Category Archives: Retro Rankings

PARTY FOR EVERYBODY! Celebrating EBJ’s 7th birthday with a special countdown (#shareyour7)

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!

 

hbebj16

 

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.

 

shs

 

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.

Sakis 2

 

#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.

Sakis 2.5

 

#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.

Sakis 2.5

 

#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.

Sakis 3

 

#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.

Sakis 3.5

 

#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.

Sakis 3.5

 

#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?

Sakis 5

 

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).

 

2015sig

 

 

RETRO RANKINGS | My Vienna 2015 Top 40, then and now (six months after show time!)

Hallå och välkommen til…um…okay, so I haven’t advanced particularly far with my Swedish on Duolingo yet (I’m not even sure there’s a lesson entitled “Welcoming People To Another Extremely Exciting Post Here on Eurovision By Jaz Dot Com in Svenska” anyway), but give me some time, and I’ll be så brå you won’t believe it.

In case the above paragraph wasn’t enough of an indication, I’ll spell things out for you: I’m feeling super-Swedish-obsessed at the moment, now that a) I’m actually, 110% heading to Stockholm for ESC no. 61 (*emits a Kaliopi-screech and farts a rainbow of pure joy*) and b) the Melodifestivalen 2016 line-up has been revealed. I’ve got plenty of Melfest madness planned for you over the coming months, so I don’t want to devote an entire post to the 2016 edition now…but I will give you a glimpse of the artists I’m most excited about seeing back in the competition (and boy, there are a ton of them) or entering for the first time:

  • THE RIDICULOUSLY EXCITING Molly Sandén, Mattias Andréasson (with Albin), Lisa Ajax, Panetoz and Oscar Zia. That’s in order of how much my face resembled the heart-eyes emoji when each name was announced. JESC alumni and all-round amazing human Molly is the bookies’ and my #1 pick to win the whole thing at this early stage. This will be her third try, and she’s never been in a better position to out-sing and out-song her rivals.
Mollyll

Yes, it took me far too many minutes to create this. No, I am not ashamed in any way.

  • THE MODERATELY EXCITING Molly Petterson Hammar, Samir & Viktor, David Lindgren and (a now brunette) Isa. Molly PH has obviously recovered from App-Gate 2015, and it’s great to see her back with a vengeance. I really wish that’s what her song was called for the purposes of a brilliant pun, but it’s actually called Hunger – and it’s been penned by the trio behind MZW’s Heroes.
  • THE INTRIGUING Krista Siegfrids. Aftonbladet didn’t anticipate this one, so how could we common folk have seen it coming? Krista’s supposed to be hosting UMK in Finland next year, so it will be interesting to see how she juggles both commitments, and/or whether the Finnish public see fit to throw their shoes at her for trying her luck in Sweden. Surely they’re too polite to engage in such shenanigans?

That’s that för nu (SOMEBODY STOPPA MIG!!): now, let’s move from Melfest to Eurovij.

Before I start looking forward to Stockholm, I thought it would be timely to look back to Vienna, given that it’s been (just over, but close enough to) six months since Sweden snatched their sixth victory. And what better way to do that than by re-ranking all of the entries from this year’s contest to see, once and for all, how I feel about them now compared to how I felt about them at show time (the last Top 40 I posted was just before Semi Final 1)?

I’ll leave you to tell me if there would have been a better way to commemorate six months since, after you’ve checked out the revised ranking below. If you’re up for it, go and re-calculate your own using everyone’s favourite sorting tool, and post it – or some of it – in the comments. Which songs have grown on you over time, and which ones have started to grate? Let me know down below.

My brand spanking new, end-of-2015 ranking looks like this (with the previous position of each country in brackets):

 

Keep scrolling…

 

Just a bit further…

 

Here it is!

 

#1 | Sweden (=) Don’t act surprised, or reach for a sick bag! I never bought a ticket to ride on the ‘Not Sweden again! ITALY WAS ROBBED’ train, being the massive fan of Mr. Zelmerlöw, avid supporter of Heroes with or without the stick man, and generally Sweden-obsessed freak that I am (I maintain that the whole jury-vote-deciding-winner is the kind of situation where you should hate the game, not the player). I love this song just as much in December as I did in February – only now, I get even more caught up in screaming ‘WE ARE THE HEROOOOOOOOES!!!’ knowing I’ll be seeing Måns reprise it live.

This is a pretty accurate representation of how my face will look when that precious, precious moment arrives.

This is a pretty accurate representation of how my face will look when that precious, precious moment arrives.

#2 | Italy (+1) Six months on, Grande Amore still gives me goosebumps. Will it have that effect á la Lane Moje, my all-time favourite ESC entry, and last a lifetime? Get back to me in a decade or two and I’ll let you know.

#3 | Belgium (+1) Belgium’s fairytale fourth place is something I still pinch myself over – when I’m not doing the robot to the minimalist, cutting-edge sounds of Rhythm Inside, of course. I’m still attempting to master Loïc’s triple pirouette, but I’m happy to crack this track way up for years to come in order to practice.

#4 | Montenegro (+4) Of all Željko’s contest compositions, Adio is the one that took me the longest to fall in love with. But, as you can see, it’s leapt from 8th place to 4th in my Top 40, and I won’t say it’s not going to climb higher in the future. It’s a textbook spine-tingling, haunting, atmospheric Balkan ballad, and if you can put it out of your mind that Knez looks like a circus ringmaster, it’s pretty much perfection in a three-minute package.

#5 | Australia (+12) Making a far bigger leap up my personal leaderboard is my own country’s first – and as we now know, NOT last – entry. Tonight Again was definitely a grower for me. I liked it instantly, but didn’t love it…then Australia came fifth, and I miraculously changed my mind. Actually, the change of mind was more to do with the vibes when I was cheering Guy on in a room full of Aussies. But let’s not dwell on that. It just happened! Do whatcha whatcha whatcha waaaant….

#6 | Spain (+4)

#7 | Israel (+15) Nadav is still my golden boy, and I certainly do enjoy. A lot more, evidently, than I did back in the day (i.e. May). Golden Boy , I have discovered, makes for an epic workout song. Squats suddenly become slightly more bearable when it’s blaring in the background. 

Israel-Nadav-first-rehearsal-eurovision-2015

Nadav captured at the precise moment he realises he doesn’t have time to show you Tel Aviv before he leaves.

#8 | Germany (+1)

#9 | Romania (-4)

#10 | Moldova (+2)

#11 | Latvia (-5)

#12 | FYR Macedonia (-5)

#13 | Slovenia (=)

#14 | Norway (-12) This is a controversial one. Maybe I over-listened to AMLM, which was my second-favourite song once upon a time, or maybe it just lost some of its magic for me. Either way – though I still like it a lot – I can’t hold it in as high a regard as I used to. Does this count as doing something terrible in my “early” youth?

#15 | Azerbaijan (+1)

#16 | Austria (-1)

#17 | Malta (+4)

#18 | Russia (+7)

#19 | Belarus (+8) I’m surprised that this has crept up rather than stayed put. There was never anything about Time that grabbed me with both hands (the hands of Time, obviously) which always irritated me because Uzari and Maimuna are both awesome in their own right, and have both produced far more dynamic and impressive music in the past. But I guess I’m not that irritated after all. And time really is like thunder, a-ahh.

maxresdefault

“To poke or not to poke Uzari with my violin bow so I can be the star of the show…”, Maimuna, 2015.

#20 | Iceland (-1)

#21 | Portugal (+8)

#22 | Albania (+10)

#23 | The Netherlands (-9)

#24 | Estonia (-13) I never felt the feverish love for Stig & Elina’s Eesti Laul landslider that many others did, so this drop doesn’t mean that much. Don’t get me wrong – we’re at #24, and the only songs I’m verging on hating with a passion are #37 through #40. It’s just…to steal the motto of Eurovision 2012 and rephrase it for my own personal use, Goodbye To Yesterday doesn’t light my fire, as such. I wonder if another tragic tear will snake its way down Elina’s cheek over that comment?

#25 | United Kingdom (-2)

#26 | Switzerland (-2)

#27 | Denmark (-7)

#28 | Serbia (+12) Bojana was my bottom-ranked act in May – though I should specify that it had nothing to do with her (she’s a delight, and can we be best friends forever, please?) and everything to do with the cheesy English-language version of Beauty Never Lies. I’m still not overly keen on it (it’s becoming a theme as we creep closer to number 4-0) but I can’t deny that it is a cracker of a dance-floor filler.

#29 | Greece (+5)

#30 | France (+1)

#31 | Georgia (-13)

#32 | Cyprus (+1)

#33 | Ireland (-7)

#34 | San Marino (+4) Is San Marino still in my bottom five? As Michele would say, NO! That’s a major achievement for the republic in itself. This song is total crap, but a part of me sees/hears it as a guilty (so very guilty) pleasure. I love how hard Michele and Anita try to make it something it’s never going to be – i.e. a decent, age-appropriate pop song that people would willingly listen to on a regular basis.

1432236847908

It’s a shame Anita and Michele didn’t introduce their outstretched palms to Ralph Siegel’s face at high speed, BEFORE he lumped them with ‘Chain of Lights’…

#35 | Poland (-7)

#36 | Hungary (+3)

#37 | Lithuania (-7) This Time  was, is and always will be so full of cheese, you could make a batch of toasted sandwiches with said cheese so big that the Buranovskiye Babushkis and their extended families could feast on them for years without worrying about a dwindling supply. I don’t know about Vaidas’ solo stuff, but Monika’s is infinitely better than this.

#38 | Finland (-1)

#39 | Czech Republic (-4)

#40 | Armenia (-4) I haven’t sat through the recorded or live version of Genealogy’s melodramatic musical mess since their performance in the Viennese grand final. It’s just not my cup of tea (to put it politely) and I think that Not Alone, which preceded Don’t Deny, shows it up massively. I suspect that Iveta Mukuchyan’s entry, which will succeed it, will do the same.

 

 

Are you still awake? If so, congrats on making it all the way through this Top 40! If not, then I guess you’re not reading this right now, so I don’t need to address you (I am going to draw on your face with a Sharpie while you’re snoring, though). Things have changed quite a bit on my end, rankings-wise, so now it’s your chance to shock me with how much you’ve rearranged the field of 2015 in your mind – or on paper – since the contest took place.

 

Come on, spill! How’s your Top 40 looking as we approach the end of twenty-fifteen?

 

2015sig

 

COMING UP It’s been a while since the previous episode, but what better time than now for another Melfest Monday? Then, ever since Australia was granted a precious second shot at Eurovision glory, minds the world over have been whirring trying to come up with the best artist to fly our flag this time. I’m yet to chip in on this discussion, but I’ve been biding my time for a reason. Drop by for a Friday Fast Five in which I’ll reveal my top five fantasy Aussie representatives. I promise ‘Guy Sebastian, again’ isn’t among them.

 

 

Retro Rankings | Birmingham 1998

It’s Wednesday, in case you hadn’t noticed, and on this particular Wednesday, the countdown to the ESC 2015 submission deadline is on!

In less than one week, all forty participating countries must have their s#%t together – at least to the point of handing their entries over at the Head of Delegations meeting. Did you hear that, Russia? If you don’t want a repeat of last year when you made the deadline by a babushki’s whisker, you’d better get Polina Gagarina’s song sorted STAT.

I for one am struggling, waiting to hear the songs still under wraps (Israel and San Marino are causing me actual, physical pain). In case you’re feeling the same way, I thought I’d offer a distraction in the form of something totally unrelated: another Retro Ranking! I recently ranked the Dublin 1997 contest for your reading pleasure (hopefully) and as I’m in a chronological mood today, I’m going to plod on with Birmingham 1998.

The last time the United Kingdom played host to Eurovision, Terry Wogan was co-emcee, Ulrika Jonsson fell victim to the noise level in the auditorium and Dana International took her sweet time changing outfits and getting back to the stage for her winning reprise. In amongst all of that were performances of 25 songs – songs that were, as is always the case in the ESC, good, bad and ugly (though being 1998, the ‘ugly’ really just refers to some of the costumes).

Watch this recap of the Birmingham entries if you need a refresher, check out my rankings below, then comment me with your favourites from the Class of ’98! You know you want to.

 

 
#1 | The Netherlands (Hemel En Aarde by Edsilia Rombley) – Before she was On Top of the World in Helsinki (until she failed to make the final, that is) Edsilia moved, grooved and flawlessly key-changed her way through this irresistibly catchy number in Birmingham. There is nothing that doesn’t work for me in her performance – 90s fashion notwithstanding – from her smooth and soulful vocals to the cute bits of choreography she does with her backing singers. Hemel En Aarde itself, though, is the pièce de résistance: three minutes of happy, funky pop that I could never get tired of.

She may have had the same haircut as most of her competitors, but Edsilia was superior in every other respect.

She may have had the same haircut as most of her competitors, but Edsilia was superior in every other respect.

#2 | United Kingdom (Where Are You? by Imaani) – Ah, remember the days when the UK couldn’t stop being a Eurovision success? No? Me neither. I was six-going-on-seven and had no idea what an ESC was when Imaani leapfrogged over Chiara into second place (at the very last moment) on home soil. Fast forward to 2015, when just getting on the left side of the scoreboard is a major achievement for the UK, and I now not only know what an ESC is (and then some) I also think Where Are You? is one of the strongest host entries ever. While very 90s in nature, it’s aged pretty well. The mixture of dance music and Imaani’s R & B-suited voice is powerful, and I don’t mind that the song is repetitive because again, it’s catchier than chicken pox.

#3 | Sweden (Kärleken Är by Jill Johnson) – I’ll admit, I thought this was a bit bland at first. But over time, I’ve grown to absolutely adore it, if I may gush without you rolling your eyes and/or retching. Written in response to the death of Princess Diana, it’s a song with emotional weight that you can feel especially in the choruses. It’s almost an anti-Diva, being so soft and understated, and I just wish Jill’s outfit had been chosen to match. The head-to-toe black and giant platform heels were more ‘castoffs from Alla Pugachova’s seemingly drunken performance at Eurovision 1997’ than ‘pretty, sentimental ballad’.

In case anyone died during her performance, Jill went all black to ensure she could go straight to their funeral afterwards (I assume).

In case anyone died during her performance, Jill went all black to ensure she could go straight to their funeral afterwards (I assume).

#4 | France (Ou Aller by Marie Line) – This entry did not fare well in the contest, and I can only put that down to the voters and jurors having extremely poor taste in music. Or, you know, people just having different tastes to my own. Oui, Marie Line says ‘ou aller’ about six hundred times in 180 seconds, and oui, the song doesn’t build up to much…but I love the sound anyway. It’s a throwback to earlier on in the decade, and makes me think of Ultra Naté and Sonique. That in turn reminds me of my primary school socials, and they were good times. Très, très bien.

#5 | Ireland (Is Always Over Now? By Dawn) – There’s not that much difference between this song and any number of the insipid love-related ballads Ireland sent to Eurovision in the 90s and early 2000s. Yet there is something about Ireland ’98 that appeals to me. Dawn isn’t a man with a questionable haircut and an ill-fitting suit, which sets her apart a bit (she’s a woman with both of those things) and Is Always Over Now? is more pop and less lame/depressing than most of those man-ballads. Random query: is it just me, or does Dawn look like Kelly Clarkson?

Never mind...I just answered my own question.

Never mind…I just answered my own question.

#6 | Portugal (Se Eu Te Pudesse Abraçar by Alma Lusa)
#7 | Estonia (Mere Lapsed by Koit Toome) – They did reasonably well with a sleepy ballad the year before, so I guess Estonia’s thinking here was ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t send a dance banger.’ Mere Lapsed could easily put you to sleep, which to some would be a blaring indicator of boringness. To me, it’s melodically nice enough to set up camp outside of vanilla territory. Cruisy, easy listening like this can be a welcome vacation from the Dancing Lasha Tumbais of the world.

#8 | Cyprus (Genesis by Michael Hajiyanni)
#9 | Malta (The One That I Love by Chiara) – Chiara reached the bronze medal position for Malta in her first of three Eurovision attempts (and don’t think she won’t be back for more!). She did so with what I think is her best entry…on those days where I’m not leaning towards Angel. It’s always her voice that’s the star of the show, so much so on this occasion that you hardly even notice how hideous her snot-coloured suit-dress-thing is until she’s stopped singing.

#10 | Poland (To Takie Proste by Sixteen)
#11 | Israel (Diva by Dana International) – I believe there were stronger songs – and definitely stronger vocal performances – in Birmingham than what Israel provided. Diva is a decent track and a high-energy winner, but I it’s worn thin with me over the years thanks to self-inflicted overexposure. Dana herself, however, is fabulous personified and will never be passé.

The flamboyance of the feathers or this spangled silver number? No wonder Dana had a hard time deciding.

The flamboyance of the feathers or this spangled silver number? No wonder Dana had a hard time deciding.

#12 | Croatia (Neka Mi Ne Svane by Danijela)
#13 | Switzerland (Lass’ Ihn by Gunvor)
#14 | Germany (Guildo Hat Euch Lieb by Guildo Horn) – Never trust anyone who voluntarily wears crushed velvet. If they’ll do that, they’ll do anything, including scale the Eurovision stage as part of their act. I suppose that’s just gravy on top of an already ridiculous package feat. a wild mane of hair, the world’s thickest eyebrows, and Guildo (owner of said mane and brows) getting up close and personal with some (un) lucky audience members. The man could barely be called a singer, but you have to admire his showman qualities. He got the crowd going like nobody else.

#15 | Greece (Mia Krifi Evesthisia by Thalassa)
#16 | Finland (Aava by Edea) – Instead of using the Secret Garden approach of taking a few words and repeating them twice, Finland took a few words and repeated them for more or less the entirety of their allotted three minutes. It didn’t do them many favours. Still, there’s appeal in the mystical, folky vibes of Aava.

#17 | Norway (Alltid Sommer by Lars Fredriksen)
#18 | Spain (¿Qué Voy a Hacer Sin Ti? by Mikel Herzog) – ‘Mikel Herzog’ is clearly a stage name, because, unless I am much mistaken, this was Harry Potter representing Spain. It’s a shame Ron and Hermione didn’t help him pick out a more interesting song.

‘Accio Eurovision victory!’

‘Accio Eurovision victory!’

#19 | Turkey (Unutamazsın by Tüzmen)
#20 | FYR Macedonia (Ne Zori, Zoro by Vlado Janevski)
#21 | Slovenia (Naj Bogovi Slišijo by Vili Resnik) – There were so many overly-dramatic ballads like this in 1990s contests, it’s hard for any in particular to stand out. This one’s not terrible, but it’s certainly not my cup of tea.

#22 | Romania (Eu Cred by Mălina Olinescu)
#23 | Slovakia (Modlitba by Katarína Hasprová)
#24 | Belgium (Dis Oui by Mélanie Cohl) – How on earth this made the top 10 is a mystery to me. I find it unbelievably irritating, in large part thanks to Mélanie’s grating vocals. You want me to say yes? I don’t think so. Quelle horreur!

#25 | Hungary (A Holnap Már Nem Lesz Szomorú by Charlie)

 

Now my #1 through #25 is out in the open, you know what to do…tell me how you’d rank Eurovision 1998!

 

nsig

Retro Rankings | Dublin 1997

Guten tag, guys and gals. It’s time for the mid-week EBJ post that has absolutely nothing to do with any of the NF action that took place over the weekend! Woohoo!

FYI: I’m not going to dissect the weekend’s results now because I’ll be delivering a mini-verdict in my review-and-prediction post this Saturday, just late enough so that nobody cares – a.k.a. in usual Jaz style. And while we’re at Justification Station, this post is also NF-less because, to be honest, I’m not at all bothered by Ireland’s upcoming song selection.

Friday is when the Emerald Isle will take their pick from an assortment of derivative, bland crap (honesty is the best policy) bar one or two songs that could possibly be filed under ‘Tolerable’, and I can’t muster up any enthusiasm for this event.

What I can do is present you with an updated ranking of the Class of 2015 so far – now minus Albania, after Elhaida Dani revealed Diell won’t be the something-something she belts out in the Wiener Stadthalle. Feel free to share your current top 15 avec moi.

1. Italy
2. Estonia
3. Iceland
4. Macedonia
5. Latvia
6. Georgia
7. Malta
8. Switzerland
9. Netherlands
10. Belarus
11. Lithuania
12. Denmark
13. Cyprus
14. Serbia
15. France

Now, from one ranking to another! Unless you’re afflicted with a disease that renders you inable to comprehend blog post titles, you’d know that’s what’s on the agenda today. Specifically, I’m heading back in ESC history to 1997.

I recently had a vintage Eurovision marathon which consisted of the ’97, ’98 and ’99 shows, and it reminded me how amazing a decade the 1990s were for the contest. It also reminded me that sitting in one place for nine hours straight does one’s rear end no favours, but that’s another story. During these latter-90s years, the gems flowed thick and fast, though not without the odd piece of junk filtering in alongside them (it wouldn’t be right if we had nothing at all to bitch about).

Right here and now, I’m going to rank Dublin 1997, from gems to junk, for what will hopefully be your reading pleasure. If you need a refresher of this edition – hosted by Carrie Crowley and a ridiculously young Ronan Keating – check out the handy recap, then get ready to comment your own likes and dislikes, re: the most recent year Ireland were reigning champions preparing to pass the torch.

 

#1 | Italy (Fiumi Di Parole by Jalisse) – No matter who’s singing for them, what their song’s like or how much of their gold underpants they’re flashing, Italy is all class (NOT all ass, which would have been the case if Emma Marrone hadn’t packed the gold undies in her suitcase). That has never been more evident than when duo Jalisse took to the Dublin stage in their coordinating suits, for three beautiful and effortless minutes. Fiumi Di Parole is one of my all-time Eurovision favourites, and was the contest’s last taste of Italy prior to a thirteen-year hiatus.

Jalisse

‘He couldn’t even pick a guitar that matched his suit. Men!’

#2 | Turkey (Dinle by Sebnem Paker & Grup Etnic) – I say this about pretty much any ethno-pop song that crosses my path, but this really is ethno-pop at its finest! It’s irresistible from the second it starts to that mournful moment when Sebnem’s hips stop shaking. It’s almost like a more down-tempo, less OTT version of Düm Tek Tek, with the added advantage of competent vocals (sorry Hadise, but Moscow’s entire dog population was howling the whole time you were rasping away on that massive stage).

#3 | Iceland (Minn Hinsti Dans by Paul Oscar) – One man. One couch. Many suggestive strokes of a leather-clad thigh. A recipe for ESC success those ingredients apparently do not maketh, but they do maketh a fan out of me. The staging of this trance track, one that harked back to the early 90s in the best way possible, was almost on a Euphoria level of intimacy and individuality, though I will admit there is something disturbing about the package of it…Paul’s a man with a penetrating stare that transcends TV cameras, that’s for sure. But apart from turning Eurovision into a fright night, he repped Iceland with integrity, and a rather cracking song that’s hard to forget.

paul-oscar

Paul realises he’s bought so much eyeliner for his stage makeup, he can’t afford the flight back to Reykjavik.

#4 | Ireland (Mysterious Woman by Marc Roberts) – Something a little more forgettable is Ireland’s man-ballad, sent during a period when Ireland was oft to be found sending forgettable man-ballads that would later become indistinguishable from each other. Most of those get a thumbs down from me (when I can remember what they sound like) but there’s something about this one that makes me understand why it slayed on home ground – only failing to out-score Love Shine A Light. It’s easy listening, with a nice chorus and a tale to tell. I would like to know if the mysterious woman in question has ever come forward though. Who knows…maybe these days she goes by the name of Mrs Roberts.

#5 | Denmark (Stemmen I Mit Liv by Kølig Kaj) – Marc may have been spellbound by a woman at an airport, but Kølig wasn’t so conventional. He was in love with a telephone directory operator – or at least with her voice. This entry is so damn catchy, I don’t even care that it’s super repetitive and kind of tacky. It certainly tops the insipid duet Denmark followed it up with in 1999.

#6 | Poland (Ale Jestem by Anna Maria Jopek)
#7 | Cyprus (Mana Mou by Hara & Andreas Constantinou)
#8 | Greece (Horepse by Marianna Zorba)
#9 | Hungary (Miert Kell Hogy Elmenj? by VIP) – All you need to know to understand the method behind this madness is that VIP = a boy band. No matter how bland or copycat a Eurovision song is, if a boy band is performing it, I will LOVE it. This one in particular is “nice” in the sense that it’s missing oomph, which I will readily admit. But Hungarian, one of my most beloved musical languages, saves the day; so much so that I may even have enjoyed this if an act other than a group of guys was peddling it. Gasp!

hqdefault

VIP lacked the all-important fifth member that would have made them Hungary’s top Backstreet Boys impersonators.

#10 | United Kingdom (Love Shine A Light by Katrina & the Waves)
#11 | Estonia (Keelatud Maa by Maarja-Liis Ilus)
#12 | Croatia (Probudi Me by ENI)
#13 | Netherlands (Niemand Heeft Nog Tijd by Mrs Einstein) – Nearly halfway through the field, and I’m still in six or seven-point territory. This song is naff as heck, and more dated than Lys Assia’s great-great-grandmother…but I think it’s kind of adorable. The energy level, tempo-wise and in the performance from these well-choreographed ladies is at peak point from go to whoa, and you have to admire the commitment in that. All the while picturing the breathless heap they must have collapsed into the second they got offstage, of course.

#14 | France (Sentiments Songes by Fanny)
#15 | Spain (Sin Rencor by Marcos Llunas)
#16 | Portugal (Antes Do Adeus by Celia Lawson) – Of the two nul-pointers 1997 left us with, Portugal’s deserved the humiliating fate the least. Can we all agree on that? No? FINE THEN! BE LIKE THAT! Anyway…creepy sunglass-wearing backing singers aside, there is nothing wrong with this package. In fact, there’s a whole lot that’s right. Girl can sing, and girl sang this ballad commendably well considering she was sucked into a leather dress that would have required a team of muscle men to peel off. Perhaps it’s not the most attention-grabbing number, but ZERO points? For shame, Europe!

cel

‘The number of fingers I’m holding up is representative of the minimum number of points I hope to get this evening. That’s totally achieveable, right?’

#17 | Sweden (Bara Hon Älskar Mig by Blond)
#18 | Russia (Primadonna by Alla Pugachova)
#19 | Austria (One Step by Bettina Soriat)
#20 | Germany (Zeit by Bianca Shomburg) – My main gripe with this is that it isn’t THIS camptastic number. That’s why whenever I’m watching Bianca screech ‘Zeeeeeeit’ over and over again, I’m muttering ‘it should’ve been Leon’ bitterly to myself. Zeit is okay, but if you’re feeling a little on edge when you hear it, it has the potential to send you round the twist. It’s also quite anonymous in this field of many ballads.

#21 | Slovenia (Zbudi Se by Tanja Ribič)
#22 | Norway (San Francisco by Tor Endresen)
#23 | Bosnia & Herzegovina (Goodbye by Alma Ćardžić)
#24 | Switzerland (Dentro Di Me by Barbara Berta)
#25 | Malta (Let Me Fly by Debbie Scerri) – I’m more than happy to let Debbie fly, as long as it means she’s flying somewhere where I can’t hear her harping her way through this dirge. This is one of a variety of ESC successes (it made it to 9th place) that I just don’t get. It’s lame, it’s dated, the chorus is painfully high-pitched, and her outfit is hideous. Just NO.

 

That’s me done. Now you go! Whether you’re speechless at my ranking Malta last, or you think Iceland’s Minn Hinsti was a total misfire, I want to know. Though I must warn you, if you disagree with me I will feel compelled to fashion a voodoo doll in your likeness, and I won’t hesitate to dress it up in an outfit just as unfortunate as Debbie Scerri’s.

 

Until next time,

nsig

 

Retro Rankings | Melodifestivalen 2014

It’s February, and that means national final season is about to shift into overdrive. THAT means those of us in unfortunate timezones will be having many late nights/early mornings in the weeks to come, while others tune into Dansk MGP or A Dal or *insert NF of choice here* over their cereal bowls. Then there’s those lucky people who get to experience NF season at a totally respectable prime-time, post-dinner slot on TV. I hate those people.

No matter the situation or dress code (2am in mismatched pajamas WOOHOO!) there are fun times ahead, and the funnest (yes, I am aware that’s not a word) time of all, in my inarguably correct opinion, is coming up this Saturday, live from Sweden. Well, more specifically, Göteborg, Sweden.

Yes, that’s right…Melodifestivalen is (almost) upon us again! Having graduated uni (for the second and final time) on the weekend, with the aftermath being a frighteningly unknowable future, Melfest is the bright spot on my horizon at the moment. I cannot wait to watch Her Royal Amazingness Sanna Nielsen and That Guy Who’s Her Co-Host commandeer the festivities. During the first semi final, said festivities will include the comeback of a Mr. Eric Saade, who’s confident he can Sting his competition into submission and represent Sweden in Eurovision once again.

The show is going to be epic, no doubt, and I thought I’d ring it in by revisiting last year’s also-fabulous edition. This post is a timely one, but it doubles as good filler as we wait until we can do a top 10 ranking of the Eurovision 2015 entries (the thought of doing a top 9 irritates me). It’s one of my famed (AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) Retro Rankings, but rather than using a past Eurovision as the basis, I’m taking Melodifestivalen 2014 and turning it into a personal top 32. Whether you’ve forgotten what last year’s comp had to offer or you’re listening to the album right now and are 110% ready to fight me if I don’t have Ace Wilder on top (which I don’t, sorrynotsorry) I hope you enjoy the following. Give me your top 32, top 10 or just your favourites of Melfest ’14 in the comments. Please?

Before we begin, a brief, alphabetised recap of the comp:

 

And now…

 

#1 | Hela Natten by Josef Johansson – I fell in love with this on the first listen, and I pretty much haven’t stopped listening to it since. It didn’t even get to Andra Chansen, but the soaring, stadium-anthem quality and weighty lyrics make for a winner by Jaz standards. I’ve also become über-attached to Josef himself over the past twelve months, as he’s proved to be a very versatile artist. Check out his post-Melfest singles Blickar Kan Mörda and Tysta Leken (a cover version that I think outdoes the original) for proof.

Man-bun? Check. Ridiculous jumper? Check. Pleather kilt? Check. Outfit I still want to copy? CHECK.

Man-bun? Check. Ridiculous jumper? Check. Pleather kilt? Check. Outfit I still want to copy? CHECK.

#2 | Undo by Sanna Nielsen – Obviously. There will never be a more golden moment for me than Sanna’s marginal win in last year’s comp, after six previous attempts. I’ve always been of the opinion that Undo is her best Melfest entry, and its success at Eurovision is something of a testament to that. Her voice is both pure and powerful, giving the ballad an air of vulnerability and defiance at the same time. I sing it in the car, the shower, the toile-er, I mean, the kitchen…everywhere, basically. Sanna gave me a sad that I actually don’t want to undo.

#3 | Bedroom by Alvaro Estrella – Man, Sweden let some gems slip through their texting-and-dialling fingers in 2014! In an NF of such high quality though, it’s virtually impossible to send every great song to the final. Some would argue that Bedroom is hardly one of those greats, but filthy lyrics and all, I absolutely LOVE it. So what if you wouldn’t want it as your wedding song for fear of offending your great aunt Mildred (and for many other reasons)? It’s an irresistible slice of dance-pop in the vein of Moves Like Jagger, and I reckon it could easily fill any floor with drunk, shoeless guests. You know, if that’s what you were after.

'I must warn you, my actual bedroom doesn't have strobe lights...'

‘I should warn you, my actual bedroom doesn’t have strobe lights…’

#4 | Echo by Outtrigger – For the second time, Melfest made me love screamy rock, which is something I detest as a rule. Dead By April’s Mystery was my musical crush of 2012, and Echo became its 2014 counterpart. I don’t know exactly why I like this so much, but a lot of the appeal lies in the chorus that was made for headbanging. This can be awkward when you’re hearing the song in the middle of a supermarket as opposed to a mosh pit, but rock music ain’t about avoiding strange looks in public.

#5 | Busy Doin’ Nothin’ by Ace Wilder – I’ll admit, this would have been the more cutting-edge, daring choice for Sweden to send to Copenhagen. Vocally, it would have been less impressive than Undo, but when a song’s this catchy, I for one am too busy fist-pumping and trying not to fall to my death as I dance atop the nearest piece of furniture to pay much attention to the performer’s vocal chops.

Ace at the point of realisation: she wasn't busy doin' nothin'.

‘Wait, what? What do you mean I’m NOT busy doin’ nothin’?’

#6 | Around The World by Dr. Alban & Jessica Folcker
#7 | Survivor by Helena Paparizou
#8 | Red by EKO – If the idea of a lite, 80s synth version of Margaret Berger’s I Feed You My Love is up your alley, then you probably enjoyed this as much as I did. EKO won their way into Melfest via the pre-NF contest for new talent, and while they continued the tradition of those winners failing to qualify from their semi final, they found a fan in me with Red.

#9 | Efter Solsken by Panetoz
#10 | Yes We Can by Oscar Zia – Once upon a time I was obsessed with High School Musical, and as this song has ‘Disney Original Movie soundtrack’ written all over it, I can’t help giving it the thumbs up. Less Disney is the scandalous mention of dancing in underwear and letting the people stare, which sounds a bit like a strip club-type situation. But that’s not a bad thing, since it stops things from getting too sickly sweet.

#11 | Love Trigger by J.E.M
#12 | Natural by Anton Ewald
#13 | Bröder by Linus Svenning – Linus is back this year and singing in English, but I doubt his song will carry as much meaning and emotion as Bröder, which gets me right in the feels every time. As Yoda would most likely say if he were a Melfest fan, lovely song this is.

#14 | Hollow by Janet Leon
#15 | Aleo by Mahan Moin
#16 | Blame It On The Disco by Alcazar – Yes, it was Stay The Night with a different title, but that song did fairly well for them in Melfest, and this one did even better. I guess it’s true that if something isn’t broken, don’t bother to fix it. Here we have classic Alcazar, i.e. cheesy disco-pop with an obligatory key change (or five hundred) and it’s one heck of a guilty pleasure.

Alcazar's motto: peace, love, and a s%#tload of sequins.

The Alcazar motto: peace, love, and a s%#tload of sequins.

#17 | När Änglarna Går Hem by Martin Stenmarck
#18 | Ta Mig by Linda Bengtzing
#19 | Set Yourself Free by Little Great Things
#20 | All We Are by State of Drama – This band brought the standard of the 2013 comp up a little with Falling, but in a stronger year with a weaker song, they couldn’t come back with a bang. All We Are is competent, but pretty bland.

#21 | Burning Alive by Shirley Clamp
#22 | I Am Somebody by Pink Pistols
#23 | Glow by Manda
#24 | Casanova by Elisa Lindström – I really disliked this the first time I heard it, and I’m not about to gush over it now. However, I will compliment how happy, cute and energetic it is. It’s like a quokka in song form.

Any excuse to use a picture of a quokka will do, so here's one I prepared earlier.

Any excuse to use a picture of a quokka will do, so here’s one I prepared earlier.

#25 | To The End by YOHIO
#26 | Fight Me If You Dare by IDA
#27 | Songbird by Ellen Benediktson – This is not my preferred style of music at all, and apparently it wasn’t Ellen’s either since she’s returning with something different and more ‘her’. For me, this is a case of knowing the song is well-written and generally good, but not being able to connect with it.

#28 | En Enkel Sång by CajsaStina Åkerström
#29 | Raise Your Hands by Ammotrack
#30 | En Himmelsk Sång by Ellinore Holmer
#31 | Bygdens Son by Sylvester Schlegel
#32 | Hallelujah by The Refreshments – Can somebody please explain to me Sweden’s preoccupation with rockabilly? Perhaps it’s just SVT’s quest for variety, but every year a track like this sneaks into the lineup and leaves me scratching my head, and more often than not, hitting the Mute button.

 
Well, that’s that, and now I’ve shown you mine, you’re welcome to show me yours! If you’re up for it, also let me know who you’ll be cheering for in Melodifestivalen’s first semi on Saturday night. I’m Team Saade with a little Behrang Miri on the side, but who knows which artists will produce gems that I’ll be fawning over in a year.

 

Until next time…

nsig

 

Retro Rankings | Istanbul 2004

If you’re like me, under the impression that Malmö’s Eurovision could not possibly have happened more than a few months ago, think again…and then collapse in shock when you realise we’re just over four weeks away from contest 59. Here’s hoping there will actually be a stage for this year’s contestants to perform on by then. Right now, all eyes are on Amsterdam’s Eurovision In Concert, which will give us more of an insight into who’s going to nail and who’s going to fail the show proper. But since I’m not currently en route to the Netherlands (and not bitter at all about that *grumbles very bitterly indeed*) I have the opportunity to continue on my quest to cram in as many posts as possible before the big event.

My reviews, predictions, and mini-series of Malmö flashbacks are soon to come, but today I thought I’d head back in time to contest 49, which took place ten whole years ago in Istanbul. I’ve done some Retro Rankings in the past (which you can check out here) and I thought it would be interesting to choose the 2004 contest this time around, not long after ranking 2014 for the first time. Back then, 36 countries competed, six of whom have since opted out of the ESC. The quality of songs was pretty low IMO, but among the hideous and sleep-inducing entries were some absolute gems. Without further ado, here is how I rate all 36 a decade later.

Just one thing…I haven’t commented on all of the songs, so if you want a reason for the position of one I’ve left ambiguous, just ask. Also, here’s a recap of the Class of Istanbul for those of you who need a pre-ranking refresher.

 

Now, my rankings. For real this time.

 

1. Serbia & Montenegro/ Lane Moje by Željko Joksimović – 2004 may have been a crappy year, song-wise, but it did introduce me to what would become my favourite Eurovision entry OF ALL TIME! Sorry to put that so aggressively. ŽJ’s first and best contest foray is hauntingly beautiful on the first listen and equally so on the 567, 869th listen (which is around about where I’m up to) and I’ve never come across anybody who doesn’t agree with that to some extent. If you happen to be that person and make it clear to me, I may get violent.

Serbia and Montenegro were more than all white.

Serbia and Montenegro were more than all white.

2. Ukraine/ Wild Dances by Ruslana – Despite my love for the above, I would never dream of questioning whether Ukraine deserved their one and only win to date. In fact, this has to be one of the most deserving winners ever. Even if we cast the perfect performance, costumes and whip-cracking aside, the song itself is still a flawless example of ethno-pop/rock. Ruslana knew how the ESC should be done (and she’s also available to be hired for parties as a Xena impersonator, FYI).

3. Turkey/ For Real by Athena – The relaxed approach many host countries take with their entries (with the pressure to win off/desire to win again nonexistent) often results in effortless success, because they’re not trying too hard. When Turkey hosted, their entry was chill, quirky and fun, but energetic enough to get the crowd going like no other. I’m actually having to clamp my mouth shut as we speak to stop myself from bursting into that chorus. Up, I wanna bring you up…

4. The Netherlands/ Without You by Re-Union – In the first year of televised semis, the Netherlands made the final with this cruisy sing-along song (and nothing short of Anouk got them back there). It didn’t do much once Saturday night came, ending the evening in 20th place, but I’ve always had a soft spot for it. It may be humble (meaning many viewers would have used it as their toilet break) but it provided some sweet relief from the more extravagant efforts.

5. Austria/ Du Bist by Tie Break – In case you didn’t know, I love a boyband. Naturally, for me, Eurovision + boyband = JACKPOT. Prime Minister, Eden, Blue…I’ve squealed hysterically over them all. So it is that as lame as Du Bist was on a fancy stage in a mahusive arena – and as lazily as the three guys were dressed for such an event – I still give it the thumbs up.

It wasn't Casual Friday, but Tie-Break clearly didn't get the memo.

It wasn’t Casual Friday, but Tie-Break clearly didn’t get the memo.

6. France/ A Chaque Pas by Jonatan Cerrada

7. Albania/ The Image of You by Anjeza Shahini

8. Spain / Para Llenarme De Ti by Ramón

9. Belgium/ 1 Life by Xandee – Eurodance magic, that’s what this is. Not once have I watched/listened to it without doing the dance steps Xandee and her backup duo/lady and gentleman lover (that hip rolling bit gives everything away) bust out at the beginning. Because YOLO – which is coincidentally what the 2014 version of this song would be called.

10. Slovenia/ Stay Forever by Platin

11. Germany/ Waiting For Tonight by Max

12. Iceland/ Heaven by Jónsi

Before there was Greta and Jonsi, there was Just Jonsi. And his finely sculpted cheekbones.

Before there was Greta and Jonsi, there was Just Jonsi. And his finely sculpted cheekbones.

 

13. Poland/ Love Song by Blue Café

14. Norway/ High by Knut Anders Sørum – Norway had the unfortunate honour of being last in the ’04 final, and not for the first or last time, I have to wonder why. High was far from Wild Dances amazeballs territory, but it was much less yawn-worthy than a bunch of other finalists, and had an anthemic quality that worked well in the arena.

15. Latvia/ Dziesma Par Laimi by Fomins & Kleins

16. Belarus/ My Galileo by Alexandra & Konstantin

17. Romania/ I Admit by Sanda Ladosi

18. Russia/ Believe Me by Julia Savicheva

19. Bosnia & Herzegovina/ In The Disco by Deen – Before B & H brought us such spellbinding masterpieces as Lejla and Bistra Voda, they had this to offer. There’s quite a contrast there, you might say. I don’t hate this – it’s a bit of a guilty pleasure, and I think of it as the rich man’s version of Hungary 2009 – but I much, much prefer the Bosnia & Herzegovina that gave us class…not ass.

"See my vest, see my vest, plus my bronzed and hairless chest..."

“See my vest, see my vest, plus my bronzed and hairless chest…”

20. Sweden/ It Hurts by Lena Philipsson

21. Greece/Shake It by Sakis Rouvas

22. Estonia/ Tii by Neiokõsõ

23. FYR Macedonia/ Life by Toše Proeski

24. United Kingdom/ Hold On To Our Love by James Fox – Just looking at this written down makes me yawn. Like so many entries the same year, the UK’s was perfectly nice, but extremely boring. Adding to my pain is the fact that their NF that year had at least three better options, including one of my favourite NF songs EVER from a boyband (!) called Hyrise. Hashtag if only.

 25. Cyprus/ Stronger Every Minute by Lisa Andreas

26. Malta/ On Again…Off Again by Julie & Ludwig

Ludwig's attempts at serenading Julie didn't go so well...

Ludwig’s attempts at serenading Julie didn’t go so well…

27. Croatia/ You Are The Only One by Ivan Mikulic

28. Denmark/ Shame On You by Thomas Thordarson

29. Israel/ Le’ha’amin by David d’Or – I’m sorry to say that when David opened his mouth to sing his first note, it marked the first time I laughed out loud at anything Eurovision-related (which says a lot since Year Lordi was the first contest I saw). There are decent elements in this song, but that voice! I just can’t take it seriously. It’s a case of what I now refer to as ‘The Curse of Cezar’ – only it didn’t work out so well for non-qualifier David.

30. Finland/ Two To Tango by Jari Sillanpää

31. Monaco/ Notre Planète by Maryon

32. Ireland/ If My World Stopped Turning by Chris Doran – And the ‘Why Bother?’ Award for Most Pointless Attempt to Win Eurovision goes to…Chris Doran! Let’s have a round of applause, if you’re not unconscious. Brian McFadden of Westlife fame (here I go again with the boybands) co-wrote this snoozefest, and because I know he’s capable of writing way better stuff, I blame him entirely for this faux pas.

33. Andorra/ Jugarem A Estimar-nos by Marta Roure

34. Portugal/ Foi Magia by Sofia

35. Lithuania/ What Happened To Our Love by Linas & Simona

36. Switzerland/ Celebrate by Piero & the Music Stars – Piero and his music “stars”* remain the only act to have received zero points in a semi final, and there’s no confusion as to how that happened. Celebrate was like a low-grade JESC entry, only performed by adults dressed like children, which made it so much worse. The lyricist clearly had the reading comprehension skills of a four-year-old.

The Swiss Wiggles just never took off.

The Swiss Wiggles just never took off.

 

* While they were onstage, their star status was easily challenged. But they did give a decent a cappella performance in the green room which was worth at least one point.

 

I’ve had my say, so now it’s your turn. Do you think I’m crazy putting the Swiss on the bottom and that Piero should be Celebrate-ed instead? Did Ruslana whip-crack her way into your heart, or do you think Wild Dances was overrated? Whatever your opinion on the entries of Istanbul, let me know below!

 

NEXT TIME: Malmö gets the full recap treatment as I look back on the stats, results and best bits of Eurovision 2013.

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 A reminder of all the entries:

 

And now, my personal top 39:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Laura obviously missed the memo about wearing black.

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

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

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

 

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

 

Retro Rankings | Helsinki 2007

I would like to open this post by saying…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7UmV6FYvmA

That’s right: I’m still in the land of the living! You may have been fooled into thinking otherwise when you last dropped by EBJ and realised that it was growing mould because it had been untouched for so long (just over three weeks, but that’s like three years in blog time). However, dear readers/anyone who cares/anyone who doesn’t care ‘cause I’m not fussy – that was simply due to a little thing called ‘going back to university’. It has this way of stopping you from doing stuff you’d rather be doing, especially when it’s been a year since you’ve done any proper study and you have to re-learn how to be a student (which mainly involves complaining about everything and doing assignments at the last minute). But I’m back in business, and thought I’d try something brand new to celebrate.

After I did my updated ranking of the Malmö 39, I realised something shocking. Although I’d been ranking all the entries every year since I started this blog, I had never, ever gone back and ranked the contests from 1956-2008.

Oops.

That is a lot of contests to catch up on, so I need to get cracking, right? I’m starting today with one of my favourite contests. It wasn’t my first, but it was the first one I watched as a semi-knowledgeable fan, and so it holds a special place in my heart (aww…). I love everything about Year Helsinki, and now I’m about to find out which of the 42 entries I love the most. I’m a little scared, so let’s get going.

Oh, one more thing before we begin. I missed you guys! Especially you. That’s right, I’m talking to you.

 

ANYWAY, for starters, here’s a refresher: 

 And now, from #1 aaaaaallllllllll the way down to #42, my rankings.

 

  1. Slovenia/ Cvet Z Juga by Alenka Gotar – I was not expecting this to top the list, but here we are. Alenka must have bewitched me with her glass-breakingly high voice and the LED she had embedded in her palm. Seriously though, I love this song. Dance, opera and wind machine came seamlessly together to produce a dramatic three minutes that won Slovenia a place in the final for the first time; and that was in a huge (like, ‘Why, oh, why do I have to sit through this many songs in a semi-final?!?’ huge) field of 28 entries. Brava! 
‘You may think it’s stupid, but let me tell you – it sure beats fumbling in the dark for a torch.’

‘You may think it’s stupid, but let me tell you – it sure beats fumbling in the dark for a torch.’

  1. Armenia/ Anytime You Need by Hayko
  2. Bosnia & Herzegovina/ Rijeka Bez Imena by Maria
  3. France/ L’Amour A La Française by Les Fatals Picards
  4. Belarus/ Work Your Magic by Koldun – This remains my favourite Belarusian entry to date, and it has nothing to do with the crush I once had on the impossibly beautiful Koldun (which was weird because I was aware of the Princess Diana resemblance). Sure, he was great, and the staging was too, but the song is epic all on its own. Big, brash, and so very Eurovision = my eternal love.
  5. Serbia/ Molitva by Marija Šerifović
  6. Russia/ Song #1 by Serebro
  7. Spain/ I Love You Mi Vida by D’Nash
  8. Moldova/ Fight by Natalia Barbu – This song has had a big impact on me lately (which I’ll go into in another post) but I’ve always been a fan of it. After the horror that they sent to Athens the previous year, anything would have been a step up for Moldova (seriously, a box of Kleenex would have done the job). I think they took a massive step with this one though. It has violins! It has rock! It has power! It has fierceness! Plus, you can have hours of fun trying to figure out what the heck the lyrics are about. ‘Itch people will gnaw our wishes no more’? That’s a stumper right there.  
Natalia fights to get her pants to stay up during rehearsals.

Natalia fights to get her pants to stay up during rehearsals.

  1. Romania/ Liubi, Liubi, I Love You by Todomondo
  2. Latvia/ Questa Notte by Bonaparti.lv
  3. Cyprus/ Comme Ci, Comme Ça by Evrdiki
  4. Lithuania/ Love Or Leave by 4Fun
  5. Croatia/ Vjerujem U Ljubav by Dragonfly feat. Dado Topić
  6. Bulgaria/ Water by Elitsa & Stoyan – As we now know, this duo cannot be counted on to bring Bulgaria Eurovision success, but they did hit the right note the first time round. Opening the semi with their chain mail and faux lightning and enthusiastic drumming (lethargic drumming is sooooo unappealing), they got the audience fired up and ready to attempt to sit through the next 27 songs without a toilet break…although there were quite a few songs I would have used to go for toilet breaks had I been there.
  7. Greece/ Yassou Maria by Sarbel
  8. Czech Republic/ Mala Dama by Kabat
  9. Switzerland/ Vampires Are Alive by DJ Bobo
  10. Finland/ Leave Me Alone by Hanna
  11. Turkey/ Shake It Up Shekerim by Kenan Doğulu – This isn’t up there with my favourites from our dearly departed Turkey (who had better hurry up and confirm that they’ll be in Denmark next year, or else) but it is Turkey doing what they do best…when they aren’t doing kick-ass ethno rock, that is. SIUS is ethno pop with a catchy chorus, and that has proved to be a magic formula for the Turks time and time again. I do find it a little sleazy in parts.
‘My milkshake brings all the belly dancers to the yard...’

‘My milkshake brings all the belly dancers to the yard…’

  1. Ukraine/ Dancing Lasha Tumbai by Verka Seduchka
  2. FYR Macedonia/ Mojot Svet by Karolina
  3. Ireland/ They Can’t Stop The Spring by Dervish
  4. Georgia/ Visionary Dream by Sopho – You can have your Waterfall back, Sweden, because THIS is the Georgia I want to see. Original, cultural, daring Georgia. Now, you may be thinking ‘If you like it so much Jaz, then why is it sitting un-pretty at #24?’ Well, to that I say this: I can find pros and cons in most of the Class of 2007, bar a few that I totally dislike. Therefore, #24 is the equivalent of like, 7/10. I don’t love, but I definitely like.
  5. Hungary/ Unsubstantial Blues by Magdi Rúzsa
  6. Andorra/ Salvem El Món by Anonymous
  7. Portugal/ Dança Comigo by Sabrina
  8. Germany/ Frauen Regier’n Die Welt by Roger Cicero
  9. Austria/ Get A Life – Get Alive by Eric Papilaya
  10. United Kingdom/ Flying The Flag (For You) by Scooch – Okay, so this wasn’t great by any stretch of the imagination; rather, the words ‘trashy’ and ‘tacky’ come to mind whenever I think about it. But it was harmless, sexual-innuendo-filled fun. My only peeve is that, having failed miserably with a camp novelty song in 2006, the UK decided to pick version 2.0 the very next year – and it wasn’t the last time they’d make that mistake.
Granted, flying would be a lot more fun if this was the crew.

Granted, flying would be a lot more fun if this was the crew.

  1. Albania/ Hear My Plea by Fredrik Ndoci
  2. Israel/ Push The Button by Teapacks
  3. Netherlands/ On Top of the World by Edsilia Rombley
  4. Sweden/ The Worrying Kind by The Ark
  5. Montenegro/ Ajde Kroči by Stevan Faddy
  6. Poland/ Time To Party by Jet Set – So far in this post I’ve used the words ‘sleazy’, ‘trashy’ and ‘tacky’, and all three apply equally as well to Poland. The song is a teensy bit catchy, I’ll admit, but generally…it’s ugh. The lyrics are awful (particularly the cringe-worthy line about being ‘a little bit crazy like a baby uhhh’) and the whole thing is uninspired. Poland has been overlooked a few times IMO, but this wasn’t one of them.
  7. Iceland/ Valentine Lost by Eirikur Hauksson
  8. Norway/ Ven A Bailar Conmigo by Guri Schanke
  9. Denmark/ Drama Queen by DQ
  10. Belgium/ Lovepower by The KMGs
  11. Malta/ Vertigo by Olivia Lewis
  12. Estonia/ Partners In Crime by Gerli Padar – Estonia, a country I’ve loved in Eurovision the last few years, has the dubious honour of being my least favourite from the 2007 contest. Well, not the country itself, but the “song” they chose to send to Helsinki. It’s never enough to rely on your name to do well in the ESC, so even though Gerli had the Padar in her corner (and on her birth certificate) it didn’t distract from the pedestrian yawn-fest that was Partners In Crime. Thankfully, what Estonia brought post-2008 more than made up for the indiscretion.
Hell hath no fury like woman related to Tanel Padar.

Hell hath no fury like a woman related to Tanel Padar.

 

So that was a rather long ranking-themed ramble, wasn’t it? It was almost as long as the ’07 semi (how many times can I reference that before it gets old?). But after literally weeks without chatting about Eurovision with y’all, I had a lot to get off my chest.

Now I want to know what you guys think. Do you agree with how I’ve ranked the songs above, or are you horrified by my lack of taste? Which songs of 2007 do you love and hate, six years later? Let me know below ↓

 

BRB, just off to make sure I’ll be posting again before Christmas…2050. Until then, auf wiedersehen.