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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Eurovision 2015 – Part 1

It’s time once again for the world’s biggest song contest. This year, because Eurovision fans Down Under physically relocated Australia to the North Sea during last year’s show, that nation will be considered a “special one-time-only guest member of the European Broadcasting Union” and will be allowed to participate.

That brings the total number of participating countries to 40.

The “official” music videos have all been released, and are on YouTube for you to watch and make fun of.

I’m no music critic, nor do I really follow current trends in European pop music. So I cannot really comment on the songs.

But I can give my thoughts on the videos…

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Thoughts on Eurovision 2014

Well, I went and did it. I watched every single one of the official videos for the entrants, watched the first Semi-Final online a little while after it was broadcast, watched the second Semi-Final live online (at work – don’t tell anyone!), and the Grand Final live online at home.

It didn’t *quite* live up to my exepctations – because from what I’ve read, there was a lot more kitschiness to be expected.

Nonetheless, I was still entertained.

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European Idol

Right now, we’re in the thirteenth season of American Idol. A few weeks from now, the 58th annual Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Copenhagen.

For those of you unfamiliar with it, the Contest started out as a way to promote television across Europe. Member nations of the European Broadcasting Union send one musical act each to the competition, and the winner is chosen by a combination of a panel of judges and viewer votes. It’s different from American Idol in that it’s open to groups as well as individual artists, and the artists are already professionals. It’s something like an international “Battle of the Bands”. Also, it’s the song that’s being judged, not the artist.

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