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Desmond Morris meets Edward Said meets an amusing gorilla. Italy’s 2017 Eurovision Entry.

May 12, 2017


Francesco Gabbani is performing that rarest of things – a popular favorite that I for one would be happy to see win.  It’s also the most politically complex and intellectually sophisticated Eurovision entry I’ve heard in many a long year.

The essential melody is stonkingly effective and the chorus is so happy that you’ll find yourself smiling when you play it to yourself in your head.

And yes there’s a gorilla.  How effective the gorilla will be on the huge stage in Kiev I’m not sure…  he works better in an intimate environment.

Here’s the official video:

Francesco himself recently met Desmond Morris, an encounter that he never stops talking about.  The ape that dances is an echo of Morris’ famous ape.

(Can’t think of Desmond Morris without being reminded of our  student days when we performed a sketch based on the idea that Desmond Morris and Johnny Morris were warring siblings.)

I don’t think that Desmond Morris is the primary intellectual influence on this song though.  Lazily translated as “Westerner’s Karma”,  “Occidentali’s Karma” is a title with a more probing and Saidian feel to it.  In three minutes, Francesco Gabbani manages to mock the indolent and thoughtless appropriation of the East by the West with a litany of ill assorted references to alternative wisdoms.  This is a mighty theme, one that engaged Edward Said for his entire working life, but the ludicrousness of compressing such a political topic into a mere pop song illustrates its own point – enlightenment as consumer product – nirvana as brand. Everything is transient product, even or especially the song that complains that everything is transient product.

If Europe can vote for this, there is a hope for a more questioning and reflexive Europe.  What is Europe anyway?  A Saidian definition might posit an Occident than needs an Orient.  Europe is a political construct that maintains itself by both othering and by appropriating.  Europe is that which sustains itself through the effort of its loud and accelerated attempts to define precisely that which is not Europe.

Occidentali’s Karma Indeed.

Indeed, Occidentali’s Karma might be a Frank Zappa-ish satirical response to John Lennon’s “Instant Karma”, recorded a mere 47 years too late.

By a bizarre Karmic twist of fate, Desmond Morris was a friend of John Lennon.

What goes around, comes around.

Here is every other 2017 Eurovision entry, starting with



And Spain:

Still, Spain is a better bet than the UK – unless Lucie Jones decides she actually WANTS to win and makes the obvious decision to sing in Welsh:

Israel, like, Spain, is to be found at the beach:

Meanwhile, there’s Estonia.  Which enrages me:

Lithuania’s entry  is flashy… that’s all I can say:

For fresh-faced innocence – Bulgaria’s yer only man:

But if you prefer something jolly and sinister at the same time – you’ll prefer Belarus:

There’s something a bit too tasteful about Switzerland’s entry:

For something superficially a bit “edgy” – try Norway:

Croatia, on the other hand,  offers two voices for the price of one:

Here’s Ma and Pa in San Marino:

For youthful angst – Ireland:

Ireland’s entry is, I think, more emotionally involving than Denmark’s:

Right now I prefer cultural nationalism when it isn’t Hungarian:

The Netherlands offers something altogether safer:

Utterly (winningly?) different is Romania:

Less immediately exciting is Malta:

So you might prefer Macedonia:

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

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

Meanwhile, here is Sweden:

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

Portugal offers something just a bit more special:

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

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

Equally sexualised is the Moldovan entry:

Latvia offers a more techno-trance version of minimalism:

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

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

Frankly, I prefer Finland:

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

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

Belgium looks like a better bet:

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

Armenia’s Entry is nowhere near as scary:

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

And here’s Albania…



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