2016 Review: Belgium

A few stupid things to do during a national final:

  1. Keeping your headphones plugged into the computer and fail to realize that the sound is turned off until halfway into the national final
  2. Deciding to do something “productive” during interval acts once the sound comes on because you don’t understand Dutch
  3. Being really confused on Twitter since everyone else has watched the full national final with the sound on

If you see this, you probably won’t hear any sound.

So I watched VRT’s Eurosong, and at the same time I can still say I didn’t watch it. I think I recall Adil and backup dancers with fluorescent body paint, and Amaryllis caught in a spiderweb on the stage of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (complete with random floating lamps). There was also Astrid getting chewed out by Christer Björkman for being “more of an interval act” and Tom with some kind of pop rock song that sounded like a cross between Denmark 2011 and Belgium 2010.

And then there was Laura Tesoro (which I kept misreading “Laura Tesco.”) I didn’t get to see her performance until Eurovision.tv uploaded a short clip. Even if a lot of people are commenting that she looks more like that really enthusiastic person at the karaoke bar or open mike night, at least she’s really enthusiastic and into her performance. On the other hand, when I listened to the song without realizing that my headphones weren’t plugged in and quickly turned the sound off, I ended up getting the Cha-Cha Slide stuck in my head. It’s either that, or “What’s the pressure? Duh-du-uh-duh, duh-du-uh-duh.”

Maybe this isn’t the final version. If that were the case, then it’s a good thing that VRT made an early selection. I’m thinking if Laura keeps her enthusiasm and the instrumental gets toned down a bit, the song would sound less like she’s trying to sing over the karaoke machine. But if it is, it’s not as bad as people keep thinking the song to be.

Friends react to Mello 2015

Thursdays are my rough day at uni, though that’s my fault for setting up my class schedule. There’s no way I’m opening my textbook right after 3 classes in a row without taking an official lunch break, at least not after eating something. Trying to study after baking 7000 chocolate chip cookies at the bakery would have been easier since you don’t have to think about anything. Instead, I decide to relax and watch ESC reruns for 2 hours before heading off to class #4.

After noticing that one of my friends was watching me binge-watching Melodifestivalen, I turned on the speakers and decided to see their reactions to the “weird stuff that happens in Sweden.”

Groupie

  • “I wanna punch those guys in the face”
  • “Oh my god, do they know how stupid selfie sticks look?”

Building It Up

  • “Wait, there’s three of them?”
  • “You said they’re from Australia? No wonder this song is terrible! They haven’t put out anything good outside of AC/DC.”

Make Me (La La La)

  • “I think they’re waterbending. […] I think I should learn those moves and audition for her dance team.”
  • “Their outfits are sooooo Jojo. But they’re not sparkly enough.”
  • Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were a guy.”
  • “That smile just looks kinda fake and painful. Or is it just her makeup?”

Jag är Fri

  • “Why is his outfit so shiny?”
  • “Okay, I take back what I said about his outfit. It’s awesome.”
  • “They look like they’re jellyfish.”
  • “Why are they not focusing on the dancers more? They’re dancing the hell out of it and he’s just mumbling!”

Can’t Hurt Me Now

  • “I’m already bored and falling asleep.”

Heroes

  • “It looks like he bought that shirt at H&M.”
  • (Me: “M, he’s not going to split his pants.”) “Oh no, I’m just going to stare at his crotch to make sure he doesn’t split them…no! You stupid camera guy, stop moving away from him!”

Forever Starts Today

  • “Hey look, it’s Aang! And he’s got ink too!”
  • “Why is Aang standing next to all that fire? Because he’s finally at peace with the Fire Nation.”
  • “They should have filmed it from above to see the drums.”
  • “So we’ve seen Waterbenders, Airbenders, and the Fire Nation. I wonder if Sweden has Earthbenders.”

Don’t Stop

  • “I think I can do that dance [at the last 30 seconds where there’s hardly any dancing].”

Möt Mig i Gamla Stan

  • “You said this is the happiest breakup song? (Me: No, that’s 2006.) Oh, you had my interest at the time.”
  • “I’m sorry, this just looks like a presidential campaign. He’s running for president, the two male backing dancers are vice president and secretary of state, and that one dancer on the smoke machine is national security.”
  • “Those two guys are hotter than he is.”
  • (After showing them Alcazar’s “Blame it on the Disco” since Magnus and Andreas used to be in a relationship) “So he looks like he’s on a serious campaign, while they look like they just lost the election and are saying, ‘f*** it, we’re going to the club.’”

Sting:

  • “Why is he dressed up like a waiter?”

Don’t Stop Believing

  • “ I think they got rid of the music for the show…”

Guld och Gröne Skogar

  • “Now this is real music!”
  • “I wanna dance to this!”

It feels great to have other people to bounce comments off of while watching Mello. Maybe next time I’ll ask them to watch Eurovision with once all the songs come out…

Gyllene Skor

I just checked the tags for “barefoot” and “asexual”, and the count was 5 and 7 posts, respectively. Whoops. Maybe I should have chosen a different page title (though that’s not entirely fair since I hadn’t come out at the time)…

If you didn’t bother to check the title of the entire page, I’m a barefooter (at least a part-time) and don’t like wearing shoes. IMO, wearing shoes is like going to a buffet and getting the same bowl of room-temperature porridge every time when there are so many different flavors, textures, and temperatures to experience. There’s the slightly grainy feel to a smooth wooden floor, the cool feeling to a polished tile floor, the warm earthy feel when running on grass after summer rain. There’s the firewalk over hot asphalt paired with cool, white, painted lines, the occasional grate on the concrete, maybe a puddle to hop into. And then there’s snow, where I’ll feel giddy sinking my feet into an inch of snow, letting the heat flow out to melt into the perfect footprint, and running back indoors to feel warm blood rushing back to my toes.

Just be careful though, since a numb foot= a dumb foot. And insulation is important too.

But not everything’s fair in the buffet, especially 3 things: hypothermia, sharps, and legal issues. Sure it’s great getting to walk over all the different textures, but it’s probably a good idea to check the weather and look where you’re going. It’s also a good idea to make sure to not get banned from stores from “forgetting to wear shoes.” And while setting a temperature limit (for me it’s 0 deg C for wet ground and -4 deg C for dry ground, wind chill dependent) and watching for suspicious items, I can’t just stay indoors 24/7 or put on emergency flip flops, especially not as a chemistry major. Also, as a uni student, there’s no way I’m getting Michael Flatley’s $40 million leg insurance. That’s when foot protection items come in. And this is probably the only post where I’ll write about how I like this pair of shoes.

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For anyone who doesn’t care about Eurovision (read: my family), it’s great that this pair of wooden clogs is bright yellow. That way others can see and hear them from 50+ meters away. They’re also a little bit tall but not slanted, so I can keep my feet out of the snow but still walk flat. It’s also nice that if I can’t go barefoot, I can at least bring a little piece of wooden floor with. And if someone’s being an asshole (read: the person in the bio department who keeps making rude ace jokes about binary fission), I’m wearing 2 projectiles around my feet.

As for anyone in the ESC community, a) they’re Swedish clogs, which connects to Stockholm hosting the contest this year, and b) they have to connect to the Herreys that won in 1984 singing about yellow shoes. I don’t think I’m going to dance in them, but I’ll definitely sing (read: mumble) along if the song comes up on my playlist.

2016 Review: Ireland

The news just came in as I woke up this morning (on the 13th): RTÉ officially announced their internal selection. No Late Late Show, no national final-talk show, no performance in a studio with bad echo, and no people on stage calling certain audience members odious little men. Yes, I’m talking about you, Linda Martin.

This year Ireland internally selected former Westlife member Nicky Byrne to perform the song “Sunlight.” Overall it’s a radio-friendly, Mello-esque entry that’s somewhat catchy with a video similar to Ryan Dolan’s in 2013, and I can already hear the recap soundbites of “In the sun—light” after listening to the song once and looking at the lyrics. At the same time, because it’s an entry that sounds like a typical Swedish American Swedish pop song on the radio, there will be people arguing that it’s a formulaic Eurovision-by-numbers song written specifically for the contest and/or that it sounds like a schlager from the mid ‘00s. But even though it could be that, I still like it (as of so far after 4-5 listens) and would probably sing along with in the car if it came up.

As there haven’t been any live performances of this song yet, his vocal performance and the staging/choreography are going make or break whether Ireland qualifies for the final. I don’t want to jinx anything (*knocks on wood*), but Ireland’s done fairly well in recent years ending in 6. Eimear Quinn earned Ireland’s 7th win in 1996, and Brian Kennedy, who was also internally selected after 2 years of poor results, received a respectable 10th place in 2006.

Given that there are still 41 entries left to be presented (which include all the countries that bookies are likely to hype), I doubt that Ireland’s going to bring home an 8th win. Hopefully Ireland doesn’t suffer from early release like the Netherlands last year and will earn a somewhat decent result. And by Ireland’s recent entries, I’m going to guess that “decent” means qualifying and receiving anything higher than last place, maybe a lower mid-table score. Or maybe they’ll ride on the luck of 6’s and get something better.

If they roll two 6’s, they’ll get Eurovision’s lucky number 12…

Cranky barefooters wearing boots

Well it finally got too cold to go barefoot outside (below 0oC wet ground/-4oC cold ground) and now I have to wear shoes because of something called snow. Snowfooting is great, but that only works under limited conditions. I can do that when walking less than 50 feet to pick up the mail or take out the trash, while staying outside only long enough to feel the burn of heat and blood flow returning to my toes when running back inside. On non-windy days, flip flops are okay walking 10-15 minutes between buildings at uni after covering up everything else from the cold. But sometimes I can’t guarantee that my feet will be fine, and that’s when all-around insulation is needed: boots, to be exact.

Preferably ones without holes, since duct tape and snow (read: water) don’t work together very well. But say hello to 3 months of not touching the sidewalk…

So I end up turning into a very cranky barefooter. People keep going “Ha, I told you so” when they see me walking on campus as a marshmallow with boots 2 sizes too big. Maybe they keep my feet out of the cold/snow/wind, but I have to re-train myself how to walk or run around like a 5-year-old trying on a pair of stilettos, and there’s always the general problem of socks slipping off. I’m pretty sure the best solution would be to find a pair of boots that’s the right size (which there probably is in the house), but I’m also really lazy and don’t feel like finding them. As of right now, the only thing to do is to plod along, step by step, one by one. And that shouldn’t be too bad, considering that I’m not going anywhere.

In that case, all I would have to worry about is feeling cold when it’s 20oC indoors and I’m wearing a hoodie. It’s probably not a good thing feeling like a block of ice on the inside. Or is that caused by snowfooting too much?

2016 Review: Albania

Albania finally kick-started national final season on 25 December when RTSH hosted Festivali i Këngës and selected Eneda Tarifa to represent the country with the song “Përrallë” (“Fairytale”).

I’ve never watched FiK, but judging by people’s comments on Twitter, I probably won’t plan on watching it live, at least until I leave uni and/or move out. Even if it’s probably not 80% ads for Mediterranean Bank/Crosscraft/202 Jewelry (*cough Malta cough*), someone mentioned that someone gave a speaker a bouquet of flowers to get them to shut up and leave the stage. So there was probably a lot of filler between the 22 finalists, and I feel a little bad for the orchestra that had to sit for hours.

Compared to FiK 2014 and 2015, the entry sounds a lot more radio-friendly rather than “orchestra+ average-age-over-60” friendly: it’s kind of an electro-ethno-ballad that reminds me of someone crossing Macedonia’s 2002 entry and Norway’s 2013 entry, and some people are also saying it sounds Bond-theme-ish. The song also works well with or without the orchestra. IMO the extra strings in the live performance help fill the stage a little more, but the studio, more electronic version could work with tighter camera angles (which it appears Eneda and her team have already practiced for during her FiK performance). Either way, she’s already proved that she can pull off the song live.

It’s also great that there’s no random 30-second guitar solo in the middle of the song. That’s a good thing for the song right now, but the official ESC version still needs 25-30 seconds cut out. While Eneda has said in interviews that the song will be re-vamped, I’m a little worried that the lack of a removable/filler guitar solo means the song might be badly cut like Germany’s entry in 2013. I also hope that the re-vamp doesn’t turn into a de-vamped entry drowned out by other countries at Eurovision (*cough Albania 2014*).

Apart from the song, I’m a little curious about the backdrop of her performance. Partway through the song, there’s an Armenian eternity symbol in the background (which Aram MP3 also used in his performance in 2014). Is this supposed to be any significance to the symbol for Eneda’s performance, or is it just a geometric shape pattern that fills up space on the wall? And is the symbol used anywhere outside Armenian communities?

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Some good came out of that mess??

So my friend A’s sister got married recently. While it wasn’t Krista Siegfrids’ Team Ding Dong kind of obnoxious, it was kind of hard to avoid the news, since she (and her family/friends/acquaintances) spammed my Facebook page with pictures, and it made things really awkward. I don’t mean the 5 seconds of not recognizing her new last name on the Internet, but the fact that she reminded me of 5 years of 1-sided not-relationship-or-whatever with A and/or getting over the incident. Thanks, German 1 teacher, for shipping us and making me fall in love with him at the time, and thanks Trijntje Oosterhuis for summarizing my feelings in 3 minutes.

Even though I usually think of the incident as something negative (since it threw my already bad concentration off the edge multiple times), two good things did appear out of it with a little help from my German 3 teacher and a notebook full of badly-written fanfiction:

  • I eventually got over it, had about 1.5 months of a beta test, and as of today have been in 13 months of a stable relationship with my SO.
  • From a DeviantART post, I found Alexander Rybak’s “Fairytale” on YouTube which kickstarted my love for Eurovision.

In that case, uhhh… Thanks A? For making me feel confused and decide to find stuff on the Internet and eventually find my favorite TV show?

Well that was just awkward…let’s make the next post less awkward.