Oh the glorious sounds of shiny, happy, synth-washed musical excess.
Sounding like the aural equivalent of a deep dive into a candy shop full of bright stripy candy canes, sugar0dusted jubes, and luminously colourful boiled lollies, Empire of the Sun’s Ice on the Dune summons the kind of joyful exuberance and lost-in-the-moment bliss I thought lost to childhood.
Far from being the icy confection that its title, and cover art suggests, it is a warm, vibrant collection of four-to-the-floor songs that, while tending to sound just a little too similar to each other at times, all bowing to varying to the same 80s god of retro-electro pop, nevertheless leads you into rapturously gooey warm and fuzzy giant-smiley-face territory.
And frankly that isn’t a bad thing, trust me.
Granted it may not be quite as ground breaking as 2008′s Walking on a Dream but Luke Steele (The Sleepy Jackson, he of the dramatic white eyes and towering flowery silver face mask, and Mike Littlemore (Pnau) but what it may lack in outright exciting originality, it makes up for in songs that soar, and swoop, rich with exultant melodies and airy, falsetto vocals that sound as otherworldly as the mythos underpinning their latest effort.
Yes, this ethereal bunch of feel happy tunes – it is near impossible to listen to the anthemic shout-out-loud lead single “Alive” or the jump-up-and-down bounce of “Celebrate” or the haunting Belinda Carlisle-esque “I’ll Be Around” with its whispered, rich harmonies, and not grin like a divinely-attired madman – comes with it’s own slightly loopy but charming reason for being and it’s as grandiose as the songs themselves.
According to Luke Steele, who has yet to meet an eccentric artistic statement he didn’t like (a blessing in a modern pop landscape where we need the unusual and left-of-centre more than ever), Ice on the Dune is all “about how the Emperor’s head-dress is stolen by The King Of Shadows, bringing chaos to the world”.
It doesn’t matter if that nonsensical very short story is little more than a broadly themed excuse for outrageous costumes, shimmery bright pop and a flamboyant onstage presence; Ice on the Dunes is an album that proudly wears its candy-coated shiny, over the top pop stylings proudly, and having its very own fantastical theme is merely the bright red glacé cheery on an enormously sweet, gloriously camp pop cake.
I plan on having as large a slice as possible, as often as I can, ridiculously happy grin very much in place, thanking the candy gods that Empire of the Sun isn’t afraid to go all out in pursuit of quirky, uplifting pop perfection.
Drawing on influences as diverse as dance, pop and R’n'B, and utilising well a voice that is languorous, rich and nuanced, the talented Portland-based singer/songwriter/vocalist creates songs that aren’t easily pigeonholed into a particular genre.
And that is no doubt why I have found her music and in particular her latest track, “Idiot Proof”, which is the forerunner to her second LP Crisis due on 18 June, such a delight.
One of my all time favourite music blogs PigeonsandPlanes described this sensuous song best when they wrote:
“… the track builds from a gyroscopic synth base, slowly adding a skittery synth jolt and then floods her jazzy, thick vocals over the top.”
It is utterly unique, the sort of song that you don’t forget easily.
And if you’re anything like I am with new songs I adore, one you don’t stop playing in a hurry either.
There is a certain sense of enigma to this band which I find refreshing.
While I am the first one to admit that I love finding out about the artist behind the music and digging up anything and everything I can read about them, it’s also oddly compelling when not a lot is known about a group of musicians beyond the fact that they produce sublimely beautiful music.
Quite why they have chosen to be so oblique in an age of information overload is uncertain although it does lend them a sort of mysterious cachet lacking with the usual-over exposed PR style so beloved of many artists today.
And that might be just what sets them apart, quote apart from superlative songs like “Actors” which apparently was inspired by this Oscar Wilde quote:
“Actors are so fortunate. They can choose whether they will appear in tragedy or in comedy, whether they will suffer or make merry, laugh or shed tears.” — Oscar Wilde (source: Pigeonsandplanes.com)
The song builds slowly but surely through from the softly strumming folk guitar of the opening bars through to the warm, perfectly balanced harmonies of the three band members, with a wispy alt-country vibe percolating gently throughout.
It is chilled, laid back and the most divine musical accompaniment to the flickering embers of 3am fireplace musings.
Unless you have been trapped under the crushing weight of an IKEA flack pack of late, you will know about my great and abiding predilection for Scandinavian pop in all its many pleasing forms.
One country in particular that I have along and abiding fascination with is Sweden which most famously gave the world ABBA but has since produced inspiring artists of the calibre of Lykke Li, Robyn, Swedish House Mafia, Andreas Lundstedt and last year’s Eurovision winner, Loreen.
You can now add Little Children, a band led by 29 year old Linus Lutti, to that illustrious, and woefully incomplete list.
With a sound reminiscent of Bon Iver and Loney Dear, the Stockholm-based artist’s music, and “Falling” in particular, which is the lead single off their upcoming EP of the same name due out 4 June, is lushly melodic, a pleasing meld of burbling folk and pop overlaid by Lutti’s remote, otherworldly vocals that nonetheless lend the song a warm accessibility.
There is a playful joy to the music that sits quite comfortably alongside the darker threads of melancholy, all of which come together to produce music that works just as well as the soundtrack to tranquil ruminations on life as it does as music to explore the world by.
Gloriously good, deep, soulful expressions of emotions that give her songs, and “Brittle Pieces” especially, a raw immediacy that you simply can’t fake.
Bare-your-soul honesty seems to be London-based singer/ songwriter Zemmy’s very much welcome stock in trade, a sign that she is not an artist who is simply going to write songs for the sake of writing them or tickling someone’s ears.
No, her songs are authentic outpourings of who she is and how she sees life.
And how thankful am I that she is willing to wear her heart on her sleeve, and squeeze every last drop of soul-scarred emotional honesty into her trembling but assured husky voice and world-weary but accepting lyrics.
And pair them with music as frail and yet robust and beautifully melodic as that which graces “Brittle Pieces”.
You could just float away from the world on this song, hopefully to a new and better place.
Included as a song of new music on their curation of the latest in the UK Late Night Tales mix tape compilations that asks bands to draw together all the songs that they love or that have inspired them, “Daddy’s Groove” possesses that languid melodiousness and removed electronically-caressed voices that have become the Norwegian electronica band’s trademarks.
I have been listening to it on almost endless repeat for a couple of days, and in a sign of the song’s strength and Röyksopp’s undeniable talent, I have yet to tire of it.
This quietly happy song bubbles along taking you with it, not in any great hurry to get anywhere which is fine with me because it’s the sort of song you just want to soak all the happiness up from for as long as you can.
You have to love it when it’s someone’s birthday and they’re the one giving out the presents.
Businesses of course do it all the time on TV, replete with cheesy adverts and booming announcers voices, but everyone else? Not so much.
But this week, evergreen pop princess Kylie Minogue, who marked 25 years in the music biz last year, decided that she would be the one giving out the gifts on her 45th birthday.
Well sort of.
Chris Lake, was the one who actually dropped Kylie’s new track “Skirt”, which is all jangly dubstep, sighs and moans, during a set he performed at Pacha Ibiza, but it quickly went viral, notching up thousands of plays on Soundcloud.com within hours of its release.
While the song, produced by Scottish dance wunderkind Nom De Strip, and written with The-Dream, the hit-making factory who have crafted pop gems for Beyonce and Rihanna, hasn’t been confirmed as an actual single, or even a track on Kylie’s new album due later this year, it is nonetheless a look into the new musical direction Kylie promised she would be taking as part of her deal Roc Nation (the management company helmed by Jay-Z).
And what an exciting look it is.
Bold, experimental and compelling, it has a lush melody running throughout, coupled with Kylie’s breathy vocals, and promises, regardless of the form it eventually takes, to be a standout song in Kylie’s already considerable repertoire.
Lindsey Stirling is a very talented, and one can only conclude from her list of creative pursuits and achievements, a very busy young lady.
A quarter-finalist on America’s Got Talent in 2010, where apparently she was known as the Hip Hop Violinist, she is an “American violinist, dancer, performance artist, and composer” (source: Wikipedia), who also keeps her own uber-successful YouTube channel with legions of fans humming along, and I am sure, as a result she must never have time to sleep!
If she is sleep-deprived she gives no indication of it on her after-clip soundbites where she is as unfailingly bright, upbeat and as great to listen to as her music.
Ah yes … the music.
I was first put onto it by a good friend in my writing group, and frankly she was a revelation.
Melding classical influences, modern pop, and an almost retro throwback to the classical/pop fusion sounds of the 70s and 80s, her instrumental pieces are full of life, grand melody, and soaring emotion.
“Halo Theme” is no different, at times majestic, sometime contemplative but always deliciously, richly melodic and as with all her tunes, accompanied by an imaginatively-themed and shot clip.
If you’re looking for something totally different, you need to check out her music.
With a name that actually has some deep meaning for the band behind it – “We like the idea of blending the ethereal with the vicious: the ambient with the aggressive: the God with the Wolf.” (source: triplejunearthed) – Godwolf were formed to create music that is a mix of the contemplative and calm with the rampantly full and aggressive.
And they have succeeded very nicely thank you.
“Alone”, which is the first single from their EP Throw An Ocean, is a beautiful mix of the serene and the chaotic, best described one of my favourite music blogs Your Music Radar as “honey and silk to the ears”.
They got it absolutely right.
It’s that sublime mix of slowly building guitar and synth that gathers pace note by note, with a beat that sounds not unlike a galloping horse tapping away in the background accompanied by soft, perfectly-harmonised vocals, before exploding into a passionate wall-shaking dancefloor-worthy track.
It shifts back and forth between these two ear-pleasing extremes creating a fabulous middle ground of listening pleasure.
Keeping it local, Jagwar Ma, who describe themselves as “Sydney-born, Pan Pacific-raised”, are an experimental duo with a nice line in haunting, emotion-laden vocals, quirky animated video clips and trippy blissed out groove.
“Man I Need” is a follow up to their previously-released songs “Come Save Me” and “The Throw” and it’s a lush, almost ethereal-sounding track that comes armed with a beat that won’t let go and a delightfully offbeat sensibility.
Their fresh, bright sound promises that their album Howlin’, recorded in Sydney, Berlin and France – it appears they have extended their pan Pacific travels to the entire world – and set to be released on 10 June will be one to check out if you want a sound that is a hypnotic mix of pop and otherworldly bliss.
While they have recently had some setbacks due to the illness of Jono Ma, who is effectively Jagwar Ma, along with the vocals of Gabriel Winterfield from Ghostwood, I can’t see any way that Jagwar Ma won’t be all the man we need for quite some time to come.
“Mirrors” by Emma Louise
Hailing from Cairns in far North Queensland, Emma Louise is crafting the sort of meaningful, beautiful music that is already endearing her to a great many people who know a talented singer/songwriter when they hear one.
Thankfully she has eschewed the temptation to simply keep writing copycat versions of her first big hit, the glorious “Jungle”, her first release and an instant hit on radio garnering her lots of unexpected attention, in favour of writing what she feels and knows, an attitude which indicates she is in it for the long haul and considers her artistry every bit as important as chart success.
It’s a refreshing attitude, especially with the pressure to keep getting yourself noticed in today’s crowded, nosy digital marketplace and comes from a well thought out place as she told Kayla Clobborn at the brag.com:
“I didn’t even expect [‘Jungle’] to get on the radio at all. I was very lucky and I’m very grateful. It was a bit of a – I don’t want to say the word ‘fluke’, but it definitely put the pressure on. A lot of people were asking what the next ‘Jungle’ would be, and there were people talking over my other songs at my shows. It kind of scared me a bit. I had a choice to write more songs like ‘Jungle’ and get on the radio, but then I wouldn’t have been fulfilled. So I chose to stick with what I was feeling.”
I’m glad she did.
“Mirrors” is a sublimely beautiful, rich, almost haunting piece of work giving her gorgeous voice the chance to soar and whisper in equal measure, and a clear sign that even if she keeps turning heads musically and she will, that she will remain an artist first and foremost.
One of those bands that proves the world is a small and ever shrinking place, Haerts (and no I am not misspelling on a grand scale; that is how you spell the band’s name) hail from Germany, the United States and UK – the members are Nini Fabi, Ben Gebert, Garrett Ienner, Derek McWilliams, and Jonathan Schmidt - and now call Brooklyn home.
With the release of their debut album looming ever closer, it’s not hard to see why there is such anticipation for the five piece band’s release.
“All the Days” is one of those utterly distinctive songs that stays with you long after you’ve heard it, thanks largely to Nini Fabi’s haunting vocals and a melody that will not be denied.
“Dreamy vocals flow over triumphant, pulsing drums, and of course a little bit of synth for good measure.”
It’s exactly the sort of one-of-a-kind sound that an artist needs to cut through all the cacophony of a tsunami of new music and I would wager will keep them riding high in the public consciousness for some time to come.
I had it for years, it served me well, and unerringly came to my aid when I need it the most, usually in May every year.
What is this mysterious something? (And no, it is not Andrius Pojavis from Lithuania thanks for asking.)
Why, my ability to reasonably accurately predict the final Eurovision top 10 which in past years has seen me correctly pick 80-90% of the final top 10.
I am not sure whether it was the sameness of many of the songs, the tight leather pants of Ireland’s dancers which distracted me greatly, or some stray glitter in my eyes, but apart from placing some of the eventual top 10 randomly in my rankings, I appeared to be greatly out of step with the European zeitgeist.
(I suspect it has something to do with ignoring my gut instinct, which would have placed two songs I love, “Kedvesem” by ByeAlex from Hungary and “Birds” by Anouk from The Netherlands firmly in the top 10; instead I tried to second guess Europe and failed.)
Not that it will distress me greatly fortunately since I sensibly don’t base my self-esteem on how I psychically predict Eurovision voting patterns, but it underlined once again just how unpredictable this year’s results were.
While Emmelie de Forest was long favoured to take out the event, along with Norway and Greece if you believed this prediction, or with Azerbaijan and Romania (!) if this poll was to be believed, and Norway and Ukraine were always expected to place well (very well in my opinion – see below – which sadly proved to be unfounded), other songs confounded pundits like me.
For a start I clearly completely underestimated the appeal of Greece’s entry, Koza Mostra.
Yes “Alcohol is Free” had an infectiously catchy ska sound going for it, the presence of a revered national musical treasure in Agathon Lakovidis, and an irrepressible cheeky energy that saw it overcome the deficiencies in what was, by any estimation, a less than stellar song.
But it was also firmly in the novelty song camp, not quite “Who Let The Dogs Out” terrible to be fair, but veering dangerously close it, with a limited lifespan surely.
Unlike say the Ukraine’s entry “Gravity”, which has charted on iTunes across Europe, reaching #8 in Sweden for instance or Norway’s Margaret Berger whose catchy electropop number, “I Feed You My Love” which reached #2 in Greece and Sweden, and #3 in Finland (source: wiwibloggs.com), Koza Mostra have only managed to chart significantly in Greece itself.
Admittedly that is probably largely due to it being sung mostly in Greek but even so, it underlines that it’s appeal and shelf life are limited, which frankly begs the question – why did so many people vote for it right across Europe?
Another song that left me perplexed, confounded, befuddled and everything in between was “”It’s My Life” by Cezar from Romania.
He is, by all accounts a singer of great talent, a contratenor who won Romania’s version of The Voice, and a graduate of the Giuseppe Verdi Music Academy in Milan, and came to the contest with a song written by popular Romanian composer and writer Cristian Faur.
And yet with all that talent in hand, he chose to dress in a glittery Dracula-esque outfit, sing a falsetto so grating that dogs and cats were paddling across from Malmö to Copenhagen to escape the wailing.
Clearly he struck a chord with voters across Europe – perhaps the ones who, like my partner, celebrate the more kitsch acts of Eurovision with gusto and thankfulness that the contest still throws up these almost comical oddities – placing at #13 out of 26 but I am at a loss to explain why beyond his obvious novelty value?
Surely it wasn’t the quality, or lack thereof, of the performance?
Are they are all True Blood fans?
By and large though the Grand Final played out much as expected.
Strong contenders like Norway – such a dynamic performance by Margaret Berger on the Grand Final night after a slightly shaky start during Semi-Final 2 – and Ukraine placed high on the rankings, although I still expected Norway to be slightly higher than it was, while Italy and Azerbaijan charmed the crowds with their gorgeously sung, if conventional, ballads.
As I mentioned earlier in the post, I regret not going with my instinct and giving Hungary and The Netherlands a place in my top 10.
I am not sure why I erred except to say that I think I was trying a little too hard to second guess the voters of Europe who I thought would like the songs but not as much as they did.
I loved both songs the moment I heard them – Anouk gave “Birds” an engaging otherworldly flavour while “Kedvesem” bounced along with a quiet, percolating joy and ByeAlex’s suitably soft and raspy voice – and should have made the decision on that basis alone.
After all, for the all the jokes about Eurovision not being about the music, and songs like “It’s My Life” popping into the top 15 (when really it should have swapped places with Ireland’s Ryan Dolan and his song “Love Survives” which didn’t deserve to finish in last place) , good quality songs usually do make into the top rankings since neither the general voting public, nor the juries of music professionals – each score is made up of a 50/50 split of each group’s votes – are willing to give the tick of approval to sub-standard music.
No matter what the Eurovision conspiracy pundits may say.
France’s low finish was a surprise since Amandine Bourgeois – BEST. NAME. EVER. – gave a smokin’ performance of her Amy Winehouse-esque song “L’Enfer et Moi”, giving her heart and soul, and a fair swag of her melting mascara, to delivering one of the emotionally-intense performances of the night.
Another song that I expected to do far better “Marry Me” by Krista Siegfrieds of Norway.
I doubt it was the controversial (only if you’re a right wing tabloid I would wager) kiss at the end of the song where she locked lips with one of her female back up singers, since much of Eurovision’s core demographic these days is the gay community and their friends and family.
Perhaps the song simply couldn’t compete with the heart rending ballads, or no one wanted to marry Krista, which is hard to believe since she came across as absolutely delightful in the interview she did with Australia’s SBS television network, but whatever the reason, she deserved a far higher placing for a brilliantly catchy song performed with all the energy you could ask of any performer.
In the end of course, predicting who will and won’t win Eurovision, and who will place where is as problematic as any other contest with a host of variables – in this case mostly highly attractive, reasonably talented variables with a penchant for tight dresses, leather-clad back up dancers and pyrotechnic curtains of fire and light – and Eurovision 2013 didn’t disappoint in that regard, confounding and surprising pretty much as it always does.
Final results for Eurovision 2013
Denmark: Emmelie de Forest, Only Teardrops – 281 points Azerbaijan: Farid Mammadov, Hold Me – 234 points Ukraine: Zlata Ognevich, Gravity – 214 points Norway: Margaret Berger, I Feed You My Love – 191 points Russia: Dina Garipova, What If – 174 points Greece: Koza Mostra feat. Agathon Iakovidis, Alcohol Is Free – 152 points Italy: Marco Mengoni, L’Essenziale – 126 points Malta: Gianluca, Tomorrow – 120 points Netherlands: Anouk, Birds – 114 points Hungary: ByeAlex, Kedvesem – 84 points Moldova: Aliona Moon, O mie – 71 points Belgium: Roberto Bellarosa, Love Kills – 71 points Romania: Cezar, It’s My Life – 65 points Sweden: Robin Stjernberg, You – 62 points Georgia: Nodi Tatishvili and Sophie Gelovani, Waterfall – 50 points Belarus: Alyona Lanskaya, Solayoh – 48 points Iceland: Eythor Ingi, Eg a lif – 47 points Armenia: Dorians, Lonely Planet – 41 points UK: Bonnie Tyler, Believe In Me – 23 points Estonia: Birgit, Et uus saaks alguse – 19 points Germany: Cascada, Glorious – 18 points Lithuania: Andrius Pojavis, Something – 17 points France: Amandine Bourgeois, L’enfer et moi – 14 points Finland: Krista Siegfrids, Marry Me – 13 points Spain: ESDM, Contigo hasta el final – 8 points Ireland: Ryan Dolan, Only Love Survives – 5 points (source: mirror.co.uk)
And the top 10 I picked (with Norway as the winner, and the other 9 in no particular order):
Norway Just fourth place? Really? She was willing to feed you her love! HER LOVE DAMMIT. Denmark Granted I didn’t love this song but Emmelie de Forest sang it with passion and deserved a win Georgia Not the best ballad true but better than Azerbaijan’s effort I thought Italy He sang like an angel and looked gorgeous in the suit but he was so still. SO VERY STILL. Greece Sixth place Europe? Did you let all the free Ouzo go to your head just a little? Iceland Such a touching uplifting song and what a hunk of a man. Vikings? Yes please! Estonia She elevated an ordinary song with a extraordinary performance. Belgium I didn’t expect to like this song or Roberto as much as I did. A big surprise. Ukraine Such a powerful in-your-face song awesomely performed by a born entertainer Ireland Another song that grew on me. It deserved better than last place.
* So which songs would have made your top ten?
Every year, in the days following The Eurovision Song Contest, all the brotherhood and bonhomie breaks just a little, or a lot in some cases, and the accusations fly. Here’s a few articles you may find make interesting reading:
Great big shiny, gaudy, oddly-sung prizes in Dracula-esque outfits no less.
And frankly I was wholly unprepared for them.
That may sound like an odd thing to say when I have spent week upon glitter-saturated week listening to, thinking about and pontificating about the various songs on offer this year, which have run the gamut from of-the-moment brilliance through to sideshow carnival-cringing (or in other words, golden oldie classic Eurovision.)
But despite allowing for the fact that what I like won’t exactly match what the European public at large want, and so including songs in my Semi-Final Top 10 that were a mix of personal favourites and more populist numbers I may not necessarily love but could some appeal to, I still found myself reeling, yes reeling at some of the choices made tonight.
The most significant of these surprises was that Cezar, a man who apparently is quite a gifted operatic singer and much revered in Romania, made it through to the Grand Final.
Yes, the man who sounded like he had eaten one of the Bee Gees who were in turn desperately trying to climb out of his mouth, managed to secure enough votes to sing again.
Think about that.
It all means of course that we will treated to his comical Dracula-evoking outfit which had me laughing so hard that I found it hard to concentrate on listening to the song.
Which in retrospect wasn’t necessarily a bad thing I suppose.
Quite how a novelty act at best – which many people revered as a symbol of the old quirky, the-weirder-the-better- Eurovision of old, including I must sadly admit, my partner – could garner that much support and be given another chance to raise the dead is quote beyond me.
Another shock win-through to the Grand Final was Greece.
Though they at least had a fairly funky ska sound running in their favour, which redeems them somewhat, and are undoubtedly talented musicians and singers, the song is gimmicky at best.
And while I expected there to be a fairly strong Greek vote for the song, I didn’t expect it to be of a great enough extent to get them to the point where performing in the Grand Final could be a reality.
But here they are, kilts and al,l ready to dazzle, or appall, Europe all over again.
On the Richter scale of face-palming, OMG surprises, Armenia’s successful entry into the Grand Final wasn’t such a shock since it’s good old-fashioned rock and roll sung with a great deal of passion, if not much else.
So too Malta making it through.
Granted Gianluca is a sweet, handsome young guy with a lovely voice but “Tomorrow” is a slight song of little consequence that, as one of my friends noted during his performance, sounds like an album filler track, rather than a stand alone song.
Clearly though the good people of Europe thought differently.
Still I wonder how long it will survive out in the big, bad world of real singles which will likely eat “Tomorrow” alive before racing to the top of the charts.
The rest of the Top 10 – Hungary, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Norway, Iceland and Finland – fell into place much as expected although both Hungary and Norway started out a little shakily leading me to worry that their ability to deliver on the stage of Eurovision would be claimed by nerves, the blinding LED lights, or a fear that Greece would dance on stage midway through their act.
But both ByeAlex and Margaret Berger, rallied, and rallied magnificently, helped along great talent and songs that are so good they could pretty sing themselves.
Such were the Eurovision landscape-shaking surprises in Semi-Final 2 that I am beginning to seriously wonder if I, or anybody else for that matter can predict what Europe will go for in the Grand Final.
While I still believe the Top 10 songs, in no particular order (although I expect and hope Norway will win) will roughly look like this:
Norway (to win) Denmark Georgia Ireland Greece Iceland Estonia Belgium Ukraine France
I am also fully prepared, this time at least, for the fact that good austerity-addled people of Europe may completely my predictions completely out of the wind-machine whipped waters of Eurovision.
And the let the wailing and gnashing of teeth, amidst the detritus of another Eurovision Song Contest.
For an eternity of course if you’re Dracula … sorry I mean, Cezar.
It’s hard to say if it is due to Australia’s welcome embrace of all the nationalities that make up the countries competing in The Eurovision Song Contest or simply our love of the quirky or the unusual, but something about this event has captured Australia’s attention, and quite possibly its heart too.
We love The Eurovision Song Contest.
There’s no point denying it.
Starting tonight, and right across Australia, Australians will be bedecking their lounge rooms in Swedish blue and yellow, making sure they have more adequate stocks of vodka and herring in the cupboard, and wondering whether they should dress up as a Viking or a Volvo car salesperson, with it all culminating in the big parties staged to mark the grand final telecast on Sunday night.
We will unashamedly be celebrating our ongoing love affair with Eurovision, aided and abetted by public broadcaster SBS, who, as they have done every year since 2010, have sent Julia Zemiro and Sam Pang to host the delayed Australian telecast of the event.
They will kick off their telecast with “The Heart of Eurovision” with Julia Zemiro at 7.30pm tonight followed by Semi Final 1 at 8.30pm followed on Saturday night at 7.30pm by Semi Final 2 and finishing with the Grand Final itself at 7.30pm on Sunday night.
In a sign that the rest of the world has noticed our Eurovision obsession, The Sydney Morning Herald today reported that we will be featured on a segment titled “Why Australia Loves Eurovision” during the first semi-final:
“Australia is being recognised for having been doggedly loyal to this show for 30 years, with a ”Why Australia Loves Eurovision” montage hosted by Zemiro being inserted into the first semi-final and seen by 120 million people. How can some post-punk German zither band compete with that?”
Once more to the semi-final crystal ball gazing my friends, once more! (I am sure, totally sure, that Shakespeare will not mind me paraphrasing one of his more famous quotes in the service of Eurovision.)
Semi-final 2 looms and with it the prospect of 17 more countries doing everything in their power – will there be big costume reveals? Will the pyrotechnic arms race threaten to set the arena on fire? And can too many saccharine sweet ballads give you a sugar high? – to make sure they snare one of the all-important 10 spots in the grand final.
It’s like musical chairs but with way more spandex, and bigger hair, and working who will be left sitting on one of the seats could test the wisdom of Solomon.
But I am not deterred and so here are my picks for the 10 countries that I think will leave the arena tonight smiling from ear to ear, all selected on the basis that (a) I like them or (b) I don’t but likely others will) …
FINLAND: “Marry Me” by Krista Siegfrieds
She may be channeling Avril Lavigne but she is doing it very, very well with a song that is all sass, attitude and fun by the wedding limo-load. Add in her gift for putting on an entertaining performance and Finland ha a winner on their hands.
ICELAND: “Ég á líf” by Eythor Ingi
A sublimely beautiful meandering song in Icelandic that nails its folk credentials to the mast of the boat Eythor Ingi refuses to leave save to rescue cartoon men. It is whimsical, delightful and one of the few ballads with a personality of its very own.
AZERBAIJAN: “Hole Me” by Farid Mammadov
Not the most original ballad in the land, clearly written using a chart listing all the key ingredients that must go into a faux-affecting, heart-stirring song of love, lost and rabid raccoons (alas that last part isn’t part of the song but it would improve its originality a 1000-fold if it were). But it will no doubt appeal to many of the jury members and public voters alike giving it a good shot at securing a grand final berth.
SAN MARINO: “Crisalide (Vola) by Valentina Monetta
Another remarkably unsurprising ballad saved from complete and utter banality by Valentin’s exquisite voice. It’s a case of ordinary song uplifted by an extraordinary singer.
NORWAY: “I Feed You My Love” by Margaret Berger
Hands down the best song of all 39 entries. It’s highly original, musically-current, sung with passion and performed with verve and the best thing to come along since “Euphoria”. Douze points? Why yes please it deserves that and then some.
HUNGARY: “Kedvesem” by ByeAlex
Another quirky ballad that bounces along with quiet joy and an irresistible beat. Perhaps it’s the fact that it reminds of the theme tune to a cartoon show I watched as a kid (“Dr Balthazar”) but this makes me very happy and I suspect will have the same effect on the good people of Europe.
GEORGIA: “Waterfall” by Nodi Tatishvili and Sophie Gelovani
So much soaring angst and longing, so much beautiful singing. If I were this song’s writers, I’d be thanking my lucky stars that two artists this talented are singing it. In anyone else’s hands, it would make paint drying look like a viable alternative.
ISRAEL: “Rak Bishvilo” by Moran Mazar
I love quirky acts who can actually sing. While the song doesn’t do all that much for me, it’s still a lovely tune, and Moran manages to breath some life into it that probably wasn’t there on paper. Plus she wears great big funky black glasses which I adore and who wouldn’t vote for someone resembling the love child of Nana Mouskouri and Daphne from Scooby Doo?
SWITZERLAND: “You and Me” by Takasa
I am not especially enamoured of the group, who look like they have been imbibing way too much red cordial – seriously who is that happy when they’re lost? – and the song is way too perky for my taste but it’s upbeat, uplifting and bounce to make people feel good … and happy people vote for the song that made them that way, pure and simple.
ALBANIA: “Identitet” by Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko
Nothing too out of the box here but it’s good old fashioned foot-stomping rock with an appealing folk underlay and hey, they seem to be enjoying themselves. I have a feeling the rest of Europe will too.
And who will sitting staring at the back of the arena pondering what might have been? I would like to say Romania, whose entry is only marginally less annoying than fingernails across a blackboard, but I suspect it will garner enough loving to send Greece or Armenia to the bottom of the pack.
* who do you think will end up in the top 10? Which song do you loathe the most?
WHAT IS THE EUROVISION SONG CONTEST?
Started way back in 1956 as a way to draw a fractured Europe back together with the healing power of music, the Eurovision Song Contest, or Concours Eurovision de la Chanson – the contest is telecast in both English and French – is open to all active members of the European Broadcasting Union, which oversees the competition.
Each country is permitted to submit one song to the contest – a song which is selected by a variety of means, usually a winner-takes-all competition such as Sweden’s renowned Melodifestivalen – which they perform in two semi-finals in the hopes of making it to the glittering grand final.
Only six countries have direct entry into the grand final:
* The Big Four who fund most of the proceedings – UK, Germany, France and Spain * The host country (which is the winner of the previous year’s contest) * Italy, who didn’t take part for many years and was re-admitted in 2011 after a 14 year absence (it was one of seven countries that competed in the first event), making the Big Four the Big Five.
The winner is chosen by a 50/50 mix of viewer votes (you cannot vote for your own country) and a jury of musical figures in each country, a method which was chosen to counter the alleged skewing of votes based on political and/or cultural lines.
Past winners include, of course, ABBA in 1974 with “Waterloo” and Celine Dion who won for Switzerland in 1988 with “Ne partez pas sans moi”.
Above all though, the Eurovision Song Contest is bright, over the top and deliciously camp, a celebration of music, inclusiveness and togetherness that draws annual viewing figures in the 100s of millions.
This year’s contest will be held in Malmö, Sweden.
In the six weeks leading up to the grand final on Saturday 18 May 2013, I will be reviewing 5-6 songs each week and giving my unvarnished, unguarded and glitter-coated take on all 39 songs competing for glory in this year’s contest.
It will be brutal, it will be camp, it may or may involve copious use of pyrotechnics, key changes and scantily-clad but limber back up dancers (and possibly a stray Ukrainian grandmother or two) but above all, it will hopefully give you some idea of who has the best chance of success at this year’s contest.
This week, I preview the last five countries that will be strutting their stuff in semi-final 2 on Thursday 16 May, a glorious pot-pourri of Eurovision ambition, togetherness, chiffon, meaningful expressions and who knowm maybe even a partridge in a pear tree?
Anything’s possible in the race to be a part of The Eurovision Song Contest’s Grand Final.
NORWAY: “I Feed You My Love” by Margaret Berger
Hailing from Trondheim, Norway, Margaret Berger is one of the queens of Norwegian electropop.
And she brings all of her regal influence to bear on “Feed You My Love” which bristles with thoroughly up-to-the-minute electro-static attitude, pounding beats and all the haunting melody you could want.
It is a gorgeous song, sung with all the verve and poise of an accomplished artist and will catapult, yes catapult I say, Norway well into the top 10, if not the overall winning position.
“Feed You My Love”, is one of the few songs on this year’s slate that I can actually say, hand on heart, and wind machine at my back, that I actually love.
Lyrically I am fairly sure they are trying for an empowering anthem about escaping from your “cocoon” – Margaret takes this all very literally in a stylish white dress that hugs her tighter than a new sleeping bag on a camping trip – and “facing the attack” which is exactly what a good and worthy Eurovision song is supposed to be gunning for thematically.
So boxes ticked there I guess.
But all I keep seeing is an emotionally-inarticulate woman sublimating her love into cooking endless meals which she feeds to her now corpulent lover.
Not a pretty image granted but it’s all done in love, and with strobe lights aplenty so how can you fault her?
Frankly it’s the one song in this year’s pack that is even remotely the heir to last year’s winning track “Euphoria”, Margaret Berger and hence Norway are in with a real chance.
And don’t be surprised if there are snack packs handed out during the performance.
I’m just saying … it would make sense right?
ALBANIA: “Identitet” by Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko
“Identitet” is good old-fashioned chest-thumping, cigarette-lighters/mobile phones in the air rock ‘n’ roll.
And that is not such a bad thing when ballads reign supreme.
For just as we’re slipping into a middle of the road coma, along comes Adrian Lulgjuraj, who comes from Ulcinj in Montenegro and says he feels like a “beast” when he’s on stage, and Bledar Sejko, guitar virtuoso to wake up from our musically-induced slumber.
Granted there isn’t anything particularly ground breaking about the song, but then there doesn’t have to be.
The two men who never met a guitar lick they didn’t like, are all about grassroots pounding rock, vivid flame-coloured pyrotechnics, sunglass-necessitating strobe lighting, and the earthy primal feel of music going like, well, a bat out of hell.
One particularly nice touch, apart from the velvet sleeveless shirt and the melting men in the frypan, is the Albanian folk sound woven through the song.
I know a lot of people love to pillory Eurovision for its embrace of ethnic-rooted songs that are a fusion of new electronic sounds and old world folk but frankly I think that’s what one of the things that make Eurovision for me.
It’s good to see people rightly embracing who they are since let’s face it that’s why Eurovision started in the first place.
And it lends “Identitet” just enough personality that it doesn’t come off as Bon Jovi-light.
Not of course that there’s anything wrong with that right “Beast” … I mean Adrian?
GEORGIA: “Waterfall” by Nodi Tatishvili & Sophie Gelovani
Wait is that Mulan or Ariel I see before me?
No thankfully it’s not but it sure sounds like a song from a Disney soundtrack and frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if it makes its way onto one of their upcoming releases.
It’s all uplifting, sugary-sweet, heartfelt emotions, earnestly sung and while that’s hardly a crime, I worry that either Nodi or Sophie will explode with barely repressed emotion all over each other at some point during their performance.
And now that is not a euphemism.
Still, it’s unlikely to happen given all the time they spend wandering desolately through the wilderness as far from each other as possible that they will actually find each other.
So any explosions of earnest soaring joy, and there is enough to lift anyone’s spirits – a diabetic coma-inducing amount in fact; health authorities recommend you only consume this song in small, carefully proscribed doses – shouldn’t affect anyone too much.
For a duo created solely for Eurovision, Nodi, who won the Georgian version of Idol in 2009, and Sophie, a regular at singing competitions in her homeland – no word alas on how well she does but I imagine rather well; she sings beautifully – have a remarkable amount of chemistry.
That is, of course when they are anywhere near each other.
I have a sneaking feeling that they may choose to stand on opposite ends of the stage emoting fiercely at each other from a distance.
That shouldn’t affect how well the song does since it’s got douze points-votes written all across it; it is after all crowd-pleasing paint-by-numbers ballad that will surely have mass appeal.
Just give Nodi and Sophie a good pair of sneakers (for the odd flying into each other’s arms choreography), an industrial strength wind machine and let the earnestness pour forth.
Like “Waterfalls” really.
SWITZERLAND: “You and Me” by Takasa
This is fun!
Not an amazingly good, quick-I-must-add-this-to-my-iPod-or-life-will-have-no-meaning song admittedly but fun and lordy do we need ourselves some fun.
They sing the song crammed into one tiny red car, happy as clams (or is that sardines?), smiles, and sunglasses wrapped firmly on their faces, and look like they are having the time of their lives.
And quite possibly they are.
Perhaps they don’t get out much – they are after all Salvation Army officers ranging in age from 22 (singer Sarah Breiter who’s 22) to 95 (Emil Ramsaur on bass) who originally wanted to call the group “Heilsarmee” which is German for Salvation Army, a name nixed by Eurovision who forbid names with religious or political overtones – and this little jaunt is the most fun they’ve had in ages.
Regardless of the chance it’s given the group to get out and cut loose, “You and Me” is a delightfully upbeat bouncy song that will likely have people up and clapping and stomping … and perhaps even checking maps.
You know just to find Takasa who seem unable to stay in the one place for too long.
Takasa, which is supposedly taken from the Swahili word for “clean” or “pure”, but which is anecdotally rumoured to be an acronym for the English phrase “the artists known as Salvation Army” according to Wikipedia, are this year’s Russian grandmothers.
Quirky, odd, with a catchy though simplistic feel good song which may garner a surprising number of votes.
After all in these times of grim austerity, an infectiously fun, stomp along song about standing together in times of hardship may just strike a chord.
Assuming Takasa can find the arena of course and actually get to perform.
ROMANIA: “It’s My Life” by Cezar
Apparently there are people, many, many people who actually like this song.
Of their own free will. Yes really.
Contrary to expectations, they haven’t been paid off, blackmailed or otherwise coerced, nor have they left their hearing aids at home; they actually like this song.
I can only assume some sort of viral madness has seized them temporarily and on the morning after semi-final 2, in the hazy half-light of a Malmö dawn, they will awake, the remnants of a glittery black jacket in their hands, wondering what possessed them?
The greater question surely must be what possessed Cezar.
By all accounts a charismatic, thoroughly amiable and talented operatic singer – he is regarded as one of the leading countertenors of his generation in Romania – Cezar somehow let himself be talked into recording a song so excruciatingly awful that I am sure the dogs and cats of southern Sweden are even now swimming across to Denmark to escape its high pitched wails.
I think I can see what the production team were aiming for.
Great dramatic rock opera, fun costumes, an oversized persona, a return if you like to the Eurovision of old with a song that defies current musical trends and isn’t afraid to do so.
If the intention was to rise above the great mass of Eurovision entries, then mission accomplished!
Alas while we all appreciate a bit of camp frippery and over-the-top theatrics, Cezar is likely to end up as an object of ridicule rather the much-admired singer he clearly is.
If I was him, I would be firing my management team, and trying to put this whole sorry affair behind him … but by all means keep your wardrobe person.
The outfit, at least, is fabulous.
* Who gets your vote this week and who will wearing the ignominy of nil point?
When you are standing high atop the winner’s dais, with those you have vanquished standing nearby or possibly seated right in front of you, it is hard not to come over all Leonard di Caprio in Titanic and feel like shouting “I am the king (or queen) of the world!”
You’re floating on air, feet not even deigning to touch the ground, and you spend hours being congratulated and feted by all and sundry, convinced your life will never leave these rarefied climes.
And then reality pushes its brutal way in, or morning arrives, often both at the same time, and you’re left wondering – will it be as good as it was at your moment of triumph?
It’s a question many a Eurovision Song Contest winner has likely asked themselves in the days, weeks and months following their win, when all of Europe seemed to be beating a path to their door and their winning song is (hopefully) sitting high atop the charts.
But is winning Eurovision really the gateway to endless glory abundant?
Obviously for some acts it is – Abba and Celine are often cited as prime examples in this regard – while for many acts it’s merely a highly pleasurable blip on the pop culture radar in an otherwise reasonably successful career.
There are obviously too acts which sink without a trace, never to be seen again (some it must be said by choice; others dragged kicking and screaming against their will into the cold arms of oblivion).
The question is then how much of a part does Eurovision play in the success of these acts and should they depend on it to push their career to the stratospheric heights they are no doubt aiming for?
One Eurovision winner who has a firm opinion on this is Dave Benton, who won the contest with rock singer Tanel Padar in 2001 for Estonia and who believes that while Eurovision is important, it is not the be all and end all:
“I look at Eurovision as one achievement in my career, not the only one. Was it the biggest achievement? I’d have to say it was. Eurovision is like the cherry on the top of the cake. But it’s not the cake.” (source: balticsworldwide.com)
He goes on to say:
“You can win Eurovision, but to have a successful career, you have to be good. You have to have the talent. You have to have good management. You have to have a good lawyer. Look, from all the winners of Eurovision, there was only one ABBA and one Celine Dion. Let’s face it, they’re the only ones who came out of it and became real world stars.” (source: balticsworldwide.com)
Benton is firmly of the opinion that you need to have a career either in place, or have post-Eurovision plans mapped out and ready to go that can be actioned regardless of whether or not you win, or even place well at the event.
Relying solely on Eurovision to further, or launch your career is a big mistake he believes.
“There are a lot of youngsters who look at Eurovision as a trampoline to world fame. It’s not like that. I’m glad I went into Eurovision as a professional, with experience behind me.”
One group that certainly didn’t see Eurovision at their golden ticket to the big time, with plans already in place for a hoped-for successful career is Abba, the group widely held up as Eurovision’s greatest success story.
While they were of course, grateful for the win, which raised their profile immeasurably, allowing them access to many markets such as England which otherwise may not have taken them seriously, “Abba meant it [Eurovision] only as a parenthesis, a launching pad for their international aspirations”, according to Carl Magnus Palm, author of the ABBA biography Bright Lights, Dark Shadows.
Instead winning the Eurovision Song Contest came to define them and not always in a good way.
“They [Abba] weren’t aware of it at the time, but in the two minutes and 46 seconds that it took to perform “Waterloo”, they effectively lost all chance of ever being chance seriously by the cognoscenti. It was the price they paid for becoming far and away the most successful group ever to have competed [in Eurovision] …”
Benny Andersson, who along with songwriting partner and god friend Björn Ulvaeus, and partners Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad (also known as Frida) made up the now pop superstar group, had this to say about the experience of winning Eurovision in the early 90s (quoted by Palm in Bright Lights, Dark Shadows).
“Musically it’s a catastrophe. It [Eurovision] was better in the Fifties and the Sixties. [These days] it’s a fun TV show, maybe, but it has nothing to do with music.”
Abba ultimately found great and enduring international success, after a brief lull following their win when it looked as if they might become another Eurovision winner to go nowhere, but that owed as much, if not more, to the songwriting prowess, and business acumen of Benny and Björn (and their manager Stig Anderson), and the exquisite harmonies of Agnetha and Frida, as it did to standing triumphant on the stage at Brighton, England.
Of course not everyone approaches Eurovision as their entrée to life of fame and fortune.
“Winning the Eurovision Song Contest provides a unique opportunity for the winning artist(s) to capitalise on their success and surrounding publicity by launching or furthering their international career. However, throughout the history of the contest, relatively few of these artists have gone on to be huge international stars.”
Some artists for instance, such as Cliff Richard who represented the UK in 1968 with “Congraulations” which went on to become a massive hit around the world, were already established pop stars, content with the honour of being the face of their country at the contest.
It was a similar story for Lys Assia, representing Switzerland who won the first Eurovision Song Contest in 1956 with “Refrain”. While she did return two more times to the event as Switzerland’s entrant in 1957 and 1958, it was just part of a long and illustrious career which saw her performing all across the world including for the reigning British monarch, Queen Elizabeth 2.
Another artist who enjoyed great success before and after his win at the 1958 Eurovision Song Contest was André Claveau whose career in music, film and radio spanned four decades before his retirement in the late 60s. Whiole he appreciated his involvement and success at Eurovision, he was dependent on it.
Other artists such as 1964 winner Gigliola Cinquetti of Italy and Dana from Ireland (winner, 1970) who after a reasonably successful musical career left it all behind for political office, have been content to participate in Eurovision, do their bit for king/president/insert ruler type here, and country, and then gracefully and voluntarily slip off into a life of quiet obscurity.
And finally there have been those artists who have shown up at Eurovision looking to make a name for themselves, who though they may not have achieved the international success of Abba, nonetheless enjoyed very successful European-wide careers.
One notable example is Bucks Fizz, who were formed specifically to compete in the contest.
And it was a successful move with the group, comprising in its initial iteration at least, Mike Nolan, Cheryl Baker, Bobby G and Jay Aston, taking out the Eurovision Song Contest that year with “Making Your Mind Up”.
The song went on to top the charts in a great number of European countries, and very briefly internationally, and was followed by hits like “Piece of the Action” and “My Camera Never Lies”.
While Bucks Fizz enjoyed a certain modicum of international success, it was by and large confined to Europe and certainly not on the scale of the two most notable winners Celine Dion and Abba.
Nevertheless Bucks Fizz have enjoyed a reasonably successful level of success, and continue, believe it or not, to perform to this day (albeit in two different warring combinations).
The conclusion from all this would seem to be that while the Eurovision Song Contest is no guarantee of success, internationally or Europe-wide, it nonetheless does lend a hand to many singers looking to get some notice beyond their home countries.
They may not become the megastars they possibly dreamed of becoming in their youth, and winning or even participating at the contest may be their pinnacle of musical glory, but it is certainly not a waste of time to be a part of it, nor the curse of eventual anonymity that it is popularly believed to be.
While Eurovision not have the cachet it once did – although you could argue that even back in the 50s and 60s, it was musically out of step with the times as it continued to feature crooners and older style singers in an age where rock ‘n’ roll was rapidly becoming the undisputed musical champion – and be openly ridiculed in some quarters, it can still mean the difference between success or otherwise for many artists and can ensure they enjoy a career well after the eye-blindingly bright lights of Eurovision have well and truly faded.
It’s only hours, mere hours my friends, till the first semi-final takes places in Malmö, Sweden, and 16 countries battle it out in song – of course this being The Eurovision Song Contest, all the battling will be done in the most loving, life-affirming way possible with an angst-ridden song as the soundtrack – for the chance to be one of the ten countries that advances to the grand final, which takes places on Saturday 18 May.
While I wouldn’t this year as one of the stronger years musically, there are enough solid songs and talented artists to make picking the lucky ten who will advance a little challenging.
Only a little, mind you, let’s not get carried away.
I have based my choices not simply on which songs I like personally since I am but one man, but also on what is likely to appeal to people generally since they will be the ones voting (the UK, Italy and Sweden, who are automatically in the grand final vote in this semi- final).
So … who do I think has the musical chutzpah, sufficient glitter and access to a big enough wind machine to make it to the grand final?
AUSTRIA: “Shine” by Natália Kelly
It’s a catchy song which, though it may be a few years behind the current musical zeitgeist, is still sufficiently of the moment to garner the attention it needs. It also has Natália’s warm but earthy voice, stage presence and winning persona going for it.
DENMARK: “Only Teardrops” by Emmelle de Forrest
This song is a grower. I wasn’t overly fond of it at first – read couldn’t understand for the life of me why it was one of the favourites – but in case of possible musical Stockholm Syndrome, it’s has wormed its was somewhat into my affections. Yes that’s probably damning with faint praise but it is a better song than I gave it credit for at the start and I can see why people like it.
THE NETHERLANDS: “Birds” by Anouk
One of the few ballads in the contest with any real sense of self or personality, “Birds” is quirky and offbeat and beautifully sung by Anouk. It is one of the few songs I will likely play after Eurovision has disappeared into the pop culture sunset.
UKRAINE: “Gravity” by Zlata Ognevich
Powerfully sung, and with an anthemic quality that impossible to ignore, and very easy ti be stirred by, “Gravity” also has some interesting and unique vocal and melodic flourishes that should help it to rise above the pack.
BELARUS: “Solayoh” by Alyona Lanskaya
An heir to the much loved, and irresistibly-catchy ethnic sound so beloved of Eurovision entrants, especially when mixed with modern pop or electronica, “Solayoh” is the song it’s almost impossible not to dance, clap or sing along to.
SERBIA: “Ljubav Je Svuda” by Moje 3
In the grand tradition of cobbled-together groups everywhere, I predict great eye-gouging infighting should this catchy dance-driven track fail to advance Serbia to the grand final. I don’t think though that will happen to the grand final with Moje 3 likely to easily score a berth to the big event on May 18.
CYPRUS: “An me Thimasal” by Despina Olympiou
An earnest, rather overwrought ballad but undeniably pretty and beautifully sung by an artist with undeniable stage presence.
MOLDOVA: “O Mie” by Alliona Moon
A sweet rather unremarkable song, its main strength is Alliona’s beautiful voice which redolent with emotion, lifts the song above the ballad wannabes nipping at its heels.
SLOVENIA: “Straight Into Love” by Hannah
Slovenia’s entry is all distorted lo-fi electronica that kicks it up a gear in the chorus, riding on Hannah’s powerful vocals and a relentless beat that will not be denied. Get up and dance already will you?
IRELAND: “Only Love Survives” by Ryan Dolan
A rather generic slab of electro dance pop with equally banal lyrics but it is catchy, it is infectiously beat-driven and it will be loved and danced to. Often.
And finally the wooden spoon, a very pretty spandex-accessorised one no doubt with tassels, for this semi-final will likely either go to Montenegro or Estonia.
* So what are your choices? How right do you think I am?