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Eurovision – Cheese or Serious Music?

Eurovision_Song_Contest_2014_logo

The Eurovision Song Contest; that annual event that is Marmite to music lovers all over the world. With two semi-finals and a grand final being hosted every May in the country that won the previous competition, it has found it’s popularity in the UK rise and fall over the years since it began in 1956…

HE SAID:
10169179_705962786132773_1048676149_nWhen May comes around each year, I start posting my blogs on the Eurovision Song Contest. I have always liked this competition and I think it is something that a lot more people, particularly in this country should give a lot more support to. It splits opinion every year and every year I try to justify its existence in today’s entertainment industry. Here are my reasons why.

Firstly, I enjoy the voting at the end of the whole process. Some people say that the whole thing is politically motivated and I have to agree that there is still an element of this. Cyrpus and Greece always exchange good points, as do Moldova and Romania. The re-introduction of the jury voting has stemmed the amount of neighbourly voting that went on in order to get a winner, but in the end when it comes down to it, there is no way you will ever stop that from happening.

Secondly, I enjoy writing about the contest. It gives me an opportunity to express my opinion about music that might not otherwise get read or listened to. I have blogged about Eurovision for the last four years on my own blog Smurfin’ the Web and although I do sometimes feel rushed to get my posts done on time due to a busy work and home life, they are there for all to read and its interesting for me to see if anyone has the same opinions as myself. I would like some more comments though 😉

Thirdly and this is probably the nub of the matter – I enjoy the music. Finding some music from other countries is an enjoyable experience for me. There are always about half a dozen songs from the whole contest that I really like and will continue to listen to well after the Euro-fever has abated. Eurovision is simply NOT the “cheesefest” that many people think that it is, but that opinion is mainly saved for the UK public who think that because we haven’t won it for years then we shouldn’t enter it again or even consider backing it financially. That attitude is saved for those people who think that other countries aren’t capable of producing good music and that right is reserved for Great Britain and the USA alone. They could not be farther from the truth. There is PLENTY of great music elsewhere in the world and Eurovision is one way for these artists to gain some publicity for themselves and also their country.

If more people would even just give one listen to all of the songs in the Eurovision Song Contest, I bet that there would be at least two of them that they liked, and that for me, is good enough. Yes, there are still countries that enter the “comedy” act and they have their place, but for the most-part, I think most countries take the contest very seriously and so do the fans that watch it and blog about it like myself. On the subject of my own country, the UK, the reason we haven’t won it for so long is quite simply because we have entered utter garbage into the contest. Scooch, Gemini and Daz Sampson are three very good examples of this and in more recent years we have tried other avenues like the stars of yester-year that are famous, but not current enough to be considered popular enough to win the contest for us. This year, for the first year in a very long time, I have high expectations for our entry “Children of the Universe” by Molly and it marks a step in the right direction for the UK.

SHE SAID:
577722_10152754455665386_1459513467_nAnyone who thinks Eurovision is filled with cheesy pop need only go and listen to the winner of the 2006 contest. That year, Finland romped all the way to the winner’s podium with Lordi performing Hard Rock Hallelujah. That’s right, a hard rock band wearing laytex monster masks won it. You don’t get any further from cheesy pop than that!

OK, so they were a bit of a novelty, but nobody could deny that Finland took the competition seriously and sent their A-game – they were represented by an established and popular group with a totally rockin’ tune and they gave a top-notch performance on the night. Don’t forget, the songs are performed LIVE in front of a huge audience right there in front of them, as well as millions of viewers tuning in worldwide.

That’s right, MILLIONS of viewers. All over the world!

Yes, some of the acts that are entered are cheesy. Yes, some of them are novelty acts. Yes, some of them are utterly crap. Unfortunately, it’s usually the UK entry that embodies those *ahem* qualities.

Still, sometimes we get it right, In 1997, we hooked Katrina and the Waves to perform Love Shine a Light on behalf of the UK and it was fantastic. It was the last time we won, and we’ve been languishing, ever since, near the bottom of the score board, occasionally being awarded the dreaded Nil Points *shudder*. This year, Molly is giving us our best chance since then with Children of the Universe, and it’s been marketed all over Europe, and proven quite popular, so for once, I think we’ll be finishing on the left hand side of the board, and possibly even in the upper half of it!

I love Eurovision. In fact, I’ve not missed a single final since the early 90s, and since the introduction of the semi-finals, I’ve only missed a couple of the precursors, and only in the last couple of years when I was working evenings and could only get one or the other night off as well as the final (which I would never miss if it could be helped!).

In recent years, Eurovision has seriously upped its game and has become a great showcase of European music, and it’s a chance most people in the UK don’t usually get, to sample that music and perhaps find something new that they will enjoy.

When Dale and I had only been together a couple of months, Eurovision was on, and when he said he watched and enjoyed the show as much as I do, it was kind of a deal-maker for me. I was already crazy about him, but we moved in together a few weeks later. I don’t think I could be with someone who didn’t like Eurovision, because to discount Eurovision is to discount the music offered up by the rest of our continent, and that’s a very close-minded view to take.

To anyone who worries that it’s all a bit camp and cheesy, I say, embrace the campness, chow down on the cheese, and look beyond the surface. Give it a try this year and you may find yourself pleasantly surprised!

THE VERDICT: For once, we are in happy accord. We both love Eurovision, both for the camp fun of it AND the serious musical side of things. And I don’t see that changing any time soon. Long live Eurovision! Best of luck to Molly as she represents the UK this year!

So, the Eurovision Song Contest – love it, or loathe it?
We’d love to hear your views, so leave a comment below!

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Glee

gleeThe popular television musical comedy-drama show about a group of ambitious misfits who try to escape the harsh realities of high school by joining a glee club, where they find strength, acceptance and, ultimately, their voice, while working to pursue dreams of their own. Glee has been running on FOX since 2009 and opinions about it seem to be split…

577722_10152754455665386_1459513467_nSHE SAID:
When I first heard the Glee cover of Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey, I cringed. I couldn’t stand what they had done to it, and at that very moment, I vowed I would never, ever, under any circumstances, watch such a travesty of a show that could take a classic rock ballad and sh*t all over it from a great height.

I am seldom so wrong!

In October 2014, I gave birth to our second son, and, as I did with our elder son, I was breastfeeding. This meant that I was up at all hours of the night and needed some entertainment. One night, while feeding our son, Glee came on, and I couldn’t reach the remote control without unsettling him, so I had no choice but to keep watching. I was very pleasantly surprised.

What I found were engaging characters, fun storylines, and some really great cover versions (and some not so great) of popular songs, old and new. I was pretty much blown away by their performances and I began to enjoy the show for the lighthearted piece of frippery it is. Night after night, I found myself tuning in as I fed our son, and inwardly cheering when his waking to feed coincided with an episode starting.

I’ve not seen all the episodes, not by a long shot, and I’ve not seen them all in order, but it doesn’t matter. I have come to love the kids of the Glee club, especially Kurt and Puck, and their trials and tribulations throughout high school. Some important topics have been covered – bullying, being yourself, alcohol abuse, gay and lesbian teenagers struggling with their sexuality, and with the death of one of the stars, Corey Monteith (who played Finn), the dangers of drug abuse and addiction have been highlighted for the young fans of the show. Hopefully his tragic death will make some of them think twice about dabbling.

Glee is one of those shows you can watch now and then without really losing the plot, and you can sing along to your favourite songs, many of which will have surprising new presentations or even be part of highly original mash-ups. The characters are quirky, the plots are fun, and the music is usually really, really good.

I have had to change my mind and decide Glee is a truly magnificent show!

I am proud to be a Gleek!

10169179_705962786132773_1048676149_nHE SAID:
Where do I begin? I HATE Glee. The whole concept of Glee Club in American schools is completely foreign to me. To then make it into a series for television is beyond comprehension! I suppose you could call me the Sue Sylvester of our family with our mutual hatred for Glee Club.

The first thing that turned me against this monstrosity of a TV show was the absolutely awful version of a true classic rock ballad “Don’t Stop Believin’” that almost made me physically sick, in fact I think I did have a little bit of sick in my mouth. Secondly, it’s the utter unrealistic-ness of the storylines. I’m sorry, but the “cool, bad boy” kid of the school does NOT end up going out with the “ugly, fat girl” of the school – it JUST DOESN’T HAPPEN PEOPLE! Then we have just about every minority represented in one TV show, the oriental girl, the lesbian (who happens to be Latina), the gay guy, the fat chick, the Jewish girl, the guy in a wheelchair. It’s just utter tripe.

THEN!, it gets worse…they happen to burst into song any opportunity. More times in a single episode than Jacob Black takes his top off in a Twilight film. (yes I know that’s hard to believe!) And it is always a watered down poppy version of a good song, or a really watery version of a rubbish pop song and of course, all fitting in the “moral of the day”. Watching Glee is like being force-fed Aesop’s Fables one after the other while being waterboarded.

Finally, the thing I hate most about Glee, other than the fact that my wife adores it is Kurt. It’s not the fact that he’s gay, I have no problem with that. It is his whole persona. The campness, the crying at every single damn thing – can’t gay guys be manly? at all? EVER? I sure there are some butch gay guys out there, but they never get a look in on television. Yeah, OK I hear you all screaming, but what about the football player in Glee, Karofsky ? Yes I agree, but not a lot of screen time there now is there? Also, Kurt appears to have no teeth… sinister if you ask me.

Do I like Glee? It would appear not 😉

THE VERDICT: At loggerheads! It’s doubtful we will ever agree on Glee. Although Kell would like it noted that for a person who hates it so much, Dale seems to have a pretty good handle on who all the characters are.