There is truly nothing quite like the Eurovision Song Contest. For those of you reading this outside Europe, a brief bit of context: it’s a contest in which countries from across a very broadly defined Europe each enter a song, and then there’s a Europe-wide phone vote (combined with scores from national judges) to determine a winner. Long regarded in the west as a piece of amusing kitsch, the contest is taken rather more seriously by the newer entrants from the east. The result is a baffling mixture of legitimate pop, sentimental ballads about love and/or global unity, odd novelty records, inexplicable misfires, and genuinely interesting curios that would never get an international audience anywhere else.
The show is hosted each year by the winner of the previous contest, a prize widely regarded as something of a curse, since it costs a fortune even with the contribution from the big five. Consequently, there was some relief when Sweden won last year, since they can actually afford to host it. Even so, the wise Scandinavians have tried to rein things in a bit this year, sending the show to Malmo rather than Stockholm, and dialling back the crazy displays of excess that have characterised some recent years. (When the Russians hosted, they claimed to have one third of the world’s LCD televisions on the stage, or something insane like that.)
Would have had this up earlier, but as you may have noticed, the hosting company has been down for the better part of two days. Anyhow, the reign of Daft Punk continues, as does the comparative dearth of new entries.
Er… yes. A number 1 hit from 2003, I’m not entirely sure why this is back in the chart. It’s supposedly because a bunch of Black Eyed Peas fans had a brief spurt of buying the track after the British news media started reporting Fergie’s retirement (referring to the football manager Alex Ferguson), but, uh, that can’t be true, can it?
For whatever reason, it gives will.i.am three singles on this week’s chart, plus a fourth that he wrote. We’ll come to that one.
‘Tis the quietest of quiet weeks. Seriously, this isn’t going to take long.
38. Michael Molloy & Alex Evans – “Rise And Fall”
Michael Molloy was an 18-year-old aspiring songwriter who was killed in a coach crash last year while returning from the Isle of Wight festival; this is a demo he had previously recorded with partner Alex Evans. It’s quite good, in fact. If you’re wondering, that’s apparently Evans singing; Molloy wrote the song and is playing the guitar.
After the excitement of last week, the mainstream media have packed up and gone home, and we’re back to business as usual. Which means midweek releases, odd classical crossover acts, and three records by will.i.am. One of them is “Scream and Shout”, still hanging in there at 35.
34. will.i.am (featuring Miley Cyrus) – “Fall Down”
And one of them is this, which isn’t officially on YouTube, but you won’t have too much trouble finding it if you want to hear it. It’s one of his less obnoxious songs, with a catchy whistling hook, though it still ultimately ends up in the territory of Flo Rida with added electro and orchestral pretensions. The last minute or so is completely off the deep end. Weirdly, this isn’t being downloaded as an album track – he simply released two singles in the same week and only promoted one of them.
The podcast is just below, so I’m kind of deluging you with material today, but this seems like a day to try and get the chart post up quickly.
This week: Margaret Thatcher dies, the chart goes berserk, and the BBC makes an incredible hash of the whole situation.
Where there is harmony, let us bring discord.
35. The Notsensibles – “I’m in Love with Margaret Thatcher”
Margaret Thatcher died on Monday following a stroke, at the age of 87. To call her divisive would be an understatement. Everyone can agree that she’s an important historical figure – the first female Prime Minister, the longest serving of the post-war era, and somebody who actually succeeded in remaking the British political culture in ways that have stuck. Where people disagree, and passionately, is on whether this was a good thing.
Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 by Paul in Music
After last week’s improbable departure into the realms of 90s pop, normal service is now resumed.
40. Imagine Dragons – “It’s Time”
Are Imagine Dragons on a crusade to provide fodder for chart trivia collectors? The band had their first UK hits in December when “Radioactive” and “Hear Me” both made the lower reaches of the top 40 in the same week. In fact, that was largely the result of a misfired promotion: “Radioactive”was the song everyone wanted, but it was released as the B-side to “Hear Me”. So, under chart rules, if you downloaded “Radioactive” alone, it was credited as a sale of “Radioactive” – but if you downloaded the entire single, it was credited to “Hear Me”.
Bit of housekeeping to start: we recorded the podcast tonight, so it’ll be up tomorrow. X-Axis… probably Monday or Tuesday. But in the meantime, here’s a chart worth spending a bit of time on.
Regular readers will have noticed that one thing I like about the current chart rules is that literally anything can chart if the great British public suddenly feel an urge urge to buy it, as long as it’s lurking somewhere in the iTunes catalogue. If enough people succumb to the same collective madness, literally anything can be number one.
Behold a peerless example. This one’s going to take some explaining for the overseas readers.
Posted on Saturday, March 30, 2013 by Paul in Music
And we’re back. I was originally planning to chuck this week’s new entries in with the post for tomorrow’s chart, but it seems that in my absence the country has had one of its periodic fits of lunacy that means there will be plenty to say in that column already. So instead, I’m going to briefly run through last week’s largely uneventful chart to get us up to date…
35. Jakwob (featuring Maiday) – “Fade”
The first hit for James Jacob, a producer from Hereford who some of the evening shows on Radio 1 have been vaguely supporting for a couple of years now. It’s a pretty little thing, but it’s going no further. I’ve never heard of singer Maiday, but she’s got a couple of videos of her own on YouTube, neither of which seems to have made a huge impact, but then they don’t actually seem to have been followed up by a commercial release – here’s “Breathe”.