I said so much throughout this year that I was going to finally throw my name into the Eurovision hat.
And I have.
But surely not how anybody may have expected.
I am sure you all read my blog about my struggles to record a song that I was trying to enter for the Swedish selection this year. The deadline passed and I didn’t submit a song. Frankly, it is sad but I don’t care too much. To be competing for one place against over 600 others in a competition seemingly all decided by internal factors of what would be good TV and all based on studio versions, which would not have any decent happy outcome.
However, there is another selection which I’ve been watching with interest. In Switzerland, they are letting anybody upload songs to their website – and we can all watch – and we will be able to all vote. Sweden and some other countries have done this – some with moderate success and some that have been dogged by voting scandals and runaway jokes. The success though is more for the hardcore Eurovision fan. There have been songs hidden away on selections like this where there are hundreds of songs (I made the point when I had loads of paperwork to do as a sabbatical at Durham over one weekend to sit in the office to myself and listen to every Swedish one) that have become huge personal favourites at any level.
One key difference to this is production – you can’t and shouldn’t expect the next Eric Saade or Danny to come through a format like this – that isn’t fair – the success in main does come from the world-class production – a legitimate songwriting skill in its own right. However, there is no reason that, even if rough and ready rather than smooth and slick, you can’t find a proper songwriters song with a good hook hidden in there. I certainly have. Never has one of those songs gone all the way from amateur video to Eurovision, but that is surely going to change soon. It is fun seeing the variety – even from about 25 songs in Switzerland this year so far (two weeks to go – we expect in the Eurovision world about 200 – of which 4 will be chosen – much better odds!) – from not-so-serious bad rapping to male choirs singing IKEA catalogues – to songs in structure similar to Euphoria and many of your generic middle of the road safe songs.
The song I recorded is definitely not safe. In fact, I can’t really think of a song like it at any level in Eurovision. In terms of imagery and artistry – think a bit like The Touch (entry to Norwegian final in 2010) or Stop (Slovenia 2005) – but that doesn’t do the dark mood, or the intense musical theatre acting or the two key changes in the second verse any justice. I love how I present it too. It’s a busking performance. If I can’t get perfect production – then why bother – play it live – play to the camera, act each and every note. That is the style of show I would want to give on the stage after all. This is more welcoming than anything Sweden has – I’m competing with professional music videos and Eurovision winners – but I’m playing them at my game, rather than a record company and TV one – it fits what a song contest should be much more.
Do I expect anything? I don’t know. I listen to many of the Swiss songs knowing that even my iPod recording stands out compared to them – but I can never expect a national broadcaster in Switzerland to take a risk on some British guy in Sweden who plays the streets and teaches science for a living. What I want even as much as to have my chance of Swiss TV, is to reach people, to have fans, to have support, to have people say I can do this stuff good. Putting songs on myspace – not my thing. This is – and hopefully there will be some Eurovision fan in some weird part of the world who I will overhear singing along on their iPod in a few years time.
Then I can say it is done.