Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category


Eurovision predictions 2013 (Semi-Final 1)

In Culture,Eurovision,Media on May 14, 2013 by shaneheneghan Tagged: , , ,

My beloved Eurovision like many other European institutions before her finds herself in crisis it seems.  Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Portugal and Poland have all withdrawn leaving me unable to vote in a Eurovision song contest final for the first time since 1997. (Wstydź się, TVP!)

Bad timing means the contest falls smack bang in the middle of my second semester exams so I have neglected the faith a little this year.

On the plus side the withdrawls make this year’s semi-finals mathematically slightly easier to predict the finalists – with two semi-finals of 16 and 17 participants respectively. Can I do as well as last year when I predicted 17/20? –   Here’s a brief recap of tonight’s songs . My predictions for semi-final one are in bold below. Here we go.

 01 Austria: Catchy, positive, up-tempo and inoffensive. If she sings well she’s in.

02 Estonia: A repetitive sweet ballad in Estonian. She will be border line but she will be there.

03 Slovenia: Hmm… probably not.

04 Croatia: Nice ballad. I like their harmonisation but it doesn’t really stand out.

05: Denmark:  Another very safe song from Denmark. The Danes are in a phase of sending impeccably well produced if somewhat bland pop songs. It’s a decent entry don’t get me wrong. It will make the final but it has been over hyped a little. It’s not a winner.

06: Russia: I really hate it that the Russians of all people are singing something this Americanised- where on earth is Alla Pugacheva when you need her? That said, it’s not wise to bet against Russia getting into the final and it doesn’t sound like a hard song to sing so she should make it.

07: Ukraine: They have spent rather a lot on promoting this song and I think it is catchy enough to make the final.

08: Netherlands: Definitely one of my favourites this year and it will certainly outclass pretty much everything else in this semi-final at least. Anouk should end the Dutch nine year wait to get back into the finals. I’ll cry if she doesn’t.

09:  Montenegro: What? Is this what has become of Balkan Turbo folk? Because if it is lads, ye can keep it.

10: Lithuania: Killers style ballad. Only worse.

11: Belarus: Its guilty pleasures like this that keep me as a Eurovision fan. Infectious, trashy, kitsch… just brilliant. Who want’s to go to a dictatorship next year?

12: Moldova: Inoffensive, rather dull ballad. Her frock will be the highlight of the performance.

13: Ireland: RTE sticks to the same tired formula of following Eurovision rather than leading it. So we have a dodgy knock-off of last year’s winner. That said I’m sure this will be presented and supported well.

14: Cyprus: I kinda like this but no one else seems to and to be fair I think we’ve had enough ballads.

15: Belgium: I like this. I think this might have a grey chance of making in the final this is the prediction I’m the least confident about. It’s a good song but mid-tempo songs rarely have it easy. We shall see.

16: Serbia: Well I guess we need something text book Balkan Eurovision don’t we?



A quick note for European day of languages.

In Culture,EU,Uncategorized on September 26, 2012 by shaneheneghan Tagged: , ,

Today is European day of languages. The goals of this initiative are:

  1. Alerting the public to the importance of language learning and diversifying the range of languages learnt in order to increase plurilingualism and intercultural understanding;
  1. Promoting the rich linguistic and cultural diversity of Europe, which must be preserved and fostered;
  1. Encouraging lifelong language learning in and out of school, whether for study purposes, for professional needs, for purposes of mobility or for pleasure and exchanges.

As an Irishman and a proud Anglophone studying a master’s program in English and French in Poland, I felt it would be no harm to comment.

English is a lingua franca like no other before it having much more impact and resonance, thanks mainly in recent years to the spread of new communications technologies. On paper, therefore, one could conclude that to be born an Anglophone is quiet a stroke of luck. Happy days! One need never learn another language.

But to think like this is to do yourself a disservice. There is a general scientific consensus forming that language learning has multiple health benefits and children raised bilingually are better at multi-tasking. In other words, in my not-so-scientific opinion I believe multilingualism opens a part of the brain that otherwise could be left dormant.

Personally, I can testify in favour of this. I am studying through French again, for the first time in over seven years and as I take some baby steps in forming opinions and viewpoints in a different language again, I remember that I think and view the world ever so slightly different “en francais”.

I also feel something between jealousy and awe of those who experience this more regularly than I do.  These days, I regularly witness people form far more coherent opinions on topics ranging from Marxist Leninism to supranationalism in their third or fourth language than I ever could do in my first.

Today, we look at our continents diversity through the medium of her tongues. We see challenges and opportunities as we see through any other lens when looking at Europe. For an Anglophone, this is similar to looking at the situation in many other ways, which is to say one can get an unnerving sense of detachment.

Choice of language is important. Those that know me best will be aware of my more than underlying disdain for the use of American English on my side of the Atlantic.  You can tell so much from someone’s subtle choice of words. It often betrays their influences and loyalties to a similar extent to something like their body language. Getting to grips with these vagaries in another tongue can often help you appreciate previously unknown aspects of your own language and culture.

I am disturbed by the growing gap both cultural and linguistic, between the British Isles and the mainland. At best, I believe it will lead to a lack of influence for Britain and Ireland at a European level and at worst I predict it may lead to rising unfounded euro scepticism.