CoffeeCat Reviews: The Eurovision Song Contest 2017

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  Perhaps it is just the after effects of a particularly potent punch, but today I am feeling some serious post-Eurovision blues. My girlfriend and I had spent all day actively avoiding social media and absolutely anything else that might spoil the winner of the contest prematurely – Europeans will never understand the lengths Australian fans have to go to. With our stomachs filled with food and booze and our hearts filled with expectation we finally sat down on Sunday night to watch Europe’s biggest spectacular – and it did not disappoint.

  This year’s contest was in danger of being overshadow by politics. Despite the rules of the competition discouraging political overtures, last year’s wining song was a thinly-veiled criticism of the 2014 annexation of the Crimea and this year Ukrainian authorities decided to ban the Russian performer from entering the country altogether. There were also fears of a Brexit backlash affecting the United Kingdom’s entry. But just like it does every year, Eurovision continued on oblivious of all its political imbroglios.

  The slogan for the contest was ‘celebrate diversity’, yet Kiev decided to ignore that and use three identical, and completely unqualified, white men as presenters. Their creepy flirtations with any passing female and blunders with English were at odds to an otherwise professional production. Australia’s new commentators, Myf Warhurst and Joel Creasey did well enough, though I can’t help miss the dry sarcasm of Sam Pang and Julia Zemiro’s genuine passion for the contest.

  Twenty six countries competed in the final this year, with the vast array of bizarre and kitsch performances we’ve come to expect from the contest. Sadly, Montenegro’s metre-long braid wielding Slavko Kalezić missed out on his place in the final after failing to qualify from the semi-final.

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  Romania’s entry featured a catchy blend of yodeling and rap that no one has ever asked for, whilst Croatia’s Jacques Houdek performed a duet with himself, dramatically pivoting and switching voices between a tenor and a soprano throughout the song.

  Francesco Gabbani’s song for Italy, which featured a man dancing in a gorilla suit, was the overwhelming favourite coming in to the contest but only managed to finish in sixth place. Meanwhile, Moldova brought back the spirited saxophonist, the Epic Sax Guy, trying to capitalize on their internet fame and surprised everyone by finishing in third place, their best result so far.

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  Even entries as disastrously bad as Azerbaijan were still entertaining. Singer Dihaj stood in front of a blackboard that was graffitied with unrelated words, whilst a man in a horse mask watched on, perhaps trying to find some artistic meaning to it all.

  Belgium’s Blanche looked rather stunned by the whole affair, barely blinking during her performance. Although no one was an unfazed as last year’s winner Jamala, who kept performing whilst a bare-arsed Australian crashed the stage during her interval performance. It was later revealed that the streaker wasn’t actually from Australia but the damage had already been done. Australia received only two points from the popular vote. Dami Im was robbed of victory last year, and now it seems like the European public are disgruntled at Australia’s participation in the competition. Of course, we aren’t the only non-European nation it the contest, with countries such as Israel having competed since the 1970s.

  Last year’s hosts, Sweden, clearly wanted to win again sending another overly manufactured pop song and dance routine. It was entertaining and finished a respectable fifth, but the night was a victory for genuine, raw music. After 48 previous attempts, Portugal finally achieved their first win in the contest with Salvador Sobral’s ‘Amar Pelos Dois’. An old fashioned love song sung by a quirky singer was enough to capture the hearts of both the jury and the public.

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  In his acceptance speech Sobral criticised what he called ‘disposable music’, saying that his win was a ‘victory for real music with feeling’. Whilst I agree with his sentiments, you cannot enter Eurovision, win Eurovision and then go on to criticise the very core of Eurovision. In a competition where all songs must be under three minutes, he has certainly come to the wrong show. This isn’t the first time something out of the ordinary has won the contest. In 2006 Finish band Lordi surprised everyone by winning the contest with a hard rock song. However, it didn’t leave an impact on the contest, and the following years reverted to pop songs winning the contest. Whilst Salvador’s song was by far the best of the night I can’t see Eurovision adapting any time soon.

  Nobody really quite understands the Eurovision Song Contest but there can be no doubt that it is thoroughly entertaining. This year the atmosphere was infectiously optimistic, the standard of songs surprisingly high, and the winning song especially heart-warming.

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The 10 Most Embarrassing Eurovision Performances Ever

Last week we looked at some of the better songs to have come out of the Eurovision Song Contest. These songs, however, are few and far between, and for every gem there is a vast pile of mediocrity that is better left forgotten. In its 60 year history, there have been some excruciatingly embarrassing entries – even for Eurovision’s already very low standards.

In the cesspit of shitty Eurovision songs, here are 10 that truly scrape the bottom of the barrel.

10. Silvia Night – ‘Congratulations’  (Iceland, 2006)

Sending comedy character Silvia Night to Eurovision probably wasn’t Iceland’s smartest idea. Having already caused controversy in host city Athens by pretending to act like a diva, her performance opened to booing from the audience, as she strutted around stage, singing that she would win because she was better than everybody else. Back home in Reykjavik everyone was probably laughing hysterically, but the rest of the viewing population was left stunned. Unsurprisingly, Silvia didn’t qualify for the final.

9. Gipsy.cz – ‘Aven Romale’  (Czech Republic, 2009)

For their third every entry into Eurovision, the Czech Republic sent a man dressed in a red superhero suit with a cape. Seriously. He ran around the stage like an eccentric, ‘singing’ some kind of gypsy-hip-hop mashup, and at one stage nearly got his eye poked by a violin bow. He scored zero points in the semi-final and was the last entry the Czech Republic would send for another six years.

8. Josh Dubovie – ‘That Sounds Good To Me’  (United Kingdom, 2010)

In 2009 the United Kingdom, tired of its string of last places finishes in the 21st century, went all out, sending a ballad composed by Andrew Llyod Webber. It was well-received and finished a respectable 5th place. For some reason, however, the following year the UK decided to revert to their tried and tested losing style sending a daggy song that sounded like it was written in the 1980s. Josh Dubovie was not a strong enough singer to make the audience forget how bad the song was. The result: Another last place finish for the UK.

7. No Angels – ‘Disappear’ – (Germany, 2008)

At one time, No Angels were Germany’s most successful girl band. They won the German version of Popstars and had a string of hit singles in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. Purported as a ‘comeback’, their re-union Eurovision performance was bland and full of missed notes. It finished equal last and the band was never heard of again.

6. Dustin the Turkey – ‘Irelande Douze Pointe’  (Ireland, 2008)

The 2008 contest was notable for having several novelty acts – but all of those pale in comparison to Ireland, who decided to send a puppet to the contest. Dustin the Turkey was wheeled onto the stage in a trolley and sung a song mocking the Eurovision Song Contest. But the lyrics weren’t funny, and instead came across as a nation bitter over their recent poor results in the contest. Dustin failed to qualify for the final, marking the low point of the once great Eurovision nation.

5. The Shin and Mariki – ‘Three Minutes to Earth’  (Georgia, 2014)

This is what Eurovision is all about: Completely different cultures crashing together into a musical collision in the name of peace and love.

But seriously, what the hell is this? This ‘avant-garde’ Georgian entrant finished dead last in the semi-final of 2014.

4. Scooch – ‘Flying the Flag (For You)’  (United Kingdom, 2007)

‘Flying the Flag’ is perhaps the most cringe-worthy performance to have ever competed at Eurovision, featuring sexy airplane stewardesses and sexual innuendos. At the end of the evening, Scooch finished 23rd out of 24, having received 7 points from neighbours Ireland and 12 points from Malta. Malta later admitted, though, that it only gave the UK 12 points as a protest for the political voting of the contest. Even though the song is terrible, at least Scooch kind of know it… which is more than can be said for these next, self-unaware performers.

3. Jemini – ‘Cry Baby’  (United Kingdom, 2003)

This list could easily be made up of only UK entries, such is the level of utter trite they send to the contest each year. But of all their terrible entries, 2003’s pop duo Jemini are the most infamous. Their performance was off-key, and they later claimed they couldn’t hear the backing track properly due a technical fault. It’s possible that the UK’s involvement in the Iraq War that year lessened their chances with the European public. But, protest or not, the duo scored nil points. This monumental failure prompted a great deal of backlash in the British media and they were immediately dropped by their record label, never releasing their debut album.

2. PingPong – ‘Sameach’ – (Israel, 2000)

This abysmal number from 2000 sees Euro-pop quartet ‘PingPong’ bounce around the stage urging everyone to ‘be happy’. Despite being against the rules of the contest, they waved Israeli and Syrian flags at the end of their performance. It was supposedly a gesture of peace but was not well received by the press. At the close of voting, the song had received just 7 points, finishing 22nd out of 24 (apparently there were two even worse songs that year?).

1. Piero Esteriore & The MusicStars – ‘Celebrate’ – (Switzerland, 2004)

Switzerland holds the illustrious record of being the first country to score zero points in a semi final. 32 countries voted in that semi-final and not one thought this song was worthy of a single point. This soul-destroyingly bad song sounds like it was written by a children’s band, featuring such idiotic lyrics as ‘clap your hands, celebrate, have a wonderful time’. Performer Piero was so out of breath by the end of his performance that the last part of the song was just panting and wheezing. It has to be seen to be believed. Oh, and be on the look out for Piero hitting himself in the face with his microphone…

Dr. Strange Part 2 or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Eat My Words

So I saw Doctor Strange at the cinema today. The visual effects were stunning but their biggest achievement were in reminding me just how great of a film Inception was. Plot wise Doctor Strange was as formulaic and by-the-numbers origin story as the MCU has ever made. Benedict Cumberbatch was great, although his witty charisma was lost under his fake American accent – why not just cast an American actor instead?

Nonetheless, as far as big budget blockbusters go, few have been as entertaining as Doctor Strange this year. And I have to admit I am a little excited to see how Marvel will put all these stakes together in forthcoming projects given the implications in this film.

7/10