I really need to wrap this up, don’t I? I mean come on, it’s like 6 weeks after the show…
So here we are in the top 20, and already a really solid selection of hot trax from Europe’s biggest music festival. There will be crazy costumes, props, big ballads and a near decade long payoff, but who will be left in my top 10? You’re excited right? Yes.
Koza Mostra ft. Agathon Iakovidis – Alcohol Is Free
#6 in the Grand Final
I really wasn’t convinced by this when I first heard it, folky-ska had been done before and while it always got the crowd going, it was never my genre of choice. Greece looked like they were going to pull out for a while, but I’m glad they didn’t, as it didn’t take long to realise how much of a party-starter this one was.
Hot Greek guys in kilts running around, goodness… it was the highest-ranked non-English track and it’s not hard to see why. The verses blaze by at such a rapid pace it doesn’t register that you don’t understand it, and before you know it you’re in the midst of the frantic assault of the chorus chanting. The Greek dancing at the end just set the whole thing off, those guys know how to play a Eurovision crowd. I just hope the troubles Greece’s national broadcaster is having won’t mean Greece miss the 2014 show.
Nodi Tatishvili & Sophie Gelovani
#15 in the Grand Final
Sure it was a calculated attempt to recreate Azerbaijan’s victory two years earlier by sending a emotional ballad duet to Malmö, even one written by last year’s winning writer. Georgia were in it to win it, and for a while I was a bit cold towards the song. I love Georgia’s entries generally speaking, but this felt a bit TOO obvious a push to win.
However seeing it up close and personal, it was well-performed by the conservative but thoroughly likeable Sophie & Nodi. The key-change payoff is wonderful, and there’s a lot right with the package. Georgia must be scratching their heads after Europe were tougher to convince – particularly as it was very near a shock DNQ in its semi-final. Let’s just hope they send something a bit more organic next year.
Krista Siegfrids – Marry Me
#24 in the Grand Final
I’ve flip-flopped with this one. Sure it’s very catchy and fun, but I always recoil slightly from novelty entries, and for a while it wasn’t quite clear if this was a novelty entry or not. It still isn’t! But Krista brought a lot of fun into the contest with her Bridezilla routine and gay wedding.
It was really well-executed on TV, and I’m surprised it didn’t do better in the final. But qualifying is a decent result given Finland’s record. Sure it was basically a Katy Perry song, but there’s a reason she’s one of the world’s biggest pop stars. Great attempt.
Gianluca – Tomorrow
#8 in the Grand Final
This really built up some momentum didn’t it? I love Malta, it always sends something reasonable to the contest despite its limited pool of artists. Eyebrows were raised when the song about “Jeremy, working in I.T.” won the Maltese selection, but it’s an accessible and cute little love song.
Gianluca might not be the most engaging performer, but he really melted everyone’s hearts with his awkward smiles and crazy facial expressions. There’s no doubt in my mind that he was really being himself, and he got a surprising amount of buzz and goodwill, not least down to his day-job as a doctor. Simple and different to the other entries this year, and was rewarded with a top 10 finish for the little Mediterranean island ahead of so many bigger nations.
Anouk – Birds
#9 in the Grand Final
If there was one defining moment of the semi-finals, it was the announcement that the Netherlands had qualified for their first grand final since 2004. A lot of those DNQs were down to the song, but nobody wants to be left outside the party do they? This year they pulled out all the stops, sending on of their biggest stars. Not a famous name in the UK but there was no doubt they were going for broke.
It paid off, the arena erupts when Anouk was announced as the final qualifier, it was a great moment. The song itself is a weird one, a quite old-fashioned vocal, strange lyrics, and a singer who made a few condescending gaffes before the show. It could have gone either way I think, but Europe ended up lapping it up and the song not only qualified, but came top 10.
Cascada – Glorious
#21 in the Grand Final
I really had expected this to do better, even if Natalie’s vocals on the night went a bit wild. Spurious claims of plagiarism about one note in the chorus plagued the song, which were ridiculous really. Can you imagine po-faced Loreen singing a hen-night anthem like this?
When Cascada get it right, they really get it right. Their recent lack of success (at least in the UK) feels like it was more down to a stale formula than anything, but they pulled another hit out of the bag, and looked set to give Germany a 4th top 10 finish in a row, but sadly it wasn’t to be. Still uplifting and … euphoric, even if it is a bit of a cheap thrill.
Dina Garipova – What If
#5 in the Grand Final
What’s with the balls? I never quite understood that. Russia wheeled out a big ol’ peace-loving ballad for their winner of The Voice. It was a bit staid and rigid, but she certainly had the voice to carry it. If anything was holding this back, it was the sickly content of the lyrics. I’m not sure why they did it, it’s not like those sort of songs typically do great business at Eurovision.
However, the vocals won the day, and it was still a showstopping performance. The use of the light-up wristbands in the audience worked well, and it gave Russia yet another strong finish. There’s a feeling of inevitability for a Russian win in the near future, and this proved they are certainly courting the public vote more strongly than some.
Birgit – Et uus saaks alguse
#20 in the Grand Final
This was a real slow-burner, originally feeling like a sweet but bland little ballad from my favourite of the Baltic bloc. But it somehow came alive on stage, and that sentimental feeling has only strengthened since the live shows.
Pregnant Birgit was really beautiful, and made good use of the stage and camera to perform her giddy little love song. That key-change added in since the her Eesti Laul selection was a great moment. Love this woman! Those opening bars are going to give me a little rush of nostalgia every time I hear it, there’s a song like that every year…
Moje 3 – Ljubav je svuda
#11 in Semi-Final 1
Time for a hot mess, and one of the biggest shock DNQs of the season. Serbia have a great record of qualifying, regardless of any handicap they appear to have given themselves. This time the curse of the girlband was that little bit stronger, and they ended up 11th in the semis. A real shame because I think it’s a top-notch pop song with that little Balkan twist.
Those costumes were revolting though, what were they thinking? The concept was good but lost with those costumes. An angel and devil fight over the blonde ladies heart as she struggles to decide whether love is worth it or not. There’s plenty there for people like me who don’t speak Serbian too, the electropop production is gorgeous, as is that chorus with the do-re-mi hook. How could this fail?
Marco Mengoni – L’essenziale
#7 in the Grand Final
Marco is a big deal in Europe, winning MTV Europe awards before now, so Italy were once again looking for the win. Three top 10 finishes in a row is nothing to be sniffed at, and I think they were a lucky to manage it. At face value, “L’essenziale” is a fairly ordinary Italian ballad – a bit country, a bit Westlife maybe. But there’s something that keeps me coming back.
For once it’s not the hot frontman. On the night, as feared, it was a very static performance and he performed with this weird squirmy vibe that made it gripping but uncomfortable to watch. No, don’t ask me why. But the song itself really builds beautifully, and I’m content listening to the studio version in my car.