sunnudagur, febrúar 08, 2009


American readers, stop reading right here. You won't understand this. Stick to the things you do best (and nobody else really cares about), like what you call "football", 8-1/2 x 11" paper, and the Farenheit temperature scale.

Icelanders. At long last I wade into the Eurovision morass. Being American, I had never even heard of this contest/gay lifestyle before somewhere like 2003. But now that I am a card-carrying Citizen of the Republic, I can't sit on the sidelines (football metaphor for those Americans still reading) any longer. I have been through 4 or 5 Eurovision seasons here and my lifelong Red Sox fandom did a good job of preparing me for the emotional roller-coaster that is E-vision on our beloved island. And to my own surprise I've developed some strong thoughts on the contest. So, here are my must-do points for a re-orientation of Eurovision attitude here on the Land.

1. Don't take the contest too seriously. This is Eurovision. Stop the focus on winning. We'll never win, as long as we pour 12 points onto whatever weakass crap Denmark halfheartedly cranks out and get 0 in return every year. We don't have enough friends to win, and we don't control a pipeline, so stop thinking about winning. We're not going to win. In Söngvakeppni Sjónvarpsins, stop voting for the acts you think might "win". That kind of thinking allows only the lowest common denominator acts to advance. Vote for the acts you truly enjoy. In the words of coked-up David Coverdale when he visited us last summer in Laugardalshöll, "Let's have some fuckin' fun!" Eurovision is about having fun.

2. Be genuine. Show something of Iceland with the act we send to Eurovision. Silvía Nótt, she was Iceland. Or Dr. Spock last year. They were Iceland. (But we sent some jackasses instead.) Both Silvía and Óttarr had some renown here before they even tried out for Eurovision. Selma/Regina/whoever belting out moronic lyrics in English and dancing around in shiny costumes: not Iceland. Nothing to do with Iceland. Remember the Moldovan gypsy grandma banging on a bass drum from her rocking chair in 2005? So do I. The Moldovans didn't win but they played themselves in their own movie. They were entertaining. They put their fringe-of-Europe country on the map.

Speaking of languages, 3. Don't be afraid to sing in Icelandic. What the hell, we're not going to win anyway. We might as well be ourselves. Show the world (sans America) the lovely sound of innlenska. News for you: your English just isn't that good. Those things you think are clever in English are jokes we told in 8th grade. What you think are "good lyrics" could probably be written by a sappy American 12-year-old. Don't join the parade of other European countries singing amateurish lyrics in bad, broken English. I speak Icelandic like an 8-year-old, but I write the blog in English. Take the same approach.

Undir regnbogann með Ingó. There's Iceland in that act. It's corny, it's sveitaball, little kids can sing it all summer. It's got a cute chick with a tuba. That's our act this year. Now let's have some fun.


Anonymous Skúli said...

This is sound advise. Every word of it is wise and true. Unfortunately no one is going to listen to it.

Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

But what about your readers who grew up in Europe and became US citizens later in life? Can I keep on reading?

Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

And how about the Dutch entry: Why does anybody think this will win? Why would anyone want to win Eurovision anyway?

I like the chubby background-singer though.

Blogger JB said...

Thanks, Skúli. Sure, Nafnlaus.

WPL, I don't think Iceland, for example, could handle winning Eurovision. We don't have the facilities to host the "Superbowl of Karaoke" here, unfortunately.

...and why do we keep voting for the damn Danes? They do nothing but treat Iceland, a country they starved and pillaged for centuries, with disrespect. Then come here and shower in their swimsuits and walk outside in their shoes. Denmark: 0 points.

Blogger JB said...

Here is one of my faves from recent years: France 2008.

Anonymous Lars Erik Bryld said...

"...and why do we keep voting for the damn Danes? They do nothing but treat Iceland, a country they starved and pillaged for centuries, with disrespect."

Man, that sure didn't take long for you to get fully naturalised.

If you do look at the stats, only Sweden has awarded slightly more points to Iceland than Denmark (126 vs 108); and the only country Denmark has wasted more points on than Iceland is Sweden.

I recognise your latter remarks as views, who enjoy a certain popularity as part of some Icelandics' self-perception, but that doesn't make them more accurate. They obviously are grossly exaggerated.

Being half Icelandic half Danish, I sometimes myself find it hard to balance my loyalties. Nevertheless, the actions of e.g. the ESC in my opinion clearly demonstrate that the ties between Iceland are much stronger than many Icelandics care to admit or many Danes care to notice.

The nordic countries may very well resemble a dysfunctional family, but we are family, nevertheless, and we'll remain so...

BTW nice to have your blog back.

Blogger JB said...

Lars, thanks, it's nice to have you back reading, too. I lost a lot of readers in my unannouced hiatus, and hope to find them again.

Thanks also for setting me straight on the raw voting facts. Can you post a link? I'd be curious to pore them over and see what patterns can be gleaned.

Did you see the chart in Morgunblaðið last spring showing how all of Russia's neighbors awarded it points? Pretty cool stuff. That's the Pipeline Factor at work, no doubt. Either that or the Shared Maudlin Sentimentality Factor.

Blogger Joy said...

A large part of the reason Russia's neighbors awarded it points is that Russia's neighbors have large minority populations of ethnic Russians who identify with Russia rather than their country of residence.

(But also, Dima Bilan is so fabulously, cheesily, pop-starrily awful that he's irresistible.)

Anonymous Lars Erik Bryld said...

The raw ESC figures are here:

A rather funny though serious analysis on the voting patterns coining the wonderful expression "The Viking Empire" is here:

Blogger JB said...

Joy, I still think Gazprom figures in there somewhere. I mean, they did just shut off the gas supply for 3 weeks in the dead of winter. So Russia probably wins again this year, too.

Lars, thanks, that's fantastic reading. I do love the quote, "The "Viking Empire" (light blue) begins with the DK-SE partnership in 1986-1990, fades in 1991-1995 and then grows rapidly to a 5-member coalition in 1996-2000."

I was trying to scheme a new voting system last year whereby countries not only couldn't vote for themselves, but also couldn't vote for anyone they gave 12, 10, or 8 points to in the previous 2 years. That might help break up some of these voting blocs.

My experience with roomfulls of Icelanders watching the finals are that they only quiet down when one of their "friend" countries comes up to sing. Other countries are probably the same way: they choose long beforehand who they are going to vote for from among their friends.

Blogger JB said...

Great picture of bloc voting:

"The Warsaw Pact" is my favorite. Or maybe "The Partial Benelux".

Blogger Joy said...

I don't agree that pipeline politics, especially a fear of Gazprom shutting off the gas, can explain votes for Russia. In fact, I'd say just the opposite. Your idea that people vote for acts from "friend countries" seems a lot closer to the mark.

That's basically how the contest is viewed here in Russia. When Dima Bilan lost at Eurovision in 2006, Russians were incensed. They felt that it was beyond obvious that Dima was THE BEST, and the only reason he didn't win was that mean, petty people in countries that have political problems with Russia (un-friend countries?) voted against him because he was the Russian act. Then in 2007 it was widely believed in Russia that Verka Serduchka (Ukraine's fabulous drag queen entry to Eurovision that year) was singing “Russia goodbye” instead of “Lasha tumbai.”

Which is all another way of saying that Russian Eurovision fans could really stand to take the same advice you've just dished out to Icelanders!

Blogger JB said...

Joy, I could turn that one around:

When Silvía Nótt didn't make it out of the semis in Eurovision in 2006, Icelanders were incensed. They felt that it was beyond obvious that Silvía was THE BEST, and the only reason she didn't win was that mean, petty people in countries that have political problems with Iceland (un-friend countries?) voted against her because she was the Icelandic act.

Every country thinks their act is special, or should do. I didn't notice anything very special about Russia's acts in the last few years. We were surprised they made it out of the semis and really shocked to see them win.

Blogger Joy said...

Do Icelanders really read political significance into Eurovision scoring and winners? Seriously? I mean, I think it's silly when Russians do it (and man, they do) but it does seem to me that Russians have a bit more basis for thinking that way, as they do play a pretty significant political role in their neighbors' affairs, more than Iceland does in its neighbors' affairs. Further, Russians tend to do things that might piss their neighbors off more than Iceland does [or at least the evil United States spins Russia's actions as worthy of pissing its neighbors off*], thus provoking backlash in the form of Eurovision votes.

*this is according to the Russian state-run-media view of the world.

Anyway, obviously both of us have gone native in our respective second homelands, since Eurovision now matters to us deeply as a cultural and political symbol!

And that said, you're right about Russia's entries in recent years. I was pretty surprised that Bilan won as well. He definitely, sadly epitomizes Russian sugarpop music, but I liked Eurovision's move toward the weird with the Finnish monster rockers in 2006.

Blogger JB said...

Undir regnbogann

Ég get sigrað heiminn nú
gengið undir regnbogann,
yfir himins hæstu brú.
Saman ég og þú
við hræðumst ekki sannleikann,
og draumarnir þeir rætast nú... úh-úh-úh...

Ég vil vinna afrek, trúðu mér
sá sem aldrei prófar, hvergi fer.
Lengra, hærra hraðar, hvert sem er,
tækifærin bíða trúðu mér.
ég á draum sem rætist nú...
Stundum lífið er
grámygla og glórulaust
en þá er gott að gleyma sér.
Liggja þér við hlið,
og tala um góðu draumana
sem fylgja okkur alla leið... úh-úh-úh...

Ég vil vinna afrek, trúðu mér
sá sem aldrei prófar, hvergi fer.
Lengra, hærra hraðar, hvert sem er,
tækifærin bíða, trúðu mér.
Rólegt viðlag:
Til að sigra heiminn, vinna dáð
látum koma tíma, koma ráð.
Hafðu trú og taktu bara á
tækifærin birtast þá...

La la la la la la...
la la la la la la...
Lengra, hærra hraðar, hvert sem er,
tækifærin birtast mér.
ég á draum sem rætist nú...

Anonymous Paul H said...

Ok, so I am late in commenting here, soz.
I have been listening to Sigur Rós on rotation, since I bought all their albums (except Von) on CD recently.
Wanted to find some more Icelandic language artists.
Having a tough time finding any.
Do most Icelandic artists sing in English?
I think people should sing predominantly in their native language.
It's what makes them who they are.
It's something that can be appreciated more.
Does anyone still reading this far back have some recommendations for Icelandic language artists?
Or are Sigur Rós pretty much all there is?
(Back to listening to them whilst I cook dinner).

Blogger Joy said...

Jared, I know this thread is old, but my cursory search of your blog didn't turn up an email address, so this is better than nothing. In a continuation of absurd Eurovision politics, Russia is outraged, outraged! that Georgia is sending a could-be-interpreted-as-anti-Russian Eurovision entry. A journalist friend of mine went to their protest today and said it was one of his more entertaining work-related excursions of late. Here's his article.

And Eurovision has already picked up the story!

Please note the turkey details. They really pull the whole thing together.

Anyway, here's wishing us all a glorious Eurovision, hopefully unmarred by international incidents with or without turkeys.

Anonymous Lars Erik Bryld said...

Congratulations on the impressive 2nd place. I'm still somewhat confused about the Norwegian victor, though.


Skrifa ummæli

<< Home