by Drew Martin
I am most proud to be American when I am watching Eurovision, the annual music competition between countries (mainly European) in the European Broadcasting Union. It's always mesmerizing how cheesy it gets, and surprising the larger and richer the country, the worse the entry.
I wrote about 2014 Eurovision last year and a lot has changed since then. Poland, by biggest contrast, rebounded from the most provocative showing last year to something much more tasteful. This year's song In The Name of Love was not very good but it was classy. Monika Kuszyńska belts it out from the floor in a white dress, not because she is that casual: she was paralyzed from the waist down from an automobile accident in 2006.
I seem to have a Slovenian fetish because I keep finding things I love about that culture. I liked this year's pop song Here for You by the husband and wife duo, Maraaya. The name is a truncation of their names Marjetka and Aleš "Raay" Vovk. It also means - she has Raay...ma Raaya. Their song is poppy but Marjetka seems to bundle Amy Winehouse and Barbra Streisand with a Slavic twist.
The biggest surprise and hands down the best performance was by the Finnish punk band whose members are either autistic or have Down Syndrome: PKN (PERTTI KURIKAN NIMIPÄIVÄT) with their song Aina mun pitää (I always have to...)
Here are the lyrics:
I always have to clean...
I always have to do the dishes
I always have to work
I always have to go to the doctor
I am not allowed to go to the computer
I am not allowed to watch television
I am not allowed to see my friends
I always have to be at home
I always have to do chores
I always have to eat well
I always have to drink well
I can't eat candy, drink soda
I can't even drink alcohol
I always have to rest
I always have to sleep
I always have to wake up
I always have to shower
The fact that they did not qualify for the finals of 2015 Eurovision is totally outrageous.
The winning entry was a safe song by Sweden's Måns Zelmerlöw called Heroes with the main lyric "We are the heroes of our time..." It's typical mindless pop that puts a nail in the coffin of the overuse and misuse of the word hero.
The most disappointing thing about Eurovision is the overall blandness of it, with little effort to take chances. In one way, Eurovision is a guide to Europe (and the other countries that enter the event). I use it to think about which countries I would want to visit/revisit. From this approach I would have written off Sweden (and I have been before) but fortunately some Swedes captured my attention again through the film We Are the Best!, which like PKM, keeps punk alive. From a site about the film:
We Are the Best! is a story of three young misfit girls growing up in the early ‘80s Stockholm. Pixieish, mohawk-sporting Klara and her best friend Bobo are 13-year-old rebels looking for a cause. Despite having no instruments—or discernible musical talent—the two put all their energy into forming an all-girl punk band, recruiting their shy, classical guitar-playing schoolmate Hedwig as a third wheel. With tender affection for its young characters, We Are the Best! paints a joyous and sharply observant portrait of the rebellious spirit of youth and growing up different.
Watch the 2015 Eurovision song entry recap:
Watch PKM perform I Always Have To with English subtitles:
Have a look at this interview with PKM on Consequence of Sound:
Watch the trailer for We Are the Best!: