Skip to content

Will Success Spoil Oliver Hardy? Oh You Betcha! Early to Bed (1928)

stan

Along with Brats (1930), this is the only Laurel and Hardy film to feature only Laurel and Hardy.  OK there’s a dog.

This is a strange film insofar as for most of its duration, Stan is closer to being the adult in the situation.  Most of Laurel and Hardy’s films were made during Prohibition which means that alcohol features prominently throughout their body of work, a circumstance which has much to do with this role reversal.  It’s also unusual in that the camera spends more time looking at Stan’s face full of sorrowful resignation than Ollie’s.   (Their Purple Moment is another rare example where this happens.)

The plot is very simple.  Ollie inherits a fortune and then employs Stan as his butler.  Ollie comes home one night full of champagne and spends all night and the following morning playing childish and spiteful tricks on Stan.  When Stan announces he’s quitting, Ollie refuses to accept Stan’s resignation so Stan tries to force Ollie to fire him by smashing everything he can see in the house.

Some of the captions in this silent two reeler are a little disturbing.    Ollie teases Stan by saying that the lady he (Ollie) is infatuated with has a beautiful maid…. “But she’s Chinese”.   When some misplaced cake cream is winds up on Stan’s face this is interpreted as foaming at the mouth – a suggestion that the desperate and enraged Stan actively encourages by shouting “I want blood – warm blood!”   In the final pursuit of Ollie by Stan you can see Stan’s trademark scissor shaped leap in the air – provoked by violent rage rather than by excitement.  There is some elaborate physical comedy based on Ollie’s impersonation of a decorative head on a fountain – a joke which only highlights the rather unwieldy enabling circumstance of Ollie owning a fountain decorated with Oliver Hardy heads.

Ollie’s casual cruelty to Stan is unlike anything you see in any other Laurel and Hardy movie.  In every other Laurel and Hardy movie, Ollie’s attacks on Stan are based on exasperation.  In this film, Ollie is laughing throughout, even in the morning scenes when he’s presumably sober.   In Early to Bed, the cruelty is based on the sheer sense entitlement that wealth incurs.  The change in their relative economic circumstances has suddenly dehumanised Stan in Ollie’s eyes – reduced him from a human to a toy.

Ollie’s pranks are not especially funny.  It’s not that sort of film.  What is striking is quite how funny Ollie thinks these very childish and old-fashioned japes are, devoid of anything resembling wit or invention.  We’re not laughing with Ollie at Stan.  For much of the time we’re not laughing at all, though we’re completely absorbed.

In most Laurel and Hardy films, economic and/or marital disaster looms.  In this film, neither of these threats exist.  Indeed, although Stan at the end has broken a great many valuable objects, he hasn’t come close to reducing Ollie to his original penury.  Yet this is one of the scariest of all Laurel and Hardy films because of its depiction of what wealth – inherited and unearned – can do to someone.

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

Should Married Men Go Home?:
https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/15/the-golfing-one-laurel-and-hardy-in-should-married-men-go-home-1928/

Their Purple Moment:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/24/their-purple-moment-1928-dont-you-just-love-it-when-stan-and-ollie-are-all-shy-and-flirty/

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/

Theresa May offers all the reassurance of Despair.

despair

One of John Cleese’s finest moments in screen is to be found in the movie Clockwise (1986).  As someone who hates being late for anything for any reason, I found the film quite hypnotically painful to watch.  Cleese plays a control-freak headteacher who will stop at nothing to arrive at a headteacher’s conference in a timely fashion.  After various misadventures he eventually gives up, checks into a monastery, and achieves a kind of calm.  Then out of nowhere the merest possibility of getting to the conference on time presents itself, and the agony is re-instated.  In the most important line in the film, Cleese exclaims:

“It’s not the despair… it’s the hope!”

Despair is perversely comforting.  Despair dispels the fear that is a necessary and defining feature of hope.  When you despair, you surrender into a kind of addictive lethargy, seduced by the predictability of the bleakness that opens up before you.

When Theresa May repeats “strong and stable” over and over again, she’s reinforcing her utter contempt for the British electorate with something like a tautology.  Essentially, the very presidential style Tory campaign is carrying the message – “Give Theresa May lots of power – because then she’ll have lots of power.”

“Remove uncertainty” is another important Tory slogan right now.  You  could try arguing that without “uncertainty”, no form of creative or intellectual  excitement is possible.  You could suggest that the removal of uncertainty entails the complete negation of the human spirit and ruthless crushing of anything inspirational that’s been associated with any kind of “life force”.  Humans who cannot live with uncertainty are committed to being lesser beings.

The drab predictability that “strong and stable” evokes has nothing to do with the actual motives of Theresa May or her government.  Since 2010, Cameron and May governments have repeatedly U-Turned on any number of issues.  Theresa May has converted from being a cautious remainer to a hard leaver in the space of a few months without any word of real explanation.  The very decision to hold this election is in direct violation of a very explicit commitment not to.  Theresa May is, meanwhile, a peculiar kind of avowedly religious person (King Charles I was just such another) who seems to feel that their special hotline to God exempts them from having to keep faith with mere mortals.

Yet Theresa May continues to score highly on “trust” issues across the board?  Perhaps it’s not that she’s trusted to keep her word, or to tell the truth, but that her very untrustworthiness is predictable.  She will slap the British people where they’ve already been slapped.  She will superimpose bruises on top of bruises.   Living standards for most will continue to decline, the cherished NHS will be sold off to wealthy Tory donors, and people will have to work longer hours in worse conditions and with fewer protections than at any time since the Second World War – despite vague promises to the contrary.  In Baudrillardian terms – the Tory betrayal will not take place – because it’s so predictable that it’s hardly going to be a real time event.  It is foreclosed.

So, as Satan once observed… “Farewell hope, and with hope farewell fear.”   Many of the policies championed by “progressive” parties command popular, indeed majority support, but realising these policies will excite fears proportionate to the hopes entailed.  It’s not so much “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t” as “better the devil you know than the false saviour who might disappoint.”

The most depressing demographic that pollsters are reporting involves the defeatist remainers.  A number of polls have shown that those who regret Brexit may well outnumber those who rejoice at it, but that a clear majority of people think that Brexit is irreversible and we have to “get on with it”.  In other words, Brexit is bleak and bad but there is no hope of avoiding it.  This is the constituency that May is trusting will swing the election decisively.  She is planning to win this election by robbing people of hope and tranquilising them with soporific despair.

May’s government is of course government of millionaires, by millionaires for millionaires.  They have no concept of a “national interest” because they regularly enrich themselves by betting against the British economy just by pressing a few buttons.  Whether or not Britain “succeeds” is irrelevant.  Controlling the narrative of Britain’s failure and identifying convenient (foreigner, “remoaners”, “saboteurs”) people to blame is their main concern.

At the present time, the franchise is not limited to millionaires and so the rhetoric of British “national interest” must be screeched at a volume that is in direct inverse proportion to the betrayal of any such interest.  And this interest is increasingly being pitched at a peculiarly masochistic sentiment – the sentiment that prefers predictable suffering to the unknown.  It’s not that most Britons are masochists – only that a mood music of grim resignation that evokes the mood music of John Cleese in Clockwise and which can translate into crucial votes on election day.

It helps of course that Britain has undergone “landmark” votes every year since 2014, creating a weariness with the very possibility of transformative  electoral change that plays straight into May’s hands.

“Beat us up, Theresa May.  Just get it over with.”

The Golfing One. Laurel and Hardy in “Should Married Men Go Home” (1928).

marriedmen

The Hardys are enjoying a rare moment of Sunday marital contentment as they snuggle on the sofa and defy the outside world.  They attempt and fail to hide from Stan when he arrives to drag Ollie out to play golf.  When Ollie informs Stan that they intend to stay in, Stan just invites himself in and makes himself unashamedly at home himself, with the casual but predictable consequence that he starts to destroy the living room piece by piece. Ollie ups the ante by destroying the record player in a fashion that I don’t fully comprehend. Eventually, Mrs Hardy is happy for the pair of them to go and play golf, just to spare what’s left of her furnishings.

At the golf club only foursomes are permitted.  Fortunately their arrival coincides with that of two young ladies, one of whom is the delightful Clara Bow lookalike Viola Richard.  After some eyelid fluttering and tie-fiddling, the ladies secure their escorts and they proceed indoors for soft drinks (it’s still Prohibition of course).  The guy behind the non-alcoholic bar is the inevitable Charley Hall and the boys don’t have enough to buy four drinks.  A familiar routine is played out that they would repeat in an improved form with the advent of sound.

The third and final section of the film consists of the actual golf-playing.  Edgar Kennedy arrives wearing a bad wig which is obviously not designed to withstand the rigours of moderately breezy golfing.  In one of Kennedy’s best scenes, a piece of turf displaced by a a golf club is confused with the wig.  The film ends with a mud fight which involves everybody within a mile radius.  Somehow a mud fight isn’t quite as satisfying as a pie fight, but there you are.

The stakes are reduced for this effort. Stan and Ollie are not at risk of penury or homelessness or being murdered by their wives.  They are merely to be embarrassed at a golf club.  Even the financial shortfall in the clubhouse is resolved by staking Stan’s watch.  There are many Laurel and Hardy silent films which succeed so well on their own terms that you don’t really regret that they weren’t made a few years later with actual talking.  But Should Married Men Go Home? doesn’t really have enough strong visual gags to sustain it as well as some of its contemporaries, whereas a bit of sustained dialogue would have enlivened some of the slower scenes.  This film is a bit “caption heavy” – which has to be regarded as a relative weakness in a silent film.

That said – it’s a Laurel and Hardy film, and I can watch it again and again and again.

This is one of many Laurel and Hardy movies officially directed by James Parrott.  James Parrott was the brother of Laurel and Hardy’s dear friend Charley Chase but would become a ruinous alcoholic and prescription drug addict  Laurel and Hardy were anxious to help out James any way possible so they set him up in a director’s chair time and tiem again – even though much of the real directing and final editing was the work of Stan Laurel.  When Parrott died in 1939, Chase followed him to the same graveyard only a year later.

Here are some other Laurel and Hardy silents I’ve been pondering.

Their Purple Moment:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/24/their-purple-moment-1928-dont-you-just-love-it-when-stan-and-ollie-are-all-shy-and-flirty/

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/

Getting Better all the Time (and incidentally much worse). The 1980s BBC Henry VI Part II.

Hill

Jane Howells’s Brechtian direction is just inspired and this version of Shakespeare’s York v. Lancaster tetralogy is not merely a highlight of the whole BBC Shakespeare series but a highlight of 1980s BBC drama.

We enjoy the same rough-hewn adventure playground set as in Part One.  But this time the playground is discernibly shabbier and you can almost feel the  splinters sticking out to hurt you.  The costumes are becoming drabber and vaguer and it’s becoming harder and harder to tell who is supposed to be fighting who – and why.  This is entirely appropriate.

Gary Taylor prefers the earlier title “The First Part of the Contention” for this play rather than the Folio title we’re familiar with.  The Duke of York is close to being the central protagonist of this play, and he gets soliloquies to prove it.   Ultimately, the tragedy for England is that York is no worse and no better than many other Plantagenet warlords infesting the land in the mid fifteenth-century.  Bernard Hill, of course,  most memorably played Yosser Hughes in Boys from the Blackstuff (1982),ensuring that Hill deserves to be crowned King of the Televisual Eighties by any rational jury.  Since then, of course, his appearances in Titanic and Lord of the Rings have made him one of the most successful film actors of our age.

York is absent for much of the third quarter of this play though, as the focus shifts to Jack Cade’s rebellion.  Brilliantly, in a true Brechtian spirit of character doubling, Cade is played by Trevor Peacock who performed the central role of Talbot in Henry VI Part One. Peacock’s Cade is terrifying, an authentic demagogue who combine utopian socialism with totalitarian absolutism, claiming hereditary royal authority while asserting himself as the embodiment of the General Will.  Cade hates writing and despises grammar.  He burns a great many books and proclaims that “my mouth shall be the parliament of England”.  Every modern day so-called “populist” who cherishes subliteracy and despises intellectual elites is an echo of Peacock’s portrayal of Shakespeare’s Jack Cade.

A one-headed Mark Wing-Davey (better known in the 80s as Zaphod Beeblebrox) is Warwick the Kingmaker.  Perhaps his best scene is the crime scene investigation he conducts over the death bed of Humphrey Duke of Gloucester.  He will have better scenes in Part III.

Henry himself (Peter Benson) is alarming in that from any Christian perspective he really does seem like God’s representative on earth, which is why he’s so useless at governance.  At once point he actually exclaims (re. the Cade rebellion) – ‘forgive them – they know no what they do’.  His whole life is one long martyrdom, and one of his most accomplished torturers is his own wife, Margaret of Anjou, lover of the Earl of Suffolk.  At one point, Henry is actually crawling on the ground in a state of despair while she rains insults down upon him.  Henry does not so much rule as offer ineffective theological commentary.  He can sleep when he’s dead.

Following the death of Suffolk, Margaret (Julia Foster) starts to put her hair up into an austere bun and take on an ever more bitter and vengeful appearance.  Queen Cersei.

And in the final scenes, Ron Cook’s Richard of Gloucester (“foul undigested lump”) starts to emerge as a central player, ready to start to dominate Part III.  It is pleasant to have the prescience that none of the cast enjoy, knowing that little crook-back is destined to be the last man standing.

All of these Henry VI plays are long in performance.   They are long, in part, because of the deal of fighting involved.  The next time you hear certain plays being arranged in order of length based on the respective number of lines in the text, think about how many of those lines are interrupted by shouting and screaming and the clash of steel on steel.   There is a great deal of fighting in the Henry VI plays.  People never stop fighting – it’s the nature of the time period and central to the story.

One of those amusing comedies of sexual misunderstanding may have a deal more words to its name, while being significantly shorter in performance.

I can’t wait to see how this ends.  I know exactly how it ends.  I can’t wait to see how it ends.

Here are a few more BBC Shakespeares from the 1978-1985 project.

Henry VI, Part One:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/01/verfremdungseffekt-at-the-beeb-the-bbc-henry-vi-part-one/

Here’s my review of the BBC Henry V:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/23/on-shakespeares-birthday-cry-god-for-harry-england-and-st-george-but-not-too-loudly-the-1979-bbc-henry-v/

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/

And finally, a guide to the Eurovision Finalists, according to running order. Incidentally, by a nice but presumably recurring co-incidence, it’s Johnny Logan’s birthday today.

 diversity
So here they are… some of the ones I really have already departed unwanted (Finland, Montenegro), and some of the ones I really hate (Cyprus, Poland) are still with us.  It’s always the way.
There are songs here that I would be happy to see win:  Italy, Portugal, Romania, and Belgium.
Sweden are yet again fielding a strongly favoured entry.  I don’t see the appeal of Robin the smug clothes-horse from Sweden, but I frequently find that those whom I find most slappable others want to fold to their bosom.
(Incidentally, most songs in Europe are either written or co-written by Swedes nowadays.  You can check the writing credits of each Eurovision entry if you like and you’ll see I’m right.)
I could even handle seeing Lucie Jones win, but only if she suddenly develops sufficient rational self interest to suddenly sing in Welsh. 

The official “Celebrate Diversity” themed Eurovision  will be hosted by three very similar white guys.

Russia isn’t here because the Russian singer made an unsanctioned trip to Crimea in 2015 and is not welcome in Kiev.

The musical entertainment will be interrupted by the comedic stylings of the Ukrainian version of “Mrs Brown’s Boys”.  True.

Why  do I waste so much of my time blogging about Eurovision?  Quite simply, these days, it’s the only form of electoral contest that I can bear to watch.

And finally… not appearing this year… here’s (not) Russia. Russia’s 2017 cancelled Eurovision Entry.

russia

So this is what you won’t be hearing in Kiev tomorrow evening.  It has a delightful chorus and would certainly have sailed into the finals to become a viable contender. And, let’s state the very obvious… she’s in a wheelchair.  Should you vote for someone just because they’re in a wheelchair?  Of course not.  Do people vote on that basis in something like a tie-break situation?  Assuredly they do.

Russia always poll reasonably at Eurovision.  Adrian Kavanagh argues that the reason for this is not some dogged or blinkered political commitment to Russia’s power and prestige on the part of so-called satellite nations, but rather a broader sense of cultural affinity and an awareness of media trends and media stars who quite naturally have Moscow as their epicentre.  Lots of countries know who’s big in Russia, in other words, and this familiarity breeds a degree of affection rather than contempt.

Meanwhile, however, Julia Samoylova sang in the Crimea in 2015, traveling there directly from Russia rather than coming through Ukraine and with Ukrainian permission, and for this she has incurred a three year travel ban making her unable to compete this year. Negotiations to resolve the situation have broken down, while the EBU has become very angry with Ukraine for what they regard as intransigence.

Fortunately, as I’ve said, there is no way that Ukraine is going to win this year, so Eurovision 2018 will not be held in either Russia or Ukraine.

The territorial dispute and the ongoing international crisis will continue, but without Eurovision at its symbolic epicentre.

Russia of course, does not have a great reputation when it comes to “celebrating diversity”, and a less hardened cynic than me might ponder the possibility that Russia might be actively showcasing its celebration of one form of “diversity” (the official Eurovision theme this year) in order to occlude its obvious repression of LGBT rights.

None of which is Julia Samoylova’s fault – although people better informed than me will be able to question her judgement in terms of visiting Crimea at all…

So, Russia can be compared with all the other yes-shows this year at Eurovision, including those already eliminated.

Here’s Ukraine:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/12/ah-this-is-where-it-gets-heavy-ukraines-2017-eurovision-entry/

Here’s Italy:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/12/desmond-morris-meets-edward-said-meets-an-amusing-gorilla-italys-2017-eurovision-entry/

France:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/12/taking-it-seriously-frances-2017-eurovision-entry/

Germany:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/11/some-lives-may-be-a-bit-too-perfect-germanys-2017-eurovision-entry/

And Spain:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/11/do-what-exactly-for-your-lover-spains-2017-eurovision-entry/

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:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/borrow-a-giant-dragon-flag-from-the-manic-street-preachers-and-sing-in-welsh-its-lucie-jones-only-conceivable-hope-the-uks-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/facing-westward-israels-2017-eurovision-entry/

Meanwhile, there’s Estonia.  Which enrages me:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/i-am-professionally-obligated-to-hate-this-song-estonias-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/not-quite-as-good-as-i-sort-of-want-it-to-be-lithuanias-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/the-freshest-face-of-all-bulgarias-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/id-feel-a-lot-happier-about-this-jolly-video-if-i-wasnt-afraid-that-it-was-filmed-at-gunpoint-the-belarus-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/who-do-you-think-you-kidding-mr-nietzsche-if-you-think-apollos-doneswitzerlands-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/whenever-im-told-i-have-to-jump-up-and-seize-the-day-i-want-to-go-back-to-bed-and-do-absolutely-nothing-for-at-least-a-week-norways-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/a-neat-trick-if-you-can-do-it-croatias-2017-eurovision-entry/

Here’s Ma and Pa in San Marino:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/04/im-wondering-how-many-nightclubs-there-are-in-san-marino-and-thinking-maybe-just-one-san-marinos-2017-eurovision-entry/

For youthful angst – Ireland:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/04/too-much-pain-irelands-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/04/some-eurovision-songs-you-really-struggle-to-say-anything-interesting-about-denmarks-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/i-just-wish-this-song-was-the-product-of-a-nation-with-a-slightly-less-horrible-government-hungarys-2017-eurovision-entry/

The Netherlands offers something altogether safer:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/the-three-sisters-go-to-kiev-rather-than-moscow-the-netherlands-2017-eurovision-entry/

Utterly (winningly?) different is Romania:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/this-one-has-the-drunk-vote-in-its-pocket-and-thats-a-critical-demographic-romanias-2017-eurovision-entry/

Less immediately exciting is Malta:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/27/drowning-by-numbers-maltas-2017-eurovision-entry/

So you might prefer Macedonia:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/is-she-alone-or-isnt-she-macedonias-2017-eurovision-entry/

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/

 

 

 

Ah, this is where it gets heavy. Ukraine’s 2017 Eurovision Entry.

zombies

The need to keep Eurovision “free from politics” is one of those impossible official mantras that won’t die – even though it can’t live.

Russia are not coming to Eurovision this year, because their singer Julia Samoilova did not obey official Ukrainian protocols when visiting Crimea in 2015 and is therefore barred from going to Kiev.  Ukraine, meanwhile, are hosting this year’s contest because they won last year in Stockholm with a song (1944) which reflected bitter wartime memories that triangulate Ukraine, Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia.

Ukraine will not win Eurovision with this song, and perhaps they couldn’t win it with any song.  Every nation in Europe knows that if Ukraine were to host the competition again in 2018 then Russia might well be absent again in 2018, a repeated absence that would hit the competition very hard.

As it happens, neither Ukraine nor Russia will host the 2018 Eurovision, which means that Eurovision will no longer be put in the position of glitzy cockpit of Europe’s most serious (Brexit notwithstanding) diplomatic crisis.  The crisis will continue but Eurovision will cease to be relevant to it.

And after all, there is a limit to what the European Broadcasting Union can actually do to enforce any settlement between militarised nation states and their territorial disputes.  The EBU may have access to dry ice, sequins, and brightly coloured lasers, but they don’t own a single aircraft carrier.

It is some relief, therefore, to discover that Ukraine’s song is drab and tiresome and highly unlikely to win a song contest even in a politically neutral environment ( albeit no such environment exists).

The video illustrates the kind of performance that can and presumably will be replicated on a live Kiev stage.

Ukrainian heavy-metal band O. Torvald offer a pompous meditation on the fourth dimension by inhabiting a a post-apocalyptic wasteland of a set.  Digital clocks are embedded into their living (or undead) flesh (or rather into the nylon flesh-coloured webbing they are wearing), so that you can tell exactly how long this thing is going to last.

This helpful information is about the only thing you’re going to like about this song, until the clocks stop at the one minute mark so that we can pause for reflection.  Mainly we’re going to reflect on how much we really dislike them.

I’m not an aficionado of Eurovision Heavy Metal, but I have to say I greatly prefer the gusto and hell for leather innocence of Lordi over the po-faced self importance of O. Torvald.   They are out of time.  They are not going to win, and so we’re not going to have to hear this again next year.

Here is every other Eurovision song, including the ones that have already been eliminated, nearly all of which I prefer to this Ukranian zombie apocalypse.

Here’s Italy:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/12/desmond-morris-meets-edward-said-meets-an-amusing-gorilla-italys-2017-eurovision-entry/

France:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/12/taking-it-seriously-frances-2017-eurovision-entry/

Germany:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/11/some-lives-may-be-a-bit-too-perfect-germanys-2017-eurovision-entry/

And Spain:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/11/do-what-exactly-for-your-lover-spains-2017-eurovision-entry/

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:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/borrow-a-giant-dragon-flag-from-the-manic-street-preachers-and-sing-in-welsh-its-lucie-jones-only-conceivable-hope-the-uks-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/facing-westward-israels-2017-eurovision-entry/

Meanwhile, there’s Estonia.  Which enrages me:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/i-am-professionally-obligated-to-hate-this-song-estonias-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/not-quite-as-good-as-i-sort-of-want-it-to-be-lithuanias-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/the-freshest-face-of-all-bulgarias-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/id-feel-a-lot-happier-about-this-jolly-video-if-i-wasnt-afraid-that-it-was-filmed-at-gunpoint-the-belarus-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/who-do-you-think-you-kidding-mr-nietzsche-if-you-think-apollos-doneswitzerlands-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/whenever-im-told-i-have-to-jump-up-and-seize-the-day-i-want-to-go-back-to-bed-and-do-absolutely-nothing-for-at-least-a-week-norways-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/a-neat-trick-if-you-can-do-it-croatias-2017-eurovision-entry/

Here’s Ma and Pa in San Marino:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/04/im-wondering-how-many-nightclubs-there-are-in-san-marino-and-thinking-maybe-just-one-san-marinos-2017-eurovision-entry/

For youthful angst – Ireland:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/04/too-much-pain-irelands-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/04/some-eurovision-songs-you-really-struggle-to-say-anything-interesting-about-denmarks-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/i-just-wish-this-song-was-the-product-of-a-nation-with-a-slightly-less-horrible-government-hungarys-2017-eurovision-entry/

The Netherlands offers something altogether safer:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/the-three-sisters-go-to-kiev-rather-than-moscow-the-netherlands-2017-eurovision-entry/

Utterly (winningly?) different is Romania:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/this-one-has-the-drunk-vote-in-its-pocket-and-thats-a-critical-demographic-romanias-2017-eurovision-entry/

Less immediately exciting is Malta:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/27/drowning-by-numbers-maltas-2017-eurovision-entry/

So you might prefer Macedonia:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/is-she-alone-or-isnt-she-macedonias-2017-eurovision-entry/

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/

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

karma

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.

http://wiwibloggs.com/2017/04/03/francesco-gabbani-meets-desmond-morris-the-zoologist-who-inspired-occidentalis-karma/184953/

(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

France:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/12/taking-it-seriously-frances-2017-eurovision-entry/

Germany:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/11/some-lives-may-be-a-bit-too-perfect-germanys-2017-eurovision-entry/

And Spain:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/11/do-what-exactly-for-your-lover-spains-2017-eurovision-entry/

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:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/borrow-a-giant-dragon-flag-from-the-manic-street-preachers-and-sing-in-welsh-its-lucie-jones-only-conceivable-hope-the-uks-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/facing-westward-israels-2017-eurovision-entry/

Meanwhile, there’s Estonia.  Which enrages me:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/i-am-professionally-obligated-to-hate-this-song-estonias-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/not-quite-as-good-as-i-sort-of-want-it-to-be-lithuanias-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/the-freshest-face-of-all-bulgarias-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/id-feel-a-lot-happier-about-this-jolly-video-if-i-wasnt-afraid-that-it-was-filmed-at-gunpoint-the-belarus-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/who-do-you-think-you-kidding-mr-nietzsche-if-you-think-apollos-doneswitzerlands-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/whenever-im-told-i-have-to-jump-up-and-seize-the-day-i-want-to-go-back-to-bed-and-do-absolutely-nothing-for-at-least-a-week-norways-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/a-neat-trick-if-you-can-do-it-croatias-2017-eurovision-entry/

Here’s Ma and Pa in San Marino:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/04/im-wondering-how-many-nightclubs-there-are-in-san-marino-and-thinking-maybe-just-one-san-marinos-2017-eurovision-entry/

For youthful angst – Ireland:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/04/too-much-pain-irelands-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/04/some-eurovision-songs-you-really-struggle-to-say-anything-interesting-about-denmarks-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/i-just-wish-this-song-was-the-product-of-a-nation-with-a-slightly-less-horrible-government-hungarys-2017-eurovision-entry/

The Netherlands offers something altogether safer:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/the-three-sisters-go-to-kiev-rather-than-moscow-the-netherlands-2017-eurovision-entry/

Utterly (winningly?) different is Romania:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/this-one-has-the-drunk-vote-in-its-pocket-and-thats-a-critical-demographic-romanias-2017-eurovision-entry/

Less immediately exciting is Malta:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/27/drowning-by-numbers-maltas-2017-eurovision-entry/

So you might prefer Macedonia:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/is-she-alone-or-isnt-she-macedonias-2017-eurovision-entry/

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/

 

Taking it seriously. France’s 2017 Eurovision Entry.

france

France traditionally finds it hard to commit to Eurovision with any sort of po-faced determination.  A few years ago, they submitted a bizarre little cabaret song about moustaches which came bottom of the table and which my son loved and is still surprised to find is not available on Spotify.

This year’s entry is about as sincere as they come, though.  It’s called “Requiem” and it isn’t.  It’s the opposite of a requiem and it’s about being the opposite of a requiem but there’s not enough, either  lyrically or melodically, of the requiem about it to make this oppositionality really work.  This is not a light shining in the darkness.  It’s about a light barely registering in the daylight.

And this is my problem with the song – it doesn’t inhabit the idea of a “requiem” sufficiently to subvert it.  In the same way that casually agnostic people really can’t do good blasphemy (as T.S. Eliot once memorably observed).

The official video is entertaining enough.  She wanders through Paris with a big smile on her face for the most part.  She’s wearing black, but is otherwise as cheerful as you like.  Meanwhile, a pair of very elegant dancers are waltzing vertically up the walls of prominent Parisian landmarks with a certain grace and confidence that would shame Spiderman.   Not reproducible on stage in Kiev I fear.

This requiem and this requiem singer would be the perfect accompaniment to a funeral of somebody who nobody likes very much.

Here are all the other 2017 entries – including the ones that have already been knocked out:

Germany

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/11/some-lives-may-be-a-bit-too-perfect-germanys-2017-eurovision-entry/

And Spain:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/11/do-what-exactly-for-your-lover-spains-2017-eurovision-entry/

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:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/borrow-a-giant-dragon-flag-from-the-manic-street-preachers-and-sing-in-welsh-its-lucie-jones-only-conceivable-hope-the-uks-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/facing-westward-israels-2017-eurovision-entry/

Meanwhile, there’s Estonia.  Which enrages me:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/i-am-professionally-obligated-to-hate-this-song-estonias-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/not-quite-as-good-as-i-sort-of-want-it-to-be-lithuanias-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/the-freshest-face-of-all-bulgarias-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/id-feel-a-lot-happier-about-this-jolly-video-if-i-wasnt-afraid-that-it-was-filmed-at-gunpoint-the-belarus-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/who-do-you-think-you-kidding-mr-nietzsche-if-you-think-apollos-doneswitzerlands-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/whenever-im-told-i-have-to-jump-up-and-seize-the-day-i-want-to-go-back-to-bed-and-do-absolutely-nothing-for-at-least-a-week-norways-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/a-neat-trick-if-you-can-do-it-croatias-2017-eurovision-entry/

Here’s Ma and Pa in San Marino:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/04/im-wondering-how-many-nightclubs-there-are-in-san-marino-and-thinking-maybe-just-one-san-marinos-2017-eurovision-entry/

For youthful angst – Ireland:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/04/too-much-pain-irelands-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/04/some-eurovision-songs-you-really-struggle-to-say-anything-interesting-about-denmarks-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/i-just-wish-this-song-was-the-product-of-a-nation-with-a-slightly-less-horrible-government-hungarys-2017-eurovision-entry/

The Netherlands offers something altogether safer:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/the-three-sisters-go-to-kiev-rather-than-moscow-the-netherlands-2017-eurovision-entry/

Utterly (winningly?) different is Romania:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/this-one-has-the-drunk-vote-in-its-pocket-and-thats-a-critical-demographic-romanias-2017-eurovision-entry/

Less immediately exciting is Malta:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/27/drowning-by-numbers-maltas-2017-eurovision-entry/

So you might prefer Macedonia:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/is-she-alone-or-isnt-she-macedonias-2017-eurovision-entry/

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/

Eurovision’s Second Semi-Final. An Impressionistic and Clueless Guide.

 

kiev

 

Do not trust my preferences,  under any circumstances whatsoever.  As a general rule of thumb, if there’s anything that I feel is particularly arresting or original or expressive – it’s doomed.  Anything that I think is smug, pompous, insufferable, and a calculated insult to the human spirit is probably a real contender and may go all the way.

My least favorite singer of all – Cypriot Hovig – sailed into the finals – while the song that I found most beautiful of all this year – Finland’s – was kicked into oblivion.  Montenegro’s extraordinary performance also bit the dust.

So you can use this sequence of reflections in a fairly contrarian way, if you like.

One general reflection that does occur to me, is that the structure of semi-finals may have the unhappy side-effect of editing some of the more eccentric offerings out of the Saturday night’s entertainment.  The people watching and therefore voting for the semi-finalists on weekdays are less likely to be appreciatively lubricated than Saturday night’s audience, less inclined to vote for something for the sheer merry hilarious Hell of it.

That said, I’m still confident that the extraordinary rap-yodelers from Romania will do well enough to get into the finals where they’ll do even better with a much larger and drunker electorate.

If they don’t then I’ll be seriously depressed.

 

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/

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/

Or you might prefer Macedonia:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/is-she-alone-or-isnt-she-macedonias-2017-eurovision-entry/

Less immediately exciting is Malta:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/27/drowning-by-numbers-maltas-2017-eurovision-entry/

Utterly (winningly?) different is Romania:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/this-one-has-the-drunk-vote-in-its-pocket-and-thats-a-critical-demographic-romanias-2017-eurovision-entry/

The Netherlands offers something altogether safer:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/the-three-sisters-go-to-kiev-rather-than-moscow-the-netherlands-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/i-just-wish-this-song-was-the-product-of-a-nation-with-a-slightly-less-horrible-government-hungarys-2017-eurovision-entry/

I really struggle to say anything interesting about Denmark’s:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/04/some-eurovision-songs-you-really-struggle-to-say-anything-interesting-about-denmarks-2017-eurovision-entry/

For youthful angst – Ireland:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/04/too-much-pain-irelands-2017-eurovision-entry/

Here’s Ma and Pa in San Marino:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/04/im-wondering-how-many-nightclubs-there-are-in-san-marino-and-thinking-maybe-just-one-san-marinos-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/a-neat-trick-if-you-can-do-it-croatias-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/whenever-im-told-i-have-to-jump-up-and-seize-the-day-i-want-to-go-back-to-bed-and-do-absolutely-nothing-for-at-least-a-week-norways-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/who-do-you-think-you-kidding-mr-nietzsche-if-you-think-apollos-doneswitzerlands-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/id-feel-a-lot-happier-about-this-jolly-video-if-i-wasnt-afraid-that-it-was-filmed-at-gunpoint-the-belarus-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/the-freshest-face-of-all-bulgarias-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/not-quite-as-good-as-i-sort-of-want-it-to-be-lithuanias-2017-eurovision-entry/

Meanwhile, there’s Estonia.  Which enrages me:

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/i-am-professionally-obligated-to-hate-this-song-estonias-2017-eurovision-entry/

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

https://conradbrunstrom.wordpress.com/2017/05/10/facing-westward-israels-2017-eurovision-entry/