Hello again! I’m back, at least for this brief window of time during which I’ve seen both semi finals of Eurovision 2013 but the final hasn’t happened yet. Tomorrow I’ll be avoiding even the slightest whiff of a news report from anywhere, until Monday when I can make another comeback to complain about the winner. I bet you’re looking forward to that already.
Anyway, I had a lot of stuff to get out of my head and onto le blog in the wake of semis 1 and 2. At last, here it is.
Watching this first installment on Friday night, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was watching Melodifestivalen. That may have had something to do with the location, and the fact that the children vs. Loreen reprisal of Euphoria we saw back in March kicked off the proceedings. But the intimate feel of the stage also gave me that impression. Then Austria opened the show and I started to feel Eurovision-esque again (yay!). Here’s a quick review of Austria and the fifteen countries that followed, as well as some thoughts on the other entertainment, and the results.
Austria: A good opener. Natália sounded great, and that white shirt/jeans combo wasn’t nearly as dull as I was expecting. She looked radiant, which is appropriate. You know, ‘cause of her song. Shine? Oh, never mind.
Estonia: Birgit was radiant too, but for a different reason (why can’t my mother have participated in Eurovision when she was pregnant with me, dammit? That is too cool). Again, she looked and sounded luverly.
Slovenia: This was the ‘wow’ act of the evening for me. Straight Into Love came off amazing in the arena, and Hannah belted it out like there was no tomorrow (which there wasn’t, if ‘tomorrow’ is a metaphor for ‘chance of qualifying’). Fierce costuming, too.
Croatia: Sigh. This was so beautiful I almost wept. And it’s going direct to my list of songs that should have qualified.
Denmark: It was decent, but I felt nothing. Oh, except a tinge of horror when the pyro curtain went off and I had a flashback to Running Scared.
Russia: Dina really is ‘The Voice’ of Russia, isn’t she? Stunning vocal. But everything else, especially the part when the backing singers “spontaneously” joined hands, was as contrived as the song.
Ukraine: Apart from the cringe-worthy camera shake at the beginning (I can’t help being offended on Igor’s behalf) this was another top-notch performance from Ukraine. Zlata made that papier-maché boulder look so glamorous.
Netherlands: Good use of the satellite stage by Anouk, and a lovely background on the main stage too. Her voice was haunting. *Insert scary ghostly noises here*
Montenegro: Sexy cyborg Nina made this performance. She sounded so studio-perfect I had to wonder if Montenegro had found a way to sidestep the live vocal rule. BTW, does anyone see the correlation between astronauts and cyborgs? What kind of party was this?
Lithuania: Eyebrows. That is all.
Belarus: I’m trying to figure out whether this was more Eurovision 2005, 2006 or 2007. Any way you look at it, it’s dated. Alyona also forgot to wear pants, but I’ll forgive her because her stilettos were totally fabulous.
Moldova: Actually, there was another ‘wow’ act, and here it is! That dress, that hair, that voice, that random dude at the piano who definitely didn’t represent Moldova last year…epic.
Ireland: Ryan Dolan obviously made a pilgrimage to Georgia sometime in the last few months and stocked up on their magical singing potion. That’s the only explanation for his almost flawless rendition of Only Love Survives.
Cyprus: Nice dress. How does the song go again?
Belgium: That’s my boy! Thank the Eurovision gods that Roberto and his lady friends put on a good show. And thanks to whoever decided to have the lyrics scrolling in the background to compensate for his off-kilter English pronunciation.
Serbia: I loved the theatrics of this, especially from Sara. But it was theatre that would have gone better with the old angel/devil outfits, not those candy-coloured crimes against fashion.
– Petra as the single lady (oh-oh-oh oh-oh-oh…) host came off a bit more scripted than I was hoping, but she did a good job. I did enjoy that joke about the potential 2013 slogans.
– For those of you who saw it, the skit to celebrate 30 years of Eurovision on Australian TV was naturally a highlight. I am slightly put out that I wasn’t invited to take part. Ha ha ha.
– I loved the journey through contest history, with Petra popping up in different decades by way of extremely well-executed computer graphics. ‘Merci’. ‘You’re welcome.’ ‘Merci’. ‘Yes…’ ‘Merci.’ ‘YOU’RE WELCOME!’ = hilarious.
– There wasn’t enough green room coverage for my liking, although I’m suspicious that a chunk was edited out of our broadcast. It happened last year, and I was not amused.
– The interval act was nice to look at, but I’ve got to admit, I’ve never been skilled at interpreting interpretive dance.
Qualified: Moldova, Lithuania, Ireland, Estonia, Belarus, Denmark, Russia, Belgium, Ukraine and the Netherlands
I predicted: Croatia, Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, Netherlands, Moldova, Montenegro, Belarus, Ireland and Serbia
I feel: Pretty stupid. 7/10 is not my best-ever effort, but that isn’t the cause of the moron vibes emanating from me at this moment. For weeks, I’ve been thinking three things:
– that Estonia would sneak into the final, despite the similarities to Cyprus the Boring
– that Lithuania has a way of qualifying when it seems most unlikely, and;
– that it could well be curtains for Serbia after just one televised performance.
But last week, when it came time to actually predict, I threw all those thoughts out of the window and excluded Estonia and Lithuania from my selected ten, and left Serbia in. Face. Palm. But what is, is, so I may as well move on to the fact that I am ecstatic about Belgium getting through! I don’t even care that I thought Roberto would lose the semi, it’s so good to be wrong. Sure, he’ll probably be in the bottom 5 in the final, but just to have made it there should give him the confidence boost he needs to pull off an even better performance than he did on Tuesday.
Moldova, Ireland and Ukraine were also welcome qualifiers, and for the Netherlands to advance for the first time since 2004 was brilliant. Bravo, Anouk, a.k.a. Depressed Mary Poppins. I was not so thrilled to hear the word ‘Belarus’ come out of Petra’s mouth, and I can’t help feeling that they stole a precious final place from a worthier country (Slovenia or Croatia, for instance) but since Alyona probably didn’t come 10th, that’s probably not true.
I do wish Montenegro had made it, but since I never expected them to, I can deal. I will miss Moje 3, however. Nevena evidently had a better knack for Junior Eurovision.
For once, it was hard to tell whether the first or second semi was the strongest. There was a lot about this one that I was excited for, with a bunch of my top-ranked entries AND one of my favourite artists of all time featuring in the lineup. Here’s round two of my review.
Latvia: Another good opener – I have to praise SVT for that. PeR were also generous enough to give us, as lead singer Ralfs said himself, the first stage dive in Eurovision history. Am I the only one that would’ve laughed if nobody had caught him?
San Marino: This Valentina Monetta was not the same one who took to the stage in Baku. This one was a glamorous, charismatic lady in red with an unusual attachment to an IKEA light fitting. I loved this.
Macedonia: Two words – train and wreck. This song is best reserved for studio audio.
Azerbaijan: Damn, the Azerbaijanis can stage an ESC entry! That’s if they actually were responsible for the staging, and didn’t import that from Sweden as well. Anyway, this was very good, and while Farid doesn’t normally light my fire, he was looking mighty fine.
Finland: Loud, energetic, she kissed a girl and we liked it.
Malta: Paging Dr. Adorable…oh, there you are Gianluca. This was so cute, right down to the lyrics popping up in the background in all manner of fonts. I’m a font fan.
Bulgaria: I was transported straight back to Helsinki thanks to Elitsa and Stoyan, which isn’t a bad thing (2007 is one of my favourite contests). It’s a shame Bulgaria had to learn the hard way what we all knew early on – that bringing back this duo wasn’t the answer to their problems.
Iceland: I wonder what brand of conditioner he uses?
Greece: I’ve really come to love these guys. The costumes and choreography were epic, and I’m so grateful for Agathonas’ sneaky ‘stache stroke at the end.
Israel: The song might be a tad repetitive, but Moran’s voice is incredible, and it was in fine form for this performance. As were her lady lumps.
Armenia: I was wrong about Gor’s vocal. He was in tune the whole time, and even held back on the gymnastics. Consider my words eaten.
Hungary: This was three minutes of breathy hipster beauty, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t care if he looked disinterested – I am in love with Kedvesem and the performance was wonderful.
Norway: I know I shouldn’t have been thinking about this, but Margaret’s shoes were kind of hideous. Apart from that, she looked as ethereal/bad-ass as ever.
Albania: Holy flaming guitars, Batman! Adrian and Bledar almost literally set the Malmö Arena on fire. A commendable show, boys. Though I must say, a little too much texturising spray was used on Adrian.
Georgia: Unlike Russia, this performance was more sickly sweet than the song. My mother, who happened to walk past while Sophie & Nodi were doing their thang, said she liked it. I’m not sure if that bodes well for them or not.
Switzerland: I have a soft spot for Takasa, but this was boring.
Romania: And now for something that you could never call ‘boring’. Cezar was like a camp warlord on helium out there, but his voice was on point.
– The opening act marked the first time I have every enjoyed watching people on BMX bikes.
– But enough bike talk. I’ve got to get on to the interval act that I vote to win Eurovision 2013. Yes, I’m referring to the Darin/Agnes extravaganza. I had been looking forward to this a ridiculous amount, what with Darin being my absolute favourite male artist on the planet and Agnes being one of my top females. My expectations were met, and then some. Both Swedish superstars rocked the arena, with Agnes kindly singing the two songs I would have chosen for her whilst surrounded by a year’s worth of material from a chiffon factory. Darin was just Darin. To see him on the ESC stage when it’s unlikely he’ll ever do so representing Sweden was a life highlight.
– In other news, Lys Assia made it to Sweden!! That woman is my hero. Approximately 147 years old and poorly, but still making the trek to be at the contest and get her mug on the telly.
Qualified: Hungary, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania, Norway, Iceland, Armenia, Finland, Malta and Greece
I predicted: Azerbaijan, Finland, Malta, Greece, Israel, Armenia, Hungary, Norway, Georgia and Romania
I feel: less stupid than before. 9/10 ain’t bad. But even if I’d gotten 1/10 (not statistically possible, but I’m trying to make a point) I’d have been happy, because Hungary, the one country I was desperate to qualify, was the first to go through. I can’t even tell you how loudly I screamed when that happened.
The next four to be announced were pretty obvious ones, though part of me was hoping Romania would be left behind. Iceland and Armenia were a little surprising, despite my gut feeling that Armenia would make it. I was chuffed for Finland and Malta.
When it came down to the last butterfly, it was only going to be Greece or San Marino (and so I was wailing for the loss of Israel). As sad as I am that it turned out not to be SM, a final wouldn’t be a final without Greece.
Well, just like the semis, my wrap-up is now over. But as upsetting as both of those things are, just remember that the grand final is still to be held, and it’s a final that should conclude with a tense voting sequence. The way I see it, there are four or five countries that could score their way into the winners’ club (if there is such a thing). Because I’m head honcho here and I can, I’m going to re-predict who that winner will be right here, right now.
Azerbaijan – They’ve got everything it takes. I still don’t think the song is one of the best on offer, but since when has that stopped Azerbaijan from winning?
Denmark – Yes, the favourite. I may not be overly fond of Only Teardrops, but I’m not idiotic enough to give it no chance of topping the table.
Germany – This song was made for an arena, and I think that will come across strongly enough on TV for voters to respond. The juries could be Cascada’s downfall, but Natalie’s ability to command the stage should be rewarded at least.
Italy – If simplicity and beauty is going to win out over OTT and cheesiness, then Marco could come out on top.
Russia – Speaking of cheesiness…ugh. But after the reasonably cleverly-staged performance, and the reaction of the audience (and the fact that I found myself humming along) I couldn’t not go there. This could happen, people, so prepare yourselves.
Belgium – Just kidding.
I’m more than happy for a random country to take out the coveted prize. What about you? And what were your highlights and lowlights and travesties and triumphs from the semi finals? Let me know below.
I’ll be back once the Land Down Under has broadcast the final, to discuss it in detail. As for life after Eurovision 2013? Well, I have a feeling I’ll be chatting about Malmö for a long time to come. Maybe you’ll join me?