ESC Insight

ESC Insight
17
April
2018

Hora Din Moldova And The Magic of the Repeated Meme

Hora Din Moldova And The Magic of the Repeated Meme

From grannies beating their drums to folk punk, from that same folk punk band wearing the pointiest hats in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest to a memetic saxophone player who returns with his band to claim third place, Moldova has a special reputation at the Song Contest.

With only a few exceptions, their entries have stood out for bringing the party without compromising on the region’s own strongly folk-influenced musical sound – and even when they do pick a more mainstream sound, the stage show is something else. As the Kirkorov-backed DoReDos prepare to take their infective brass riff and a very different kind of giant hat to Lisbon, lets take a look at one of my favourite Eurovision countries and examine how and why they acquired this reputation.

Chisinau greeting monument (Photographer: Gustav Flatabø)

Chisinau greeting monument (Photographer: Gustav Flatabø)

A Little Bit Of Hawks’ Moldova

One of the poorest countries in Europe, landlocked Moldova sitting at the edge of the former USSR doesn’t often feature in Western European media. Tony Hawks’ 2000 book ‘Playing the Moldovans at Tennis‘ is a rare exception to this, when the comedian makes a bet based on knowing nothing about Moldova and the Moldovans and ends up falling in love with the country. But in general, aside from Eurovision, many Europeans would never think of Moldova. And this is key.

It’s well-known that the Eurovision Song Contest is a big deal to eastern and south-eastern European countries in a way it never is for the Big 5 or other Western nations suchas like Ireland, Norway, and Belgium. The Song Contest is a great opportunity to promote themselves and their music to a global audience, a chance that they’d rarely get on their own. An act qualifying for the Grand Final means they and their country get shown to an audience of well over one hundred million viewers.

And if they win, they get an international spotlight the following year, one that while hugely expensive, is far more practical than hosting many major international sporting events. Andy Warhol claimed we’d all get 5 minutes of fame, but for much of Europe, Eurovision is all about the three minutes of fame.

And Moldova is arguably one of the countries this is most true for.

Arriving Late And Starting The Party

Moldova were one of the last Eastern European countries to join the party, coming on board in 2005, but they didn’t so much climb a gangplank as swing from the rigging yelling as they went. Zdob și Zdub took the relatively short trip to Kiev in 2005 with a performance so memorable it got a reference in ‘Love Love Peace Peace‘ 11 years later.

The song ‘Boonika Bate Doba‘ (‘Grandmamma beats the drum’) was written about the owner of a guest house the band stayed at while on tour, and in a story that always makes me start crying when I drunkenly explain it to friends, when they got the first ever Moldovan Eurovision ticket, they invited the selfsame Boonika to come on stage with them – which involved some of the band doing a ‘Sad Tony’ to limit the performance to the EBU’s ‘six ‘people on stage’ limit. So when the ethno-punk band danced and sang around the Palace of Sports with a performance brimming with both energy and authenticity, the old woman in the rocking chair who stood up and, beaming, played her drum in front of Europe, was the same woman who inspired the song.

And we loved it.

Zdob și Zdub came 2nd in the notoriously tough single semi-final, beaten only by their neighbours from Romania, and ended up with 6th place in the final, only 10 points behind 3rd (which also went to Romania). Yet they succeeded beyond that – in the UK at least, the ‘Moldovan granny’ was the main memory of the contest, and suddenly, Moldova was in the consciousness of people in Birmingham, Bilbao, and Bielefeld. It was a fantastic start, something memetic but also true to Moldova.

Arsenium & Natalia Gordienko weren’t able to repeat that success in 2006. Hampered by a second-place draw in the running order but with a performance that was all but a low-energy Spanish entry, with nothing especially stand-out aside from possibly a giant sail, they sunk in Athens finishing 20th.

Natalia Barbu to the rescue! ‘Fight‘ is another of the Moldovan entries people still remember now with its Evanescence-style sound, violin riff, and vaguely goth-industrial bodysuit, bringing Moldova another top ten finish in Helsinki. Then Geta Burlacu didn’t make the Grand Ginal the next year with a slow jazz number with little especially memorable beyond her reclining on a sofa on stage holding a teddy bear.

Nelly Ciobanu came second to Zdob și Zdub in 2005 and she got her chance to represent her country in 2009, returning to the more ethnic sound. Trumpets, drums, and dancing all across the massive Moscow stage, she brought the party, with everything from the title and lyrics to the costumes and LEDs screaming ‘Moldova’. Even the chorus was clear:

Ra, he hei, he hei
Hai la hora, hai la hora din Moldova – (Come to the dance, come to the dance from Moldova)
Ra, he hei, he hei
Iute-i hora, iute-i hora în Moldova – (The dance is fast, the dance from Moldova is fast)

It qualified for the final and came fourteenth, and with memories of Zdob și Zdub’s grandmother still in people’s minds, Moldova began to acquire a reputation for this kind of music and show. But Nelly’s performance, while energetic, wasn’t memetic.

Enter Epic Sax Guy

Nobody saw SunStroke Project (with Olia Tira) breaking well beyond the Eurovision sphere and becoming internationally known. ‘Run Away’, a eurodance number featuring SunStroke’s trademark sax-violin combo, is certainly an upbeat and fun song, and the stage show beyond the famous part is flashy and active, but it only just qualified for the final in 2010 and then finished 22nd, ahead of Ireland, Belarus, and the UK. The stage was certainly set for the song becoming beloved of a certain kind of Eurofan but not making much of an impact beyond that, however something unexpected happened – it went viral.

Eurovision songs had gone viral before – winners Lordi, Lithuania’s LT United, and of course Zdob și Zdub – but never to this extent. Epic Sax Guy (Sergey Stepanov)’s rhymthic thrusting while miming playing his saxophone was shared across the Internet, benefitting hugely from modern media, and became well-known in the United States, arguably a holy grail for Eurovision performances.

Although it was his sax riff and hips that grabbed the most attention, people coming across the song through memes across forums and social media often stayed for the whole song, ratcheting up a YouTube viewer count far beyond what its 22nd place finish would indicate. In fact, few of the 21 songs that beat it would endure in quite so strong a fashion, and while memes come and go, they tend to be fondly remembered. This would turn out to have strong repercussions 7 years later.

Maybe Moldova took this on board, as next year they send Zdob și Zdub back again with a performance all but tailor-made to be both memorable and memetic. ‘So Lucky‘ with the tall pointy hats and angelic unicylist carried the band’s trademark ethno-punk genre, albeit in a slightly heavier way than six years earlier. No matter. While not enduringly successful in the way SunStroke Project managed to be, Zdob și Zdub qualified and scored a respecteable 12th place finish in Düsseldorf, just outside the top ten.

Pasha Parfeny followed hot on their heels/wheels, bringing his trumpet-driven ‘Lăutar‘ to Baku, and dancing his way to 11th place with a slightly chaotic stage performance where at one point Pasha stands surrounded by three backing dancers spread across the floor pretending to run. ‘This trumpet makes you mine’ and it seemed to broadly work. Aliona Moon equaled Pasha’s result one year later, with an 11th place finish built on a memorable projection-based dress that transformed Aliona into an erupting volcano for the final chorus.

Moldova had achieved success with two kind of performance which sometimes overlapped – brass-driven folk party songs, and memorable stand-out staging. The most successful performances (certainly in the long run) achieved memetic status, and the country’s reputation was solidified.

A shame then that they lost their way for a few years. Cristina Scarlat’s ‘Wild Soul‘ didn’t meet either of the above critera and not only failed to qualify but scored Moldova their worst result yet on their 10th entry. Eduard Romanyuta’s gloriously trashy ‘I Want Your Love‘ with its dancing cops almost got Moldova into the final in 2015, but something did indeed ‘steal their thunder’. The ‘looks vaguely like the start of a porn film’ staging wasn’t enough.

Neither was Lidia Isac’s dancing, accreditation-lanyard-sporting, spaceman in Stockholm, a bizarre edition to the song that felt as if Moldova had remembered they were Moldova at the last minute and made a concession to their reputation, history, and past successes.

The Return

And then they rolled with their past successes, and returned the now-firmly-legendary SunStroke Project to Kiev.

With a hugely confident performance of ‘Hey Mama‘ acknowledging Epic Sax Guy’s memetic status but not relying on it, with a solid party song, Moldova put all their most successful elements together…and scored a podium finish, one not even the die-hard Eurovision betting community had seen coming, yet one which few felt unearned.

In the city where their Eurovision journey began in such an epic memetic fashion, Moldova triumphed. Yes, they were given a lot of promotion over Epic Sax Guy’s past, but this wasn’t unmerited, especially given how their 22nd place 2010 finish did not reflect the song’s enduring success. And Moldovans couldn’t have been prouder, with a grand reception for the homecoming trio outmatched only by winner Salvador’s in Portugal.

So we come to DoReDos. How will they do in Lisbon? The trumpet-driven, party song ‘My Lucky Day‘ definitely fits into the country’s tradition – many eurofans recognise this as a Moldovan entry at once – and DoReDos have brought immense energy on stage in their own national finals, only being pipped to the post by Lisa in 2016. Phillip Kirkorov’s involvement suggests a degree of confidence in the group and the song is popular among Eurofans this year, many acknowledging how it is once again true to the music from that part of the world. Will it go memetic? Unlikely but maybe if Marina brings that oversized hat from the video…

There’s More Than One Way To Win At Eurovision

Moldova has been far more successful at Eurovision than their size and 2014-2016 finishes would suggest. They have achieved this through both being true to themselves in a consistent way relatively few other Eurovision countries have, but also by creating memorable performances that have gone viral and achieved memetic status both within the Eurosphere and beyond.

This means Moldova stands out internationally in a way that no other country I can think of does. Musically, they are best known through memes. Their international success has been through utilising performances and songs that have stood out in a viral way – and this even precedes Eurovision. Because if I was to ask what Moldovan songs an average Brit might know, they might know SunStroke Project’s two entries, they might recall Zdob și Zdub, but (so long as they’re of a certain age) they’ll recall ‘Dragostea Din Tei‘, better known as ‘the Numa Numa Song’.

O-Zone’s 2004 international megahit didn’t quite reach ‘Gangnam Style’ levels of fame, but the dance tune with its earworm of a chorus achieved a great deal of radio airplay in the UK even before then going viral online with an early meme video of a man singing and dancing along (‘Numa Numa Guy‘ as he came to be known). O-Zone were often mistakenly reported as Romanian at the time, which might indicate the problems Moldova has had in making a name for itself, but those who looked a bit further realised and started to pay attention to Chisinau, just before the Grandmamma beat her drumma into Eurovision history.

Not to say there isn’t a great deal of Moldovan music that isn’t memetic and is still fantastic (Alternosfera, Gândul Mâței, Che-MD), but it’s the ‘Epic’s which have broken beyond the banks of the River Dniester and enchanted Europe and the world.

All hail Moldova, the true memelords.

Categories: ESC Insight

17
April
2018

Newsletter: Eurovision Stars Warm Up For Lisbon At Global Preview Parties

Newsletter: Eurovision Stars Warm Up For Lisbon At Global Preview Parties

As the countdown to Lisbon gets ever closer to zero, many of the stars of Eurovision 2018 are taking the opportunity to meet their fans and hone their crowd-pleasing skills at the numerous preview parties taking place all over Europe throughout May.

In this week’s Newsletter, we bring you a roundup of which artists have been hitting the stage at which events, plus a major announcement about the 2018 interval act and the long-awaited announcement of the Semi Final running orders.

In the meantime, here’s a handy roundup of some of the best ESC Insight content you might have missed during the past few weeks…

ESC Insight Podcast: Jukebox Jury
Ewan Spence and his ever-rotating lineup of guest pundits submit more of this year’s 43 entries to the Hit, Miss or Maybe test as Juke Box Jury passes the halfway point.

When Local Celebrations Take On Eurovision Song Contest Selections
March saw John Egan experience his first ever Norsk Melodi Grand Prix. In this thoughtful piece, he examines the delicate balance between a national Song Contest, local TV audiences and the ultimate prize of a ticket to the Eurovision Song Contest…

Uncovering The Popular Tropes Of The Eurovision Story Contest
Eurovision is more than just a Song Contest – in order to win, you also need a story. Guest writer Jenny Gerlach looks at some of the approaches taken in recent years, and which of this year’s three-minute wonders fit the tropes.

Remembering Lys Assia, The First Lady of Eurovision
As the first winner of the Eurovision Song Contest in 1956, Lys Assia’s place in the history of our Contest was guaranteed the moment the credits rolled over ‘Refrain’. But it was her passion for the Song Contest throughout her life that endeared her to the fanbase. Ewan Spence remembers her career and a playful sense of adventure.

Remembering Katie Boyle: Eurovision’s Definitive Host
Another Eurovision legend also left us last month. Ewan Spence looks back at how four-time Contest host Katie Boyle helped to define the role of the presenter, leaving an indelible mark on Eurovision that endures to this day.

Why Iceland Is The Cutest Eurovision Nation Ever
They may not have fielded a finalist in a few years, but Iceland’s National Final, Söngvakeppnin, has been getting bigger and bigger at home. Ben Robertson pays one of Europe’s smallest but most determined competitors a long overdue visit…

Right Song, Wrong Contest: Trapped In Your National Final
We all have our favourites in the National Final season, and it can feel deflating when they don’t win, but nothing smarts more than the feeling when a genuine contender fails at the first hurdle. Monty Moncrieff looks at some of the factors that can leave a potential Eurovision winner stranded on home soil…

The full online version of the ESC Insight newsletter is available here. You can also subscribe here to receive the newsletter direct to your inbox.

For all the latest Eurovision-related news and analysis, you can also follow ESC Insight on Facebook and Twitter.

Categories: ESC Insight

17
April
2018

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #6

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #6
http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20180411_547_JJBJ2018_6/escinsight_20180411_547_JJBJ2018_6.mp3

Eurovision 2018’s Juke Box Jury, round six. Ewan Spence is joined by Lisa-Jayne Lewis and Dan Hudson to talk wheelchairs, lopers, and beards. Looking for hits, misses, and maybes are Lithuania, Israel, Russia, Montenegro, and Denmark.

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Juke Box Jury #6
with Lisa-Jayne Lewis and Dan Hudson (A Gay And A NonGay)

Lithuania: When We’re Old, by Leva Zasimauskaité.
Israel: Toy, by Netta,
Russia: I Won’t Break, by Yulia Samoylova.
Montenegro: Inje, by Vanja Radovanović.
Denmark: Higher Ground, by Rasmussen.

Don’t miss an episode of the Eurovision Insight podcast by subscribing to the RSS feed dedicated to the podcasts. iTunes users can find us in the iTunes Store and get the show automatically downloaded to your computer.

Categories: ESC Insight

17
April
2018

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Rainmakers & Dressmakers

<div>Eurovision Insight Podcast: Rainmakers & Dressmakers</div>
https://ia601504.us.archive.org/14/items/escinsight_20180413_548/escinsight_20180413_548a.mp3

Videos and opinions from the preview parties can be found everywhere, pictures from backstage at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, our journey towards this year’s Eurovision Song Contest continues.

Eurovision Insight Podcast: Rainmakers & Dressmakers

Your weekly round-up of news from the world of Eurovision includes a very special returning artist for France, a mysterious flight case and a potentially miraculous fall of rain.

As the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 draws ever closer, keep listening to the ESC Insight podcast for more Eurovision news, fun, and chat. 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

17
April
2018

Fireworks And Feelings: What We Mean When We Say ‘Real Music’

Fireworks And Feelings: What We Mean When We Say ‘Real Music’

(Listen along to Ellie as she narrates ‘Fireworks and Feelings’ with some musical accompaniment).

When I was a kid, I got it into my strange little head that pop music was somehow not worth my time, and so I spent a couple of years quixotically refusing to listen to any music other than Mozart and The Beatles. I got over it, but it turns out that was a mere rehearsal for my teenage years and young adulthood, where the questions of identity and preference find themselves inextricably linked with what you listen to. I found myself divided in a way that took years to unravel. It was all connected with an idea of being seen as smart and sophisticated and somehow setting myself apart from my peers by only listening to this very restricted diet of what I considered to be real music.

Is This Real Life, Is This Just Fantasy?

This question of real music though.

What a weird term. It’s so loaded. It’s the NME before it became a bizarre freesheet and eventually shrank away like a mammal’s vestigial tail. It’s teenage lads with lank hair who learn to play guitar through making perfect facsimiles of classic mod singles. It’s lumberjack shirts and big stupid beards.

The stuff that we call ‘real music’ is coded to be very white, very male and lately very middle class, just like in fiction what we call ‘literature’ is generally stuff written by older white guys and anything else is seen as a genre market and somehow, lesser.

So I could see why my favourite Portuguese drama magnet got everyone’s backs up when he spontaneously used his Eurovision winning speech to praise real music that magical night last May. A beardy, masculine, jazz-bore definition of ‘real music’ seems to run counter to everything that the modern Eurovision Song Contest stands for. And maybe that’s what he meant. Maybe he didn’t want anyone to bring their pyro to Lisbon, maybe he’s wanting to preside over two weeks of no LED screens or backing dancers, just serious bebop and chin-stroking, culminating in a huge victory for whichever nation chooses to go rogue.

But given that Salvador and Luisa spent their time in Kyiv during May making friends and enjoying the other songs in the 2017 Ccontest (especially Blanche, Norma John and Sunstroke Project), and given what a delightful spread of diverse musical treats we’ve been served for Lisbon 2018, I don’t think that we necessarily took the ‘real music’ message in the spirit it was delivered.

No Escape From Reality

In the 21st century, the commodification of almost every part of our lives is taken absolutely for granted. Companies use our life details to sell advertising to us and every transaction we take part in (social, financial, emotional, sexual) can be mediated by an app that is probably also using the data of that transaction to sell us more of what it thinks we might like. The entertainment industry commodifies art and sells what it thinks we desire back to us, with the edges sanded off by focus groups with the aim of selling to the biggest market possible. And we feel that. This is why we love to see a pop star mask slip – we’re craving something real.

Then there’s the whole component of teen girl fandom that is handmade and from the heart. Fandoms across all media are full of the creative work of girls and young women in response to the way that things have made them feel. Whether it’s slashfic, image edits, scrapbooks presented to favourite artists, hand-painted fan t-shirts, cover songs filmed sitting on beds or intense gif tumblrs, the response to art is real and deeply personal. Going back to Salvador’s unfortunate ‘fast food music’ metaphor, fangirls are that person who reassembles MacDonalds meals into gourmet meals.

Fangirls, in short, are great. I’ve had enough of hearing it used as a dirty word, used to dismiss people who are having a genuine emotional reaction to something when cultural gatekeepers would rather they didn’t.

Fangirls helped turn me into the adult I am today. They’re my best and most interesting friends. I learned to write HTML to code a nice home for my fandom writing, and one of the ways I practiced my writing was through cultural criticism discourse in fandom. I learned what little I know about graphic design and image sorcery through creating Livejournal icons. Fandom had me travelling to meet people I barely knew and sent me on adventures. Fandom gave me friends around the world and confidantes who I’ve never met. I am only on Twitter because that’s where Doctor Who fandom was slightly less virulent than the pedant-heavy messageboards. Fandom made me.

One of the demographic groups that gets basically no respect is teenage girls. Through a combination of condescension and misogyny, it’s assumed that teenage girls will basically eat up whatever is advertised at them. Nah. Have you seen what teenage girl fans are actually like? They respond to music and artists with such genuine passion that the paranoid dudes trying to convince themselves that they really enjoy Captain Beefheart or hard bebop or Dream Theater are scared. If a musical package doesn’t make teenage girls feel something, then it’s going to fail. The power of teenage admiration is only exceeded by the power of teenage disdain at something they realise is phoney and naff.

I had a strange dual identity as a teen. On the one hand, I was obnoxiously into Britpop and guitar music and had the bucket hat to prove it, but on the other hand I was a young queer woman who wanted nothing more than to break it down to S Club 7. I tried settling this dichotomy in various different ways (wearing a handpainted Hearsay t-shirt to the indie night, performing a death-tango version of Baby One More Time in my covers band, developing an unhealthy obsession with the post-Spice careers of Mels B and C) but really the only thing keeping me from sitting comfortably with my own taste was that I hadn’t worked out that all music that makes you feel something is ‘real music’. Once you embrace the power of ‘and’ you find that the world is a beautiful and full place.

That’s not to say that this self-knowledge came to me all at once. I spent a lot of my 20s dating people who didn’t think that my musical education was complete without an appreciation of their various blokey or dull or otherwise dreadful faves. Like a lot of women I’ve been in situations where to say “I don’t think this critically maudlin singer-songwriter is anywhere near as good as Madonna singing ‘Like A Prayer’” would have been to make myself seem significantly less sophisticated in the eyes of someone who, let’s be honest, didn’t really deserve to be dating me.

The assumption that ‘girl music’ is somehow shallow and not worthy of consideration as art runs deep, and most of us have internalised that idea to some extent. I think that I relaxed significantly as I got to my 30s, and stopped giving anywhere near as much of a damn about what people thought of me and my taste. I like what excites me and what sounds good to me and it’s as simple as that.

Lisbon Bound

So back to Salvador and the Song Contest and what on earth this all means. In the run up to the Lisbon 2018, our dorky jazz hero has been the subject of conversation amongst a certain subset of lady Eurovision fans. We were all thinking that he really strongly reminded us of the various dorky prodigies that we’d known and crushed hard on when we were younger and significantly more naive. Everything that’s happened at the Contest and since basically confirms that we were right. As well as the incredible talent, he’s got a sort of determined awkwardness and an almost magical ability to say the right thing in the wrong context.

That’s Salvador. He is just that kind of a dork who just says unfortunate things, bless him. I’m kind of looking forwards to seeing him be maximally jazzy and real in Lisbon for his winner’s reprise (twenty minute hand trumpet solo! Waggling in and out of shot! Strange vocal mannerisms!) but in general, I think that now he’s got the time and star power to develop his own musical world he’ll relax a lot more about what other people like. Also, with any luck, he’ll mellow out in his thirties.

Really, all the guy wants to do is perform and he’s not massively interested in a lot of the showbiz trappings. I was able to catch him for a brief interview backstage during one of his first days in Kyiv – he was hanging around doing selfies with people in his SOS Refugees sweater and looking distinctly weirded out by the whole Eurovision promotional process. He wasn’t too bothered about the generic ‘How are you feeling, are you happy with the rehearsals’ chat, but when I asked him a question about a track on ‘Excuse Me’, he perked up visibly. “Oh! You want to talk about music!”

Look Again

In the meantime, while we wait for Salvador to catch up with the implications of his new, bizarre status as Portuguese national hero and champion of ‘real music’, can I just suggest that Luísa might be the Sobral for you? You already know from ‘Amar Pelos Dois’ that she’s an amazing songwriter, and you already know from her magical rehearsal footage and that winning duet that she’s also got a superb, emotive voice.

Her 2017 album – called ‘Luísa‘, helpfully – is a really gorgeous selection of superbly adult songs that take her musical style further outside the traditional jazz format. There’s the almost Leonard Cohen style slinky rasp of ‘My Man’, there’s a beautiful song about enduring female friendship called ‘Janie’ and there’s the super cute and bouncy ‘Je T’Adore’. You can listen to it on Luísa’s web page, or you can order it on export. We’ll work on getting it properly available in the UK, but this will do for now.

But they didn’t accidentally win Eurovision – RTP and the Portuguese delegation were aware of the buzz building around ‘Amar Pelos Dois’ from the very early stages. They knew they had something special that had to be treated with sensitivity and integrity, even though they were working within the limitations of their performer.

One of my favourite bits of interview footage with Luísa in Kyiv is where she’s talking to Will of Wiwibloggs, who is really trying to work a sort of hyper-emotional angle to the fact she’s filling in for Salvador in rehearsals, and Luísa is really not having any of it. As far as she’s concerned, she’s just doing her annoying little brother a favour and not making any kind of mystical statement about emotional links between siblings. Even as a slightly melodramatic plot arc was trying to settle on her, she was resisting it.

The business over Salvador’s SOS Refugees sweater might also have contributed to his desire to say something non-political (but much more controversial) in the moment of victory. It now appears that Salvador’s humanitarian message in the Semi Final press conference was perceived as being an issue that was in contravention of the very vaguely defined ‘No political messages’ rule and he was prevented from wearing the sweatshirt under threat of disqualification.

This seems to be a bit harsh, considering the nature of the message. Also, I am sure I remember a Semi Final interval act in 2016 that was basically Salvador’s message interpreted through contemporary dance. This year we’ve got the French entry explicitly repeating that message on the stage in the Grand Final. How is that going to work out on the ground? What if Madam Monsieur’s turtlenecks suddenly develop an SOS Refugees print?

Back To Reality

But we were dangerously close to reaching the point before I went off on that tangent. The point is that Salvador’s message about real music wasn’t what you thought it was. It wasn’t a direct dig at Sweden or Moldova or the general concept of fun. One of the big memes in Eurofan twitter this year is ‘Imagine Salvador being forced to hand the trophy to this’ with particular reference to Netta from Israel, as if she’s some sort of disposable pop mouthpiece instead of a terrifyingly talented multi-instrumentalist producer DJ blues-hollerer rapper and free jazz improvisational prodigy. Real music doesn’t look how you think, fandom. Real music isn’t just made by serious white men with facial hair staring at their shoes. Real music is made by all musicians who feel something and want to tell you about it.

You know, I don’t even think that Salvador’s victory was a victory for this ‘real music’ thing anyway – his story and mystique added significantly to what was already a really special performance. The big victory that Salvador could probably claim, even if he doesn’t believe it, is that his stage show was one hundred percent appropriate for the song. Without a great song and a great vocal performance, you can’t win. With a great song and a good singer, you can only win if the performance looks appropriate on screen. Obviously, what is appropriate for an intimate ballad is different from what is appropriate for a party song about disapproving mothers or a gleeful yell of feminist energy.

Real music is any music that you make to communicate something real that you are feeling, with the intention of making the listener feel something too. Toy’ is just as real as ‘Amar Pelos Dois’. They both have a strong idea of what they want to communicate, and whether that message is ‘I am a person not an object’ or ‘I live only to love you’ they both communicate it very effectively.

Real music is all about fireworks, but the fireworks are made of feelings.

Categories: ESC Insight

07
April
2018

Eurovision Insight Podcast: It’s Time To Pay Some Bills

Eurovision Insight Podcast: It’s Time To Pay Some Bills
http://archive.org/download/escinsight_20180407_546/escinsight_20180407_546.mp3

Videos and opinions from the preview parties can be found everywhere, pictures from backstage at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, our journey towards this year’s Eurovision Song Contest continues.

Eurovision Insight Podcast: It’s Time To Pay Some Bills

A call for sponsors, a new airline for Eurovision, and the creation of a curious pizza. Ewan Spence and ESC Insight bring you seven more days of Eurovision Song Contest news.

As the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 draws ever closer, keep listening to the ESC Insight podcast for more Eurovision news, fun, and chat. 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

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