Monthly Archives: May 2012

My Kate Bush Top 30: #5 – #1

Time to wrap this one up finally. If you are just joining us, I have written track-by-track reviews of all Kate Bush’s albums, as well as a big bunch of B-Sides and Rarities, so search for Kate Bush in my tag cloud (or whatever you crazy kids do these days) to see the rest. But for now it’s time to reveal my top 5 Kate Bush tracks…

But before that, one more little interlude:

Aerial Tal
From Aerial


Last interlude now, and back we go to Aerial for Kate turning into crazy bird lady. I’ve said before that this is probably the best Kate Bush minute you can probably spend.

As before, I love the birdsong, but now she joins in, it has to be heard to be believed!

 

But now on to the big five…

5. Babooshka
From Never for ever

Time for another of the big hitters to bow out, but WHAT a song. Infamous, I think this could even rival Wuthering Heights in terms of public awareness. A brilliant story told wonderfully and memorably.

The music fits it perfect, a brilliantly fun piece with THAT costume

 

4. Army Dreamers
From Never for ever


Never for Ever gets another hit in the top 5 now, this time with a more subdued track with another memorable video, though for different reasons. What a fucking great video.

So a ballad about all those hot young squaddies getting blown up, quite tenderly done but rather intriguing by its matter-of-factness about these sort of fatalities. It doesn’t have the hooks of some of her other favourites, but certainly leaves a lasting impression.

 

3. Wow
From Lionheart

Yeah, I’m surprised too at how much I love this, I agree with whoever I knew that said it was very difficult to think of a chart, since Kate’s songs are all very distinct, it’s like comparing apples with oranges.

But the choice had to be made and this outsider just takes me down every time. That intro is just so spellbinding, I can’t get enough of it. The verses I admit are a bit flakey but that chorus is just like honey, waltzing around with little 70s synth flourishes.

Though the song itself is quite positive, about some big star of the stage, there’s this weird tone to the whole song that’s quite sad, I can’t quite articulate what I mean. Perhaps because every time I try to think, the chorus kicks in with its Wooowoooowooww and my heart melts and breaks at the same time *faints*

 

2. Running up that hill
From Hounds of Love

Oh my shitting hell, what an beat. Relentless and simple, it’s perfect. I love the drama of this song, obviously another one of her big ones, bringing her in from the cold outreaches of the singles chart and regenerating her US fanbase.

The song itself makes a huge impact, I used to think it was about some sort of trade to save a terminal lover or something, but I now know that it’s really about wanting to trade roles with her lover to see what it would be like. But this rather lighthearted explanation doesn’t detract from the throbbing monster of a track. LOVE IT. That outro is just too much too *faints again*

 

1. Mrs Bartolozzi
From Aerial

So um… yeah! I don’t expect anyone to agree with me, but this song, I can’t forget it. It’s honestly not a contrary random choice on purpose! I sort of relate to it, that’s the key. I can just imagine Kate, post-fame, whiling away her twilight years in some rather sad housewive retirement. With a cold husband, she takes solace in the fumblings of their clothes going around in the washing machine.

I don’t know, it just paints a picture so vivid in my mind that it just makes me feel so sad, like this woman exists. The song brings out such beautiful imagery from such mundane situations, like the washing machine and the clothes on the line (“it looks SO ALIIIIVE”).

There’s just such conflicting emotions in here, longing, despair, little moments of optimism in an otherwise dismal existence. I just think it’s such an incredible song, it feels impossible to list it with all the ones you could think of as singles. An oddity, but it affects me too much to ignore.

 

Well that’s it!! I’ve got a clutch more of the back catalogue reviews for some artists, so I’ll post them over the coming months to keep the place ticking over, hope you enjoyed this and everything else!

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Eurovision: Where next for the United Kingdom?

So the plan didn’t quite work out. Again. Poor Englebert Humperdinck’s entry “Love will set you free” ended up coming second-last in the Eurovision final, adding to a pretty crappy string of results for the UK.

In the end, despite a lot of good feeling towards Englebert and the song, it wasn’t a really memorable song, and it was the first song to be performed on the night. The latter fact isn’t a deal-breaker, although it is an uphill struggle for any song to be remembered after 20-odd more songs. Songs in the first batch of performers routinely get top 5 finishes. Indeed Albania did just this after performing third, but their song was (terrifyingly) memorable.

Of course the British fall back on the old Terry Wogan mantra “it’s all politics these days”. It’s so infuriating … and there’s no way to disprove it of course. EBU have tried to organise the finals in such a way that neighbourhood voting has as small an effect as possible, but that’s all it is, neighbourhood voting.

The distinction to make is that I can’t believe people vote for their neighbours simply because they are neighbours. There is a mass of shared culture between most neighbouring countries, especially the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavian republics. This includes musical styles, arrangements, all sorts of things. Perhaps crucially, they often send artists popular in a large region, as many Balkans did this year. I meant that’s a pretty good start, right?

We’ve flirted with this idea after sending Blue and Engelbert, but these were mostly spent forces in Europe (as in the UK), it’s not like we were sending a big current act. OK Engelbert is touring a lot but get real, he’s not a massive commercial artist. We struck lucky sending Jade Ewen in 2009 flanked by Andrew Lloyd Webber, securing us an all-but-forgotten 5th place in Moscow, thanks to a good promo tour. But the following year the same idea was used but the reins were handed to Pete Waterman to make something “Eurovision would like”, though it’s patently obvious we don’t know what that really means.

Blue felt like a step forward, and they came back with something contemporary. 11th place was a big improvement on our decade average, and it even came 5th place just on the televote. We need to lure someone current into entering. Only THEN, and with a good result, might the UK start to be rehabilitated. But we need to get over this stupid victim complex that everyone hates us, because they don’t.

British music is popular worldwide, so why aren’t we sending our best? I hope Loreen’s massive success Europe-wide might help, she’s looking to score a top 5 hit in the UK on Sunday, a real rarity in the UK charts for a non-UK entry. At the moment Eurovision is viewed as career poison, and we need to break this Catch-22 in order to make any progress.

Next year, I hope the BBC finds a current young artist – maybe their career needs a bit of publicity – and gets some notable  songwriters, British or otherwise to write a handful of songs, maybe even three would do. Then the public can vote for their favourite song. Public votes are good for getting people behind our entries, but we tend to (sometimes are coerced to) pick the cheesiest song on offer because that’s “more Eurovision”. Please save us from ourselves and don’t give us the choice to do this.

It’s not rocket science, and I don’t understand why the BBC seem so hopeless at this. If they can’t manage it, then let ITV do it. Or Channel 4. Both are EBU members and could therefore take over. But if the BBC can’t make the effort, and we can’t get behind our own entries, then we deserve everything we get.

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My Kate Bush Top 30: #10 – 6

Oh wow, Eurovision REALLY got on top of me didn’t it? It’s been over two weeks since I posted the last batch of my favourite Kate Bush songs, so thanks for your patience! Time for a little interlude before the penultimate batch of Kate.

One last look around the house before we go
From B-Side to Love and Anger

Time for another interlude before the top 10, and a short but very sweet instrumental piece. Difficult to know what it was supposed to be, but the title sums it up perfectly. Dripping in nostalgia and sadness, I can just imagine it being the score to some emotional TV moment and me SOBBING away. Gorgeous.

10. Hounds of love
From Hounds of Love

OK time for another of the big hitters, and one crucial song that may have started this whole thing off in the first place. I was aware of Kate Bush but apart from Wuthering Heights and a vague concept of Babooshka, I didn’t know much. But about 5 years ago the Futureheads did a cover of this which I loved, and it got me listening occasional to the original.

My sister put on The Whole Story during a road trip, and this emerged as one of those great moments in Bush history. I must say that after being accustomed to the Futureheads version I find these hounds a little more tame but it’s just one of those songs isn’t it?

 

9. Rubberband Girl
From The Red Shoes


This is really starting to get tough now, but this is where I finally pack away The Red Shoes. For an album that I never really go on with, this track really is irresistible. The gentle beat kicks in immediately and it’s just so easy to get into.

A perfect companion to the story of The Red Shoes, as it almost compels you to start dancing along. Of course she does just that in the video with some really fascinating choreography. BRILLIANCE

 

8. Breathing
From Never for ever

From an amazing upbeat song to one of the most calamitously depressing moments on any of her albums. The song sung from the point of view of an unborn baby during a nuclear holocaust. Tough stuff!

But for something so horrible it’s really quite gorgeous, with the baby’s breathing/heartbeat forming the base for the beat. The song does stray into melodrama a few times but there are some absolutely devastating moments. “Chips of plutonium are twinkling in every lung” still gives me shivers.

The second act using an instructional video about nuclear explosions to rather bonechilling effect, with the blasts themselves used as dramatic percussion. The first time I heard this I just had to listen a few more times, utterly spellbinding and terrifying

 

7. Hello Earth
From Hounds of Love

And so we make up the second of the apocalyptic album closers now, with this from Hounds of Love. It may not be as terrifyingly real as Breathing, but it sounds like Earth has bitten the big one, and some un-named tragedy has finished it off. There are a few hints, something bright travelling fast, an asteroid? An escape ship?

Anyway somehow this is even more powerful than Dreaming in a different sense, it’s almost like a hymn, with a choir used to perfect effect, like this a tribute to the dead planet. There are a few ties to other tracks “get out of the water” I have heard from Waking the Witch.

All a bit abstract but it’s musically so gorgeous and sad, with some mysterious segments (what is that Eva bit at the end?).

 

6. Sat in your lap
From The Dreaming

God we need to lighten up, and I fail to see how we can get any more light-hearted than Kate dressed as a DUNCE, riding on the back of a rollerskating minotaur!

I always thought this song was totally insane but then you see the video! Totally infectious, with a rather interesting beat running under the thing, I said before it reminds me of Bjork’s Medulla in places, or maybe just Space Invaders.

Either way, I can relate to this, poor Kate is feeling frustrated that she’s not getting results, despite a lack of motivation (can you see the logical flaw here? I know it WELL). But I really can’t be bothered, ooh just GIMME IT QUICK GIMME IT GIMMEGIMMEGIMME

 

Top 5 coming very soon! x

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Eurovision 2012: Semi final scores revealed

Oh what’s left to discuss about this year’s contest? I’m feeling a little empty now it’s all over. But I still have you guys (for now!). As soon as the final finished, the detailed results of the semi-finals were released.

You can imagine why we couldn’t know these before the final, it would make the final results a little too predictable. Or even worse, open to manipulation by dark forces. Can you imagine? Anyway, here they are.

Place  Points Country Artist Song
1 152  Russia Buranovskiye Babushki Party for Everybody
2 146  Albania Rona Nishliu Suus
3 120  Romania Mandinga Zaleilah
4 116  Greece Eleftheria Eleftheriou Aphrodisiac
5 100  Moldova Pasha Parfeny Lăutar
6 92  Ireland Jedward Waterline
7 91  Cyprus Ivi Adamou La La Love
8 75  Iceland Gréta Salóme & Jónsi Never Forget
9 63  Denmark Soluna Samay Should’ve Known Better
10 52  Hungary Compact Disco Sound of Our Hearts
11 45  Switzerland Sinplus Unbreakable
12 41  Finland Pernilla Karlsson När jag blundar
13 33  Israel Izabo Time
14 31  San Marino Valentina Monetta The Social Network Song
15 20  Montenegro Rambo Amadeus Euro Neuro
16 17  Latvia Anmary Beautiful Song
17 16  Belgium Iris Would You?
18 8  Austria Trackshittaz Woki mit deim Popo

 

Not really many surprises there, given the final results. The non-qualifiers were surprising though, Belgium I thought did really well and stood a good chance of qualifying, but it totally flopped, below train-wrecks from Montenegro and San Marino. Montenegro beating anybody felt like a bit of a stretch really. Surprise qualifiers Hungary unsurprisingly squeaked through on tenth place.

Very interesting here though is that Russia nearly lost this semi-final to Albania. I had NO idea that Albania could do so well. It was memorable for sure, but I never thought Europe would go for it. Also interesting to see Greece comfortably beating Cyprus, something they failed to repeat in the semi-final, as well as Romania looking in good stead for a top 10 finish that never came in the final.

What about semi-final 2, containing the eventual winner?

Place  Points Country Artist Song
1 181  Sweden Loreen Euphoria
2 159  Serbia Željko Joksimović Nije ljubav stvar
3 104  Lithuania Donny Montell Love Is Blind
4 100  Estonia Ott Lepland Kuula
5 80  Turkey Can Bonomo Love Me Back
6 77  Bosnia & Herzegovina MayaSar Korake ti znam
7 70  Malta Kurt Calleja This Is the Night
8 64  Ukraine Gaitana Be My Guest
9 53  FYR Macedonia Kaliopi Crno i belo
10 45  Norway Tooji Stay
11 45  Bulgaria Sofi Marinova Love Unlimited
12 42  Croatia Nina Badrić Nebo
13 39  Portugal Filipa Sousa Vida minha
14 36  Georgia Anri Jokhadze I’m a Joker
15 35  Netherlands Joan Franka You and Me
16 35  Belarus Litesound We Are the Heroes
17 31  Slovenia Eva Boto Verjamem
18 22  Slovakia Max Jason Mai Don’t Close Your Eyes

 

Some unexpected finishes there too, with Serbia pulling a lot closer to Sweden than expected. But both Serbia and Russia’s power bases were in the East, so maybe they ended up cannibalising each other’s votes. Lithuania managed a shocking 3rd place finish, I assumed he had only scraped though, but good for him, even if his final performance didn’t quite make this grade.

Speaking of close calls, Norway faced Bulgaria in a tie-break, broken when Tooji received marks from more countries than Sofi. A shame Bulgaria couldn’t qualify, they do so rarely, but it would have been pretty rough on Norway too.

I can only assume the juries helped out Joan Franka on the previous night, because her off-key performance of “You and Me” can’t have won many fans. Surprised and sad to see Slovenia and Belarus so low down too, I thought both deserved better, at least better than Georgia and Portugal.

FYR Macedonia’s Kaliopi really got some momemtum after qualifying, managing 13th place after barely qualifying is impressive! I guess that result for Malta was always on the cards, never mind. He seemed genuinely overjoyed to qualify, and it was a pretty definitive result on that front.

I’m hoping the public/jury split will be released soon. In the EBU press conferences after each semi-final, they did say that the public & juries agreed on 15 of the 20 qualifiers (8 from Semi 1, 7 from Semi 2), so I’m very curious to see what those are, and perhaps a clue as to why some of the more surprising results came to pass. But then again I do like the stats!

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Eurovision 2012: Final Result & Euphoric Reaction

So that’s it for another year, with Loreen living up to the hype and amassing a huge total to win Eurovision 2012. It was an amazing show, and a great line-up. I think there are many interesting stories spinning off from last night’s final for all the participants, I’ll cover the biggies now. I will also be counting down my favourites of the year pretty soon, so please follow or bookmark this blog for plenty more ESC2012 stuff, as well as some retrospectives of older contests.

So let’s start with Sweden. After hitting rock bottom (at least in context of Sweden) two years ago by not qualifying, Eric Saade energised them with last year’s 3rd place. After an incredible Melodifestivalen they sent a song that I think will be of a massive benefit to the concert. It’s not a cheesy pop song or an ethnic ballad as Eurovision so often gets associated with, it’s a totally contemporary dance pop song, no gimmicks or props (or indeed shoes), just the song, Loreen and her performance. I had worried that she’d mumble her way through the song as she had been in rehearsals but last night she totally nailed it and I am so happy. I will do my very best to get to what will be an incredible contest in Sweden next year, I can’t wait!

As for the competition, it was looking hairy for a while as those Russian grannies and then Serbia were close behind Loreen, but you can’t hide a landslide with dramatic direction of the voting. As expected (I’m pleased with myself for predicting that top 3 at work!), Russia and Serbia were the main competition, and they both performed well. Serbia had about the best slot they could have got, and worked it well.

I knew Azerbaijan were going to put in a great performance with a strong Swedish-penned ballad, but even last night they blew me away. Note-perfect and that dress was truly amazing. Azerbaijan are firmly established as big contenders now I think, and I expect Crystal Hall will be used again before too long.

Albania secured their best ever result with a 5th place finish for the Borg Queen with the snake hair. Amazing vocals, but I’m surprised it did so well just on that front, especially with that unfortunate 3rd place slot in the show, she took that envelope like it was poison when she drew her running order in the press conference! But I’m always happy to see countries scoring their best results.

After an iffy start in the votes, Estonia secured a great result. Love that guy, so handsome too… I see a lot of people getting to my blog searching for “ott lepland penis” so I guess he has a lot of other fans too!

The Big 5 had a mixed result, though three made it to the top 10, something that would have been near-enough unthinkable a few years ago. I had hoped Spain might do better, hers were the vocals of the night for me, and I am so pleased, though I can’t help but feel a little disappointed for her. Still, they hadn’t made the top 10 for 8 years, so that’s a good result. Germany managed their third top 10 in a row with a strong (and cute) performance from Roman. Speaking of Romans, Italy got another top 10 placing too, I think they did well to make that, even though I liked the song a lot.

However France and UK didn’t fare so well. Anggun was stunningly beautiful last night, and that floating dress was incredible. That’s before we talk about the hot French athletes too… her vocals seemed to be not 100%, but she hit the big finish. It just didn’t translate to votes, and 22nd place made her one of the more painful casualties of the night.

Old Engelbert though… I struggled to share the optimism of others that he would do well, particularly with the opening slot, and while he did well, the song just didn’t stand up against the other ballads. That European support for “the Hump” never materialised, and so the UK regresses back to its “oh it’s all politics” mindset which is incredibly frustrating. My only hope is that the massive crossover hit from Loreen (it’s just hit #2 on UK iTunes, and is doing similar business in dozens of countries in Europe – and Australia!) might tempt a current artist out of the woodwork for next year’s entry.

Elsewhere down the results list there were few big shocks. Cyprus finally outperformed Greece, though I felt both songs would have done better. Greece finally lost their big record of top 10 finishes, but I thought Cyprus would really do well. But still a solid result for both countries that neither should be ashamed of.

Jedward’s attempt to cross into more mainstream pop (albeit with an amazing water feature) felt flat, and I’m sure Ireland will be frustrated that they have been foiled again in their attempt to re-live their Eurovision glory days.

Sweden’s massive win seemed to drain the energy from the rest of the Nordic bloc, as Iceland, Norway and Denmark all fell by the wayside. At one point, all three were at the bottom. Iceland deserved better but their poor running-order draw and quite stiff performance (especially after the riotous grannies) explained their disappointing result. Denmark I just never saw the appeal in, so I at least feel vindicated there.

Poor Tooji must be having a shitty birthday today, ending up last. The song was strong but his vocals weren’t really on point, not surprisingly since he had such an ambitious dance routine. Eric Saade last year just had the magic that “Stay” didn’t have. Watching his performance last night, it smacked of a nul-points in waiting, and I am sad to see it nearly come true. But you only need one great song to win, and I’m sure just as this year, Norway will be looking very closely to see which lessons could be learned from Sweden.

Poor Malta too, but they are just happy to qualify, I love those guys. Lithuania really outperformed expectations, I thought they had just squeezed through the semi-finals but they finished third in theirs, and a very respectable finish for him (he needs a choreographer too, or were they blind?)

So those are my thoughts of last night. The show itself looked slick, but the presenters were stiff as boards. Particularly the lawyer lady, walking through the green room like an android, trading disinterested small talk with Loreen and Sabina. Crystal Hall looked incredible though, and they got through the night without any major incidents. I almost wish I had gone now! I expect a much more energetic show in Stockholm though, the Swedes have been after this for years!

Thanks for all the hits, I will put up a proper thankyou post soon! Otherwise please stick around, I will try my best to keep you all entertained, this year has been a real ride! Later this week I will have a look at the detailed semi-final results, as well as counting down my favourite entries this year. Take care! x

FINAL RESULTS

Place Country Artist Song Points
1  Sweden Loreen Euphoria 372
2  Russia Buranovskiye Babushki Party for Everybody 259
3  Serbia Željko Joksimović Nije ljubav stvar 214
4  Azerbaijan Sabina Babayeva When the Music Dies 150
5  Albania Rona Nishliu Suus3 146
6  Estonia Ott Lepland Kuula 120
7  Turkey Can Bonomo Love Me Back 112
8  Germany Roman Lob Standing Still 110
9  Italy Nina Zilli L’amore è femmina (Out of Love) 101
10  Spain Pastora Soler Quédate conmigo 97
11  Moldova Pasha Parfeny Lăutar 81
12  Romania Mandinga Zaleilah 71
13  Macedonia Kaliopi Crno i belo (Црно и бело) 71
14  Lithuania Donny Montell Love Is Blind 70
15  Ukraine Gaitana Be My Guest 65
16  Cyprus Ivi Adamou La La Love 65
17  Greece Eleftheria Eleftheriou Aphrodisiac 64
18  Bosnia & Herzegovina MayaSar Korake ti znam 55
19  Ireland Jedward Waterline 46
20  Iceland Gréta Salóme & Jónsi Never Forget 46
21  Malta Kurt Calleja This Is the Night 41
22  France Anggun Echo (You and I) 21
23  Denmark Soluna Samay Should’ve Known Better 21
24  Hungary Compact Disco Sound of Our Hearts 19
25  United Kingdom Engelbert Humperdinck Love Will Set You Free 12
26  Norway Tooji Stay 7

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