I spent my entire childhood – and most of my teens – watching the Eurovision Song Contest and loving every cheesy moment of it…but in those later years, I’ll be honest with you, I was willing and wishing for something truly unexpected to come along and shake things up. And then, the first year in memory that I didn’t watch Eurovision, not only do costumed heavy metal band Lordi appear flying the flag for Finland, they go on and win the bloody thing.
Is there a lesson to be learnt here? About how maybe, if you can remain patient enough, all your dreams will come true?
At least one of my dreams came true when Lordi won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2006. Unfortunately I was doing something else at the time and I completely missed it. What will you be doing, when all your dreams come true whilst you’re otherwise engaged?
I’m not going to tell you anything about this fine group of gentlemen from Estonia, or their cover of one of Eurovision’s most unlikely winning entries. Just think of it as a requiem for a dream.
The Boomtown Rats’ I Don’t Like Mondays was inspired by the 1979 Cleveland Elementary School shooting in San Diego, California which took the lives of two adults and injured eight children and a police officer. The shooter, 16-year-old Brenda Ann Spencer said, when asked by a reporter the reasons for her actions while she was still barricaded in her house, “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day”. For Christmas a few weeks earlier she had asked her father, an alcoholic who she was forced to share a bed with, for a radio but instead he had bought her a .22 calibre rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition.
Bob Geldof said about writing the song with Rats co-founder and keyboardist Johnnie Fingers:
“I was doing a radio interview in Atlanta with Johnnie Fingers and there was a telex machine beside me. I read it as it came out. Not liking Mondays as a reason for doing somebody in is a bit strange. I was thinking about it on the way back to the hotel and I just said ‘silicon chip inside her head had switched to overload’. I wrote that down. And the journalists interviewing her said, ‘Tell me why?’ It was such a senseless act. It was the perfect senseless act and this was the perfect senseless reason for doing it. So perhaps I wrote the perfect senseless song to illustrate it. It wasn’t an attempt to exploit tragedy.”
Geldof later admtted that he regretted writing the song because he had made Brenda Spencer famous, saying “[Spencer] wrote to me saying ‘she was glad she’d done it because I’d made her famous,’ which is not a good thing to live with.“
I Don’t Like Mondays was released as a single seven months after the shooting. Brenda Spencer was charged as an adult for the crime and a day after her 18th birthday in 1980 she was sentenced to life imprisonment. She is still currently incarcerated, 40 years later, having been denied parole several times.
The London Symphony Orchestra’s re-imagining of I Don’t Like Mondays runs at more than twice the length of the original and was recorded for their Classic Rock – Rock Classics album, released by K-tel in 1981.
The London Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1904 and is the oldest of London’s symphony orchestras, also claiming to be the world’s most recorded orchestra; it has made gramophone recordings since 1912 and has played on more than 200 movie soundtracks, including Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The Royal Choral Society is a London based amateur choir, originally formed in 1871 and still active today.
Founded in 1962, Canadian company K-tel began life selling household consumer products through informercials and live demonstrations. Their first product was a Teflon-coated frying pan. Diversifying into LPs, often prominently advertised on television, their sales increased from $23 million in 1971 to $178 million in 1981.
From Dylan’s Gospel, a 1969 album by The Brothers and Sisters Gospel Choir, a one-off gathering of Los Angeles session singers. Produced by Lou Adler, who went on to work on Carole King’s Tapestry, and arranged by Gene Page, noted for his work for Motown, the performers were at the time largely unknown, but included Gloria Jones who recorded the original version of Tainted Love as well as Edna Wright, Merry Clayton, Ruby Johnson, Shirley Matthews, Clydie King, Patrice Holloway and Julia Tillman.
All Along the Watchtower was originally recorded by Bob Dylan in 1967. The Jimi Hendrix version was released in 1968. Dylan said of the Hendrix version: “It overwhelmed me, really. He had such talent, he could find things inside a song and vigorously develop them. He found things that other people wouldn’t think of finding in there. He probably improved upon it by the spaces he was using. I took license with the song from his version, actually, and continue to do it to this day.”
The K Foundation’s cover of Que Sera Sera/War is Over was conceived of as a concept single which would only ever be released when world peace was achieved (i.e. never). However, in 1993 3000 copies were made exclusively available in Israel and Palestine in acknowledgment of the steps each side had taken towards a peace agreement. The recording was also intended to play at the end of each night of the 1993 Glastonbury festival but organiser Micheal Eavis refused saying the song was “simply dreadful.”
Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) was first sung by Doris Day in the Alfred Hitchcock film The Man Who Knew Too Much, and won a 1956 academy award for Best Original Song.
Happy Xmas (War Is Over) was released as a 1971 Christmas single protesting the war in Vietnam by John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir.