Monday, 23 April 2018

I would like it to be a fairy tale around us

Estonia
Elina Nechayeva
La Forza

My favourite Estonian entry was their 2003 time travel smash "Eighties Coming Back" by Ruffus. Watch that video and suddenly you're there- not in the 80's, but in your living room in 2003 knocking back supermarket gin and own brand frazzles with people round that you've since blocked on twitter. In that clip they've even capped Wogan sounding a bit pissed blithering on about accordions and incorrectly pblackicting that "Baltic block voting" would work in Estonia's favour. The daft racist- it came 21st.


No such pop luck this year, because their interminable national selection process has whittled out all the fun and given us some opera. For crying out loud.

"I have attended operas, whenever I could not help it, for fourteen years now", said Mark Twain. "I am sure I know of no agony comparable to the listening to an unfamiliar opera... that sort of intense but incoherent noise which always so reminds me of the time the orphan asylum burned down. The banging and slamming and booming and crashing were something beyond belief. The racking and pitiliess pain of it remains stored up in my memory alongside the memory of the time that I had my teeth fixed"

Image result for elina nechayevaLet's get this straight. Just because the entire world tells you that listening to a certain kind of music will make you clever and cultured doesn't mean they're right. So I'm tootling along on the tube the other day listening to whatever, and all of a sudden my phone starts playing a podcast I hadn't remembered subscribing to on the subject of Wagner's "Die Walkure". You know, off of Ride of the Valkyries. Off of films and stuff.

Wagner (like many of the famous composers) was brilliant. Mozart, Beethoven, Bach. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. They gave Western music shape and form. They wrote some of the most influential music ever. They changed the world as we know it and music will never be the same without them. But do you know what I listen to whenever I have the chance? Not them.

I listen to scandipop, or Stock Aitken Waterman, or the Sugababes. I listen to Eurovision songs. I like Radio 1, and Radio 2, and ESC Radio, and turning up the feelgood. I like the songs they play at weddings and the songs I play at weddings. I might even cue up a bit of Feeder or Simple Minds or Oasis if I feel like it. What I do not listen to is Wagner, Mozart or Beethoven. It doesn't speak to me. It doesn't elicit any emotion. I can't identify with it. It's fucking awful, and you know it.

"Oh dear!" they say. "He's so uncultured. Uneducated. Uncouth!" Maybe I am. But I'm not alone. If you ask a middle class coffee drinker to describe their perfect coffee, ninety nine percent of them will tell you they want a rich, complex Kenyan roast with a dark, malted colour- but when the researchers look into what people actually drink in their house, it's weak milky coffee-flavoured-water with enough sugar to induce a diabetic coma.

The first ever opera song in Eurovision was our bloody fault- this terrible UK entry in 1957. It's not programmed for heavy rotation on ESC radio, put it like that. Next Austria entered some with "Where to, little pony?" (last place, it turns out). Turkey came last in 83, Slovenia didn't qualify in 2007, and Il Volo lost out to Mans in 2015. So I'm sure that- voting on a school night- Europe will send Elina and her expensive dress into the final. But once they've downed their 15th bottle of babycham on Saturday they won't be voting for this.

I get it. People want to believe "better" of themselves. They want to be the kind of person who listens to La Traviata while perched on a Louis XIV armchair reading de Tocqueville. But when you pop round their house you find them listening to Beyonce's Greatest Hits perched on an Ikea sofa-bed reading Twitter. And you know what? That's ok.

It's ok because people who listen to, sit on and read things they think they should be listening to, sitting on and reading, instead of things they want to listen to, sit on and read usually turn out to be complete arseholes. But those who have the presence of mind and the strength of their convictions enough to admit that Slavko, not Stravinsky, is the new high-art, go on to lead happy, fulfilled and culturally dynamic lives full of the pure joy that can only be induced by pop music that speaks to us, cheers us up and makes us move. Chihuahua!