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.

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?

Olympic Special: London 2012 – Day 6

I was too tired yesterday night to write my little report, so I’ll do it today while the first matches of the 7th day are already starting. So let’s just get into it, but before I would like to add that both America and China have 18 gold medals so far at the end of the 6th day, that’s 1 gold medal more than Germany has in total so far. Im case of America most gold was earned by fast swimmers, earning the US 11 gold medals in the Aquatic Centre in London.

The first decision of the day was in rowing. New Zealand won the men’s double sculls competition before Italy and Slovenia. In the men’s lightweight coxless four we had some south african athletes winning gold and the british were able to claim silver right before Denmark who placed third. The final rowing desiciton of the day was the women’s eight competition won by the US, followed by their neighbors Canada and our neighbors the Netherlands.

In shooting we had one decision yesterday and that was the Men’s Double Trap, won by Peter Wilson from Britain, followed by swedish athlete Håkan Dahlby. The bronze shoot-off was decited between Russia and Kuwai. It was Vasily Mosin from Russia who won.

At least one more gold was given out in canoeing than it was in shooting, so we had two decisions that day with more tahn two winners, because we had the men’s C-2 slalom event with Timothy Baillie and Etienne Stott from Britain at the top, closely followed by fellow landsmen David Florence and Richard Hounslow. At least they left the bronze medal foir someone else, won by Pavol Hochschorner and Peter Hochschorner from Slovakia.
In the women’s K-1 slalom event we had a french winner, Émilie Fer was the fastest one yesterday. Second place was Jessica Fox from Australia and Maialen Chourraut from Spain came in third.

Table tennis. Sometimes I’m just overly happy when I’m wrong. Of course first and second place were both reserved for China, but Dimitrij Ovtcharov won Germany’s second medal in a men’s table tennis event at Olympia. It was a very exiting match that he won 4:2 and got standing ovations from the crowd afterwards. I have to admit, I don’t care that it’s bronze, it’s a medal and it’s even more amazing, because this sport is dominated by Asia so much. Huge congratulations to Dimitrij Ovtcharov. Of course the chinese athletes also deserve their respect. World champion Zhang Jike got the gold medal and his fellow landsman Wang Hao lost the final winning silver.

The second to last archery gold was given to Ki Bo-Bae from South Korea for winning the women’s individual event. Aída Román from Mexico won silver and her team-colleague Mariana Avitia got herself the bronze medal.

Let’s continue in Judo. German fans were disappointed that Dimitri Peters was not able to make it to the finals of the hald-heavyweight event. Before the eyes of Vladimir Putin, Peters russian opponent and future olympic gold medal winner Tagir Khaibulaev advanced to the finals by the decision of the judges after none of them was able to score. As far as I saw it was a close decision and in honor of his great athlete, the german trainer carried his bronze-medal winner on his shoulders right after his last match. Silver went to Tuvshinbayar Naidan from Mongolia and the other bronze was won by dutch Judoka Henk Grol.
As for the ladies, Kayla Harrison from the US won the women’s half-heavyweight event, defeating Gemma Gibbons from Great Britain in the final. French Judoka Audrey Tcheuméo was able to win bronze, as well as Mayra Aguiar from Brazil.

In gyamastics America won their next gold in the women’s artistic individual all-around competition. 16-year-old Gabrielle Douglas place first before Viktoria Komova, whon won the silver medal and Aliya Mustafina who won bronze, both from Russia.

Now, we still have two cycling events left. Yesterday we had the first track cycling decisions and in the men’s team sprint, it was none other than Great Britain winning gold, beating France in the final race. Before that, Germany was able to win another bronze medal.
As for the women’s team sprint, this was actually a very strange competition. At first, the final should have been between China and Great Britain, but the host was relegated for an early exchange, leaving the final race to China and Germany. In this final, China was slightly faster than Germany, winning gold… or was it? After some time, german and chinese athletes were told that China also was relegated for an early exchange, winning silver in the end and gold went to Germany. Well, I guess you can also win when your opponents crush themselves.

In fencing the team foil gold medal went to Italy, who’s doing absolutely amazing in the fencing events. Silver was earned by Russia and bronze by South Korea.

Now, the last medals are once again the swimming medals with Amercia winning 3 out of 4 events. First Rebecca Soni won the women’s 200m breaststroke event with a new World Record, followed by japanese swimmer Satomi Suzuki who placed second and swam a new Asian Record and Yuliya Yefimova from Russia who swan a new European Record.
The men’s 200m backstroke event was won by Tyler Clary with a new Olympic Record for America. Yet another japanese athlete placed second, it was Ryosuke Irie who was still a bit faster than Ryan Lochte also from the United States.
As for the men’s 200m I.M. event, it was american super-legend Michael Phelps winning his second gold in London. Ryan Lochte came in second and László Cseh from Hungary was thrid.
The last medal of the day went to Ranomi Kromowidjojo from the Netherlands who swam a new Olympic Reord. Silver was earned by Aliaksandra Herasimenia from Belarus and bronze by Tang Yi from China.

And that’s it. I’m back off too watch some more olympics and hopefully I’ll come back with some new stories. See you then.

UEFA Euro 2012

Europe once again celebrates it’s sportsmanship with the second most important football-event worldwide, the UEFA Euro that conveniently takes place two years after the World Cup… no, not by accident. Hey,  can you really blame us? Football was born in England, no wonder Europe loves it the most and even until today, there’s still a lot more competition between European countries than anywhere else. South America has some amazingly good national teams… like, 3 of them, but you get the idea. I actually consider the UEFA Euro harder than the World Cup, because less countries are allowed to participate, we have a lot strong national teams around here, there’s no round of best 18 (so you jump right into the quarterfionals where most of the lesser great teams have already been eliminated) and the rules for the group-matches are insanely complicated, so it’s harder to advance to the knock out-rounds.

The group-matches are over and we finally have our quarterfinalists. Just as a note: I watch football every two years: FIFA WC und UEFA Euro. I know the rules, I know how it’s supposed to be played, but I’m no expert by any means. Still, seeing the groups, I guess Group A was the easiest group, Group B… well, Group of Death and all, Group C had a very strong Croatia, Iratly and Spain and Group D had a pretty good Ukraine, France and England.

I was very surprised that Russia lost to Greece in their final Group-match and Greece managed to advance to the quarterfinals and actually, I would’ve preferred if this didn’t happen. One reason is because I think Russia deserved the quarterfinals more than Greece, because Russia had the overall better apperance. The other reason is because the media tries to push politics onto the Greek/German-match now and this is freaking annoying. It’s a football match fot god’s sake, not a political banquet. I want to watch a good game friday, fair and square, no hate, no anti-german parols after a greek defeat, because they wanted to beat us because of the €uro-debate. None of this crap, I just want a good game, but actually I highly doubt that thanks to the kind of football Greece plays. It’s extreamly defencive, so it’s going to be hard to show some awesome to look at offensive football, because there will hardly be any room to work with for Germany. I’m positive they can crack it up, but it’s not going to be a very exiting match when Greece walls itself up with 9 people in front of their goal. I personally would’ve preferred Russia, because they also play offensive and very fast football. Nicer to look at. Thanks for losing, guys…

Group B was truly the Group of Death, with 4 teams ranked in the top 10 of the FIFA worldrankings. I was very surprised that the Netherlands did so bad, they have such great players, but were all over the place. It was like, you know, they have great individual players, but didn’t worked well as a team. I’m really sad it turned out this way, I would’ve loved for them to continue, it’s always something special to play against the Dutch for Germany. But how it turned out, they had to go home after 3 losses, that’s a bitter pill to take für the vice-worldchampion. Portugal was a bit disappointing during it’s first two games as well, but when Ronaldo remembered how to play the game in the 3rd match, it got a lot better. Ronaldo is pretty much their toughest weapon and when he has a good day, he’s very dangerous. As for Denmark, they successfully annoyed all the other countries in Group B and did better than most expected. To be honest, I would’ve loved for them to advance into the quarterfinals, because they tried so hard and fought with all they had in this hars group, but it just wasn’t enough. 😦 Germany, well, not much to say about us. We played worse than expected, but it was still enough for 3 (way too close) wins – the only country with 9 points btw – and to be able to keep being a favorite for the title. That’s quite an accomplishment, let’s so how far we can go this time. If you ask me, we should be able to get into the final and meet Spain there – again.

Talking about Spian, they nearly got kicked out of the tournament as well. Croatia annoyed the hell out of them, that’s for sure. In all respect for their great gameplay and everything, but if they would have failed to reach the quaterfinals, I would’ve laughed to hard. I’m sorry, you have a really amazing team, but this would’ve been just too funny. And Spain also played worse than expected, actually I see Spain and Germany pretty even right now and both teams still have a lot room to improve, so if they do, we’ll see a breathtaking finale with no favorite. This’ll be awesome, especially because Germany already lost 2 titles to Spain, this heats up the whole thing a lot. Before that, there’s still Italy and they did surprisingly good, after the huge shock 2 years ago during the World Cup, I guess we can expect some more surprises from them. Last is Ireland… well, you see, the Irish probably had the worst team that amde it into the tournament, but by far the most amazing fans I’ve ever seen. Guys, I love you so much, I would’ve loved to see more of you, please qualify for the next World Cup, altough you’re in our qualification-group and considering the others we’re kinda expected to go first place, you can still make it through the play-offs. We will all miss you during the knock out-rounds, that’s for sure.

Now, last group, France disappointed, could’ve been better, but still made it to the quarterfinals anyway. Sweden tried really hard and I think they would’ve probably deserved to advance more than France and their Captain Zlatan Ibrahimović was really good, he scored an amazing goal against France and absolutely deserved that win. Too bad it wasn’t enough. Same goes for Ukraine, they tried hard, but sadly failed. England advanced and did pretty good, but now there’s a lot of complaining going on the match between Ukraine and England, because of that one “goal” that would’ve tied the game. I perfectly understand that Ukraine is very pissed about that, because the ball was over the line, it was in the goal, but two passes before, there was an offside-situation the referee didn’t see. I know the goal was a different playing situation, but it was pretty close after the not-given offside, so honestly, I think it’s ok that the goal was not given. One referee-mistake kinda neutralises the other referee-mistake. Both were mistakes and because of that I wouldn’t have complained even if the goal would have been given, but as it is… this is actually the fairest outcome for both teams.

As for the hosts: I think they tried to play good games and I’m sad they failed to make it into the quarterfinals. Especially for the host, it’s always a very special tournament and the overall exitement in the hosting country is better when it’s still in the tournament.

Predictions for the upcomming matches? Oh well… I guess Portugal will beat the Czech Republic, Spain will beat France, Germany will beat Greece and Italy will beat England. Then we would have Portugal agianst Spain and Germany against Italy in the Semifinals from which Spain and Germany advance to the final match. Actually winning the whole thing sounds too good to be true, but of course I hope our boys can make it.

And these are my very amateur-ish thoughts on the UEFA Euro 2012. Let’s hope we’ll see some more good matches.