Thursday, June 16, 2022

A different world

It's becoming a very strange world and quite the opposite of what I had expected in one particular way. 

One would have thought that the internet would have provided free transmission and sharing of information and, whilst there would always be a load of rubbish on websites, it would be much more difficult for governments to succeed with propaganda and downright lies about other parts of the world.

Now we learn that students in Hong Kong will no longer be taught that the city was a British colony from 1899 to 1997. All reference to this will be deleted from textbooks and China already has in place quite impressive filters on what data can be searched and found in this respect.

We have also become familiar with what would be amusingly farcical if it were not so serious; the increasingly regular news items on Russian TV which show empty supermarket shelves across the whole of Britain, Jeremy Clarkson's comments about soon needing to consider eating children or neighbours and there being no bread anywhere here either. They, of course, also continue to accuse Ukraine of inventing stories of destruction and civilian casualties every day.

We can verify almost any news we read. Sometimes very easily, sometimes it can be a little more difficult but the conspiracy theories and most copied drama we see on Facebook or in our email inboxes seldom stand up to much investigation. It seems that people in Hong Kong, China and Russia cannot. Moreover, many prefer not to question what their governments, teachers or TV presenters tell them and the thought of making an enquiry arises less and less frequently. 

They really are now living in a different world. 

We've known North Korean people are cut off from much knowledge about what happens outside their borders but that has been the case for so long we kinda ignore it, and them, for that matter. We may eventually be able to ignore Russia but I am not at all sure about China.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Eurovision 2022. The year when Moldova came 2nd in the public vote and the UK 1st with the juries.

 A very well-run show in Turin saw Ukraine take the prize (then sell it in order to pay for some tanks!)

The overall Top 10 looked like this.

Kalush Orchestr
2United KingdomSpace Man
Sam Ryde
4SwedenHold Me Closer
Cornelia Jakob
5SerbiaIn Corpore Sano
Mahmood & Blanc
Zdob şi Zdub & Advahov Brother
8GreeceDie Together
Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjor
9PortugalSaudade, saudade
10NorwayGive That Wolf a Banana

This comprised two sets of scores. The national 'professional' juries' points came first. It was great to see United Kingdom at the top. Portugal were very highly placed at 5th at this stage with the Netherlands, Australia and even Azerbaijan looking as if they might have a chance.

1United KingdomSpace Man
Sam Ryde
2SwedenHold Me Closer
Cornelia Jakob
Kalush Orchestr
5PortugalSaudade, saudade
Mahmood & Blanc
7GreeceDie Together
Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjor
8NetherlandsDe Diepte
9AustraliaNot the Same
Sheldon Rile
10AzerbaijanFade To Black
Nadir Rustaml

Look at what the voting public said, though! Clearly way out in front with a massive number of votes was the Ukraine entry and it was now more a matter of who might come second. Moldova, who nearly always get precious few points from the national juries were the public's second choice! An extraordinary result for a catchy but very unlikely winning song. The other entry where the public violently disagreed with the boring old jury people was Serbia's where some woman talking about good health and appearing to wash her hands incessantly and not always in time to the music was their 4th choice. It was very catchy, though.

Spain were consistent - scoring enough to hold 3rd place in each but they were just beaten by Sam Ryder's Space Man who took 2nd place overall. I had been expecting the two ballads to do well and the public agreed with me, placing both Poland's and Estonia's entries in the top 10. They also liked the yellow and black phenomena that was Norway's crazy-looking entry, which the national juries had left lounging near the foot of the table a little earlier.

This format lends a lot of excitement and is fascinating to see the difference between what satisfies the national juries and what the public actually pay money and vote for. I do wonder now whether we should do away with the juries and just leave the public to decide. If it means Moldova come 2nd with a pretty poor number but it's one that people like then so be it. We are talking about Eurovision, not some professional concert.

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Eurovision 2022: Update


Here are the current rankings of entries for Eurovision 2022 from the bookies. Now we know that they never get things absolutely right but it's always an interesting guide as to how things are going for various nations.

The first thing that is so clear this year is the number of nations that have been effectively completely written off so far! There are no less than 15 now at 1000-1 (or more). They might as well not bother turning up. Remarkably this includes Ireland, Croatia and Georgia who I thought had, at least, reasonable entries.

The front runners have not changed since all the tracks were available. Ukraine well out at the front and one does have to wonder whether they will take it just through the sheer sympathy and support they'll get. Their entry isn't too bad either so they'd have always got some votes but I can see people putting them first just to make a point. The jury votes, however, will not be so generous, I suspect, and that may just offer a small opening to someone else to steal it.

The most likely candidates - indeed, the only candidates - appear to be Italy, Sweden, the UK, Spain and Greece. Each stands a good chance in my view and I would rank them pretty evenly with Sweden winning a jury vote but Italy maybe stealing the public vote. Spain is a competent entry but I just see it as a bit dated now and, attractive as the legs may be, it seems to be from another era. The Greek entry is
excellent and may be the one that combines both votes best. The UK really should finish amongst the leaders this year although it doesn't sound like a winner. It will be nice not to be near or at the foot of the table, though!

If voters are in a silly mood then we do need to watch out for Serbia and Norway, each of whom will get significant backing although surely not enough to win as that sort of vote would also enhance Ukraine's chances.

On the more serious side, I am sad to see Armenia and Estonia way down the list, albeit not totally lost causes. Poland have the big ballad top spot it seems, but have not held any decent backing so far, dropping steadily as the weeks pass.

We should be getting some feedback from rehearsals soon as well as the occasional performances live at various parties and they often show just how well someone is going to handle the big occasion. The Semis, of course, are when we really see what people think and I am expecting quite an upheaval in the odds as they progress. There seems little concern about who will make it through this year. It doesn't really matter as there is no likely winner in the danger zone for either of the Semi Finals.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Eurovision 2022: How things look with a month to go.

The bookies have already effectively written off the chances of 12 of the 40 acts with odds of 1000-1 or more being offered. 

Czech Republic
North Macedonia

The two semi-finals this year seem a little better balanced than last year and ought to lead to entries that deserve a chance actually getting through.

Here's how the two groups appear likely to finish as things stand at the moment:

Group 1

Group 2
San Marino

You'll see that San Marino and Malta's dire entries are expected to make it to the Final in Group 2 at the expense of poor Ireland and Georgia. Ireland must be windering what on Earth they need to do in this competition. Having been one of the most successful nations in this competition it has only been ruddy Jedward who have given them any hope since. They've had good entries but no-one seems to  like them. Odd. And we got through automatically every year with stuff that stood no chance.

But getting back to the Groups I do expect Azerbaijan or Georgia or maybe the Czech Republic to get through and ease out one or more of the lower three as we begin to see and hear more the entries and, especially, when rehearsals start. Every year there is a sea change in the middle regions at rehearsal time and even potential winners find themselves descending fast in the tables after a poor live performance.

I believe that Israel are now not taking part but they were not expected to do well so that makes little difference to the predictions.

All can change completely once we hear and see the acts rather than in well-produced or rehearsed videos but this is how things look today:

Winning ballad

Poland / Estonia

Winning gentle number

Netherlands / Croatia / Armenia

Winning pop song

Sweden / Greece / Italy

Winning something typically Eurovision

Ukraine / UK / Norway / Spain / Serbia

Winning Scandinavian entry
Sweden / Estonia / Norway

Winning Western Europe entry
UK / Spain / Netherlands

Winning Balkans / South Europe entry
Croatia / Serbia / Greece / Italy

Winning East European entry
Ukraine / Poland / Armenia

So there are 13. If I had to cut out three for a Top 10 then it would be Armenia, who may have few friends to vote for them on the night, Norway as Serbia and Ukraine may get more of the wacky votes and perhaps Spain may lose out if the voters don't want a dancing girl with long legs coupled with a general lack of love for Spain's entries now over almost as long as for the UK.

So here's a Top 10:


Thursday, March 17, 2022

Eurovision 2022: A quick look at the entries

With most of the countries having now issued their songs I shall make a quick summary of them and their chances in Turin in a couple of months' time.

Albania C

All a bit old-style now with the macho bloke and hard-nosed blonde. Very dramatic and an interesting blend of traditional sounds with attacking rap which will keep Albania in the points but not the top ten.

Montenegro E

Not at all inspiring. A bit of a mess that gets a bit better towards the end but a probable non-qualifier.

Belgium E

A miserable, messy song that I would think will have minimal appeal. Belgium are usually well-supported and tend to sneak in to higher positions on the night but I fear they'll struggle to make it this time. Voters keen to show their diversity credentials may well help this track to qualify but that's about it.

Ireland B

Strong and genuine pop song which will be quite popular. I can see this making Top 10s in the charts but the girl's performance is a bit lazy and could be less effective on the big stage which may reduce her appeal.

Spain B

One of the very few classic Eurovision entries - you know the sort, attractive girl with long legs and wearing little, doing a sexy dance number with a few blokes around. The girl does this well, admittedly, and may get plenty of the heterosexual voters' support and help Spain feel wanted after a few years in the doldrums.

Austria B

An energetic young duo with some good Euro-pop which is bound to get some support and plenty of votes. It's missing something though. It just starts and goes on. No shade anywhere.

Czech Republic B

A good entry this year. The group seem genuine and not just put together for the event. They perform well with a well-written track but it still lacks something to make it memorable and may just be a little boring. It's the sort of thing that can come 11th.

Ukraine A

If I can ignore the pink woollen hat and dreadful clothes generally this is the sort of thing that goes down well with Eurovision fans. Traditional stuff mixed with some mad rap that kinda grabs you. I don't know whether the juries will rank this very highly but I'm pretty sure every country will want to give Ukraine some votes this year in view of the terrible things that are happening there. Quite how things will look in May is anyone's guess but I'm pretty sure there will be a huge amount of sympathy and votes of support for the country if not the song on the night.

Ukraine could win this thing - more as a statement by everyone else than through the talents of the band. My feeling at this time, however, is that the volume of jury votes may pull them back to another 2nd or 3rd place.

Moldova B

You can almost rely on Moldova to have some fun and this year they do so again, albeit without the attractive girls and sexy lyrics. This year we get Hey ho, let's go, Folk lore, Rock 'n Roll . . . Oh dear.

United Kingdom A

Well, that's a surprise - a decent entry from my own country! This is the best entry for some considerable time. Spaceman may not be the sort of track I'll rush out to buy or play very often but the guy can sing and the tune's the sort of thing people will like and actually vote for. It's sufficiently different even to stand a chance of winning but let's say it's got a good chance of a top 10 finish and that's a rare thing to say these days.

The singer I had never heard of but he has a massive following on line and has tremendously good streaming results for the covers and original tracks he's done so there is a lot of genuine love for the guy and he clearly has experience and can handle the notes. Having said that, he's more familiar with his home studio and no-one nearby so the big, live international stage is new to him.

Finland C

They didn't chose the one I liked and have gone for an attempt to follow on Italy's heels. It's a good effort with plenty of appeal for the heavy guys and well put together. These follow-ons, however, never seem to succeed, being a year out of date already. It should qualify and gather a few votes to finish in the middle somewhere and get forgotten quite quickly.

Norway A

You can see the Iceland influence here with an attempt to ride on the back of their success in the year of no Eurovision. As for Finland, these follow-ons seldom work but this one has a lot going for it. It is clever Euro-pop and has to be a favourite with many voters. Visually and musically catchy it will get plenty of viewer's votes. Not sure about the jury, though. Watch how this does with Ukraine.

Netherlands A

A nice, genuine number that could easily grow on us. I can see this building quite a lot of support, especially if well-performed on the night. A likely Top 10 and maybe better than 10.

Serbia A

The second catchiest song in the competition. It's a weird 'be healthy' song with odd lyrics (in English at least). Strange woman doing the singing and washing her hands in a bowl on her lap. I can see people watching this a lot between now and the event but not actually rating it particularly highly. The jury people certainly won't as it's not exactly a challenging song to sing. And yet, it is so catchy . . .

Italy A

They're on for the double and can almost do no wrong, as used to be the case for Sweden, and the UK, for that matter! This track does get on my nerves, though, and I am not too sure people will be giving it as many 12s as they'll need with the irritating brividi still ringing in their ears. The guys sing well, despite the lyrics, and one had a great result on his own only three years back. Lots of support and a stand-out number heading for a Top 5 spot. My view is that they'll be pipped to the post on the night, though.

San Marino E

This is not at all pleasant and even a quite questionable performance. Maybe it'll get cleaned up for the show and anything about a male stripper will get some fans. I doubt San Marino will get through the Semis this year, though.

Slovenia D

All very 1970s. A tight band performance but you do have to wonder why. This is unlikely to get anywhere and is a bit odd in places and just doesn't hit any winning notes other than the band having the best-looking bloke in the competition.

North Macedonia D

This is a depressing entry. Maybe a talented girl and a genuine song rather than Euro-pop or just trash but I don't see it getting the sort of support which depressing songs need to get through to the higher reaches votes-wise.

Switzerland D

God this is slow and another sad song. They did well with a sad song last year but this simply doesn't have anything like the same appeal.

Denmark D

You see someone a bit like Cyndi Lauper on the piano and she gets up and turns a ballad into a frantic romp on stage with a bunch of other girl musicians. You'd think that would be good but it is just all very frantic and the girl drummer seems to be listening to a different track altogether. All good stuff if they were to get it together but still very much OTT and not in a good way.

Germany B

A slightly anthemic number here which we haven't had many of, giving this more of a chance than you might expect. It's rap but fairly good rap with some real passion. They'll get some points this year.

Poland B

One of the big strong ballads from blokes this year. And one of the best. It is a very gloomy song that just pulls you down, though, with little ongoing appeal. It'll get very good jury votes and must be considered a good chance for the Top 10 but I'm not sure the normal voters will give it enough to make the upper reaches.

Lithuania B

Sentimental is clever and probably inspired by the French #2 last year. That may well be its undoing as people will find it just a little uninspiring, having kinda heard it all before. It's sort of pleasant but sleepy and you spend a lot of time trying to figure out how old the singer is. France had a number you were inclined to sing or hum along to. Not this one. It'll be liked but not enough, I fear.

Latvia E

Eat your salad. This is a dreadful number that even dedicated Greens or vegans will not want to spend long listening to. Terrible.

Australia B

Another of the big bloke ballads. Don't really know what to make of this. The guy has some passion, for sure, but maybe too much that almost appears for show. Seems impressive and will certainly have plenty of support but not a winner.

Estonia A

 Hope. A great singer. Slightly old-style and almost Western-style. You could imagine this at the start or end of a 1960s Western TV series. That, of course, is good and bad news for the excellent singer of this third big bloke ballad. I like it a lot and tip it as a potential winner.

Malta D

Not at all good. The girl seems a bit amateur and I can't see her doing well on a big live stage. The song is neither here nor there and even qualification could be in doubt this year.

Georgia A

Finally a great entry from Georgia! They have for many years struggled either to qualify or get many votes with their very ethnic and maybe talented but difficult to love entries. This is modern, fun and really quite good. If it qualifies, as I do hope and think it should, then I can see this growing on people and getting them a good result for the first time. Well done, Georgia, and thanks for the support for Ukraine.

Croatia A

This is a very nice, very gentle track by a sweet girl. These tracks often surprise us by doing remarkably well on the night if well-performed. That's going to be the key to this one. If she does well, expect to see her in the Top 10.

Israel B

An impressive entry by Israel. Very much hitting all the right buttons but somehow I don't quite see it working. The guy sounds like George Michael and the song is impeccably written, with performance tricks copied from The Roop and others. There's a lot going for this but there's that hole I can't quite identify which is going to prevent it doing as well as many will think it should.

Cyprus C

We still get a very pretty girl from Cyprus but this year she stays well-clothed and doesn't do all the dance moves either. This is quite ethnic and not manic pop at all. It's not memorable, though or sufficiently different to get much worthwhile support.

France D

This is a bit of a mess as France go for the ethnic votes too with the emphasis on the Balkans this time. I find it difficult to see how this will go down and can only conclude that it won't be particularly well.

Greece A

This is a stand-out track again from Greece. Nicely sung with a slow build to make a good pop song that is reasonably modern and yet can appeal across the board. Much will depend on this girl's experience and how she comes across on the night. It ought to do well with both the juries and the public and one to watch for the win this year.

Armenia A

This is a really good song, written by Rosa Linn who performs it. Driving beat that builds well and it has an instant sort of appeal that I'm sure will get plenty of votes. Much depends, as always, on the extent to which the girl can cope with the huge live performance and present this professionally.

Sweden A

You can usually rely on Sweden to come up with something pretty good and this is no exception. An intriguing song that seems to have far too many words in each line. It will get many points from juries for its technical challenges and the singer seems very competent and experienced. There's both a gentle touch and a soaring appeal from this girl which the audience will like too. Another Top 10 for Sweden but still not a winner.

Bulgaria C

Straightforward heavy metal from the start to finish. All very old-fashioned and this seems to be riding on the back of the two similar entries that did so well last year. There is a group of voters who will give this support but it's not that great and never really makes you stand up and notice.

Iceland B

Here's a nice tune. Three girls with guitars and a chap drumming and it's the sort of track that just rolls along pleasantly and might even help you doze. It's very sweet and nice and all that but never really goes anywhere. You're almost crying out for some passion or, at least, something to tell you what any of the girls are looking for or what the message might be. It is one of those tracks, though, that will stand out on the night and it will certainly get through the Semis. A possible Top 10 but I have no real idea why.

Portugal C

Five girls with a very understated performance. A nice change to some of the OTT efforts we'll see and, like Iceland, it rolls along pretty pleasantly. There's a bit of clapping to emphasise the beat and you get the impression that these girls take their music seriously. It never really gets anywhere, though, and is a bit forgettable and doesn't seem that challenging either,

Romania B

A catchy number from Romania with something very typically Euro-pop that you'll be bound to hear at a holiday disco if there are such things as holiday discos these days. It could just as easily have been playing at a midnight taverna on a Greek island in 1980 as in the evening in Turin in 2022. People will like this cheerful number with its nod to the gay community whilst still having girls with long legs and black-mesh tights doing their thing on the stage around the bloke singing. He comes across as not the best of singers in the few videos I've seen so that will need to improve. If it does then expect Romania to grab a good few points.

Azerbaijan C

Well, we waited long enough and it hasn't really been worth it. The song is OK and the singer's pretty good but this is not going to make much of an impression. Azerbaijan usually get a good number of votes but nothing extra for this one.

That's 40 entries. I think that's all.

Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Eurovision 2022: Finland could do well if they choose Younghearted.

Nice track which may or may not make it to selection for Finland. It is very early days as many countries are just starting their selection programmes this week. Often super songs are in the lists competing to win selection for their nation and I'll try and unearth a few.

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