11/05/2014

Eurovision Song Contest 2014



After years of partisan voting and club music, did the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest contain some actual songs? Surprisingly, yes.

The occasional old clip that turned up during last night’s Eurovision Song Contest showed how much the competition has changed over the decades. Once a slightly serious minded song writing affair which wasn’t just about the singer, it has become a very gaudy, camp affair of late. Over the past three or four years club music has started to replace actual verses and choruses while some countries seemed to believe that the more eccentric their entry, the higher chance of winning. We can blame Lordy for that; ever since they won dressed as alien monsters playing heavy metal nothing has been too extreme or outrageous. Then there’s the voting which has become increasingly influenced  by matters that have nothing to do with songs as the UK’s appalling results over the last decade have reflected. Or is that just because our songs were rubbish? Anyway 2014’s event seemed comparatively staid with no aliens or even dancing grannies. Instead three really good songs claimed the top three places. Imagine!
Conchita carries on singing despite the volcano outside


Bar some booing every time Russia received some points- which I’m sure is making President Putin re-consider his entire foreign poicy - politics played no part in this year’s event. Juries and the public seemed to vote for the best songs as they saw them. Performances were still on the odd side- trapeze artists, funny dances, a giant hamster wheel and suggestive milk churning were amongst the visuals this time- and some of the songs seemed to have selected rather obscure subjects (cheesecake! Moustaches!) But overall it was the most mainstream contest of recent times.
A minimum of bouncing about club hits meant a number of show stopping ballads. Both first and third place songs would not sound out of place heralding a James Bond film. Austria’s `Rise Like A Phoenix` garnered so much attention because it wasn’t clear if there was a bloke or a woman singing it that few mentioned what a powerful song it was.  Sweden’s `Undo` was actually even better slipping in some less conventional chords but Sanna Neilson lacked any angle whereas winner Conchita Wurst was the opposite. Referred to throughout as `she` it turns out she’s a bloke called Tom but it doesn’t really matter because she has an incredible voice that belies a rather fragile appearance, beard notwithstanding. Sanna just had blond hair. Everyone seemed to want Conchita to win if only because media types can declare “the Wurst was the best!”
The Common Linnets budget only stretched to one microphone stand
Sandwiched in between these two big songs was The Netherlands’ understated `Calm After the Storm` a country tinged song whose performers name The Common Linnets was the only weird thing about them as they provided the night’s most downbeat song. After all this time it’s reassuring to know that the public is tired of brightly attired dancing loons. The show was slick in terms of on stage presentation though the presenters betrayed an amateurishness you wouldn’t expect and a sense of humour that didn’t translate even though they were speaking in English. There was some interesting short films in which each of the acts created their nation’s flag using items to hand whether stones, smoke or in our case a lot of red buses. What is it about red buses?
Which brings us to our song, a would be belter called `Children of the Universe` that was rather undersold by a singer called Molly who looked as if she would rather be somewhere else perhaps on one of those red buses. It’s a song that demands a belter but her voice wouldn’t rise to the occasion and with neither a beard nor blond hair she was sunk and finished 17th which is hailed as an improvement these days. Presumably an automatic entry to the Grand Final is the only reason the UK still contributes large amounts to the contest because, let’s face it, it is years since we would have got through the semi-finals otherwise.
Inevitably the Eurovision Song Contest is usually what you expect it to be but there are signs of new life this time round.



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