Time for another helping of Baku’s finest. Well we haven’t quite got to the finest yet, but you get what I mean. It was a good year, all said and done, and I plan to keep the top 28 on my iPod now the contest is done and dusted, which is pretty much level with the last two amazing years. That aside, all 42 entries deserve a good send-off at least, and here we are…
Eva Boto – Verjamem
#17 in Semi-final 2
File this one under “missed opportunities”. Semi-final 2 was a bit of a crowded affair and there had to be losers, but still it was a shame that young Eva was one of them. Slovenia can’t catch a break, and Eva in her vegetable-peeling themed dress performed this sweet little Balkan ballad well. It just seemed to lack quite the impact it did in the National Final performance I saw, particularly without that dramatic “talk to the hand” finishing pose. Very sweet, but just didn’t have quite the punch on the night, nor in its recorded version.
Pasha Parfeny – Lăutar
#11 in the Grand Final
I had a soft spot for this guy, a cheeky chappy who looked like a questionably-dressed Colin Farrell. He certainly knew how to work a crowd, a common thread through Moldovan entries of recent years. It was never really a contender for big points, and was a bit of a flat end to a lengthy Grand Final roster, but it was certainly a decent effort. It was helpfully ripe for some condescending comments from UK viewers at some of the strange turns of phrase in the lyrics, but as a Eurovision fan it barely registers these days … still, “This trumpet makes you mine, girl”??
Engelbert Humperdinck – Love Will Set You Free
#25 in the Grand Final
Sigh … another year, another misfire. When we said the UK should strive to get a big name to represent us, we didn’t mean literally, and we certainly meant someone famous NOW. We were assured he was an international star still, though it seems that this was mainly in the 70s, just as it is in the UK. The most exasperating thing is that it’s a nice song, decently performed with good staging. But despite the positive spin we seemed to put on his selection, the song was utterly unsuited for Eurovision, particularly as the first of 26 finalists. I just hope his almost-total failure won’t dig us deeper into the hole we’ve put ourselves in.
Pernilla Karlsson – När jag blundar
#12 in Semi-final 1
I’ve wavered on this one, but settled on it being a sweet lullaby song. Swedophiles were all over this purely for being in Swedish, giving them an excuse to show their versatility by stroking their chins and appreciating a non-Swedish entry through a loophole. It’s not an amazing song, certainly wasn’t memorable enough to get Finland through to the final, but the waltzy rhythm to the music really sets it off. Very pleasant under any circumstances, but sadly doomed. Still, it’s the first bit of Swedish we’ve heard at Eurovision for a long time.
Can Bonomo – Love Me Back
#7 in the Grand Final
Oh knives out now. If a favourite song never made it through a semi-final, the blame is usually pinned on either Turkey or Greece who have impressive track records of making it to the final whatever the song is. Still Turkey took the heat off last year by failing to qualify with a dull rock song, and this year they lightened up by sending another cheeky scamp.
Indeed this time his friends come in useful, transforming into a boat when required. This song is rather strange by Western pop standards, but it’s got an infectious rhythm and naff maritime-themed lyrics. Perhaps he didn’t deserve to do so well compared to others that didn’t qualify, but Europe still chose him, so get over it.
Valentina Monetta – The Social Network Song
#14 in Semi-final 1
Well certainly one of the best value-for-money entries was this atrocity from tiny San Marino, all about Facebo… um, Social Networks! A hastily-rewritten version of this song just made the deadline, making even less sense than the original Facebook version. Valentina has this wonderfully psychopathic undertone, casually singing about cybersex and internet stalking with a smile on her face and a glint in her black shark eyes.
It’s infinitely quotable too, whether you are “Googling, giggling, gaggling”, or advising that “if you want come to my house, click your mouse”. The chorus makes precious little sense, a medley of “Ooh uh uh oh, Hello, beep beep” nonsense, completing an impressive barrage of ridiculousness that after dozens of listens I still haven’t got my head around. “Meet you on the internet!”
Nina Zilli – L’amore è femmina (Out of Love)
#9 in the Grand Final
After Italy surprised everyone last year by not only returning from a 12-year hiatus, but coming second with a rather leftfield entry, they went a little more mainstream this year. I loved this to start with, but it’s faded from repeated listens a little, particularly with an unsatisfying English translation and a retro-but-boring setup on stage. I fully understood its potential as a big hitter, and indeed it did make the top 10 in the end, but I feel like I still haven’t seen a contemporary Italian pop song yet. Maybe next year.
Nina Badrić – Nebo
#12 in Semi-final 2
Say what you like about the Balkans (my geographically inaccurate term for pretty much anything south of Poland, it seems), but they really brought some good stuff this year. One might argue this isn’t unusual, but I’m certainly appreciating it more. While doing my daily write-ups on each entry before the contest, this established itself as a bit of a favourite. It’s got a quiet drama, simple orchestral production and a beautiful rich vocal.
The tempo isn’t slow enough to bog it down, but I was left expecting more of the dull, dark staging of the performance. It didn’t have anywhere near the impact of the gorgeous video, and I think it suffered there. Nina just seems so watchable, it was a shame not to see her break free of the second semi-final.
Litesound – We Are the Heroes
#16 in Semi-final 2
Belarus have sent some quite endearingly crappy entries recently. Obviously they aren’t the richest nation in Europe, but they really make the effort to stand out nonetheless, and often succeed – moreso to me than to Europe. Last year’s brazen “I love Belarus” was one of the catchiest tracks of the contest, and I hoped this might just squeeze into the Grand Final with this pretty powerful and catchy dance-pop track. I liked the staging and the backdrop, and I am at a bit of a loss as to why this missed out in favour of some of the other qualifiers, but that’s just how it goes sometimes.
Iris – Would You?
#17 in Semi-final 1
Poor old Belgium. Only just outdoing their cursed neighbours Netherlands in the qualification stakes, and buoyed slightly by Tom Dice’s success in 2010. But this was an unfortunate and surprisingly severe flop. I commented before that Iris seemed like a good singer but maybe inexperienced (she’s quite young), but watching her performance again, I can’t see anything especially wrong with her performance.
It even had a nice slot midway through the semi-final and not competing with as many ballads as there were in the other semi-final, but it just didn’t work out. OK it’s a bit unimaginative, but it’s a pleasant love song with a lovely voice. It deserved better in my opinion.