Saturday, 31 January 2009

And this year's Eurovision winner is: Estonia

Thus the country chooses Jade. A decision that Lord Lloyd Webber clearly made a very long time ago.

Jade is a good performer. But she won't win us Eurovision. It's not her fault; the song's crap, and the only chance we had was with the novelty value of The Twins.

So, well done Estonia. Eurovision winners 2009.

Possibly.

It's His Tripe Now

Lord Lloyd Webber has chosen. Chosen who is not the act to win Eurovision, that is.

You can take the man out of musical theatre, but you can't take the musical theatre out of the man. That is aptly demonstrated by the song that Lloyd Webber has written for our 2008 Eurovision attempt. And, to be blunt, it's deeply mediocre. Dull, repetitive, and did Diane Warren phone those lyrics in or what? Twelve-year-olds write better stuff in English classes.

And here is the problem. Mark was trained in musical theatre. Take a composer with a background in musical theatre, and get him to write a song which sounds like it should come from a musical, and get it performed by someone trained in musical theater, and guess what... it sounds like musical theatre. Well, there's a bloomin' surprise. And so, very neatly, the Lord has engineered it so that - even if Mark wins the chance to represent us - there's no chance of him winning Eurovision. There is, however, a high liklihood of him sending the Baltic states to sleep.

Jade's performance was fine, but the song's still dull regardless. You can't polish a turd.

Which leaves me with The Twins. And you know what, their version of Andrew's song was really very good. They performed it excellently, and the harmonies made it seem much less dull than it does when performed by a soloist.

I said it last week: give them a slow song and tell them not to move. Bugger me, it worked. Can you believe that I'm about to vote for them?!

I'll blog again as soon as the show's over. Fingers crossed, folks...

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Hate, Facebook and spelling

Sometimes I worry about humankind.

Today, this happened when one of my friends signed up to the Facebook group, "The man who raped and killed his 8 day old baby needs to be killed!!!".

Regardless of the crime, the group itself is deeply hateful. But what makes matters worse are two very, very important facts:
  1. The "crime" happened over two years ago, and people are still joining the Facebook group.
  2. The man in question was completely cleared of all charges due to a complete lack of evidence.
Should I be most disturbed by the fact that people are still signing up and demanding that an innocent man be executed? Definitely, and I certainly am. But it seems that quite a large proportion of the group members have signed up because they are appalled of the same thing. Some of the discussion board threads on the group are utterly brilliant, although they are definitely not for the easily offended. Reading beautifully eloquent posts belittling those that appear and text-speak death threats to an innocent man is surprisingly uplifting.

Without a doubt, the best thread is this one:
http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=7828982116&topic=7248

The thread title - "Watch thsi video if you like rapping kids" - is 100% accurate; the opening post links to a YouTube video featuring some kids performing a rap. But the fact that there were people who think that "rapping" is the correct spelling of "raping", or that YouTube would host a video of such a thing, is troubling. Mind you, some of the responses by sane people in that thread are superb.

Facebook is full of groups like this, and if the owners had any sense of decency they'd make it a breach of the T&Cs to start a group that demands the killing of someone. Or any hate-related groups, for that matter.

Or would that "offend their core demographic"?

Perhaps I should start the "People who create Facebook groups demanding that any person/group of people should be killed, should be killed"...!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Eurovision: Your country needs help

As I type this, Mrs Steve and I are just getting around to watching last Saturday's episode of "Eurovision: Your Country Needs You". We saw it for the first time last week, and were mainly struck by the fact that none of the judges (including Lord Lloyd Webber himself) were capable of saying anything really bad about any of the acts, even when they were bloody terrible.

Would things improve this week? Well, each act has two songs to sing, so let's start with song one!

Mark
The complete package; a brilliantly performed song. Emma Bunton (professional mother, former ballroom dancer) thought he was a little to uptight to be "cool". Since when has "coolness" been important in a Eurovision act? And who made you arbiter of coolness? You're older than me, for fuck's sake!

Jade
Now that we've got HDTV, is it possible to throw pies at the acts? I've seen more meat on a Chicken McNugget. Apart from the first note, this was a well performed song. I'm not a fan of the breathy if-I-try-and-use-my-chest-voice-I-won't-hit-the-note style of singing, but I'll not be too fussed if Jade ends up representing us.

Emperors Of Soul
They're great, but they're not a Eurovision act. Hopefully fame will follow their appearance on this show - it will be richly deserved after this performance.

The Twins
Oh, where to begin! Is it the fact that they're crying over the song being "a bit hard" when Palastinians are being blown to fuck in Gaza? Is it the fact that their entire performance was so out of tune it sounded like a sack of kittens being slowly minced by a rusty food processor? Or was it the fact that none of the judges had the decency to say, "Fuck me, that was the biggest pile of shit I've ever been subjected to in my entire life"?!

In an attempt to justify their performance, the Twins told us that they'd demonstrated their versatility by "performing in lots of different genr├ęs", neglecting to add the crucial word, "badly". Lord Andrew of Theatreland said, "you do something very, very special when you sing together in harmony". If only they'd tried doing that during the song, eh?

Thank God that this was followed by the second song for each act, and thus we got to listen to a singer who was familiar with the startling concept of "singing in tune".

Song number two:

Mark
Excellent stuff, as expected. If this guy doesn't win, well, thinking about it, I wouldn't wish travelling to Russia to get beaten in a singing competition by Estonia ('cause that's what'll happen) on anyone. If he doesn't win, he'll still go far.

Jade
I'm surprised. Really. That was a great performance. Fair play, Skinny McThin.

Emperors of Soul
The opening harmony was quite painful, lads. In fact, I say that the lead line singer only accurately hit 50% of his notes in the entire song. Shame; despite all of this, you each still have more talent in your little finger than the Twins would have if you cloned each of them 12 times and added it all together.

The Twins
Oh dear. They've not even started yet, but I get a terrible feeling of despair in the pit of my stomach, when Graham Norton announces that they're singing "All I Have To Do Is Dream" by the Everly Brothers - a song you should only attempt if your harmonies are spot on. As opposed to sounding as if you've each spent the week practicing the song separately whilst listening to the other one on a broken tape recorder.

Well, bugger me! It's not bad at all. So, Andrew, we've cracked it: if they win, write them a slow song and tell them not to fucking move! However, the last note sounded like it was falling down the stairs, and the one singing the harmony needed to be told to hit the note straight off (rather than sliding up to it in a crooning style) because her sister was doing likewise with the melody line and it sounded odd.

I still get the feeling that there's the real danger of Jemini all over again if The Twins end up representing us, though.

On browsing the Your Country Needs You website, it appears that The Twins made it to the X-Factor boot camp in 2008. Now, consider the utter shit that Simon Cowell has given recording contracts to. The Twins are, according to Simon, worse than any of them. Worse than Robson and Jerome. Worse than Leon Jackson (who, I hear you ask). And probably worse than you.

Apparently they have each taken over 80 driving lessons and still don't feel ready for their tests. Oh, and they chose the lead-up to their first performance to pass on their plan of a double wedding to their two boyfriends. Sorry, I mean ex-boyfriends. Well, I reckon probably are by now. Not the sharpest tools in the box, then.

Until they start singing, of course. Then, and only then, they are sharpness personified.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Bad taste TV

Tonight, Panorama will feature a special report by Frank Skinner about the current "state" of television in the UK - namely, is there too much swearing and general bad taste.

Last Friday, Tonight did something not dissimilar, inviting a cross-sectional panel of TV viewers to vote on whether certain clips should have been broadcast or not.

Interestingly, the panel voted 8:4 in favour of the airing of the two clips from Friday Night with Jonathan Ross that had attracted the most complaints.

There was a different outcome when the panel were shown a clip from Little Britain USA, though. The clip in question was one featuring two over-pumped bodybuilder types comparing their bodies in a mirror. For this, both Matt Lucas and David Walliams were wearing full-body prosthetics to give them both a steroidally-boosted muscular look and - comedy alert - a tiny, tiny penis.

Now, you may not find this particularly funny (and I think Little Britain jumped the shark after its first series), but that's not the point. The question is, should it have been shown in a programme that aired at 9:30pm on BBC1?

Only two people voiced their opinions. One, a bloke in his 60s, threw his voting card down in disgust, stating, "I don't want to see this kind of debauchery on my TV screen" in a very I-read-the-Daily-Mail-and-hate-young-people kind of way. Well, no-one's making you watch it, are they? The controller of BBC1 didn't come 'round to your house, turn on the TV, staple your eyelids open, nail you to the sofa and force it upon you, did they, you feeble-minded plank?!

The other opinion came from a woman in her early 40s:
Woman: I'm just bothered by full-frontal male nudity.
Host: You realise it's not real nudity? That those are fake bodies?
Woman: It doesn't matter. I don't want to see male nudity on my TV at any time.
And we're meant to value the opinion of someone who is so ashamed by the human form that they find a plastic cock to be one of the most offensive things they've ever seen? Sorry, dear, but you're not projecting your own social immaturity on me quite that easily.

The problem with complaining about TV and radio shows is that there's no ability for those of us who weren't offended to "counter complain". It's estimated that four million people have heard at least part of the Brand and Ross radio show, and that 37,000 people complained about it. That's less than 1%. If I was asking 100 people what they thought of something and only one of them complained, I wouldn't need to take any action. So why did the BBC suspend Ross? Fuck knows. They're hardly taking a liberal-friendly attitude towards the Disasters Emergency Committee's appeal for aid in Gaza.

So, what we need is an "anti-complaint" option. The chance to contact OFCOM about a possibly offensive show and let them know it didn't bother us. Only then do we have a chance of saving our TV viewing freedom from the kind of deeply hateful, sad and lonely individuals who channel surf in the hope of finding something to complain about.

How else did Babestation become the recipient of a £150,000 OFCOM fine because one of the "models" accidentally exposed her toilet parts? If you're the kind of bloke who finds these hideous plastically-enhanced mingers the least bit attractive, are you going to be sufficiently repulsed by a glimpse of ladygarden that you immediately reach for the phone to complain? Of course not - you're too busy trying to balance a pizza and a box of tissues.

So, dearest Daily Mail reader, or dearest member of MediaWatch, the next time you see something that you think might be offensive on the TV set, don't reach for the telephone and the speed-dial to OFCOM's complaints line. Just reach for the remote control, and press "channel up". Or "down". Or "power off". Some of us might just find Jonathan Ross asking David Cameron if he'd ever wanked at a picture of Margaret Thatcher funny.

And a damn sight less objectionable than having to listen to the opinions of a group of fuckwits who still think homosexuality is "a disease".