Why Es Devlin would be my dream stage designer to carry the UK through the Eurovision Storm

So it’s SuRie for the UK. With Storm.

It’s almost a week since the bookies were upset in Brighton and blogposts with another characters to populate a dozen Perry & Croft sitcoms have been penned since. So this isn’t a review of the You Decide show (which was thoroughly enjoyable, we sat in the stalls, everyone I was with was *beaming* during SuRie’s initial performance) or a summing up of Britain’s chances in Lisbon (although a beefed up chorus could make this a rather special song for the scoreboard). No. This post is none of those things.

In many ways, it’s a wish.

Last year, Netflix uploaded a documentary series focusing on designers of different disciplines. Called Abstract, it examined the processes that goes into creating trainers, cars, buildings, typefaces, illustrations, buildings, all sorts. Well, not allsorts – unless they’re saving Bertie Bassett for series two.

I gobbled this series up. Design is something I’ve always been passionate about. If you want to keep me amused on a drizzly day, direct me into an empty room with an IKEA catalogue, the Made.com app and some colour charts and I’ll have everything planned out for less than a grand within the hour. Until I change my mind again and decide that one wall should be shocking pink surrounded by muted grey on all sides and perhaps a black ceiling. But I’m drifting. I need a Storm to haul me back in.

One episode in Abstract’s run featured stage design. As with all other instalments, one designer is the focus of the show, their life and work informing the content. The stage designer Abstract homed in on was Es Devlin and ever since I gobbled up every moment of this fascinating programme, I’ve thought one thing. This. Woman. Needs. To. Stage. Our. Eurovision. Entry.

Of course, when you consider Devlin’s CV, you wonder if Eurovision would ever interest her. The closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics (where the spokes of the union flag radiated out from a central dais featuring the capital’s skyline) was one of hers but although it’s her most high profile work it feels the least indicative of her style, almost as if her ideas were diluted by committee (surely not…).

Instead, it’s important to look at the other stuff Es has put before us (as long as you had the tickets in your mitts to see it).

Years before Shady Lady, she was putting individual band members in gauze-covered boxes and projecting images on to them. She mapped out entire buildings with digital projection in the mid ’90s, when nobody else was doing it, making the toughest of plays to stage easier to penetrate for both director and audience.

The pair of giants which made a memorable backdrop to Take That’s tour a few years back? That was Es. Those smokey eyes of Adele that stamped a moment on Adele’s live performances? Another Devlin special. Beyonce projected onto huge revolving slabs of geometry? Yup, that’s our Es again.

I may be over-Es-ing the pudding but this is a woman with a seemingly supernatural sensibility of marrying music, graphics, light, setting, performer and performance into an irresistible dish to be lapped up in once sitting. A marriage that’s meat to a Eurovision entry which needs both juror and casual viewer to sit up, absorb and find that they haven’t noticed the tea dribbling down their jowels three minutes later, it’s all been so wonderful.

Watch this episode on Netflix if you can. It should hopefully make you see why Es could take this year’s entry and turn it into something even more engaging. I doubt there’d be an umbrella in sight. There would be one lyric, one syllable, one musical phrase that lingers with her, inspiring a colour, a shape or theme that eventually emerges into a fully formed staging that would transform Storm into something you absolutely, definitely wouldn’t NOT want to vote for. And I’ve already said it – but have to stress it – I bet there wouldn’t be a cloud or brolly in sight. As well as the kinetic energy and the wow factor, another thing Devlin brings to her work is a helluva lot of humour. Imagine turning Miley Cyrus’ tongue into a shocking pink helter skelter which said Cyrus then slides down to make her entrance. Brilliant stuff.

As wishes go, this couldn’t be more academic. An Instagram post by Black Skull, the creative team behind the UK’s Eurovision staging since 2015, confirmed that they would be on Storm duty in Lisbon (as they were in Brighton). And that’s no bad thing.

With experience comes learning and the stupendous staging of Lucie Jones’ entry last year shows that these lads have been taking notes. They’ll no doubt want to top Kyiv in Lisbon and there’s no reason to think they’re not capable. But if inspiration does take a while to thunder from the heavens, hopefully one of them will have Es on their Rolodex and they can invite her round for tea, custard creams and an ever so helpful brainStorm.

 

 

 

Excited? The UK reveals its 2018 Eurovision hopefuls TOMORROW

They say it’s the waiting that can kill you.
That’s possibly true if you’ve been bitten by a deadly snake in Blackpool, death is certain within 20 minutes and the nearest vial of antidote is in New Zealand.
Otherwise, it’s just anticipation that you’re dealing with and that’s certainly something which has been ramped up around UK Eurovision fans this lunchtime.
Mainly due to this tweet.

What a smashing bolt from the blue.  We will enjoy a two-week window between knowing the songs and voting for our favourite in this year’s UK final. That’s instead of the four-day gap we’ve known in recent years after Ken Bruce introduced them on his Radio 2 show and Mel Giedroyc announced them in a slightly different order on the stage of the final itself.

So now we have to wait. It could be less than 12 hours (a midnight reveal) or a commuter friendly 8am. We havne’t got long to find out.

Until then, we just have Mans’ teasing words to go by.

Flute. We can live with that.

Hooky. That’s the spirit. More please.

Clubby. Hmm, could go either way.

Ed Sheerany. Erm….

Once upon a time, there were four grown women…

One was called Filomena and looked like she was wearing her mum’s underwear to go down the shops in.

One was called Silvia and wasn’t afraid to blend into the background in uninteresting beige.

One was called Daniela and looked like a young Linda Martin while wearing some really baggy keks.

And the other? Well, she was called Catarina and you just knew that whatever gay bar she walked into, she’d own it with a quick snap of the fingers and wouldn’t be paying for a drink all night.

Together, they weren’t Fox Force Five. No, they were Fourtugal. The undeniable force coming to a Eurovision near you in May. And you just know Catarina is the boss. Try telling her you’re too busy rehearsing the links with the international juries to pop down the bakery for her morning custard tarts.

Basically, today’s announcement means that for the first time ever there will be four female presenters at Eurovision, besting the three fellas who did the job in Kyiv last year.

It’s a great message that will have people pasting massive paper crosses on glass ceilings throughout Europe but regardless of gender, it seems unwieldy.

The guess is that two will host the semis and another the final, perhaps with everyone getting a shout by doing a few minutes of green room duty. The sort of banter requiring an air of spontaneity which has become the earmark of recent Contests is tricky enough to share out between two so four is going to be a Gordian knot for the writers.

One thing we can all sleep soundly on, however. Nobody could ever be worse than the tripartite soulless vaccuum which guided us through all the fun in Baku 2012.

Anyway, must dash. Catarina’s caipirinha glass is empty and she’s giving me a glare.

Eurovision 2018: Sorting the UK treats from the chaff

Well, that was a long trip to the shops for some Murray Mints. Eight years after negotiating the aisles of Aldi, Dot is back in business (for the three or four of you that remember her) for Whoops Dragovic in a slightly different form than she was before. Call it a nip and tuck from a non-EBU sanctioned Botox clinic.

Here, you’ll hopefully find some views on what’s afoot in the Eurovision song-picking world and what better place to start than the supposed shortlist of six UK You Decide finalists posted up on the Digital Spy Eurovision forum earlier today.

Dot has put her awkwardly fitting researching pants on (the ones that chafe), in order to keep her alert at all times when rating the likelihood of these acts actually making it to Brighton on February 7 for the all-important anointing as the British representative in Lisbon this May.

But that’s been three pars of prattling now. Dot wants to be chafe-free as quickly as possible so let’s consider the evidence.

  1. Legends performed by Max Murphy

Oh, how the leaker likes to tease. If there’s one song title which has been rumbling around the You Decide jungle since the songwriting camps of summer 2017, it’s this. The chief reason is that there’s a chance, just possibly, this piece of what is struggling to break free of the term ‘tropical pop’ right now could be a potential contender in both Brighton and Lisbon.

Of course, ‘tropical’ as a definition throws up such musical notions as Amazulu’s Too Good To Be Forgotten and Ace Wilder’s Wild Child from last year’s Melodifestivalen, so as a term it’s as helpful as saying you’d like a green jumper for your birthday (what shade? what collar? a thick ‘un? a thin ‘un?).

It is the song title that won’t go away, however. So let’s move on to the singer.

If it’s the Max Murphy that appeared on The Voice in 2014, then his social media action isn’t giving many hints that he’s got something exciting up his rolled-up rockabilly sleeves.

Except…

On December 1, the Glasgow-based indie rocker (so would he feasibly be given some tropical pop to sing?) posted an otherwise innocuous tweet stating: “Good fun last night with my first ever photoshoot!” followed by the potentially teasing hashtag #undescoveredmusic (sic) among the not-so tropical #rhythmandblues

At the end of each hint, we’ll give a feasibility rating, based on any supporting evidence we can summon up (and you will notice, number one on the list is a far longer entry than all the others) . So…

The feasibility of Legends: Song 75%, Singer 20%

2. Home performed by Kelsey-Beth Crossley

We did say the other five would be more scant on detail (because, basically, Legends is the only song title most people have heard about via their various sources).

Kelsey-Beth is an actress with links to both Emmerdale and musical theatre (the header on her Twitter page shows her in a Scooch-style situation with X-Factor finalist Marcus Collins). Since she hasn’t updated her account since a retweet in October, no clues there. There’s no joy on her Instagram account either as it’s been new-snap-free since January 2014.

The feasibility of Home: Song N/A, Singer N/A

3. Rivers performed by Joe Astley

A quick look at this gentleman’s Twitter account shows he’s the lead singer of a band called The Back Pages with an old-school (and I can’t believe this is the second time such a word is being used so soon in the same post) rockabilly/Gene Vincent style which brings to mind that Presley-based *thing* Belgium sent a few years back.

There’s no other hintage of a Brighton/Portuguese variety here, although it seems Joe does play the Liverpool clubs rather often, so even if he is a big fib, I’m now feeling the need to pop along to one of his haunts and see what he’s all about.

(And before anyone asks, any family connection to Rick Astley is unbeknowns to the Never Gonna Give You Up crooner himself, although Joe has reached out to him on social media.

The feasibility of Rivers: Song N/A, Singer N/A

4. Want You Back performed by Judyshouse

To be honest, Justinshouse could be on this supposedly leaked list and we’d be none the wiser.

What’s even mire frustrating is that their Twitter account hasn’t been updated since 2011. The same applies for their Facebook page and considering the band has seven members, somebody would have to sit and wait in the green room for them anyway, so where’s the fun in that? For those who would like to find out more about this Christian ethos jazz group founded by the amazing Laura Mvula, give ’em a Google.

For now, we have no idea what they’re up to on February 7.

The feasibility of Want You Back: Song N/A, Singer N/A

5. Inferno performed by Anna Pancaldi

Finally. A nugget for you. Well, a nugget-ette.

A tweet to Anna from one of her fans enquired about the location of ‘Home’ on her recent output as it didn’t seem to be there. No real drama – except Home is one of the songs suggested to be o the shortlist, albeit performed by someone else.

Not only that, her touring schedule for the week of Eurovision: You Decide has a lovely gap on the 7th – with a London gig the next day.

London. That’s quite close to Brighton, isn’t it?

The feasibility of Inferno: Song N/A, Singer 20%

6. Swimming performed by Lucie Barat

At this juncture, we can only speculate at the watery nature of any song Lucie may or may not be singing. BUT there is this tweet from January 6 which Whoops Drag0vic may or may not have just over-analysed:

“Radio killed the video star… news coming! [imagine a V-for-victory and smily emoji here].

Well, the songs will (presumably) have their preview on Ken Bruce’s radio show as we get closer to the week of Eurovision: You Decide. Is this what Lucie has been hinting at? or has her DAB just fallen on Max Headroom and pulled his plug out? That’s really not for us to say.

The feasibility of Swimming: Song N/A, Singer 20%

So there you have it. A leaked list which we can only speculate about for another month. If you did want me to put my neck on the line so soon after Dot’s resurrection (hope I can still duck down that far), I’d say Legends is more or less nailed on and out of the six acts on the list, I’d be more confident of Lucie and Anna appearing than the others, with perhaps Home cropping up courtesy of a different singer.

Other than that, it’s speculation season! Enjoy it.

And we hope you’re pleased that Whoops Dragovic is back. Do leave us a comment.