20. Donna and Joe – Love? (Ireland )
Did not qualify, #14 in the Semi-Final
OK not really sure how this entry really came to pass, but here are the unlikely pair that the Emerald Isle deemed fit to carry their torch of enduring Eurovision success. Or sort of anyway, their amazing 90s in the contest went from bad to worse in the 00s, with this entry becoming their first entry of three to miss the final. They should count themselves lucky that this total wasn’t higher.
So Donna & Joe somehow found themselves on-stage in Kiev singing their little hearts out with the simply-titled “Love”. I don’t know WHY I am so fond of this song, there’s an endearing heart of crapness there, and the brother & sister duo are really putting everything into it despite the odds. The styling is awful, the pair can sing well enough but the dancers had their work cut out distracting from the hideous moves of Joe, who seems to have eaten too many blue Smarties before going onstage.
It’s a relentless barrage of bland non-lyrics, but even saves space for a manic key-change. Quick! Do some Riverdance, maybe they won’t notice!
19. Martin Stenmarck – Las Vegas (Sweden )
#19 in the Grand Final
A prelude to Sweden’s wilderness years in the latter part of the 00s, breaking a 7-year string of top 10 finishes for the country. At least we know there’s a happy ending, with the events in Baku last month.
It’s just clinging to the right side of cheesy nonsense, and thank God he never went for some sort of Elvis homage. I think if he wasn’t so hot I’d be quite ambivalent towards this, but it turns out that even when Sweden aren’t giving it their best, they are better than most.
Don’t know why he’s singing about Vegas, or why he thought that would resonate with the rest of the European voting public, but here we are. Maybe if the lyrics were about something else entirely, and the naff faux-brass accompaniment wasn’t there, this might be much improved, but as it stands it’s very catchy despite itself. It may not be well regarded among the Swedophiles but it’s a good track in the context of other entries in 2005.
18. Zdob şi Zdub – Boonika bate doba (Moldova )
#6 in the Grand Final
Years before the Russian grannies, there was this. Zdob şi Zdub were to return in 2011, but they weren’t to better this debut Moldovan entry, still standing as their biggest hit to date.
Not my typical choice for a favourite, but maybe my tastes are changing. Normally I would be a little resentful at some faceless female’s hi-NRG pop song being kept out of the final at the expense of rockier numbers like this, but I think variety like this is what the contest is about.
An energetic rapid-fire barrage of Moldovan ska-lite rap nonsense, and it’s surprisingly a lot of fun. And that’s even before the lead singer wheels on his grandma as a drummer, gumming happily away as if this was completely normal.
One of those songs I can imagine playing really well in the arena, and a lot of fun for everyone else too.
17. Son de Sol – Brujería (Spain )
#21 in the Grand Final
Spain might have a peppered history in the contest, but at least with this entry you couldn’t possibly accuse them of selling out and sending something that wasn’t immediately recognisable as Spanish.
This is just an onslaught of nonsense, I am quite defenceless against it. A dizzying array of gaudy-coloured dresses being thrown around, inexplicable interruptions by a baffling biker gang as backup dancers.
The terrifying trio of ladies unleash a breathless string of Spanish with some flamboyant gestures, I’m taken aback every time I watch the clip. It doesn’t really matter that the vocals are a little off, even with the best voices there is a LOT to take in, and that makes it one of the most entertaining Spanish entries for a while.
16. Feminnem – Call Me (Bosnia and Herzegovina )
#14 in the Grand Final
Speaking of a dizzying array of European beauties, here are Feminem with their debut performance. It’s certainly far removed from their sober return in 2010 representing Croatia, and this is perhaps best described as a mutated triple-edition of Sweden’s 1999 winner.
They certainly give it 9000% on the vocals and while it’s a bit screechy, they hit the notes and have some great energy driving their performance. Some of the lyrics are a bit ropey and certainly going for some suck-up points for name-checking Eurovision’s 50th anniversary. “50 candles on the party cakes” indeed!
But it’s very light-hearted and has a satisfying conclusion, really keeping in the fun spirit of the show.
15. NOX – Forogj, világ! (Hungary )
#12 in the Grand Final
Now I really had to give this one credit for some awesome choreography, even if there was a dash of Riverdance in the middle. She’s a game old bird too, joining in for some of the elaborate choreo with the boys. Oddly her vocals seem to improve towards the end after all that exercise.
It’s got a really peppy ethno beat to it, I only wish they had worn lighter costumes, I fear some of the effect was lot on that dark stage by wearing black.
I hadn’t got this down as one of my favourites before I’d seem the performance but it all rather came together I think. Who knew Hungary had it in them?
14. Martin Vučić – Make My Day (F.Y.R. Macedonia )
#17 in the Grand Final
Thought I’d already dumped most of the vaguely handsome ethnic types with their Ricky Martin-esque Mediterranean holiday hitz? Fear not, here is the hopelessly-dressed Martin from Macedonia (no, not THAT Macedonia, the other one).
It’s an unusual song really, just telling the object of his affection to just piss off and leave him alone. It’s got a really instant chorus, and he’s really quite likeable with his utterly hopeless choreography (if you can call it that, I think he’s just making it up as he goes along).
He even gets a drum solo. Where DID those drumsticks, did they knock out some poor Ukrainian stage hand? The girls do their best to distract from this nonsense with some hot Balkan moves and some vile dresses. You can’t keep a good song DOWN.
13. Ortal – Chacun pense à soi (France )
#23 in the Grand Final
It was an utterly awful year for the Big Four, with them cluttering up the bottom four places on the leaderboard. In some cases I think that was quite undeserved (fair enough on Spain though). But France at least tried to send something vaguely contemporary to Kiev.
It had a great slot just before voting opened, but for some reason people didn’t get on board. OK fair enough it’s not much to look at, a rather humourless setup and a relatively ordinary routine to go with it. But really it’s a solid enough French pop song, it took a while to grow on me though, and perhaps that’s where this song fell down, you only get 3 minutes…
12. Global.Kryner – Y así (Austria )
Did not qualify, #21 in the Semi-Final
Oh I know what you’re all going to say, what a load of old shit. WELL I LIKE IT. I think it’s a really adorable little oompah-band tale of some Cuban slut shacking up with an Austrian yodeller. Tale as old as time, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Not really sure what look they were going for, the singer is looking like some alpine milkmaid, but why are the band in track-suits? I love that yodelling tromboner (there’s a Googlewhack if I ever saw one), just those facial expressions!
Anyway I JUST THINK IT’S REALLY NICE, SHUT UP.
11. Laura and The Lovers – Little by Little (Lithuania )
Did not qualify, #25 in the Semi-Final
Now really, this deserved better than LAST place in the semi-final, didn’t it? Where did the Baltic bloc go? Voting blocs tend to give Lithuania a bit of a wide berth for some reason, so I don’t imagine they will follow their fellow Baltic chums to a win any time soon.
But honestly this is a pretty solid pop song isn’t it? Am I missing something? OK so it’s a bit of a motley crew of backing dancers, but she carries off the performance pretty well. Perhaps not quite as good as the recorded version, but I don’t think she did anything wrong.
Perhaps performing 2nd in the semi-final didn’t help, but it’s not totally forgettable, I just don’t get it.