Tag: Eurovision Song Contest

Israel’s Eurovision Song Contest won

Sunday, 19 May, 2019

The Netherlands’ Duncan Laurence won last night’s Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv with his song Arcade, which topped the leader-board with 492 points in the public vote. Italy finished second with 465 points and Russia third with 369 points. Madonna also sang but most viewers regarded her performance as flat, musically and artistically. Iceland’s heavy metal act Hatari displayed Palestinian flags. Inevitably, this act of pubertal thickness was hailed and highlighted in the “popular” press.

Bob Dylan’s song Neighborhood Bully appeared on the album Infidels, which was released in October 1983. In the song, Dylan deployed sarcasm to defend Israel’s right to exist and the lyrics included references, some direct, some oblique, to history, near and far. The Six-Day War and Operation Opera, Israel’s bombing of the Osirak nuclear reactor near Baghdad in 1981 are in there, as is the enslavement of the Israelites by the Romans. The shadows of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union loom as well.

Neighborhood Bully

Well, the neighborhood bully, he’s just one man
His enemies say he’s on their land
They got him outnumbered about a million to one
He got no place to escape to, no place to run
He’s the neighborhood bully

The neighborhood bully just lives to survive
He’s criticized and condemned for being alive
He’s not supposed to fight back, he’s supposed to have thick skin
He’s supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in
He’s the neighborhood bully

The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land
He’s wandered the earth an exiled man
Seen his family scattered, his people hounded and torn
He’s always on trial for just being born
He’s the neighborhood bully

Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized
Old women condemned him, said he should apologize.
Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad
The bombs were meant for him. He was supposed to feel bad
He’s the neighborhood bully

Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slim
That he’ll live by the rules that the world makes for him
’Cause there’s a noose at his neck and a gun at his back
And a license to kill him is given out to every maniac
He’s the neighborhood bully

He got no allies to really speak of
What he gets he must pay for, he don’t get it out of love
He buys obsolete weapons and he won’t be denied
But no one sends flesh and blood to fight by his side
He’s the neighborhood bully

Well, he’s surrounded by pacifists who all want peace
They pray for it nightly that the bloodshed must cease
Now, they wouldn’t hurt a fly. To hurt one they would weep
They lay and they wait for this bully to fall asleep
He’s the neighborhood bully

Every empire that’s enslaved him is gone
Egypt and Rome, even the great Babylon
He’s made a garden of paradise in the desert sand
In bed with nobody, under no one’s command
He’s the neighborhood bully

Now his holiest books have been trampled upon
No contract he signed was worth what it was written on
He took the crumbs of the world and he turned it into wealth
Took sickness and disease and he turned it into health
He’s the neighborhood bully

What’s anybody indebted to him for?
Nothin’, they say. He just likes to cause war
Pride and prejudice and superstition indeed
They wait for this bully like a dog waits to feed
He’s the neighborhood bully

What has he done to wear so many scars?
Does he change the course of rivers? Does he pollute the moon and stars?
Neighborhood bully, standing on the hill
Running out the clock, time standing still
Neighborhood bully


Eurovision: Lucky Night for Moldova?

Saturday, 12 May, 2018 0 Comments

Simon Goddard, author of Mozipedia: The Encyclopaedia of Morrissey and the Smiths, claims the Lancashire singer is a fan of the Eurovision Song Contest. “My fascination with the show had an almost religious aspect,” Morrissey confessed to Goddard.

Who will Moz be cheering for tonight? Sweden’s Benjamin Ingrosso with Dance You Off? Not, we hope. Yes, it’s perfect pop in the peerless way that only the Swedes can make perfect pop, but the perfection is passionless. More joyful is Norway’s That’s How You Write A Song by Alexander Rybak, who won the Eurovision in 2009 with the highest points total, ever. Both Sweden and Norway are Top 10 candidates tonight, for sure.

And the UK? Nice dress, shame about the song, SuRie. Ireland? Ryan O’Shaughnessy’s Together is simply dire. Will Germany finish last again? Michael Schulte’s You Let Me Walk Alone is so obviously an Adele copy & paste job that it has to be a serious contender for zero points.

Our tip is My Lucky Day by DoReDoS from Moldova. Using a simple white wall as a prop, Marina Djundiet, Eugeniu Andrianov, and Sergiu Mita have created a slapstick show that mixes Danubian polka and the Charleston. This is proper Eurovision kitsch.

Back to Morrissey. His video of You Have Killed Me opens with a pastiche that mirrors the Eurovision from its glory days in the 1960s and ’70s, and for interval music during his 2006 tour, Morrissey used the immortal Pomme, Pomme, Pomme by Monique Melsen, who represented Luxembourg in 1971 and was awarded 13th place for her efforts. By the way, the 1971 Song Contest was held in Dublin and was won by French singer Séverine representing Monaco with Un banc, un arbre, une rue. Neither Luxembourg nor Monaco is in tonight’s Grand Final in Lisbon, but Australia, Israel and Albania are. The old order changeth.


Glossolalia: Euro English

Wednesday, 18 May, 2016 2 Comments

It’s the week of Pentecost, which is associated (Biblically) with “speaking in tongues,” a phenomenon linguists call glossolalia. So, in honour of all things philological, we’re devoting this week’s posts to language. We began with Singlish, followed up with Valley vocabulary and we’re continuing with Euro English.

On Saturday night in Stockholm, 18-year-old Jamie-Lee Kriewitz became a footnote in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest by achieving last place for Germany with Ghost. This indignity has prompted Die Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache (the Association for the German Language) to demand that Germany be represented next year in Kiev by a song in German. Making the case, the association’s managing director, Andrea Ewels, said that the Eurovision Song Contest does not reflect the linguistic diversity of Europe and that there are lots of fine German singers of German songs.

Note: The last year a German-language song represented the country was 2007, when the late Roger Cicero sang Frauen regier’n die Welt. It ended up in 19th place from a list of 24 entries. Germany last won in 2010, when Lena sang Satellite, in English.

Only three of the 42 entries in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest were not in English. Back in 1956, when the event began, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which runs the contest, didn’t specify which language singers could use as it was expected that each nation would use its own. And everyone did until 1965, when Ingvar Wixell represented Sweden with Absent Friend. France protested. Charles de Gaulle, the French President, who had vetoed Britain’s application for EEC membership in 1963, argued that English “hegemony” would damage the cultural variety of the contest and the EBU was forced to stipulate that each country’s entry to be in an official language of that land.

The turbulent Swedes struck back in 1973 and persuaded the EBU to drop the “official language” rule, which resulted in a run of English-language winners, including ABBA’s Waterloo in 1974. The Élysée Palace was not pleased and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing used his power to compel the EBU to restore the language restriction in 1978 and it remained in place until 1999. Since then, only one non-English song has won the contest: Serbia’s Molitva in 2006. To show how far the wheel has turned, the French and Italian entrants this year had choruses in English and the Spanish song was totalmente in English.

In Paris, Rome, Madrid and Moscow, the reality that English is the language of global music has finally sunk in. International audiences want to listen to songs they can understand and they’re used to hearing songs in English, not in Russian or Ukrainian.

With an audience of some 200 million, the Eurovision Song Contest is the goose that lays golden eggs annually for the EBU. It’s now the most-watched non-sports live television event in the world, and Asia and America are knocking on the door. The idea that participating countries would compete with songs that cannot win, to satisfy a linguistic policy, is ludicrous. It’s an international song contest, sung increasingly in the language of popular culture. Competing nations are not being made to sing in English; they want to because they know the fate of songs that are not in English.

The Eurovision Song Contest is a success and its linguistic issue has been settled, but the debate about the role of English in Europe is far from sorted. On Thursday, 23 June, a referendum will be held on whether Britain should leave or remain in the European Union. If “Brexit” were to happen, the 450 million citizens of the EU would find themselves using a lingua franca spoken officially only in the Republic of Ireland (population 4.6 million) and co-officially in Malta (population 450,000). How will this affect Euro English? More on this during our Brexit week in June.


Nobody does Eurovision like Sweden does Eurovision

Saturday, 14 May, 2016 0 Comments

Vikings, IKEA, Absolut Vodka, ABBA, Stieg Larsson, H&M… The Swedes are good at lots of things. Then, there’s the Melodifestivalen, the national event through which Sweden’s representative for the Eurovision Song Contest is selected. Held every February and March, it unites the country during the long winter nights and offers endless opportunities for small talk during the ritual morning fika at the office.

The Swedes are especially good at hosting the Eurovision Song Contest, so we’re in for a delight from Stockholm tonight. A hint was provided in the interval of the second semi-final on Thursday evening with a show that took the audience through the history of modern dance, but with a very Swedish touch. Three humans were joined by three assembly-line robots in a medley that paid homage to ’70s disco (Bee Gee-style), a Thriller zombie routine, 50 Cent’s In Da Club and a version of Beyonce’s Single Ladies. The hosts described the performance as exploring the “contrasts that divide and the similarities we share with our metallic friends.” The Swedes share the same planet with the rest of us, but they are in a world of their own when it comes to Eurovision.


Morrissey and the Eurovision Song Contest

Saturday, 23 May, 2015 0 Comments

According to Simon Goddard, author of Mozipedia: The Encyclopedia of Morrissey and the Smiths, the Lancashire-born singer is a dedicated fan of the Eurovision Song Contest. “My fascination with the show had an almost religious aspect,” Morrissey confessed to Goddard.

This reverence has been expressed in his work: The video of You Have Killed Me opens with a pastiche intro that mirrors the contest from its glory, glitzy days in the 1960s and ’70s, and for interval music during his 2006 tour, Morrissey used the immortal Pomme, Pomme, Pomme by Monique Melsen, who represented Luxembourg in 1971 and was awarded 13th place for her efforts. By the way, the 1971 Song Contest was held in Dublin and was won by French singer Séverine, representing Monaco with Un banc, un arbre, une rue. In a sign of our globalized times, neither Luxembourg, Monaco nor Ireland are in tonight’s Grand Final in Vienna, but Australia, Israel and Serbia are.


Conchita Wurst for the prize; Malta for the holidays

Saturday, 10 May, 2014 0 Comments

The hot money is on Tom Neuwirth, aka Conchita Wurst, to win the Eurovision Song Contest for Austria in Copenhagen tonight with Rise Like a Phoenix. After the gender neutral Tom/Conchita had been selected to represent the Alpine republic, the Ministry of Information in Belarus received a petition calling on BTRC, the state broadcaster, to edit his/her song out of its Eurovision presentation, claiming that the performance would turn the event “into a hotbed of sodomy.” A similar petition surfaced in Russia, but as both nations are represented in tonight’s final round, their peoples will have to endure the “Western decadence”.

Meanwhile, Rainy Day is placing a side bet on Malta. Coming Home is a delicious pop/folk song inspired in no small way by Mumford & Sons.


Undo my sad

Tuesday, 1 April, 2014 0 Comments

Sweden will be represented in the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 in Copenhagen on 10 May by Sanna Nielsen singing Undo, the chorus of which goes “Undo my sad.” But what exactly does this cryptic message mean? What is the singer of hits such as I går, i dag and Hela världen för mig saying with “Undo my sad”? One immediately thinks of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and the dark curse of the long Nordic winter, but a cursory look at the lyrics of Undo suggests otherwise. Sample:

Undo my sad
Undo what hurts so bad
Undo my pain
Gonna get out, through the rain

Grammarians would, no doubt, prefer “Undo my sadness”, but that would then force Ms Nielsen to follow up with the rhyming “Undo what hurts so badness,” and that would not be right. Regardless, Undo sounds like a winner.


Lorine Zineb Noka Talhaoui sings euphorically for Sweden

Saturday, 26 May, 2012

She’s better known as Loreen and tonight she’ll represent Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest in Baku, Azerbaijan, with Euphoria. The echoes of Gloria by Laura Branigan means that Euphoria will be a huge summer hit in euro dance clubs. This has to be the winner. Douze points!

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