No matter how much we all love the Eurovision Song Contest, there are always going to be things we‘d rather not hear from the stage, be it musical genres (for me that would be traditional schlager), singers‘ voices and the way they use them, instruments (bagpipes, anyone…)…the list goes on and on. And as with everything else; these (to me) horrible things might be the exact things that make others love Eurovision!

#1 Singing out of tune
I‘ll start with a thing I believe most of us can agree on, which is when an artist sings out of tune. It doesn‘t matter how good the song is, or how cute the singer is, or how much you might love this kind of music; out of key singing kills a song off. Every single year we hear singers who seem like they couldn‘t sing in tune to save their lives, and even though it might be just nerves on the night; it‘s an instant turn-off. From this year I‘d like to mention Azerbaijan and Switzerland. A few artists have even managed to win the contest without hitting more than a few correct notes (Dima Bilan, anyone?), but the all time winners of the “out of tune“ trophy is the group XXL, representing Macedonia in the 2000 contest with „100% Te Ljubam“, where each of them seemed to be singing in their own „out of key“ key, (the live clip is no longer anywhere to be found on youtube. I wonder why…), closely followed by Jemini, who represented the UK in 2003 with „Cry Baby“.

#2 Inhaling the microphone
Number two on my list, and something that can really destroy an otherwise great song (and drive me mad; I do after all suffer from misophonia), is when the singer keeps trying to inhale the microphone. The worst example of this, and the sole reason why I never listen to this song, which I actually really like a lot, is „Everything“, the Greek entry in 2006. Anna Vissi is a wonderful performer, but really; what‘s with all the panting? (This form of heavy breathing in songs might be a big thing in Greece, though, as their 2015 representative did the same thing. In Maria Elena‘s case, though, it was her last breath, so I guess it‘s excusable…)

#3 Canned drums
Everyone who knows me, especially in the Euroverse, also knows how much I love canned drums. Which is not at all. I hate canned drums *with a passion*. I once actually proclaimed that „I prefer my drums touched by human hands“…not exactly what I wanted to say, but you get the drift. Drumbeats aren‘t supposed to come out of a little box, they are supposed to be played by amazing drummers on real drums. And they‘re not supposed to be *one* neverending, neverchanging beat that just goes on and on and on… And I just can‘t deal with rather bland songs where songwriters add a desperate drum machine beat to try and make it fun and dancy and heaven knows what…like for instance „What About My Dreams“, the Hungarian entry in 2011. And sometimes they add them to nice ballads and ruin everything. Like „Crisalide“, which is a perfectly fine ballad for just under two minutes, and then disaster strikes.

 

#4 Whistling
Whistling belongs outdoors, at sporting events or as a sign of either appreciation or dismay at concerts, protests and other events of that kind. And that‘s pretty much it. Under no circumstances should a song include whistling. Unless it‘s a children‘s song, teaching kids to whistle. If you’re out hunting stars, please whistle all you want, but not when you perform a song about your hunt. This year I watched the semi finals in a movie theater, and the second the Hungarian backing whistlers did their thing the entire auditorium burst out laughing.

#5 Unnecessary key changes
Key changes belong in Eurovision (how else are we all gonna be able to finish our drinks…skál!), but not all of them make much sense. Like with canned drums, some songwriters seem to add a key change when they don‘t know how else to „lift“ the song and others appear to include one just because „a Eurovision songs needs a key change“. Most Eurovision key changes make complete sense though and I really hope they will keep coming. Just not like in this year‘s Croatian entry… Seiously?! Here we have this beautiful, contemporary ballad, that could easily have a successful life outside the contest and it‘s performed by a great singer. And then, for no apparent reason at all; the cheesiest keychange in music history (or at least very close to it…)! I mean; why?!

#6 Shouting „THANK YOU!!!“ and „I LOVE YOU EUROPE!!!“ after the performance.
It seems a lot of singers forget how a microphone works the moment they stop singing. Every single year we see a number of artists who shout into their microphone when they‘re done singing, and it‘s intensely annoying! I really wish someone would tell them, before they go on stage, that we can hear them perfectly fine if they just *speak* into the microphone and that the reason the thing is there is so that they won‘t have to scream. (Or that the soundpeople would just turn it off…) The first „shouting artists“ to spring to mind are Sakis Rouvas (2009), Krista Siegfrids (more on her in #10) and Sandhja…

#7 Vocal masturbation
This is a sin that can be found in most big ballads, you know, when the singer squeezes about fifteen different notes into one vowel, just to show us all how a-may-zing their voice is. This is most definitely not just a Eurovision thing, it even has it‘s own musical term, melisma (I prefer calling it vocal masturbation, though, since tha‘s what it is…) and as with most other things it‘s fine (I guess) if there‘s just a little bit of it, but that‘s unfortunately not always the case. To name but a few singers who have been guilty of this sin; Haldor Lægreid (Norway 2001), Nadine Bieler (Austria 2011) and the „winner“; Annet Artani for Cyprus in 2006, with „Why Angels Cry“

#8 Mid-song yelling to the audience/viewers
Sing your song. Do your dance or whatever. Say (not shout, see #6) thank you. Job done. But some people get a little carried away and yell stuff to the audience or viewers/cameras. A stellar example of this behavior is this year‘s Belgian entrant, Laura Tesoro, who, as she walked/ran out onto the catwalk shouted; „Come on guys, stand up and dance with me! Let‘s party!“ (And was completely out of tune when she started singing again…so; not a good idea, in more ways than one!)

#9 Women sounding like Barbie
Some female singers have a way of using their voice that make them sound like children, or like how I picture Barbie would sound if she could sing. It‘s like they‘re trying to make themselves appear younger, innocent, cute, childlike, sweet…I don’t know. But instead they just end up sounding (and looking) rather silly. Which is always the result when grown people try to be children. It simply comes across as fake, which is never good. One example of an otherwise very good singer who does this, and it has become more and more noticeable over the years, is Carola. It‘s worse in her non-Eurovision songs, but you can also hear it in „Invincible“, especially in the verses. I‘m kinda upset about this development, because I used to really like her, but now I just can‘t listen to her anymore. The worst example of this though, is Michelle, who represented Germany in 2001.

#10 Ding-Dong
And not just ding dong; drip drop, qele qele, haba haba, boom boom, bana bana, nanana, lalala, and all other „nonsense“ titles where the same (or similar) word is repeated are also super annoying. But Ding Dong is the worst of them all. Whether it‘s the good old Ding-a-dong, Krista‘s oh, oh, oh, oh, oh DING DONG or Dana‘s ding dong say no more, I just find these words unbearable. Especially, I think, in Krista‘s “Marry Me”. But that‘s probably because she and her backing ding dongers were a complete nightmare back in 2013 (they even called themselves “Team DING DONG for crying out loud!!), running around ding donging everywhere. In Amsterdam. In London. In Malmö. During press conferences. At parties. In the hallways. Any time. All the time. Even a couple of the other artists expressed their exhaustion from them… „DongDong, say no more“.

Oh, and I just *have to* include one last thing.
#11 Falsetto.
Cezar. That‘s all.

I'm Norwegian, presently living in Iceland. My mom loves Eurovision, and always let me stay up to watch the contest since before I can remember, so I'm "second generation Eurovision lunatic". My musical god is David Bowie, so I'm obviously not into the stereotypical Eurovision songs. I prefer the rocky/bluesy/jazzy/ethnic songs over schlager and mainstream ballads, though I occasionally surprise myself (and others)... I HATE canned drums and "Cvet Z juga". Photo © Tobias König

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2 Comments

  1. Aufrechtgehn

    June 12, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    Very fun read, thanks a lot! 🙂

    And I agree with most items, except #5. There simply is no such thing as an unneccessary key change. Key changes are always a totally perfect way to lift a song and should be mandatory in *each and every* pop song inside *and* outside of Eurovision. Oh, and #10. I get your annoyance about Team Ding Dong, but in general, I love all songs with Ding Dong, La La La, Diggy Loo Diggy Ley and other easy to sing along words repeated over and over again. They’re fun. And that’s what Eurovision is all about, having fun.

    When it comes to drums I agree it is a lot better having them played live by a georgeous hot drummer (always the sexiest member of any given band [except Metallica]), but I’ve yet to hear a ballad that wouldn’t sound a lot better speeded up with a hard, bouncing drum added to it (aka a dance remix, in which case a machine beat can do).

    And thanks for coining a new, cool word for my pet hate in ballad, the vocal masturbation. I’ll use it from now on to name and shame this unforgiveable sin. 🙂

    Reply

  2. Memememe

    June 28, 2016 at 1:24 am

    I hate key changes! Such a tepid, cheesy cliche in ESC….should be banned!

    Reply

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