Norway’s Eurovision 2017 Entry

This year’s winner of Norway’s Melodi Grand Prix is JOWST with “Grab the Moment.”

JOWST’s real name is Joakim With Steen. At Melodi Grand Prix 2017, he was the dude with the light-up mask. Up until now, Steen has been a sound engineer and producer. “Grab the Moment” is his first foray into making his own music. For this effort, JOWST teamed up with Aleksander Walmann, who is best known for his runner-up finish in 2012’s The Voice Norge. Walmann is also early in his career, but this is not his first collaboration with a house music DJ. Last year, Walmann was featured on Simon Field and Jamie’s rather fabulous cover of Mr. Mister’s “Broken Wings.”

In the bio on his website, JOWST says he is seeking to mix genres and to make something that sounds new. Well, with “Grab the Moment,” he has created a cool beat, a patter-heavy verse and a harmonic chorus with voice modulation. Walmann is a good singer, and he handles the crowded lyric with ease. The combination is successful, and it is an enjoyable way to pass three minutes.

But, as much as we like “Grab the Moment,” it’s a song that doesn’t necessarily pack a visceral wallop. It’s sort like the movie Dodgeball. Both are well-done and likable. You enjoy them both in the moment, but you don’t remember much about them when they are over. Also, they both feature Alan Tudyk.

Hopefully Aleksander Walmann will voice the chicken in the Norwegian dub of Moana.

Iceland’s Eurovision 2017 Entry

Svala has booked her ticket to Kyiv by winning Söngvakeppnin with “Paper.”

Svala “Kali” Björgvinsdóttir’s music career has spanned more than 20 years, and she has experienced more than her fair share of ups and downs over the course. She had a near brush with big time success in late ’90s/early ’00s. She was living in Los Angeles and had signed a six-album deal with EMI–one of the biggest record deals ever for an Icelandic recording artist. Snoop Dogg was the creative chair of her label, Priority Records. Svala’s first single under the label was “The Real Me,” a Britney-style pop song co-written by Anders Bagge (who, tangentially, later found Eurovision fame with Azerbaijan’s “Drip Drop” and “When the Music Dies”). The single had been on the Billboard pop charts for several weeks by Fall 2001. Then September 11th happened, and her label struggled. Nevertheless by this point, she had gained some fame in Iceland.

A few years later, Svala reinvented herself by teaming up with Einar Egilsson and his brother Edvard to form the ’80s-inspired synth-pop band Steed Lord. Though self-distributed, the band’s songs were licensed by North American TV shows, and they were commissioned by H&M to design a clothing line. Then, in April 2008, the band’s car was hit in a head-on collision. All three band members suffered severe injuries, and Einar required three surgeries to save his life. Despite the near-fatal accident, they once again relocated to Los Angeles and the band continued to tour actively. In 2015, Svala became one of the four judges on Iceland’s version of The Voice.

We tell you all of this because Svala’s story is much more interesting than what you’ll see during her three minutes on stage in Kyiv.

When we review songs for this site, we listen to them over and over again. This can be a pleasure or a pain, and in the case of “Paper” it is turning out to be death by a thousand cuts. We do not find the lyrical metaphor or the musical arrangement at all engaging. We were also confused by her staging at Söngvakeppnin, which seemed muddled and disconnected from the song. Iceland would need to considerably revamp “Paper” if they want any chance at making an impact. They are in a competitive first Semi and they must fight to get their share of oxygen. We feel like their chances are slim.

Rehearsal Roundup and Our Predictions: 2016 Semifinal 1

One of the great joys of Eurovision fandom is the transparency of the fortnight leading up to the Contest. We get sneak peeks into the rehearsals to see the acts coming together. Now, those sneak peeks are limited – 30 second clips from the first rehearsal, 2 minute clips from the second rehearsal, all carefully crafted to shield us from the camerawork. But, we do get a sense of costuming, lighting, choreography, and staging. This, combined with the song order, gives us the next great chance to evaluate the songs’ prospects since they were announced.

Due to time constraints this year we’re also going to use these posts to present our predictions. Earlier than usual, but sometimes life gets in the way.

So let’s catch up, shall we?

Here are our predictions for the first Semifinal:

Jen:

  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Netherlands
  • Armenia
  • Czech Republic
  • Russia
  • Cyprus
  • Austria
  • Iceland
  • Malta
Chris:

  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Netherlands
  • Armenia
  • Russia
  • Cyprus
  • Austria
  • Estonia
  • Iceland
  • Malta

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Eurovision to Be Broadcast In the U.S. for the First Time

SolayohOn Monday, Logo TV announced that it will be broadcasting the Eurovision Song Contest Final live on Saturday, May 14. This will be the first time ever that the contest will be viewed by American television audiences.

In the Lemur household we received this news mostly, but not entirely, positively. We have for years believed that Logo was the most suitable network to give Americans the opportunity to join in the Eurovision fun en masse. In recent years, we have seen an increasing stateside interest in the Song Contest, both in conversation and in traffic to this website, so we felt the time was ripe for the show to come to these shores.

Logo, for those unfamiliar, is a Viacom-owned cable network that targets LGBT audiences. Its biggest cultural contribution to date has been RuPaul’s Drag Race. Logo reaches 52 million households, roughly 45 percent of U.S. households with television. So while this U.S. broadcast represents a big step forward, it is important to note that access is still limited.

The downside of a Logo broadcast is that they negotiated an exclusive deal with the EBU. Access to the Final via Eurovision.tv, from what we understand, will be geoblocked for American audiences. We can only watch the Final on Logo or Logo’s website. So for those of us who have gotten used to watching online, we must now either make sure our cable package carries Logo or use a proxy server to view something that had previously been available to us for free.

We also observed how the news story was framed. Logo’s press release prominently featured Alyona Lanskaya’s “Solayoh” (ahead of Conchita, no less), and characterized Eurovision as “the campiest competition this side of ‘Drag Race.'” No denying Alyona’s camp cred, but it seemed strange placement since most Americans are unfamiliar 1) with the country of Belarus and 2) its rich history of Eurovision camp.

A shadow and a doubt grows in our mind, because Americans tuning in for a 3-hour camp fest may be disappointed. Sure we still get an occasional Cezar, but the Song Contest has come a long way from the camp high water mark of 2009. We may have a few moments (one less, sadly, because of Romania’s expulsion), but the simple fact is that Eurovision is becoming more competent every year. What’s equally important, in our opinion, is how Eurovision has become an increasingly prominent platform for LGBT rights, but that story hasn’t been presented yet over here.

The other thought we’ve had is that this broadcast has the potential to engage an audience unfamiliar with Eurovision performance conventions. Iceland and Russia are using screen projections – but will folks know that it’s simply a ripoff of last year’s winner? How about Conchita’s phoenix wings? Azerbaijan’s fire curtain? Or the sheer Greekness of every Greek song presentation? Will Americans have any clue what to make of a Balkan ballad?

Oh the things you will see…

National Final Season in Review 2016: Our Favorite WTF Moments

Joy of joys, based on what we saw this season, we have hopes for some WTF moments this May in Stockholm. That said, we all know that the real WTF action is in the national selections. Here were some of the standouts this year.

Norway: The Hungry Hearts – “Laika”
A song that captures the legacy of Verka Serduchka but is for the ladies. The Golden Girls joined Devo for a nostalgic look at the Soviet Union’s salad days, when disco music filled the streets and garbage bags were the height of fashion. Blanche gets the solo, naturally.

Belgium: Amaryllis – “Kick the Habit”
When Amaryllis sings of her need to kick the habit, she’s referring to her powers of telekinesis. Amaryllis is like Carrie that way, if Carrie had seen A Christmas Story and The Kiss of the Spider Woman musical, and if she had gone on the Phantom Manor (or, if you’re American, the Haunted Mansion) ride a few 100 times. Here’s a fun game for you to try at home: imagine Elmer Fudd singing along. “I’ve got to kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit.”

Iceland: Sigga Eyrun – “Kreisi”
Let’s just say it wasn’t the most sympathetic portrayal of mental illness we’ve ever seen.

Estonia: Meisterjaan – “Parmupillihullus”
Things could have been so different for Kylo Ren if he had studied the ways of the samurai, learned to play the jew’s harp, and if Joseph Gordon-Levitt had been cast instead of Adam Driver. (We really enjoyed this one, by the way. It works on many levels.)

Germany: Gregorian – “Masters of Chant”
We don’t necessarily have a problem with the idea of Gregorian chant-inspired pop. We probably should, but we don’t. But “Masters of Chant” was so on the nose that the whole package just felt dumb. Gregorian was, of course, dressed in rhinestoned black cloaks, and there was fire. And green lasers. As one does.

Romania.
No, we are not going to discuss Ovidiu Anton in this post. Everyone gets to enjoy his WTF glory in Stockholm! But did you know that winner of Selecția Națională receives the golden idol prop from Raiders of the Lost Ark?

Ovidu's trophy!

Latvia: The Riga Beaver
Lest we forget, the Riga Beaver made a return appearance at Supernova. The self-styled Cultural Symbol of Europe raised his game this year, playing Pictionary, conducting classical music, leading fitness breaks, doing craft projects, and singing “Let It Go” with a 8-year old ballerina. At this point, he has more than earned the right to read out the results of the Latvian vote at Eurovision. Make it happen, Latvia.

National Final Season in Review 2016: Our Favorite Songs

So 2016 is turning out to be a rather interesting year.  A balanced year, it would seem, without a clear front runner.  And looking back at our favorite songs that didn’t make it out of the national finals, rarely can we say we had a big problem with what went through instead. The exceptions are, however, quite glaring (ahem… Iceland, Denmark).  Here’s our curated assortment of the best of the rest.

Estonia: I Wear* Experiment – “Patience”
This post-punk masterpiece builds as successfully as Mission UK’s “Tower of Strength” (quite an accomplishment in only 3 minutes). Lead singer Johanna Eenma’s piercing vocal is also a standout for us. Sadly, it was not a standout for the Estonians. “Patience” finished a mediocre 6th.

Estonia: Mick Pedaja – “Seis”
Mick delivered a haunting, beautiful performance at Eesti Laul this year, enhanced with an artistic visual design. The juries placed him 2nd, but Mick did poorly with Estonian voters and ultimately had to settle for a 4th place finish. “Seis” remains an excellent choice for night owl listening.

Finland: Annica Milán & Kimmo Blom – “Good Enough”
Euro-fans may remember Kimmo Blom from UMK 2015. Last year, under his alter ego Angelo de Nile, Kimmo gave us a WTF moment with “All for Victory,” complete with centurions, fire, and Pontius Pilate costuming. This year we saw a kinder, gentler Kimmo Blom at UMK. He teamed with Voice of Finland alum Annica Milán for a duet guaranteed to raise your self-esteem. “Good Enough” was, in our opinion, way more than. It finished 5th.

Finland: Stella Christine – “Ain’t Got Time for Boys”
Now, this song wasn’t a fit for Eurovision, a fact which everyone in Finland seemed to recognize. Stella Christine finished 8th on the night. That said, she gave us some serious Brand New Heavies vibes, and we rather enjoy the Brand New Heavies. Props, too, for her off-the-hook backing singers.

Hungary: Gergo Oláh – “Gyoz a jó”
A Dal was firing on all cylinders this year. You know it’s a good year in the Hungarian national selection when András Kállay-Saunders is in the final and doesn’t make our cut. “Gyoz a jó” was hip hop with Middle Eastern influence. The live performance had memorable imagery with desert sand dropping from the ceiling. Oláh finished 2nd with the judges.

Hungary: Petruska – “Trouble in My Mind”
Behind Petruska’s lighthearted folk melody were some haunted lyrics. I much prefer to be fed social consciousness with upbeat melodies. “Trouble in My Mind” is reminiscent of the best songs Moldova has sent in the past. Petruska finished 4th with the judges.

Iceland: Elísabet Ormselv – “Á
Greta Salome had two songs in contention in Iceland this year. We’ll be seeing her in Stockholm with “I Hear Them Calling,” but we believe her better work was left in Iceland.  “Á Ný” was a soaring, minor key ballad–red meat for any skilled singer. Elísabet Ormselv and her Adele-inspired vocals sold it like a boss. For reasons beyond our comprehension, “Á Ný” finished last at Songvakeppnin. We are still upset about it.

Spain: Salvador Beltrán – “Días de Alegría”
Salvador’s live vocal at Objetivo Eurovisión started off like Tom Dice on coke, a mellow singer-songwriter joint with a melody that was bouncing off the walls. You needed to stick with it, because “Días de Alegría” finds its groove at the 1:00 mark.  It was chockfull of toe-tapping Latin rhythms and infectious energy, and by the time we got to the trash can drum breakdown and key change, I was grooving right along doing my chest isolations. Salvador’s song won the international jury. Too bad the Spanish voting public and in-studio jury didn’t see what we saw. It finished 3rd overall.

Sweden: Ace Wilder – “Don’t Worry”
Ace attempted to build on her previous runner-up result at Melodifestivalen by partnering with the songwriting team who brought you last year’s Eurovision winner, “Heroes.” “Don’t Worry” is a catchy pop earworm, but it failed to capture the interest of the Swedish public. She finished 3rd overall. We take heart, though. Ace’s song presentation doubles as an audition for when SVT revives Hollywood Squares.

Honorable mentions:

Belarus: Radiovolna – “Radio Wave”
Black Box (“Everybody Everybody”) and Jamiroquai went to a hotel bar and had appletinis together. A good time was had by all.

Denmark: Bracelet – “Breakway”
What is it they say about insanity…that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? For us, that pretty much sums up the Danish Melodi Grand Prix, which in our opinion rarely gets their selection right. With its hat in the ring at DMGP was “Breakaway,” a far superior song than what ultimately got picked. Sure it’s Radio Disney, but at least it’s Radio Disney from this decade. Denmark didn’t release vote tallies, but we do know that Bracelet wasn’t in the top 3. Typical.

LithuaniaIeva Zasimauskaitė – “Life (Not That Beautiful)”
Sometimes it’s not the song that’s the revelation but the artist. Ieva has a lovely, unusual tone and smizes like a champ. Consider her one to watch for in the future.
 

Romania: Vanotek feat. The Code & Georgian – “I’m Coming Home”
I ain’t mad at Vanotek’s Fatboy Slim-inspired electropop.

Ukraine. Brunettes Shoot Blondes – “Every Monday”
Brunettes Shoot Blondes followed their indie pop Youtube hit “Knock Knock” with a try for Eurovision. The song was cute, but frontman Andrew Kovaliov simply wasn’t good enough live.

United Kingdom. Matthew James – “A Better Man”
Matthew James’s late ’80s sophistipop vibe brought back a lot of feels for us.

Ireland’s Eurovision 2016 Entry

Hey kids, the ’90s are back! Here is Nicky Byrne and “Sunlight.”

In selecting Nicky Byrne, Ireland has abandoned its recent tradition of picking its Eurovision entry on The Late Late Show. This probably spares us the sight of Linda Martin punching out Louis Walsh during an argument over whether some treacly ballad is Eurovision-worthy. Unfortunate for us, but probably better for Ireland.

Anyway, you may remember Nicky Byrne from Westlife. (Unless you’re in the United States, in which case you don’t remember Westlife.) He has since made a name for himself not only as a musician, but as a presenter and a host; he has presented Ireland’s Eurovision results for the last three years.

The last time Nicky celebrated Ireland’s glory through song was in 2002, when he performed their World Cup Anthem “Here Come the Good Times.” It featured Dustin the Turkey. It’s worse than it sounds.

But enough biographical information. What do we think of “Sunlight?” Well.

Can we talk about that damn treble rhythm line? The dn dn dn dn that goes the entire goddamn length of the song. What genius came up with that and said, “Ah yes, just the sound I’m looking for! It’s got that modern edge to it that the kids are going to love!” (Answer: Wayne Hector) Where is a Swedish producer when you need one?

The major-chorded tune –dare we say sunny?– is like something from Disney Channel. (Which explains why our 7-year-old loves it and would marry it if he could. Verbatim quote.) It’s catchy and engaging enough for a minute, but doesn’t offer enough variation to make three minutes fly by fast. And it’s way too immature for a guy pushing 40.

And the lyrics. Ugh. Are they a call for mindfulness or carpe diem? Can’t tell, don’t care. Either way I don’t want some aging boy band alumnus selling me self-help cookie cutter wisdom. Where does he get this stuff, off t-shirts? “Everything’s better standing out in the sun.” Honey, not without 30 SPF and a water bottle.

As for Nicky himself, he’s toned, the teeth are whitened, and he’s sporting that week-long stubble that he hears is all the rage these days. He has a flattop haircut that you tend to see on footballers (once a footballer, always a footballer). His brows are manscaped and he probably shaves his chest. His style is a carefully crafted package, and I suppose appeals to those of a certain age and tendency toward conventional attractiveness. Like David Beckham. It’s all so, ugh, obvious. And dull.

The producers of the video are Studz Entertainment. Guys, it’s still cool to substitute a “z” for an “s”!

Those of us who are familiar with such cultural events as Christopher Walken’s Peter Pan Live! and every Oscar telecast ever are well-acquainted with the idea of hate-watching. So, to sum things up, it’s not bad at all.

The Most Important Eurovision Win Of The Past 10 Years

Those of us who have followed the Eurovision Song Contest for many years are tempted to tell the story of how the Song Contest has changed over time as a linear tale. But like any history, Eurovision history is not linear. It is characterized by multiple plot lines that play out simultaneously. These plot lines start, pause, and fade away on different timelines, sometimes in conversation with other plot lines.

As we try to make sense of the Song Contest over the past 10 years, we see a watershed moment where several plot lines converge: Marija Serfovic’s win in 2007.  When it comes to influencing the Eurovision Song Contest we see today, we argue that “Molitva” is the most important winner in the last 10 years.

Molitva

In the mid-2000s, many countries voiced a growing dissatisfaction with Eurovision’s direction. There were many reasons, and we are not going to include them all here. However, we think there were four main concerns. First, the songs entered into Eurovision were divorced from current pop music. Next, there was the growing emphasis on performance and staging over song. There was anxiety that the inclusion of more Eastern European and former Soviet countries in Eurovision could greatly impact the Song Contest, both because of the potential for bloc voting and because of the sheer number of entries to get through. Last, there was concern that performing at Eurovision offered participants little chance of garnering career growth or fame.

The dissatisfaction bled into Eurovision entries in a few ways. One approach was the pandering multicultural entry sung in multiple languages that could be easily understood across Eurovision’s increasingly diverse participant base (e.g., Ich Troje, Todomondo). Another approach was the Eurovision protest entry, a reactionary way to express annoyance or anger at the Song Contest (e.g., LT United, Silvia Knight, Dustin the Turkey).

The protest entry reached its pinnacle in 2006. The aforementioned LT United and Silvia Knight performed similar entries declaring themselves the winners of the Song Contest. If Lithuania’s and Iceland’s entries were directly snarky, Finland’s choice still smacked of the same dissatisfaction with Eurovision demonstrated by several other countries at the time. While Lordi is a seasoned and professional act, their theatrical make-up, presentation and over-the-top pyrotechnics (the first year pyrotechnics allowed in the contest) indirectly commented on Eurovision’s excesses. And yet the song completely entertained us all. It transcended its status as a protest song and it was a runaway winner.

Sociological literature indicates that, when faced with high costs of entry but low outcome uncertainty, organizational actors tend toward certain mitigating strategies. These strategies include mimicry, conservatism of choice, and reliance on previous success. We see these behaviors consistently exhibited in the Song Contest, even today.

Therefore, the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest had to answer a question: Is Lordi now what a Eurovision Song Contest winner looks like? Many other countries attempted a similar theatrical, gimmicky route in Helsinki: Switzerland had “Vampires are Alive,” the United Kingdom had “Flying the Flag (for You),” and of course Ukraine had “Dancing Lasha Tumbai.”

There were a number of old plotlines playing out as well. Romania had opted for a vaguely cynical multicultural entry, Todomondo’s “Liubi, Liubi, I Love You.” Meanwhile, France went the protest song route with Les Fatals Picards’ “L’amour à la française,” which subtly mocked that year’s entries from Belarus and Ukraine.

Eurovision 2007 also included important contributions to another plotline: the emerging LGBT identity of the Song Contest. For example, two countries entered drag acts. While Denmark’s “Drama Queen” did not make it out of the Semifinal, Ukraine’s Verka Serduchka was one of the bookies’ favorites to win it all. (We’ll come back to this later.)

The Eurovision Song Contest would likely have taken a different direction in subsequent years had Verka gotten the win the year after Lordi. Artists would take the “safe” choices of what previously worked, and country selections would to defer to the purported tastes of the European voters.

But it didn’t pan out that way: “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” finished second behind “Molitva.”

The win by “Molitva” felt like a rejection of performance over songwriting and of the cynicism towards the Song Contest that was becoming part of the conventional narrative (one that BBC’s Terry Wogan followed in the United Kingdom during his final years as commentator). It was simply a quality entry, and it won because it was the best song that year.

Make no mistake: it did not harken back to the days when Eurovision was just a Song Contest. Perhaps chalk it up to the fact that this was Serbia’s maiden entry, but Marija and her stage partners didn’t just stand there and sing. “Molitva” was as stylized and choreographed as any other entry that year. But at its core, “Molitva” was an excellent song and it was performed by a powerhouse vocalist.

Marija’s vocal was commanding, grounded, and emotional; you didn’t need to speak Serbian to relate to what she was singing about. Indeed, it is to date the only winning entry performed in a language other than English since the language rules were loosened up in 1999.

Moreover, Marija’s strong artistic identity and interpretation embraced and celebrated LGBT pride. It forwarded that agenda by adopting a sincere approach, rather than a campy one.

Marija’s moment didn’t result in every country immediately redefining their approach to the song contest. In 2008, Dima Bilan–returning after his second place finish behind Lordi–had a solid song, but he performed it with a strong stage gimmick. The following year, Alexander Rybak sailed to a win with a preponderance of stage presence and an only-at-Eurovision song.

But slowly, slowly Eurovision has changed. Fewer joke entries have entered the Song Contest, and those that do often flounder in the Semifinals. More countries have been looking for artists that could manage chart-friendly success. The trend was further facilitated by the introduction of juries; with that second audience in play, countries now had to anticipate not only the tastes of the voting public, but also international groups of music industry professionals. The first artist to truly piece it all together was Loreen in 2012. Not only did she capture the votes, but “Euphoria” went on to be a summer hit throughout Europe. However, it was Marija who established that in this performance era, the whole package matters most.

“Finding Neverland”: 8 Lessons Broadway Can Learn From Eurovision

Before Chris and I fell in love with Eurovision, there was Broadway. As Americans, Eurovision isn’t part of our shared cultural vocabulary, but musical theater is. Well, for some of us, musical theater is. When discussing Eurovision on this blog, we’ve often turned to live theater for a framework to understand artistic choices and common cultural points of reference.

The 69th Tony Awards, which celebrate the best of the Broadway season, aired on Sunday night. Chris and I love the Tony Awards. They expose us to native stars that don’t cross over into other entertainment realms, we see actors known from film and TV take on unexpected roles, and we witness inspiring, creative performances with the original casts. As we don’t live in New York, the Tonys are our one chance each year to see what Broadway has to offer. We never miss it. In fact, we have VHS tapes of old Tony Award broadcasts that date back to the 1980s. Over the years, Broadway has figured out that a memorable Tony performance can give a box office bump to a flagging show, so the awards broadcast has increasingly become a commercial showcase to maximize those chances. This year’s telecast not only included live performances from the Best Musical and Best Musical Revival nominees but also a handful of shows open but not nominated. Get those tickets now, folks.

One of the performances at this year’s Tonys was from “Finding Neverland”. “Finding Neverland,” you may recall, was first a play and then a movie about J.M. Barrie and the inspiration that led to his writing Peter Pan. “Finding Neverland” has since been musicalized and is currently playing on Broadway. It might even stay open for a couple more weeks. Matthew Morrison (Glee) plays J.M. Barrie and Kelsey Grammer (Frasier and Cheers, which naturally they reference in the musical) is Captain Hook. Choreography by Mia Michaels (So You Think You Can Dance).

Turns out, after following Eurovision for so long, we’ve finally come full circle. Eurovision provides a framework for us to understand theater.

The song they performed at the Tonys was “Stronger,” the closing number to the first act. This sucker was more cheesy and more clueless than anything we saw at Eurovision this year. Here’s the full number in all its hamfisted glory. Since Tony clips get taken down way too soon, here is a clip instead:

What’s amazing is how many Eurovision mistakes are rolled up into this mess. Any one of them would probably have been fine. But, no, when something isn’t working, the temptation is to add. “If we just add one more thing, then it’ll all be ok”. It’s the same mistake we see in many of the great Eurovision misfires. Let’s break it down.

Lesson #1: Use thematic content so visual that it stages itself. Because “Pirates of the Sea” (Latvia 2008) qualified, amiright? Also, “Love Me Back” (Turkey 2012), but that was actually good. Still, thanks to Eurovision, we’ve seen these visuals before.

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 10.41.30 PM

Your Jolly Roger Looks Familiar

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 10.34.47 PM

Lesson #2: Use dry ice whenever possible, and as much as possible. Can you see your knees through the smoke? Not enough.

Lesson #3: Use a generic song title. “Stronger” is admittedly tad more original than “Shine”, but it’s not exactly setting new standards for innovation. “Stronger Every Minute” (Cyprus 2004) and “Hold On Be Strong” (Norway 2008) come to mind.

Lesson #4: Ignore fit of song to thematic content. With Loreen (Sweden 2012) and Mäns Zelmerlöw (Sweden 2015) we pointed out how important a fit the song was with the artist. In what world is a bombastic pop song appropriate for an Edwardian biography?

Lesson #5: Have an old guy yell at us for no apparent reason. Kelsey Grammer is giving us gruff Captain Hook, which in principle isn’t a bad thing. But as Matthew Morrison is trying to sing, Kelsey Grammer keeps yelling at him. It’s supposed to be encouraging, but Kelsey Grammer JUST KEEPS YELLING AT HIM. Remember when 75 cents did this (Croatia 2008)? It didn’t work then either.

Lesson #6: Say yes to Crazy Eyes. What better Eurovision trope is there? Alyona Lanskaya, Charlotte Pirelli, Malena Ernman, really so many that have come before.

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 10.53.01 PM

Lesson #7: A chest hair reveal is the best way to bring home the final chorus. If you’re a man and you’re manly, Dima Bilan (Russia 2008)Sakis Rouvas (Greece 2008), and more recently Eduard Romanyuta (Moldova 2015) taught us that you should tear open your shirt at the 2:00 mark.

jmbarrie

Lesson #8: At the climactic moment, hold aloft your magic sword. Oh wait, that’s not Eurovison, that’s He-Man.

lofty sword

he man