Just Above Sunset
May 16, 2004 - Grim Music and Silly Music

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Grim Music 



Last month in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry - requiescant in pace - but not likely I commented on this:


'Le Petit Prince:' A dream that will never end

Stacy Schiff, New York Times and International Herald Tribune, Monday, April 12, 2004


The discussion covered a lot of ground regarding the last days of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and his possible suicide.  I noted that in the end Schiff suggests that Saint-Exupéry just had no desire to go on living – that was clear - but that he meant to kill himself is not clear at all.  


As I said at the close of my comments - ambiguous to the end.  So French.  And so fatalistic, and perhaps overly dramatic.  Makes you want to suck on a Gauloises or Gitanes and pretend you’re in that bleak François Truffaut film about the piano player, and you’re Charles Aznavour with sad eyes, watching a sad world, in the rain.


And what do you know, this week the French reinforced the image.


This from l'Agence France-Presse (AFP) by way of The Tocqueville Connection



Received Friday, 14 May 2004 12:17:00 GMT


PARIS, May 14 (AFP) - Charles Aznavour, the 80 year-old French singer of Armenian origin, was on Friday made a commander of the Legion of Honor by President Jacques Chirac.


"Among the 1,000 songs you have written and composed more than 100 are in the pages of the anthologies," Chirac said in a ceremony at the Elysées palace.


"It is to a man of infinite generosity, sincere, an incomparable and uncontested artist, a marvelous ambassador for French song and language that I am profoundly delighted to present this award," he said.


There are some 1,250 commanders of the Legion of Honor, the order's third highest rank.


Grim fatalism rewarded.

Silly Music



Does anyone on this side of the pond follow the Eurovision song contest?  I doubt it.  This contest predates “American Idol” by many, many years, but like “American Idol” showcases some awful pop music.  All the countries of Europe enter a singer or a group doing an original song – and from this event we were all introduced to Icelandic pop rock.  Swedish stuff?  Think of ABBA without wit or talent.  You get the idea.  Perhaps the only thing good that ever came out of the Eurovision song contest was by accident – many years ago an Irish folk dance group performed between contestants and became wildly popular, the “Riverdance” and the Michael Flaherty proclaiming himself “Lord of the Dance” and stomping around.  Whether this was a good thing depends on your appetite for penny whistles and fast unison clogging by rank upon rank of thin redheaded beauties. 


Well, the Irish are a curious people.  How do you feel about the Turks?  This year the Eurovision song contest is being held in Istanbul.  Cool.


For a view of all this see

Eurovision voting, mockery and politics 

Jonny Dymond - BBC Turkey correspondent - BBC World Service, Saturday, May 15, 2004

Here’s how he sets the mood –


Just under a week ago, it all began. It was warm night at the waterside of Istanbul's best hotel.


The Bosphorus lapped at the shoreline whilst tourists on boats gawped, not just at the swing band and the guests, but at quite how much food could be placed on the buffet tables that ran for metres on end.


Turkey has pulled out all the stops to make Eurovision 2004 a stunning success.


But Dymond is more interested in what he calls the "gaping chasm" between Britain and the rest of Europe.  It seems in the UK no one takes this contest seriously – and for good reason.  He says for the folks in the UK "the Eurovision song contest is a chance to squeal like a puppy with embarrassment at the awful parade of singers."


For the rest of Europe?  He says for many countries in Europe the is finally "a chance to regain some national pride lost in some long forgotten battle in the mists of the 14th century."  Well, he’s a bit snooty.  Brits can be like that.


At the semi-final on Wednesday he comments it was a shame the Estonian entry was eliminated.  This Estonian entry, he says, "appeared to employ a wobble board as its main instrument, and a tortured rodent for vocals."  Yeah, well, that is a bit unkind.


Anyway, the big news is that this year is that the traditional judges are gone, and like “American Idol” they are using telephone voting by citizens of the nations involved.  Why?  He says because there was some hope that this might "tame the nationalist passions that rage around the voting - Greeks voting for Greek Cyprus, Turkish workers in Germany voting for Turkey, absolutely nobody in Europe voting for Britain."


Indeed.  Feeling a little defensive, are we?


I will have to investigate and see if anyone is broadcasting this weekend’s final performances.  I can’t vote of course, and the Estonian entry is long gone, but maybe one might hear something interesting from, say, Albania, or Slovenia.  Who knows, one might be listening to the next Bjork!  It gives one chills.




Late update from the BBC - Sunday, 16 May, 2004, 03:30 GMT 04:30 UK


Ukraine has won the 2004 Eurovision song contest in Istanbul, Turkey - only the second time the country has taken part in the competition.

Ruslana, a successful singer, producer, dancer and composer in her home country, won for her song Wild Dance.

Contest debutants Serbia and Montenegro were second, with Greece third.  The UK's James Fox took 16th spot.

… James Fox's 29 points was a distinct improvement on the zero points received by Jemini in 2003.

… Ruslana's winning song mixed folk music with a troupe of leather-clad female dancers.  Her song was inspired by the folk music and dances of highlanders in the Carpathian mountains and included traditional instruments, a fast dance routine mixed with acrobatic moves, as well as flamboyant costumes.

Greece's Sakis Rouvas had been the favourite to win the contest.

The success of Zeljko Joksimovic and the Ad Hoc Orchestra from Serbia and Montenegro was a major surprise - it was the country's first-ever performance at the competition.

British singer Lisa Andreas, 16, took joint fifth place with Sweden, performing a song for Cyprus. Her mother was born on the island.

The host country Turkey took fourth spot in the competition.

… British TV host Terry Wogan, who was commenting on the contest for the BBC, said the "biased" voting was worse than ever.

He said: "Someone has got to stop this. The European Broadcasting Union has to take a hand."

Ireland who traditionally do well at Eurovision were in 23rd position only one place higher than Norway who came last.

The 2005 event will now be held in Ukraine.

Ah, now you know. 


EU-the Musical!
Behind the cheese at the Eurovision Song Contest
By Carl Schrag - Posted Monday, May 17, 2004, at 9:18 AM PT  SLATE.COM


This a roundup of the international coverage of the event, and it ends with this:

... Despite its popularity, few people take the contest too seriously. The Sydney Morning Herald quoted one die-hard fan who acknowledged that the contest-with its flamboyant costumes and high camp quotient-has "seen better days."  Noting that Eurovision enjoys a large gay following, he added, "It's like a gay world cup. Who else would sit here and watch this load of rubbish?"


Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
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