Tim: So, this week I finally completed that game everyone’s talking about, Netflix, and decided I’d actually watch that Daz Sampson documentary that got put on YouTube a couple of months back. There’s quite a bit of interesting stuff in there – not least the revelation that actually, he didn’t originally intend to perform this song himself.
Tom: I said “huh” at least three times during that. That’s… huh.
Tim: Isn’t it just? The lyrics are pretty different, presumably redone to make them more Eurovision friendly, but otherwise it’s almost identical.
Tom: You say “almost identical” and, okay, from a production perspective it’s close. But context is so, so important. There are two really important changes that transform this from “cringeworthy Eurovision performance” to “semi-competent Blazin’ Squad track”.
Tim: You think? What changes it for you?
Tom: First: the children’s-choir vocals don’t have to be performed live. It’s very clearly a sample: the style and production really emphasise that. Hip-hop can absolutely use cheesy children’s-choir samples, and use them really well given the right production. It’s a catchy sample, too. But at Eurovision, that sample had to be recreated live by just five adults, which means the listener interprets the context of it very, very differently.
And then second: yes, the lyrics are very different. And they’re being performed by teenagers — only just, Kenzie would have been 19, but they’re close enough to school-age that there’s at least some credibility there. Daz Sampson was in his early thirties then, and looked and sounded like he was in his early thirties. You can’t just drop him in and expect the song to work the same.
Tim: All fair, BUT, if I were to position a pro-Sampson argument (though I’ve really no idea why I’d want to): the issue with that reasoning is you’re judging it purely as a music track, and no, of course Daz can’t get away with this out as a standard single. But Eurovision’s different, and on occasion almost more like theatre – Latvia sent actual pirates two years later.
Tom: They weren’t, like, actual pirates, but I get what you mean.
Tim: Sure, the age could have been a problem – you’re right that Daz was definitely too old, but the ones pretending to be schoolgirls at the very least looked like they could have been the right age. Now, I’ll be first to admit that treating it like theatre isn’t a winning formula by any means – the pirates couldn’t even cannonball their way out of the semis – but it doesn’t mean it can’t work.
Tom: I’m not saying this would have been a hit for Blazin’ Squad, I’m not saying it would have been taken remotely seriously. I don’t think it’s all that good a track. But crucially, at no point did I even cringe slightly.
Tim: Okay, I guess that’s all fair enough – and I agree with you that it would have worked better for them as a song, but they would have been a terrible choice for Eurovision, just on a practical note if nothing else. They had so many members that barely half of them would have been allowed on stage, and that’s only if some of them were up for dressing as schoolgirls. The BBC, apparently, were also keen to have him rather than them, and as he put it, by that point Blazin’ Squad were “on the slide”. Only one option, then.
Tom: And that decision’s what killed the song even as a single. That’s not a slight on Daz Sampson (although the BBC press release describing him at the “UK’s most unique MC” feels like a bit of a dig) — it’s just that this track cannot be carried by anyone over 20.
Tim: The documentary’s quite revealing about that period – not enough for any normal person to spend forty minutes watching it, mind, but there are some interesting titbits in there. One example: the reason Daz came bounding out from behind the blackboard so excitedly. Not because of the choreography but because he’d only that second remembered the lyrics that he’d forgotten due to nerves, and that his contingency plan was to do his bit from Kung Fu Fighting instead. (I’ve checked, it really wouldn’t have fitted.)
Tom: I’ll say this much: that would have been memorable. Actually, fair play, it’s been fourteen years since this and we still remember it, and we’re talking about it. There is something to be said for making an impression.
Tim: Another one: following the performance, which had gone better than any rehearsal, they thought it might have done quite well – not a winner, clearly: “I knew we weren’t gonna win Eurovision 2006, I knew from the moment we got there” – but maybe top half. There then follows slightly heartbreaking footage of him and the girls watching country after country fail to give them points for over an hour, gradually confirming that nope, really not.
Tom: It was an incredibly high standard at that Eurovision. The novelty votes went to Lordi (who won), the schlager-loving votes went to Carola (fifth), and the plucky-but-charming underdog votes went to LT United (sixth).
Tim: Ah, well, maybe another time, if only he’d got anot–OH HANG ON but actually then he didn’t even get past the jury into the televised final so never mind. SORRY DAZ.