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Song Battles, Round #2: Then VS Now

Good evening/afternoon/morning, Europe/rest of the world, and welcome to a competition between Eurovision entries that is not Eurovision itself (as much as I’d love to sell tickets and slogan t-shirts on behalf of this post). A few months ago I held my first round of song battles, in which I pitted the songs certain countries sent to Baku against their counterpart candidates for Malmö, to see which ones you and I thought were better. Why? Well, there was no particular reason – I just thought it’d be fun. It was, so I’m totes doing it again. Hooray?!?

This time around, I thought it would be slightly less fun but more interesting to make entries from 2013 battle it out against those the same countries sent five years ago, a.k.a. in 2008. How do the Albanian and German songs of Belgrade, for example, compare to the Albanian and German songs fresh from Malmö? Were Croatia and Romania better back then or have they improved with age?

Am I the only one who wonders about this stuff?

There’s only one way to find out – by letting the battles of 2008 VS 2013 commence! I’ve already picked my winners, so check them out and then let me know which songs you would choose.  

 

Albania’s Zemrën E Lamë Peng by Olta Boka VS Identitet by Adrian & Bledar

sbal

If you ask me to pick between a ballad and a rock song, chances are I’ll go for the ballad (unless it’s between a ballad and Turkish rock…there’s something about the Mor Ve Ötesis and MaNgas of the world that gets me). So Olta’s unique take on the average female ballad trumps this year’s rockiest entry in my opinion. I always found her song an interesting one, and I think Albanian comes off really nicely in it. Don’t you worry though, Adrian and Bledar. Anytime I feel like headbanging I’ll turn to you.

 

Bulgaria’s DJ Take Me Away by Deep Zone & Balthazar VS Samo Shampioni by Elitsa & Stoyan

Sound the guilty pleasure alarm folks, ‘cause here’s a biggie! Back in the time of Belgrade, I was pretty happy with the choice Bulgaria made…only to discover that nobody else was (it’s happened a few times since). I know it was dated even for 2008, and had a ridiculously long intro, and that Johanna was only there to repeat the same lyrics over and over and OVER again. But it was catchy, and as you probably know that’s my main criteria in a good Eurovision song. Plus, Samo Shampioni has a lot more wailing.

 

Croatia’s Romanca by Kraljevi Ulice & 75 Cents VS Mižerja by Klapa s Mora

This is a tough one. So tough that if they were physically fighting each other, I’m not sure who would win (75 Cents has unfortunately passed away, so you can’t say he’d be a disadvantage to the former). They’re in a similar ballpark in terms of being instrumentally rich, ethnic songs from Croatia, but I have to give the edge to Mižerja because it’s Just. So. Beautiful. It makes you feel like you’re watching the sunrise on a rugged Croatian mountaintop even if you’re actually standing in the supermarket trying to decide which brand of toothpaste to buy.

 

France’s Divine by Sebastian Tellier VS L’Enfer et Moi by Amandine Bourgeois

I’d rather have more ditsy, cruisy ditties from France in the future than slightly sleazy retro numbers, merci very much. Even if it means helium becomes an onstage fixture. It’s not that I didn’t like what France served up this year; I just adored what they did five years ago. Divine was one of my favourite entries of the year, and I can’t say that about L’Enfer. Please don’t hunt me down and strangle me with a feather boa, Amandine.

 

Germany’s Disappear by No Angels VS Glorious by Cascada

sbde

For some of you, this would be obvious. But if we’re talking about songs as opposed to live performances, then I’m a huge fan of both. Cascada wins based on the Glorious level of dance-a-bility and anthemic-ness (I’m sorry, but sometimes you need to hyphenate to get your point across). Disappear is a bit limp in comparison. Although Natalie Horler could have done with some of the angels’ chiffon stapled to the back of her dress. It really needed some extra oomph.

 

Israel’s The Fire In Your Eyes by Boaz VS Rak Bishvilo by Moran Mazor

No contest. I’ve come around on Rak Bishvilo, but if you remember my all-time top 50 countdown, you’ll know that Israel’s Dana International-penned entry of ’08 is one of my absolute favourite Eurovision songs. Like I said earlier, I’m a fan of ballads. Yes, I know they’re both ballads…but there is a clear distinction here as far as I’m concerned.

 

Romania’s Pe-o Margine De Lume by Nico & Vlad VS It’s My Life by Cezar

sbro

To this day, I think Romania was robbed of a better placing in Belgrade. I blame Nico’s decision to swap the fierce leather/feather dress she wore in the semi for that blah silver thing in the final (bad costumes ruin lives, people). I can’t say the same about Cezar – I’m just relieved he didn’t finish higher. Pe-o’s opera-pop vibe, mix of musical languages, and male-female dynamic is still much more appealing to me.

 

San Marino’s Complice by Miodio VS Crisalide (Vola) by Valentina Monetta

Here we have two Italian-language ballads, one of which becomes disco out of nowhere. They are San Marino’s two best entries IMO (not that there’s a lot of competition) but I’ve always had a soft spot for their very first. I figure that’s mostly because it came dead last in its semi final (I seem to be drawn towards losers) but there is definitely a smidgen of genuine love in there for this classy, mysterious ballad.

 

Slovenia’s Vrag Naj Vzame by Rebeka Dremelj VS Straight Into Love by Hannah

Poor Slovenia can’t catch a break once they make the decision to put their backing dancers in heavy-duty masks. I do think they improved on that formula this year, with a considerably less…shall we say, controversial performance. But I’ll never get over the dodgy staging that ruined the awesome Vrag Naj Vzame. I LOVE this song, darn it.

 

Ukraine’s Shady Lady by Ani Lorak VS Gravity by Zlata Ognevich

sbuk

Let’s end with a gut-wrenchingly difficult decision, why don’t we? This year, just as they did five years ago and pretty much every year in between, Ukraine brought it to Eurovision. Ani Lorak did a little better than Zlata in terms of placement, and I do like to get my Shady Lady on quite often…but…no, I can’t go past the Disney-but-not-cheesy beauty of Gravity. It’s all sunlight and majestic clifftops and CGI unicorns, and that makes it unbeatable.

 

Aaaaaaaaaaaaannndddd fin. This round of song battles is over, peeps. Though for anyone who cares, here are the stats of my picks.

Then (2008): 70%

Now (2013): 30%

Well, it looks like I generally preferred the musical buffet of Belgrade to what Malmö served up. How about you?

 

2008 VS 2013, country by country – who gets your vote?

 

Final-ly! My pre-final verdict on the Malmö semis

Hello again! I’m back, at least for this brief window of time during which I’ve seen both semi finals of Eurovision 2013 but the final hasn’t happened yet. Tomorrow I’ll be avoiding even the slightest whiff of a news report from anywhere, until Monday when I can make another comeback to complain about the winner. I bet you’re looking forward to that already.

……

Anyway, I had a lot of stuff to get out of my head and onto le blog in the wake of semis 1 and 2. At last, here it is.

 

 mnzz

SEMI 1

Watching this first installment on Friday night, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was watching Melodifestivalen. That may have had something to do with the location, and the fact that the children vs. Loreen reprisal of Euphoria we saw back in March kicked off the proceedings. But the intimate feel of the stage also gave me that impression. Then Austria opened the show and I started to feel Eurovision-esque again (yay!). Here’s a quick review of Austria and the fifteen countries that followed, as well as some thoughts on the other entertainment, and the results.

 

The performances

Austria: A good opener. Natália sounded great, and that white shirt/jeans combo wasn’t nearly as dull as I was expecting. She looked radiant, which is appropriate. You know, ‘cause of her song. Shine? Oh, never mind. 

Estonia: Birgit was radiant too, but for a different reason (why can’t my mother have participated in Eurovision when she was pregnant with me, dammit? That is too cool). Again, she looked and sounded luverly.

Slovenia: This was the ‘wow’ act of the evening for me. Straight Into Love came off amazing in the arena, and Hannah belted it out like there was no tomorrow (which there wasn’t, if ‘tomorrow’ is a metaphor for ‘chance of qualifying’). Fierce costuming, too.

'Ta-daaaah! I got into my leather pants without any assistance!'

‘Ta-daaaah! I got into my leather pants without any assistance!’

Croatia: Sigh. This was so beautiful I almost wept. And it’s going direct to my list of songs that should have qualified.

Denmark: It was decent, but I felt nothing. Oh, except a tinge of horror when the pyro curtain went off and I had a flashback to Running Scared.

Russia: Dina really is ‘The Voice’ of Russia, isn’t she? Stunning vocal. But everything else, especially the part when the backing singers “spontaneously” joined hands, was as contrived as the song.

Ukraine: Apart from the cringe-worthy camera shake at the beginning (I can’t help being offended on Igor’s behalf) this was another top-notch performance from Ukraine. Zlata made that papier-maché boulder look so glamorous.

Netherlands: Good use of the satellite stage by Anouk, and a lovely background on the main stage too. Her voice was haunting. *Insert scary ghostly noises here*

Montenegro: Sexy cyborg Nina made this performance. She sounded so studio-perfect I had to wonder if Montenegro had found a way to sidestep the live vocal rule. BTW, does anyone see the correlation between astronauts and cyborgs? What kind of party was this?

Lithuania: Eyebrows. That is all.

Belarus: I’m trying to figure out whether this was more Eurovision 2005, 2006 or 2007. Any way you look at it, it’s dated. Alyona also forgot to wear pants, but I’ll forgive her because her stilettos were totally fabulous.

Solayoh? Aphrodisiac? My Number One? It’s all Belarusian to me.

Few people are aware that the Chicken Dance originated in Belarus.

Moldova: Actually, there was another ‘wow’ act, and here it is! That dress, that hair, that voice, that random dude at the piano who definitely didn’t represent Moldova last year…epic.

Ireland: Ryan Dolan obviously made a pilgrimage to Georgia sometime in the last few months and stocked up on their magical singing potion. That’s the only explanation for his almost flawless rendition of Only Love Survives.

Cyprus: Nice dress. How does the song go again?

Belgium: That’s my boy! Thank the Eurovision gods that Roberto and his lady friends put on a good show. And thanks to whoever decided to have the lyrics scrolling in the background to compensate for his off-kilter English pronunciation.

Serbia: I loved the theatrics of this, especially from Sara. But it was theatre that would have gone better with the old angel/devil outfits, not those candy-coloured crimes against fashion.

 

The in-betweeners

– Petra as the single lady (oh-oh-oh oh-oh-oh…) host came off a bit more scripted than I was hoping, but she did a good job. I did enjoy that joke about the potential 2013 slogans.

– For those of you who saw it, the skit to celebrate 30 years of Eurovision on Australian TV was naturally a highlight. I am slightly put out that I wasn’t invited to take part. Ha ha ha.

– I loved the journey through contest history, with Petra popping up in different decades by way of extremely well-executed computer graphics. ‘Merci’. ‘You’re welcome.’ ‘Merci’. ‘Yes…’ ‘Merci.’ ‘YOU’RE WELCOME!’ = hilarious.

– There wasn’t enough green room coverage for my liking, although I’m suspicious that a chunk was edited out of our broadcast. It happened last year, and I was not amused.

– The interval act was nice to look at, but I’ve got to admit, I’ve never been skilled at interpreting interpretive dance.

 

The results

Qualified: Moldova, Lithuania, Ireland, Estonia, Belarus, Denmark, Russia, Belgium, Ukraine and the Netherlands

I predicted: Croatia, Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, Netherlands, Moldova, Montenegro, Belarus, Ireland and Serbia

I feel: Pretty stupid. 7/10 is not my best-ever effort, but that isn’t the cause of the moron vibes emanating from me at this moment. For weeks, I’ve been thinking three things:

– that Estonia would sneak into the final, despite the similarities to Cyprus the Boring

– that Lithuania has a way of qualifying when it seems most unlikely, and;

– that it could well be curtains for Serbia after just one televised performance.

But last week, when it came time to actually predict, I threw all those thoughts out of the window and excluded Estonia and Lithuania from my selected ten, and left Serbia in. Face. Palm. But what is, is, so I may as well move on to the fact that I am ecstatic about Belgium getting through! I don’t even care that I thought Roberto would lose the semi, it’s so good to be wrong. Sure, he’ll probably be in the bottom 5 in the final, but just to have made it there should give him the confidence boost he needs to pull off an even better performance than he did on Tuesday.

Moldova, Ireland and Ukraine were also welcome qualifiers, and for the Netherlands to advance for the first time since 2004 was brilliant. Bravo, Anouk, a.k.a. Depressed Mary Poppins. I was not so thrilled to hear the word ‘Belarus’ come out of Petra’s mouth, and I can’t help feeling that they stole a precious final place from a worthier country (Slovenia or Croatia, for instance) but since Alyona probably didn’t come 10th, that’s probably not true.

I do wish Montenegro had made it, but since I never expected them to, I can deal. I will miss Moje 3, however. Nevena evidently had a better knack for Junior Eurovision.

 

SEMI 2

For once, it was hard to tell whether the first or second semi was the strongest. There was a lot about this one that I was excited for, with a bunch of my top-ranked entries AND one of my favourite artists of all time featuring in the lineup. Here’s round two of my review.

 

The performances

Latvia: Another good opener – I have to praise SVT for that. PeR were also generous enough to give us, as lead singer Ralfs said himself, the first stage dive in Eurovision history. Am I the only one that would’ve laughed if nobody had caught him?

San Marino: This Valentina Monetta was not the same one who took to the stage in Baku. This one was a glamorous, charismatic lady in red with an unusual attachment to an IKEA light fitting. I loved this.

Macedonia: Two words – train and wreck. This song is best reserved for studio audio.

Azerbaijan: Damn, the Azerbaijanis can stage an ESC entry! That’s if they actually were responsible for the staging, and didn’t import that from Sweden as well. Anyway, this was very good, and while Farid doesn’t normally light my fire, he was looking mighty fine.

This is the face of a man who know's he's destined for the top 10.

This is the face of a man who know’s he’s destined for the top 10.

Finland: Loud, energetic, she kissed a girl and we liked it.

Malta: Paging Dr. Adorable…oh, there you are Gianluca. This was so cute, right down to the lyrics popping up in the background in all manner of fonts. I’m a font fan.

Bulgaria: I was transported straight back to Helsinki thanks to Elitsa and Stoyan, which isn’t a bad thing (2007 is one of my favourite contests). It’s a shame Bulgaria had to learn the hard way what we all knew early on – that bringing back this duo wasn’t the answer to their problems.

Iceland: I wonder what brand of conditioner he uses?

Greece: I’ve really come to love these guys. The costumes and choreography were epic, and I’m so grateful for Agathonas’ sneaky ‘stache stroke at the end.

Israel: The song might be a tad repetitive, but Moran’s voice is incredible, and it was in fine form for this performance. As were her lady lumps.

Armenia: I was wrong about Gor’s vocal. He was in tune the whole time, and even held back on the gymnastics. Consider my words eaten.

Hungary: This was three minutes of breathy hipster beauty, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t care if he looked disinterested – I am in love with Kedvesem and the performance was wonderful.

Norway: I know I shouldn’t have been thinking about this, but Margaret’s shoes were kind of hideous. Apart from that, she looked as ethereal/bad-ass as ever.

'And this is how we do the Macarena in Norway.'

‘And this is how we do the Macarena in Norway.’

Albania: Holy flaming guitars, Batman! Adrian and Bledar almost literally set the Malmö Arena on fire. A commendable show, boys. Though I must say, a little too much texturising spray was used on Adrian.

Georgia: Unlike Russia, this performance was more sickly sweet than the song. My mother, who happened to walk past while Sophie & Nodi were doing their thang, said she liked it. I’m not sure if that bodes well for them or not.

Switzerland: I have a soft spot for Takasa, but this was boring.

Romania: And now for something that you could never call ‘boring’. Cezar was like a camp warlord on helium out there, but his voice was on point.

 

The in-betweeners

– The opening act marked the first time I have every enjoyed watching people on BMX bikes.

– But enough bike talk. I’ve got to get on to the interval act that I vote to win Eurovision 2013. Yes, I’m referring to the Darin/Agnes extravaganza. I had been looking forward to this a ridiculous amount, what with Darin being my absolute favourite male artist on the planet and Agnes being one of my top females. My expectations were met, and then some. Both Swedish superstars rocked the arena, with Agnes kindly singing the two songs I would have chosen for her whilst surrounded by a year’s worth of material from a chiffon factory. Darin was just Darin. To see him on the ESC stage when it’s unlikely he’ll ever do so representing Sweden was a life highlight.

– In other news, Lys Assia made it to Sweden!! That woman is my hero. Approximately 147 years old and poorly, but still making the trek to be at the contest and get her mug on the telly.

 

The results

Qualified: Hungary, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania, Norway, Iceland, Armenia, Finland, Malta and Greece

I predicted: Azerbaijan, Finland, Malta, Greece, Israel, Armenia, Hungary, Norway, Georgia and Romania

I feel: less stupid than before. 9/10 ain’t bad. But even if I’d gotten 1/10 (not statistically possible, but I’m trying to make a point) I’d have been happy, because Hungary, the one country I was desperate to qualify, was the first to go through. I can’t even tell you how loudly I screamed when that happened.

The next four to be announced were pretty obvious ones, though part of me was hoping Romania would be left behind. Iceland and Armenia were a little surprising, despite my gut feeling that Armenia would make it. I was chuffed for Finland and Malta.

When it came down to the last butterfly, it was only going to be Greece or San Marino (and so I was wailing for the loss of Israel). As sad as I am that it turned out not to be SM, a final wouldn’t be a final without Greece.

 

 

Well, just like the semis, my wrap-up is now over. But as upsetting as both of those things are, just remember that the grand final is still to be held, and it’s a final that should conclude with a tense voting sequence. The way I see it, there are four or five countries that could score their way into the winners’ club (if there is such a thing). Because I’m head honcho here and I can, I’m going to re-predict who that winner will be right here, right now.

Azerbaijan – They’ve got everything it takes. I still don’t think the song is one of the best on offer, but since when has that stopped Azerbaijan from winning?

Denmark – Yes, the favourite. I may not be overly fond of Only Teardrops, but I’m not idiotic enough to give it no chance of topping the table.

Germany – This song was made for an arena, and I think that will come across strongly enough on TV for voters to respond. The juries could be Cascada’s downfall, but Natalie’s ability to command the stage should be rewarded at least.

Italy – If simplicity and beauty is going to win out over OTT and cheesiness, then Marco could come out on top.

Russia – Speaking of cheesiness…ugh. But after the reasonably cleverly-staged performance, and the reaction of the audience (and the fact that I found myself humming along) I couldn’t not go there. This could happen, people, so prepare yourselves.

Belgium – Just kidding.

 

I’m more than happy for a random country to take out the coveted prize. What about you? And what were your highlights and lowlights and travesties and triumphs from the semi finals? Let me know below.

I’ll be back once the Land Down Under has broadcast the final, to discuss it in detail. As for life after Eurovision 2013? Well, I have a feeling I’ll be chatting about Malmö for a long time to come. Maybe you’ll join me?

 EBJ Signature

 

3, 2 , 1, GO! My predictions for Eurovision 2013

Hello again! The first semi final of Eurovision 2013 is just hours away (!!!!!!!) and I’m about to begin my internet sabbatical to avoid spoilers before our Friday broadcast (if you want the reasoning behind my not watching the live stream, just ask). So I’ve got a little more time to make some predictions on what will go down tonight, on Thursday, and finally on Saturday, when Loreen’s successor will be crowned. Well, trophied. Brace yourselves for a shockingly inaccurate reading of Eurovision’s palm, from go to whoa.

 

Semi Final 1

Who will qualify: Croatia, Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, Netherlands, Moldova, Montenegro, Belarus, Ireland and Serbia.

Who I want to qualify: Croatia, Denmark, Ukraine, Netherlands, Montenegro, Lithuania, Moldova, Ireland, Belgium and Serbia. 

Who is most likely to…

Win the semi: Russia. I had to force myself to type that instead of Denmark, but I just have a feeling that something this horrible could happen. In spite of the cheese and what I hear is a very frumpy outfit, the juries will rate Dina’s perfect vocal and the voters who haven’t been previously exposed will probably lap up the “feel good” ballad. Blerrgh.

Lose the semi: Belgium. I had to force myself to type that too, as the self-proclaimed captain of Team Belgique for 2013. I think Roberto is adorable (in a dark and mysterious yet awkward and uncomfortable kind of way) and Love Kills is my cup of tea, but this is Belgium we’re talking about. As much as I want a qualification to happen, I have to be realistic. Sob.

Who could say no to that face? Probably a lot of people, actually.

Who could say no to that face? Probably a lot of people, actually.

Get the biggest round of applause: Montenegro. Igranka is one of the few songs in this semi that will get people up and dancing, and Who See will be duly compensated with a hefty send-off. Plus, who wouldn’t cheer for people who voluntarily decided to wear space suits at Eurovision?

Sing best live: Klapa s Mora and Zlata Ognevich. Both the boys and Zlata are amazing vocalists. I can’t wait to hear the Klapa harmonising in that spine-tingling manner of theirs, and Zlata tearing into the big notes like nobody else. PS – did anyone else notice that the first word in Mižerja is ‘zlata’? I know it’s a legit word meaning ‘gold’, but I’m starting to think Croatia and Ukraine are in cahoots.

Sing worst live: Alyona Lanskaya. She’s pitchy at the best of times, but with all the cha-cha moves she’ll be doing, I can imagine her being carried (not literally – that’s what shirtless dancers are for) by her backing vocalists. It is possible that I’m just willing her to be bad on the off chance it frees up a space for a worthier song in the final.

Make the best use of the background: Ukraine and Ireland. For one, I’m visualising forests and flowers and diamonds and unicorns. For the other, Celtic symbols and love hearts and flames. You decide which is which.

Have the most boring stage show: Cyprus or Estonia. Mark my words, Despina or Birgit will be the Iris of Year Malmö – the pretty girl in the nice dress with absolutely nothing going on around her. Both of their songs are too lacklustre to carry off such minimalism.

Have the best costume/s: Aliona Moon. You know what they say: if you’re going to rip off something Azerbaijan did, do it better (and add a hairstyle Rona Nishliu would be reluctant to try out). Sabina Babayeva’s projector gown clearly started a revolution, and Aliona’s just the latest person to take it to the next level. 

This is what she wears on her days off.

This is what she wears on her days off.

Have the worst costume/s: Serbia. We know the devil/angel thing is no more, and has been replaced by what has been described as ‘workers from the Willy Wonka factory gone mad’. I’ve seen a thumbnail of these outfits, and to me they looked like Kool Mint-studded umbrellas. Who knows? Maybe once I see them in HD I’ll love them.

 

Semi Final 2

Who will qualify: San Marino, Azerbaijan, Finland, Malta, Greece, Israel, Hungary, Norway, Georgia and Romania.

Who I want to qualify: San Marino, Macedonia, Finland, Malta, Bulgaria, Iceland, Hungary, Norway, Albania and Switzerland. 

Who is most likely to…

Win the semi: Azerbaijan. They’ve got a better song than what won them Eurovision 2011, and what sounds to be even cleverer staging. There’s nothing stopping Farid from annihilating the competition.

Lose the semi: Macedonia. I like Pred Da Se Razdeni, but it is a shambles of a song. It would be too easy for it to come last.

Get the biggest round of applause: Greece. This is going to go off, especially coming after the sedate and simple Iceland. You can’t tell me the audience won’t be sucked into it and be yelling for more (as well as some free alcohol) when Agathonas has stroked his ‘stache for the final time.

Big claps for the kilts.

Big claps for the kilts.

Sing best live: Moran Mazor and Sophie & Nodi. Moran may not have a ballad as good as Milim, but her voice won’t be doing a Harel Skaat crack anytime soon. And Sophie & Nodi are Georgian, so it goes without saying that they can sing like angels.

Sing worst live: Armenia. Lonely Planet is a screamer song, and sometimes Gor Sujyan can scream out of tune.

Make the best use of the background: Georgia. They may not be so obvious as to run three minutes’ worth of aerial waterfall footage, but they’ll do something mesmerising, I reckon.   

Have the most boring stage show: Israel. Moran will be on the stage in her revealing dress, singing ‘rak bishvilooooo’ over and over (and over) again. If there is a surprise dancer I will happily eat my words for entertainment’s sake.

Have the best costume: Krista Seigfrids. Let’s face it, any kind of bridal wear will be an improvement on the gold lamé mini dress Moldova used for Natalia the Bride in 2006. There will be poofiness, and there will be coordinating accessories.

Imagine this, only more bedazzled...if you can.

Imagine this, only more bedazzled…if you can.

Have the worst costume: Cezar. This man could take to the stage wearing anything, and that scares me a little. Nothing is off limits for someone who can breeze through their entire eight-octave vocal range in under ten seconds.   

 

The Grand Final 

Who will win Eurovision 2012: Don’t ask me to choose one. C’est impossible! All I can manage is a narrow-down to four.

Azerbaijan. Like I said, they’ve got a better song than Running Scared, a genius stage show (by all accounts), a powerful male singer some would call attractive (he’s not up my street personally) and last but not least, they’re Azerbaijan. The only time they haven’t done amazingly well was in Junior Eurovision, and I actually think that was unjustified. I’ve come around on Hold Me enough that I won’t burst into tears if it does win, but my main gripe would be Eurovision heading back to controversial Baku so soon.  

Azer13

Welcome to Azerbaijan…again!

Denmark. Although I’ve had this feeling for a while that the bookies’ favourite won’t take it out, I can’t really discount them. This is a year where anything can and will happen. It would be neat for the Danes to win on Swedish soil, just like they did in 2000.

Georgia. Can’t you picture the credits rolling over Sophie and Nodi’s exuberant faces as they reprise Waterfall? I bet Thomas g:son has at least thought about which shelf in his trophy cabinet to put the 2013 gong on. Sure, Georgia can do better, and sure, this new trend of importing Swedish ballads is annoying, but this song is just the kind of accessible, soaring schmaltz (sung extremely well) that the decision-makers might resort to in the wake of high-energy Euphoria.

Finally, for a random outside bet…Greece. It would be nice for a song that doesn’t take itself too seriously (but is still a very good song) to come out on top, and I think it could be Alcohol Is Free. Maybe. Eh, I just felt like stepping outside of the obvious box for a minute.

Who will make the top 10: Azerbaijan, Denmark, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, Russia and Ukraine.

Who will be left at the bottom: Spain, or Belarus/Israel (assuming they qualify).

How the final 6 will end up: If Azerbaijan isn’t on top, I can’t see any result lower than 5th for them. Germany should be in the 3rd-6th range, with Italy around 9th or 10th. I’m seeing France and Sweden somewhere in 11th-15th, with the UK and Spain bringing up the rear in 16th-26th.

 

Bonus bits!

5 countries I want to succeed the most: Belgium, Hungary, Italy, Montenegro and Sweden.

5 countries I’d love to win: Germany, Hungary, Italy, Sweden or Ukraine.

5 things I’m most looking forward to:

Observing the standing fans – It’s been a while since Eurovision had a STANDING ROOM ONLY section, so even though I’d be bringing a deck chair if it were me, I’m happy enough to watch how it changes the dynamics from my position on the couch.

The interval act of semi final 2 – If someone asked me ‘Which two Swedish soloists would you choose to perform medleys of their greatest hits during the interval of a Eurovision semi final?’ I would say ‘Why, Darin and Agnes, of course, you nincompoop!’ And now, it’s going to happen. My dream is coming true.

A familiar face in the green room – A Mr. Eric Saade (that’s pronounced ‘Sha-day’ if you’re Lynda Woodruff) will be cavorting around the green room, hopefully in tight trousers. What am I saying? As if he ever wears anything else.

The postcards – When they’re blatantly touristy, I lose interest. Honing in on the artist for a change was a good decision made by SVT. I’m excited to see these.

The ‘host country’ cheer – This could well be my favourite part of every final. Even watching from home, you can feel the buzz start to build before the host entrant even steps on stage. Before, during and after Robin Stjernberg, expect supportive noise.

5 cities I’d love to host the ESC next year:

Ljublana, Slovenia

Zagreb, Croatia

Dublin, Ireland

Tbilisi, Georgia

Rome, Italy

 

Whew, that was exhausting! All of that crystal ball gazing/palm reading/haphazard guessing has worn me out, so I’m off to have a sleep. By the time I wake up, the first semi will be over, and I’ll be dodging social media like a woman possessed. So until the weekend, when I’ll be back with a wrap-up of the semis, goodbye. I hope you have a very merry ESC experience, wherever you are and whoever you’re with. Unless you’re in Malmö rubbing shoulders with Marco Mengoni and Cascada, in which case I hope you have a terrible time…not that I’m jealous or anything.

 

What do you make of my predictions? Which countries do you think will succeed, fail, shock and surprise?

 

Malmö Reviews | Part 2 (Estonia-Italy)

Happy Friday, ladies and gents! You may have noticed that I’ve redecorated EBJ since your last visit. I’m now officially Sweden-ised, feeling festive and ready to paarrtaaaay *insert visualisations of streamers flying every which way here*. And it’s about time too – it is May, a.k.a. Eurovision Month, and this IS the second episode of my Malmö Reviews. Gee whiz.

So now’s the time to prepare yourself for my verdicts on Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel AND Italy (#outofbreath) because here they are. Oh, and stay tuned to see my rankings of these entries (and to show me yours).

 

ESTONIA

Et Uus Saaks Alguse by Birgit Õigemeel

Estonia13Sounds like: Nótt by Yohanna

IMO: We can debate until the cows come home about Estonia choosing Birgit The Safe Option over the scary hairy dudes and the amazing Grete Paia, but the reality is, Birgit is the one going to Malmö, and she’s taking her diet Kuula with her. Diet Kuula? Geddit? Not so much? Well, my point is that it’s another year and we have another Estonian ballad – but unlike last year’s, which was mesmerising in so many ways (and had a lot of drama and power) this one’s kind of bland. I’ll put it this way: Kuula was, to me, all 31 of Baskin-Robbins’ ice-cream flavours combined in one sundae, with lashings of hot fudge sauce and sprinkles. Et Uus is 97% fat-free vanilla frozen yoghurt. Having said all of that and convincing you that I detest Birgit’s ballad, I actually don’t. It’s pleasant, and I enjoy listening to it. But that’s all. It’s three minutes of niceness, with no real hook or crescendo.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 6 points.

 

FINLAND

Marry Me by Krista Siegfrids  

Finland13Best lyric: ‘I don’t think there are no ladies who will give you cuter babies.’

IMO: I did not like this song when I first heard a snippet via a recap of all the UMK finalists. Then I heard the full version after it won, and fell in love with it (I probably would have married Krista at that point). THEN, it started to get on my nerves a little bit. So where am I now? Somewhere in-between enjoying it, and being annoyed by it, that’s where. As much as I loved the Finnish entry last year, it’s nice to have something as brash and fun from Finland as När Jag Blundar was sweet and subdued. Everything about this is loud, from the punchy chorus to the bridal party’s outfits, and I’m glad for that. What would be the point in toning down an entry like this, one that could pass as a Katy Perry B-side? It’s not the OTT-ness that irritates me; in fact, I can’t put my finger on exactly what is responsible for that (Krista’s constant demand for me to put a ring on it, perhaps). But I guess I can settle for a love-hate relationship with Marry Me. That should prepare me for a real marriage, right?

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 7 points.

 

FRANCE

L’enfer Et Moi by Amandine Bourgeois

France13Sounds like: Rolling In The Deep by Adele  

IMO: Can I picture Amandine performing this in a smoky, slightly sleazy underground club in Paris, wearing a feather boa and not much else? Oui oui. It is trés French, or at least very stereotypically French – classy, chic, a little bit retro and a little bit seedy. This is just the kind of thing that, besides the Harlem Shake and dance anthems that all sound exactly the same, the global music charts are full of right now, in the wake of the aforementioned Adele. I’m not the biggest fan of this style of music myself, but this particular song has its charms. The French language has never sounded better for starters, and despite the slow tempo, it uses the three minutes well to build into something interesting. All in all, it’s better than what I was expecting, and it’s more instant than Anggun’s entry last year. But it’s not right up there with the best of 2013 pour moi . PS – apologies for all the primary school French I crammed into this paragraph.   

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 7 points.

 

GEORGIA

Waterfall by Sophie & Nodi

Georgia13Better than 2012: Yes

IMO: I’d never tried Georgian cheese before this, and now I have I can say that it’s not too bad. Certainly not as overpowering as Russian cheese, if you know what I mean. Waterfall (the cheese in question) is another cliché-ridden ballad from reigning ESC champ Thomas G:son, with lyrics you can see coming from a continent away even with a Donny Montell-brand blindfold on. It seems to have been written expressly for suckers who can’t help feeling buoyed by that chorus, and that money note, even though they know full well the whole thing is contrived and unoriginal. Suckers like me. But with the inevitable floaty dress for Sophie, well-timed pyrotechnics and flawless vocals the duo will provide (I’m thinking it must be illegal in Georgia to be a bad singer) the other ballads better watch out. Some say this could be a dark horse to win, and as someone who’d love to witness a Georgian Eurovision, I could come to terms with that.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 7 points.

 

GERMANY

Glorious by Cascada

Germany13Top 10 material: Yes

IMO: The German national final was über strong this year, but it was always going to be Cascada’s to lose. I’m glad they didn’t, because they were the best pick for another Eurovision success for Germany. Glorious is straight-up dance, which is what Cascada is known for, and it is genuinely glorious (lacking the irony of one of their previous hits Evacuate The Dancefloor, which was clearly constructed to ensure the dancefloor would be packed) if familiar, what with the Euphoria plagiarism claims and all. But that’s just dance music. This is just the kind of infectious number that will lift the roof off Malmö Arena in a way no other entry of 2013 can, so I hope Natalie and her DJs are prepared to pay for damages. I also hope Glorious doesn’t bomb against the odds. It’s having a hard time contesting Denmark and Ukraine and the like as a favourite to win, but if all goes according to plan it should hit the highs of the top 10, which is nothing to be sneezed at. Side note: can someone please come to my house and surgically remove the German flag from my hand when the final is over? I’m gonna be gripping that real tight.

Winner, loser or grower: Winner. DOUZE POINTS!

 

GREECE

Alcohol Is Free by Koza Mostra feat. Agathonas Iakovidis  

Greece13Sounds like: For Real by Athena

IMO: Greece, Greece, Greece – you’ve done it again. This country can barely afford to post a letter to Malmö, let alone send a troupe of kilt-wearing rockers and Agathonas of the Impressive Moustache there direct. Yet that’s what they’re doing, and it will undoubtedly keep up their 100% qualification record. Alcohol Is Free is a breath of fresh air after the incredibly clichéd Aphrodisiac, and has a better shot at getting Greece back into the top 10. I’m not totally backing it, as there are plenty of entries I’d rather root for; however I do think it’s a lot of fun, and an up-tempo song that uses traditional instruments usually gets my tick of approval. It was a good idea to have the title in English, and then have that title make up the entire chorus. Even though alcohol isn’t free anywhere that I know of, 99% of us will be unable to resist chanting ‘alcohol, alcohol, alcohol is freeeeee’ in time with the guys. Scientific fact. The 1% that don’t will be unconscious from consuming too much “free” alcohol.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 7 points.

 

HUNGARY

Kedvesem by ByeAlex 

Hungary13Better than 2012: Yes

IMO: It could happen anytime, anywhere, with anything or anyone. You don’t know it’s going to until it does, and then BAM! You’re a goner. No, I’m not talking about being hit by a bus. I’m talking about falling in love, because I am officially head-over-heels for the Hungarian entry this year…and believe me, I did NOT see it coming. There’s something about this humble little song that gets me every time, and there’s nothing forced or sugary about it. I think Hungarian is beautiful and mysterious when set to music (especially if you don’t bother to Google a lyric translation) so that’s part of it. The extra punch given by the Zoohacker remix was much appreciated also. It’s an enigma, Kedvesem. I’m not 110% sure why I adore it, but I just do. They say you know when you know, and I know, so that’s enough! It’s just unfortunate that my favourite Hungarian entry since they rejoined the contest in 2011 is also the least likely to qualify. I wouldn’t care if it came last in the final. Just to see it get to Saturday night would be a major highlight. Make it happen, my European friends.

Winner, loser or grower: Winner. DOUZE POINTS!

 

ICELAND

Ég á Líf  by Eythor Ingi  

Iceland13Sounds like: the Icelandic national anthem

IMO: This wasn’t the most exciting song Iceland could have chosen, but there is something special about it. It could be that Eythor chose to keep it in Icelandic, which is another mysterious musical language. Big ups for that, because the switch from Icelandic to English in recent years has been a huge mistake. It could also be that anthemic quality that gets me feeling all patriotic and emotional, Olympic medal ceremony-style. Who knows. The thing is, that something special doesn’t elevate this ballad to Yohanna status, although the overall appearance is similar (it’s the hair). What could lift it is a superb stage show, with emphasis on lighting and background. I wouldn’t mind the Aurora Borealis being brought back for another spin either.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 7 points.

 

IRELAND

Only Love Survives by Ryan Dolan  

Ireland13Best lyric: ‘When the stars are aligned, you’ve got to make love a state of mind.’

IMO: How sweet it is to have our first Jedward-free year out of three! This post-twin effort from Ireland blows their 2012 entry out of the water (line) as far as I’m concerned. For one thing, it’s not some random song that was offered to and rejected by a bunch of artists before eventually being picked up for Eurovision. It is a slickly produced dance track co-written by Mr. Dolan himself and complex enough to avoid Euphoria comparisons. I’m really loving it, and I expect the stage show to appeal to me just as much. What could ruin Ryan’s chances is his vocal unreliability. I actually haven’t been able to bring myself to watch a live performance of his, because I love the song so much and don’t want to mark it down because of a rubbish live vocal. Some have said he did fine at Eurovision in Concert, whilst others were less impressed, so I’m just going to give him the benefit of my own doubt until semi final 1. He’s sandwiched between two ballads, one of which is incredibly yawn-worthy, so he should stand out. I will be praying for Ireland to prove that they don’t need a pair of hyperactive siblings to get somewhere.

Winner, loser or grower: Winner. 10 points.

 

ISRAEL

Rak Bishvilo by Moran Mazor 

Israel13Sounds like: Milim by Harel Skaat

IMO: Now for someone who will have no trouble singing like a champ – the bespectacled, boob-baring Moran from Israel (whose specs and chest may distract from the vocal performance, but still). Her ballad is one of the better ones going to Malmö. It’s pretty but dramatic, and you can hear the emotion behind it. However (yes, there are however’s) it is quite repetitive – after what seems like the 300th ‘rak bishvilloooo’, it’s like, ‘it’s only for him, we get it!’. And it is lacking in wow factor, which sound-alike Milim did have. I think it’s almost great, a major improvement on last year’s song that I despised, but not Israel at their absolute best.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower. 6 points.

 

ITALY

L’essenziale by Marco Mengoni

Italy13Top 10 material: Yes

IMO: I wonder if I can I complete this review without drawing attention to how insanely attractive Marco Mengoni is? Oops, instant fail. Oh well! I like his SanRemo-winning entry almost as much as I like looking at him. It reminds me a bit of Alessandro Casillo’s É Vero, which competed in SanRemo 2012 but was ineligible for ESC selection since Alessandro was only 15…which made me sad because I LOVED that song. So thank you Mr. Mengoni, for bringing some of that to the big show. L’essenziale in its own right is pure class (how unusual coming from Italy. Not.) and for me, one of the best ballads competing. The rawness of Marco’s voice gives authenticity to the emotion within, which should make for an honest and convincing performance, during which I will do my utmost to focus on the song instead of that beautiful, beautiful face. I’m not sure L’essenziale won’t get lost in the final, because it is a simpler, less instant song than most. But I hope it makes it to the left side of the scoreboard at least.

Winner, loser or grower: Winner. 10 points.

 

Ciao Italy, and hello rankings! This is how I rate these entries against each other: 

  1. Hungary 12
  2. Germany 12
  3. Ireland 10
  4. Italy 10
  5. Greece 7
  6. Iceland 7
  7. France 7
  8. Georgia 7
  9. Finland 7
  10. Israel 6
  11. Estonia 6

Now you try?

 

What are your thoughts on my thoughts this time around? How do you rate the songs from Estonia to Italy?  

 

NEXT TIME: You’ll never guess…more reviews! Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Romania and Russia better brace themselves, ’cause I’m about to get all judgmental on their bee-hinds.

 

Selection Season Day 6: A little Latvia and more of Melfest

Happy Saturday, ladies and gents. It’s that magical day of the week yet again, when if Europe was a suitcase and national finals were items of clothing, you’d have to sit on that suitcase just to zip it up. There are bits and pieces happening all over the continent tonight, from Hungary to Estonia to Italy, where the Italian representative is about to be tapped on the shoulder. And those are just the countries I’m not covering in this post! Read on to see what I did bother to discuss, and let me know what you want to happen this weekend.

 

The last few days of Eurovision, in brief

–  Not one, not two, not even three, but FOUR more 2013 entries have been premiered/chosen in the last few days, and annoyingly, since I did that poll on who would win at this point (but more on that in a minute). The first to come out was Straight Into Love from Slovenia, which actually went straight into my pile of entries that aren’t bad, but aren’t great. We’ll see if it’s a grower.

–  Cyprus’ entry for Despina Olympiou came next, and I must say that An Me Thimase (‘If you remember me’) is a very appropriate title. I have loved what Cyprus have sent to Eurovision the last four years (they were robbed of a place in the final for two of them) but it seems for 2013, it’s bye-bye brilliance and hello snoozefest. Hashtag shame.

–  Germany came to the rescue by not-so-surprisingly choosing Cascada and Glorious to go to Malmö. That song is ridiculously catchy, and goes off when it’s performed live (handy for an ESC song, I find). With a few vocal tune-ups from lead singer Natalie, and the immediate sacking of whoever made her wear those pathetic strips of material, there could easily be another top 10 result on the cards for Germany. That is if Glorious doesn’t reek so much of Euphoria that nobody votes for it, apart from the UK who will undoubtedly give it their douze. It doesn’t bode too well that when I sing it in my head, it goes ‘tonight we can be…euphoooooooria’. 

Unlike Beyonce, Natalie has not demanded that this photo be removed from the internet

Unlike Beyonce, Natalie has not demanded that this photo be removed from the internet

–  Last but not least was Shine by Natália Kelly, the winner of last night’s Österreich Rockt Den Song Contest, a.k.a. the Austrian final. She beat out four average contenders with her own average albeit sweet song, which was performed well, but the whole feeling was underwhelming. There’s got to be some changes made before Nat and her delegation pack their bags for Sweden, particularly in the costume and key change departments.

–  On to ‘that’ poll. Minus Cyprus, Germany and Austria (one of which would definitely have affected the results had it been there) you guys decided that if Eurovision was held right now, we’d be looking ahead to Oslo 2014, or possibly Some Other Random Norwegian City 2014. I Feed You My Love topped the list with 45% of your votes, followed by Denmark’s Only Teardrops on 35% and Malta and Switzerland on 10%. There are still a lot of songs to come, but who knows; you may be right about Margaret.

 

Eirodziesma comes to an end

Who’s been following the Latvian NF  this year? Not me, that’s who. With other things happening at the same time, such as Melfest and life, it’s been impossible. But I have listened to snippets of the 12 songs competing in tonight’s final, and as a result I’m not really wishing I had tried harder.

There were only one or two (three at a push) that grabbed me. The main worry is that none of those sounded better to my ears than Beautiful Song (!) but then again, you can’t compare a song you’ve been listening to in full for the last year with twenty seconds of one you’ve never heard before. So you probably shouldn’t take notice of anything I’m saying right now. Or possibly ever.

Anyway, these are the Latvian finalists:

  1. One by Niko
  2. Fool In Love by Dāvids Kalandija & Dināra
  3. When You Are With Me by Antra Stafecka
  4. Sad Trumpet by PER
  5. The One by Pieneņu Vīns
  6. I Am Who I Am by Marta Ritova
  7. Higher and Higher by Liene Candy
  8. I Need A Hero by Samanta Tīna
  9. Cold Heart by Ieva Sutugova
  10. Love by Headline
  11. Upside Down by Sabīne Berezina
  12. Here We Go by PER

My favourite excerpts were from One, Sad Trumpet (what happened to that poor trumpet?), I Need A Hero, Love and Here We Go. PER, who have a greater chance of winning than anybody else with double the amount of competing songs, also have two of the best songs on offer. But Niko’s One is the one – pardon the pun and the rhyming – that caught my attention most of all. Coincidentally performing in slot 1, he’ll hopefully make enough of an impression so that he’s not forgotten about when the time comes to vote.

Like most other NFs, Latvia’s will be decided by a 50/50 jury and public vote blend. Even if I can figure which way the jury will go, I can rarely figure out the public, so your uneducated guess is as good as mine when it comes to who’s going to win. If you happen to be educated (i.e. have been keeping up with Dziesma and know who the favourites are) feel free to predict the outcome for me.

 

Now, onto a show I do know something about…

 

Melodifestivalen – lucky (semi) number three?

I don’t think I need to reiterate how average Melfest has been so far. It’s been easy for middling songs to get to the final purely because they were less crap than the others. If something doesn’t give and one of the songs already in the final represents Sweden in May, it could be an embarrassing evening on home ground. Just because they don’t want to win again doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try at all!

At the moment, we’re halfway through the semi finals, and I was certain things would start looking up with a line-up like this:

  1. Alibi by Eddie Razaz
  2. Island by Elin Petersson
  3. En Riktig Jävla Schlager by Ravaillacz
  4. Dumb by Amanda Fondell
  5. In And Out of Love by Martin Rolinski
  6. Hon Har Inte by Caroline af Ugglas
  7. Falling by State of Drama
  8. Heartstrings by Janet Leon
Did this week's group deliver?

Did this week’s group deliver?

Thankfully, this semi is stronger – not by a mile, but by enough to give me hope that the last one will knock all of our socks off. These are my picks:

Alibi this is one of about 189473829 entries in this year’s competition written by the Euphoria team of G:son and Boström, and I think it’s the best so far. The chorus is predictable but still decent, and the verses have bite.

Dumb I love Amanda Fondell, and was so excited when she was announced as one of the Swedish 32. Granted, this is the weakest song I’ve heard from her, but I quite like the dark, almost Western vibe it gives off.

In And Out Of Love it’s sad to think that Sweden is probably past voting for songs like this…that is, songs like the ones entered by BWO with Martin as frontman. It’s schlager-y (but not in a horrifyingly dated way) and it’s catchy, so I like it. I’m easily pleased.

Falling generic pop-rock about the usual stuff, but it’s good enough for me. Did I mention I am easily pleased?

So, the time has arrived to humiliate myself by predicting the opposite of what will actually happen re: advancement to the final and to Andra Chansen. Based on my opinion of the songs as well as what people have been saying (what? Everyone needs a bit of guidance sometimes!) I’m going to say…

…Caroline and Janet to the final, and Eddie and Amanda to AC. Knowing I’m oh-so-wrong just typing it.

What do you think? Who on Earth is going where?

 

One thing I can correctly predict is that we’ll find out for sure in a few hours’ time. Until then, merry guessing and streaming, y’all. May the best songs win their heats and finals!

EBJ Signature

 

Selection Season Day 5: Germany and Austria make (hopefully) sweet music + extra bits!

Hello everyone, and Happy Valentine’s Day, blah blah blah. I’ve decided to take a break from sifting through the sack of cards and gifts I got from secret admirers in the post to talk Eurovision (what a sacrifice) and since there is quite a lot of talking to do, I’m going to get straight into it.

 

Random news of the week…

 esb

…from Bulgaria: there I was thinking that the announcement of the Bulgarian artist would be of no interest to me whatsoever because I wouldn’t have a clue who they were and would still have to wait to hear the song to form an opinion, when BAM! BNT revealed that they’d rounded up their most successful representatives ever to try and turn Bulgaria’s luck around. Elitsa Todorova and Stoyan Yankoulov (who must be looking pretty rough these days. She’s probably okay) drummed their way into 5th place back in 2007, which is far and away Bulgaria’s best result in ESC history since that was the only time they’ve appeared in the final. This exciting turn of events (for those of us who liked their entry Water, that is) is the result of that super-massive survey BNT put out last year to get “the people’s” opinion on what they should send to Eurovision to get the best result possible. All I can say is, thank you people! And may we see more epic drumming and chain-mail outfits when the guys step on stage in Malmö.

…from Finland and Norway: two blonde bombshells, two very different songs, and at least one satisfied customer came out of Saturday’s double decision. As expected, Margaret Berger blitzed Bombo to take out the 2013 Melodi Grand Prix in Oslo, whilst over in Finland, Krista Siegfrids won over the public and jury by asking them to marry her. Let’s just hope they don’t accidentally marry Margaret instead, who was also wearing a white dress. How embarrassing. I really like both of these entries, but Margs would get my vote, if I could give one. Oh wait, I can! And you can too. Find out how at the end of the post, if you make it that far.

…from San Marino: this is technically news of last week, I think, but up until now I haven’t had a chance to mention it. Yes, she of The Social Network Song will be singing for San Marino again, which no doubt sent some of you into a state of shock, unable to log in to Facebook for hours. I reckon Valentina deserves another chance though, singing a more age-appropriate and generally less bonkers song, because she actually can sing. Fingers crossed we get that from Crisalide, which sounds über promising to me. If it’s good, the only problem Miss Monetta will have to face is getting people to take her seriously only a year after she uttered both ‘cybersex’ and ‘so you wanna make love with me?’ on the ESC stage.

…from Sweden: speaking of ESC stages, SVT have released an artist’s rendition of sorts of the Malmö stage from above. It didn’t take long for the criticism to start rolling in, which I find ridiculous because you can’t exactly judge what the thing will look like IRL from a 2D illustration. Be patient, guys. When the real stage gets built and it sucks, then you can go to town trashing it.

 

Valentine’s Day? No, it’s Unser Song Für Malmö Day! 

UNSER-~1 

And thank heavens for that. There’s always at least one country picking their entry on V-Day, which I really appreciate because I get to talk about that instead of the fact that yet again, I coincidentally have no Valentine *weeping noises*. This year, it’s Germany, straying from the Unser Star format for the first time in a while. It’s Unser Song in 2013, and I am pleased to say it looks like that song will be a good one. Here’s the line up.

  1. Meerstern, Sei Gegrüßt by Die Priester feat. Mojca Erdmann
  2. Change by Finn Martin
  3. Little Sister by Mobilée
  4. Heart On The Line by Blitzkids mvt.
  5. Lalala by Betty Dittrich
  6. The Righteous Ones by Ben Ivory
  7. Craving by Saint Lu
  8. Nackert by LaBrassBanda
  9. Elevated by Nica & Joe
  10. Lieblingslied by Mia Diekow
  11. One Love by Söhne Mannheims
  12. Glorious by Cascada

There are only one or two rubbish numbers in there, so the odds for another gold-star worthy pick from Germany are high. Personally, I’m hoping for one of these:

The Righteous Ones I LOVE this. In fact, this song can be my Valentine, because it is brilliant (and would never cheat on me). It’s an 80s-inspired synth-pop-electro-rock masterpiece with knobs on, and it’s my favourite of the lot.

Glorious okay, so you can easily compare this with Euphoria (gloooooorrious/ euphooooooorrria – come on) and a million other songs, but damn, it is catchy. Cascada are pretty well known internationally, and that would give them an edge of sorts if they won USFM.

Change this is decent pop with a nice sentiment, and less of the fanfare that’s sure to come with the previous two songs.

Little Sister Lena Meyer-Landrut had no hand in this, but it sounds like she could have. Infectious indie-pop may not do as well at Eurovision when she’s nowhere to be seen, but it could be worth a try.

Craving How many cigarettes/bowls full of sandpaper does it take to get that voice? That’s not a joke, it’s a serious question. Raspy Saint Lu has a unique entry up her sleeve that’s really growing on me.

I think it’s going to be Blitzkids, Betty, Ben or Cascada coming out on top tonight. What do you think? Who could keep Germany in the top 10?

 

Österreich Rockt Den Song Contest

Do they? Do they really? Because I’m seeing Austria boring the song contest rather than rocking it, with a selection like this.  

Feels Like Home by Yela

Rise Above The Night by Falco Luneau

Back To Fantasy by The Bandaloop

Shine by Natália Kelly

Give Me A Sign by Elija

Tomorrow night, these five will battle it out to represent Austria in May, if they can stay awake long enough to perform after hearing each other. Feels Like Home is cruisy but very forgettable. Rise Above The Night is just plain forgettable. Back To Fantasy is the most exciting of them all, about a 6 on the Scale of Excitement. Shine isn’t bad, but is (yet again) forgettable and has a super awkward key change. Give Me A Sign is my favourite, and yet I still can’t remember how it goes.

Bring back Trackshittaz!

Or in the event that that’s not possible, give the victory to The Bandaloop or Elija. That is all.

 

POLL TIME: have your say!

Have you been wondering who would win Eurovision if it was held right now? Me neither, but I did do this poll last year, and I figured it was time to do it again. So…

 

Thanks for voting (assuming you did. If you didn’t, DO IT NOW!). I’ll bring you the highly predictable results this weekend, along with other stuff that is 99.4% likely to include Melodifestivalen. Until then…

 EBJ Signature