Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Take my hand and I’ll lead you home

Image result for united kingdom eurovision heart
United Kingdom
Michael Rice
Bigger Than Us

Do you remember when we were kids with no fear? I do. I remember, vividly. Saturday 19th April, 1980. That year the twenty fifth Eurovision Song Contest was broadcast from a faraway place that the announcer called "Congresgebouw" in the Hague, in the Netherlands. Israel had declined to host the contest for a second year running and after runners-up Spain and also reportedly the UK turned it down, it was eventually hosted by the Netherlands, who came twelfth, on the condition they could scale down the production. Changes to the line-up that year included Israel who ended up withdrawing because the date chosen conflicted with their remembrance day, and Morocco who took part for the first and last time to date.

My mind feels like a foreign land

The Netherlands
Duncan Laurence

On Line, on digital and on 88 to 91 FM, here we are then in permanently middle of the road Netherlands - a country so dull that the closest they've come to entertainment in the last ten years was when they entered Howard Stableford off of Tomorrow's World, former MP Bill Rammell and television's MacGyver in silver space suits, dancing like someone's embarrassing dad at a wedding to literally the worst piece of music ever entered into any song competition ever. Click here if you don't believe me.

Monday, 13 May 2019

Goin' wild like an animal

Luca Hänni
She Got Me

I have an entirely unjustified soft spot for the Swiss, which I think is derived from hundreds of summer mornings spent watching badly dubbed episodes of Heidi from behind the sofa. That Goat Peter. What an asshole!

It's unjustified because they are so rubbish at Eurovision that they make us look like the Swedes. We've seen it all. Vampires, Golden Showers, terrible English ("sweem against the stroom" indeed), four generations of the Salvation Army, ena stupendo and an ena stupendously annoying twiddly dee folk song performed by a smug pillock in a waistcoat. Cuckoo clocks the lot of them.

Maybe I would lit your world with just one spark

John Lundvik
Too Late For Love

The other week, in the middle of a wild, exhilarating weekend of bullying a 16-year-old girl, Toby Young got proper excited when he discovered that climate change activist Greta Thunberg's mum had done Eurovision, calling her "privileged".

That's right folks. A noted eugenicist whose dad got him into Cambridge is arguing that the revelation that a teenager's mum came 22nd in Eurovision in 2009 really means that "climate change" is an elaborate ponzi scheme designed to keep the privileged likes of Rylan Clarke in work. Just wait til he finds out who Emily Atack's mother is.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

They buy you because you are for sale

La Venda

Ugh. Where are we now? Spain? Oh, I'd almost forgotten about Spain - until I woke from a nap, picturing a couple of hundred bright pink English skinheads throwing garden furniture into a hotel swimming pool whilst "Thomson" the dog moonwalks to "Chocolate" by Soul Control, resulting in a group of under fives dancing enthusiastically to lyrics like to "All The Girls Want Candy Candy, All The Boys Get Randy Randy" whilst their parents mutter on about halting freedom of movement, something they will also be denied tomorrow when the campylobacter drenched ham they've just wolfed down takes its revenge.

Like a leaf blows with the wind and resists it

Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl

I used to have a bit of a soft spot for the Slovenians, if for no other reason than because whilst we thought we were being all "ironic" with that Scooch abomination , they'd done it better in 2002. Would you like something to suck on for landing, sir?

Saturday, 11 May 2019

The look creeps

Nevena Božović

And hello hello to Serbia, previous home of the seedy turbofolk lego man, that man with big hair singing about his shoes, and best of all, the subversive romany lesbian that swept to victory in 2007 and caused the Belgrade mayor to have to retrain his entire police to be more "tolerant". Eastern Europe stealing our points? Same sex relationships? Gypsies? Daily Mail island almost relaunched the Balkan conflict overnight.

You look sad and lonely, is something wrong tonight

Image result for san marino heart eurovisionSan Marino
Say Na Na Na

Bless. The entire population of San Marino - Eurovision's smallest participant - could fit inside Expo Tel Aviv, and still leave room for the shawarma stalls. They first entered back in 2008 in Serbia with a man that looked suspiciously like 80's illusionist David Copperfield - but it came last with 5 points in the Tuesday night semi. Apparently I was there, but I suspect on listening to it back that at the time I was trying to find a drink, the toilet or my will to live.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Though my throat is on fire, my eyes will be liars

Sergey Lazarev

For people who started to enjoy the contest in the 80s, the quintessential Eurovision winner is probably Sweden's definately heterosexual "Herreys" with their 1984 thriller "Diggi loo Diggi ley".  What a song. "Lightning and Thunder, Magic and Wonder" they sang, white trousers round their nipples, cheesy choreography and a cheesy backing track that sounded like it had been lifted direct from an 80s cartoon series whilst a clever green screen projection video of the boys in a cube played behind them. It was brilliant.

I will always be waiting for you to come back home to me

Ester Peony
On a Sunday

And so to another of those pesky Eastern European countries that Wogan started off gently parodying and latterly openly hated before being bundled off to his nursing home.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

I broke the cell phone trying to call heaven

Conan Osiris

There are two sorts of Eurovision entry from Portugal. There's the jaunty sort - like this - that you might hear in a pool bar in Albufeira while you're hurling down locally produced spirits as some nineteen year old looks after your children on three days training all of which they were late for. And then there's entries like this. Pure, uncut Portuguese shit.

Harder and harder

Fire of Love (Pali się)

We all have a hobby. Some of us like painting, or dancing, or archery. Some of us are into flashmobbing, or the Wombles. Some of us follow the Hothouse Flowers around on tour. Some people like taking off their shirt and banging their head. All of these people are, of course, massive losers who need to GET A LIFE.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

I am dancing with the fairies now

Spirit in the Sky

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. I mean this Sigrid album this year is wall to wall scandibanger. 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.

Don't be afraid to spread your wings and fly

Image result for north macedonia flag eurovisionNorth Macedonia
Tamara Todevska

The country formerly known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia but now known as North Macedonia has only managed to qualify once in the past decade, and even then they didn't deserve it - belting out a balkan trouser-suit ballad that I managed to miss in its entirety as I took a carefully timed three minute wizz (air).

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Heartbreak was the only thing you left for me

D mol

Right up until 1997, the points doled out by countries in the Eurovision were decided by juries- entire sets of po-faced pop professionals desperately trying to convince us that dreary, folky ballad music from Ireland was the best in aural entertainment that the continent could offer for for the whole of the 1990s.

Look into my eyes, fly me high right up to the sky

Anna Odobescu

And so to Moldova, a tiny, landlocked republic wedged between Romania to its west and Ukraine to its north. Imagine if they won it and it was in Chisinau! You'd be rattling along on the train from Romania, wolfing down pork in a restaurant car that looks like your grandma’s front room (a window framed by heavy purple fluted curtains, silk flowers, a faint smell of cigarettes and orange formica tables) when the conductor comes and chats. "The best time in Moldova was at the end of the second world war, after the Romanians had left but before the Russians came" he says - which by my reckoning meant that the country’s glory days lasted for precisely one month.

Monday, 6 May 2019

I can change like the weather


Ah Malta. They love the Eurovision in Malta, and they love us. Every year without fail they give us 10 or 12 points, even when we enter rubbish like this. In return every year we give them nul points and then send them thousands of gurning, thuggish holidaymakers to urinate against their beach bars and harass their daughters every summer.

If you want to breathe, let's go outside in the open

Jurij Veklenko
Run With The Lions

Back in the day Eurovision was quite a treat, largely because you got to peek behind the often Iron curtains of other nations and get a glimpse of their culture and food and pop music. I mean I was barely four when this happened, but I definitely told my mummy that I wanted to go Germany after this- although it turned out that Germany wasn't a land of flamboyant disco warriors after all, but a land of racists taking the piss out of Mongolia.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

It was a lonely night

That Night

I was at this thing the other day and one of those people that knows me from another thing was talking about something important to them, and slowly their grip on my attention started to loosen and my mind drifted away from the conscious reality of sitting there listening to them as my brain gently rose like a hot air balloon ascending the heavens and gliding across a landscape of idle thoughts, while back on Earth my face was sat beside them saying "mmm" and "ooh" and "really?" and occasionally arching its eyebrows like an actor in a commercial who's been asked to wordlessly indicate that cough sweets work.

He smokes shisha. He asks me how I’m doing.


I always quite liked the Italian entries as a kid. Not as much as ronenj53, of course. "She is so sensual, the way she walks, the lovely way she presetnts the song" he says about 1985's classic, "and the combination between them is great- they give us the impression that the song was born, for both of them". Yep, it's that heartwarming story of a beautiful romance between a 56 year old provincial bank manager and a 22 year old counter assistant. Magic, oh magic!

Saturday, 4 May 2019

And now I'm done, I'm coming home

Kobi Marimi

All of these cool commentators banging on about Russian troll farms and Trump and Skwakbox with all the coherence of a 1200 word media studies essay in the first year of an undergraduate degree think that propaganda, fake news and information wars are new. Pah! 

Back in 1978, for example, Jordanian broadcaster JRTV resolved to replace the performance of the Israeli entry with pictures of daffodills. Then, three quarters of the way through the voting when it was clear that they were cruising towards a win with their classic "Ah! Barnaby!", JRTV yanked the broadcast, cut to the news, and falsely announced that the winner was... Belgium!

We said until death do us part and then you chose to break my heart

Sarah McTernan

"I was born in a distant 1980. The year of the Irish Johnny Logan war"

Take one or two authentic Irish folk/soul singers, add some lyrics about the countryside and shamrocks, and stir in an arrangement that sounds like a tourist video for the country shown in the breaks on CNN. Add some step dancing, to be sure. For well over 200 years, the powers that be at RTE in Dublin entered exactly the same song- and every year it won. I almost brought a house in Ireland to save on airfares.

Friday, 3 May 2019

Universal obfuscation

Hatrið mun sigra

I once went to a whole academic conference about Eurovision. A day of papers and panel discussions and Paddy O'Connell spouting pseudo-academic twaddle like how the song contest has "provided a platform for the creation of national and European identities", how the event "has embraced and celebrated diversity by showcasing minority communities" and how it has been used as a "nation branding tool by countries such as Estonia and Ukraine". And I got an EBU biro.

My father has brought me up like the winds

Joci Pápai
Az én apám

So apparently I'm not, by all accounts, a very easy person to talk to. The socially awkward chit chat I do do tends to be so laced with sneery, off putting West Midlands sarcasm that most people avoid me at all costs unless they (and I) are drunk - so for those that do attempt conversation, my Eurovision obsession at least offers something to hang the opening gambit on. "Where is Eurovision this year", they try, "Who's our entry this year", or "Are you going this year" are all standards, followed closely by "What's your favourite ever entry?

Thursday, 2 May 2019

What you waiting for, what you waiting fo-or, what you waiting for?

Katerine Duska
Better Love

Some countries throw half their GDP at Eurovision, but even when your total GDP is the cost of a pint in Copenhagen airport you can still pull off a masterpiece. In 2010 for example the Greeks were so skint they handed the whole business of song picking to Universal Music Europe, and then stuck their "National Final" in the Hellenic equivalent of Westfield, with an tiny audience of customers bored queuing in TK Maxx. Look closely and you won't even see any proper speakers - the sound was piped through the shopping centre PA system as she mimed in the dark.

Banner Katerine Duska

I’m tired, tired of always losing


Now. You might be sat alone at your PC at work at half nine at night, drinking gin from the corner shop and wallowing in self hatred at memories of recent UK entrants, but even Humperdoink, Blue, Josh Dubovnie, Scooch, Gemini, DJ Daz and that bin man off the X Factor haven't done as badly in the past decade as the Germans.

Apart from that year when Lena sung about wearing new underwear (they're blue- I wore them just the other day), they have done really really fucking badly. Of course, they (like us) are one of the "Big Five" and thus help bankroll the whole thing, so have tended not to care given they (like us) get an automatic ticket to the final (in case you've not noticed there are two semi finals on during the week leading up covered on BBC3, which is why you can get three hours in on the Saturday and STILL not see your sweepstake pick).

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

We heal each others’ wounds with songs

Oto Nemsadze
Keep on Going

It's not that long ago that the Eurovision audience- largely bored local dignatories in the host countries- were expected to sit still, keep quiet and politely applaud each miserable entry. But ever since the Eastern Europeans started holding it in giant stadiums and cheap air travel meant fans could actually get there, the audience and its cheering and costumes and what our friends in the east brand as "exuberance" have been a big part of the show - holding up their phone torches for the middle eight of ballads, making us look like wankers by dressing in full Union Jack suits behind presenter links, and waving their flags. Their massive flags.

I’m not in society’s codes I can bother a few

Bilal Hassani

France were instrumental in founding the "Concours Eurovision de la chanson" (and securing funding from the CIA for what was seen at the time as an important bit of pro-Western propaganda), and to this day insist on bits of the presentation on the night being read out in French (hence "Douze Points" and your Nan being confused at us being called "Roy and Minnie"). But right from the early days of the contest when it consisted of 5 countries, Katie Boyle and "Boom bang a ding a dong" they were pissing about being aloof and snooty.