I think I’ve been putting this off to an extent. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been busy (eh…) or lazy (closer). I wanted to finish the Madonna countdown, but perhaps it’s because I was avoiding closure. The Eurovision comedown is not an isolated phenomenon; symptoms involve hissy fits, gay comas, and not changing the CD in the car for something non-Eurovision.
But this is the last thing I have left to do – ooh, and post some photos – so I might as well kick it off while I have some time. These countdowns take ages to write up!
Malmö might not have been the first choice of venue when Sweden finally won Eurovision, but I think it worked well. The arena, for all the whiners, was a perfect size for the audience I think, big but intimate enough to involve you in the action.
SVT was a bit schizophrenic on this front. They didn’t want to rely on a huge stage or flashy visuals (well I guess the stage wasn’t THAT big) as they wanted to make it more about the performance. But the number of performances where they kept cutting to the the arena bird’s-eye view, hmm. It just felt like quite often they were showing off the arena as much as the singers.
Presenter Petra was funny but in places she had a strange edge to her, an easily irritated school-teacher vibe. She didn’t do many favours for the “Eurovision = gay” mentality either, even if it was meant (and take) in good humour.
I think the visual identity really made it too. The postcards were sentimental and tasteful (love the music) and the concept of the butterfly was great and executed beautifully; those butterflies were beautiful, and the final opening VT with the caterpillar made me a little emotional! Involving the audience with the LED bracelets was a great turn too, even if it looked better in the arena than on TV.
Enough about all that though, let’s kick off the countdown!
ByeAlex – Kedvesem
#10 in the Grand Final
So there has to be someone in last place, and it’s a reflection of the quality of this year’s contest that I didn’t truly hate any of these entries. They were all just trying their best, many against terrible odds, and they shouldn’t be slated for that.
This snoozer though, I had it down as a dead-cert for not qualifying, but not only did it shove San Marino back into obscurity in its semi-final, it managed a top 10 finish for beleaguered Hungary. I just didn’t get on with it at all, hipster costume, flatlining vocals and chilling backdrops. There’s something sort of nice about the studio version but I won’t be sad never to hear this again.
PeR – Here We Go
#17 in Semi-Final 2
Seeing these guys give it their all in the jury semi-final helped me to get over what a disaster this is. A lot of energy but how dated is it? The chorus is basic as it comes, and verses come complete with naff 90s white rap! Latvia never fails to produce these sorts of moments, and as unfortunate as it was for PeR, they duly came dead last in their semi-final.
Despina Olympiou – An me thimasai
#15 in Semi-Final 1
Was she wearing anything underneath that dress? It looked see-through! Still, it gave people something to occupy themselves with while this fairly tame ballad breezed by. This was starting to grow on me during Eurovision week, she’s a lovely singer and beautiful too, but this song is just too dated. Were Cyprus taking a dive this week?
I hope when their financial situation improves they might dare to send something as amazing as “La La Love” again.
Dorians – Lonely Planet
#18 in the Grand Final
Not a very carbon-neutral performance was it? A bit too much pyro for a heal-the-world rock ballad I think. Along with Hungary, it was a qualifier I didn’t really want to see in the final. But in this case there’s nothing really wrong with it, Guj has a lovely voice and the tune itself is fine.
But it was a good year for me, and ‘alright’ doesn’t quite cut it. Good effort but Armenia’s done better I think.
Esma and Lozano – Pred da se razdeni
#16 in Semi-Final 2
Ahh! It could have been so different, couldn’t it? Lozano (hot!) had a great voice, and the song shows promise of being rather good. Enter Esma, the force of nature, dressed as the Great Red Spot of Jupiter, capable of destroying the world several times over.
Fortunately for mankind she settles for destroying every chorus she finds. Le-le-le-le-le!!! There’s something gripping about this song. The song itself is quite good, but those little dubby asides when Esma fades in are somewhere between chilling and haunting. A very intriguing pair, and I feel bad for putting them so low. Le-le-le-le-LEH!!
Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko – Identitet
#15 in Semi-Final 2
Albania are usually my go-to Balkan for some top entries. Following last year’s best ever result with the scary snake lady Borg Queen, this was never going to do as well. Two unlikely rock musicians singing a rock track that could have been released in any decade. There’s even a guitar with a firework in the end! RAWK!!!
But when it gets going there’s a strangely rousing note to it. I think it’s the full orchestra that followed them from the national finals, it’s got a grand scale to it, even if it felt totally at odds with contemporary music.
Natália Kelly – Shine
#14 in Semi-Final 1
Poor girl, opening the show – the toughest semi-final at that – she put in a good performance. I just think the song lets her down. There are good bits; the uh-oh refrain, the simmering string section in the background. I don’t think the lyrics get much beyond banal, and is this the 436th Eurovision song called “Shine”?
But it’s the chorus that doesn’t quite get there for me, I can’t quite put my finger on why, it’s just a bit downbeat for something that’s supposed to be encouraging someone not to give up. Good performance, average song.
Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankulov – Samo shampioni
#12 in Semi-Final 2
Oh you can’t fault their logic. Bulgaria have had a fairly disasterous history since their 2005 debut. Of 8 entries up to this year they had only qualified once, so out of desperation are sending those qualifiers back for another bash. Yes, Elitsa & Stoyan had qualified in 2007 (it was a slow year) and managed 5th place. So erm… maybe just see if it works again?
They certainly tried their best, but it’s a grower, not something you need if you’ve only got 3 minutes to convince Europe to pick up the phone. It’s a baffling barrage of drums, cheesy synths, tribal yelling and more drums. It nearly worked, and I really did love Elitsa, petite but full of energy.
Seeing her waiting in the green room before the 10th qualifier was announced, yelling “Bulgariaaaaaa” at the camera with a gleeful smile is something I’ll take a long time to forget.
PS, doesn’t she remind you of Alanis Morissette?
Amandine Bourgeois – L’enfer et moi
#23 in the Grand Final
Entering Eurovision week, I commented to a friend that this was perhaps the only song I really disliked. It grew on me a bit after that, but the performance really converted me. She might have looked like a slightly cleaner Courtney Love, but she certainly threw everything into the performance, if you’re going to do it any time, that’s the time.
The vocals on the chorus was great, loved it. Poor France got shafted by the televote for a second year running, but I doubt that will stop one of the most versatile Eurovision nations competing on their own terms again next year.
I loved her finish, like she’d just recovered from a possession, with a look of wide-eyed surprise that she’d got through the song without messing up. Love it!