Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Eurotastic, Eurotrashed, Eurovision!



So once again just a week and a half ago we came face to face with the splendiferous wonder that is Eurovision. It was the 50th anniversary this year and it came to us from Dusseldorf, Germany. It wasn't a bad show. I thought they did alright with the hosts as well. Usually I find the hosts rather annoying but Germany seems to have got that right.

Being in Australia I was forced to wait until Friday night to see the first of the Semi finals. Saturday was Semi-Final 2 and Sunday night was the Final. Delayed telecast can be annoying when you already know who has won but it doesn't take the fun out of watching the show.

Portugal definitely won the prize for the most bizarre performance with their entry being something of a protest song. I'm not sure what exactly it was a protest of however, I was too distracted by the placards/signs they were holding up and waving around. Not to mention the outfits. Portugal seems to be running with the bizarre, strange entries in recent years.

The most retro vote must without a doubt go to Serbia, who with their quirky performance remniscent of Austin Powers crossed with a bit of Scooby Doo style wise. I couldn't understand the words to the song but it was fun and I enjoyed it.

Moldova put on a fantastic performance with a bit of quirk themselves. It felt like they were channeling Beastie Boys crossed with The Cat Empire. The unicyclist just added a bit more entertainment to the whole thing which was already fantastically entertaining. I guess the best description I can come up with for this performance is a circus sideshow of fun!

Personally I thought Finland's entry by Paradise Oskar was fantastic, but maybe as one person put it in a comment on Facebook- too good for Eurovision. I listen to the song now and get goosebumps... and they aren't because it is cold. His voice and just the song as a whole remind me of the Bee Gees.

Hungary only amused me because it seemed the singer- Kati Wolf- is a cross between Rhonda Burchmore and Celine Dion.

Ireland's Jedward produced a fun and enjoyable act that seemed to me to be a cross between Lady Gaga and the Scissor Sisters but so much more fun.

Iceland had a fantastic song with Sjonni's Friends. To have come together after the guy who was going to sing the song passed away and his wife got together several of his musician friends and they performed the song in his memory. It was fantastic. There was talent and feeling and knowing the story behind how they came to be performing added more to the whole performance for me.

Both Russia and Estonia seemed to face issues in the performance of backflips. In both of these performances in the semi finals it looked like faceplants were imminent as they backflipped off platforms. Not exactly a sign of the most polished performance. Though I guess performing in something that will be televised and seen by over 120 million people might put the nerves in you. As it was neither the Russian nor the Estonian performances left me too impressed overall. The greatest thing that Estonia had going for them were the bright costumes, break dancing and an annoyingly catchy tune that had me singing along despite my less than favourable opinion of the performance itself.

Belgium did a fantastic performance with what was basically an acapella group and a beat boxer. I love performances like this where we can see truly what is possible with the human voice. Sure I love my drums, guitars and hard rock but there is something so awesome about hearing the music created through the use of vocals alone. Unfortunately they didn't make it through to the finals despite their obvious talent.

Britain had a boy band. Blue. Better known for their song All Rise in the early 2000's. They came complete with the requisite boy band dancing. I am however unsure what was more disturbing, the actual boy band dancing or the dancing boy band images on the screens behind them.

Germany welcomed back Lena Meyer-Landrut to defend the Eurovision title that she won last year with the song Satellite with a new song Taken By A Stranger. I first heard this on YouTube a few weeks ago and wasn't sure what I thought but watching it from the live performance I found it quite catchy and enjoyable. Not quite enough to win the title for a second year however.

Ukraine had a pretty amazing song and the sand artistry they had to go along with it made it even more awesome. My only issue with the performance on a whole was the fact that having the sand artistry on the big screen behind the singer kept distracting me.

Overall I felt the performances were of a higher calibre to previous years through the semi-finals, but unfortunately not all those who made it through to the final should have and some that should have missed out like Belgium and Turkey.

And for those who are wondering. The winner was Azerbaijan. Good on them I say despite the fact that they aren't really a European country and I didn't particularly like the entry. There's always next year!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

30 Day Book Challenge- Days One and Two

Ok so I just started the 30 Day Book Challenge on Facebook yesterday. I had considered doing one of the other 30 day challenges you can find such as those for music and movies but I decided books were more appropriate to me so went and found the book challenge. While on Facebook I only need to put up an image of the book and the name. I decided I would post on here as I go through the challenge giving reasons behind the choices.

So here are Day 1 and Day 2.

Day 1: Favourite Book



It won't come as a suprise to those who know me well that my favourite book is Tomorrow, When The War Began by John Marsden. The reason I love this book is that it has made me and many other people reconsider the capabilities of teenagers and myself. It treats teenagers as something more than slaves to technology(though for some that is entirely true). John Marsden's writing speaks at the same level as the age group he wrote it for. He doesn't write down to his readers and treat them with the condescension that many people treat today's teenagers with. He lets the reader decide for themselves what they will take from the story. He focuses on the characterisation and doesn't try to encompass an entire epic plot. This is one of my favourite things about it. It lets me imagine what I want with the settings by not confining the story to a specific place or city.This book has been translated into multiple languages and although it is undoubtedly set in Australia(exact location to be decided by the discerning reader) it has become popular in many of those countries. Fans stretch from Australia, Japan, Sweden, USA, South America right around the globe. I definitely recommend this book to anyone and everyone whether they be adults or teens.


Day 2: Least Favourite Book

 

My least favourite book by far(and I do have a few books I dislike) would have to be Emma by Jane Austen. I had to read this for year 12 English and before I started reading it I was actually looking forward to it. That didn't last. To me this book dragged quite a bit. Before I even finished the first page I fell asleep. That has never happened before or since for anything other than maybe a text book and even then I can't actually think of any occasion when I fell asleep on a text book. To sum it up simply this book to me was a book written for whom the modern day equivalent would be blonde bimbo's. I am neither blonde nor a bimbo. I told my teacher as much; she wasn't very impressed. Also the fact that we had to compare this novel to the film Clueless didn't work in its favour. I had to force myself to sit and watch that and still only made it half an hour in at most. I think I eventually forced myself to Chapter 12 of this and watched the film instead but I don't remember even from that what happens. I don't know what happened to my copy as soon as the HSC was over. I think I gave it away. I don't recommend this book to anyone.