A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
There is always some matter to discuss or just a song I want to share
Very welcome - I hope you'll like it here!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tonight: Junior Eurovision Song Contest

It takes more than the word "Eurovision" to enthuse me these days. I was never a fan of the short-lived Eurovision Dance Contest and I never blogged a lot about Junior Eurovision either.

I used to like it in the beginning, thought it was a fun little show and a good chance for talented kids to try out singing for a greater audience. There is nothing wrong with that, really.

But I feel the rule changes through the years have changed the JESC into something less pleasant. The creativity has been taken further and further away from the competing kids on all levels. I can't shake the feeling that many of them are just put there to sing a song that some adults decided that other kids will like.

I'd like to know how many of tonight's participants really had an influence over their own performances. How many had a real input as to how they are presented and styled.

The contest has its fans, and I won't be the evil one who calls for its destruction. I have objections, but it is not my party. I hope all participating kids have a good experience in the end and that they will be able to put this experience in good use for the future.

What I really have a problem with is that tonight's final from Kyiv will show host country Ukraine in a blindingly positive light, as a happy clappy fantasy world where everything is fine for everyone, at the same time as police forces brutally act against the people protesting in the street.

That, if anything, leaves a bitter taste this year. Apart from that - may the best song win, and may the Junior fans have a great night.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tobson's Wish List: Isac Elliot for Finland

I am not fully convinced this is something everybody would agree with, but I think Finland's new eurovision selection is moving in the right direction. Still searching its form and still in need of launching hits on a more regular basis, UMK is still promising.

When the list of participants for 2014 gets revealed, we will see if the progress goes on. Hopefully there will be a few well-known names alongside new talents, and hopefully there will be songs with hit factor.

I hope UMK will get to continue and try to better itself for the coming years. With the exception of 2017. That is the year where I think UMK should take a break and Yle could select their entry internally.

In 2017, Isac Elliot will be old enough to participate, you see. And if he is the slightest bit interested in taking part, he could be our best chance to rock this old in contest in years and years.

Isac Elliot - New Way Home

The kid is only twelve years old but he has star quality aplenty and his debut album shot to number one in Finland and also went to number four in Norway. There is also an ESC-connection as a few of the songs on that album are co-written by Paradise Oskar himself, Axel Ehnström.

In 2017, Isac will already be an experienced performer who could put on a convincing show that would give Finland an excellent placing. (It could of course also be that he has already had it with showbiz, ditched all career plans and decided to be a lawyer instead. You never know.)

Isac Elliot - First Kiss

But in case he still sings and wants to do it, there is just one thing to do. Cancel the Finnish final of 2017. Make a note in the calendar already now.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Tobson's Wish List: Olly Murs for the UK

Hold your horses, no need to ask me for a reality check. I don't really believe for a second that this would happen. I only say it should happen.

Olly Murs is an adorable little pop star, hip and happening a bit all over the place. Top seller on home ground, big in the German market, bubbling under in some other territories, would probably just need a slight push to make it big in more countries.

Eurovision could be just the thing he needs. Not to mention that his songs would fit right in - his last singles all sound like potential top scorers at the ESC. A song as strong as, say, "Heart Skips A Beat" and the United Kingdom could be well up there again with a healthy dose of douze points.

Olly Murs - Heart Skips A Beat

Then of course there is the usual reasoning against it. Why would a young star want the Eurovision label - not to mention the stigma - that could possibly kill your career in the end?

The Eurovision stigma only attaches to people who go into competition with a bad song or a half-hearted attempt. If Blue or Bonnie or even Engelbert have been been "tainted" by the ESC, it is probably mainly because their respective careers have not included many other highlights lately.

Olly could walk out on that stage, sing his heart out, perform convincingly, make the top 4 and suddenly find himself a household name all over the place.

I'd be more than happy and - in the end - I think Olly would be too.

Olly Murs - Right Place Right Time

Thursday, November 14, 2013

EBU on Russia and hosting

A lot of stories have gone around in the last few days that the EBU should have put its foot down and told Russian television in no uncertain terms that the current anti-gay legislation would make it more or less impossible for them to host the Eurovision Song Contest.

It is hardly a secret that a large part of the fan community are gay and that the ESC has a strong standing within European LGBT communities. Of course it would be a tricky situation if a large portion of the fans attending the event on location would risk ending up in prison.

Needless to say that this piece of news was welcomed with enthusiasm around the net. But was it true? Had the EBU really spoken up on the matter?

According to Gay Star News, the EBU had sent an official letter to the Russian broadcasters, voicing concerns that these could be unable to guarantee the security of Eurovision delegates in the event of Russia being the host country again. An anonymous member of the Swedish delegation was quoted as saying Sweden would pull out of a contest staged in Russia under the current circumstances.

This looks like quite a clear stand, right?

But in a statement published today, contest supervisor Jon Ola Sand calls the situation "completely undramatic" and says there is no reason to believe Russia could not host the contest. The EBU underlines that Russia has already hosted the ESC very successfully in the past.

Of course the EBU can't go around singling out member countries as unfit for hosting. Where would you draw the line for what is acceptable and what isn't? If Russia did not match the host criteria, should they even be allowed to take part? And what other countries should be thrown out in that case?

But then we shouldn't credit the EBU for doing something they haven't done and even are pretty unlikely to do at all. For them, this is not a problem until the day when Russia wins. If even then.

Copyright: EBU

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Turkvision - a good idea?

I think it is fairly safe to assume that Turkey is in no hurry to come back to the Eurovision Song Contest. Copenhagen seems to be completely ruled out and the future doesn't look too bright either for fans of Turkish eurosongs.

TRT is still claiming to be upset about the current rules, how the juries seem to be keeping the Turkish entries down in the ranking and - the latest thing that transpired - how they feel Turkey lacks influence at the EBU. Oh dear.

So instead of trying to court Europe and insist on changes being made to the ESC format, TRT decided to stage their own song contest instead.

Copyright: TRT

Why not? A song contest, slightly modelled on the ESC, to bring the various Turkic people together in friendly competition. That can't be all bad. Can it?

It depends what your goal is, of course.

Turkey has been spending quite a lot of time and effort to market their own progress in the fields of democracy and human rights. With that in mind, it seems strange to snub the EBU - with their current discussions of perhaps adding a human rights index of some sort to the participation criteria - for a new set of best friends with rather different views on the matter.

Countries like Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan all have very poor human rights records and oppressive regimes. Inviting them to an international event can only give these regimes a chance to shine and do their best at coming across as respectable and acceptable. Why would you want to do that?

Also, allowing Northern Cyprus to take part under their own flag is a problematic move. So be it that this contest is aimed squarely at a Turkic audience, but Turkey is the only country in the world to recognise this republic as an independent country.

In short, Turkey's new choice of playmates doesn't look great from a political point of view.

Maybe this can still be a musically interesting event where will get sights and sounds from countries we seldom interact with and know very little about, but attaching too much attention to Turkvision will also contribute to promoting and normalising an unpleasant thing or two.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tobson's Wish List: La Oreja de Van Gogh for Spain

When I started listing artists I would have loved to see take part in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in Baku I didn't hit a single bull's eye. Not a single one of the acts I mentioned took part.

What did I learn from that experience?

Not a lot, frankly. So now I start crossing my fingers, spilling a few names I would really enjoy seeing in Copenhagen next year. Nothing brightens your day like a bit of wishful thinking and it also gives me the opportunity to push some acts I like and that you should check out anyway.

My first suggestion is for Spain, who are perhaps not so keen on sending another soft rock band after last year's failure. That would be a mistake as there is nothing wrong with that concept in itself. There is always room for some dynamic music on the border between rock and pop and this little gang can do that much better than ESDM did.

La Oreja de Van Gogh (Van Gogh's ear) started out in 1996 and met with big success before having a change of lead vocalist in 2008. That kind of action could rock anyone's career, but this band seems stronger than ever.

"La niña que llore en tus fiestas" (The girl who is crying at your parties) is not only the most played song ever on Spotify in Spain, it would also have been top five material at Eurovision any given year.

La Oreja de Van Gogh - La niña que llore en tus fiestas