At certain times in life, we are forced to eat our words. Last night I listened to the Eurovision song by Engelburt Humperdinck, and feel forced to acknowledge that it’s probably one of the best entries for the competition the UK has had in recent years. The key change is a bit splashy, and there are a few unnecessary high notes at the end of the song, which are made the more grotesque by Humperdinck doing the 1970s thing of pulling the mic away from his mouth, but the song - and Humperdinck’s performance - has a dignity to it. It’s quite a sad, haunting song, a million miles away from the mid-tempo ballad I thought he’d be given. I predict a top ten placing; possibly about 8th, although Fiona pointed out today that he’s made the cardinal gaff of saying that the song is a “grower” which may not appeal to people on the first hearing. Does he not understand the concept of the competition? The UK doesn’t get to appear in a semi-final and benefit from the exposure that this event naturally gives a song. People will hear it for the first - and only time - on the night itself. It doesn't have time to grow. It’s also quite a bummer that Humperdinck is performing first. Unless the song immediately jumps out, and everything else pales into insignificance by comparison, we're on a hiding to nowhere. As far as I’m concerned if you’re on before 8th, it’s all over.
I think this year Serbia have it in the bag. This is a country which knows how to play the Eurovision game.
1 - Artist who’s performed before and done well (aka "Eurovision Royalty") – tick.
2 - A lilting folk vibe with a powerful instrumental break where a beautiful violinist gets to play a melody over heavy drums – tick.
3 - Unnecessary key change - tick.
4 - A curious folk instrument which looks like a cross between a flute and a bamboo stick – tick.
Sweden will also do well. They’ve got a curious Kate Bush-type performer, who sings through her hair, looks a bit Inuit and does all sorts of crazy Capoeira-type movements. If she genuinely sounds like she does on the recording when she’s singing live, and doing all the bizarre movements, she’s going to be very popular, because she has a very affecting voice, and a hypnotising look. As my brother says, “Sweden are owed win...” The politics of Eurovision can be a little like the Oscars.
I also predict top ten placings for Ireland and Russia, for all the wrong reasons. Don't get me started on Russia. Six elderly, very silly, toothless crones, who sing out of tune and dress in some random region's National Dress. If they were singing a heartfelt lullaby, they might stand a chance of being quite moving. Sadly, they're singing some oompty poompty shite, which, frankly, I could have farted more successfully.
So there you have it, early doors Eurovision Song Contest tips. It is by no means a strong field this year.
Saturday 22nd March, 1662, and Pepys worked at the office all morning. Saturday was obviously not a day for going shopping and getting slaughtered in those days. In the afternoon he took a barge down the Thames with both Sir Williams to examine some ships. There was a very fine meal on deck, and a multi-gun salute - for no reason, by all accounts. Everyone was, we’re told, exceedingly merry, and Pepys drank himself silly. He got back to the office to find that William Griffin, the housekeeper of the building had left the door unlocked. Pepys very nearly punished him by steeling the carpet, but called him up instead and told him off royally.