Archive for the 'Music' Category

My Alltime Favorite Eurovision Song

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

Eurovision: Why Western European acts fail

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

As Western media cannot seem to shut up about failing at the Eurovision Song Contest once again, I thought I would summarize my points from yesterday and also add some:

1. Eastern Europe used to be fairly united behind the iron curtain and now mainly consists of many small countries that only recently came into existence. Due to their size and lacking economies of scale, they still often share TV & Radio Stations and record labels. They often speak the same language. And their youth speaks better English than their Western European Counterparts (as their TV-show imports from the US are often not dubbed, only subbed). Therefore they culturally still have more in common than they have differences - especially when coming to taste of music.

However, they do not have much of a connection to Western Europe - again thanks to the iron curtain. Therefore it is quite natural that they would tend to vote for their neighboring countries.

Western Europeans need to get away from the idea that everybody hates them - it is simply a song contest and their songs are less popular in Eastern Europe (where the majority of the votes reside).

2. Many Western European countries only take this competition seriously when it comes to the final.

They repeatedly send acts that are not even very successful in their own country - often one has never heard of them before the competition and never hears abut them again after the competition.

Many of the more successful nations have a different approach. Sweden sent Carola Häggkvist to the Eurovision Song Contest three times: in 1983 (3rd), in 1991 (1st) and in 2006 (5th). Wikipedia: “She has been among Sweden’s most popular performers since the early 1980s”

Sweden also sent Charlotte Perrelli back to the Song Contest this year after winning it in 1999. She might have only finished 18th this year, but she still had three times as many points as Germany or the UK.

Russia’s Dima Bilan finished second in 2006 and returned to win it all this year. He’s had several No.1 hits in Russia.

The opportunity to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest still means something to artists in many Eastern European or Scandinavian countries - and the competition is fierce. This cannot be said about the acts coming from the UK, Germany, France or Spain.

It would be interesting to see what would happen if the UK would send Robbie Williams into the competition or if Germany would send either Scooter (recently No.1 Album in the UK) or Rammstein (who could be as successful as Lordi in 2006).

3. There are far more Eastern European (and also Scandinavian) migrants in Western Europe than vice versa - many migrated across Europe to find better jobs and a better life for their families. Thus they can vote for their home country from abroad - and by the way, this is not a conspiracy, they simply enjoy their home country’s music.

4. The migrant factor becomes even more important in the countries that dropped out in the semifinals. Many in those countries will not watch the finals if their act is not competing - thus the migrants (who more often than not will be watching if their home country’s act is still in the race) have an even greater opportunity to influence the votes from abroad in favor of their home country.

5. Expectations are way too high: With 43 entries this year, a country’s average chance of winning is an abyssmal 2.33% - 97.67% of the countries will not win and be terribly dissapointed. Failure is to be expected - and even more so when factoring in all the points above.

6. Nevertheless, I can understand Western Europe’s frustration, it has indeed become far more difficult to win the competition in the past 10 years. However, the real problem - if it is a problem - is that each countries’ votes are equally weighted, no matter whether 70 thousand people live in a country (Andorra) or more than 80 million (Germany). As a result, minority choices have a far greater chance of success. If this is a problem, it needs to be addressed - after all, it’s also an issue within the European Union.

However, can’t we just agree that it’s not about winning, but that it’s the taking part that matters? This contest is about Europe - a bold experiment which needs time and patience.

20 years ago Europe was still in the cold war, and now people are complaining about a song contest? Isn’t that slightly ridiculous?

Eurovision Live Blogging

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

Obviously I was not the only one live blogging the event. Money quote:

I don’t know what’s sadder: (i) I’m watching this. (ii) I’m doing so alone (iii) I’m bothering to live blog.

I guess I could tick all three boxes if I had to, as I was only “virtually” watching (via ICQ) this with my best buddy Tony, who is sitting in Germany.

I wouldn’t call this sad though - blogging is just about putting your thoughts out there for eternity and perhaps even being heard. And obviously I am being heard by a few people as I got some comments during the live blogging…

By the way: I really liked this part:

Best costume change Georgia
Most Bonkers Bosnia or Spain
Worst Tuning Albania
Good spirited fun - Latvia and Croatia
Hairiest Finland (or France’s backing singers)
Most straightforward pop effort Iceland and Greece
Most judicial use of wind machine Albania Portugal
Worst Plastic Surgery Sweden
Happiest ditty Denmark
Trying to tick too many Eurovision Boxes Azerbaijan
Most likely to fail for political reasons UK

We totally agree on Sweden!

Eurovision isn’t as much fun as it used to be in my youth.

Amen to that. But still worth watching!

Kevin’s First Eurovision Live Blog

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

11:13 PM Okeydokey, this completes my live blogging for this evening. It was an interesting event, but nothing that knocked me off my feet (nothing like Lordi two years ago). Nevertheless, what would Lenin and Stalin think if they were alive and discovered that a Russian singer would win a European contest while singing in English - and receiving the majority of his votes from the Eastern Block. Times truly have changed so much in the past 20 years. Good night!

11:10 PM Looks like I did a decent job ranking the performances. I listed

1. Finland
2. Poland
3. Serbia
4. Greece
5. Norway
6. Ukraine

as my Top Six and four of them finished in the Top Six. However, my first two crashed and burned…

Terry Wogan: “You have to say, this is no longer a music contest“. I disagree - it still is a contest, but the voting system is strongly biased (as mentioned earlier) and the votes are focused in Eastern Europe now. A Scandinavian country or Greece might still be able to win it, but otherwise only Eastern European countries will have a chance. However, looking at my ranking, it seems as if I agree with that anyway…

11:03 PM It’s over. Only 4 countries to go, and Russia is leading with 54, with only 48 points available.

10:41 PM Quote of the evening: “Someone is going to win tonight!” - how true! ;-)

10:11 PM Okay, I mentioned the block voting a few times. So here’s my take on it:

I do not think that people are conspiring in their living rooms. Many of the newer participants used to be part of a large countrz and have fairly recently split into smaller parts (see Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia). They continue to share similar tastes - and thus like the music of their neighboring countries.

Furthermore, the Eastern European countries usually send their top acts, while a lot of the countries that complain each year often send acts who cannot even sell records at home. I do not see the UK sending Robbie Williams or any other Western European country sending comparable talent.

Last but not least, many Eastern Europeans and Scandinavians are internationally mobile these days and have migrated across Europe to places where they can find better jobs. Thus they can vote for their country, while countries with lower migration levels do not have this advantage.

The real problem - if there really is a problem - is that each countries’ votes are equally weighted, whether 70 thousand people live there (Andorra) or more than 80 million (Germany). Thus minority choices have a far greater chanced of succeeding than in a free economy.

10:01 PM After seeing them all again, here are my final rankings. I think any of the first six can win:

1. Finland
2. Poland
3. Serbia
4. Greece
5. Norway
6. Ukraine
7. France
8. Azerbaijan
9. Iceland
10. Russia
11. Turkey
12. Croatia
13. UK - update: Originally had them ranked lower, but just heard it again and liked it a lot more.
14. Israel
15. Georgia
16. Portugal
17. Armenia
18. Spain
19. Sweden
20. Bosnia - update: Originally had them ranked lower, but just heard it again and liked it a lot more.
21. Germany
22. Latvia
23. Denmark
24. Albania
25. Romania

9:48 PM Norway - the final song of the contest. Nice to look at, easy to listen to. Would be a chart hit if it were sung by someone famous. My No.4 together with Ukraine and Greece.

9:44 PM Russia: I’ve heard this was produced by Timbaland. Let’s see what he did with it… Doesn’t work for me. It’s an okay song, but nothing special. Even with Jewgeny Plushenko dancing around.

9:40 PM Serbia:The host entry… I like it, could do with some pan flute. It’s something different. I’m ranking this No.1 together with Finland and Poland.

9:37 PM Spain:This just might be the worst song of the evening. But that does make it funny…

9:33 PM Greece: Tony and I agree: Punjabi MC. At least the beginning. This girl is also a babe - and then some. Song is not bad. Am ranking it 3rd together with Ukraine

9:29 PM Azerbaijan’s first Eurovision entry. I like it. Tony doesn’t. The show is a little over the top, but the song is not bad. My new No.5

9:26 PM France has entered “The Big Lebowski” into the contest. He certainly looks like “The Dude”. His background singers certainly have interesting facial hair as well. Song is not bad. My new No.4

9:21 PM Ukraine: One thing’s certain, she’s a babe and a half. Song has power, she’s got a little Paris Hilton in her (which is actually good for this show). My new No.3.

Updated Ranking:

1. Finland
1. Poland
3. Ukraine
4. Iceland
5. Turkey
6. Croatia
7. Israel
8. Georgia
9. Portugal
10. Armenia
11. UK
12. Sweden
13. Germany
14. Latvia
15. Denmark
16. Albania
17. Romania
18. Bosnia

9:17 PM Georgia: Did she escape from “The Matrix”? Don’t like the dancers. Song is okay, though…

9:12 PM Denmark: Can’t get excited about this. Too one-dimensional.

9:09 PM Sweden: poor person’s version of Bonnie Tyler. Nothing special. Tony thinks she’s had a face lift. I think she’s a transsexual. Don’t get me wrong, totally have no problem with transsexuals. Just think she might have had that kind of an operation…

9:04 PM Latvia is also going 90s. Reminds me of “Captain Jack” (not Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean but a MC from the mid-90s). Never liked Captain Jack, don’t like this either. Boring.

9:01 PM Portugal sounds a bit like “Hijo de la Loona” - but the refrain is not as good. However, I like the voices. there’s loads of passion, but little power and no melody. Tony: “Next one, please”. New No.7

8:56 PM Turkey - Tony: “Boring Rock Song”. I agree. Nevertheless, I like Rock, so this is my new No.4. It’s not been a stunning contest so far.

8:53 PM Terry Wogan just commented on Iceland being sure to get votes from Denmark and the other Scandinavian countries. He’s probably right. Will comment on block voting during the results stage.

8:51 PM Iceland sent a pink version of Scooter. Oh, and a blond chick. Not bad at all. Very 90s, but I like the 90s. I’m actually enjoying this a bit. New No.3

8:48 PM Some real sun studio eye-candy from Poland. But those teeth are so white they would probably blind me… There’s some passion in her song. My joint No.1 with Finland. Will make up my mind later.

8:44 PM Croatia: Looking forward to seeing them at the Euro 2008 next month - thanks for kicking out England! This guy reminds me of Udo Lindenberg. This is fun - my new No.2.

My new ranking:

1. Finland
2. Croatia
3. Israel
4. Armenia
5. UK
6. Germany
7. Albania
8. Romania
9. Bosnia

8:40 PM Finland just stormed my chart - No.1 - Excellent! Remind me of Hereos del Silencio or Iron Maiden, as Tony reminds me.. Finland must be a great country. I’ve already blogged about their education system, they sent Lordi two years ago, and now this…

8:34 PM Israel is next. They’re usually pretty good. This year’s entry written by Dana International, who won about 10 years ago. Tony and I agree - there’s real passion in this song. My new No.2

8:31 PM Bosnia: Sounds like a German Song from the 80s: Markus’ “Ich will Spass”. Tony says it could have been cool with English lyrics and a “serious” performance. But we’re ranking it last…

8:27 PM Armenia: Tony and I agree: she’s definitely a babe. Song’s okay, nothing special, but she has power in her voice. My new No.1 so far. It reminded me of Vanessa Amorosi’s “Absolutely Everybody” at the very beginning…

My ranking so far:
1. Armenia
2. UK
3. Germany
4. Albania
5. Romania

8:23 PM Now Germany’s act: No Angels. Gee, they have aged - they need a lot of make-up to hide it. Again a lack of passion… UK was more fun, but better than the other two…

My ranking so far:
1. UK
2. Germany
3. Albania
4. Romania

8:20 PM Once again I fail to feel her passion. I even switched over to my Dolby Digital System to see if it’s the TV. It feels artificial. Tony calls it “nasal”. Still better than Romania.

My ranking so far:
1. UK
2. Albania
3. Romania

8:16 PM Albania’s up next…

8:14 PM UK’s turn now. I’ve been living in this country for more than 15 months now, but I’ve never heard or seen this guy before. Either I am totally out of touch with pop culture, or I probably will not hear about him again after this contest. Tony says it feels “forced” and I totally agree - you can’t feel any passion. Nevertheless an improvement on Romania…

8:11 PM This isn’t working for me. Neither for Tony - his comment: “this cannot continue, otherwise I’ll fall asleep”.

8:08 PM Romania starts this year’s competition…

8:06 PM I hope she enjoyed it. It’s highly likely that this was the last peak in her international career. Eurovision winners usually remain one-hit-wonders - at least outside their country/region…

8:03 PM last year’s winner now on the stage. It reminds me of some song, but I just can’t get which one…

7:58 PM It will be interesting to see what is said about the Eastern European Block Voting - I’ll have a few words on that later as well…

7:54 PM I have to say, I am really looking forward to Terry Wogan’s commentary - he was amazingly cynical last year and highly entertaining…

7:49 PM Okay folks, I’ll be commencing my all-evening Eurovision Live Blog in just a few minutes…

Announcement: Eurovision Live Blogging

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Just realized that the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest will be on tomorrow evening. As I actually quite enjoy the contest and score the participants every year, I have decided to share my scores via live-blogging. Have never done that before, so it should be quite interesting (for me ;-) ).