I’m still alive! Sorry to those of you who thought I was greeting you from beyond the grave, a.k.a. Euroheaven, where you can wear a rhinestone-encrusted jumpsuit and dance to that awesome remix of Qele Qele for all of eternity. It’s been a month since I’ve posted anything (GASP) because life and stuff, and unfortunately I’m still attempting to get mah shiz together. Therefore I’m not up to one of my normal Eurovisiony ramblings that takes you three hours to get through. But I had to make an appearance to prove my continuing and undying love for European song contests, so when the opportunity for a short but sweet posting fell into my lap – or rather, appeared in my Facebook feed – I thought I’d take it. Think of this as a snack between more substantial meals; meals that taste like Eurovision. I’m not 100% sure what that would taste like, but I bet it would be delicious.
ANYWAY…you may have seen this tag floating around your Facebook last week:
‘List 10 Eurovision songs in random order that have stayed with you/impacted your life. Doesn’t have to be highbrow or anything fancy. List what resonates with you and nominate friends.’
I was tagged by Rory from ESC Views, so merci to him, as this was an interesting exercise! Since all of my ESC-obsessed friends beat me to the tag, and as the rest may swiftly unfriend me if I forced anything contest-related on them, I thought I’d take up the challenge here. So here, in chronological order, are the 10 songs I’ve chosen as having stayed with me, and why.
Það Sem Enginn Sér by Daniel (Iceland 1989)
I first listened to this entry after reading about it in Tim Moore’s awesome Nul Points (read it and you will never look at Jemini the same way again) and expected to think it was rubbish, considering the book is about all the ESC competitors unfortunate enough to have scored zero. But I fell in love. Sure, Daniel’s outfit is dodgy even by 80s standards, but there’s something about his manner, and of course, the song itself, that has definitely stuck with me since that first listen.
Olou Tou Kosmou I Elpida by Cleopatra (Greece 1992)
Anything that sounds like a reject from either The Lion King or Tarzan soundtracks does something strange to my insides – I get all warm and fuzzy, and feel all-powerful for a few minutes. That’s the majesty of jungle-esque music. I feel that way listening to Zlata’s Gravity, Moldova’s JESC entry for 2013, Sandra Nurmsalu’s Kui Tuuled Pöörduvad (which should have won Eesti Laul this year and I will never get over the fact that it didn’t) aaaaand this number from Greece.
Nocturne by Secret Garden (Norway 1995)
I have few words…just like Secret Garden. The least lyrical of all Eurovision winners possesses a mystical, haunting beauty that absolutely resonates with me. Coming across this in the early days of my Eurovision fandom, I believe it to be one of the songs that taught me how versatile the contest is; that, despite what the haters harp on about, you can’t pigeonhole ESC entries. Not everything is nonsensical and glitter-encrusted – although I like both of those things too.
Fiumi Di Parole by Jalisse (Italy 1997)
I love this song so much that it was the sole cause of the glass-shattering shriek I let out when I found out Italy were coming back to Eurovision in 2011. Jalisse were the country’s last entrants prior to Düsseldorf, and what a note to take a hiatus on! Like most Italian entries, this has an air of elegance and class that time cannot take away. It gives me so many feels.
My Star by Brainstorm (Latvia 2000)
I hate to say this, but this adorable little tune has probably stayed with me because most of the Latvian entries since have been abysmal (and yes, I’d put I Wanna in that category). Perhaps they tried too hard to replicate the amazing result that this debut brought them? Hashtag curious. Atrocities aside, My Star is so charming, and really stood out from the trashy Europop sent by the likes of Iceland and the UK in 2000. Even though I have no idea what Renars is on about for the most part, I’ve always loved it.
Monts Et Merveilles by Louisa (France 2003)
If anybody knows how to say ‘underrated’ in French, please let me know so I can brandish it about every chance I get in reference to this chanson. I know mid-tempo ballads like this are often labeled as boring, more often than people like me profess love for them…but here I am, doing some of that love professin’, because there’s just something beautiful about this one. It’s got that class that Italy has on lock, although Louisa’s hair incident dented that a bit.
Lane Moje by Željko Joksimović & Ad-Hoc Orchestra (Serbia & Montenegro 2004)
This is my numero uno of all time, so obviously it’s made an impact on me. It’s funny how you can’t always put into words what exactly it is that makes something special for you. It’s not the lyrical content or some association with a particular time in my life that made this one of my picks. I just remember being captured by it, and having to comb the hairs on the back of my neck down after they stood to attention around about the point of the violin solo.
Kuula by Ott Lepland (Estonia 2012)
Ott ‘My Future Husband’ Lepland reminded me how much I love Estonian as a musical language, with his slow-burn ballad from back in Baku. Fittingly given that Kuula = listen, I can’t help but stop and listen when it shuffles on (which has caused some near-death experiences when I’ve happened to be on the treadmill at the time). This is a song that deserves to have attention paid to it IMO.
Kedvesem by ByeAlex (Hungary 2013)
Kedvesem? More like KedveGEM. That may have been a rubbish play on words, but darn it, it’s the truth. This song is a little gem, and the man behind it remains one of my favourite Eurovision discoveries ever. Bless you, ByeAlex. The original mix minus Zoohacker is the pared-back, more emotive version that I can connect with, whereas the Zoohacker remix has the punch that elevates the song to a more infectious level. Both have stayed with me.
L’Essenziale by Marco Mengoni (Italy 2013)
Warning: I’m about to get all deep and meaningful. In this day and age where everybody’s obsessed with selfies and calling their significant others ‘bae’ (VOMIT) and “throwing shade” at the Kardashians, it’s nice to be reminded to get back to the basics of being – what’s essential. That’s essentially (pardon the pun) the message of Marco’s entry, and it gets me every time. Who knows if the guy actually practices what he preaches, but either way, it’s good advice for us all to “take distance from the excesses and from the bad habits” and return to what’s important – be that a person, place, or particularly good lemon meringue pie (an essential in my life for sure).
EBJ extras: Why Do I Always Get It Wrong by Live Report (UK 1989); Keine Grenzen by Ich Troje (Poland 2003); Firefly by Christina Metaxa (Cyprus 2009); This Is My Life by Anna Bergendahl (Sweden 2010); När Jag Blundar by Pernilla (Finland 2012); Silent Storm by Carl Espen (Norway 2014).
Okay, so this wasn’t as short a post as I’d thought. But you know what I’m like, and if you weren’t prepared to spend a considerable portion of your day making sense of the above gushing then you only have yourself to blame.
Whether you’ve done it on Facebook or not, I tag anyone reading this to comment me with the 10 ESC entries that have most impacted you, or stayed with you for reasons you can’t always explain. As Nike would say, just do it!
Hello there. Welcome back to the most popular blog in the world that features ‘Eurovision’, ‘by’ and the name ‘Jaz’ in the title, and to today’s lucky last fifth birthday post. I am she who goes by Jaz, and I will be your captain on this flight through JESC past.
Now, if your reaction to the mere sight of a Junior Eurovision-related post was something like this…
…I’m sorry, but I totally warned you at the end of my previous post that this was coming. For those of you who are Team JESC as well as ESC (high fives all round) it’s probably coming at a time when you’re pretty pumped for the 2014 edition. The show will be held in Malta in approximately two months, fourteen days and nine hours, not that I’m keeping track. Amazingly, it will be the biggest one we’ve experienced in a long time, with the likes of Serbia and Bulgaria returning, plus Italy (!), Montenegro (!!) and Slovenia (INFINITE EXCLAMATION MARKS!) making their respective debuts. Remember just a couple of years ago when JESC was on the brink of being cancelled? Not any more, folks. So, partly to wind up my overly-long blog birthday celebrations, and partly to kick off the warm-up to Junior season, I present to you my top 10 entries since EBJ began – which unlike in the case of adult Eurovision, includes the 2009 contest.
If you want to check out my top 10 of all time, you can do that here. If you’d rather just read on, I’ll stop rambling and let you get on with it.
#10 | Vumgerit marmeladebs, gemriel shokoladebs, vtsekvavt ertad candy party-ze…
Candy Music by CANDY (Georgia 2011)
You may (but probably won’t) recall that I seriously disliked this song the first time I heard it. It was my least favourite of Year Yerevan right up until the Candy girls ditched the gold lamé and afro wigs for those adorable pink and white confections, and had their mini Christina Aguilera warble her way into my heart. I mean, I still wasn’t thrilled when Georgia won that night, but looking back I think it was the right decision. Candy Music is freaking catchy, and encapsulates the effort and individuality we’ve come to expect from this country in JESC.
#9 | Du vet väl att jag faller, när du går förbi, när du tar min hand…
Faller by Erik Rapp (Sweden 2011)
Whenever I’m reminded that Erik didn’t win Swedish Idol last year (*insert the Swedish word for ‘travesty’ here*) I find that taking a bajillionth-or-so listen to his kick-ass Junior track makes me feel slightly less outraged. You guys know I have Sweden’s flag permanently glued to my hand every ESC/JESC season, so a little bias is creeping in here (and will do to all the Swedish songs I’m yet to mention) but Faller’s maturity, melody and slick production speaks for itself, and I genuinely love the sound of its voice.
#8 | För nu idag, nu känner jag, nu känner jag att har mitt mod…
Mitt Mod by Lova Sönnerbo (Sweden 2012)
Oh hai there, Swedish song number two. This one from Lova was an understated, heartfelt ballad with lyrics that I can really connect with. I’m not sure what that says about me considering I’m ten years older than Lova, but whatever. It’s just pretty, okay? Plus, it showed us that Sweden can pull off something pared-back with as much success as something OTT (perhaps involving exploding glass).
#7 | Dar, cât nu e prea târziu, tu întreab-o, cum să fiu…
Cum Să Fim by Rafael (Moldova 2013)
I present to you now a prime example of a ‘love it or hate it’ entry. Rafael’s ear-piercing vocals had many fans running for their nearest earplug stockist, and I understand that. However, I fell in love with this song instantly, and no amount of pre-pubescent screeching or questionable English lyrics were going to change that. It has the same majestic, Lion King-esque vibe that had me hooked on the likes of Zlata’s Gravity from the beginning. So for future reference, if you want to write a song that will win me over, you know how to go about it.
#6 | Vsia zemlia, moi zori, moia simian…
We Are One by Sofia Tarasova (Ukraine 2013)
Ukraine came reasonably close to doing the double with this entry, which, based on style and performance, could stand up in the adult contest. We Are One is a stellar combo of dance and dubstep (with a smattering of ethnicity) that is repetitive enough to be infectious, but not so much – with the language and music variations – that it irritates. Of course, Sofia’s ability to sing the s%!t out of it makes the whole thing that much more appealing, as did those awesome laser light effects. BRB…installing a set in my bedroom to spice up the décor.
#5 | Nebo vidkryi nam ochi, syl nadai ity, ya…
Nebo by Anastasia Petryk (Ukraine 2012)
Ukraine couldn’t have attempted a back-to-back win without Anastasia winning for them in the first place (duh). She gave the fairly successful JESC competitor their first victory in the comp, performing her dubstep number with an intensity beyond her years (and giving us all nightmares in which deceptively adorable little girls with long blonde hair strangle us to death). She topped the scoreboard easily, which I didn’t see coming at the time, but which made me go YAAAAAAAAASSSSS because I loved (and still love, obviously) Nebo.
#4 | När vi går tillsammans framåt, för det är dit vi ska…
Det Är Dit Vi Ska by Eliias (Sweden 2013)
Opening last year’s show in Kiev was Eliias, whose top-notch track was unfortunately blighted by the Curse of Puberty (also suffered by Macedonia’s Dorijan in 2011). Untimely voice breakages aside, it made an excellent starter. It’s got competency and catchiness, and strikes the perfect balance between mature and youthful that always has me supporting Sweden in Junior. Bravo, DADVS (because ain’t nobody got time to type that title out more than once).
#3 | Ik kijk heel diep in zijn ogen, en zie duizend regenbogen…
Zo Verliefd (Yodelo) by Laura (Belgium 2009)
Once upon a time, this was my ALL-TIME FAVOURITE JESC ENTRY WOOHOO. Although Laura has fallen a little in my estimations over the years, I still find her yodel-fest irresistible. It’s the kind of song that can drag you out of even the most serious funk faster than anything else, according to my recent and extremely unscientific studies. So if you’re feeling a little yode-low, take my advice and pipe this down your ear canals, stat.
#2 | Inch anem, chgitem, vor na, indz barev ta ev imana…
Mama by Vladimir Arzumanyan (Armenia 2010)
Borrowing Kalomoira’s giant storybook paid off for the Armenian delegation in Minsk. Vlad snatched the trophy from the Russian duo’s overly-cheery jazz hands thanks to that prop. Oh, and his awesome song! Mama is like a fine wine, except rather than getting better with age, it stays as epic as it always was (my apologies for using alcohol to describe a song written by a 12-year-old). This is ethno-pop at its finest, people, and anyone who disagrees…well, is perfectly within their rights to do so. But the statuette that I assume takes pride of place on Vlad’s awards shelf suggests otherwise.
And now, the best entry to have graced JESC in my blogging life…
#1 | Är det någonting alla kan få, om jag ramlar tar du emot mig då…
Du by Mimmi Sandén (Sweden 2009)
Yeah, yeah, it’s another Swedish one. Get over it! You would have seen this coming anyway if you read my all-time top 10 list. All three Sandén sisters have been uh-mayzing on their Junior outings, but Mimmi is the only one eligible to make this list and despite my love for Molly’s Det Finaste, she usually comes out on top in any case. Du, again, is a song that could hold its own in adult Eurovision; and yet, the electro/r & b sound contrasted nicely with the younger-sounding entries from Russia and the Netherlands, for example. To sum up, Du = perfection in a sequined miniskirt.
EBJ extras: Allt Jag Vill Ha by Josefine Ridell (Sweden 2010); Supergeroy by Ivan Ivanov (Bulgaria 2011); Teenager by Rachel (Netherlands 2011); Kak Romeo I Dzhulyetta by Katya Ryabova (Russia 2011); Abracadabra by Fabian (Belgium 2012); Poy So Mnoy by Ilya Volkov (Belarus 2013).
That’s all for today, ladies and gents of the Junior persuasion. I hope you got some enjoyment out of this trip down memory lane (or flight, or whatever mode of transport I used to describe what is really just a list of words in the intro) and that you’re ready to share your own preferences below. If you’re also on Team Junior, what have been your favourite JESC entries from 2009 until now?
Hey there, ladies and gents. You are reading the second-last of my bloggy birthday posts on this *insert description of the weather here* Thursday, and this is a post unlike any one I’ve done before. DUH DUH DUUUUUUUUUH!!!!
So, the deal: Eurovision may be a song contest in some respects, but just turning up and belting out your entry without any regard for how you’re lit, who or what is with you, and what you’re wearing (segue into today’s topic alert) is rarely going to be enough to guarantee success. Costumes in particular can have a dramatic effect on the overall appeal of an entry: they can suit a song perfectly or look totally out of place; they can be commendably crazy or just plain distracting; and they can be young and fun or inappropriate and frumpy. I think it’s safe to say we’ve seen all of the above at some point in our lives as ESC freaks (I mean that in the nicest way possible), and so much more.
On that note, I thought I’d take a look back at the contest fashions from the years EBJ has been in action – and not just at the highs and lows, but also the trends that have had artist after artist opting for the same look with varying degrees of success. Cast your critical eye over my selections and let me know below who’s floated your fashion boat over the last five years, and who’s made you wish it had capsized!
Let’s start with the trends…
Everything was all white for the likes of Kuunkuiskajaat (Finland 2010), Sieneke (Netherlands 2010), Magdalena Tul (Poland 2011), Pastora Soler (Spain 2012), Birgit (Estonia 2013) and Tanja (Estonia 2014). For some, it was about elegance and simplicity, while others took the bed-linen look to the next level via rhinestones and more lace than a sixteen-year-old should ever be seen in.
When in doubt, however, going back to black works a treat – and it doesn’t have to be basic! Just check out the statements made by Paula Seling & Ovi (Romania 2010), Christos Mylordos (Cyprus 2011), MayaSar (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2012), Kaliopi (FYR Macedonia 2012), Cezar (Romania 2013) and Mei Finegold (Israel 2014). These guys worked leather, sharp tailoring and plunging necklines into their dark ensembles to make an impression.
Somebody else well aware of the power of black is Lena (Germany 2010 and 2011), who wore an LBD for her winning performance of Satellite and a belted jumpsuit the following year when she represented her country on home ground. The pared-back styling was obviously a good omen for her.
Eurovision is one colourful contest, so when they’re not donning black or white, many artists take on the idea that brighter is better. In the last five years, we’ve seen a veritable rainbow of fabulous (and not so much) frocks from Lucia Pérez (Spain 2011), Suzy (Portugal 2014), Elena Ionescu (Romania 2012), Raquel de Rosario (Spain 2013), Pernilla (Finland 2012), Dana International (Israel 2011), Kati Wolf (Hungary 2011) and Niamh Kavanagh (Ireland 2010) to name just a few.
Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on who we’re talking about) being naked on the Eurovision stage is a no-no. But that didn’t stop Anna Bergendahl (Sweden 2010), Aurela Gaçe (Albania 2011), Emmelie De Forest (Denmark 2013), Zlata Ognevich (Ukraine 2013), Ruth Lorenzo (Spain 2014) and The Tolmachevy Sisters (Russia 2014) from going nude for their respective three minutes – if only in their choices of costume colour scheme.
One of the biggest trends of recent ESC history has been the mullet dress. Party at the front and black tie soiree at the back, unevenly hemmed getups have been rocked by Feminnem (Croatia 2010), Safura (Azerbaijan 2010), Eva Rivas (Armenia 2010), Chanee (Denmark 2010), TWiiNS (Slovakia 2011), Nikki (Azerbaijan 2011), Mika Newton (Ukraine 2011) and Natalie Horler (Germany 2013). Keep ‘em coming, I say. I love the look of what I call ‘the lady-cape’.
When your song calls for a decision one way or the other, and you’re after an air of elegance, it’s time for full lengths all round. We’ve seen more evening gowns at the contest in the last five years than the Miss Universe pageant has (well, maybe…that’s some fierce competition) worn by, for instance, Sofia Nizharadze (Georgia 2010), Filipa Azevedo (Portugal 2010), Evelina Sašenko (Lithuania 2010), Despina Olympiou (Cyprus 2013), Tinkara Kovač (Slovenia 2014) and Dilara Kazimova (Azerbaijan 2014). From sexy and slinky to prom-style poofiness, we’ve witnessed it all.
The boys tend to put a little less effort into their onstage wear, generally speaking. Street clothes have remained from rehearsal to the real thing for Jon Lilygreen and the Islanders (Cyprus 2010), Roman Lob (Germany 2012), Max Jason Mai (Slovakia 2012), Dorians (Armenia 2013), ByeAlex (Hungary 2013) and Firelight (Malta 2014). Whatever makes you feel comfortable, guys…or in Max’s case, whatever slowly falls down as you’re performing so that you end up a millimetre away from giving Eurovision an X-rating.
But wait – the men-folk can bring it in the formal stakes too. Sometimes a suit is the best option, whether sharp and suave complete with tie, or more casual without. Just ask Didrik Solli-Tangen (Norway 2010), Harel Skaat (Israel 2010), Engelbert Humperdinck (UK 2012), Kurt Calleja (Malta 2012), Eythor Ingi (Iceland 2013), Marco Mengoni (Italy 2013), Axel Hirsoux (Belgium 2014) or Basim (Denmark 2014). NOTE: Basim also answers to the name ‘Harry Highpants’.
A big trend over the years has understandably been anything shiny or metallic. If you can’t go OTT at the ESC, something is very wrong. For 3+2 (Belarus 2010), Stella Mwangi (2011), Maja Keuc (Slovenia 2011), Anggun (France 2012), Nina Zilli (Italy 2012), Jedward (Ireland 2012), Conchita Wurst (Austria 2014) and Molly (UK 2014) all that glittered was gold, silver and bronze. I can’t confirm that no sheet metal or tinfoil was harmed in the making of these costumes.
For those less keen on blinding the audience with reflective materials, and more interested in emphasising ethnicity, there’s been the option of something traditional. Whether it’s been a hybrid of old and new á la Ansambel Žlindra (Slovenia 2010) and Cleo and the Slavic girls (Poland 2014), or a totally trad look from the likes of Buranovskiye Babushki (Russia 2012) and Klapa s Mora (Croatia 2013), it’s always been nice to see on stage.
Last but not least, there’s always a place for costumes that look less like clothing and more like creative craft projects for which the only guideline was ‘you’re only limited by your imagination!’. Since 2010, we’ve had: Alyosha (Ukraine 2010) in the contents of her grandma’s knitting box; Olia Tira (Moldova 2010) and Vilija (Lithuania 2014) taking tutus out of the ballet studio; Sofi Marinova (Bulgaria 2012) and Rona Nishliu (Albania 2012) getting architectural with pleather (and a dreadlock); Eldrine (Georgia 2011) practicing their quilling skills on a bin liner; Eva Boto (Slovenia 2012) cultivating a cottage garden on her gown; Gaitana (Ukraine 2012) sponsoring Shamwow by wearing one; and Moje 3 (Serbia 2013) in the inexplicable. Some of these experiments paid off and some didn’t, but I applaud all of the creativity.
And now…my five most stylish moments in EBJ history (and remember, this is veeeery subjective):
Maja Keuc (Slovenia 2011) – Who would have anticipated that modeling yourself after an intergalactic stripper would prove to be so hot, hot, hot? In her metal-plated, fringed bodycon with thigh-high platform boots and matching fingerless gloves (naturally), Maja looked UH-MAY-ZING. With emphasis on the ZING.
Margaret Berger (Norway 2013) – It is still TBC whether M. Berg was dressing up as a contemporary Nordic version of Princess Leia, but it’s obvious to everyone that she nailed the ice princess look. Both she and Birgit opted for long white dresses with added bling last year, but the then mum-to-be got out-fashioned in this instance.
Getter Jaani (Estonia 2011) – Cute, colourful and coordinated with the backing peeps? Check, check and check. Getter’s dress was bright and bold but not distracting, with just enough quirk and fun to perfectly suit it to Rockefeller Street. Plus, she could sit down and/or eat in it without splitting the material, unlike (I should imagine) Maja or Margaret.
Anggun (France 2012) – I have frequent fantasies in which I get to parade around in a gold leotard with miles of chiffon fanning out from the back in a glamorous manner. Of course, without Anggun’s stunning figure and ability to stay upright in stilettos, I’d be less likely to parade than fall flat on my face and swear my head off. But luckily for her, Anggun had the poise required to pull off this striking look.
Alyona Lanskaya (Belarus 2013) – Her song left a lot to be desired in terms of originality and English pronunciation, but Alyona looked like the tinsel-covered fairy off the top of a Christmas tree in her blue and silver fringed number (a good thing IMO). Fierce and festive. I award extra points for the backing singers’ ombre outfits, also with fringe. See, it’s not just for cowboys!
Going now from wonderful to ‘WTF?!?’, here are my five worst style moments of the EBJ era:
Daria Kinzer (Croatia 2011) – Tall, blonde and beautiful Daria had not one, not two, but three dresses on during her performance…and somehow, they were all hideous. I’d say they got worse as they went along, but the pink monstrosity in the middle that looked like a child’s party dress gone wrong was the most fug by far.
Dana International (Israel 2011) – Back in 1998, she was a woman who rocked feathers like no other and looked fabulous doing it. Then Dana goes and wears a shredded outdoor chair cover for what was supposed to be a triumphant return to the contest! Whaaa?!? I think John Paul Gaultier lost his touch after the 90s. Just look at what he dressed Petra Mede in for her hosting duties in Malmö…
Blue (UK 2011) – They’re called Blue, and they wore blue. We get it, it’s hilarious, blah blah blah. But when four attractive men ruin a great song with aesthetics alone (lighting and giant heads included) it’s hard to see the funny side. Shiny suits are a risk that didn’t pay off on this occasion. Not even making Simon go sleeveless in the hope we’d all be too focused on his biceps to notice anything else helped.
Moje 3 (Serbia 2013) – It’s too complicated to explain why here, but I lay 95% of the blame for Serbia’s failure to qualify last year on these outfits. These were like ice-cream sundaes with all 31 of Baskin Robbins’ flavours and available toppings included – i.e. way overdone. They also made the angel/devil dynamic virtually impossible to detect.
Aisha (Latvia 2010) – It’s been four years and I’m still trying to figure out why Aisha wore her dressing gown on stage. You’d think someone would have told her backstage that she’d forgotten to put on her actual costume. How embarrassing!
And finally, what would Eurovision be without the odd costume reveal? These are my five favourites, 2010-2014:
3 + 2 (Belarus 2010) – I for one never saw those butterfly wings coming. Well, not at the semi-final stage. Still, if ever there was a moment in a song that screamed ‘INSERT COSTUME REVEAL HERE!’ it was that key change, and Belarus did not let that pass by.
Aliona Moon (Moldova 2013) – I’m not referring to how Moldova made Azerbaijan’s dress-projection abilities of Baku look amateur, although that was spectacular. The costume reveal in this case was that Aliona could have worn stilts and still had enough material in her skirt to cover them, as seen when she was raised up high enough to look down on Ukraine’s towering Igor.
InCulto (Lithuania 2010) – Because sequinned hotpants.
Daria Kinzer (Croatia 2011) – Yeah, the dresses were rank, but the way she got in and out of them was impressive. If I could get changed that fast, I’d actually be on time for a change, so long as I didn’t choke to death on the confetti or cloud of smoke.
Alex Sparrow (Russia 2011) – All those in favour of light-up leather jackets, say ‘OMG YAAAASSSS!’. I’m going to assume you all said it, ‘cause who wouldn’t want to own something that not only keeps you warm, but also lets people know what letter your name begins with? You’ll also come in handy in a power outage if you get one. What are you waiting for?
So that pretty much sums up who wore what, and when. It also serves as proof that I disagree with the majority of Barbara Dex Award winners of recent history (don’t even get me STARTED on 1997-2009). If you have a disagreement re: the Eurofashion I’ve mentioned, now’s your chance to get it off your chest. Whether you thought something was good, bad, ugly, or situated in a very confusing place in-between, I want your opinion. What’s your favourite costume trend? Who got their look right and who failed to flatter their figure? Spill, guys!
NEXT TIME: With Junior Eurovision on the horizon, it’s only fitting that my final fifth birthday post should reveal my top 10 JESC entries since this blog got going. That’s a warning for all of you who are anti-JESC to steer clear for a while…
Well, hasn’t this past week been a big one? Bulgaria are back in Junior Eurovision (*insert fist pump here*), Eurovision has a new but not-necessarily-improved generic logo (I’m still pulling a Bucks Fizz and trying to make my mind up about it) and we still don’t know which Austrian city we should start familiarising ourselves with. In case the EBU happens to make that known between now and my next post, I’d like to say that I think Vienna will give us an amazing show. As long as it’s hosted by Conchita Wurst and Inspector Rex, that is.
I would also like to say a haa-yuuuge thankyou for the lovely comments made on my last post. They were just the kind that make me feel all warm and fuzzy and remind me why I love to blog, ESC-style.
To kick off the week, I thought we could indulge our catty sides and “throw some shade” or whatever it is that the youth of today harp on about. This may be the second post in my 5th birthday series, but why should they all be celebratory when it’s so much fun to discuss the good, the bad and the ugly of Eurovision?
Now, I know what you’re thinking…
…but deep down we’re all aware that occasionally, the contest stage is overtaken by crap. When you’re doing your yearly rankings, there are songs that will be at the bottom. Personally, I tend to hate some entries with a passion initially, but by contest end find them listenable – which is why it’s taken me so long to find a legit list of songs that have made me go ‘NOPE!’ since I began this blog. Many of these are more dull than they are crappy, so I wouldn’t actually give them all zero points if I had the chance. But the following ten songs would bring up the rear of my 2010-2014 rankings.
You know the drill. Check ‘em out, then let me know which songs of the last five contests have had you hitting the nearest mute button!
#10 | Would I? I don’t think so…
Would You by Iris (Belgium 2012)
Sometimes I wonder if it’s better for an entry to be so bad that nobody can stop talking about how bad it is – rather than so dull that nobody EVER talks about it. I present to you now Exhibit A, being mentioned perhaps for the first time since it (unsurprisingly) failed to qualify two years ago. I don’t hate this song, and I definitely don’t hate Iris – in fact, many of us had big hopes for her prior to her song being chosen – but that’s the problem. I have zero strong feelings about Would You aside from a very strong urge to yawn whenever I hear the opening bars, because I know what’s coming. I.e. three minutes of slightly disjointed nothingness.
#9 | Standing by for something less yawn-worthy
Stand By by Senit (San Marino 2011)
Yep, more yawns are a-comin’, people! The second-ever entry from our favourite tryer San Marino was so inoffensive it hurt. Again, it wasn’t horrible by any means, and Senit did the best she could with the material at hand, but I direct your attention back to what I said about Belgium ’12 in this case. Stand By was more cohesive than Would You, but no more interesting and just as zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz *falls asleep in the middle of writing about it ‘cause it’s that bland*.
#8 | One life, and three minutes you’ll never get back
One Life by Glen Vella (Malta 2011)
If you’re craving something savoury right about now, you may enjoy this massive hunk of cheese I’m about to serve up. Actually, I shouldn’t take credit for what was a Maltese creation back in the days of Düsseldorf, particularly when the quality of said creation is so questionable. You’ve got to love Glen himself – one of many congenial, happy-go-lucky peeps to represent Malta in recent years – but if you also love the stale pop of ‘ooooooonnne liiife’, may I ask why? Did you hop in a time machine pre-Eurovision 2011 and go back to 1988 only to find this entry cutting edge? Or do you just hear something in it that I don’t?
#7 | You’ve got to be joking…
I’m A Joker by Anri Jokhadze (Georgia 2012)
Georgia seem to pattern themselves like this: one year they’ve got their game faces on and come to the ESC armed with a contender more often than not purchased from the Swedish Song Supermarket (owner and proprietor Thomas G:son) and the next, it’s bonkers o’clock and the nonsensical rhyming lyrics and parachutes are out in full force. The cray cray may work to their advantage in Junior Eurovision, but I’m afraid I don’t enjoy it elsewhere, as much as I admire how they embrace all that is wack. I’m A Joker was a mash-up of about five different songs that was well handled by Anri, but the man deserves something infinitely better to test his impressive vocal range on.
#6 | FYI, I don’t remember you
An Me Thimase by Despina Olympiou (Cyprus 2013)
Last year, Despina was itching to know if we remembered her. If that’s not irony, it’s right there in that neighbourhood given how utterly unmemorable her song was. Bring this entry up in conversation and the first thing that will pop into my mind is her faux-transparent lace gown, which I rather liked. Apart from that, I’ve got nothing. In that sense, I’m kind of glad Cyprus chose to take a year out of the competition. I hope the holiday has revved them up to find something that excites for Vienna/Graz/Innsbruck (come on EBU – put us out of our misery!).
#5 | No time for this…
Time by Izabo (Israel 2012)
I can feel the burn from the evils y’all are giving me, and I’m sorry, but everyone is entitled to their opinion…mine in this case being that this song is so freaking annoying, it actually gives me a headache. Now, I will admit that there are rare occasions when I can tolerate it, but I have to be in the most carefree, hormonally regular state of being at the time. If not, the mere sound of that screechy chorus sends me into a rage that ends in either me tearing my hair out, or tearing out the hair of anyone who happens to be within clawing range. Unless it’s Cristina Scarlat, who has no hair left to tear out.
#4 | Not exactly a dream come true
My Dream by Thea Garrett (Malta 2010)
LAME LADY BALLAD ALERT! Why, oh why are we still being plagued by these atrocities? Russia, just one year ago, gave us the most recent example, and in fact, there are a lot of similarities between What If and My Dream. ‘Youthful, talented female sings cringe-worthy ballad while dressed in her grandmother’s curtains’ pretty much sums them up. What saved What If from appearing on this list was the construction and the melody, neither of which are presented in quite the same dated, clichéd manner of Malta 2010. Let’s hope the island nation is done with cheese like this, and what came immediately afterwards.
#3 | Putting the ‘no’ in Narodnozabavni
Narodnozabavni Rock by Ansambel Zlindra & Kalamari (Slovenia 2010)
Some unusual pairings just work – for instance, chocolate and popcorn, or Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Twins (oh, the LMAOs!). Perhaps even folk and rock music can result in a pleasurable listening experience when combined in the right way. Unfortunately for Slovenia in Oslo, their experiment in genre fusion failed. This is another song that I find extremely irritating, and frustrating at the same time because I feel like three minutes of the folk would have been so much better. The painfully vintage rock stylings I can do without.
#2 | It’s her life, and she can keep it
C’est Ma Vie by Evelina Sašenko (Lithuania 2011)
Disclaimer: I know I’m repeating myself, but I’m not trying to insult the artist here. Evelina has a great voice and is probably a top-notch human being. Sadly, the overblown, melodramatic and depressing B-side from Les Misérables that she was forced to sing at confetti cannon-point competing with was a big distraction from those positives. This style of song just doesn’t appeal to me at all, especially in the Eurovision context. And I feel like I’m perfectly at liberty to say that, as compensation for it going through to the final when I really didn’t want it to.
#1 | That makes one of us…
That Sounds Good To Me by Josh Dubovie (United Kingdom 2010)
My opinion of this entry in a nutshell? WHAT were they THINKING?!? It’s like the kid at school who never even had a chance because not only does he have a stutter, a limp and a lazy eye, but his parents also named him Buttcrack. What I mean is, Pete Waterman set what was already a laughing stock of a song up for the ultimate fall when he decided to call it That Sounds Good To Me. Josh was/is adorable, but not even he could save the UK from humiliation, and his bum note right at the end of his performance in the 2010 final was the cherry on top of the world’s worst sundae. I can’t even laugh at it because I feel so bad for him. Okay, maybe I can laugh a little. Sorry Josh.
If you’re like me and aren’t a fan of these songs, I apologise for bringing them up. But really, we should be thanking the writers and composers who were clearly having an off day, because what is good without bad?
On the other hand, if you’re outraged that I dared rubbish the masterpiece that is That Sounds Good To Me, let me know below. Hit me up with your personal nul-pointers, 2010-2014!
NEXT TIME: Inspired by the injustices of the Barbara Dex Award, I’m going to have my say on the best and worst fashion moments from Eurovision’s last five years. Dust off your Fashion Police uniforms and join me, won’t you?
Yes. Oui. Totes. Five years ago today (a.k.a. five years ago on June 27th…nobody reads this blog for its timeliness) I uploaded my very first and probably most cringe-worthy post.
The story goes that back in 2009, having been forced to create a blog at uni, I decided to start one in the wake of the spectacular Moscow show that wouldn’t feature boring analyses of design theories. It would instead be about said Russian extravaganza, plus all the contests that had come before it and that we were yet to experience. I had been a grade-A Eurovision freak for four years prior, so I had a LOT of feels to express in the form of (hopefully) witty articles, lists, reviews and the like. So, keen to unload, I picked a blog theme that I thought was super sexy at the time, settled on Eurovision By Jaz as my nom de plume because I clearly wasn’t feeling overly creative, and got typing.
Fast forward half a decade, and I’m still here, whether you like it or not! EBJ may not be as wildly popular as certain other blogs that began after it (I’m not bitter…) but it has at least one regular reader (not including myself) and it has given me the opportunity to write for and be interviewed by other Eurovision websites, centre my life around Eurovision almost as much as I’d ideally like to, and connect with peeps in the Eurovision community from all over the world.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth putting in all the effort that I do – most of the time – to make EBJ a place that people want to come to; a place that treats the contest with the respect it deserves without taking it too seriously (i.e. I like to make funnies). Then I’ll get a comment or message from someone who not only read but also enjoyed one of my posts, or who just wants to lavish some love on the blog in general, and I remember why I’ve lasted this long and why I always want EBJ to be the best it can be (even if that’s mediocre). So to anyone who’s ever done that and made my day, or anyone who’s more of a silent type but who read something I’d written from start to finish, thank you/merci/grazie/tack/danke schön. My appreciation is like, THIS big (obviously you can’t see me right now, but I’m stretching my arms out extra wide).
Sorry for the cheese. I just wanted my 5th anniversary/birthday to come with a heartfelt speech, as all milestone celebrations should. Now it’s out of my system, I can tell you how I plan on marking this event, a month overdue. Today’s post will be the first of five to look back on all the contests I have witnessed as a blogger, from Oslo 2010 to Copenhagen 2014. I wanted to pick out some of the bests and worsts during this period that have made it memorable, and not just in terms of music.
I’m beginning in a pretty predictable place, but as I’ve only established my top 10 ESC entries of all time, not from a particular span of time, I figured it would be interesting for me and for you (anyone not interested wouldn’t be reading this, right?) if I sussed out which entries of the Years EBJ I really love most. So I did. Yeaahh.
These are my top 10 Eurovision songs that were selected and sent in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 or 2014. While you check them out, I’ll be deliberating over whetheror not to go all the way down Pathetic Street and bake myself a party cake (which I wouldn’t be doing with the help of Aarzemnieki since they’ve got like, NO clue at all). Enjoy?!?
#10 | I know that if the sky would fall, I’d survive it all, because of you…
You by Robin Stjernberg (Sweden 2013)
Melodifestivalen, my most beloved national final in the land, was pretty rubbish last year. Understandably rubbish – after all, hosts Sweden had no desire to win on home soil. I’m betting all they wanted was not to be embarrassed in front of millions of people. There were two or three (five at a push) entries in Melfest ’13 that would have granted them that wish, and underdog Robin’s You was one of them. I love this song because it’s a different and interesting pop song, plus a perfect platform to show off Mr. Stjernberg’s epic range. It has an authenticity to it that the more relaxed attitude towards host entries gives, and while that didn’t catapult it to success, it gave Sweden a respectable enough placing sans embarrassment.
#9 | Nije ljubav stvar, da bih ti je vratio…
Nije Ljubav Stvar by Željko Joksimović (Serbia 2012)
The day that Željko – the man behind my all-time ESC favourite Lane Moje – was announced as Serbia’s representative for Baku was one of the happiest I can remember (sad, I know). It was always going to be difficult for him to meet the standard he’d set on multiple past occasions with his second entry as artist/composer, and I have to admit, Lane Moje reigned supreme. But Nije Ljubav Stvar is a stunner of a Balkan ballad (a genre I am partial to) that puts as much emphasis on instrumentation as it does on lyrics, and slow-burns to an impressive crescendo. It is as mysteriously beautiful as everything ZJ produces. How about getting Serbia back in the game for show #60, my man?
#8 | Între soare si ploi se nasc mii di culori, dar noi vedem doar nori…
O Mie by Aliona Moon (Moldova 2013)
As much as I mourned the loss of the line ‘The Maya were not so wrong, it’s the end of the world…’ the Romanian version of this entry is lovely (and far less questionable, grammar-wise). Even if it was in Klingon I would love it. Who would have guessed that Pasha Parfeny of the trumpets and leather aprons could compose such an elegant, classy and ultimately explosive – in a good way – ballad? Not to mention appear onstage with Aliona and resist the temptation to do any ridiculous dancing. Props to you, Pasha.
#7 | I don’t know where to run from reality…
Love In Rewind by Dino Merlin (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2011)
Here’s another man from the Balkans who impressed me once at Eurovision prior to doing it again years later. A younger, partnered-up Dino who was yet to discover the joys of a tartan jacket performed Putnici in Jerusalem, which I’ve always found intriguing (Balkan artists do mystery better than Agatha Christie). It wasn’t a ‘typical’ ESC song, and neither was Love In Rewind, which Dino brought to the table in Düsseldorf. It’s not an easy song to describe, but I can pick out the elements that made me fall in love with it – for example, its charm, ethnicity, bouncy tempo and all-round infectiousness. The only unfortunate thing is I suspect the success of a man on the wrong side of young and fresh might have given the BBC the idea of recruiting Engelbert.
#6 | Undo my sad, undo what hurts so bad…
Undo by Sanna Nielsen (Sweden 2014)
Yeah, this is happening. Accept it. My love for Queen Sanna should have been apparent to y’all way before this point, so I’m sure you won’t mind my gushing just a teensy bit more re: Undo. The fact that I was invested in this woman before she even cropped up for stab seven in Melfest, flipped out when she won and cried when she debuted in the first semi in Copenhagen = a slight bias, but I genuinely believe Undo is her best effort to get to Eurovision – and hey, it worked! While some call it clinical and cliché, the tinkling piano, electronic influences and Sanna’s crystal-clear vocal gets me every time. And despite my role as a senior sergeant in the Grammar Police, I will be using ‘undo my sad’ as a legitimate phrase on a regular basis.
#5 | Che da sempre sei per me l’essenziale…
L’Essenziale by Marco Mengoni (Italy 2013)
I throw the word ‘catchy’ around a lot when describing songs I like, because it’s a heavily-weighted piece of criteria for me. I don’t often get all deep and meaningful with ‘emotional connections’ and stuff like that. However, I get the big-time feels from the (probably unreliable internet) translation of this classy Italian number. Italy has put forward four very different but equally worthy entries since they made their big comeback, but this is the one I’ve loved most because not only is it catchy (in a down-tempo, arm-waving kinda way) but I connect with it on that emotional level. #obscureyetcheesy.
#4 | I’m done tipping on my toes…
This Is My Life by Anna Bergendahl (Sweden 2010)
You don’t need a magnifying glass to see why this didn’t qualify based on the performance – and yet, I still weep a little inside whenever I think about it (while wearing my Anna-brand party dress and Converse in a poor imitation). I LOVE this song. Lyrically, it makes no sense, but it just sounds so pretty, and Anna’s voice has a huskiness to it that makes it rough around the edges – a.k.a. less cookie-cutter than some other Swedish entries. I can see why so many people thought it had a winning chance.
#3 | Ne jednom, ne dvaput, tri puta me…
Ovo Je Balkan by Milan Stanković (Serbia 2010)
I feel like this should be a guilty pleasure, but at the same time I’m not embarrassed to proclaim my love to the world (my 2010 crush on Milan and his ridiculous haircut, however, MUST stay between you and me). How could anyone resist those trumpets and Balkan Balkan Balkans? NOT ME!! Everything about this is fun and loud and effortlessly ethnic…in fact, it really speaks for itself.
#2 | Mert nekem nincs most más, csak a kedvesem, az én kedvesem…
Kedvesem (Zoohacker Remix) by ByeAlex (Hungary 2013)
Hungary is fast becoming one of my favourite competitors, and a country I’m watching based on suspicions that a Eurovision in Budapest ain’t too far away. Since they joined Italy in making a 2011 comeback, it’s been bam after bam after bam (the bams of course representing quality entries) and for me, nothing bammed more than last year’s Kedvesem. It packs a quiet punch, but the extra impact given by the Zoohacker remix – as beautiful as ByeAlex’s original version is – is undeniable. It was love at first listen for me and this unique masterpiece.
#1 | Sa kuula, ka südamel on hääl…
Kuula by Ott Lepland (Estonia 2012)
I didn’t know quite how enamoured I was with this until I couldn’t rank anything above it – at least, nothing from 2010 onwards. And before you say it, no, my judgment has not been clouded by my unconditional, unwavering and as yet unrequited love for Ott (believe me, one of these days you will be calling me Mrs. Lepland). To some, Kuula is dull, but to me, it’s a stunner that shows off both Ott’s epic vocal capabilities and the beauty of the Estonian language. I love that it ends where it begins: softly, having built up to a crescendo in-between. Just…sigh.
So now you know which songs have made me the happiest kind of fan since EBJ got off the ground, whether you wanted to or not (mwahahaha). As your birthday gift, try not to object to my taste too aggressively when you tell me your top songs from recent history down below.
The next post in my 5th anniversary series will naturally cover the entries that make me want to rip my ears off, or at least plug them up with whatever’s lying around, so look out for that. I promise the gaps between postings will become less mahusive from now on.
Thanks again for being here, whether you’ve stuck by me for years or you’re a newbie who’s yet to realise what you’ve got yourself in for. Viva la ESC ramblings!
Until next time…
Eurovision 2014. My awards. Very delayed second half. No further introduction necessary.
DISCLAIMER: The Conchita persona may be a feminine one, but the majestic voice that comes out of her is, biologically, Tom Neuwirth’s. Therefore I’m classifying Conchita’s vocal performance as a man’s. In this category, she sure showed the boys who’s boss. Soft and vulnerable when it needed to be and all-powerful at every other moment, Tom’s voice never wavered – not even during the notoriously second-rate winner’s reprise (which is excusable). I’d have to give the Money Note of the Year Award (if I’d thought of including one) to that final ‘flaaa-aaaaaaa-aaaaaaa-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaame!!!’ for sure.
Like you thought I was going to pick someone else. I now realise that a lot of what I said above also applies to Sanna. The woman’s got both the soft vulnerability and the lung-busting power down pat. Her vocal was clear as crystal every time I had the pleasure of hearing it (which was many, many times, all of them voluntary) not to mention effortlessly executed. Undo was engineered to show off her voice, and I commend it for a job well done.
Also known as ‘The Goose-Bump Arouser Award’ (for a sexier option) this goes to the performance that had a certain something special; something that connected with me emotionally and gave me the chills. Despite the little sob I had over Sweden in the first semi, I’m giving this to Norway, because Carl had me covered in goosebumps. Plus, I’m fairly sure my spine actually tingled at one point, and unless I had a spider down the back of my jumper (OH DEAR GOD) there’s only one explanation.
To win this award, artists can have made Oscar-worthy facial expressions on stage (hence the title) or been backed by emotional interpretive dance, or…I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture. In the battle of diva drama fought between Conchita and Ruth Lorenzo, it’s Conchita who has the edge, because she managed to ooze drama despite standing in the same spot for her entire performance. There were minimal arm flourishes and hair flicks, and yet, her three minutes were more dramatic than an entire season of Days of Our Lives (though with the acting level on that show, that doesn’t say much). You go, girlfriend. Just not to drama school, ‘cause you’re already qualified.
Like Conchita without her beard (sorry for mentioning her so much, but it’s gonna carry on all year) who is Tinkara without her flute? Having never seen her minus the flute (apart from in her postcard) I’m starting to wonder if she’s had it surgically attached. It added a nice (albeit mimed) touch to the performance, and the way she wielded it made her look even more like some kind of magical lady-warlock, which worked for me.
You know it’s been a good year for props/gimmicks when you’re torn between a trampoline and a giant hamster wheel. In this case, I’m going for the hamster wheel. Ukraine proved once again that they are the masters of on-stage equipment by taking a pared-down version of Svetlana Loboda’s Hell Machine and pimping it out with a fine specimen of male flesh (i.e. a hot dude) to illustrate – I can only assume – the passing of time. As Greece would have, Ukraine get bonus points for having their singer interact with the prop rather than just sing in front of it.
Normally, I like my wind machines turned up to maximum. I’m talking 130km/h gusts that blow even the most gelled-down hair in history into a frenzy. But this year, I found myself appreciating the subtlety of Armenia’s wind machine use. With Aram Mp3 not in possession of a flowing mane, all the breeze did was give his jacket some lift, but that had a big effect – adding more impact to the dubstep portion of Not Alone. If he’d been blown off the stage by 130km/hr gusts, it wouldn’t have been the same. Although it would have been amusing…
Dance made up the bulk of the Estonian ingredients this year, after all. It may not have
ultimately worked in their favour, but Tanja and her man-friend had moves that deserve applause *insert a smattering here*. Apparently Tanja can sing in any position, and that knowledge was used to advantage as she ran, jumped, lunged, and got thrown around all over the place, all the while contributing more to the total vocal than Jedward did in 2011 and 2012 combined. I’m 90% admiration, 10% envy. Okay…60/40.
Say what you like re: the beard winning the contest, but you can’t deny that Austria’s entry was just as well-groomed in every other respect. As has been the norm for a while now, there was a lot of background screening to work with on the Eurovision stage, and in terms of using that to complement the rest of the elements (song, costume etc) I think Austria nailed it. Their background was gold and fiery and gave Conchita wings so she could literally (pardon the blatant misuse of ‘literally’) rise like a phoenix. If it was predictable, it’s only because we all knew what kind of visuals would suit the song.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This has been the mantra of many a Swedish entry in the period between Melodifestivalen and Eurovision, with the likes of Eric Saade and Loreen barely changing costume from one to the other, let alone anything else. In the not-so-curious case of Sanna Nielsen, her people hit on a lighting scheme that was simple but so effective, and almost served as a physical prop. So they didn’t sacrifice it for the big show; they just made it even more impressive. I’m now hoping to receive my very own light cage for my birthday this year. Ikea sells those, right?
It isn’t just an overload of props and/or gimmicks that sends a performance into OTT territory (which isn’t always a negative…if you can’t tie your hair to someone else’s and ride a see-saw whilst brandishing a light saber and dancing in unison in front of a giant sun at Eurovision, where can you?). Poland’s entry was choreographed and costumed to perfection, but it’s their determination to be boob-inclusive at all costs that wins them this gong. Those butter-churning, stain-removing girls had pretty much all of their charms on display despite the contest being a family show. I guess a lot of parents no longer have to give their kids the sex talk.
I am a huge fan of your average costume reveal. Plaid pants are ripped off to expose sequined short shorts? Great, thanks InCulto. Three-piece suit becomes evening gown by the end of the song? Best part of Latvia ‘02. But it turns out that not-so-average costume reveals have the ability to freak me out, as demonstrated when Cristina Scarlat became so irritated with her overgrown weave, she went and yanked it right off. I applaud Moldova for trying something new, but if hair-pulling isn’t the final frontier, what is? Navel lint? Splinters? Teeth?
A lot of countries presented us with the total package this year. In fact, more did than didn’t, and disappointingly, there were zero train wrecks. But the country that impressed y’all the most by a long shot was the Netherlands, and though my vote went to Poland, I can see why. Dressed to perfection, Ilse and Waylon performed like the pros they are, using what could have been a very awkward microphone situation to their advantage. It was intimately staged and graphically effective. Let’s hope the trend continues for the Dutch in Austria.
When you think to yourself, ‘How would I dress this act?’ and can’t come up with anything better than the reality, you know costuming has been well-executed (either that or it’s so horrific, you couldn’t imagine anything worse). In this case it’s the former, and I applaud your choice of Best Dressed for 2014. Waylon would have had a hard time going wrong, so it really came down to Ilse – and fortunately, she appeared on stage looking like a country Americana angel. From the retro bouffant hairdo to the tips of her stilettoed pumps, she was glorious.
What happens when you combine button-up track pants and a tuxedo? A fashion faux pas, that’s what. Throw in some wack blue shoes that match your stunning but completely out-of-place chandelier earrings, and you’ve got one steaming hot mess. Oh Tijana. Suitability for the entry aside, she looked lovely from the neck up. From the neck down, though, it was 100% WTF. And now you know exactly where my Barbara Dex vote went this year.
I know, I know – not every song calls for a backless, crystal-encrusted leotard with a feathered mullet skirt and matching platform boots (particularly not Running). But as I’m convinced that Richard Edwards wore the same outfit to Malta’s rehearsals as he did for the live shows, Firelight nabs this one.
Between them, these nominees had just about every body part on display (and if you’re wondering about Twin Twin, I have two words for you…DEM SHORTS). But I’d be crazy if I didn’t recognise Poland as the sauciest by far. Although, it wasn’t so much the Slavic girls’ costumes that were x-rated as the lack thereof.
Because your average maxi dress is much easier on the eye than a part flouncy, part asphyxiating mix of…whatever that gold thing was a mix of. Also going against this creation was the fact that Kasey could hardly move in it, which made her look very uncomfortable on stage.
It may be forehead-pulsingly tight, but Cleo’s high braid feat. festive materials is one hairstyle from this contest that I’m desperate to copy. Unfortunately, I’m lacking the length of hair necessary to pull it off, so I hope it’s still a relevant look in, say, twelve months. #whocares, #gonnadoitanyway.
I really, truly thought Estonia had the final in the bag. The upside to the choreography’s failure to see them through is that I can now insist to anyone who’ll listen (and even those who won’t) that Sandra should have walked Eesti Laul and would have been dangerous in the final she would have made for sure, blah blah blah. Nonetheless, I remain flabbergasted that one of my certainties back at prediction time turned out to be a DNQ.
Third time lucky is a legitimate thing, and Valentina Monetta knows that now. Let’s just hope she didn’t get one taste of glory and wants more next year (there has to be SOMEONE else from San Marino who can sing). ValMon’s qualification got her this trophy because it was the only one that literally made my jaw drop. I didn’t shut my mouth for hours, and was planning on suing the EBU for extreme dehydration.
As we would later discover, this wasn’t Greece’s most successful year (STILL not over it) but even in an off year, they flew into the final with the greatest of ease. They are part of the exclusive 100% Club, which consists of those countries that have never failed to advance from a semi, so it’s always a safe bet when you put cash on them to go through. That’s not to say it’s impossible for them to DNQ, but the day that happened would be a shocking one (and a good one for all the pigs sprouting wings).
As admirably authentic as it was (and bonkers) there was never any hope for Three Minutes To Earth as far as I’m concerned. There was a possibility it wouldn’t come last in its semi, but even that was slim. Still, The Shin and Mariko gave a great performance, so if you’re reading this, guys…don’t hurt me.
In terms of entry quality and results, Armenia (thankfully) made us forget all about Malmö’s double denim incident courtesy of Dorians. 4th may not have been the win they were hoping for, but I think Sirusho would agree that it beats the heck out of 18th.
Hungary is quietly becoming a force to be reckoned with, and their national final A Dal one of the strongest I’ve ever followed. I have this sneaking suspicion we could be heading to Budapest within the next few years. Running’s somewhat unexpected top 5 placing built on this. I think we were all skeptical of the entry’s ability to push past the subject matter and be judged as a ‘package’ – the package being a well-performed, contemporary song that wasn’t nonsensical fluff, lyrically speaking. Fortunately, it was, and that makes me go WOOHOO HUNGARY YOU GO GIRLFRIEND. Et cetera.
Like I said…soooooo not moving on from this travesty. It’s been two months and I still cry myself to sleep, sobbing ‘ri…ii..iiise upp!’. Just kidding. I don’t say that. I only weep. Even Kalomira clone Eleftheria (the only other recent Greek act to not hit the heights of the top 10) did better than Freaky Fortune. I realise this was an open year, and points were going all over the place, but IMO Greece should have been at least where Romania ended up. I guess holograms > trampolines.
There came a point – a sad, sad point – where I knew Sanna wasn’t quite going to go all the way, despite her victory in the OGAE vote. But after her amazeballs performance in semi one, I was convinced that the haters would be left with many unfortunate emotions to undo when she easily made the top 5. The bronze medal represents a great performance by a great act that was just missing that something extra that would have made it a winner.
The last award of the 2014 EBJEEs (I hear your collective sigh of relief) is also a People’s Choice Award. You voted, and it turns out that Molly’s lack of success shocked you more than anybody else’s (or in Russia’s case, shocked you more than the twins getting that high). You’d think we would have learnt to never overestimate the UK after 2011 (though I still maintain Blue were robbed in part) but nope – here we all were again, gushing about a UK entry that wasn’t crap and/or sung by someone who lived in world sans Eurovision. All dreams of Manchester 2015 were dashed when the points just trickled in, in contrast to the flooding they were doing for Austria and the Netherlands.
At long last, I’m done! Hallelujah. Hard rock hallelujah. Thank the Lordi! And other ESC-related puns. My trophy table is now empty, and it’s time to move on to random filler until Junior Eurovision – now with 100% more Greece and Cyprus – comes along. I will be keeping an eye on the Austrian developments over the coming months, i.e. claiming I knew that INSERT CITY NAME HERE would get the hosting honours, so I hope you’ll join me. I promise I’ll be entertaining.
In the meantime…Part 2 of the awards: discuss.
What do you think of my picks and your picks of the performances, costumes and results from Copenhagen?
In incredibly scintillating news, I received my Eurovision 2014 DVD in the mail last week. Well, it was exciting for me. And now I’m thinking, what better time to reveal the winners of my contest awards for this year? At least that’s what I’m telling myself, to distract from the fact that it’s taken me THIS LONG to get my s%!t together and post them. But hey – this way you can be sitting down watching your DVD while you read this, and reminding yourself why the winners are worthy…or, as will probably be the case with many of you, questioning my terrible judgment. But remember, you got to choose the winners of six awards this year, three of which will be revealed in this first installment of the EBJEEs. There were almost 150 votes in today’s People’s Choice-ers alone, so thanks for making the decisions in such vast (by this blog’s standards) numbers!
I won’t ramble on about the specifics of Part 1. You know the deal by looking at the title of this post. I’m just going to leave you to enjoy the “ceremony” in which 17 trophies will be handed out, and hopefully accepted without incident – i.e. NOT in the style of Dana International in Jerusalem. Keep an eye out for the People’s Choice Awards, because the full voting results are included.
Ladies and gentlemen and everyone in-between, this is…
Between them, Freaky Fortune and Riskykidd more than upped the hotness quotient in Copenhagen. But with Theofilos being on the short side (as a woman of stature, I tend to steer clear of diminutive men) and Nikolas having had some dodgy hair moments, I have to give this first gong to the sheer beauty that goes by the stage name of Riskykidd. At 19, he’s slightly too young for me (I hate how that time has come already) but I’m still going to bask in the ambience of his chiseled cheekbones and often intense ‘wrong side of the tracks’ vibe.
This is always a tough category, and it’s unlikely that we’re all going to agree on the result (this also extends to the ‘He’ award. Sorry if Riskykidd doesn’t do it for you). My personal preference is the hot tamale from Spain, via the UK/US, Ruth Lorenzo. With or without a faceload of slap, with a retro updo or rocking the wet look, in a fancy frock or holey hand-me-downs, this woman looks stunning. I look at her and the main word that comes to mind is ‘bombshell’. FYI, others include ‘How come my eyebrows never look that perfect?’, ‘Wearing a red lip: any tips, Ruth?’ and ‘How you doin’?’. I guess you could say I’ve developed a girl crush.
There was no beard more talked about this year than Conchita’s, and I’m not just referring to the talk regarding Eurovision. In fact, I don’t expect another beard to become as much of a household name (in my house, it’s called Frank) for the rest of 2014. It is perfectly-groomed facial hair that graces the chin/cheek/upper lip area of a stunning woman, and that makes it a beard with a difference. Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time talking about a beard in my life. Such is the power of Frank.
You guys chose – and pretty firmly – Sebalter as your Mr. Congeniality for 2014! The Swiss fiddler/whistler/waistcoat-wearer beat out Latvia’s Jöran by 15%, presumably with his on and off-stage charm and charisma. By all accounts, he’s friendly and funny, making him as nice on the inside as he is on the outside (as far as some are concerned…he’s no Lepland/Mengoni for me personally).
Someone else who’s good inside and out is Ruth Lorenzo, who bumped Tijana to take out the Miss Congeniality award with a quarter of the votes. Far from the fiery, fierce stereotype of your average hot-headed Spaniard (and I emphasise, stereotype…Spanish women, don’t get mad) Ruth is cool, calm and collected, and from what I’ve seen, always willing to give anyone a bit of her time. She’s a woman I’d want to be friends with – in fact, when I’ve finally nailed down Kaliopi and Hannah Mancini as half of my ladies’ wolfpack, Ruth will be next on the list.
I get the feeling these guys never have an off night. Then again, I think I’d be constantly energetic and entertaining too if I got around in a bright blue (or *insert the colour of your choice here*) suit. With a matching velour tracksuit for lazy time, of course. As a band catering to children and adults, Pollapönk have to have the enthusiasm to cover all bases. They definitely conserved it for their six minutes in the spotlight.
She made up a considerable amount of the discussion bulk within the ESC bubble, and basically all of it in the outside world, making many of us wonder why something so simple as a five o’ clock shadow (albeit an exquisitely-groomed five o’ clock shadow) was causing such a stir. There can be no other rightful winner of this award than Conchita, who I’m sure doesn’t rock the beard with the intention of it being a gimmick, but doesn’t have much of a choice. If beardless Nadine Beiler had donned the gold lace and busted out Rise Like A Phoenix, we’d be headed to Amsterdam next year.
Moustache may not sound eerily similar to another song on the whole – although I could make a case for it being a masculine, less raunchy version of Katy Perry’s Peacock – but the verses ignited such loud screeches of ‘PLAGIARISM!’ for their resemblance to Stromae’s Papaoutai, I’ve got to give this one to Twin Twin. Plagiarism or not, I’m indifferent. I love both songs, so I’m just going to congratulate both artists on stumbling upon a catchy string of notes. And make a plea with Stromae to one day represent Belgium.
Dancing In The Rain is one of those songs you’d only hear at Eurovision. There are so many elements that make it come off as contrived for the purpose, i.e. the mix of languages and those massive money notes, which may not be in Spanish, but can be roughly translated to ‘I’m trying so hard to push FTW, I may burst into smithereens’. I’ll admit that you could say the same re: My Beloved Sweden, but as Sweden = more than a fanwank in the end, and Spain = not quite as much, I’m not going to.
Speaking of Sweden (as I have done way too often since Sanna won Melfest and will continue to do for the rest of eternity), my bias towards Undo cannot be totally quashed for the purposes of these awards. There were some damn good ballads competing in Copenhagen, but as Sanna’s has given me the feels/goosebumps from the first listen through to my most recent, and because I actually cried during her semi-final performance (hey, it was a freaking long time coming, and I was emotionally invested, okay?!?) it’s far and away my Ballad of the Year. My apologies if that gives you a sad that’s hard to undo.
They were thin on the ground this year, so anything with a vaguely traditional instrument thrown in has made the shortlist. But five have made way for the half-folksy, half-hip hop, all sexy Youtube sensation that is My Słowianie. The song somehow manages to be divisive and edgy as well as perfect for Eurovision and appealing to its audiences, which couldn’t be achieved by the likes of Igranka. Carried with attitude and talent by Cleo (Donatan’s actual contribution is yet to be measured) it’s everything I want from my ethno-pop – yet miles away from your typical examples of the genre.
This isn’t a difficult category to narrow down for me, because every year there’s at least one entry that I CANNOT HELP shaking my thing to. These songs have some kind of force that catapults me off my couch and has me doing my best Shakira imitation before my brain has had time to process what’s happened. In 2014, I was a little torn between Greece’s trumpets and Portugal’s wa-wa-wehs, and I’m still not sure what swayed it in Greece’s favour, but as the MC and big boss of these awards, I don’t have to justify my decision. Instead, I’m just going to twerk a bit, as the mere mention of Rise Up has awoken the mysterious booty-shaking powers within. BRB.
There was a decent amount of songs that I didn’t ‘get’ initially this year. Something Better made a huge leap in my estimations – so much so that I went from wishing Finland had literally chosen something better to digging the heck out of it (whilst still holding a candle for some other UMK gems). It was the live performance and ‘more is more’ approach to lighting that helped win me over. The song is a stadium anthem that, when it won UMK, wasn’t in the right setting to show it off to full advantage. Plus, the months between the NF and the ESC gave Softengine time to polish up (and grow up).
Just a couple of not-so-special songs IMO were elevated by aesthetics this year – elevated all the way into the top 10, in fact, which in Russia’s case was particularly surprising to me. The Tolmachevy sisters’ three minutes on stage featured everything but the kitchen sink (though I’m not convinced that wasn’t hidden away somewhere in amongst the see-saws and staffs and papier-mâché suns). But, with pared-back costumes and seamless choreography that utilised all of those props, I couldn’t stop watching. This is one example of why the Eurovision Song Contest doesn’t always live up to its name.
I may be referring to studio versions here, but Moustache also works better in another kind of studio – the intimate TV kind, as opposed to a massive arena with a massive stage to fill. When it comes to listening though, the studio version is cleaner and slicker. Plus, you’re not being distracted by a failed attempt to use a big space in the right way.
There were faux game shows, dramatic storylines and wayward servings of spaghetti to choose from, but you guys went for what I will re-title ‘Breast Preview Video’. Poland wins! And by a decent length from Switzerland, too. I can’t say I’m in total agreement with this, but the video certainly stays true to the statement being made by the song. It’s not as though setting it in a convent and having the Slavic girls churn butter very clinically whilst wearing ankle-length habits would have made sense.
All the contestants went out of their way making their #MyEurovisionFlag, though some clearly put in more effort than others (a painting, Valentina?? Really? At least Suzy chose to paint herself). As such, this is the biggest, toughest and probably most subjective category of the entire EBJEEs. My pick is host country Denmark, for its mix of effort and creativity (see Valentina? More non-canvas painting!) and daringness in not only repurposing a heap of ancient furniture, but also a stretch of road that I’m sure got Basim and his buddies in trouble with the local council.
That’s Part 1 taken care of, and it’s now time for intermission. The line for the toilets will be long, but since Part 2 won’t be coming to you for a few days, don’t be concerned. Just before you go, it’s time to let the disagreement ensue…
Tell me what you’re thinking re: the People’s Choice winners, and my personal picks.
NEXT TIME: Before they get too dusty, I’ll be handing out EBJEE trophies in the categories of The Performances, The Costumes and The Results.
FYI, I’m going to stop apologising for the unintentionally large gaps between my posts. If I don’t, you’ll never want to read anything I manage to produce anyway, because you’ll be so sick of everything starting with ‘I’m soooooooooorrrrrrrryyyyyyyy!’. Know that I will get the job done eventually, though. I may be a slowpoke in most areas of life, but I have blogged pretty religiously for almost five years now *insert gasps of shock and awe here*. Just assume that all the posts I say are coming in the next few days will actually come in the next few weeks, and you’ll never be disappointed.
Let’s move on to le subject of this post now. It’s been over a month since the Wurstmeister (© Jaz 2014, because I know you’ll want to steal it) rose like a lace-clad phoenix to the top of the Eurovision scoreboard; but with sporadic JESC selections and the enigma of the 2015 host city making up the bulk of current affairs, we have to keep chatting all things Copenhagen.
One of those ‘things’ is which countries made the right choices for Denmark, which countries so did not, and which had a plethora of dope songs to pick from. In retrospect it’s easier to justify exactly who made mistakes or could have ended up in a similar position with a different entry, and you can bet your autographed copy of Valentina Monetta’s Guide To San Marino-oh-oh-oh that I want in. So, I’m revealing my top 10 songs from the national final season – which I believe should have been sent, or could have been sent for an equally impressive/unfortunate result – right now.
Although, it wasn’t just me who compiled this list, guys…I had major help from Rory over at ESC Views (which just celebrated its 1st birthday *blows kazoo enthusiastically*) who discussed the subject with me at length until we’d settled on the possibilities from every single country. Thanks for a great conversation, Rory. I hope this list at least partially does your opinions justice!
Let’s count backwards from #10…
#10 | Finland
Could have chosen Kertakäyttösydän by Jasmin Michaela (unplaced in UMK)
It is true that I ended up enjoying Something Better – so much so I completely stopped complaining that ‘something better’ was exactly what I wanted – and I realise that 11th place is nothing to be ashamed of (unless you’re Azerbaijan, so that 22nd must have hit real hard!). But my soft spot for a couple of other UMK entries meant I would have enjoyed seeing other songs in Copenhagen. One such song was Jasmin Michaela’s, which could have signaled another year of Fun Finland had it not been inexplicably knocked out in the semis. Kertakäyttösydän would have been an equally quirky, but less novelty and much more Finnish successor to Marry Me; not to mention a precisely choreographed, trendy and vocally impressive one. Basically, Jasmin would have repped her country in style, and that could have taken her to 11th place.
Rory says: Jasmin should have gone. She had amazing vocals, and okay, the visual performance was a little out there…but she should have at least qualified!
#9 | Spain
Could have chosen Más (Run) by Brequette (2nd in Mira Quién Va A Eurovisión)
Sí, they could have! And they very nearly did, with Ruth’s victory the narrowest of the whole NF season. A lot of parallels can be drawn between Ruth and Brequette, including the fact that both are female belters of the highest order, who arrived at the Spanish final armed with powerful ballads. But Brequette’s Más was more contemporary and less cliché-Eurovision than Dancing In The Rain. Though I see those aspects as pluses, they may have been reason enough to rob Spain of their second 10th place in three years. Still, I think Más would have been a worthy entry, and who could say for certain that even with the right staging and draw etc, it couldn’t possibly have done as well as DITR?
Rory says: I love Más but I love Ruth…maybe Ruth could have sung Más?
#8 | Greece
Could have chosen Petalouda Stin Athina by Crystallia (3rd in Eurosong)
I’m glad they didn’t, as I will fawn over any up-tempo song with trumpeting in it. But the only other decent song in the Greek line-up IMO did come courtesy of Crystallia, who was flawless in her rendition of a very Greek ballad/national anthem. Petalouda would have been distinctive in a year of little ethno-pop, and would have qualified at the least, this being Greece we’re talking about. It wouldn’t have taken much for it to best 20th place once in the final. With Crystallia, I suspect we would have seen a similar or slightly better result to that of the boys with the oh-so-freaky flow (STILL not over it).
#7 | Norway
Could have chosen Heal by Mo (3rd in MGP)
Silent Storm remains a sentimental favourite of mine, and I don’t want to imply that Norway made a wrong choice this year. But, had Carl fallen too deep into his own void (judging by the lyrics, it’s a big one) and been unable to surface in time for Eurovision, Mo would have made a top replacement. You could compare Heal to Vilija’s Attention if you were looking for hypothetical competition, both of which would have been in the same semi, but I still believe it would have been Norway winning out over the less slick and more divisive Lithuania. With no other songs like it in the final – and those awesome dance moves Mo busts out – Heal could well have done what Silent Storm managed to do. Alternatively, it could have done some of the crashing and burning that Mo sings about…but as nobody will ever know, I defy you to prove that would have been the case.
#6 | Malta
Could have chosen One Last Ride by Daniel Testa (3rd in MESC)
This song is one of the most un-Malta-like songs to come out of their final in years. Scribble out the giveaway ‘Testa’ (it screams ‘HEY! I’M MALTESE!’ like Micallef and Debattista, et cetera) and it could have been lifted from NMGP, DMGP, Melfest…any one of a number of other finals famed for, shall we say, more modern offerings. It’s an instant, stadium-suitable pop song with a lil’ box ‘o’ cutesicles at the helm, and when you combine that with the fact that it wouldn’t have been compared with the Dutch and Swiss entries – as Coming Home was, and in the end it was beaten fair and square by both of those songs – it’s plausible that Daniel could have broken the curse of JESC contestants alongside the Tolmachevy Sisters, by qualifying and succeeding in the final.
#5 | Romania
Could have chosen Hearts Collide by Anca Florescu (4th in Selecția Națională)
Ignore the shocking camera work, bare-bones presentation and misplaced ball gown (this song calls for a Getter Jaani-style party frock, stat) and imagine that Paula and Ovi gave everyone else a shot by bowing out of the Romanian NF, and Hearts Collide = the clear choice. It’s only a could-have rather than a should-have because I don’t think it’s necessarily stronger than the power of Paula and Ovi. Not even they managed to escape from the 11th-13th-place rut that Romania and Moldova are constantly stuck in. Anca would probably have been similarly placed, but she would absolutely have been selected based on her song and talents, not her name.
Rory says: I loved Anca!
#4 | Belgium
Should have chosen Need You Tonight by Yass (4th in Eurosong)
The first ‘should have’ on this list – i.e. the first big mistake – comes from Belgium, and can be 95% blamed on Ruslana. The main point I want to get across here is that humble Frenglish guitar pop should ALWAYS triumph over what sounds like the opening theme of The Young and the Restless’ Mother’s Day special. It’s not that I don’t appreciate Axel’s talents, or his appreciation for the woman who gave birth to what I can only assume was an impressively-sized baby. It’s just that OH DEAR GOD THE CREEPINESS AND MELODRAMA! And neither Yass nor his hopeful song for Belgium had creepiness or melodrama. He had good looks, a great falsetto and a guitar (and the man-with-guitar thing kinda worked for Belgium in the past) and his song was a charmer that did not once mention anybody’s mother, if my rusty school French isn’t failing me. Accompanied by an intriguing interpretive dance routine, and some (literally) colourful drumming, á la the NF, Need You Tonight would have served Belgium a lot better – and obliterated the ick factor.
#3 | Latvia
Should have chosen Stay by Samanta Tina (3rd in Dziesma)
I’ve got the guilts, saying that Latvia made a non-ideal decision. Taking the rights of representation away from Aarzemnieki (if only in my mind) is like telling a puppy it’s too ugly to play with all of the other puppies. However, if we’re talking results, Samanta Tina pulling a Sanna and finally getting to Eurovision would have been the best way for Latvia to go. Dziesma was pretty woeful this year, with the eventual top three a bit of a step up. But as I don’t ‘get’ Dons, and taking Aarzemnieki’s fate into consideration, Samanta got my vote as the best hope of the trio. Copenhagen was better for Cake To Bake’s cuteness (and Jöran’s charisma) but Latvia’s shocking qualification record wasn’t. The drama, epic light show and amazing outfit that Samanta would have accompanied her dance track with would have given Latvia a better chance of changing that.
Rory says: Latvia always pick the wrong song to go to Eurovision. Samanta should have gone to Copenhagen.
#2 | France
Could have chosen Ma Liberté by Joanna (2nd in Les Chansons D’Abord)
Seeing as Twin Twin couldn’t have ended up further from the win win, you may think France should have sent Joanna. But as a Moustache-aholic, I can’t bring myself to admit that. Besides, somebody has to come last in the final, so that doesn’t automatically mean that somebody should never have been chosen in the first place. If France had selected Joanna though…well, I don’t believe theywould have come last, and I think they would have scored more than two measly points. The case for Ma Liberté? It would have worked better in the arena and on TV than Moustache; as a ballad, it wouldn’t have been performed right after/directly overshadowed by major player Undo; and it would have had broader appeal, with the possibility of Joanna’s big vocal wooing anyone who didn’t like her song.
#1 | Estonia
Should have chosen Kui Tuuled Pöörduvad by Sandra Nurmsalu (5th in Eesti Laul)
Many people would have viewed Sandra as a predictable choice for Estonia this year, in spite of Tanja’s status as favourite. I know I thought Miss Nurmsalu had Eesti Laul all sewn up, and not just because she’s ESC alumni (and a perfect angel sent from heaven to make us and our wayward bangs look average). From my first listen of her solo attempt to get to the contest, I was in love. Quite a few months later, I’m just about ready to propose marriage to it. This song is pure energy, joy, light, and a host of other cheesy nouns. It’s also instant, irresistible and distinctive, with the same Lion King-esque majesty that secured Zlata Ognevich’s Gravity the bronze medal in Malmö. I am 110% sure that Estonia’s failure to choose Sandra – i.e. placing her 5th even after she’d won her semi – was the biggest mistake of the whole NF season. With her, Estonia would have been dangerous; perhaps not for Conchita, but for Sanna, Aram Mp3 and Kalláy-Saunders. There’s no way they would have been sent packing prior to Saturday night.
Rory says: SANDRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
And that, my friends, is that! Please keep in mind that all of the above is a mixture of two opinions only, and not the be-all and end-all of which countries could and should have taken a different approach to Eurovision 2014. If you happen to disagree (or if, by a miraculous chance, you don’t) get it off your chest in the comments below. Just don’t use too many swear words if you can *&%#$ing help it.
Next on my agenda: the EBJ Awards for Eurovision Excellence, AT LAST. They’re taking place so post-ESC, they themselves should win an award for being the most belated of the year. I’m keeping the People’s Choice polls open for a few more days, so if you haven’t voted yet, do it here. Thanks to everybody who has voted so far, though – you’ve exceeded my expectations.
Swing by in a few days’ (weeks?) time to check out the results, plus all the winners I’ve selected.
Never mind Golden Globe and Oscar time – we all know the best awards season is Eurovision awards season! When the contest (and most of the residual PED) is over, it’s time to reflect on the best and worst of everything, from the songs to the scoreboard shockers, the vocal performances to the vile outfits (and I’m actually not referring to Lithuania…I NEVER agree with the Barbara Dex) and everything in-between. Though more important and popular ESC sites have been staging awards ceremonies for weeks, the time for my own – known for three years as the EBJ Awards for Eurovision Excellence – is fast approaching, so iron the creases out of your tuxedoes and brush the lint off your evening gowns in preparation. If you don’t mind? I have a dress code, you know.
Before my star-studded ceremony can take place, however, there’s a little business to take care of. Namely, I need you guys to decide the winners of my super-awesome personalised trophies that were definitely not put together haphazardly in MS Word with Clipart. This year, the EBJ EEs will feature more awards in the categories of Artists, Songs, Costumes, Performances and Results than ever before, and I need more help than ever with choosing the winners. So, instead of having a sole People’s Choice Award for All-Rounder of the Year (which went to Norway’s Margaret Berger in 2013) I’m letting you decide six of the awards. Woohoo! There are many more that I’ll be deciding myself, of course, but just think yourself lucky that you don’t have to spend 48 straight hours going through an endless parade of polls.
So here today, I’m asking you to vote on these particular six which have been taken from each category. I’ve narrowed each list of nominees down to a small group, so if you’re really desperate to vote for someone who’s not included, leave me a comment saying so and I will count that as a vote. The results will be kept secret until the all the awards are revealed next week. Hashtag mysterious.
Without further ado, get ready to make your choices (and share the link to this post to get more people voting, if you’re feeling generous). Here are the People’s Choice Awards for the 2014 EBJ EEs!
The friendliest, most charismatic guy on the ground in Copenhagen.
The woman you’d want to be your BFF.
The most entertaining, amusing or attractive MV of the year.
The act that ticked all the boxes – vocals, costume, staging and so on.
The most stylish artist/s to take to the stage.
The final placing that left you scratching your head.
There’s your six! I hope you chose wisely…JK, it doesn’t really matter. But hey, you could be giving a country that didn’t win anything on the night/s a prize of sorts after all, and that’s a big deal. Kind of.
ANYWAY, thanks for voting (and sharing, if you were up for that). Stay tuned for the revelation of the results as well as the revelation of all of the other award victors, when the EBJ EEs kicks off next week. Before that, I’ll be presenting you with my Top 10 Could’ves and Should’ves of 2014 – that is, the national finalists who, on reflection, should have been sent to Copenhagen instead, or who would have had similar success to those songs that were chosen. Putting that list together was no easy task, but I got by with a little help from a friend…
Until next time ↓
If there’s a prize for being late to the party (the party being reviewing Eurovision 2014) then back off, because it’s mine! The thing is – and you’ll be bored of me rehashing this – since I was too excited to study during the ESC week, and too depressed to be productive in the few days afterwards, I’m now in a period of chaos where I have multiple MAHUSIVE assignments due within the next week (my last week of the semester, thank the Lordi) that I’ve barely begun. Therefore, I’m having to work my butt off with little time to blog, which sucks. That’s my excuse for why the second part of my final review is coming out over a fortnight after the contest, and over a week after the first part.
This is basically just a run through of the scoreboards from the final and the semis, with comments by moi, plus a recap of the Australian online vote and a mini post-show ranking to show you how my preferences were changed by epic lighting and/or magnificent costuming. I’m not going to get into the intricacies of the split results much, as similar analysis has been done (The Eurovision Times published a a few particularly good ones you can find here and here if you haven’t checked them out yet) so this is more of an overview accompanied by catty judgments.
The Final Scoreboard: A Closer, Totally Unbiased Look
Two things about the voting sequence before we get to the results:
a) Crossing to all of the spokespersons at once on the big screen? More of that please. Although if I’d spotted Alyona Lanskaya I would have remembered to mute her impromptu and totally unnecessary version of Solayoh. You had your moment last year, Alyona. NO ONE CARES.
b) Umm, that early winner announcement! I’ve had more than one night’s anger over that. After the backlash caused by the same thing in Malmö, I assumed it wouldn’t happen again. But oh no, charming Nikolaj and adorable Pilou lost a bit of their charm and adorableness when they announced Austria as unbeatable with about two or three countries left to vote (I know they were just doing what they’d been instructed to, but I have to lash out at somebody). We all knew Conchita was the winner – to announce it early took away from the significance of the remaining countries votes, turning them into an afterthought. I am hoping this doesn’t become a tradition.
Now, those results…we’ve all seen them, but who wouldn’t want to see them again and then hear me complain about Greece not beating Romania for several paragraphs?
1. Austria 290 – No real surprises here. After Conchita’s performance I was thankful I’d predicted Austria as a probable winner. Still, with the spread of scores and the relatively low gap between 1st and 2nd place, this was no landslide.
2. The Netherlands 238 – I’m thrilled for the Dutch, still. If Anouk had been last year’s runner-up, I’d have struggled to understand it, but The Common Linnets captured the mood and created a magic that I totally got (in the end).
3. Sweden 218 – I’m happy with this, and I hope Sanna is too. I knew my favourite song of the year wasn’t quite going to go all the way after a certain point, but because I was worried Sweden could head in the direction of Hungary in 2011, the bronze position is brilliant.
4. Armenia 174 – Again, this ain’t exactly shocking. I never saw Armenia winning with Not Alone, as much as I love it. Finishing in 4th, they’ve got to be at least a teensy bit pleased that they blew Azerbaijan out of the water.
5. Hungary 143 – This is proof that Hungary is getting better and better at playing the Eurovision game every year. A very good, very current song that many thought would bomb because of its subject matter triumphed instead. Well done Andras!
6. Ukraine 113
7. Russia 89 – Now THIS was a surprise. As the televoters much preferred it over the jurors, I put it down to the staging, which I personally couldn’t tear my eyes away from. The hair trick and giant see-saw are surely what people remembered when they picked up their phones.
8. Norway 88
9. Denmark 74
10. Spain 74 – I guess the lesson here for Spain is if they send an attractive brunette who can sing the leg off a chair to perform a typically Eurovision ballad, they’ll secure themselves 10th place. That’s a good showing for Spain.
11. Finland 72
12. Romania 72 – Romania and Moldova are experts in just missing out on the top 10. In this case, Romania should have completely missed out IMO.
13. Switzerland 64
14. Poland 62 – The jury sealed Donatan & Cleo’s fate via the drag effect of ranking them 23rd to the televoters’ 5th. Not that 14th is a terrible result – I’m just mourning what could have been for one of my favourite entries.
15. Iceland 58
16. Belarus 43
17. United Kingdom 40 – Ouch. After weeks of steadily declining odds and promising rehearsals, Molly failed to meet expectation and then some. But there was only 34 points between her and Ruth, which is something of a consolation.
18. Germany 39
19. Montenegro 37 – Not only did they make the final for the first time, but Montenegro beat big players Greece, Italy and Azerbaijan. That’s a win for them as far as I’m concerned. Figure skaters = success. Just ask Dima Bilan.
20. Greece 35 – How…just how did this happen? I am CRUSHED. Okay, so when I step back and look at all the factors I can kind of see how it happened. But even cookie-cutter, dated Aphrodisiac did better than this!
21. Italy 33
22. Azerbaijan 33 – So, they’re not invincible after all, eh? For the first time since their 2008 debut, Azerbaijan finished out of the top 10, and not narrowly. I have to admit, it pleases me to learn that they are capable of failure, since up until now I assumed they’d do amazingly even if they sent a bag of garbage (literally) to represent them, and that irritated me.
23. Malta 32
24. San Marino 14 – Props to SM for not coming last. I hope such an unprecedented result doesn’t encourage a fourth consecutive appearance from Valentina (and Ralph)…*shudder*.
25. Slovenia 9
26. France 2 – Not for the first time in recent history, one of my most-loved entries lost the final. Waldo’s People in 2009, Tooji in 2012, and now this! Maybe Moustache wasn’t very effective in such a grand setting, but…TWO POINTS?!? I guess I should just be grateful that Twin Twin didn’t pull a Jemini.
Australia calling! The results from our unofficial final vote
Over on broadcaster SBS’s Eurovision site, us fans Down Under had the chance to thumbs up or thumbs down each entry as was our want. I couldn’t even do that, because of state-related time zone issues, so it was up to the rest of my fellow Aussies to decide our “points”. Here’s our top 10, in traditional ESC fashion:
1 point went to Ukraine
2 points went to Malta
3 points went to Switzerland
4 points went to the UK
5 points went to Poland
6 points went to Iceland
7 points went to Finland
8 points went to the Netherlands
10 points went to Sweden
Aaaaaaaaand, surprise surprise…our 12 points went to Austria.
So it looks like Conchita has recruited herself a fan club over here as well. We actually agreed with Europe’s entire top 3 (albeit in a slightly different order) but put Finland, Iceland, Poland (woohoo!), the UK, Switzerland and Malta in place of Armenia, Hungary, Russia, Norway, Denmark and Spain. Oh, and in case you were wondering, San Marino came in 26th. So I guess it wasn’t so much a Maybe here as a Definitely Not.
Back To The Semis: The Winners, Losers and Almosts
Semi final 1 ↓
- The Netherlands 150
- Sweden 131
- Hungary 127
- Armenia 121
- Ukraine 118
- Russia 63
- Montenegro 63
- Iceland 61
- Azerbaijan 57
- San Marino 40
- Portugal 39
- Estonia 36
- Latvia 33
- Belgium 28
- Albania 22
- Moldova 13
- For the first time ever, the Netherlands topped a Eurovision semi final. I’m still surprised by this to be honest (because I didn’t think the majority would rule on a humble l’il country number…and it’s the Netherlands) but it’s something for all of the countries in a rut to take note of. With the right song and act, anything is possible.
- Sanna pipped Andras for the honour of qualifying second, but not by much. Hungary are going from strength to strength, having qualified every year since their 2011 comeback, and made the final top 10 for two consecutive years.
- There was a 55-point gap split between the 5th and 6th qualifiers – Ukraine and Russia. Montenegro made it to their first final on the same point level as Russia, with Iceland very close behind.
- Azerbaijan’s 9th place made quite the change from their previous stellar history. During the 2008-2011 period they qualified 6th, 2nd, 2nd and 2nd, and won their semi final last year in Malmö. It’s safe to say Dilara didn’t start many fires with her slow-burn ballad!
- Jaws all over the globe hit the floor when San Marino went through, unsurprisingly in 10th place. What we didn’t know at the time was that poor Portugal had finished just under San Marino. A single point was all that separated Valentina and Suzy, which probably left the latter wondering what she could have done to win over a few more jury members (it was the juries who sealed her fate by ranking her last).
- Moldova’s hair-ripping routine failed to get them to the final for the first time since 2008. Perhaps now they’ll realise that the classic costume reveal is still okay?
Semi final 2 ↓
- Austria 169
- Romania 125
- Finland 97
- Switzerland 92
- Belarus 87
- Norway 77
- Greece 74
- Poland 70
- Malta 63
- Slovenia 52
- Lithuania 36
- Ireland 35
- Macedonia 33
- Israel 19
- Georgia 15
- From losing their semi final and limping only to 16th place in last year’s to winning the whole thing, Austria sure rose up (pardon the pun) in the rankings this time around. Conchita’s powerful pipes won convincingly over Paula Seling’s dog-frightener of a note.
- Surprisingly high qualifiers in this semi (for me) were Finland and Switzerland, in 3rd and 4th places. Switzerland turned out to be less of a borderline entry than many of us thought it would be. Greece, on the other hand, didn’t do as well as is expected of them, nor as well as I was hoping.
- Poland’s qualification was pretty convincing for a country that hadn’t seen a Saturday night since 2008, putting them 18 points ahead of just-in Slovenia.
- Vilija can’t have been as devastated as Suzy must have been to end up 11th, as her result was brought on by much more than one point. Things were quite tight in the 11th-13th-placed range.
- Israel coming second-to-last with only four more points than bonkers Georgia was a big shock for me, and I’m not even a massive fan of Same Heart. Mei’s performance was fiercer than 100 angry Beyoncés in a fistfight, and I’m sure she’s made it her mission to hunt down and poke her sword at everyone who failed to vote for her.
- Georgia last = duh. Okay, so the song has grown on me, and the parachute thing actually worked IMO, but Three Minutes To Earth was always going to be more like Three Minutes to the Bottom of the Scoreboard.
My top 10, two weeks later
As usual, seeing the songs performed live for the real deal changed my already changeable mind a LOT. Once again I used this handy sorter to gauge my own opinion, and below you can see my post-show top fifteen (because I didn’t think anyone would want to read through my entire top 37 for the third time) and how they’ve moved from my most recent ranking done just prior to the first semi. I’m sorry to disappoint those of you who might have been hoping for a renouncement of my Team Sanna membership.
- Sweden (=)
- Poland (+5)
- Greece (-1)
- France (-1)
- Armenia (+1)
- Denmark (+4)
- Italy (+6)
- Belarus (=)
- Norway (=)
- Hungary (-6)
- Montenegro (-6)
- Ukraine (+12)
- Iceland (+1)
- Finland (+21)
- Albania (+7)
So I’m clearly crushing on Finland after Softengine rocked the Hallerne…what about you? How have your rankings changed since the show?
That’s about all I have to say on the scores at the moment. I hope this overview was worth the delay in one way or another! If you’re still up for complaining and/or rejoicing in the outcomes of this year’s contest, I’m up for listening, so comment down below with any of your unaired thoughts.
NEXT TIME: Watch out…the 2014 EBJ Awards for Eurovision Excellence are coming! I’m about to open my People’s Choice polls, and I want you to vote to decide each winner (duh. That’s the whole point) so make sure you drop by in a few days’ time to have your say. This year you get to vote on more awards than ever before in the two-or-three-year history of the ceremony, so get excited! Please? Just a little bit?