I don't get it. I've read half a dozen accusations I'm sure of the Eurovision being especially novelty-heavy this year. But however I count them I only get to four proper full-blown novelties, Spain, Estonia, Latvia and Ireland. Maybe it's because I'm very restrictive in applying the tag, but something like Malta's entry is never a novelty in my book - it's a well-constructed pop song, conventionally sung, that happens to have a (subtle) spy theme. Is anything that's not
about love or dancing a novelty song?
That said, here are three clear-cut examples, two that I've seen labelled novelties but aren't, really, and one that maybe should be. Let's start off with one of the most obvious examples, Estonia.
Kreissiraadio - Leto Svet
Yup, this is a novelty, through and through, made by an appropriately "kreissi" comedy troupe. To me, that's not really a problem - I think the song works okay on its own terms. The skacid-like backing is energetic, the melody is okay, the earworm chorus is memorable (if a tad too closely connected to the Goliat theme song and the bridge of Buffalo Soldier). Whatever, though - the singers and the humour are not nearly as charming as Verka Serducha was last year, and it's going to sink without a trace. As could Estonia's neighbour Latvia, if things go against them:
Pirates of the Sea - Wolves of the Sea
This one failed to make the first round in the Swedish competition which doesn't surprise me because novelties rarely do. (Which reflects rather badly on us Swedes if anything.) The idea is obviously to create a Dschingis Khan for the nineties-- er, I mean, 21st century, by updating the semi-disco backing to some sort of bubblegum dance. It works fine in a Hits for Kidz kind of way and might do fairly well in the competition, since it's actually a well-connected, well-brought-together pop piece under the silly gloss.
Now you're probably asking, do I like all the novelties? No.
Dustin the Turkey - Irlande Douze Pointe
Ireland is a nation of Morons. Fed up with sending (and failing) with dozens of awful folk ballads they chose to "comment" on their own lack of success by sour grape blaming everyone else and making a joke of the Eurovision. Which could be okay if it was remotely funny or a worthy entry but this excrement is the worst song in the whole competition. By a mile and by every standard.
Two more countries that usually make the novelty lists this year I'm rather more reluctant to include.
Ishtar - O Julissi
This doesn't conform to any standard of novelty really, it's not meant to be funny, it's not particularly gimmicky and it's not bad at all (in fact rather pleasant and well-crafted). Except, of course, one thing: it's sung in a completely made-up language. Belgium (notorious for its language conflicts) has done this before and no-one went around accusing Urban Trad of being a novelty, because their tone was less light and springy. Mid-level final?
Laka - Pokusâj
This is where the accusation really gets weird and fairly disturbing - making fun of outsider musicians always gets my blood boiling. So, the man has a live hen on stage and dancers dressed as farmers. But how is this music novelty in any shape, sense or form? It's a heartfelt, slightly new agey pop song that's closer musically to Coldplay than to any other entry in this competition. Obviously the stage persona is not something thrown together for the occasion, and the humour is totally positive and a little sweet. I dig this a lot, I hope it does really well.
Finally, while I'm already worked up, time for an entry that no-one has dared label a novelty but which maybe should be.
Sebastien Tellier - Divine
Critics have been fawning over Tellier whose co-operations with Sofia Coppola, Daft Punk and Air supposedly makes him a "real musician". As far as I'm concerned he's a beard and not much more, and the video is by far the most gimmicky one of all the entries, with a bunch of fake Telliers in wah-wah funny locations throwing microphones at each other. I can just guess at how novetly-oriented his stage performance might be, but since he's "oh-so-distant-ironic" in his humour I'll assume it'll be far from a lone man with a guitar.
I guess the question is: why should the middle classes be excluded from the tag? To me, Belle and Sebastian are just as much a novelty band as ever The Archies. Totally another reason why the Novelty tag stinks, it's a method of propagating class repression.
Essential EP’s #13
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