Eurovision 2010: Cyprus

Cyprus’ song is bound to raise a few eyebrows. Frontman Jon Lilygreen is Welsh. How does a Welshman end up representing Cyprus for God’s sake? How does a Welshmen end up not representing the UK and singing a decent song at Eurovision? Have the sands of time started shifting? What next?

The eyebrow-raising evidence doesn’t end there. The band’s fan page details his postal address. It even has his mobile phone number on it. Even the biography of the two people running Gold CD productions details their strong connections with Wales.

The story of the song’s genesis is a journalist’s dream. It demands little of any PR man either.

Written by two Cypriots, Nasos Lambrianides and Melis Constantinou ‘found’ Wales-based producers Jon Gregory and Sylvia Stand on the internet who in turn produced the song sourcing student and pit band guitar Jon Lilygreen to record the track.

Where the song misses out on a strong melodic line, it makes up for it in terms of chord progressions and production. Lilygreen pulls off an authentic act with his guitar even if the song quickly becomes bland on repeat listens.

The promo video does look a little on the cheap side, but really that isn’t the point.

The appeal of Cyprus’ this year is its authenticity. I can think of only a handful of acts which have made a point of highlighting the genuine international links which brought the song into being. It’s also an act which will undoubtedly raise the profile of a great many people who have clearly bucked the usual UK reticence at using Eurovision to promote themselves. Their obvious grasp of social media – highlighted by their management of the fan page is also a good sign.

All of that is a good thing. If producers Gregory and Stand do well, that means more UK based producers (and, who knows, maybe even writers) will feel suitably encouraged to step forward in future years. And if they can get through to the final, there’s bound to be a significant vote from the UK on account of Jon Lilygreen’s nationality.

Why redesign it again?

I’m a sucker for new layouts and different fonts, it has to be said. My heart skips a beat when I see a new layout. I know I shouldn’t click the ‘activate’ button in WordPress quite as many times as I do, but really why was it necessary to roll out another new look for this blog?

What you see is the result of feedback from friends and a rather over-zealous internal critic. Friends helped reassure me about my tendency to focus on the Eurovision, asking the question ‘just what is it you want to do there?’ and ‘how does it fit with everything else you do?’

A few days later, I’m at the Next Web Conference and realising that first time visitors may not be quite as engaged with the window on the world I present as I hope they might be. If you’re doing something borderline professional its probably best to make things just a little bit more pigeon-holed just for the sake of usability.

When WordPress offered a new template, I figured it was a short cut to a slightly more easily navigable blog.

So I’ve plumped for this design – the new default template to be rolled out with the latest version of WordPress – in a bid to separate the seemingly disparate things I write about.

I hope you like it. And do be assured, it won’t be changing for a long while to come. At least I do think so.

Eurovision 2010: Sweden – ‘pleasingly inoffensive’

Sweden’s song This Is My Life is a beguiling contribution. It’s a pleasing song. It makes no demands. It does nothing to offend. It is, by the time singer Anna Bergendahl’s three minutes are up, an ultimately satisfying listen. Heads will nod in agreement. “Yeah, that was quite good actually,” people will say to one another.

There could be an explanation for this.

The Swedish national final – Melodiefestivalen – introduced a considerably more pragmatic jury system for this year’s extended song hunt to accompany the usual phone and SMS votes from the public. Five Swedish regional juries delivered their assessment along with six other ‘international’ juries representing Russia, Ireland, Norway, Greece, Serbia and France. Seems like quite a sensible way of increasing the chances that audiences outside of your country like your song.

Anna Bergendahl has previous experience too having participated in a couple of TV reality shows as well as having released a handful of comparatively unsuccessful singles. This Is My Life has already gone to number one in Sweden.

Bear in mind that Melodiefestivalen rules allowed live vocals to be sung against a backing track comprising recorded backing singers. No such luxury for Anna in Oslo. A reduced backing group will have to sing live with her. And the slightest variations in intonation come the semi-final could diminish the silk smooth texture you hear 1’51” into this version.

Backing a similarly mid-tempo pleasing song from Ireland’s Niamh Kavanagh, Bergandahl’s record company Lionheart looks set to gain if both Sweden and Ireland do well in the Eurovision. On the basis of this song alone, they should be quietly confident even if Sweden doesn’t come out on top.