It only came to my knowledge a couple of hours ago that Iceland’s recently selected Eurovision song, ‘Ég á líf’ sung by Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson, was causing a lot of commotion, namely by bearing some striking resemblance to a delightful Canadian comedy tune named ‘I Am Cow’, by the Arrogant Worms. Being the kind of person who watches this manure-like event every year (for the crazy, sexy, and painfully cheesy), I did my duty and listened to both songs in quick succession to decide for myself if they share no similarity, as the songwriters assert, or if Eyþór may be singing the cow’s anthem.
From my basic knowledge on international copyright (before you go asking, yes I do have some formal education on intellectual property law!), I would call this reproduction de minimis, which falls under the Berne Convention’s category of Fair Use. The songwriters are right – the differences of instrumentation, key signature, lyrical content, style and even melody are significant enough to negate the claim of infringement. However, from the perspective of a person who thinks it’s the-crazier-the-better as far as Eurovision goes, I say yes, this sounds exactly the same and they should embrace it.
Although the entire Eurovision conglomerate is a lot like the aforementioned waste product, it’s also a great fertilizer for strong opinions and self-parody. The latter is where ‘Ég á líf’/’I Am Cow’ comes in. Most of the songs performed at the annual contest generally fall under three categories: the batshit mental novelty show, the electro-trash dance mess and the hyper-dramatic emotional ballad.
This last one is obviously the least interesting of the lot. It’s usually when people catch up on their Twitter feed of #eurovision jokes, get up to pee or get another slice of pizza, because one doesn’t really need to watch someone standing alone on the biggest stage in the world, over-emoting as if their life depended on it. It’s not very visually stimulating, and frankly it’s a little uncomfortable. Personally I watch those like devout Christians watched ‘The Passion of the Christ’ – crouched into the foetal position, hands over my face with my fingers slightly parted. They probably didn’t giggle as much…
But I digress! The point is that Iceland’s song falls into this dull-and-humiliating melodramatic song category this year and as it stands, it has very little chance of winning. What the folks behind ‘Ég á líf’ are not appreciating is that the ‘I Am Cow’ similarity is a HUGE selling point! Not to mention a golden opportunity for combining the most boring category of Eurovision songs with the greatest: the batshit mental novelty performance.
Here is what I propose. First of all, we all know that they will translate ‘Ég á líf’ into English at some point (probably to attempt to sell it to the Brits for football promos or some odd thing). Instead of writing a direct translation, I say they get in touch with the Arrogant Worms in Canada and option the rights to English lyrics and then adapt them onto Pétur Örn Guðmundsson and Örlygur Smári’s original composition, retaining the same melodrama and earnestness of the current tune yet with the loveable flipness of the bovine ballad.
Next comes the live performance. This is crucial to winning or losing. (Whose heart didn’t pounce out of their chest as Loreen crab-scuttled and karate-chopped her way through wind and snow?) And luckily, this idea is fantastically obvious and simple: have Eyþór dress up as a milk cow, performing in a field of life-sized cow dummies, with a rolling green pasture full of those farm-marshmallow things on the background screen. I know, it’s genius.
Here are the two key elements to this idea that will defy both the typical category sets. 1) Unlike most novelty acts, this song will not degenerate midway into a jokesy euro-trash dance number like the Russian grannies and 2) Unlike most melodramatic numbers, it will not take itself so painfully seriously that it becomes boring or unwatchable. Obviously I understand that the acts that compete in Eurovision, and the songs that are submitted, purposely try to follow the contest’s tried-and-true mould, but there’s a lot to be said for breaking it up a little now and then. Let there be drama cows.
Oh, and because Eyþór will be dressed as a cow with a great big udder, he’ll technically be dressed in drag.
(Final word: in the unlikely event that any of these suggestions are implemented into Iceland’s performance at Eurovision 2013, I expect credits and compensation!)