суббота, 7 мая 2016 г.

Thoughts regarding Eurovision Song Contest

ESC 2016 will take place in Stockholm next Saturday. I used to watch ESC every year but once I became an active Internet user, live broadcast lost its attraction for me. If you've already seen a mixture of all songs, if you know who'll be the winner, what's the intrigue?

Why do I pretend to know the name of the winner? Well, just take a look at the betting odds (especially, at the average difference between the first place and the pursuers). Don't tell me that stakes show nothing, ESC is not FA Premier League. Thus, I'm pretty sure that Russia will win Eurovision for the second time in history this year (and thus will become a bit closer to Luxembourg which has 5 victories :) ). Surprisingly, I completely agree that Sergey Lazarev is the best contestant. In contrast, my impressions usually have not much to do with the final results (in other words, with the public opinion). For example, last year my favorites were

  1. Il Volo
  2. Polina Gagarina
  3. Somebody else. Probably, still not Måns Zelmerlöw, the actual winner of ESC 2015
Another example concerns this year's national qualifications. Even though qualification rounds in Russia have been canceled several years ago, many countries still elect their representatives publicly. I couldn't miss Germany national contest in the end of February. On the average, I know almost no ESC participants. In this case, however, two participants out of ten broke that rule. Just a couple of hours prior to the contest, I learned that "Gregorian", performers of Gregorian chant-inspired versions of popular songs, whose concert in Saint Petersburg I attended three years earlier, and famous metal band "Avantasia" would compete. German qualification round has an unusual structure: first, all participants perform, then the audience votes, and seven worst singers/bands are eliminated. Three best participants sing once again immediately after that. Second voting round determines who'll perform an encore. 

On the evening of February 25, I was watching a live stream of Germany national song contest, listening to commentary in German (without understanding anything :) ) and was supporting "Avantasia". "Gregorian" dropped out of competition after the first stage, "Avantasia" finished in Top 3. If they had passed to the ESC, they would have been my favorite. Awesome song, one of the most beautiful music videos I've ever seen, advertising campaign for the target audience, artistry of Tobias Sammet, wasn't that enough? Actually, that was insufficient due to two reasons. First, their live performance was not that great. To achieve a great result in ESC, a contestant should have an impressive visual accompaniment. Like Sergey Lazarev or Måns Zelmerlöw have (even though Lazarev's music video is even cooler). Seconly, the same audience which elected Lena Meyer-Landrut two times in a row (for ESCs 2010 and 2011) just can't vote for the metal song. That's why Jamie-Lee Kriewitz victory wasn't that unexpected. 

In the absense of "Avantasia" in the final round, my sympathies (disregarding Russia) are with Italy and Austria, represented by Francesca Michielin and Zoë Straub, respectively. To me, the latter one is among the most remarkable participants of that ESC. In her 19, she recorded one album consisting of twelve songs (!) in French. Born in Austrian family, having sung in her native language in child contest 9 years ago, now she appears in music videos shot in Paris and one of her French-language songs is nominated for 2016 Amadeus Austrian Music Award. Apparently, nine years at Lycée français de Vienne weren't in vain :) Here is another reason (for me) not to watch Eurovision: according to bookmakers' opinion, Zoë will not even finish in Top 10 in the first semifinal on Tuesday of the upcoming week. 

However, there is always a part worth watching. It is an introduction. Remeber "Building Bridges" flashmob from the last year? That's what the Eurovision is all about. Not about determining of the best artist, but about establishing trustworthy connections between nations when insane things are happening around us. That's why it is not weird but cool when Australia takes part in European song contest and is represented by the singer having South Korean origins. 

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