Sh*t I Watch – Eurovision 2019

Greetings, Glancers! You probably don’t know this, but I kind of love The Eurovision Song Contest. Now you know. See you next time!

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No, I’m going to review the whole thing. I thought about doing this while watching it. Or live tweeting or something. Then I discarded both thoughts. Now that a month has passed then idea came back to me, and now that enough time has passed that no-one cares about it anymore, I can capitalize on the lack of interest like the shrewd business man/blog owner I am!

I’ve always loved Eurovision. In truth there’s not any good reason for me to like it, given that most of the music is shite and that it has gone from kind of camp to a flaming celebration of fabulousness. I just don’t care about any of that. I mean, I appreciate the spectacle, but the fact that it’s so self aware now that every single song has to be a spectacle or some sort of over the top feat of visual nonsense makes the spectacle pointless. All of that pisses me of because it’s now so generic, and all of the shouting and cheering and booing and prancing in the crowd annoys me too. Just make it about the music, bad as 80% of the songs may be.

I’ll admit that some of the changes to the ceremony and process over the years I haven’t minded. I don’t care that Australia now seems to be part of it. I wish they wouldn’t have all the preliminary heats and rounds before the finals because none of us care about that but it means that the judges and commentators all know about each and every song beforehand, taking away some of the surprise. In my mind it should be every country in Europe getting to perform one live song once – on the night – and be judged on that alone. I understand there needs to be some sort of qualifying criteria otherwise the whole thing would be six hours long. I even like the vote split now where we get the judges vote first, then the public vote after – it always causes wholesale changes in the results. What I don’t love is the year on year bias – the same neighbouring countries ALWAYS vote for each other meaning you can almost 100% of the time predict who will give the big points to who. Again, it degrades the music, which is what it should be about. Oh yeah, we don’t need the crappy inspirational videos between songs, we don’t need the twelve different presenters, and all of the other guff which pads out the running time. Play the songs, do the voting, announce the winner.

What about this year? Well, it was hosted yet again in Israel, which was always going to mean some delicious controversy given the country’s love of bombing children. Last years atrocious winner, Toy, by the equally atrocious Netta ensured the country got to host for the fourth time. That’s one thing you can almost always guarantee about Eurovision – the best song will never win and the winner will be some kitsch one-off bullshit. The last genuinely good winner of Eurovision was of course Sweden’s Euphoria. This year’s show was no different, but we’ll get to that.

First, lets talk about the extra performances – those not eligible for the show. All the buzz was that Madonna was going to perform. This seems like a match made in heaven – the camp nonsense and Madonna’s upbeat music go hand in hand with everything Madonna stands for. Unfortunately, her performance was one of the most horrific things I’ve ever seen. Madonna, I love you, but you just can’t sing live, not anymore. Or maybe you can, but not at Eurovision. A song as simple as Like A Prayer was butchered beyond repair and her new song was balls. To her credit, she got in some well placed jibes at the expense of Israel, at least that’s how they saw it, and it was clearly more of a call for peace and togetherness. Elsewhere, Iceland’s WTF entry Hatari, are a bunch of misguided youths who, it was anticipated, would cause trouble. Their performance went without incident, but later in the scoring section they unveiled Palestinian flags to resounding boos from the crowd. It was funny. It didn’t quite match the controversy of the idiot jumping on stage last year in the middle of the UK’s performance, but there’s always something.

Somehow matching the cringe levels of Madonna’s tuneless performance was her latest buddy – some guy called ‘Quavo’ whose talent begins at ends at the ability to give himself a ridiculous name. He was interviewed before the performance and showed the world that he’s 1 IQ point short of a potato. At least I think it was him – it was some guy involved in some way with Madonna. The interview was an abomination, with both he and the interviewer clearly having no clue how to behave or react, and with Quavo seemingly having no idea who Madonna even was, despite recording and performing with her. That’s one of the main reasons why Madonna’s music has been crap for decades – she’s surrounding herself with people beneath her.

We did get a nice moment when a bunch of previous winners came on stage to sing each other’s winning songs. It was a pity that most of those winning songs were among the worst the competition has to offer, but it all ended with them all singing Israel’s 1979 winning song Hallelujah. I also only realized afterwards that Gal Gadot had appeared, but given that I still haven’t seen Wonder Woman I didn’t recognise her at the time. Right, lets get onto the songs.

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Malta kicked things off. It’s always hilarious to me when artists from other Countries try to mimic what is popular in the UK and US, right down to the vocal style. The thing is, they always do it about five years too late. Malta’s Michela does exactly that with Chameleon – hitting every single box for what has made pop music bad in the last five or so years. Most annoyingly is the accented vocal style and that whole taking the beat away from the chorus thing. Distinctly average at best. Malta finished in 14th with 107 points.

Next up was Albania. I didn’t pay much attention to this one. Decent enough performance, not a lot to say about the song. Singer Jonida wore a silly outfit and earned 90 points to finish 17th. Czech Republic came whipping in next with an 80s New Wave style synth pop thing – it was fine, a pity it was all a bit uninspired and the performers smiled too much. Still, it was good enough to net them 157 points and 11th place. Germany’s Sisters with the song Sister which features a chorus with the repeated lyric of ‘sisters’ over and over again, I thought would do much better with its message of sisterhood and women looking out for each other. A nice enough song, it only managed 24 points and came 25th. And yet, it’s a hell of a lot better than their winning song from 2010 – Satellite by Lena.

Russia have somehow gone from most hated country in the competition (due to the Country’s politics, not the performers) to finishing third this year. It’s another strange case of the song being crap on the night. I was unsure how it was being scored so well until I listened to the song’s official video – studio version – and it’s much better than what we heard on the night. So clearly the judges and voters are voting on the studio versions of these songs and not the sole final live performance. That is so obvious to me now that it makes perfect sense. There’s no way anyone sees their final performance and gives it 370 points. Denmark’s Love Is Forever was one of the most twee and insipid moments of the night, a sweet little song near enough ruined by singer Leonora who follows in the footsteps of many others by singing in that embarrassing copycat accentuated UK style – it was awful when Lily Allen did it 10 years ago, and she was late to the party too.

I thought San Marino was in with a chance (not something you’d ever say about their football team amirite?) because Serhat’s Say Na Na Na was stupidly catchy – shame he was one of the night’s most boring performers and needed something else to spice things up. In the end, he only managed 77 points and landed on the 19th spot. North Macedonia was my pick for the win, based on my own personal preference. This time I thought I actually stood a chance of being right – usually I just pick my favourite song and it usually does badly, like Georgia’s 2010 entry Shine for example – great song, no hope of winning. This time, the message and the performance all ticked the typical Eurovision boxes and I thought that maybe it could genuinely win. Then the scores came in and it did exceptionally well with the judges. Then the idiot public vote happened, and nobody voted for it, leaving it with a total of 305 points for 7th place. Let this be a rule to you all, as if Brexit wasn’t clear enough – never let the public vote for anything. The newly named North Macedonia was a showcase for Tamara Todevska, and her explosive ballad Proud is one of the best in the competition’s history. Ostensibly a song for her daughter about pride, about not taking any shit, and about showing the world your individuality was delivered in a fiery, defiant way as a message for all women. It seems that mainly male homosexual voting public were more into ‘dirty dancing’, bald dudes, and whatever the hell that Italian shite was than stuff that actually matters. This is your real winner guys, go listen.

You never count out Sweden in this competition – they’re probably the most successful country when you tally everything up. It was pretty funny watching John Lundvik realise he wasn’t going to win, though the song itself was catchy pop R’n’B fare. Lundvik isn’t the greatest singer in the world, and the fact that he’s Chris Kamara’s twin didn’t help. They finished 5th – you can almost always guarantee a Top 10 finish for Sweden. Slovenia provided the most uncomfortable moment of the night and made me think I was watching a cheap knock-off of Let The Right One In set in a retreat for the famished. These two underfed ghosts stared unsmilingly at each other while the song simply sweat from their bodies, and I was genuinely concerned that one of them was going to eat the other. Unfortunate, as it’s actually a good song, but the performance completely took away from the song. The song would be much better if it was less digitized. Cyprus thankfully sexes things up again, just like last year, and the song is pretty generic Euro dance-pop which completely falls apart at the chorus with yet another stupid drop/change the beat thing. Change the chorus and you have a much better track. As it is, it finished 13th with 109 points.

I was bewildered when the scoring started and saw that the Netherlands kept getting the big points. Had I seen a different song from everyone else. Their song just seemed like yet another mid-contest filler with nothing to say and not a single memorable second. I had completely forgotten it and needed the constant on screen reminders to make me remember it. Even now when I’ve watched it back – it’s a little better on second viewing but I have no idea how this won or even finished in the top ten. Other winning songs have been worse, but even crap like last year’s winner you can understand people getting behind because it’s such a novelty thing. Eurovision winners tend to follow the business rules of a one-hit wonder – something that just drops at the right time and it weird enough and catchy enough to draw people in for a brief moment before looking back a few weeks later and wondering what the hell that was all about. Arcade by Duncan Lawrence doesn’t even reach that low bar – it’s just a nothing song that any self-respecting singer could write in their sleep before saying to themselves ‘well there’s no point in me recording that piece of crap’. I guess most self-respecting singers have less self-respect than me.

I jest, it’s not that bad of a song. It’s clearly a rip off of Sam Smith’s Writing’s On The Wall, to the extent that if I was him I’d be getting my lawyers on the phone. An average ballad, the performance on the night wasn’t as good as the song itself and quite a few songs deserved to beat this to the top spot. Nevertheless, it was this year’s winner with 498 points.

Greece managed to produce a good song with a catchy hook, just a pity the singer Katerine Duska delivered it through her nose. My Eurovision group posting on Facebook at the time for this one reads simply ‘Greece Jess Glynn’. That about sums it up. Israel’s effort this year was light year’s ahead of last year’s winning monstrosity. The problem was that is was a simple heartfelt ballad with no backing trickery or spectacle. It was also funny because the singer – Kobi Marimi – looked exactly like a guy I used to work with. They finished 23rd with a poor 35 points. One of the better songs this year. Norway were clearly in with a shot with an exuberant performance let down by the bald guy’s warblings. If they’d replaced him with an actual singer, it could have been a much closer call. I know Norway was my Polish friend’s choice – we Facebook chat the contest every year – our response to Norway going pretty much like this – her – ‘Norway to win’,  me – ‘apart from baldy’, her – ‘especially baldy!’. Bald or not, Norway finished 6th with 331 points.

You have to pity the poor old UK. One of the most successful countries in the competition traditionally, for the last ten or twenty years they have been a laughing stock, propping up the bottom position on numerous occasions. It must be tough being the most hated nation, and while they don’t get booed like Russia always does, they almost always get ignored nowadays – no matter if it’s a no name like Michael Rice with a rubbish song, or a big name like Bonnie Tyler with a rubbish song. Even when they have a half decent song it gets dismissed. Though they haven’t had a really good song, or good Eurovision song in years. With the calibre of genuinely good writers we have and the calibre of people able to pen successfully pop crap, you’d think we would do a little better once in a while. As expected, UK finished dead last with a laughable 11 points.

The fact that Iceland’s anticipated Hitaria followed the UK made old Blighty look even more out of place. When a bunch of skinny kids who misunderstand everything which makes Goth music interesting parade around in costumes made from black masking tape make your song look crap, you know have a long way to go to get back into Eurovision’s graces. The song itself is like something Rammstein would have made when they were sixteen years old and had Simon Cowell as their mentor – pretty bad, yet bad enough to earn them the 10th spot and 232 points.

At the time, my only comment about Estonia was something along the lines of ‘this guy is too pretty to be real’. And it’s true. I’m half certain the unfortunately named Victor Crone is really some sort of CG creature – like a Weird Science but for women. The song is complete balls until the chorus, then the chorus blasts off and becomes one of the catchiest of the night. As pretty as he is, he’s a crap performer and that probably caused their eventual 20th finishing place. Zena from Belarus brought the porn to Euro- oh wait, she’s only 16. WTF. Anyway, her half naked spreading and gyrations looked to make 90% of the male audience reconsider their sexuality and return to the straight path. The childish, faux attitude of the performance was similar to when videogame companies used to put baseball caps on characters to make them look edy, dangerous, or cool. Pity, because it’s a pretty catchy song and one of the few which actually stands a chance of staying with you. It’s a shame then that it came 24th with only 31 points. Azerbaijan’s 8th spot finish is another complete mystery as it was a complete non-entity of a song. It did have robots though.

France’s entry is exactly the sort of thing Eurovision loves so it was perhaps surprising it did so badly – 16th and 105 points – but they only have themselves to blame when the song is more boring than going pillow shopping. Italy. This knob thought he had the whole thing one, so it was HILARIOUS to watch his face drop when it turned out he only finished second. Yes Mahmood, you entitled little prick, your song was balls, your performance was worse than a chav and his mates walking down an alley between council flats and grabbing their crotches. It’s a complete mystery to me how this wasn’t in the bottom five. Serbia deserved a much higher finish than 18th (89 points) with their churning ballad Kruna, by Nevena Bozovic, one of those choruses I wish I understood so I could sing along too. Switzerland look depressingly like they were in with a shot of winning throughout the voting, their irritating song She Got Me with one of those choruses you can’t help but hate but which you know the mindless will be singing for days.

For better or worse, Australia is now a mainstay at Eurovision, and this year their song and performance was one of the most memorable. The song was good, elevated by some catchy operatics, while the performance was heightened (literally) by the fact that singer Kate Miller-Heidke was attached to some sort of Mad Max style swaying mast which tossed her about the stage. She finished a respectable 9th, with 284 points. Finally Spain arrived courtesy of pretty boy Miki, a non-entity performer who makes Olly Murs seem charismatic, though the song was bouncy, fun pop. Closing the contest, they unsurprisingly finished in 22nd with 54 points.

When all was said and done we had our usual moments of controversy, our usual pedigree of bad music with the odd exception, the odd spot of humour and embarrassment, and a closer race than in most years. You can guarantee I’ll be back for more of the same next year where we can expect Sweden to finish in the Top 10, the UK to finish in the bottom five, and a whole bunch of fools to parade around in ridiculous costumes singing ill advised songs before vanishing from the face of the planet forever – Eurovision – don’t ever change.

What did you think of this year’s show and the contest in general? Let us know in the comments!

Tell it like it is!

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