Cultural experiences and funny musings by two twenty-somethings living abroad
In just a month and a half’s time, we will be plugging in our TVs and laptops to watch this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Ostrich – I mean Austria. Having been long-time fans of the show (and in fact, one of the first things that Jasper and I bonded about), we are very excited for this year’s song contest. In fact, we were that excited that we have already had a look through this year’s entries and have already picked our favourites and potential winners. Of course, this came at a price because it meant having to sit through many, many, many ballads, one even being so ear-splitting that for those who have dogs, maybe keep them away from the screen when this is playing. (We’re looking at you, Latvia!)
However, before we get into our favourites and not-so favourites, maybe one thing to mention is that this year, Australia is taking part for some reason, a country that is geographically as far from Europe as you can get! They are not some novelty act though and they’ve taken it pretty seriously by entering a multi-award winning artist in Guy Sebastian and putting in a pretty good song, although Olesya will disagree on that one!
There’s also one country, which has done something totally novel and introduced a punk band who were originally set up as a music project for some of the country’s autistic musicians and have already picked up a good following not only in their home country of Finland but across Europe.
Although the song, being punk and all, is not the easiest on the ears, it is still a fantastic idea to raise more awareness and to also stand out from the ever soppy ballad crowd. We will definitely be rooting for these guys!
The one artist we will probably find ourselves feeling quite sorry for is Russia – they too have entered a very good song performed by a very good singer, but because of what has been happening politically, the Russian performers at the last contest had a very hard time and were frequently booed. We really like the song and its message and we hope that this year’s entry won’t get the same treatment as last year’s performers because it’s not fair on the performers. After all, the contest should be about the music, not about politics.
So for those planning to watch the contest (we really recommend that you do!), here is a quick lowdown of some of our favourites as well as some others which are just very questionable in taste.
Slovenia – it would be quite a big surprise if this song doesn’t win. It is both mine and Jasper’s favourite and I have even downloaded it already onto my iPod! A catchy, upbeat song that will sure get the crowds going
Sweden – This song sounds very much like David Guetta’s “Lovers on the sun” so if you like that sort of music, you will love this entry from Swedish Idol’s 2005 winner, Mans Zelmerlow.
Czech Republic – yes it’s a ballad but it’s actually one of the better ones so for those who prefer a more chilled-out song, this should be up your street.
Israel – there has to be one “funny” entry and this is it from Israel. It is a mixture of pretty much every genre, and had us laughing all the way through! A great entertaining all rounder!
UK – Now, this is one of those songs that seems to be a grower. It’s definitely not “bad” but it doesn’t quite have the “wow” factor either! Some people really love it though and it seems that after a few listens, it does grow on you. We would say this is the one to watch!
Belgium – it’s a bit like what you get when you put Lorde and Justin Bieber in a room together. It’s a bit of a marmite song, but neither of us can really get all “wow” about it
Poland – sounds like the sort of music you hear in a bad Chinese restaurant.
Moldova – Plucked straight out of the nineties, bit of a bad NSYNC/Backstreet Boys rip off, plus the singer seems to love himself quite a bit. Watch the video, you’ll see what we mean!
Portugal – As the country that has entered the most times without ever finishing in the top 5 and coming rock bottom 3 times, it is officially the worst performing country at the contest and unfortunately for the part-Portuguese Jasper, it seems it ain’t gonna change anytime soon!
All in all, this year’s contest seems to be the year of the ballads. So many of them in fact, that almost any song that isn’t a ballad is probably among the favourites to win simply because they will actually stand out, even if it’s not very good (there’s still hope, Britain!)
There is also bound to be some funny voting. For any of you who didn’t see Eurovision 2008, this is worth a watch – Sweden tries to give 12 points to Sweden!
And sticking with Sweden, their sign language interpreter needs to turn up!
Although nowadays many countries sing in English, it’s still a great way to see other countries’ styles of music! Whether you watch the Eurovision or not, do you have any favourite songs from your country? We’d love to hear some recommendations from you!