The Verkas

In 2020, I developed a new system of awarding points: the Verkas. Maybe I should patent it…

The Verka system goes like this:

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One VERKA means there’s very little that grabs my attention but there’s something. Maybe it’s a terrible song but he’s wearing a nice hat. Or it’s a catchy chorus and that’s it.

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Two VERKAS means that I might listen to it more than once.

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Three VERKAS means a good song. If it’s a power ballad, it’s sincere and the lyrics are not complete rubbish. If it’s pop, it’s tight, original and instantly memorable.

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Four VERKAS? Now we’re talking. This is a quality performance. The singer can sing. The staging is creative. It might even show tell-tale signs of originality.

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Five VERKAS means an excellent performance. The moment it begins I am hooked. It’s something special. It might be mesmerising or dramatic. Or it might be hilarious. It’s an instant gut reaction: I will love this song forever. And five VERKAS means I will share the Youtube link because it deserves to be seen.

A simple system.  But as you know there are some dreadful Eurovision performances out there. Unfortunately on occasion I must award less than a VERKA but I try not to be cruel. There are bad years when I award NO VERKAS to multiple performers…hello, 2019. But then, there are years when there’s an abundance of VERKAS…like the fabulous 2007. Every so often I award a half VERKA:

verkahalf

Sometimes a quarter VERKA:

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I do have an eighth of a VERKA up my sleeve but I’m not sure that I’ve had to use it yet:

verkaeighth

Verka is starting to look like a slice of pizza so I’ll end here.

Opa!

ώπα!

Great Mysteries of Eurovision

GREAT MYSTERIES OF EUROVISION
MOLDOVA 2011Do you know? Were you there? Can you explain? As Moldova sang in 2011: ‘There is a my-ster-y…’. Although they were singing about something else. But this is Eurovision. You can sing about anything. As long as it’s love, not enough love, too much love, world peace or werewolves. Here are some of the great mysteries of Eurovision:

EUROVISION 2019 INTERVAL ACT
Madonna. Enough said.

EUROVISION 2019 
An outrage that Italy didn’t win. Long live Priscilla the Gorilla.

EUROVISION 2015
If we ‘say goodbye to yesterday’ and don’t want tomorrow because ‘tonight’s so good’, what happens to today?

AZERBAIJAN 2011 ELL and NIKKI
‘I’m running upstairs tonight….’
Why exactly?

GERMANY 2012 ROMAN LOB
Speaking of which…try this at home, kids. Sing along with Ell and Nikki: ‘I’m running, I’m scared tonight/I’m running, I’m scared of life/I’m running, I’m scared of breathing…’ Now sing along with Roman: ‘I’m standing still/I’m standing still/as you leave me now…’ Notice anything?

GREECE 2010

8th? 8th? You’ve got to be kidding. Why didn’t they win?

MACEDONIA 2015
Man in trench coat, 3 funky bad dudes and ancient ruins. Throw in some autumn leaves and you have – ?

moldova 2014MOLDOVA
How can they be so consistently fabulous and creative? Of course being fabulous and creative (and occasionally wacky) doesn’t guarantee a thing.

switzerland 2014bSEBALTER SWITZERLAND 2014
All about whistling. How does one whistle with confidence in front of 200 million people?

 

 

FREDDIE HUNGARY 2017

Same question. How do 3 back up singers whistle  with confidence in front of 200 million people? AND they stamped their feet. Genius co-ordination.

THE OLSEN BROTHERS 2000
Anyone?

belarus 2009BELARUS 2009 PETR ELFIMOV
How could this demi-god not make it through to the final? Europe, what is wrong with you? What was wrong with you?  Think back to Moscow, 12 May 2009…what happened that night??

norway 2001

NORWAY 2002 HALDOR LÆGREID
A power ballad and what a voice. That high note. The length. The vocal control. Why did he score so unimpressively? Guess it’s not cheery enough. Let them laugh, Haldor. You were outstanding.

andorra 2007bANDORRA ANYTIME
Where did you go? I want you back. You absolutely nail classic pop.

ICELAND 2013
Who creates the backdrops for Iceland? From Yohanna through to Pollapönk? Eyþór Ingi’s Ég á líf was heartwrenchingly beautiful. Creative genius. Works of art. Thank you. Takk.

iceland backdrop 2013

Guess who?

Last year I went to Australia Decides on the Gold Coast.

This was a new event for Australia: it simply followed the European model where various acts perform and one is chosen to represent Australia at Eurovision 2019. When I got home I made some ‘art’ – representations of the acts I liked with coloured card but I didn’t do much with them.  This year, with a big gap where Eurovision won’t be happening and lock downs in place,  I’ve taken the opportunity to create more ‘art’. Some evenings I put on a classic Eurovision DVD from a random year and make little paper works of some of the most iconic performances. You don’t need to be a Eurovision tragic to pick many of these but it helps to know a little bit about Eurovision.

So who are these acts? Do you know? Do you like them?

NUMBER 1: Recognise her? One of my all time favs. Well deserved second place.

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NUMBER 2: Originality, moody, quality vocals: you often don’t get all three in Eurovision.

loreen

NUMBER 3: You’ll have to think back for this one, but totally iconic, don’t you think?

dana international

NUMBER 4: Here’s a challenge. Might need a clue or two for this one.

sarkis

Hope you enjoy them! More to come.

All images ©WJL 2020

 

 

Kate Miller-Heidke and THAT DRESS again

Hello Europe!

Or as Erez kept saying: Good night Europe!

So glad to see that the Australian entry finally realised that the big dress has been done to death.

See, kiddies, this is why it’s good to know a bit of history. You can see what’s been done before and if it’s good you can do it too and if it’s not you can do something different.  Hopefully better.

Good to see Kate and friends wafting around on black sticks across the universe instead of being super-glued to a giant termite mound.

A creative song and a creative staging which is more than a lot of ’em this year.

Yikes again.

Kate Miller-Heidke and THAT DRESS

PRINCESS IN CONE + DEMENTOR ON A STICK ≠ GOOD CHOICE for EUROVISION 2019

Oh Australia! Yet again I am ASHAMED to be AUSTRALIAN!

It’s not just Clive Palmer or our treatment of refugees, it’s Australia’s entry for Eurovision 2019…

Yikes. The world is SOOOOOO OVER big dresses.

Starting back with Linda Wagenmakers, Netherlands 2002 – or maybe even earlier –  the idea of a big dress has been DONE TO DEATH.

She went for WIDE:

Image result for linda wagenmakers eurovision

After that it was all out for HEIGHT. And then HEIGHT with special effects…

I suppose many Australians getting into Eurovision for the first time find the idea of a big dress wild and creative and original.

IT’S NOT!

Here’s proof of some excellent pre-2019 big dresses:

2013 was THE YEAR for the BIG dress:            Or the big, er, COAT:

romania 2013
Cezar, Romania 2013. Source: Ragnar Singsaas/Getty Images Europe/cropped
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Aliona Moon, Moldova 2013.

 

In 2018, Estonia gave us the BIG DRESS + projection + opera singer all-in-one:

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Elina Nechayeva, Estonia 2018.

And after all this, what does Australia come up with?

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Kate Miller-Heidke’s dress without Kate Miller-Heidke, Eurovision Australia Decides, Gold Coast 2019

Yikes!

 

THE END

Eurovision Quiz Time

Let’s have some fun!

Warning: This is a silly quiz. A funny quiz. A tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek kind of quiz. You will NOT be asked whether Czech Republic appeared in Semi-Final 2 in 2011. Or who came fourth in 1963. You will be asked much more fun questions like:quiz-sample-question.pngPeoples, this is hi-tech Euro-quizzing. There are 20 questions…in a WORD document…some with illustrations in full colour!

So go ahead! Get in the spirit of the ESC!

For Eurovision silly quiz click on Petr belarus 2009

Well meaning advice: Print it out and blu tack it to the walls at your next Eurovision party. Get your friends to do their best. I recommend handing out prizes.  IKEA is good. I have absolutely no affiliation with them but, well, they’re Swedish. And cost-effective. And you can get candles and cushions and boxes and mirrors and stuff that everyone can use. Well, except at one of our parties a few years ago when a quiz winner I shall call ‘Kevin’ won an IKEA watering can I shall call ‘Blumt’ but lived in an apartment I shall call ‘plant free’. Oh well.

verkaOh, for answers click on Verka (or ‘Verk’ as I call her…actually I just made that up)

Good luck!

 

Lyrical Lyrics

Here begins a list of Eurovision songs that are outstanding in their songwriting. Well, in my opinion. I’m just listening to Eurovision 2005 right now so 2005 it is…

THE WAR IS NOT OVER. LATVIA 2005.

I love this song. It was written by Mārtiņš Freimanis who features in F.L.Y. with the wacky Hello from Mars, Latvia’s fourth appearance in Eurovision. Hello from Mars is also a wonderful song but for very different reasons.

latvia 2003b
Freimanis on left,  Lauris Reiniks on right having a great time at Eurovision 2003

Sadly, Freimanis died in 2011 in his early 30’s.

THE WAR IS NOT OVER is a stunning piece of songwriting. As well as the the beautiful harmonies, the first verse is a masterpiece. Just read the words and be devastated at how it captures the human condition. Wow:

I slowly walk into the night around
To see how dreams of people die
They gently fall from windows all around
And crash against the ground like glass…

I am SO glad that apparently the chorus was tweaked slightly from:

‘That someone is loser, that someone is winner’
to
‘That someone’s the loser, someone’s the winner’

Is this true, Mr Wikipedia? I really appreciate that shift. Being a native English speaker, that correct grammar makes SUCH a difference. (I will return to this concept of good grammar with poor old Sanna Nielsen whose dazzling performance was in contrast to the, er, lyrics she had to sing. Ho hum.)

But back to Latvia. Having absolutely no Latvian background, I did a bit of research on dear old songwriter Mārtiņš. I found a live version of him singing: Pie Dieviņa gari galdi which was pretty damn tuneful.

But please, can someone – anyone – out there tell me what this song is about???

Google translate suggests the title is: To adore long tables.

Possibly not.

Coming Up Next…

Aisha. Latvia. 2010.

And no, this is not supposed to be Latvia only, it’s just happened that way.

Travesty!

Can’t believe the results.

Can’t believe the Australian jury gave 12 points to the UK. Who are you people??!! I have never felt more ashamed in my life. Never, ever, ever, no exaggeration.

Can’t believe Belarus didn’t do better.

Can believe Cyprus voted for Greece.

 

Why? Why?

SEMI-FINAL 1 2017

THE YEAR OF THE (MOSTLY) MODEST LONG DRESSES
or
THE YEAR OF THE POINTY SHOES
or
THE YEAR OF PLAITS

But mainly the year of: Why? Why? Why the bright blue skirt? Why the horse’s head? Why the wedding dresses? Why is Eurovision eating itself?

My vote:

  1. BELGIUM. BLANCHE. CITY LIGHTS.
    All alone in the danger zone. Compelling.
    belgium 2017
  2. GEORGIA. TAMARA GACHECHILADZE. KEEP THE FAITH. Catchy.
    georgia 2017ENCOURAGEMENT AWARD
    A big hello to all the lyricists out there in Eurovision Land who excelled themselves in this semi: ‘so freaking beautiful’, ‘give me your body, let’s write a story’, and my personal favourite: ‘You make me feel like paper’.