Outside of Eurovision, one of my major hobbies has been trying to get a diagnosis for assorted mental health issues – namely, symptoms that point to some sort of neurodivergent condition.
(And by “hobby” I mean get put on a years-long waitlist while debating spending thousands of pounds to get a quicker private diagnosis, especially after a GP asks why you need a diagnosis in the first place because you’ve been masking for so long that it looks like everything is hunky-dory from the outside despite being a roiling mass of nerves on the inside!)
Anyway, one of the symptoms that I experience is my inability to let go of small things. If it’s wrong, I’ll obsess over it. If it’s a grudge, I’ll hang onto it. I can forgive with my heart, but not with my brain.
Fortunately, I’ve matured enough to recognise when I’m being unreasonably stubborn. I haven’t matured enough to drop a grudge, but at least I know when I’m resenting things for much, much, much longer than is ideal!
And because of that, I can fully disclose that I cannot be reasonable about two of this year’s entries.
Let’s face it: Hooverphonic are objectively awful.
Like, Belgium had a run of amazing entries from 2015 onwards. Even its entries that didn’t make it out of the semis are ones that I still enjoy listening to!
Yet two years of NQ entries from fairly novice singers led Belgium to try a new strategy – choosing a well-established band that’s had an international presence since the 1990s. The only thing they forgot was, as stated above, Hooverphonic are objectively awful.
How awful are Hooverphonic? Let’s count the ways:
- In promoting their song last year, Hooverphonic stated that “In a competition with bells and whistles, Hooverphonic will not participate in this aspect. Let us be the odd man out.”
- And what does not participating in the bells and whistles look like? Well, Hooverphonic refused to join in last year’s “Love Shine A Light” tribute, for a multitude of reasons that all seemed to come down to “This song is bad.” (And yes, “Love Shine A Light” is a big barrel of cheese, but sometimes a big barrel of cheese is exactly what the world needs! Like during a scary and isolating pandemic!)
- The way Hooverphonic ditched Luka – the vocalist from last year’s entry – seems really shady, especially since the whole group had recorded (yet-to-be-released) record together! And she was fired without warning on a zoom call. That’s just COLD.
So yes, I hold a grudge against Hooverphonic for being pretentious dicks who act like they are better than the contest and yet still engage in shitty backstabbing of their band members so they can what? Have a better chance at winning the contest they hate? Every time I feel my heart warming to the lyrics about the Johnny Cash t-shirt, the fact that Hooverphonic are jerks comes rushing back to me, and my grudge remains firmly in place.
Is Belgium good? Maybe! But it’s at the bottom of my rankings!
I feel slightly more guilty about my second irrational grudge. Roxen has a lovely voice, and she’s just singing what’s put in front of her by her record company.
But my goodness, I can never forgive her for putting “Alcohol You” in the mix last year.
I can take the “Alcohol You” pun, fine, but mentioning the term “fake news” in the lyrics. OOF.
As an American, those words cause a visceral reaction in me. I can’t help but hear them and go into flashbacks from the past four years, when every day was a new disaster, and no disaster seemed to make a difference, and the defense for voter suppression and kids in cages and the removals of trans rights and the flouting of any ethical concerns and the emergence of overt white supremacy and an affirmation that sexual assault could be carried out with no consequence – all of these memories and moments come flooding back when I hear that term.
And as an American living in Europe, it’s even worse, because the past four years have seen an oppressive government in Hungary use that phrase to justify a law that enables detention of its opponents, and an oppressive government in Belarus use that phrase to bolster the reputation of riot police who have been using violence against citizens engaging in peaceful protest, and a right-wing government in Poland use that phrase to counter clear evidence of anti-LGBT activity in that country, and, of course, an oppressive government in Russia use that phrase at the very same time they are weaponising fake news to sow dissension and erode trust in democratic governance.
So yes, I get it’s not Roxen’s fault that she sang that phrase. And i can see how Roxen’s songwriters thought they were being clever in using something so current and buzzword-y. But that doesn’t mean I have amnesia. And I can’t generate any positive feelings for an artist or song when a two-second snippet can bring up so many awful, awful memories – to say nothing of the fears for the current state of Europe!
Is Amnesia any good? Listen to it yourself! It’s at the bottom of my rankings.