My Very Late ESC 2014 Grand Final Review (Part 1)

Well, this is belated. Having been unable to focus on study for the week leading up to Eurovision, and then over the Eurovision period itself, I was forced to make up for lost time the second Conchita Wurst ended her winner’s reprise. To cut a boring story short, I’ve only just been able to put together something of a review of last Saturday’s final from Copenhagen to follow my overviews of the semis. I’ve barely even started dissecting the results, so while that’s still in progress (I’m hoping you guys will still be interested in reading that by the time I post it) I’ll just cover everything up until the voting.

As it’s been like, FOREVERRRR since the final took place, allow me to refresh your memory via my personal highlights and lowlights of the evening; plus some extremely exciting photographs of my decorating/waving paraphernalia. Things just don’t get more epic than this…

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I had a mini Molly, Conchita and Sanna (courtesy of Ben Morris’ Minipop Icons) to accompany me during the show, plus some DIY banners to wave until the Sellotape gave way.

To begin: we all know that it was Austria’s golden girl Conchita who took out the contest on Saturday evening, marking her country’s first win since 1966. It wasn’t a landslide win, but despite the EBU’s best efforts to disguise the result for as long as possible via their voting order algorithm (only to have the hosts announce the winner early AGAIN which I will complain about in detail when I talk results) there came a point where we knew we were going to Vienna. Or Innsbruck. Maybe Graz? I’m reluctant to settle on the likeliest host city for 2015 after the great “Oh, it’s definitely going to be Stockholm!” incident of 2012. Not that it matters – wherever in Austria the 60th contest takes place, I’ll be über excited to see the show. My delayed congratulations go out to Conchita, and her short but sweet victory speech. Rise Like A Phoenix may not have been up there with my favourite entries of the year, but it’s a worthy winner in so many ways. The added bonus is that it’s always nice to see a country of few recent successes do incredibly well. This could be the start of a wave of excellent results for Austria, a la Germany 2010-2012…so long as they don’t decide to send Trackshittaz again.

My state newspaper won't be winning any awards for original headlines on this one.

My state newspaper won’t be winning any awards for headline originality in this instance.

 

My favourite acts of the night

Many of those who impressed me during the semis did it again during the final. In fact, all of my highlights bar one were semi-finalists. Read on to find out which member of the Big 6 floated my boat.

  • Iceland – as proud as I am of the fine Australian export that is The Wiggles, I was born a bit early to have grown up with them (the Spice Girls were my one true childhood love). Pollapönk seem like an adult-appropriate version of The Wiggles to me, so I’m not ashamed to say I was thoroughly entertained by their colourful performance yet again. No Prejudice is like the theme of Conchita’s win. I wonder if she and the boys ever got together for a chat? They seem to have a lot in common (beards included).
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Um, that’s not quite how you do the YMCA, guys…

  • Armenia – Aram was perhaps feeling some pressure in the final, as his vocal was slightly ropey. But I still found his three minutes full of impact. Waiting for the song’s climax to explode (almost literally, with those fire jets they had going), knowing it was about to go BAM, was exciting every time.
  • Poland – following in the footsteps of the comparable Igranka, here was a song that could have been dreadful live but turned out to work like a charm (it must be the charming beauty of the Slavic girls). Cleo swapped t-shirts, but apart from that, Poland put on the same saucy, folksy performance that catapulted them into the final in the first place.
  • Greece – no song got the crowd moving like Rise Up. At home, surrounded by junk food and feeling particularly lazy, I stayed put on the couch…but my #TeamFreakyFortune banner was getting a workout, believe me. The energy level here was through the roof, and that was pre-trampoline.
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“Look, Ma – no gravity!”

  • Austria – this was a winning performance, flawless and full of the sass and drama that has become Conchita’s trademark. The roar of the crowd before, during and after was well-deserved, and gave me a strong feeling that what was a very open contest had narrowed over the course of just three minutes.
  • Sweden – I didn’t cry this time, but my beloved Sanna nailed Undo just as she had in the semi, and continued to give me the feels and the chills I mentioned in my review. And I must thank her for giving me something to put on my Christmas list – my own personal (and preferably portable) cage of light.
  • Finland – Softengine have wooed me, and I swear it’s not because of their clean-cut cuteness. I wasn’t fazed by Something Better at UMK, or when I watched the music video, and yet somehow the Eurovision performances have left me digging the heck out of it.
  • Denmark – this has to be done, I’m afraid…SKUBA DUBA DAP DAP DIDI DAJ, I LOVE YOU! Because I honestly do, Denmark. Basim kicked home country butt, renewing my affection for Cliché Love Song in the process. The unfurling flag put off some people, but I thought it was a massive fabric cherry on top of an excellent performance.
  • The Netherlands – The Common Linnets were the total package on final night. They sounded great, looked great, connected with each other and the camera well (Waylon’s smouldering eyes…) and their staging was simple but perfectly suited to CATS. My only complaint concerns the guitar soloist, who put way too much drama into his shred on a clearly unplugged instrument.
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Ilse attempts to disguise her jealousy over not being given a hat of her own.

 

My least-favourite acts of the night

Because nobody hashtag failed (not miserably, anyway) I’m about to get rul, rul picky. Prepare yourselves.

  • Romania – neither Paula nor Ovi sang as well as they had in their semi, and all the elements of the act that were awkward then seemed even more so on this occasion. I draw your attention to the hug, which resulted in Ovi almost choking on a chunk of Paula’s hair. He’ll be producing hairballs for weeks.
  • Italy – Emma’s vocals are rough around the edges, and that’s part of her appeal. But to me her performance was a bit messy and aggressive. I felt like she was shouting directly at me for most of the song. Amazing outfit though – it was like she smashed a bunch of mirrors, poured PVA glue all down her front and then rolled in the debris. I am totally copying that for my next night out.
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“If I just stick my arm out awkwardly like this, maybe they won’t notice my underwear…”

  • Spain – don’t get me wrong, Ruth’s a great singer, and stunning to look at (the wet look really works for her). But there were moments when she was over-singing those money notes so much, I thought she was going to explode. I don’t think the janitors would have appreciated having to Hoover up bits of Ruth from all over the arena.
  • United Kingdom – nothing was particularly wrong, but something wasn’t right here. I didn’t connect and I didn’t feel the anthemic-ness of COTU was genuine. A UK win was a lost cause when I found myself thinking more about how awesome Molly’s shoes were than anything else.

 

What else went down?

  • The Danish version of the Swedish artist parade gets my tick of approval. Taking us through the running order and introducing each act in one hit was genius. I hope the Austrians were taking notes!
  • The hosts were…well, there. Nikolaj was charming, Lise was a pro, and Pilou continued to be adorable and have a stage name that reminds me of a certain Claymation penguin. BUT THEY WEREN’T JANA AND MIKKO! Three is an odd number (duh) but I always find it extra odd with Eurovision hosts. One or two people  is enough, and makes it far easier to divvy up duties such as chatting awkwardly with the contestants in the green room.
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Pilou totally missed the memo to keep his hands clasped in a professional manner at all times.

  • I have to mention the postcards again. I touched on them briefly in my semi reviews, but I don’t think that adequately conveyed my feelings for them. I love it when the postcards make you want to watch them over and over again (unlike the touristy ones from the likes of Baku which become little more than attractive yet annoying breaks between songs) and these ones definitely did that. Aside from giving us a look at the next artist up, they entertained AND informed us that, for example, Andras Kállay-Saunders trots around with pre-solved Rubik’s cubes in his backpack, and Emma maintains her figure by making flags out of her food instead of eating it. These postcards made our #MyEurovisionFlags look amateur.
  • It was a relief to see Emmelie de Forest deviate from singing Only Teardrops for the billionth time in order to perform Rainmaker, a song I prefer. It’s been a year and she still hasn’t stumbled upon a shoe store, but at least she’s found a hairbrush and added some colour to her wardrobe – she looked like Pocahontas at a rave, and it was glorious. All the artists in the final joining her on stage to sing along was as heart-warming as I imagined it would be, although I bet they spent the whole time surreptitiously elbowing each other out of the way to get in shot.

 

Well, that’s my fan’s-eye view of the grand final, albeit over a week after the fact (oops). Of course, there are the all-important results – the shocks, surprises, and expectations pretty much met – remaining to be discussed (by me…the rest of the planet has got their act together and done it already) and I’ll be doing that sometime in the next few days. Following that, I have some exciting stuff re: Copenhagen planned – i.e. my annual EBJ Awards. For this edition, I want you guys to vote for more than just one award á la last year, so have your poll-taking fingers poised!

 

Looking waaaaaaay back at the final of Eurovision 2014, what were your performance (or other) highlights and lowlights? Did the right song win the contest? And have you managed to undo your post-ESC sad yet?

 

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 19, 2014, in Eurovision 2014, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. You can’t imagine how happy I am to read that you’re now digging the heck out of Finland. Like seriously. All is forgiven. ❤

    I found the hosts ridonkulously awkward, pretty much every time they were on the screen. Lise's dress in (I think) semi 2 (the one where it looked like she had little clusters of limpets stuck to her arms) was just hideous – and all the completely unnecessary cliché gay references were sooo cringey. Like, okay, lots of us are gay, but Eurovision isn't an exclusively gay event guys!?

    I absolutely adored the live performance of Rainmaker too – especially the bit at the end where the music cut out and the entire arena joined in. I had a Eurovision party with six of my friends – none of whom are fans at all – and all of us were joining in too, despite the fact that they were hearing the song for the first time… #JoinUs? Mission accomplished, Denmark. 🙂

    (oh, and was it just me who noticed that during Rainmaker, we got a shot of Conchita dancing in between Aram MP3 and the Tolmachevy Sisters? Somebody tell me that wasn't planned, omg)

    Like

    • Phew, it worked!! I only pretended to like Finland so you wouldn’t be mad at me. NOT, legit enjoying it these days. It’s not right up the top with my favourites, but you could say I ‘get it’ at last.

      From memory, all of Lise’s dresses left a lot to be desired. Maybe it was some kind of tribute to Petra…the only outfit of hers that wasn’t rank was the very first one.

      I want that shot of Aram, the twins and Conchita framed on my wall. SRSLY. It’s like the ‘Monica dances with Rustam at JESC’ of ESC. Not that I have that on my wall, but come on…classic!

      Like

  2. Well, spotted James! I had to replay it to find the shot (there are two). It was such a scrum on stage I couldn’t even find everyone. (There a few little exchanges visible in slo-mo)

    I couldn’t handle the green room awkwardness and had to run away until it was safe.

    Jaz, YMCA joke = hilarious. It gets funnier the more I look and think about it.

    Highlights from the final:

    Realising almost everyone was placing Conchita first or second. I expected strong support for various reasons, but nothing so overwhelming.

    Similarly for The Common Linnets, but that was more “Oh, people do appreciate it. Things are looking up for quality songs.” And of course, proving that The Netherlands can succeed, and staying true to your own style is no handicap (again).

    Staging highlights:
    Ukraine had every detail sorted to the degree and millisecond. The upside-down intro was cool.
    Azerbaijan. Gothic windows and skyscraper cityscape behind suspended dancer. Sadly, didn’t have much impact unless you got into it with your imagination.
    Spain. The wet hair and rain. Nice point of difference from the others.
    Sweden. The overhead nova and T-formation rays.
    The Netherlands. Guess.

    Highlights from the semi-finals:

    The one that still stands out for me was actually from you guys. Jessica was a good choice of course, but seeing the Aboriginal flag raised over the contest really moved me. Admittedly, it was part of a kitchen-sink cliche-fest, but still.

    Also, Lithuania. Vilija (and Sarunas) performed flawlessly; sharp, clear, on pitch, and looked great. Shame about the song.

    I approve of announcing the winner when it’s obvious, I just wish the National reps wouldn’t ad lib extra commentary about it when giving the results. There’s no suspense to milk, so move along people!

    Like

    • I’m going to find one of those Conchita-Aram-twins shots, and MAKE IT MY WALLPAPER FOREVER!!!

      Hands-down the most awkward green-room exchange was between Lise and Molly, when Molly was clearly supposed to nod and smile at whatever was being said, but seemingly had no clue what the frig Lise was on about. Twin of Twin Twin #2 not recognising his own favourite restaurant is a close second.

      Based on the reception of that YMCA joke, I’m pencilling in more for the future, whether they’re relevant or not.

      Ukraine nailed things staging-wise, as they always do. It doesn’t seem to matter if they throw everything at their performance or go simple (by Ukrainian standards) they just have the knack. They should charge some other countries for lessons.

      YES. Agreement on Lithuania, although I do like the song. I’m not surprised this was a near-qualifier.

      Like

  3. Yay – keep the EBJ fixes coming.

    Ok, three non-performance highlights:

    1. SF1: Hersi gets a massive tatt! (Gutsiest postcard ever?)

    2. In SF1, Pilou was clearly, hilariously, p!ssed. That’s true Danish style. The other two hosts played on this in the next two shows with their variations on the “Goodnight Europe!” that Pilou had fluffed the first time round. Terrific stuff.

    3. Twin Twin were so genuinely OTT overjoyed to see their local Asian restauranteur show up in the Green Room with some tucker: a sweet, almost childlike moment.

    Overall, one of the best overall contests in recent years, and a very tough act for Klagenfurt (no, seriously – it’s gotta be Vienna!) to follow …

    B.

    Like

    • I would love to think Hersi DID get that tatt (and I may copy it myself) but apparently the postcard cut to a shot of her very bare back in rehearsals…that kinda ruined the illusion for anyone watching.

      Oh, Pilou. Whatever it takes to get on top of your nerves. Did he have a bottle of “water” backstage that he kept sipping from or what?? Still, he makes an adorable drunk IMO.

      I wonder if Twin Twin ended up eating that food? They may have been so busy doing that (and partying with their chef) they didn’t notice they only scored two points.

      It sure does gotta be Vienna, and Inspector Rex has to co-host. Though he’s probably capable of handling the whole thing himself.

      Like

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