Monday, March 27, 2017

ITALY: OVER 80 MILLION VIEWS FOR OCCIDENTALI'S KARMA

Francesco Gabbani's three official videos have gathered already over 80 million views already. The official video on Vevo is nearing 75 million, the live from Sanremo on eurovision.tv nearing 5,5 million and the 3 minutes Eurovision version on eurovision.tv is over 0,4 million. And the numbers keep growing every day.... one can only wonder what they are in May!
And then there are dozens of parodies, covers, unofficial remixes and the videos from his live performance this weekend in Coca Cola Onstage awards, where he was invited to perform while fellow Eurovision stars Marco Mengoni and Emma picked up awards. While scimmia nuda balla.....
Meanwhile he has added new dates and cities to his summer tour in Italy 
and tickets are selling fast....

06/07 Fontaneto D'Agogna (NO) - Open Air Festival
16/07 Molfetta (BA) - Luci e suoni a Levante - Anfiteatro di Ponente
21/07 Firenze - MusArt Festival - Piazza della Santissima Annunziata
28/07 Palermo - Teatro di Verdura
29/07 Zafferana Etnea (CT) - Anfiteatro Falcone e Borsellino
09/08 Alassio (SV) - Riviera music fest - Porto Turistico Luca Ferrari
18/08 Lecce - Piazza Libertini 
19/08 Caulonia Marina (RC) - Piazza Bottari
25/08 Castagnola Delle Lanze (AT) - Festival “Contro” - Piazza San Bartolome

EUROVISION 2017: THE RUSSIA VS. UKRAINE SAGA

Oh boy. Poor EBU. Poor Jon Ola Sand. I'm sure he needs a proper holiday once this drama is over. And I'm sure secretly he's hoping some less demanding country will win in May!

Let's start from the beginning. Russia waited til last minute to reveal their cards and whether they will participate at all in Kyiv 2017 and on March 12 announced it's going to be Julia Samoylova with Flame is burning (my review of the song here

It didn't take long the Eurovision fandome ridiculed Russia's decision to send a fragile girl in a wheelchair with a sugary ballad to avoid possible booing and making Ukraine look bad should they ban her.

And that's exactly what happened on March 22: Ukrainian authorities isssued a travel ban on the Russian artist as she had illegally entered the annexed Crimea (in other words entering without passing via Ukraine) and even apparently posted anti-Ukrainian propaganda in her social medias. According Ukrainian law a criminal act.

Russia was ready to call that decision cynical and inhuman and was ready to boycott the contest and not to broadcast it all unless she's permitted to take part. One can only speculate how well planned this all was as all of sudden Ukraine was the evil and Russia the victim. And hours later they had already planned her a Russian wide tour to promote her ahead of Eurovision 2018! As it seems they are ready to send her there next year if this year isn't working out.

EBU stated they are deeply disappointed but have to respect local laws and said they would continue the dialogue with those two countries to get everyone abroad in Kyiv.

On March 23 EBU proposed a solution "to maintain the non-political nature of the contest" to let Julia perform live via satellite. Soon came the answer from Deputy prime minister Kyrylenko stating that tours and TV shows with persons non grata are not allowed in Ukraine. The only solution is the replacement of the participant from Russia. And now that is not allowed in the EBU rules...

Later the same night Channel One Russia has rejected the offer. "We consider the proposal of remote participation strange and reject it, since it, of course, contradicts the very meaning of the event, the strict rule of which is the live performance on the stage of the Eurovision."

At this point we can only say & hope:

On March 25 Jon Ola Sand  told they have proposed Ukraine to set the ban only after the Eurovision for Julia, and Ukraine promptly declined it but the negotiations go on. Sand also confirmed several national broadcasters have contacted them to get things right and stated:
"The decision is taken by the security authorities, who have to follow the laws as they are, but we will appeal to the Prime Minister and the Government of Ukraine to overturn the decision, so that any travel ban will only come into force after the Eurovision Song Contest. Our main goal remains that the Russian participant comes on stage in Kiev in May. We are working hard."
Meanwhile Director General Carlo Romeo of SMRTV has stated: "As a State broadcaster does not we agree on the behavior of the organizers in Ukraine to the Russian competitor. We do not care if it’s a conspiracy or a Russian provocation, the Eurovision  (Song Contest) should be a neutral ground."
Also the Danish Jan Lagermand Lundme has voiced his concern about the situation and the preparations: "It is practically unbearable. I know that the EBU takes it very seriously, they should take no shit . The justification for that Denmark in the Eurovision Song Contest is of course that we have a place where we can meet across borders and differences, It is clear that I am concerned on behalf of the Danish TV viewers. We must demand to get some decent TV shows. There will certainly be a show, but we do not know how it is. It suggests that things are a bit out of control."

On March 26 Reference Group chairman Frank-Dieter Freiling told to a German newspaper that they are still waiting for the final decision by the Ukrainian government and that the discussion with Russia continues. But then: "One thing we noted before the ban is that the Russian delegation did not take part in mandatory previewing sessions and did not reserve any accommodation, in contrast to all other delegations. Russia has to make its participation clear, just as we make must make it possible for them." This blogger thinks Russia has no intention to take part, they are just playing with all of us..... No further comment.

On March 27 the German Thomas Schreiber, Head of Entertainment for ARD said “The Russian Broadcaster knew too well who they had chosen, and the Ukrainian authorities knew just as well what they were doing. This is a feud on a public stage.” He points out the Russian participation is the main goal and EBU should just keep trying to find a solution.
EBU spokesperson Dave Goodman confirms the dialogu continues to find a way out of this situation. He said the situation is not nice and "Russia’s participation is possible, Russia’s withdrawal is also possible if the two sides can’t come together. It would be nice if the EBU could find a way so that both parties involved can safe face. A solution that makes clear the the Eurovision Song Contest is exactly what the title says: A song contest and nothing else”.

Waiting for the next move....

To be continued....


ESC 2017 REVIEW - CROATIA (40): JACQUES HOUDEK - MY FRIEND

Pictured the national flower of Croatia, iris

Jacques Houdek (36) was internally chosen to represent his country with My friend, a song he co-wrote with Tony Roberth Malm, Siniša Reljić, Arjana Kunštek, Fabrizio Laucella and Ines Prajo.

Željko, who likes to be called Jacques, is a familiar name in Eurovision world and in the Balcan area. He has studied in the Berklee Collage of Music in California, and in France, Italy and Greece. He has tried to get to Eurovision many times before failing to win the national final: 2002-2006 every year. Then again in 2011 when he lost in the final match to Daria Kinzer to sing Lahor/Celebrate. He has also tried his luck in the UK in Open Mic UK and X Factor. He has been recording artist since 2004 and has collected a pile of silver, gold and platinum discs. But music isn't his only interest.
He has been involved in politics supporting conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and later supported a populist mayor candidate. Afterwards he said he's apolitical and those where only work. Ok.
He has also been named The Homophobe of the Year in 2006 and nominated as the Homophobe of the Decade in 2011 for his remarks that gay people cannot be equal to others and saying same sex marriage is sick, earning him the questionable title of "the biggest homophobe in the Croatian showbiz". He has stated later he has nothing against love of any kind and he's very gay friendly. Ok.

Well, what about the song? First hearing I thought it's kinda funny, bizarre but in a good way. The second hearing left we totally irritated. In a bad way. This is bad. But not bad enough to be good. A joke. The singing in two voices is maybe liked by someone but not me. And these fake pop operas with Italian lyrics put together from love letters and pizza menus are so corny and cliché I have no word. Il Volo is art compared to this cheapness. Actually I dare to listen to this only third time now when writing this review and no, it's not getting any better. 1/10 from me.  And yes, it's all Frozen in some lines. A bit too much. Let it go, let it gooooo....


Sunday, March 26, 2017

ESC 2017 REVIEW - ALBANIA (41): LINDITA - WORLD


Pictured above is also poppy, Albania's national flower



Lindita Hamili (28) was the first chosen artist and song this year when she won the Festivali i Këngës on December 23, 2016 with clear numbers. She sung in Albanian of course, and it took months before Botë was transformed into World, but this time the song hasn't gone major changes but the language, refreshed arrangement, mixing and fitting it into the 3 minutes rule. The song is written by Klodian Qafoku and Gerard Xhari.

Lindita was born in Kosovo and has made her career through various talent shows from Albanian Idol to American Idol passing through local Top Fest that she has won twice, and other talent shows. Her first attempt in the Albanian selection was in 2009 and then again two year's ago finishing then third. She has released 15 singles since 2007 but no album yet. 

The song is yet another ballad, like some would say. For once it makes no difference if it's in Albanese or in English, I don't get it either way. The piano in the beginning is wonderful, but when the song progress I like it less and less just like her voice gets louder and the notes longer. Sadly I don't even like her voice particularly even if she does belt out some notes. I think it's very messy from the half way through with the choir and not going really anywhere. If it's a metaphora of today's world that is a mess then she really nails it. But it's not for me. Therefor only 1/10

Saturday, March 25, 2017

ESC 2017 REVIEW - GEORGIA (43) : TAKO GADHECHILADZE - KEEP THE FAITH

Pictured khinkali, Georgian dubling in absense of any national flower

Georgia was one of the first countries electing its represant and song this season. The national final on January 20, 2017 in Tbilisi featured 25 entries chosen from an open call, and the winner was chosen by international jury-televote.

Singer, songwriter and actress Tako Gachechiladze (34) won with the self penned Keep the faith. She already almost got to Eurovision in 2009 being then part of the winning team Stephane & 3G with We don't wanna Put in, the song that was withdrawn/disqualified in the middle of the Russian-Georgian war and Putin being the prime minister at the time. She also participated in the national final in 2008 placing 10th. She kept the faith and is back now - again with some more or less hidden political statements, in the backdrop at least.

The song is a typical Disney ballad with very American style motivated lyrics, apparently aimed at women to be strong, believe in themselves and not hide behind a veil among other things. She's quite a strong performer as well and maybe can really nail it live when it matters but.... I find this bland and boring, it doesn't touch me at all in any level. Forgettable and uninteresting and therefor from me only 1/10 and a yawn.



Friday, March 24, 2017

SAN MARINO: VALENTINA TAKES JIMMIE SIGHTSEEING

Valentina Monetta and Jimmie Wilson are in San Marino rehearsing and not only, Valentina has taken Jimmie around the tiny country showing him the sights. And of course they posed also under the already iconic poster of Miss Monetta anno 2014. 
While rehearsing Ralph Siegel was present via Skype keeping eye on his latest couple. 
Jimmie Wilson has posted a lot of photos on his Facebook, so be sure to follow him 
as well as Valentina
Have a look at SMRTV news piece on the couple (in Italian) here

UKRAINE: WANNA GROW YOUR OWN JAMALAS?


Tulips that is. The new variery of tulips was presented and baptized by Jamala in the Flower Expo Ukraine ealier this week in the International Exhibition center, the very same that will host the Eurovision song contest in less than two months. The red and yellow beauty is created by the Dutch bulb specialists StoKolex. I think I want a bag of those for my garden......
I don't know why but Jamala and tulips made me think of this......

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

ESC 2017 REVIEW - RUSSIA (00): JULIA SAMOYLOVA - FLAME IS BURNING

Pictured Russia's national flowe camomille
In light of today's events I can as well publish this Russian review that was ment to be published in coming days along with the other  country reviews.  I haven't modified the text in any way, this is how it was ment to be published sometime next week. Originally this was my number 42....

Russia chose internally Julia Samoylova with Flame is burning ending speculation whether they will participate at all. But the decision to send a singer in a wheelchair was met with disbelief and outrage abroad as it was seen as an attempt to stop booing and critizism. Then came the news Ukraine might ban her as she has performed in the annexed Crimea in 2015.... Headlines guaranteed and the political soap opera goes on.... And poor Julia in the middle of it all victimized. As that's the overal impression I get. 

Julia (27) was born in Republic of Komi and started losing the function of her legs after an unsuccesful poliomyelitis vaccination it seems. At 13 she was diagnosed with spinal amiotrofiya. She's been in wheelchair since childhood and has been getting treatment and operations in Finland lately to better her conditon. She started performing for oil workers in her hometown, later founded a band TerraNova where she sung alternative heavy music (!!!) and studied psychology. She has also taken part in many conpetitions since childhood winning some along the way. In 2013 she took part in the Russian X Factor in Alla Pugatsova's team and finished runner up. 

The song is written by Leonid Gutkin, Netta Nimrodi and Arie Burstein and it's an inspirational ballad of sorts.Very sugary and filled with clichés though, in lyrics and in arrangement. The recording of Julia's voice is also rather irritating with the very broken English. Politics and the fact this is Russia aside, and the wheelchair and all that should make me be more tender with this song... I just don't like it. This leaves me cold in all its standardism, this one is plain bad. The melody is kinda beautiful but heard a million times before, the standard arrangement works but one can't but wonder if Russia is deliberately sending this mediocre nonsense? And is poor Julia only used as a vehicle for who knows what plans they have?  1/10 from me. 


RUSSIA: UKRAINE BANS JULIA SAMOYLOVA

Several new agencies are reporting today that Ukraine’s security service has banned Russia’s contestant from this year’s Eurovision song contest because she performed in Crimea. Samoylova has toured in Russia-annexed Crimea without entering it by going through the border with the Ukrainian mainland. Under Ukrainian law, that allows authorities to block her entry into Ukraine.
Ukrainian Security Service spokeswoman Olena Gitlanska said that the service has banned Samoylova from the country for three years “on the basis of information received about her violation of Ukrainian law”.
Therefor she won't be able to participate in the Eurovision song contest in Kyiv in May. What about Armenian Artsvik?
Russia calls the decision "cynical and unhuman". What about their decision to send her in the first place? Pure provocation. They also promise to boycott the future contests if the organizers don't stand up for the singer. Is that a promise? :-)

UPDATE: EBU has just confirmed the news too.  Can we just now move on and forget Russia exists?

SAN MARINO: THE MAKING OF SPIRIT OF THE NIGHT

Have you wondered how the magic was done in a few days short of the deadline for submitting the entries for the Eurovision song contest 2017 in Kyiv? Here's a Making of the Sammarinese entry featuring the backstage and insight to the project featuring comments from Valentina, Jimmie and others. Enjoy!
And here's the final result:

Gadget

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