Eurovision 2013 might be firmly in the past, but it’s finally time for me to wrap up my countdown. Watching the DVD yesterday, it just confirmed how much I enjoyed everything about it. I had a great time in Oslo’s 2010 contest, but I felt a lot more investment in this. Following Baku’s 2012 contest closely to report on the blog really got me better acquainted with the contestants than ever, and this year I went even further on that front.
So now I don’t just think about the songs sent to Malmö, I also remember the arena, the performances, the characters. At the risk of sounding really sickly, it’s little things – the amazing reaction to Anouk qualifying, Gianluca’s goofy faces, Elitsa screaming “Bulgariaaaa” in the green room, Margaret’s victory Joey-dance, Esma… well, just Esma.
I don’t know if the songs are necessarily better than other music I listen to, but that emotional investment in the music and the performing artists have ensured I still don’t feel bored of the class of 2013 despite listening to them a LOT over the last 6 months.
I also hope that people who read this blog have enjoyed the journey too, it’s felt a bit labour-intensive at times, but I’ve been totally blown away with the numbers of views. Sure, a LOT of them have been people googling Eddie Razaz’s nipples and finding that ONE post (though fair play, he’s got a great body), but in March I wondered if I would break 50,000 views by this point, and instead I’m on the home stretch to 100,000 views instead. So thank you so much for this support, and I hope you hang around for the other stuff (Margaret Berger’s album review coming in the next few days for a start).
If you want to catch up on the rest of my countdown, here are links to #39-31, #30-21, #20-11 & #10-6. Also everything I’ve ever written about Eurovision 2013 (DAYS worth of writing) is in the Malmö 2013 hub.
Aliona Moon – O mie
#11 in the Grand Final
There was no shortage of “wow” moments this year, and Moldova really brought their best this year. They have often sent energetic folk party tracks, including last year’s “Lăutar“. But playing it straight this year, Moldova chose a superb ballad written by last year’s performer Pasha Parfeny, and a lady who performed with him in Baku – Aliona Moon. Why she didn’t get centre stage sooner is insane…
It’s a bleak song, the relationship is over and Aliona is left feeling hurt that she was the one left behind. I thought it might be a bad choice to change to Romanian instead of English, but it sounds so much more natural, and allows her to give the amazing vocals her full attention. That melody must be hard to sing in the earlier choruses, but then you hit THAT key change.
It was a showstopper even when I only heard it originally – that’s such an amazing climax, the orchestra putting its weight behind an exhausting key-change that Aliona sings effortlessly. Really one of the best musical moments of the contest I think. But THEN, it’s twinned with some incredible visuals. The hair and the dress with projections look amazing, with the dancers carrying some of the attention before the key-change. But then the dress rises and rises, electricity arcs across it, and when the key-change hits it turns to a towering inferno, before crystallising at the end and glowing like the Northern lights. Incredible.
Moldova really deserved a better result, but I am so pleased Aliona did so well.
Margaret Berger – I Feed You My Love
#4 in the Grand Final
As a side note, I took the picture above – BOOM, there’s your Facebook album cover. Where to start with the radiant Ms Berger? Styled to amazing effect as an Arctic Khaleesi, possibly from the future, it was impossible to see this song not doing well. Margaret had been on my radar before, I loved her song “Samantha” from some years back, and post-Malmö I am listening to her “Pretty Scary Silver Fairy” album for the first time (review coming very soon) while I wait for her new album.
It was fresh, it was striking and it commanded your attention from the first shock of those thundering synths to the last note. Margaret shone like a beacon on the dark stage, looked amazing, sounded brilliant. What more could we ask for? While I would have loved Eurovision 2014 to cross the Norwegian border rather than the Danish one, I can at least see that the song might not instantly appeal to everyone, mainly the hip, youthful, swinging cats watching Eurovision ironically (and me too).
These are great entries, they expand peoples’ ideas of what Eurovision can be. It’s not some cultural backwater where people (I’m looking at my own country here) can have an annual sneer at how weird – and therefore invalid – other countries’ ideas of a good time is, while at the same time half-heartedly sending a desperate last-chance act to fly our flag. No offence to Bonnie though, SHE was in the right spirit of the contest and I love her for it.
I’m getting sidetracked. Basically Margaret was fantastic and she should be proud of her great result. The only thing stopping me placing her in the top 3 is how effortless she made it look – the next three really went through the wringer on the way to and through Malmö. Album soon, Margaret??
Robin Stjernberg – You
#14 in the Grand Final
It’s impossible for me not to get excited about Sweden as a Eurovision fan. Sure, Melodifestivalen had plenty of thrills and spills but I always end up with at least a few dozen great songs for my iPod, and more artists to fall in love with. This year didn’t disappoint on that front. It felt like a wider variety of songs this year, meaning big Swedish pop felt the pinch. Under threat, the Swedophiles rallied around their favourite acts.
I really fell in love with Robin’s song from the first listen. That half-yodelling chorus will never leave me, his vocals are incredible, and the whole package of the song is nothing short of thrilling. His journey through Melodifestivalen was unique. Ending up in Andra Chansen after placing third in his semi-final wasn’t a hopeful start. Nobody had won from Andra Chansen before, and while the prospect of an entry in the final was exciting, I sadly resigned myself to Robin (and some of my other AC favourites) not making it to Eurovision. But after getting through AC (he didn’t even win that) he pulled off an astounding victory to win the Malmö ticket, and finished the most exciting national selections I’ve ever watched.
The dream maybe didn’t work out as well as we all hoped in Malmö, though 14th is still a decent showing and he should be proud of that. But he gave it his best, and it takes its place as one of my favourite Swedish entries – and that’s a tough list! Looking forward to hearing the new album “Pieces” too. Well done Robin!
Roberto Bellarosa – Love Kills
#12 in the Grand Final
How can you not love this guy? I was so worried for Roberto during the contest – he looked so nervous every time I saw him perform before Malmö. The song selection event didn’t give me much confidence – a very low budget affair, and when “Love Kills” was chosen it didn’t seem like he could even hit the top notes. Another DNQ for Belgium?
But no… the production was polished, Roberto obviously put a lot of work in to get his performance right, and it paid off. I was so worried he wouldn’t qualify, but he comfortably made it through the tough first semi-final. It was only the 2nd time Belgium had qualified in 9 years, and he finished with a great result of 12th place overall.
It’s not hard to see why everyone (and I) fell in love with him. The song with its bigger production turned into a brilliant dance-pop song with Roberto’s vocals sounding great, even nailing that big “Toniiight” note. You could tell in his face that he was so happy that things were going well, and those little faces to the camera were adorable.
I don’t know if it was because he was young, or he wasn’t confident with his English, or his excited jumping after his performance finished, everything just made me feel very proud of him. The song sounded amazing in the arena too, it was really a great moment.
Valentina Monetta – Crisalide (Vola)
#11 in Semi-Final 2
It feels a bit sad to finish off my write-up for such a joyous event with the tragic ballad of Valentina, but on the other hand there is NOTHING she needs to feel bad about. I hope not anyway, the voting left her achingly close to San Marino’s first appearance in the grand final, but there is no doubt in my mind that everyone in that arena was rooting for her, and even further outside as she did amazingly well in the OGAE Eurovision vote (the dozens of national fan clubs voted and gave points Eurovision-style).
She was one of the names on everyone’s lips when I spoke to fans around Malmö, and I even had the priviledge of having a long chat with one of her entourage – her ‘moral support’, I can’t remember her name sadly – who just confirmed everything I suspected about Valentina and the song – “Vola” was Valentina’s song, and certainly light-years ahead of the insane (but unforgettable) “Social Network Song” last year. I think that made her bad news all the more difficult to take, to the point where it eclipsed all the good news from Semi Final 2.
I feel better about it now, as she revealed a few weeks ago that she will fly the Sammarinese flag for an incredible third time in Denmark. I love her, I hope she wins the damn thing, though just her two years in Eurovision have already sealed her as a real legend of the contest I think. I just hope it’s not a jazz song, out of personal taste. I know she loves performing jazzy numbers, indeed I’ve seen a few jazzy versions of her Eurovision entries, but it’s not my favourite personally. I would love a big dance-pop song, but with the gravity of “Vola” – not some cheap thrill. Get Ralph Siegel to look at Icelandic Eurovision dance songs for inspiration, quick!
I haven’t even said about the song! What a song… after last year’s caper, she transforms like a butterfly into a graceful and beautiful singer. Some people felt the ballad section took too much of the song, but I love it. Big sweeping pianos, that waltzy rhythm, it’s a dream. Then out of nowhere she bursts out into a powerful dance remix for the last minute. Two key changes and a big money note… it’s enough to make your head spin, your heart burst, and goodness me, I need to sit down. I love the change and I love both parts of the song. It’s one of the greatest Schlager anthems Sweden never entered I think.
Brava, Valentina. We will all be rooting for you next year.
I hope you enjoyed my write-up, and I hope you stick around to look at some of the other crap I’ve written about – use the navigation at the top of the page. This – finally – brings to a close my coverage of Eurovision 2013, and thank you again for bringing this blog so much success. Until next year…