Sunday, 12 May 2013

Eurovision 2013 Preview

I am virtually certain the 2013 Eurovision crown will be lifted by an British woman. But it won't be Bonnie Tyler.

It's the same old story almost every year. The UK's warbling ambassadors take to the stage and, invariably, come home with next to no points. In the first part of the last decade our sub-par performance was blamed on the fall out from the Iraq War. And as the decade wore on, the UK progressively fell foul of Gazprom-orchestrated block voting. Hmmm. Lack of success is laid at the feet of others who refuse to play fair - a typically British response you might say.

But it's poppycock. The 'new' Eurovision countries of Eastern Europe tend to enter their biggest acts who are regionally popular, and that's why the vote is scooped up. Sure, there are styles of music and linguistic/cultural ties that underline cross border appeal, but this is not the early 80s. There is no monolith to the East lying behind pillboxes and tank traps. In fact, voting pattens are more fluid than the popular narrative suggests. Between 2003-12 the Balkan Peninsula has won twice, and Scandinavia and Eastern Europe three times apiece.

The sad fact is the UK doesn't win because our entries are crap. After years of packing off fresh-faced youngsters with bland tunes, the powers that be have woken up to the fact star power does make a difference. But they still don't get it. Blue, Engelbert and Bonnie Tyler have sold records on the continent but they weren't current and, if we're honest, very few care about whatever new material they're churning out. You can't win Eurovision by entering has beens whose songs turn on a two minute fifteen key change. And you definitely won't win if you don't make the most of your act. For instance, Bonnie Tyler has a fine pair of lungs. So what fool gave her this bland, insipid ballad?

Contrast our awful record of awful records with this year's Eurovision roster. There's plenty of forgettable bubble gum, but some stand outs. Here's Slovenia's Hannah with Straight Into Love.

Oh my life, a dubstep opening on Eurovision? Yup. But have a listen. The building chimes, the lovey-dovey vocals. Have you seen (or heard) what they did there, Team UK? Slovenia have entered a song that sounds like a modern dance record.

My personal favourite is the slightly quirky but rather brilliant entry from Ukraine. This is Zlata Ognevich with Gravity.

Something original. Why not take a risk, UK? The 1.3m YouTube views for Ms Ognevich suggests it will do well in the popular vote.

Speaking of risks, Cezar's dance opera, It's My Life is simply wonderful.

Oh look, another Eurovision song with not a not-terribly-appropriate dubstep interlude. In fact, there are five songs so afflicted in this year's contest. A shame Johnny Foreigner are experimenting with it rather then the UK. After all, it only came from South London.

Or perhaps the UK could look to the British woman who is all set to win this year.

I doubt many readers have heard of Natalie Horler, but chances are her vocals for the eurodance group, Cascada, have been picked up by your ears as you've sallied forth through clothes shops and supermarkets. Now, I've never liked their twee (but up to date) EDM sound but it's undeniable they're a success. 5 million albums sold, 15 million digital downloads says it all really. And they're representing Germany.

You don't need to be Wernher von Braun to realise that combining a poppy, catchy contemporary-sounding track with a chart-topping group is a recipe for German success this year.

So what's it going to be? Will the UK make like a boring Trotskyist group and blame circumstances beyond their control for the inevitable dismal result, or might it learn from the opposition in time for 2014?


Phil said...

Bonnie Tyler's not an Englishwoman - which you might have guessed if she'd stuck to her birth name of Gaynor Hopkins.

I can see we'll be playing a few rounds of "gay or European?" this week. Cezar's rather wonderful, but I think one Mika is enough.

That Ukraine song is rather special - deserves to do well, although it's perhaps trying a bit too hard to be this year's Euphoria. Cascada bring it off much more competently, a word which here means 'with dull but polished efficiency'.

Phil said...

Re: Bonnie Tyler not being English, in that case I'm being factually accurate :P

Next week I will be found lounging about on Twitter offering live commentary, sad man that I am.

Alex Ross said...

Quite fond of the Greek entry...though don't think it will win (and my Greek friends are quite worried that it would bankrupt the country even further if it did!).

Moldova has to win a special award for worst lyrics (possibly for worst lyrics in any song ever!!). Just got back from Chisinau - and that sentiment seems to be shared among most Moldovans I met - who were hoping for yet another year of Zbob Si Zdub).

Someone on my travels informed me that there used to be a soviet version of eurovision...encompassing the former constituent parts of the SU. I'd pay good money to see footage of that!

Still longing for the day when we have the worldvision song contest (as long as it maintains the camp and doesn't take itself too seriously!).

Alex Ross said...

Apparently the Soviet eurovision also spanned most of the eastern bloc as well...and had no limits on how long a song should last...

"One Czechoslovakian girl went on the stage and stayed on the stage 45 minutes singing. She was singing, singing and singing,” Gruza recalls. “My job was to get her off the stage and I almost had a heart attack. In the end she got tired and walked off.”

There is a BBC article here...

Gavin Hall said...


howard fuller said...

Its' Denmark for me after tonights semi-final, but Ukraine was a close second.

Stragely like the guy from Lithuania.

Phil said...


I'm perversely sorry to lose Montenegro - "Jedward in space" - and amazed that the Netherlands got through: there's a treat in store for Saturday night. The Lithuanian guy is scary, as indeed is his song.

But mainly... giant!

Alex Ross said...

No onstage [wooden] donkey for Montenegro this year so not interested!

Am liking Lithuania though!

Phil said...

The second semi-final was class. Particularly sorry to lose Albania - a bit of ROCK never goes amiss. But was the Bulgarian woman drumming on the Qabbala? We may never know now.