Facebook? Angel or Devil? More devil probably, but whilst there are some good things about this social networking behemoth there are also some terrible things about it. In one small action I have raised issues with Facebook when some pages had posted blatant racist comments. One was “we’re not racist, we just hate Muslims”the Facebook Police do anything about it? No they damned well didn’t. Many other people have raised similar issues with Facebook often to no avail.
But it when it comes to a historical photograph of a nine-year old Vietnamese girl, Kim Phuc, running from an American napalm attack in 1972 Big Brother Zuckerberg decides that it is not suitable for his social network beast because it breaches the rule on pornography. Why? Because it depicts a naked nine-year old girl. The question is why is this girl naked? Her clothes had been burned from her body by this horrific attack. I am not for a moment saying that this is an easy picture to look at, but it is a truly iconic picture that brings home the violence and futility of war in the most powerful way. Do we need to see these pictures? Of course we do. It is things like this that may one day make people think more of seeking a peaceful outcome to conflict and not war. In the western world, increasingly so since the Second World War, we are anaesthetised to the horrors of war because it happens in other countries and is served up in bite-size pieces on our evening news. OK so Zuckerberg changed his mind on this picture after some heavy protest. But in my opinion it shows how much power this unelected billionaire, and many like him, have. For me Zuckerberg and Facebook crossed a line that they most definitely should not have. Zuckerberg you do not run the world, stop behaving like you do.
Ladies and gentlemen and those that aren’t quite sure it is now December 14th and that means that my Christmas advent blog posts for 2014 have reached Day 14 which in turn means that we are at the letter ‘N’. With that in mind I have decided to pick a band from Scotland for todays ABC of British bands entry. Please allow me to welcome the mighty Nazareth to this post.
The band formed in 1968 and the original members were Manny Charlton (guitar), Pete Agnew (bass), Darrell Sweet (drums) and Dan McCafferty (tonsil-shredding vocals). The band still tours although Pete Agnew is the only one of the original members still with the band. There are no middle east or biblical overtones to the band’s name. They are named after a town that is mentioned in the classic song “The Weight” from the Band. That town is Nazareth, Pennsylvania. The line is “I pulled in to Nazareth, I was feeling about half past dead”
The band was probably at its commercial peak in the early 70s when they had three UK top 20 albums from 1973 to 1974. I used to own two of those on vinyl; ‘Razamanaz’ and ‘Loud ‘N’ Proud‘. They also reached the top 20 of the album charts in Norway six times between 1980 and 1989. Their latest album ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Telephone’ has charted in four countries this year; Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and Austria. This is probably the last Nazareth album to feature McCafferty’s vocals as he retired due to ill-health last year.
Their biggest success in the UK singles chart was with “Broken Down Angel” which peaked at number 9 in 1973. Their cover of Joni Mitchell‘s “This Flight Tonight” made it to number one in Germany that same year. In 1975 they released a cover version of the classic ballad “Love Hurts” it made it to the top of the charts in Canada and South Africa. Dan McCafferty has released a few solo recordings over the years and his cover of the Rolling Stones “Out Of Time” almost made the UK top 40 in 1975, stalling at number 41, I used to have a vinyl copy of that too. In 1994 Guns ‘N’ Roses covered Nazareth’s “Hair Of The Dog” on their covers album ‘The Spaghetti Incident’. Supposedly Nazareth had previously turned down an invite to play at Axl Rose‘s wedding. They might not have entertained guests at Mr Rose’s wedding, but you can enjoy Nazareth now.
Usually the most entertaining part of the Eurovision Song Contest is the voting and checking how many countries hate us Brits and show it by giving us nul points. But this year I really feel that we are in with a shout. Molly’s “Children Of The Universe” strikes me as classic Eurovision. I wonder how the votes will be split between Russia and the Ukraine? Anyway I should warn you that I am typing this post as I watch the show. So let’s get on with the 59th Eurovision Song Contest shall we?
Ukraine are up first with a typical Euro song title; “Tick Tock”. Why is there a bloke in a hamster wheel on stage? Singer Mariya Yaremchuk looks good and the song, in spite of its title is not too shabby. Belarus are up next represented by Teo with “Cheesecake”. He has a monster quiff does that Teo. It’s an ok kind of song with some good synchronised dancing in the performance, but no hamster wheel.
Azerbaijan are next and they are trying to “Start A Fire” as sung by Dilara Kazimova. While there is no hamster wheel there is a trapeze. What is that all about? Anyway in my opinion this is a bit of a dirgeful ballad with a singer who seems a little too earnest for me. In Dilara’s favour Catwoman likes her dress. Pollaponk are representing Iceland and one of their backing vocalists is an Icelandic MP. Their suits are all primary colours but as the song says let’s show them “No Prejudice”. The song is a little pop punk with more emphasis on the pop. I’ll probably be wrong as usual, but I think this could win.
Carl Espen is trying to whip up a “Silent Storm” for Norway. He is not an established singer and keeping it in the family the song was written by his cousin. Not my kind of song. It strikes me as a bit forgettable. Paula Seling and Ovi are hoping for a “Miracle” as they sing for Romania. This song can’t make up its mind as to whether it’s a power ballad or just another piece of Euro Disco. It does feature a round piano though.
Armenia are putting up a comedian called Aram MP3 with “Not Alone” which didn’t sound particularly funny to me. Have I missed the punchline. I also felt his voice was a bit flat and out of tune at times. It definitely sees itself as an 80s power ballad though. Montenegro are the first country tonight that are singing in their native tongue. The singer is Sergej Cetkovic with “Moj Svijet”. It sounds like classic mid table Eurovision fodder to me, which given my track record probably means it’ll win. It is backed up with a roller skating dancer, why? Don’t ask me.
We are Slavic washerwomen
“We Are Slavic” is the Polish entry and is sung in English and Polish by Donatan and Cleo. Is it really a feminist anthem? Why are they all dressed as milkmaids? Greece are about to “Rise Up” performed by Freaky Fortune featuring RiskyKidd. The Kidd is actually a rapper from London. It strikes me as the first song of the night to really get the place rocking. Not a hamster wheel in sight, just a bloody huge trampoline.
Now it’s Austria with a bearded drag artist, Conchita Wurst singing “Rise Like A Pheonix”. He/ She looks a little scary to me. It’s a good song but the whole appearance puts me right off. Germany ask “Is It Right” with a female trio called Elaiza. It features an accordion and has a bit of an oompah feel about it. I really don’t like this song!
Can Sanna Nielsen“Undo” the competition for Sweden 40 years after Abba won the contest? Possibly as it is this years favourite. Actually it’s a bloody good sung and Sanna has a great voice. If a ballad wins this year it might be “Undo”. TWIN TWIN perform the French entry “Moustache”; a song about a man who can’t grow a moustache. The singer can certainly grow a cartoon comedy haircut though. I can only assume that France don’t want to win. This song is shit!
TWIN TWIN – you cocks!
The Tolmachevy Sisters have interlocking hair and they are singing “Shine”. Their hair has come undone, well at least that will make going to the toilet easier. But wait now they’re on a see saw; why? It was ok but they’re hardly Pussy Riot. Emma sings in Italian for Italy with a rocking little ditty called “La Mia Citta” a.k.a “My City”. The costumes are a bit Roman Empire. Not a bad song though.
Tinkara Kovac is singing “Round And Round” for Slovenia. Sung in Slovene and English in a rather shouty way with added flute. We’re hoping for “Something Better” from Finland from Softengine. They sound a bit like a discofied Aha.
Ruth Lorenzo once came 5th in the X Factor and she is singing her own composition for Spain. It’s called “Dancing In The Rain”. Knowing my luck a former X Factor contestant will win it. It hurts terribly to admit it but the song is alright, not great just alright. The shouty bit at the end kills it a bit though. Those perennial neutrals Switzerland have a song called “Hunter Of Stars” by Sebalter. It has far too much whistling for my liking with a backing track that sounds like a speeded up “Duelling Banjos“.
Andras Kallay-Saunders is “Running” for Hungary. He runs around the stage a bit too. A good pop song methinks. Malta are “Coming Home” with Firelight. Two siblings in the band have a mother from Yorkshire. But the song is so Mumford it hurts. Is that style popular across Europe? I don’t know and frankly I hope not! But just to provide a balanced view, Catwoman likes this song apart from the female vocals.
Next up is “Cliche Love Song” by Basim singing for hosts Denmark. Blimey is he miming to Bruno Mars? This is possibly one of the best entries of the night. The Danish TV executives must be shitting themselves. It costs a packet to put this show on. After Denmark the Netherlands provide the “Calm After The Storm” as song by the Common Linnets. Who knew that the Dutch do Country and Western? They can though and it’s quite a good song.
San Marino are the penultimate country with “Maybe” sung by Valentina Monetta. It sounds like the theme song to a late 60s James Bond spoof. Was that meant to be a giant sea shell behind her? Finally it’s time for the UK entry which is “Children Of The Universe” from Molly. I really do think she’s in with a chance. Not sure about her boots but for me Molly nailed it!
Before the scoring starts my tips are Sweden, Denmark and the UK and I reckon France ought to finish last. Now for the scoring which as you might have guessed featured all the usual political voting. Molly came 17th out of 26th so not as bad as many UK entries. The runaway winner was Conchita Wurst from Austria a.k.a the bearded lady with “Rise Like A Phoenix”. I really don’t get it, although to be fair on second hearing the song isn’t too bad! As for my tips; Sweden were third and I was right about France who finished last!