REWIND: An apology to Europe, featuring Pussy Riot and Golden Earring

Pussy Riot

Pussy Riot is probably not interested in Eurovision.

Last week I reviewed the top 10 finishers in the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. Hatari aside—they’re my favorite band now—I found them to be mostly bland, sappy, English-language ballads, and pointed out that America would win by entering a song that was neither bland nor sappy. And I wrote the column in the voice of a brash, arrogant American, because it’s both fun and funny to me.

It turns out Europeans have no sense of humor about Eurovision, couldn’t identify satire with both hands and a map, and are very, very passionate about their bland, sappy, English-language ballads. I’ve been getting trolled on Twitter by irate, humorless Europeans ever since.

So in an effort to assure our humorless European readers that I don’t think every song from your respective countries is as bad as their 2019 Eurovision entries, here are songs I actually like from the top five finishers.

Golden Earring — “Radar Love” (The Netherlands)

This track from 1973 is an all-time classic, and Shocking Blue’s “Venus” isn’t far behind, surpassing even the Bananarama cover.

What does “Radar Love” have over Eurovision winner “Arcade?” A memorable chorus, for one thing. A catchy, unique beat. An underused structure that almost mimics call and response but with the singer and the guitar. There’s an energy to the song that’s infectious, and a bridge that somehow fits the song perfectly despite sounding almost like a different genre.

That’s what Dutch musicians are capable of! I mean, not in 2019 apparently, but overall!

Ennio Morricone — “The Ecstasy of Gold” (Italy)

Despite Westerns being the most American of movie genres, it’s hard to argue that the best were made by Italians. Sergio Leone is one of the all-time great filmmakers, and the Dollars trilogy was his masterpiece. Despite his own brilliant career as a director I’d argue they’re the best thing Clint Eastwood has ever done.

On top of that Ennio Morricone is the master of film scores, and if you asked John Williams I think even he’d have to concede he’s second at best. And despite having a career that includes everything from The Thing to The Untouchables and continues to this day, this remains his masterwork.

Mahmood is OK, but Morricone is the man.

Pussy Riot — “I Can’t Breathe” (Russia)

Not only are we losing to Russia in the new digital arms race, and not only are we losing to Russia in global affairs, we’re losing to Russia in protest music.

Pussy Riot is an absolute treasure and it drives me crazy that the United States has nothing close. Until we find something on that level, I appreciate that Pussy Riot helping out with songs like “I Can’t Breathe” and “Make America Great Again” to show us how it should be done.

Also, even though I don’t understand a word of it, I could listen to “CHAIKA” for hours.

Eluveitie — “The Call of the Mountains” (Switzerland)

Is it a bit of a cop-out to feature a European metal band two weeks after a whole column about Scandinavian metal bands? Yes, but I make the rules so you’re gonna have to live with it.

Plus Eluveitie gets special treatment because I love folk metal regardless of the folk traditions they’re drawing from. My favorite is Mongolian folk metal, but a close second is Celtic folk metal. I’m not sure how that relates to Switzerland but Eluveitie is among the best at the genre.

I mean, come on. Anyone who can make a bagpipe metal should represent their nation in Eurovision. That’s just science.

Europe — “The Final Countdown” (Sweden)

I mean, how do you even pick the best music from Sweden? This is the country that gave us Refused, The Hives, Yngwie Malmsteen, Avicii, Meshuggah and, especially, Ghost, which is—I apparently can’t stress this enough—my favorite band of the 21st century thus far.

So I didn’t pick any of those. I picked a song everyone secretly likes even though nobody will admit it in public. Why? Because if “The Final Countdown” was eligible for Eurovision it would’ve won in a landslide.

It’s not that your nations’ music is bad, Eurovision contestants. You just aren’t any good at choosing who represents you. Maybe try something less bland next year?

Well… except Iceland. You’re cool. You keep doing you.

Follow editor Daniel J. Willis and tweet column ideas to him at

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