I’ve been sitting on some of these Eurovision write-ups for a while, as I’ve written about previous Eurovisions on a messageboard before now. I hope that over the next year or so I can fill in the blanks between Istanbul 2004 and Malmö 2013. To further confuse things, I’m looking at Riga 2003 at the moment! But anyway, let’s cast our minds back slightly to 2011.
For a large part of the 00’s, it seemed like a Big Four win was totally out of the question. Indeed, Germany, France, Spain and the UK had all suffered a long period of disappointing results, and fell into a vicious cycle of lazy entries, convinced they would fail whatever happened. But a few decent results in the later years (UK & France in 2009, for example) seemed to snap Germany out of this funk and they went all out to find a contemporary pop song to blow the competition away. In Oslo they did just that, and Lena’s “Satellite” become Germany’s long-awaited 2nd victory.
After having possibly my best ever holiday, largely driven by being in Oslo for the 2010 contest, my friend and I resolved to go to Germany the following year. I did manage to go to the second semi-final, happily sparing me another night of utterly terrible BBC coverage by Sara Cox. We were right at the back, and we did have to make it from the airport runway to our seats within 50 minutes, but it was only 5 Euro for an ‘everything must go’ ticket, and we got a good view of the massive TV screen onstage.
Also, as we did in 2010, rather than spend £170 for Grand Final tickets (and good luck, the booking system crashed for 4 hours and reopened with most of the tickets sold), we went for the Jury final on the Friday night, and got given THE WORST tickets. I’m still annoyed about THAT. But we got a great view of the backs of the performers’ heads (when we weren’t seeing the backs of the audience’s heads). We made up for it by spending the final in a lovely biergarten, drunkenly chatting to some natives as the UK’s hope of a win was dashed for another year.
ANYWAY, I would say that the show was as flash as could be expected from a Big Four host, though I couldn’t help but feel that Oslo put on a better show with more personable presenters, and the show didn’t quite hit the bombastically extravagant look of Moscow’s show. I would agree with early criticism that a stadium wasn’t well suited for the show. The walkway was a nice idea but it was SO big that it took a large part of the 3-minute songs just to get there!
But what of the MUSIC? Well I’ll do my usual and count down the 43 entries.
Homens da Luta – A luta é alegria
#18 in Semi-final 1
Hmm well someone has to come last, and it was a surprisingly easy decision to come to. In fact, Europe nearly agreed, placing them just ahead of Poland in the first semi final, not least by virtue of 8 points from Spain. How the fuck in these days of anti-political voting separation did Spain end up voting in Portugal’s semi??
Anyway, a novelty/protest song that managed neither definition. If there was a message, it was mostly lost on the viewer by being in Portuguese. Of course there were some signs in various languages but God knows what that was about. The song itself was quite uninteresting, the sort of thing I could imagine hearing in Nandos. No wonder they’ve never won it.
I just hope it’s not about their financial situation, because this was NOT worth paying the entry fee for.
Musiqq – Angel in Disguise
#17 in Semi-final 2
Oh actually, maybe the last place wasn’t so clear-cut. These guys managed to make 3 minutes feel like slow death, and here was me lucky enough to see them perform live! What an ungrateful cuss I am.
At least it sounded vaguely modern, but the lyrics were hugely shit and it just felt flat and rubbish. Even the rap bit was a slight improvement but pretty dated. Kill me with killer kiss? The main guy had a weird face too, like an overinflated balloon.
Well done Latvia on failing to deliver on my already low expectations. THAT WAS SARCASM
Yüksek Sadakat – Live It Up
#13 in Semi-final 1
One of the selling points of this year’s show was the number of interesting stories coming out of it. First of these in this countdown was the rather shock fall from grace for the Turks (is that the proper term? It sounds strange, I hope I’m not being racist). I think practically everyone was cynically (and understandably) assuming that Turkey would qualify this year, someone even suggested that they could armpit-fart their way to the final (which of course they did with Hadise in 2009).
Trotting out some REAL MUSIC, particularly some dated RAWK heightened our cynicism further. Given Turkey’s massive success last year with MaNGa taking 2nd place in Oslo, history seemed set to repeat. Except then it didn’t! Well I don’t think many people cried for the loss of this pretty uneventful crud, despite the contortionist shoe-horned into the staging. The group just didn’t have the command of the stage that MaNGa did, nor the quality of song.
At least it feels like justice was done in some measure during that shocking first semi-final.
Witloof Bay – With Love Baby
#11 in Semi-final 2
Acapella must sound like such a good idea sometimes. Put some faith in the talent of the performers instead of relying on flashy performances and gimmicks, YEAHHH! Indeed there is an almost annual appearance of vocal groups at Eurovision in recent times, and for a few moments this even sounded like it was going to work.
I did quite like this at one point, perhaps due to my low expectations of how good it would be. Very divisive I’d imagine, at least to begin with. After several listens I was getting a bit sick of it, but that was before the performance. To give them credit, they NEARLY squeezed Moldova out of the final, though that’s not much of a tradeoff.
But the point with putting your faith in a vocal group is that they don’t fuck up the vocals, because that’s ALL YOU HAVE. It wasn’t a total disaster, but surely it didn’t go to plan. Keeping it simple paid dividends for Tom Dice in 2010, but I think they took the wrong lesson out of that success … better luck next time Belgium.
Zdob şi Zdub – So Lucky
#12 in the Final
Goodness me! I lost my train of thought there for a moment… It was at LEAST better than Turkey for having some vaguely interesting music and visual, and some TUNE to it (in places). My irrational hatred of unicyclists was tested here, as well as shouty Eastern-bloc rock music that I don’t give a shit about. Watching the performance I can imagine why some ironic viewers might have picked up their phones, which I guess partly explains their 12th placing in the final despite being the lowest-scorer qualifying from the semi-finals.
I’m not even sure if this was a gimmicky novelty entry, seeing as they are a quite established act in that part of the world, in fact they even represented Moldova in 2005 too. Maybe this is what all the Moldovans listen to… but not me.
Christos Mylordos – San aggelos s’agapisa
#18 in Semi-final 2
It’s a bit of a struggle even referring to Cyprus as Eurovision hopefuls, because goodness knows they rarely seem to have a hope of qualifying. While last year their entry seemed to have a lot of good feeling about it, even that only just squeaked into the final. This Greek-language song had a few good moments in the choruses, and that whole Smooth Criminal-esque leaning routine, but it does have a feeling of “toilet break song” doesn’t it?
Even the wailing woman swinging her balls around on the front stage didn’t really do much for me, and Europe placed them second-last in the second semi. Whoops.
Poli Genova – Na inat
#12 in Semi-final 2
Right, just to announce to you all, I don’t really dislike anything from this point onwards, but we are now entering the AMBIVALENCE ZONE. So pardon me if I end up cutting corners in my commentary.
So Bulgaria, they’re always a bit of a wildcard aren’t they? Hardly a glittering history of success, at this point only qualifying once in the 7 years since their entry to the contest. After trying some eurodance last year, and some … well I’m not quite sure how to describe their 2009 entry, they entered a middling rock-pop track with a lesbianesque frontwoman.
I mean it’s ALRIGHT, but it’s not really breaking new ground, a bit of a mid-00s-sounding noise but doesn’t do a lot for me. One where I remember the background visuals more than the song, not a good start…
Vlatko Ilievski – Rusinka
#16 in Semi-final 2
Here we have a track that promised to be more interesting than it ended up being. Actually this isn’t too bad, it starts off sounding like some sort of eurodance rock hybrid, but emerges as a pretty straightforward modern rock track with a vaguely Soviet folksy feel to it.
FYR Macedonia again hardly have the best track record, generally because the juries twice booted them out of the final in favour of Sweden and Finland despite coming 10th in their semis. I won’t get too upset for them because usually they are pretty hopeless, and we at least know they got a decent result in Baku. But this was at least LISTENABLE, and I quite like the word Rusinka. I feel like 16th place in the semi was a bit harsh, but then I guess I’m only giving them 36th place from 43 songs so maybe I don’t feel that bad.
Senit – Stand By
#16 in Semi-final 1
Right, on we go! I was quite fond of this one for a while, it is placed firmly in the middle of the road, but it’s quite sweet isn’t it? I always have a soft spot for the tiny countries, and the reappearance of Italy was enough to bring San Marino back for a second attempt.
She’s an interesting-looking character isn’t she, and perfectly pleasant. But sadly on the night, maybe it was sound problems but she was painfully off key on several occasions, which no doubt cost her what little hope she had of qualifying. Shame (sort of, I’m over it)
Hotel FM – Change
#17 in the Final
Hmm well after the poptastically amazing Romanian entry in Oslo, and the surprise widespread success of Romanian dance music in the previous year, I was disappointed that they didn’t try to capitalise on that in 2011’s entry. Instead we got an English guy singing a rather weedy, slightly-more-uptempo Ronan Keating song.
It only got this high because it is insidiously catchy, I can imagine a National Lottery audience clapping along to this with their dead eyes. That is a catchy rhythm, but I found the frontman rather too cheesy, with some major dimple action going on there. Those TROUSERS too, I don’t think skin-tight pinstripes were really the way forward, were they?
TWiiNS – I’m Still Alive
#13 in Semi-final 2
I had to admire the attitude of these girls, very proud to represent their country but realistic that it was a country that had never qualified for the finals since they returned to the contest. Also they had to put up with plenty of rather pointless observations by interviews that yes, they are twins, and so are Jedward, so… how about that then?
The chorus is quite lovely and catchy, but my GOD is three minutes of it a drag? Sitting at the back of the Esprit Stadium, all I could hear was the plodding bass to this, which is a shame because they were decent performers. Maybe one year, Slovakia!
Eldrine – One More Day
#9 in the Final
RAWK! Well not as simple as that really, there’s a GIRL in the mix too, who’d have thought it? I’ve long been a fan of the Georgian entries, so maybe their low placing is more down to a bit of disappointment that they haven’t sent through another masterpiece.
I has a nice melancholic feel, and the choruses aren’t too shouty. She was a great singer, even though those awful ruffled outfits they all wore were pretty repulsive. Pair that up with their luck at being the last to perform all helped them to breach the top 10 this year, particularly in the absence of the rockier tracks by Turkey and FYR Macedonia that didn’t make it through.
Anna Rossinelli – In Love for a While
#25 in the Final
After half a decade in the wilderness, Switzerland pulled off a bit of a coup by finally making it to a grand final, edging out Armenia. So far, so empowering. It felt like a bit of an earworm, the more I heard the jaunty Jack Johnson-esque nursery rhyme melodies, the more I liked it.
She did look like a massive freak when she had to fill time for a large part of the song with la-la-las and what I can only politely put as retarded dancing. If that wasn’t bad enough, they only showed the la-la-la segments on the voting recaps! It finished last in the final, expected for the lowest-scoring qualifier, so I guess they should just be happy with qualifying.
That bassist was HOT too. Not that it matters (it does).