 – Part 3

Here are my initial reactions to the seven entrants who get an automatic pass to the Finals. They are the “Big Five” (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK) who are the largest contributors to the European Broadcasting Union, the host country (Austria, this year), and Special Guest Entrant Australia.

At first glance (and probably second and third, too), there are way too many “power ballads” this year. Very few of the songs stand out. One would think that with forty songs, there’d be much more variety.

Especially when you consider what we’ve seen in the past two years (“Cake to Bake“, “No Prejudice“, “Calm After the Storm“, “My Słowianie“, and “Cheesecake” from 2014; and “Kedvesem“, “Tomorrow“, “Alcohol is Free“, “It’s My Life“, and “Marry Me” from 2013).

Anyway, here’s the rest of 2015:

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Eurovision 2015 – Part 2

Before getting to my initial thoughts on the entrants in the Second Semi-Final, I’ve got a bit of a gripe.

A lot of Eurovision fans are writing blog posts or presenting lists titled “My Top 40”. In previous years, it’s been “My Top 37” or something similar. As it happens, this year there are 40 entrants in the contest. So picking a “Top 40” is telling us absolutely nothing. Picking a “Top X” out of a list with X items in it is pointless. You are basically saying that you like all of the songs. Instead, call your list what it is: “My Eurovision Rankings”. And why not go a step further? Be like the judges, and pick your ten favorites from each semi-final, and then do a ranking of those 20 songs plus the ones with an automatic spot in the final round.

Anyway… here’s the YouTube playlist for the second semi-final, then my notes.

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