Saturday, 8 May 2021

Feeling like in prison

Eden Alene
Set Me Free

All of these cool commentators banging on about Russian troll farms and Trump and the Canary 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. Well I’ve got news for you, sunshine.

Back in 1978, for example, Jordanian broadcaster JRTV decided to replace the performance of the Israeli entry with pictures of daffodils. 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!

That’s the thing about fake news. When you stop and think for a minute, it’s just so unbelievable.

Now for most years after that big win, Israel's entry has just been a downbeat ballad in Hebrew, but it’s all fun and games when they deviate from the blueprint.

In 2000 their entry PingPong waved Syrian flags during a rehearsal of their song “Sameach” (Be Happy) in what was apparently a symbolic gesture to promote peace. The song’s lyrics mention an Israeli girl with a boyfriend in the Syrian capital, Damascus, and the music video sees her channel her yearning for him by indulging in suggestive acts with fruit and vegetables, outraging the more conservative sectors of Israeli society. The locals went absolutely cucumbers and the IBA ended up having to pull all support, although that may also have been because the song itself there on the night was an absolute shovel of tuneless shite.

More ballads for years, and then I think we can all remember that moment in 2015 when Nadav Guedj appeared with his big golden boots and delivered a massive party banger about being the "King of Fun". "Before you leave let me show you Tel Aviv" he said, and then indeed did in 2019, after which Armenia, Belarus and Hungary and Montenegro did indeed leave.

We were there because of that chicken song. Not Ireland 2008 (that was a much drier bird) and nor was it the 1986 rubber puppets summer holiday parody of disco songs literally called The Chicken Song, (to which I sold photocopied lyrics for 10p a go in the playground, including the lyrics to the anti-apartheid B-Side as a bonus, which didn't half baffle Mrs Garbutt after break when 3C starting singing it), I mean Netta Barzilai's funny chicken noises song "Toy", a #MeToo movement anthem whose chorus went "I’m not your toy, you stupid boy".

This year’s hopeful is Eden Alene, who won Israeli X Factor in 2018 and then for some reason went on to release this pig-awful cover of Eurovision 1976’s winner "Save Your Kisses For Me" from the Brotherhood of Man. Her song for Rotterdam (“Set me free”) takes bits of Luis Fonsi and Dua Lipa and unconvincingly glues them together with a old pritt stick from the back of the drawer, chucking in an entirely unnecessary key change for the final thirty seconds that actually manages to flatten the whole thing into a malawach.