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Is she alone – or isn’t she? Macedonia’s 2017 Eurovision Entry.

macedonia

There’s an astonishing sense of disassociation between the song and the promotional video here.  The song itself has a chirpy disco vibe to it, and is sung by Jana Burčeska in a way that reminds me vaguely of The Cardigans, who were likewise chirpy and sinister in a duck/rabbit sort of a way.

I can’t imagine any aspect of this video being replicated in the live performance in Kiev:

An old woman, alone and friendless sits in a drab room.  She puts on a sort of virtual reality head set of a kind not yet available in 2017 and immediately becomes a much younger version of herself – the version of herself who will presumably be performing in Kiev.  This young woman (2017 Jana) sings about dancing alone but is actually dancing with someone else.  We then see the old woman (2057 Jana?) who is actually dancing alone.  So is the message of the song that one day, decades from now, she’ll be friendless and loveless and so have to dance alone?  I don’t think so, because the lyrics of the song suggest an empowering determination to dance alone as a marker of self-sufficient self-jollification rather than a despairing anticipation of misery and bereavement.  2017 Jana seems perfectly happy with solitary cavorting.

Here’s the chorus…

I will dance alone

Wherever I am

The rhythm follows

I will dance alone

I’m lost in the sound

Of no tomorrow I let it go I,

I I let it go wild

I let it go

I, I I let it go wild

 

The only connection with the melancholy of the video is in this final coda:


I be dancin’ on my own

Wishin’ you could hold me close…

 

There’s a further paradox if you compare this video with the video from nearby Montenegro.  Jana, in this video, sings about dancing on her own but is in fact dancing with someone else.  Slavko, in his video, sings about enjoying extreme physical intimacy, but is plainly incapable of dancing anywhere near anybody else.

One thing though, if I’m still around in 2057 and I’m still alive and vertical, I’m definitely getting one of those enhanced virtual reality headsets.  I’ll be young again, back in the 1980s, dancing badly to “Blue Monday” by New Order and embarrassing nearly all of my equally young/old friends who will also be there.  I may never take it off again.

So, you can vote for Jana who is and is not dancing on her own.

Or you can “Climb Every Mountain” with Nathan from Austria:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/he-doesnt-actually-run-all-that-much-austrias-2017-eurovision-entry/

Serbia offers a big ballad about rising and falling and falling and rising:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/17/forget-phil-collins-tijana-bogicevic-is-in-too-deep-serbias-2017-eurovision-entry/

Meanwhile, here is Sweden:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/no-theyre-not-a-boy-band-its-just-robin-swedens-2017-eurovision-entry/

Here, meanwhile, is Omar belting it out for Slovenia:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/omars-on-his-way-with-costume-changes-and-interpretative-dance-slovenias-2017-eurovision-entry/

Portugal offers something just a bit more special:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/marlene-dietrich-is-alive-well-young-bearded-and-living-in-portugal-salvador-sobrals-2017-eurovision-entry/

Anyhow, Portugal’s offering is infinitely more palatable than Poland’s:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/am-i-supposed-to-take-you-seryiously-just-because-youre-naked-pompous-nudity-and-polands-2017-eurovision-video/

A man who needs a deal of personal space is this guy from Montenegro:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/do-not-attempt-to-dance-within-a-five-foot-radius-of-this-man-as-the-knot-at-the-end-of-his-pigtail-will-take-your-eye-out-montenegros-eurovision-entry-2017/

Equally sexualised is the Moldovan entry:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/chisinau-thats-what-i-call-music-moldovas-2017-eurovision-entry/

Latvia offers a more techno-trance version of minimalism:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/09/anyone-else-miss-early-90s-trance-music-meet-latvias-2017-eurovision-entry/

Iceland’s entry isn’t really a Eurovision song either:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/08/bring-your-dottir-to-the-slottir-icelands-2017-eurovision-entry/

Georgia’s offering is undoubtedly a bigger if not bolder initiative:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/07/big-dress-big-voice-big-chance-greeces-2017-eurovision-entry/

Frankly, I prefer Finland:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/06/she-knows-where-the-bodies-are-buried-finlands-2017-eurovision-entry/

I’ll be sorely vexed if Finland doesn’t do better than Cyprus

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/hovig-loves-hovig-and-i-want-to-slap-him-cyprus-2017-eurovision-entry/

Frankly I’d rather the Czech Republic won – though they won’t…

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/04/my-turn-probably-not-czech-republics-2017-eurovision-entry/

Belgium looks like a better bet:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/04/belgiums-2017-eurovision-entry-i-always-get-it-wrong-but-this-could-win-really/

But if it isn’t, maybe it will go to Azerbaijan with this…

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/31/azerbaijans-2017-eurovision-entry-keeping-you-awake-at-night-with-skeletons/

Armenia’s Entry is nowhere near as scary:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/26/she-once-met-whitney-houston-apparently-armenias-2017-eurovision-entry/

In the meantime here are my thoughts on the Australian entry:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/22/oldyoung-isaiah-firebrace-australias-2017-eurovision-entry/

And here’s Albania…

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/albanias-2017-eurovision-entry-the-centerpiece-of-a-dystopian-german-expressionist-musical-called-fritzlanglangland/

Their Purple Moment (1928): Don’t you just love it when Stan and Ollie are all shy and flirty?

stan

Some Laurel and Hardy movies deal with marital exposure/catastrophe and others deal with economic disaster.  Their Purple Moment does both.  Stan and Ollie are both wedded to demanding partners who insist on receiving every cent of the paycheck.  They have each attempted to keep something back to fund the occasional boy’s night out.  Stan seems to have secreted his savings more inventively, in the jacket of what looks like a two-dimensional portrait in the hallway.  However, Stan’s wife has spotted this little hideaway and sneakily manages to replace dollars with low value store coupons.

Stan and Ollie claim to be wandering off to the local bowling alley but instead wind up at a fancy club where they serve enormous steaks and have dancing midgets, lead by Harry Earles, who features prominently in Sailors Beware (1927).

Approaching the club, however, they meet two young women whose dates have run off and left them with a bill they are unable to discharge.  One of them is the very wonderful and beautiful Anita Garvin who appears in so many early Laurel and Hardy films.  There is much fluttering of eyes and fiddling with ties and sheepish grins before Ollie chivalrously insists on not only paying for their existing bill at the club but also to escort them back into the club for the remainder of the evening.  Shy and flirty Stan and Ollie are a joy to behold.  I think I could just watch them like this for twenty minutes.  It is Stanley’s money Ollie is pledging of course, which doesn’t seem to matter.  There is also a taxi driver to be considered who is simply asked to “wait”.  Of course, if they had attempted to pay off the two women immediately, then the lack of funds would have been exposed and we’d have no movie.  What makes this two-reeler so deliciously painful is an ever swelling tab of impossible expenses casually accruing.  Meanwhile, both of their extra-marital dates for the evening talk of the revenge they’d deal out to any other men who tried to sneak out without paying for their pleasures.  The town gossip meanwhile, first cousin to the town gossip from With Love and Hisses (1927), has already informed their wives, who are on their way.  Everything builds towards a multifaceted crescendo of a crisis.

Everyone who loves Laurel and Hardy loves the time and trouble devoted to slow and patient shots of Oliver Hardy’s face as he absorbs the full extent of his pain and suffering.  Their Purple Moment is striking in that Stanley receives the same sort of treatment.  When Stanley realises that his wallet is stuffed with coupons rather than banknotes, we spend a delightfully long and precious amount of time just looking at him as he absorbs the full implications of this situation.

In sort, this is a fine drama of anticipation.  When the wives do arrive, the best that can be contrived to conclude the film is yet another pie fight.  Perhaps so many things are coming to a head that it’s hard to do justice to the sense of impending disaster.

So, the best thing here is Stan’s face, and the sheer slowness of horrible cognition that it exposes.

I’ve a few thoughts on some other early Laurel and Hardy silents:

You’re Darn Tootin’:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/18/the-descent-to-trouser-fighting-youre-darn-tootin-1928/

From Soup to Nuts:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/13/laurel-and-hardy-embarrassing-rich-folk-satisfaction-guaranteed-from-soup-to-nuts-1928/

Leave em Laughing:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/03/leave-em-laughing-1928-gas-attack-in-culver-city/

Battle of the Century:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/27/battle-of-the-century-1927-the-pie-fight-is-sublimely-vindicated/

Putting Pants on Philip:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/25/putting-pants-on-philip-laurel-and-hardy-and-coming-to-america/

Hats Off:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/19/indiana-jones-why-dont-you-try-to-find-hats-off-the-lost-laurel-and-hardy-film/

Call of the Cuckoo:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/16/call-of-the-cuckoo-1927-laurel-and-hardy-are-bit-players-again-and-their-hair-hasnt-grown-back-yet/

The Second Hundred Years:
https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/12/laurel-and-hardy-in-the-second-hundred-years-1927-it-begins/

Flying Elephants:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/flying-elephants-laurel-and-hardy-were-never-faster-or-crazier/

Sugar Daddies:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/05/sugar-daddies-1927-laurel-and-hardy-and-finlayson-go-to-venice-beach/

Do Detectives Think?

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/02/22/watching-the-detectives-laurel-and-hardy-do-detectives-think-1927-this-one-is-the-real-thing/

Sailors Beware!:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/02/15/laurel-and-hardy-in-sailors-beware-1927-the-worlds-first-eisenstein-parody/

With Love and Hisses:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/with-love-and-hisses-1927-laurel-hardy-and-the-archaeology-of-kickdownism/

Love ‘Em and Weep:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/01/19/love-em-and-weep-still-not-a-laurel-and-hardy-film-but-say-hello-to-james-finlayson-and-mae-busch/

Slipping Wives:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/slipping-wives-1927-and-yes-i-am-going-to-blog-a-review-of-every-single-laurel-and-hardy-movie-i-genuinely-think-its-a-good-use-of-my-time/

45 Minutes from Hollywood:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/01/08/45-minutes-from-hollywood-some-context-for-laurel-and-hardy/

Duck Soup:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/01/11/duck-soup-the-laurel-and-hardy-film-the-first-laurel-and-hardy-film-arguably/

The Lucky Dog:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/01/03/the-lucky-dog-laurel-and-hardy-first-meet-on-film/

On Shakespeare’s Birthday… Cry God for Harry, England and St George. But not too loudly. The 1979 BBC Henry V.

Henry-V-David-Gwillim-aug-5

There’s a strong case for saying that Henry V is the most Machiavellian ruler in the Shakespearean canon – far more Machiavellian than Richard III who, after all, lost.

David Gwillim, from his earliest appearance in these three plays, strikes me as wonderfully sinister and manipulative.  The speed with which he oscillates between playful slumming and steely authoritarian detachment is terrifying and suggests he may be something of a psychopath, a diagnosis confirmed by many French historians.

Giles offers a dynamic and kinetic production, although it is a little uncertain as to its purpose and ultimate direction, as evidenced by some of the cuts made.

Two speeches are significantly abbreviated.  The first belongs to the Archbishop of Canterbury (played by Trevor Baxter who you may remember as Professor Litefoot in the classic 1977 Doctor Who adventure Talons of Weng Chiang) as he describes how and why Harry Plantagenet is rightful ruler of France as well as England.  It’s a long, tortuous and dull speech that is crying out to be cut.  Which is exactly why it shouldn’t be cut.  The longer and duller the speech, the more strained and convoluted the reason for invading France becomes.

And David Giles’ staging only emphasises the sinister conspiratorial context of the war. Bishops Canterbury and Ely are meant to be praying but actually they are worrying about money.   We should never forget that Shakespeare’s version of the Henry V story insists that the most glorious chivalric expedition in English history started off as a tax dodge.

The second speech is Harry’s ultimatum to the governor of Harfleur.  The really gory threats are cut out (“naked infants spitted upon pikes” etc. etc.).  Henry V is not allowed his full extremity of violence in this production, which is again odd, since the version of Hal/Henry that Gwillim has been portrayed for all this time is perfectly capable of such threatened and actual violence.

Needless to say, crowd scenes are at something of a premium here.  The most famous “band of brothers” speech starts off not as a set-piece formal rallying of troops, but as a friendly conversation with a few senior officers.  From a quiet beginning, the camera manages to catch a few details of varied facial reactions giving the impression of speech that swells (but never gets especially loud) to include the entirety of the (unseen) army.

I have a fondness for the final act of this production.  The humiliation of Pistol at the hands of Fluellen is followed by a soliloquy that completes the utter destruction of the Eastcheap crew.  Mistress Quickly is dead… the boy is presumed killed with the baggage… Nym (as played by Hi-De-Hi’s Jeffrey Holland) has been hanged just like Bardolph leaving Pistol all alone.  Pistol is a degraded Falstaff, with all of Falstaff’s abusive instincts but with none of Falstaff’s wit or charisma.  He’s played in this production by Bryan Pringle (that guy who did that brilliant Pygmalion themed Heineken advert where the posh one is taught how to say “the wa-er in Majorca da’nt taste like how it oughta”).

Few speeches are as ignored and yet as beautiful as the Duke of Burgundy’s description of peace and the blessings of peace.  I don’t know anything else that Robert Harris has done, but this rendition brought a tear to my eye.   And the set is delightful – a medieval doll’s house of dreamed possibility.  This final Act made me want to hug someone French.

Oddly enough, King Henry V ends up sounding a lot like his original nemesis Hotspur while wooing Princess Katherine (the exquisite Jocelyn Boisseau).  Like Hotspur, his is the lively rhetoric of one who professedly eschews rhetoric.  One respect in which I feel certain that Shakespeare’s Henry V differed from the real Lancastrian monarch was Henry’s facility in French.  In fact, were I to bother to look it up, I’d find out that Henry was very fluent in French – far better than the half remembered GCSE level French painfully excavated here.  The gentle comedy of having a language barrier to love is too good a chance to waste.  Words are precious when wrested for.

Alec McCowen strides through the play as Chorus looking like Friar Tuck, emerging from the crowd in his plain drab brown attire and sinking back into it when his speech is done.  Part of the need for a Chorus in this play is dictated by the fact that Henry himself has only one real soliloquy – the “Upon the King” speech.   And Giles, having sadly cut two of the most troubling speeches in the play – does at least offer the epilogue, which is a reminder that all of this chivalric jingoism was for nought, that the conquest of France was delusional and transient and that the very same audience that had enjoyed Henry V had already watched the Henry VI trilogy and knew of the chaos and slaughter and human waste that was to follow.  Never cut the epilogue.

Here are a few more blogs musing on this old BBC project…

BBC Henry IV, Part TWO:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/08/and-is-old-double-dead-the-1979-bbc-henry-iv-part-ii/

But here’s my review of the BBC Henry IV Part ONE:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/28/the-1979-bbc-version-of-henry-iv-part-i/

And the BBC Antony and Cleopatra:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/01/23/stagy-shakespeare-on-videotape-lots-and-lots-of-lying-down-acting-in-this-1981-bbc-antony-and-cleopatra/

And the Cymbeline:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/02/20/romans-in-britain-the-bbc-cymbeline-nope-doesnt-sort-out-how-i-feel-about-cymbeline/

Not to mention a somber but intensely homoerotic Coriolanus:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/i-banish-you-the-1980s-bbc-coriolanus/

Here’s Comedy of Errors:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/02/03/the-bbc-comedy-of-errors-with-roger-daltrey-you-will-get-fooled-again/

And… All’s Well That End’s Well:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/the-1980-bbc-adaptation-of-alls-well-that-ends-well/

Helen Mirren in the BBC As You Like It:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/01/17/how-could-i-have-forgotten-that-david-prowse-darth-vader-green-cross-man-played-charles-the-wrestler-in-the-1978-bbc-adaptation-of-as-you-like-it/

“Smile”, you’ve been here before.

smile

One thing about posting up reviews of new Doctor Who adventures that I’ve discovered is that it’s important to defer crucial plot information until the second paragraph.  That way, when this piece shows up on Facebook, it won’t be accidentally telling anybody anything that they don’t wan’t to know yet.

So Smile was a nice, self-contained little adventure.  It’s written by acclaimed author Frank Cottrell Boyes, celebrated for his books for older children and younger young adults such as Millions and Framed.  In both these books, he displays his ability to allow a strange premise to unfold seemingly organically.

And yet I can’t help feeling with this episode that I’ve been here before.  I am of course extremely old.  I think of Smile as Ark in Space meets Robots of Death meets Happiness Patrol.  These are admirable stories (even Happiness Patrol), and each of them creates a peculiar world of their own.  Perhaps the basis of the fear was established a little too early in this story – even before the opening credits.  If you don’t smile enough then robots will arrange to have you reduced to a heap of dry bones.  This circumstance does not explain the plot or the context but it explains perhaps rather too much of the feel of the adventure right at the beginning.   Right at the beginning, you already know what to be afraid of and why you have to be afraid.  This is Boyce, see, establishing his big idea at the beginning, in a way that perhaps doesn’t work quite as well in Whodom.  The menace-management feels ill-timed somehow.

There is menace here, and also a sense of pathos attached to the near destruction of the entire human race.  The evacuation of earth is registered most effectively just by dwelling on the pristine qualities of the planet they (we) are about to settle on.  The very cleanness of the place makes us extrapolate the contamination of our home world.

There was a degree of continuity with “The Pilot” insofar as both episodes were about forms of programming fulfilling their own the destructive extremity of their own logic.   The Vardi are very elegant and certainly versatile but they have no more malice aforethought than the waterly intransigence that provided the peril last week.   Neither of these episodes did “evil”.

Now it’s about time we saw some evil.

Actually it’s about time we saw a few more people.   Even more than last week’s adventure, this story focused almost exclusively on Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie.  This is fine, and I’m enjoying them both, but I’m now ready to enjoy them both in a wider variety of social settings.

Next week’s nineteenth-century London setting seems promising in this respect.  Will the Paternoster Gang return?

Here’s what I thought of Pilot…

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/16/love-love-will-tear-us-apart-again-the-pilot-reviewed/

“So do you still feel British? Now you’re Irish?

Answering this question involves three separate terms:  Britain, “Britain”, and Britain.  And of course their derived adjectives: British, “British”, and British.  To talk of Britain would mean to talk of a nation which casually and unproblematically exists – like France or Italy.  Britain doesn’t exit.  “Britain” on the other hand means an idea of a Britain which may or may not have existed in the past – which is unrealised in the present – but which does at least have the virtue of internal consistency.   Britain is the current polity that waves those union jacks so vigorously.  Britain negates its premise at the moment of its very articulation – undoes itself as soon as it is shouted out loud and it is promoted by people who doing everything they can to destroy the nation they claim to be defending. When I describe Britain in the here and now, I feel I can only describe it sous rature.  Dead polity walking.

So, do I feel less British-“British”-British?

One thing I should point out is that yesterday Judge McMahon, the very man who administered the oath of allegiance to us, pretty much ordered us not to abandon our nation of origin.   He took the view that nations are more interesting and valuable if they can accommodate the heritage of and experiences of a wider world.  And he told us this not after but before he administered the oath, making it feel something like a pre-condition.

But apart from being ordered not to by a senior legal authority figure, I have other reasons for not wanting to jettison all traces of a “British” identity.  For one thing, I cannot stand destructive, joyless, tedium of the myopic tribalists who are poisoning the political culture of the world right now.  To utterly expunge my “Britishness” would flatter the destructive zero sum logic of the most horrible people in Britain.  The idea that you can’t love more than one nation, that you must always put your one nation “first” and that assimilation requires repudiation is at the heart of why Britain is so horrible at the present time.  It’s the belief that love is a pie of finite slices – the more you distribute further afield the less you have closer to home.  Indeed, “[INSERT NATION] First” is a slogan for the sort of miserable people who actually think “Charity begins at home” is a phrase found in the Bible.

I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning if I didn’t cherish the belief that love is a muscle, expanding with exercise.  The way to challenge Britain is to retain the belief that feeling loyalty to more than one place is actually healthy and interesting.

All those years thinking of myself as “British” – what did I think I belonged to?  A nation that never existed?  Quite possibly.  Perhaps “Britain” was always Britain – a version of Little England that effaces meaningful “union” at the moment it asserts it – a lopsided abusive sham marriage.   I’ve never been a Little Englander.   I always liked the idea of Scotland as distinctive but not foreign.  During the 2014 independence referendum, I always felt troubled by having to think of Scotland as a foreign country.  As a ten year old, I cheered for Scotland in the World Cup, thinking of Scotland as a “home” nation and when Archie Gemmill scored against the Netherlands my cheer, though less orgasmic than the cast of Trainspotting, was nonetheless sincere.  Britain, on the other hand, despises Scotland.  The prospect of the SNP having a share in the government of the UK helped the Tories win the 2015 election. Britain reminds me of someone who asserts that “I have a great marriage – I just hate my wife”.  If “Britain” is the idea of a group of nations who stand in a familial relation to one another contributing to a creative and complex whole then Britain is the opposite of “Britain”.

Furthermore, yesterday, by copper-fastening my European citizenship, I have a chance of continuing to stand in a familial relation to Scotland.  A reformed EU has a chance to do what Britain spurns – which is to allow people to travel to new places and feel that they are still at home – to create a homely aesthetic within which “different” does not mean “foreign”.  If Ireland and an Independent Scotland are both in the EU, then I will have retained a sense of union with Scotland.  Paradoxically, in this critical respect, by becoming Irish yesterday, I became more “British”.  I would therefore suggest to many of my friends that securing an EU citizenship by any legal means at their disposal constitutes one of the most authentically “British” things they can do.

“But isn’t there the potential for a conflict of loyalties?”   Why yes.  It is impossible to live as a adult without the potential for conflict of loyalties.  And conflicts of loyalty are only unbearable if you subscribe to an absolute “my country right or wrong” mentality.  If, on the other hand, you wish to exercise critical and moral intelligence and live without a fork in your brain, then you will sometimes have to admit that your country or countries is or are wrong.  My loyalty to Ireland and/or any other nation is not so absolute that I won’t exercise an individual right to disagree with edicts issued in its name when I feel I have to.  Those who assert versions of “national interest” as an absolute imperative have a very narrow and selfish definition of the nation they claim to serve.  A nation that only ever looks to serve its own people and has no sense of international responsibility is too small and selfish to merit love or loyalty.

So… to finally finally answer the question.  Nobody is British.   And since yesterday I actually feel far far less British and rather more “British”.   In the meantime, I’m still feeling a strange sense of warmth and belonging attached to an Irishness which is and is not new.  Be assured – you people who haven’t seen me in twenty years – that this new citizenship is not just a flag of convenience.  It is assuredly convenient, but it is also who I am.  Feeling good.  Feeling human.

 

 

Becoming Irish.

convention centre

I’ve been Irish for a few hours now.  Here’s how it’s done.  Here’s what happened.

Converging on the Convention Centre on the North Quays, we were dismayed to find a large crowd already being megaphoned into a sort of queue.   I’ll be honest with you – the first bit of the day’s proceedings wasn’t as much fun.  We were herded in between metal crowd separators and ordered to keep shunting forward and it was a while before we were allowed inside the building – to meet another set of crowd separators.

Paradoxically, on the occasion of my twenty-two year residency in Ireland converting itself into legal citizenship, I felt profoundly foreign during this initial tedious process.  I don’t think I’ve ever in Ireland been part of such a large crowd of people who are not (quite) Irish.  Our foreignness was what we had in common, comprised as we were of every creed and colour under the sun.   So joyously eclectic were we that “not Irish but about to be” really was the only thing we had in common.  It was, however, a very very important thing to have in common.

As soon as each of us reached the registration desk, the whole atmosphere changed. Having signed a piece of paper and receiving each our individual pack of goodies, we were given a smile and a congratulations for the first time.  We were then wafted into the far more salubrious section of the building.   Once seated in comfy chairs in a plush auditorium, smooth jazz was piped into the building.   Smooth jazz is (arguably) the very least Irish music imaginable, but it had an appropriately calming effect.   All is well.   You made it.  If we were going to deny you citizenship we’d have done it by now.  Relax.  Enjoy the show.

If there was anything wrong with the day at all, it was the perhaps inevitable conflict between ceremony and logistics.  We waited in our tiered seating looking a a big curtain listening to smooth jazz for quite a while before we were all in place.  We were many – in itself a very good thing – but the concentration of ceremonial focus was dissipated somewhat.   Eventually I started to hear what I though might be the sound of instruments tuning up behind the curtain.  However, I’m not good at telling the difference between smooth jazz and instruments tuning up so I wasn’t really sure.

The curtains suddenly parted however to reveal a Garda band playing a remarkably jolly little tune which I subsequently although not at the time identified as “If You’re Irish – Come into the Parlour”.  Having competed their brisk little number to applause, a colour party from the Defence Forces marched into the limelight along with Minister Finian McGrath and Judge Bryan McMahon.   They each gave friendly speeches.  Judge McMahon’s offered the longer address and spoke eloquently about how in a few minutes time each of us was to gain exactly the same rights, privileges and duties of Irish citizenship as he himself, notwithstanding the fact that McMahons have lived in County Kerry for many centuries. He made it clear that to become Irish was not to burn bridges with mother countries and that the heritage of incomers was to retained as a positive contribution to Irish life.  He also made it clear to new citizens hailing from South Asia that Ireland is in need of better cricketers.

He then administered the oath, which we repeated collectively (thank God!).  We then stood for the national anthem (instrumental – thank God!) and the day was pretty much done.

I’ll not deny I was sobbing at times – both during Judge McMahon’s speech and during the anthem.  Especially during the anthem.

But how do I feel?  How does it feel?  I left it a shamefully long time to do this.   For many years, Ireland has not just been a place where I live and work, not just my home but part of me.  Ireland made me – such as I am here and now in this year of our Lord twenty seventeen.  This ceremony has set something nagging to rest, completed an incompletion and makes me, right now, an Irishman several hours old, feel that I have finally set something straight.

Fealty has been owed.  Fealty has been given.

I could wax lyrical about Ireland, but others have done it better than I.  Besides which, as a citizen it is now my inescapable civic duty to complain about Ireland – to rail against its hypocrisies and betrayals and to harangue it for its repeated failures to live up to its own promise.  Now I’m a citizen, I have a patriotic duty to eschew sentimental truisms and pay a fuller and more honest part in this country’s (my country’s) debates.

We don’t pick our future identities out of a catalogue.   Shirley McLaine might but the rest of us don’t.  Our national identities are as much a matter of happenstance as anything else.   I did not “set out” to be Irish.  I was an economic migrant.  Twenty two years ago, I was unemployed with little sense of purpose or identity.  I was working on a government scheme that paid a few pennies more than unemployment benefit to work with outreach library services in North London but more importantly to keep me off the official unemployment statistics.   I had no thought of moving to Ireland before a proper job here presented itself.  I applied, stayed, and eventually became Irish.  That’s my story, and it’s a story I only partially controlled.

So my main feeling is a feeling of gratitude, together with a sense that this gratitude now has a proper form and a shape to it.

And happy.  Very very happy right now.

Some people have already asked me if I still feel British.  Now that’s a very very complex question and one that I’ve already given a deal of thought to.

He doesn’t actually run all that much. Austria’s 2017 Eurovision Entry

nathan

He stands still.  He sort of ambles a bit.  And then he grabs a lift in a truck. And he doesn’t actually start running until the final third of the song, at which point, his Alp is decidedly steep and snowy.  This kind of video is clumsily effective – starting from a lake shore, Nathan just goes higher and higher until he can stare down at a magnificent view.  We are lifted with him, and his efforts become vicariously our own.

This is Nathan Trent “Running on Air” and here is his promotional video:

Austria is selling its own scenery here, as it’s absolutely entitled to do – offering a beautiful face in a beautiful place – a formula that’s unlikely to fail but is equally unlikely to startle.  This is the kind of song that jury voters will duly note and give some (but not too many) votes too while attentive viewers may also choose to reward.  It’s not striking enough, however, to merit the adequate attention of the Eurovision cognoscenti and nor will it get the “drunk vote”.  The “drunk people” are those who barely pay attention to Eurovision while it’s on in the background and who are just chatting and drinking unless or until something bizarre catches their eye.  Those people (and they are legion) will vote for Romania.

As my colleague John Brennan has noted, this year might be regarded as the year of the unthreatening boy.  Austria, Bulgaria, Australia and Slovenia are all banking heavily on fresh-faced boydom.  Nathan Trent is possibly at the more adult end of the boy continuum, boasting facial hair and saying “damn” on one occasion.   Compared to the Bulgarian entry he’s Clark Gable.  He still censors himself when it comes to describing the body part that “you” (the big vague generic “you”) got to get up off.

To be honest, from a counseling or life coach point of view, Nathan Trent is about as subtle as Dr Phil:

See, I can’t stand them talkers

All pretending that their life’s a mess,

’Cause whatever you want,

Whatever you need,

You gotta get off your …

See, Nathan… you should know that some people’s lives really are a mess.  And they’re not pretending.  And they need to talk about it.  Just telling them to get off their apparently unmentionable body part and skip up an Alp is more than insensitive – it’s actually quite cruel and stupid.   You, with your youth, good health, good looks etc. etc. etc. perhaps no little of the traumas you so casually dismiss.  So I won’t be voting for you Nathan – just because of this bit of the song, which is grating on me more and more each time I hear it.

Serbia offers a big ballad about rising and falling and falling and rising:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/17/forget-phil-collins-tijana-bogicevic-is-in-too-deep-serbias-2017-eurovision-entry/

Meanwhile, here is Sweden:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/no-theyre-not-a-boy-band-its-just-robin-swedens-2017-eurovision-entry/

Here, meanwhile, is Omar belting it out for Slovenia:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/omars-on-his-way-with-costume-changes-and-interpretative-dance-slovenias-2017-eurovision-entry/

Portugal offers something just a bit more special:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/marlene-dietrich-is-alive-well-young-bearded-and-living-in-portugal-salvador-sobrals-2017-eurovision-entry/

Anyhow, Portugal’s offering is infinitely more palatable than Poland’s:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/am-i-supposed-to-take-you-seryiously-just-because-youre-naked-pompous-nudity-and-polands-2017-eurovision-video/

A man who needs a deal of personal space is this guy from Montenegro:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/do-not-attempt-to-dance-within-a-five-foot-radius-of-this-man-as-the-knot-at-the-end-of-his-pigtail-will-take-your-eye-out-montenegros-eurovision-entry-2017/

Equally sexualised is the Moldovan entry:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/chisinau-thats-what-i-call-music-moldovas-2017-eurovision-entry/

Latvia offers a more techno-trance version of minimalism:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/09/anyone-else-miss-early-90s-trance-music-meet-latvias-2017-eurovision-entry/

Iceland’s entry isn’t really a Eurovision song either:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/08/bring-your-dottir-to-the-slottir-icelands-2017-eurovision-entry/

Georgia’s offering is undoubtedly a bigger if not bolder initiative:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/07/big-dress-big-voice-big-chance-greeces-2017-eurovision-entry/

Frankly, I prefer Finland:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/06/she-knows-where-the-bodies-are-buried-finlands-2017-eurovision-entry/

I’ll be sorely vexed if Finland doesn’t do better than Cyprus

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/hovig-loves-hovig-and-i-want-to-slap-him-cyprus-2017-eurovision-entry/

Frankly I’d rather the Czech Republic won – though they won’t…

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/04/my-turn-probably-not-czech-republics-2017-eurovision-entry/

Belgium looks like a better bet:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/04/belgiums-2017-eurovision-entry-i-always-get-it-wrong-but-this-could-win-really/

But if it isn’t, maybe it will go to Azerbaijan with this…

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/31/azerbaijans-2017-eurovision-entry-keeping-you-awake-at-night-with-skeletons/

Armenia’s Entry is nowhere near as scary:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/26/she-once-met-whitney-houston-apparently-armenias-2017-eurovision-entry/

In the meantime here are my thoughts on the Australian entry:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/22/oldyoung-isaiah-firebrace-australias-2017-eurovision-entry/

And here’s Albania…

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/albanias-2017-eurovision-entry-the-centerpiece-of-a-dystopian-german-expressionist-musical-called-fritzlanglangland/

Who or what is Theresa May?

may

I find it very difficult to answer this question.  I stare into those cold dead eyes and nothing seems to look back at me.

Thatcher had a different version of those eyes.  Hers was the icy glare of intransigence – the refusal to U-turn.  May has U-turned (or lied) several times, but the iciness is still there.  Hypocrisy has not softened her.   The question has to be then – what is Theresa May’s bedrock?   Upon what axis does she turn?  These reversals of policy must be based on some over-arching principle – because she certainly doesn’t look like she went into politics for the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.

I suppose we keep being led back to the vicarage and her Christian faith.  If she’s not wedded to an economic doctrine, then perhaps she’s to be defined by something vaguer yet more compelling.

I’m not going to be cynical when it comes to Theresa May’s Christianity.  The truth is much darker and more troubling than a diagnosis of cynicism can accommodate.  It is true that her application of Christianity seems to me to be bereft of love and compassion and joy and salvation and forgiveness and redemption and all the things I was ever taught as a child formed the basic grammar of the Christian faith.  Her “Christianity”, like the Christianity of so many self-proclaimed Christians these days, preaches bad news to the poor and the desperate and regards exiting the wrong sort of birth canal as the sin against the Holy Ghost.  Dives is rewarded in heaven as on earth while Lazarus’ torments are to last for endless generations.  If, as Marx suggested, Religion was once the opiate of the people, then the poor are now to be deprived of that opiate and the pie in the sky has gone.  No longer are the poor to be just subjugated, they are to be vilified and insulted as well.  Cursed are the poor, for poverty proves that God hates you.

Theresa May’s Christianity is utterly indifferent to the suicides of those she has benefit-sanctioned but can assert itself in response to a misreported labeling of an Easter Egg.  It is a “Christianity” that protects the privileges of a tribe.   It is an essential part of a brand logo of a very narrow definition of a “nation”.  She was not born wealthy, though she and her husband are wealthy now.  The British government is comprised of people who can zap their money around the world whenever they want, betting against the British economy whenever it’s in their interest to do so.  Recessionary fears don’t really touch this government personally – and indeed recessions are restructuring opportunities – opportunities to re-organise the labour market along more “flexible” (exploitative) principles.  May’s support comes from the prevalent narrative of “kickdownism” – the idea that the threat to insecure privileges always comes from below rather than above.  Kickdownism evokes a sense of a swamp lapping at your heels – drowning people clutching at your lifeboat threatening to overturn it (a metaphor literalised and therefore visualised by vicious media coverage of the refugee crisis).

The Christianity of May and her supporters is not insincere, but it is Bronze Age paganism, refashioned for a twenty-first century that no longer believes in the soul and looks for rewards in this life rather than the next.  This Christianity exists to protect a narrow tribal identity and the supposed privileges which such a club membership is meant to confer.  Rather than a Christ who rails at hypocrites and consorts with outcasts offering hope to the hopeless,  May’s Christ is more of a bouncer who stamps your hand for re-entry into a very dull golf club.

The abstraction called “Christ” who actually validates May’s world view seems to have no human or even mammalian empathy at all.  I think I’ll call him “Lizard Christ”.  “Lizard Christ” is the being you invoke when you want to feel smug about not caring for other people.   And May knows Lizard Christ well, and understands His will.

One problem with people who claim to have a privileged relationship with God is that they can find it easier to break faith with mere mortals.  King Charles I was a good example of this.  If only Lizard Christ can judge you, then the judgement of mortal mammals counts for nought.  The Theresa May who was in favour of staying in the EU and who became the accelerator of extreme Brexit could do so because of her sense of her own tribe and a determination to lead that tribe.  The Theresa May who promised she wouldn’t call an early general election and then calls one can do so because her sense of what her tribe can rally around right now permits her renege on her own commitments to mere mammals.

May’s Britain is based on exclusions, exclusions that are based on fears.  The frightened, suspicious and dull nation she celebrates can achieve its optimal tribal advantage if it asserts itself right now rather than in a few years time when the folly of Brexit has demonstrated itself.  Since May is not held to any standard of truth or consistency beyond the short term advantages of the tribe symbolised by Lizard Christ, she is not, in her own mind, being hypocritical.

Be afraid.  Be very afraid.

The descent into trouser-fighting: You’re Darn Tootin’ (1928)

tootin

In terms of one particular issue, film comedy tends to be be far more squeamish than it was eight or nine decades ago.  Economic destitution.

There are some Laurel and Hardy films that I find hard to watch, and they are all the better for it.  These films treating descent into abject penury have a kind of courage and integrity to them.  Whereas modern comedies seem to take the view that good-natured idiocy should always be rewarded, in the 1920s and 30s, no such improbable consolation was generally afforded.

You’re Darn Tootin’ resembles the later and even bleaker Below Zero (1930), insofar as it dramatises the story of two struggling musicians (a french horn player and a clarinetist) who find themselves deprived of the very means of life.

There are three scenes to this film.  We begin with a wind band concert, in which Stan and Ollie are unable synchronise with each other, let along twenty other musicians. They stand up when they should sit down and vice versa, just for starters.  Stan is unable to keep the sections of his clarinet in order and their music flies everywhere.  Eventually, they somehow manage to topple the chairs and music stands of everyone involved. Of course they are fired.

Back at their boarding house (where they are many weeks overdue with rent), they attempt to enjoy a meal.  There’s time for a couple of elegant salt and pepper shaker jokes involving loosened lids before a horrible horrible child (there are a number of these in the Laurel and Hardy canon) squeals on Stan and Ollie – exposes their sacking and they are instantly shown the door.  They strike a heroic posture on the way out, but of course they are wearing the wrong hats.

Like on the street is hard – not least because of the many open manholes.  They are teased by a drunk and persecuted by a cop who wants to see a licence (“we don’t have a dog”).  Both instruments are destroyed – Ollie’s by one of those untimely (or timely?) steamrollers that  always arrive whenever something valuable is left in the road for even a split second.  The look on Ollie’s face as he scrapes his two-dimensional horn from the pavement and even blows into it is as sad and funny as the eventual inevitable captioned punchline – “flat”.

Deprived of jobs, a place to stay, and their means of employment, they resort to kicking and punching one another.  Others are drawn in and the street corner fills up with men clutching their wounded shins and bruised stomachs.  Reduced to the clothes on their backs, then then lose those.  Trousers are torn off (presumably only fastened with some primitive form of Velcro) left right and centre.  The trouser removal spreads and spreads and proves very satisfying.  Apparently when someone rips your trousers off your first instinct is rip someone else’s trousers off, especially if your debagger is already themselves untrousered.   The cop wades in, with predictable results.  Eventually our heroes stride off into an unknown future wearing the same pair of trousers, debagged from an enormous victim.

Like a pie fight, a trouser fight is about reducing everyone to the same embarrassing yet liberating state of equality.  This particular  trouser fight is sort of protest against the horrible things that have happened to Stan and Ollie over the preceding thirty six hours. Man (and we do mean ‘man’) is but a bare forked animal and it takes a state of extreme distress to be reminded of it.  We are all the same under the trouser (at least – half of us are).

In this film, Laurel and Hardy begin by hovering just above destitution and plummet further and further into it as the movie progresses.  This is the darkness that defines some of their funniest movies.  Very little twenty-first century prime time comedy wants to stare into the face of economic ruin.  When people talk of the “innocence” of Laurel and Hardy, a certain tough-mindedness is often forgotten.  If Laurel and Hardy avoided sexual topics for entertainment purposes, our own generation tends to avoid economic ones.  Which is really more squeamish?

I have a few thoughts about a few other Laurel and Hardy silent movies…

From Soup to Nuts:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/13/laurel-and-hardy-embarrassing-rich-folk-satisfaction-guaranteed-from-soup-to-nuts-1928/

Leave em Laughing:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/03/leave-em-laughing-1928-gas-attack-in-culver-city/

Battle of the Century:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/27/battle-of-the-century-1927-the-pie-fight-is-sublimely-vindicated/

Putting Pants on Philip:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/25/putting-pants-on-philip-laurel-and-hardy-and-coming-to-america/

Hats Off:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/19/indiana-jones-why-dont-you-try-to-find-hats-off-the-lost-laurel-and-hardy-film/

Call of the Cuckoo:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/16/call-of-the-cuckoo-1927-laurel-and-hardy-are-bit-players-again-and-their-hair-hasnt-grown-back-yet/

The Second Hundred Years:
https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/12/laurel-and-hardy-in-the-second-hundred-years-1927-it-begins/

Flying Elephants:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/flying-elephants-laurel-and-hardy-were-never-faster-or-crazier/

Sugar Daddies:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/05/sugar-daddies-1927-laurel-and-hardy-and-finlayson-go-to-venice-beach/

Do Detectives Think?

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/02/22/watching-the-detectives-laurel-and-hardy-do-detectives-think-1927-this-one-is-the-real-thing/

Sailors Beware!:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/02/15/laurel-and-hardy-in-sailors-beware-1927-the-worlds-first-eisenstein-parody/

With Love and Hisses:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/with-love-and-hisses-1927-laurel-hardy-and-the-archaeology-of-kickdownism/

Love ‘Em and Weep:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/01/19/love-em-and-weep-still-not-a-laurel-and-hardy-film-but-say-hello-to-james-finlayson-and-mae-busch/

Slipping Wives:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/slipping-wives-1927-and-yes-i-am-going-to-blog-a-review-of-every-single-laurel-and-hardy-movie-i-genuinely-think-its-a-good-use-of-my-time/

45 Minutes from Hollywood:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/01/08/45-minutes-from-hollywood-some-context-for-laurel-and-hardy/

Duck Soup:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/01/11/duck-soup-the-laurel-and-hardy-film-the-first-laurel-and-hardy-film-arguably/

The Lucky Dog:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/01/03/the-lucky-dog-laurel-and-hardy-first-meet-on-film/

Forget Phil Collins – Tijana Bogićević is “In Too Deep”. Serbia’s 2017 Eurovision Entry

serbia

Naming your song after an old Phil Collins era Genesis hit may not be the best way to win the hearts of everyone in Europe.  If it is the best way – then may the Lord have mercy on us miserable sinners.

She’s falling from a very great height.  This song is very much about vertical movement, from the highest barely breathable stratosphere to the deepest ocean trench.

The melody itself reminds me a bit of “Hot N Cold” by Katy Perry – only slower, less funky and with a far less amusing video.

Here’s the chorus, which looks a bit more expressive and desperate and subaquatic expressed as a prose poem paragraph rather than conventionally lineated:

Won’t somebody save me tonight Feels like I’ve been sentenced to life I’m falling so deep I’m in too deep I’m falling so deep No escape, in over my head Struck by every word that you said I’m falling so deep I’m in too deep I’m falling so deep Ohohoho Ohohooo Ohooooo I’m falling so deep.

I believe it’s the Iron Islanders of Westeros who maintain that “what is dead may never die”, with particular reference to drowning.  Perhaps the global zeitgeist favours a kind of hunkering down underwater, a Captain Nemo-ish abandonment of the hopeless politics and economics of land-dwellers.  It’s not so much that Europeans want to die – we just want to breath something other than air for a while.

We’re just going to hold our breaths and stay down there until we think it’s safe to surface again.

So here is the video – featuring Tijana swinging on a giant manacle – like a Lilliputian crashing a Brobdingnagian sex party:

A bare-chested male dancer performs with a bare-legged female dancer in a fairly restrained routine, while the video itself restates a drowning motif that seems very prevalent this year.  There are a great many bodies under the water this year.  Think Finland.  Think Malta.

Half way through the dance they take a break to put the wet laundry on the line to dry – but since they seem to all be underwater anyway, I’m not sure what effect this is meant to have.  It’s a bit like watching Spongebob and Patrick go to that beach they have at the bottom of the sea – with the sea that laps against the beach  at the bottom of the sea that fish can actually drown in if they don’t know how to swim in it.

In short, “In too Deep” is the sort of song that reminds me of songs that tend to surprise me each year with their popularity.   I feel so distant from it, that I’m confident it will probably do very well.

 

Meanwhile, here is Sweden:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/no-theyre-not-a-boy-band-its-just-robin-swedens-2017-eurovision-entry/

Here, meanwhile, is Omar belting it out for Slovenia:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/omars-on-his-way-with-costume-changes-and-interpretative-dance-slovenias-2017-eurovision-entry/

Portugal offers something just a bit more special:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/marlene-dietrich-is-alive-well-young-bearded-and-living-in-portugal-salvador-sobrals-2017-eurovision-entry/

Anyhow, Portugal’s offering is infinitely more palatable than Poland’s:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/am-i-supposed-to-take-you-seryiously-just-because-youre-naked-pompous-nudity-and-polands-2017-eurovision-video/

A man who needs a deal of personal space is this guy from Montenegro:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/do-not-attempt-to-dance-within-a-five-foot-radius-of-this-man-as-the-knot-at-the-end-of-his-pigtail-will-take-your-eye-out-montenegros-eurovision-entry-2017/

Equally sexualised is the Moldovan entry:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/chisinau-thats-what-i-call-music-moldovas-2017-eurovision-entry/

Latvia offers a more techno-trance version of minimalism:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/09/anyone-else-miss-early-90s-trance-music-meet-latvias-2017-eurovision-entry/

Iceland’s entry isn’t really a Eurovision song either:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/08/bring-your-dottir-to-the-slottir-icelands-2017-eurovision-entry/

Georgia’s offering is undoubtedly a bigger if not bolder initiative:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/07/big-dress-big-voice-big-chance-greeces-2017-eurovision-entry/

Frankly, I prefer Finland:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/06/she-knows-where-the-bodies-are-buried-finlands-2017-eurovision-entry/

I’ll be sorely vexed if Finland doesn’t do better than Cyprus

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/hovig-loves-hovig-and-i-want-to-slap-him-cyprus-2017-eurovision-entry/

Frankly I’d rather the Czech Republic won – though they won’t…

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/04/my-turn-probably-not-czech-republics-2017-eurovision-entry/

Belgium looks like a better bet:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/04/belgiums-2017-eurovision-entry-i-always-get-it-wrong-but-this-could-win-really/

But if it isn’t, maybe it will go to Azerbaijan with this…

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/31/azerbaijans-2017-eurovision-entry-keeping-you-awake-at-night-with-skeletons/

Armenia’s Entry is nowhere near as scary:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/26/she-once-met-whitney-houston-apparently-armenias-2017-eurovision-entry/

In the meantime here are my thoughts on the Australian entry:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/22/oldyoung-isaiah-firebrace-australias-2017-eurovision-entry/

And here’s Albania…

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/albanias-2017-eurovision-entry-the-centerpiece-of-a-dystopian-german-expressionist-musical-called-fritzlanglangland/