Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Just for one day make this pain subside

Eugent Bushpepa

Hooray! It's the hap-happiest season of all! With those euro type greetings and gay happy meetings when friends come to call! It's the hap-happiest season of all!

Look, it might not seem like a whole twelve months has passed since Kyiv and SalvADORABLE and the return of EPIC SAX GUY and THAT AMAZING SONG FROM ESTONIA THAT I STILL LOVE AND LISTEN TO AND CRY WITH JOY TO EVERY DAY but it is. It really really is. Yes- stow that hand luggage, fasten those seatbelts, order some shots and brace brace- because it’s time for my annual unremittingly miserable Wizz Air flight across the barren wasteland of European pop that is all 43 songs in the 63rd Grand-Prix Eurovision de la Chanson Européenne! Hooray!

Twice a day until the first semi on May 8th, I’ll be taking my reviews- poorly written, cliché ridden streams of consciousness consisting of lonely, unpleasant observations, barely rewritten press releases and painfully poor jokes from previous years’ blogs- and ‘uploading’ them onto the ‘internet’ for your ‘pleasure’, signalled via the identification of an unrepresentative and offensive quote to take out of my own context for the clickbait tweets. You know, like the real media.

So we start as ever in Albania. The first thing to say is something I say every year- the thing about Albania is that I love their flag. Just imagine living in a country with that! What a brilliant thing that must be! A big red flag with a big beetle on it! Oh. Apparently it’s an eagle.

Image resultPresumably for you Eurovision starts with an ‘ironic’ and vaguely xenophobic feature in Saturday's papers on the day of the final in May, but for people like me (who self-identify as having the Eurovision as a ‘hobby’), the ‘irony’ and vague xenophobia can be a year-round experience.

You can watch watch turgid old finals from Harrogate on the youtube, you can listen to Eurovision radio on full blast in the open plan office where you work, you can watch spin offs like the Eurovision young dancers (baffling) or Eurovision choir of the year (harrowing), later this year we’re getting a K-Pop-tastic Eurovision in Asia (bil-eo meog-eul jiog) and thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can even watch other countries pick their terrible songs.

Take Christmas round the Dickinsons. Whilst you may be watching Mrs Brown's Boys and repeats of Only Fools and Horses on Christmas Day, I am usually gathered around a laptop with a tumbler of supermarket scotch retweeting people whose Christmas has been ruined because their mum forgot to buy ‘pigs in blankets’ whilst watching the grand final of "Festivali i Këngës ", Albania's very own "A Song for Europe"- which usually consists of Albanian fools (and occasionally Albanian horses) singing bad songs with no chorus in minor keys accompanied by a massive orchestra in a big hall in Tirana.

The show is quite an ordeal, to be honest- it's a three day, fifteen hour festival of shite that serves up turd after turd after turd, with staggering front runners like this thing featuring two blokes off a building site singing and rapping about divorce, all padded out with baffling light entertainment sections like this where a close up magician does a seven minute routine without any actual tricks, or where an old man (accompanied by a woman he ignores in an unnecessarily short skirt) interviews a man dressed as 80s era terrorist who does a rap. For ten fucking minutes.

Throghout the process I really wanted popular (ie through to the battle rounds) Albanian 'The Voice of Albania' graduate Lorela Sejdini to win- but given her song had an accessible melody and discernable chorus (and as ever the poppy studio version got turned by the orchestra into something sounding like an interval act from turgid 80s quiz show 321), the Jury instead went for Gent Bushpepa, a famous Albanian rock star who is so excited about getting into the Eurovision (and Albania into the EU) that he's added the letters “EU” to the start of his name for the contest. “Despite his rockstar status, Bushpepa shuns public exposure and is known to rarely grant interviews”, says the press waffle. “When asked by a French journalist to describe himself in one word, he replied with ‘Sanguiphlegmatic’ which is a self-coined term blending the word ‘sanguine’ and ‘phlegmatic’ personality types”. They’d have been better off with “Pillanker”.

Bushpepa and his band were the supporting acts on the concert tours of Deep Purple in 2007, Duff Mckagan (Guns N’ Roses) in 2011 and Overkill in 2014, and as a direct result the song is terrible. The verses sound like late era Bob Jovi album track, and the rest is like John Farnham’s “You’re the Voice”, only without the handclaps, driving rhythm, inspiring melody or general euphoria. It’s the sort of thing you would put on in the car on a loop if you were taking someone else’s hateful, misbehaving malevolent kids on a journey to a theme park in the holidays in the rain. No, we’re not stopping so you can go to the toilet. The sight of you painfully wetting yourself in my rear view mirror is worth the admission price alone.

Not everyone agrees of course. On YouTube Ana M from Russia for example says “Ladies, Gentlemen and Beyond: Prepare your passports because next May we are al going to Tirana!”. Great news. Maybe they’ll host the contest in the former soviet pyramid in the centre of town. “Its a total eyesore!” says Bhavi on TripAdvisor. “Graffiti all over it and a shape that I would think served no purpose at all. Now teenagers at weekends and evenings climb up the outside and try and run down again without breaking their necks. Smelled really awful in the whole area, so think people were using it as a latrine”.

So look it’s an awful Albanian entry that might just scrape into the final given the diaspora (more Albanians live outside of Albania than in it, fact fans) and of course at this stage I’ve not seen the staging which might have a massive unicorn or something in it for all I know. I’m angry really because to be honest I’d live to go to Tirana and it won’t be Tirana 2018, but I’m mostly disappointed that because it sounds nothing like Seal's "Kiss from a Rose", I can't re-use my carefully crafted joke about 2014’s entry, which I remain so proud of I'm going to recreate here.

Bay-beh, I compare you to "a kiss from a rose" off of Seal. Ooh, the more I get of you, the worser it feels, yeah. Now that your song's been remixed. I'm telling you that it still sounds shit.

Dum de dum de dum dum dum dum dum dum dum de dum.