We all know the unhinged reasons why I hate Swing’It’s Prohibition. But for many Eurofans, these Great Gatsby wannabes have earned vitriol for another reason – knocking the certified banger Waist out of MGP contention.
HOWEVER, I think Ella’s staging is what kept Ella out of Eurovision.
Take a look:
There are so many inexplicable choices here:
Like the singer disappearing in the middle of the song for a dance break! (Ella is a blur in the photo above because she is STRIDING off that stage)
And now that the dancers have the proverbial spotlight, we can’t even see them! They’re dancing in the literal dark! When the producers do add lights, it’s bursts of flame or flashes of spotlight that serve to blind the audience, making it even harder for anyone to see what the dancers are doing.
When the lights finally do even out, the people doing the staging then make the mistake of trying to balance the two competing elements of the lyrics, which are:
- I’m a dangerous woman
- Watch my waist*
Half of those lyrics tell me this is supposed to be a sexy song. Ella’s going to be dancing for you! Watch that waist go! But the other half is open to interpretation. Is Ella dangerous because she’s going to eat you up in bed like a black widow spider? (Sexy!) Or is Ella dangerous because she’s a honeypot trap here to poison your cocktail? (Not sexy!)
Unfortunately, the producers seem to have gone for the latter meaning. In this performance, Ella is hitting her marks cleanly, but her eyes seem to be roving the room looking for her assassination target. It’s all very grim and grinding. There’s no fun here.
Case in point:
There’s a point in the dance sequence where Ella lines up with her female dancers where they all sexily run their hands up and down each other’s legs.
Now, it is an indisputed fact that consensually grabbing someone’s ass is fun. It could be sexy fun, it could be playful fun, but hand + buttock equals fun. And yet Ella and her dancers look like they’re having all the fun of the TSA doing patdowns at the airport. The whole effect is less sexy and more seedy strip club on the Jersey turnpike.
We’ve seen playful sexy done well before – Chanel’s SloMo featured her sly smiles, as she reveled in the amount of attention garnered by her booty. And we’ve seen dangerous sexy with Maruv’s Siren Song, as she used her leg as a literal gun. Ella’s stage designers can’t seem to figure out which way they’d rather go, and we end up with something that’s not sexy at all.
It’s a great song. I’m sorry to lose it. But this whole thing would have needed a full revamp before being ready for Liverpool.
*Okay, I’ve been putting off this rant until I addressed the substantive concerns around the song, but … watch my waist? Your waist? Really?
Look, I am an old. I’m not down with the kids and the mids and the caps and the fax no printer slang. But “watch my waist” is a phrase that has long been associated with diet culture – e.g. “I can’t eat that [delicious thing]. I’m watching my waist. Tee-hee!” And as far as I’ve seen, no one has been trying to reclaim this language to make the waste into a fetishized part of a woman’s body – e.g. “Buddy, did you see that waist?” (eyes pop out of head.)
I get that the booty hypnotic success got songwriters thinking about other parts of the body they could mention. But bootys were previously a thing before Chanel. Waists were not. And to be honest, Ella, if I am looking at your waist, I’m not looking at your legs or your ass or anything else that you’re grinding in front of me. The waist is remaining pretty static! It’s the wriggly things attached to it that are the interesting bits!