Location: Esprit Arena, Düsseldorf, Germany
Hosts: Anke Engelke, Judith Rakers & Stefan Raab
SEMI FINAL 1
When: May 10th, 2011
Opening song: Jestem by Magdalena Tul (Poland)
Closing song: Watch My Dance by Loukas Giorkas & Stereo Mike (Greece)
Interval act: Cold Steel Drummers
My highlights: The walking, talking hilarity that is Anke Engelke; Finland’s amazing backdrop that was simple but stunning; Sjonni’s Friends proving they had more than just a tragic back-story through their charming performance of Coming Home; and Greece once again demonstrating their Eurovision invincibility with a song that few saw qualifying, but made magic happen when it came to the live show (Loukas & Stereo Mike turned out to be the Alyosha of 2011).
My favourite performance was from: Serbia
Shocks and surprises: Poland ditching the leather and grunge of their MV in favour of white and silver nappies – a big mistake; Alex Sparrow and his posse fooling us into thinking their performance was over, then launching into an epic choreographed curtsey; Kati Wolf’s frighteningly bouffant hairdo (a definite shock); Lithuania and Switzerland qualifying, and Norway and Turkey NOT qualifying.
SEMI FINAL 2
When: May 12th, 2011
Opening song: Love in Rewind by Dino Merlin (Bosnia & Herzegovina)
Closing song: Lipstick by Jedward (Ireland)
Interval act: Flying Steps
Qualifiers: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Austria, Ukraine, Moldova, Sweden, Slovenia, Romania, Estonia, Denmark, Ireland
My highlights: Belgium, believe it or not – Witloof Bay’s a cappella vocals were terrific, even if the song created by them was not; hearing the ROOOOOAAAARR of the crowd before, during and after Eric Saade’s turn onstage; Dana International’s last-minute catwalk strut that got me wondering how she acquired such supreme stiletto skills; Maja Keuc, her suit of armour, and those boots…and the Flying Steps, whose interval show was so attention-grabbing I did not blink once while it was happening and consequently needed to be fitted for a pair of bionic eyeballs shortly after the contest.
My favourite performance was from: Bosnia & Herzegovina
Shocks and surprises: Sand artist and Ukraine’s Got Talent winner Kseniya Simonova accompanying Mika Newton in one of the greatest gimmicks ever seen at the ESC; and Cyprus’ knockout performance, one that I think deserved a place in the final.
THE GRAND FINAL
When: May 14th, 2011
Opening song: Da Da Dam by Paradise Oskar (Finland)
Closing song: One More Day by Eldrine (Georgia)
Interval act: Jan Delay
Winning song: Running Scared by Ell/Nikki (Azerbaijan)
Losing song: In Love For a While by Anna Rossinelli (Switzerland)
Completing the top 5: Italy, Sweden, Ukraine, Denmark
Completing the top 10: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Greece, Ireland, Georgia, Germany
My highlights: The inventive opening reprise of Satellite, featuring a surprise cameo from Lena ML, who emerged from a seething mass of look-alikes; Judith’s bang-on imitation of Lena before said reprise; Blue, one of THE acts of my girlhood, on the Eurovision stage (albeit in dreadful shiny suits and in front of massive headshots of themselves that gave off a rather narcissistic vibe); Italy’s triumphant, trumpeting return after 14 years of contest absence and/or disdain.
My favourite performance was from: Germany/Sweden
Shocks and surprises: The grand (and highly symbolic) unveiling of the green room pre-voting; Italy raking in the points during the latter half of the voting and reaching a well deserved but completely unexpected second place; Eric Saade being Popular enough with the juries and televoters to nab the bronze medal and secure Sweden’s best result since 1999; and finally, Azerbaijan topping the scoreboard with a song that wasn’t even close to being on my winning radar.
A year on, I still can’t believe Running Scared took home the prize, but I’m ultimately happy it did, because in eight weeks time Eurovision will go somewhere it’s never been before, and I have no doubt that the Land of Fire will put on a spectacular show for all of us.
What was your favourite part of the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest?
COMING UP: A month of Düsseldorf in Rewind continues with my top 10 most-played entries of 2011. Plus, it’s time for another exposé of doppelgangers…they can run (scared) but they can’t hide!