15 May 2014

+JMJ+

Eurovision 2014: If You Can't #BeatThem . . .

You Can Still Cattily #LetThemKnowTheirLogoWillNotAgeWell

Even when I forget my monthly themes, my blog doesn't. We've had much music this May, and we're about to have more. I mean, this is Eurovision month. =P

Now, there was a time when the Eurovision Song Competition made sense. The continent was recovering from World War II and the European Broadcasting Union thought it that music might help to heal its wounds. And for the first few years of the contest, everyone tuned in to listen to beautiful songs, to celebrate culture, and to support their neighbours. But at some point along the way, both the songwriting and the singing became about "self-expression" . . . and when some countries didn't think they had a shot at winning one year, they'd send a musical act for no other purpose than to party. (At least that's what I think happened. #amateurhistorian) But I peer into the past now only to introduce the question of how one is to judge a competition like this.

I don't have an answer yet, but that didn't stop me from awarding points to acts anyway, as if I had been a participating country, popular vote and jury and all . . .

1 Point
DENMARK
Cliche Love Song by Basim


I'm not too fond of Bubblegum Pop at the Eurovision, but this song is fun, friendly, and contagiously happy . . . and well, it's been stuck in my head since Saturday.

2 Points
MONTENEGRO
Moj Svijet by Sergej Cetkovic


And now I must confess that Montenegro's entry made this list mainly by default. I don't think it's that all that great, but it's better than everything else I might have considered for this modest slot and it's entirely in Montenegrin. It takes you-know-what to try to win the Eurovision with a song that isn't in English. I hope the Balkans bring it like this every year.

3 Points
UKRAINE
Tick-Tock by Mariya Yaremchuk


Even Dance music has its place, and it's arguably never more at home than in the Eurovision Song Competition. What I like about Ukraine's entry is that it goes beyond the expected synth sound and ambient lyrics and doubles as a decent love song.

4 Points
POLAND
We Are Slavic by Donatan and Cleo


An acronym of warning before you play the video: NSFW. I mean, it is all about Slavic girls being the best in the world because they'll churn your butter and make you some cream. (Just my loose paraprhase of the lyrics, you understand.) As far as art goes, the song itself is really vulgar . . . but it's more of a celebration of an entrant's local culture than most of the others . . . and I do think it's good to be reminded that "Europe" isn't one monolith where everyone sounds alike, looks alike, and thinks alike . . . however much that may seem to be the case these days.

5 Points
THE NETHERLANDS
Calm after the Storm by The Common Linnets


This is arguably the most beautiful song of the night . . . and in a less political year, it might have won. I don't rank it very highly on my list only because it sounds very Country to me, and Country is a style I associate with America rather that with Europe . . . although I've heard some Country music from Ireland, Spain and Switzerland that puts America's "Pop Country" to shame.

6 Points
THE UK
Children of the Universe by Molly


As for what I do associate with Europe . . . Now that Christendom has decided that it's not Christian anymore, it could use a special anthem that will tell the rest of the world why it's so smugly proud of itself. And I can think of no better song for that purpose than this materialist celebration of "power to the people."

7 Points
SWITZERLAND
Hunter of Stars by Sebalter


Again, yes, the Eurovision is a songwriting competition, not an interpretation or arrangement competition . . . but that whistling is irresistible! (And the guy is cute.) It's also nice to learn about the violin's fiddle's place in Swiss folk music, on a pan-European stage. Why can't all the entries have cultural roots like this?

8 Points
ICELAND
No Prejudice by Pollaponk


They had me at "B-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b" (Yes, I counted them) and sealed the deal with "P-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p." (L-L-L-L-L-L-L-LOL!) And the best part is that they're not trolling: Pollaponk are as serious about their music as ABBA were about theirs. So what we have here is a fun song from a serious band that isn't selling out: easily one of the highlights of Eurovision 2014!

10 Points
FINLAND
Something Better by Softengine


Now I'm just being biased. This is the song I personally loved the most--and I even forgive it for giving me a chilling Coldplay flashback. =P Here's what I imagine my soul would sound like if I had to live in modern-day Europe.

12 Points
FRANCE
Moustache by TWIN TWIN


HOW in the name of all things European did France's entry come in dead last???  This song is modern art! The Centre Georges Pompidou should build listening booths so that future generations can properly enjoy it. Seriously--as if I'm not already 100% serious--Moustache is modern Europe's mirror, with lyrics that expose the roots of the economic crisis . . . and slyly hint that this has also been a spiritual crisis. This is the song of the year and probably should have been the song of last year. And anyone who doesn't believe me can check out which country did win.


Image Source: Eurovision 2014 #JoinUs logo

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