Memories of Christmas and New Year are now passing into fuzzy recollections of alcohol, rich food and wrapping paper. Our eyes blink as we look upon the hostile reality of the first few days of 2013. What next is there to look forward to?
Eurovision. That’s what. The 58th Grand Final is on Saturday 18th May. Mark it in your diary if you haven’t already.
There’s plenty of ground to cover before then. An inordinate amount of nonsense to get across before the Eurovision bus splutters into action.
So crank up Spotify and get yourself in the mood with such 2012 classics as Compact Disco’s Sound of Our Hearts, Loreen’s quality win for Sweden with Euphoria or, if you’ve a weakness for gratuitous use of dry ice and a cheesy spot of air guitar take a look at adorable Lithuania’s Donny Montell whose Love is Blind still entertains (for all the wrong reasons).
Such trips down memory lane are mere hors d’oeuvres for the next wave of Eurovision hopefuls who have already been selected in programmes produced by eager European broadcasters, some chosen by their incomprehensibly enthusiastic audiences.
Those countries who have already bought some extra time to prepare for the semi-finals on 14th and 16th May are Albania who’ve plumped for a spot of folk(ish)-rock with a song called Indentitet, Lithuania whose Andrius Pojavis sang his song Something in a top hat, with a dancer whose routine involves a gym ball (I kid you not) and Belarus have ended up with a competent if tired-sounding club sound entitled Rhythm of Love.
2013 Eurovision representative (selected by Belgian broadcaster RTBF) Robert Bellarosa won the first series of Belgium’s The Voice back in April 2012. His Eurovision song Love Kills is reasonable, though Roberto will need to either work on his range or have the track taken down a semitone or two before May. Some of those top notes are a bit of a strain come the key change. Not only that, given that this is the only example of him singing the song live on the internet at the moment, his performance is bound to give RTBF’s publicity machine a bit of a headache initially.
Third time lucky for Ukrainian Zlata Ognevich who has won her first place in the Eurovision representing her country with a mid-tempo power anthem Gravity. She has a considerable pair of lungs and an equally impressive vocal range for what is an otherwise bland song made up of seemingly endless and pointless key changes.
But it’s Switzerland who have won on the mainstream coverage (in fairness, they haven’t had too much competition). The Swiss national selection saw the group Heilsarmee (dressed in Salvation Army uniform and featuring the oldest ever participant in the Eurovision – he’s 94, but don’t worry, like all instrumentalists on the Eurovision stage, he’ll be miming) win a place in the Eurovision semi-finals with You and Me. A dull song with a pedestrian melody, the gimmick which gave Switzerland’s act its news ‘hook’ will eventually have to be jettisoned: Eurovision rules prevent any kind of advertising during the broadcast programmes and that includes references to charities like the Salvation Army. Oh dear.
Thirty-three other countries have yet to select their songs for the Eurovision competition. Not everyone is taking part this year. Those include Andorra, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Lichenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Morrocco, Poland, Portugal. Whilst some countries have given clear messages about the financial overhead needed to participate, others – we’re looking at you Turkey – have been a little more forthright about their feelings about the rules citing the so-called ‘Big Five’ rule (ie Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom all pay the most, so they get a guaranteed place in the Grand Final) as the cause of their growing discontent with the contest. John Kennedy O’Connor has a fairly lengthy analysis of that particular piece of Turkish PR on ESCInsight. Well worth a read.
And tackling head on those cries that the whole shebang is not only an unruly, but over-sized and way too expensive, the EBU and host broadcaster SVT have begun making a string of announcements giving the impression the big TV event is being shaped into something more appropriate for the present age of austerity. First, there’ll be just one presenter rather than two (that should get around the rather tiresome dialogue which graces the beginning of each programme).
Second, there’ll be, according to Executive Producer Martin Osterdahl, a more “intimate setting” for the live TV show in May. (Just how intimate is ‘intimate’?)
And third, fans and journalists won’t have quite so much physical access to rehearsals (and therefore the press centre) as they have in previous years, with the first few days of semi-final rehearsals closed to press. Fans & journos will be able to see rehearsals on a live feed in the nearby “EuroClub” although one wonders whether there’s a bit more control to be exercised when that live feed is made available to them. That could potentially help keep any poor initial rehearsals under-wraps (reasonably). This combined with dropping the tradition of drawing lots to determine who sings when in each show (producers now decide on the programme running orders), Eurovision 2013 could have an entirely different feel in television terms.
What next? A live orchestra reinstated for Eurovision? The moment I hear, I’ll let you know.
And a couple of last minute inclusions … Congratulations to Arlene Philips (choreographer for Engelbert Humperdinck’s dancers in Baku in May 2012h on her inclusion on the 2012 New Years Honours List. And for any former Eurovision act worried about what they’ll do after the final strains of Charpentier’s Te Deum have rung out, worry no longer. Former Irish Eurovision God, Johnny Logan was seen at the Vienna New Years Day concert by BBC Radio 3 presenter @PetrocTrelawny. It seems Mr Logan was commentating the annual classical music concert for RTE. See? Eurovision opens doors.
More Eurovision-related posts are available at https://www.thoroughlygood.me/eurovision.
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