Category Archives: Eurovision 2005

From one krazy Kyiv kontest to another? 10 things that happened at Eurovision 2005 that should (or really shouldn’t) happen at Eurovision 2017

* Despite what the excessive use of the letter ‘K’ in the title above might suggest, this post has not been sponsored by the Kardashians. Although, if any of them happen to be reading, a little financial help wouldn’t go astray, Kim/Kourtney/Khloé/Kendall/Kylie/somebody stop me because I’ve klearly gone krazy ~kough~.

 

Aaaaaaand I’m back from an unintentionally long blogging vacation. Say yay yay yay!

Yes, I’m still making that joke. No, you don’t have to like it. Blame Barei for its existence and everybody’s continued use of the damn thing.

To quickly explain my absence, before I move on to the topic of today’s comeback Euro-ramble (in case anyone out there missed me): you know how sometimes you just lose your mojo and don’t really feel like doing anything unless it’s something that you’re not supposed to be doing? And other times you’re so overwhelmed by the general hectic-ness of life, you barely have the energy to keep your eyes open when you fall through your front door let alone create something coherent that other people could/would want to read? Feel free to alter that writer-specific problem to make it identifiable for you, so you can actually say ‘YES!’ to that ‘you know how…’.

Well, I’ve been dragged down by an unfortunate combo of both of those things during the past month or so. It’s like being stuck in a rut that you’re too lethargic to claw your way out of, and it sucks harder than the City of Stockholm’s realisation that a certain Romanian flagpole had to come down.

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It hurts, oh it hurts, really hurts…when life got you like THIS.

But, THANK THE LORDI, those feelings of uselessness and non-productivity have (almost completely) passed – so I guess neither are the feelings Justin Timberlake can’t stop. As such, I’m not going to bore you about them any longer. Just remember: if you’re ever feeling crappy in the same or in a different way, Eurovision will always be there for you, and have your back once you rise like a phoenix out of the ashes seeking rather than vengeance, retribution. To quote a certain and very wise Miss Wurst (a.k.a. her songwriters).

Now, in the interest of making up for lost time + acknowledging a host city announcement that totally passed me by, I’m going to get cracking on the content I had planned before The Dark Days of Non-Blogging commenced. And I’m starting with a nostalgic nod back to the last adult ESC to take place in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine and the “recently” revealed location of Eurovision 2017. Yes, for the fourth time in a row, everybody’s favourite song contest that doesn’t start with an ‘M’ and end with ‘elodifestivalen’ is off to a European capital!

Specifically, the ESC will be hitting up Kyiv on the 9th, 11th and 13th of May next year, as we’re all aware. By then, it will have been twelve years since the contest was last hosted by the city (Junior Eurovision popped up there in 2009 and 2013, but we’re sticking with the senior show as our subject matter right now). As a result, we can expect to see a contest that, by comparison to the 2005 edition, has evolved in a big way. I look forward to assembling sets of screenshots that amusingly illustrate this (which you’ll be able to see here or on Instagram. Follow me @eurovisionbyjaz for guaranteed LOLs).

It’ll certainly be interesting comparing Kyiv 2005 to Kyiv 2017, just as it would be comparing Stockholm 2000 to Stockholm 2016 (come to think of it, why haven’t I done that yet?). After all, Eurovision ain’t the same creature now that it was five years ago, let alone over a decade ago. Still, for every little thing I’ll be happy to see has changed between Ukrainian hostings, there’s something else that will or should make a comeback. For example…

 
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As many countries as possible bringing something traditional to the buffet table – or at least something that fuses an ethnic sound with cutting-edge pop or urban sounds. Many of us have fond memories of the likes of Hungary’s Forogj Világ (I still aspire to nailing that choreography while wearing a super glam one-legged outfit), Serbia & Montenegro’s Zauvijek Moja and Albania’s Tomorrow I Go contributing to the cultural diversity of the 2005 line-up. And that was in the wake of two traditionally-tinged winners in a row. If we had a random repeat of that in a time when the majority of entries don’t even whisper (let alone scream) ‘I was born and bred in *Insert Country of Your Choice Here*’, I wouldn’t mind at all. It’s more likely, though, that there’ll be a flood of songs attempting to emulate the reigning champion instead (I can foresee Ireland entering an avant-garde song called 1996 which tearfully recounts the last time they managed to come out on top).

Helena Paparizou. Speaking of traditionally-tinged winners…I don’t care whether she represents Greece, Sweden (though I do have Oscar Zia at the top of my wish-list for this year’s hosts) or San Marino (My Numero Uno has a nice ring to it) – she’s still got it, and Eurovision needs it! We know Helena is open to giving the show a third shot, and as Kyiv blessed her with such good fortune back in the day, it could be fate for her to make it back to the ESC stage, in the same city. Emphasis on ‘could’. Remember, I’m so far from psychic I only predicted 6/10 qualifiers of Stockholm’s first semi despite being on location and witnessing every single rehearsal *immediately regrets bringing that up again*.

Moldova recruiting a grandmamma to beat on her own personal drumma – i.e. Moldova making the same kind of splash they made with their debut entry Boonika Bate Doba. That might involve bringing Zdob și Zdub back once more or finding a fresh face to fly their flag. Either way, Moldova needs to rethink their Eurovision approach if they want to get out of the semis and shoot up the Saturday scoreboard next year, and taking some cues from when they’d just started out could work wonders in that department. If nothing else, they should remember that ZșZ didn’t debut by literally tearing their (fake) hair out, or accidentally leaving their delegation lanyards on during the broadcast.

Andorra and Monaco. Okay, so we’ve already had word that neither of these ’05 competitors will be showing up in Kyiv, and that’s not surprising. But let’s branch out by saying that ANYONE who joined the party back then but has since elected to stay home watching Netflix in their pajamas – i.e. Turkey – should put some fancy clothes on and come the heck back to the contest.

Finally, a fashion-oriented hope from someone who can’t help devoting a large chunk of time to critiquing costume choices: can we please see evidence of evening gown game that matches 2005 in terms of sheer (not literally…or maybe literally) lustworthiness? I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one who salivated over Shiri Maimon’s ‘grandma’s sofa meets glamorous soiree’ getup back in the day. Malta’s Chiara, Monaco’s Lise Darly and The Netherlands’ Glennis Grace also deserved A-grades in the evening-style stakes (by 2005 standards). 2016, by contrast, was more about flesh-flashing, jumpsuits and whatever it was that Nina Krajlić was wearing (does ANYONE have an explanation for that?). Okay, so there were a handful of red carpet-worthy dresses to swoon over in Stockholm – Dami Im’s and Ira Losco’s being my personal favourites. But there can always be more, in my opinion., as long as a greater number of evening gowns doesn’t equate to a greater number of lame lady ballads.

 

And now *turns table draped in crystal-encrusted fabric*…

 

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The reigning champion taking to the stage with an industrial-sized blowtorch and singeing the eyebrows off a few dozen audience members in the process. As comical as it would be to see Jamala work that into a reprise of 1944, I love her winning entry because it isn’t a laughing matter. An oversized flaming gun would detract from the sentiment and seriousness of the song just a teensy bit, don’t you think?

Bulgaria sending a track that could be the theme of a soft porn movie centred on the ESC (something that should NEVER exist…though if it did, you can guarantee that Serhat would play a starring role). Especially one that oh-so-inventively rhymes ‘Lorraine’ with ‘rain’, ‘pain’ and ‘again’. After their criminally good – best ever, in fact – result with Poli this year, I think they’ve got the power to pull a Belgium and bring us two excellent entries on the trot. They 110% have the power to not be accused of plagiarism, á la 2005.

Portugal (because at this point, they’ve said they’ll be in Kyiv) suffering from an extreme case of ‘FOR THE LOVE OF MR. GOD, WOULD SOMEBODY PLEASE FIX THOSE DAMN MICS!’. A performance free of technical hitches was not to be for 2B in 2005, but with all the extravagant futuristic stuff we saw on stage in Stockholm, supplying the artists with fully functioning microphones shouldn’t be an issue in this day and age. Should it? Perhaps I’ve jinxed Portugal just by musing about this.

Serbia & Montenegro, obviously. Replace the ampersand with an actual ‘and’, and that gives us two countries who’ll most likely set foot on Ukrainian soil next May. But we’re definitely not going to see them hooking back up and giving Bosnia & Herzegovina a run for their money in the excessive-syllable stakes. Is that a shame? Were they better together? Not necessarily. And hey, the likelihood of an extra Balkan ballad in the ESC field has increased since 2006. Montenegro has been the weakest link since the split, with a few semi qualifications being the closest they’ve come to matching Serbia’s win and their various other successes. But when Montenegro is on point, they are a force to be reckoned with (Moj Svijet and Adio are masterpieces, no question). So while we won’t see them skipping around the 2017 stage hand-in-hand with Serbia, there’s the potential of both countries sending epic songs to the competition. Of course, whoever takes Željko Joksimović captive and demands he compose for them will have the upper hand.

Sweden sending a song that includes the lyrics ‘Fred the limo driver’s asking polite: “Leaving Las Vegas tonight?”’. It’s not that I don’t care about Fred the limo driver’s thoughts and feelings (and despite Las Vegas being one of Sweden’s less successful entries of the 2000s, I still get a kick out of it) – it’s just that he won’t crack a mention in 2017. Sweden has moved past that kind of lyrical content. Basically, Christer Björkman will be on the hunt for another Eurovision winner after two whole years between trophy acquisitions (oh, the pain!), and name-dropping hired help does not a winning song make.

 

So those are the things, off the top of my head, that I’m hoping/I know we will and won’t witness when Eurovision descends on Kyiv next May. More will come to me between now and then, I’m guessing. I apologise in advance.

What’s off the top, in the middle or at the bottom of your brain when it comes to your hopes for the 2017 contest? How would you like the upcoming Ukrainian show to differ from the last, and what are you praying happens again? If your answer to the latter is ‘Ruslana’s blowtorch routine!’, then I suppose I can get on board with that, even if Jamala DOES incorporate it into a new and “improved” presentation of 1944. I mean, she is an utter queen who can do no wrong, so I’m sure she’d pull it off.

 

Until next time (which will be in the not-too-distant future, I promise)…

 

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Retro Rankings | Kyiv 2005 (a.k.a. remembering Eurovision’s birthday, and celebrating mine!)

Bonjour, peeps! It’s been a month since I last posted anything, and that last post did have a long intro justifying my lack of blog action up to that point, so I won’t bother doing another one. I’ll just blame tertiary education once again, and we can move on.

A quick life update from yours truly *clears throat*: two rather exciting things happened to me this week. I’m not going to tell you about the first one until I have photographic proof, but here’s a clue: it has nothing to do with Eurovision. Not just yet, anyway. Who knows what the future will bring for one of the contest’s most unsuccessful countries of late? On that basis, and on the basis that it is SO FREAKING EXCITING, I will be telling y’all about it very soon.

The second thing was that I had me a birthday. I had me a birthday yesterday, to be precise, and the greatest gift I received was the fact that I can now sing Taylor Swift’s 22 at karaoke nights and mean it (that and the doorstop I got that looks like an upside-down melting ice-cream cone. Stuff doesn’t get much cooler than that). In all seriousness, I now feel incredibly old and will be spending the next few weeks trawling eBay for a time-slowing device. But in the meantime, I thought I’d distract myself by looking back at the year Eurovision celebrated a special birthday (of sorts).

2005 brought us the 50th ESC, which I consider a birthday because there was probably a cake, streamers, and a bunch of drunk people involved at some point (and probably has been at every contest since). It was a year of hits and misses song-wise, as I discovered when I decided to continue my Retro Rankings with Year Kyiv, but there were some absolute gems. Read on to see how I rated the 39 songs from top to bottom – and as always, share your rankings with me down below. Please? Consider it a belated birthday gift.

 

 A reminder of all the entries:

 

And now, my personal top 39:

  1. Serbia and Montenegro/ Zauvijek Moja by No Name – This marvellous creation came in at #9 in my all-time ESC 50 list, which was actually lower than another song from ’05. But it’s not against the law to have a change of mind, y’know. For the two years that Serbia and Montenegro were represented at the contest they were magical, so although Zauvijek doesn’t have the same spellbinding quality of Lane Moje (and No Name didn’t have the raw sexual magnetism of Željko Joksimović…or was that just me?) it still gets me all goosebumpy. Oh, how I love thee, Balkan drama!
'...and that is how you do a Serbian and Montenegrin wave. Remember, the Mexican wave is so last year.'

‘…and that is how you do a Serbian and Montenegrin wave. Remember, the Mexican wave is so over.’

  1. Romania/ Let Me Try by Luminita Anghel & Sistem
  2. Latvia/ The War Is Not Over by Walters & Kazha
  3. Slovenia/ Stop by Omar Naber
  4. Norway/ In My Dreams by Wig Wam – Hands up who likes glam rock? Me neither. But Eurovision has a way of making me like things I’d retch at if they came on the radio during everyday life. This song rocks, so to speak. It’s ridiculously catchy and anthemic, and compels me to wave a flag whenever I hear it (flag, pillowcase, sock, my cat…whatever’s lying around, really). If you can resist singing along with the chorus, then you are DEAD INSIDE. No offence.
  5. Albania/ Tomorrow I Go by Ledina Çelo
  6. Denmark/ Talking To You by Jakob Sveistrup
  7. Hungary/ Forogj Világ by NOX
  8. FYR Macedonia/ Make My Day by Martin Vucic
  9. Israel/ The Silence That Remains by Shiri Maimon – I think Shiri may have been my first girl crush. Even now I watch her performance and drool a little bit over that dress and that perfect face and those gravity-defying…false eyelashes. But her song was every bit as beautiful as she was (and, I assume, still is). I love a non-cheesy mixed-language ballad, so it ticked all my boxes.
Shiri on the verge of a sneeze, and still looking lovely

Shiri on the verge of a sneeze, and still looking lovely

  1. Moldova/ Boonika Bate Doba by Zdob şi Zdub
  2. Malta/ Angel by Chiara
  3. Andorra/ La Mirada Interior by Marian van der Wal
  4. Bulgaria/ Lorraine by Kaffe – Someone sound the guilty pleasure alarm, quick! Yes, this entry is sleazy – like, B-grade porno sleazy – and the rhyming couldn’t be more unimaginative (Lorraine/rain/pain…who would have seen that coming?) but it’s the kind of cruisy, café-style muzak that I apparently go for. I’m not saying that Bulgaria should have qualified or anything, so you can stop typing that abusive comment now. I just kinda sorta like this. Don’t tell anyone.
  5. Sweden/ Las Vegas by Martin Stenmarck
  6. Greece/ My Number One by Helena Paparizou
  7. Spain/ Brujeria by Sun de Sol
  8. Bosnia and Herzegovina/ Call Me by Feminnem – B & H brought a birthday anthem to Kyiv with this up-tempo funfest that wouldn’t have sounded out of place at Melodifestivalen. It wasn’t a great effort, and was by no means Feminnem’s best ESC outing (I still shed tears for Lako Je Sve) but it’s harmless bubblegum pop. Hating it would be like hating a puppy, and nobody hates puppies.
Marcia, Jan and Cindy Brady all grown up? Nope, it's Feminnem!

Marcia, Jan and Cindy Brady all grown up? Nope, it’s Feminnem!

  1. France/ Chacun Pense A Soi by Ortal
  2. Portugal/ Amar by 2B
  3. Croatia/ Vukovi Umiru Sami by Boris Novkovic & Lado Members
  4. Ukraine/ Razom Nas Bahato by Greenjolly
  5. Germany/ Run and Hide by Gracia – I know what you’re thinking. ‘#23? Does this girl actually have functioning ears?’. Well yes, I do, and whilst I don’t approve of the dodgy goings-on that made Germany then what Belarus are now, I reserve the right to think that Run and Hide is not as heinous as the majority of other people. I like its style, and I’m not annoyed at all by those ‘ahh-iy-aaaii’ bits that make up 85% of the song. Unless I have a headache, that is.
  6. Switzerland/ Cool Vibes by Vanilla Ninja
  7. Belgium/ Le Grand Soir by Nuno Resende
  8. Turkey/ Rimi Rimi Ley by Gülseren
  9. Lithuania/ Little By Little by Laura & The Lovers – As a former English major, what I most appreciate about this is the alliteration. There are more Ls there than you could poke Helena Paparizou’s baton at. Still, the song has its charms, outside of it being a cliché and everyone knowing exactly where it’s headed because it’s made up of a tried-and-tested Swedish formula.
Laura obviously missed the memo about wearing black.

Laura obviously missed the memo about wearing black.

  1. Estonia/ Let’s Get Loud by Suntribe
  2. Austria/ Y Asi by Global Kryner
  3. Cyprus/ Ela Ela by Constantinos Christoforou
  4. United Kingdom/ Touch My Fire by Javine – When you consider that then-pregnant glamour model Jordan could have been gyrating around in pink pleather in Javine’s place, Touch My Fire starts to sound and look pretty good. But that aside, 2005 was another fail for the UK. This song would have done better as a radio track than a Eurovision one.
  5. Monaco/ Tout De Moi by Lise Darly
  6. Finland/ Why? by Geir Ronning
  7. Poland/ Czarna Dziewczyna by Ivan & Delfin
  8. Iceland/ If I Had Your Love by Selma – IMO, Selma was suffering from a severe case of Shouldn’t Have Returned-itis when she took to the stage in Kyiv. This song is clearly inferior to her runner-up of 1999 (although the costuming did improve) and I don’t see how she could have thought otherwise. It’s like three different but equally average songs rolled into one, and the result is a total non-event. I guess she really was all out of luck.
Um, Selma?? You've got something on your forehead.

Um, Selma?? You’ve got something on your forehead.

  1. Netherlands/ My Impossible Dream by Glennis Grace
  2. Belarus/ Love Me Tonight by Angelica Agurbash
  3. Russia/ Nobody Hurt No One by Natalia Podolskaya
  4. Ireland/ Love? by Donna & Joe – Love? Not if I can help it. Hands down my least favourite song of the year, this makes Dustin the Turkey’s offering sound like the stuff Grammy winners are made of. It’s just terrible in every way! The performance was super cheesy, the outfits were bad even for 2005, and the song is dire. Ireland did redeem themselves the following year with Every Song Is A Cry For Love, but I have to correct Brian Kennedy. Donna & Joe’s entry was less of a cry for love than a cry for competent songwriters.

 

I’ve showed you mine…show me yours? How would you rank the Class of ’05? How right or wrong are my rankings?

 

Time-Warp Tuesday | A Portuguese nightamar

Where: Kyiv, Ukraine

When: 2005

Who: 2B

What: Amar  

With their failure to make the top 10 in the last sixteen contests, and their recent withdrawal from Malmö, you could say Portugal is rusty on having a good time at Eurovision. Sure, they probably enjoy the meet-and-greets and interviews and parties and free booze as much as any other delegation, but when it comes to their results, things aren’t so good.

2005 was to prove a particularly tough year for them, as boy-girl duo 2B would discover. Not only did she pass out during rehearsals – footage of which is sadly unavailable – but when semi-final night arrived, their performance was plagued with technical problems which prevented viewers from hearing most of the lyrics (the fact that I personally don’t know a word of Portuguese anyway is irrelevant).

To top it all off, probably thanks in part to those pesky technical issues, 2B failed to qualify despite scoring top marks from France, Germany and Switzerland. I don’t know if a repeat performance a la Daniel Diges (which is supposed to be the protocol when there’s a dodgy mike situation or otherwise) would have made a difference to the result though, and I look back on that as a real shame. Apart from some questionable costumes and choreography, this is one of my favourite Portuguese entries. It’s an upbeat, catchy song with a typically Eurovision message…though I’m guessing the only message 2B wanted to send after the semi was an expletive-filled rant about unreliable technology.

 What do you think? Was Amar total trash, or treasure tainted by a disastrous performance?

 

Time-Warp Tuesday: Spinning worlds and missing pant legs

Where: Kyiv, Ukraine

When: 2005

Who: Hungary

What: Forogj Világ by Nox

Hungary is yet to really get the hang of Eurovision, but since their debut in 1994, they have had their moments. This little cracker from the 50th anniversary contest definitely qualifies as one of those moments, even though it didn’t manage to place in the top 10 in the final.

Having miraculously sourced the ’05 DVD in my nearest music store after becoming an instant ESC-addict in 2006, I remember watching the semi and having Nox hit me full on in the face (obviously not literally, although I don’t doubt the lead singer could sock me one if she wanted to. She is fierce) with the kind of up-tempo ethno-pop usually reserved for the likes of Greece, as well as some killer choreography…so killer, in fact, that I made it my mission to learn it so I could join in/look like an idiot the next time I watched the performance. Six years and many carpet burns later, I may not have totally gotten the moves down (what? It’s hard!) but I still love the entry. The year after Ruslana showed the rest of Europe how Eurovision is done, it was great to see other countries like Hungary follow her lead, even if they did give or take a pant leg in the process.

 

The Eurovision doppelgangers exposed: Part Deux!!!

 Yes, they’re back, and looking more like each other than ever before…or less, depending on the quality of your vision/computer monitor. These are the Eurovision lookalikes who thought they’d escaped from being discovered in the first installment (https://eurovisionbyjaz.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/exposed-the-eurovision-doppelgangers/). Silly, silly people.
 

75 Cents (Croatia 2008, RIP) looks like Hugh Hefner

Eric Papilaya (Austria 2007) looks like r & b singer Jay Sean

Ich Troje lead singer Michal Wisniewski (Poland 2003/2006) looks like this troll doll

Mika Newton (Ukraine 2011) looks like Aisha (Latvia 2010)

Natalia Podolskaya (Russia 2005) looks like Kejsi Tola (Albania 2009)

Verka Seduchka (Ukraine 2007) looks like The Wizard of Oz's Tin Man...and this Christmas tree

Nikki (Azerbaijan 2011) looks like DJ Havana Brown

 
Got any twins-separated-at-birth from the ESC that I’ve missed??? Comment me and let me know. Together we can reunite the lost siblings!

The winner takes it all…but what happens next???

Here’s a few questions for you: do you keep up to date with the careers of any Eurovision winners? Are you still listening to their music? Have you become enough of a fan to like them on Facebook? Or have you forgotten all about them (shame on you)?

My answers vary, so I decided to do a little more research to see how some of the last decade’s champions have fared since they earned enough douze points to earn them a place in the history books (the ESC history books, that is: the most interesting history books out!). Here’s what I discovered…

 

Sertab Erener

Sertab in Riga, 2003; and her latest album Rengarenk

Winner of: 2003 (Riga, Latvia) with Every Way That I Can

Since her win, Sertab has released 6 albums and 11 singles. Her winning song went to #1 in Turkey, Sweden and Greece, but she has made limited chart appearances in the last few years – despite such prolific musical activity. Her singles that have topped the charts are Here I Am (2003) and Bu Böyle (2009), which both made it in Turkey. Sertab’s last official release was Açik Adres in 2009, which reached #3 there.

My pick for Sertab: Here I Am http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8atJYRVFWmc&ob=av2e

Listen to her latest single: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ke8xhFUr7k

 

Ruslana

Ruslana in Istanbul, 2004; and her latest album, Wild Energy

Winner of: 2004 (Istanbul, Turkey) with Wild Dances

Since exchanging her Xena, Warrior Princess leather for…well, more leather, Ruslana has released 4 albums and 12 singles. Her winning song went to #1 in Greece, Ukraine and Belgium, and #2 in Turkey. The majority of her releases since have been Ukrainian singles and have charted consistently, with Ring Dance with the Wolves (2005), Skazhy Meni (2005), Dyka Enerhiya (2006), Vidlunnia Mriy (2008) and Moon of Dreams (2008) all reached the #1 position. Her latest release is Wow (2011) which peaked at #7.

My pick for Ruslana: Moon of Dreams http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFkJLhgyQag&feature=related

Listen to her latest single: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFEDBrgYbkM

 

Helena Paparizou

Helena in Kyiv, 2005; and her latest album, Greatest Hits and More

Winner of: 2005 (Kyiv, Ukraine) with My Number One

Helena has released 5 albums, 22 singles and numerous EPs since triumphing in Kyiv. Her chart successes have been almost countless! Her winning song went to #1 in Greece and Sweden and she has barely been out of the top 10 in Greece since. Lately, she hasn’t charted charts as solidly as she did in the few years post-win, but nonetheless continues to be a hugely popular artist. She’s topped the charts in Greece and Cyprus with Mambo! (2005), and in Greece with Heroes (2006), Fos (2007), Mazi Sou (2007), To Fili Tis Zois (2007), Porta Gia Ton Ourano (2008), I Kardia Sou Petra (2008) and Baby It’s Over (2011). Her latest single is Love Me Crazy.

My pick for Helena: Baby It’s Over, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jBuniWjsgw&feature=fvwrel

Listen to her latest single: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEmFeyaS9GQ

 

Dima Bilan

Dima in Belgrade, 2008; and his latest album, Dreamers

Winner of: 2008 (Belgrade, Serbia) with Believe

Dima has produced 3 albums and 10 singles since ripping his shirt open in Serbia. Believe failed to make an impact on the charts, only just making the Top 30 in Sweden, and slipping in to the Top 100 in Belgium and Germany. Several of his other singles have reached #1 in Russia. His latest album, Dreamer features a duet with singer Anastacia, and the title track was the latest to be released in March 2011.

My pick for Dima: Changes, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tayy4Hiyn28&feature=related

Listen to his latest single: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3cd0OkaPP0

 

Alexander Rybak

Alexander in Moscow, 2009; and his latest album, Visa Vid Vindens Angar

Winner of: 2009 (Moscow, Russia) with Fairytale

Alexander’s record victory saw him catapulted to the top spot in Norway, Ireland, Russia, Finland, Greece, Sweden and Denmark, as well as making the Top 10 in the UK (an honourable achievement for a modern Eurovision entry!) and charting in Australia. He’s since released 3 albums and 7 singles. His first single after Eurovision, Funny Little World, went to #1 in Norway, but his latest Swedish-language single Resan Till Dig has failed to chart anywhere, unfortunately. Still, Alex scored a whopping great legion of loyal fans alongside his whopping great score in Moscow.

My pick for Alexander: Fela Igjen (feat. Opptur), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaH-VAC-fxs

Listen to his latest single: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elj2rrnqY7Q

We are the winners of Eurovision: EBJ’s top ten

All you Eurovisionaries may or may not be aware of the weekly podcasts from ESC Insight, and their accompanying website, one that takes an in-depth look at the contest through feature articles, reviews and more (www.escinsight.com). If you haven’t visited iTunes to subscribe to the podcasts, put it at the top of your priority list, because they are great! They began by judging the 2010 entries, but have expanded to keep us all up to date with the latest Düsseldorf developments, gossip, national finals and everything else that is Eurovision-related. At the moment, the podcasts are mainly devoted to the subject of winners, in what they call the Ultimate Jukebox Jury, in which four winners (and occasionally a well-reputed wildcard) are pitted against each other on the long road to determining THE greatest Eurovision song EVER! Hurrah!

I’ve been enjoying these UJJ’s immensely, so much so that they got me wondering: which winner would I deem the best of them all? We all have those songs which we like better than others, and those that didn’t really make an impact on us. It was difficult for me to pick my absolute favourite, so I’ve spent a bit of time compiling a list of my top ten winners ever instead (which involved a great amount of last-minute switching) which I have scored in the good old-fashioned ESC way. There is a numero uno song that I’m not sure many people will agree with, but remember these are my opinions. If you have one, which I’m sure you do, share your top ten with me here or on Facebook (just search for Eurovision By Jaz =D). So, I present to you Part 1 of Jaz’s Terrific Ten:

#10. 1974/ Waterloo/ ABBA

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4a9iVRb0l4

I can’t see many a top ten Eurovision winner list existing without Waterloo, the quintessential ESC song, on it! There may be cries of outrage at my only deigning to place it at number ten, but it’s my prerogative (I say, sticking my tongue out).

The song is irresistibly catchy and was well-sung and performed by the then relatively unknown Swedish supergroup. Its mark on Eurovision has never faded – think of how many entries (and not just those from Sweden) have emulated this one since then and up to now. More than a decade ago, Charlotte Nilsson’s 1999 victory was with a song that reeks of Waterloo. Even in 2010, Sieneke’s Smurf song for the Netherlands filled the Telenor Arena with a very similar sound. Waterloo is a classic winner, and I don’t think any amount of attempted replication by Scandinavia and beyond will ever measure up. One point goes to ABBA in my countdown.

#9. 2007/ Molitva/ Marija Šerifovic

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWo1XXflfPU

2007 was a year when, unlike 2009, few could have predicted the outcome of Eurovision. The majority of press and fan attention was focused on a fabulous tin-foil encased, Maybelline guinea pig named Verka Seduchka and whether or not his/her song was indeed bidding goodbye to Russia. And yet it was a drastically different song and performer who took out the top prize that May in Helsinki.

Molitva is my idea of a stellar ballad, one that I didn’t find clichéd, despite the fact that in essence it was ridden with them (flute interlude, loveheart gimmick, backup singers rallying behind emoting soloist…). It is anthemic, it is powerful, and it was belted out by a faultless vocalist in a dapper suit. In comparison to Verka, the whole thing was very understated and serious, but they were both great songs. In the end though, I think Serbia was the right winner. Two points. 

#8. 2000/ Fly On the Wings of Love/ Olsen Brothers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEwlSyd7DH4

This is another song (featuring pan flutes) that almost came out of nowhere to win. I must mention that I do prefer Alsou’s Solo over FOTWOL and wish a little bit that it had won instead…but having said that, there is something about the Olsen brothers’ humble song that I just love. They may have been middle-aged back then – I can only assume they’re in nursing homes now – but hey, they employed the use of a vocoder years before Kanye West decided it was worthy of his genius (though not before Cher. Darn you Cher…) and I liked it! The chorus is great to sing along to in the car/shower/middle of dinner etc which is always a point-scorer for ESC songs, and the rest is simple and repetitive but catchy enough to catch your attention. Or mine, at least. Three points for the Danish duo.  

#7. 2006/ Hard Rock Hallelujah/ Lordi

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mh3hj9-J76Y

Ask someone to name a Eurovision winner from the last five years and it’s highly likely you’ll receive one of two responses: a) A vacant look and a ‘Euro-what what?’; or b) ‘The monsters from Finland!’ or something to that effect. Yes, 2006 brought us one of the most unforgettable winners in Lordi, and a song that somehow managed to appeal to even the hardcore pop fans like moi. Hard Rock Hallelujah stood miles out from the rest of the entries despite what I believe was a strong year. I’m betting that after 40+ years of failure to win, very few Finns thought that a heavy rock song performed by Lord of the Rings extras who had forgotten to remove their costumes would be the one to clinch it.

Once again there is just something about the song, even when you remove the visual, that is special. For me, it’s the one where I take my hair out, put my hands in the air like I just don’t care, and do some neck-injuring head banging…generally alone. In my lounge room (mosh pit for one, anyone?). It just goes from level to level, getting better as it goes along. And it sure packs a hell pf a punch in three minutes. A monstrous four points to you, Lordi.

#6. 1963/ Dansevise/ Grethe & Jørgen Ingmann

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEDqFIbUgvU

Denmark’s first winner and a very unusual song make 6th position on my list. James Bond movies come to mind when I hear it – there’s an air of mystery and intrigue in the sound. After seven years of relatively similar winners (no discredit to them), this broke the mould simply because it wasn’t quite a ballad and it wasn’t quite a happy-clappy tune either. It’s very surreal. Yeah, I can definitely see 007 romancing a woman (shirtless) or deep-sea diving (shirtless) to this. Or even having a fitful dream. Still shirtless.

A-hem.

There are not many Eurovision songs pre-1980 that I love, perhaps due to my age, my taste or coincidence. But Dansevise gets me every time. Five points.

So there you have it – points 1-5 have been allocated and my justifications made. But which five songs have scored the big points with me? You’ll have to wait and see! Drop by again soon if you want to know ‘my number one’*.

Jaz.

* It isn’t My Number One, FYI.

Remember…Kyiv 2005

 

Only two years after their debut, Ukraine had conquered the world’s biggest song contest, and hence wanted to make a lasting impression on Europe in 2005.They were under some pressure, with this year being the contest’s 50th anniversary. “Under The Same Sky” was the chosen slogan for this year and symbolized what Eurovision is all about – uniting a continent through the language of music. The organizers hoped that the event would increase tourism in Ukraine and boost its international image, whilst the government wanted a greater chance at acquiring EU membership. 

Moldova and Bulgaria were the latest nations to join the ESC club, whilst Hungary returned after a seven-year hiatus. Both countries sailed through the semi final qualifier, along with Romania, Norway, Israel, Denmark, Switzerland, Latvia, Croatia and FYR Macedonia.

And so the Saturday final began in earnest with a rousing performance from reigning winner Ruslana, who had pulled out of hosting the show only several weeks previous due to her lack of English skills. Then the presenters, Pavlo, and Ruslana’s replacement Maria, or “Pasha and Masha” as they were otherwise known, appeared and disappeared off the stage in a flash to make way for song number one, from Hungary.

Popular duo Nox presented an unusual, up-tempo ethnic number which kicked the show off to a great start and received plenty of cheers from the audience, which unfortunately was not the case for the next entry.

Just as they had in 2002, the United Kingdom had drawn the ‘cursed’ second spot. Whilst Jessica Garlick had still managed third place then, Popstars contestant Javine was not destined to share the same fate. She had scored a UK #4 hit in 2003 with ‘Real Things’, and came to Eurovision after several years out of the spotlight, having fought off the likes of glamour model Katie Price to win her ticket. Singing an R & B track infused with an assortment of Middle Eastern sounds called ‘Touch My Fire’, she gyrated with great enthusiasm around the stage and certainly sung well (which had not been anticipated due to an alleged sore throat in rehearsals), however by the end, with 18 points and 22nd place, she was left with a more disappointing result than the year before, and has since disappeared from the celebrity scene once again.

Of all the gimmicks employed in this year’s contest, Romania’s was no doubt the most entertaining, and proved very effective indeed. Luminita Anghel was being supported by a group called Sistem, whose instruments consisted of metal barrels, dustbin lids, and angle grinders – the latter of which provided the pyrotechnics. Although this spectacle distracted in part from the song, it clearly paid off, sticking with televoters and giving Romania their highest ever placing. 

Eurovision newbies Moldova made a splash with their first entry, sung by eccentric band Zdob şi Zdub, who were known for their original fusion of punk, hip hop and traditional Moldovan music. ‘Boonika Bate Doba’, translated as ‘Grandmamma Beats The Drum’ involved, strangely enough, a grandmother beating a drum, whilst the lead singer leapt to and fro, and encouraged the crowd to sing along. They certainly loved the performance, and no doubt, the sweet old lady as well.

As is the norm, the home entry gained the biggest cheer of all. GreenJolly were a trio of middle-aged men performing the protest tune ‘Razom Nas Bahato’. The song didn’t have the level of impact needed to be a Eurovision winner, and drifted down to 19th in the voting. There has been many a conspiracy theory formulated over the years regarding the host nation sending a song which is sure to fail, for fear of having to foot the bill for a consecutive contest, and perhaps this is one of them. The song did go on to become the unofficial theme for this year’s Ukrainian Orange Revolution.

2005 was not a good year for the Big 4 countries, and none felt this more so than Germany, whose singer Gracia was riding high in the charts at home with her song ‘Run and Hide’ – or so it seemed. Just before the contest it came to light that the successful sales of her single were just a product of mass purchasing by her manager to increase its popularity (and chances of Eurovision victory). With a final score of 4 points (2 from both Moldova and Monaco), this move in no way paid off. Whether it was the shocking revelation, or the fact that the song just wasn’t any good, is unknown. 

Having participated since 1974, and with two third places since 2000, Greece were hungry for a win, and it turned out that this was their year. Triumph came in the package of megastar Helena Paparizou, who had earned Greece one of those thirds as one half of duo Antique in 2001. Helena had a huge following both in Greece, and in Sweden, where she had been born and raised. Accompanied by a quartet of male dancers, she performed the infectious ‘My Number One’ with vigor, striking her final pose to deafening applause. The song was helped along by its sing-along chorus and slick dance routine, and definitely had the edge over the majority of the others.

was Bosnia & Herzegovina, not Sweden, who provided this year’s obligatory ABBA imitation, in the form of blonde trio Feminnem, whilst Switzerland achieved their best result since 1994 with an Estonian girl group. But Greece held on to the lead for dear life throughout the voting, whilst Germany and France were left at the bottom of the pile. A surprise was the runner up, Malta, who garnered 192 points to Greece’s 230, with a simple ballad sung beautifully by 1998 contestant Chiara. Having come third that year, just missing out on the top prize for a second time was disappointing, but nonetheless a brilliant effort.

Fifty years on from its debut and Eurovision was still going strong. It was a fairly average year song-wise, but paved the way for Greece to dominate the international stage to an extent not seen since the 2004 Athens Olympics. And they were more than happy to rise to the occasion.