It seems like yesterday we were all celebrating Germany’s win of 2010 and imagining where we’d be tuning in to one year on. But that year has almost passed already, and the host city, stadium, and of course, all forty-three songs, are locked in place! There’ll be a bit of a lull in action from now as behind-the-scenes work carries on until May – but before that, there’s a whole lot of fun stuff for me to cover, having been otherwise occupied for just a few days. Let’s get to it!
The running order has been decided…
And I was a lot more anxious to find out what happened than I thought I would be! I won’t list the full results as I’m sure you’ve already seen them (if not, check out eurovision.tv or the 2011 Wikipedia page), but I will skim over the crucial info – such as Poland opening the first semi final, and Greece closing it. Both of those countries are in these positions as wildcards, meaning they were randomly selected to have the advantage of choosing their slots (in the first and second halves). You can imagine why they would have picked these – going first has its perks, and being the last flavour on everybody’s tongue does too.
What is harder to imagine is why the wildcards in semi final two, Slovakia and Latvia, chose the 5th and 17th positions respectively. I’m sure they had their reasons, but you have to wonder why they didn’t mimic those of Poland and Greece. Still, Latvia’s lateness in the draw pleases me (a HUGE fan of Angel In Disguise) despite the fact that I don’t really believe any particular draw helps an entry to qualify/prevents them from doing so. In any case, Bosnia and Herzegovina is numero uno in SF2, whilst Jedward will be the second set of twins to perform that evening at the end.
The dreaded “curse of number two” has befallen Norway and Austria this year, two countries that have been predicted to advance since early in the piece. It’s a curse that has been less evident in recent years than in the past, so if I were Stella or Nadine, I wouldn’t lose any beauty sleep over it. Stella, especially, should sail through to the final even if the curse floats through the air conditioning vents and slaps her in the face during the seventeenth ‘Haba haba!’.
None of the Big 5 have to worry about that either, with all of them being drawn (almost) in the second half of the final. France will be the first of them to grace the stage in 11th position, followed directly by Italy (12th), then the UK (14th – a fairly good slot for them), the host country (16th), and the wildcard of the final, Spain (22nd).
Whilst Azerbaijan is running scared.
After keeping us in suspense for slightly longer than intended, one of Eurovision’s newest but most successful countries revealed its entry earlier in the week. It’s titled (as alluded by the hilarious pun above) Running Scared, and whilst in my opinion, it makes Drip Drop look like a winner, it isn’t a bad effort.
For a fairly generic ballad with no ethnic influence, the chorus is strong and after only one listen, I could still remember how it went. Praise has been very generously doled out online for this entry, which I don’t quite understand…but it’s nice. In a 6-point kind of way.
Belarus is feeling the love…
As you probably know, Belarus was forced to cobble together a new song for Anastasia Vinnikova when it was revealed that the original, Born In Bielorussia (a song I loved for its fun Junior Eurovision-like qualities) had been publicly performed prior to the allowed date. The newbie, I Love Belarus also sounds like a JESC song, though not such a good one.
Short of hanging a neon sign around Anastasia’s neck in the video clip that flashes “Written in five minutes!”, it couldn’t be any more obvious that this was written in five minutes in a mad dash to meet the deadline (well, maybe more than five. Seven at least). In an apparently desperate effort to pen a song about how wonderful Belarus is – as I’m sure it is – those responsible for this entry have taken the old song, put in a blender with copious amounts of predictable soft rock and poured the contents into a glass only to find it half-empty. And yet…I kind of like it. Why, I don’t know. Nonetheless, it’s not a likely qualifier, being in the second semi. But I give it 6 points, having given the original song 10.
As a handful of countries go English…
Whilst I see the pros of rewriting a song in English for Eurovision purposes, I wish there weren’t so many countries so quick to do it. I love European languages, and having learnt to love the likes of Poland in its native one, the recently released English translations sound very clichéd. When thought is put into the rewriting, and it isn’t just done for the sake of doing it (Albania, Slovenia, and Iceland) it can turn out quite well. As for Poland and the Ukraine…all I can say is, for Bucks (Fizz) sake, go back to Polish/Ukrainian! The translations of those have turned two great songs into two average ones. I should say that it isn’t 100% settled whether or not these two will go with the English versions. Poland has said they’ll see what the fan response is…I could tell you right now the verdict.
Luckily, there are a few countries that have gotten it right: the Netherlands’ 3JS, whose rewrite is both meaningful, and so seamless that there isn’t much difference from the Dutch version; and Italy, who have gone for a combination of the original Italian, and English, which is very effective (Madness of Love, as it is now referred to, has really grown on me over the last few weeks). So I will be applauding these songs, as well as the few countries who will sing in their own language – Cyprus, Bulgaria and Serbia for example – extra vigorously in May.
And more Düsseldorf details are revealed.
A sneak peek of the stage has been released (only in writing unfortunately, as construction is yet to get underway), as well as the postcards and interval acts, on eurovision.tv. The mystery of the reprise has been solved therein, with co-host and my favourite German, Stefan Raab’s Big Band set to perform Satellite in Lena’s place (whilst she’s backstage experiencing a severe case of déjà vu). With 53 days to go until the first semi, the organizers will be going full speed ahead. They’re sure to have the Esprit Arena and its trimmings ready on time if German train schedules are any indication (you know what they say about the punctuality of public transport).
I’m so excited, and I really can’t hide it – can you?