L’amour doesn’t have to be bleu (OR How Eurovision Can Stop You Having a Blue Monday)

Scientists (yes, scientists) have spent long hours totting up figures on the back of a fag packet to deduce that today – Monday, January 15 – is Blue Monday.

If their sums are right, you woke up today feeling more miserable than the cumulative disappointment measured across all members of Pheno Men when they failed to secure a single point on Saturday’s Destination Eurovision. But surely nobody could be that glum?

Still, it pays to organise a preemptive strike. They can be game-changers.

Just in case Blue Monday has turned your soul a maudlin shade of lapis lazuli, Whoops Dragovic is here to help. They say it takes a village to raise a child, so access to lots of Eurovision pals on your Facebook feed and a wee bit of pre-planning could possibly be enough to raise a grin on this most non-Friday of days.

Basically, Whoops asked a broad church of fans, be they well known bloggers or chums of mine who have been known to whistle a Contesty tune from time to time to tell us the Eurovision song which never fails to lift their spirits. As you’ll expect from such a diverse congregation, the styles and the explanations differ but they all share the same joyful resolution.

Hope they do the job for you too. Start twitching your smirking muscles around… about…

Now.

Dance With Me performed by Zoli Adok
Hungary 2009
Nominated by: Glyn Ellis Hughes

This may not have qualified but it’s a winner in my eyes.

An unapologetic attempt at Disco – rhyming the words floor, Singapore, sore and core without a shred of shame. I defy anyone to get on a treadmill or run round a park listening to this and not start throwing your arms about.

It’s a wonderful song to exercise to. I’ve had plenty of strange looks in hotel gyms to prove it. Don’t care, it’s a pure joy.

Glyn Ellis Hughes is a pint-sized Welsh heartthrob, bon viveur and cat lover. Follow him on Twitter @glynellishughes

Chce Znac Swoj Grzech performed by Kasia Kowalska
Poland 1996

Nominated by: Paul Marks-Jones

Yes I know it doesn’t smack of cheer, but bear with me. Its actually an ideal song for three reasons.

1. It’s in Polish so you can sing along and pretend you know all the words – this makes you feel pleased with yourself.

2. It has lots of waily bits so you can really belt it out with hairbrush in hand and emote infront of the bedroom mirror – surely that makes anyone feel good.

3. When you’ve finished in a heap of dramatic emotion you realise nothing can be as bad as whatever ‘that polish bird’ is going through and so you feel instantly elated.

Paul Marks-Jones is a former president of OGAE UK and remains excellent at organising things.

Meiecundimees Üks Korsakov Läks Eile Lätti performed by Winny Puhh
Estonian national final 2013
Nominated by: Roy Delaney

I fell in love with this sprinty little tune the moment a trusted pal sent me a sound file with a note stating simply: “I think you need to hear this”.

Little did I know the unhinged visual splendour that would develop with each new performance, until our hairy heroes missed out on a place at Eurovision proper by mere fumes at Estonia’s excellent Eesti Laul back in 2013.

From that day on they’ve been my favourite band on the planet, in all their bonkers majesty. This video still remains the absolute peak of all human activity. Be warned, you might cry.

Roy Delaney is saving the universe one Eurovision gem at a time via the site ESC Apocalypse. You can also follow him on @ESCApocalypse

Chanteur de charme performed by Gérard Lenorman
France 1988
Nominated by Martin Faulkner

A guaranteed misery-buster, you say? Perhaps not the most conventional choice, but Gérard Lenorman’s wistful ode to old-school crooners and their soppy but sincere sentiments always hits the spot for me.

The melody swoops and sways, each hopeful leap to the high notes – as strained as Gérard’s delivery may be, especially live, you know he absolutely means it – transporting you to a safe place miles from the slog of the everyday and reminding you that it’s OK to wish away your troubles, to believe in fairytales, to be a romantic old fool, to dream.

Martin writes about the contest at www.escgo.com and can be found on Twitter at @faulknmd

Amazing performed by Tanja
Estonia 2014
Nominated by Philip Hammond

Shortly after my partner died, the lyric “you know there’s nothing I wouldnt do, I’d break the curse of time to be with you”.

Very true – and the idea that I can do that (through the medium of music) makes me smile and deliriously happy.

Philip Hammond is the brains behind Eurovision Is My Boyfriend and there’s a good chance you’ll have spotted one of his t-shirt designs among the crowd at big Contest-related events.

Born in Bielorussia performed by Anastasiya Vinnikova
Early version of Belarus 2011
Nominated by: Ewan Spence

Lots of songs can be fun, but what you need is a song that invades you. What you need is a song that takes control of your limbs and heart, that makes you throw shapes, that makes you sing (badly) along, and is an utter earworm you would never play on Desert Island Discs.

Step forward ‘Born In Bielorussia,” the failed first entry from Anastasiya Vinnikova. Belarus’s Eurovision team never banned it because of the similarities to the seventies, or the pre-deadline performance. No it was banned because the power to infect broke the Geneva Convention.

All together now, “round and round we go…”

Ewan Spence runs ESC Insight, the most analytical of all Eurovision sites which features a regular and popular series of podcasts. You can follow him @ESCinsight

Enséñame a cantar performed by Micky
Spain 1977
Nominated by: Andrew Brook

If you thought that Micky’s performance of Enséñame a cantar at Wembley in 1977 was the campest thing on earth, wait until you see the preview video.

I can’t work out whether this is an intentional send-up or if it is just pure, innocent fun, but it works on both levels. If Franco hadn’t died two years previously, Micky’s performance would surely have finished him off!

You can listen to some of Andrew’s own compositions on his Facebook page

La Det Swinge performed by Bobbysocks
Norway 1985
Nominated by Martin Palmer

“Let the music live, never let the rhythm stop

Can you feel that you’re alive right here and now?

Do you feel how much you want to dance?

Oh… and do you hear your heart beating on and on?

Let it swing, let it rock ‘n’ roll

Let it swing until you lose all control

Oh hi ho…

Let it swing, let it rock ‘n’ roll”

Just the mention of the winning Norwegian title La Det Swinge makes me smile instantly and I rehear the song in my head from initial sax to joyous adulation.

How could anyone not be happy hearing Bobbysocks sing? Punch the air!

Martin Palmer runs the LMBTO Eurovision documenting both his travels and his opinions. You can follow it here.

Conquistador performed by Da Vinci
Portugal 1989
Nominated by: Mark Shone

Not the strongest Eurovision song ever, nor my absolute favourite entry, but my go-to for a vintage song contest uplift.

The surging intro, anthemic chorus, key change and shameless listing of overseas territories in lieu of meaningful lyrics is pure joy. And I love the singer’s big hat and the backing dancers’ innovative routine.

On a personal note, it also reminds me of good times with like-minded chums at fan meet ups.

Mark Shone is a UK-based fan of many years standing. Follow him on Twitter @sparkle150578

Hallelujah performed by Milk & Honey feat. Gali Atari
Israel 1979
Nominated by: Jon Jacob

Israel’s winning song from 1979 is a thigh-slapping hand-clapping crowd-pleaser tugs at the heart strings.

Its simple melody is memorable meaning its an uplifting thing to belt out in amongst a crowd of tired drunk middle-age Eurovision fans. For me, it’s the shameless key changes, the cheeky brass counter-melodies in the third chorus and the joyous descant in the final reprise that bring tears to the eye.

It’s not that Hallelujah makes the world a better place. What the song achieves is to remind us of our own often latent individual ability to make it a better place.

Jon Jacob is @ThoroughlyGood on Twitter. He writes a Thoroughly Good Blog about classical music and, for a few weeks of the year, Eurovision too.

Era Stupendo performed by Paolo Meneguzzi
Switzerland 2008
Nominated by: Andrew Dineley

How does one pick? I looked at which Eurovision song had been played the most in my iTunes library. It turned out to be a song that tragically failed to qualify.

Era Stupendo is one of those songs that would easily pass the casual listener by and this included me on the night.

It was only later that my love for the track grew – in quite a similar way to the song itself. It starts off rather subdued and uneventful and builds to the most beautiful crescendo that never fails to uplift and make me smile.

Andrew Dineley is a graphic designer and long-time contributor to Classic Pop magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @disheedee

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this most cheery of lists (I am aware there are no women on the list – I did approach as many as I could but didn’t get any response) but it doesn’t have to stop here. Please tell us the Eurovision song that never fails to cheer you up in the comments below. We want to have enough ammo to smash Blue Monday out the park and make most of Tuesday rather cheerful too.

 

 

Noée a été volé! Sunday morning with the first French semi of the year

 

I was otherwise engaged on Saturday evening. That meant while thousands of us enjoyed the novelty of a non-UK final being broadcast on PROPER telly (825 on the Virgin box, no less) as a live event, it was a treat simmering on the windowsill of the TiVo box for me to nod my bedhair to first thing on the Sabbath.

After two-and-a-half-hours of Eurovision-suitability-type ruminating, four of the nine songs performed have gone forth to the national final. We’ll get to that lucky quatuor in a mo – but first some observations.

UN: If only we Brits had the same attention span as our French chums

Can you imagine a UK heat getting a 150-minute slot, peak-time Saturday night? Mind you, after sitting through the full show, it was easy to picture the disgruntled tweets if the BBC borrowed this format.

“Why, oh why, oh why MUST we have each singer performing a DIFFERENT song before getting to their actual entry? It just makes this interminable nonsense an even longer endurance.’

And that’s before they start on Brexit.

To be fair, the UK heat will feature six songs with the whole shebang sorted in 90 minutes so there’ll be a spot of padding needed there to surround the 18 minutes’ worth of stuff that’s actually in contention. This French heat may have lasted a lot longer than some Contests proper of the ’70s and ’80s but if you want to experience truly meandering live TV, San Remo is about to pop its head over the horizon. This was positively zippy in comparison.

DEUX: The French are effortlessly stylish

See also: ITALY. Are there any squares in France? As a nation, they are so gorgeous to watch. They could fall out of bed into a bin liner, trip through a hedge on their way out of the house then have their hair pecked by crows but still be the most fabulous person within a 10-mile radius. It’s just not fair.

TROIS: Noée wuz robbed

Style and sartorial flair aside, the songs themselves were a mostly enjoyable bunch. The one which stood out for me, however, was a remarkable bit of quirk-cum-balladry from Noée. Her L’un Pres De L’Autre was the only one of the nine which had me humming after its conclusion. Remember Anna Rossinelli’s In Love For a While, the Swiss entry in 2011? Well, it was that after it had turned up for its first day in art school full of winsome confidence, had its first naive submission given a D+ by its tutor and spent dark weeks and months glowering behind the student union with its equally affronted mates, half a bottle of cheap beer and countless Gitanes. I weep for its non-progress.

Sixth? Out of nine? Jeez Louise.

So, anyway. Who DID get through? After international votes from Italy, Belarus and Sweden (Christer ‘Mr Melodifestivalen’ Bjorkman doing the job for the latter), then the three homegrown experts (TWO of whom failed to give Noée a single point, the nice man in Italy gave her 10). The four songs going through to the final are:

4th: Mamma Mia by Louka (30 points)

Surprising qualifier. This really wasn’t up to much. Great for fans of the word ‘Et’.

3rd: Ciao by Malo (46 points)

Only third here but if it can conquer a few mountains and still get to Lisbon, this could of rather well.

2nd: OK ou KO by Emmy Liyana (50 points)

Stuff that doesn’t sound like your typical Eurovision stuff is doing better and better at the Contest these days. This is that sort of stuff. Emmy looks and sounds fantastic too.

1st: Eva by Lisandro Cuxi (66 points)

The most accessible pop tune of the evening. There were shades of Amir’s J’ai Cherché so it helped that the man himself was one of three judges in the studio. We are in the earliest mists of dawn of national final season so it’s daft to hail anything as a winner yet but all that aside, this lad’s got potential.

But so did Noée. Bah.

I’m Afraid You’ve Killed the Barman (AKA All our Gisteren)

It’s lovely to be back doing Whoops Dragovic, it really is.

I know it’s now a blog and not the website of eight years ago which looked like it was held together with sticking plasters and goodwill – but it’s nice to back all the same.

For today’s post, I wanted to do something that commemorated the old Whoops while leaving it as a whacking big stick in the ground from which all things afterwards will be looking forward to Eurovision 2018 and beyond.

So, for everyone who has mentioned it to me over the years (‘it’ being probably the most popular little bit of Whoops Dragovic 1.0), this is for you.

Thank you for all your kind words in the past 48 hours since Whoops was resurrected. The cloying self-indulgence stops here.

And no, the transliterated lyrics don’t work in the same way when you’re watching Ruth sing them in person, do they?

 

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.