Eurovision Finals 2006

(This was live-blogged, so all typos and unfinished sentences are charming, you know?)

The main event, the main man, the main all

Giant pumpkin, in flames (?), Titanic-looking lady; opera

Host provides us with the first white dinner jacket of the evening. Must be a record. Hostess wears a yellow, unflattering dress. Usual shitty banter.

Last year’s winner sings the winning song. Still shitty, but she’s smoking hot, so all is well. The hosts are: Will & Grace. This the yellow dress makes sense.

First up: Switzerland
1) 641 (Sox For One) – We all give a little
Every single one is off-key; extra points for rub-on tans; hands gestures like spastic wannabes. Typically topical song. Message songs never work, unless it’s Marvin Gaye. If you all give a little, it’s still not enough.

2) Moldovia
Poorest country in Europe: can’t afford clothes for the contestant. COnnector-Loca.
Fly gulz and homeez from Moldovia; sort of like Black-Eyed Peas, but not, and really shitty to boot. Scooter.dude looks like Sean Paul with dreads. Just sad…throw some "yeaha" Throw some hands in the air.

3) Israel. Least soulful black guy ever. Sort of like Living Color. Eddie Butler. Open by lying straddled on a white piano. Do I vven need to mention that they are all wearing white?? They are all completely out of tune. Some are out of sync. The song is probably the first English. Yiddish song I’ve heard. Together we are one. Unless we shoot you. Or get killed by you. Another awful message song. I can’t type any more. Jews may take over the entertainment industry, but none seem to be in Israel.

4) Kosmos. Hear your heart. A capella. Latvia. Plus points for trying. Tallinn Transfer. Plus points for a capella, but could have rehearsed more. The King’s Singers they’re not. More white jackets. Herr Flick from the Gestapo in the background. Releases a red balloon.

5) Norway. Or rather, Bergen. Back-up singer from Robert Palmer’s "Addicted to Love" video. Sounds meatier here, but the bass is going nuts in the bottom.

6) Spain. Bloody Mary by Las Ketchup. Had a huge summer hit in ’03(?). Some odd capoeira dudes writhe in the foreground. This is really shit. They sing just like Portugal, in that they don’t. You know all those tuneless, awful numbers you endure is Spanish movies, because they’re authentic and shit? Yeah, it’s like on of those. For some reason, the response is really positive.

7) Malta. Their most popular singer, for what it’s worth. Fabrizio,looks like a swarthy Barry Manilow. I do. Please don’t.

8) Tyskland. Singer/composer is Australian. Has sold 1 million copies; extremely popular and are favorites in the contest. Terry Gilliam on banjo. Country-tinged. German comboys and cowgirls. The mix is fucking weird. This has really heavy bass too. Spirited and fun. Plus points for sound grasp of the English language, but then again, she’s an Aussie.

9) Denmark. Twist of Love. Sounds like the sort of novelty song you find on soundtracks. Sort

10) Russia. Sounds like a Ricky Martin/Latin lover number. Albino lady in piano.

11) Macedonia. Hot Pants. Slighty smaller bra. Dry-humping dancer still look unsure of what to do. Sounds worse now, though.

(Greece refues to acknowledge Macedonia)

12) Romania. Tornera. Solid disco. Black suit, surprisingly, and Chuck Taylors.

13) Bosnia.

14) Lithaunia. Spastic air guitar. We are the winners. Probably not, but I somehow like it better this time around. Plus points for Van Halen-esque keyboard.

15) UK. Daz Sampson. WTF? What did you learn in school today? Sassy schoolgirls. I feel like a dirty pig. And am. Some people reckon it sounds like "Another brick in the wall". It doesn’t.

16) Greece. Anna Vissi. 49 yrs old. Still not bad. Sounds like an Aerosmith ballad, and she sort of looks like Steven Tyler, so that works. Could definitely be a contender, and it sounds really good.

17) Finland. Lordi. Not a winner, but great fun. Looks, annd sort of sounds, like GWAR. Lyrics are so fucking cheesy, but it adds to the fun. Rocktastic. The Rockapolypse. Etc. Plu points for the extending wings. Judas Pries for all the family.

18) Ukraina. Shakira-like. Jump-ropes? Talk to my hand. Hat? Heart!

19) Frankrike. Like listening to paint dry. It’s about time. Yes, to get off the stage.

20) Croatia. Severina. Turbo-folk. I want to say it’s awful, but I’m laughing too much to type straight. One Europe, one folk? Not bloody likely. And thank God for that.

21) Ireland. Zzzzzzz.

22) Sweden. Invincible. Carola lost her voice last night. Doesn’t show, except for a raspier sound which works well. Flag-carriers a bit like Dead or Alive. Good response.

23) Tyrkey. Superstar.

24. Armenia. Not much better than last time.

Nana Mouskouri makes an apperance for no particular reason, nevertheless giving us a vital heads-up to what Lisa Loeb will look like in 20 years.

—-

Finland wins! EVeryone is suprosed. I thought Norway would do better, ebing folksy and inoffensive, but alas. Still, I loved the fatc that Finland won. It was sort of my fave and while I didn’t think it would win, I thougt it wpuld well.

It’s Finland’s first time.

I hear that the US wants to join. Which would suck. I realize everyone will be singing shit R n B soon anyway, but…

Kudos to FInland, whee! Vodka!

I won the grand prize this evening. While the voting went on, we listed out top three and bottom three. I scored five out of six and went home with a nice bottle of red.

20.05.2006 • Permalink

Eurovision Qualifying Round

One of the most wonderful things on the planet is the GMP. Once a year, every country in Europe (plus Israel), send their best, brightest and not least gaudiest to square off against each other. Armed with enough bling to bring tears to the eyes of the flashiest ghetto ho, and more often than not, a dearth of talent, they all try to bring honor to their people.

It’s often referred to as the show you love to hate. Ironic, camp or not, we all watch it, if only to roll our eyes and shake our heads.

My name is Christian. I’m a fan.

The ESC is about 50 years old; it was a so-called “schlager” festival, referring to a type of song; if upbeat, a schlager is teutonic in nature. If somber, it’s a French torch song. Explaining this to an American is often problematic in nature.

Lately, new trends peak in. Gina G upset the older crowds by wearing not much at all; luckily the song was bland and forgettable. Katrina of Katrina and the Waves brought it home to England not long after the Brits lost the world cup again. She then came out of the closet and back in the void.

Of course, the greatest success story is ABBA. It is difficult to believe that the second biggest group in the history of pop music came about in all this kitsch, but of course, one must not forget that nothing really embodies the ESC like ABBA; ropey lyrics, worse outfits and a beat to invade a small country to.

In later years, more and more countries have joined the contest. What used to be a mostly Western European thing is now infused with strains from the East. Not least from Balkan countries, who routinely send so-called “turbo-folk”; one can claim it’s great or awful, but like most statements regarding the Baltics, such as they’re either an upstanding people or a bunch of criminals, the truth is probably somewhere in between.

Norway has been the object of mush ridicule over the years, as we have often sent shitty contestants. And twice, we have been the recipients of the dreaded phrase “Nil Point”. The Limeys had to eat the words a few years back, of course. Heterosexual rocks czar Cliff Richard has competed a few times. ABBA I mentioned. Celine Dion sang fro France. And Belgium, I think. Carola, the popular Swedish chanteuse (whose ex-husband recently claimed that Mohammed was a “confused pedophile”), has competed a bunch of times.

The best ever contestant must surely be the Israeli Dana International. Huge in her native Israel, Ms. International has also undergone gender reorientation surgery. Without a doubt the

In no order, here are the best ESC songs that I can remember off the top of my head:

1) Making your mind up – Bucks FIzz
2) Waterloo – ABBA
3) Save all you kisses for me (Brotherhood of man)
4) La det svinge – Bobbysocks
5) Främling – Carola

The saddest thing about the contest is that one no longer is required to sing in one’s native lingo. You can, of course, but that would mean potentially losing the international market. And, say, Svetlana Etceterov of the Ukraine will not abide by that.

This means that more than half the songs are in English. This bothers me to no end. That does not in any way mean that I don’t love English, but let’s face it; even though you may luck out every now and then and hear a good lyric, most do not hold up to scrutiny, being written by non-native speakers. It kills the mystery to a certain extent. On the other hand, it does mean that you get some interesting phrases to add to your vocabulary, but not very often.

1) Armenia (without your love – dull east European techno-folk.

2) Bulgaria – lovely lady to look at. English lyrics. Stately, histrionic. Pretty dull. American Idol–like vocal stylings (first hit the high note, then dive three of four octaves, hitting every GODDAMN note on the way. AAAAAH – scary chant by Asian-looking dude with peroxided hair (AND goatee). This thing fucking rocks.

3) Slovenia. The first white dinner jacket of the evening. Now we’re on the right track. English lyric. Surrounded by lovely ladies. Not convinced he knows what to do with them. Awright – serious Disco! This is either for gay men or Eastern Europe. Being both makes it better, I imagine. Good voice, but the suspicion that he would rather be singing “I will survive” or anything by Kylie Minogue lingers. Still, the best act so far. My god, he’s getting gayer as I write this. Song called “Mr Nobody”.

4) Andorra. First non-English song. Sung in Catalan by a waitress who looks like a heavier version of that singer from Ally McBeal. Heavy ballad, like something a smoldering Russian lady would sing in a 60s spy flick. Her, uh, meatier frame is offset by four dancers in very slinky outfits. Like they’re trying to distract our eyes or something. Catalan sure sounds Russian, though. Kudos for the Catalan.

5) Belarus. Popular singer there, and Britney Spears-alike. She’s in hot pants, of course. “Tough” and “street” (i.e. fruits in leather) dancers fool around in the background. I think she’s singing in English, but don’t hold me to it. Kinda looks like Lindsey Lohan, and sorta sounds like Christina Aguilera, lacking the range. Largely tuneless act, but spirited enough (and undressed enough) to merit qualification.

6) Albania. Yes, sung in Albanian. “Fire, yet cold”. Sums up Albania to me. This guy won the Albanian Idol, apparently. Tune is folk-inspired. And YES: The second white dinner jacket of the evening graces the screen. Typical Idol contestant; charisma bypass and mostly mediocre. Saving grace are the two old dudes in traditional costumes. Awesome! The bagpiper has gotten on his knees and pulls his best Steve Vai moves. Wailing like a sumbitch with a freakin’ bagpipe! Lose the waiter and give us more of these guys. Yes, fire, but cold.

7) Belgium. Flemish part. Sandra Kim won for Belgium 20-odd years ago. Kate Ryan, je t’adore. Swedish songwriter, apparently. Sounds like it. Pet Shop Boys-inspired backdrop; Kate Ryan looks a bit like Cameron Diaz without the huge mouth. Gayest dancers yet. Also, they do some choreography involving a couple of mikes lit from within; unfortunately, the red tubes and the black outfits make them seem like Star Wars dweebs channeling Darth Maul’s gay uncle.

8) Ireland. Bryan Kennedy. Wrote it himself. Acoustic number, which means it will either be effortlessly melodic or dull as shit. Sounds a bit like Ronan Keating. “Every song is a cry for love”. Or a cry for help. Man, this is seriously boring stuff. Now he’s on his knees, as if proposing. I reckon Ireland is trying not to win. They have won seven times in the past, which is the record. Apparently, the show cost so much to put on, they actually lost money. This is not a winner. Apparently, this is the one thousandth song in the history of the ESC. Now you know, so that’s half a battle right there.

9) Cyprus. Sounds dull after half a beat. Nice tits, and nearly hanging out. Wants to be Whitney Houston, but lacks the range. God, that was off-key and flat, unlike her chest. Oh no, meaningful lyrics! “Why do the angels cry”? For being subjected to this sort of thing, I suppose. Plus, she looks like she wants to rock out, which always looks daft in a cocktail dress. Pass.

10) Monaco. La coco-dance. Sounds gay, inspired by French polynesian music. Cute girl. Jailbait cock-teaser, but cute. French lyrics. I don’t care what you say; French is a sexy language. Prince Albert chose the song. Sounds like something you’d find on the soundtrack of a comedy set in Key West, except, you know, French.

11) Macedonia – or the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Hot pants-wearing cock-teaser. English lyrics. Dry-humped by male dancer who looks very unsure of how to do it right. I thought these guys all went in the back door? Anyway, typical eastern strains, heavy beat; mi

ght do well, it’s sort of catchy.

12) Poland. See why this show is awesome? None of the contestants on Idol ever invaded each other! Ich troje, follow my heart. Damn, this is bad. This is what the show is all about. Remember the Rico Suave debacle a decade or more ago? Some dude is rapping. Why is that? Everybody’s dressed in white, with elaborate masks. One of them has green hair and a uniform that I think is meant too evoke Sgt. Pepper. He has a deep rasp, so he must the rocker. Everyone is off-key. One of the girls looks like Buffy, which is good. These guys are in fact one of Europe’s favorite groups. Jesus.

13) Russia. The bear. Never Let You Go. Sounds awful. He looks like the sort of wannabe delinquent you don’t want your daughter to date. Sports a half-assed mullet. What the hell is the point of a mullet if you’re gonna be timid about it, for God’s sake? Let that sucker fly, I say! You can’t invoke the power of the mullet if yo do a half-assed job about it. Ever see The Lost Boys? Now THAT was a mullet, man! Or Mel Gibson in the two first Lethal Weapon movies. I love the first one; Gary Busy is a nut. Oops, the song is over.

14) Turkey! Europe’s moslem brother and friendly neighborhood drug supplier. This sounds bad already. Peroxide tattoo lady singing about “superstar”…no wait, is it super CZAR…that makes sense, but wasn’t that a Sabbath tune? Damn, Sabbath. Now that would be something. Paranoid. Lost in the Wheels of Confusion…hey, speaking of Turkey, ever see Midnight Express? That was some nasty shit when he bites of that guard’s tongue. I’m shook back to the TV as she shouts “I wanna heah yoo”, but I don’t really want to hear her. This is dull. It’s apparently a controversial song, but it’s hard to figure out why. It’s a typical “meh” song, not even “blah”.

15) Ukraine. Shortest dress so far, I hear. “Show me your love”. Tina Karol. English lyrics. Rubbbish, of course, though her pronunciation is sort of cute. I don’t think the Turkish dress was much longer than this. Gay hussars dervish wildly in the background. The Third Man lets rip a scorcher of a zither solo. Show me your love, that’s why I came, go the lyrics. Tantalizing double entendre or evidence of a less-than-perfect grasp of the English language? You decide.

16) FINLAND! Alice Cooper and KISS rolled into one. Hard Rock Hallelujah. GWAR masks. Kid-friendly hard rock, but definitely one to make you shake a leg. Masks could put off the older crowds, though. Catchy; bonus points for the ropey Iron Maiden-esque backing vocals. Might be a tad too close to Norway’s own WigWam, though. Not a winnner, I think, but could lead to actual exposure in Europe. The masks worry me; I want to see them advance, because the contest needs a guitar and a fuzz pedal but honestly, this sort of things will scare people who avoided flicks like LOTR. I know a few of them.

Green room interlude. Hokey host banter and all the artists waving flags in the background. Female host is very. Hot. Indeed.

17) The Netherlands! Girl group. Sung in actual gibberish. God, if only Sigur Ros could be on stage for Iceland. OK, so heavy rhythms, Wisely augmented by braless costumes, so they drum twice as hard. It’s boring. Sorry. Just like the girls; pretty, but not knock-outs. Also a sign of the worrying trend that you have to have the Eastern beat in every goddamn song. Such is life with the baltic mafia.

18) Lithuania. We are the winners. This just sucks, because it’s so obviously a joke. It’s like a bad football song, except it would still suck even if you were in a serious beer haze with your favorite players and David Beckham missed the goal again. It might be so bad as to actually qualify, though. It’s an interesting thought. Lead vocalist looks like like Shaun of the Dead. Audience seems happy enough, though.

19) Portugal. Gonna make you dance. First Portuguese entry in English. Kinda like a classic ESC type song, but…they can’t sing, the costumes are rubbish and they are plain unsexy, which is weird for such a collection of girls; objectively, they have the cheekbones and the racks and the asses, but somehow, it DOESN’T ADD UP! Plus, it’s just geriatric. It’s like the dullest Spice Girls song sung by drunk, middle-aged biddies at karaoke night. Nope. They’re called Non-stop, but I predict that is wrong.

20) Sweden. Carola. The old warhorse. Biggest costume of the evening. I can’t top the commentator; his supply of zingers is bottomless. This is the most classic ESC entry; the beat, the bridge, the modulated bridge. It’s designed to give you a physical reaction. But Carola is an old warhorse; gorgeous (will be a plastic surgery terror in a few years, though) with a fantastic voice; the chick is a powerhouse. But something is missing, she doesn’t connect.

21) Estonia. Swedish singer. Looks like ABBA and sounds like it, too. ABBA with a smidgeon of Bucks Fizz thrown into the mix. Swedish guitar. Can’t explain it, but you can only get that guitar tone in Sweden. It’s like a musical Volvo. Not bad, and fun to see after Carola. She has a lot of the same…will she dethrone Carola? But christ, it’s like the same fucking song as Sweden’s.

22) Hari Mata Hari from Bosnia-Herzegovina. Heavy balkan ballad. The music video would be in black-and-white and he would walk in the wind, a despondent look on his face. There would likely be water involved somewhere. It’s a good song, though. He has the pipes and is confident enough to understand that he doesn’t have to use them within an inch of their life. It’s a mannered performance, but he sings it like he means it. I think this will do very well. Oh yes, white dinner jacket, which is only a plus.

23) Iceland. Selma Night, or something. Uses every pop cliché in the book. Also, Britney Spear’s chords from Hit me Baby One More Time. Congratulations, I have arrived. I’m Sylvia night and I shine so bright. It kind of sucks. Two guys in (yes) white suits and (whoa) Mexican dinner jackets. She’s apparently Iceland’s most popular TV star. But this won’t make it; sad thing is, there’s a catchy tune in there and she’s cute, if weird. Like the weird girl in the record store that you sort of have a crush on, even if you’d never date her, because you know that after about a week, her ditziness and love for shitty indie buttrock would get so grating that you’d have to kill her stereo. Serious booing after the song, too. Apparently, she’s been a bitch at rehearsals and have pissed of the hosts by swearing at the crew and the other contestants.

These countries qualified:

1) Russia
2) Macedonia
3) Bosnia-Hercegocina
4) Lithuania (See a pattern forming? Lots of booing)
5) Finland (yes!)
6) Ukraine
7) Ireland (Dull ballads are often a safe bet)
8) Sweden
9) Turkey (Was that the Iranian president cheering them on? Christ…)
10) Armenia (WTF?)

Almost over. We’re treated to the main contestants; Croatia is so fucking awesome. Also, awful.
The Uk has a really shite rapper. I like the Norwegian entry, though I think it’s no winner. Saturday is the motherload. Break out the beer; music is imminent.

The Eurovision song contest 2006

One of the most wonderful things on the planet is the GMP. Once a year, every country in Europe (plus Israel), send their best, brightest and not least gaudiest to square off against each other. Armed with enough bling to bring tears to the eyes of the flashiest ghetto ho, and more often than not, a dearth of talent, they all try to bring honor to their people.

It’s often referred to as the show you love to hate. Ironic, camp or not, we all watch it, if only to roll our eyes and shake our heads.

My name is Christian. I’m a fan.

The ESC is about 50 years old; it was a so-called “schlager” festival, referring to a type of song; if upbeat, a schlager is teutonic in nature. If somber, it’s a Frenc

h torch song. Explaining this to an American is often problematic in nature.

Lately, new trends peak in. Gina G upset the older crowds by wearing not much at all; luckily the song was bland and forgettable. Katrina of K and the Waves brought it home to England not long after the Brits lost the world cup again. She then came out of the closet and back in the void.

Of course, the greatest success story is ABBA. It is difficult to believe that the second biggest group in the history of pop music came about in all this kitsch, but of course, one must not forget that nothing really embodies the ESC like ABBA; ropey lyrics, worse outfits and a beat to invade a small country to.

In later years, more and more countries have joined the contest. What used to be a mostly Western European thing is now infused with strains from the East. Not least from Balkan countries, who routinely send so-called “turbo-folk”; one can claim it’s great or awful, but like most statements regarding the Baltics, such as they’re either an upstanding people or a bunch of criminals, the truth is probably somewhere in between.

Norway has been the object of mush ridicule over the years, as we have often sent shitty contestants. And twice, we have been the recipients of the dreaded phrase “Nil Point”. The Limeys had to eat the words a few years back, of course. Heterosexual rocks czar Cliff Richard has competed a few times. ABBA I mentioned. Celine Dion sang fro France. And Belgium, I think. Carola, the popular Swedish chanteuse (whose ex-husband recently claimed that Mohammed was a “confused pedophile”), has competed a bunch of times.

The best ever contestant must surely be the Israeli Dana International. Huge in her native Israel, Ms. International has also undergone gender reorientation surgery. Without a doubt the

In no order, here are the best ESC songs that I can remember off the top of my head:

1) Making your mind up – Bucks FIzz
2) Waterloo – ABBA
3) Save all you kisses for me (Brotherhood of man)
4) La det svinge – Bobbysocks
5) Främling – Carola

The saddest thing about the contest is that one no longer is required to sing in one’s native lingo. You can, of course, but that would mean potentially losing the international market. And, say, Svetlana Etceterov of the Ukraine will not abide by that.

This means that more than half the songs are in English. This bothers me to no end. That does not in any way mean that I don’t love English, but let’s face it; even though you may luck out every now and then and hear a good lyric, most do not hold up to scrutiny, being written by non-native speakers. It kills the mystery to a certain extent. On the other hand, it does mean that you get some interesting phrases to add to your vocabulary, but not very often.

1) Armenia (without your love – dull east European techno-folk.

2) Bulgaria – lovely lady to look at. English lyrics. Stately, histrionic. Pretty dull. American Idol–like vocal stylings (first hit the high note, then dive three of four octaves, hitting every GODDAMN note on the way. AAAAAH – scary chant by Asian-looking dude with peroxided hair (AND goatee). This thing fucking rocks.

3) Slovenia. The first white dinner jacket of the evening. Now we’re on the right track. English lyric. Surrounded by lovely ladies. Not convinced he knows what to do with them. Awright – serious Disco! This is either for gay men or Eastern Europe. Being both makes it better, I imagine. Good voice, but the suspicion that he would rather be singing “I will survive” or anything by Kylie Minogue lingers. Still, the best act so far. My god, he’s getting gayer as I write this. Song called “Mr Nobody”.

4) Andorra. First non-English song. Sung in Catalan by a waitress who looks like a heavier version of that singer from Ally McBeal. Heavy ballad, like something a smoldering Russian lady would sing in a 60s spy flick. Her, uh, meatier frame is offset by four dancers in very slinky outfits. Like they’re trying to distract our eyes or something. Catalan sure sounds Russian, though. Kudos for the Catalan.

5) Belarus. Popular singer there, and Britney Spears-alike. She’s in hot pants, of course. “Tough” and “street” (i.e. fruits in leather) dancers fool around in the background. I think she’s singing in English, but don’t hold me to it. Kinda looks like Lindsey Lohan, and sorta sounds like Christina Aguilera, lacking the range. Largely tuneless act, but spirited enough (and undressed enough) to merit qualification.

6) Albania. Yes, sung in Albanian. “Fire, yet cold”. Sums up Albania to me. This guy won the Albanian Idol, apparently. Tune is folk-inspired. And YES: The second white dinner jacket of the evening graces the screen. Typical Idol contestant; charisma bypass and mostly mediocre. Saving grace are the two old dudes in traditional costumes. Awesome! The bagpiper has gotten on his knees and pulls his best Steve Vai moves. Wailing like a sumbitch with a freakin’ bagpipe! Lose the waiter and give us more of these guys. Yes, fire, but cold.

7) Belgium. Flemish part. Sandra Kim won for Belgium 20-odd years ago. Kate Ryan, je t’adore. Swedish songwriter, apparently. Sounds like it. Pet Shop Boys-inspired backdrop; Kate Ryan looks a bit like Cameron Diaz without the huge mouth. Gayest dancers yet. Also, they do some choreography involving a couple of mikes lit from within; unfortunately, the red tubes and the black outfits make them seem like Star Wars dweebs channeling Darth Maul’s gay uncle.

8) Ireland. Bryan Kennedy. Wrote it himself. Acoustic number, which means it will either be effortlessly melodic or dull as shit. Sounds a bit like Ronan Keating. “Every song is a cry for love”. Or a cry for help. Man, this is seriously boring stuff. Now he’s on his knees, as if proposing. I reckon Ireland is trying not to win. They have won seven times in the past, which is the record. Apparently, the show cost so much to put on, they actually lost money. This is not a winner. Apparently, this is the one thousandth song in the history of the ESC. Now you know, so that’s half a battle right there.

9) Cyprus. Sounds dull after half a beat. Nice tits, and nearly hanging out. Wants to be Whitney Houston, but lacks the range. God, that was off-key and flat, unlike her chest. Oh no, meaningful lyrics! “Why do the angels cry”? For being subjected to this sort of thing, I suppose. Plus, she looks like she wants to rock out, which always looks daft in a cocktail dress. Pass.

10) Monaco. La coco-dance. Sounds gay, inspired by French polynesian music. Cute girl. Jailbait cock-teaser, but cute. French lyrics. I don’t care what you say; French is a sexy language. Prince Albert chose the song. Sounds like something you’d find on the soundtrack of a comedy set in Key West, except, you know, French.

11) Macedonia – or the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Hot pants-wearing cock-teaser. English lyrics. Dry-humped by male dancer who looks very unsure of how to do it right. I thought these guys all went in the back door? Anyway, typical eastern strains, heavy beat; might do well, it’s sort of catchy.

12) Poland. See why this show is awesome? None of the contestants on Idol ever invaded each other! Ich troje, follow my heart. Damn, this is bad. This is what the show is all about. Remember the Rico Suave debacle a decade or more ago? Some dude is rapping. Why is that? Everybody’s dressed in white, with elaborate masks. One of them has green hair and a uniform that I think is meant too evoke Sgt. Pepper. He has a deep rasp, so he must the rocker. Everyone is off-key. One of the girls looks like Buffy, which is good. These guys are in fact one of Europe’s favorite groups. Jesus.

13) Russia. The bear. Never Let You Go. Sounds awful. He looks like the sort of wannabe delinquent you don’t want your daughter to date. S

ports a half-assed mullet. What the hell is the point of a mullet if you’re gonna be timid about it, for God’s sake? Let that sucker fly, I say! You can’t invoke the power of the mullet if yo do a half-assed job about it. Ever see The Lost Boys? Now THAT was a mullet, man! Or Mel Gibson in the two first Lethal Weapon movies. I love the first one; Gary Busy is a nut. Oops, the song is over.

14) Turkey! Europe’s moslem brother and friendly neighborhood drug supplier. This sounds bad already. Peroxide tattoo lady singing about “superstar”…no wait, is it super CZAR…that makes sense, but wasn’t that a Sabbath tune? Damn, Sabbath. Now that would be something. Paranoid. Lost in the Wheels of Confusion…hey, speaking of Turkey, ever see Midnight Express? That was some nasty shit when he bites of that guard’s tongue. I’m shook back to the TV as she shouts “I wanna heah yoo”, but I don’t really want to hear her. This is dull. It’s apparently a controversial song, but it’s hard to figure out why. It’s a typical “meh” song, not even “blah”.

15) Ukraine. Shortest dress so far, I hear. “Show me your love”. Tina Karol. English lyrics. Rubbbish, of course, though her pronunciation is sort of cute. I don’t think the Turkish dress was much longer than this. Gay hussars dervish wildly in the background. The Third Man lets rip a scorcher of a zither solo. Show me your love, that’s why I came, go the lyrics. Tantalizing double entendre or evidence of a less-than-perfect grasp of the English language? You decide.

16) FINLAND! Alice Cooper and KISS rolled into one. Hard Rock Hallelujah. GWAR masks. Kid-friendly hard rock, but definitely one to make you shake a leg. Masks could put off the older crowds, though. Catchy; bonus points for the ropey Iron Maiden-esque backing vocals. Might be a tad too close to Norway’s own WigWam, though. Not a winnner, I think, but could lead to actual exposure in Europe. The masks worry me; I want to see them advance, because the contest needs a guitar and a fuzz pedal but honestly, this sort of things will scare people who avoided flicks like LOTR. I know a few of them.

Green room interlude. Hokey host banter and all the artists waving flags in the background. Female host is very. Hot. Indeed.

17) The Netherlands! Girl group. Sung in actual gibberish. God, if only Sigur Ros could be on stage for Iceland. OK, so heavy rhythms, Wisely augmented by braless costumes, so they drum twice as hard. It’s boring. Sorry. Just like the girls; pretty, but not knock-outs. Also a sign of the worrying trend that you have to have the Eastern beat in every goddamn song. Such is life with the baltic mafia.

18) Lithuania. We are the winners. This just sucks, because it’s so obviously a joke. It’s like a bad football song, except it would still suck even if you were in a serious beer haze with your favorite players and David Beckham missed the goal again. It might be so bad as to actually qualify, though. It’s an interesting thought. Lead vocalist looks like like Shaun of the Dead. Audience seems happy enough, though.

19) Portugal. Gonna make you dance. First Portuguese entry in English. Kinda like a classic ESC type song, but…they can’t sing, the costumes are rubbish and they are plain unsexy, which is weird for such a collection of girls; objectively, they have the cheekbones and the racks and the asses, but somehow, it DOESN’T ADD UP! Plus, it’s just geriatric. It’s like the dullest Spice Girls song sung by drunk, middle-aged biddies at karaoke night. Nope. They’re called Non-stop, but I predict that is wrong.

20) Sweden. Carola. The old warhorse. Biggest costume of the evening. I can’t top the commentator; his supply of zingers is bottomless. This is the most classic ESC entry; the beat, the bridge, the modulated bridge. It’s designed to give you a physical reaction. But Carola is an old warhorse; gorgeous (will be a plastic surgery terror in a few years, though) with a fantastic voice; the chick is a powerhouse. But something is missing, she doesn’t connect.

21) Estonia. Swedish singer. Looks like ABBA and sounds like it, too. ABBA with a smidgeon of Bucks Fizz thrown into the mix. Swedish guitar. Can’t explain it, but you can only get that guitar tone in Sweden. It’s like a musical Volvo. Not bad, and fun to see after Carola. She has a lot of the same…will she dethrone Carola? But christ, it’s like the same fucking song as Sweden’s.

22) Hari Mata Hari from Bosnia-Herzegovina. Heavy balkan ballad. The music video would be in black-and-white and he would walk in the wind, a despondent look on his face. There would likely be water involved somewhere. It’s a good song, though. He has the pipes and is confident enough to understand that he doesn’t have to use them within an inch of their life. It’s a mannered performance, but he sings it like he means it. I think this will do very well. Oh yes, white dinner jacket, which is only a plus.

23) Iceland. Selma Night, or something. Uses every pop cliché in the book. Also, Britney Spear’s chords from Hit me Baby One More Time. Congratulations, I have arrived. I’m Sylvia night and I shine so bright. It kind of sucks. Two guys in (yes) white suits and (whoa) Mexican dinner jackets. She’s apparently Iceland’s most popular TV star. But this won’t make it; sad thing is, there’s a catchy tune in there and she’s cute, if weird. Like the weird girl in the record store that you sort of have a crush on, even if you’d never date her, because you know that after about a week, her ditziness and love for shitty indie buttrock would get so grating that you’d have to kill her stereo. Serious booing after the song, too. Apparently, she’s been a bitch at rehearsals and have pissed of the hosts by swearing at the crew and the other contestants.

These countries qualified:

1) Russia
2) Macedonia
3) Bosnia-Hercegocina
4) Lithuania (See a pattern forming? Lots of booing)
5) Finland (yes!)
6) Ukraine
7) Ireland (Dull ballads are often a safe bet)
8) Sweden
9) Turkey (Was that the Iranian president cheering them on? Christ…)
10) Armenia (WTF?)

Almost over. We’re treated to the main contestants; Croatia is so fucking awesome. Also, awful. The UK has a really shite rapper. I like the Norwegian entry, though I think it’s no winner. Saturday is the motherload. Break out the beer; music is imminent.

18.05.2006 • Permalink

Gypsy Dreams

Amiri Baraka (I think) once said “Art is whatever makes me proud to be human.” In my humble opinion, art can also be something that makes us happy to be alive.

Once in a while, we are moved; we are awed; we are delivered nigh unto extacy. The Django festival took me there. This year, as all years, the annual homage to the two-fingered gypsy guitarist was a fine thing indeed. Django Reinhardt was a mercurial talent. One of the seminal guitarists -his influence reaching far beyond jazz- in music history, the man established, or rather popularized a playing style that was -and is- ridiculously fast, known as “string swing”. His achievment is all the more amazing when one considers the fact that he had in fact only two functioning fingers on his chording hand, the other two having been rendered useless due to an accident. Alongside violinist Stephane Grapelli, he played with Hot Club de France and was a proper rock star of his time. The iconic image of Reinhardt hunched over his guitar, eyes shut in concentration, cigarette dangling from his mouth, exudes sheer cool. Hot Club de Norvége have been carrying the Django torch in our Northern climes for years; they are well respected all over the world, and have -in addition to playing their heads off- been organizing the Django Festival. They were the opening act of the eveing and happily played a brisk set, ending in an instrumental duel between the violinists that set the audience afire and primed for the pyrotechnics of one Mr. Jimmy Rosenberg.

He failed to disappoint us. And how! Rosenberg came on, introduced his band, and said something along the lines of “We will try to, ah, kick some ass and have a party!” Success was a rather mild word for the balls-out musical mass orgy that followed.

Rosenberg is, simply put, one of the finest guitarists on the planet. His fingers moved with such swift ease that even the old master himself would be perplexed. As he played, overcome by the chugging rhythms, his face beamed ecstasy, beads of sweat descending on his face, and he was channeling a smile straight from the Gods. The level of skill needed for this kind of music makes it akin to magic for us mere mortal punters. After all, there is just something special when the bass player randomly knocks off a two-string solo that blows any Clapton wankfest of the past 30 years so utterly out of the water that the poor bastard wakes up confused somewhere in the middle of the Sahara, jetlagged and dehydrated. Exuberance is the order of the day.

The crowd, enraptured, applaud wildly at the slightest thing. Rosenberg, smiling his divinely touched smile all the while, made euphoric faces and ran his fingers across the fretboard like a man possessed. I was utterly enraptured, my hair standing on end, and it was as if Rosenberg played strings made from my nerve endings, it was that hypnotic, it was that joyous; it was pure musical bliss. Did I mention I enjoyed it?

The last act was…well, how could it not be a let-down? It was gypsy music, apparently. Melancholy and proud, the music of the downtrodden and proud outcasts. It was good, but far too mellow, and the star had left ages ago. The crowd was worn out, still reeling and trying to catch their breath after the fireworks that preceded; it was a shame for these musicians, but this was come-down music, and most of us were not ready to come down just yet. It was cold outside, a grumpy February evening, but the heat in our bones and heart was more than enough. See you next year, Django!

01.02.2005 • Permalink

Beyond Belief

Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello at 50. Who would have though it? Still, there he is, sporting a tie and a sharp suit, after all these years. Chubbier, balder and wearing glittering shoes to rival Dorothy’s over that rainbow, his growl is as fierce as ever. Behind him, the Impostors –basically the Attractions sans Bruce Thomas– keep a rock steady beat upon which the man himself’s words are flung full force into the void and driven home on jackhammer rhythms.

The audience is in fact comprised of all ages. Obviously, the greater part is pushing middle age themselves, but there is a great range, even down to those barely old enough to drink. It looks strange, and yet it’s like seeing myself ten years ago. Curious and reverent in equal measures, knowing we are about to see a legend. Of course, I’m too cool to let on, but inside I am giddy and excited and I don’t want to go to Chelsea. So much for aging gracefully.

Costello comes on stage to face a very enthusiastic crowd, and rips through nearly three hours of music, being called back three or four times. Having such a huge back catalogue means that your chances of hearing at least a few of your favourites is there. Still, it also means that you hear a lot more you’re not very familiar with. As befits a still-active artist, Costello is not content to simply run through a rehash of old hits and faves; he has a new album out and he’s touring the bastard! And boy, does he ever! His new stuff sounds good, almost as good as the old. The reason it’s harder to completely embrace it, I think, is that it hasn’t had time to grow on you. It’s also odd to think how times have changed. His new songs are hard-edged, angry and focused; they also sound as if they are cut from the same cloth of anger and spite that Costello had at his disposal thirty years ago. And yet, for all of this feeling of plus ca change, they sound nothing like what you hear on the radio these days. There are no angry ot suspicious songs anymore –there is only unfocused angst, suburban dirges of irrelevant solipsism, the old sound and fury signifying fuck all. The feeling of attacking an identifiable enemy, be it the government or the old girlfriend, is gone. How can we not love him? He is the angry geek done good. Had he been born ten years later, this former programmmer would probably be running Silicone Valley. What a loss that would have been.

The eloquence, the word games that may or may not mean anything (nobody sane has ever had the balls to claim they know what a Costello album is about), the focus and verve: all this makes it so abundantly clear that there is a mature person up on stage. I find it hard to believe that the Costello that started out (around the same time I was born), had – indeed could have – the warmth about his eyes the way this year’s model does. For better or worse, Costello has grown up; his craft has grown with him and maybbe that’s another reason his material seems slightly paler in comparison: he knows there is more to be explored elsewhere . God knows, and I’m probably talking through my arse here, trying to justify my not buying his new albums. (Hey, I still don’t have all the classics) Costello has stayed vital. Relevant is a different matter, though; as mentioned above, Costello sounds like nothing on the radio and in this day and age, is he relevant? I’d wager to say yes; a song like Radio, Radio in the days of Fox news is sharper than ever. Oliver’s Army went to Iraq instead, the Goon Squad took over the white house and hey: what really is so funny about peace, love & understanding?

I suppose this is not a very good review of the concert itself, but what the hell: I was there, you were most likely not and that’s how it is. It was cold outside, it was hot inside and we all felt like we’d been bowled over. The faces of the crowd as we made our way to the exits were beatific, perhaps the wrong state to find oneself in after seeing Elvis Costello, but neverthless: we saw God. And he was one of us.

23.01.2005 • Permalink

Azumi

Ryuhei Kitamura’s sophomore effort contains two of the greatest scenes in recent action movie-dom: 1) a teenage girl charging an army of 200 – and winning! – and 2) one of the most memorable decapitations of the “oh, wait, I just got nick…hiiissssss” sort. Yes, I know it doesn’t work like that, but dammit: it should.

Based on a popular Manga, Azumi doesn’t quite shake its pulp roots, but this probably stems more from Kitamura’s direction than the story itself. The kinetic overload of Versus is pared down as the plot takes on a bigger scope, but a few unfortunate directorial decisions throw off the pace every now and then. To wit: a random fight scene takes on Crouching Tiger-type wire-work and weird sound effects, while another throws in a Tex Avery-like anomaly in an otherwise straight battle scene; both scenes are jarring, but this is a minor complaint.

The lead is pretty dull, I have to admit. I gather she’s a pop star in her native Japan, but she’s not terribly interesting. Then again, it’s not like you have to wait very long for a fight scene to move things along, so who’s complaining?


  • Director: Ruyhei Kitamura
  • Cast: Aya Ueto, Kenji Kohashi, Hiroki Narimiya, Takatoshi Kaneko
12.01.2005 • Permalink

Rust in Piece

Poor old Dave Mustaine. In 1982, he was unceremoniously booted out of his first band for excessive drinking and drug abuse. He was furious, and got his act together, at least enough to start Megadeth; one of the seminal trash-metal bands, they quickly climbed to the pantheon of gods of such matters. His achievements were impressive, yet it was as much to get back at his old bandmates as for his own glory. After conquering the world, selling millions of albums and being hailed as one of the great innovators of the genre, one could forgive his former band for regretting his termination — unless, of course, that band happens to be Metallica.

In the recent Metallica documentary, Some Kind of Monster, Mustaine admits that being booted out of that band was the worst day of his life. But, to be quite honest, I can’t say that I’m too broken up over dave’s predicament. After all, there’s nothing that says the sum of these parts would have amounted to something greater than the sum of what we already had. And let’s face it, if Mustaine was still with them rather than in Megadeth, we the public would likely have been cheated of both Rust in Peace and Countdown to Extinction. And that, dear reader, would be a loss: It’s difficult for me to verbalize exactly what it is about Rust that I find appealing, but I suppose that to summarize, I could say: Holy flippin’ fuck!!!

The first time I heard Holy Wars, I was bowled over. I mean, holy Christ, what was that?! The cascading guitars, the thundering drums and Mustaine’s pained yelping over it all — this was unlike anything I’d heard before. It was great. Unlike most of their peers, Megadeth always seemed to have sly sense of humour about them, as if they knew it was partly a joke. Hangar 18, whilst also swirling like a dervish (I’m told dervishes swirl) also deftly anticipates the X-files, with its space ships and hidden fortresses. One supposes that the lyrics as such is unimportant — the skill on display renders lyrical shortcomings irrelevant anyway — also, Mustaine is too smart a guy — and too funny — to really take this stuff all that seriously.

Thrash metal mostly did away with ghost n’ goblins and all that fairy bollocks that thanks to the hippies were the lyrical pinnacle, (At least until Limp Bizkit came around and it was all suburban angst, all the time.) and Mustaine always did have a knack for a political lyric. I won’t claim he’s written great poetry, but still: Bob Dylan wrote his share of clunkers, and given the choice, I’d go for this sort of technicolour extravaganza over early Dylan monochrome dirges most days. Mustaine sings lines like “Don’t look now/to Israel/it might be your homeland” with an urgency that belies the sometimes clumsy lyrics. And a line like “They killed my wife and my baby/first mistake/last mistake” is more clever than one surmises at first look. Mustaine is ppresumably singing about the Palestine/Israeli conflict (Nutshell problem: They’re all nuts. Quick solution: Fence ’em all in, let them fight amongst themselves and leave the rest of us out of it) in a clever way. He neglects to state who’s singing, it could be from either side. While deep analysis of the lyrics might ot yield too much, Mustaine deserves credit for trying to say something more than the usual crap: Hell, lines like “Don’t ask/what you can do/for your country/ASK/what your country/can do for yoooouuu” are priceless. Dave Mustaine, nihilist, flying a bright red flag.

Lyrically, it doesn’t really matter. Sophomoric, yes, but as stated, the music is what it’s all about. Thrash metal does not have trappings in which it’s easy to do anything interesting except play really, really fast. Rust In Peace is such a great album because it is unflappably melodic, heavier than a lead enema and faster than the roadrunner on speed. But the fact that the melodicism is so effortless within this sort of grind is nothing short of spectacular.

The line-up of Dave Mustaine (guitar), Nick Menza (drums), David Ellefson (bass) and Marty Friedman (guitar/big hair) is considered THE Megadeth line-up by most, and it’s not difficult to understand why. We have here the four virtuosi of the apocalypse, and it certainly sounds like it. Weird time signatures, changes in pace, and layered solos that almost reminds me of — dare I say it? — jazz. More precise than laser-guided missile and tighter than a chickens bum, very little can measure up to this.

Megadeth recently came to an end when Dave Mustaine sustained injuries in his hand. It was unclear whether or not he would ever play again, but he’s nothing if not a survivor (the guy’s even been clinically dead! Not one to do anything by halves, he fell off the wagon with a vengeance and died. Obviously, they revived him.). After some pretty extensive surgery and retraining, he apparently can play again. Sadly, Megadeth are to remain a closed chapter. Still, it was fun when it lasted.

UPDATE: Megadeth are back on the road.

07.01.2005 • Permalink

Man Child

Oslo, 09.05.04

“Jonathan, I LOVE YOU!!!” We’re halfway through the show at this point. Jonathan Richman, looking impudently young for a man going on 50, is smiling broadly.

“Uh, thank you…uh…thank you very much, I, uh, I love you too!” Laughter, cheers.

Jonathan Richman has not been in Oslo for a decade or so, maybe longer. As the night will prove, it’s well worth the wait.

I have not been aware of him for that long. Until 2002, he was but the guy in the tree in There’s Something About Mary. The, I heard some of his stuff and liked it. Then, I moved to New Jersey and wa utterly and horribly miserable and went to a bar to drown my sorrows. Ordering a beer, I notcied a line in th back. What the hell? I thought. I checked it out; turend out Jonathan was playing that night. I happily paid my ten bucks and was treated to one of the the best shows I’ve ever seen.

I suppose I didn’t have that high expectations this time around. I mean, lightning doesn’t tend to strike twice. Could it possibly be as good? No. It was far, far better.

Richman is such a singular personality on stage; it’s just him and Tommy Larkin, the drummer, on stage. Jonathan plays his guitar fluently. Tommy keeps the beat, nuthin’ fancy. Jonathan sings, laughs, jokes, dances while Tommy sits there stoically. It’s cute; they’re kind of like an acoustic White Stripes, except I’d rather sleep with Meg than Tommy if I absolutely had to.

I only have a few of his albums, so I can’t give you a set list. He did play a lot of his most recent offering, Her Mystery Nof Of High Heels and Eyeshadow; the live rendition of Springtime in New York is more exciting than the recorded one. It’s also warmer and made me miss that particular city in a way I hadn’t in a while.

Many of the old chestnuts came out, like Pablo Picasso, I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar and many, many others that I didn’t know or forgot II don’t do notes, I just write this stuff for my own amusement). It didn’t matter. His music is warm and friendly and inclusive: it invites you in for hot chocolate and cheers you up. Jonathan dances for you on stage and it’s like he’s trying to express something that words just quite can’t.

He’s been described as naivistic; fair cop, but naive or not, it’s still immaculately expressive and universally recognizable to a fault. It really goes to show: in English, French, Spanish or Norwegian, love and the emotions thereof are all the same. Now excuse me, I must go hug myself.

10.05.2004 • Permalink