June 2nd 2018


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY The Greens: the political equivalent of bilgewater

EDITORIAL Malaysian election sends shockwaves across South-East Asia

GENDER AND SPORT Transgender playing in women's football league gains attention

CANBERRA OBSERVED Beyond tomorrow a bridge too far for politicians to plan

ENERGY Why renewables destabilise the power grid

LAW AND FREEDOM Exemptions: at issue with Dr Zimmermann

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Behind the U.S.-North Korea rapprochement

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Two to tango: Where to now for U.S. and China?

LIFE ISSUES So, is this not pro-life?

POLITICS AND CULTURE The West won the world but may lose its soul

MILITARY BIOGRAPHY Commanders: the men who resolve questions of life and death

HUMOUR

MUSIC Eurovision: Wailing and gnashing of teeth

CINEMA Superhero movies: A Chestertonian consideration

BOOK REVIEW A man for all seasons and hemispheres

BOOK REVIEW Mid-century gem of Catholic fiction

POETRY

LETTERS

ECONOMICS Vatican document nails some of the causes of the GFC

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MUSIC
Eurovision: Wailing and gnashing of teeth


by David James

News Weekly, June 2, 2018

In recent years the Eurovision Song Contest has been a disappointment because the acts have been almost competent. Sometimes they have even seemed to be involved in producing music. This is not as it should be at all.

The whole point of the contest is to produce music so execrable that any faint hopes that European culture is still alive are dashed once and for all. Leaving us to get on with the modern pastime of deriving sadistic pleasure from watching musicians make fools of themselves – such as in programs like The Voice.

Most of the songs in 2018 were based on fake, soaring emotionalism – rather like variations on pop opera (or, in the case of Estonia, real opera). There were attempts at more intimate forms of expression, such as the German singer’s unconvincing broken heartedness. And of course there was the usual diet of primal therapy heavy metal, such as Hungary’s tuneless white noise.

Various scantily clad women cavorted enthusiastically in front of the camera, ranging from the exceptionally beautiful, such as the Cyprus entry, to the faintly revolting, such as the Israeli entry.

Perhaps Israel won because of a sympathy vote; it certainly wasn’t the song. Or perhaps Israel was victorious because even the most geographically challenged knows that the country is not in Europe, so giving them the victory was a way of expressing a certain nihilistic despair.

The Irish, who actually have a history of decent song writing (and have won the contest more than any other nation), contributed something that was actually musical, which should have seen them banned for at least five years. What on earth were they thinking?

The Latvians came up with a nicely crafted song with effective, albeit predictable, harmonies, but, just when all seemed lost, the singer revealed that her pitch was speculative at best and proper order was restored.

The Russian entry was similar. First, there was positioning for the differently abled vote (the performer was in a wheelchair). Then, they produced an all right song. But happily, just when all seemed lost, the performance was betrayed by some less than all right singing, indicating that they did, after all, understand the true meaning of the contest.

The Italians had the right idea. Like the Irish, they have an exceptional history of song writing, but their flat, uninteresting entry – which was something or other about American militarism and the horrors of war – gave no hint of it. In every respect it bombed, which was perhaps the point. Viva Italia.

 

The dancing was as mindlessly energetic as it was pointlessly stupid. Someone should tell the Europeans that they are not of African descent, so they should stop trying to move like Africans. They just don’t have it. It’s a cultural thing. Find something else to do, such as a financial crisis or something.

The synthesiser-driven backing that infected most of the songs did not help the inane dancing. It meant the songs were almost entirely devoid of swing.

The exception was the country-rock offering from the Netherlands singer, who calls himself Waylon after his mentor, Waylon Jennings. Waylon (the Dutch one) seemed to think that Nashville is in Europe, which is no more ridiculous than anything else in the Eurovision Song Contest. His song was almost listenable and he might have a future in America, if he escapes now.

Oh, and our Jessica Mauboy. She can actually sing, so why anybody chose her is beyond me. Fortunately, her dance moves were leaden, the set looked like a dismantled padded cell, and the song lyrics plumbed new shallows of inanity. But 20th? She was awful, people; that has to be worth a higher ranking.

The greatest loss is the wonderful Terry Wogan, whose gorgeous voice-overs used to be the real highlight of the contest. Such as announcing a Scandinavian heavy metal act by saying, we are now going to see what the singer had for lunch. Wogan used to say, he loved the contest and it would go on long after him – just don’t ask him to take it seriously.

It was thus with great bemusement that one noted that some tut-tutting, witless academic from Melbourne University was quoted as saying that, if Wogan didn’t like the contest, “why did he go?” Oh, dear. The dull humourlessness of the politically correct!

Which brings me to the voting. A disgrace. Serbia never votes for Croatia, Russia never votes for Ukraine. France hates everyone. Everybody hates the British. Germany still wants to apologise. Nobody has ever heard of San Marino.

What we need to do is introduce negative voting. I would give minus 4,378,750 to Israel, for instance. And minus 3,667,211 to Albania. I am not saying that the members of the Czech Republic entry should be banned from dancing for life, but I am not saying they shouldn’t, either.

David James is a Melbourne writer and musician.




























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