Category Archives: Eurovision 2009

In profile: Norway

Norway is just a few days away from choosing its entry for Baku from a pretty impressive bunch of songs (more on that this weekend), so it’s time for another country profile. The country has had its fair share of ups and downs in the contest (let’s be honest, mostly downs) but with the highest ever winning score to its name, Norway has something to show off about when things don’t go so well. Here’s a look back at their time in the ESC so far… 

NORWAY: THE STATS

ESC debut: 1960

No. of entries: 50

Gold medals: 3

Silver medals: 1

Bronze medals: 1

Top 10 finishes: 19

Top 10 success rate: 38%

Top 5 finishes: 10

Top 5 success rate: 20%

Wooden spoons (last places!): 8

Semi final qualifications: 3/4

Qualification success rate: 75%

 

MY PICKS

My favourite entry: Nocturne by Secret Garden (1995), for the most successful use of violins in a Eurovision – until 2009 that is. And because it gives me goosebumps (and not because the violin is out of tune).

My least favourite entry: On My Own by Haldor Laegrid (2001). Not even their nul-pointers make me as depressed as this non-zero-but-still-unsurprisingly-last entry, or as averse to green pants. Not that I was particularly fond of green pants pre-Copenhagen.

More of the memorable: Mil Etter Mil by Jahn Teigen (1978); La Det Swinge by Bobbysocks (1985); I’m Not Afraid to Move On by Jostein Hasselgård (2003); In My Dreams by Wig Wam (2005); Fairytale by Alexander Rybak (2009).

Their best stage show: Fairytale. Disagree? Why don’t you try kicking a hat off a stand like that (HANDY HINT: try it outside of the hallway. I accept no responsibility for injuries caused by you falling through a wall).

Their best costume/s: Jahn Teigen/ Christine Guldbrandsen. I can’t choose between the world’s stretchiest braces, and a dress made out of a shredded bed sheet. Did that make it sound like I don’t actually like these costumes at all? Well let me tell you something; I wore braces AND a bed sheet to my school ball and got quite the reception.

Their best vocalist/s: Didrik Solli-Tangen. His epically long note at the end of My Heart is Yours more than made up for any “I’m 22 but somehow my voice is breaking” vocal fails that may or may not have occurred earlier on.

What I love about Norway in the ESC: It’s often hard to predict what Norway are going to come up with – look at the last few years. Who would have assumed that 2011 would be their year for afro-schlager (term not coined by moi)? Not that anyone would expect that from any country in Eurovision. But that’s the beauty of it. They don’t win very often, but when they do, there’s always something about the win – e.g. a record-breaking score – that keeps people talking.

 

COMING UP: It’s three more songs and a Swedish semi on another Super Saturday!

 

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

Vote, vote, vote for the winners!

DON’T BE ALARMED! This is not a post devoted to Lithuania’s Eurovision entry from 2006. Though it was apt to borrow some lyrics for this title, so LT United – cheers.

This is what it’s really about:

Happy voting =)

(PS – Just in case your wondering, my pick is a tie between 2006 and 2010…but I love them all really)

Sounds like…neuro-fission?

Recently, as I was reliving the unbeatable extravaganza that was Moscow 2009 on my laptop, my dad emerged from the dark recesses of the lounge room to make himself a cup of tea. This was not an unusual event in itself – it happens every night (don’t click away just yet; I swear I have a point). What got me thinking was his remark, after he had asked me what I was watching (as if I would be watching anything else musical). To my reply of “Do you have to ask?” came this response: “It doesn’t sound like Eurovision.” The country that was on at the time was Sweden, which as you’ll know was Malena Ernman with La Voix. This got me thinking. What exactly does Eurovision sound like?

You and I, loyal ESC fans, have been there as the music has become more diverse from one decade to the next, and adapted to the myriad of sounds that is no longer limited to schlager or ballads. But what is the Eurovision sound to non-fans like my dad? I think we can rule out popera.

A lot of the people that make fun of the contest must be stuck in a time warp, thinking they know what a Eurovision song is, as if there’s one formula that everyone follows. Eurovision is not Making Your Mind Up, nor is it Dancing Lasha Tumbai. Those songs are awesome, but they don’t encompass all of the other entries that came before and after them. Nowadays anything could be a Eurovision song. California Guurls? Sure. Cooler Than Me? Why not? Even that new one from the guy who used to front Live which sounds exactly the same as a Live song could represent the UK or … well, anywhere really. Consider these:

The Highest Heights (Lovebugs); Satellite (Lena); Sanomi (Urban Trad); For Real (Athena); Lady Alpine Blue (Mumuiy Troll); In My Dreams (Wig Wam); No No Never (Texas Lightning); We Could Be The Same (Manga); Unsubstantial Blues (Magdi); There Must Be Another Way (Noa & Mira Awad); Pokusaj (Laka); Et S’il Fallait Le Faire (Patricia Kaas).

If I played these songs from the last decade of ESC to the people who take great pride in squeezing the credibility out of ESC with zero evidentiary support (besides something they’ve been told or a snippet of a song they heard twenty years ago) without telling them they were entries, they’d never guess. The Highest Heights is an aural doppelganger for a good portion of indie songs on Triple J, a youth-aimed alternative radio station here in Oz. Satellite could have been Kate Nash’s or Lily Allen’s latest single. I could go on.

So I will. A song I have to mention is the one that shocked everyone, fans and haters alike, when it romped to a monster (pun wholeheartedly intended) victory four years ago. I refer, of course, to Hard Rock Hallelujah. “How could THAT impress Eurovision fans?” I hear the anti-ESC crowd yelp. “Why on Earth would they vote for a bunch of instrument-thrashing extras from The Lord of the Rings over the happy clappy sequin-encrusted Eurotrash that populates that ridiculous featherfest?” I’ll tell you why, peeps. Because times have a-changed, and our minds are open. And we obsessors know that Eurovision has never even been about happy clappy sequin-encrusted Eurotrash. Well not totally (What’s wrong with a bit of that anyway?). You can never guess who will bring what to the table in the preselections each year, even Sweden, the country with the most schlager-tastic reputation of all. Hey, without them, and Malena, and ‘la vwah’ I never would have written this genius post =)

So next time you relive a contest through sight or sound, pay some attention to the diversity, and you’ll see that the Eurovision sound is everywhere and nowhere. Dad, you can no longer say “That doesn’t sound like Eurovision” to anything, unless it’s the Dukes of Hazzard horn.*

* I’m not saying novelty horns are excluded from the ESC sound collective; in fact there’s a high likelihood of their making an appearance onstage in the future. All I’m alluding here is that due to the contest rules, the DOH horn would be disqualified, having already been published.

I think I’ll stop talking now.

X

The 2009 split results are in!!!

RANK JURY RESULT (and actual place) TELEVOTING RESULT ACTUAL RESULT
1 Norway (1) Norway Norway
2 Iceland (2) Azerbaijan Iceland
3 United Kingdom (5) Turkey Azerbaijan
4 France (8) Iceland Turkey
5 Estonia (6) Greece United Kingdom
6 Denmark  (13)      Estonia Estonia
7 Turkey (4) Bosnia & Herzegovina Greece
8 Azerbaijan (3) Russia France
9 Israel (16) Armenia Bosnia & Herzegovina
10 Moldova (14) United Kingdom Armenia
11 Greece (7) Albania Russia
12 Bosnia & Herzegovina (9) Ukraine Ukraine
13 Malta (22) Moldova Denmark
14 Germany (20) Romania Moldova
15 Armenia (10) Sweden Portugal
16 Ukraine (12) Croatia Israel
17 Russia (11) France Albania
18 Portugal (15) Portugal Croatia
19 Croatia (18) Denmark Romania
20 Lithuania (23) Lithuania Germany
21 Romania (19) Spain Sweden
22 Sweden (21) Finland Malta
23 Albania (17) Germany Lithuania
24 Finland (25) Malta Spain
25 Spain (24) Israel Finland

Above you can see a table that I have compiled showing how Eurovision 2009 would have resulted if either the jury or the televoters had possessed all the deciding power. There are not too many drastic differences from the eventual combined rankings, although I am sure nations such as Azerbaijan are glad that the jury’s 8th place for them turned to a bronze medal thanks to the people at home. Similarly, I can only imagine how bitter countries like Malta are in that the professionals thought much more highly of their entries than the slightly partisan viewers. And that is what all of this chaos comes down to – the whole reason for reintroducing the juries was to reduce the effect of bloc voting on Eurovision.

So did it work?

Looking at how only the televoters doled out their points compared to the combined results, it looks like the answer is not a definitive yes, but a quite possibly. When was the last time the UK and France were out of the hellish bottom of the scoreboard? Quite a while. And we can see that countries who have taken their places, such as Sweden (who have a few neighbours that they can usually rely on to help them reach the top) have been negatively affected. But for some, like Germany and Spain, the battle is far from over.

In my opinion, the jury should be kept, and perhaps have their power increased over the next few years to ensure that it is the song, and not the nationality, that is the focus. But let’s hope they don’t eliminate the fun of televoting for good one day (not that I can; I have to get my European online friends to do it for me). Aurovoir.

Remember…Moscow 2009

 

For the very first time Eurovision was to be held in Russia, and the capital Moscow was more than ready for the chaos that accompanied the 54th contest.

42 countries, including the returning Slovakia, were to take to the spectacular stage in the 25 000 seat Olimpisky Arena, which featured a record amount of LED screens and moveable areas that would ensure a totally different look for every performance like never before.

For the second consecutive year, two semi finals were held on May 12th and 14th to determine the twenty countries that would make it to Saturday’s final. Supermodel Natalia Vodianova and television personality Andrey Malahov were the hosts and the competition between countries was fiercer than ever before.

The final opened with a routine combining the world-famous Cirque Du Soleil, and 2008’s Eurovision champion Dima Bilan, who reprised his winning song ‘Believe’ to an excited full capacity crowd, before the next set of hosts, another Russian TV star Ivan Urgant, and the home country’s representative in the 2000 contest, Alsou, welcomed Europe to Moscow.

Lithuania’s Sasha Son was the opening entry, singing a low-key ballad titled simply ‘Love’. It was well regarded in the arena but not so much as the next, Israel, who had chosen to bring an Israeli, Noa, and an Arab, Mira Awad, together to perform the heartfelt political plea ‘There Must Be Another Way’. Sung in Hebrew, Arabic and English, the song’s end was met with a loud cheer for the two songstresses. However, the dreaded slot of number 2 may have let Israel fall to finish in a not terrible, but not notable 16th place as a final result.

Iceland’s Yohanna was a fresh-faced eighteen year-old in Moscow on a mission to take home the top prize. Her well written ballad ‘Is It True?’ was a clear favourite in the arena, and her faultless vocals no doubt added to the package. With 218 points and second place, Yohanna would have been pleased with her efforts.

Greece’s entry in the 2004 contest and the host of 2006’s, Sakis Rouvas, was back for more with a song guaranteed to get the audience going. Penned by two Australians, ‘This Is Our Night’ was another popular song that missed out on first place, but definitely made the evening memorable with a slick stage presentation.

Russia had picked ‘Mamo’ performed by Ukrainian Anastasia Prikhodko. Dressed all in white and singing in front of a video showing her ageing as the song progressed, Anastasia delivered the unusual ethnic tune with might, and naturally received the largest cheer of the night. A creditable eleventh place proved that the aforementioned theory was most likely just that.

Malta’s Chiara had plenty of Eurovision experience up her sequinned sleeve when she appeared, similarly to her other performances (3rd place in 1998 and 2nd in 2005) alone onstage in a sparkling black gown, with just her microphone stand to support her. Unfortunately, it seemed that this time around, the simple presentation did not work as planned, despite a powerful rendition of her song ‘What If We’. Chiara ended the night in a disappointing 22nd place.

Slot number twenty belonged to 2009’s favourite – 23 year old Norwegian Alexander Rybak. Born in Belarus, he had been eliminated from Norway’s version of Pop Idol and came to Eurovision to prove that he could still make it in showbiz. A carefully choreographed performance involving a troupe of dancers complemented Alexander’s self-composed folk song ‘Fairytale’, and had the crowd on their feet throughout. His winning smile signalled the end of what was no doubt a winning performance. This one would be difficult to beat.

After years of bad results and the scar from 2003’s nil-point effort still fading, the United Kingdom pulled out all the stops in the quest for Eurovision glory (or at least a place in the top ten). The writers of their power ballad, sung by young Jade Ewen, were none other than Diane Warren and Andrew Lloyd Webber, the latter of whom appeared onstage to play the piano. Apart from a slight collision with one of her violinists, Jade’s performance went off without a hitch and got a standing ovation from the audience.

Two more entries, a spectacular interval act, and millions of calls and SMS’s later, the votes from the 42 countries began to roll in. It was apparent from the very beginning that Norway had the edge, and by the time the procedure was ten or so nations in, this edge was of the size that no one else had much of a chance to catch up. The fight then turned to that for second place, with the UK, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Iceland in constant contention.

Fourteen years after their second victory, Norway were able to declare themselves the winners of Eurovision, with a record-breaking 387 points and the largest winning margin over runners-up Iceland ever seen at the contest. A still humble Rybak was visibly jubilant with the win as he and his entourage made their way to the stage, and only just managed to get through the reprise among the chaos.

Dancing in the streets of Norway was widespread as Russia’s time in the Eurovision limelight drew to a very successful close. A landmark contest in many ways, 2009 meant that its future looked brighter than ever before.

2009 FACT: In order to combat the dominance of bloc votes in the contest, national juries were re-introduced this year. They consisted of an assembly of musicians and industry experts from each country, who had to cast votes for their favourites. 50% of these and 50% of the televoting results were combined to reach a verdict.

My 2009 awards – the best and the worst

 

BEST ORIGINAL SONG – Bosnia & Herzegovina. ‘Bistra Voda’ had it all – drums, ethnicity, a mysteriously hot lead singer…I believe it was the most beautifully orchestrated song of the whole shebang. One of my all time favourites, for sure.

 WORST ORIGINAL SONG – I’ve gotta say Slovakia (sorry). Their comeback ‘Let’tmou’ sounded like a combination of a catfight and ten different ballads mooshed together. Nela and Kamil had great voices, but they just didn’t harmonise. It was a big dog’s breakfast. Better luck next year.

 SONG THAT SHOULD HAVE GONE TO THE FINAL BUT DIDN’T – Serbia! It came close. I loved it, even though it was about a shoe. It was something quirky and different, a real sing-along song. Great stuff.

 BEST PERFORMANCE – A toss-up between Cyprus and Ukraine, the two extremes. Cyprus had the endearing simplicity of moving cubes, whilst Ukraine really turned it on with drums, centurions, flags, ferris wheels…you name it. Svetlana knew how to work it.

 WORST PERFORMANCE – Montenegro. Andrea, Andrea, you have to pay some attention to the little people out there in the audience! Her vocals were fine, but I didn’t see her sing to the crowd once. It seems she was more interested in mounting her dancer. I think she may have been barking up the wrong tree on that one, though.

 BEST GIMMICK – If you could call Dita Von Teese a gimmick, then I’d go for Germany. But Russia’s ageing Anastasia on the screens has to be the winner because it was a classy and interesting gimmick rather than a cheap and nasty one.

 MR/MISS CONGENIALITY – Alexander from Norway of course! Whilst I don’t believe it was the best song, he is so cute! He knew exactly how to play to the camera and the audience using his boyish charms to full advantage. You have to love him.

 BEST DRESSED – Armenia’s Inga and Anush. Their outfits must have taken FOREVER to create, with the fabric and braiding and headpieces – traditional, eyecatching and beautiful.

 WORST DRESSED: Three 50+ males in sequinned purple suits was never going to work. Just ask the Netherlands.

 WORST VOCALS – Turkey, Aysel from Azerbaijan, Spain…oh dear.

 WHAT THE HECK? HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? – This goes to the country which seemed like a favourite, but fell to the bottom of the scoreboard for some inexplicable reason. And Malta – it’s for you. Poor Chiara – after a third and second place in the past, she probably thought her power ballad, lone woman on stage thing was foolproof. I think ‘What If We’ was her best song yet, so how did it end up almost last? Who knows.

 MOST PLEASANT SHOCK – The UK finally getting back into the swing of things in the top 5! I was thrilled.

 BEST LOOKING – I have a lot to consider here. Of course, it’s all personal opinion. I’ll stick with soloists coz it’s easier so Norway, Denmark and Romania – hubba hubba!

 

xoxox

The 09 Final – my opinion…

 

Well, Eurovision 2009 is over. I’ve just got my hands on the DVD and watching it again, I have confirmation that this was one of the best contests EVER! Of course, that’s just moi. I wanted to post a bit of an overview in regard to the performances, results etc, but I’ll only pick some from the final as I can’t be bothered doing all 42. So here goes nothing…

 

LITHUANIA – Sasha Son opened the show, and unfortunately I don’t think it was enough of an “impact” song to stick with the voters, who tend to forget what happened in the first half of the program. His performance was great though, simple and well done. Plus the hand on fire thing was a cracking way to finish. I think he fell to that disappointing place for lack of punch. You know, the BAM factor!

CROATIA – What a dark horse this was! In making my predictions pre-contest, I had palmed this off as being too boring to make it to the final. But I guess you never know what’ll happen at Eurovision. (Was it the jury’s pick? I can’t remember). Anyway, ‘Lijepa Tena’ was one of several songs that grew on me this year, as I listened to them more and more. Can’t fault Igor’s vocals (he reminds me soooo much of Grant Denyer), but Andrea was a bit unnecessary, I thought, chiming in every now and then with her high high notes. I give this a 3/5. I think it deserved to be placed a bit higher, don’t you?

ICELAND – Aah, yes. One of my absolute favourites. At first I thought it was a bit boring, but Yohanna’s perfect voice sucked me in, and now I love it. SO deserved to be runner-up. I was deflated when i found out how young she is – my age! As if Kejsi and Christina weren’t enough. But there’s a lot of overacheivers at Eurovision, I find. Anyhoo, I thought the song was damn good. But that dress was hideous, the only thing that let her down, with all its frills and fluffs and shades of blue – totally unflattering for such an attractive girl.

GREECE – Sakis is back! (is). I heard heaps of people saying that this song wasn’t half as good as his 2004 third place effort, but I majorly disagree, so I was annoyed when 7th was the best it could muster. Still, top ten is nothing to be sneezed at. I loved this song. It was catchy, and slick, and the gimmick of that giant LED stapler was clever. It’s official – Greece are one of the most consistently awesome participants. Maybe I’m biased, since us Aussies were supposed to be cheering for Sakis and his Aussie songwriters.

RUSSIA – The good thing about hosting the Eurovision is that you don’t have to care if you send a bad song, or if it doesn’t do any good, coz hey – it’s your show and you can do whatever you want. You’ll still get the biggest cheer. Having said that, I grew to appreciate Anastasia Prikodkho’s effort ‘Mamo’, which ended up in 11th place. It was an unusual song, which is good, and had what I believe to be the  best “prop”, which of course was the vision of the singer slowly ageing on the LED’s. Veeeeery clever. It has been said that many host countries deliberately send songs that are sure to fail so that they don’t have to foot the bill for ANOTHER contest. But I don’t think that was on Russia’s agenda, although they wouldn’t have expected to win again.

AZERBAIJAN – ‘Always’ on my mind indeed…this was one of the songs that refused to get out of my head. I just love that instrumental interlude. Another cracker from the Azerbaijanis in 2009, which was performed very well on stage…by Arash. Like several other artists this year, I think Aysel was way off the vocal mark. I am giving her the benefit of the doubt in assuming that she would sound better in her first language, but tut tutting in that it apparently doesn’t matter how bad you sing, you can still conquer Eurovision. Not that Iceland or Norway have anything to do with this.

BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA – SHOULD HAVE WON! I adore this song. It should have been top 5 at least, but I’m just greatful for top 10. I’m not sure what it is about ‘Bistra Voda’ that gets me (besides my obsession with the lead singer who is probably three times my age), but it just does. I loved the military theme of the performance, the vocals, the red flag…everythink dahling! And to all those who said Regina were a crapper version of My Chemical Romance…check your facts and your musical taste.

TURKEY –   One of the most infectious tunes this year for sure, but once again, the vocals were way off. Hadise sounded like a breathless rapper the majority of the time. Sorry, I love you, but next time, maybe tone down the gyrating so you can push out some more successful notes. May be she was just nervous? Anyway, pros – The outfits were gorgeous, choreography was good, the song was another ESC hit for Turkey. They’re good. Real good.

NORWAY – I have to talk about Alexander, I just can’t help myself. Obviously, this was the winner, by just a tad. Only by 160 or so points. OK, OK, it was a runaway victory. Norway were the favourites from the start which was nice since they are notoriously one of the worst performing Eurovision nations. But it made the voting very anticlimatic, as after about four countries had voted, it was clear that nobody else had a chance. I can see the appeal – Alexander’s hot hot hot, for starters. The song was catchy, a real singalong one. And believe me, I did, as I sat on the couch alone, watching the delayed broadcast. But it wasn’t the best in my opinion, so I can’t believe that it won  by so much.

UNITED KINGDOM – Oh Jade, I’m so proud of you! Now matter how she got there, fifth place is a miracle for the UK in a decade where bloc voting has determined all the do-gooders. Perhaps it was the star power of Andrew Lloyd Webber that  did it, because as far as I can see, the 50% jury influence did little to prevent the Cyprus-Greece type point exchanges. But who cares – they did the UK proud.

FINLAND – I am still in a state of shock as to how the heck they came LAST. Before Bosnia came into my life, ‘Lose Control’ was my favourite song, and I thought to myself ‘there is no way this could miss out on a top ten spot’. What is going on? Did the performance not have enough impact to be remembered? Was the song too reminiscent of 90’s dance hits? Sigh. I was crushed. There were songs in that final that deserved to come last, goshdammit. Better luck in 2010 Finland (please return!)

xoxo