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There were fewer tragedies in this semi. Not saying there weren't any, but fewer is better. Here are our winners.
  • Estonia. Crap. Not Greece-level crap. Not Portugal level crap, but hardly the kind of song that should lead off the winners.
  • Romania. OK song, needs a better singer.
  • Moldova. WTF? Devo, meet Boingo.
  • Ireland. OK, I have to love Jedward. They're like crack on crack.
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina? Wow! Dino Merlin makes it through! Dino Merlin is probably the oldest performer in the final! And he's really good!
  • Denmark's "A Friend in London" has a good, solid ballad.
  • Austria! Yay! It's a drag queen classic in the making! And she's got a great voice!
  • Ukraine has an OK song, but the real talent is the sand painter
  • Slovenia had a weak opening, but did get better.
  • Sweden! Yay! Sorry, but I've got to love Eric Saade.

The losers?
The Netherlands had an OK song, but oy, their choreography was painful. Belgium's fabu acapella group was doomed, doomed I say! Even (probable) silicone boobs couldn't prevent the singers from Slovakia from being flat. Cyprus was missing its autotune. Bulgaria had probably the best hard-rock number of the entire contest, and got knocked out. I so wanted to like Macedonia, I love pop folk but the singer was lame. The triumphant return of Israel's Dana International was hardly triumphant, more weak actually. Belarus showed so much promise, and then they started singing. Latvia was just "meh."

It's kind of weird. I loved Moldova, but I really didn't want them to make the final. Still, every Eurovision final needs some comedy. Belgium and Bulgaria not making the cut are both very disappointing.
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OK, it was the replay stream from Eurovision.tv, heavily compressed but adequate to watch. Here are your winners:
  • Serbia's little 60's retro number is fantastic. Lots of fun.
  • Lithuania's showtune-style power ballad is a waste of the singer's excellent voice.
  • Greece, oh, Greece, we know you can't afford to win, so how did the crap you sent this year make it to the finals in spite of being crap?
  • Azerbaijan? Was that odd harmonies or just bad intonation? I know, both!
  • Georgia's mash-up of hard girl-rock, hip-hop and goth metal should be a tragedy, but it's strangely alluring. The bad costumes not so much.
  • Switzerland's charming little folk ballad is, well, charming.
  • I think the Hungarian singer found the classiest drag show in Budapest and said "Give me that outfit or I'll cut you!" The song is destined to be a drag classic.
  • Finland's folk ballad with a social conscience was cute, and used the stage better than anything else. How it didn't crash and burn I'll never know.
  • Russa's entry strikes me as a boy-band member attempting a solo career. Not the good one, either.
  • Iceland's entry just offends my sensibilities. Sure, they're great singers, but it's a bad cross betwen Swedish dansband and English music hall. And they're badly dressed at that.

The losers?

Poland was decent Eurovision dance pop. Stella Mwangi (Norway) was excellent with "Haba Haba." The redheaded rocker from Albania was pretty good. Armenia was just plain weak. Turkey had an OK song, but a really bad production design (what was with the crappy globe and the phoenix costume we didn't see until the last 5 seconds?). I loved Malta's fabulous synthpop. San Marino was another waste of the singer's voice. Croatia had an OK song, a sloppy production design, but a really great costume-change trick (twice). Portugal's song was worse than Greece and their production was worse than Turkey.

So I like half of the entries that advanced to the final. I'm really disappointed that Norway and Malta didn't advance. I think that Poland and Albania were still better than some of the crap that did.

On Thursday, it's lather, rinse and repeat for the second semi.
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(if you're not seeing the embedded video, watch it on YouTube)

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This one is for [livejournal.com profile] marquesate (assuming she forgives me).

The Israeli Defense Force presents... well, you'll just have to see

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The draw is done, the entrants are ordered, the preview videos are going up on YouTube.

This is an improvement over the old "media player." The question is: are the entrants an improvement over last year? I sure hope so...

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I have a certain level of frustration with iTunes, but it's mitigated by how downright well the tool works most of the time I want it to (I have no faith or hope for "perfect bug-free software").

However...

After getting my Abney Park CDs, it was, yet again, time to try to do something with the linux box: play back music stored on the ReadyNAS using the built-in Firefly media server using DAAP.

So a few snags.

The biggest one was making sure that DAAP was working completely on the linux box. I tried Rhythmbox and Amarok. Amarok was more difficult to get working completely, and I don't like the interface as much.

The second one was preventing the Firefly server from crashing, necessitating a reboot of the ReadyNAS. That's bad.

It turns out that Firefly isn't terribly robust when it comes to flawed mp3 files.

How do you sort out (and fix) flawed mp3 files? It turns out there's a nice little free utility called MP3val. It can take your music folders, read every file and, in most cases, fix underlying structural problems that your mp3 player software ignores (if you're lucky) or crashes on.

It's not perfect. It chokes on filenames with really odd characters in them. Still, it was able to validate all but a few dozen of my over 30,000 songs. It just took a while. There are a few things it can't fix. It takes a tool like foobar2000 to build missing VBR headers (which it does identify). Missing ID3 tag information has to be populated from somewhere else (like the iTunes "Convert ID3 tags" option).

So I've got clean mp3 files. While waiting for these jobs to complete, I found a neat iTunes manager app called beaTunes. beaTunes is a Swiss Army Knife of music management utilities. The main reason I picked it up is the automated tempo (BPM) calculation. It allegedly works (as well as any cheap auto-BPM does, at least). The reason I paid for it is the library inspection tool (which finds and fixes inconsistent spellings of artists and genres, among other things). It also collects missing tag information from the MusicIP database and generates automatic playlists (kind of like Genius does, but with more control).

That's probably going to run a few days. We'll see how it comes out.

WTF?

Jul. 18th, 2008 02:30 pm
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<yoda>Watch it you must. Stupid to the absurd side leads.</yoda>

Yes, I tagged this with "music" and "tech." I feel tainted.

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So I missed today's semifinal webcast, but the results are posted:

The following countries are going on to Saturday's finals: )

Then there are the "Big 4" who get in because they're paying for most of the contest:

So we've got more mad, a ballad and, well, another ballad.

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...so you don't have to.

Really, this time.

You don't have to. You really shouldn't. This is a stinker of a year.

The Turks have the best entry, a bit of Turkish hard rock that's a decent song and a relatively creative video. Watch this one.

The Irish, with their big two fingers "up yours" to Eurovision is probably second.

The Finns put in a good showing with heavy metal band Teräsbetoni. But it's Teräsbetoni. It's hard to take them seriously; nobody knows for certain if they take themselves seriously. If you like metal, you will probably like it.

The rest? Fair-to-middlin' pre-fab pop. No tight-harmony pop. No boy bands. No drag queens. A lot of dance divas, all wearing the same silver sequined dress, just some wearing less of it.

There's not even anything really mad. Sure, you've got an anorexic dude from Bosnia/Herzegovina singing to a chicken, Latvian pirates, homoerotic Azerbaijani angels and devils and Estonian... well... I'm not sure what to make of the Estonians. The chicken from Bosnia was back for Estonia, though, in the form of a sign with a drumstick on it.

There's a lot of mediocre. Very little that's so bad it's funny. Very little that's truly snarkworthy, unfortunately.

Some of these entries might stand up better to a live staging. The Swiss entry, while better than last year's submission, has a truly unfortunate and incongruous video.

Still, I doubt it. Very few entries last year improved in their transition from the studio to the stage. It's going to be a stinker of a contest this year.
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The Eurovision Entries are in alphabetical order by country. I've made it to "I"

As in Ireland, who came in dead last in the finals last year. They weren't happy about it.

They're still not happy about it.

For your consideration, Irelande Douze Pointe by Dustin the Turkey:

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The Eurovision Song Contest - Belgrade 2008 Preview Videos are up.

Let the madness begin!

(What, you don't believe me on the "madness" part? I haven't watched/listened to much yet, but the Finn entry is the whack-ass metal band Teräsbetoni.)
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Yes, this is better than that song I posted the other day.

No, I'm not just saying that because anything is better than Doctor in Distress.

However, if you don't like the "Cat Macro" and "LOLcats" phenomenon, you may disagree with one or both of the previous statements

If you're one of those purists who doesn't think The Beatles should be pillaged to humorous effect, you will definitely disagree with both of those statements.

For the rest of you, a bit of serial silliness:

It's not Cat Macros but it's pretty good.

Horrific!

Mar. 19th, 2008 01:21 pm
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I blame [livejournal.com profile] sfbootdog. If it hadn't been for him I could have remained blissfully unaware.

So back in the 80's when Doctor Who went on a one-season hiatus, a bunch of folks involved in the show did a charity pop song. Well, the proceeds went to charity, but the purpose was to raise interest in the show and avoid its cancellation.

It's been described by one of the songwriters as "...an absolute balls-up fiasco."

For your consideration, an absolute balls-up fiasco:

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You've probably already seen this:

So what do your Russki contacts have to say about this one?

For the rest of you. Yes, it's a music video. Yes, it's allegedly features a company of Russian paratroopers. No, the guy singing the lead is just this guy, not an active-duty airman (I'm guessing).

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...but my iPod just made up for a lot.

I've got a random playlist of songs with low play-counts that are under 10 minutes long. It's a good way to listen to music I haven't heard in years.

I just got "Parade of the Ewoks" from the Return of the Jedi soundtrack. 'k, not so exciting.

The next track? "The Saga Begins" by Weird Al.

Is teh chuckle.
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...John Barrowman released a new CD, Another Side.

It's difficult to listen to.

Not because it's bad.

Barrowman is a musical theater wonk, and has this glass-clear musical actor's voice. He's done two CDs, one of Cole Porter songs and one of Broadway showtunes. They're pretty good.

This one? It's another cover album. No big surprise there.

It's an album of '70s and '80's pop power ballads.

Lushly orchestrated.

You don't believe me?

Check out this cover of Air Supply's "All Out of Love."

Yep, that's what it's like.

It's not bad, but it's sure strange.
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I found a windows lyrics-search/update tool for iTunes that works.

Well, works for the most part. Well enough. This is a good thing, since I currently manage my iTunes Library on the Windows machine.

Look up iLyrics at the GoogleCode library.
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