Sunday, May 27, 2012

Eurovision 2012: When Will Britain Learn?

It's sad to see someone like Engelbert Humperdinck brought low by cruel fate. He gave his all to win Eurovision and we should be proud of him.

However it's that time, like every year, where I point out exactly what the United Kingdom is doing wrong at Eurovision.

Before I do, let's just get one canard out of the way. Block voting. It's an issue that everyone always brings up, and some in this country use it as an excuse for our poor performance. Firstly they forget we engage in neighbourly voting with our friends in Ireland, so we really can't moan about it in others. And secondly, though block voting absolutely exists (Greece/Cyprus, Germany/Turkey, the Balkans, the Baltic, Scandinavia, the former USSR, Spain/Portugal), it does not mean a good song won't do well. Sweden won last night, Germany won in 2010, we got 5th position in 2009. Block voting punishes poor songs more than you'd expect but doesn't do enough to stop the momentum of an outstanding song. Here are some stats from 2007 (under a different voting system, I might add, but still relevant) which show this clearly.

So with that out of the way, what could we do better?

1) Choose a good song. We consistently choose bland songs that might be okay if heard at a restaurant but really don't cut it when put up for a television music contest. Remember when we got Lloyd-Weber and then Waterman to write our songs? Has-been, past their prime songwriters of a different generation. We get what we deserve if we aren't using the Eurovision song contest to highlight the talented songwriters we have all over the place in this country. We need people who are on the way up, not heading towards retirement! Be honest, did you see anyone (even in the UK) claim that Engelbert's was their favourite song of the contest?

2) Choose the right artist. We have a habit in this country of either sending someone completely unknown to Eurovision (Jade, that guy from 2010, Daz Sampson) or an act that's basically retired (Scooch, Blue, Engelbert). We have a huge diversity of amazing singers and acts in this country. We are one of the music capitals of the world. And yet we never send an active, known, talented act to Eurovision. And then we get surprised that we don't win! Send One Direction and watch us clean up.

3) Do a grand European tour. One of the many things Jade Ewan (5th place remember!) got right was appearing on lots of European TV shows before the contest in 2009. We must promote our song to others. We are so disengaged from Europe these days, and seem to view the Continent (which I can see clearly from the end of my street!) as some distant, unfathomable beast. It's not, if we get our good artist and our good song on the airwaves before the contest then we shall give ourselves an actual chance.

4) Lose graciously. Whilst all the other acts applauded Sweden's act as she walked to the stage last night, our contingent in the green room was having a group hug. Sheesh, show at least a little decorum. No wonder we do so badly, I wouldn't vote for us after that!

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

The 57th Eurovision Song Contest: I Can't Believe It's Not A Live Blog!

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist

Eurovision Is Tonight!!!

I took the decision not to listen to Eurovision songs before the contest this year. Partly this was due to laziness, partly due to dread at the thought of some of the awful songs I'd encounter and partly to try to keep it feeling fresh for once. Usually I've heard the songs a few times before the contest and it's taken away a little of the magic for me.

And I think it worked, I enjoyed seeing what the songs were like on the night during the semi-finals, but something else has conspired to take away the Eurovision magic this year; politics. Sadly Azerbaijan's human rights record leaves a lot to be desired and that has tainted the contest for me. Anyway, here are my favourite songs from the semis that have made it through!


I won't lie, I'm not that impressed with the song itself. But Norway has obviously got some sort of Eric Saade cloning technology in use here. HOT.


I quite enjoyed this piece of Eurovision fluff. :) Greece has a good record of putting up "Eurovision" songs (that means the sort I like!)


Ruslana, Verka et al. I tend to like the Ukraine entry. This is no different, they know how to put on a show. :)


Looking good. No really... looking really good.


I wasn't a big fan of the first semi-final's selection, so despite myself I find this song pretty alright! They are still total prats...

Onwards to tonight when the Hump will Eurovision for the UK!! See that positive thinking there... Come on Britain!!!

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ayden The Tamaskan

At the beginning of April, a new character was welcomed into our family. Not without some second thoughts, we decided to get a dog. And not just any dog, but a Tamaskan. He was bought from a breeder in Bulgaria, and arrived with us at 12 weeks old. His official name is the grand sounding Saxon Midzor but he's happy to be known as Ayden.

It's taken a bit of adjustment, taking him for regular walks is alright except for when it's dark and rainy and you just want to be in bed already. But he's gorgeous, well-tempered, playful, intelligent and easy to train. And he doesn't eat Mr Gibbs the Bearded Dragon which is also a huge bonus obviously! (Mr Gibbs, as if it needed stating, is ambivalent on this new addition. As long as it doesn't affect the wax-worm supply, anything goes!)

And with a dog comes that great excuse to start exploring, walks through country parks, forests and on the beach are just the beginning. I've already seen a grass snake and tadpoles on our adventures which takes me back to be a child walking our dogs in Snodland's "pit". It's refreshing. Not to be outdone, my Mum has only gone and got herself a Tamaskan!  He's called Finn and, although a few weeks younger than Ayden, is firm friends with his cousin!

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist