Archive for category Commentary

Eurovision [participants who happened to hail from North] America: 2000-2010

The following North Americans have participated in Eurovision since the year 2000.  Since that’s a relatively recent period, I think I’ll just organize the acts by year:

2001

2001 saw Natasha St-Pier representing France, the country’s first (and, thus far, only) North American act.  A prolific recording artist, she recently released a greatest hits album and is currently on tour in her native Canada.  Interestingly, she’s done the best for France so far this past decade – perhaps an affirmation of her views concerning French ESC participants, or perhaps because her 4th place song “Je N’ai Que Mon Âme” (“I Only Have My Soul”) was in fact the first French attempt to–mon Dieu!–incorporate English lyrics on stage?  Who knows.  Only time will tell if France will ever pick a US contestant to represent them (though that entry, as we’ve seen from recent controversy over language policy and test scores, would have to been sung at least partially in French).  Even so, I’d seriously doubt it.

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Eurovision [participants who happened to hail from North] America: 1956-1999

Firstly, my congratulations to Lena Meyer-Landrut of Germany, winner of Eurovision 2010! (better late than never, right?)  Guess we’ll be seeing her again next year….though there’s another talented act we probably won’t be seeing.

Allow me to begin by saying that although many Americans may not have heard of the Eurovision Song Contest (at least, as compared to the Australian and South African fans, from what I’ve seen), the few, the proud does in fact extend beyond myself and my co-author (and, of course, you, our lovely reader).  While respected local and national US news (ie Washington Post and New York Times ), media commentary, and entertainment industry sources alike commit the egregious error of framing the contest as a “European” version of American Idol to their readership, we the enlightened ones, however, know that to be utterly preposterous!  It’s actually a Europeanized version of Italian Idol.

Same stylist, different contest. (Sources: Wikimedia Commons and http://www.flickr.com/photos/rayzphotoz/2520021340/)

This may come as a surprise, but several members of our select circle have taken it upon themselves to venture into uncharted pseudo-celebrity waters as North American performers in the ESC.  Yes, you’ve heard me right – people originating from our dear continent have actually traversed a fairly large ocean to represent countries competing in a European song contest!

Now, you may be asking: who are the honorable members of this exclusive club, and what the heck were they doing at Eurovision?   Tricky questions, indeed, but nothing we here at Eurovision America can’t answer.  Let us proceed in a chronological order, from the start of the contest to the start of the current century.

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A Eurovision Drinking Game?

I’ve been absent because, you know, law school is trying to kill me.

Not entirely on topic, nor is it off topic. However, I was discussing Eurovision with someone this evening (it’s a common occurrence if you’re me), and she told me of a drinking game she had played watching the Eurovision Song Contest. I found it interesting at the very least, and it perhaps says something about the triteness of Eurovision lyrics. This game would probably work best if you’re not into Eurovision, because, well, I’ll relay her story.

Round I: The Songs
Before the contest begins, gather everyone who’s going to play and each person picks a unique word that they think will appear in many of the songs. One that’s absurdly common is “love.”  Try also “dance,” “night,” or “heart.” Or if you’re Dustin the Turkey (Ireland 2008), “points.” Write that word on a piece of paper, and put it in a hat, then each person draws from the hat to determine their word. Whenever that word is mentioned — in any language — that person must drink.

If you’re feeling particularly evil, you could always look up the lyrics beforehand. The story that was relayed to me was that someone looked up the lyrics ahead of time and noticed that in one of the songs, “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” by Verka Serduchka (Ukraine 2007, and perhaps one of the most famous or infamous entries of the modern Eurovision era), the word “seven” was said an absurd number of times. Twenty-four, to be exact. (Yes, I counted.) So of course she put “seven” as the word into the hat. That didn’t turn out well.

Round II: The Points
During the intermission, put all the names of all the countries competing in the final into a hat. Each person draws an equal number of countries. When one of your countries is awarded eight points, take a drink. When one of your countries is awarded ten points, take two drinks. And when one of your countries is awarded twelve points, take a shot.

This could be really bad, if, for example, you picked Norway last year. That’d be 16 shots, plus a bunch of other drinks that I don’t feel like counting. At some point, you just have to give up.

So, what do you think? Ideas? Comments? Your own drinking game? Or perhaps this isn’t what you really wanted to see from me.

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My Heart Is Yours: A Special Tribute to Norway, Nilsen, and Nul Points

There was once a time when America was almost involved in a Eurovision-like contest of international melodic proportions.  I say almost, though, because once the US lost it, it somehow never managed to return to television.

The contest, for those of you who remember, was called “World Idol” and featured representatives from 11 countries who had won their own country’s version of “American Idol”, which (in the spirit of full disclosure) officially began in the UKKelly Clarkson represented the US, sang as almost all her contemporaries, of course, in English, and after being accused by the Canadian judge of yelling rather than belting, lost out to “dark horseKurt Nilsen of Norway.  The US got tired of losing to Norway in the international arena, and the World Idol competition was not to be seen nor heard of again.  In fact, depending on the results of 2014’s final medal count, it remains to be seen whether the next Winter Olympics may in fact be our last.  Uff da!

The Dark Horse. (source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/iboy/4406255213/)

But enough about Kurt Nilsen.  What does any of this have to do with Eurovision?  Well, besides the mirrored voting systems, World Idol does help me, as a grudge-holding American, to discuss the particularities of the Norwegian brand of singing-contest success: they are either very good at it or very, very bad.

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…And Its Discontents (cont’d)

What about the inevitable backlash, you say, that comes with all of this?  Surely there must be somebody out there who is against the primacy of English-language songs in Eurovision and secretly hopes for a pre-1999 (or pre-1973, as it were) return to the good-ol’-days.  Or maybe just the days when one could choose their preferred tongue and not have it be politically misconstrued.

O, Julissi! (source: commons.wikipedia.org)

As a matter of fact, such people do exist!  If you’re in the year 2010 and living in Turkey, just head to the local branch of your country’s MHP.  Though I’m sure there are other examples out there, I’d like to focus on two specific ones which caught my attention in recent years:

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Globalization…

Hello all!

Finally, a first post! (better late than never, right?)   Being that this is Eurovision America, with Michael and I both one of the few, the proud American Eurovision fans, I feel that this first post should be devoted to discussing an ESC issue relevant to both sides of the Atlantic.

Now as you all know, a specter is haunting Europe….the specter of English-language songs!   Barring the occasional Latvian singing in Italian, or bizarre exception, most of the winning acts (22 -24, depending on how strict you are with interpretation) have been sung in English.  Naturally, this phenomenon has multiplied ever since the ESC changed the rule permitting countries to sing in whatever language they liked.  Crafting English lyrics has even become an unofficial rule for any lyricist seeking a “successful” Eurovision tune.

The exception. (source: commons.wikipedia.org)

Yet, this all begs the question:  on a continent where the majority of people’s first language isn’t English, must the majority of Eurovision songs be sung (or partially sung) in the native language of those whose countries don’t even reside under the European Broadcasting Union’s domain It should be duly, though ironically, noted that ESC stands for both Eurovision Song Contest and English-speaking countries, amongst other things.

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