Eurovision Song Contest 2017

Discussion in 'Non-Disney Entertainment' started by mawnck, Feb 13, 2017.

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  1. mawnck

    mawnck Well-Known Member

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    They have three transmitters. One's in Warrenton. Great station for listening to the Metro updates (which are "fish with bicycle useful" out here).

    If you ever get your mitts on an HD Radio, you should check out their HD-2 Channel on the DC transmitter (the one at 103.5). It's Sputnik Radio - a Russian propaganda station, essentially the radio version of RT.
     
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  2. FerretAfros

    FerretAfros Active Member

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    WTOP does have some of the best Metro coverage out there. They just released some ridership WMATA showing that ridership was down 41% at my station for October-December of last year, when compared to the previous year. If you look at October alone (which was impacted by SafeTrack work for nearly the entire month), ridership dropped by more than 70%; and this is at the station that used to be the 2nd busiest in the entire system during rush hour. It's no wonder why they've begun to lay the PR groundwork for declaring bankruptcy in about a year (though they've been not-so-quietly staffing up for it for much longer)
    Metro ridership down 41 percent at 1 station | WTOP

    Anywho, about that Eurovision...
     
  3. mawnck

    mawnck Well-Known Member

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    Oh yes, about that Eurovision. Every year some country or other pops in with a song that is like "REALLY guys? There are actually people in your country in positions of authority that think THIS is a good idea?" It's often San Marino (who, it must be said, haven't announced anything yet for 2017). But today, Croatia laid down the gauntlet.

    We go now to the Eurovision Apocalypse blog:

    EUROVISION APOCALYPSE: Croatia 2017 - Jacques Houdek - My Friend

    QuikQuote:

    If you heard the instrumental version that was kicking around a couple of days ago, the light and dark shades hinted that it was more akin to a duet than a single voiced event - and it is… with himself! Seriously! One second he's sugaring it out in a saccharine pop voice, the next belting it out in near operatic tenor. This kind of schtick is easy enough to pull off in the studio. But live? This could be one of the most fun packed car crash events in years. Or he might just pull it off and knock all our socks off. Somehow.

    <snip>

    Ooh, ooh, and then there's the Frozen bit. Yep, there's a couple of musical phrases within the chorus that sound, show shall we say this delicately, EXACTLY like the main hook to Let It Go.
     
  4. FerretAfros

    FerretAfros Active Member

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    Yikes! That reminds me of when I sing along to a duet in the car, and both voices are comically high and low; there's natural range is ignored in favor of the extremes

    And the Let It Go resemblance is uncanny
     
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  5. Dabob2

    Dabob2 Well-Known Member

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    Wow. That was almost profoundly weird.

    All of the above, plus the scratchy "classical" runs in the middle. PLUS some dodgy English translations ("For the miracle/I'm talking of"). PLUS the spoken intro.

    Wow.
     
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  6. mawnck

    mawnck Well-Known Member

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    A palate cleanser, just now out from The Netherlands. Really nice country harmonies in search of a song:

     
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  7. Dabob2

    Dabob2 Well-Known Member

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    I've never been into Eurovision... is everything in English?
     
  8. mawnck

    mawnck Well-Known Member

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    The official languages are English and French, but it ends up being mostly English. And then each country has its own offscreen commentators. (The YouTube feed is commentator-free.)

    The songs can be in whatever language they want, but the majority end up at least partially in English, since other languages rarely win the contest. This year might be an exception, since Italy is the frontrunner, and they've already announced it's staying in Italian. Last year the Austrian song was in French for some reason ...
     
  9. mawnck

    mawnck Well-Known Member

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    I've been remiss in updating you guys on all the fun. All the songs have been selected, and now we're in that silly season when all the accusations of plagiarism and skullduggery come to light, and all (well, OK, MOST) of the artists travel around Europe promoting their songs at showcase programs.

    Italy is still considered the frontrunner, but as I feared, the 30 seconds they had to cut out of the song didn't do it any favors. They removed the second verse, resulting in a very repetitive song that doesn't really go anywhere. But at least everyone gets to dance with the gorilla.


    Currently in 2nd in the betting odds ... Sweden.


    In 3rd ... Bulgaria?


    In 4th ... Belgium, man, Belgium!


    And 5th - mawnck's favorite ... Portugal!


    But that's not the big news. The big news is ... Houston, we have a problem. BIIIIG problem. Read on to the next post.
     
  10. mawnck

    mawnck Well-Known Member

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    Hokay, so it's being held in Kyiv, Ukraine. As you may be aware, Ukraine and Russia have not been getting along too spiffy in recent times, either in real life, or at Eurovision.

    In last year's contest, Russia pulled out all the stops with a big-budget blockbuster number by one of their biggest music stars. They had come 2nd in 2015, so this time they were in it to win it, dammit!



    It came in tops in the televote, but thanks to a lower score from the music juries, it wound up in 3rd place overall. And to add insult to injury, the winning song from Ukraine was a hyper-dramatic number about ... the Soviet army's forceful deportation of Crimeans during WWII.



    So you might imagine that the organizers of the contest would have anticipated that Russia might cause some problems at a Ukraine-based Eurovision, and would have taken steps to head these problems off at the pass. And perhaps they did ... but it didn't exactly work.

    Shortly after annexing Crimea, the Russians, being Russians, started shipping entertainers across the Russian border into Crimea to give concerts and things.

    And Ukraine, being Ukraine, announced that performers who entered Crimea from the Russian side would be forbidden from entering Ukraine for three years. They prepared a blacklist of performers who had supposedly done this. So you see where this is headed.

    Welp, not quite. A few months ago, the Russians promised that they would NOT send a performer from the Ukrainian blacklist. But then as the deadline approached, they started making noises like they were going to boycott the contest altogether. 70% public approval for a boycott, they claimed. The required attendance delegation meeting was held in Kyiv, and nobody from Russia showed up. So everyone just figured that was that.

    Then this video popped up out of nowhere.



    A few things: First of all, she's obviously in a wheelchair. This is not a Eurovision first - Poland sent a wheelchair-bound female singer in 2015. But one couldn't help but suspect that Julia here was selected because of her disability, because who's going to boo this pretty, frail-looking gal in a wheelchair? Second: This gal can sing up a storm, but you sure can't tell it from this video, can you. (There are lots of other videos of her online, and trust me, she can WAIL.) Third: The video's budget is about $47. The "venue" is computer generated, the one shot of the live audience is dropped in from something else. She's literally sitting in a studio with a green screen and a smoke machine. Everything else was added in post, and not really all that well. And she obviously hadn't even attempted to practice her English diction on the thing (something else she does just fine with in other online performances). In other words, they did this as cheap and quick as humanly possible, in stark contrast to last year's extravaganza.

    So OK, Russia is going to enter after all, and it's a chick in a wheelchair with a rather crummy song. Swell. We can move on.

    Then Ukraine suddenly added her to their blacklist. Seems they found out she had played Crimea at some point.

    The folks who run the Contest were livid. But they couldn't overrule Ukrainian law. So they came up with another option. She could perform her song in Moscow, making her the first ever Eurovision entry to literally phone it in.

    Ukraine said nope, the blacklist forbids us from broadcasting her either.

    Now this was some serious stuff. One of the Contest's most iron-clad rules, and one that at the last-minute prevented Lebanon from joining the Contest in 2005, is that all participating countries MUST air all the songs, no matter how much they dislike the country, or the act's contents. There are no exceptions for national laws. (Lebanon's law forbade the broadcast of anything claiming to represent Israel.) So this could've ended the whole show right there, with the host country prohibited from participating in the Contest.

    Luckily, somebody in Russia didn't know their Eurovision history. A couple hours later, they announced that they were NOT going to participate via satellite, they were NOT going to change their legally submitted entry (they had a valid point here), and they INSISTED that Julia be allowed to perform in Kyiv.

    Which should have been the end of it. Russia turned down the accommodation, so we should be able to just go about our merry way without 'em, right?

    Well, apparently not. The EBU (Eurovision's parent outfit) has continued to publicly bluster and bloviate at Ukraine, and insisting that they make an exception so that the Contest can go forward with Russia's entry. Nobody's real sure what this means, but the leading theories are (1) that there's something in the participation contracts that forbids the EBU from excluding a legally accepted, rule-abiding act from participating live in the venue, regardless of host country restrictions, (2) that some of the other countries are on Russia's side and may refuse to participate if it isn't resolved in Russia's favor, or else they also have performers that have been to Crimea, or (3) (the good one) - Ukraine reneged on a promise to the EBU to let the Russian performer in, figuring that there's no way the EBU would shut the thing down this close to air time.

    So while all this doesn't quote rise to the level of what's going on with the Trump administration, the Russkies have nevertheless once again been absurdly effective in creating chaos in yet another Western institution that isn't run very well. And they've played Ukraine like a dang fiddle. All Ukraine had to do was shuddup and let the girl in and maybe put a ramp here and there around Kyiv - indeed that's STILL all they have to do - and this all goes away. But noooooooooo.

    So that's where we stand now. They've started construction in the venue, the "Eurostars" are doing their promo stuff, "revamps" (desperate and inevitably futile reworkings of some of the worst entries) are dribbling out from various countries, betters are betting, interviewers are interviewing, in other words it's a typical late March in Eurovision land ... except that everyone is scared to death that this year there's going to be a spectacular blow-up at the last minute, requiring a postponement and a venue change, if not an outright cancellation.

    So that's the latest. :)
     
  11. Dabob2

    Dabob2 Well-Known Member

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    Fascinating. (Not being snarky here. It really is.)
     
  12. FerretAfros

    FerretAfros Active Member

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    Wow, what a crazy saga! And over a thoroughly mediocre song/video/performance to boot! I obviously don't know the ins and outs of Eurovision rules or the Ukrainian laws, but I think Ukraine has the upper hand here. There's really no compelling reason for them to let her perform due to their legal situation, and it would seem that Eurovision is all but helpless in the matter (though hasn't the host location be changed in the past for some reason? that sounds vaguely familiar)

    I found some other videos of her, and she's not a total unknown. She appeared on the Russian version of The X Factor (called Factor A, of all things) and sang at the opening ceremony of the Paralympics in Sochi. Her other performances are certainly a lot more compelling than the "submitted just to make a point" song for the contest

    And let's be honest, she would be far from the first contestant to phone it in :p
     
  13. mawnck

    mawnck Well-Known Member

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    One of the things about the Eurovision rules is that a lot of them aren't public, so we're all stuck guessing what the legal ramifications are. Also, the EBU's reputation when it comes to anticipating problems is, in a word, ghastly. (The most famous example: They went 14 years, with several close calls, without coming up with a rule to break ties. In 1969, the contest ended in a four-way tie between four of the winningest countries. Result: a lot of the smaller ones boycotted in 1970 & 1971.)

    On Thursday, a Ukrainian website leaked a letter from the EBU's Director General (that's a big cheese - WAY above the people who actually run the Contest) to the Ukrainian Prime Minister. It basically read him the riot act - threatening to kick Ukraine out of the Contest, and possibly the EBU, if they didn't let Julia in to perform. It also claimed that other countries (unspecified) were threatening to pull out of the Contest if Julia wasn't let in. However, it did not specifically threaten to cancel Kyiv's hosting the Contest this year.

    Whether all of this is to be taken at face value, or if it's just bluffing, remains to be seen. But it looks like we are, in fact, going to get to see. Ukraine's Foreign Minister and Vice Prime Minister have both issued statements since then saying the ruling will not be rescinded under any circumstances, even if it means the EBU does cancel this year's contest in Kyiv.

    Russia is, of course, loving the hell out of all of this, and their media has taken to gleefully publicizing live appearances currently taking place in Ukraine by performers who have flagrantly broken the Crimea ban but haven't been put on the blacklist. Random articles are also popping up here and there about how lousy Kyiv's accessibility for the disabled is, so they've got all their bases covered, just in case.

    Meanwhile, the running order for the semifinals was announced yesterday (Friday) and Russia was on it.

    And so ... we wait.

    Oh yeah, to answer your question ... Israel won the Contest on home turf in 1979, giving them the right to host two years in a row - a daunting financial task that the EBU was afraid they weren't up to. Turned out the EBU was right, but by the time the Israeli network admitted it, it was very late in the season and the EBU was left scrambling for a country and a venue. They finally got The Netherlands to agree to do it - on the condition that the budget requirements be drastically curtailed, and it HAD to be on April 19th in The Hague - it was the only venue and date they had available. Unfortunately, April 19th was Hazikaron - Israel's Remembrance Day, so Israel ended up being the only winning country in Eurovision history that couldn't even participate the following year.

    Since then, all countries that participate have to certify that they can afford to host if they win. Several of them are obviously lying (Greece? Moldova? San Marino?), but there you go. It's always been assumed that they'd move it if there was a problem, and in fact there have been a LOT of very public problems, unrelated to this whole Russia thing, with Ukraine's organizational efforts for the past several months ... which I'm sure has a lot to do with how the EBU is handling this now.
     
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  14. mawnck

    mawnck Well-Known Member

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    Aaaaand look what someone just posted in my Twitter timeline. Would've saved me a lot of typing.

    How Eurovision Became the Kremlin’s Mousetrap

    Official Moscow’s actions conform with a Soviet info-war trick called “reflexive control”. Military analyst Timothy L. Thomas defines reflexive control “as a means of conveying to a partner or an opponent specially prepared information to incline him to voluntarily make the predetermined decision desired by the initiator of the action”. The Kremlin presented Ukraine with two options, both of which were mousetraps. Were Ukraine to allow Samoylova to enter the country, it would violate its own law and tacitly recognize the “Russian status” of Crimea. Were Ukraine to stick to the rule of law and ban her – and this is what happened – it would indirectly tarnish its image as a country that adheres to European values. If Ukraine yielded to international pressure and lifted the ban, that would be even better for the Kremlin, which could then argue that Ukraine was a western stooge.
     
  15. FerretAfros

    FerretAfros Active Member

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    I know it's all relative, but Russia isn't exactly known for its accessibility. I visited St Petersburg about 5 years ago and I'm not sure I saw a single wheelchair ramp anywhere in the city (to say nothing of accommodations for people with other disabilities, like accessible door handles or tactile warning for blind pedestrians). Then again, most countries in Europe aren't great, since so many of their buildings and infrastructure predate an interest in public accessibility; I'm really not sure any of them have much ground to be pointing fingers from

    This is really one of the few places where the US seems to be head an shoulders beyond any other country. I've seen a variety of innovative accessibility solutions in other countries, but none of them approach the widespread accessibility of nearly all facilities that you'll find in the US
     
  16. mawnck

    mawnck Well-Known Member

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  17. FerretAfros

    FerretAfros Active Member

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    Well then. That's got to be one of the most random corporate "charity" tie ins I've ever seen. And it also seems like it could be considered an outright bribe to the Ukrainian government, depending on your perspective
     
  18. mawnck

    mawnck Well-Known Member

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    Anyway, it doesn't seem to have worked.
     
  19. mawnck

    mawnck Well-Known Member

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  20. FerretAfros

    FerretAfros Active Member

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    Touché, Ukraine, touché.
     

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