Welcome to 2016. Välkommen to a year of Eurovision, Stockholm-style (something we most recently could have said post-NYE 1999)!
I hope you guys had a blast doing whatever you did last night, and that you’re currently resting up in preparation for the full-on NF season we’re about to enter into. Said season has technically already started – though in less full-on form – with Albania opting to send Eneda Tarifa’s Përrallë to Sweden (most likely in English) at the Festivali I Këngës final last weekend. That’s assuming none of the song’s writers decide to withdraw it from the contest, á la Elhaida Dani’s Diell. At the moment, I’m crossing my fingers for that NOT to happen, because there’s something about Përrallë that intrigues me. I’d like to see how it evolves and ends up sounding at Eurovision.
Speaking of how things sound at Eurovision…that’s how I’m introducing today’s post (my first of the year. Woo to the hoo!). I should have put together something more relevant to New Year’s Day, like a list of my favourite ESC-related music of 2015 or something – but I forgot to. Although I have selected two top musical moments from the year just passed over on ESC Insight. Mine appear alongside the picks from the core team and the rest of the site’s contributors, if you want to check them out (which you should, because they’re brilliant). So there is that.
But here on EBJ, THIS is what you’re getting on this mighty fine January 1st: a sequel to my recent Friday Fast Five, which listed the Australian artists I think should be on the shortlist for Stockholm. This time, I’m attempting to transport you to a magical world in which Australia has been competing at Eurovision for at least a couple of decades. I’m not saying I wish we had been – I just wanted to ramble on about some Aussie music from the 1990s/2000s that I love, while somehow relating it to Eurovision.
This is the result, in no order other than chronological: five awesome Australian songs I’d have sent to some past contests, if we’d been invited to the party pre-2015.
Oh, by the way…just assume that the following tracks would have been trimmed down to the EBU-regulation three minutes.
! (The Song Formerly Known As) by Regurgitator (1998)
Make way for one of my favourite party songs of all time, people! You may not see the logic in that description, but if you can separate the slightly bizarre music video (which is actually super-sane by Regurgitator standards) and the burst of profanity (I know it’s not an f-bomb, but a more explicit word for ‘popo’ isn’t exactly common ESC fare) from the song itself, that might help. ! is grungy and danceable at the same time, and curiously, never seems to date – 1998, 2008…who could pinpoint a year of release with 110% confidence if they weren’t already aware it was a 90s number? There’s something to be said for a song that has musical integrity and timelessness, but doesn’t for a second take itself too seriously.
How would it have fared at Eurovision? There’s no doubt it would have stood out in Birmingham, but would it have challenged Dana International’s Diva for the trophy? Realistically, nope. I do think it could have been top five material, based on the fact that it would have been unlike any of its competitors. Plus it would have RAISED THA ROOF, keeping celebratory spirits sky-high.
The Animal Song by Savage Garden (1999)
Savage Garden = the shining light of the Aussie music industry during the mid-1990s and early 2000s. That is, until members Darren and Daniel decided they didn’t like each other all that much (but that’s another story). Their back catalogue features a string of songs that would have made perfect Australian Eurovision entries – but as someone drawn to jungle jingles (i.e. any songs that could have played over the Lion King credits) I have to settle on The Animal Song as my pick. I can visualise this on the stage in Jerusalem so clearly. There’d be shirtless drummers. Lots of lights, in the absence of LED screens to display safari vistas. Tons of awkward-but-beautiful shots of Darren singing to the camera as the audience lose their collective shiz in the background. I am so sad that I will never see all of that happen.
How would it have fared at Eurovision? Call me biased, but I reckon this could have pipped Charlotte Nilsson at the post. It’s bigger, it’s more of an anthem, and it sounds much less like a Christmas carol.
Hearts A Mess by Gotye (2007)
Most non-Aussies would recognise Gotye as the painted man-face of Somebody That I Used To Know fame. That smash hit of a song could easily have been my selection here – but Hearts A Mess (yes, the lack of apostrophe is intentional) is a more haunting option, and would probably have been more striking on a stage á la Europe’s biggest. This song is a slow-burner, not unlike the classic Balkan ballads that Željko Joksimović can’t stop sending to Eurovision (which we ALL salute him for). It might be minimalist, but it grabs attention for that very reason; it’s dynamic, dipping in and out of soft and explosive moments; and it was lovingly recorded by Gotye in his bedroom. You can’t tell me the transition from a bedroom to the ESC, had Australia been invited to participate back in 2007, wouldn’t have made sense. Well, you can, but I won’t listen.
How would it have fared at Eurovision? Well, a shadowy lighting scheme and contemporary dancer or two would have worked wonders…but aside from scoring big with Belgium (Gotye’s homeland), I think this would have been a little too alternative to have viewers voting en masse.
Cosby Sweater by Hilltop Hoods (2014)
Here’s a song that would have been more or less destined to fail had it been sent to Eurovision last year the year before last (*shakes fist at 2016 for making me look foolish*), much like Trackshittaz’ Woki Mit Deim Popo in 2012 and, to a lesser extent, Who See’s Igranka the following year (I’m still seething over that Montenegrin near-miss). Hilltop Hoods’ Cosby Sweater is kind of like a love child of those two tracks, if that child had a super-Aussie accent. I love it, and I’d love to have seen it compete in Copenhagen for entertainment purposes. The Hoods are great live performers with expertise in crowd-rousing, and I expect the live audience would have responded very well – and/or with a ‘WTF?’ – to this ode to ugly jumpers (as we usually refer to them Down Under).
How would it have fared at Eurovision? Terribly, like I said. Europe would not get it. Rap/hip hop rarely does well at the ESC unless Greece sends it. At least one of said ugly jumpers would have made it onto the Hallerne stage, though, meaning Australia may not have won the contest, but would probably have won the Barbara Dex Award for 2014. Sorry, Vilija.
Do You Remember by Jarryd James (2015)
To finish off this Friday Fast Five, I present to you one of my favourite releases of 2015 – a twist on your traditional break-up ballad, feat. a mixture of pop, acoustic and r & b sounds, and a thumping, very hypnotic beat. Do You Remember is about as cool as Aussie music can get, I reckon, and one indication of that is the fact that it charted in Europe (i.e. Belgium, Germany and Switzerland – countries that can recognise smoothness of the highest quality even when it’s unrelated to chocolate production). I wouldn’t be surprised if, no matter what staging treatment it received, this song remained better as a recording than as three live minutes. However, as X Factor judge Guy Sebastian proved last year when he gave Do You Remember to one of groups on the show, it can work as a performance piece. If Guy had been unavailable to do Eurovision no. 60, I would have happily watched Jarryd James march into the musical battle armed with this.
How would it have fared at Eurovision? With the success of “out-of-the-box” stuff from the likes of Belgium and Latvia last year, I think this could have done reasonably well – though maybe not as well as Tonight Again, which is more energetic (meaning it could fight against the army of ballads present in Vienna) and instant. Top 10 wouldn’t have been out of reach.
EBJ Extras On A Night Like This by Kylie Minogue (2000); Zebra by John Butler Trio (2003); This Boy’s In Love by The Presets (2008); Open Season by Josef Salvat (2014); Shoulda Coulda Woulda by Elizabeth Rose (2015)
That’s me done, apart from the hours of hoping I’ve got to do now – hoping that at least one of these five songs tickled your fancy. If there was something you’d have liked to see/hear on the ESC stage in a parallel universe, let me know with a click below!
And, if you’ve got suggestions of Australian songs – or songs from another competing country’s archives – that would have made epic Eurovision entries in their day, head on down to the comments section pronto.
Until next time, keep on having a great start to 2016!
COMING UP I hope you’re feeling hungry for all things Swedish! With Melodifestivalen, my personal highlight of NF season, not too far away, I thought it was time to get nostalgic and get ranking. The result? A three-course banquet feat. some supersized servings of Scandipop. That’s right – I’m preparing to count down my Top 50 Melfest Songs, 2006-2015. I hope you’ll join me with your own ranking at the ready.