Before nightly sign-off, many PBS stations in the U.S. used to run short weekly videos on naked eye astronomy hosted by Jack Horkheimer, the executive director of the Miami Space Transit Planetarium at the Miami Museum of Science. The bits were surprisingly educational, but eccentric. Horkheimer, or as he preferred to be called: the “Star Hustler” (later he renamed himself “Star Gazer”), had a brash style similar to Rip Taylor, at odds with his subject matter and the mellowness of the late night hour. Here’s a clip of the “Star Gazer” for the week of February 1, 2010. Fittingly, it’s about the Belt of Orion, a hunter.
The music underscoring this and every “Star Gazer” show was “Arabesque #1” by Claude Debussy performed by Isao Tomita. It’s an ambient interpretation with melody performed by…are you ready for this?…whistling.
Which brings us to 2014, Switzerland, and Eurovision. After what can only be described as a meager selection, the Swiss have decided on Sebalter and “Hunter of Stars” as its song for Eurovision 2014.
“Hunter of Stars” is an upbeat bluegrass jig. It’s got a fiddle and banjo, and Sebalter whistles at various points throughout the song. There’s an agreeable melody, but it has a crowded English lyric and Sebalter’s live vocals were ropey at Die Grosse Entscheidungsshow. This song would be good fun at a local music festival, however there’s not much here that merits attention on an arena stage. Once again it seems probable that the Swiss will struggle do well at Eurovision.
Jack Horkheimer passed away in 2010 at the age of 72. Eurovision.tv reports that Sebalter was inspired to write this song during a several months journey in the U.S. So I suppose it’s possible, but I don’t really care whether Sebalter was familiar with his work or not. I for one will never listen to “Hunter of Stars” without being reminded of PBS late nights, Tomita’s version of “Arabesque #1,” and the “Star Gazer.”
As Jack used to say: “Keep looking up!”