Good evening/afternoon/morning, Europe/rest of the world, and welcome to a competition between Eurovision entries that is not Eurovision itself (as much as I’d love to sell tickets and slogan t-shirts on behalf of this post). A few months ago I held my first round of song battles, in which I pitted the songs certain countries sent to Baku against their counterpart candidates for Malmö, to see which ones you and I thought were better. Why? Well, there was no particular reason – I just thought it’d be fun. It was, so I’m totes doing it again. Hooray?!?
This time around, I thought it would be slightly less fun but more interesting to make entries from 2013 battle it out against those the same countries sent five years ago, a.k.a. in 2008. How do the Albanian and German songs of Belgrade, for example, compare to the Albanian and German songs fresh from Malmö? Were Croatia and Romania better back then or have they improved with age?
Am I the only one who wonders about this stuff?
There’s only one way to find out – by letting the battles of 2008 VS 2013 commence! I’ve already picked my winners, so check them out and then let me know which songs you would choose.
Albania’s Zemrën E Lamë Peng by Olta Boka VS Identitet by Adrian & Bledar
If you ask me to pick between a ballad and a rock song, chances are I’ll go for the ballad (unless it’s between a ballad and Turkish rock…there’s something about the Mor Ve Ötesis and MaNgas of the world that gets me). So Olta’s unique take on the average female ballad trumps this year’s rockiest entry in my opinion. I always found her song an interesting one, and I think Albanian comes off really nicely in it. Don’t you worry though, Adrian and Bledar. Anytime I feel like headbanging I’ll turn to you.
Bulgaria’s DJ Take Me Away by Deep Zone & Balthazar VS Samo Shampioni by Elitsa & Stoyan
Sound the guilty pleasure alarm folks, ‘cause here’s a biggie! Back in the time of Belgrade, I was pretty happy with the choice Bulgaria made…only to discover that nobody else was (it’s happened a few times since). I know it was dated even for 2008, and had a ridiculously long intro, and that Johanna was only there to repeat the same lyrics over and over and OVER again. But it was catchy, and as you probably know that’s my main criteria in a good Eurovision song. Plus, Samo Shampioni has a lot more wailing.
Croatia’s Romanca by Kraljevi Ulice & 75 Cents VS Mižerja by Klapa s Mora
This is a tough one. So tough that if they were physically fighting each other, I’m not sure who would win (75 Cents has unfortunately passed away, so you can’t say he’d be a disadvantage to the former). They’re in a similar ballpark in terms of being instrumentally rich, ethnic songs from Croatia, but I have to give the edge to Mižerja because it’s Just. So. Beautiful. It makes you feel like you’re watching the sunrise on a rugged Croatian mountaintop even if you’re actually standing in the supermarket trying to decide which brand of toothpaste to buy.
France’s Divine by Sebastian Tellier VS L’Enfer et Moi by Amandine Bourgeois
I’d rather have more ditsy, cruisy ditties from France in the future than slightly sleazy retro numbers, merci very much. Even if it means helium becomes an onstage fixture. It’s not that I didn’t like what France served up this year; I just adored what they did five years ago. Divine was one of my favourite entries of the year, and I can’t say that about L’Enfer. Please don’t hunt me down and strangle me with a feather boa, Amandine.
Germany’s Disappear by No Angels VS Glorious by Cascada
For some of you, this would be obvious. But if we’re talking about songs as opposed to live performances, then I’m a huge fan of both. Cascada wins based on the Glorious level of dance-a-bility and anthemic-ness (I’m sorry, but sometimes you need to hyphenate to get your point across). Disappear is a bit limp in comparison. Although Natalie Horler could have done with some of the angels’ chiffon stapled to the back of her dress. It really needed some extra oomph.
Israel’s The Fire In Your Eyes by Boaz VS Rak Bishvilo by Moran Mazor
No contest. I’ve come around on Rak Bishvilo, but if you remember my all-time top 50 countdown, you’ll know that Israel’s Dana International-penned entry of ’08 is one of my absolute favourite Eurovision songs. Like I said earlier, I’m a fan of ballads. Yes, I know they’re both ballads…but there is a clear distinction here as far as I’m concerned.
Romania’s Pe-o Margine De Lume by Nico & Vlad VS It’s My Life by Cezar
To this day, I think Romania was robbed of a better placing in Belgrade. I blame Nico’s decision to swap the fierce leather/feather dress she wore in the semi for that blah silver thing in the final (bad costumes ruin lives, people). I can’t say the same about Cezar – I’m just relieved he didn’t finish higher. Pe-o’s opera-pop vibe, mix of musical languages, and male-female dynamic is still much more appealing to me.
San Marino’s Complice by Miodio VS Crisalide (Vola) by Valentina Monetta
Here we have two Italian-language ballads, one of which becomes disco out of nowhere. They are San Marino’s two best entries IMO (not that there’s a lot of competition) but I’ve always had a soft spot for their very first. I figure that’s mostly because it came dead last in its semi final (I seem to be drawn towards losers) but there is definitely a smidgen of genuine love in there for this classy, mysterious ballad.
Slovenia’s Vrag Naj Vzame by Rebeka Dremelj VS Straight Into Love by Hannah
Poor Slovenia can’t catch a break once they make the decision to put their backing dancers in heavy-duty masks. I do think they improved on that formula this year, with a considerably less…shall we say, controversial performance. But I’ll never get over the dodgy staging that ruined the awesome Vrag Naj Vzame. I LOVE this song, darn it.
Ukraine’s Shady Lady by Ani Lorak VS Gravity by Zlata Ognevich
Let’s end with a gut-wrenchingly difficult decision, why don’t we? This year, just as they did five years ago and pretty much every year in between, Ukraine brought it to Eurovision. Ani Lorak did a little better than Zlata in terms of placement, and I do like to get my Shady Lady on quite often…but…no, I can’t go past the Disney-but-not-cheesy beauty of Gravity. It’s all sunlight and majestic clifftops and CGI unicorns, and that makes it unbeatable.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaannndddd fin. This round of song battles is over, peeps. Though for anyone who cares, here are the stats of my picks.
Then (2008): 70%
Now (2013): 30%
Well, it looks like I generally preferred the musical buffet of Belgrade to what Malmö served up. How about you?
2008 VS 2013, country by country – who gets your vote?