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…

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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.

Safe space for everyone?

RFSL, one of Sweden’s most prominent organizations for LGBT+ rights, is suggesting a “pride park” safe space in Stockholm during Eurovision season. While I’m not opposed to the idea, it could mean worse traffic issues in the city (not that hosting ESC ever meant great traffic conditions anyway). Given all the political issues and locational bias towards participants and fans, I also wouldn’t be surprised if someone (outside of RFSL) put a sign by the park excluding fans from much of Eastern Europe.

We don’t want this happening.

Ever since Dana International’s victory in 1998, the Eurovision Song Contest has been viewed as a haven for the LGBT+ community. It’s as normal to see a rainbow flag in the audience as it is to see other countries’ flags, and Alexander Rybak called the contest the “world’s biggest pride parade.” However, the community isn’t equal in its treatment towards participants in the contest, and the contestants are still judged by the country they represent. For an LGBT+ friendly country, the artist is usually welcomed with open arms, until a tiny incident results in negative press to reject them. For a less LGBT+ friendly country, the artist has to prove themselves to the community, though any incident is simply blamed on the conservative country’s influence.

Prior to winning Melodifestivalen 2015, Måns Zelmerlöw said (while possibly drunk) on a TV show in 2014 that LGBT+ people were “avvikelse” (deviant). Though he apologized multiple times for the incident in Sweden (and most parties accepted the apologies), the incident was dug up by the press again after his victory at Friends once the bookies claimed he would win Eurovision: How could someone singing about childhood bullying and being a hero say that LGBT+ was unnatural? The press claimed that he could be a homophobe based off the one minute of drunken speech on TV and the YouTube commenters immediately followed, claiming that they weren’t going to vote for him anymore. Even while he was in Vienna, the press kept bringing up the incident, ignoring that he had also performed at prides and hosted the 2014 QX Gaygalan. After his victory either based on the song/staging/claiming a week before the contest that he would date a guy if he woke up one day and felt attraction to guys (logic class people: that’s a conditional statement written as “q if given p”), the negative press against him suddenly disappeared outside of a few angry audience members on social media.  Once again, he was viewed as a hero and an ally.

On the other side of the Iron Curtain, the non-LGBT+ press doesn’t really do anything.  During the first season of X-Factor Adria (for those people in ex-Yugo countries), Željko Joksimović made openly transphobic statements at Fifi Janevska, a transgender woman, during her audition (e.g. using the term “trandža/tranny,” questioning why she used female pronouns when she used a male name in audition paperwork, then using plural “you” to refer to her, saying that “there are two of you”). He and the broadcaster Channel Pink later claimed on Twitter that no apology was necessary and that he was entitled to his own opinion. However, this incident was pretty much ignored outside of raging LGBT+ groups within Serbia with only minor coverage from international LGBT+ sites and Eurovision news sites. Despite Željko Joksimović’s participation as an artist/composer/host in 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2012 (note: all after 1998), the ESC press did not dig up the incident when he re-appeared in the contest to compose Knez’s entry in 2015. Instead, the press simply noted that the ex-Yugo region was still much more conservative with gender/sexuality minority rights and chose not to bring up the incident. Both acts related to him (Macedonia (FYR) and Montenegro) didn’t have very high chances of winning the contest either anyways.

The X Factor incident isn’t even written on his Wikipedia page, while MZW has a section on his page specifically about the TV show incident.

For Russia, Polina Gagarina was dealing with a double edged sword. Due to the Kremlin passing the law against “LGBT+ propaganda,” and the state-owned Channel 1 internally selecting her to sing another “ironic peace song”, she was booed simply for representing her country, even when she made it clear on social media that she herself didn’t represent the government’s policies and appeared to be an ally. The media might have enjoyed her performance, but after the 3 minutes they returned to side-eying the country’s participant, especially after she took on a lead in the voting: if Russia won the contest, the contest’s reputation of being a safe haven for LGBT+ could be damaged. Even during the performance, members of the audience silently protested by waving rainbow flags, blocking her performance on camera. At the same time, she was criticized in by members of the Russian government, as politicians in Moscow voiced concern about her posted images of her and Conchita Wurst.

If RFSL’s plan for a safe space/pride park does go through with SVT and the city of Stockholm, then the safe space cannot discriminate people for country of origin or their country’s LGBT+ unfriendly policies. Though politics and bookie statistics might mar the contest’s “neutrality,” SVT can at least try to keep most of the issues out of the city during Eurovision Week.

Perfectly Damaged- Album Review

After going through my post-Eurovision YouTube history, watching me dance Cara Mia and belt Hope and Glory out of tune, and obnoxiously sighing while watching me go through his Instagram (while complaining how his pizza looks weird), my sister got a little concerned. So after about 5 minutes of trying to deny her suspicions, yes, I’ve got a bit of a fan-crush on Måns Zelmerlöw. (Thanks, video of acoustic version of Hope and Glory, you really sealed the deal…) Eventually it got to the point that instead of just streaming on YouTube and Spotify*, I decided to buy his album. And rant (positively) about it.

*Then again, Spotify sucks if you live in the wrong region. At the moment which I am typing this, Spotify will only play 3 of MZW’s tracks: “Heroes” (due to Eurovision), “Should’ve Gone Home” (recent promotion for his music video), and “Miss America.” (Is it because it’s USA friendly due to the name? Aesj.)

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Site said it would ship in 2 weeks. It arrived in 3 days 🙂

Track List:

  1. Stir It Up: I’m pretty sure everyone’s TL; DR for this song is “Do something; carpe diem.” This is a good introduction track to the CD, since in other words the song says, “I don’t want to regret not doing anything, so I’m going everywhere as a storyteller since someone told me to quit farting around at home eating pizza and watching Netflix.” Songwise it’s a little repetitive, but at least the refrain’s catchy. Now onwards to the rest of the album…
  2. Heroes: Though he doesn’t have a song called “Perfectly Damaged” on the album, this song is probably the closest to the album title: “We are the heroes of our times” (seen as “perfect” by others), “but we’re dancing with the demons in our minds” (seen as “broken/damaged” on the inside). Also as everyone in the ESC world knows, this song (and the stick man MP) won Eurovision. Enough said.

    “Did I ever tell you 200 million people will know you after May?”

  3. Someday: If a couple is like fire and gasoline, then there are only two options: Either they can work together really well, or it’s constant crisis management after playing with fire. Given the lyrics, things aren’t working as well as expected for this couple since at least one party is drifting away. It’s written by the same team that wrote “Heroes,” so it’s got a similar dramatic, “Look, I can do this and fix the problem” vibe and a similar introductory riff. It’s also one of my favourite tracks to sing along to in the car with the windows down, so no apologies if anyone at uni or around where I live hears me trying to belt out “We’ll get it someday, someday, someday, ahh.”
  4. Live While We’re Alive: My sister saw the title and thought it was going to be something related to One Direction’s “Live While We’re Young.” If you’re looking for that, please look up Satin Circus’s UMK 2015 entry instead. Back to the album review: If you play the song once, I’m pretty sure you will get the “oh-oh-oh” part of the refrain stuck in your head. If not, maybe you will be nodding your head to the beat. IMO the second verse is a little easier to sing than the first verse, but it’s just as happy. It’s really hard to not sing along or smile when the song comes up.
  5. Let It Burn: Someone please tell me I’m not the only person think of the “Let it Go” parody where “the flames never bothered [her] anyway” before listening to the song. It’s a little forgettable on the first few listens compared to the first four tracks, but the power kick-starts once he finishes the first almost-spoken verse. Anyways, this feels like a follow-up to “Someday” as he’s continuing the fire metaphor, but this relationship has just begun. It’s either that or the parties are getting back together despite negative outside comments. They already know it’s not going to be easy, that the fire can be good (feeling warm and fuzzy inside) or bad (feeling emotional pain/fighting). But they’re “not afraid of the fire; [they’re] not afraid to get scarred.” Eventually the fire ends up getting used productively (“fire away”) to go “somewhere [they] don’t know.” Looks like they solved the fire and gasoline and it’s a happy ending.
  6. Should’ve Gone Home: So there’s the happy “perfect” part of the album. Then comes the “damaged” half when he’s singing about regret about affairs in a past relationship. In a way, it’s generic and specific at the same time: specific because it’s his personal story to tell, generic because regretting a past action(s) is a universal story. He and his label chose this as his second single to remind the public that he can do more than his Mello entries, and I like that it makes him more human as a storyteller/artist.
  7. Fade Away: This is the least catchy song in the album. Because the two songs have similar styles (a slow, speak-sing verse, a short pause, and then bringing in the refrain with a lot of power) I keep messing this song up with “Let it Burn” when I try to hum the songs in my head. And right after the song is supposed to kick in with “Until I fade away”, I start humming the sound bite to JTR’s “Building it Up” since the instrumentals are very similar. But while it’s hard to sing off the Ohrwurm Network, I still like listening to it and singing along. Still, please don’t make me sing this on karaoke night yet…
  8. Hearts Collide: It’s a waltz, and it’s about two people falling in love. Cue someone quoting TFIOS that they fell in love “the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once.” Yay (for a 2-hour Apple infomercial). It’s also one of those slow songs that my friends and I would have butchered at school dances: instead of swaying along to the beat like it’s supposed to be a boat on the water, we threw in extra moves because it was way too slow and none of us were in relationships at the time. I’ll put this in the “very calming tracks” list to calm down if I suddenly have a panicky meltdown. Otherwise, I’ll be listening to it curled up in bed feeling alone, silently wishing I could talk to someone outside my family at 2AM.
    [/embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsrwD9esuNI[/embed]
  9. The Core of You: I’m kind of glad that this song’s uptempo after the previous song, since too many ballads would make the CD harder to listen to in the car. And sure, it’s probably talking about some sort of relationship, but we already know it doesn’t have to be a romantic one since he’s just asking the other party not to change the core (inner essence) of them. In his concerts, he refers to the students at the schools his charity funds, but the song works for anyone who might be going through some kind of major change on the outside. It’s a great song to say “I support you” with, and it ties back to his “we can all be heroes” spiel at Eurovision.
  10. Unbreakable: My friends and I would have botched “Heart’s Collide” at school dances. We would have rocked out to “Unbreakable,” since it’s got an easy dance floor beat and overall it’s easy to sing along with in the car. I find it really hard to not sing along to the refrain, “I broke the unbreakable, unbreakable, unbreakable, uh-huh,” and feel a little weirded out that this is probably one of the happiest breakup songs that seems to involve regret. Now I’ll be even more weirded out if someone starts playing this at the gym. The mail carrier seems to not care though, as he’s already seen me sing along while raking leaves…
  11. Kingdom in the Sky: If I arranged this album, I would want this song to be the last track. It’s slow, but it’s dramatic and an emotional showstopper. It’s a happy ending with him walking in the clouds on love, having resolved every major issue despite going through pain/demons around him, where the world is strong like iron and his love will soar like an eagle. I’m not sure if it’s the same level as Hedwig and the Angry Inch’s “Midnight Radio” happy ending on Broadway, but it’s definitely an epic ending. Now if only there were more videos of him performing this song outside of Sweden…
  12. What’s In Your Eyes (ft. Tilde Vinter): OK, so I get that he can definitely pull off a ballad (See him and Molly Sandén performing the Swedish version of “I See the Light”). I also get that it’s a well-written and well-produced song with a good emotional arc. The minor problem is that I can’t take the song seriously once they hit the refrain: When they sing the line, “Couldn’t see what’s in your eyes, your eyes, your eyes,” for some reason I want to sing back “THE RAIN, THE RAIN, THE RAIN” from Spain’s 2014 entry as off-key as possible. Maybe it’s because I’m alone in the car driving to class and need to laugh at something…

TL; DR: I really like this album. My favourites are “Heroes,” “Someday,” “Live While We’re Alive,” and “Kingdom in the Sky.”

Ace Awareness Week continued

Okay, so it’s still asexual awareness week so I’m not putting my ace flag down yet. (Actually I just taped a flag to my laptop so it’s always out, and I realized that my grey marker has completely dried out. Aesj.)

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So now you’ve met my laptop…

Anyways, part of the asexual umbrella includes the aromantic community (not aromatic, but aromantic, as in no romantic attraction).

These herbs are aromatic, as in they smell good. Note the lack of an “N” in the word.

Lack of romantic attraction is probably harder to imagine than lack of sexual attraction, but the easiest way to describe it would be that there are different types of love, and romantic love is just one type. The issue is that romantic love is the one type that gets shown on TV, and that’s the first kind of love that people think of when they say 3 words. It’s also the one type that aromantic (aro for short) people don’t feel.

“Vaidas you might want to put the mike down if you’re going to sneeze…”

Outside of romantic love, there’s friendship love…

familial love…

and love for your home/country

But aro ace, non-aro ace, or non-ace, can we please agree that something’s wrong with his pizza?

*Note: Even though I’m asexual, I’m not aromantic. The people at AVEN probably know how to explain things better than I do, so check them out for more information.

Let’s start over with the lyrics…

It’s usually a bad idea to directly translate the lyrics word for word if the song’s supposed to stay a song. The syllables won’t match up, the words that are supposed to rhyme won’t rhyme, and the lyric credit will go to the inventors of Google Translate. In order to avoid people who put in half-hearted effort that ends up in rhyming like a second grader writes poems, or people like the guy with major writer’s block which Elaiza describes, the only thing left to do is completely scrap the lyrics and write new ones.

Where all the bad lyrics went

Macedonia (FYR) is probably used to doing this. In the past 10 years, they’ve already had to change the song meanings at least twice:

In 2006, Elena Risteska entered her country’s national final with the song “Ninanajna”. In the original Macedonian version, she sang about why her character broke up with an ex-boyfriend. Apparently he had really good taste in music when the two first met, but then he ended up brainwashed by trashy turbo-folk to the point that he refused to let Elena’s character play the “good” music that he first introduced her to. This story didn’t make the cut, so the English version turned into her character willing to do anything on the dance floor to win a new SO. Maybe the English lyricist decided that two breakup songs in a row wasn’t the best idea, or maybe the Macedonian delegation decided that it was better for non-Balkan countries to understand the song. Either way, they presented a song with a title that Terry Wogan couldn’t pronounce and got the country its highest score ever so far.


Later in autumn 2014, Daniel Kajmakoski won Skopje Fest with “Lisja Esenski,” an upbeat song about falling in love and how the bright colours of autumn leaves symbolised the happiness from within the relationship. Despite winning the contest singing in Macedonian, Daniel mentioned that the song was originally written in English and only re-written in Macedonian to fulfill the national final’s rules. The leaves changing colour was originally meant to symbolize the end of the old relationship (to be able to start all over). And to show that it was going the complete opposite direction as the national final version, all the leaves flew upward too.


(Minor complaint: Though I completely understand that for some the “soul” of the song stays in the original language that it was composed in, I’m still disappointed about the tune. Thanks for the revamp…)

I wonder if any of the countries will have to change their song language this year. Someone’s probably going to (most likely Iceland at least because of their rules), and I hope that the post-translation version is still as coherent as the original version.

Someone give them a microphone…

I can get how Azerbaijan placed 5th in 2010. ITV invested a lot into Safura’s performance and promotion, the country’s best friend Turkey was there to vote, and overall the act had a decent song and singer. (Also this was only the first year of collaborating with Swedish composers, so no one was complaining about that yet).

Though it was the highest placing ballad of the year, I still think there was something missing from the song, or at least the story the song portrays. Safura’s character accuses her SO for leaving for 3 weeks, zero communication, and possibly having an affair (or at least that’s what we’re supposed to assume). But for the entire act, it’s 3 minutes of one-sided angry rant, and the only person who could respond (the dancer) doesn’t have a voice.

After a few listens wondering if there was a version involving the second character to speak, the answer came up 3 time zones away in Serbia: Željko Joksimović’s promotion/Balkan ballad remix. The SO finally had a voice (despite just going uhhhhhh the entire time they were given the chance to speak)

Unfortunately it took the couple 5 years to actually decide to work things out, after they found out that living in uncertainty forever wasn’t a good idea. But thanks to Czech Republic, I think it’s likely to be a happy ending.