We warned you: this is happening. Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m kicking off our review of all 39 of this year’s Eurovision contenders. In this installment, I cover Malta, Norway, and Albania.
After you watch this, I DARE you not to have “I Feed You My Love” stuck in your head. I DARE YOU.
This video includes snippets of these three songs, but if you want the full treatment, here are the full-length music videos:
- Malta: “Tomorrow” by Gianluca Bezzina
- Norway: “I Feed You My Love” by Margaret Berger
- Albania: “Identitet” (Identity) by Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko
For more videos from Overthinking It, including our coverage of Eurovision 2013, subscribe to our YouTube channel.
My dislike for Malta’s song has only grown over the course of making this video.
For some reason, the line “His name is Jeremy / Working in IT” makes my skin crawl. Maybe it’s the way “Jeremy” scans; maybe it’s the cliché-ness of his glasses and the fact that he’s “working in IT.” That and the fact that I actually don’t like the song “Hey Soul Sister” at all to begin with.
0 points from the United States. (Am I doing that right?)
You’re doing it right, but you should always repeat the score you give in French.
Mon aversion pour la chanson de Malte n’a fait que croître au cours de faire cette vidéo.
Pour une raison quelconque, la ligne «Son nom est Jeremy / Travailler dans les TI” rend ma chair de poule. Peut-être que c’est la façon dont “Jeremy” scans, c’est peut-être le cliché-tion de ses lunettes et le fait qu’il soit “Travaille dans l’informatique” Cela et le fait que j’ai effectivement n’aime pas la chanson “Hey Soul Sister” tout à commencer.
0 points des États-Unis. (Ai-je fait ça?)
(Via Google Translate)
But look past the rhyme. In choosing to name the guy in the song “Jeremy”, Bezzina has put forth a bold, alternative vision for society. In this scenario, the kid from the 1991 Pearl Jam song has grown up in Malta – where less than 7% of households own firearms, by contrast with 35% of US households. Lacking easy access to guns, young Jeremy is not capable of such horrific ends when parental neglect elicits his violent impulses. In such a society, Jeremy might adapt and overcome his demons, becoming a high-functioning adult who is so fully integrated into society that he works a clichéd job in IT and falls for a clichéd love interest. All because of differences in gun culture. Now tell me, what better platform for this political message than Eurovision?
Malta (Tomorrow): This gives me the sense of watching a youtube cover of a popular song. Or more aptly, a youtube parody of a popular song. While it’s not my favorite style of music, I thought the song was kind of cute. It’s odd that it’s coming from Malta as Jeremy has a Clark Kent circa Smallville look. And the woman has a 1940s/50s America vibe. “Risk assessment is his investment in a life of no surprise” is just a marvelous lyric. But the melody is actually weirdly cheerful for what strikes me as a pretty depressing song about missed connections and perpetual tomorrows. From what the song tells us, it seems like Jeremy will never be able to catch up to this girl who seems pretty frivolous “just wanting to play”. This is not a manic pixie dream girl who will inspire deep emotion and artistry in Jeremy but someone who will lead him on an endless chase. And actually it seems like his life will still be pretty unsurprising as he’ll be doing the same thing over and over.
Norway (I Feed You My Love): It has a bit of a Oh Land vibe. Why is the tree silent? It’s somewhat difficult to figure out if one phrase carries into the next. Also, it took almost a minute for the title of the song to kick in which is always nice and confusing. Question to international overthinkers: has this song been used in a movie yet? I feel like it would be perfect for a movie or at least a trailer for a movie with a female protagonist. Something like The Hunger Games. It seems oddly specific. Is there a movie with cannibals/vampires and knives? Yeah, I kind of love this one.
Not from Norway, so can’t say about soundtracks. I suppose only Norwegians can answer that, as Norwegian films have almost no market outside Norway. It’s sort of alarming how isolated the European cultures are from each other.
“I Feed You My Love” is a good song. It sort of annoys me how much the singer in some parts of the song sounds like the singer from The Knife (also known from the Röyksopp song What else is there)but that might just be the local tone of broken English. (<— Great band name) It's agood song on the Eurovision scale, which is sort of the same scale they use in the Special Olympics. No, thats not right. The Eurovision is intentionally camp, but it is also sincere. It's very hipstery. Except for us Finns. Lordi was no joke.
The song does however have some undertones which seem a bit rapy and a bit white-powery. ('feed you my love' is rapy. the 'snow where I was born' part is whitepowerish and the allusions to violence and the guts and glory stuff seems to bee outright proto-fascist.) Not in a serious way, but in a cash-grabby intertextualist way.
My first tought when I heard the song was that it was trying to jump on the Girl with a dragon tattoo -bandwagon. It's making heavy allusion to this Nordic electro-goth mythos, which was popularized by the Fincher remake. TGWTDT(spoiler) also contains rape, racism and fascism galore.
Needless overthinking? Maybe.
Buuuut, on the other hand, the song is co-written by MachoPsycho. There's a name which needs overthinking. MachoPsycho also co-produced Pink's Stupid girls. Is there a pattern?
Um, what? Penis envy, rape, and white power?
This is clearly a Defrosting the Ice Queen situation with a strong fantasy vibe. The singer is in a cocoon in the dark night and is only capable of whispering broken words. Even though the tree is silent, the person the song is addressed to is the only one who hears the broken whisper and pushes her to the surface and awakes her. The snow is probably not positive seeing as how it’s likely connected to the dark night and the coldness and lack of emotion and being “blinded at heart”. The whole song is about the addressee forcing the newly awakened speaker to feel things. She can now see, touch, feel the heat, sense “the future on my tongue”, feel the fire which can now hurt her, and feed the addressee her love.
For Defrosting the Ice Queen See: Evanescence Bring Me to Life
For Oddly Specific Fantasy See: Florence + the Machine Howl, Sara Bareilles One Sweet Love, Katy Perry Wide Awake, Oh Land Human, Oh Land Wolf & I
I wouldn’t say that it is clearly a Defrosting the Ice Queen trope there. That trope is about subjugating the Other to the will of the main charachter. Its about taming the shrew, if you will.
Sure, that sort of happened to Lisbeth Salander in TGWTDT, as the middle-aged journalist Mikael Blomqvist magically manages to give some sexual healing to twenty-something Salander, who we initially got to know as an emitionally scarred lesbian, who was brutally raped just a couple of weeks earlier. I guess spending some time in a cabin with a good investigative journalist can do that to people. Or it’s just some poorly written characters with lots of wish fulfillment from the author. But I wouldn’t say that that is the case here.
Sure, the lyrics can be interpreted that way, but it feels like a stretch, a selective reading.
I wouldn’t say that this is a love song. It’s a song about the singer’s self justifying violence as revenge.
In my opinion the song does not contain the storyline needed for Defrosting the Ice Queen. The lyrics contain no opposition from the “shrew”. A cocoon is defenseless and isolated from the world. The Ice Queen is nothing but defensive. The Ice Queen is constantly in odds with the world. She is hardly in a cocoon of any kind.
The singer is never established as being an Ice Queen, she is just awoken “from the snow where I (she) was born”. She is being pushed and a knife is put to her back, but at no point does she express unwillingness. She does not struggle. That is until she is awoken.
She is not singing about a romantic awakening. She sings about nationalistic awakening.
The mixed metafors with cocoons, snow and trees are a bit strange. Cocoons turn larvae into moths, but no larvae are born in snow. Is the tree silent because it has no leaves? Has the larvae eaten the leaves or have the leaves fallen becouse of the snow? No moths come from their cocoons in the winter nights. Obviously, it’s all metafors. But metafors for what?
Again, its not a love song. It’s a song about self-justified violence. I suggest that the singer is a crazed Norwegian nationalist and the “you” she sings to is the enemy in her head. She is Breivik and the “you” is the socialist-multiculti-jihadists she sees everywhere.
“A cocoon in a silent tree
Through the dark night you listen to me
When I whisper broken words in your ear”
The silent (silenced) tree (life) in the dark (unenlightened) night (time before dawn/action) is her lost sense of the world. The cocoon is the idea of national pride awaiting to be awakened. The singer’s whispered words are broken because the pretense of political correctness is preventing her from speaking. The “you” listens, but broken words can not communicate the singers emotions.
“And you push, you push me hard to the surface
I’m blinded at heart but you wake me
You wake me up from the snow where I was born”
She feels that more and more of her opinions are being oppressed, her national pride is being pushed. The singers future actions are justified as she is the one who is being pushed. The pushing (suppression of national pride and bombardment of multiculti propaganda) awaken her blinded heart (national/white pride). The awakening in the snow a nationalistic awakening. It is a repetition of the white pride sentiment. She was born into snow (the North), it is her heritage, and no-one can take that away from her.
“Now I can see
The whole world is mine
I can touch and feel
I feed you my love”
This is just basic anglo-saxon mission retorics. The singer has been enlightened to the “fact” that the world is given to her. It is her manifest destiny to rule the world. Only her feelings and opinions are valid, as she is the more civilized individual. The feeding of love is just spreading civilization. Her civilization. In the name of love. It’s the white man’s burden.
“You put a knife against my back
And you dare me to face the attack
You say, “For cowards there’s no reward”
Feel the heat”
Civilzation must be spread, as the uncivilized hordes threaten others with knives. She is being coaxed into action. This is basic “hero’s journey” -stuff. The true hero must not be eager for battle, but forced into it. Only then can the quest be justified. She is the one being attacked in what she perceives as a clash of cultures. She has to prove that she is not a coward. The reward is the survival of the fittest. The heat comes from the flames of war.
“Take my hand, I trust your word
Bring the fire, I don’t care if it hurts
I have the future on my tongue
Give me a kiss”
She is not offering her hand in marriage or companionship. She is giving the “you” a choice. Her hand is meant for guiding and leading. She is giving her enemies the chance to surrender. Otherwise the hand will crush the enemies. She is saying “surrender or suffer the consequences”. In her mind her actions are justified, therefore the “you” is the one who sets the world on fire. She, the hand that guides and crushes, does not care if it hurts as she will be victorious in her culture clash. After all, the future is on the singers tongue. The idea of nationalism is that one language is one nation. That is why Germany speaks German, France speaks French, Italy speaks Italian and Norway speaks Norwegian. The singer feels confident that the future is hers. The singer does not want the idea of nationalism to change. Hence the feeding of love, naturalization and forced assimilation. She is not singing about a passionate liplock of lust. She is demanding the “you” to bow down and kiss her feet.
Here’s the official promo video for Norway’s song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgGiBRj0yns
Now, does that not look like a Sweded version of the intro to Fincher’s TGWTDT?
Here’s further proof that the anglo-saxon mission still lives strong in the mind of Europe. I guess it lives everywhere.
This was also discussed here somewhere, but I couldn’t find the post.
There are racists everywhere, I tell you!
If anything, I think yours is the selective reading and mine is the straightforward one that falls in line with a long literary and musical tradition. Everything works in mine. The cocoon, the darkness, the snow, it’s all familiar imagery about repressed or trapped women.
“Cold demeanor can mean anything from Rich Bitch, to haughty and proud, to Emotionless Girl […]”
Well, an appeal to tradition and merely perceived simplicity might be convincing to some people, but I am still doubtful about your theory.
Are you suggesting that there is no other use for the imagery of a cocoon, darkness or snow? Is it always about repressed or trapped women? Can not a Norwegian person use snow as a metaphor for her native country?
I’m suggesting that your interpretation is not as straightforward as you think. I’m suggesting that your interpretation glosses over some important meanings in the song. For example, your interpretation does not give any explaination to the fact that the singer alone is the one who is active throughout the song. She is the active character, only responding to the initial threats from the addressee and then moving further. Note also that we, the listeners, only get to know the actions of the addressee from the singer. Is she a reliable narrator? Perhaps not.
I agree that the singer is certainly narrating a story. Can it be interpreted as a romantic story? Sure, if one only concentrates on some a priori ideas about metaphors with fixed meanings and ignore the violent imaginery and dismiss the fact that the word “love” is not mentioned and make the choice not think about the power relations between singer and addressee. If one would do all that, and then squint and tilt their head at just the right angle, that could fall in line with a long literary and musical tradition of love songs that conquered shrews sing to their tamers.
But, this song to that line fall does not.
It doesn’t even fully fall in line with the defrosted Ice Queen trope. There is no charachter arc. No defrosting.
Wouldn’t a defrosted Ice Queen sing “You made me see” and “The world is ours”? I think the power relation between singer and addressee is the key point here. This is not a song about a couple. The song is not about a YOU and a ME who are UNITED. Its a song about a YOU and a ME who are DIVIDED. The singer is not singing “It’s you and me against the world”. She is singing “It’s you against me, and the world is mine”.
Does that sound like a love song to you?
OK, shut down the rude rhetorical questions and mockery for a moment.
The speaker isn’t the only active character in the song. As it’s a solo and not a duet, yes, the speaker is the one narrating the action. And it’s from the speaker’s perspective, so naturally, everything is filtered through the speaker. But the addressee is an active participant, encouraging the speaker’s development as a feeling entity. The addressee pushes the speaker to the surface, puts a knife against her back, and gives her a purpose.
Just because I see this particular dynamic, it doesn’t mean I’m seeing a healthy romantic relationship. Wuthering Heights, Twilight, Jane Eyre. There are many, many romantic relationships that are violent and highly problematic. I’m not ignoring anything. You don’t have to lose the power relations to do a romantic reading.
“I’m blinded at heart”
“I feed you my love”
“Feel the heat”
“Give me a kiss”
I’m not saying your reading is invalid but it’s more of a stretch. It’s more likely that the speaker does mean a kiss, especially following from “I have the future on my tongue” instead “She is demanding the “you” to bow down and kiss her feet.” Your reading is interesting but it makes assumptions beyond what is actually contained in the lyrics.
They don’t have to be united for it to be Defrosting the Ice Queen. The song establishes that the speaker was awakened to emotion and feeling by the addressee. The trope is valid.
Nothing suggests that the speaker and addressee are divided or working against each other. “Take my hand, I trust your word” And more significantly “I feed you my love” It’s a relationship of mutual support. The addressee awakens the speaker and the speaker feeds the addressee. If there is a difference in power, the world very well could be the speaker’s without the speaker and the addressee being at odds with each other.
@cat on Apr 2nd 2013 at 2:36 am
Oh sorry, I thought the rude rhetorical questions and mockery was a part of our schtick. I mean, you started it with “Um, what? Penis envy, rape, and white power?”
And then the “well, actually” in different clothes in the next line: “This is clearly a …”
Was that just unintentional passive-aggresiveness from your part?
Well, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt any feelings.
I thought we were playing the stereotypical pedantic nerd. On the site which is known for OVERthinking it (pop culture). My bad.
My interpretation might be unconventional, but it is no more of a stretch than the romantic reading. A knife in the back should be a give-away. Interpreting backstabbing as a form of romantic incentivizing is tearing your Armstrong doll to pieces.
I would say that the romantic reading is just a result of a biased attitude caused by the sex of the singer. As a society, we seem to be predisposed to believe that women can only sing about loving (a man), while men can sing about everything.
My reading, on the other hand, is looking at the lyrics from another context than stereotypical gender roles. I would say that even the tune support my reading. The song has no romantic melody. The song is just a repetitive and mechanic militant march.
Back to the context: The song is performed by a Norwegian and it has been written by three Swedes.
The rise of violent nationalist and fascist movements is not just a part of history in Europe. It is happening again. It is current affairs.
Nationalistic and xenophobic political parties have gained significant power in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Belgium, France, Greece… The list goes on and on.
Ethnic prejudices, discrimination and violence is common. The most known case might be the Utöya massacre in Norway 2011. The Eurovison host city Malmö is infamous for the poor treatment of immigrants. The xenophobes do not deliver their message as hate towards the Others. They say the others have betrayed them, the others have put a knife to their back. They say they have been awoken from the betrayal. They speak of actions coming from rationality and pride. They speak of love. They speak of justified counter measures. Their rhetorics are the same as the rhetorics in the song.
Sadly, my interpretation is not much of a stretch.
Its hardly Overthinking It.
Hm. Are you saying the singer is a revolutionary, or wants to uphold the status quo? Because I at first thought it was a wedding dress in the official promo, but then I realized it’s some sort of royal/coronation gown that the person in… um… pleather?… is struggling to take off, as once the gown is, indeed, off, there’s a crown on their head. And that crown looks awfully sinister, sort of Crown-of-Thorns-ee, in my opinion.
So if she’s a revolutionary, that fits with the official vid. But if you’re saying she’s promoting old fashioned nationalism, well, I think the official promo video runs contra to that entirely.
I’m saying yes. To both.
The singer wants both and neither at the same time. She wants a revolution to instate her idealized version of “old time nationalism”, even though she nows she can’t reconcile the two with each other.
That is how crazy ideologies tend to work.
She is not promoting “normal” patriotism, but exclusive nationalism. I assume your “old fashioned nationalism” is my “‘normal’ patriotism”. There is no grey area between the two for the singer.
People are either with her or against her.
I really can’t bring myself to watch that horrible official promo video again to analyze it, so I will just comment your analysis of it.
I say it is a typical wedding dress, but that doesn’t really matter. The symbolism is the same. The personification of the natoinal spirit is always feminine, e.g. mother Russia, Columbia, mother Svea, the Finnish Maiden, and like all women do, she loses her identity in matrimony. (In “real life” this nullification of the feminine identity happens when the wife takes the husband’s family name.) In the video, the insinuated marriage is multiculturalism, the “mixing of peoples”, which ultra-nationalist abhorre. Even in todays world.
That is why the pleather wearing natoinalistic everywoman in the video takes of the dress.
If you read it as a coronation dress, then enjoy this haiku:
Worker bees can leave.
Even drones can fly away.
The Queen is their slave.
The ultra-nationalists can’t leave their nests, because then they woudl become themselves immigrants somewhere, and their entire ideology is built on demonizing immigration. The people who say “[Insert country here], love it or leave it” never consider leaving their country. It’s about a sense of entitlement. (I hate it when somebody uses the entitlement-card. Now I did it myself)
The crown is actually a metal blindfold with spikes. They are the ideological bifocals which make her see “the truth”, which is that the world is hers. It’s like the RayBans in They live.
I wonder if the crow in the video could be a reference to the Nordic god Odin’s crows Hugin and Munin.(Odin constantly feared that he would lose Munin, which is old-norse for memory, mind or sensibility. Hugin means intention, will or sense.) Symbols from the pre-christian religions are popular motifs in ultra-nationalistic circles.
It all makes sense.
Okay,so we just have differing interpretations, I suppose, because of what we place more emphasis on as we go. When you bring up revolutions, it makes me think of not only revolutions in ideology, but actual governmental structures- there’s a monarchy in Norway to overthrow, and when I talk of “old fashioned” nationalism, what I really mean is rallying around the crown. So the dress being a coronation dress is a lot more significant for my interpretation- the people are removing the monarchy in removing the dress. Yeah, I know, states take on feminine pronouns, but that’s covered by the fact that it’s a dress. Sure, the singer is a woman, but I wasn’t under the impression that the person in latex is supposed to be gendered. So then I see that crown on the their head as symbolic of the pain or tyranny of the monarchy- it’s too high on the person’s head to be a viser over their eyes, it sits in the middle of theier forehead, where circlets tend to fall (about where this one is:http://fc00.deviantart.net/fs50/f/2009/288/a/f/A_model_wearing_SilverMoon_by_ElnaraNiall.jpg). But it doesn’t go all the way around their head, so the fact that it’s there (as on not centered on top of the head, but rather hanging off of it) and all spikey says to me it’s a reminder of the past they can’t get rid of.
A revolution in ideology usually preceeds an actual revolution.
As far as I know, the Norwegian royalty has no political power. It’s a parliamentary system with a merely ceremonial constitutional monarchy. It is meaningless. It has some symbolic value, and upholding the system costs some money (castle maintance), but it is politically insignificant. Think of Breivik, as he is the fountain for my reading of the whole mess. He was a “social conservative” who wanted a revolution. He wantd both a revolution and to uphold what he believed was the “old system”. He did not target the royal family, but the youth oranization of the PM’s party and a goverment building. Breivik is like the sequel to Timothy McVeigh, if McVeigh would have gone on a shooting spree in a political summercamp. Sure, there can be symbols and connotation to the monarchy, but the monarchy is not the target. It’s not about realpolitics. It’s about crazy crazy racist nationalism.
Next up Albania.
I’m pretty sure its a bdsm blindfold in the video. It even has the groove for the nose.
It’s a horrible video. Truly poorly made. It is edited to death. The clips can be found on the director’s homepage. Apparently the clips existed before the song and they were just smashed together. That doesn’t mean that the video is void of meaning.
@default monicker I wouldn’t call it unintentional passive aggression as it was unintentional but it’s always difficult to detect tone in writing.
I think the sex of the singer is very important to your interpretation of a song. The sex of the performer and specific acting choices can alter your interpretation of a play. “Whatever You Like” is different when Anya Marina sings it vs. when T.I. sings it. I don’t think that a woman has to be singing about a man but I think that in this case, it’s a very singular message about the speaker’s relationship to the addressee. It is a first person experience that never expands to discussing larger societal concerns beyond the “attack”. If anything, it’s us against the world.
I don’t think the song has to have a romantic melody. I don’t think you’re understanding my point. I’m not saying it’s a healthy romantic relationship or the focus is on “romance”. You can have a partnership with an element of desire while also working on larger themes.
I guess we both have problems interpreting each others points. Well, I believe that I understand your point but I just disagree with it.
My posts have a lot of typos and poor formulations which do not make the process of communication any easier. Sorry about that. (I have a fever and the dog ate my english spellcheck) But I assume you get my points despite the missing words and letters. I assume you have, as you haven’t asked for any clarifications. My tone is meant to be light. I joke. We’re discussing a song, after all.
I too interpret the song as containing a very singular message about the speaker’s relationship to the addressee. It’s not a romantic message.
The knife in the back is an attack. You earlier suggested that the tree, dark and snow were familiar images of repressed romantic emotions. In what world a the knife in the back a familiar image for “encouraging (…) development as a feeling entity”.
The singer and the “you” do have a relationship, but it is an antagonistic relationship.
Albania’s song is about nationalistic fervor (I think. haven’t bothered to read the lyrics). I say the Norwegian song is too. But with a twist.
cool cool cool
I don’t think that the knife in the back is supposed to be a romantic message. But it’s a part of the speaker’s awakening. The addressee is forcing the speaker to awaken. It isn’t necessarily a case of repressed romantic emotions as much as repressed emotions and sensations in general. The speaker is in a cocoon and only now beginning to see and feel heat, etc. The response to being awakened and being able to feel is feeding the addressee her love. It’s a mutualistic relationship.
What you said about a “biased attitude caused by the sex of the singer” had me thinking about how I would interpret the song if it were a female singer addressed to a female addressee, a female singer addressed to a male addressee, a male singer addressed to a female addressee, a male singer addressed to a male addressee, and a chorus addressed to a large audience.
I think with the binary, I still see a romantic/desire-based relationship regardless of the sex of the singer and addressee. But I did notice that I felt more aggression from the lyrics if I imagined a male singer. It may just be that I couldn’t help but picture a Voldemort type character but it made me question whether the speaker should have been trapped in the cocoon in the first place. The “feed you my love” line struck me as more aggressive and less nurturing. Maybe the penis envy concept is getting to me. I think something we both neglected about the “future is on my tongue” line is that the singer has a voice and a message that is being projected to the listener. Thinking of a male speaker, I imagined him passing the “future” to the addressee through the kiss in a way that made the kiss aggressive and harmful. I don’t know why the male speaker seems more sinister and the female speaker seems more hopeful to me. When I imagine the male speaker saying “take my hand, I trust your word” it seems like the awakening caused a dramatic power shift. The addressee taught the speaker to espouse a certain message/ideal or gave him a goal of making the world his, and trained him with the knife at his back, refusing to let him retreat, but the addressee is now weak. The addressee needs to be fed but the love is also somehow toxic.
I feel like if the song had been performed by a chorus or a band a lot of your interpretation would be more successful. I would still disagree with some of it, but I think a lot of it works better in the context of a plural speaker.
And Lee, are you saying that the “I Feed You My Love” could be about penis envy simply because it’s a woman singing about cannibalism? Or are you referring to the knife somehow?
Or what if she’s singing about a case of Stockholm syndrome? Dude puts a knife to her back, and she asks for a kiss, after all…