Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Shubidubi-dab-dab Shubidubi-dab-dab

Alexander Rybak
That's How You Write A Song

Scandipop. That's what I like. Fun, bouncy, carefully crafted caffeiney disco-pop songs that pick you up when you're having a bad day. Like Abba or Agnes or Dolly Style or Robin Stjernberg or the A*Teens. And do you know what I don't mind from a place like Norway? Three minutes of miserable Nordic Noir, like BBC4 meets Jar of Hearts. Like this or this or this. That would do too.

There is something both glorious and utterly miserable about spending January and February watching Eurovision finals from around Europe. It's glorious because you end up with a Spotify playlist of about 250 new scandi hits and Moldovan shits to get you into work in the morning. But it's also miserable, because utterly amazing songs end up being rejected by boring, play-it-safe televoters from their host countries.

Alexander Rybak
This year's award for the best most utterly amazing song cruelly cast aside in its National Final undoubtebly belongs to Norway's Ida Maria. Ida was basically a fringe indie artist in Norway a few years back and was almost a superstar- she did Jools Holland, appeared on Jay Leno and even played one of those minor stages at Glasto that Jo Whiley cuts to if her guest is swearing. For whatever reason (one of which, I suspect, was her abject refusal to be told what to do by her record label) she never really made it, but then January came around and NRK announced her as one of their MGP artists and I heard it and... well.

You might think having read this blog that I'm a vile, lonely, self hating arsehole who derives no joy from colour, nature, other people or music. You're partly right. I'm working on it. You might also wonder why, having slated almost every song so far, I obsess over the Eurovision, watching national finals and collecting memorabilia and dragging myself and my increasingly thrilled wife around Europe to actually watch the thing in person every year.

Well I'll tell you why. Songs like Scandilove. A joyful, life affirming, fantastic, hilarious, satirical, derivative scandipop song that grabs you by the face and hugs you tight and reminds you what love feels like. Oh my days. It's a foot tapping, hand clapping work of absolute pop genius and I love it. The song is slick, the production is contemporary, the lyrics are funny, the beat is infectious, and to top it all if you give it a couple of goes you can literally sing Paul Simon's You Can Call Me Al over the top of it and you get this endorphin rush feeling like you've cracked the fucking Da Vinci Code or something.

I mean just look at those lyrics! You can be the nurse, and I can be the doctor! You can be the pool and I can be the diver! I can be the Volvo, you can be the driver! Swim in the ocean, feel the emotion! It's fucking freezing- Cause you're in Scandinavia biaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatch.

Sadly two things cursed it. First, her performance on the night was breathtakingly shambolic. She'd been ill for weeks and was hepped up on goofballs, giving the overall impression that she'd been out on a £1m bender in Bergen and woken up in Oslo in someone else's stag do suit. The sweat is pouring out of her, she manages to fall up the stairs half way through, she fluffs the biaaaaaaaatch line and there's the constant fear that one of the sixteen distracting stunt cheerleaders being bounced in the air in the background is going to be hurled to the floor and break their neck.

But she never really stood a chance. Remember 2009? Honey, I'm telling the truth. I did something terrible in my early youth. I (and everyone else in Europe that night) voted for some smug git with a fiddle that charmed his way into my face with a folk on coke number called Fairytale. Well, he's back. He thinks he's Johnny Logan and he might be right. He's got a song- about writing a song- that's a trite, dated slice of Gjetost and you are desperate, so very desperate to hate it. But it's an earworm. Ten seconds in it's in there, eating away at your critical faculties, and making you like him. A minute in and I'd forgiven him. Two minutes in and I wanted to go for a beer with him. Three minutes gone and I wanted to hug him and adopt him and sign over my first born to him and make love to him like a Scandinavian.

I really don't want another Eurovision in Oslo (not least because going on a bender costs about £1m) so get ready. Resist. Psychologists have long been looking for ways to turn off the unwelcome thoughts of the earworm, and now a study from the University of Reading suggests a fresh approach: chew some gum. Or silently read. Or talk to yourself- engage the tongue, teeth and other parts of the anatomy used to produce speech- work your subvocal articulators, because these subvocalizations lessen the brain's ability to form verbal or musical memories. I don't know, accidentally turn over to BGT. Prenend there's a fire in your house. Start a debate about Brexit. Vomit in a pint glass. Anything.

Actually, forget it. I give in. Frankly I'd rather have Rybak in my head than Norway's 1978 entry, sung by a man screaming out the words "enter me, enter me" in a pair of red trousers and oversized sunglasses.