ESC Insight

ESC Insight
11
June
2018

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Eurovision Castaways Live, with Slavko Kalezić

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Eurovision Castaways Live, with Slavko Kalezić

http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20180524_571_castawaysS2E01/escinsight_20180524_castawaysS2E01_571.mp3

Welcome to the second year of trips out to the mysterious Île de Bezençon, where the time is always May, where the sun is always shining, and for thematic reasons you can only bring along eight Eurovision songs and a Song Contest luxury.

We’re going to be inducting the rest of the ESC Insight team and some friends that we’ve met along the way. Before you reach the island, you have to pass through customs, and the watchful eye of Ellie Chalkley, who brought the customs desk to the Lisbon Embassy for a live recording at the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest.

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Eurovision Castaways Live, with Slavko Kalezić

Our first guest for the summer of 2018 is Slavko Kalezić, who brings us his Song Contest love story, multiple songs from Montenegro and leaves us in a world of divas.

Keep listening to the ESC Insight podcast as we face the summer months between season. You’ll find the show in iTunes, and a direct RSS feed is also available. We also have a regular email newsletter which you can sign up to here.

Categories: ESC Insight

11
June
2018

How Our Patreon Supported ESC Insight During Eurovision 2018

How Our Patreon Supported ESC Insight During Eurovision 2018

As our crowdfunding pages were launched (at escinsight.com/patreon) we emphasised that ESC Insight was in good health, and that everything was under control. As the off-season looms, that remains the case. We’re not in desperate need of funding, and ESC Insight is all set to cover the 2018/19 season.

But Patreon was able to offer our community an exciting and voluntary way to support the site. We want to be as transparent as possible, so this is how our community helped us cover the season.

Keeping The Lights On

Insight’s hosting costs are generally paid a year in advance, so even as Patreon launched, our hosting package was already in place through to February 2019. Our first milestone was raising enough support to be able to buy another year of hosting in advance. On reaching that goal, we were able to extend our annual IT support contract with Ross Barber and Electric Kiwi, which includes a commitment to keeping the website code up to date, maintaining regular backups, running our cloud-based audio archive, and being on call when we start getting database errors in Lisbon!

From a back-end point of view, ESC Insight is now good until 2020.

National Finals

For various reasons, ESC Insight did not cover as many National Finals ‘on the ground’ as in previous years, but we made an effort to cover Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix (including a very special ‘docu-podcast’ of Ellie’s transformative time in Olso). A number of expenses incurred by the team were covered by the Patreon supporters.

The sound bounces all around the Oslo Spektrum (Photo: Ben Robertson)

Lisbon’s Pineapples

On the ground in Lisbon, Patreon supporters helped us in a few ways. We were able to help out a little with living costs and expenses for the Insight writers on the ground and those doing sub-editing back at home away from the bustle of the Press Centre. We did have a team night out to enjoy the Lisbon food…. and how could we have a live recording from the Ilse de Bezençon Customs Desk without some Patreon Pineapples?

Eurovision Castaways Live (image: Lisa-Jayne Lewis)

Eurovision Castaways Live (image: Lisa-Jayne Lewis)

What Next?

Insight will not be disappearing over the summer ‘off-season’ period. We always listen to your feedback (as this article is posted our Reader Survey for 2018 is still open for submissions), so we’re delighted to confirm that Ellie’s ‘Eurovision Castaways’ podcast series will be with you right through to September 1st. We’ll also be running a new series from guest writer Marcus Keppel-Palmer looking back at some of the unsung heroes from Eurovision’s history.

We’ll also take the time to look back over your replies to our Reader Survey, listen back to all our podcasts and re-read all our contest, and decide where we need to improve for the 2018/19 season… plus we’ll dip into Eurovision Young Musicians in Edinburgh, and continue our detailed coverage of Junior Eurovision in Minsk.

A Word About Our Rewards

We’ll be sending out a double sized ‘physical rewards’ package during June to all of our higher tier supporters, but I do want to say a little note about the extra Patreon content, because it has not been as extensive as promised when the crowd funding rewards were set in December.

ESC Insight is run by volunteers, and that means real life can get in the way. This year real life caught up with Insight in a big way when Ewan was diagnosed with Epilepsy in late January (more on that here and here). That led to a reshuffling of duties during both the National Final season and our time on the ground in Lisbon, which had a knock-on effect on the content that was planned for Patreon.

In short, we decided to prioritise the content on ESC Insight, but we failed to communicate that clearly enough to our supporters on Patreon.

We’re in a better place to understand what’s needed now, and we shall do better on this over the summer ‘off-season’ and during the rest of 2018.

Final Words

To re-iterate once more, ESC Insight is not going anywhere. We’ve just completed a successful season in Lisbon 2018, we are planning out the next year, and the basic running costs of the website are covered.

At the same time, we don’t hide that covering the Contest is an expensive thing to do. While everyone loves free content, the content isn’t free to make. Our community can help in many ways – interacting with us, leaving comments, sharing on Facebook and Twitter, leaving reviews in iTunes and other podcast directories, these are all incredibly helpful.

But if you want to support us, then a monthly donation through Patreon is one option – and for those of you who would prefer to make a one-off payment, we’re going to work out the best way to do that during June and let you know.

Our Patreon page can be found at www.patreon.com/escinsight, please go there for more details on what Patreon means to us, the reward levels offered, and how to sign up.

Categories: ESC Insight

11
June
2018

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: Chilled Tunnocks

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: Chilled Tunnocks
http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20180604_572/escinsight_20180604_572.mp3

As the Altice Arena returns to normality and everyone recovers from Lisbon 2018, our hearts and minds look forward to the rest of the year. With Young Musicians and Junior Eurovision on the horizon, plus planning for Israel 2019 under way, there’s a lot of Eurovision to go round.

Eurovision Insight News Podcast: Chilled Tunnocks

Spain’s viral miss, Eurovision legends for the summer, and advice from the press room Tunnocks wafer. Ewan Spence and ESC Insight catch up on news from the world of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Keep listening to the ESC Insight podcast as we face the summer months between season. You’ll find the show in iTunes, and a direct RSS feed is also available. We also have a regular email newsletter which you can sign up to here.

Categories: ESC Insight

11
June
2018

Remembering Teddy Johnson: Bringing The Fun To Eurovision

Remembering Teddy Johnson: Bringing The Fun To Eurovision

There are very few songs that are remembered from the Eurovision Song Contests that were held in the fifties. Naturally the winning songs from each year are at least recognised by all, you have the utter powerhouse of ‘Nel Dipinto Di Blu’… and then you have ’Sing Little Birdie’.

Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson’s second-place entry at Eurovision 1959 is a key song in the development of the Song Contest. It was the first song that was… fun!

In an era of static singers and locked off camera angles, the UK’s second entry was a revolutionary song. When you look at the portrayal of relationships on television at the time, Sing Little Birdie’ is one of the most quietly subversive two minutes in Eurovision history.

With arguably the first ‘surprise prop reveal’ in Song Contest history, it showed a couple who connected both to the audience and each other on stage. It handed the secondary passive role to the male singer, it was playful, whimsical, carefree, and most of all, it was genuine.

Defining Variety

Teddy Johnson’s career in the public eye effectively started with his broadcasting on the English-language side of Radio Luxembourg, which is regarded as the forerunner of both commercial radio in the UK and the influx of pirate radio stations that pushed musical boundaries in the fifties and sixties.

He joined the station in 1948 and ran the English output in partnership with Geoffrey Everitt until 1950. Johnson helmed the UK Top 20 show for the then marathon duration of two hours every week, and when Johnson returned to the UK to work primarily on his singing career, the slot was taken over by another institution… Pete Murray.

For those keeping track, Pete Murray hosted the UK’s Eurovision selection show in 1959 and was the commentator for both the TV and radio broadcasts of the Song Contest from Cannes that year.

Breaking The Rules

Johnson is noted as recording one of the earliest ‘remote duets’ recording his harmonies in the UK while American Jo Stafford would record her side in America. Covering older songs meant this innovative new technique wasn’t an immediate hit, but it handed Johnson another first.

As with many entertainers plying their trade in the fifties, television and radio work was about exploring a new medium and taking chances. A true man of variety, Johnson was happy to take one for the team, including what can only be described as a rite of passage as he took to the boards at the Glasgow Empire acting as the stooge to another legend, US comedian Jack Benny.

The new medium of broadcasting was also drawing its lead from the variety shows and multi-billed theatre shows that packed venues every weekend in every major town and city around the world. If you had mastered the art of fitting in with a rotating cast, were happy to work in a live environment, and could connect to an audience down the camera, then success was within reach.

1950 saw him meet Pearl Carr on the set of the BBC variety show ‘Black Magic’. It was suggested that the two pair up to do a duet, as he explained to Paul Jordan in an interview last summer:

“I didn’t want to do it, I was a solo singer, I didn’t do duets,” he said laughing. “I was offered a variety tour after Black Magic. I told Pearl that I’d be away for the summer and that I wouldn’t see her for a while. She replied saying that she would come with me on the tour. At the time she was in a band called The Keynotes, that’s how we started.”

Although Carr & Johnson continued to record separately, they worked on their double-act. Their first joint-billing was at the top of the bill at the London Palladium. If ‘Black Magic’ was their ‘Bonnie and Clyde, this first run at the Palladium was effectively Carr & Johnson’s ‘Dangerously In Love’.

Which leads us back to the Eurovision Song Contest. The call from the BBC to appear in the Song for Europe selection show came from the Head of Light Entertainment, but Eric Maschwitz forgot to mention that if they won, they’d need to be free to pop over to Cannes to fly the flag for the United Kingdom a few weeks later.

As Johnson recalled, that led to a moment of panic:

“I said: ‘What? What do you mean?’ I didn’t know we had to represent the country. We had no idea whatsoever. He gave me the dates for Cannes and I just hoped we had them available. As it happened, we did. Pearl flew out with three guys from the BBC but I was doing a small show for ATV and got a later flight.”

Given their status in light entertainment circles, the BBC were sending one of the most formidable musical acts to the Song Contest in its short history, and its return would be the first of fifteen second places in the Contest. It also established Carr & Johnson in the public eye, gifted them a signature song that they would continue to sing for decades to come, and create one of a handful of songs in the formative years of the Contest that changed the direction of the Contest.

Teddy Johnson was a true pioneer of entertainment, willing to try anything, and always respectful of his audience. But most of all, he was a kind, fun, and loving partner to Pearl Carr.

Edward Victor “Teddy” Johnson, entertainer, born 4 September 1920; died 5 June 2018.

Categories: ESC Insight

30
April
2018

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Lisbon, Monday 30th April

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Lisbon, Monday 30th April
http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20180430_554/escinsight_20180430_554.mp3

ESC Insight has arrived in Lisbon, and the next two weeks will be full of opinions, thoughts, and editorial around this year’s Song Contest. But first, what are the team expecting from the Song Contest, what is Suzy expecting Portugal to offer us, and what do we think of the first day of rehearsals?

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Daily News From Lisbon, Monday 30th April

Welcome to Lisbon! ESC Insight has arrived in Lisbon as the first rehearsals get under way. Our first daily podcast from the Big Orange Sofa in Lisbon with expectations, explanations, and the excitement of the first day of rehearsals.

Now we are reporting from backstage at Eurovision, remember to stay up to date with all the Eurovision news by subscribing to the ESC Insight podcast. You’ll find the show in iTunes, and a direct RSS feed is also available. We also have a regular email newsletter which you can sign up to here.

Categories: ESC Insight

30
April
2018

Our 2018 Eurovision Jurors

Our 2018 Eurovision Jurors

As is the tradition, the first Monday of rehearsals means the release of the names of the jurors for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. In line with recent years, the list features a broad mix of artists, music or media industry professionals and ‘others’.

2018 Jury membership criteria

According to this year’s rules each delegation’s jury must:

  1. Have five members, including a chairperson
  2. Be citizens of the participating broadcaster’s country
  3. Juries cannot include employees of a participating broadcaster as members
  4. Members cannot have been jurors in 2016 or 2017
  5. Jurors are supposed to be music industry professionals, specifically “radio DJ, artist, composer, author of lyrics or music producer.”
  6. Feature some balance based on age, gender, and background

The last requirement is particularly vexing, since there is an odd number of jury members and only five members in total.

A scan of the list of jurors shows there are a fair number who don’t seem to line up with #5. “Artist manager” is one example of this, as are “journalist”, “stylist”, and “Deputy Head of Professional Arts Department of the Ministry of Kulture”.

Unlike in some recent years, all delegations have provided a complete list of jurors before rehearsals began.

Returning Artists

There are a number of Eurovision alumni on this year’s list, including two former winners. Niamh Kavanagh gave Ireland its fifth victory in 1993 with ‘In Your Eyes’. In 2010 she brought Ireland back to the Grand Final, finishing 23rd with ‘It’s For You’. Emmelie de Forest brought Denmark its third  victory in 2013 with ‘Only Teardrops’. She also composed the 2017 UK entry ‘Never Give Up On You’, which finished 15th.

Artists who have previously competed in the Eurovision:

  • Nathan Trent (Austria 2017)
  • Laura Tesoro (Belgium 2016)
  • Tom Dice (Belgium 2010)
  • Mary Roos (Germany 1972, 1984)
  • Aminata (Latvia 2015)
  • Amber Bondin (Malta 2015)
  • Cristina Scarlat (Moldova, 2014)
  • Nina Zizic (Montenegro 2013)
  • Michał Szpak (Poland 2016)
  • Bojana Stamenov (Serbia 2015)
  • Tijana Milosevic (Serbia 2017)
  • Guri Schanke (Norway 2007)

There are also a few artists who’ve sought to represent their country at various national selections. Sweden’s Mariette Hansson participated in the 2015, 2017 and 2018 editions of Melodifestivalen. Bryan Rice competed in the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2010. K-One is on the Swedish jury. He co-wrote Sanna Nielsen’s ‘Undo’, which finished third in Copenhagen 2014.

Diversity

We aren’t provided data with respect to the ‘background’ of jurors. We do know, however, their dates of birth and (ostensive) genders. Broadly speaking, the gender split is even.

Our youngest juror at 16 years is Karl Killing who competed in Eesti Laul 2018. The most seasoned juror is Zdenka Kovacicek from Croatia, who is 74 years young.  Azeri jury chairperson Mubariz Tagiyev is 70 years old, only a few months older than his fellow Azeri juror Tunzala Qahraman. In fact, with Nurlana Cafarova (their youngest juror) aged 30, the age range for the Azeri jury is 42 years.

What happens next

Juries do not vote during the live broadcasts. The second dress rehearsal for each show–called the Jury Rehearsal, cunningly–is live streamed to a sequestered jury room in each broadcaster’s studios. They complete and submit their votes that same evening.

That means half the scores for each stage of the competition are determined before the public shows. Sometimes differences between the broadcasts matter–a lot. In 2011, the UK entry (‘I Can’, Blue) featured a wobbly jury vocal and a much better one on Saturday night. The juries ranked Blue 22nd (57 points): the public had them 5th (166 points). The following year Loreen choked on her prop snow during the jury final. ‘Euphoria’ nonetheless topped both the jury (296 points) and public (343 points).

During this year’s Grand Final broadcast, the participating broadcaster is required to read out the names of the jurors live. Once we know the 2018 winner, the detailed jury votes for the semi-finals and Grand Final are routinely published on eurovision.tv.

Categories: ESC Insight

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