Friday, 18 April 2014

Don't cry little bird

Armenia
Aram MP3
Not Alone

No Andorra this year (they're probably off playing with guns- actually literally- the male head of each family in Andorra is required to own a gun, fact fans) so here we are in Armenia. In theory I love Armenia. A few years back they were responsible for sending a woman called "Sirushu" to Europe- a top pop star singing the brilliant "Qele Qele" (let's go! let's go!) which has ended up one of my all time favourite entries (and provided the name of this blog), and get this, they LOVE apricots. DON'T WE ALL.

They've been on and off ever since given the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict (astonishingly in 2010 a whole bunch of Azerbi Eurovision fans were summoned to their National Security Ministry to explain why they had voted for Armenia. Christ. I mean we've all wanted to waterboard a Christopher Maloney fan, but that was about the music, man) but this year have somehow ended up as the favourites with "You're not alone". I say somehow partly because of the song, but mainly because of the artist, who by all accounts is a tiresome, hateable, self obsessed homophobe.

Look at the press release for a start. "At school age he had breathing difficulties and was coughing a lot- then following doctors’ advice to try singing, it worked and music healed him". Eh? What kind of doctor WAS this? Oh. That kind of doctor. Dr BULLSHIT. "Though always dreaming about big stage, Aram chose a profession of pharmacist". In other words, don't get the flu in Yerevan, lest a homophobic self obsessive behind the counter in Boots starts suggesting you sing "Never Gonna Give You Up" to clear your sinuses.

Then the defences-too-early kick in. "He considers himself a family man" (ie he's a serial adulterer) "feeling very much attached to his charming wife Anna" (see 'Debbie McGee') "and loves his charismatic son Arno" (who presumably, unlike Dad, is still moping around the back of the class with a Ventolin and a bottle of ear medicine). "After University he was invited to take part in '32 teeth' TV Show" (32 teeth? Is this an achievement in Yerevan?), "where he did musical stand ups and parodies of famous singers- during one of the shows the anchor introduced him as Aram Mp3 to emphasise his role which is how he got his stage nickname".

Which is fine, (although I still think Aram Flac would have sounded better), but he's a MASSIVE HOMOPHOBE. When asked about Austrian trans competitor Conchita Wurst, he is quoted as having said “hopefully, we will help her to eventually decide whether she is a woman or man”. In the same interview he goes on to say “I do not live such life, and regardless how the world progressed or regressed, this is an unacceptable subject matter for me”. His record company have since insisted he reel back, claiming that some of his best friends are Austrian drag acts with beards (that old chestnut), but given he also said that he "speeds up his car when passing through Yerevan’s gay district" you start to think that he might just have entered the wrong contest.

The song? Oh yes, the song. Perhaps it's just me, but to these ears the song itself is monumentally dull. Basically it's the musical equivalent of those men that hand out stress questioinnaires on Tottenham Court Road- a man repeating "you're not alone" over and over again on the top of some film trailer music with some "only teardrops" snare drums for build, and a dubstep climax chucked in to cheer it up in the final minute. I would (and indeed fully intend to) bet that it will end up doing spectacularly badly in the final, and so my top betting tip this year is that you do too.

6/4

Free your mind from the doubts that are tickling

Albania
Hersi Matmuja
One Night's Anger

It doesn't seem like a year since Malmo, does it? That may well be because it hasn't been (the contest is early this year), but either way- stow your hand luggage, fasten your seatbelts and hide your switched on phone from the air hostess, 'cus it's time begin this year's unremittingly miserable Wizz Air flight across the barren wasteland of European pop that is all 37 songs in the 59th Annual Eurovision Song Contest.

Twice a day, I'll be posting reviews of this year's songs that at least attempt to better the quality of contribution you get in the comments section of the youtube promo videos. Take this startling observation from commenter "K" on our first-in-the-alphabet-song Albania, for example: "Without understanding what she’s singing, the faces she makes are how I imagine my different faces are while on the toilet. I hope I’m not the only one thinking this. It’s the only thing I think about while watching the vid". Shit room indeed.

The first thing to say is something I say every year- the thing about Albania is that I love their flag. Just imagine living in a country with that! What a brilliant thing that must be! A big red flag with a dirty great big beetle on it! Oh. Apparently it’s an eagle.

Doubtless for you Eurovision starts with an "ironic" and vaguely xenophobic feature in Saturday's papers on the day of the final in May. Not so in Watford. For us (well, me), the "irony" and vague xenophobia starts with National Final watching in November and December, and whilst you may be watching Only Fools and Horses on Christmas Day, I am usually watching the grand final of "Festivali i Këngës", Albania's very own "Song for Europe"- which instead consists of Albanian fools (and sometimes Albanian horses) battling it out to spoil an entire people's holiday season.

The show is quite an ordeal, to be honest- and this year's three day, fifteen hour festival of doom was no exception. My "favourite" was this atrocity from FiK veteran Xhejsi Jorgaqi, notable for its awkward, side-of-the-school-disco choreography, ming the merciless eyebrow styling, and its almost complete disconnection between the vocal melody and the backing; but mainly I love it for carrying on the fine Albanian tradition of singing in front of windows media player visualisations circa 1995. Even in Albania, this got nul points.

The promo video for eventual winner "One Night's Anger" is quite the thing- a weird mix of a CNN tourism video (sweeping hills, freezing beaches, white horses, drug deals in car parks) and a low budget, GCSE horror movie. Best of all? It's a Waltz. A bloody Waltz. A Waltz, sung by someone that sounds like Shakira. An ear bleedingly bad, chopped-to-pieces-since-the-national-final rock dirge Shakira Waltz. "Keep calm and think twice", warbles Hersi, like a damp, badly translated tea towel in bovverboots.

Bay-beh, I compare you to "a kiss from a rose" off of Seal. Ooh, the more I get of you, the worser it feels, yeah. Now that your song's been remixed. I'm telling you that it still sounds shit.

Dum de dum de dum dum dum dum dum dum dum de dum.

90/1