Despite its very obvious natural beauty, I’m not much of a fan of living in England. I’ve posted before that the small-minded ‘islander’ mentality of at least 52% of the population disgusts me and I’d rather be elsewhere. In many ways, Covid-19 has been a dream for the politicians and policy makers who survive on a diet of anti-immigration rhetoric. Because now ‘we’ can close our borders to refugees, asylum seekers and people who can help to strengthen ‘our’ cultural identity by bringing new creative ideas. This is England and I’d rather be back in Spain.
The fabulous Ali Bla Bla tells me that he has found temporary respite in Kyiv, Ukraine with his wife and new born baby. He left England last summer and will be coming back in the next few months. “Life has been different here than in the UK, a lot more free.“, says Ali. “Being away has allowed me to have a fresh perspective on whats important in life, as well as time to create. We are coming back in the summer and i’m excited to start rock n rolling a bit more again, even if its with a mask on!”
I could ramble on and on about the glorious week that I spent in Kyiv back in 2017. It really is an impressive city and I’d love to get back to see more. But I won’t. It’s not really the point of this post.
The travel and perspective gained from being abroad seems to have invigorated and freshly inspired Ali. Not that he needs much new inspiration based upon the evidence from recent release, ‘Island’. Here, we find Ali rapping over a punkish backing. He tells all about his experience growing up as an immigrant in England. It’s a vital and vibrant listen; urgent, informative and politically astute.
At the song’s core, Ali is still crying about the state of affairs. This is a man who has recognised that “home aint were the heart is, so I’m trying to find the part where i care“. I get that. I’m sure all of us who struggle with the ‘island’ mentality do. It’s a point that Ali touches upon when we exchange E-mails.
“I believe we are all victims of mental oppression in many different ways, and all of us have to find ourselves through the confusion.”, he wisely says.
I hope you all had great bank holiday weekends and the week ahead holds unforeseen pleasure.
Flashback – I am sat in a school assembly. The Deputy Head spins a record and encourages us all to sing along to the words. The words are projected on an overhead projector. We all know the tune. It’s mass karaoke before karaoke was widely known about. ‘A little loving, a little giving, a little peace‘, we all sing as we attempt to emulate Nicole from Germany and her winning Eurovision entry.
The borders and the countries have changed in the 58 years that Eurovision has been running – but the message from Nicole shouts out stronger than ever. It’s just such a shame that, by and large, the lyrical content for songs in this years Eurovision is so dire (Iceland’s entry is at least naively different).
I’m reminded of that game you sometimes see on fridges at parties and wonder if there is an Eurovision equivalent. A box of metallic phrases and words that can be rearranged into any order and stuck to your fridge in an effort to help struggling songwriters come up with their lyrics for their songs. In 2014’s bag of words,we have lots of ‘hearts’, ‘tons of ‘time’, a few ‘storms’ and a supply of ‘worlds’ and ‘universes’. Painting by numbers.
The Easter weekend is nearly over. It’s almost time to head back to work at which point ‘normal’ service will resume for this blog. I’ll cover the local, the national and international that’s caught my ear. I hope that this Eurovision diversion hasn’t been too painful. Just another ten to go.
28. Netherlands – The Common Linnets – Calm After The Storm
The Dutch go all Country on us and give us a song that wouldn’t sound out of place if Bob Harris played it. I don’t know how many ‘highways’ there are in Holland but this is driving along one of them complete with slide guitar. I like the fact it sounds unique amongst the Europop but the tank runs out of petrol before we get to Copenhagen and we need to hitch a lift. By which i mean, it’s pretty boring.
29. Norway – Carl Espen – Silent Storm
See what I mean about the use of the word ‘storm’? This is a rock/pop ballad and it’s duller than Dutch dishwater. Carl tells us that he has a ‘silent storm inside‘ him. I reminded of the phrase ‘silent, but deadly’ and can only suggest that he changes his diet before arriving in Denmark if he wants to impress Ruth Lorenzo.
30. Poland – Donatan & Cleo – My Slowianie
Starting like something out of ‘Hairspray’ and then heading into M.I.A. territory, these Polish girls at least sound excited about representing their country. It all goes a bit tap dance on a merry go round in a fairground in the strange middle section before the girls come back and translate what they were saying in the first verse. Interesting so doubt it’ll win.
31. Portugal – Suzy – Quero Ser Tua
Portugal take us back to the 80’s and give us something akin to ‘Tarzan Boy’ quality, happy pop. This is the sort of tune that’ll get played this summer in beach resorts – the sort of beach resort that I never want to go to.
32. Romania – Paula Seling and OVI – Miracle
I played this tune to my 17 year old son, Ollie. He thinks it sounds like a winner, not because he likes it but because it’s the sort of song that’ll pick up votes. Mark his words. “I got a feeling and I want to believe it’s magical“, sings either Paula Seling or OVI. I can assure you that it’s not and in my opinion, it’ll take a miracle for you to win.
33. Russia – Tolmachevy Sisters – Shine
The Tolmachevy Sisters from Russia are “telling all the world to show some love”. I guess this is only if it’s of the heterosexual variety eh Putin? The most interesting thing about this will be to see which countries vote for it and which are about to be invaded. I’m sure that the Tolmachevy sisters are lovely as well.
34. Sweden – Sanna Nielsen – Undo
Sanna’s songwriters have clearly been playing the fridge game as we get both ‘silent’ and ‘storm’ in the first line of the song. Sanna then proceeds to ‘undo’ all of Abba’s great work from forty years ago with a dull piano ballad. Sweden could offer so much more to this.
35. Slovenia – Tinkara – Round And Round
Bonus points for the use of assorted whistles and pipes over the standard Euro dance track. “I’m going to show you how to breathe“, offers Tinkara generously. “Thanks Tinkara – and once you’re done with that, I’ll show you how to sing an interesting song?” I reply.
36. San Marino – Valentina Monetta – Maybe (Forse)
Way back when I started this preview,I noted that Austria’s entry sounded like a song that should accompany Sean Connery era James Bond films. This is from that ilk but should accompany George Lazenby era James Bond films. ‘Maybe’ it’ll do well. ‘Probably’ it won’t.
37. Ukraine – Mariya Yaremchuk – Tick Tock
Wahey – we’re there. I can’t begin to tell you how happy this makes me feel. In this one, Mariya entertains us by seeing how many words she can rhyme with ‘Tock’. I’ve got a couple more for Mariya. Crock of cock. Seriously though, I hope that this is a good year for the Ukraine. A little peace.
It’s harder to pick two songs today. Let’s go home along the Dutch Country roads and then perk ourselves up with Donatan and Cleo from Poland. This video of the tune gives a different edit to the song they’ll be performing on the night.