Eurovison 2018 Grand Final

So as per tradition here is the list of the Eurovision grand final entrants with videos of their songs and the contest’s results along with my usual irreverent comments… not that anyone takes Eurovision that seriously anyway hopefully.

Each act drew in which half of the Grand Final they would perform. As host country, Portugal drew its exact starting position (8) during the Heads of Delegation meeting in March. The running order is being decided to ensure each act has the opportunity to stand out. The producers look at the genre of music, whether a song is performed by a solo singer or group, the use of props, music tempo and various other aspects of each act. In other words the run order is ‘quiet, LOUD, quiet, LOUD, slow, FAST, slow, FAST, etc’

The running order in the finale was:

  1. Ukraine – MELOVIN: Under The Ladder

He is a vampire… or one of the goths off South Park. During one of the green room interviews the presenter, via a translator, asked him about it… That aside the backing singers paw the air and he sets fire to a set of stairs leading up to a grand piano. Common practise for Eurovision then… The song is generic so I can’t really comment on it. It was okay but forgettable thus they sacrificed him as the first act in order to warm the crowd up.

  1. Spain – Amaia y Alfred: Tu Canción

She looks like a young Rachel Weisz. He looks like the Jonas brother Disney locked away but has escaped. This is the ‘we really are in love, no honestly! – we’ve been in love the past 3 weeks/months… around the time we were put forward for the contest’ entry. It was a good ballad. I wish it had done better. I wonder if they’ll be together now the contest is over.

  1. Slovenia – Lea Sirk: Hvala, ne!

Electro beat, lots of synchonised dancing and a costume that makes me think she is going to run off into a plane and go do a bit of wingsuit glding like a flying squirrel… It’s meant to a motivational song but… it comes across like an exercise class down the local recreation centre by a motivational speaker.

  1. Lithuania – Ieva Zasimauskaitė: When We’re Old

This is the first of the ‘wait is that being projected as a hologram so the audience there see what we at home are seeing?’ moments. A 1970’s dress, twee millennial song and baiting ‘isn’t being in love for a long time great?’ for votes. Then to cap it off her husband comes on and awkwardly gets her attention before giving her a hug. Rewatch the clip for the moment he taps her to get her attention. It was a hilarious micro-transaction. Also do Eurovision have a ban on kissing? Becuase that would have been more appropriate as it seems this was a planned moment and would have been more fitting. It’s a nice song… but like all twee minor key ‘girl in love’ music I would likely be out for blood if having endure it repeatedly over the space of a a short amount of time. This sort of music seemed to be everywhere a few years ago.

  1. Austria – Cesár Sampson: Nobody But You

A good, soulful, song. His shirt is of a fabric last seen worn in the early 90s. Actually seeing it again I notice a ruffle on it’s left sleeve. It looks jut like a basic tshirt with a rubberish surface but apparently not. The song starts off well by by the end gets a bit too repetitive for my liking but what are you going to do really? It was a good effort.

  1. Estonia – Elina Nechayeva: La Forza

Sing opera. Wear an elaborate dress they project imagery on. I like it but it feels ridiculously melodramatic even for the Eurovision let alone an operatic performance. I really liked it but it was inevitable something more ‘accessable’ would win… [rant incoming…]

  1. Norway – Alexander Rybak: That’s How You Write A Song

The second, and most motable of the ‘does the audience there see all these effects or do they just see him miming?’ moments. The song title is arrogant thus his manner and everything becomes ‘I’ve done it once and I’ll easily do it again compared to these Eurovision amateurs. The backing dancers look like they escaped from a 90s housing estate. The man’s face at 1:32 of the video sums up everyone’s reaction to this song… Then the guy pulls a violin out his backside and does a shuffling dance. No one in the audience is singing along though at one point in the song he calls on them to. Yeah…

  1. Portugal – Cláudia Pascoal: O Jardim

Pink hair = SJW agenda? It sounds like Dido or the XX but it’s an original song but the influence is there… It came in last place at the end of the night which really was undeserved as it had more merit than some other songs. Ultimately it was a victim of ‘on the night’ having a weak vocal performance. I don’t know if it was the best choice to have the second person come on stage for that one refrain really… who also hasa very retro 80/90s hairstyle. It was a good song so it’s a shame it did so poorly.

  • break position

    The hosts go about goggle eyed interviewing people, making jokes and coming across incredibly awkward even for Eurovision hosts… especially the one with the constant look of shock doing all the work in the green room unfortunately.

  1. United Kingdom – SuRie: Storm

There was a stage invasion during this performance and apparently they’ve chosen to not give the ‘grand finale’ version but the Jury Show version done the night before the final. But fear not for here is the moment!

It was a decent song but admittedly nothing spectacular. I think we should have done better to be honest but then as the memes of Twitter commented Brexit no doubt played its part and everyone joked we should win and then deny anyone coming for the contest visas. But then there’s hold over from the Iraq war resentment and such too no doubt. Some countries, a few which were surprises, gave us points and there were jokes they’ll be seeing a boost to their tourist as an act of their good faith. I think what got to people was the lack of sympathy votes of a point or two from all but a few countries. The audience at the venue however gave her a rousing cheer so t least she has that. She recovered incredibly well after the stage invasion and was given the opportunity to perform again at the end of the running order if she wanted but she declined. As for the stage invader he was rapper, political activist and serial stage invader ‘Dr ACactivism’, who was plugging his book with a slogan on his t-shirt.

  1. Serbia – Sanja Ilić & Balkanika: Nova Deca

Obviously the pipe player got ‘MVP of the night’ no question. The male vocalist reminded me of Rasputin from Hellboy. You know it’s around now I began noticing how few of the perofmrers seemed to be wearing any colours besides black and white tonight which is a massive shift from previous years… it’s ll getting a bit too earnest nowadays. Nonetheless I enjoyed it. Later on, in the green room, apparently the singer kissed the presenter there unexpectedly and people on twitter were commenting on informed consent and such…

  1. Germany – Michael Schulte: You Let Me Walk Alone

The song reminds me of James Blunt, David Gray and singers from the early 2000s. People compared him to Mick Hucknell. He, like the Lithuania entry, has old photos showing in the background to get the emotional response. He was decent in fairness but it’s not the sort of music I’ve ever found appealing.

  1. Albania – Eugent Bushpepa: Mall

I really enjoyed this. His jacket’s design was interesting. People thought he looked like Elijah Wood. I’ve not much to add really. It reminds me of any number of songs I hear as the title song for computer games or at the end of films during credits – but in a good way.

  1. France – Madame Monsiuer: Mercy

How did this not steamrolled over other acts when getting points? They performed 13th and came 13th… It had it all… a message, the performance, while a bit weaker than previous ones, was still strong, they won over the audience… Maybe it’s just it’s very up my street and it charmed me. Admittedly the ‘half skirt’ they both are wearing and her shoulderpads are a bit ‘odd but not in an eccentric way’. The red shoes seem a bit unco-ordinated with the rest of their outfits barring her lipstick and nail polish.

  1. Czech Republic – Mikolas Josef: Lie To Me

Geek chic… or I should say ‘unflattering depiction of intellectual characters in a comedy from the early 90s’… Everyone was wondering what was in the backpack and kept comparing him to the lead character in the film ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’. The dancing was good. The song was decent pop. Um, yeah nothing to be critical off except the costume to be honest. Probably a nice guy but the whole thing gave an attitude he probably is a bit of a wanker ‘lad’ going out on a drinking session on a Friday night in costume for some reason like a stag do…

  1. Denmark – Rasmussen: Higher Ground

Everyone compared the red haired singer to a character from Game Of Thrones. This was a great anthemic song… yet also only got middling vote numbers by the end. This year was baffling. Admittedly the ‘stomping in formation’ choreography is a bit funny but overall it was a good performance. I get it was too ‘one note’ or something compared to others who seemed to completely shift their musical style mid-song this year.

  1. Australia – Jessica Mauboy: We Got Love

Indigenous Australian lady performing for her coutnry and apparently had quite the heartwarming tory behind rising from an amateur ordition on a reality show all the way to performing here. As people noted her dress was far too short for some of the dance moves she was busting out towards the end. Or to be more exact the cameraman’s angle was clearly aiming to get a gratuitous shot or two. Nonethless it was a strong entry from Australia as per usual… but also came near the bottom. On Twitter were a lot of photoshopped maps reminding everyone that Australia isn’t in the southern hemisphere but actually just the other side of Ireland.

  • break position

I can’t remember what happened. More ‘comedy’ and interviews. I think this is when the presenter got an unexpected kiss and everyone suddenly began to decry informed consent and such. Who knows? I didn’t see the exact moment myself just the stillframe shots of her reaction… which looked just like her normal face as she had a PTSD stare the entire evening.

  1. Finland – Saara Aalto: Monsters

If this had been the second act of the evening you would think there was a horror theme to tonight’s finale. People said the backing dancers looked like Fascists or Star Wars rejects. People thought this, rather than the Irish entry, would be the gay anthem of the night. The spinning wheel and going upside down was good. The song is a bit too repetitive for me but there we go. This was second to last in the final votes of the evening which… well it was as good as many others but it wasn’t bad and at least had the backing dancers in interesting costumes.

18. Bulgaria – EQUINOX: Bones

As people said the female singer has a very Lady Gaga/1980s cyberpunk look though she reminds me of Gwen Steffani more so. The song is decent pop though its lyrics are a bit repetitive but whatever… Fun fact: I almost left this off the list by accident somehow.

  1. Moldova – DoReDoS: My Lucky Day

The staging and perfromance is classic Eurovision. The song is classic generic Euovision in sound reminding me of Abba… but that’s it. They’ll be on lots of ‘hilight clips’ no doubt. It’s just all very ‘Scooby Doo chase’ and cheesy 70s sex romp comedy really…

  1. Sweden – Benjamin Ingrosso: Dance You Off

Is this a remix of Justin Timberlake’s ‘Rock Your Body’ song and it’s music video staging? The intro part definitely makes you think of it. So that’s 80 seconds before he actually does his own song… then goes back to the copyright infringing part. Then he begins doing drunk dad at a wedding ‘I used have some moves in my youth’ dancing… The staging is nice for a pop song in fairness but it is quite bland to me.

  1. Hungary – AWS: Viszlát Nyár

It reminds me of a lot of recent rock music with the screamed lyrics. It’s in Hungarian so that’s novel but I swear I’ve heard parts of this in other rock music recently. Someoen joked it was nice to see the band ‘Bullet For My Valentine’ getting work. I can imagine this being on the soundtrack for an action film aimed at teenagers. I enjoyed it and it’s a change of pace for this competition.

  1. Israel – Netta: Toy

Chicken noises. What I’m assuming will get claims of ‘cultural approriation’ from certain quarters. It’s the sort of act that always gets included in the highlights for being flamboyant and eccentric. The sad thing is you can hear she has some ability as a singer but the nonsense noises and such just make it unpalatable. It’s not so much the act itself that bothered people as much as this is what won in the end… personally I’m fine with such entries but there were some that were seriously worth doing better and to have this as the victor feels like it rubs salt in the wound for those entrants.

  1. The Netherlands – Waylon: Outlaw In ‘Em

A Netherlands country singer, who worked with Waylon Jennings before his death so is definitely trained by the best, and his backing dancers who honestly must have been at a loss at what choreography to do to the song short of line dancing… so chose gurning and flailing. The costumes for this all seemed to be wrong. The song was good country music in fairness but I think no one was sure how to stage it at all… also… leopard print? Really?

  1. Ireland – Ryan O’Shaughnessy: Together

A milquetoast song. Due to this one having the dancers depict a homosexual relationship and the tattoos of other acts the showing of the Eurovision song contest was banned in China as it was against their broadcasting regulations. The dance choreography was good. The song is a bit too scchrine for my tates what with the sustained ‘whine’ sounding note. People want Dustin the Turkey to have another go at Eurovision and to go represent Ireland in Israel next year.

  1. Cyprus – Eleni Foureira: Fuego

People said she was a Poundshop (i.e. budget/cut price/cheap knockoff) version of Beyonce. In fairness the dancers are all incredibly well synchonised but this is definitely more about the dance than the song which I swear I heard last year or recently at least. Maybe the dance reminds me of those ‘man in high heels’ ancers that were on British adverts in Britiain a few years ago (if you don’t know what I’m on about by all means go look for the ‘Money Supermarket’ adverts on YouTube). To be honest if this had been performed earlier in the running order I don’t think it would have had the votes it got in the end but it did at least stand out amongst this year’s entries.

  1. Italy – Ermal Meta e Fabrizio Moro: Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente

This seemed like the definite winner to me. However on the night the staging and such was a bit bare bones. I still think, despite getting 5th, this should have done better. This was Italy sending out it’s big hitters with an anthemic song with a message…

THEN THERE WAS AN INTERLUDE WHICH SEEMED LIKE IT WOULD NEVER END. It was slow songs (ONUKA last year were brilliant and other years they’ve had people like Justin Timberlake but it fell on it’s face this year save informing anyone who wasn’t aware that last year’s winner had a heart transplant and is in good health now), terrible comedy sketches by the presenters, interviews, cut aways… it just seemed like an eternity to many people on Twitter with some professing they had lost consciousness or grown a beard in the meantime.

But then finally the votes came along. The world rejoiced… for a moment.

The highlight being the greeting ‘hello humans’… as if the woman speaking was a humanoid lizard or something. The low light being the needless booing when the Russian judge appeared. It’s hard to say things are not political when you have such pantomime behaviour like that…

The Voting results in full

  1. Israel 529

  2. Cyprus 436

  3. Austria 342

  4. Germany 340

  5. Italy 308

  6. Czech Republic 281

  7. Sweden 274

  8. Estonia 245

  9. Denmark 226

  10. Moldovia 209

  11. Albania 184

  12. Lithuania 181

  13. France 173

  14. Bulgaria 166

  15. Norway 144

  16. Ireland 136

  17. Ukraine 130

  18. The Netherlands 121

  19. Serbia 113

  20. Australia 99

  21. Hungary 93

  22. Slovenia 64

  23. Spain 61

  24. UK 48

  25. Finland 46

  26. Portugal 39

Thus Israel won. The gag entry won.

I guess, in a year of such diverse acts, it proves that in such situations where there is so much choice to suit different people’s tastes it’s ultimately the lowest common denominator which ends up rising to the top… and for Eurovision that is novelty acts.

I can’t wait to see how Israel deals with this. Everyone complained about going to Russia due to any number of reasons. Meanwhile everyone will act like it’s perfectly fine entering a country which [insert whatever is the current news coverage when you’re reading this regarding any middle east conflicts and such] happening on it’s borders if not inside them. It’s going to be fun finding out which acts will be barred from entering due to political reasons just as the Russian competitor was barred from entering Ukrainian territory last year and told to perform via satellite feed if at all… [Fun fact: it was the same person meant to perform this year but she didn’t make it through to the grand final].

Usually I enjoy the contest but the near silence regarding the stage invasion by the (even more wooden than usual) presenters acknowledging it and the underwhelming tone of the event, as a whole, really made this worse than many recent years. There were a few outstanding songs but the subdued tone of it all means this year will be quickly forgotten. I think we have all got used to the spectacle of elaborate staging in recent years and that was something that felt like it was missing this year. Perhaps there’s a much tighter budget or something and if so it has had a detrimental effect sadly.

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Eurovision 2018 Entrants

These are in alphabetical order and I’ll do a follow up of the live finale in due course.

For coverage of the Grand Final go to Eurovison 2018 Grand Final.

Albania – Eugent Bushpepa: Mall

Uplifting song. It’s the sort of thing that’ll get used in advertising or a feel good TV drama. Not sung in English which hopefully will be the norm this year as I would prefer performers to do their entries in their native language since this is meant to represent each country and not compete for homogeneity. (fun fact: if you look that word up on Google the example sentence it gives is “”the cultural homogeneity of Europe”. But I would comment on that being British and therefore leaving the EU via BREXIT…)

Armenia – Sevak Khanagyan: Qami

Another ‘not sung in English entry’. Very soulful. It’s ‘end credits’ music for a story with a bittersweet ending. It really builds in intensity towards the end. I really like it.

Australia – Jessica Mauboy: We Got Love

I didn’t mind Australia being involved that one year but it’s a little odd to have them in the EUROvision song contest… Inevitably, as seems common nowadays with English language singers, she sounds slightly American. An energetic song and definitely a ‘get up out of your seats and dance’ one. Enjoyable but it doesn’t really stand out. A good entry nonetheless. I can see this becoming someone’s favourite song if it was released unconnected to the Eurovision. Good driving or motivational music for working out due to it’s driving beat.

Austria – Cesár Sampson: Nobody But You

He reminds me of Aloe Blacc’s song ‘I Need A Dollar’ from a few years ago. Kind of a generic pop song as it progresses. I mean I could say that of others but this actually made me think that particular thing… I like the official video for actually doing something a bit more experimental. It’s alright but it seems to rely on the refrain a bit too much for it’s impact. I like it but I can’t see it winning. It gets a bit too repetitous towards the end lyrically.

Azerbaijan – Aisel: X My Heart

This one feels a bit sped up as if you’re playing the video at 1.25 speed on YouTube and yet her voice is soft and restrained… then it kicks it up a gear. It’s a bit ‘Eurivosion anthem’ paint by numbers. There are elements in it that remind me of a number of songs of recent times. Especially with the alternating soft, LOUD, soft, LOUD, juxtapositioning. I feel like this will be an also ran unless the performance at the finale pulls something out the bag. This is the sort of song that is popular on the radio in the summer so maybe it’ll get votes.

Belarus – ALEKSEEV: FOREVER

Looks like the actor Stuart Townsend or musician Pete Doherty in his promo photo. Opens his video by ‘cutting’ his hand for ink and therefore lyrics to bleed out. Pretentious… The song sort of shifts tones a bit too suddenly. It starts off as one thing and shifts to a totally different style. Nevermind he says ‘its something me must call dream’ when you would probably say dreams in that context so the English used is questionable if it was double checked at all. It’s very late 80s/early 90s feeling. I can’t get a grip on it. There’s elements I like but others I just feel are too jarring to allow me to say I like it as a whole. Also it has that repitition of one line issue.

Belgium – Sennek: A Matter Of Time

Instantly I like this song! It reminds me of Moloko or Portishead – that sort of era of music. It, unsurprisingly, considering what she has worked on, has a ‘James Bond film theme tune’ feel to it. I wish the initial ‘echo, echo’ burst of energy was better incorporated; it would have been better to keep the more minor tone until where the second chorus occurs in order to make it have more of an impact towards the end. Another one I’m rating highly.

Bulgaria – EQUINOX: Bones

The intro is very ‘now’. The members haven’t worked together before but it really feels like a well oiled machine. The lyrics are a bit odd regarding ‘I love beyond the bones’. It’s trying to sound deep but it’s like they took a phrase from a randomised English phrase generator and worked it into the song. It’s well made but I can’t say it’ll get far though I hope the members work together again as there’s a seed of potential there. It’s an intro song for a murder drama on TV.

Croatia – Franka: Crazy

The official music video is a high quality production. Another slow, seductive, song. The ‘love, love,love’ bit is a bit too severe a break and then the ‘voice over’ like bit will be interesting to see incorporated. I can’t say it’ll get far to be honest. It’s kind of bland once you step back from it. Another where they add bits that break the tone as if there’s some obligation to do so for the contest and it ruins the song effectively.

Cyprus – Eleni Foureira: Fuego

There’s a nice setting for the official video. It sounds like there’s autotuning to a lot of the vocals which personally I don’t like. It’s very upbeat and another ‘get up and dance’ one. However it also sounds quite generic. I wouldn’t notice this standing out if it was playing on KISS FM or another ‘current music’ radio station. In the official video she has a few ‘nude colour’ clothing scenes but that won’t sway the judges in the end if that’s her costume for the finale. It will however for home votes by horny dads and teenage boys no doubt… except men tend to not vote for these things anyway according to statistics. Honestly this song could have come out ten years ago and you wouldn’t realise it. It’s ‘early era Rhianna’ if you wanted a simple description.

Czech Republic – Mikolas Josef: Lie To Me

Geek chic look. Upbeat but maybe a bit too harsh an intro tonally. The trumpet segway makes it stand out but… it’s clean cut pop but personally it’s a bit ‘rushed’ feeling in it’s tempo. The official video has some visuals reminiscent of Pharell Williams from a few years ago so maybe they got the same video director for this. It’s an okay song but not one I would want to hear repeated too often. Its’s a ‘wake up’ song they’ll probably put about half way through the running order.

Denmark – Rasmussen: Higher Ground

Visually distinct from the more clean cut, clean shaven, entrants. Much more sombre intro and becomes anthemic. Straight away I really like this immensely and it has that distinctly Nordic aspect to it. Their official video isn’t a ‘music video’ like the others but them performing to an audience. That’s refreshing. It’s the sort of song I would like outside the contest but it’s not got that ‘victory grabbing’ je ne sais quoi depending on the crowd on the night…

Estonia – Elina Nechayeva: La Forza

The song reminds me of the music from the Drakengard/NeiR game series. She also performs to an audience. This is a very traditional Eurovision entry. It’ll no doubt do well for that but is it enough? It’s interesting to have classical singing at the contest so who know this might just do it. Singing in Italian might get them some Italian votes potentially though, as I’ve said before, I would prefer nations perform in their native tongue.

FYR Macedonia – Eye Cue: Lost And Found

Eye Que… it’s meant to be a homophone of I.Q. But makes me think of some surrealist painting of eyes queuing in a post office… She sounds very American. It’s a very professional song and official video. It’s a good song but… will it stand out enough to make an impact? The ‘interludes’ seem to cover a variety of styles as if trying to have something for everyone which might put people off. It was enjoyable and eclectic while not being silly. Hopefully it gets them some international coverage and the band will see increased sales after since they’re definitely good albeit not my thing personally. Also cudos on having a guy whose got a receded hairline for once in the competition’s history. Either you’ve a full head of perfectly quaffed hair or our a shiny baldy man… there’s no in between usually.

Finland – Saara Aalto: Monsters

She was the voice of Anna in the Finnish dub of Disney’s Frozen apparently. The music video is good. The song feels generic. You’d dance to it in the club but honestly would forget it moments later. It’s very ‘Eurovision dance music entry’… even for a Eurovision entry…

France: Madame Monsiuer: Mercy

They look like a parody of the stereotype of the French Newwave or how people stereotype Beatniks and, in general, the French at a nation or people at a poetry reading… ‘Look how art house cinema we are’ The song is very good and I’ll listen to again though it definitely has ‘1980s’ tones to it. I have mixed feelings about this. It definitely stands out but it won’t win like other stand out performances have done in the past depending on how it does on the night. Also the pun of ‘mercy’ and the French word ‘merci’ is a bit laboured but then I could say that of a lot of lyrics outside the contest too. Very good. I would listen to more by them. It’s going to do very well, I’m certain, if not possibly win.

Georgia – Ethno-Jazz Band Iriao: For You

That name is a bit on the nose… it almosts sounds like a library classification of what they are. Jokes aside this is really up my street so I’m biased. I want this to win. Even if the intro sounds like it’s leading into a nursery rhyme… It’s just very emotive and has this wonderful soothing impact on you. The sort of song played over a scene of victory as people rejoice. I WANT MORE! In fact when going through the entrants in alphabetic order before the contest I replayed this a second time and it was the only one so far – so that should tell you how much I like it.

Germany – Michael Schulte: You Let Me Walk Alone

It’s bland. It’s a bit like James Blunt, David Gray or one of those singers from around that time.. He’s not a bad singer but it’s not going to get much of a reaction. I wouldnt be surprised if he’s put early on or very late in the proceedings as an also ran entry in the running order. The information on the site more or less described him as a YouTube sensation who sings covers… take that for what it means to you. Once the song’s tempo increased it was much more enjoyable but it was right at the end once most will have tuned him out.

Greece – Yianna Terzi: Oniro Mou

Celtic pipes like intro. It’s a good song and video (if a little pretentious)… but I can’t see it winning. It’ll do well based purely on the capability of the performer on the night. I can imagine this song playing over a montage of someone going over a landscape… which is what the official video depicts with her in a pit. It’s humorous in an all too earnest way.

Hungary – AWS: Viszlát Nyár

‘Modern metal band’ according to themselves. It will definitely standout and could win for being so different. It reminds me of a lot of the ‘soft rock’ sound in recent years. More about screaming than audible lyrics. Actually if you’ve heard the professional lead vocalist ‘screamers’ in such bands and wondered what they would sound like if the lyrics were audible then this is the case study for that. It’s enjoyable as a change of pace from the other entries but it depends who’ll be voting on the night how well it will do. As for me I’ve heard this sort of song a number of times by other bands and nothing stands out in and of itself save they’re of course singing in Hungarian.

Iceland – Ari Ólafsson: Our Choice

A 19 year old who has been in musical theatre. The ‘have a break’ song entry they’ll put after a more energetic one in the running order. It’s incredibly bland and inoffensive. This could have been performed in any year of the Eurovision and not been out of place. It’s the most generic song entry I’ve witnessed… I’m sure he’s a very good performer but the song is incredibly bland.

Ireland – Ryan O’Shaughnessy: Together

He was an actor in an Irish soap opera Fair City. A nice relaxed song. It’s enjoyable. Hopefully it’ll do quite well. There’s not much to add really. The official video depicts a, presumably, gay couple… the dancing is well choreographed as they dance through the streets.

Israel – Netta: Toy

Is she a ‘gag’ entry? The kimono and hair makes her seem so. The video all but confirms the ‘big character’ image… If you took out the bizarre vocal ‘clucking’ bits at the start and during it then this is a good, infectious, song with a very ‘of the moment’ looking music video. Will it win? Probably not but it’ll be a highlight of this year. [edit: Apparently she’s one of the favourites this year so what do I know?]

Italy – Ermal Meta e Fabrizio Moro: Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente

Italy bring out the big guns with an aim of winning at all costs. This will win or come within the top three without question. The official video has lots of political imagery to all but demand points being awarded by the judges viewing it as a protest song. I didn’t like when Ukraine did that a few years ago, let alone the outright ostracisation of the UK entries after the Iraq war, so I prefer politics or any allusion to it be a faux pas in the contest but then with the block voting, despite their best efforts to stop it, and what happened to Russia last year it seems unavoidable. The song is in and of itself excellent. It’s blown everything away so far while going through the entries in alphabetic order. Very anthemic. It’ll definitely be a highlight.

Latvia – Laura Rizzotto: Funny Girl

Woof. This is the sort of bittersweet song I enjoy so without question is one of the highlights for me. The music video is also good though the flashes of harlequinn makeup look needlessly silly like a teenager trying to be spiritually deep because they listened to some sad music. It stands out from many of the others but I think it wont win though it’ll get good scores. I would listen to more by her after the contest nonetheless.

Lithuania – Ieva Zasimauskaitė: When We’re Old

One of those chocolate box ‘spiritually uplifting’ singers like Nora Jones. It’s a nice slow piece and should do well but the winners of Eurovision usually have stand out presentation, a punchy tone or, as last year, some sort of story behind them if they’re a slower piece. It was good but might be too jarring a minor key shift when compared to other entries with the major key, bombastic, songs. She’s good though and I would be interested to hear what else she has done.

Malta – Christabelle: Taboo

The official video seems needlessly cinematic at the start with a Mad Max: Fury Road tone. It actually distracted me from the song. Once it gets going to reminds me of ‘Warriors’ from last year at times but can’t maintain the same impact. It starts building up then suddenly cuts into this song. Also the singer reminds me of the actress Shona McGarty who plays Whitney Dean on BBC’s Eastenders…

Moldova – DoReDoS: My Lucky Day

Folk-pop… sorry they won me over instantly within a few notes but it’s not anything special. Infectiously energetic and fun in the moment. In 2017, DoReDoS won the contest New Wave in Sochi, Russia and there they caught the attention of Russian singer, songwriter and 1995 russian participant Philipp Kirkorov, who composed the song My Lucky Day for DoReDoS’ entry for the Moldovan national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest, O melodie pentru Europa 2018. The songs good as an entry but I won’t recall it after this year’s contest despite what I said… it’s somewhat forgettable and I can see that happening during the votes depending where it is in the running order.

Montenegro – Vanja Radovanović: Inje

I like the music video’s cinematography. I really like the song initially and its orchestral instrumentation. However he looks like the bastard half-brother of Peter Serafinowicz… um it’s okay. I think I’m just distracted too much to really say much about the song itself…

Norway – Alexander Rybak: That’s How You Write A Song

The video is well done. That song name though is a bit cheeky any entry let alone by someone who won the Eurovision contest in 2009 thus it comes across as quite arrogant on his part. It sounds like the sort of upbeat happy song with a ‘sing along’ bit that would win the contest… however I’m bitter and thus hope someone else wins because it kinds of screams he’s got an ego with this entry. It’s the British way: we like underdogs but once you’re on top we want to knock you down…

Poland – Gromee feat. Lukas Meijer: Light Me Up

Festival dance music. After the previous entries Poland has played it relatively safe this year with a strong entry. It could win but it’s not the sort of music I listen to personally. It just kind of washes over me and sounds like all ‘anthemic summer dance festival’ music. The guy with the hat looks like the white bastard lovechild of Pharrell Williams and Will.i.am…

Portugal – Cláudia Pascoal: O Jardim

YES! THIS SONG! A striped back focus on lyrics, vocals and accompaniment… however the lead vocalist in the video does sound like she’s risking having ‘off key’ moments when performing in the final… but at it’s core this is the sort of thing I would want to see more of. Then again it’s this sort of striped back, no hiding behind vocalisers and other tricks, performance which won last year so… maybe this year they’ll opt for omething completely different.

Romania – The Humans: Goodbye

The group name combined with the song title… that’s an interesting choice. Maybe they’re robots. As for the song… it’s a bit dreary at the start. On the whole it’s very Bonnie Tyler (or another 80s female rock singer) with a middle aged garage rockband doing a gig down the pub… Enjoyable but I can’t see it going anywhere.

Russia – Julia Samylova: I Won’t Break

A modern style music video. Auto tuning. Repetitous quasi-dance music… but it’s Eurovision so it fits in. The lyrics are good but I don’t think it’s enough. If it’s to stand a chance they’ll have to pull off something exceptional with the staging. She’s in a wheelchair which reminds me of Poland’s entry a few years ago. She did the opening on the Sochi Paralympics in 2014. In case you forgot Russia got ‘banned’ last year so she was meant to perform then but they let he do it this year instead. It’ll end up an ‘also ran’ and likely due to current attitudes receive few votes if the attitude from last year carries over to this year. It happened with Britian due to Iraq and it’ll happen to them too possibly…

San Marino – Jessika featuring Jenifer Brening: Who We Are

Dancing toy robots and an unflattering costume reminding me of the 1970s… then a rapper in a yoga outfit. It’s an also ran. I can’t add much really. It’s a talent contest entry and looking at the information about them that’s more or less confirmed…. a nice effort but… no where near the quality of others.

Serbia – Sanja Ilić & Balkanika: Nova Deca

Balkan traditional music styles fused with rock equates to music I like. I will defintely be checking out more of their music but I can imagine it’s not everyone’s thing. The costumes for the women aare a bit silly but then it’s Eurovsion so it’s all in keeping I guess. If anything I would have preferred it to stay closer to the traditional aspects or was something like ONUKA’s Vidlik…

Slovenia – Lea Sirk: Hvala, ne!

I read the information on her and it’s basically ‘she finished each stage of education early with flying colours’. The offical video is of her performance on stage. It’s good but the song starts with the lyrics ‘my name is Lea’ and then her offering the audience advice on not accepting negativity from others. In others words if she wasn’t a single person’s creation I would swear it was written by a commity of Disney writers the message so trite and the performance so by the numbers. Also epilepsy warning if you want to watch the video… though you probably watched it first before reading this and are on the floor convulsing… She is an excellent ‘technical’ performer and composer but like such people she has all the technique down but none of the raw je ne sais quoi of ‘creative’ genius… She’ll go far in her career but will be outshone by others inevitably which is a shame.

Spain – Amaia y Alfred: Tu Canción

A lover’s duet. I will be shocked if this doesn’t do well. It’s very honest and really should. Sometimes these things come off as cheesy but vocally this really works. Who knows maybe it’ll (hopefully) win! It just has winning entry written all over it without feeling overly manufactured.

Sweden – Benjamin Ingrosso: Dance You Off

1980s synth music. I like it but it’s a taste. Of course the 80s are on trend right now with the younger generations so it was inevitable someone would appeal to that era’s style as openly as this while mixing some moden aspects. It’s okay. I can’t honestly see it going too far though it might do okay during the votes depending how it goes on the night. It’s a bit ‘Justin Timberlake’ sounding.

Switzerland – ZiBBZ: Stones

Siblings who describe themselves as each others soulmates… incesty just like last year’s winners. The song was meant for a Canadian singer but they used it for themselves instead. She’s got a widebrimmed hat and he’s got a topknot. She’s toured with theatre productions and he won a drumming contest. They had five seasons of their own reality TV series. Anyway the song is pop rock and okay but doesn’t stand out really.

The Netherlands – Waylon: Outlaw In ‘Em

Wannabe American Country music singer… but he did go work with Waylon Jennings before he died in 2001 so… he is one. The song was written with Ilya Toshinskiy who was born in Obninsk, Russia but works in Nashville. It’s a very different song to what’s heard at the Eurovision but is this the slow creep of American influence into Eurovision when it’s been one of the few bastions where American influence had been minimal until recently? I don’t mind it but it’s at risk of losing distinctly European sounds despite the efforts of some acts to preserve, and bring into the modern era, their cultural influences. Unintended American imperialism. It’s a good song nonethless.

Ukraine – MELOVIN: Under The Ladder

His promotional photo makes him look like a male model. On stage he looks like a drama student who takes himself too serious to the point you cringe. I think it’s the shirt more than anything. He’s like one of the Goths from South Park… The song is okay and the staging with the on fire stair case is a nice touch but… eh he’s an also ran to be honest.

United Kingdom – SuRie: Storm

It’s a nice song. It will be used on TV promotions and adverts. I swear I’ve heard it used for those at some point but I can’t have. Tonally it’s different from many other entries and in the minor key. Really the UK is still clawing it’s status back after the whole Iraq thing years ago and now there are more competitors than ever doing their best and proving there are musical artists throughout Europe deserving of more recognition internationally than ever. It’s a good song. We won’t win but hopefully get a decent score and anything in the top half would be good. Pessimistic I know as actually this is better than quite a few I’ve been listening to while writing this but there we go don’t want to blow your own trumpet and seem elitist.

My likely high scorers and potential winners:

Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, FRANCE, Georgia, Ireland, ITALY!!!, Moldova (my dark horse bet), NORWAY (though I hope not), PORTUGAL (if they can pull it off on the night though they’re the hosts and you would assume not want to host it two years on the trot), Serbia, SPAIN (!!!), Netherlands (following the trend of ‘the, stylistically or presentationally, stand out performance usually wins’ logic seen in past years).

The running order in the finale will be:

Each act drew in which half of the Grand Final they would perform. As host country, Portugal drew its exact starting position (8) during the Heads of Delegation meeting in March.

01. Ukraine

02. Spain

03. Slovenia

04. Lithuania

05. Austria

06. Estonia

07. Norway

08. Portugal

break position

09. United Kingdom

10. Serbia

11. Germany

12. Albania

13. France

14. Czech Republic

15. Denmark

16. Australia

break position

17. Finland

18. Bulgaria

19. Moldova

20. Sweden

21. Hungary

22. Israel

23. The Netherlands

24. Ireland

25. Cyprus

26. Italy

The running order is being decided to ensure each act has the opportunity to stand out. The producers look at the genre of music, whether a song is performed by a solo singer or group, the use of props, music tempo and various other aspects of each act.

… well Georgia, of my favourites, got knocked out before the finale. Italy are the final act so that might work against them potentially or cause them to have a landslide victory. Spain is so early it might be forgotten by the voting time. Norway is also on early and France is exactly half way through.

I’ll try to cover the finale by the end of Sunday but as I do a post about the competition each year this will be put up just in case I don’t for some reason.

This Winter That Will End by Margaret Lloyd

I have to admire the way your words

enduring and graceful create

just the right tone. Not giving

anything away but making it

clear you are enduring the necessity

of words for the sake of grace.

But are we talking about being polite

or are we talking about God?

In my mind I put your words

next to the old woman

whose knees and bare feet

froze to the ice on her own floor,

and was found days later repeating

‘Oh God, Oh God’ in Polish.

It was the officer’s opinion

this kept her alive. But was he

referring to speech or prayer?

If prayer, it was through

her continuous prayer, her prayer

was answered. Presuming, of course,

she wanted to stay alive. Often,

we don’t know what we want.

I fear this winter will end

and it will be too late. Too late

to remember our intentions, too late

to repeat what we never understood.

 

by Margaret Lloyd

4Move Active Magnesium + Vitamins drink

A Pasteurized, carbonated, blueberry flavoured drink with addition of magnesium and vitamins (vitamin C, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12) from Poland with recommendations by former football players Adam Nawałka and Jerzy Dudek.

Price: £0.50 from Tesco for a 250ml can.

Along the top of the can it has the national flags of Russia, Turkey, Germany, Switzerland, France, Poland, Hungary, Sweden, Spain (the simpler civil ensign for civil use version), Italy, Czech Republic, Portugal, Switzerland (again), Germany (again), Austria, Romania and the Slovak Republic. I assume this is were this product has been sold previously… it’s a good way to sell to nationalists I guess…

Packaging information (copied exactly as it is on the packaging)

The Original Premium Vitamin Drink

Pasteurized carbonated blueberry flavoured drink with addition of magnesium and vitamins (vitamin C, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12)

Magnesium + vitamins : Vitamin C, niacin, Vit. B6, B12

Magnesium contributes to normal muscle function, contributes to normal psychological function.

100% of daily requirement for vitamins: C, niacin, B6, B12 in 250ml of the product.

Swiss Vitamin formula – developed by the Swiss laboratory

Sport Champions recommend: Jerzy Dudek

The best trainers recommend: Adam Nawałka

Ingredients: water, sugar, acidity regulator: citric acid; carbon dioxide, magnesium citrate, concentrate from carrot, guarana extract (0,01%) (containing caffeine), aroma, vitamins: vitamin C, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12.

Best before: for the date and batch number see the bottom.

Keep in a dry and cool place. Do not free.

The package contains one suggested portion of the product. Remember to preserve balanced diet and healthy life style. Manufactured in the EU.

[The can also has this information in Polish.]

Nutritional value in 100ml // 250ml (portion)

Energy: 207kJ / 49 kcal // 518kJ / 123 kcal (6%)

Fat 0g // 0g (0%)

of which saturates 0g // 0g (0%)

Carbohydrate 12g // 30g (12%)

of which sugars 12g // 30g (33%)

Protein 0g // 0g (0%)

Salt 0g //0g (0%)

[( ) = Reference intake of an average adult 8400kJ / 2000kcal]

Vitamin C 32mg (40%) // 80mg (100%)

Niacin 6,4mg (40%) // 16mg (100%)

Vitamin B6 0,56mg (40%) // 1,4mg (100%)

Vitamin B12 1,0mg (40%) // 2,5mg (100%)

Magnesium 75mg (20%) // 187,5mg (50%)

[( ) = Nutrient reference values]

Recycling: The can is aluminium and can be recycled.

DSC_0152

Review

Pink in colour… If you drank it straight from the can you probably wouldn’t realise. It taste like an energy drink… because that’s what it is. I forget the exact brand it tastes like but Monster wouldn’t be too far off the mark. Not unpleasant. It tastes ‘pink’… that flavour of ‘pink’ sweets and artificially flavoured drinks have. A laboratory created half way between raspberry and strawberry. It taste ike candy floss. Apparently, according to the can, it’s blueberry. Yes okay let’s go with that… but quite an artifical taste of blueberry no doubt composed of scents A453, R692 and E7330 in specific quantities in the laboratory to emulate the flavour of blueberrys…

Texture wise you only notice the carbonisation immediately after swallowing it.

So… yeah… if you want to try it then go for it… you already know if you’ll be disappointed on not when you buy it. Or better yet just get a soft drink, with the same amount of sugar, or a coffee and improve your diet so you get all the nutrients from better sources.

The claims they make are ridiculous… ‘contributes to normal muscle function, contributes to normal psychological function’… those are such ridiculous, yet vague, claim they might as well rename it Panacea and say it is a cure for all known ailments. A modern day snake oil. It’s a caffinated, sugar filled, drink which in past generations would have been sold as a study aid and is now instead rebranded as a sports or energy drink. It’s sugar… as much sugar as a normal soft drink but with added vitamins.

The recommendations are from Adam Nawałka who is currently the manager of the Polish football team (who is his player career had played for Liverpool and Real Madrid) and Jerzy Dudek a former Polish football team goalkeeper.

The English is grammatically a little incorrect in some parts of the translation but I suppose no one cares as it’s not as if anyone actually reads the information but they still need to cover themselves legally.

DSC_0154

Wałęsa. Człowiek z nadziei [Walesa, Man of Hope] 2013 film

A 2013 Polish biopic film about the leader of the trade union Solidarity movement (and later president of Poland) Lech Walesa by Andrzej Wajda. The film was selected as the Polish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards, but was not nominated. Recently, on 10/01/2017, this film was shown on BBC4.

Synopsis:

Lech Wałęsa, an electrician at the Gdańsk Shipyards, participated in local demonstrations during the 1970s which became violent and left their mark on him after he returned to his daily routine. Ten years later, a new uprising occurred and unexpectedly became a charismatic leader of the Polish dockworkers.

Wałęsa’s leadership role signifies the beginning of a new movement that successfully overcomes the country’s Communist regime, and Wałęsa is pushed into representing the majority of Poland’s population. The Soviet Union authorities, previously regarded as too powerful to be confronted, eventually tolerate existence of the movement a degree. However he is at one point taken from his home in the middle of the night by Soviet officials to an unknown location. On their journey there they pass a road and Lech declares that the people will support him but his escort laugh at this and tell him to open his window and ask the people themselves. On the roadside are some poor farmers who tell him they hate him and he has done nothing to help them. At the interrogation location he is fed and openly shows defiance to the authorities before being eventually released when it’s clear they will get nothing from him. Later we see his wife accepting the Nobel peace prize on his behalf in 1983 as he believed if he left the country he would not be allowed back in.

The film ends on a note of Soviet members saying they will get him and Wałęsa being left unchallenged by opponents. The Polish example of the group Solidarity causes a domino effect throughout Eastern Europe. People in Eastern Germany follow the Polish example, starting demonstrations for freedom which achieves a peaceful reunification of Germany. The Soviet Union then dissolved alongside Yugoslavia.

In the epilogue we are told that while Europe is reshaped, Poland remains stable and peaceful. Yet a huge variety of political parties unfold and Poland is on the brink of becoming as ungovernable as the late Weimar Republic. Wałęsa is subsequently elected as the first president of the new Polish democracy; but, this is followed by feelings of resentment among the Polish people who start to think that Wałęsa is becoming overly privileged. Consequently, the Polish people start to seek out ways to diminish Wałęsa’s significance, until they finally accomplish their goal through uncovering actions from a past period.

Cast:
Robert Więckiewicz as Lech Wałęsa
Agnieszka Grochowska as Danuta Wałęsa
Zbigniew Zamachowski as Nawiślak
Maria Rosaria Omaggio as Oriana Fallaci
Cezary Kosiński as Majchrzak
Mirosław Baka as Klemens Gniech
Iwona Bielska as Ilona, Wałęsa’s neighbour
Maciej Stuhr as Priest
Małgorzata Zajączkowska as Shop assistant
Marcin Hycnar as KOR member Rysiek
Dorota Wellman as Henryka Krzywonos
Adam Woronowicz as Tadeusz Fiszbach
Marcin Perchuć as Instruktor
Ewa Kuryło as Anna Walentynowicz
Arkadiusz Detmer as Malinowski
Mateusz Kościukiewicz as Krzysiek
Piotr Probosz as Mijak
Ewa Kolasińska as Shipyard worker
Michał Czernecki
Remigiusz Jankowski as Shipyard worker
Wojciech Kalarus as Chairman
Maciej Marczewski as KOR member
Maciej Konopiński as SB agent
Marcel Głogowski as Bogdan Wałęsa (aged 8–10)
Wiktor Malinowski as Jarosław Wałęsa (aged 3–5)
Kamil Jaworski as Przemysław Wałęsa (aged 5–7)
Jakub Świderski as Ludwik Prądzyński
Bogusław Kudłek as Bogdan Borusewicz
Michał Meyer as Jerzy Borowczak
Grzegorz Małecki as UB agent
Ewa Konstancja Bułhak as Customs official
Damian Jagusz as soldier

Review:
Be honest – if you read that synopsis and didn’t think ‘this is propaganda’ then your not being critical. This is a view you must take with any biographical works as inevitably there will be a bias present no matter the intent. Either the subject themselves, in the case of autobiographies, is editting the truth in order to better fit their personal self image or intentionally presenting an image they wish to be accepted as true or, in third party works, you are viewing the events through the perception of someone interpreting their subject for better or worse. It reminds me about someone who once told me they only read biographies because they deal in reality while fiction is just make believe. For such people this film will be accepted at face value.

Andrzej Wajda is a freind of Lech Wałęsa and so there is inevitably a bias. This film romanticises events in favour of depicting Lech Walesa as a man of the people who never did anything questionable. It is a love letter to him displaying his defiant, outspoken behaviour and being seen to be rarely challenged successfully in his opposition to the Soviet era establishment. It is highly romanticised not in it’s imagery, as Wadja’s style is distinctly realist and unsensational (barring a few concessions to cinematic flare), but in how we are presented Lech’s personality, showing him often making political statements and being in control of any enviroment he is in – even when he is taken by the secret police from his family to be interrogated.

Many scenes of the film include achive footage in which the faces of the actors are superimposed onto the footage of the person they are playing. Due to the low quality of the footage in compariosn to modern high definition imagery this is done quite effectively although I would wonder if it feels jarring for those familiar with the real life individuals and this footage in its original form. Apart from this we have dramatisations of Lech’s personal life which presumably has been sourced from multiple accounts to create as close to the actual events as possible – or maybe it’s just from Lech’s perspective and therefore favours his interpretation of events.

In the final third of the film, once he is held by the Soviet authorities, all we have is speculation based on his personal accounts of events. My issue with this? In most of this film we have the intergration of modern and contemporary footage (with the actor’s faces placed over those of the actual historical figures they play) which lends itself to making us unable to distinguish which parts are fact and which parts are further along the sliding scale of fact towards we accept as ‘historical fact’.

What I mean by this is we can only base our knowledge on the accounts given by people of the time and any evidence we are able to establish. History is only what we are told happened and which re-enforces the oft cited cliche ‘the victor writes history’ as we are discovering, time and time again, when historians go back to events long ago and uncover new evidence that the previously accepted ‘truth’ is not what actually happened but was a biased interpretations of events from the perspective of one side.

Why note this distinction between fact and historical fact? This film is doing its best to establish Wałęsa’s legacy as an unquestionably noble figure who did no wrong in his lifetime to achieve his goals and yet there is a challenge to such a perception of him nowadays. Recently Wałęsa has faced accussations of colluding with the Soviet government which he vehemently denies despite growing evidence to the contrary. In the closing minutes of the film we see his interrorgaters comment, to almost cartoonish effect, they will ‘get him later’. This moment works to make the audience also refute any later accusations of collusion they will hear including those currently being discussed in light of new evidence. After all who do we believe – the Soviet authorities who are well known to have used certain methods and obscured the reality of events often or this idealised man of the people?

Further to the cartoonishly villainous declaration of revenge we are given a brief summary, via text on the screen, relaying what occurred after the events depicted. One of these asserts that because of Wałęsa’s actions, and the rise of the Solidarity group, Poland led other Eastern Bloc nations towards rebelling against Soviet control and thus were key in the fall of the Berlin Wall.

This film presented an oversimplification of historical events regarding the downfall of the Soviet Union in it’s closing moments by suggesting Wałęsa’s actions, singlehandedly, began the sequence of events that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. There were a great many other world events and internal problems within the Soviet union which led to its downfall so this film, as I have already mentioned, acts as propaganda attempting to secure the legacy of Wałęsa as one of the great historical figures in the history not just of Poland, which has been so hard fought for throughout the centuries by its citizens, but of the world.

He comes across as a historical figure not a man in this film. An image not a living person similar to how canonised saints are depicted. We have seen this time and time again in biopics which cherrypick what is depicted, how it is depicted and perhaps this is why I tend to avoid watching them because ultimately what we are watching is personality propaganda and not a fair account of the individual’s life. Rarely are such films a fair representation of what actually occurred let alone the unblemished, and sometimes unpalatable, truth. Often they instead iconise their subject either as hero or villain.

A caricature who is defined as representing some noble cause and whose example (of their mythos, not their reality) we should follow, is presented to the audience and we are asked to accept it blindly. There are too many examples of biopics being more fiction than fact but that is something to discuss another day. What is safe to say is that the actions of characters in the film must fit the narrative even if it warps the character of the real life person. Examples I can give off the top of my head are First Officer William Murdoch’s depiction in the 1997 film Titanic and of Vivian Liberto Cash in 2005’s Walk The Line both of whom were depicted negatively to enhance the focus narrative without thought to real world events.

Secondary to depictions of Wałęsa are those of the Italian reporter Oriana Fallaci, who is interviewing him as part of the film’s framing device. She is also somewhat of a caricature of the real life person and the choice for her to be used is itself indicative of Wadja’s intentions. Here she is depicted as the classic image all journalists wish to be seen as. Partisan yet invested. Distant yet intimate with their subject. Taking a stand against perceived injustices in the world yet never personally being involved (or indeed effected by it save, as journalist’s often do to create repore in hopes of exposing weakness in their subject, to express a few half hearted suggestions of sympathy – but never empathy). To be objective though they edit what they write and thus can never truly ignore their own experiences in life thus fostering an image which often overshadows the subject they cover. A journalist’s journalist.

The real life Fallaci often came into conflict with Muslims regarding her outspoken criticism of communities both in the East and West while she maintained an aloof air of superiority over them both. During her 1972 interview with Henry Kissinger, Kissinger stated that the Vietnam War was a “useless war” and compared himself to “the cowboy who leads the wagon train by riding ahead alone on his horse”. Kissinger later claimed that it was “the single most disastrous conversation I have ever had with any member of the press”. In 1973, she interviewed Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. She later stated, “He considers women simply as graceful ornaments, incapable of thinking like a man, and then strives to give them complete equality of rights and duties”.

It is hard to suggest that this image isn’t based on one Oriana herself made every effort to enforce during her life through her actions, often intended to incite reaction, and not just Wadja trying to lend further credence to his biopic by using a respected real life journalist in the framing device. She, like any others, was more a journalist seeking glory and building her reputation through conflict than making a difference in the world through her work and reporting things people do not want to accept as reality. Despite the heavily doctored image she seemed to wish to portray of herself fault always lay outside the individual as was the case when she blamed her lung cancer on her stay in Kuwait in 1991 after Saddam Hussein had ordered troops to burn hundreds of oil well alone and not that she had been, by choice, a lifelong heavy smoker. And in this film the fault lay exclusively with the Soviets never with how people did not rise up and challenge them before Wałęsa ascension to, what this film is mythologising as, a figurehead.

Summary:
On many aspects of the film I can find no fault. The acting is impactful, the cinematography up to the standard you would expect of a world class director such as Andrzej Wajda (who sadly passed away 9 October 2016) and it really has the sense, if not the most accurate depiction, of the 1980s in Poland. It is solidly built but the message it wishes to express seems, as with any biographical work, to have a desire to frame events in a certain light and omit anything unseemly in order to create a streamlined mythological narrative about its subject – to create an icon rather than relate a flawed, but inspirational, subject.

My greatest critcism is that Andrzej Wajda considered Lech a personal friend and I feel that this caused him to not cast a critical eye upon his subject. This has led, in this love letter of a film to his freind, to the embellishment of a historical figure and securing of his legacy. It deminishes the moments of true opposition faced in order to secure the heroic, incontestable, historical mythos of Wałęsa. The reason people watch a biopic or read an (auto)biography is to see the person behind the facade but sadly, as is often the case, all we get is a re-enforcement of what was already presented to us elsewhere. If you want an introduction to the life and times of Wałęsa then this is good enough as a biased crib notes like starting point but don’t expect any insight into him or how the Soviet era effected Poland beyond trade union strikes.

If you are interested in the works of Andrzej Wajda, or depictions of Poland under Communist rule, I strongly recommend you go watch Wadja’s Man of Marble (Polish: Człowiek z marmuru) or its sequel Man of Iron (Polish: Człowiek z żelaza) which depict fictionalised characters’ experiences covering the events of the Solidarity movement. In these Wajda is less sentimental about his subject and can better present the moral ‘truth’ of events without concern for offending a friend as has sadly occurred with this biopic made far later in his career.

Eurovision 2016

The 61st contest which this year is set in Stockholm.

Graham Norton is commentating for the UK audience on the BBC broadcast. He is still nothing compared to Terry Wogan’s coverage sadly.

My first impressions of each song and performance are noted below. I didn’t watch all the lead up semi-finals etc so I am seeing these for the first time.

There is an epilepsy warning accompanied by a pseudo-catwalk fashion show in the introductions of the competitors projecting their national flags onto avant-garde fashion designs worn by the models. It is a spectacle but could easily outshine the costumes of the competitors’ performances in its extravagance unfortunately. I remember that, year on year, there would be competitors with very unique appearances and performances but if it is going to be anything like last year? I feel like everything is going to feel very toned down compared to the past.


Details on each performer can be found at: http://www.eurovision.tv/page/stockholm-2016/participants


The presenters: No idea who they are. Home crowd loves them obviously. Cheesy jokes – but that happens every year. ‘put our differences aside and join in our love of music’ Petra declares – shame no one said that around the time of the Iraq war as it feels like Britain is still paying for a choice our government made without the support of its citizens. UK viewers cannot vote by text apparently and no reason is given why not. Then Graham rattles off a long list of how the voting has changed and I would be surprised anyone was definite what this meant from what he said. Richard Osmond (who gave our judge’s vote later) made a short film explaining it apparently. I wasn’t aware of it personally. Petra’s dress is awful. It is that oddly washed out vomit tone of salmon which never looks good. A little later the male presenter goes to the stadium next door where people are gathered for some reason and speaks to two previous winners – and cuts one off as she sings Hallelujah! Awkward.


Performers intro videos – nice if a bit unconnected to the performers featured or indicative of their personal nationality. It gives you a few tourism brochure like images of the country but tells you nothing of note.


Belgium: Laura Tesoro – What’s The Pressure : Disco/ R&B sensibility. Golden lights and sparkly silver clothing. It’s the first person to perform so you already know it’s the ‘no hoper’ for winning. If I heard this on the radio I would enjoy it as an upbeat little song. The dance routine feels very restrained. It’s a nice ‘warm up’ for later acts. Age 19 – Graham keeps mentioning everyone’s ages tonight. Is he feeling a little old or something? Wogan embraced it and mocked the young performers. Maybe the BBC have been very strict with Norton considering some of the things Wogan used to say – but that was the fun part noting the ridiculous aspects of the performances.

Czech Republic: Gabriela Gunčíková – I Stand: Nice dramatic intro. Big contrast to the previous song. In fairness to Stockholm they have really given the performers a massive amount of variety with the under stage lighting effect and everything. This song I can imagine being very effective in a film soundtrack associated with a very emotionally impactful scene but in isolation it feels a bit… numb. It reminds me of Spectre’s ‘The Writing is on the Wall’ theme song. I didn’t like that song initially but it really grew on me over time. I will be surprised if it gets a high level of votes tonight which is unfortunate. Good but in the way that it would take time to be appreciated which sadly a song contest like this doesn’t allow.

The Netherlands: Douwe Bob – Slow Down: Clock floor. Very country music in tone. Wearing a suit with an unbuttoned shirt to expose his throat tattoo just makes it look like he has a cravat. The keyboardist looks like a young Bob Dylan. This is the sort of slower acoustic song I would expect on a boy band album that doesn’t get released as a single. The 10 second stop is stupid. It adds nothing to the song. The lyrics were incredibly repetitive. Tells Europe to slow down… for what reason?

Azerbaijan: Samra – Miracle: Her intro is like a model’s film reel with her posing in a shop and roller skate park. Good timing with the flame effects to add emphasis. Clearly learned from last years winner. In fact I can imagine many of the entrants are really going to go to town with the stage effects… The song is like a B-side of a girl band album where they’ve let one of the less prominent members have a go as lead vocalist. So far everyone’s sung in English… I kind of want people to represent their nation in their own language and show a bit of pride rather than go with what is most ‘commercial’. Outfits wise its like a low-budget 1970s sci-fi film based on a pulp fiction story.

Hungary: Freddie – Pioneer: So again its a ‘stood posing around the city’ intro. Dull. Ooh a taiko drum on stage! The jeans and t-shirt look isn’t doing it for me. The backing singers bouncing on their heels back and forth is ‘dad dancing’so unintentionally hilarious. Let’s face it people will vote for the pretty boy’s face or the drummer who isn’t actually the competitor. The song is a nice anthemic one but… it’s missing that special something but definitely would grow on me very quickly. So far this one is the one I would say is in the lead. Good overall performance.

Italy: Francesca Michielin – No Degree Of Separation: ATTRACTIVE LADY! (If you read my coverage last year I kind of noted which ones I thought were attractive so ;P to any who take umbridge) And she sings in Italian!!! automatically I want her to win. The staging. There are actual physical decorations in the form of floral arrangements. (In the end I think she was the only one to have physical decorations onstagw while everyone else used the back projected scenes). She is wearing odd dungarees that remind me of a Klimt painting… The song is a very nice soft ballad. She kicks it up into English and I am really enjoying it. On the screen are whisps and water drops which an audience there wouldn’t see so that’s not great. The fruit offering at the end is a bit hokey. Overall I really liked it.

Israel: Hovi Star – Made Of Stars: The guy looks like one of the goth kids off South Park. Go look and tell me I’m wrong. A sparkly shirt under a dull black suit. Very emo looking though I thought that fashion faded out a few years ago. He has a good singing voice. The hoop gymnast dancers are impressive but very much distracting and I feel trying to make up for the limited tone of the song as it is much slower than the competition so far. At the end it kicks up instrumentally but he doesn’t really match that energy. It was a good effort but not enough.

Bulgaria: Poli Genova – If Love Was A Crime: Side of the head shaved hairstyles are fashionable now. I don’t know if I like the style or not as I grew up seeing it in the British comic 2000AD and Tank Girl as a futuristic punk style so it’s very old-fashioned to me. Her costume is very like a sci-fi cosplay as a sort of military half beige, half black, uniform. She is cute… kind of hitting a few geek fetishes… phwoar. (I’m joking). The song is energetic and she at least moves a bit unlike many of the previous entrants. I actually would like to see her do really well as the entire performance is coordinated in tone and aesthetic. Oh the costume lights up! and the backing singers appear. Yes I really hope she does well.

Sweden: Frans – If I Were Sorry: Franz wears a beanie. It reminds me of that character from ‘American Beauty’ who films a plastic carrier bag moving in the wind. He is being clapped along with so… yeah he has home team support and is a good, if sterile, young male, spray tanned one too many times, performer. Casual but stylishly fashionable clothing which is inoffensive. An upbeat slightly crooning style of song. Words appear behind him. He has what the Might Boosh would describe as ‘shrimp eyes’ usually associated with Julian Barrett. He is only 17 years old Graham notes again. Host nations on the year usually don’t go all out as they don’t want the cost year on year but this was a nice entry nonetheless.

Germany: Jamie-Lee = Ghost: Graham says she annoys him but doesn’t explain clearly. I know she is a Koreanphile. I really like the stage design. Lasers and old black gnarled tree forest. But she stays stood at the front and the backing singers are hidden away so it all feels a wasted opportunity for really elaborate dance choreography. Clearly the presenters little chat between this and the last song was to allow time for it to be set up. She starts in silhouette. Should have stayed that way as her head-dress or even maybe the whole outfit is ridiculous. I feared everyone would be very muted in visual tone this year. My fears are allayed. The song is slow and again maybe something that given a context in a young adult film might get an audience but it feels too weak to compete her. (Later I note they got very low votes. Is it because Eurovision is moving in a more ‘serious’ direction? Is it because of the fetishisation people perhaps felt was implied by her overt interest in Korean culture? Was it just because its Germany i.e. one of the ‘big 5’ nations and there is some bitterness towards them? Or maybe the song just wasn’t up to standard. What do you think?)

France: Amir – J’ai cherché: A trained dentist. Sings in French but adds a little bit of English. Good. Again dressed casual smart in a suit but with t-shirt and white trainers. Works the camera and moves around the stage. Good energy. No great energy! This is a competitor! Doesn’t need much in the sense of visuals as the song itself is more than enough… but then we know Eurovision doesn’t always award talent. (I was proven right in the end sadly).

Poland: Michał Szpak – Color Of Your Life: Long haired guy with a pseudo-rocker look. Graham says he doesn’t like performing. I kind of wish Graham would hold off these comments of his until after the person has performed. (Actually it turns out Graham is correct as this guy doesn’t come across very well). So he is a guy in a circus owner’s long red coat with epaulettes. Black shirt, trousers and shoes. No socks. Another modern look that feels wrong as people would be mocked for short trousers and this look when I was a teenager. The song is lacklustre. He gesticulated a lot. There isn’t much to add really. Ooooh Ooooh Ohhhh. I see violinists but couldn’t hear them.

Australia: Dami Im – Sound Of Silence: I appreciate they watch it ‘down under’ and as a special celebration they let them compete last year but I don’t think they should be a permanent addition to the EUROPEAN song contest. Emigrated to Australia at 9 years old. Won their X-Factor or similar talent show. Stong singing voice. Sat on a glittery box in a dress I would expect to see on a pre-teen beauty queen pageant contestant in America. The way she is sat on the box reminds me of Kermit the frog and any other muppets… The song is good. This is a strong competitor and I wouldn’t have been surprised to see this on another show. Serious competitor despite my views on who should or shouldn’t be allowed to compete.

Cyprus: Minus One – Alter Ego: Band performs in cages. Weird… oh wait they are a rock band so it’s okay. Vocalist has a bit of a whine in his voice so I’m not impressed. Lots of seizure inducing flashing. The song isn’t great as a rock song and as an Eurovision entry is generic. They wear black as shirts, leather jackets and such. Dry ice smoke. Graham should have warned about the light show on this entry even if he did the disclaimer at the start of the broadcast. I will be surprised if this rises above the bottom 5 ( and only then because of political voting). Fucking hell I wouldn’t be surprised if anyone didn’t get a headache from those lights let alone a seizure.

Serbia: Sanja Vučić ZAA – Goodbye (Shelter): Side shaved head again. Graham makes another critical but unfunny observation. Long black (leather?) dress with shoulder tassels and … whatever is happening on her hair fringe. Nice imagery. A dancer interacting with her for the songs narrative of her being a betrayed women standing up for herself. Nice visuals. The song would definitely do well under other circumstances. It reminds me of the late 90s – early 00s James Bond themes. I really like it although the song and visuals don’t really go together if I’m honest.

Lithuania: Donny Montell – I’ve Been Waiting for This Night: Competed before. Might remember him wearing a blindfold as his song was about ‘love being blind’. Has a mini trampoline this time. Side shaved head again. The ‘black t-shirt, black skinny jeans and trainers look that is popular coupled with a white leather jacket. The song is generic ‘I’ve been waiting for this night (to have another go at competing in Eurovision)’. Visuals are… ok. Someone heard the other competitors were going to use it so they made generic splashes and … oh! There was the mini trampoline and dry ice making his jacket disappear! Well that was the ‘hook’ of this performance otherwise… bland as hell.

Croatia: Nina Kraljić – Lighthouse: Partially shaved heads are on trend right now then obviously. Half shaved heads for the girls and the skinny jeans and t-shirt with designer trainers for the boys. Graham comments her dress is too big for her as if she lost weight – he should have saved it for after we saw the poncho dress to get the joke. Her hair is awful. Like someone bought a white widow’s peak wig and put it on wrong but didn’t adjust it. Interesting cape/poncho. Then underneath she has a very art deco dress with extravagant arm wings which are mirrored bits on one side and lavender feathers on the opposite side. Dame Edna has had her wardrobe raided I guess. The song… she sounds off-key. Backing singers/dancers are like cult members preparing for a sacrifice. This is a stereotypical Eurovision entry. I will be shocked it gets a big numbers of votes.

Russia: Sergey Lazarev – You Are The Only One: Bookies favourite apparently. Had to speak out against his homeland to please voters which really feels like he is going to cause himself trouble once back home. Dressed in black. Using the back screen to full effect for wings and storm effects. Backing singer/dancers appear. Very visually impressive. Definitely Graham’s description of him going on a charm offensive wasn’t inappropriate. Then sat on the screen… climbed as its made of rubber so he could dig his feet into it. They’ve really pulled out all the stops for this. The song is very anthemic and immediately pleasing. No wonder this is the favourite its a near masterclass on combining the best parts of the previous few years’ winners.

Spain: Barei – Say Yay! Apparently her fall is intentional in the middle. Graham is ruining the performances by alerting us to these aspects. (Actually the lights cut out and she is laying sideways, as if on a chez longe, on the floor). He has seen them during the preliminaries but we haven’t! It ruins the expereince for people who just watch the final. Very attractive features. Her hair… guess the style- except she brush it in the opposite direction to the other competitors. She has a sparkly mini dress on and pixie boots. Also gauntlet like jewellery on her left arm. Very good song! Extremely energetic performance and song. Gets the audience involved too! Works the stage wonderfully. It has definitely been affected by being placed directly after Russia’s song but this is certainly up there and deserves a lot of votes.

Latvia: Justs – Heartbeat: Similar to other male competitors he wears the fashionable uniform but with cut out knee slits and a black leather jacket. It’s… not great if I am honest. Subdued performance. He puts emphasis in certain parts but the electronica instrumental doesn’t justify it. This is the sort of song I imagine being played towards the end of the night when the nightclubs want people to leave. Maybe girls will vote for him as he is attractive in a Chris Hemsworth way.

Ukraine: Jamala – 1944: Grandmother was deported by Stalin. Denies the song is anything to do with Russia. ~cough~sure~cough~. Will get votes for its political commentary. Dress is a navy off the shoulder with long arm ‘wings’ piece. Very good song with traditional tones but electronic drum beat. Reminds me of a lot of 80s alternative songs or maybe 90s stuff like Moloko. The lights are red and therefore the focus is completely on her and its a very good performance. A Eurovision winner – we will have to see but I would listen to it again definitely which is more than I can say for most of these songs. I think the only one I listened to again from last year was Georgia’s entry ‘Warrior’. Didn’t sing in English which is a bonus to me. Good entry. (Was the winner in the end).

Malta: Ira Losco – Walk On Water: Was in it 2002 or 2012 before apparently. She is pregnant. Filmed smoke effects to open into it. Then an art deco corridor effect behind her. sequined dress. Lots of cleavage and slit to the thigh dress to expose a leg to get male voters onside. Then a dancer erupts from nowhere and disappears just as fast. The song… it’s okay. Nothing special in the context of the competition. Might get a bit of radio play as one of those songs people half remember and request on Sunday afternoon shows. An also ran entry. Might have done better in past years but the Eurovision has begun to shift to more modern tastes after years of stagnancy.

Georgia: Nika Kocharov and Young Georgian Lolitaz – Midnight Gold: Rock show lighting show with a mirroring effect. Wearing modern fashion in blacks and greys with wide-brimmed hats. Decent rock song. Eurovision tends to prefer spectacle though so while I would definitely listen to this again although it isn’t going to do neither good nor bad vote wise on the day. Then the epilepsy light show occurs. Again, thanks for the timely warning Graham. Also thanks for saying it felt overly long… I felt it passed very quickly. Personal tastes of course but he isn’t funny like Terry Wogan was and I think he is all too aware of it.

Austria: ZOË – Loin d’ici: Sings in French. Has a pastel pink ’16 year olds special day’ type dress on with a single strand wire tiara you can barely see. A gentle use of the wind machine. Pop dance song with violins. Enjoyable. Forgettable. Inoffensive. Will be used in a clip show edit to show this year’s competitors. I probably would enjoy other songs by her but this feels a bit too muted compared to other competitors this year.

United Kingdom: Joe and Jake – You’re Not Alone: Intro features football and rugby because we British handed in our ‘part of globally significant arts’ card a long time ago apparently. And smoke flares. We clearly pissed off someone at a sports match with drunken louts who the travelled to Stockholm… Two young guys so they’ll get girls’ votes. Dressed in the fashion uniform of this year. The song is quite ‘radio play on a Sunday’… It’s inoffensive. Oh fuck – we are going to be in the bottom three again aren’t we? I can already tell. Fuck. I can see the tabloids using this as a weak argument for ‘Brexit’ (Britain exiting the European Union). Decent performance but the other competitor’s came to compete and win – not just take part.

Armenia: Iveta Mukuchyan – LoveWave: Last entry. Last entries have won before so not saying bad but you can bet it will be one of the good ones as they want to end on a high when some turn over preferring not to watch the voting etc. OOOOH ATTRACTIVE! the lights and pyrotechnics have clearly been invested in. the dry ice smoke too. She is wearing a sparkly black opaque leotard with ‘butt cape’. Dirty old man vote winner of the night. The song is good and changes tone well unlike most of the one note songs tonight. Didn’t quite hit that high note at the end. Shame as a bit more polish and it would have been a serious contender.

Vote time: It was good. I think it is clear who the top ones are going to be. Of course now we have the presenters banter… Oh and she has a green dress on now. It looks terrible. I hope she was forced to wear in. Weird 70s crepe shoulder flower ruffles thing and the ‘skirt’, beneath a narrow silver ‘belt’ is a sparkly abomination like something dredged up from the deep. So they show Ian McKellen and Derrick Jacobi from a scene in that rubbish ITV show they did… which was random. Some come across better in the voting snippets than they did during the full performance and some come across worse as I notice the Czech entry awkwardly hit her top note apparently.

Hungary, Russia and maybe Spain are my ‘top three’ likely to win at the moment. I wish Bulgaria, Italy or Spain would win though. Australia will do well I have no doubt and Armenia deserve a good number of votes. Poland, Latvia, Croatia or Lithuania getting large numbers of votes will surprise me.

Justin Timberlake turns up in the green room because… just because. Oh promoting a film. Nice that we can’t have even one evening where America isn’t involved in any sense. Oh and he is going to sing 2 songs. Great. Bulgaria’s entrant is hovering around in the background. Okay she is winning me over since her outfit is far better than the presenters dress.
Then we get some VTs and such in a supercut of various moments in Swedish musical history and music videos by a guy who did a Madonna video. I will be fair it was entertaining as I recognised many of the songs. IT EVEN HAD PAPA EMERITUS FROM GHOST IN IT! I’m won over!

Then Justin Timberlake. Rock your body. Of course with more backing singers, a more tightly choreographed routine. Inevitably it blows everything else out of the water. Yes please remind us America does it bigger and better. There was talk of letting them compete in Eurovision. I hope it was just a rumour because we all know they are going to go whole hog into winning year on yea until Eurovision becomes amalgamated and just like every other homogenized American product we consume day on day. Nothing against Justin personally as he is very good but I just get a bad taste over the entire matter. Then again Britain has pulled out the stops dragging in international singers in a few years recently so I shouldn’t be overly critical. People joked they wanted to vote for the American entry. Be careful what you wish for…

Malta won the Junior Eurovision. The winner comes on stage promoting the Junior Eurovision. That’s nice as she seemed a little nervous but then many performers come across like that once the stage persona is
Petra chides her boy toy for interrupting her. Now she is wearing an elegant gothy lace and satin dress which is far better than the previous ones. Then they do a run down of ‘things to have to win’ sketch.

Humour can be very awkward but this was actually quite amusing in inoffensive. Oh they got the violin guy back! Then they did the costume change and she has a Shakira like style on ut the top is a one piece with skin tone which makes her look worse than ever! Like some one in their 50s trying to dress how they did as a 19 year old! I am wondering what her actual age is as I;m guessing the way she has been styled tonight has made her look far older than her actual age. Then they do a song which was good. She lets her hair down while he shows off his chest and lots of dancers with very different styles referencing previous entries get on stage. a Very impressive filler while all the voting is going on. Good for them.

Then they have a comedian, Lynda Woodruff, some on as a representative of the EBU while they go off for a costume change. Really falling flat answering some emailed questions. Then she crowd surfs off back into obscurity. Guy is back in open collared shirt and suit. Then a bit of bragging over how often they’ve won on a VT about Sweden’s achievements.

It’s self-deprecating however so they get away with it as they say Eurovision influences their foreign language lessons, gangs, religion, etc.

Petra returns in a flowing Dame Edna Everage dress… Sparkly with a mix of pink raw flesh tones. Like someone who got thrown through a window in the middle of the day into a bottle bank. She introduces the previous winner who does a very ‘Hugh Jackman at an award ceremony’ like performance.

The song ‘Heroes’ still holds up no question. In fact I could argue that putting this year’s winner up next to it will probably make this year look like a step down from last year in terms of quality unfortunately – certainly the fact so many acts adopted his use of back projected imagery proves how effective the entire performance was.

So national votes and televotes are presented separately. How you vote doesn’t change just how they present it. 50% from the voting boards and 50% from the public.

The vote announcers of each country always comes across strained and extremely false in their joy… and straight off the bat Australia got 12 points! Then a guy holding a dog. Oh right so they just say who got the 12 points from each country. I can live with them doing that I guess though it’s a bit less fun than the minute or so of build up for the big numbers. San Marino gave use 8 points. Czech Republic gave us 4. So far we are not doing bad this year which is encouraging. Ireland gave us 7 points. Georgia phwoar lady from last year! 🙂 Gave us nothing though… Bosnia and Herzevogina gave us nothing. I’m going to assume we just had a nice start. Malta gave us 12 points!!!! But that was a political vote if we are honest. Spain gave us nothing. (I should be noting who is giving who 12 points so will do that next year for those interested – oh except they put up a video on YouTube of the entire votes process so no need). Finland gives awkward banter and no points to us though 12 to their neighbour Sweden obviously. Switzerland gave us nothing. Denmark gave us three. France gave us nothing… obviously ;p Moldova lady is very Hello Nurse! Ash blonde, red lips and in a suit and they gave us nothing. Armenia had a connection issue and gave us nothing. Votes seem quite spread this year although Ukraine is getting quite a few. (So ironically even this new style of voting though much closer in its first year of use gave away the final winner early). Cyprus gave us nothing – the guy looks like a sweet shop owner. Bulgaria lady is hello brunette in off shoulder jacket dress and again we get no points. (admit you are enjoying this repetition in the abscence of there being no chance of anyone being ‘nul points’ -nil pwa- this year). The Netherlands give us nothing and their lady wears a jacket with random bits of kryptonite stuck on to ward off Superman. Latvia has a basement dwelling man-child stereotype give the vote and we get no points.

Israel are missing in action so Petra has to buy some time. ‘we are half way through’. Yeah whatever. Her boy toy is in the green room wearing a black shirt and trousers with a white blazer. Are the fascist fashion police on patrol tonight or something? This uniform for men I joked about is a bit too adhered to… Australia is in the lead. It reminds me of Britain’s Got Talent where it’s acts from other countries doing well not our own acts.

Ukrainian lady seems a little drunk or overwhelmed.

Israel sort their side out and we get nothing after the guy uses a little Swedish to flatter Petra. Belarus give us nothing but of course give Russia their 12 points because after all Belarus is beautiful Russia. Germany have their presenter in front of a crowd and give us nothing but emo Israel 12. Russia PHWOAR weird ‘parcel wrapped’ red dress and we get nothing. Norway has their 1985 winner give the vote who give us nothing nor anything to Sweden surprisingly. Australia give us 4 points from an anorexic Asian news presenter with a weird weaved neck ruffle thing. Belgium has a… humpty dumpty brought to life guy give us nothing but Australia 12. UK has Richard Osman give the vote. Nothing for us obviously. We gave Georgia 12 interestingly – its girls voting for a boy band obviously. Croatia has an attractive middle-aged voter giving us nothing but Australia 12 points. Greece has a well-groomed young guy making ladies’ hearts flutter and 12 points to Russia. Lithuania blonde in sparkly white dress and red lips gives us nothing but Australia 12 points. Serbia gave us 2 Points. Very attractive side swiped brunette haired lady in white dress voter. Australia has clearly won its obvious and the new points displaying thing has failed to keep tension. (I was wrong fortunately). FYR Macedonia gives nothing to us and 12 to Ukraine. Albania gave us 5 points and 12 to Australia. Estonia gave us 3 points and 12 to Sweden. Ukraine – WTF mix of traditional dress and the soviet star from the top of the Kremlin… I remember that person. We got no votes and 12 points went to Lithuania. Italy sexy lady, obviously, in a simple red dress giving nothing to us and 12 to Spain. Poland give us nothing and 12 to Ukraine. Slovenia – HELLO! Red hair and leather dress. We got nothing and 12 went to Ukraine. Hungary has a blonde in a yellow dress/coat. Nothing to us and 12 to Australia. Montenegro guy looks like he just walked in off the street and doesn’t speak English as all the others did. Nothing to us but 12 to Malta surprisingly. Sweden’s vote from a Kim Kardashian wannabe in a weird formal dress with cleavage window and sparkles in the shoulder, groin and arm areas like armour. Nothing to us and 12 to Australia.

If Australia win they will partner with an EU member and host it in their country… so that scuppers everyone’s idea of having a jaunt down under next year then. If they partner with anyone but the UK it’ll be a slap in the face of the commonwealth.

And so they move to the popular vote i.e. tele-votes.

Yeah Australia are around 100 points ahead.

*drum roll*

Six lowest voted for countries: 0 to the Czech Republic. 8 to the UK. 10 to Germany. 10 to Spain. 11 to Israel. 16 to Malta. 24 to Georgia. 33 to Croatia. 34 to italy. 39 to the Netherlands. 51 to Belgium. 53 to Cyprus. 56 to Hungary. 63 to Latvia. 73 Azerbaijan. 80 to Serbia.

63 points to the UK in total this year.We have done worse recently so this is a good result despite what the media will no doubt say.

Ten highest voted for countries: 96 points to Lithuania. 109 points to France. 120 points to Austria (which skyrocketed them up the chart). 134 points to Armenia (ditto skyrocket). 139 points to Sweden (ditto but cannot win). 180 points to Bulgaria (ditto skyrocket to second place so far).

Poland, Australia, Ukraine and Russia still need numbers.

Dramatic long pause.

191 points to Australia. So they win with 511 points possibly.

Russia, Ukraine and Poland left.

222 points to Poland. but only to fifth place at this point. went from the bottom to that.

Shocking.

Russia and Ukraine are left now. Kind of ironic considering recent events.

323 points to Ukraine. May very well have won.

So Russia got the most tele-votes. Who got 361 points. So he hasn’t done it.

Ukraine, Australia and Russia.

Russia 3rd place
Australia 2nd place
Ukraine 1st place

(We gave 10 points to Poland in the tele-vote apparently. It must have been patriotic immigrants who voted).

Well I’m glad Australia didn’t win just because of the power it gives them to decide who to partner with to host it next year.

Ukraine winning is a political statement I feel due to the, admittedly denied, implications of the song. It’s a very good song but clearly with this and Conchita Wurst it’s ‘pan-European sociopolitical statement’ entrants who win ultimately. The voting system revision did make it a bit more exciting and concise I will admit so that is a positive move forward for the contest as in previous years the voting seemed to drag on indefinitely.


It’s a shame I can’t embed a link of the condescending tone of the reporter, Nick Higham, on the BBC news immediately after the show coverage ended. He was hilarious and instantly punchable in the face due to his attitude and trite comments about things such as how cheesy it was and the Ukrainian entry adding ‘a well needed tone of seriousness’ as it referenced the ethnic cleansing during Stalin’s era. He obviously didn’t want to cover the event but was forced into it just like the current royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell. Actually add in the political lead Nick Robinson and it seems the BBC are partial to arrogant correspondents named Nicholas at the moment…

Well that was fun. I hope you’ve enjoyed. Comment, Like, follow – all are welcome. That’s all until next year when America is let in as a guest entry with a view to becoming a permanent fixture take care!

Ptasie Mleczko – Waniliowe

Dark Chocolate Covered Vanilla Marshmallow Confectionaries

380g (13.4 oz) Produced by E.Wedel

Available at Tesco and other retailers. The price I am not certain of as it was a gift. (approximately £4-7?)

Oryginalna wedlowska czekolada – Original wedlowska chocolate.

Gwarancje smaku [Translation: Taste guaranteed]
Otwórz i poczuj niebiański smak [Translation: Open and feel the heavenly taste]

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Ptasie Mleczko: to niebiańsko lekka i puszysta pianka ukryta pod warstwą kruchej czekolady. Nowy sposób zamknięcia chroni jego wyjątkowy aromat i najwyższą jakość na jeszcze dłużej. Odkrywaj więc warstwy niebiańskiego smaku kiedy chcesz i tak, jak lubisz.

[Translation: Ptasie Mleczko: A heavenly light and fluffy mousse hidden beneath a crisp chocolate coating. Our new method of closure protects its unique flavour and ensures the highest quality for even longer. Discover the layers of immense heavenly taste when you want and the way you want.]

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Background information: Ptasie Mleczko is a soft chocolate-covered Polish confectionary filled with soft meringue (or milk soufflé). In Russian it is called ptichye moloko (птичье молоко) and in Romanian lapte de pasăre. All these names literally mean “bird’s milk” or crop milk, a substance somewhat resembling milk, produced by certain birds to feed their young. However, this is not origin of the name; rather, ptasie mleczko is also a Polish idiom meaning “an unobtainable delicacy” (compare English: “hen’s teeth”; also, a similar idiom can be found in Bulgarian – тук/там и от пиле мляко има, meaning “even bird milk can be found here/there”).

In Poland, Jan Wedel, owner of the E. Wedel Company, developed the first Ptasie mleczko in 1936. Wedel’s inspiration for the name of the confectionery came from his voyages to France, when he asked himself: “What could bring greater happiness to a man who already has everything?” Then he thought: “Maybe only bird milk.”

In Poland it is one of the most recognized chocolate confectionery having exclusive rights in Poland for the name — other confectionery producers also make similar candies but named differently e.g. Alpejskie mleczko, “Alpine milk”.

In Russia ptichye moloko is both a popular candy and a famous soufflé cake. The brand was introduced in the Soviet times and is nowadays used by the companies operating the factories which produced these candies and cakes since that time. The candies are also produced in other post-Soviet states, in particular in Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova.

Review: Very light confectionaries you will likely eat a few of before realising how many you consumed as they are so tasty but not feel the impact of. You will eat more than you intend because of the nice taste and texture. There is the distinct flavour of vanilla which was surprising as ‘vanilla’ has become a byword for ‘bland’ as things claiming to be vanilla flavoured often have no real taste at all. The chocolate coating is thin and crisp but still enough you can taste the chocolate rather than it being like a brittle, tasteless, sugar coating as is the case with many other confectionaries. The chocolate melts in the mouth so I do wonder what condition these would be in if you left them in a hot environment. The texture of the marshmallow is quite dense when compared to the sort of marshmallows you buy in a bag (usually coloured pastel pink and white) but is still quite springy in texture. Even though the marshmallow is dense the confectionaries themselves are exceptionally light so you will not feel burdened by the consumption of them. It is all about the flavour with them, as it should be with all confectionaries, not about a short lived sense of a full stomach or having a sugar rush as a substitute for eating a proper meal as is often the case when people snack instead of dine during the day.

There are 3 columns of 6 making for 18 pieces on each of the tray adding up to a total of 36 pieces all together in the box. The ‘new method’ they brag of that preserves the taste is basically cling film over a plastic carton within the cardboard casing. They are kept ‘fresh’ and in excellent condition by this but it seems odd to brag about it… that is probably why the inside of the lid is not translated into English as it is such a ludicrous boast to make.

I find Polish chocolates to be of a high quality, having often bought jeżyki chocolate bars in the past, and there is a certain sense of nostalgia in the taste of them as they no doubt use ingredient choices and techniques which have gone from the Western confectionary production industry for one reason or another. I highly recommend them as a fantastic alternative to the over saturated and growingly homogenised main brand chocolates we are growing all too willing to impulse buy due to brand recognition alone.

They don’t translate everything on the packaging but the few bits I had to attempt a translation of, so they sounded similar in tone to the English language equivalents by their competitors, are just the generic packaging boasts you will find on any number of products and all the key important information is printed clearly in English.

DSC_0004bbbbb

Nutritional information: Wiesz co jesz – sprawdż GDA*:

Wartość odżywcza/Nutrition Information \ %GDA* w/per 10,6g \GDA* \ 100g \ 1 ostka/cube ~10,6g
Wartość energetycczna / Energy 2,4% 8400kJ 1842kJ 195kJ
2000kcal 440kcal 47kcal
Tłuszcz / Fat 3,3% 70g 22g 2,3g
W tym kwasy tłuszczowe nasycone / of which saturates 7,5% 20g 14g 1,5g
Weglowodany / Carbohydrates 2,3% 260g 58g 6,1g
W tym cukry / of which sugars 5,7% 90g 48g 5,1g
Białko / Protein 0,6% 50g 2,6g 0,3g
Sól / Salt <0,2% 6g 0,06g 0,01g
Produkt zaweira 36 x ~ 10,6g. / Product contains 36 x ~ 10,6g.

*GDA – Referencyjna wartość spożycia dla przeciętnej osoby dorosłej (8 400 kJ / 2 000kcal). Indywidualne zapotrzebowanie na energię i skladniki odżywcze może być wżsże lub niższe w zależności od płci, weiku, wysiłku fizycznego i innych czynników.

*Reference intake of an average adult (8 400 kJ / 2 000 kcal). Personal requirements for energy and nutrients may vary depending on age, sex, physical activity and other factors.

Ptasie Mleczko Waniliowe. Delikatna Pianka w Czekoldzie.

Skałdniki: Czekdolada deserowa 28% (Cukier, Miazga kakaowa, Tłuszcz kakaowy, Tłuszcz mleczny, Emulgatory: lectyna sojowa i E 476, Aromat), Cukier, Syrop glukozowy, Masło, Mieko zagęszczone słodzone, Roztwór cukru inwertowanego, Białko jaja w proszku, Substancja zelująca (agar), Regulator kwasowości (kwas cytrynowy), Substancja konserwująca (E202), Aromat, Naturalny aromat waniliowy. Czekolada deserowa: masa kakaowa minimum 47%

Ingredients: Dark chocolate 28% (Sugar, Cocoa mass, Cocoa butter, Milk fat,

Emulsifiers: soya lecithin and E476, Flavouring), Sugar, Glucose syrup, Butter, Sweetened condensed milk, Invert sugar solution, Dried egg white, Gelling agent, (agar), Acidity regulator (citric acid), Perservative (E202), Flavouring, Natural vanilla flavouring.Dark chocolate: cocoa solids 47% minimum.

CONTAINS MILK, EGG, SOYA. MAY CONTAIN PEANUTS, NUTS, CEREALS.

ZAWIERA MLEKO, JAJA, SOJĘ, MOŻE ZAWIERAĆ ORZECHY ARACHIDOWE, ORZECHY, ZBOŻA.

marka ptasie mleczko została stworzona w latach 30 tych xx wieku przez Jana Wedla i obecnie jest chroniona na terytorium Unii Europejskiej na rzecz LOTTE Wedel sp. z o.o. jako słowny znak towarowy
[Translation: The Ptasie mleczko brand was created in the 1930s, by John Wedel, and is now protected in the European Union for Lotte Wedel Sp. z oo as a trademark.]

Najlepiej spożyć przed: data na boku kartonika./ Best before: See side of box
LOTTE Wedel sp. z o.o.
Ul. Zamoyskiego 28/30
03-801 Warszawa
Polska/Poland
http://www.wedel.pl;
http://www.czekolada.pl
http://www.ptasiemleczko.pl/site/

Warto porozmawiać – Infolinia konsumencka [Translation: Customer Hotline]: 801 811 011 **
**Opłata według tary lokalnej. Only for Poland


I received these as a gift from a colleague a while ago but only now got around to reviewing finally. They are very good, give them a go. Many thanks Anna! 🙂

As a sign of my appreciation, and support of her work, I ask you to please visit the following site she has recently launched. It contains a number of venues to visit around Wales, and other parts of Britain, so even if you don’t speak Polish at least you can see the pictures, click on the links (which go to English language pages), stick the information in a translator and get some ideas of places to visit:

Polski? Proszę odwiedź:

Smok Walijski

Also here are some other links to other blogs that might be of interest:

[Polish language]: https://annawwalii.wordpress.com/
[English language]: https://annainwales.wordpress.com/


… and one day there will be reviews of some Jeżyki chocolate bars or selected works of Dorota Masłowska. But that will be a long time from now. One post a week is the standard for now although it would have been a good idea to prepare a number of posts so I could have done a ‘Polish Week’ of a post per day and got them all out of the way. Then I could do a Russian Week! Welsh Week! French Week! American Week! etc, etc and so on… but its just a lot of effort for one person unlike teams that run websites and can combine their efforts.

Comment, like or follow me – all are welcome 🙂