Eurovision – best of the rest

May 10, 2009 on 8:03 pm | In Madness | Comments Off

Now we’ll look at the “best of the rest” in Eurovision

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Greece

Greece have a pretty good electro-tune that’s quite Steps-like – sung by a Greek genric hunk-type man bint.

He’s kind of a combination of Ricky Martin and Julian McMahon (Dr Doom in The Fantastic Four movie)..
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Hang on, that bloke’s got my t-shirt…
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Careful, if the wind changes you’ll stay like that…
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It’s obviously all too exciting because at the end he esplodes!
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Still, at least they remembered to have a key change, scoring two points in total. It’s a low scoring year, I have to say. A disappointing lack of key changes and meaningless lyrics all round! Null points!

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Whoever directed the video for Bosnia & Herzegovina has a fantastic eye for Russian constructivist art – it’s beautifully done. Unfortunately it’s a very slow song… I spent the entire time waiting for it to start, oh dear. Very much an “is that it?” song.

Still, bonus points for the art direction:
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B also appreciates the fey indie men in military jackets (as you can imagine) but sadly that only gets them two points in our scoring system. Must try harder, guys!

Hungary

Another electro synth George Michael-esque gay dance number, this time from Hungary. It’s not entirely clear what the theme of their video is – I suggest “gay clubbing through the ages” as that seems to fit the best.

We start in the future, where our singer is having a bit of a lie down, probably after all that turning upside down. Very tiring stuff.
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Then its time for some 1940′s “on the town” action – yes, those outfits don’t make you look gay at all guys.
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No idea why they felt the need for a frankly disturbing ventriloquist show.
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Then the 70s happens – oh dear.
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Then finally we’re up to date – I think.
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Overall, it’s not a bad song but it just doesn’t really stand out. Points for the video, but you wonder what they’ll do on the night.

Germany

Germany are represented by the “Alex Swings, Oscar Sings” … I know, it really does write itself, doesn’t it? Now apparently these guys are going to bring on Dita Von Teese on the night, who will be gyrating away on a giant black pair of lips. I say! I think I need a lie down just thinking about that… ahem. Anyway the preview video isn’t nearly so… stimulating.

Yes, we have another singer with a shirt that just will NOT stay shut, oh aye – and this isn’t even Alex, who is apparently the ‘swinger’…
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After a bit of ‘open shirt singing’ they go on a cruise… err, drive, around the US.
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It all ends happily and Oscar finally gets a suit and a backing band. Alex presumably gets to keep swinging.
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It’s a ‘big band’ tune with nicely meaningless lyrics – oh wow, especially at the end. I think I should have given them more points for “skiddly skiddly bang”… Hmm, maybe a little key change in there as well. Oh well, the graphic’s wrong now. They should have scored 6 instead of 4. That puts them up to third in my table – what a shock result! If have Dita on the night, she could ‘swing’ it for them…

Czech Republic

Ok, so the Czech Republic may not be able to afford a fancy schmancy video, costumes or even an audience – but they don’t need it – they have a SUPER GIPSY! This is brilliant craziness.

These images don’t do justice to the madness that is SUPER GIPSY! He’s Super! and a Gipsy!
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His nemesis is the violin!
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I think Super Gipsy could be a shoe-in for the ‘comedy’ vote. Will that be enough? Will we be heading to the Czech Republic in 2010? You’ll have to watch on Saturday to find out!

Eurovision Top Tips

May 10, 2009 on 5:04 pm | In Madness | Comments Off

Now that we’ve explained the voting categories, here are our top 6 Eurovision 2009 entries:

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Moldova

Actually in 13th place in the full table, Moldova’s Nelly Ciobanu is our ‘wildcard’ entry into this ‘top 6′ because the song has the combination of a “Moldovan Tourist Board” video and a catchy tune that could see it pick up points.

They could do a better job of promoting their country though – you’d think it was filled with sheep
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and valleys
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but mainly with lots of men dancing
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There is some footage of the band too:
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But mainly its just LOTS OF MEN DANCING
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I only wish I had made up some of those pictures – they were all from the video! Crikey.

Anyway that’s Moldova with the “so odd it might just win” entry.

FYR Macedonia

Moving on to the more serious contenders we have the longest named country ever, the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia. (Not to be confused with Italian fruit salad.)

The unfortunately named ‘Next Time’ are the strongest contenders in the category of ‘Aluma-rock’ in this year’s competition. They combine a moderate amount of rocking out with very bad hair cuts – most of the band are sporting what I can only assume is a tribute to Brian May circa 1975. The video is a bit hyperactive on the camera moves as well which is somewhat nauseating. The opening riff definitely makes me want to sing along – to ‘Born in the USA’ where it was clearly nicked from.

Bad hair:
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Nauseating camera moves – note this one is NOT Photoshopped by me:
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Oi! Director-lady-bint – stop flirting with your staff and SORT OUT these camera moves!
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Oh gawd, there’s another one:
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Eventually even the camera operator gets sick and they move the video into a faked up ‘concert’ with a few dozen people waving their hands around. You can tell its fake because its not full of irritating tossers taking out of focus pictures on their shitty mobile phone cameras and getting in your way. Possibly they don’t have those yet in the FYRM, or maybe they just aren’t inconsiderate gits like some people I seem to meet at concerts…
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So that’s FYR Macedonia! Their strong alumarock credentials plus a half-hearted key change net them 5 points and put them 5th in our overall table.

Armenia

Inga & Anush represent Armenia with a combination of madness (check out the headgear) and a little bit of celtic mystic chords going on. Plus a dance! That you can learn! … or you may be forced to learn by their ‘dance army’… Blimey I just realised they hid a key change in there! I’ll have to update the scores again now…

Lots of extra madness points for the combination of JK and Orbital’s headgear and kazoos.
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Obviously somewhat pushed for locations to film in, the producers bizarrely chose this under construction road overpass.
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Although the message of spreading joy through dance is a positive one I can’t help thinking they’re forming some kind of sinister dancing army that will take over the world! I think I may have been watching too much Dr Who but that’s the impression I get from scenes like this:
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Bulgaria

Krassimir Avramov’s entry for Bulgaria is called ‘Illusion’ and they really go to town on the mentalism in this one – I think someone’s been watching Terry Gilliam’s “Time Bandits” to be honest.

You know what it’s like, out for a quick ride with “the lads” in 13th century Bulgaria when you’re suddenly attacked by bandits…
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.. and the next thing you know you’re surrounded by feaky children
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men writhing on racks…
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midgets and people on stilts…
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.. but there’s a mysterious bint who beckons you on…
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… and just when it seems your day is picking up…
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It turns out you’re dead! Just typical.

Bulgaria’s heady combination of falsetto, pumping euro beat, dwarves, people on stilts and chainmail could see them heading for success! They’d certainly get a vote from me.

Netherlands

Rather bizarrely the Netherlands have a very, very ghey trio of men with dubious haircuts called “The Toppers” – the one in the middle reminds me of Keith Harris. Or Keith Barron. But it’s better than you might think! It’s irrepressibly jolly and ‘up’!

Their set looks like they’ve done a “Queer Eye” makeover of The Architect’s pad from The Matrix:
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The trio are Jean Paul Gautier-a like with impossibly pale eyes…
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Keith Harris / Keith Barron
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and someone who looks like a children’s TV presenter… perhaps a dutch John Barrowman?
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The best bit, though, is that they have beams of light coming from their hands!!
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Do you see what they’ve done there? Yes, they’ve taken their song title “shine” as literally as Pans People are are shining light out of their hands. Classic Eurovision. I can only hope they do this on the night with silver gloves and strong lights, or something. Otherwise it might fall a little flat…
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Their main problem may be their name (as B pointed out “There must be a lot of arguments in the band, because they’re all toppers – no one wants to be on the bottom”). They’re equal first in our list with Montenegro!

Montenegro

Finally, our no 1 top tip for Eurovision 2009 is Andrea Demirovic, the maximum Stage Ghey entry from Montenegro. Stealing beat from the ABBA sound ‘gimmie gimmie gimmie’ and sounding fully like a gay club anthem, they’ve stolen from the best… then improved it with lots and lots of ghey gyrating.

Now I know what you’re thinking, but apparently she is a lady and not another ‘Dana International’… although if anything that would increase her chances of winning.
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She is accompanied by a variety very, very ghey dancers. Check out the shorts…
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You’re fooling no-one… feigning interest in ladies one minute…
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Then the next your shirt just ‘happens’ to fall open…
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… then the full ‘George Michael video’ effect takes hold!
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You do have to wonder about the writer’s state of mind though… after spending the best part of three minutes exhorting us to “get out of my life” they end the song with “or just stay.” So get out… or don’t. You know, if it’s inconvenient. Or you don’t feel like it. Whatever. They’ve not really followed through on that have they?

So that’s the top 6. Dodgy block voting aside I would expect one of those to win!

Eurovision Time!

May 9, 2009 on 10:34 pm | In Madness | 1 Comment

Welcome – Bienvenu – Wilkommen – Bienvenido – Valkommen to Eurovision week!

This year the Euro-powers that be have helpfully put all of the participants’ preview videos on YouTube, or EuroTube as we are now calling it.

We have (painfully) watched all of the preview videos and (mostly) scientifically scored them to find you the best – and the worst – of Eurovision 2009.

But how do you score such diverse fare? We’ve taken inspiration from the BBC Culture Show piece Neil Hannon (of Divine Comedy, Father Ted and Tomorrows World theme fame) did a while back that stated his four golden rules of Eurovision.
(He also wrote a song that followed all these rules although that sadly has yet to be the official Irish entry.)

1. Have as many key changes as possible

Example: Bucks Fizz’s 1981 winning song “Making your mind up”

2. Use Celtic Mystic Chords that “don’t really know what they want to be”

A near perfect example of this is the 1996 winner for Ireland (who else?) Eimear Quinn – “The Voice”

3. A Meaningless Lyric Offends No-one
4. Rolling snare drums

Both rules are effortlessly embodied by 1965 winner France Gall – Poupée de cire, poupée de son

Bringing these rules up to date we’ve added three more:

5. Stage Ghey – essentially the ‘gheyer’ the song is, the better it does.

Azerbaijan’s entry in 2008 really can’t get much more Ghey – it’s a classic tale of good ghey angel verses evil ghey demon. How many times have we heard that story?

6. Madness!!! A rule oft overlooked by other marking schemes, the pure madness of some Eurovision entries just wins it for them.

The 2007 Ukrane entry Verka Serduchka – a kind of disco space nazi granny with silver hitler youth backing dancers – has ‘Stage Ghey’ and ‘Madness’ in abundance. Not a winner, sadly, as they were beaten by Jimmie Krankie lookalike Marija Šerifovic and her lesbian backing singers.

Another strong entry in the ‘Madness’ category from the same year was France’s “The Fatal Picards” with a Richard O’Brien lookalike with a cat stapled to his shoulder that he sings to.

7. Aluma-rock is a recent addition, after the surprise victory by Lordi in 2006 several countries have now taken on ‘rock’ and ‘metal’ but in a light way, hence Aluma-rock.

More an example of ‘proper metal’ but I can’t resist a video of 2006 Finnish winners Lordi and their ‘Hard Rock
Hallelujah’

Coming up in the next post – our top 5 (ok, 6) tips for Eurovision 2009!

not an official eurovision entry

May 4, 2009 on 1:31 pm | In Madness | Comments Off

I really wish this was Sweden’s official Eurovision entry but its not. Cracking tune all the same – would go down well with the EV crowd I’m sure. Though if I were being critical it could do with a key change…

Eurovision is soon! I go a bit Eurovision-crazy nearer the time and will soon be posting up B & my own special Eurovision Judging critera, scores for all Euvrovision 2009 participants and our own tips for the top!

Until then, listen to Agnes and check out the Eurovision entries on YouTube…

why images get blurry when they get smaller

May 1, 2009 on 9:36 pm | In Making | Comments Off

If you’ve ever had to scale an image down for the web – or especially to make an icon – you might have noticed that the image actually gets a bit blurrier sometimes. This is surprising! We all know when you scale images up they get blurrier, but you would think when you scale down they’d get sharper, right? Well, no. Scaling down means taking a mathematical average between neighboring pixels and this will make fine details get softer as the colors of the background ‘bleed’ into them.

To help show this I’ve made up some example images.

Continue reading why images get blurry when they get smaller…

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