sweden

Eurovision. Eurowow.

Hoorah, hooray, it’s Eurovision Day!

It’s hard to write this without giving away too many of the tweets I have saved in my drafts on Twitter. There are a few things to cover though.

Firstly, a handful of people have asked me what Eurovision is. In short, it’s an international music contest featuring basically every country in Europe (and Australia, though nobody really knows why). Whoever wins hosts it the next year, this year it’s in Sweden, and it’s broken down into two semi finals and a grand final.

Each semi final consists of 18 acts, of which 10 go through. These are then added to the previous winner’s entry and the “Big Five” to make a final of 26 acts. The Big Five are the five countries who make the largest financial contribution to the competition, and in doing so get a free pass to the final. The Big Five are France, Spain, Italy, Germany and the UK. It’s probably a good thing the UK get a free pass every year because if we didn’t there’s no way our past few entries would have made it to the final, especially not this year. Honestly. It’s dog shit.

But yeah, some people didn’t watch the semi finals because they’re super duper shit and would rather watch just 26 of the 42 entries so here’s a brief run down of what they missed from not watching it. You missed Bosnian rapping, Greek rapping, a gravelly man representing San Marino, an Estonian card trick, some droney rock shite from Montenegro, Nicky Byrne from Westlife, a man from Belarus who was naked and howling in a wolf’s face and a few handsome men from Denmark. Sucks to be you. If you’re able to watch them on iPlayer I’d recommend it, but skip through the sketches in between. Again, utter dog shit. Especially the BBC’s attempt at a comedic version of a Scandinavian drama. I’d rather watch my grandparents fuck than go through that again.

As for the ones to look out for in the final, Belgium are the openers of the competition. This is a shame as it suggests they may not do well with the voting, but it’s a very typical 90s Eurovision song complete with a glittery jacket and some snazzy dancing. I’ve got the Netherlands, Israel and Bulgaria in my top five even though they’re also relatively early in the running list too. All strong songs with a bit of something extra to help you remember them. I’m not giving anyway away though, you’ll have to watch to see what I mean.

A couple of other songs I’ve been singing to myself lately are Croatia’s entry and Latvia’s entry. Both pretty big outsiders as far as the bookies are concerned but they’re just about memorable enough to get a decent spot in my opinion.

The others kind of tend to merge into a big mess with only a few others standing out, some for the wrong reasons. Poland’s entry has some of the worst lyrics of the competition and the singer looks like Weird Al Yankovic, and the less said about Georgia’s entry the better. I just hope the people in the venue are protected with some form of eye protection. It’s a light show that can be seen from space.

Anyway this has been brief as fuck but I’m excited and I’m not gonna spunk my best material away here so you’ll have to wait until 8pm tonight when I start live tweeting the whole fucking thing.

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Seeing Refused

This is over a month late but whatever.

The Shape Of Punk To Come is my favourite album of all time. I don’t say that lightly, I’m pretty much the biggest music snob I know (something I’m not proud of but can’t seem to break from). I first heard it when I was about 14 or 15 – around 2002, fuck you, I’m old – and immediately fell in love with everything Refused were about. It broke my heart when I found out they broke up several years prior to me discovering them. I’d never get to see them live. Sad faces everywhere.

Then! In 2011! There were rumours of a reunion! Followed by an announcement that they’d be performing at Sonisphere 2012! I already had tickets for Sonisphere and the news had my dick so hard my knees almost burst. Happy faces everywhere. Then, because at this stage fate was deciding to just fuck with me in the most awful of ways, Sonisphere was cancelled and Refused were added to the Download line up instead. The people with whom I was meant to be going to Sonisphere couldn’t make Download, so my wait to see Refused live continued. Sad faces again.

They did a couple of other festivals after that, which I couldn’t afford to attend, but last year they finally released a follow up to TSOPTC. As soon as I knew there was an album coming I hoped for a tour. Freedom was released last June and a tour was announced. We got tickets. Happy faces. I was half expecting it to be cancelled and more sad faces but nope. I finally saw them last weekend, after around 14 years of waiting. My brother didn’t even have to wait that long to see Guns N Roses (albeit not the ‘real’ Guns N Roses if you want to be a dickhead about it).

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The setlist was perfect, older tracks being combined sublimely with the songs from Freedom. They even found space for Coup d’État, Rather Be Dead and Life Support Addiction from Songs To Fan The Flames Of Discontent. As they closed with New Noise into Tannhäuser/Derivè, the atmosphere in the room was electric. From front to back, the whole room as getting into it either by singing along or by taking part in the pit with the oldest average age I’ve seen for a while.

Seeing a band live can sometimes ruin the magic or something like that, but The Shape Of Punk To Come is still my favourite album and Refused are still my favourite band. Happy happy faces.