White on the blue, the sail has gone, to vanish with the breeze; what does the sailor seek alone in far-off seas?
His tackle tautens in the stress of favouring winds astir; alas, he seeks not happiness, nor flies from her.
The sun is bright above; below, the ripples curve and crease; he, rebel, craves a storm, as though in storm were peace.
by Михаил Юрьевич Лермонтов (Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov) (1832) translated by Frances Cornford and Esther Polianowsky Salaman
Additional information: The Sail was written when Mikhail Lermontov was only 17 years old in 1832. This was the year when he was forced to leave Moscow and his university studies. Recorded in a letter sent by Maria Lopukhina, whom he had sent the first version of the poem, upon his arrival in Saint Petersburg Lermontov immediately produced this poem’s outline while walking along the Gulf of Finland’s shoreline.
Below is the original Russian Cyrillic version of the poem.
Белеет парус одинокой В тумане моря голубом!.. Что ищет он в стране далекой? Что кинул он в краю родном?...
Играют волны — ветер свищет, И мачта гнется и скрыпит... Увы! Он счастия не ищет И не от счастия бежит!
Под ним струя светлей лазури, Над ним луч солнца золотой... А он, мятежный, просит бури, Как будто в бурях есть покой!
Then summer took leave of the platform
and waiting room. Raising his cap,
the storm at night for souvenir
took snap after dazzling snap.
The lilac darkened. And the storm
came bounding in from the meadows
with a sheaf of lightning flashes
to light the office windows.
And when malicious delight ran
down corrugated iron in torrents,
and like charcoal on a drawing
the downpour crashed against the fence,
the avalanche of consciousness began
to glimmer: light, it seemed, would soon
food even those corners of reason
where now it is bright as noon.
by Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к
(Boris Leonidovich Pasternak)
from Сестра моя - жизнь
(My Sister, Life)
translated by Jon Stallworthy and Peter France
Below is the original version of the poem in Cyrillic.
А затем прощалось лето С полустанком. Снявши шапку, Сто слепящих фотографий Ночью снял на память гром.
Меркла кисть сирени. B это Время он, нарвав охапку Молний, с поля ими трафил Озарить управский дом.
И когда по кровле зданья Разлилась волна злорадства И, как уголь по рисунку, Грянул ливень всем плетнем,
Стал мигать обвал сознанья: Вот, казалось, озарятся Даже те углы рассудка, Где теперь светло, как днем!
jerk, irreverent, reactions to watching the live final… a fortnight
late because no one looks at these posts but it’s a useful reference.
This year themes and notable moments : Bland performances by singers with songs that don’t suit their voices, lots of 1990s feeling costumes and songs, conservative boybands, performers dressed like fighting game characters and zettai ryouiki.The sentences will be legible but I won’t tidy the grammar up so it retains that ‘instant reaction’ tone. Ukraine again makes a political statement regarding Russia but this time end up withdrawing an none of their chosen acts will perform for them due to the terms of the contract they proposed but Maruv is allowed to perform her song especially for the interval as a gesture of goodwill to her by the contest. Madonna is showing her age and gets a very muted response from the audience when she performs during the interval.
I’ll put the key sentences of each country’s commentary in bold for the lazy Tl;Dr casual scanning readers looking for specific content.
[edit: on a side note it’s the same ‘flame columns’ pyrotechnics very act seemed to have so I guess it was that or nothing which was allowed… which is very restrictive. In fact the ‘screen’ visual effects were also very limited this year. On the whole this year felt like a downgrade from previous years and really makes you appreciate how much effort other countries put into the experience while Israel puts out a ‘budget’ version and yet has the cheek during one of the intervals to hire Gal Gadot to promote the country to people for tourism].
Malta : Chameleon –
Nice song but completely the wrong tone of voice for it. Staging isn’t much. One year someone will dress as the european comic character Corto Maltese and boom… there’ll be a mass flood of fan votes. Very 90s style of costume. The sacrificial lamb first act of this year. A generic pop song. I am certain I’ve heard songs exactly like this on the radio. Knee socks and a jacket with see through vinyl sleeves, ending with denim cuffs, on a denim jacket. Odd look once you pay attention and one not seen since 1990s British girl bands.
Albania : Ktheju
Tokës – Jonida Maliqi
The song title means ‘return
to your land’ – so there’s a mild unintentional xenophobic tone to
the title until you hear the song. I like it as it represents the
heritage of Albania’s music with a modern twist. Then again I’ve
been playing Koudelka and the Shadow Hearts series of games and the
soundtrack has echoes of similar ‘epic ballad’ aspects so it’s a mild
unintentional bias by me there. Pretty standard staging of a singer
in operatic looking dress with backing singers. I liked it in
context. [edit: after hearing all the songs I favour it a bit more
for at least taking a risk compared to the more pop song like
Czech Republic :
Friend of a Friend – Lake Malawi
Catchy song. For a moment
the guy sounds like he has an Essex accent when saying the girl moved
back in which caught me completely off guard… that was random. Yes,
nice beat. The lyrics, just like many from the boy band One
Direction’s, have a slightly sinister entilted misogynistic tone to
them yet you never hear it commented on openly ‘he’s cute and
misunderstood and I can fix him so it’s okay if he doesn’t treat me
well and always gives be backhanded compliments implying I’m nothing
without his love as he can see past how ugly I am to my true beauty
in supporting him’. Boy bands and romance novels is where all those
life long insecurities begin. Nothing new when you look back to
Wuthering Heights and other classics. Three handsome guys in
trainers, skinny jeans, baggy jumpers playing instruments playing
repetitive inoffensive music… Every teenager girls wet dream… to
be honest you can imagine them being drowned out by the screams of
teenage girls at a concert. Inoffensive stuff but the longer it
goes on the more low energy it feels.
Germany : Sister –
A blonde and brunette duet.
Call each other sister.. but, plot twist, they are not sisters. It’s
nice. A good solid entry with a good rhythm and perfomance with
stripped back staging. Instantly forgettable though but you can
imagine it being used in a pivitol scene in a feel good drama’s
climax when two friends reunite after some disagreement or
something. It’s a nice song but maybe didn’t capture people’s
hearts. [edit: public vote = 0
points… so indeed it didn’t].
Russia : Scream –
You already realise this
blog will be biased towards this entry but in fairness they tend to
have quite solid entries in fairness year on year usually. It’s a
solid entry and a strong contender. Building chorus and
everything. Again throwing everything at it instrumentally and
staging wise though the vocals might feel a bit softer than you’d
hope when listening to it. Actually the staging with the multiple
screens gets a little ridiculous and I wonder if there should be some
rule against some aspects used as it felt a bit like it ended on an
echo effect/recording. Very good though… I’ll forget it it soon
enough. He took part in 2008? or 2018?
Denmark : Love Is
Forever – Leonora
A very 2000s song. It
reminds me of someone like Kate Nash. It looks nice when you
watch the video but bear in mind she starts off with her back to the
audience so it’s not as good an experience when there in person. A
giant chair… it reminds me of those American photos of workmen
eating their lunch on skyscraper worksites miles bove the city
skyline. It’s a nice simple song. I mean once everyone’s sat up
on there you spend more time in anticipation of someone falling off
more than anything…
San Marino : Say Na
Na Na – Serhat
Serhat is a dentist and
claimed this took 5 minutes to write. Well yeah with lyrics like ‘na
na’ I’m not expecting it to have been a struggle. It’s… very
karaoke friendly. Another ‘I swear I saw this in the late 90s’ entry.
Staging wise they have that effect that looks like the video files
got corrupted for the background imagery and just went with it.
It’ll get in the highlight reel for the year no doubt. It’s
enjoyable. You won’t forget the chorus. Then he begins getting
‘yeah going crazy’… yes. Na na na. Say na na na. Say na na na…
sayonara San Marino. Everyone, costume wise, looks like they’re going
to the tennis court immediately after performance.
North Macedonia :
Proud – Tamara Todevska
Sincerity. Well this is
hitting all the buttons for me. Opera length dress and husky
voice. Motivational lyrics. Maudline tone. I’ll be honest it does
look like her dress slipped down due to the ‘exposed bra cups’
design. That’s as sexy as it gets this conservative year. It’s
enjoyable. Another ‘you’ll hear it on an advert or during a moment in
a drama’ song. Never really hits the pinacle I was hoping might
arrive before the end so it feels incomplete.
Sweden : Too Late for
Love – John Lundvik
Striped back staging with
the one ‘caught escaping’ light behind him. Strong lyrics. Nice
lead into the beat and then cuts back to vocal priority. Yes strong
entry. Enjoyable. It’ll do well I assume. I can see them twisting
this for Brexit/other conflicts use in future. No doubt we will
hear this again over the next few years.
Slovenia : Serbi –
Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl
They met on Instagram
apparently. The intro reminds me of a lot of Sting’s songs.
She looks like she has Down’s Syndrome. If she actually has it’s very
progressive to feature her. I would like more, staging wise, if
they didn’t have her stood singing right into his face as he plays
the guitar. I like the song for that sort of lamenting tone it
has but… it probably isn’t going to do good if people want an
upbeat song this year. Both wear white and hold hands later on
but it’s very… teenagers at a school assembly talent show due to
how they’re dressed. Bit of a mantra quality to it. It’ll be big
with the normie ‘I like feeling creeped out’ audience and those who
think that the couple look a bit incestuous. I like the song and her
voice – it’s just they don’t look like they gel together visually
and are a bit too awkward on stage which in turn makes the audience
feel a bit awkward watching. The song is good though. I want to hear
it again [edit: …and this is one of, if the only, song of the
finalists I honest can say that about this year].
Cyprus : Replay –
ryouiki. [Other acts also feature
it so maybe this was the only way to be ‘sexy’ this year due to the
more conservative nature of performers’ costumes due some behind the
scenes mandate the public never heard of]. She
is dressed the way early 3D fighting game characters dressed due to
low polygon counts. Then the pull the top off and it’s even more like
a costume of that era of gaming! It’s a generic sounding dance
track… nothing else to add really. I forgot it instantly in indeed
I was even able to remember it as I was listening to it.
Netherlands : Arcade
– Duncan Laurence
One of, if not the,
favourites this year going into the finals according to bookies
etc. Yeah this has ‘Eurovision winner’ written over it the way
‘a Hollywood film where an attractive actor ‘goes ugly’ for a role by
putting weight on [Chris Hemsworth as ‘fat Thor’ is in the running no
doubt this year by that logic] or portrays disability or depicting
ficitionalised real life events of someone’s experiences during World
War’ 2 has ‘Oscar winner’ written all over it. Anthemic. Sad.
Warbbling. He mimes playing the piano. Yeah this will be top 2
if it doesn’t win. [Spoiler: It wins.]
Greece : Better Love
– Katerine Duska
Distinctive voice… it’s
the vocal equivilant of Marmite. Balletic sword fighters duel
weilding. Dancers fluttering wings. A arched churchdoorway
mini-stage. I like it but that voice is going to throw a lot of
people off. ARGH when she goes for high notes! She’s one of those
women who is single and you wonder why then you hear her voice… I
joke. It’s a nice song and the staging is very nice. Nonetheless
that voice is going to lose votes probably. Very ‘Florence + the
Machine’ in style.
Israel : Home – Kobi
”Hometown Hero” – no
one was allowed to see them rehearse so… could be amazing could be
a shitshow. Those rhymes… I… he is losing me with every line.
The chorus aiding him improves it… but indeed it’s very much f a
‘this is me’ generic rising chorus ‘confidence gaining’ song from a
musical. I like the ‘beams of lighting’ staging watching it but
having been at events using it it’s a death ray if you’re sat in the
wrong seats and get blasted by it for minutes straight. It’s a
nice song… the warbling highnote at the end kind of mutes it. Good
response as he’s the home hero but… eh it’ll do okay but it’s not
Norway : Spirit in
the Sky – KeiiNO
George Harrison. Admit it
you too were wondering if it was going to be a cover though those are
not allowed at Eurovision. Primark military style jacket. Essex face
lift pony tail for the lady and… IT’S THE YODELLING BALD MAN!
INSTANT WINNER! Nice dance track but that yodelling man… damn
that’s a winner addition! He even gets a solo!!! and Yggdrasil,
the tree of life from Norse legend, makes an appearance! Eurovision
United Kingdom :
Bigger Than Us – Michael Rice
From Hartlypool. The British
entry so maybe I’ll be mildly bias. It’s a nice ballad. I don’t
think he starts on the right note… Anthemic but subdued. It
could go any way to be honest. Who are we kidding he’s the British
entry… as soon as he gets in the greenroom they’ll get him as drunk
as possible to numb the inevitable pain of the low votes. If we
get on the left side of the score board it’ll be a small miracle.
It’s a nice pop song. I honestly feel a bit more impact was needed
though. I mean the backing vocalists almost drown him out on at least
one occasion. He thanks Europe and says he is living his dream
performing there Cool, good manners. Good boy.
* * * * *
Midpoint: The male presenter
behind stage, in he green room, asks the San Marino entrant Serhat
the dentist a question then cuts him off before he can answer
properly. ‘Presenters being presenters’ as ever… can’t cut into
that running time even to be polite.
Here are some comments by
the British Eurovision commentator Graham Norton about the entries:
* * * * *
Iceland : Hatrið mun
sigra – Hatari
‘Hatred will Prevail’ is the
meaning of the title. Thus very ‘anti-Eurovision’. Very
anti-capitalist too aparently. Weirdly electro-punk with
industrial style accoustics. I like.Eurovision needs more
rock music like this and Lordi. Flame spikes. Edward Scissorhands
outfit and mohawks. Well this is my favourite but it won’t win. No
doubt people are claiming it scares them, for some reason or other
just because it’s not mainstream, as if they’re going to wake up
suspended from the ceiling in a gimp costume as part of someone’s sex
dungeon… such people shouldn’t have been allowed to read 50 Shades
of Grey as it’s given them ideas. Saying that it should have been
about 30 seconds shorter as I got bored by the end.
Estonia : Storm –
Pretty guy in a leather
jacket with an acoustic guitar. Mr generic cool guy to every
generation… He will have a better than he would otherwise as a
contrast to Iceland’s entry no question. Even got some clapping along
early on by the audience wanting to spirit away the dark energy
Iceland left them with. Nice breezy song. I enjoy it. Might be a
bit too ‘seen it already’ due to others having similar songs though.
Really the longer it goes on the more I think ‘I’ve heard that bit
elsewhere…’ Enjoyable though. Apparently augmented effects were
used. That’s becoming more common for the staging on the night of
Belarus : Like It –
She reminds me of the
blogger Angelika Oles. Then she has one of those hot pink and white
with black accent outfits that looks like a
cross between an F1 pit girl and a gogo dancer.
She has B-boy backing dancers. Nothing
really stands out. Zettai
ryouiki again and a bared midrift.
The only two areas acceptable in clean family entertainment to
indicate sex appeal. [edit: when I typed that I was thinking of
Princess Jasmine from Disney’s Aladdin only to find out in the live
action film version they give her a most conservative costume with a
corset like covering for her midriff]. The
song is an ‘also ran’. Even when listening to it it wasn’t sticking
with me. ‘Impossible’ you say? You’d
Azerbaijan : Truth –
Thumping beat. Robot arms. A
laser on his chest like the Predator is about to kill him. Husky male
voice singing. Good good. Goes into a higher register but fine. ‘shut
up about it’ he chants.. in a song called Truth… interesting. Yeah
nice song but not going to get too high. More about the staging
with the electro girl head than anything really. He is dressed like a
character from a 1980-90s SNK beat-em up. No really. Look up
‘King of Fighters’ and you’ll find his outfit on a guy with a
ponytail. It’s the year of ‘beat-em up costumes!
France : Roi – Bilal
A feminine looking man. He
is like the lead male character from the most recent trilogy of SNK’s
King of Fighters games! Or Remy from Street Fighter III! He’s also
deaf and doesn’t conform to gender stereotypes apparently. The
‘progressive’ vote then but also he would get the Japanese
boyband vote too if there was one. ABBA outfit. On fleek eyebrows.
Guy will launch his own makeup Youtube channel and brand if he hasn’t
got one already. Obese dancer… she actually moves quite well.However they replace her with a tiny Asian lady soon enough.
He reminds me of an anime Bishonen (pretty boy) or androgenous
villain with his look. No seriously go look up anime and scroll down
the images and I am certain you’ll find someone with his look. As for
the song… it’s a standard Eurovision entry. Good but you’ll
forget about it.
Italy : Soldi –
The ‘I like rap’ option
for what it’s worth. Badass in a hawaiian shirt and earring with
one of those wallet chains you’ve not seen since the 2000s with
American skater punk bands like Limp Biskit or Sum41. Clap clap.
You’ll hear this in the clubs. It’ll get a really good dance remix.
It feels a little lifeless on the night unfortunately compared to
others. It really needed the audience participation to go wild for it
and they didn’t. The backing dancers I swear pulled off a few
American line dancing moves a few times by boot scooting… It’s a
good song by itself but not one that will ultimately win Eurovision.
Serbia : Kruna –
The title means ‘crown’.
Slow ballad. Has the look of a rocksinger in the 1980s… like
Bonnie Tyler. She reminds me of the film ‘White Chicks’.
The design of her dress to show the leg with an intentional arch of
fabric instead of a split is a bit forced as if they put the top of a
jukebox on her. I like it. Of the ballads I probably like it best.
I kind of wish she didn’t alternate language as it probably would
sound better in just the one. Also thanks the crowd. Good good.
Switzerland : She Got
Me – Luca Hänni
They last won in 1988 with
Celine Dion apparently. The boy band entry… well ‘one man boy
band’ entry. Flashing lights and all the tricks. Well
choreographed. The backing dancers being dressed in red, in red
light, with a red background makes them barely viewable if you’re
there in the crowd and not by the front. It’s a nice upbeat entry.
All the boys go… All the girls go… Everyone goes… eh, it’s
alright and I can dance to it so it’s got that going for it. He’s
got that leather vest under a sleeveless jacket look which no one can
pull off… and again I’ve seen that costume on a fighting game
character I swear. [edit: e.g. Robert Garcia in both SNK’s ‘Art of
Fighting’ and ‘King of Fighters’ series]
Australia : Zero
Gravity – Miller – Hedke
Australia is in Europe
everyone jokes… and yet still they compete. At least others are
geographically close if not in Europe. Ice queen outfight with tiara
crown. It’s a flying Statue of Liberty. Yodelling woman…
cunning. I like it. Then it goes all ‘electro-dance beat… well this
is going to compete hard then. Are they all on stilts? Oh no they’re
on… sticks. I’m sure the staging is amazing if you’re there but it
looks comical at home. I’m getting ‘Christ at the Crucifixion’
vibes due to the crown and there being three of them. The ‘death
of Liberty’ undertext. It’s pick up votes from oldschool Eurovision
lovers no question.
Spain : La Venda –
Comic panel staging. It’s
meant to be a house but nope. Full on 6 panel newspaper comic
look. Very upbeat and fun. This will get votes for it and by
people who’ve forgotten all the others. Weird light giant thing
on stage too. Fun. The backing dancers look like they are meant to
be doing an exercise at home doe a ‘exercise at home with [insert
name of a reality TV celebrity]’ moneygrabbing name recognition
exercise video. This should get quite a few votes. Good one to
end on. It’s been a bit of a dour year to be honest with far too
many ‘safe’ entries.
* * *
Apparently if you vote you
get a thank you video from the artist you voted for. They did that
for the Olympics too for some reason.
While you vote they showed
previous years’ winners singing other winners’ songs and some
favourites of the past. Quite interesting really. They did it as a
sort of Cabaret thing. Conchita’s outfit took inspiration from Hakke
Andrey a character from Atlus’ Maken X computer game it seems.
* * *
Madonna appears and does a
song. Like a wild pokemon in the long grass. Wearing an eyepatch with
a costume suggesting both pirate and pearly queen of London’s
Eastend. Promoting her album Madam X. Then gives some inspirational
words to the performers which come across as a bit patronising. A
presenter says she knows what she is talking about which… yes
please tell musicians to pay attention for some life advice as if
it’s not their career and think it’s not at all insulting to them you
grovelling little scab. Madonna? Knowing about being a successful
singer? No really? Musicians performing at Euroviosn not knowing
their stuff? Really? Then she quotes her own song and tries to get
people to repeat it but it falls flat.
Then someone else performs.
Oh it’s Ukraine who pulled
out of the contest! Except not really. Ukraine forbade Maruv to
compete because she had toured in Russia and so Eurovision let her
perform her song as a sign of goodwill on their part though not
representing Ukraine obviously.
(Not Ukraine) interval
act: MARUV – Siren Song (Bang!)
Well you can’t lose if you
don’t compete! Oh yeah this is far too sexual for this year’s tastes.
They’d have to tame it down immensely. Phwoar nonetheless. Going for
that dad vote like Poland did a few years ago with their ‘My
Słowianie – We Are Slavic’ milk churning women in traditional ress
performance in 2014 but Maruv makes it clearly more dominatrix in
However I recorded it as ‘a
song called something like ‘Boee (Come With Me)’ was played at this
point. I assume in hindsight it was Maruv as the lyric ‘come with me’
I prefer music reflect the
culture of the performers and this does. I wish more of the songs had
followed this tone as it makes it much more interesting than the
euro-pop that got humoginised over time and then got a slight revival
due to developments in staging with back projection, slim large 4K HD
monitors and such.
Also the ‘political protest
is not allowed’ seems a rule very weakly enforced depending on which
country is saying it. Here’s one video about the events happening
outside the event.
Quavo appears. His first
time at Eurovision. He is, like Madonna, dressed as if they’re
filming a Mad Max or Waterworld sequel. He says his mom grew up
listening to Madonna. Mikedrop moment as if he had been throwing
shade intentionally or not…
Then a mentalist trick with
a ‘not Derren Brown’ guy to pad the run time while the votes are
Then ‘chicken song’ [a.k.a.
‘Toy’] singer Netta, who won last year, appeared in a yellow ‘na na
banana’ dress with a new song. It’s like a song for preschool
children got given a remix… When a 9 year old girl is asked what
she wants at her birthday party I image something like this. She
wants a classy evening dress affair dinner party but then she also
wants bright colours and pop music.
Then Madonna, after the
third or fourth reminder of all the entrants, fnally performed.
Everyone was waiting for another ‘throttled by her cape’ moment of
course. The staging screams Gregorian chanting monks even without
the costumes. So it’s one more step down the ‘no, I’m not being
blasphemous’ road like her videos in the 1980s which got her in
trouble with the Catholic church back then. They’re trying to make
her songs sound like anthemic hymns by doing them a beat or so slower
tempo wise with chanting backing singers and a beats machine. I
mean… okay. But it’s also weird considering it’s what you would
hear if all the sound equipment failed at a concert.
Then the monks carry logs or
pillars up the steps. She seems out of breath. Then she does a
quasi-Shakespearean bit with one dancer to Tchaikovsky’s the sugar
plum fairy… the dancer has a white gas mask on and a flower
crown which seems quite political surely. Weird segway. Then the
Quavo guy turns up with heavy vocal balancing effects on his voice
and Madonna sounds like she is underwater.
She got a muted response in
* * *
The.. vote… finally… the
votes… it seemed shorter between the final act and the votes when
they used to allow more entrants per year than it does with these
never ending interval acts and padding.
Then the presenters have
Gal Gadot turn up in a VT promoting the country… because what
else can they do to pad it out even further. I don’t recall over host
coutries doing this but maybe I’m forgetting them.
Jokes about Israelis but in
a self-depricating manner. However only on light topics like music
and things that come across as an advert for the country’s tourism
board. Gosh ren’t we a quirky fun country? Nothing bad happens here.
Just forget all the active warzone on the borders kind of stuff – we
are all about the chicken song and Gal Gadot. Forget the whole
ongoing conflict you might get caught up in as a visitor… it’s all
good here we love everyone… well except ‘those people‘…
but apart from them everyone is welcome.
It starts off with last
year’s host Portugal with Inez whoever she is… 12 to Netherlands…
We, Britain, gave 12 to
North Macedonia…. the power of ‘dressing like your on the pull on a
girl’s night out and it’s 2.30AM’ wins us over.
Russia has a piano player to
do the point announcement…. after doing a brief recital piece. I
mean all the point announcers are having a 30 second of fame moment I
guess though they’re famous people in their own country anyway and
it’s not enough time for people to remember them… presumably.
Greece had an electric guitar rock band guy too.
And now I’ll just recount
the ones who gave Britain points… any at all… and let’s not think
‘potential trade union deal partners post-Brexit?’ while doing it.
Norway – 2 points.
Hungary – 2 points.
Belarus – 5 points [also
phwoar… shockingly the only true one this year it seems! Actually
was she on a previous year?]
Armenia – 2 points
Georgia – 1 point.
Switzerland – 1 point
13 professional jury points
in total! We are not ‘nul point’ this year! Others are doing worse
than us and that’s as good as we can ask!
We gave Norway 12 points…
wel they gave us two so that’s okay…
The public vote
3 points from the public.
FUUUUUUUUUUUUUU…. well that’s this year’s sacrificial lamb done
Germany got no public
Once it was down to Sweden
vs Netherlands they dragged out the final announcement to up the
tension for no good reason repeating that Sweden needed 253 points.
They got 93.
The winner was… The
Netherlands with 492 points. 1975 was the last time they won.
Last year’s winner hands the trophy to the new winner. The run up to
get it is dragged out. The music loops. He holds it aloft.
Someone, somewhere is shedding tears. Others are sat on the toilet
evacuating their bowels. It’s over for another year.
So another year and another
low ranking place. Once it as due to participation in the Iraq war…
now it’s Brexit. In fairness some of the entries were bad and others
were just throwing something at it and seeing if it would work some
years. Some years we actually had good acts, others were ‘bring out
the old horses to flog’ and a few were ‘sod it we just can’t be
The presenters thank the
broadcaster and it’s almost 2AM in Israel and they’ve still to wheel
the piano out. They skip it and have him miming the piano this time
(not that he was playing it anyway probably). He calls on the
audience to sing the chorus with him as streamers fall from above.
Reign well God-king of
the Netherlands, ride unto the shores of Valhalla all shiny and
chrome upon the unplayed piano that is your steed. Let the thundering
arsecheeks of the farting oarsmen clpa their rhythm in your wake. Let
the warble of your voice be the birdsong that sends your opponents to
their fate. Their defeat was a foregone conclusion as the fates
foretold through their oracles bookie’s stakes…
* * *
Bonus: Those who
didn’t make it to the finals
For the first year of doing
these I’ll also include those who fell before the final hurdle. Sadly
I actually liked some of them more than those acts who were in the
Armenia : Walking Out
again… it must have been the fashion this year. The only flesh
allowed to be shown to be ‘sexy’ without offending Israeli TV censors
I assume. Pyro technics which really punctuate the end of the song
but… the whole song is in minor key
though you feel it should be in major so… it was good but I can see
why on balance some other acts edged it out into being in the finale.
Ireland : 22 – Sarah
The checkerboard pattern and
popart featured gives the staging that aesthetic retro ‘1950s yet
with a 1990s twist’ I recall a few British boybands having in some of
their music videos. Red leather skirt ad strappy heels – again
sexy in a conservative manner. She has a husky voice which I
don’t feel fits the song and the syling they’ve used as you
associate the 1950s with higher pitched singers of that era… this
song if it was more upbeat with a different singer would definitely
sound more like a 1950s hit but instead it sounds a little like it is
meant to act as an ‘in those good old days’ reflective sad ballad but
it just doesn’t work. A different song would have worked with her
voice. So it’s understandable they didn’t progress to the final. Oh
and obviously it’s a surprise Ireland didn’t get into the finals but
this probably isn’t the first time ever though, from a British
perspective, we tend to notice their absence.
Moldova : Stay – Anna
Using sand/salt art
projected onto a screen is interesting but I think it was done in
previous years and… I’m not sure but I think that’s the Ukrainian
artist, Kseniya Simonova, who is famous for it they have doing it
live on the stage with the singer… wait yes I just confirmed it’s
her. Well considering Ukraine pulled out this year as a
protest [and yet did the interval somehow] I am assuming she is
going to be getting a lot of criticsm in her homeland… [apparently
not in hindsight]. Anyway the singer is wearing a dress which is
half 1980s wedding dress and half modern ‘going out tonight’ dress.
Heer voice reminds me of the American singer Anastacia. It’s very
much a dramatic Eurovison style ballad and I enjoy it so I’m a bit
surprised it didn’t get through considering how bland some of the
fianlists were. Maybe some of the notes didn’t hit the heights the
judges would have liked to give that extra punch to the songs impact.
Latvia : That Night –
I feel this and the
Slovenian entry would have been an interesting juxtapositon to each
other. Apparently there was only room for one soft song of this
type this year and the young couple had the better ‘story’. A simple
lace dress with boots and a wide brimmed hat to give that summertime
mood when singing the reflective romantic song while accompanied by a
3 piece accompaniment. They all look much older in the official
video. It’s a nice easy listening song. The singer has a charm
making her appealling but I guess it was just too mellow for this
year’s judges which is a shame as it would get my vote.. if I was the
sort to vote for these things. Ultimately the stripped back staging
with just a swaying dance, with a few turning walks, was just too
little of an impact for a contest that seems to need more and more
spectacle in the projected visuals nowadays.
Romania : On a Sunday
– Ester Peony
Interesting costumes where
it’s rhinestone/sequins covered eveningsuit wear on top with a
punk-charcoal puffskirt rock lower half with platform Goth boots.
Phwoar. You know who her look reminds me of? Missy from Dr Who a
few years ago. The dancers look like they are meant to
promoting a computer game… specifically the character designs of
the fighter when the Mortal Kombat series first dabbled in 3D
use. It’s going for that sort of alternative rock look but the
song is a quite traditional Eurovison ballad. It’s an also ran
entry ultimately. Take the dancers away and it’s not got anything
unique in the song itself. Singer phwoar; song snore. The
first line or so she has very odd pronunciation for Sunday as if
warbling the line. The backing singers have an oddly ‘baby doll’ look
to them. It’s all very ‘what fashion designers think of when given
the brief to produce something ‘dark’ themed so they break out the
black fethers, leather books and harsh tailoring or otherwise go to
the Gothic Lolita side of the ‘dark’ spectrum. Indeed it is
understandable why this didn’t get to the finale though I’m certain
the singer is capable of better than this when allowed to do her own
thing. I don’t get the audience’s reaction when the pyrotechnics go
off unless they were not expecting them as they showed appaulled by
them from their tone not excited as you might expect. Maybe they were
too cloe to them.
Austria : Limits –
A soft uplifting song for
the most part though it has one point towards the end where she
sounds quite bad. Lighting gradually growing with the intensity.
Her costume really doesn’t fit with the style of song. Is she wearing
a dress or trousers? It’s just she has the look of a middle aged
woman desperate to pull on Fridy night in the local bar kind of
aura… [also considering the look of many of this years acts she
is showing too much skin for the judges’ /broadcaster’s liking no
doubt]. She sounds like she hits a lot of bad notes when she gets to
the more intense moments. A very disjointed entry and indeed one I
can definitely understand didn’t get through. If anything it
represents my issue with this year everything is far too restrained
and dull. The songs are all too focused on presenting something which
appeals to the broadest dynamic and so instead of something memorable
it’s all of the lowest common denominator.
Croatia : The Dream –
Taking the lyrics and the
whole ‘I’m an angel in a lake of fire’ aesthetic into account…
is he meant to be playing Lucifer?! I mean that’s gutsy to be
doing that in Israel of all places… Then the backing dancers come
down and honestly it’s the look you see as a parody of an ‘overly
pretentious pop act’. The song is nice enough but I think they
shot themselves in the foot with their visual concept…
Lithuania : Run with
the Lions – Jurij Veklenko
This would have been an
interesting contrast with the Greek entry as both have distinctive
vocalists. Visually there’s all the ‘generic stylish young
handsome guy’ boxes ticked. He sings surprisingly high for a lot of
the song if I’m honest. I know there’s singer/songwriters like
Passenger who are like that but it’s not an easy sell for most
people. The song is decent if generic. It’s quite bland and
forgettable to be honest though there’s nothing wrong with it to
* * *
Hungary : Az én
apám – Joci Pápai
Straight away I feel this
has a lot more impact than many got through to the finals. It really
gets a good reaction from the audience there. Barring the ‘performing
in bare feet’ bit he is very much in the standard ‘generic safe male
performer’ visually. It’s actually shocking someone of this
calibre didn’t get through. There’s
not much to add. It’s disappointing this didn’t get through as it
would have done well.
Montenegro : Heaven –
Dance music start. Very
conservative outfits… maybe a little too conservative as they
remind me of American Evangelical preachers. The third guy is
very nasal which sticks out like a sore thumb for his moment. It’s
the sort of song you can imagine having been performed about ten
years ago at the latest. They’re all decent but in a year of bland
they’re the wrong kind of bland. They’re not ‘what a middle aged
panel of judges thinks appeals to young people these days’
inoffensively safe but just ‘old fashioned’ safe. Too safe in a year
I felt was overly safe… which is kind of tragic.
Georgia : Keep on
Going – Oto Nemsadze
I still recall previous
years entries by them. Georgia is the country always certain to do
entries I thoroughly enjoy and would listen to independent of the
Eurovision contest. Each year I forget and each year they surprise me
and I recall the quality the country produces. I like this but it
is in stark contrast to many other more mainstream, safely
commerical, entries this year so got excluded for a ‘smoother’
running order experience I guess with only Iceland being the notable
‘see we let different acts take part’ token gesture entry. The
wailing bit really adds support to his main vocals. Then a male choir
chorus too! And pyrotechnics?! They really built this up throughout
the song to a good climax. And he even thanks the audience which not
every act does. They were robbed of a place! This is my
‘spiritual’ victor who sadly didn’t get placed!
Finland : Look Away –
Darude feat. Sebastian Rejman
Leather jacket and blue
jeans… is it the 1980s, 90s or 2019? A dance track song. Yeah it’s
okay. Dance music isn’t my thing though it’s one of the pan European
crowd pleasers. It would have stuck out a little this year but
like some others feels like it’s missing the ‘punch’ it needed to
just get a bit more traction. It’s better than some of the finalists
to be honest. Generic for a previous year but for now it would have
been distinctive. The dancer does very well considering all eyes
are on her more than him during it. Oh it’s Darude… and he
didn’t get through?! Shock result! Even I know who he is! Maybe
he was felt to be a ‘ringer’ being entered into this contest and it
would have been unfair as he would have taken so much of the popular
vote from the public…
Poland : Pali się –
Nation of ‘we don’t take
this serious’ with their milkchurning girls in traditional dress with
‘My Słowianie – We Are Slavic’ in 2014, a wheelchair user in 2015
performing In The Name of Love and now… they’ve early 90s girl band
vocals like Elastica while wearing quasi- traditonal Slavic yet
Mongolian ceremonial dress?! Their voices are cutting through me.
Bit too repetitive but they get the audience on side. I would have
liked to see them in the final as a novelty act to break up the
monotony. Their floating heads on the screens seem more in keeping
with this years tone than their costumes on stage. I can see why
it didn’t get through but good on them thanking the crowd.
Portugal : Telemóveis
– Conan Osíris
should have got into the finals!
The song has a very sort of Arabic chant style but mixed with Eastern
mysticism style before exploding into a sort of Electro-synth
dance beat reminding me of the soundtrack to Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost In
anime film. It actually seemed really interesting costume wise in a
‘Mortal Kombat if Kazuma Kaneko did the
costume designs’ way…
On the whole this year felt very ‘safe’ in terms of most of the acts.
At least this one had some style to it even if not to everyones’
tastes. Again thanking the audience. Maybe in the final they were not
allowed to or their microphones got cut off when they did it?
Belgium : Wake Up –
Taiko drums? And this didn’t
get placed? Let’s see why… drumming on the beat. Um… yeah his
vocals are not strong enough sadly. Someone with a bit more power to
their voice and this probably could have gone through but as it
is it sounds like a teenager covering it for a school talent contest.
The audience clap in time with the beat to support him. Well
hopefully he can go away, train his voice some more and we will hear
from him again. The drummers do very well in fairness. Smoke
effects? I don’t think anyone else had those. Maybe he got cut so
they wouldn’t have to fork out for those in the final?
* * *
Ukraine’s withdrawal this
year: Maruv was allowed to perform by Eurovision without it being
connected to representing Ukraine for the reasons detailed below. In
hindsight is very good of them as it’s not her fault that the country
she was to represent took umbridge with her touring obligations which
inevitably included work in Russia despite the broadcaster imposing
what were clearly politically motivated conditions of her contract if
she were to represent Ukraine. Kudos too should go to the show of
solidarity by ‘Freedom Jazz’ and ‘Kazka’ who were offered the
contract when Maruv wouldn’t agree to the terms.
So what’s the story?
Ukraine withdrew from the
competition this year. It was politically motivated, though they
would deny it of course, hence why Eurovision extended a hand to let
Maruv perform even if she wasn’t able to compete. A goodwill gesture
by them to the performer surely should be applauded as there was no
political intent behind her decisions though the Ukraine frame it as
such because she honoured tour dates that had, by the time of the
contract being proposed, been agreed upon long beforehand.
To quote the Wikipedia
article’s synopsis of events:
“During the final of the
national selection, it was announced that the broadcaster had
reserved the right to change the decision made by the jury and
Ukrainian public. Following Maruv’s win, it was reported that the
broadcaster had sent her management a contract, requiring Maruv to
cancel all upcoming appearances and performances in Russia in order
to become the Ukrainian representative. After it became clear that
she would be performing in two concerts in
the following months, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Culture
stated that artists who
toured in Russia or “did not recognise the territorial integrity
of Ukraine” should not take part in Eurovision. She was also
given 48 hours to sign the contract or be replaced. The day
afterwards, Maruv revealed that the broadcaster’s contract had
additionally banned her from
on stage and communicating
with any journalist without the permission of the broadcaster, and
required her to fully comply with any requests from the broadcaster.
If she were to not follow any of these clauses, she would be fined ₴2
million (~€67,000). Maruv also stated that the broadcaster would
not give her any financial compensation for the competition and would
not pay for the trip to
On 25 February, both Maruv
and the broadcaster confirmed that she would not represent Ukraine in
Israel due to disputes within the contract, and that another act
would be chosen. National final runner-up Freedom Jazz announced on
26 February that they had rejected the broadcaster’s offer to
represent Ukraine as well, with third place finisher
confirming they had
rejected the offer as well the following day.
It is considered
controversial for Ukrainian artists to tour in Russia
following the 2014
Russian military intervention in Ukraine.”
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