Tag Archives: one life

Eurovision reloaded: Dusseldorf 2011 – #30 – #21

ESC2011banner

After a day off, spurred on by my hard drive being a bitch last night and really pooping on a terrible week, I’m back with some more retrospectives on Germany’s selection of Eurovision hopefuls from the 2011 contest.

—————

poland2011

Poland Poland

Magdalena Tul – Jestem

#19 in Semi-final 1

Poor doomed Poland, winning the wooden spoon of this year’s contest by coming dead last in the first semi-final. It’s hard to say if that sound problems that plagued the start of the show were totally to blame, Magdalena didn’t seem QUITE able to carry off the vocals, so it might have been a blessing in disguise.

It’s a pretty good euro-dance track, even if it’s all Polish, which somewhat limits the karaoke potential for me. It all looked like quite a polished (tee hee) entry, just didn’t really seem to work out, did it?

—————

france2011

France France

Amaury Vassili – Sognu

#15 in the Final

Yeah, great, thanks France, you lost me £20 quid (well not really, it was a freebie bet I got after betting on Blue). After all, the last decade has shown that it pays to back the bookie’s favourite, and at 2/1 odds compared to the next closest (Blue at 8/1) it seemed like a sure thing that it would win.

Well, a sure thing to everyone except those who had listened to it. How could so much faith be put in an unknown quantity like a Corsican opera song? No self-fulfilling prophecies were going to convince the European populace to pick up their phones though, and before you could say “I told you so”, it came in at a rather humiliating 15th place. Well it wouldn’t have been that humiliating had so many people not thought it was going to win, but hey.

It is what it is though, I can appreciate it as much as I can an opera song. It was memorable, and well sung (for the most part), but still … that’s not really why I came to Eurovision. I’m glad that there is such variety, but I won’t pretend this is the stuff I love.

—————

italy2011

Italy Italy

Raphael Gualazzi – Madness of Love

#2 in the Final

I swear, I was going to put this dead last at one point. What happened? This is nothing compared to the rather shocking turnaround for returning heavyweight Italy during the course of the voting results, coming from the very bottom quite far into the results to a truly shocking 2nd place.

I won’t pretend I see that level of appeal, but it has grown on me. There are points I still really hate, the dog-bothering shrieks for a start, but he did put on a decent performance. The chorus stayed with me after the show too, it’s quite old-fashioned. God knows, some of the San Remo stuff I saw by chance on Belgian TV was BEYOND PAINFUL, so count this as a lucky escape.

I just felt a bit aggrieved that this stole the silver medal from Sweden in the last set of votes …

—————

armenia2011

Armenia Armenia

Emmy – Boom Boom

#12 in Semi-final 1

Oh I know, I know, I shouldn’t like this. It’s such a weak-assed excuse for a pop chorus, and some of the vocals on the night were a total train-wreck.

A crying shame too, Armenia have been responsible for some great entries over the last few years. It seems their ambition for mainstream success meant that they dispensed with any of the usual cultural angles they often include, and it seems they threw the baby out with the bath water.

That said, Azerbaijan did pretty much the same thing but managed to win the bloody thing, so what do I know? Weak as it is, this IS a very catchy song, even if it only seems to work on record instead of being performed.

—————

malta2011

Malta Malta

Glen Vella – One Life

#11 in Semi-final 1

Oh dear, what a hot tranny mess this guy was. This seemed to feel like a much better idea when I was only listening to the final studio version than when he flounced onto stage in the semi-finals.

God knows how old he was under all that makeup, but he seemed endearingly enthusiastic just to make it to the semi-finals, so I was rooting for him. Coming a single point from qualifying was still a lot more successful that I was expecting, but I will be waiting a bit longer for Malta’s hard-earned victory.

Oh I haven’t mentioned the SONG have I? OK it’s at least a departure from the usual tactic of sending some empowered Maltese woman out with a ballad and a nice dress (or just Chiara if she’s up for it – and she always is). People seemed to hate this but I thought it was a nice message, even if it was delivered with the overbaked vocals of a drag act. At least it sounded VAGUELY contemporary.

—————

bosniaherzegovina2011

Bosnia Bosnia and Herzegovina

Dino Merlin – Love in Rewind

#6 in the Final

Ohhwhooa-whaaahooooooooo!

Another odd grower, though it earned that status quite a while before the contest itself. That probably burnt it out a bit for me, it’s a bit of a drag now. Maybe it was the rather uninteresting staging that took forever to get going. It was clear that it was a good group of musicians though, and the song managed to be appealing and relevant without having to be a dance-pop song.

Popular with the crowd, presumably as a returning entrant to Eurovision, though that didn’t seem to do Dana International much good did it?

It could have troubled my top 10 at one point, a thought that seems quite incredible right now, but it’s memorable, good key changes, stands out from the rest. What else can I ask?

—————

albania2011

Albania Albania

Aurela Gaçe – Feel the Passion

#14 in Semi-final 1

MEGAVOX time. After the first two semi-finalists faltered, this fierce bitch really melted some faces with a VOX BOMB. The song itself has wobbled a bit for me, loved it originally, then cooled off, but that performance just gave me goosebumps. I imagine people were put off by HER, sadly, and probably didn’t even notice some of the FILTHILY suggestive lyrics “I DAB my lips with your morning DEW”

The bridges are great though, “Like an eagle in the OPEN SKY”, and the brief manic bit of Albanian. I really liked this, shame it didn’t make the final. I suppose that much is obvious if I put it in the top 25!

—————

spain2011

Spain Spain

Lucía Pérez – Que me quiten lo bailao

#23 in the Final

Spain! Who’d have thought it? They didn’t even need to send a boyband to get me paying attention. This was a late bloomer, VERY late really – the night before the final I realised how much I love this.

OK so she doesn’t have the glamour of Serbia’s entrant, the fierce confidence of Albania or the megavox of Austria. But GOD what a catchy wonderful song this is. Can’t understand a word of it, but what does that matter? That’s part of the appeal to some of the foreign language hits, it’s in the delivery. This somehow manages to be even more joyful than Haba Haba and Caroban, particularly thanks to that lovely middle 8 and the key-change for the final chorus.

I can see why it didn’t really work on the night, but at least I enjoyed it (and probably Portugal did too)

—————

ukraine2011

Ukraine Ukraine

Mika Newton – Angel

#4 in the Final

I’m at a bit of a loss with this one, I’d not really grown too attached to it before show. That performance was certainly memorable but didn’t really help me that much – it was definitely inventive to have that Mystic Meg woman doing her sand pictures on the giant TV screen, but I found it quite distracting from the performer.

She was a beautiful girl too, and without the distraction of the sand-art, this is a real grower. Obviously I didn’t feel the 4th place finish was entirely deserved but it’s got a really memorable chorus and it’s still growing on me, so… well I’m willing to be proven wrong. I always love Ukraine’s entries one way or another, even if they send something as unappealing as 2010’s entry.

—————

lithuania2011

Lithuania Lithuania

Evelina Sašenko – C’est ma vie

#19 in the Final

Surely someone liked Lithuania, seeing as Evelina blind-sided many people by qualifying from her semi. I mean, who else thought it could have easily come last?

Luckily she was a great singer with a largely unopposed straight-up ballad (Malta must be pretty pissed off). It’s syrupy and dated, but it’s such a lovely sweeping melody. She didn’t look like she thought she’d do well, but she gave it her best and was almost bemused that she’d got through!

I think I like this so much because it could easily be a classic Japanese piano-ballad, the sort they use on Final Fantasy games. Powerful but controlled vocals and a charming song. That’s all I wanted!

—————

2 Comments

Filed under Eurovision, Music, Reviews

Eurovision reloaded: Istanbul 2004: My Top 10

Much prolonged, but it’s finally time to count out my top 10 tracks from Eurovision 2004. The top 10 is always a tough group to pick, but I’m pretty happy with how it all turned out, even if the top 3 really didn’t have much separating them.

Eurovision Song Contest Istanbul 2004 logo

————

United United Kingdom

James Fox – Hold On to Our Love

#16 in the Grand Final

British entries haven’t had the best reputation in the last decade, though they’ve got nothing but themselves to blame most of the time. They needed to bounce back after 2003’s humiliating nul points finish, and while this wasn’t a total disaster, it did highlight that the UK’s glory days would take more effort to maintain.

I vaguely remember this guy from Fame Academy, and while this didn’t do a lot for me at the time, I’ve really grown to love it. It’s cheesy and MoR, but that chorus really works for me. It’s the sort of chorus you’d sway along to if you’d had a bit too much to drink, and as old-fashioned as it sounds, it certainly didn’t shame the UK.

————

Croatia Croatia

Ivan Mikulić – You Are The Only One

#12 in the Grand Final

Balkan ballads are a funny thing, I don’t know what makes me love one and snore through another. I think if there’s a bit of the mystery that Eastern Europe holds for me, and a bit of melodrama and an ear-catchingly unusual melody (to Western ears), that’s a good start.

Ivan sings his way through what I can totally understand most people for thinking was a pretty tepid midtempo. But the chorus really sticks in my mind, maybe it’s his accent as he belts out “You are the only waaaaaannn”. He’s just got a curious tone to his voice, maybe his breathless vocals remind me a bit of Enrique or something. Weird as it is, I’m still fascinated by this.

————

Cyprus Cyprus

Lisa Andreas – Stronger Every Minute

#5 in the Grand Final

Barbra, is that you? Teenage Lisa bravely kicks this off with a cute acapella segment. It’s a pretty dated song, like a schoolgirl singing a Carpenters track, but her voice is so pretty that it’s hard for me not to get all sentimental.

OK the vocals weren’t 100% in the semi-final, but she certainly held her own against more experienced vocalists on the night and gave Cyprus a top 5 result that hasn’t been matched since. Shame they were STILL beaten out by Sakis’s midriff in the end.

————

Ukraine Ukraine

Ruslana – Wild Dances

#1 in the Grand Final

It was clear from the first performance that Ukraine were looking to raise the bar with the performance this time around as they blew the cobwebs out of the semi-final. A photo-finish secured Ukraine their first Eurovision victory, just pipping Serbia & Montenegro in the last few sets of votes, who had beaten Ukraine in the semi-final.

It’s a largely unintelligible tour-de-force with battle horns, crazy Xena Warrior Princess outfits and bags of energy. Ruslana was a thoroughly likeable character, who would later be instrumental in Ukraine’s Orange Revolution after a rigged election later that year. A memorable winner that demonstrated that winning Eurovision wasn’t as formulaic as it seemed.

————

Russia Russia

Julia Savicheva – Believe Me

#11 in the Grand Final

I’ve always had a soft spot for this track, with a melancholic disco tragedy vibe about it. The verses are pretty mid-tempo but those choruses really have a great sound to them. Just as well, because the lyrics are a little lost in translation at times.

Her vocals weren’t amazing live sadly, perhaps victim to nerves, or a rather OTT dance routine involving multi-coloured dancers and multiple lifts. The choreography was iffy in places, and she looked like an uncomfortable Avril Lavigne, but there’s a great Russian pop track at the heart of this.

————

Bosnia Bosnia and Herzegovina

Deen – In the Disco

#9 in the Grand Final

Oh lord, how did this happen?!? Moments like this are why I love Eurovision. Fiercely heterosexual Deen tried his best to get some chemistry with the female dancers for the more deluded viewers, but all said and done this is a fantastically full-on Eurotrash disco masterpiece.

There’s not a huge amount to it lyrically, it’s just about loving music in a disco, with a frankly astonishing hi-NRG dance routine. His vocals might sound a bit weak, but it all feels like that’s how it’s supposed to be. He hits the notes despite the frantic choreo and struts confidently around underneath that awesome mutant disco-ball. A real joy, even though Europe were never going to be totally on board, but 9th place is a great achievement for something like this.

————

Belarus Belarus

Aleksandra and Konstantin – My Galileo

Did not qualify, #19 in Semi-final

Highest non-qualifier here, and I get why it might have floundered a bit, but my God, this is the lightest most uplifting bit of ethno-pop I think I’ve ever heard at Eurovision. Not sure how to describe it… speed new-age? I’m still astonished that this is in English, I dare you to decode more than 10% of the words without the internet.

What does “My Galileo” even MEAN? Anyway I don’t care, treated as a foreign-language track it’s totally magical, heartwarming and of course totally doomed. I’ve just seen the music video for the first time, what the hell? Is she controlling the solar system? What an enigma!

————

Belgium Belgium

Xandee – 1 Life

#22 in the Grand Final

It’s not easy being a Belgian Eurovision fan, consoling yourself that at least you aren’t a Dutch Eurovision fan. For there have been disappointingly few times Belgium have had justice served in their favour. OK they haven’t been amazing, but at least Kate Ryan should have qualified in 2006. Xandee at least didn’t have to qualify for 2004’s final, with Belgium’s Sanomi missing out on a second Belgian victory the year before by only 3 points.

Still, let’s not dwell on that, nor the fact that Xandee came a sad 23rd in the final. What we have is a powerfully-performed Europop titan. My only criticism is that it sounds pretty dated now, in the great way that trancey-pop music from that region was great at the time, like Ian Van Dahl and Lasgo etc.

It sounds a little more like a tampon advert soundtrack than those acts, but Xandee gives it her all, with a frantic arm-waving dance routine. Some great camera shots from behind the stage too, it just all came together for me.

————

Sweden Sweden

Lena Philipsson – It Hurts

#5 in the Grand Final

A golden rule of Eurovision is never to rule out Sweden. The adoptive motherland of the contest, they (usually) give it their best every year. This time it’s Schlager superstar Lena’s turn with a minimal routine of her doing everything she can with a mic stand.

This is classic Schlager heartbreak, with that campy wry smile from Lena doing her best drunk inappropriate aunt persona. I must admit I thought the Swedophiles made a bit too much of the microphone dance, but it’s such a solid pop song that it’s difficult not to get taken in.

I’ve loved the handful of Lena songs I’ve heard so I’ll certainly look into her when I get a chance. She worked the crowd in Istanbul, and was rewarded accordingly.

————

Albania Albania

Anjeza Shahini – The Image of You

#7 in the Grand Final

I know! I was surprised too! The usual suspects normally nab my favourite entry of the year, but Albania has quietly amassed several hot little tracks, the first of which being their debut that – until this year in Baku – was their biggest hit.

Starts off timidly enough, with Anjeza and a simple piano kicking off a light uptempo beat. It’s got quite an unusual melody, but it builds so beautifully, until that “Queen of the world of make-believe” line that still hits me when I hear it.

The harmonies the backing singers in the choruses really add some richness to the vocals that Sweden and Belgium missed out on. Her vocal performance might not have been quite as assured as Lena’s, but she was enjoying every second, and so was I. Just when you think you’ve heard it all, that slightly unhinged final burst finishes on a high.

I might weigh the success of this one more on the studio version than Sweden’s, but this is still such an adorable song after hearing it so many times.

————

Well I hope you all enjoyed all that. I think I might post some of the latest contests up before I do another vintage year. Before we know it, the 2013 entries will start pouring in, and I won’t have time for anything else!

What is your favourite song of the contest?

5 Comments

Filed under Eurovision, Music, Reviews