Category Archives: Eurovision 2011

EBJ turns FIVE!! | Five years of fashion trends, triumphs and tragedies

Hey there, ladies and gents. You are reading the second-last of my bloggy birthday posts on this *insert description of the weather here* Thursday, and this is a post unlike any one I’ve done before. DUH DUH DUUUUUUUUUH!!!!

So, the deal: Eurovision may be a song contest in some respects, but just turning up and belting out your entry without any regard for how you’re lit, who or what is with you, and what you’re wearing (segue into today’s topic alert) is rarely going to be enough to guarantee success. Costumes in particular can have a dramatic effect on the overall appeal of an entry: they can suit a song perfectly or look totally out of place; they can be commendably crazy or just plain distracting; and they can be young and fun or inappropriate and frumpy. I think it’s safe to say we’ve seen all of the above at some point in our lives as ESC freaks (I mean that in the nicest way possible), and so much more.

On that note, I thought I’d take a look back at the contest fashions from the years EBJ has been in action – and not just at the highs and lows, but also the trends that have had artist after artist opting for the same look with varying degrees of success. Cast your critical eye over my selections and let me know below who’s floated your fashion boat over the last five years, and who’s made you wish it had capsized!

Let’s start with the trends…

 

a

Everything was all white for the likes of Kuunkuiskajaat (Finland 2010), Sieneke (Netherlands 2010), Magdalena Tul (Poland 2011), Pastora Soler (Spain 2012), Birgit (Estonia 2013) and Tanja (Estonia 2014). For some, it was about elegance and simplicity, while others took the bed-linen look to the next level via rhinestones and more lace than a sixteen-year-old should ever be seen in.

 

b

When in doubt, however, going back to black works a treat – and it doesn’t have to be basic! Just check out the statements made by Paula Seling & Ovi (Romania 2010), Christos Mylordos (Cyprus 2011), MayaSar (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2012), Kaliopi (FYR Macedonia 2012), Cezar (Romania 2013) and Mei Finegold (Israel 2014). These guys worked leather, sharp tailoring and plunging necklines into their dark ensembles to make an impression.

 

c

Somebody else well aware of the power of black is Lena (Germany 2010 and 2011), who wore an LBD for her winning performance of Satellite and a belted jumpsuit the following year when she represented her country on home ground. The pared-back styling was obviously a good omen for her.

 

d

Eurovision is one colourful contest, so when they’re not donning black or white, many artists take on the idea that brighter is better. In the last five years, we’ve seen a veritable rainbow of fabulous (and not so much) frocks from Lucia Pérez (Spain 2011), Suzy (Portugal 2014), Elena Ionescu (Romania 2012), Raquel de Rosario (Spain 2013), Pernilla (Finland 2012), Dana International (Israel 2011), Kati Wolf (Hungary 2011) and Niamh Kavanagh (Ireland 2010) to name just a few.

 

e

Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on who we’re talking about) being naked on the Eurovision stage is a no-no. But that didn’t stop Anna Bergendahl (Sweden 2010), Aurela Gaçe (Albania 2011), Emmelie De Forest (Denmark 2013), Zlata Ognevich (Ukraine 2013), Ruth Lorenzo (Spain 2014) and The Tolmachevy Sisters (Russia 2014) from going nude for their respective three minutes – if only in their choices of costume colour scheme.

 

f

One of the biggest trends of recent ESC history has been the mullet dress. Party at the front and black tie soiree at the back, unevenly hemmed getups have been rocked by Feminnem (Croatia 2010), Safura (Azerbaijan 2010), Eva Rivas (Armenia 2010), Chanee (Denmark 2010), TWiiNS (Slovakia 2011), Nikki (Azerbaijan 2011), Mika Newton (Ukraine 2011) and Natalie Horler (Germany 2013). Keep ‘em coming, I say. I love the look of what I call ‘the lady-cape’.

 

g

When your song calls for a decision one way or the other, and you’re after an air of elegance, it’s time for full lengths all round. We’ve seen more evening gowns at the contest in the last five years than the Miss Universe pageant has (well, maybe…that’s some fierce competition) worn by, for instance, Sofia Nizharadze (Georgia 2010), Filipa Azevedo (Portugal 2010), Evelina Sašenko (Lithuania 2010), Despina Olympiou (Cyprus 2013), Tinkara Kovač (Slovenia 2014) and Dilara Kazimova (Azerbaijan 2014). From sexy and slinky to prom-style poofiness, we’ve witnessed it all.

 

h

The boys tend to put a little less effort into their onstage wear, generally speaking. Street clothes have remained from rehearsal to the real thing for Jon Lilygreen and the Islanders (Cyprus 2010), Roman Lob (Germany 2012), Max Jason Mai (Slovakia 2012), Dorians (Armenia 2013), ByeAlex (Hungary 2013) and Firelight (Malta 2014). Whatever makes you feel comfortable, guys…or in Max’s case, whatever slowly falls down as you’re performing so that you end up a millimetre away from giving Eurovision an X-rating.

 

i

But wait – the men-folk can bring it in the formal stakes too. Sometimes a suit is the best option, whether sharp and suave complete with tie, or more casual without. Just ask Didrik Solli-Tangen (Norway 2010), Harel Skaat (Israel 2010), Engelbert Humperdinck (UK 2012), Kurt Calleja (Malta 2012), Eythor Ingi (Iceland 2013), Marco Mengoni (Italy 2013), Axel Hirsoux (Belgium 2014) or Basim (Denmark 2014). NOTE: Basim also answers to the name ‘Harry Highpants’.

 

j

A big trend over the years has understandably been anything shiny or metallic. If you can’t go OTT at the ESC, something is very wrong. For 3+2 (Belarus 2010), Stella Mwangi (2011), Maja Keuc (Slovenia 2011), Anggun (France 2012), Nina Zilli (Italy 2012), Jedward (Ireland 2012), Conchita Wurst (Austria 2014) and Molly (UK 2014) all that glittered was gold, silver and bronze. I can’t confirm that no sheet metal or tinfoil was harmed in the making of these costumes.

 

k

For those less keen on blinding the audience with reflective materials, and more interested in emphasising ethnicity, there’s been the option of something traditional. Whether it’s been a hybrid of old and new á la Ansambel Žlindra (Slovenia 2010) and Cleo and the Slavic girls (Poland 2014), or a totally trad look from the likes of Buranovskiye Babushki (Russia 2012) and Klapa s Mora (Croatia 2013), it’s always been nice to see on stage.

 

l

Last but not least, there’s always a place for costumes that look less like clothing and more like creative craft projects for which the only guideline was ‘you’re only limited by your imagination!’. Since 2010, we’ve had: Alyosha (Ukraine 2010) in the contents of her grandma’s knitting box; Olia Tira (Moldova 2010) and Vilija (Lithuania 2014) taking tutus out of the ballet studio; Sofi Marinova (Bulgaria 2012) and Rona Nishliu (Albania 2012) getting architectural with pleather (and a dreadlock); Eldrine (Georgia 2011) practicing their quilling skills on a bin liner; Eva Boto (Slovenia 2012) cultivating a cottage garden on her gown; Gaitana (Ukraine 2012) sponsoring Shamwow by wearing one; and Moje 3 (Serbia 2013) in the inexplicable. Some of these experiments paid off and some didn’t, but I applaud all of the creativity.

 

And now…my five most stylish moments in EBJ history (and remember, this is veeeery subjective):

m

Maja Keuc (Slovenia 2011) – Who would have anticipated that modeling yourself after an intergalactic stripper would prove to be so hot, hot, hot? In her metal-plated, fringed bodycon with thigh-high platform boots and matching fingerless gloves (naturally), Maja looked UH-MAY-ZING. With emphasis on the ZING.

Margaret Berger (Norway 2013) – It is still TBC whether M. Berg was dressing up as a contemporary Nordic version of Princess Leia, but it’s obvious to everyone that she nailed the ice princess look. Both she and Birgit opted for long white dresses with added bling last year, but the then mum-to-be got out-fashioned in this instance.

Getter Jaani (Estonia 2011) – Cute, colourful and coordinated with the backing peeps? Check, check and check. Getter’s dress was bright and bold but not distracting, with just enough quirk and fun to perfectly suit it to Rockefeller Street. Plus, she could sit down and/or eat in it without splitting the material, unlike (I should imagine) Maja or Margaret.

Anggun (France 2012) – I have frequent fantasies in which I get to parade around in a gold leotard with miles of chiffon fanning out from the back in a glamorous manner. Of course, without Anggun’s stunning figure and ability to stay upright in stilettos, I’d be less likely to parade than fall flat on my face and swear my head off. But luckily for her, Anggun had the poise required to pull off this striking look.

Alyona Lanskaya (Belarus 2013) – Her song left a lot to be desired in terms of originality and English pronunciation, but Alyona looked like the tinsel-covered fairy off the top of a Christmas tree in her blue and silver fringed number (a good thing IMO). Fierce and festive. I award extra points for the backing singers’ ombre outfits, also with fringe. See, it’s not just for cowboys!

 

Going now from wonderful to ‘WTF?!?’, here are my five worst style moments of the EBJ era:

o

Daria Kinzer (Croatia 2011) – Tall, blonde and beautiful Daria had not one, not two, but three dresses on during her performance…and somehow, they were all hideous. I’d say they got worse as they went along, but the pink monstrosity in the middle that looked like a child’s party dress gone wrong was the most fug by far.

Dana International (Israel 2011) – Back in 1998, she was a woman who rocked feathers like no other and looked fabulous doing it. Then Dana goes and wears a shredded outdoor chair cover for what was supposed to be a triumphant return to the contest! Whaaa?!? I think John Paul Gaultier lost his touch after the 90s. Just look at what he dressed Petra Mede in for her hosting duties in Malmö…

Blue (UK 2011) – They’re called Blue, and they wore blue. We get it, it’s hilarious, blah blah blah. But when four attractive men ruin a great song with aesthetics alone (lighting and giant heads included) it’s hard to see the funny side. Shiny suits are a risk that didn’t pay off on this occasion. Not even making Simon go sleeveless in the hope we’d all be too focused on his biceps to notice anything else helped.

Moje 3 (Serbia 2013) – It’s too complicated to explain why here, but I lay 95% of the blame for Serbia’s failure to qualify last year on these outfits. These were like ice-cream sundaes with all 31 of Baskin Robbins’ flavours and available toppings included – i.e. way overdone. They also made the angel/devil dynamic virtually impossible to detect.

You have to wonder if this was the moment Nevena realised 'THIS is what we have to perform in?'.

You have to wonder if this was the moment Nevena thought to herself ‘So…we’re actually wearing these? Like, for REAL?’.

'OH. MY. GOD!!!!!!'

‘OH. MY. GOD!!!!!!’

Aisha (Latvia 2010) – It’s been four years and I’m still trying to figure out why Aisha wore her dressing gown on stage. You’d think someone would have told her backstage that she’d forgotten to put on her actual costume. How embarrassing!

 

And finally, what would Eurovision be without the odd costume reveal? These are my five favourites, 2010-2014:

3 + 2 (Belarus 2010) – I for one never saw those butterfly wings coming. Well, not at the semi-final stage. Still, if ever there was a moment in a song that screamed ‘INSERT COSTUME REVEAL HERE!’ it was that key change, and Belarus did not let that pass by.

Aliona Moon (Moldova 2013) – I’m not referring to how Moldova made Azerbaijan’s dress-projection abilities of Baku look amateur, although that was spectacular. The costume reveal in this case was that Aliona could have worn stilts and still had enough material in her skirt to cover them, as seen when she was raised up high enough to look down on Ukraine’s towering Igor.

InCulto (Lithuania 2010) – Because sequinned hotpants.

Daria Kinzer (Croatia 2011) – Yeah, the dresses were rank, but the way she got in and out of them was impressive. If I could get changed that fast, I’d actually be on time for a change, so long as I didn’t choke to death on the confetti or cloud of smoke.

Alex Sparrow (Russia 2011) – All those in favour of light-up leather jackets, say ‘OMG YAAAASSSS!’. I’m going to assume you all said it, ‘cause who wouldn’t want to own something that not only keeps you warm, but also lets people know what letter your name begins with? You’ll also come in handy in a power outage if you get one. What are you waiting for?

 

So that pretty much sums up who wore what, and when. It also serves as proof that I disagree with the majority of Barbara Dex Award winners of recent history (don’t even get me STARTED on 1997-2009). If you have a disagreement re: the Eurofashion I’ve mentioned, now’s your chance to get it off your chest. Whether you thought something was good, bad, ugly, or situated in a very confusing place in-between, I want your opinion. What’s your favourite costume trend? Who got their look right and who failed to flatter their figure? Spill, guys!

 

NEXT TIME: With Junior Eurovision on the horizon, it’s only fitting that my final fifth birthday post should reveal my top 10 JESC entries since this blog got going. That’s a warning for all of you who are anti-JESC to steer clear for a while…

 

The FINAL Düsseldorf in Rewind: My favourites, then and now

Is anybody else completely shocked that Eurovision 2012 is almost upon us? I literally feel like Düsseldorf was a few months ago, when it fact it has been just about a whole year (which is good and scary…Hooray, it’s ESC o’ clock! But where the heck have the last twelve months gone?). In fact, its been an almost-whole year in which I still haven’t come to terms with, not so much Azerbaijan, but Running Scared itself, winning the contest. This year the field has proven just as strong as that of 2011, with any number of countries having the potential to succeed Ell & Nikki on their turf. That means it could be another edition where an under-the-radar entry gets lots of 7s and 8s and 10s and ends up on top, which could be a cause of celebration (if it’s, say, Estonia) or another shocker (if it’s, say, Belgium. HA. HA.).

Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is that years go fast, Eurovision can be surprising, and blah blah blah.

A lot can change in a year, too. For those of us who keep listening to the songs after the contest (if you don’t, you know, that’s fine. SHAME ON YOU! Totally fine) that includes our opinions of them, and that’s what this final DIR post aims to prove. The difference between 2 or 3 listens of a song, and 20 or 30, is huge. There are some songs that begin to drive you crazy even though you liked them in the beginning, and others that you really get into after the event.

 

 This is what my top 10, I’m-waving-a-flag-for-you song list looked like just before the contest last year:

  1. United Kingdom I Can
  2. Bosnia & Herzegovina Love in Rewind
  3. Sweden Popular
  4. Iceland Coming Home
  5. Cyprus San Angelos S’agapisa
  6. Ukraine Angel
  7. Latvia Angel in Disguise
  8. Italy Madness of Love
  9. Norway Haba Haba
  10. Slovakia I’m Still Alive

"We're number one, we're Jaz's number one! The only number one she'll ever haaaaaaaaave!! Right? RIGHT??"

One year on, these are my 2011 favourites:

  1. Sweden Popular
  2. Bosnia & Herzegovina Love in Rewind
  3. Cyprus San Angelos S’agapisa
  4. United Kingdom I Can
  5. Ukraine Angel
  6. Hungary What About My Dreams?
  7. Slovenia No One
  8. Italy Madness of Love
  9. Norway Haba Haba
  10. Iceland Coming Home

    "I'M the new numero uno? Smashing...."

Okay, so 8/10 countries are the same, and 3/10 have stayed exactly were they were – but you can’t say I haven’t changed my mind at all. Now is the time for you to chip in with your two cents. How have your opinions of the 2011 entries changed over the last year? Which songs that you formerly disliked are you now into, and vice versa? Is your favourite of the 43 still the same? I’d love to hear your answers to these questions!

For the record, I’m backing Spain, Norway and Estonia in 2012. Remind me to check back on this in April 2013 by which time I’ll be obsessed with San Marino, Georgia and Montenegro.*

 

* That is, if Hell has frozen over and pigs have learnt to fly by then.

 

NEXT TIME: Get ready to argue with me to the death, because it’s time for my 2012 reviews! First on the alphabetical-except-for-the-Big-6 list? Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Bulgaria.

 

Düsseldorf in Rewind: My top 10 gimmicks

gimmick /ˈgɪmɪk / noun. A trick or device intended to attract attention, publicity, or trade (The Oxford Dictionary)

This list features gimmicks of the prop and people variety (and no more pompous definitions, I promise). There actually weren’t that many to make a list of in Düsseldorf, but for you, I have managed to locate ten.

Which one was your favourite?

 

#1 Ukraine’s sand art

Tried and tested by: nobody

I love it because: I loved everything about the Ukrainian entry last year. But I also love how original it was. Many, many gimmicks have graced the Eurovision stage, but 2011 was the first time a woman dressed like Dracula’s missus got up there and proved that playing with sand can be impressive, if you do it the right way. I don’t think Ukraine would have managed 4th place without Kseniya Simonova, sand artist extraordinaire.

 

#2 The UK’s reformed boy band

Tried and tested by: technically, nobody

I love it because: boy bands like Blue defined the music of my girlhood, alongside Westlife, Five, the Backstreet Boys, Boyzone, and any other band from the 90s or early 00s that featured a bunch of relatively good-looking guys, including one who got really famous and one whose name nobody remembers. The news of Blue’s reformation for Eurovision turned my then nineteen-year-old self into a hysterical, screeching fangirl (something that will only happen again if One Direction represent the UK in a future contest…a.k.a. never).

 

#3 Belgium’s a cappella performance

 Tried and tested by: Cosmos (Latvia 2006)

I love it because: it’s an amazing talent, and it takes guts to stand on a teensy stage in front of thousands with millions watching on TV, and provide not only the vocals, but the music for your song too, using only your mouth. Witloof Bay’s live performance was studio perfect, and even though I’m not a huge lover of their entry, I’ve watched it back more than a few times over the past year.

 

#4 Sweden’s smashing glass

Tried and tested by: nobody, unless you count Søren Pilmark’s “Whoops, I dropped the trophy!” gag during his co-hosting gig of Eurovision 2001.

I love it because: Eric Saade looks terrified when he goes in for the smash, and I find that very funny. It’s unknown whether he was afraid that a) he might end up with a shard of glass permanently wedged in his person or b) the glass-smashing detonator would fail to work and Sweden would be responsible for a big boo-boo on live TV, but either way I get enjoyment out of the barely disguised ‘HELP ME!’ expression on his face.

 

#5 Croatia’s costume revelations

(This image refused to upload. Apparently my computer refuses to cooperate with images depicting such hideous clothing…)

Tried and tested by: How much time do you have? There is two words for the quintessential costume reveal, however, and they are Bucks, and Fizz.

I love it because: it never gets old. Despite the fact that each and every one of Daria’s revealed outfits was appalling (and that the magician guy was always loitering creepily in the background) the quick changes were well executed and timed.

 

#6 Germany’s returning winner

Tried and tested by: several, including Carola, Dana International and Charlotte Perrelli – but the last winner to defend their title directly after winning was Corry Brokken in 1958.

I love it because: it showed how proud the Germans were of Lena and their victory, figuring she would do well again. I am still bitter that, in making the top 10, she did leapfrog Blue, but ultimately I have to be pleased about Germany’s turnaround in luck, which will hopefully continue in Baku.

 

#7 Cyprus’ bendy choreography

Tried and tested by: Sakis Rouvas (Greece 2009)

I love it because: it’s amazing! HOW do they do that? If you know the secret, I’m begging you, tell me. It’d be a great party trick to have up my sleeve (or possibly the leg of my pants).

 

#8 Slovakia and Ireland’s double acts

Tried and tested by: someone, I’m sure. Or should that be ‘someones’?

I love it because: one set of twins would’ve been great enough, but two sets? Well, that opened up the opportunity for some hilarious and “spontaneous” photographs, one of which I’ve stuck here for your enjoyment.

 

#9 Russia’s light-up leathers

Tried and tested by: Safura (Azerbaijan 2010). Sort of.

I love it because: who wouldn’t? Russia found an inventive way of getting Alex’s name up in lights, and for that I congratulate them.

 

#10 Lithuania’s lyrical sign language

Tried and tested by: Walters & Kazha (Latvia 2005)

I love it because: well, it’s the only notable gimmick left that isn’t Armenia’s giant boxing glove. I’m sure there’s people out there who would appreciate the gesture, although any hearing-impaired viewers would surely have lip-read the lyrics as Evelina sang them. Kudos to her anyway for multitasking.

 

NEXT TIME: In my last DIR post, I’ll be comparing my top 10 from this time last year with my current top 10. Have things changed? Time will tell…

 

Düsseldorf in Rewind: My top 10 vocalists

#1

Maja/ Slovenia

Apparently Slovenia is home to a lot of insanely talented teenage singers who just keep getting shipped off to Eurovision. In my opinion, Maja sang the pants off the 42-strong competition (it’s a good thing she wasn’t wearing any; that could have been embarrassing on live TV).

 

#2

Raphael/ Italy

The last and longest note of Madness of Love can only be described as ‘epic’. As for the rest – well, when you can’t tell the difference between the live and studio versions, you’ve got to be impressed, and Raphael sure was impressive.

 

#3

Nadine/ Austria

Christina Aguilera with an asymmetrical bob (except Nadine can remember her lyrics…and I can’t imagine her ever wearing leather pants with the bottom cut out).

 

#4

Witloof Bay/ Belgium

Love the song or hate the song, you’ve got to give the group credit for their top-notch a cappella/beat boxing abilities. And the fact that they didn’t incorporate a rather tacky-looking robot into their stage presentation as their music-less predecessors decided to do.

 

#5

Amaury/ France

His performance wasn’t quite as perfect as it was when Sognu debuted on French TV (apparently couldn’t find his earpiece through his hair, so when it fell out it stayed out) but it can’t be denied that Amaury’s got talent; as much, if not more so, than many opera singers thrice his age.

 

#6

Mika/ Ukraine

It wasn’t enough for Mika to look like an angel and sing about one…she had to go and sing like one too, albeit one who’d choked on an m & m 30 seconds before showtime.

 

#7

Aurela/ Albania

Ah, Aurela the Yeller. Albania sure loves its shouty singers. Still, there’s an obvious skill  in screaming so tunefully, and I guess the country appreciates that.

 

#8

Nina/ Serbia

Yes, I did happen to notice Nina’s vocals amidst all the nauseating LED swirls. She’s another one who makes it hard to tell the difference between the live and studio.

 

#9

Kati/ Hungary

Naturally The Wolfster (as I am referring to her from now on) has got commendable vocal chops, being the winner of Hungary’s X Factor.

 

#10

Evelina/ Lithuania

C’est Ma Vie = one of my least favourite songs last year. But I reckon I would have disliked it even more without Evelina’s pitch perfection. The sign language gimmick didn’t hurt either.

 

EBJ extras: Here’s who just missed out…Poli from Bulgaria, Eldrine from Georgia and Musiqq from Latvia.

 

Who were your favourite singers of Eurovision 2011?

 

COMING UP: There are only two more Düsseldorf in Rewind posts remaining before I kick off my 2012 song reviews. I should probably get on to those…

 

Düsseldorf in Rewind: The Düsseldorf doppelgangers!

There are definitely some Eurovision entrants who have been tragically separated at birth from some other random famous person, and I reckon there’s some money in reuniting them (even without their knowledge). But today I’m putting aside my hunger to achieve world domination via the exploitation of vulnerable sequin-clad songstresses to bring you a simple, no-strings-attached exposé of the look-alikes who graced the ESC stage last year. That’s right, ladies and gents, the doppelgangers are back!

I have to admit, I’m scraping the barrel a bit with these ones. I did already expose a few secret siblings after last year’s contest, and I didn’t want to repeat myself this time. So, these ones are brand new, but not as convincing! Yay!

Please do me a favour and squint as you look at them, because that makes them appear uncannily similar…

 

Armenia’s Emmy and Australian actress Mary Coustas’ alter ego, Effie

I’m telling you; in about fifteen years Emmy will be Effie’s identical twin.

 

Azerbaijan’s Ell, kids TV character Noddy, and Australian comedian Charlie Pickering

Again, Ell may be the spit of Noddy at the moment – minus the lurid knitted clothing, of course – but in a few years he’ll be Charlie 2.0.

 

Belgium’s Witloof Bay and the cast of US TV series Mad Men

The latter probably would have done better at Eurovision, but apart from that…

 

Bulgaria’s Poli Genova and US actress Samaire Armstrong

They’re both women with short blonde hair. I dare you to tell me they couldn’t be related!

 

Croatia’s Daria Kinzer and French-Canadian singer Celine Dion

I wonder if Daria noticed her similarity to Celine and considered it a good omen, since Celine won the ESC in 1988, coincidentally dressed in an outfit just as hideous as those Daria chose for 2011.

 

Finland’s Paradise Oskar and UK singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran

If I wasn’t so skeptical about Oskar’s ability to grow facial hair I’d actually think they were the same person.

 

Moldova’s Zdob şi Zdub and this croquembouche (profiterole tower)

Thanks to Masterchef, I know now where ZsZ found the inspiration for those gravity-defying head decorations (probably knitted up by the grandmamma when she wasn’t busy beating her drumma).

 

The hair of Norway’s Stella Mwangi and the hair of San Marino’s Senit

I think Stella might have loaned hers to Senit when she didn’t qualify. If so, it may be a bad luck charm…

 

Ukraine’s Mika Newton and this slightly creepy porcelain doll

Yes, they’re both wearing wedding dresses, which helps, but I reckon Mika’s got the doll thing going on anyway.

 

What do you think? Did I miss any twenty-eleven twins?

 

COMING UP: Just when you thought I couldn’t cobble together any more posts about Düsseldorf…well, it turns out I can, because DIR Month ain’t over yet! Next time the spotlight falls on the most spine-tingling singers of last year’s contest (DISCLAIMER: This list will not include Stefan Raab).

 

Düsseldorf in Rewind: My top 10 costumes of the contest

#1

Ukraine’s Mika

I may be slightly obsessed with Ukraine’s last entry, but I honestly love Mika’s costume and want it for my own wardrobe (although I’m not sure where I’d wear it. At the supermarket, perhaps?) – unlike that of her sand-drawing companion Kseniya, who was apparently going for the ‘Bride of Dracula’ look. I love nude shades, feathers and mullet dresses, so when all three combined in this outfit I was never going to turn my nose up. Especially when the feathers were used for shoulder pads. Sartorial genius.

 

#2

Slovenia’s Maja

I never thought I’d praise someone for wearing Perspex-platformed, thigh-high stripper boots, but here we are. Having said that it was the mini-dress manufactured (presumably) from Maja’s mother’s old fry pan that earned her the #2 position. How she managed to sit down in the green room without causing herself serious injury, I’ll never understand.

 

#3

Serbia’s Nina

Before I say anything else, let me just mention that no, the backing vocalist to Nina’s left is not pregnant. The ability for the ladies’ 60s shifts to make them appear withchild is the only downside to them I can think of, because the other 99% of the time they are just too cute: retro printed perfection, with Nina standing out just the right amount.

 

#4

Estonia’s Getter

A year ago I despised Estonia’s choice of costume, mainly because I was in love with Getter’s national final dress and was heartbroken when it evidently didn’t make it into her suitcase for Düsseldorf. But a lot can change in 12 months (including trends – Peter Pan collars are totally in right now). Fun, cutesey, colourful and voluminous enough to conceal magic wands, handkerchiefs and probably a rabbit in a hat as well.

 

#5

Georgia’s Eldrine

[This image refused to show up. If you need a refresher, you’ll have to Google. Apologies!]

These were voted the worst costumes of 2011 in the annual Barbara Dex Awards, but I completely disagree. I mean, sure, I haven’t seen that much quilled ribbon since the International Card-Making Convention, but you have to admit that anyone who’d staple the stuff to a black bin liner and wear it in front of millions deserves a virtual pat on the back. Striking and appropriate.

 

#6

Slovakia’s TWiiNS

The mullet dress strikes again, only this time it’s not alone. The Slovakian twins could have worn snuggies on stage and still looked stunning, but they went for something more in keeping with the ESC dress code, and though it didn’t get them to the final, it got them a place on this list (not quite what they’d hoped for, but it’s something).

 

#7

Germany’s Lena

Not many people can carry off a jumpsuit, but Lena is the queen of simple black, and besides the fact that this outfit made her look freakishly long and thin in the body (if you’re reading this Lena, I only said that out of body envy) she worked it. Bonus points for the amazing shoes.

 

#8

Russia’s Alex

‘Russia: Making Azerbaijan’s use of lights in Safura’s costume back in Oslo look second-rate since 2011’. It’s a wordy and very specific tourist slogan, but it could work. It’s also a good thing Russia made the final last year, because if they hadn’t, we never would have gotten to see the magic A-L-E-X, which for some reason was ditched for the semi in favour of plain ol’ lights. Leather jackets have never been so awesome (or likely to burst into flames).

 

#9

Ireland’s Jedward

It’s not just hair that this Irish twosome take to new heights; shoulder pads too became victims in their quest for ultimate volume in Germany. Jedward may have looked like they skinned Dorothy’s ruby slippers in order to achieve such shiny redness, but it was worth it. Top this in Baku, boys!

 

#10

Israel’s Dana

There are two main reasons why I loved Dana’s dress. Firstly, it was chosen by the public – anyone who cared had the chance to go online and vote for their favourite Gaultier creation, and this flappy green arrangement proved the most popular (BTW, I was one of those who did care). Secondly, it took me back to my pre-school days of paper weaving, which is always a fun thing to reminisce about (although not as much as making jellyfish out of polystyrene cups and cellophane).

 

EBJ extras…Don’t think I’ve forgotten about the worst outfits of 2011:

Armenia – taking the boxing theme a little too far for my liking.

The UK – blue suits for Blue = not so good an idea.

Croatia – not one, not two, but three hideous outfits.

Moldova – what was the deal with those “hats”?

The Netherlands – yawn.

 

What do you think? Who got it right and who got it oh-so-wrong when it came to the fashion of 2011?

 

Düsseldorf in Rewind: Whose postcard is that anyway?

It’s about time you had some fun here at EBJ. You must be so sick of my long-winded psycho-analytic evaluations of the fashion choices of Dutch Eurovision contestants during the period of 1958 to 1975 (actually, that’s not a bad topic for a PHD project, if anyone’s looking for one. Thank me when you’re a certified doctor). So today I’ve prepared, as part of DIR Month, a little visual quiz for you. All you need to complete it is a functioning pair of eyes, although I probably don’t need to tell you that because if you didn’t have those you wouldn’t be reading this blog in the first place.

ANYWAY, here’s the deal. The following postcards (frozen in time by moi) belong to Sweden, Ukraine, Italy, Russia, Denmark, Azerbaijan, Germany, and Georgia – but not in that order. Can you match each still to its rightful nation before it’s too late?**

 

* For your convenience and as is the standard with most quizzes, the answers can be found at the end.  
* No pressure. Nothing’s going to happen if you take your time, or if you cheat and go straight to the answers. Though if you do cheat and I somehow find out, I will shake my head in a very disappointed manner…beware.

 

Perhaps this country decided to make sails out of the material they could have used to put a back in their frontman’s shirt…

 

 

These two look happy enough, but they’d be even happier if they were driving a Ferrari.

 

 

The little people on the monitor didn’t travel too far at all to get to Eurovision 2011, which is convenient since they were so heavily involved.

 

This Viking’s getting a bit cheeky letting you know where he’s from.

 

 

 Ballet is a big thing in this country. Come to think of it, the country’s a pretty big thing too.

 

This country sure likes to draw – sometimes on paper, sometimes in sand.

 

If these two entered JESC 2012 they’d have a hard time outdoing their country’s last entrants in the mini contest.

 

Go ahead, blow your own horn! You deserve it after a dream result in Düsseldorf. 

 

 

ANSWERS

1 = Denmark/ 2 = Italy/ 3 = Germany/ 4 = Sweden/ 5 = Russia/ 6 = Ukraine/ 7 = Georgia/ 8 = Azerbaijan

 

How did you do? Okay, so it wasn’t amazingly difficult, what with the not-so-cryptic clues and all, but it’s possible I stumped one of you. If not, I’ve definitely stumped myself by trying to think up a good ending for this post.

Goodbye? No.

Until next time…no.

Auf wiedersehen? Nein!

 

Forget it, J.

 

COMING UP: DIR Month continues with my top 10 costumes of 2011; and those long-awaited Düsseldorf Doppelgangers finally make their appearance…

 

Düsseldorf in Rewind: My top 10 most-played entries

#1 UKRAINE Angel by Mika Newton

#2 UNITED KINGDOM I Can by Blue

#3 CYPRUS San Angelos S’agapisa by Christos Mylordos

#4 IRELAND Lipstick by Jedward

#5 POLAND  Jestem by Magdalena Tul

#6 SLOVENIA No One by Maja Keuc

#7 NORWAY Haba Haba by Stella Mwangi

#8 SLOVAKIA I’m Still Alive by TWiiNS

#9 MACEDONIA Rusinka by Vlatko Illievski

#10 ISRAEL Ding Dong by Dana International

 

EBJ extras: Here are the ones that just missed out…Sweden, the Netherlands, Russia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Germany

 

Which 2011 entries have you played most over the last year???

Düsseldorf in Rewind: A recap of the 56th ESC

THE SHOW

Location: Esprit Arena, Düsseldorf, Germany

Hosts: Anke Engelke, Judith Rakers & Stefan Raab

Entries: 43

 

SEMI FINAL 1

When: May 10th, 2011

Competitors: 19

Opening song: Jestem by Magdalena Tul (Poland)

Closing song: Watch My Dance by Loukas Giorkas & Stereo Mike (Greece)

Interval act: Cold Steel Drummers

Qualifiers: Serbia, Russia, Switzerland, Georgia, Finland, Iceland, Hungary, Lithuania, Azerbaijan, Greece

Winner: Greece

Loser: Poland

My highlights: The walking, talking hilarity that is Anke Engelke; Finland’s amazing backdrop that was simple but stunning; Sjonni’s Friends proving they had more than just a tragic back-story through their charming performance of Coming Home; and Greece once again demonstrating their Eurovision invincibility with a song that few saw qualifying, but made magic happen when it came to the live show (Loukas & Stereo Mike turned out to be the Alyosha of 2011).

My favourite performance was from: Serbia

Shocks and surprises: Poland ditching the leather and grunge of their MV in favour of white and silver nappies – a big mistake; Alex Sparrow and his posse fooling us into thinking their performance was over, then launching into an epic choreographed curtsey; Kati Wolf’s frighteningly bouffant hairdo (a definite shock); Lithuania and Switzerland qualifying, and Norway and Turkey NOT qualifying.

 

SEMI FINAL 2

When: May 12th, 2011

Competitors: 19

Opening song: Love in Rewind by Dino Merlin (Bosnia & Herzegovina) 

Closing song: Lipstick by Jedward (Ireland) 

Interval act: Flying Steps

Qualifiers: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Austria, Ukraine, Moldova, Sweden, Slovenia, Romania, Estonia, Denmark, Ireland

Winner: Sweden

Loser: Netherlands

My highlights: Belgium, believe it or not – Witloof Bay’s a cappella vocals were terrific, even if the song created by them was not; hearing the ROOOOOAAAARR of the crowd before, during and after Eric Saade’s turn onstage; Dana International’s last-minute catwalk strut that got me wondering how she acquired such supreme stiletto skills; Maja Keuc, her suit of armour, and those boots…and the Flying Steps, whose interval show was so attention-grabbing I did not blink once while it was happening and consequently needed to be fitted for a pair of bionic eyeballs shortly after the contest.

My favourite performance was from: Bosnia & Herzegovina 

Shocks and surprises: Sand artist and Ukraine’s Got Talent winner Kseniya Simonova accompanying Mika Newton in one of the greatest gimmicks ever seen at the ESC; and Cyprus’  knockout performance, one that I think deserved a place in the final.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE GRAND FINAL

When: May 14th, 2011

Competitors: 25

Opening song: Da Da Dam by Paradise Oskar (Finland)

Closing song: One More Day by Eldrine (Georgia)

Interval act: Jan Delay

Winning song: Running Scared by Ell/Nikki (Azerbaijan)

Losing song: In Love For a While by Anna Rossinelli (Switzerland)

Completing the top 5: Italy, Sweden, Ukraine, Denmark

Completing the top 10: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Greece, Ireland, Georgia, Germany

My highlights: The inventive opening reprise of Satellite, featuring a surprise cameo from Lena ML, who emerged from a seething mass of look-alikes; Judith’s bang-on imitation of Lena before said reprise; Blue, one of THE acts of my girlhood, on the Eurovision stage (albeit in dreadful shiny suits and in front of massive headshots of themselves that gave off a rather narcissistic vibe); Italy’s triumphant, trumpeting return after 14 years of contest absence and/or disdain.

My favourite performance was from: Germany/Sweden

Shocks and surprises: The grand (and highly symbolic) unveiling of the green room pre-voting; Italy raking in the points during the latter half of the voting and reaching a well deserved but completely unexpected second place; Eric Saade being Popular enough with the juries and televoters to nab the bronze medal and secure Sweden’s best result since 1999; and finally, Azerbaijan topping the scoreboard with a song that wasn’t even close to being on my winning radar.

A year on, I still can’t believe Running Scared took home the prize, but I’m ultimately happy it did, because in eight weeks time Eurovision will go somewhere it’s never been before, and I have no doubt that the Land of Fire will put on a spectacular show for all of us.

 

What was your favourite part of the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest? 

 

COMING UP: A month of Düsseldorf in Rewind continues with my top 10 most-played entries of 2011. Plus, it’s time for another exposé of doppelgangers…they can run (scared) but they can’t hide!  

 

RAWWWWRRRRR! An OGAE, JESC and ESC monster post!

The Eurovision world is a very busy one, and so whenever one is occupied with other things (things they would rather not be occupied by…unimportant things like university assignments) and is out of the loop for a few days, there is a LOT of developments to wade through. Luckily, I am more than willing to wade through them, if you are willing to excuse the miscellaneous massiveness of this post!

First on the agenda is the…

 

OGAE Second Chance Contest 2011

The results of this were announced last week. If you’re not familiar with the OGAESCC (as I affectionately call it) then get yourself over to Wikipedia pronto and bone up! It’s a fab-tastic annual event that gives the national final songs that missed out a chance to win something. Or just lose all over again. Either way, I’m always excited to see what went down.

This year’s winner – prepare to be surprised in no way – was the lovely Yohanna from Iceland with Nótt, a song that many thought was robbed of winning the Icelandic final this year. I wonder if this makes up at all for her narrow 169-point defeat in Moscow? It at least has to be a decent birthday present for her, as she turns 21 on Sunday. On behalf of everyone here at EBJ (i.e. me) I’d like to wish her a Happy Birthday. If you don’t come back to Eurovision soon, Yohanna, you’ll be dragging yourself onstage in a zimmer frame. I, of course, am allowed to say that, being a whole year younger than she is.

A-hem. ANYWAY, here is the Top 10 of the 2011 OGAESCC. Check out the full results at the official site, or my old favourite free encyclopaedia that rhymes with ‘Sikivedia’.

  1. ICELAND/ Yohanna/ Nótt
  2. SWEDEN/ Jenny Silver/ Something In Your Eyes
  3. ITALY/ Modà feat. Emma/ Arriverà
  4. DENMARK/ Le Freak/ 25 Hours A Day
  5. ISRAEL/ Chen Aharoni/ Or
  6. GREECE/ Nikki Ponte/ I Don’t Wanna Dance
  7. NORWAY/ Helene Bøksle/ Vardlokk
  8. SPAIN/ Lucia Pérez/ Abrázame
  9. GERMANY/ Lena/ Push Forward
  10. SLOVENIA/ April/ Ladadidej

Not bad, not bad…but if I were the judge, my Top 10 would have looked a little more like this:

  1. ISRAEL/ Chen Aharoni/ Or
  2. GREECE/ Nikki Ponte/ I Don’t Wanna Dance
  3. ICELAND/ Yohanna/ Nótt
  4. POLAND/ Anna Gogola/ Ktos Taki Jak Ty
  5. IRELAND/ Nikki Kavanagh/ Falling
  6. NORWAY/ Helene Bøksle/ Vardlokk
  7. FYR MACEDONIA/ Martin Srbinoski/ Ram Tam Tam
  8. AUSTRIA/ Trackshittaz/ Oida Taunz!
  9. SWEDEN/ Jenny Silver/ Something In Your Eyes
  10. SLOVENIA/ April/ Ladadidej

 

JESC 2011

This is where it’s all happening, with just over 7 weeks until the show in Armenia. So what’s ‘it all’?

– San Marino has withdrawn, taking the number of participants down to 13. Personally, I am crushed by this development. Let’s hope, as is rumoured, they’ll be sending a kid along to the 2012 JESC.

– The 2012 JESC which will be in the Netherlands? Yep, that’s the one! For the second time, the Dutch have won the right to host mini-Eurovision. Congratulations to them, but I was kind of hoping for somewhere new, like Malta (a bit out the question since Malta aren’t even participating at the moment).

– 2012 may be the second year in a row that the winning country has hosted the contest the following year, if my ‘THAT’S THE ONE’ radar is working properly. I reckon Rachel and Ik Ben Een Teenager can take it all the way! With all the songs selected and only 1 unheard, I think a lot of JESC fans will begin to make their predictions. Look out for my prediction special in November to see if I change my mind…

– Speaking of a full house of entries, Latvia, Moldova, and Sweden finalised the list earlier in the week, choosing Moondog by Amanda Bašmakova, No-No by Lerica, and Faller by Erik Rapp respectively. All I will say about those at this point (sans Latvia) is that the level is pretty darn high this year, a fact that both pleases me and irritates me (how many kids in Europe can sing and write songs anyway….pfft).

– Lastly, the draw for the running order has taken place, and Russia will open the show whilst Belgium will close it. In between them is Latvia, Moldova, Armenia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Ukraine, Macedonia, Netherlands, Belarus, Sweden, and Georgia.

 

ESC 2012

Believe it or not, some selections are already underway, and you can check out all the details at your portal of choice – ESC Daily, the official site…etc. I won’t rehash it all. However, I will take a look at the bigger picture, so far.

To everybody’s amusement, Slovakia have once again decided to not decide on their 2012 participation. I suspect they won’t be able to help themselves in the end – and by end, I mean the minute before the confirmation time. There are some countries that just thrive on torturing us fans who want to see enough for two semi finals so we don’t have to go back to one measly prelim.

I have the feeling Italy will be another torturer. They were welcomed back in Düsseldorf with open arms, so I think they will be in Baku, but they’re bound to keep us waiting. If you follow me on Twitter, you would already know this. Hint hint.

As of now, 31 countries have confirmed, including the Big Five minus France, as well as this year’s returning countries Austria and Hungary, who are obviously pepped up after both managing to qualify. Tentative selection dates are also coming through, and amazingly, February is not looking as manic as usual at the moment. Albania and Switzerland will pick in December, as normal – just why they feel the need to beat everyone else, I don’t know (I mean, Albania, Christmas Day? Really?) with the Bulgarian, Danish, Maltese and Slovenian finals set for January.

I want to draw special attention to the absence of Serbia from the list of confirmed participants. Having withdrawn from JESC, they better not be considering doing the same for big Eurovision, because if they did I would…I would…well, I would be very upset. Serbia’s one of my favourite ESC countries, always bringing something interesting to the table.

 

Well, I think that’s all there is to ramble on relentlessly about. Next week, there’ll be another Time-Warp Tuesday for you (who will I pick? Not even I know yet) as well as my first ever album review! Yay! It’s a pretty spectacular CD from someone who did pretty well in Eurovision a few years back….

 

See you then! 

Jaz x