Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Wooden Finger Five - May 2014

This year’s Eurovision Song Contest final was the best final in … well, possibly its entire history. There were nine or ten that were actually half-decent. And here were five of the best:

Blonde-haired Sanna Nielsen certainly got the male hearts a-beating, and charmed the female hearts with her ballad that fell on just the right side of Celine Dion. Some debate ensued about whether she was singing ‘undo my sad’ or ‘undo myself’ in the chorus (it is the former). Throw in a post-second verse key change, and you have another Swedish/Scandinavian Eurovision classic.

In my view, this was the best Eurovision track since perhaps the Norwegian violin song with twenty words, or at least since Lena’s ‘Satellite’. The two singers stood on the stage facing each other rather than the audience, and gave a beautiful account of what it felt like to be in the stages a few months after a tumultuous break-up; a subject that is relatively foreign to a contest that has essentially become ‘Let’s Get Loud’ in Slavic accents. They surely would have won if the Austrian singer had not kept her beard (see below), in any case I think this will be the most enduring song from this year’s contest. Their image was taken from Jack White and Reese Witherspoon playing June Carter, but the Common Linnets and the Dutch should be very proud of this track.
3.       Round And Round – Tinkara Kovac (Slovenia)
A friend of mine claimed ‘Slovenia was robbed’, and having listened to this track a few more times after the competition finished, I can see where he is coming from, though I still think the Netherlands and Sweden were better. The Jethro Tull flute at the beginning was somewhat superfluous, and meant that Tinkara Kovac had an annoying prop to hold for the remainder of the track. What made this track on the night was her throwing her head back as she belted out the words ‘what are we CHANG-ING?!’. Alas, those ever-ridiculous voters did not agree, and they voted her second-last (a fact I did not remember until I looked it up just then).
As indie as they come. If by indie you mean the piano of Keane, the ‘whoah-ohs’ out of Coldplay, and the suits out of Maximo Park. But I am a sucker for most things that sound kind like an anthem, that is by anthem if you mean something that reminds me of Springsteen (or at least the Killers’ imitation of Spingsteen), and not an anthem that reminds me of a clip of Ibiza.

Yes, I do not think it would have won if the Austrian singer had not kept her beard, but hey, it was still probably worthy of a top five or ten finish, and it is far from the worst winner the Eurovision Song Contest has had. The music was a bit James-Bondish (or maybe James Bond recast as a semi-pornographic flick – ‘RISE like a phoenix’), though you could also imagine it as the closing track of a 2010s version of ‘Priscilla Queen Of The Desert’. Actually, it brought to mind for me Antony And The Johnsons’ ‘I Am A Bird’ album, in terms of the image of a bird serving as a metaphor for being ‘re-born’ into another gender.  In any case, my aunt who is from Austrian heritage can barely believe that a bearded lady got them over the line. But from my recollection, Eurovision Song Contest competitors are two from two from trans-sexuals (Dana International winning for Israel). So maybe that is the key to Eurovision success after all.

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