As always the Swedes know how to make an entrance, with this theme and variations-esque type of entrance act where the Eurovision anthem is played and then variations of it along with a lot of other dancers fills the stage. But what happens when a bunch of BMX bikers and Skateboarders take their place/ They start making an artistic impression on the stage which turns into a giant keyboard and iPhone/Android Device.
When pop songs begin with the refrain, I can only fear that it will be overplayed and heard far too many times. But then changes everything and turns into a couple of white boys rapping, which automatically loses my interest. Even dressed in silver and black sequins and having a lot of skin showing with their pasty-white bodies, isn’t enough to keep me interested. When we are called “European Peeps” I just get a little bit sketched out. Over-all I think the song is catchy, but is lacking so much more that I look for in an effective entry. I guess the only novelty of this performance was the crowd surfing, and the force being with us… or something.
After a dismale fiasco entry last year, Valentina returns to us to prove that she actually is a serious singer with a serious song. It’s a powerful ballad in Italian, which usually garners bonus points because lots of people like Italy, but this one really flopped to expectations. The San Marinese delegation was disgusted and blames everything about politics, but in all fairness San Marino sent a really good entry this year and suffered the wave of the East, as it usually happens. I mean really, after the ballad turns into a dance song, there is the classic wardrobe change and we jump into a typically awesome Eurovision type song with lots of key changes (don’t we all love that!?).
I’ve said it before, but when you get a couple of singers together to sing a dramatic song with decent voices and there is a fat woman who’s singing, you know it’s never over. What makes this one better than others? Perhaps that Esma is a very well established Romani singer, you know… gypsy. Didn’t know they were in Macedonia, but cool; and she’s wearing a massive red dress while this clean-cut sexy man serenades us in a ethnic-crossover-pop-dance song. In all fairness it kind of reminds me of something that would be at a wedding for dancing purposes and has enough ethnicity to really draw me in. Solid vocals, slightly boring presentation, but extra points for gypsies dressed in red. Too bad the Balkans got shut out this year.
This year the land of fire gives us a solo singer with a Western dressed look mixed with the ethnic East, and a glass box with a dancer stuck inside it. It was really interesting to watch the uniqueness and creativity that some countries can put into their entries, and while he sings to us with the typical Soviet accent in English. I think that the performance was a little over the top in terms of dramatics and loses points in that regard, and with a refrain a little too loud for the rest of the song, I can see the appeal for it’s qualification, but I don’t really like it. Azerbaijan really is a sure qualifier year-in and year-out, so even with strange or lackluster entries they are still in the final.
With the Pink/Katy Perry feeling this Ding-Dong classic about marriage is something in my eye between a serious pop song and a parody. I know that the Finnish delegation was really giving it their all, and this year I think they hit the mark with the song, but missed the mark with the presentation. It’s just a bit too mocking and over-the-top? It’s going to be a radio-hit for sure in Scandinavia, so thumbs up for that one, but really it went a bit overboard. With dramatic girl on girl action at the end raises question of this was more of a political commentary on gay-rights and there for shock factor. I’m not convinced that Western Europe cared, but I can see the East being all freaked out. It’s really not a huge deal, love is love, right? But maybe it had something to do with the following day being the International Day Against Homophobia. Either way, coolbeans!
I was really on the fence about this one for several reasons. The song is awesome if I listen to it with my eyes closed, but when I open my eyes to see the singer and the band I kind of think it’s a disaster. It’s one thing to be smiley, but it was so far over the top from Gianluca that I don’t even know what to say. He looks like a 80 year old Chinese Man because his face is pulled so tight from smiling. Apart from that the simple indie song that really people can relate to, was sold to the audience in what I consider to be a surprise finalist qualification. Meanwhile, we will be okay, and so will Malta but I’m not sure how it will fare in the final. Deserving to be there, but may be tragic as usually most people forget about Malta.
The ethnic styled singing and professional drummers from Bulgaria return from their past entrance in the competition. But what I find is odd, is that I don’t really think that much has changed since they were in the competition before. The songs are very similar in terms of how they sound and what happens on stage, so I’m really at a loss as to what to say other than Elitsa’s voice was as ethnically awesome as usual and sets her apart from the rest of the competition, but the return of Bulgaria’s hopes was shattered this year; in 2007 after a year absence, Bulgaria stormed into the final, but this time it wasn’t to be. Interesting information though, this was Bulgaria’s 2nd rated song in their national finals, the network had a problem with getting the copyrighted rights to the song that won, so they had to go wtih the second best. Maybe that’s why it wasn’t such a success.
What can we say about Iceland in Eurovision? They are often quite forgotten with awesome songs. With the likes of Paul Oskar in comparison, Eyþór (who’s name was simplified for English Speakers to be “Eythor”) brings us an Icelandic ballad with it’s simplicity and sweetness. With a beautiful stage presence, coastal Icelandic backgrounds, and what I believe to be one of the most beautiful of the Nordic languages, Icelandic language made this song just perfect. He looks Icelandic, it is Icelandic, it’s Iceland screaming out to be heard and seen, and as the song progresses and become more dramatic I think they put their own type of exclamation point on the song. A shock to see in the final, as Iceland usually barely qualifies, but totally deserving as one of this year’s best songs flat out. It should be top-5 if not top-10 in the final, but I wouldn’t put money on it.
The fact that Greece even attends this competition in the middle of a catastrophic financial crisis is room for concern, but politics aside it’s no surprise that Greece qualifies even with a blah song. Why sing about alcohol being free? It’s kind of nice that Greece doesn’t send a night-club summer hit like they do every year, but this frantic ethnic-pop song misses the boat in my eyes. I can only assume that women vote for manly Greek men that are very short, and wear skirts (or kilts, or whatever they would be called in Greek culture), that wink at you in the camera. It’s that Greek charm at it’s best, that is disconcerting to me. I can confirm vehemently that such charms would never work on me! Sadly for the rest of Europe, they fall victim to it.
Celebrating her 22nd birthday, Moran gave us a simple and strong Hebrew ballad that usually is more successful in the competition. Shockingly it didn’t qualify and I can’t deduce why it didn’t. With an obviously good song, an obviously “out there” look of elegance mixed with nerdy (see massive glasses) sticks in the mind, but didn’t convince televoters. I suspect that the juries gave her top marks but the televoters failed to represent her effectively. That woman had so much diamond-bling on her I’m surprised she wasn’t mugged in the parking lot because between her voice and her dress and accessories, she dazzled figuratively and literally.
This built for radio song is a bit a surprise for me from Armenia with it’s obvious Western tendencies, a drift away from it’s Eastern roots of recent years. Visually I just had a bit of problems of the look of the singers and band, but it’s a clear qualifier and a feel good pop song that’s smooth and built for being a radio hit. It’s good enough for the final, but do I believe it to be good enough for winning the competition? I don’t think so, but it should be top-10 to say the least. They just need to pray that their background singers don’t go flat like they did in this performance towards the end.
After reading some reviews from some other people of this entry about a month ago I kind of agreed with what they said. Hungary has this tendency to send original quirky songs to Eurovision and I think it does them justice given that it’s a linguistic and cultural separated from the rest of Western and Eastern Europe. And so when we watch these hipsters from Hungary sing a simple quirky pop song, we kind of think of the quirks of Bosnia & Herzegovina who are absent this year. It’s just fun and nice, and I was pleasantly surprised when Hungary was announced as a winner, because quite honestly it wasn’t a bookies favourite. Good job Europe in recognising a good song when you see and hear it.
This song is so far away from what we are used to from Norway. It’s a simple singer, beautifully dressed and looking to be a siren to the straight boys, singing an eletronika-pop song that I’m really surprised was a sell to the rest of Europe. With the intense base and backing instrumentals it’s really intense and doesn’t fit the normal “sucess” formula. However, with it’s qualification it guaranteed the penta-qualification of the Nordic Region. What more can we say than, suck on that, fuck yeah!
Breaking away from it’s usual good songs run, Albania sends hard rock this year. As a result of it’s departure from good music, and the utter dismal collapse of the Balkans music in Eurovision, Albania went nowhere. But to be completely fair, this song didn’t deserve any noteworthy mention. The clothing and “look” of the group was dark and emo-ish, and the only noteworthy point would be that it had an “ethnic” flare in the music, but it wasn’t enough even with it in Albanian language.
What happens when a country gets desperate to get into the final but not necessarily win? They hire Thomas G:son and then plunk in some national singers to sing the song, butcher the English language, and use a formula Eurovision song like this one. It’s a beautiful song, don’t get me wrong, but it just gets too loud with instrumentation and voice at the end for my liking. Analysts are calling it a “safe” song Georgia, which usually likes to go out on a limb, but after last year’s failure to qualify in the Easternlands of Baku, they revert back to what they think will please, instead of doing what they want to do and people liking them for that. I also think that a repeat performance of Azerbaijan’s song isn’t a good recipe because it looks like a rip-off… just saying.
With this group of young and old, officially called Heilsarmee (Salvation Army) performs a song that I don’t really know what to say about. Officially banned from using their name or wearing their religious army’s uniforms, they still push the envelope with their Mormon missionary style outfits. I think it’s kind of a parody, but for some reason Switzerland chose them to represent their people. I don’t know how representative they would be, but their song is decent in the beginning and then loses steam quickly. This may sound very out of line, but really they are an attractive bunch and between Copenhagen and Malmö and their loss, they will find nothing but people throwing themselves at them, which for the men might be awkward as the ghayz have converged on Eurovision as per usual and hot is hot, regardless of orientation. 🙂
This year Romania decided to send an operatic singer to sing a pop-dance song, and dress up in ridiculous Eurovision costumes. Though officially he’s a counter-tenor (male mezzo-soprano or alto) it’s a very strange mixture. Admittedly in the past opera singers have done well in the competition, think of Slovenia, Sweden however this one misses something. They have good dancers and a good stage presence, and he knows how to sing obviously and is bang on, but it’s just not sitting well for me. It’s so weird, but maybe that’s why it qualified. I didn’t expect it to, but for some reason people flocked to it like moths to light. Sometimes different stands out, even if it’s a bit bland. The only thing the act didn’t have was people making out, or crazy costume changes.
So after hearing the songs and seeing the little sketches with Lynda Woodruff and, get this, Edward af Sillén pretending to be a Danish sausage-seller made me laugh. Edward af Sillén is so sexy, even as a sausage-vendor, but enough gushing about him (even though it’s so obviously deserved). During the voting results were being tabulated, Agnes and Darin graced us with their presence, despite their failed attempts at representing Sweden in Eurovision. They put on a great show and had me on the edge of my seat, as they were worthy of winning themselves!
As usual Petra Mede was an amazing host, especially with the historical look at Eurovision history and the dramatic reveal of the qualifying contestants. Twelve points so far to Petra! One moment of note also is as Greece qualified, they zeroed in on a Greek fan, whom I can guarantee got laid that night.
Overall it was an okay evening, with a lot of good songs and a lot of real flops. Lots of ballads, and “ethnic” songs as per usual, but highlights of what I thought are as follows:
1) Hungary – surprise hipsters yo!
2) Azerbaijan – as always… no surprises here!
3) Georgia – safe picks always win, go Thomas G:son
4) Romania – surprise opera counter-tenor dance song.. huh?
5) Norway – elektropop dubstep gorgeous awesomeness power!
6) Iceland – surprise! GO NORDIC REGION GO!
7) Armenia – lots of booing for this one…?
8) Finland – listen to those cheers – girl on girl kissing works!
9) Malta – surprises all around and failed camera kissing!
10) Greece – really? so sad… why you always qualify!?
See you Saturday! (Post updated with pictures and new comments!)