Category Archives: Random Stuff
Have you been trapped in a basement for the past month or so? Maybe you just don’t follow Swedish darling and Eurovision 2018 wonder boy/televote non-magnet Benjamin Ingrosso on social media (the less dramatic option). Either way, you might’ve missed the build up to and eventual release on Friday of Benjamin’s first proper album: a.k.a. Identification.
I, as a tragic Ingrosso fangirl from way back, missed nothing. I’d been clinging on to the pre-release song teasers on Instagram like Salvador Sobral clinging on to the hope that he wouldn’t have to hand the ESC winner trophy to a fast-food-and-fireworks song like Toy (i.e. desperately). I dropped everything to read Scandipop’s comprehensive preview (luckily I wasn’t holding anything fragile, expensive or living at the time), and shook my fist super threateningly at Central European Time for dictating that the album would be released while I was at work. No prizes for guessing what I did the second I got home on Friday…
It’s now been a few days since Identification dropped, and since then I’ve played it more or less nonstop. As a result, I’m beyond ready to review it for anyone who’s interested – but rather than rambling on endlessly about all 12 tracks (which I could, because every single one is DOPE) I’ve decided to pick out my favourite six songs from the album and ramble on about those, and only those.
Behind the naturally cool-as-heck cover art of Identification is Benjamin’s latest single I Wouldn’t Know, Melodifestivalen winner/Eurovision entry/greatest song ever Dance You Off, and ten other slickly-produced pop songs – all co-written by the man himself – ranging from emotional ballads and hazy dream-pop to dancefloor bangers. And here, ladies and gentlemen, is the best of that brilliant bunch according to Jaz. You wouldn’t be here reading this if you didn’t want my opinions, right?
In album tracklist order…
It would have been easy to make Dance You Off the Identification opener, but I’m glad Benjamin didn’t – not when this absolute BANGER was waiting in the wings, equipped to get things started in style. Ingrosso’s trademark falsetto leads to a chorus so infectious, you’ll feel like wearing a surgical face mask and bathing in antibacterial sanitiser after hearing it. Subject-wise the song is almost like a Dance You Off prequel, with Benjamin taking us to the club where he’ll eventually dance this girl off the floor because she’s become a bitch (his side of the story) – only on this occasion, they’re meeting for the first time and she’s looking mighty fine…hence why he can’t make his eyes behave. Honestly, he could have based this song’s lyrics on his desire to judo chop Big Bird from Sesame Street and I’d still rate it. As it is, I’m placing a mental bet on Behave being the follow-up single to I Wouldn’t Know.
I Wouldn’t Know
Speaking of which, here’s I Wouldn’t Know in all its summer-soaked glory – track no. 2 of the album and one of my highlights without a doubt. If this song seems to sound like LA (which it totally does) that’s Benjamin’s excessive time spent in the city creeping in to his music. It’s a pretty upbeat song considering it’s about someone who’s just not that into him (are all these songs about the same person? If so, she must be seriously high-maintenance). Every time I hear the retro, sun-bleached intro, I feel like I’ve been transported to the land of palm trees and shopping streets where Julia Roberts is not welcome until she’s made the full transition from hooker with a heart of gold to Richard Gere’s sophisticated arm candy (and yes, that is a compliment). Cruisy vibes and overall catchiness make this a perfect addition to any holiday roadtrip playlist. Also, ‘Tell me what it’s like to love someone who gives a damn about you, ‘cause I wouldn’t know’? Sick burn, Benjamin.
I’ll Be Fine Somehow
This breakup ballad has none of the danceable qualities of Behave or the ironic happy feels of I Wouldn’t Know, but it’s equally awesome in its own way. It reminds me a little of Benjamin’s first grown-up single Fall In Love, only it’s slower and sounds more like it was influenced by R&B. It tells a typical story that we can all identify with (album title pun not intended, but I’ll roll with it). That includes a little list of the pros and cons of the relationship split in question, summed up in the chorus with this lyric: ‘I miss the way that you feel but I won’t miss the way I felt’. Excuse me while I melt into a puddle of feelings on the floor! My only complaint about this song is that it’s too short. As we Eurovision fans are well aware, three minutes isn’t always sufficient song-wise, and I’ll Be Fine Somehow is over before I’ve had the chance to reflect on all of the horrendous aspects of my love life. I suppose I could just play it ten times in a row…
So Good So Fine When You’re Messing With My Mind
This is what happens when you put Benjamin’s late 80s/early 90s influences in a blender with a bunch of top-tier pop songs and a big scoop of protein powder. Oh, and a profanity bleep for every chorus that only draws more attention to the d-word. There’s no kale or chia seeds in there, but that just makes for a more appetising smoothie. If Dance You Off didn’t do anything for you but you’re still hoping for an Ingrosso track that will make you move, this would be my suggestion – the chorus alone is impossible to sit still to. Coming a close second in the ‘Best of SGSFWYMWMM’ stakes is the fact that every part of the song is interesting and has a unique selling point, but all parts compliment each other like it ain’t no thang (or, to use normal person words, effortlessly). Like Behave, this song would make a great follow-up single to I Wouldn’t Know. HINT HINT.
You can hear the Los Angeles in this one too. Spotlights is basically Benjamin justifying his place in the music industry – and in the spotlight, obviously – in the face of haters who think he’s only where he is in his career thanks to the Wahlgren-Ingrosso legacy (this is something the Kardashians should consider doing if they can gather enough material). And this justification is boxed up in jazz-pop package that Bruno Mars would be proud of. My highlight within-a-highlight here has to be the second verse, because the rhymes are so, so satisfyingly neat. ‘See I was only fifteen, labels didn’t want me, they saw me on the TV, said I didn’t have a story, so I had to prove it, did it with my music, when I become a star they’re gonna say they always knew it’ = bomb wording if ever I’ve seen it. I don’t mind if Benjy’s career did get a boost from that hyphenated family name, because it eventually led to this song’s existence in my life and presence on all of my summer party soundtracks.
Dance You Off
Well, duh! I like to think of Dance You Off as the last official track of Identification, with Happiness being an acoustic tack-on that makes for a nice encore rather than a great grand finale. Fortunately, this song helps Benjamin go out with a bang. You guys know what it sounds like – I don’t need to describe it to you. Will that stop me though? Um, no. The late 80s/early 90s atmosphere is thick, the Michael Jackson influences are clear, and no matter how many times I listen to this track (or watch the mind-blowing performance) I will NEVER understand why the voting Eurovision public responded to it so negatively. It goes without saying that I exclude myself from that narrative, since I voted for Sweden and only Sweden back in May (well, there may have been a few messages sent for Mikolas Josef, but you get my drift). Ultimately it doesn’t really matter. Dance You Off is the gift that keeps on giving, televoting points or *sniff* hardly any televoting points.
Okay – that’s my top six tracks covered, so I’ll press pause on the ramble. But I do want to say one more thing: if you’re yet to give this album a go, get on it ASAP (wherever you usually listen to music digitally). It’s far from being a collection of Dance You Off clones, so if that wasn’t your cup of cocoa but you are a pop lover, you’re still likely to find something Benjamin Ingrosso-branded to enjoy.
I’m going to cheat and recommend two more tracks in addition to my favourite six: No Sleep (which sounds like it was recorded under water with the supervision of The Weeknd, and the result is glorious) and Good Intentions (another one to make you feel like you’re in sunny LA drinking cocktails at a beach party). But, in case you hadn’t guessed, I love this entire album and wouldn’t tell you to avoid any of it.
If you have given Identification a run-through, tell me which tracks floated your boat in the comments. How many stars would you give it? It’s pretty obvious that I’d give it the full five.
Now I’ve got to go play it again, because it’s been several hours and I’m having withdrawals.
Until next time (when I’ll write about something in a less sickeningly complimentary way),
SHOULD’VE KNOWN BETTER: Six 2018 OGAE Second Chance songs that probably should have been ESC entries…
Hey there! Remember me? It’s embarrassing the amount of times I’ve had to reintroduce myself on my own blog due to an accidental vacation, but I’m Jaz – still living, breathing and thinking about Eurovision 24/7 (or 25 hours a day, if Le Freak’s skewed concept of time works better for you). Yet again, “other stuff” has cut short my ESC rambling time lately (so annoying), but I’m back now and ready to try and keep it that way. Did you miss me?
I’m going to assume the answer was HELL YEAH and move on to today’s post. Now, if you’re a Eurofan who has a hard time letting go of songs you wish had won their respective NFs, then the annual OGAE Second Chance Song Contest is for you. I’m definitely the type to fall in love with music from Melodifestivalen, MGP, MESC etc, only to fall to pieces when something else wins. So naturally I jump at the chance to see some of those songs get a second chance at competing in and winning an international contest…even if it’s not quite on the same level as actual Eurovision.
The 2018 OGAE SCC is packed with excellent almosts from the most recent NF season, as well as a few glaring omissions (no Tayanna for Ukraine? Seriously?). If you’re not already familiar with the line-up, check it out here. The winner of this year’s contest – succeeding Sweden who won in 2017 with Mariette’s A Million Years – will be revealed in October. To help pass the time until then, I present to you guys my little list of competing songs that, in hindsight, really shouldn’t need a second chance in the first place. Basically, they should – or at least, could – have made it to Lisbon so they could end up losing to Netta.
Remember, this is a subjective subject. The likelihood of us agreeing on more than one or two songs is lower than Max Jason Mai’s pants by the end of his performance in Baku, but I’m happy to hear your opinions in the comments if you’re nice about mine!
Who We Are by Rebecca, Norway
Looking Rybak on Melodi Grand Prix 2018 (see what I did there?), it’s obvious that no one could have stopped Eurovision’s most spectacular point-scorer from making his comeback. Rebecca, with this magical power ballad penned by Mørland, came closest – and for all the guilty pleasure I get out of That’s How You Write A Song, I did have my fingers crossed for her at the time. I don’t want to say outright that Norway choosing Rybak over Rebecca was a mistake; after all, he did win his semi final and finish a respectable (for anyone other than a landslide former winner) 15th. But…I can’t help feeling like Who We Are (a song that shared only a title with San Marino’s entry, THANK THE LORDI) could have gone further, at least in the final. In a contest that wasn’t overrun with big belter female ballads, the song’s mix of mournful Scandipop and soaring anthem (with a hint of schlager, a whole bunch of magnetic moments and a kick-ass money note) would have had a parking spot on the scoreboard all of its own, one that meant it wasn’t competing directly with the likes of Fuego or Toy. What I’m saying is that I think Norway could have scored a similar result to 2017 with this one. As it stands, they have a decent shot of winning the OGAE SCC instead, so that’s something.
Royalty by Feli, Romania
This pick has more to do with Goodbye being the wrong choice than with Royalty being an absolutely amazing song that Romania let go – which is hard for me to say because I am a fan of Goodbye. The thing is, though, it takes an eternity to get going and when it does, it’s not exactly fun – which, in the wake of Yodel It, seemed kind of uncharacteristic for Romania. That ultra slow burn plus a creepy, nonsensical stage show (which I’ve discussed before here) led to Romania losing their 100% qualification record in Portugal. Feli’s Royalty, I’m pretty positive, would not have suffered the same fate. This track is tropical-tinged cocktail of fun from the second it starts, and it doesn’t waste time building up to anything because that’s not what it’s there for. It’s there to create a party atmosphere with a touch of empowerment for all my ladies out there (if we can’t strut out onto the dance floor to this song while kicking all thoughts of our ex-boyfriends to the kerb, then when can we?). Okay, so the staging and costuming would have needed an overhaul to make Feli’s package fit for the ESC, but that’s what the end of March and all of April is for. Vocally it was great, and the potential for greatness in everything else was there too. Missed opportunity alert!
Out of the Twilight by Sara de Blue, San Marino
Eurovision wouldn’t be the same without the plucky little microstate of San Marino making questionable musical choices every year – but even so, I think most of us wish they’d made the decent choice that was presented to them on a silver platter during 1in360. Dropping in via Austria, Sara de Blue was head and shoulders above all of her competition, even if it was mainly in terms of her FLAWLESS vocals that turned average ballad Out of the Twilight into an above average combo of all things hauntingly beautiful and powerful. It might have sounded a little passé on the Eurovision stage next to stuff like Lie To Me and Dance You Off – but presented in the right way, as an old-school lady ballad performed to perfection, there’s no way it wouldn’t have improved on the result achieved by the infinitely more dated (read: stale as a month-old loaf of sourdough) Who We Are. This is one of those NF winner VS runner-up situations that makes you wonder how on earth the final decision was made, and how sane the people were who made it. But don’t get me started on how the winner was decided at 1in360 (we’d be here all damn day). This isn’t the case with every song on this list, but for Sara’s sake I have to say that Out of the Twilight should have been sent to Lisbon, no question.
Lo Malo by Aitana & Ana Guerra, Spain
Speaking of countries that make dodgy decisions time and time again…I can think of at least three recent occasions when Spain has had us all shaking out heads in disbelief at what they opted to send to Eurovision – despite a pre-packaged success story being ready and waiting in their NF (which always ends up 2nd or 3rd). 2018 was no exception, with Spaniards so caught up in Amaia and Alfred’s amor that they overlooked an absolute banger Eurovision would have welcomed with open arms. Lo Malo could have been the latest Camila Cabello smash hit, but instead it was sitting pretty at the Operacion Triunfo gala and begging in Spanish to be crowned The One for Portugal. I guess it didn’t beg loud enough to drag attention away from the lovebirds making puppy dog eyes at each other. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-romance (in fact, I read it almost exclusively). But when an ESC NF presents you with a) a sappy ballad and b) a modern pop masterpiece, and asks you to choose one, YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO GO FOR THE SECOND OPTION. Aitana and Ana were the duo we all deserved from Spain this year, and the pair who could have propelled the country out of the bottom five in the final. If there’s ever a time for the EBU to bend the September 1st rule, it’s when the upcoming ESC season arrives so we can have Lo Malo in Israel.
Compass by Alejandro Reyes, Switzerland
If you guys saw my list of NF favourites from the 2018 season, you’ll already know that I love this track, and in spite of being a Zibbz supporter I was hoping for the adorable Alejandro to represent Switzerland. In hindsight especially, this may not have been a bad idea. I’m still reeling from Stones’ failure to qualify, and when it comes to considering whether or not Compass could have done things differently…well, maybe, maybe not. In terms of the type of song I personally would kill to see Switzerland send to the ESC though (not literally, but give it a few years and I just might) this song is peak YASSS. Fresh, catchy, lyrically as unique as what JOWST comes out with and well performed, Compass might have lacked the attitude of the actual winner, but it made up for that with slick production – and a sense of being, to quote Mugatu from Zoolander (which I can’t say I’ve done on EBJ before) ‘so hot right now’. What I mean by that is, Shawn Mendes could have recorded it and teenage girls worldwide would have lapped that shiz up. Not everything at Eurovision needs to have Spotify streaming potential, but my ears prick up when something does…even if it doesn’t make it all the way to the big show.
Legends by Asanda, United Kingdom
I know, I know…Asanda needed to up her cardio fitness like crazy before trying to sing and dance her way through Legends live (a problem not shared by SuRie). Had she gone to Eurovision, she also would have been in direct competition with Eleni Foureira and probably lost (another problem not shared by SuRie). Still, if we’re talking about a song that would have made more of a statement in Lisbon than Storm did – stage crasher aside – hers was the one to opt for out of the You Decide line-up. Sky-high on energy, dynamic and radio-friendly, it was pretty much in the middle of the Venn diagram between what the UK should send to Eurovision and what they actually do. I totally understand how SuRie (bless her and her awesome personality + social media game) won through instead, and I’m not saying she didn’t deserve to get the golden ticket. But in a parallel universe, Asanda nailed her vocals at the NF and headed off to join her fellow fierce, dancefloor-owning females in Portugal. Just think – if her stage show had been crashed, her version of ‘the show must go on’ might have involved punching the offending individual in the face, and that would have made great TV.
So, do we agree on anything? Which OGAE Second Chance songs for 2018 do YOU think should have made it to Eurovision back in May? Don’t leave me hanging!
Well, this might be the most ridiculous post I’ve ever published (apart from this one). Clearly, nine years (!!!) of blogging have not transformed me into a generator of sophisticated content. But having fun is better than being sophisticated, unless you’re meeting the Queen (I am referring to Conchita Wurst of course, though the same applies to the one who’s pretty well-known in Commonwealth countries).
The general gist is that Koit Toome was a gift to us all at Eurovision 2017, at least from the neck up. When performing Verona with Laura by his side – albeit about ten metres away most of the time – he brought constant drama (drama that used to be romance, obviously) via his pliable face, and it proved he hasn’t overdone it with the Botox despite somehow looking as fresh-faced as he did at Eurovision 1998.
Even though Koit’s OTT soap-opera-style expressions didn’t help Estonia to qualify in Kyiv, he and Laura’s performance wouldn’t have been the same without them, and I think that deserves acknowledgement. I also think they (unintentionally) managed to convey a lot of the feels we everyday people have experienced at one time or another, making Mr. Toome everybody’s personal spirit animal (but not affiliated with the song that lost to Verona in Eesti Laul 2017). You want proof? Don’t worry, I’ve got it!
When you’ve done something bad and you’re not sure whether your parents are about to find out about it or not
When you read through an exam paper and literally nothing makes any sense
When another one of your friends gets engaged/promoted/announces their pregnancy/buys a house, and you have to pretend to be happy for them even though your biggest life achievement to date is eating two pizzas in one sitting
When someone you’re talking to says something really stupid, and you can’t figure out if they were being sarcastic or they’re actually THAT stupid
When you overhear an epic piece of trash talk about someone you hate
When you’ve been stalking someone on Instagram and accidentally liked one of their ancient photos, and you’re currently weighing up the pros and cons of entering the Witness Protection Program
When you see a dog in the street but circumstances will not allow you to go over and declare undying love for it (or even just pat it)
When it dawns on you that there’s a 99% chance you left the iron on this morning, and that you may arrive home to a smouldering pile of what used to be your house
When your boss publicly bitches out your really annoying coworker
When you’ve just had a group discussion and contributed a great idea, only to have someone else swoop in and take the credit for it
When you realise you have to make an appointment over the phone, and no one else is going to do it for you because you’re (supposedly) a grown-ass adult
When someone claims something is true with an arrogant air of authority, but you know better and you’re about to prove it
And, of course, when someone claims to love Eurovision but can only come up with Waterloo or Euphoria when you ask what their all-time favourite entry is
Which Koit face is your favourite? Can you believe I just asked such a ridiculous question? Do you think Estonia might have made it through to the final if he’d stayed a little more serious? If you’re as fascinated by this topic as I am and you’ve got something to say about it, say it in the comments (or on social media accompanied by #koitface…that hashtag could totally catch on if it didn’t back in May).
Until next time, when I’ll probably post something that restores your faith in me as a mature Eurovision professional…
Happy Halloween, Eurofreaks!
If you’re an ESC fan who doesn’t mind a good scare, then this is your lucky day…if you scare super easily, because all I’ve done is prepare a playlist of contest entries that evoke the most frightening time of the year. In comparison to the most blood-curdling, heart-pounding experience I’ve had today (waiting in the online queue for Melodifestivalen tickets, which I scored two of with surprising ease *screams like a banshee*) the following is pretty tame. Still, whether you’re celebrating Halloween with a group of guys and ghouls, or by yourself with a scary movie on your screen, here’s some Eurovision music to set the mood switch of your evening to ‘Suitably Macabre’. Enjoy, or a zombie will eat your brains.
A Monster Like Me, Mørland & Debrah Scarlett (Norway 2015)
Brujería, Son de Sol (Spain 2005)
Taken By A Stranger, Lena (Germany 2011) You can’t tell me you’ve never had a nightmare that either faintly resembled this performance, or was a carbon copy of it. Happy-clappy ESC of yore it is not.
When Spirits Are Calling My Name, Roger Pontare (Sweden 2000)
L’Enfer Et Moi, Amandine Bourgeois (France 2013)
Minn Hinsti Dans, Paul Oscar (Iceland 1997)
Hour of the Wolf, Elnur Huseynov (Azerbaijan 2015)
Hard Rock Hallelujah, Lordi (Finland 2006) Use the words ‘scary’ and ‘Eurovision’ in the same sentence, and even an anti-fan will think of Lordi…though I personally think the scariest thing about the band must be the smell when they remove all of that latex after a show.
Nocturne, Secret Garden (Norway 1995)
Takes 2 To Tango, Jari Sillanpää (Finland 2004)
Nomads In The Night, Jeronimas Milius (Lithuania 2008)
Work Your Magic, Koldun (Belarus 2007)
Birds, Anouk (The Netherlands 2013)
Day After Day, Elnur & Samir (Azerbaijan 2008) Angels, devils, the spillage of an ambiguous red liquid…Azerbaijan went all out for Halloween in ’08. I’m assuming that was the event they thought they’d been invited to, anyway.
One Last Breath, Maria Elena Kyriakou (Greece 2015)
Running Scared, Ell & Nikki (Azerbaijan 2011)
Better The Devil You Know, Sonia (United Kingdom 1993)
Suus, Rona Nishliu (Albania 2012)
Black Smoke, Ann Sophie (Germany 2015)
Ghost, Jamie-Lee Kriewitz (Germany 2016) Singing about a spooky staple and looking like a long-lost member of Dolly Style – while surrounded by a fake but somewhat eerie forest – Jamie-Lee practically personified Halloween in Stockholm. She could easily have attended a costume party this weekend as herself.
Deli, Mor ve Ötesi (Turkey 2008)
Hope Never Dies, Marta Jandová & Václav Noid Bárta (Czech Republic 2015)
I Feed You My Love, Margaret Berger (Norway 2013)
Wild Soul, Cristina Scarlat (Moldova 2014)
Vampires Are Alive, DJ Bobo (Switzerland 2007) Did you think I’d forgotten this? As if! It’s integral to celebrating Boo-rovision. If you can only force your party guests to listen to one creepy contest classic before they run screaming into the night, make it this masterpiece.
Well, that’s about all I’ve got in my brain box until next Halloween, with regards to the scary side of our favourite song contest. Also, my Jamie-Lee costume for 2017 is going to take an entire year to put together, so I’ve got to stop doing this and get on to gluing that.
I’m hoping (though not expecting) that this playlist was terrifically terrifying, so let me know below if you peed your pants with fear at all while you were checking it out. Just a simple yes or no will do – I don’t need any more info than that.
Plus, to reduce the chance of me haunting you dressed in a bed sheet with eye holes cut out of it, comment me your answer to this question: if you were off to a Boo-rovision Halloween party, which ESC act would you dress up as?
Until next time *coffin creaking closed just because*…
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.
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…
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*…
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)…
Unless you’ve been living in an underground bunker for quite a while (which is fine if that’s what you’re into; not so fine if you’re being held captive down there), you’ll know that the 2016 Summer Olympics kicked off the weekend before last, in Rio de Janeiro. I’m not ashamed to admit that I la la love the Olympics, and have done for as long as I can remember – and I think part of that has to do with the parallels one can draw between the Games and Eurovision, if one can be bothered.
I won’t ramble on about all the similarities right now, but you can imagine the kind of stuff I’m referring to: different countries competing against each other in a way that’s friendly enough, but definitely involves tension and prayers that someone else will be the loser…more flags than you can poke a flagpole at…et cetera. On top of that, there are plenty of Eurovision entries, past and present, that remind me of the Olympics á la Chariots of Fire. Songs that pump me up and inspire me to do the impossible by getting myself moving when I feel like doing the opposite.
Because I’m awesome, and because I never let the Olympics slip by without celebrating them here on EBJ*, I’ve gathered together the very songs I’m talking about in one place for your listening pleasure. From dance bangers through to slightly cheesy ballads, here are the tracks of recent contest history that are as perfect for backing ‘moment of triumph’ montages this Olympiad as they were for the Eurovision stage.
Oh, BTW – I may have thrown some NF songs from the 2016 season into this mix too. As Rihanna would say, they just workworkworkworkwork.
* I bet you thought I was going to, since we’re over halfway through this Olympics. There’s a slight chance this post was supposed to go live before the opening ceremony, but didn’t because reasons. You know what I’m like.
Say Yay! by Barei (Spain 2016)
If you wouldn’t say yay when you’ve just won an Olympic medal, then when would you? In between shoe-shuffling and faux-falling, Barei references the stuff that this sporting spectacle is made of – climbing over hills, following your dreams, and doing lots of running. Basically, this is the anthem for hurdlers everywhere.
Sound of Our Hearts by Compact Disco (Hungary 2012)
Invincible by Carola (Sweden 2006)
To The Sky by Tijana (FYR Macedonia 2014)
Be My Guest by Gaitana (Ukraine 2012)
What Eurovision does on a musical level, the Olympics do on a sporting level: bring people from all over the planet together, making us all (in theory) discard our differences while cattily criticising what the participants are wearing. It’s a beautiful thing, and Ukraine’s four-year-old ESC entry encapsulates that very well.
Molitva by Maria Serifović (Serbia 2007)
Rise Up by Freaky Fortune & RiskyKidd (Greece 2014)
Gravity by Zlata Ognevich (Ukraine 2013)
Victorious by Xuso Jones (Spain NF 2016)
I’ll be honest: this was the song that convinced me to include a few national finalists in this playlist, rather than Eurovision entries exclusively. Up-tempo and centred around triumphing over adversity, it totally deserves to be an honorary Olympic anthem.
Butterflies by 3+2 (Belarus 2010)
Amazing by Tanja (Estonia 2014)
Pioneer by Freddie (Hungary 2016)
Na Inat by Poli Genova (Bulgaria 2011)
Believe by Dima Bilan (Russia 2008)
As sugary as it is, a ballad about believing that you can do heaps of difficult shit without giving up (or something similarly poignant) is Olympic gold. If that’s not reason enough for you to pop Dima in your own playlist, remember that Russia’s winning performance in Belgrade featured the multiple medal-nabbing figure skater Evgeni Plushenko. Surely that’s a sign?
Miracle by Paula Seling & Ovi (Romania 2014)
A Million Voices by Polina Gagarina (Russia 2015)
Deli by Mor ve Ötesi (Turkey 2008)
Keine Grenzen by Ich Troje (Poland 2003)
I’ve Been Waiting For This Night by Donny Montell (Lithuania 2016)
Any momentous event, musical or sporting (or getting out of bed on a particularly cold winter’s morning), tends to be the culmination of a heap of hard work for the people involved. I think Donny Montell totally understands that, even if he was referring to hooking up with someone he’s had the hots for since forever *pretends he’s not married for three minutes*. For a thousand years, through a million tears, etc…just like the path leading to a synchronised swimming podium placement. Obviously.
Jas Ja Imam Silata by Gjoko Taneski (FYR Macedonia 2010)
Playing With Fire by Paula Seling & Ovi (Romania 2010)
Warrior by Amber (Malta 2015)
Falling Stars by Lidia Isac (Moldova 2016)
It may not have had the steam to make it out of its semi final, but Falling Stars has the energy and up-tempo goods to get anyone remotely Olympically-inclined pumped up for competition. That’s as long as you can ignore Lidia’s half-hearted “money note”, which is worth about two Euros, and was partially responsible for her downfall.
Verjamem by Eva Boto (Slovenia 2012)
Higher by NuAngels (Ukraine NF 2016)
You’re Not Alone by Joe & Jake (United Kingdom 2016)
Euphoria by Loreen (Sweden 2012)
Come on…do I really need to explain this one? I know I feel like I could successfully complete a decathlon whenever I listen to Loreen’s winning entry (although I’m more likely to be found eating a donut, tbh).
Help You Fly by IVAN (Belarus 2016)
Cvet z Juga by Alenka Gotar (Slovenia 2007)
Dziesma Par Laimi by Fomins & Kleins (Latvia 2004)
Glorious by Cascada (Germany 2013)
Cool Me Down by Margaret (Poland NF 2016)
It’s going to be a while before hardcore, NF-following ESC fans stop mentioning Margaret, even though Poland proved anti-Michał peeps wrong by smashing Eurovision 2016 without her. So why not bring her up in this conversation? After all, I can confirm that many of the athletes competing in Brazil are hotter than fire, and that nothing could cool them down.
Unbreakable by Sinplus (Switzerland 2012)
Walk On Water by Ira Losco (Malta 2016)
We Are The Heroes by Litesound (Belarus 2012)
Dime by Beth (Spain 2003)
Based on how psyched the Spanish team were during the opening ceremony’s parade of nations, I don’t think they need one of their fellow countrywomen to pump them up. But the rest of the world could use a little Latin flavour courtesy of Beth – it’s perfect for getting us in the mood given that the Rio games are the first to be held in South America. Olé!
Time To Shine by Melanie Réne (Switzerland 2015)
Sunlight by Nicky Byrne (Ireland 2016)
I Can by Blue (2011)
Heroes by Måns Zelmerlöw (Sweden 2015)
I bet you thought I’d left the most obvious song of all out of the running (pun intended). As if! Last year’s winner is so suited to becoming an Olympic anthem, I’d bet my not-completely-pathetic bank balance on Sweden having used it to back their coverage at least ten times already. MZW performed Heroes at the Australian Open earlier this year, so we already know it works in a sporting context. Put on some Lycra and blast it as loud as possible, and I can guarantee you’ll be feeling like an Olympian (if not an idiot) in no time.
And voila! That’s my personal soundtrack of the 2016 Olympics, Eurovision-style (my favourite style). Because I’m down with the kids, y’all, I could have put together a convenient Spotify playlist to insert here at the end of this post…but due to a technical error, you’re getting a good old-fashioned YouTube playlist instead. That’s better than nothing, right?
What do you think of this collection of tracks? Would you be happy to sprint for the finish line (possibly in slow-mo) to these tunes, or do you have a playlist of your own that makes you feel like an elite athlete…or just less like a couch potato? Let me know below.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to feasting my eyes on anything and everything Rio has to offer. If it involves countries competing against each other while flags obscure the majority of camera shots, then I’m on board!
I hope you enjoy the rest of the Olympics. Remember, they’re just like Eurovision, only sweatier. Or, in Sergey Lazarev’s case, just like Eurovision.
For most people, today is Tuesday. For some people, it may still be Monday. For other people – the really slack ones who didn’t get the memo that I’d posted this and just happened to stumble across it belatedly (subscribe or stop by my social media to avoid such disasters by receiving new post alerts *SHAMELESS PLUG*) – it could be any old day of the week. But for me, it’s June 28, and that’s kind of a big deal.
Why? Because seven years ago today (!) I decided to inflict my obsession with/ability to talk constantly about Eurovision upon the world, via a blog that would become known as Eurovision By Jaz…since that’s what I decided to call it that day, duh. Back then in 2009, I couldn’t have foreseen that I’d still be running the blog in my own haphazard manner after so much time had passed – let alone off the back of an ACTUAL TRIP to the contest after ten years of frenzied fangirling (I still have to pinch myself on the hour every hour to remind myself that I was in Stockholm). The reason I’m still around is simple, though: I do it for the love. I mean, if I did for popularity and adoration I would’ve lost the will years ago.
Here and now, in case you were wondering, I’m certain that as long as I enjoy chatting all things ESC with you guys, and as long as at least one person out there seems to be a fan of my material (besides me), I’ll be here doing what I do. I.e. criticising contestants’ costume choices and objectifying whoever happens to be the hottest guy of the latest contest line-up (in 2016, I’ve moved on from Måns to Freddie, FYI). If you’re willing to come along for the ride, I can guarantee a safe, yet entertaining and occasionally controversial journey through the years to come.
Before I let loose and blow my own kazoo (not a euphemism), I want to thank anyone who’s reading this intro. If you are, it means you’ve taken the time to drop by EBJ, probably out of habit or to see if it’s your cup of kaffe. You might have been with me from the beginning, be a recent reader, or be someone who’s sick of me already and plans to stick with Wiwi Bloggs exclusively from now on – I don’t mind whichever way. I’m just grateful for your visit and confident that you must be a pretty cool person since you’re attracted to rather than repulsed by the word ‘Eurovision’.
Now, to kick off my 7th birthday (blogday?) celebrations, here’s a substandard graphic I prepared earlier!
I’ve decided to celebrate this milestone with a countdown that’s not your usual countdown. It’s not a Top 10, for starters – it’s actually a Top 7, and (brace yourselves for a theme to emerge here) it will feature my personal top 7 songs that have placed seventh in the ESC since EBJ began. In other words, I’m about to rank, from my least loved to my most loved, the seventh placers of 2010-2016. Given that I started blogging just after Eurovision 2009, Sakis Rouvas Vol. 2 will not be included in this list. But, as I know he’d be devastated to be un-invited so unceremoniously from this partay (and be likely to release a song entitledThis Is (Not) Our Night), I’m going to use him to rate each of the seven entries using a system I like to call ‘The Sakis Head Scale’.
You can see why.
If you’re keen to rate any of the following tracks – or ANY seventh-placed song from Eurovision history, for that matter – using the Sakis Head Scale/conventional 0-12 points (ugh, how normal), head to the comments section below. Alternatively, tweet me @EurovisionByJaz using the hashtag #shareyour7, and tell me which sixth runner-up is your favourite…or least favourite.
Without further ado (you know how I love ado, but I’ll restrain myself on this occasion), let’s kick off the countdown!
#7 | ‘May the winter stay away from my harvest night and day…’
Apricot Stone by Eva Rivas (Armenia 2010)
I fully expect to be pelted with apricot stones and verbal abuse over this one. I wasn’t surprised by Armenia’s lower-end-of-the-top-ten finish in Oslo, but that doesn’t mean I ‘got’ Apricot Stone. It’s not a bad song, per se – but push my buttons, it does not. It reminded me a bit of the Dutch entry two years previously, and that (Hind’s Your Heart Belongs To Me, for anyone having a brain-blank) was dated in 2008. Based on that, I never found the Armenian version very fresh – especially its chorus. And I hate to say this, because I’m totally pro-Rapunzel letting down her hair…but Eva’s super lengthy locks kind of freaked me out.
#6 | ‘Watch my dance, head up high, hands like wings and I’ll fly…’
Watch My Dance by Loukas Giorkas feat. Stereo Mike (Greece 2011)
Ah, Greece and their love of fusing rap with…not rap. There has to be some irony in the fact that they blended rap and ethnic sounds better in 2016 than in 2011, yet lost their 100% qualification record this year and finished seventh five years ago. If I remember correctly, a lot of us fans were convinced that Loukas and Stereo Mike (now known as Spotify Mike, most likely) would be Greece’s downfall, and that included me at the time. Nowadays, I like this song more than I did then, but it’s still too intense and too melodramatic for me to play that often – not to mention jarring enough to resemble an edit of a movie put together by a monkey. All in all, I prefer it when Greece takes a lighter approach to their rap fusion entries, á la Rise Up (#ROBBED). Though I’m not unwilling to watch Loukas’ dance, if he’s still after an audience and will be shirtless.
#5 | ‘My life is on a string when I see you smile, our love will last a thousand miles…’
Shine by the Tolmachevy Sisters (Russia 2014)
Here’s a song that I hated when I first heard it, only to find myself humming along shortly thereafter. I guess there’s no shortage of wonders an oversized see-saw can work, particularly when combined with twins who temporarily become conjoined via their ponytails. To be honest, I still don’t think Shine is a great song – it certainly has nothing on the duo’s Junior Eurovision winner Vesinniy Jazz – but there’s something nice about the melody and the way the girls harmonise (as only identical twins can) that had it growing on me even before the giant papier mâché sun was unfolded by a Portuguese national finalist (naturally). In fact, I have it stuck in my head right now.
#4 | ‘I didn’t want to wake you up, my love was never gonna be enough…’
Goodbye To Yesterday by Elina Born & Stig Rästa (Estonia 2015)
The song that won Eesti Laul by a landslide last year couldn’t do the same at Eurovision, but 7th? Totally respectable, especially given the unfortunate and unjust outcome of Estonia’s entry in Stockholm. Goodbye To Yesterday is one of many fine feathers in Stig Rästa’s compositional cap, and while it wasn’t up there with my personal douze-pointers in 2015, I can’t deny that it has something special. The dynamic between the two characters in the song’s story makes for a perfect duet, and the song itself is one that feels both retro and fresh. And who could resist a lyric like ‘As I got outside, I smiled to the dog’? Not me, that’s for sure. Or the dog, I’m guessing.
#3 | ‘You shook my life like an earthquake, now I’m waking up…’
LoveWave by Iveta Mukuchyan (Armenia 2016)
And here we have the latest track to reach the seventh rung of Eurovision’s top 10 ladder – one that makes me hopeful for a future in which cutting-edge, experimental music outnumbers stale cookie-cutter-type stuff in the contest. When a song doesn’t grab me straight away, but intrigues (rather than horrifies) me, I’m happy, because I know I’m going to love it eventually. LoveWave is initially disarming with its spoken-word start, but it makes you wonder where it’s headed and what kind of ground it’s about to break (so to speak). Ultimately, it’s a powerful punch-packer of a track, fronted by the femme fatale figure of Iveta who sells it vocally and visually. You can’t tell me this doesn’t kick Apricot Stone’s ass.
#2 | ‘I am a lonely sailor drinking the night away, my ship is made from hope, she’s searching for your bay…’
Love Me Back by Can Bonomo (Turkey 2012)
The last time we saw Turkey compete in the ESC, they gave me everything I want in my ethno-pop. That includes a) a generous dollop of traditional sounds that set the song apart from its rivals; b) three minutes of fun and frivolity without any ‘this is a novelty act and it can’t be taken seriously’ vibes; and c) back-up dancers who can transform their costumes into a sailboat at a second’s notice. Basically, it’s the whole package. Catchy, unique and easy to sing along to (or yell drunkenly over in the midst of an enthusiastic round of the Eurovision Drinking Game), Love Me Back is also a masterclass in how to make a cultural mark on the contest without alienating anyone…besides people prone to seasickness.
#1 | ‘While the world breaks into pieces, I compose new places and desires which also belong to you…’
L’Essenziale by Marco Mengoni (Italy 2013)
If you hadn’t guessed already, given that only one 2010-2016 7th-placer is yet to be mentioned, Italy takes out the top spot with one of my favourite Eurovision songs of ALL TIME (if your name is Kanye West, don’t bother trying to dispute that). An entry that truly puts the ‘song’ into Eurovision Song Contest, L’Essenziale is lyrically and melodically magic, and comes equipped with a message that doesn’t make your skin crawl thanks to its cheesiness (yes, Russia, it CAN be done without resorting to love love, peace peace). I would marry this song if that were at all possible, I’m so crazy about it. Although, if Marco is available, I’d rather marry him instead. Then he could serenade me with the song whenever I wanted. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
Well, I’ve shared my seven – a song for every year I’ve been blogging here at EBJ. Holy Hard Rock Hallelujah! Remember, if you want to do the same, I’d consider it a birthday gift and therefore wouldn’t be offended by the lack of fruit baskets being delivered to my door. You should also feel free to tell me what you thought of my ranking. How would you rearrange it? Was seventh place too good or not good enough for these tracks? Exactly how offended are you right now?
While you’re letting me know, I’ll be off raising a glass to myself…and, of course, planning seven more years’ worth of Eurovisual entertainment for anyone who currently reads or will someday stumble upon this site. I hope you enjoy what’s to come as much as I’m going to enjoy creating it for you (if the Sakis heads are any indication, I’ll have an epic time).
Not quite a million voices: Five finalists from The Voice Australia 2015 who could fly the Aussie flag in Stockholm (if we’re invited…)
Here’s a question for you: Bianca Nicholas, Debrah Scarlett, Elhaida Dani, Elnur Hüseynov, Leonor Andrade, Loïc Nottet, Maria Elena Kyriakou and Trijntje Oosterhuis *takes much-needed breath* all have something in common…but what is it?
No, it’s not that they all participated in Eurovision 2015 (though that is technically a correct answer too). The common thread I’m referring to is that all of these artists have appeared on TV talent show The Voice – either in their home country, or in someone else’s. Elhaida, Elnur and Maria Elena won their seasons in Italy, Turkey and Greece respectively. Loïc Nottet finished second on the show in 2014, with his subsequent ESC participation making him the third Belgian rep in a row to have made the same transition (Roberto Bellarosa won The Voice Belgique in 2012, and Axel Hirsoux got knocked out prior to the live show stages in 2013). And Trijntje got the gig of sitting in one of the big, red, excellently spinny chairs as a coach on the original Dutch version in 2012 (as did Ilse DeLange the year after).
I’m giving you all this info you probably already knew because I’m trying to make a point. That point = The Voice is becoming THE hunting ground for broadcasters making internal selections for Eurovision, as well as a frequent stepping stone to national final entry. The Idols, X Factors and Got Talents of the globe have their fair share of impact too (Nina Sublatti, Elina Born, Guy Sebastian, Daniel Kajmakoski and Bojana Stamenov all competed in one of those programs before arriving in Vienna) but The Voice is proving to be the heavyweight hitter of the moment, with masses of the show’s alumni popping up in the ESC over the past few years.
That fact – plus the convenient conclusion of Australia’s latest season of The Voice on Sunday night – got me thinking. If the land Down Under was invited back to the Eurovision family reunion next May, why couldn’t we sift through this fresh batch of The Voice finalists in order to find our next representative?
There were some top-notch noises emitted from contestants this season, and – for the purposes of a post that hardly anyone is likely to be interested in, yay! – I’ve selected five of my personal favourites (contestants, not noises) to officially nominate as potential Aussie flag-flyers in Stockholm. SBS, take note.
FYI: For some reason, videos from The Voice Australia are few and far between on YouTube, but I’ve done my best to source semi-reasonable ones. If you’re (miraculously) interested in watching more/better performances from the following possible Eurovision representatives, you can do so here.
Ellie Drennan, 16
Ellie won The Voice on Sunday night, which didn’t come as a surprise. Coach Jessie J spent the entire season banging on about how amazing she was for her age, and though that did make me think ‘Whatever…you ain’t seen nothing, Jessie, until you’ve sat through any given edition of Junior Eurovision’, I still think Ellie’s got something special. She’s a little Lorde-like to listen to, but not overly-so, and she’d definitely give more of a Nadav Guedj-level performance (i.e. confident and competent) than a Michele-and-Anita-level one (i.e. deer in the head/stage lights) if she ever took to the ESC stage. Interesting is the key word here.
The Eurovision entry would be…intense and unique without a hint of polished pop princess-ness, like Lena’s Taken By A Stranger; or cool and offbeat like Loïc Nottet’s Rhythm Inside (as you might have seen in the video above, Ellie’s already taken style inspiration from Mr. Nottet).
Nathan Hawes, 18
We’ve never heard a voice like Nathan’s on the Eurovision stage, and I’d not-so-secretly love us Aussies to be the ones who put it on the table. This guy is also not far out of the JESC age range, and though I know the Eurovision demographic isn’t largely comprised of tween girls, he’d easily snap up the votes of any tween girls who do happen to tune in. Based on looks, you might expect him to have a voice like Justin Bieber’s (or like the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz) but that’s not the case. What he does have is pipes that strike a perfect balance between weird and wonderful.
The Eurovision entry would be…understatedly staged and stripped back in sound, like John Karayiannis’ One Thing I Should Have Done. That’s if it wasn’t another slightly-bizarre-but-still-enjoyable reworking of a Taylor Swift song that somehow managed not to breach Eurovision’s ‘original song’ rule…
Caleb Jago-Ward, 22
This man was born to be on a stage of some kind – preferably in a theatre, but a ginormous fibreglass number in one of Europe’s most distinctive arenas would do just fine. He has enough personality to pull a Donny Montell and fill up said ginormous stage all on his own, and his falsetto has the power to shatter the Eurovision trophy if it’s kept within a five-mile radius (be warned, SVT). Also important to note is that Caleb looks great in a white suit – and we all know how much of a good-luck charm white can be in the ESC. How else do you explain Azerbaijan’s 2011 victory?
The Eurovision entry would be…a big belter of a man-ballad, like Axel Hirsoux’s Mother (but not creepy); or something anthemic that let him show off a bit, like our reigning champ Måns Zelmerlöw’s Heroes.
Joe Moore, 24
The Voice runner-up Joe is British, and a busker by trade, but he’s no stranger to Aussie TV audiences: he finished fourth in the 2012 season of Australia’s Got Talent. That is because, duh, he’s got talent. I was backing him to win on the weekend, and the fact that he didn’t takes nothing away from his unique sound, emotive performances and general adorableness. Sadly, he’s probably the least likely of these five acts to say ‘HELL TO THE YEAH!!’ if approached about Eurovision. But in this fantasy land of mine that I’m currently touring you through, that’s not worth thinking about.
The Eurovision entry would be…all about simplicity, authenticity and raw talent, like Tom Dice’s Me and My Guitar. There would be no wind machines or pyrotechnics involved. Well…maybe a fire curtain for the final chorus. A subtle, classy, TWENTY FOOT HIGH SHOWER OF SPARKS WITH UNICORNS FROLICKING UNDERNEATH IT.
Lyndall Wennekes, 19
Lastly, because every country should have the chance to send a pop princess…here’s Her Royal Highness Lyndall. Can she sing? Obviously. Can she dance? Absolutely. Can she do both of these things at the same time, while wearing high heels? Like she took lessons from Ani Lorak herself (which she actually may have done – as a gymnast, she probably has a sizeable Ukrainian network). This girl is pretty versatile, so as a song contest participant, she could stroll down Dance Banger Drive or swing by Ballad Boulevard without breaking a sweat.
The Eurovision entry would be…fun, infectious pop like Getter Jaani’s Rockefeller Street; or an ambitious ballad like Aliona Moon’s O Mie, minus Pasha Parfeny on the piano (sadface).
Of course, if none of these artists are willing and able to make the trip to Sweden, Australia could always opt for The Voice coach, goddess amongst mere mortals and our version of Sanna Nielsen, Delta Goodrem…
…but more on that in a future post, if you guys are still around to see it. Please come back. I promise I’ll up the Eurovision content next time.
PS – What do you think of ‘The Voice’ as a one-stop shop for selecting Eurovision reps? Is there anyone on the show, anywhere in the world, who you think has ‘Eurovision 2016’ written all over them?
EBJ UPDATE: The Eurovisiony goodness I’ve got planned for the rest of 2015 (because like the TWiiNS, I’m still alive)
HEY GUYS!!! HOW’S IT GOING??? WHAT’S UP WITH YOUUUUUUUU?!?!?!?
I’m sorry for that stream of shouty capitals. You might think that my Caps Lock button is currently stuck down, but actually, I’m just overexcited because I MISS YOU ALL and I MISS BLOGGING ABOUT ALL THINGS EUROVISUAL and I’m SO HAPPY TO BE BACK HERE.
It’s been over a fortnight since I last posted (!!!). That’s like, three months in internet time. My excuse is that I’ve recently started a new job, and I’ve been busy working while trying to get all of my non-work *insert poop emoji here* together.
Basically, I’ve been off figuring out how to person with a lot on my plate. But I’m back now, and ready to resume (somewhat) normal transmission here on EBJ. I’ve dropped by today for a quick – i.e. you’ll only need to have one power nap mid-read – chat with y’all re: what you can expect to see, and hopefully enjoy, on le blog for the remainder of 2015.
The list of posts I’ve got planned is longer than a Jedward head hair (though not as long as Monika and Vaidas’ grand final smooch in Vienna) so there’s no need for you to wonder what you’ll be doing between now and Junior Eurovision – if you’re a JESC fan – and beyond to the start of Eurovision 2016’s NF season. I’ve got you covered, amigos.
Firstly, as I am intending to grace Stockholm with my presence next May (with press accreditation flapping haphazardly around my neck, fingers crossed) you’ll be receiving regular updates on the progress of my trip plans (whether you want them or not). If you’re Sweden-bound too, let me know so we can arrange to run to each other from opposite ends of Arlanda airport and partake in an enthusiastic high five.
Secondly, I’m working hard on making your post requests a reality – just think of me as your Eurovision fairy godmother. I’m grateful for all of the Top 10 and Stockholm Suggestion Box ideas you guys put forward, and I will post them ASAP. Mark your calendars for any time in the next two or three years, sit back, and wait for one of your submissions to pop up just as you’re losing the will to wait any longer. It’ll be fun!
Thirdly, I’m going to be adding some regular day-specific posts to my repertoire, since I love doing Time-Warp Tuesdays so much, and since you guys seem to love them too.
With all of the above said, here’s a more detailed look at what’s coming up on EBJ from August through to December (subject to me changing my mind and adding in more of your suggestions!).
You guys know I’m always Team Sweden where Eurovision (and affordable flat-pack furniture) is concerned. It’s only natural that Melodifestivalen should be my favourite national final. That being the undeniable truth, I thought it was time I started celebrating the good, the bad and the ugly (‘ugly’ in this case most likely to refer to an unfortunate fashion choice) of Melfest – just as I do with Eurovision on Time-Warp Tuesdays.
Every third, fourth or whenever Monday, I’ll be sifting through the show’s archives to find a song of interest that was once in the running to represent Sweden. I’ll then ramble on about it for a while. THEN we can argue for the next three days straight after inevitably disagreeing on how fantastic/woeful said song is. Ja!
I love putting these together, as I said before. And, as you guys seem to like the results, I don’t see the point in fixing what ain’t broken. You can revisit my previous TWTs – or check them out for the first time if you have zero idea what I’m talking about right now – here.
‘WHAT IF?’ WEDNESDAYS
No, these posts will not be dedicated to Dina Garipova. Nor are they the most original idea on the planet, as I know of at least two other blogs that routinely explore what-could-have-beens of Eurovisions past. But I’m going to give them a shot anyway.
Ever wondered how Israel would have fared in Düsseldorf if Dana International hadn’t re-represented them? What if ABBA had won Melodifestivalen in 1973 with Ring Ring, and headed off to the contest without Waterloo? My ‘What If?’ Wednesdays will be here to speculate the outcomes of these scenarios and more, and to find out what you think would have happened. Dust off those thinking caps, folks!
FAVE FIVE FRIDAYS
Because sometimes, a Top 10 just requires too much time and effort.
The FFFs will be a short + fun + unranked selection of five of my favourite thematically-linked things from the Eurovision world. Here are some examples of what I’ll be covering, in case that description made no sense: Fifth-Placed Entries, Outrageous Outfits, Siegel Songs and Undeserving Losers.
Because sometimes, a Fave Five just isn’t epic enough. Who doesn’t love a good Top 10? If your reply to that was ‘me’ then I’m afraid we can’t be friends. The lists I’ve got cooking at the moment include EBJ’s Top 10 Swedish entries of all time, artist comebacks, and debut entries.
MY STOCKHOLM SUGGESTION BOX
I nominated Darin Zanyar as my ideal host country representative in my last post, and you guys were keen for me to suggest artists for other countries – namely, Italy, Norway and the United Kingdom. Your wish is my command, so expect the Stockholm Suggestion Box to be opened once again, very soon. The UK will be in focus first, and I’m über pumped about my choice for them *mysterious music plays*…
JESC BITS AND PIECES
I know not all of you are fans of watching kids between the ages of 10 and 15 belt out ballads like nobody’s business, but I sure am – and we should all be excited that Bulgaria is playing host to a Eurovision event for the first time this year. Once the class of JESC ’15 is full, I’ll be reviewing the songs and predicting their future, as well as looking back on the history of the ESC’s adorable younger sibling. Sorry/not sorry in advance to you anti-Junior peeps.
There are times when I want to aimlessly ramble on about miscellaneous ESC stuff. Humour me, won’t you, when I come out with the likes of the following:
- Missed it by THAT much: Looking back at the semi-finalists who just failed to make the (grand) final cut
- #TEAMJURY: Eurovision 2015 and the case for the combined voting system to continue
- Making A Scene: The Eurovision entries that succeeded thanks to staging (and vice versa)
And that’s pretty much the extent of what you’ll see on EBJ over the coming months, with the addition of some other regular postings (Retro Rankings and country spotlights, for example). I realise you hadn’t asked what was coming up, and I’m not convinced anyone would’ve noticed if I hadn’t posted for another fortnight (#pitypartyoverhere). But in my mind, people all over the world have been pulling a Polina in my absence.
I repeat, in my mind. Don’t burst the bubble.
Until next time (when I promise I’ll post something more entertaining than this)…
PLAYLISTING | Celebrating Eurovision’s big six-zero with 60 of my musical highlights from every decade
Hello there. Long time, no see, if you consider a week-and-a-half a long time. Shockingly, that’s how much time has passed since my last post. Gasp!
Rest assured that I am a) still alive, and b) still unbelievably excited that the 60th Eurovision Song Contest is taking place next month. My excuse for the slackness = I’m at a hectic stage of life at the moment. Unfortunately, the week-and-a-half gap preceding this post has in no way prepared you for the bombardment of content I’ve got planned for the lead-up to Vienna. I’m warning you now to brace yourselves for those glitter bombs!
Another thing I should warn you about is this: the post you’re (hopefully) about to read is somewhat lengthy. Before you proceed, you might want to get comfortable and make sure you have food and water within reaching distance.
Á la my previous national final-themed post, I’ve prepared another playlist – only this one is super-sized. Inspired by Eurovision’s Greatest Hits show (which I finally got a chance to watch the other day, and surprisingly, Herreys were my highlight) I’ve been wanting to pave the road to contest 60 with celebratory posts. Time is racing by like Dana International en route to a John Paul Gaultier sale, however. So, instead of the six top 10 posts I’d planned to put together for you (feat. my favourite Eurovision entries from each decade) I’ve had to lump them all together in one ginormous list.
Once I’d gotten this underway, I realised I didn’t want to be strict about it. I just wanted this post to be a compilation of musical highlights from the past sixty years of ESC epic-ness. Yes, it mostly consists of my favourite songs; but instead of being a ranked top 60, it’s now a random collection of the music that made me fall in love with the contest, and that makes me fall even harder every time I play it.
It was actually über-difficult for me to choose just sixty songs to feature, which is further proof of how musically momentous the contest has been to date. Please don’t check to see if there are sixty, as I may have “accidentally” let a few extras slip in (I always was terrible at maths).
I’ll stop waffling now and introduce, in no particular order – except chronological – 60+ musical highlights from contests past. Enjoy, and share some of your own favourites (or your thoughts on mine) in the comments below!
- Nel Blu Di Pinto Di Blu by Domenico Modugno (Italy 1958)
- Dansevise by Grethe & Jørgen Ingmann (Denmark 1963)
En Gång I Stockholm by Monica Zetterlund (Sweden 1963) – I’ll admit, I kind of overlooked this entry for a long time. Many of the songs from Eurovision’s early years tend to blend into each other when I recap them, and so I don’t find many of them very memorable (or do I? I can’t remember. And that’s the problem). But when En Gång I Stockholm was resurrected during Melodifestivalen this year, and Monica Zetterlund became Monica Zetterlund feat. Sanna Nielsen…well, I swooned. I’ve included the spellbinding “duet” below, but you can check out Monica’s solo performance here.
- Non Ho L’Éta by Gigliola Cinquetti (Italy 1964)
- Tu Te Reconnaîtras by Anne-Marie David (Luxembourg 1973)
- Eres Tú by Mocedades (Spain 1973)
- Waterloo by ABBA (Sweden 1974)
Era by Wess & Dori Ghezzi (Italy 1975) – Italy can do no wrong in my eyes, a.k.a. to my ears when music’s involved. They are perpetually classy, and in this case, livened up a contest that was still attempting to break free of traditional, ballad-heavy restraints. This song is down-tempo too, but it was super current at the time, and remains catchy, funky and all sorts of bellissimo to this day. It’s one of the more timeless vintage tracks I’ve listed – make a few minor adjustments and give it to Wess & Dori 2.0, and I reckon it could fit in as nicely in Vienna ’15 as it did in Stockholm ’75.
- Save Your Kisses For Me by Brotherhood of Man (UK 1976)
- L’Oiseau Et L’Enfant by Marie Myriam (France 1977)
- Rock Bottom by Lynsey de Paul & Mike Moran (UK 1977)
- Dschinghis Khan by Dschinghis Khan (Germany 1979)
Hallelujah by Milk & Honey with Gali Atari (Israel 1979) – Who doesn’t have an appreciation of some kind for this entry? It’s the ultimate sing-along Eurovision song – in a world without Waterloo, at least – as the participants of the 1999 contest are well aware (if you recall, they formed a temporary supergroup at the end of the night, singing Hallelujah in a touching tribute to the victims of the Balkan war). It conveys a message without taking a cheesy approach, and starts small only to step up in key and crescendo until it reaches a satisfying, triumphant conclusion. Thanks to the combination of the song itself, and a simple but effective staging strategy, Israel took the top prize, and Hallelujah became one of Eurovision’s most recognisable winners. Hallelujah!
- Cinéma by Paola (Switzerland 1980)
- Making Your Mind Up by Bucks Fizz (UK 1981)
- Ein Bisschen Frieden by Nicole (Germany 1982)
- Hi by Ofra Haza (Israel 1983)
Främling by Carola (Sweden 1983) – Carola took to the ESC stage for the first time as a big-haired teenager in unflattering white pants (not that you can blame her for that…blame the 1980s). What worked in her favour on this first attempt was what would also work in her favour in 1991 and 2006: a cracking song, and THAT VOICE. There’s a reason the woman’s a superstar in Sweden (and in the estimation of many non-Swedish Eurovision fans like myself) and her star quality was oozing out of her pores as she charmed her way through the infectious Främling. Although I’d rank her winning song (also present on this playlist) a teensy bit higher, I do really, really love this. And I hate to repeat myself, but…THAT VOICE!
- Džuli by Daniel (Yugoslavia 1983)
- La Det Swinge by Bobbysocks (Norway 1985)
- Gente Di Mare by Umberto Tozzi & Raf (Italy 1987)
- Ja Sam Za Ples by Novi Fosili (Yugoslavia 1987)
Nur Ein Lied by Thomas Forstner (Austria 1989) – Before he became an infamous nul-pointer (undeservedly, in my opinion) Thomas Forstner had a rather fruitful trip to Eurovision, arriving with the superbly-80s ballad that is Nur Ein Lied and leaving with 5th place under his shiny lavender belt. For a song that has a title translating to ‘only a song’, this is a damn good one, and I’d argue it’s not only a song, seeing as it’s also one of my all-time favourites. I mean, it’s still a song, obviously, but…you know what I mean. I like everything about it, despite the fact that it’s not the prettiest example of German as a musical language, and that it works better as a studio song than as a live one.
- Pað Sem Enginn Sér by Daniel (Iceland 1989)
- Why Do I Always Get It Wrong? by Live Report (UK 1989)
- Rock Me by Riva (Yugoslavia 1989)
- Insieme: 1992 by Toto Cutugno (Italy 1990)
Bandido by Azúcar Moreno (Spain 1990) – Here’s an awesome entry that was overshadowed by technical difficulties. Amusing to watch as the ‘Spanish Backing Track Fiasco of 1990’ is – twenty-five years and many replays later – I can’t help wondering if the main reason anyone remembers Bandido is because of what happened when Azúcar Moreno tried to perform it. Take the incident out of the equation and you’re still left with a tempestuous, fabulously-ethnic performance of an energetic, up-tempo earworm. That alone should have cleared the way for Spain to reach an excellent position on the scoreboard, but with the added memorability factor of the monumental stuff-up, the duo secured their country’s best result since 1984. On reflection, they’re probably glad things didn’t run so smoothly.
- Hajde Da Ludujemo by Tajči (Yugoslavia 1990)
- Fångad Av En Stormvind by Carola (Sweden 1991)
- Kan by Duo Datz (Israel 1991)
Olou Tou Kosmou I Elpida by Cleopatra (Greece 1992) – Any song that sounds like it was lifted from a Disney soundtrack is a winner with me. These sorts of songs aren’t often winners of Eurovision, so I don’t think that’s the most crowded carriage on this train of thought. But if you liked Zlata’s Gravity¸ chances are you will/already do like this banger from Greece. Cleopatra is a great live vocalist (I’m not referring to the Egyptian queen when I say that, although I’m sure she would’ve slayed at karaoke back in the day, presumably taking on Walk Like An Egyptian). She elevates the chorus of an already majestic song to even more majestic heights. I also love the way Greek sounds with this style of music.
- Sva Bol Svijeta by Fazla (Bosnia & Herzegovina 1993)
- Better The Devil You Know by Sonia (UK 1993)
- Wir Geben ‘Ne Party by MeKaDo (Germany 1994)
To Nie Ja! by Edyta Górniak (Poland 1994) – I’m all for Ireland’s third-win-on-the-trot of ’94, but it could easily be argued that Poland should have been on top instead with their debut entry. Edyta, dressed in what looked like a nightgown (but she totally rocked it anyway), sang the absolute heck out of this quality ballad, putting more emotion into her performance than most Academy Award winners do into their statuette-winning portrayals. This song was built to show off a top-notch voice, and she had the goods. As much as I love it, I wouldn’t say it SHOULD have won – I prefer never to say that, instead opting for ‘I would have LIKED *insert song here* to have won’. But should you ask me if I think To Nie Ja! would have made a worthy winner, I will reply with a big ‘hell yeah!’. In case you were wondering.
- Nocturne by Secret Garden (Norway 1995)
- Se På Mig by Jan Johansen (Sweden 1995)
- O Meu Coração Não Tem Cor by Lucia Moniz (Portugal 1996)
- Minn Hinsti Dans by Paul Oscar (Iceland 1997)
Fiumi Di Parole by Jalisse (Italy 1997) – Surprise, surprise, it’s Italy again! What can I say? They’re one of my most-loved Eurovision countries, after all. And this stunner from Year Dublin is up there with my favourites of the forty they’ve competed with so far. I won’t ramble on about it too much, as I forced such gushing upon you recently in my Retro Ranking of 1997. I will say that it gives me extreme feels, and that I think it’s another timeless track that wouldn’t seem out of place competing in Eurovision next month (!), with a few 2015 tweaks. Italy pulls off ageless entries very well.
- Hemel En Aarde by Edsilia Rombley (Netherlands 1998)
- Karleken Är by Jill Johnson (Sweden 1998)
- Where Are You? by Imaani (UK 1998)
- Putnici by Dino & Beatrice (Bosnia & Herzegovina 1999)
Reise Nach Jerusalem by Sürpriz (Germany 1999) – Sürpriz by name and, I’m guessing, sürprized by nature, this group weren’t originally meant to represent Germany in 1999 (think of them as the Ann Sophie of the 90s). That honour went to Corinna May, whose preachy ballad was later discovered to have been released by someone else two years earlier. Corinna would have her time in the spotlight in 2002 (with an equally terrible song) but Sürpriz grabbed their own unexpected shot with both hands, taking the ethno-pop masterpiece Reise Nach Jerusalem to…well, Jerusalem. The song was penned by the dynamic duo of Ralph Siegel and Bernd Meinunger, and it’s one of their finest works – in four languages, no less (not that the likes of Todomondo and Sofi Marinova would be impressed by that).
- My Star by Brainstorm (Latvia 2000)
- Tell Me Who You Are by Malene Mortensen (Denmark 2002)
- Od Nas Zavisi by Karolina (FYR Macedonia 2002)
Sanomi by Urban Trad (Belgium 2003) – The first time Belgium sent three minutes of a made-up language to Eurovision, they nailed it. I don’t think this song would be the same in any other tongue, existing or yet-to-exist. It’s memorable not just due to the imaginary factor, which you tend to forget about anyway once the melody draws you in, but also thanks to the mystical vibes of the music. And let’s not forget the nifty hand choreography of the verses/choruses (who can tell which part is which? It’s all part of the mysterious appeal). I don’t know about you, but whenever I listen to Sanomi, I feel compelled to do those hand movements. I also feel compelled to fist-pump the fact that Belgium beat Russia, because there’s no way t.A.T.u’s shrieking rendition of Ne Ver, Ne Bojsia deserved to come second. Third is a stat I’ve learnt to live with.
- Monts Et Merveilles by Louisa (France 2003)
- Keine Grenzen – Zadnych Granich by Ich Troje (Poland 2003)
- Everyway That I Can by Sertab Erener (Turkey 2003)
- Lane Moje by Željko Joksimović & Ad-hoc Orchestra (Serbia & Montenegro 2004)
- Lejla by Hari Mata Hari (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2006)
The Fire In Your Eyes by Boaz (Israel 2008) – When they found out Dana International had composed and co-written this entry, the first reaction of many fans was horror. How dare she pen a ballad! But, while those people were lamenting the loss of a viva la diva, I was wondering how I’d break the news that I preferred this to Dana’s own winning song. While some find The Fire In Your Eyes boring, I find it breathtaking. It’s everything I want in a ballad: atmospheric and intriguing; not too repetitive and not at all lame; and the proud owner of a big, bold chorus. It’s basically Israel’s version of a Željko-brand Balkan ballad. It was my #1 song at the time, and probably still is my favourite entry from the Class of 2008. Oh, and Boaz’s vocals? Sublime (what could be seen beneath that silver waistcoat wasn’t bad either).
- Bistra Voda by Regina (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2009)
- Rändajad by Urban Symphony (Estonia 2009)
- Ovo Je Balkan by Milan Stanković (Serbia 2010)
- This Is My Life by Anna Bergendahl (Sweden 2010)
Love In Rewind by Dino Merlin (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2011) – I’ve never been sure what it is that’s so damn charming about this song. It was Dino Merlin’s third to represent Bosnia & Herzegovina (a virtual high-five to the first person to find the other two on this list) and it’s a foot-tapper, I know that much. It’s also a very interesting song, which is more than I can say about the eventual winner of 2011 (I hate to go on and on about Running Scared, but I still can’t comprehend its victory). Love In Rewind isn’t the kind of song I’m used to hearing outside of Eurovision, which is part of its charm. I’m not 100% certain what it’s all about even now – I mean, what’s with all the multiplication, Dino? – but it’s so cute, lyrically quirky and musically lovely that I can’t resist it.
- Kuula by Ott Lepland (Estonia 2012)
- Euphoria by Loreen (Sweden 2012)
- Kedvesem by ByeAlex (Hungary 2013)
- L’Essenziale by Marco Mengoni (Italy 2013)
- O Mie by Aliona Moon (Moldova 2013
Undo by Sanna Nielsen (Sweden 2014) – As if I could’ve made a list of defining musical moments and left Sanna off it! Puh-lease. The woman was a Scandinavian goddess to me when she was still on Melodifestivalen attempt #4. So, eight years later, when she FINALLY managed to win and secure herself a spot on the Copenhagen set-list, I was the happiest Sannanator (?) on the planet. I’m pretty convinced I’d love Undo no matter who was singing it, but Miss Nielsen’s flawless vocals do contribute to my continuing obsession. Everything about the Sweden 2014 package gives me goosebumps (the piano tinkling to open? Check. The money note before the second chorus? Check. The fury when I noticed that someone left the stage door open during her semi performance? Check…). That’s when I know I’m onto a winner. Not necessarily an ESC winner, but a song that will stay with me and constantly remind me how freaking much I love the contest.
Well, if you’re still here and conscious, that means you’ve made it through my 60+ musical highlights, which could so easily have been 100+ highlights (be grateful it wasn’t). These are just a selection of the entries that have had an impact on me during my years as a rabid fan and frequent trips back in Euro-time.
Now, it’s only fair I shut up and give you the chance to compile your own lists (not necessarily as long as mine) that you better then share below, or else *shakes fist in your direction semi-threateningly*. Before another forty songs become part of ESC history, hit me up with your highlights from 1956-2014.
NEXT TIME: How you doin’, Vienna Verdicts? That’s what I’m calling my Eurovision reviews this year, by the way. My all-new EBJ Jury will be praising and bitching to their hearts’ content over the following four weeks, and it all kicks off in a few days’ time. Two Australians and an Irishman will be reviewing Russia, Austria, France, Ireland and Serbia…so anything could happen!