Eurovision reloaded: Kiev 2005: My Top 10

10. Walters and Kazha – The War Is Not Over (Latvia )
#5 in the Grand Final

Speaking of the Baltic bloc, as we enter the top 10 here is Latvia. It should be the naffest load of dreck ever. The styling looks just as you would expect from a Latvian Eurovision entry, and they’re strumming away on their little guitars.

Oh wait, the one with the shit hair got up, HOLD THE PHONE. It’s just a really sweet song, and I’m a sucker for a good falsetto, which is exactly what we get on that last little glory note. Or it is if you saw the semi-final. They mysteriously bottled it on the final performance, but still made it to the top 5. OK it’s not the strongest note every, and I imagine if he tried to push it, it would have gone horribly wrong.

9. Gülseren – Rimi Rimi Ley (Turkey )
#13 in the Grand Final

Turkey time, another country that can rarely do wrong in Eurovision. This time they went for the full-on ethnic bonanza, there are sitars and drum, costumes with tassles and beads, even some weird bongo priest.

I’m not that familiar with the sound of Turkish, so for all intents it reminds me of some sort of Bollywood soundtrack. It’s gloriously sunny and energetic. For all the spectacle of the performance, the vocals aren’t really great, but I really do love that recorded version, very upbeat.

How many drum solos did the participants indulge in this year, feels like LOADS.

8. Javine – Touch My Fire (United Kingdom )
#22 in the Grand Final

Who’s that in the slot of death? Yes, poor Javine got the fabled 2nd slot in the running order, that has never produced a winner. But let’s make the most of it, and throw as much ethnicity at it as we can to try and make up for our Eurovision sins of recent years.

I really loved this at the time. Is she referring to her vagina in the title? Who can tell. She managed to at least avoid another nip-slip during this dazzling performance. She looked amazing, and there’s more than enough Eastern promise thrown in to please our distant European cousins.

At least that was the plan. I’m used to us doing badly in Eurovision, ever since we started sending shit like Gemini, but by and large I don’t think we’ve really been short-changed in the last decade, except in this case. It felt to me to be the most accomplished and appealing entry we had until Jade in 2009, and perhaps this is a more fitting victim to the running order than lumpy old Engelbert this year was.

7. Shiri Maimon – Hasheket Shenish’ar (Israel )
#4 in the Grand Final

Time for an Israeli Barbie singing another lovely Israeli song that I can’t understand a word of. I love the Hebrew sounds though. HAHGHHH.

At first glance it seems like a pretty standard Disney ballad that we’ve seen a handful of already, but she really brought this one alive. That chorus really builds nicely doesn’t it? And she’s so PRETTY. Lebanon tried to entry in 2005, with a rather lovely French ballad, but they couldn’t accept sharing the contest with Israel. If it comes down to the songs, I think the right song ended up on stage.

6. Vanilla Ninja – Cool Vibes (Switzerland )
#8 in the Grand Final

What the hell are Switzerland doing in contention for a win? Or at least ANYWHERE near a top 10. I’m so used the the recent Swiss disasters that it’s a bit of a surprise to see them doing well. But just as they did to secure their last win with Celine Dion, they had to import Vanilla Ninja in from Estonia.

I’m not really sure what to make of it, the title doesn’t quite convey the serious tone of the song, nor does the flippancy of the lead singer when she sings “why don’t you kill me?”. It’s a real slice of drama isn’t it? The lead singer is pretty kickass too, I think she beat up Lithuania’s Laura for that jacket too. Why weren’t they representing Estonia though?

Either way, it really stood out in a field of poppy turbo-sluts and pretty Disney princesses, and really held its own.

5. Luminiţa Anghel and Sistem – Let Me Try (Romania )
#3 in the Grand Final

Time to turn the FEROCITY up to 11 as Romania bring another solid hit to the stage with the big-voiced and big-chested Luminiţa. Is that another drum solo? Honestly guys, what was going on?

She needed a strong voice to get over that noisy percussion, she she certainly had that. With such full-on vocals she even had space for a hair-raising key change too. The props were a bit overkill, I mean angle grinders really shouldn’t be used as percussion should they? What a racket!

It certainly went down well with the public though, giving Romania their best result to date.

4. Nuno Resende – Le grand soir (Belgium )
Did not qualify, #22 in the Semi-Final

OK so I can expect to meet some resistance on this one, but I don’t CARE ANYMORE. The slightly vampiric Nuno really nailed those vocals though, and did his best to take my attention off that vile jacket, and his unfortunate facial hair decisions.

French just sounds so nice, and he certainly stretched his rhyming dictionary as far as it would go. It’s naff, especially when that hidden electric guitar screeches away quietly.

But it’s really that vocal that won me over, especially that gorgeous final note. You can tell the audience don’t really give the tiniest shit though, can’t you. Ultimately it was doomed, and Nuno was forced back into his coffin for driving Belgium into a losing streak only matched by their neighbour Netherlands.

3. Chiara – Angel (Malta )
#2 in the Grand Final

THAR SHE BLOWS. The royal yacht Chiara is cruising into view, with her mightiest Disney ballad to date. I really want her to finally win this contest for Malta one day, it would be such a lovely story. Just get some Swedes in to write the song please.

It could easily have stalled as a pretty boring ballad, but her voices really elevates this into something really glorious. She even gets to give it a bit of SASS halfway through, before resuming her task of blowing away all the other vocalists in the contest.

Christ knows why Malta are mothballing her with a 5-year ban for all previous Maltese entrants, and leaving her to sing the shit out of some plus-sized hits on Maltese TV. Put her in a nice dress and do her hair please, she looks like Dr Robotnik’s sister at the moment.

2. Selma – If I had your love (Iceland )
Did not qualify, #16 in the Semi-Final

I did think long and hard about who I’d eventually pick as my 2005 favourite. It was a close-run thing, but Selma has to settle for 2nd place, as she did in 1999 when she first entered. I’ve just notice that my top 3 were all former participants – former top 3 finishers, no less! while Chiara and Helena managed to reflect this in the leaderboard, Selma got a raw deal crashing quite heavily in the semi-final.

It’s a shame really, Iceland have produced some of the best entries of the 7 contests I’ve counted down, perhaps better even than Sweden (we’ll forget 2007 happened). Selma’s song ultimately didn’t quite have the OOMPH that Helena mustered, but it was still a great performance.

A vaguely Toxic-sounding string riff, and a full on euro-slut sound was present here, but Selma herself was utterly gorgeous, like Amanda Holden might look like with her original head. The routine was simple but effective, with the golden motif throughout the performance really setting off the whole thing.

I can see why it might have got lost in the pack, but it really did deserve much better than it got.

1. Helena Paparizou – My Number One (Greece )
#1 in the Grand Final

So yes, there we have it. It’s one of those rare occasions where my favourite track of the contest actually WON. In fact judging by Greece’s record in recent years, it’s almost unthinkable that they’ve only won it once.

But what a win, it just has the gravity of a winner, and while they realised that Helena’s vice was strong, it couldn’t compete with some of the ballads, so they threw plenty of gimmicks at it. A hot dance routine, the human string-section (!), the stick dance, that naff but inch-perfect ‘1’ design laid out in Greek dancers.

I think the planets just aligned to secure the Greek victory, it was closer than I imagine it would have been, but Chiara at least didn’t have to suffer such a nail-bitingly close defeat as she did in 1998.

Some great lyrics in there though, that I’m sure you would only ever find in Eurovision “You’re my passion, my relief, my crucifixion”. In a short space of time, Greece certainly learnt the secret combination (…) to Eurovision success to become one of the untouchable for the best part of a decade, and I can’t imagine it’ll be long before they win again (unless they destroy Europe).

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