Baku Reviews: Part 5 (Norway-Serbia)

Norway

Stay/ Tooji

Top 10 material: Yes

The good stuff: When your favourite song in a national final wins that national final against all the odds (well, several odds) you’re not going to complain. By ‘you’ and ‘your’, I of course mean ‘me’ and ‘my’, because that’s what happened to yours truly with Norsk MGP 2012. I absolutely adore Tooji and his song, and no amount of ‘Hello, Eric Saade 2.0!’ jibes from you lot will change that. Stay has it all – it’s current, it’s catchy (so very catchy…), it’s dance friendly, it’s ethnic, it’s just repetitive enough AND it has one of those brilliant breaks before the last chorus where we all get to pump our fists in the air and shout ‘yah!’  To top it all off, Tooji can sing (above Eric Saade-level), dance, and be good-looking all at the same time. Plus, in his spare time he’s a child protection consultant (AWW!). What more could a girl want? In a Eurovision act, I mean.

Everything else: As suggested by the above gush-fest, I have nothing bad to say about Norwaythis year. They are in the tough second semi, but they’ve got a decent draw and I think they’ll make the final.

Winner, loser or grower: Winner – douze points!

 

Portugal

Vida Minha/ Filipa Sousa

Better than 2011: Yes

The good stuff: Another year, another drama-filled Portuguese ballad…only applies if we forget Homens da Luta ever existed (I’m sure many people would like to). The man responsible for Portugal’s 2008 entry, Senhora Do Mar – as well as a bunch of entries for other countries – Andrej Babić, is back with a song that actually reminds me of that one a bit. It’s not one of his best efforts, but it’s not bad. As mentioned, it’s more dramatic than an episode of Days of Our Lives, which opens up all sorts of exciting possibilities for staging (hopefully including interpretive dance and a dress with a massive skirt that Filipa can toss around like a bullfighter’s red rag. Oh, and a wind machine dialed up to Level Rip-Your-Hair-Out-By-The-Roots). Filipa herself is a very capable vocalist, so she should turn out a good performance.

Everything else: If I didn’t have the Senhora comparison to jog my memory, I would not be able to recall how the heck this song goes. For some reason, every time I listen to it I immediately forget the entire three minutes. There’s proof on the WWW that I am not the only one to have experienced this phenomenon, and that does not bode well for Portugal’s chances of success. Although, let’s face it, Portugal’s chances for success are never that high.  

Winner, loser or grower: Grower – 5 points.

 

Romania

Zaleilah/ Mandinga

Top 10 material: Yes

The good stuff: After last year’s boring-after-three-listens entry Change, it gives me great pleasure to say that Romania is back to their Eurovision best. Mandinga is made up of a bunch of happy-go-lucky musical men and one super-hot, scantily clad frontwoman, so it’s like they’ve taken InCulto and Ani Lorak and smooshed them together to form an unstoppable act – and that’s before we even get to their song. Zaleilah is a part Spanish, part English bundle of summer-hit fun that should raise the roof on semi night. The construction workers who slaved away on the Crystal Hall for months won’t be too pleased about that, but everyone else will be when Romania sails through to the final.

Everything else: Again, there are uncertainties over lead singer Elena’s live vocal abilities. Apparently, at Eurovision in Concert this song was mimed (tut tut!) and I’m not sure, but I think the national final performance was too. Unfortunately, Zaleilah is not a song in which weak vocals can be disguised. If the leading lady isn’t up to scratch in that department, this could sound dreadful, army of backing singers or no army of backing singers. For now, I’m going to assume that she is so amazing live she didn’t want to make any of the other artists feel inferior pre-Eurovision, so she decided to lip-sync all the way down the road to Baku.

Winner, loser or grower: Winner – douze points!

 

Russia

Party for Everybody/ Buranovskiye Babushki

Better than 2011: No

The good stuff: It’s good that the grannies will be able to build themselves a church in their hometown as a result of their representing Russia. It’s also good that Engelbert Humperdinck now has ladies to flirt with at the after-parties who won’t think he’s a creepy old man (in fact, they’ll probably think he’s a dashing young whippet). It’s also, also good that we get to hear a new language at the contest in Udmurt.

Everything else: I’m sorry, but I just don’t get this song. No, it’s not because I desperately wanted Dima Bilan to win the Russian final (even though I did). I just don’t like it. It wouldn’t be out of place on the soundtrack of a film about a murderous clown who rides around on a miniature bicycle and hacks innocent people to death with a knife he conceals in his giant shoe – and anything that fits that particular bill does not make for an enjoyable listen IMO. However, I’m not going to label it a loser, because being 100% mean to the grannies would be like slapping my own grandmother across the face.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower – 4 points.

 

San Marino

The Social Network Song/ Valentina Monetta

Top 10 material: No

The good stuff: Please don’t throw anything at your screen pretending it’s me when I say this…but I actually like this song. I’m not sure why, and I know it’s wrong, but I do – kind of like the enjoyment one gets from squeezing a particularly horrendous pimple. If I block out the horror that is the video clip and ignore the shocking lyrics, I find it listenable, and even – brace yourselves – catchy (I cannot use that word often enough). That’s the thing with Ralph Siegel, Germany’s ESC addict. Some of his songs are awesome (Reise Nach Jerusalem, for example) and some are dripping in cheese (Let’s Get Happy) but all of them, without fail, get stuck in your head to the max.

Everything else: When this song was called out on its blatant product placement and we knew it would undergo a rewrite, I hoped that rewrite would make it better. Unfortunately, replacing ‘Facebook’ with ‘social network’ did the impossible and made it worse. The lyrics are so cringe-worthy they make those from Switzerland’s 2004 semi-final loser Celebrate sound like prize-winning poetry. In addition, there’s that frightening video clip I mentioned earlier. If you haven’t seen it, don’t. It’s three nightmarish minutes of ill-fitting t-shirts and teeth and creepy old men who want to have cybersex, that you will never get back. Gross.

Winner, loser or grower: Because I can’t get past the lyrics, loser – 3 points.

 

Serbia

Nije Ljubav Stvar/ Željko Joksimović

Reminds me of: Paradise by Coldplay

The good stuff: The day ZJ was announced as Serbia’s 2012 representative is up there with the greatest in my life to date, no exaggeration. Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration. Anyway, that’s not surprising to those who know my all-time favourite ESC entry is Lane Moje, closely followed by Lejla, which ZJ composed. His fans expected big things from him musically, but does Nije Ljubav Stvar deliver? In a word, OBVIOUSLY! This man can do no wrong in my eyes (save for getting together with Jovana Janković instead of me) and he’s taking another epic, ethnic Balkan ballad to the contest after four years away. I love how the song starts off so quietly before building into a final minute that knocks your socks off, even if you’re not wearing any. It’s got light and shade and ZJ written all over it.

Everything else: My only complaint is that I want it to go on for longer than the allowed three minutes. A song like this deserves at least five. Regardless, it should be a magical opener for the second semi final (as opposed to tragic-al, as it will be in semi 1).

Winner, loser or grower: Winner – douze points!  

 

NEXT TIME: I review Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine in the penultimate episode of the Baku Reviews!

 

About Jaz

I'm Jaz, I'm 26, and I'm 110% Eurovision-OBSESSED. The contest is one big party, and I like to keep it going 365 days a year - that's why I write about anything and everything ESC on my blog. Come join the fun, and I promise you'll never have a nul-point experience! www.eurovisionbyjaz.com/

Posted on May 10, 2012, in Eurovision 2012, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. YAYYYYYY Serbia!!!! yay 12 points to Željko!!!!!! (sorry, can’t help it xD)

    I wanted to write “everything is better than Portugal 2011”, but San Marino 2012 ruined that line…ugh :/
    I agree with you on Russia…although I don’t find it THAT bad as to make it the sountrack of a creepy clown movie..but I don’t get it either,
    and I’m glad that you said their song is NOT better than Aleksey Vorobyov’s (believe it or not, some people dare to say that :O )

    My problem with Romania is pretty much what you wrote for “Aphrodisiac”; The lyrics are so, but so cliché and bad that I feel bad singing along…yet I can’t help it..and the music is so goood xD

    Like

    • I guess not understanding Spanish helps me to love Romania. I have no idea what they’re singing about, but yeah, it’s hard to resist reacting to it in some way! Are the lyrics worse than Greece’s??
      PS – Hot Russian guy in leather jacket will always trump a posse of embroidered grannies, no matter what they’re singing ;]

      Like

  2. [[[: huhuhuh. [wow really ugly smiley ._.]
    :’D but yeaah. serbia. I really hope he’s gonna win becaaaaause then my grandfather will buy me the ticket for the ESc 2013 in Serbia *-* one of my biggest wishes ever.. but yeahh. I think it’s only a wish.. :’/
    sorry. not going to cry now:’D

    juuup. the facebook song. for me it will always be the facebook song. and i think zuckerberg have to be very proud that Facebook made it to the Eurovision Song Contest. wow.

    (: hmm. I like portugal this year. even if i don’t unterstand a word.

    Like

    • Aww, I hope Serbia wins just for you! And for me too, because ZJ and his song are awesome! He does have some pretty tough competition though…
      I wonder if Zuckerberg heard about the Facebook Song? Are we allowed to call it that anymore or will we get arrested?? Ahaha. At least there’s something appropriate to say if we do…”oh oh, uh-oh-ohhhhh!”

      Like

  3. Lady Rosa de Vere

    I liked norway when i first heard it and was happy it made it to their national final but i have to say that serbia has just blown me away with their totally beautiful song. i dont see how it cant get to the final and it certainly has got to be up there in the top few..maybe even win. as for russia, my kids who are 6 and 8 love it..maybe that is the target audience!

    Like

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