After two successful semi-finals, the grand final took off at a God-awful hour in Baku given that it’s a couple hours ahead of the majority of Europe. If you don’t know where Azerbaijan is, then take a look and carry your map farther East than Turkey on the Caspian Sea. With the lovely hosts entertaining, the final was a grand spectacle and featured a lot of spokespersons during the voting to show off their skills in Azerbaijani, some with resounding success!

United Kingdom – Engelbert Humperdinck
❗ Presonal Favourite
FN.01.United Kingdom - Engelbert Humperdinck

Despite coming in second last place and by and large being the most successful or most well known legend singer ever in the history of Eurovision, Mr. Humperdinck came to the show with a very well written song, but executed it less than favourably. I found that his vocals were a bit off, but the song itself has wonderful lyrics and wonderful melody. The sad part about it is that there are so many ballads in the show, that it likely just got lost in the shuffle, and given that it’s part of the apathetic UK area, which recently has been very anti-Europe, I’m not surprised in the slightest at it’s failure. Despite the flop, Engelbert Humperdinck is still a star and a legend. On a personal note, my grandmother is a huge fan and was super surprised to hear that he was competing in Eurovision!

Hungary – Compact Disco
❗ Personal Favourite
FN.02.Hungary - Compact Disco

This song is a bit of everything; a good melody, a good backing, decent lyrics, and a modern pop/rock feel to it. Despite the stage show being much better in the final than the qualification rounds I don’t think the song made a huge impact on many people. The English pronunciation is absolutely horrible, and it’s difficult to figure out what’s going on, but it’s super funky and should have done a little bit better in comparison to some other entries this year. Too bad Hungary, but thanks for coming!

Albania – Rona Nishliu
=> 5th Place
FN.03.Albania - Rona Nishliu

The reputation of Albania is to send funky simple songs, and this one is no different than the others. Displaying very good vocals it was a favourite of many people simply for the vocal ability but the song was very out there and didn’t reverberate in my soul. I found that it was a very angry ballad that left me thinking that she was just screaming into the microphone the entire time; which essentially she was. Regardless of all that, it was a decent over-all performance, but looking at it makes it very awkward. What’s with the hair, the dress, and the vocals? Freaky delicious. It takes a lot of guts to get on a stage and sing your heart out (quite literally), but in the end it left me feeling empty, and I wan to feel filled up.

Lithuania – Donny Montell
FN.04.Lithuania - Donny Montell

Funky disco mishmash blind man takes the stage and busts a few sexy moves for the crowd. At first I didn’t like the song, but it grew on me, but then it ends so suddenly it just makes me feeling like there was something missing. The more that I watch it, the more attractive Donny gets (where I thought he was quite hideous at the beginning), but as it turns out he’s not blind, and he can shake his hips so much that I can come to no other conclusion than him being a bomb in bed. I wouldn’t know, but hips don’t lie bitches!

Bosnia & Herzegovina – Maya Sar
FN.05.Bosnia & Hezergovina - Maya Sar

Of all the ballads in the competition this year, this one is one of the weakest overall in my opinion. It’s simple, and it leaves a lot to be desired, but what bothers me the most is the unnecessary usage of wind generators for this performance. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of the wind in Eurovision but this one just didn’t fit at all and it left the singer looking frazzled and her hair going all over the place. Good effort, but I won’t be humming along anytime soon.

Russia – Buranovskiey Babushki
=> 2nd Place
❗ Personal Favourite
FN.06.Russia - Buranovskiey Babushki

I find it absolutely amazing how successful this song is in Europe, especially given how poor the vocals are. I guess it proves that you don’t have to be a great singer to almost win, but then again what was going on stage wasn’t anything to write home about. It’s very charming to have a bunch of Udmurt women from God-knows-where in Russia (the mountains no doubt) that come with a super-hip written by someone modern with a million key changes. It’s Eurovision pie, no kidding, but what was the most charming about the whole situation was the fact that for the last few years these women were trying to go to Eurovision and win singing competitions in order to get funding to build a church in their town. I’m sure after this whirlwind tour they will be breaking ground on construction any time. Heartwarming, fun dancing, all around goodness; yay Eurovision!

Iceland – Gréta Salóme & Jónsi
❗ Personal Favourite
FN.07.Iceland - Gréta Salóme & Jónsi

Originally this song was a personal favourite of mine but the more I see and hear it the more it gets a little more annoying to me. This does not take away from the uniqueness and very “Icelandic” yet in English flavour that it offers, it’s a very dark and stormy song almost something that I would expect to come out of the dark cold winters of Finland, but there was something that just clashed in my viewing and listening. I think that it’s mostly because Jónsi has been in Eurovision before and his looks have somehow deteriorated and look much more fake and tired. His face has become all mushed up and time has not been very kind to him; regardless of that it may be some sort of sickness, and his voice is still good, but I tend to skip over the song because I don’t want my love for Iceland to be diminished!

Cyprus – Ivi Adamou
❗ Personal Favourite
FN.08.Cyprus - Ivi Adamou

Quite honestly I don’t know why this placed in 16th and not somewhere in the top 10. I know that you can only have Sweden win (with actual entries and written entries which are all over the place this evening) but this one is just a great song, dance, performance, and entertainment. If you wanted the triple-thread of Eurovision this one is it; it’s a sexy dance number with dramatic dancing that isn’t cheesy, and is uber sexy. Absolutely gorgeous choreography and a song that not only will be the summer hit for summers to come, but it’s a super 5 star favourite on my iPod playlist! Let’s go Cyprus!

France – Anggun
❗ Personal Favourite
FN.09.France - Anggun

France really has difficulty with their songs; one year they have a huge hit with a controversial artist, the next they have a throw away song, and then they bring in a huge star to try to change the tides and it doesn’t work. As devoted to trying as France is, this one was a good one in my book and it just plain flopped with the viewers. Anggun is a Franco-Indonesian superstar and sings well, has fucking gorgeous gymnasts to entertain us, and yet nobody really looks at it and thinks “wow that’s great” even though damn, wow it’s great! I’m sure, like most things in French culture they will be bitter over it for ever, and rip it to pieces, but I think that it was a good entry that just sadly flopped.

Italy – Nina Zilli
❗ Personal Favourite
FN.10.Italy - Nina Zilli

I think that part of France’s failure is the fact that it was followed by the ever popular Italy. They always send traditional with a twist songs and this year was no exception. Dubbed as Italy’s Amy Winehouse (God rest her soul) she didn’t disappoint with her jazzy-upbeat song that really speaks to the feminist in all of us. She has a freaking fabulous voice that is clear yet raspy enough to be seductive, and is absolutely gorgeous. It came top-10 which is less than favourable for entries that were tipped to win, but I think that it was a fantastic effort for the Italians for the third year running.

Estonia – Ott Lepland
❗ Personal Favourite
FN.11.Estonia - Ott Lepland

I can not repeat it enough, this song hit me like a big fucking yellow school bus. It hit me so hard that I fell off the sofa when watching, and every time that I listen to the song and crank up the volume it brings tears to my eyes. I’m pulled in with Ott’s adorable aura, and then further pulled with his beautiful voice, and the warm vowel sounds of Estonian, and then I’m slapped in the face making me feel like he’s breaking my heart because he’s being ripped up inside. He’s fucking hot, the song is fucking sexy as all fuck, and I listen to it on repeat and sing it walking down the street all the time. I’m sure I look and sound like a freak, but my God it’s a great song. As Estonia climbed the ranks in the scoreboards (thanks to a late Estonian gold rush) it came up to 6th place (d’oh!) but really we all know that the only thing left to happen is for him to marry me.

Norway – Tooji
❗ Personal Favourite
FN.12.Norway - Tooji

Dead last, and it kind of made me laugh a little. The running joke was the the lyrics don’t do the song justice, I mean “I don’t know what I’m doing” clearly sums up that this song was just destined for failure. It made it through the semi-finals but the overall fun aspect of it was lost in me. It’s funky and modern, and super-gay like you wouldn’t believe. I feel like every time the women were singing “na-na-na-na” it was meant to turn on the gay population as some sort of sexual innuendo. Did any of you pick up on that? Keeping on that note, despite Norway’s failure, I don’t doubt for a second that he didn’t get laid that night. Just saying.

Azerbaijan – Sabina Babayeva
=> 4th Place
❗ Personal Favourite
FN.13.Azerbaijan - Sabina Babayeva

Wow diva Azerbaijani singer with the funkiest dress and most awesome lighting in combination with the dress just took my breath away. Her voice isn’t what I like most, but it’s an amazingly beautiful one regardless. I’m just shocked that it did so well, and that she could have easily been placed higher if some of the other songs flopped a little bit. However, I don’t think that she or anyone could have overcome the freight-train that was Loreen.

Romania – Mandinga
❗ Personal Favourite
FN.14.Romania - Mandinga

The song is fun and fantastically awesome but live it really leaves much to be desired. It’s creative in the way that it’s sung in Spanish by a Romanian, which wins it points culturally, and the fact that it has accordions and is a fantastic euro summer hit will gain it polarity beyond Eurovision, but frankly speaking the whole act just left too much on the table where there was a lot of potential. It will be a favourite of mine on my iPod for a long time to come!

Denmark – Soluna Samay
FN.15.Denmark - Soluna Samay

Truth be told I’m happy that Denmark crashed and burned in the Final, and the fact that the song qualified is a mystery to me. The outfit of Soluna is so ridiculous and dirty looking that it’s difficult to look at, so I averted my eyes and focused on the background where, get this, there was a cellist that is hot as fuck and dressed like a thug. I don’t normally like the thug style, but with a cello it’s freaking hot. Twelve points to the cellist, and null points to Soluna.

Greece – Eleftheria Eleftheriou
FN.16.Greece - Eleftheria Eleftheriou

A typical Greek entry during a time when I’m surprised Greece can afford to even broadcast the show after paying the EBU. Financially battered Greece elected to send a simple smiley girl that dances all over the place and gets sexually assaulted by her dancers on several occasions during the piece. Yes this can appeal to people in the Balkan basin, but it wasn’t my cup of tea at all and felt like a Eurovision washed up hit that’s been done before. Just because you’re Greek, doesn’t make you an aphrodisiac!

Sweden – Loreen
=> Winner
❗ Personal Favourite
FN.17.Sweden - Loreen

The masterpiece won, and all the bookies that thought it would were dead on. Winning with ridiculous points over the 2nd place singers from Russia, Loreen rocked the show with her shy and reserved attitude. Darkened in the most artistic rendition of a performance I’ve seen in a long time, with fantastic vocals and relatable music, she took art, song, dance, and culture to a whole new level. She made Sweden proud and enabled Eurovision Song Contest to return to Sweden. Sadly it likely won’t happen in Stockholm as there are some scheduling conflicts, but I’m sure Göteborg or Malmö will jump at the chance to welcome the world to their doorstep. See you in Sweden 2013!

Turkey – Can Bonomo
❗ Personal Favourite
FN.18.Turkey - Con Bonomo

My first review was very negative, but I came around. I looked at the whole act as being cheesy (which it frankly is) but I noticed that it was more culturally appropriate and funny yet serious in the grand scheme of things. Can, is well, hot, and he’s being danced around by a bunch of men with capes that end up making a boat for him to sail away because he’s not being loved back, but it’s hot because they are manly Turkish men that are all wearing makeup and eyeliner. It’s got to be some sort of crime back in Turkey, but the cheeky grin and seductive looks of the singer make it worth it, even if his English is atrocious and can barely be intelligible at all. They would have been better to sing it in Turkey, but the act, was entertaining!

Spain – Pastora Soler
❗ Personal Favourite
FN.19.Spain - Pastora Soler

Spain barely ever gets it right, but this year they brought a monster ballad with a singer with a fantastically powerful voice. It starts out slow and gentle but ends with a massive bang and is very empathetic. It’s fantastic piece of music, and a beautiful display of colours, beauty, and simplicity. Kudos to Spain for getting it right, and despite a top-10 finish, I think they should be very proud of themselves for a job well done!

Germany – Roman Lob
❗ Personal Favourite
FN.20.Germany - Roman Lob

Soft on the eyes, soft on the ears, and a heart-throb, there is no way that Germany was going to flop this year! I bet that 80% of the televotes were cast because Roman is hot, and the antithesis of what Eurovision is about, and the remaining 20% because it was a good song. Regardless of those voting results and finishing within the top-10, he’s so boy-next-door that it makes me sick, and truth be told it was never a winner in the long run. A good song, with a good vocals, and something nice to look at for three minutes.

Malta – Kurt Calleja
FN.21.Malta - Kurt Calleja

I originally favourites this, but the song just irritates me now. It’s okay vocals, but is a total shamble on the stage. Guitarists with skinny jeans and emo glasses only further the hipster style that this act is trying to go, and hipster, as try hard as it is, doesn’t work for me and doesn’t work for this type of music. Nice try, but my initial love for this faded and I saw the light!

F.Y.R. Macedonia – Kaliopi
❗ Personal Favourite
FN.22.F.Y.R. Macedonia - Kaliopi

Simple, powerful, amazing vocals, and a good representative to the competition, this one was a dark horse in my book. I sing along with it, and I think the dramatic diva attitude and theatrics of Kaliopi only make her even more fabulous! She’s gorgeous and has a simple song, and executes it to absolute perfection. I don’t like rock, but I freaking love this song!

Ireland – Jedward
FN.23.Ireland - Jedward

Go back to Ireland and stay there. I never want to see you in Eurovision again, despite the song being marginally better than last year. Spastic twins that look like rats don’t amuse me and their singing and bouncing around the stage only makes me want to give them all some sort of ADHD medicine to shut them up. As a side note, when they got all sexy in the preview I groaned, and then when they got wet at the end, I groaned even more because they looked like albino rats that got wet. Yuck! Go home!

Serbia – Željko Joksimović
=> 3rd Place
❗ Personal Favourite
FN.24.Serbia - Željko Joksimović

Welcome back to the competition, and as always a great star is born. Though he had no chance against Loreen and the Russian grannies, he gave it a good go with his Balkan ballad that is both cultural and empathetic. He’s aged quite a bit since the last competition, as the wrinkles are visible but he’s got a sexy voice and a simple yet effective song. Serbia just gets better with age, and I don’t doubt that we will meet again in Belgrade in the next decade.

Ukraine – Gaitana
❗ Personal Favourite
FN.25.Ukraine - Gaitana

I compared Gaitana with Tina Turner the last time, but I really think that she’s more like a late Whitney Huston with her diva-esque prowess. Though she doesn’t look Ukrainian in the slightest, she seems to be culturally connected. Malta still wants their coco-dance outfits back, and after further analysis of the song, I noticed that it’s a bunch of hot men with paint on their chests in skirts. Kinda hot to be honest, despite the intense voice that overwhelms all. I’m not really sure about the act as a whole, but it was good enough to deserve a silver star from me!

Moldova – Pasha Parfeny
❗ Personal Favourite
FN.26.Moldova - Pasha Parfeny

Quirky, attractive, well sung, traditional, good message, all around good act. Moldova got it right this year, even if the English was horrible, but it didn’t matter because the entire time I was watching I was begin convinced that it was a show and that they were having fun. That’s what really matters, because I think deep down they knew they wouldn’t be winners, but still represented their country well and proudly! Good job Moldova!

So in conclusion it was a wonderful year for Eurovision, despite needing to travel to a place that isn’t really in Europe, and that is about the same distance from Iceland to the rest of Europe, but in the direction of Asia. See you next year in Sweden and I hope you enjoyed my review; I welcome all comments, even if you don’t agree!

After a few days to rest up and blog down my work’s network with watching live streams of Eurovision (I shit you not, ma’am), the second semi final of this year’s competition was hot hot hot and here’s what I thought!

Serbia – Željko Joksimović
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite
SF2.01.Serbia - Željko Joksimovi?

Welcome back to Željko who’s been in the competition before and hosted the show and did quite a successful job. Again coming to the competition with a power Balkan ballad, and with a stunning voice and an extremely simple performance he wraps us in his voice. Oddly sounding similar to United Kingdom’s song at the beginning the stunning Balkan sounds allow us to get easily lost in the song. By no means the best ballad in the competition, but he certainly gets major bonus points for singing in Serbian and not conforming to the pathetically desperate English wave of popularity. My only further comment is, where did the guy with the clarinet go?

F.Y.R. Macedonia – Kaliopi
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite
SF2.02.F.Y.R. Macedonia - Kaliopi

Macedonia and I have a torrid relationship, years going sometimes well, sometimes horribly. This year is one of those in the middle years where I’m not really sure what to think. Simple ballad turning rock about black and white which really brings you back at the onset to the 70s and 80s of ballad songs, but suddenly we are thrown into modern times with a song that fits better with her voice and timbre. Eventually turning into an anthem type song rocking’ in, oddly it became one of my favourites despite not particularly liking Macedonia the monstername nation.

Netherlands – Joan Franka
SF2.03.Netherlands - Joan Franka

Why do you keep doing this to yourself, Netherlands. Every time we think that you’re going to return to the glory days with some good times you send an odd looking woman named Joan wearing an Amerindian headdress. I really don’t understand what you were thinking about in this one. Honestly it feels like she’s trying to take a number out of Germany from the past few years and the odd accent in English, and working with a country campfire band rocking along. It’s no surprise that nobody bought into it, and if the lowlands keep going along as they have been they won’t be seeing the Final anytime soon!

Malta – Kurt Calleja
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite
SF2.04.Malta - Kurt Calleja

What’s with Malta and struggling to write their own songs? I like the song, and I think that Kurt really brought the bad boy look with his band, but really is having a DJ necessary? It just reminds of a few years ago where there were all these odd DJs on stage for no reason. It’s a decently feeling feel good pop-rock song that gets you tapping your toes but really to me it gets lost in the larger scheme of things going on. Skinny jeans don’t always look good on guys; just saying.

Belarus – Litesound
❗ Personal Favourite
SF2.05.Belarus - Litesound

This one is a tough one to call, because Belarus is really difficult to judge. Jaded by most of Europe and thought of an outsider I’m sure that there is some sort of political voting (or rather lack of voting), but this song caught me by surprise. I would have thought of something more political and feeing “I’m from a freedom land, Belarus” but this is really just a rock song by a rock group with terrible Belarussian accents in English. I’m a believer that if this song was performed by another more positively viewed countries it might have qualified and then flopped in the final; it’s just a hunch but I think I’m dead on.

Portugal – Filipa Sousa
SF2.06.Portugal - Filipa Sousa

Seriously Portugal. Back to the drawing board. For me this was a snoozefest and doesn’t deserve any more of my thought. Better luck next time, again and again.

Ukraine – Gaitana
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite
SF2.07.Ukraine - Gaitana

Hey Gaitana, Tina Turner called and wants her voice back; Shakira called and wants her music back, and Monaco from the Coco-Dance called and wants her outfit back. Seriously though, this song is a good demonstration of fantastic vocals by a singer, but not really much else in a song. It’s not ethnic, it’s not interesting, it’s just club music that’s glorified on the Eurovision stage. I’m still allowed to like it though!

Bulgaria – Sofi Marinova
❗ Personal Favourite
SF2.08.Bulgaria - Sofi Marinova

What can I say about this one? It’s funky, it’s pretty, it’s white and it’s purple! What a great voice, and I gotta say she’s got guts standing out there singing a club song all by herself with no dancers. But really it’s true and it’s effective this way as it doesn’t add fluff. Close your eyes and year vocals from what sounds like another world, and to me has a whole feeling and look of Bulgaria, but that’s why it’s appealing to me.

Slovenia – Eva Boto
❗ Personal Favourite
SF2.09.Solvenia - Eva Boto

What happens when you mix Slovenia, Slovene language, a sixteen year old and a bunch of squawking Europeans. You get a great song that’s very underrated and doesn’t qualify. Power to the people, to the language, and the voice. I just don’t think it had anything to pull televoters in effectively like say a Serbian feeling which is much more ethnic and illicit more emotions. I think that this is totally underrated though.

Croatia – Nina Badrić
SF2.10.Croatia - Nina Badric

I would say that it’s not over until the fat lady sings, but this Croatian woman isn’t fat at all (and she’s not wearing a red dress). She’s just wearing a black and white odd dress with a bunch of manlined men dancing around her in dresses, or at least what look like dresses. This performance was pretty to watch and was effective enough vocally, but really didn’t pull me in or give me goosebumps like sometimes Croatia can do. Maybe something a little more upbeat and colourful next year? Maybe just for me?

Sweden – Loreen
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite
SF2.11.Sweden - Loreen

There is a lot of buzz about Loreen and this competition. Namely that she’s tipped to win, but that’s what they said about Hungary last year. I saw why that didn’t happen, but Loreen has the whole package. Good voice, good song, good performance, and the support of what seems like the majority of Europe. What surprises me the most is that she didn’t change her performance at all from the Swedish competition, and as such it kind of seems a little “old” to me. What’s up with that, Swedish Delegation? Lets get a little more excitement buzzing around the awesome and deserving to win Loreen!

Georgia – Anri Jokhadze
SF2.12.Georgia - Anri Jokhadze

I shake my head at this fiasco of an entry. Seriously Georgia, you couldn’t come up with something better with your first male singer for your country? The skantily clad women aren’t doing anything for me, and your performance isn’t really that good to be honest. It looks like a bunch of fire and crack cocaine with a really gay singer. There I said it; by the way is it okay to be gay in Georgia? Go home, cause this doesn’t deserve to be on stage!

Turkey – Can Bonomo
=> Qualified
SF2.13.Turkey - Con Bonomo

The day that Turkey doesn’t qualify is the day that all the Turks are expelled from all European countries. I don’t think it won’t ever fail to qualify, even with an awkward Eastern song like Love Me Back, with an annoying voice. This song better crash and burn or I’m not going to be happy at all!

Estonia – Ott Lepland
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite
SF2.14.Estonia - Ott Lepland

Holy shit; this song hit me like a big fat yellow bus that I never expected to come from just about every direction. This is by and far the absolutely best ballad in the year, and it’s in Estonian and it’s sung by a fox of a man. Totally hot, and totally sold it with interest and pounded it with a massive and super-fantastic exclamation point. Everything about this song just oozes desire for me to vote for it. It’s so simple, and so powerful that it brings the hairs on my arm to stand straight up. All we have to do is listen, and we hear the gold ringing from this song. Not only did my hair stand on end, but it sent shivers down my spine and brought tears to my eyes. It’s everything that I could ever desire in a power-ballad with a man singing. If Sweden doesn’t win, then clearly Estonia should cause they brought the goods this year!

Slovakia – Max Jason Mai
SF2.15.Slovakia - Max Jason Mai

I don’t like rock, I never really did like rock, and I likely never will like rock. Sorry Slovakia, a much as I know you like it, I really don’t and for that reason I will respectfully decline to comment further because I do like you as a country!

Norway – Tooji
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite
SF2.16.Norway - Tooji

I kind of laughed when I got into this song. It’s really really fun, and it’s really really, superfabulously gay. I’m not sure why, and I’m not sure how, but I think it just might be the gayest song of the year, and maybe it’s just as well because Tooji is pretty hot. It’s fun, it’s hip, it’s cool, it makes you smile and dance like a slut, so no complaints from me, but maybe in the final we will see some skin?! Likely not, but no harm in trying!

Bosnia & Herzegovina – Maya Sar
=> Qualified
SF2.17.Bosnia & Herzegovina - Maya Sar

There are sooo many ballads this year I keep mixing them all up when I think about them and hear them. Well as usual Bosnia comes to play with real music, with a good singer and a good song. It’s no wonder they qualify with a song like this, but with better songs and better ballads I don’t think this will do very successfully in the final unless everyone bands together and votes for them.

Lithuania – Donny Montell
=> Qualified
SF2.18.Lithuania - Donny Montell

When a man stands on a stage with a blindfold on singing it kind of raises questions about what’s going on. And then he rips it off and starts dancing and singing in a 1970s disco beat mixed with a creative vocals, I sort of get more confused. Points for the voice, and for the acrobatics, but not for the song which kind of leaves me puzzled. Surprising that Lithuania keeps qualifying but oh well.

Well now that we have our finalists and a super Saturday to come, it’s clear to me about a few things: it reminds me of the mid 90s where the ballad was the key to success and lulled you into a false sense of security. Luckily for that fact, we have enough dance music and exciting things to look forward to on Saturday. I will say that I’m super excited to see United Kingdom and a legend that even my grandmother knows!

It’s that time of the year again when all of our hearts beat as one, and the fire is lit from within. Quite literally in the land of fire, Azerbaijan this year, which should you have no idea where it is, is indeed in Asia and over there at the Caspian Sea. The port city of Baku is the host of this year’s European gala and despite the oddly timed show, it’s actually a good year of music. Below you will find my thoughts on the songs, and the performances in the first semi-final.

Montenegro – Rambo Amadeus
SF1.01.Montenegro - Rambo Amadeus

Eurosceptic indeed… Montenegro has been absent from the competition for some time, and judging by what they send this year they should have stayed where they were. I suppose this is supposed to be a parody song or a political commentary on the struggles of Europe and it’s monetary system, but the fact that the song is followed by Iceland and Greece, who in the past and present have faced catastrophic financial woes, it’s incredibly tactless. Also given that this is a song competition, I find it difficult to classify this as a song. This guy can go home to Macedonia, and is thus welcomed as my first “go home” act of the year… seriously

Iceland – Gréta Salóme & Jónsi
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite
SF1.02.Iceland - Gréta Salóme & Jónsi

Jónsi makes another appearance in Eurovision from a few years ago, and unsurprisingly looks a few years older. This time paired with Gréta and featured on stage with a very dark and strong pop-rocking song, in darkened blue and white mountains, the song kind of gives you a little chill down your spine. Is it the cold, the aurora borealis, or the combination of a sweet and innocent voice matched with a strong male voice that creates the drama? Never Forget is an anthem for the Nightwish-esque type of music that speaks to us on a strangely emotional level. I didn’t expect it to qualify, but I really do like it and I’m very happy that they received voting results from the rest of Europe. Sometimes Europe forgets that the far off island is still part of the continent!

Greece – Eleftheria Eleftheriou
❗ Personal Favourite
SF1.03.Greece - Eleftheria Elftheriou

Despite the financial woes of a clearly sinking ship, Greece was able to put something haphazardly together to compete in this year’s competition. Good for them. Now that the congratulations are presented, we can get into the real critique. It’s exotic enough to be entertaining for most of Europea, and sexual enough with the hot Eleftheria with sexier dancers thrusting across the floor. The song isn’t that strong, but it’s catchy enough to make you just sort of start to wiggle in your chair but stops short of making you jump up and shake your booty. Oddly though that I like it, I find that the lyrics are very cheesy and nonsensical. The choice of having Aphrodite’s shell on the screen is really tragic. Voice and singing is mediocre but the beat carries it through and allows you to forgive the small mistakes. Given the circumstances they did really well, but this is by no means a winner. I mean, that’s like throwing salt on the wound of Europe by having Greece win and then unable to host the competition because they are bankrupt…

Latvia – Anmary
❗ Personal Favourite
SF1.04.Latvia - Anmary

I want to be optimistic, I really and truly do but there is so much to be negative about this song. I’ve noted it as “Personal Favourite” for the soul reason that I like the music, and not at all the lyrics. The song could be re-written by another lyricist and do heaps better (possibly part of the reason for it’s lack of qualification), but also the singing is flawed and is quite obviously such. The lyrics just really don’t make any sense in English at all. When the chorus comes around I just start bobbing my head and rocking along. Presentation wise, having a bunch of “Desperate Housewives” type woman walking around the stage doesn’t really do much for anything. It might have been better if the just stood there and sang. It reaches a whole new level of cheesy with references of Mick Jagger making a telephone call; I mean really?! It could be a beautiful song, if it was rewritten and represented. The song however does sound much better after the bridge with a nice variation. Just rock it out and try again next time!

Albania – Rona Nishliu
=> Qualified
SF1.05.Albania - Rona Nishliu

Albania has a reputation of sending very single and uncomplicated songs to the competition, and this one is no different. The thing that I don’t get is what makes the song so popular? Sure it’s in Albanian, but there can’t be that much Albanian disapora in Europe! It doesn’t help that the undo is formerly dated and the singer can’t seem to keep her eyes open. It makes a very large disconnected feeling of the song, and doesn’t allow the crowd or spectators to get connected in any way to it. Intense as it, with a good voice, I just really don’t get into it at all and a power ballad type Balkanesque song just seems a lot more like screaming the whole time. Female falsetto is very underused and every time I hear it, I think of Mariah Carey and cringe inside. There are many more ballads that are much better, and so I’m so confused as to why this was voted to the Final.

Romania – Mandinga
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite
SF1.06.Romania - Mandinga

There are so many things right with this song and performance. First of all it’s important to note that according to my statistics, Romania has been the most consistent favourite of mine since the beginning of the 21st century. They always seem to send an appealing song to the competition, and they deserve the applause. What makes this one so good? Well for one it’s in Spanish and she’s not Spanish; second it’s a dance song with an accordion and bagpipes (sooo cool!). It’s the perfect song to welcome summer and get your booty shaking. I want to hear a song like this when I’m out clubbing and having a great time. A beautiful singer with a great performing voice and feel for the beat featuring a cute little cute white cladded band, it’s just so simple and complex and awesome at the same time. Really I can’t stress the awesomeness of the accordion more; cause every time I hear it I just start jumping around! It reminds me of a summer fling… but with more fiah! (meant to sound like fire but more sexy and intense)

Switzerland – Sinplus
SF1.07.Switzerland - Sinplus

Switzerland is trying something new since they worked with another rock group that actually qualified; but this time a male version of it. A punk-rock song with an attractive singer with ridiculous amounts of makeup on sings to the hearts of the all the groupies out there. It’s kind of one those “nearly a favourite” because the chorus is really attractive and I totally bought into it. Just the whole thing as a package didn’t do it for me because cute boys with lots of gel in their hair and wristbands really do nothing for me. I embrace the voice of the lead singer, and the sick guitar skills from the female guitarist but not surprising that Switerland hasn’t made a splash. The Swiss glory days are well past, methinks.

Belgium – Iris
SF1.08.Belgium - Iris

Belgian Eurovision people and I have a very hot-cold entrenched relationship. Sometimes they are like “wow yeah” and most often they are “wow no” and this is a big fat “wow no” like “no” a thousand times. It’s boring, and the voice sounds like like nails on a chalkboard to me. People may say that I can be really critical, but she made a lot of vocal mistakes and sounds like she’s screaming a bit. Some think it’s built for a Disney movie, but to be completely honest; the composers of Disney music are heaps better than this song. Would you ? – No thank you!

Finland – Pernilla Karlsson
❗ Personal Favourite
SF1.09.Finland - Pernilla Karlsson

Yes yes yes, a thousand times yes. When I heard this for the first time I though “Oh wow – Swedish this time”! Historically that hasn’t gone very well for Finland, on many fronts but especially this evening. Honestly I think that this was the hugest disappointment of the competition as it’s my most favourite and most preferred. I was saying to my Finnish friend that as she sings I imagine a white and blue witch in a forest singing, raising her arms in the wind and then a giant eagle coming and flying her around the forest. It’s magical feeling, it’s mystical feeling, it’s like an enigma wrapped in a riddle, and it’s pure and innocent. Simple and pure ballad, which is why it didn’t qualify, but I’d vote for it till infinity. Kiitos Suomi! I’ll also take the cellist for a date, please!

Israel – Izabo
SF1.10.Israel - Izabo

You have got to be kidding me! Israel really fell off the continent this time. So far off that they are sitting in Africa and aren’t allowed to pass immigration. Straight out of another time period with a disgustingly ugly act, it’s not a surprise in the world as to why this didn’t qualify. Nobody fucking cares! Sorry that it’s blunt, but that’s how I feel. Go home Israel! (That’s the second one this year!)… Plus the pianist woman looks drunk!

San Marino – Valentina Monetta
SF1.11.San Marino - Valentina Monetta

What a fiasco San Marino has faced over the last few months. Controversy surrounding her song and everything, and judging by the comments I had from the dress rehearsals, it was just a walking disaster. The song, famously written by Ralph Siegel (wtf?), is a San Marinese woman singing off key about Facebook. They even have the little chat bubbles on the big screen. The only thing it was missing is the little “uh oh” sound that ICQ used to make. I’m not convinced that she can speak decent English either; sometimes that doesn’t matter but it got on my nerves this time. I can’t help but wonder if Valentina Monetta realizes that she was making a fool of herself on stage… oh well! Very unclassy lyrics too; clicking and chatting about cybersex.. really?

Cyprus – Ivi Adamou
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite
SF1.12.Cyprus - Ivi Adamou

The first time I heard this song I was a little confused, and slightly intrigued. Then I started listening to it more and more and then the thought “We might just be in Nicosia next year…” came to my mind. This song has a lot of appeal and is executed beautifully. Great recording, odd music video, and stellar performance. It’s just so… Swedish (obviously)! I don’t think a Cypriot could write this song! When I go clubbing I want to be hearing and dancing this song; if I could figure out how to dance to it without looking like a fool I’d have more time. Great use of the stage, props, and dancers. Simply a great song to embrace awesome dance music. My only criticism is that; doesn’t she look a little pasty white for a Cypriot?! Cyprus douze points!

Denmark – Soluna Samay
=> Qualified
SF1.13.Denmark - Soluna Samay

I quaver on this one because it’s Denmark and because visually it’s a bit rough to watch. I think the costumes are really out of place and distract from the whole performance; very cliché to say but – Denmark you should have known better! Audio-wise it’s pretty simple and well executed, but it’s not really my type of favourite song. I truly believe and hope that this song will crash and burn in the final because to my eyes and ears it doesn’t belong.

Russia – Buranovskiye Babushki
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite
SF1.14.Russia - Buranovskiye Babushki

When I heard that a bunch of grandmothers from the Uralic Mountain region of Udmurtia singing in Udmurt language were going to represent Russia I thought it was a joke; no really I did. And then I heard the song, and although they can’t really sing, nor can they dance, it’s incredibly entertaining! Udmurt language of course is Uralic and part of the same general family as Finnish, Estonian, and Hungarian (who knew!?) and is of course Cyrillicised for writing. As soon as the lights start to flash my hart picks up and I absolutely love it because it’s a parody, but it’s not a parody but it is! Clearly not a single one of them can speak English and is under the age of 60 but really who cares? It’s got everything for Eurovision; lights, colours, oddness, key changes up the ying-yang, foreign languages, tacky ethnic costumes. It’s just brilliant, and I can’t even explain beyond this why; I wouldn’t be surprised if we find ourselves in Moscow again next year… seriously.

Hungary – Compact Disco
=> Qualified
❗ Personal Favourite
SF1.15.Hungary - Compact Disco

Their English is atrocious but it’s a fairly well rounded song. Intense as they may be, and as simple and un-acted as the performance is, it’s totally buyable and incredibly mainstream. For that reason, I don’t think it will win because it’s a little too mainstream, but a good addition to the mix in the final. We could use a with a little less bouncing around on the stage, and less piano falling off the stand, but overall it’s a very professional act. Unfortunately it gets a little bit forgotten in the mix.

Austria – Trackshittaz
SF1.16.Austria - Trackshittaz

What the fuck is going on here? Austria you get all upset that nobody votes for you, so you send rappers talking about ass, stripper poles and stripper pole dancers, and continue to rap about getting booty. The performance and song is epic to say the least, but not the kind of epic that wins votes. Entertaining to watch a little bit, but really given the situation I was waiting to see a little boob or ass. It’s really sad to say, but can we really take this seriously as a winner, or are they just sending us parody songs because they hate the competition so much? It’s like a pornography or strip show on stage, and as epically fabulous as it is I’m glad it didn’t make it! They aren’t even hot rappers.. 🙁

Moldova – Pasha Parfeny
❗ Personal Favourite
=> Qualified
SF1.17.Moldova - Pasha Parfeny

Sufficiently ethnic, and adorably cute with cute dresses and a cute singer, the fantastically named Pasha (I’ve always wanted to meet someone with this name) sings a little happy song for us on stage with lots of colours. Fantastic execution for a singer, and decent English from Moldova for once! It’s got this really catchy chorus that makes you stomp around and then throws you into an Italian-esque dated feeling bridge back to the verse. So happy that Moldova sends something good this year and that other people support it! Top 5 song for sure, but sorry for you ghayz, I don’t think he’s a homo, he appears very nomo!

Ireland – Jedward
=> Qualified
SF1.18.Ireland - Jedward

What the fuck are these annoying twins doing back in Eurovision? Ireland must have skipped a beat and didn’t bother to do anything because seriously I was sick of seeing them last year and I certainly don’t want to see them this year. They are on some crazy Red Bull drink and bopping around all over the place that makes me get dizzy, but then in all seriousness that’s what he appeal is. Leave out the crack next time, and sing about something that makes sense! Waterline… what the hell is a waterline anyways?

So that wraps up the fist semi-final. As you can see I had a lot of favourites, and as usual my favourites don’t really go anywhere. No matter; there is always the second semi final to do things right. Overall I think only Finland was robbed (by either Ireland, Denmark or Albania), and the songs that should have advanced to the final advanced! Thanks Baku for a nice night/morning/afternoon wherever you were in the world (I was at work.. heheh).