Last night’s Eurovision semi-final was the first Eurovision show I’ve watched in about 20 years. I’ve been listening to some of the entrants’ songs through youtube for a month already, so I was familiar with the skills and production quality of the various artists, including many of their great live performances.
I had to give up watching the live show though it was like listening to an amateur karaoke contest. I couldn’t understand or believe it. I’d read the day before that autotune and lip-sync have always been banned from Eurovision, which is one of the draws of it, so it got me wondering if I’d been living a lie. Everyone was breathy and out of tune. It just sounded honestly pathetic.
One or two of the artists looked nervous, so I was wondering if it was that, or that they’d worn their voices out with rehearsals or something. In any case even the best and most experienced artists were sounding flat and weird, even out of tune, and all of them were too quiet, some more so than others. Some sounded distorted or not even audible!
So I gave up on it and almost decided never to watch Eurovision again. But I still needed to reconcile the live performances I’d seen before with whatever the hell I’d just seen. I found the Eurovision reddit forum and around 1 in 20 people were commenting on the audio issue (across many different national broadcasts). Of those people, around 1 in 10 noticed (like I had) that some artists were more affected than others. A few people suggested it was an audio mixing issue, or incorrectly hooked up audio channel, or cancellation effect from some kind of filter. It was frustrating to have to look so hard for validating opinions!
I gave up at Ireland’s performance where the issues persisted— the lead singer began out of tune and sounding like he was underwater and breathing heavily, and later wasn’t even holding the mic to his mouth half the time, relying on other members’ vocals entirely, which is a separate issue. Wtf. He almost looked drunk.
The audio situation was confusing because two of the artists I knew to be the best vocalists really sounded better, but still I could tell something wasn’t quite right. None of the performances matched their previous national finals for example. Half of the performances were completely ruined.
Today I went to Eurovision’s youtube to see the fallout there, whilst wondering that if it was the case there was a technical issue with what was broadcast vs what was actually recorded, they’d be able to fix the audio in those clips. It was mind-blowing, like night and day. I was so shocked that something like this could happen. How after all of the organisation and rehearsals and expertise and resources expended…could the single most important component of hosting go so wrong??
How many artists suffered in their televotes and therefore didn’t make it to the final because of it?
It’s such a first world problem but it’s so maddening! I almost gave up on the whole thing after the one time I decided to try watching it.
It’s been incredibly informative though about live performances— what goes into them and how third-party recordings could really change your perception based on microphones picking up different things. Even to the extent that vocals can sound out of tune. I’m also really intrigued about how many people apparently just accepted the performances as they were, and how small of a club I seemed to be in?? Maybe my audial acuity is better than I thought.
Then again is that really news? I’ve always been so sensitive to sounds and textures of sounds. I just hadn’t realised that I’ve potentially developed a good musical ear too, and that my musical standards might be comparatively high.
How has the UK messed up hosting Eurovision at the final hurdle!!?? At least for 1% of people! Czechia has gone from total disaster (to me!) to one of the most effective: