Eurovision Song Contest 2017

All right, it’s this time of the year again: it’s Eurovision! The biggest and longest running

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ESC 2017 logo

song competition in the world, that claims to be unpolitical, but everyone and their grandma knows it’s not.

Granted, a few stars rose from the ESC and managed to build a career, but for the most part it’s cheesy and sparkly and gay and fun and pop songs and Eurodance and ballads all in 3 big shows. I’m not a huge Eurovision-geek, but being into it once a year is perfectly fine.

I would like to talk about 2 things about this year’s ESC: Russia and Italy.

As we all know, Russia is boycotting the ESC this year, after Ukraine forbid russian entry Julia Samoylova to enter the country. Now, this may sound mean, even more so because she’s disabled and sitting in a wheelchair, but she broke ukrainian law by performing on crimera without going through Ukraine – in other words: she flew directly from Russia to crimera to perform and that resulted in a 3 year ban to enter Ukraine. There’s another 140 artists that share the same fate.

Is Ukraine being too hard? This is very hard to answer. Russia obviously is trying to be the victim here, I mean: there’s no way Russian authorities didn’t know about Samoylovas ban to enter Ukraine before choosing her and they chose a disabled artiest on top of that – someone you’re going to feel bad for easily. This was a calculated conflict from Russia, they knew this would happen and they knew Ukraine would not make an expection, because these two countries are in war and Ukraine is still damn pissed about crimera.

However, neither country was interested in resolving this conflict, the EBU said Samoyolova could perfom in Russia and her performance could be streamed live during the show, but both countries declined and neighter offered another solution. Every single person with a brain their head should’ve known either Russia or Ukraine was going to pull one out after Jamala won last year and quite honestly, nobody really seems surprised either. It’s a little sad, because Eurovision is supposed to bring countries together and it has been used to deepen an ungoing conflict this year. Personally I think both countries should’ve acted more peaceful.

Leaving Russia and Ukraine behind, I would like to talk a bit about Italy this year. Yes, Italy, the huge favorite. Some people think the song is overrated, I personally really like it. I think it’s a catchy popsong, that’s fun to listen to and you don’t feel bad listen to it more than once. I’m also a huge fan of Francescos rough voice and hope he can deliver a great perfomance in the finale.

However, I think having a great song is not the only reason so many people support Italy this year. I often read comments about Italy being robbed 2015 and they finally deserve

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Italy: Francesco Gabbani

the win they should’ve taken two years ago. Rewind backwards to 2015 when Italy was the huge fan favorite and took an undisputed clear first place in the audience voting. That night european people decided “Grande Amore” was their winner, but a hand full of profressionals decided to make a much more radio-friendly song the winner: Sweden. Since Italy was so widley supported by fans, many felt Italy was robbed by the juries and now that Italy has another outstanding top song, the support is there once again.

Additionally, I would like to add Jamala was second place last year: she was second place in jury voting and second place in audience voting. She won, because Australia did very well with the juries, but not that good with the audience and Russia did very well with the audience, but not that good with the juries. Once again, just like the year before, we have a huge difference between the fan favorite and the jury favorite and fans felt their winner was robbed once again. Add to the fact many people believe the votes for Ukraine were out of political interest and you kind of understand why the fans finally want to see “their winner” actually win.

Italy would be a very “safe” winner this year. After all the controversy around the ukraininan win last year and their trouble with Russia this year, Italy is very safe. They already deserved it two years ago, they don’t have any major problems with other countries, or at least not of the scale that Ukraine does, and they have a good song you can play on the radio in most parts of the world. It’s a “feel good” song at a time when many people don’t feel that good and problems are rising all around us and maybe we need a song to win, that makes us feel good for 3 minutes.

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Protugal: Salvador Sobral

The other favorites to win are currently Portugal and Sweden – also two very safe options – and Bulgaria, another controversial entry, because ever since Russias announced they won’t participate this year, Bulgaria is basically Russias secret entry, because their artist has russian roots, is very well known in Russia and is expected to get many russian votes. Quite honestly, I really REALLY don’t want Bulgaria to win and it has nothing to do with their song, unfortunately, it’s 100% politics: I don’t want this mess a second time in a row. It’s been a long time since ESC was as political as it is this year and I want to have a break from that next year. Every once in a while: okay, but not every year.

I’ll be rooting for Italy, I really like France and Belgium as well and hope they’ll be doing great this year. My own country? Germany? Set to lose again, no point talking about it.

A few thoughts

Okay, first of all: Where’s Yuri on Ice season 2? WHERE IS IT? I need my gaylicious babies.

tenorApparently, everything was planned from the start and nothing was changed in favor for a possible second season. I’m not entirely sold on that, but whatever. From what I heared a second season will be made, if the DVD/BluRay sales are good. Judging by the huge waves the TV broadcast made, I’m hoping sales will be good enough. Since Yuri now lives and trains with Victor in Russia, this is the perfect opportunity to get more background on Victor, who’s still more of a walking mystery than anything. Also: more Victor skating, please? God, this man is just too delicious for his own good.

 

Akagami no Shirayukihime. I mean, I love this manga. Contrary to what I initially believed, I absolutely love it. It’s one of the sweetest romance stories I’ve read in a while and quickly advanced to become one of my favorite romance manga. If Yuri and Victor are a pair of sexy gay deliciousness, Shirayuki and Zen are a cute bubble of innocence. I love seeing them together, even though I think it’s quite ironic Shirayuki flees from her home country to escape from a prince who wants to marry her and ends up in another country in tumblr_nuom06w3vx1qfjlbzo2_500the arms of another prince who wants to marry her.

Either way, the latest chapters are great and all, but I really miss my cutsey dose of Shirayuki/Zen love. I get it: Zen is trying his best to be able to stay with Shirayuki permanently together in the castle where his mother is currently “ruling”, taking over her place. This needs time and preparation. Yeah, but… I remember getting impatient when we haven’t seen Ed in Fullmetal Alchemist for half a year after he was massively injured and the story focussed on something else, before he gloriously reappeared (seriously, that was freaking amazing, but that’s FMA for you), but if I’m not mistaken we’re getting close to 1 & 1/2 years since Shirayuki was sent on her mission away from Zen. They met somewhere in between and currently the focus is more on the aids and as much as I adore Mitsuhide and Kiki and their own little love story, but I really really really miss Shirayuki and Zen being lovely dovely.

 

Shokugeki no Soma took a very sudden turn in events and now it looks like it’ll be over relatively soon. Judging by the popularity of the manga, I’m a bit surprised by that and I’m not liking the decision of this new Shokugeki. I mean, that’s just bending the rules to have some plot convenience. I know that happens a lot in shounen, especially in long running a2bac6b4ce94598a5870839c7355ca76sounen, but it still kind of bothers me. It’s like saying: by the way, the ultimate weapon against all of our problems have been there the entire time, if someone would’ve just been nice enough to bring it up, which strangely never happend. Yeah. Stange, isn’t it?

Saibas backstory was pretty cool, though. Why do I seem to like the backstories of father figures in shounen so much? Isshin had a damn awesome backstory in Bleach as well. On the other hand: Isshin as well as Saiba are some pretty cool dads. I don’t think Saiba has been a very good father, though. He’s cool, but not a good father. He loves Soma, sure, and it’s not like he did everything wrong, but some of his decisions regarding Somas upbringing are very questionable.

 

Ballroom e Youkoso is back to a regular release and it’s as great as always. I don’t even know what else to say. It’s back, that’s awesome! And the two chapters released since it’s comeback have been awesome. Not much dancing, but more character and the right dose cdmkwwcuuaejszeof humor sprinkled in here and there. I love Akiras and Chii-chans relationship, I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of it, even after this competition is over. Furthermore we got a glance at the possibility how easy it is to loose for Chii-chan and Tatara. Rememeber: they promised to break up, if they don’t win and winning will be a miracle, if they don’t get it together soon. Thank you Hyoudou for ripping Tataras shoulder apart, so instead of being too stiff he’s too loose now. … great…

Yuri on Ice ep 8

This blogpost will mainly focus on the main couple, because contratry to the big majority of the fandom, I think it did Victuuri amazing justice as a couple and did not lack, like many other people believe.

Finally, the follow up after the infamous episode 7 has arrived and the fandom… was initially mostly disappointed. Or let’s say the yaoi fans in the community were severly disappointed. I saw this comming so much, I can’t even tell you how amused I am. And a tiny bit mad, because I’ve read many comments with complains about “lack of Victuuri”, when, in fact, this episode was full of Victuuri. BL fans were going into this episode with the question how they were going to make this episode even gayer than last. The real question was, however, how Victor’s and Yuri’s relationship will continue now.

I think we need a little excursus into the world of Boys Love. Anime is an industry, that means, it wants money by entertaining you. In other words: anime will give you what you want to get your money.That’s why in so many cases movies, TV-series, even games and books, they play it save rather than trying something new. The BL fandom is obsessed with sexual love. Form my experience, there’s a lot more stories about glorified rape out there than actual healthy and functioning relationships, which is why I absolutely detest genre standards and bestsellers like Jujou Romantica and ususally try to find stories like Seven Days, but these are much rarer.

Now, we have Yuri on Ice, which is not yaoi. People were confused and asking who the seme and the uke is, because Yuri was acting rather bold in the tie-scene, but they always forget: Yuri on Ice is not yaoi, it does NOT live off sexual love. It purposely avoids common BL genre standards. It’s a sportsanime that happens to feature a same sex couple and it treats it’s main couple just like that: a normal couple that happens to be of the same sex. Of course we all know there’s a lot of different kinds of couples and heterosexual as well as homosexual couple comes in many diffrent varieties. Everyone will agree that the kind of relationships we’re presented in pornography are not normal, because relationships are not just about sex. Sex is part of a relationship (not all, though), but it’s not all of the relationship.

Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly, a lot of BL fans think these super-sexualized relationships build on physical intercourse and a lot f times build on rape, are normal and not jut for this genre, but for same sex couples in general, because that’s primarily what media is presenting us on a daily basis and they’re doing this, because the fans want it that way.

Yuri on Ice goes a different route and I can only laugh at the people being disappointed nobody cared about the kiss, because there is nothing to care about, but the kiss had a huge impact nonetheless. Many fans were angry this episode was not gay enough, but I say, it was even gayer than the last. There was no big build up, no overcome-by-emotions driven kiss and no big drama, but that was aleady impiled in the last episode, when Victor pointed out he was going back to Russia was Yuri’s Coach. Victor was already doing damage limitation and he was continously doing it thoughout episode 8.

Epsiode 8 had much more of these little Victuuri highlights and no big drama and the reason is very simple: Victor and Yuri are now in a relationship. Even though the anime didn’t show it, a few weeks of time has passed between these  episodes and Yuri and Victor sorted out their relationship in that time, therefore there’s no reason to talk about the kiss from ep 7 anymore. Contrary to most stereotypical BL relationships with very distinctive roles, Victor and Yuri are both very equal, now that Yuri is comming out of his shell more and more. Victor still seems to be the overall more active and dominating part, but he encourages Yuri to be more bold and loved Yuri taking control.

I just absolutely loved how Yuri has 100% more selfesteem now. I was always under the impression Yuri didn’t like competitions, but this was the first time he truly enjoyed himself at a competition. He looked like someone lifted a huge weight off his chest. He has no problems with competitions whatsoever, he just crumbles under pressure a lot, he can’t deal with big expectations that well, but he learned to have faith in himself and there’s someone who’s supporting him no matter what, so the entire situation seemed to be much more stress-free for Yuri – even though he had entire Russia against him for stealing “their” Victor away from the ice. Instead of cracking under the pressue, he tackled it head it and that’s a HUGE leap of character development for Yuri.

Thoughout the entire episode Victor and Yuri were having a damn lot of fun and this good time, laughing, giggling, doing silly stuff like kissing Yuri’s skates after a successful short program, was a wonderful portayal of their relationship. Unlike most of BL media that primarily focusses on the sexual part of the relationship, Yuri on Ice focusses on the carefree and fun part of a relationship. You know, when most people who’re about to marry say they’re going to marry “their best friend”, it’s just like that. Of course you are intimate and you get into arguments and you get embarrased every once in a while, but being in a relationship should mean there’s a lot of fun on a daily basis and you’re having a good time with your partner. Yuri and Victor were having a damn good time with eath other, they’re truly enjoying their current relationship status and it’s obviously still in early stages, but it looks 100% healthy and normal.

I said somewhere Victor was going damage limitation and what I mean with that is also one of the reasons we probably didn’t see much more smexy stuff. Victor, even though he can behave like a silly child, is the more experienced person when it comes to relatioships and I think it’s a safe bet to say he’s experienced with same sex relationships as well and understands what that means. As sad as it is, homosexual relationsips are still very much frowned upon by many people all over the world. Russia in particular is not the most gay friendly country either. After the kiss, Victor immediately said he was going back to Russia as Yuri’s coach. When he kissed Yuri’s skates, the announcer said Victor was overwhelmed with pride and joy and nobody seems to be having second thoughts after Victor kissed Yuri live on television just a few mere weeks ago. That’s not normal, my friends.

What I thought was very interesting, was when Victor was asked if he wanted to skate against Yuri in a competition. Victor smiled and changed the subject to Yurio immediately. My theory is that he’s probably very conflicted. As a profressional first rate figure skater, he would probably love to compete against Yuri, after he’s gotten rid of his problems now. If Victor goes back to figure skating, he’s going back to Yakov, that’s save to say. For Victor, Yakov is the only coach, he said it numerous times and has nothing but respect for the man. The problem: without Victor as his coach, Yuri would probably retire from competitions. I can’t see him going back to Celestino and I can’t see him going to train under Yakov either. In other words, I’m 95% sure, for Victor going back into competitions would mean seperating from Yuri (even if Yuri, by some miracle, decides to train under another coach and continues) and Victor doesn’t want that.

He can’t tell the media all this stuff, though: “Oh, I would love to, but I don’t want to leave my boyfriend whom I’m madly in love with.” That’s a bad idea, especially in Russia. Victor knows that, he’s been into this business long enough and he knows the media and his home country well enough. That’s why I think Victor is trying to lessen the damage of their freshly-in-love-couple-behavior much more than Yuri, who happily goes along with everything Victor does without a second thought.

Italy – the Winner of Hearts / Eurovision Song Contest – the Grand Final

So… I guess if you loose, you’ve got to do it right and walk out of it with 0 points together with the host. On a brigther note, the german and austrian contestants are planning on making music together now, because they came to like each other so much. That’s… good news, I guess?

I’m super happy for Belgium and Latvia for walking out of the contest with two very modern and unique songs so successfully. I mean: 4rth place and 6th place? Can’t complain about that. =D

So, let’s talk a bit about the voting. I took a quick look and here’s what I noticed: In case of Germany, the jury-voting seemed to be better than the televoting. However, if it had been only televoting, we would’ve still walked away with at least 5 points and a 25th place, so I guess we do have some friends in Europe left after all. And the host? Still last with 0 points. Ouch.

Now, here’s another interesing piece of information: If the contest would’ve been 100% televoting, the clear winner would’ve been… Italy with a full 80 points ahead of second place Russia. That’s right, the oh-so-loved Sweden, would’ve been thrid. So basically the juries made Sweden win. In the full split result chart you’ll notice the jury-votes for Italy are shockingly low compared to the televoting results. Nice and bitter taste, isn’t it?

Yeah, I’m not really happy with the overall winner, even more so since it’s a jury winner on top of that. I really liked the russian entry, because I think it’s a very well performed awesome power-ballad, but I wouldn’t have wanted Russia to hold the next contest considering the more recent law changes and overall anti-tolerant direction the country is taking. This is not the artists fault and I still love her singing, I just don’t want Eurovision in Russia right now. A few years ago it was all right and maybe in a few years it’ll be all right again, but not right now. Please don’t take this the wrong way.

Either way, why is it I’m not that happy with the overall winner Sweden? Well, for once Sweden already won 2012 and that was just 3 years ago and now we’re already going back there. Sweden has as many wins as Ireland now and I think a contest is boring if one contestant is dominating too much, like Ireland was 30-20 years ago.

The other thing is… I think Måns Zelmerlöw is too perfect. The song, the performance, the guy himself – everything is calculated to win, like a cardboard cutout, and it was successfull. Sure, if Sweden wants to win the ESC so bad, they can pour that much enery in it to produce the picture perfect Eurovision song/singer/performane, they are free to do so, but I don’t have to like that. I like the quirky entries more, the unusual ones. I still like Seriba best! I totally overlooked Italy, though, and they blew me away in the final, awesome surprise.

About the voting system: I think it’s problematic the way it’s done right now. I mean, it’s a good idea to have a jury to counter the inevitable blockvoting, but the juries themselves are usually just random musicians. I mean, how about you have “real” juries with people who actually really know their stuff about music, who seriously studied music or something.The juries should vote for the music, the performance, the package and not against televoting, something that is happening on purpose. I’m actually not quite sure if I wouldn’t like to try an ESC on televoting alone – since Italy would’ve won, you can’t really argue the eastern European countries would dominate too much, would you?

And about Blockvoting: Sweden got 12 points from all scandinavian countries – Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland. Sure, to win you need 12 points from other countries as well, but if that’s not a prime example of block voting, then what is? And when the easter european countries do this, people are so enraged they favor their neighbors, but when scandinavia does it, nobody bats an eye. Double standart at it’s finest.

And Australia? They did great, walked away with a 5th place and a nice song. To win the song was too… soft I guess. It’s a great mainstream pop-song, but it’s too clean and flat I guess. For winning, it would’ve needed a few more high points I guess? This is a song that does well in charts and on the radio, but that doesn’t mean it’ll win the ESC. Still a great song, though and I think it’s a bit sad Australia has to leave the Eurovision-circus already. Awesome guest entry, though. Keep the good mood up, Kiwis! =)

And lastly, the contest was so serious this year it was way close to actually resembling a cultural event, too close for my taste. Israel with their “Golden Boy” rescued the Grand Final. So, for 2016 how about we go back to our fun and crazy ESC that we love, instead of falling asleep after the 20th ballad?

Eurovision Song Contest 2015 1st Semifinal

It’s time once again, for the worlds biggest song contest and of course I’m watching. After the amazing win from Dragqueen Conchita Wurst for Austria, the 60th ECS is held in the beautiful city of Vienna this year.

What do I like about the contest? Well, it’s crazy and you do have the occasional artist who actually can sing, but this doesn’t mean this person also has to win. It’s not always about the song, it’s also about performance, about current political activities and who you’re friends with. Yes, “blockvoting” is a thing, it’s no secret Russia and Belarus or Cyprus and Greece always give each other 12 points and it’s no secret the scandinavians give each other high points on a regular basis. However, even though this is very much the realitiy of Eurovision, every once in a while a country wins that doesn’t benefit from, blockvoting or buddy-voting and every once in a while some winners are a true statement of progress – like Conchita’s victory.

So, what about the first Semifinal. It was… rather… unspectacular, for Eurovisionstandarts. Sure, there was Finland with their rock band, but what else really stood out? Where was the Verka Serduchka of this year? Or the Buranovskiye Babushki? Or the Zdob şi Zdub? This is the best part of Eurovision: the fun part! Come on guys, unlike Australia, we’ve been doing this for long enough to know you don’t send artists with a career.

Australia? Yes, because the Kiwis like it so much and have been proven our most passionate non-european-fans, they got a wild card for the 60th anniversary and are sending Guy Sebastian, who’s petty famous in Down Under… and is actually a pretty damn good musician. Let’s see how he’ll do. By the way, if Austalia wins, they will be invited next year again, but the contst will be held in a european country.

My favorites from the first semifinal:

First was Belgium, it was fresh and modern, I really liked that. Loïc Nottet seems to be a sympathic guy and it was well performed. Besides, it really stood out in the Eurovision Ballad Contest.

Estonia. Simply a good and well performed song. Easy to listen to and probably the best duet I’ve heared in Eurovision for a long time. Way to go!

Russia with an amazing ballad. I’m not going to comment on the fact that Russia sends a love-and-piece song (a very popular theme this year), I’m just going to say it was much better than I expected it to be. Polina Gagarina belted her song through and left me speechless. Great artist, well performed song. And no boos this year! This just shows how great of an artist Polina is. (last year, the russian duo was booed heavily due to Russias part in the Ukraine conflict)

Seriba! This was actually my favorite. It’s the full package: a truly awesome artist (I mean, seriously, this woman can sing), a nice message (“I’m different and that’s ok”) and the song suddenly changes from Power Ballad to Balkan-Party-Techno. Sounds weird, but is a lot of fun, I didn’t think I would like it as much as I do.It’s anything but boring.

By the way, Greece had a great Ballad as well, but Russia left a bigger impression on me. Who’s also in with a breathtaking Power Ballad is Spain. I wouldn’t be surprised if they win this year, their song is absolutely outstanding and performed by a professional musical singer. And it shows! Go Spain! 😀 Besides, I would love to see a song win that’s not in English.