Joining the Fashion Police to take on JESC 2016: My top 10 best-dressed acts of this year’s contest!
If your guilty pleasure is the ‘What Are They Wearing?’ pages of trashy gossip magazines, and you don’t mind comprehensive critiques concerning children, then a) you might actually be me; and b) this list is for you.
In case you hadn’t noticed, I can’t help commenting on the costumes that grace the Eurovision stage, as well as the music/dance moves/everything else in the mise-en-scène – the more hideous they are, the more fun the conversation generally is. But when it comes to Junior Eurovision, strangely, there’s never as much hideousness to be found (which is probably one of the reasons there’s no official version of the Barbara Dex Award for JESC). So I’m going to celebrate that AND my love for chatting clothing today, by counting down my favourite costumes from the contest we’ve just witnessed. Anti-Junior + anti-fashion fans: avert your eyes!
#10 | Albania’s Klesta Qehaja
I don’t know if the thought of being in Malta had everyone busting a gut to dress like Gaia Cauchi (circa 2013) but there was a definite trend going down in Valletta of ballad-belting brunettes wearing voluminous white dresses. Klesta’s bow-tied confection was perhaps the cutest of them all, and emphasised her childlike innocence – something that made it all the more shocking when THAT VOICE came out of her.
#9 | Serbia’s Dunja Jeličić
I’m guessing Dunja’s glittery jacket-and-scalp combo wasn’t to everyone’s taste, but I really liked it because it was the party version of Fiamma Boccia’s outfit. And as somebody who has a sequin-covered blazer of their own hanging in her closet, I’m not about to question Serbia’s choice of shiny silver apparel. It may have been a bit too glam to coordinate with the urban graffiti graphics in the background, but looking at the costume only, the ‘YAAAAS!’ box gets a tick in it from me.
#8 | Bulgaria’s Lidia Ganeva
See what I was talking about with the white dresses? Lidia’s looked like it had been mistaken for a blank canvas at a watercolour painting workshop – and the result was actually super pretty! It was one of the more princess-like dresses worn on JESC weekend, but the pastel palette on the skirt stopped her from giving off ‘entitled teenage debutante’ vibes, instead keeping things light, bright and youthful. Basically, the relationship between the song and the costume was rock-solid.
#7 | Georgia’s Mariam Mamadashvili
The white dress strikes yet again! I kind of like the fact that Mariam didn’t end up in predictable yellow/gold/orange/red, since Mzeo means ‘sun’ – though I wouldn’t have complained if she had. My favourite thing about the dress she did wear was the feel of classic JESC Georgia it had about it, while still fitting in with the style of the song. What I mean is that what we saw had an element of quirk in the shape and appliqués, but it was as classy and elegant as what we heard.
#6 | Ukraine’s Sofia Rol
The Fairest White Dress of Them All Award – a category with a seemingly endless conveyor belt of competition – goes to Sofia, for her bridal chic take on the trend. I’m surprised she didn’t go as far as to wear a veil and carry a bouquet given Ukraine’s tendency to opt for OTT (the oversized umbrella/mime combo is testament to that) but I’m relieved at the same time. Pretty and understated, this dress was a winner even though Planet Craves For Love wasn’t.
#5 | Armenia’s Anahit & Mary
You’ve got to love a concept outfit at Eurovision (junior or senior – it’s always awesome). That is, one that does more than just look nice, by bringing a song’s lyrics to life. Yep, you better believe that Armenia’s funky costumes (before they became less funky but more sparkly) were deep and meaningful. Well, they illustrated the personality differences between the characters Anahit & Mary were playing through Tarber, anyway. Circus clown couture FTW!
#4 | Poland’s Olivia Wieczorek
‘Unplucked swan princess’ may not sound like an appealing look for…well, ANY occasion. But Olivia’s blush pink feather-fest winged its way to JESC and worked very well indeed. A ballad as powerful as Nie Zapomnij practically demands a dress worthy of a diva (even if said diva was born post-2000) and I’m pretty sure even Mariah Carey herself would be happy to wear this one (after a few alterations, if you know what I mean). The girl was living her/my fairytale fantasy.
#3 | Australia’s Alexa Curtis
I really don’t think – despite being an Australian who should unconditionally scream ‘AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE’ whenever one of our ESC/JESC entries is mentioned – that Alexa’s We Are stood out much in Valletta (though according to the scoreboard, I am clearly wrong). Her choice of clothing, however, was a standout selection. The perfect combo of glitzy and relaxed (i.e. it was a sequined playsuit), it allowed Alexa to move freely on stage but still fit in at such a glam event.
#2 | Macedonia’s Martija Stanojković
If there’s anything I possibly love more than a sequined playsuit, it’s a sequined jumpsuit – and when said jumpsuit is ROSE FREAKING GOLD, well…I’m dead. You just can’t get more gorgeous than that (although Macedonia’s costumes are my second faves from this year’s contest). Martija’s look echoed the effort her delegation put into her song and choreography, being encrusted in embellishments and matching both her boots and backup dancers. I’m in ljubov.
#1 | Russia’s Water of Life Project
Yeah…the ‘a rose gold jumpsuit is the pinnacle of perfection when it comes to the sartorial side of a song contest’ thing was a lie. For me, it would seem that exquisite, tribal-printed maxi dresses feat. intricate hair braiding and unconventional tiaras are superior. What can I say? The Water of Life Project looked incredible, in an extended + edited version of what Sofia wore in the Russian NF when she was a soloist. I’m asking Santa for a rip-off dress for Christmas (orange, please).
Okay – I think I’ve gotten all the clothing talk out of my system. But have you? Cast your vote in my poll and see how your outfit opinions compare to everybody else’s.
Now, if you paid even a tenth of the attention to the JESC 2016 costumes that I did, then let me know which ones were on fleek (The Netherlands are solely responsible for my use of that term) enough to be your favourites. Alternatively, were they all so ugly that you’ll be listening to future run-throughs of the contest rather than watching them? I know it’s children we’re talking about here, but they have to learn to take criticism! That’s so they won’t turn out like me and burst into tears when someone tells them they’ve got their shirt on backwards or that no, they can’t take that puppy home because it actually belongs to someone else. It’s a tough world out there, kids, so you gotta get used to it.
Anyway…fashion! Discuss it down below! I definitely don’t have any psychological problems!
Until next time (assuming you actually come back to this house of crazy feat. Eurovision)…
I’M NOT DEAD!!! Say yay yay yay! *insert foot shuffle here*
I figured I’d open this post in such a morbid yet somehow still optimistic manner because, as it’s been such a long time since I’ve popped up on my own blog to chat song contests (one in particular), I wanted to confirm that I haven’t been run over by an errant Ukrainian hamster wheel or anything. I’m just slack and/or disorganised. But now I’m BACK and disorganised, which is much better.
Today, it’s time to conclude the EBJEEs for 2016 (sadface/happyface). Better late than never, right? Actually, my motto (as of right this second) is, if you beat the host city announcement, then you’re not too late. And guess what? The EBU is still having a Pitch Perfect-style riff-off (I assume) to determine whether Kyiv, Dnipro or Odessa will be painted Eurovision next May. If they’ve finished up by the time you’re reading this, then I still pipped them at the post. And also, congratulations KyivDniproOdessa! I KNEW you’d be the chosen one. All along. Knewwww it.
Now, let’s unroll that red carpet and find out which performances, costumes and results of Stockholm ’16 are taking home my fancy trophies – plus those you guys handed out by voting in the People’s Choice polls way back when.
Winner Ukraine Honourable Mention/s Australia
There was only one true, that-totally-makes-sense choice I could settle on when selecting this trophy winner: the winner of the whole contest. Tingles down the spine were just one of many effects Jamala’s triumphant performance had on me personally, and countless others I’ve interacted with. Also afflicting those of us who aren’t cold, unfeeling, soulless robots (JK…but how can you watch her in action and feel nothing?): body-spanning goosebumps, hairs from scalp to shins standing on end (what? It was too cold in Stockholm for me to shave my legs) and extremely leaky eyeballs. Nobody can pour pain into a performance like Jamala, and as such, 1944 – on or off the Eurovision stage – reduces me to a sniveling mass of admiration every time.
Winner Ukraine Honourable Mention/s Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia
We tend to see different types of drama at Eurovision: for example, the overblown kind created by an artist with overly-expressive eyebrows and the tendency to wave their arms all over the place until at least one backing singer has a black eye; and the kind helped along by dry ice, interpretive dance and violent lighting schemes. Then there’s Academy Award-winning drama, in which a performer feels every word they utter with every fibre of their being, and conveys that both down the camera and to the crowd. Enter Jamala (again). Everything about her performance, vocally and visually, was dramatic without being overly so, and it all culminated in a (crystal clear, totally in tune) screech that, if the ESC were the Oscars, would have secured her a golden statuette for sure.
Winner Russia Honourable Mention/s Australia
Sweden’s win last year ensured that the 2016 contestants would be keen to outdo and/or build on the projection screen concept that Måns’ team so cleverly devised. After all, one winner usually leads to a flood of copycats. A handful of countries pushed the boundaries of technological staging in Stockholm, and at the forefront was undoubtedly Russia. Sure, their stage show was OTT and didn’t really help tell the “story” of You Are The Only One…but I don’t think it was meant to. It was designed to impress the shiz out of us, and it certainly did that. The moment that made it the most innovative – the most unlike anything we’d seen before at Eurovision – was Sergey scaling the screen and then rotating on it, prompting musings of whether he or the prop were the main attraction. It also prompted us to ask ‘He’s still alive, right?’ after that infamous rehearsal fall, but the less said about that, the better. JUST KIDDING – I love talking about it.
Winner Bosnia & Herzegovina Honourable Mention/s Hungary, The Netherlands
As we all know, instruments are used as props more than music-makers at Eurovision nowadays. That doesn’t stop them from being used to great advantage. In the case of Bosnia & Herzegovina 2016, the cello has never been sexier. Ana Rucner let loose with her futuristic one (once she’d shed her rather UN-sexy cellophane cape, that is), and it was epic. And what is a Balkan ballad without at least one instrument bringing it to life? I guess we should ask Montenegro, who figured an ice dancer would be a good substitute back in Copenhagen.
Winner Russia’s projection screen Honourable Mention/s Armenia’s multiple Ivetas
The first People’s Choice Award on this occasion is very well deserved, I’ll admit. Like you guys did, I’ll also give kudos to Russia for putting maximum effort into their entry this year, despite it not paying off to the extent they’d have liked. After all, that screenus maximus was nothing if not an attention-grabber, and it was used very calculatedly to try and outdo the Heroes staging that started it all (that’s not an assumption. I sat and heard Philipp Kirkirov say so during the first Russian press conference). There are a number of ways You Are The Only One could have been performed to amplify it as an entry, but this method gave it a serious ‘wow’ factor.
Winner Bulgaria Honourable Mention/s Azerbaijan, Belgium
Any country that makes the chicken dance cool again (slash cool for the first time in history) should receive a high five at least. Bulgaria assigned the chorus of If Love Was A Crime its own set of moves that quickly became irresistible in terms of attempting to copy them (or was that just me?). Sassy, fun and a little bit off-the-wall – just like Poli herself – they helped make Bulgaria’s appearance in this year’s contest extra memorable.
Winner Ukraine Honourable Mention/s Austria, France, Latvia
In a time when you can back your act with pretty much anything (a naked hologram of yourself frolicking with wolves, for instance), it’s hard to haul yourself to the top of the heap. Ukraine’s collection of colours, textures and trees (well, just the one tree), however, did just that. It complemented the story and dynamics of 1944 so perfectly, I can’t personally look past it. That tree “exploding” out of Jamala at the song’s climax is one heck of an iconic image.
Winner Russia Honourable Mention/s Azerbaijan
The likes of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Azerbaijan are famous for throwing everything and the kitchen sink – sometime, several kitchen sinks – at their Eurovision performances. To prove that point, note that only one of them didn’t in 2016 (and note how it worked in their favour). Russia takes this trophy home, though, for putting on a show so in-your-face, it practically screamed ‘VOTE FOR US! WE WANT TO WIN! WE DON’T NEED AN OLYMPIC FIGURE SKATER THIS TIME!’. Factor in the lack of correlation between the lyrics of YATOO and what we saw Sergey getting up to on stage, and you’ve got OTT for the sake of OTT. That’s, like, the highest level of OTT.
Winner Bulgaria, Ukraine Honourable Mention/s Armenia, Russia
To win Eurovision, you need a cohesive package in which all aspects are on point. If having that up your sleeve doesn’t ensure a podium placing, it should at least drag you away from the depths of the dreaded bottom five. That’s what happened to Ukraine and Bulgaria this year – a win for the first time in over a decade and a best-ever result. Excellent vocals? Check. Brilliant songs? Yep. Perfect costumes? You know it. Setting the scene by pimping the stage? Of course. Both countries had it all going on.
Winner Poland’s baffling televote boost Honourable Mention/s Justin Timberlake is announced as an interval act
As someone who was standing in the thick of it i Globen, I can confirm that thousands of jaws required picking up off the floor in the wake of Poland’s leap from last place to the top ten. Of all the stuff we didn’t see coming re: the 2016 contest, this was the most unpredictable – despite Poland’s apparently domineering diaspora (which didn’t help them during the Polish slump period of 2004-2011). But, whether you love, hate or ‘meh’ Color of Your Life, you have to admit that this particular leaderboard leapfrog made for a priceless Eurovision moment (and GIF).
Winner Belgium Honourable Mention/s Bulgaria
Is Laura Tesoro a cyborg programmed to be constantly cheery and have unflagging energy? I think so. Has she ever been to a party and not been the life of it? As if! Can I have a smidgen of her sparkling personality if there’s any to spare? I’ll leave it to her to answer that question.
Winner Australia Honourable Mention/s Azerbaijan, Malta
Call me biased if you want to, but I feel like I’m just stating the obvious when I say that the Steven Khalil-designed, diamonte-encrusted creation Dami Im donned for her performances was STUNNING. The arm bling and sparkly stilettos slathered frosting on a look that said ‘This is what Glinda the Good Witch would wear to her wedding.’ It is also what I would like to wear to my wedding. Or to the supermarket. Whichever aisle I happen to walk down first, basically.
Winner Germany Honourable Mention/s Finland
It’s not often that a costume single-handedly destroys a country’s chances of contest success. The last time that happened was also in Sweden, when Moje 3’s circus clown couture clashed with Ljubav Je Svuda’s good-and-evil concept, untying what could have been a neatly-wrapped package and making a mess instead. Fast forward three years, and Jamie-Lee allowed the same thing to happen to her, refusing to sacrifice – or even tone down/adapt – her love of manga style for the sake of Ghost. A song that good deserved visuals that would have told its story – not detracted from it completely, leading to a discordance that couldn’t be ignored.
Winner Slovenia Honourable Mention/s Armenia
Most of this year’s artists kept their goodies in the jar, if you know what I mean (and I’m guessing you do). Slovenia’s ManuElla wasn’t one of them. Rather than opting for the military-themed, backing singer-assisted costume reveal from ye olden national final days, she decided to take care of everything concerning revealing all on her own. The result was…well, boobage that the brain behind Trijntje Oosterhuis’ slashed-to-the-waist number might consider risqué. I’m not here to shame a fellow female, but wouldn’t an outfit that was less of an anatomy lesson and more ‘blue and red’ have made more sense?
Winner Bulgaria Honourable Mention/s Poland, Spain
An undercut that kicks butt was all it took for our favourite Bulgarian to take out this award. Good golly, Miss Poli – you OWN that half-and-half hairstyle like nobody else. I can’t wait to see what you do when you get bored of it. Maybe we’ll find out when Eurovision 2021 rolls around?
Winner Måns Zelmerlöw Honourable Mention/s Petra Mede
It was the Very Intelligent People (as Petra likes to label her fans) versus the Månsters for this People’s Choice category, and – somewhat shockingly – the latter were the force to be reckoned with. I guess the fact that MZW did double duty as Eurovision’s reigning champ/chief repriser and an all-singing, all-dancing, all-charming co-host gave him a slight edge over Queen Petra.
Winner ‘Love Love, Peace Peace’ Honourable Mention/s The fashion show of flags
I DID NOT FORESEE THIS. I thought ‘Love Love, Peace Peace’ had passed us all by without making any impact whatsoever. It’s not like it was a masterpiece of musical theatre that poked the right amount of fun at the ESC while warning future competitors to steer clear of clichés. I mean, nobody even requested that it be released as a single!
Hashtag sarcasm. Hashtag ‘Love Love, Peace Peace’ is amazeballs and we all know it.
Winner Iceland Honourable Mention/s Estonia
Estonia’s failure to qualify may have upset me the most (I have permanent tear tracks on my face from the flood that ensued when Jüri was left behind in semi 1…sob!) but Iceland missing out shocked me to my very core. I was never the biggest fan of Hear Them Calling, but I was 110% convinced it would sail through to the final in spite of Sergey Lazarev’s performance overshadowing Greta’s. I still can’t believe Iceland was beaten by San Marino. Come to think of it, I can’t believe ANYONE was beaten by San Marino.
Winner Georgia Honourable Mention/s Czech Republic
Midnight Gold was gold as far as I’m concerned, and I’m not a massive psychedelic rock fan by any means. I wanted it to qualify more than Danny Saucedo wanted to win Melodifestivalen 2012, but I didn’t think it actually would. As it turns out, I was wrong, and that’s fine by me. Go Georgia!
Winner Russia Honourable Mention/s Australia
Even if Russia hadn’t been the pre-contest favourite (and during-contest favourite), the thought of them failing to qualify this year would have been a ridiculous one. The thought of Russia not qualifying any year is ridiculous, really – but Sergey was a standout on stage, as we always knew he would be.
Winner San Marino Honourable Mention/s Montenegro
I’m still in shock that Serhat came what can only be described as ‘far too close’ to progressing from Tuesday to Saturday night. But, at the end of the day, he still didn’t make it, and that’s what the Eurovision gods had long since ordained (the 12th place was their version of a belated April Fools’ joke, I assume).
Winner Belgium Honourable Mention/s Israel
You guys chose the transformation of Laura Tesoro as the worthy winner of this trophy. Belgium certainly upped the ante and glitteriness of her performance between NF and IF (international final, obviously), transforming it from something that looked at home on an intimate stage to something that filled a massive one – and filled Globen with masses of energy and positive vibes.
Winner Ukraine Honourable Mention/s Australia, Denmark
Sorry/not sorry, haters…but I’m so dedicated to Team Jamala, I hold conversations exclusively in 1944 lyrics (I can’t wait to go trick-or-treat doorknocking at Halloween and greet homeowners with the likes of ‘When strangers are coming, they come to your house, they kill you all’. How suitably scary!). As such – and because Her Holiness had so much of herself, and so much of her family’s heartbreaking true story invested in her Eurovision entry – I am adamant that Ukraine won fairly, squarely and deservedly. They earned the absolute shiz out of that triumph.
Winner Estonia Honourable Mention/s Italy
In a semi final that had the words ‘San Marino’ printed in the program, the country that would finish in last place should have been easy to predict. Even when Serhat put on something of an endearing performance *she admits reluctantly*, it seemed like Finland’s Sandhja was going to step into seventeenth instead. What I did not expect was for poor, poor Estonia to fall as flat as possible and end up rock bottom. NOT COOL, EUROPE…and not at all deserved.
Winner Denmark Honourable Mention/s Denmark
Everyone else on the planet knew what those who voted for Lighthouse X during DMGP didn’t: that the trio didn’t have a hope in heck of qualifying from a Eurovision semi. They were charming enough to avoid finishing last on the Thursday night – and they didn’t use constipation as inspiration for their choreography, á la Rykka – but they lacked the fire (not even Azerbaijan-level pyro would have saved them) and the x-factor to proceed any further. No crystal ball was needed to foretell that outcome.
Winner Poland Honourable Mention/s San Marino
The bulk of ‘It Should Have Been Margaret!’ t-shirt wearers were stopped in their tracks when Michał was catapulted from the lowest of scoreboard lows to the upper echelons of the top 10, all thanks to the televoting. That moment was many things – shocking and impressive among them – but easily explainable? Nope. I find it hard to believe that Polish diaspora is that influential, and even though I really liked Color of Your Life, I’m also confused by the possibility of such an outpouring of voter-at-home love…especially when the juries completely dismissed Poland. COLL was not a song that made you go ‘Yep, the televoters will LOVE that, but the juries’ll hate it.’ If anything, I’d have had it the other way round. To sum up, *insert giant question mark here*.
And that, my fellow Eurovision freaks, is that! My collapsible table of trophies is empty, and it’s time to roll up that red carpet for another year. I hope you enjoyed the 2016 edition of the EBJEEs in some respect, because I definitely enjoyed bringing it to you (even if it took a little longer than I’d initially planned).
Stay tuned to le blog over the coming weeks if you’re interested in the OGAE Second Chance Contest, the Olympics, random album reviews and lookalikes – I’ve got content concerning all of the above in the pipeline for August (and it IS all ESC-related, I swear).
While you’re waiting for that, why not tell me what you thought of today’s award winners? Did your People’s Choice votes go to waste, or did you get your way? Which performances, costumes and results of Eurovision 2016 do you think deserve some extra credit? Let me know below. I live for your feedback!
Well, I don’t live for it…but I like it.
Until next time,
VOTE FOR THE WINNERS | Have your say in the People’s Choice categories of the 2015 EBJ Awards for Eurovision Excellence!
UPDATE: The People’s Choice polls have now closed. Thanks to everyone who voted – there was a pretty impressive turnout by EBJ standards! Drop by in the coming days for Parts 1 and 2 of the Eurovision Excellence Awards, when the results (and winners of a heap of other “trophies”) will be revealed. Subscribe to EBJ if you want your email to let you know exactly when those posts go live!
When Eurovision 2015 came to a close, it left us with one winner and thirty-nine losers spread across Europe (with one down here in Australia). I’m sorry to put it so harshly, but when you’re not winning, you’re technically losing, no matter what Malta’s Amber thinks. Marcel Bezençon Awards aside, only Måns Zelmerlöw departed Vienna with a trophy in his suitcase (though I like to think he insisted on wrapping it in a blanket, cradling it like a baby and singing it lullabies all the way back to Sweden. I know I would have).
I think that’s über unfair. That’s why, for the sixth year running, I’m holding my own ceremony of awards to honour the achievements of the countries, artists and songs that were not champions of the contest itself. I can’t promise Sweden won’t win any of these trophies too, however. Why should they be punished for bringing their A-game?
Anyway, these awards are better known as The EBJ Awards for Eurovision Excellence, and span five fabulous categories: The Artists, The Songs, The Performances, The Costumes and The Results (you can check out the 2014 awards here and here). In each category, there’s at least one gong that goes to the most popular nominee as voted by you (yes, you…have you had a haircut? It looks great. Really flatters your jawline). And today, voting is the task I’d love you to undertake. If my totally personalised and genuine complimenting of your appearance didn’t make you want to do what I tell you to, then you should know that anyone who votes in the polls below will receive a jar of my eternal gratitude in the mail in around 6-8 weeks.
So, if you’re up for it (which I’m sure you are now) it’s time to make some very important decisions – including that of who had the most superbly-styled hair in the Stadthalle (choosing the nominees for that made me miss Guy Sebastian’s old ‘fro like crazy). If you feel like I’ve missed out on nominating a particular country/artist/song for any award, feel free to nominate them yourself in the comments, and I’ll be sure to count that as a vote, because I’m nice like that. Not humble, but nice.
Now go forth and vote, vote, vote for the winners!
And tell your friends to do the same.
The most personable and approachable male artist on the ground in Vienna (who you’d take home to meet your parents in a heartbeat).
The female artist from the Class of ’15 you’d want to be best friends with (and she can meet your parents too).
Fanwank (Pardon My French) of the Year
The song that had hardcore fans frothing at the mouth months before Eurovision even took place.
Best Preview Video
The music video that was visually spectacular, took an entry to another level, and/or gave you serious feels (watch or re-watch all of the nominees here).
Best Stage Prop/Gimmick
The attention-grabbing onstage accompaniment that made the song it was supporting much more memorable.
The All-Rounder of the Year
The country with an act who sang perfectly, whose style was on point, and who had a song that was brilliantly staged and choreographed (i.e. the entry with the total live package).
Hairdo of the Year
The artist with the moussed, flat-ironed and/or teased ‘do that you’re planning to recreate because it was the bomb dot com.
The ‘How Did That Happen?’ Award for Most Shocking Result
The…um, does this one really require an explanation?
Those are your eight People’s Choice Awards for 2015. Thank you so much for voting, if you did. If not, then what are you waiting for?
The polls will be open for about a week, and then the EBJEEs will commence. There are plenty more trophies up for grabs that I’ll be deciding the winners of myself, because I like to be in charge
all the time every now and then. But for now, the fate of the nominees is in your hands.
Lordi help them.
NEXT TIME The awesomeness level of performances in Vienna may have been off the charts, but I’ve managed to narrow a long list of highlights down to ten: my top ten performances of the year, that is. Drop by in a few days’ time and check out the countdown, from #10 to #1.
O, JESC, why art thou so hard to predict? Every November I find myself tearing my hair out with indecision over who’s going to end up where on the scoreboard, and I’m finding it more and more difficult to disguise the resulting bald patches.
This prediction dilemma isn’t something that tends to happen with adult Eurovision, despite the fact that there are a bajillion more entries to contend with. Anyone with an explanation for this phenomenon, please call me ASAP on 1800-NO-CLUE. Then sit back, relax and read through the following extra-quick (I’m a little time-poor at the moment) and extra-questionable predictions for Malta 2014 – due to begin in a matter of hours! Hashtag unbelievablebecauseKyivseemslikeyesterday.
Let’s start with a few guesses as to which countries will have the…
…best staging – Armenia, Belarus, Ukraine (Armenia and Ukraine are never to be underestimated when it comes to putting on a show, and with all the fantasy/falcon imagery Belarus has to work with, they wouldn’t want to disappoint.)
…best vocals – Georgia, Italy, Malta, Russia, Serbia (This is THE year for epic vocalists – not to say there aren’t any weak links. I expect the best of the best to come from Georgia as usual; Italy, Malta and Russia, all of whom have big ballads that will bomb without top-notch vocals to set them off; and Serbia, because Emilija’s been down the talent show route relying on her voice alone, and I don’t reckon she’s got the ability to sing bum notes.)
…best costumes – Armenia, Belarus, Sweden (Armenia’s are guaranteed to be bright and fun, and I’ve seen snapshots of the Belarusian feather-fest and Sweden’s glitter extravaganza, and I liked what I saw.)
…total package – Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria (So long as Bulgaria’s Krisia is no longer suffering from the world’s most inconvenient throat infection, I expect everything you can hear and see with these three entries to be on point.)
Now, who’s going to be…
…a positive surprise – Ukraine (I know not everyone’s anti-Sympho-Nick, but plenty of people aren’t getting it. Just wait and see, though, haters…I think these girls might impress you and do a lot better than you’re giving them credit for. Remember the three magic words: NEVER UNDERESTIMATE UKRAINE!)
…a negative surprise – Georgia (In terms of a normally well-performing country failing for the first time, I think Georgia could be The One. I just don’t see Happy Day having enough to offer to get it raking in the points.)
…the winner – Armenia, Cyprus, Malta, Ukraine (This is the part I was dreading most. Apart from the insistence of press on the ground in Malta who believe JESC’s the host country’s for the taking, I’ve got nothing. This competition is still wide open, folks! Nevertheless, I’ll have a stab and say: Armenia, who have an irresistible ethno-pop entry that gives me those triumphant vibes; Cyprus, who need a lot to go right for Sophia to win but who aren’t out of contention by any means; Malta, based on those insistent claims from the peeps who’ve seen rehearsals; and Ukraine, as somewhat of a dark horse prediction…albeit a dark horse dressed in a blinged-up blue nightgown.)
…the loser – Croatia, Montenegro, San Marino (It’s GOT to be one of these three, right? None of them are my personal losers, but I can see any of them, particularly Croatia and San Marino, just doing nothing.)
Finally, here’s my guess at what the scoreboard will look like at the end of the evening:
15. San Marino
Anyone who’s made a full scoreboard prediction and gets it at least 50% right, deserves a medal in my opinion. Psychics not included.
Well, that’s all I have time for. I’m sorry if this post seems rushed, but that’s because it was rushed. I’ve got a super busy weekend ahead of me – so much so, I won’t be watching JESC live tonight *insert sadface here*. Instead, I’ll be watching on actual television tomorrow night when we in Australia get the (slightly, by past standards) delayed broadcast, complete with our own commentators. That’s after I’ve been gallivanting around all day, which in turn is after I’ve spent tonight dancing up a storm at my very first Euroclub (more on that to come next week, fingers crossed). So, as I head off to cover myself in PVA glue and dive into a swimming pool full of glitter in preparation, I wish you fun times watching Junior Eurovision 2014. May the show be epic, may the voting be nail-biting, and may the best song win!
Hey there, ladies and gents. You are reading the second-last of my bloggy birthday posts on this *insert description of the weather here* Thursday, and this is a post unlike any one I’ve done before. DUH DUH DUUUUUUUUUH!!!!
So, the deal: Eurovision may be a song contest in some respects, but just turning up and belting out your entry without any regard for how you’re lit, who or what is with you, and what you’re wearing (segue into today’s topic alert) is rarely going to be enough to guarantee success. Costumes in particular can have a dramatic effect on the overall appeal of an entry: they can suit a song perfectly or look totally out of place; they can be commendably crazy or just plain distracting; and they can be young and fun or inappropriate and frumpy. I think it’s safe to say we’ve seen all of the above at some point in our lives as ESC freaks (I mean that in the nicest way possible), and so much more.
On that note, I thought I’d take a look back at the contest fashions from the years EBJ has been in action – and not just at the highs and lows, but also the trends that have had artist after artist opting for the same look with varying degrees of success. Cast your critical eye over my selections and let me know below who’s floated your fashion boat over the last five years, and who’s made you wish it had capsized!
Let’s start with the trends…
Everything was all white for the likes of Kuunkuiskajaat (Finland 2010), Sieneke (Netherlands 2010), Magdalena Tul (Poland 2011), Pastora Soler (Spain 2012), Birgit (Estonia 2013) and Tanja (Estonia 2014). For some, it was about elegance and simplicity, while others took the bed-linen look to the next level via rhinestones and more lace than a sixteen-year-old should ever be seen in.
When in doubt, however, going back to black works a treat – and it doesn’t have to be basic! Just check out the statements made by Paula Seling & Ovi (Romania 2010), Christos Mylordos (Cyprus 2011), MayaSar (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2012), Kaliopi (FYR Macedonia 2012), Cezar (Romania 2013) and Mei Finegold (Israel 2014). These guys worked leather, sharp tailoring and plunging necklines into their dark ensembles to make an impression.
Somebody else well aware of the power of black is Lena (Germany 2010 and 2011), who wore an LBD for her winning performance of Satellite and a belted jumpsuit the following year when she represented her country on home ground. The pared-back styling was obviously a good omen for her.
Eurovision is one colourful contest, so when they’re not donning black or white, many artists take on the idea that brighter is better. In the last five years, we’ve seen a veritable rainbow of fabulous (and not so much) frocks from Lucia Pérez (Spain 2011), Suzy (Portugal 2014), Elena Ionescu (Romania 2012), Raquel de Rosario (Spain 2013), Pernilla (Finland 2012), Dana International (Israel 2011), Kati Wolf (Hungary 2011) and Niamh Kavanagh (Ireland 2010) to name just a few.
Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on who we’re talking about) being naked on the Eurovision stage is a no-no. But that didn’t stop Anna Bergendahl (Sweden 2010), Aurela Gaçe (Albania 2011), Emmelie De Forest (Denmark 2013), Zlata Ognevich (Ukraine 2013), Ruth Lorenzo (Spain 2014) and The Tolmachevy Sisters (Russia 2014) from going nude for their respective three minutes – if only in their choices of costume colour scheme.
One of the biggest trends of recent ESC history has been the mullet dress. Party at the front and black tie soiree at the back, unevenly hemmed getups have been rocked by Feminnem (Croatia 2010), Safura (Azerbaijan 2010), Eva Rivas (Armenia 2010), Chanee (Denmark 2010), TWiiNS (Slovakia 2011), Nikki (Azerbaijan 2011), Mika Newton (Ukraine 2011) and Natalie Horler (Germany 2013). Keep ‘em coming, I say. I love the look of what I call ‘the lady-cape’.
When your song calls for a decision one way or the other, and you’re after an air of elegance, it’s time for full lengths all round. We’ve seen more evening gowns at the contest in the last five years than the Miss Universe pageant has (well, maybe…that’s some fierce competition) worn by, for instance, Sofia Nizharadze (Georgia 2010), Filipa Azevedo (Portugal 2010), Evelina Sašenko (Lithuania 2010), Despina Olympiou (Cyprus 2013), Tinkara Kovač (Slovenia 2014) and Dilara Kazimova (Azerbaijan 2014). From sexy and slinky to prom-style poofiness, we’ve witnessed it all.
The boys tend to put a little less effort into their onstage wear, generally speaking. Street clothes have remained from rehearsal to the real thing for Jon Lilygreen and the Islanders (Cyprus 2010), Roman Lob (Germany 2012), Max Jason Mai (Slovakia 2012), Dorians (Armenia 2013), ByeAlex (Hungary 2013) and Firelight (Malta 2014). Whatever makes you feel comfortable, guys…or in Max’s case, whatever slowly falls down as you’re performing so that you end up a millimetre away from giving Eurovision an X-rating.
But wait – the men-folk can bring it in the formal stakes too. Sometimes a suit is the best option, whether sharp and suave complete with tie, or more casual without. Just ask Didrik Solli-Tangen (Norway 2010), Harel Skaat (Israel 2010), Engelbert Humperdinck (UK 2012), Kurt Calleja (Malta 2012), Eythor Ingi (Iceland 2013), Marco Mengoni (Italy 2013), Axel Hirsoux (Belgium 2014) or Basim (Denmark 2014). NOTE: Basim also answers to the name ‘Harry Highpants’.
A big trend over the years has understandably been anything shiny or metallic. If you can’t go OTT at the ESC, something is very wrong. For 3+2 (Belarus 2010), Stella Mwangi (2011), Maja Keuc (Slovenia 2011), Anggun (France 2012), Nina Zilli (Italy 2012), Jedward (Ireland 2012), Conchita Wurst (Austria 2014) and Molly (UK 2014) all that glittered was gold, silver and bronze. I can’t confirm that no sheet metal or tinfoil was harmed in the making of these costumes.
For those less keen on blinding the audience with reflective materials, and more interested in emphasising ethnicity, there’s been the option of something traditional. Whether it’s been a hybrid of old and new á la Ansambel Žlindra (Slovenia 2010) and Cleo and the Slavic girls (Poland 2014), or a totally trad look from the likes of Buranovskiye Babushki (Russia 2012) and Klapa s Mora (Croatia 2013), it’s always been nice to see on stage.
Last but not least, there’s always a place for costumes that look less like clothing and more like creative craft projects for which the only guideline was ‘you’re only limited by your imagination!’. Since 2010, we’ve had: Alyosha (Ukraine 2010) in the contents of her grandma’s knitting box; Olia Tira (Moldova 2010) and Vilija (Lithuania 2014) taking tutus out of the ballet studio; Sofi Marinova (Bulgaria 2012) and Rona Nishliu (Albania 2012) getting architectural with pleather (and a dreadlock); Eldrine (Georgia 2011) practicing their quilling skills on a bin liner; Eva Boto (Slovenia 2012) cultivating a cottage garden on her gown; Gaitana (Ukraine 2012) sponsoring Shamwow by wearing one; and Moje 3 (Serbia 2013) in the inexplicable. Some of these experiments paid off and some didn’t, but I applaud all of the creativity.
And now…my five most stylish moments in EBJ history (and remember, this is veeeery subjective):
Maja Keuc (Slovenia 2011) – Who would have anticipated that modeling yourself after an intergalactic stripper would prove to be so hot, hot, hot? In her metal-plated, fringed bodycon with thigh-high platform boots and matching fingerless gloves (naturally), Maja looked UH-MAY-ZING. With emphasis on the ZING.
Margaret Berger (Norway 2013) – It is still TBC whether M. Berg was dressing up as a contemporary Nordic version of Princess Leia, but it’s obvious to everyone that she nailed the ice princess look. Both she and Birgit opted for long white dresses with added bling last year, but the then mum-to-be got out-fashioned in this instance.
Getter Jaani (Estonia 2011) – Cute, colourful and coordinated with the backing peeps? Check, check and check. Getter’s dress was bright and bold but not distracting, with just enough quirk and fun to perfectly suit it to Rockefeller Street. Plus, she could sit down and/or eat in it without splitting the material, unlike (I should imagine) Maja or Margaret.
Anggun (France 2012) – I have frequent fantasies in which I get to parade around in a gold leotard with miles of chiffon fanning out from the back in a glamorous manner. Of course, without Anggun’s stunning figure and ability to stay upright in stilettos, I’d be less likely to parade than fall flat on my face and swear my head off. But luckily for her, Anggun had the poise required to pull off this striking look.
Alyona Lanskaya (Belarus 2013) – Her song left a lot to be desired in terms of originality and English pronunciation, but Alyona looked like the tinsel-covered fairy off the top of a Christmas tree in her blue and silver fringed number (a good thing IMO). Fierce and festive. I award extra points for the backing singers’ ombre outfits, also with fringe. See, it’s not just for cowboys!
Going now from wonderful to ‘WTF?!?’, here are my five worst style moments of the EBJ era:
Daria Kinzer (Croatia 2011) – Tall, blonde and beautiful Daria had not one, not two, but three dresses on during her performance…and somehow, they were all hideous. I’d say they got worse as they went along, but the pink monstrosity in the middle that looked like a child’s party dress gone wrong was the most fug by far.
Dana International (Israel 2011) – Back in 1998, she was a woman who rocked feathers like no other and looked fabulous doing it. Then Dana goes and wears a shredded outdoor chair cover for what was supposed to be a triumphant return to the contest! Whaaa?!? I think John Paul Gaultier lost his touch after the 90s. Just look at what he dressed Petra Mede in for her hosting duties in Malmö…
Blue (UK 2011) – They’re called Blue, and they wore blue. We get it, it’s hilarious, blah blah blah. But when four attractive men ruin a great song with aesthetics alone (lighting and giant heads included) it’s hard to see the funny side. Shiny suits are a risk that didn’t pay off on this occasion. Not even making Simon go sleeveless in the hope we’d all be too focused on his biceps to notice anything else helped.
Moje 3 (Serbia 2013) – It’s too complicated to explain why here, but I lay 95% of the blame for Serbia’s failure to qualify last year on these outfits. These were like ice-cream sundaes with all 31 of Baskin Robbins’ flavours and available toppings included – i.e. way overdone. They also made the angel/devil dynamic virtually impossible to detect.
Aisha (Latvia 2010) – It’s been four years and I’m still trying to figure out why Aisha wore her dressing gown on stage. You’d think someone would have told her backstage that she’d forgotten to put on her actual costume. How embarrassing!
And finally, what would Eurovision be without the odd costume reveal? These are my five favourites, 2010-2014:
3 + 2 (Belarus 2010) – I for one never saw those butterfly wings coming. Well, not at the semi-final stage. Still, if ever there was a moment in a song that screamed ‘INSERT COSTUME REVEAL HERE!’ it was that key change, and Belarus did not let that pass by.
Aliona Moon (Moldova 2013) – I’m not referring to how Moldova made Azerbaijan’s dress-projection abilities of Baku look amateur, although that was spectacular. The costume reveal in this case was that Aliona could have worn stilts and still had enough material in her skirt to cover them, as seen when she was raised up high enough to look down on Ukraine’s towering Igor.
InCulto (Lithuania 2010) – Because sequinned hotpants.
Daria Kinzer (Croatia 2011) – Yeah, the dresses were rank, but the way she got in and out of them was impressive. If I could get changed that fast, I’d actually be on time for a change, so long as I didn’t choke to death on the confetti or cloud of smoke.
Alex Sparrow (Russia 2011) – All those in favour of light-up leather jackets, say ‘OMG YAAAASSSS!’. I’m going to assume you all said it, ‘cause who wouldn’t want to own something that not only keeps you warm, but also lets people know what letter your name begins with? You’ll also come in handy in a power outage if you get one. What are you waiting for?
So that pretty much sums up who wore what, and when. It also serves as proof that I disagree with the majority of Barbara Dex Award winners of recent history (don’t even get me STARTED on 1997-2009). If you have a disagreement re: the Eurofashion I’ve mentioned, now’s your chance to get it off your chest. Whether you thought something was good, bad, ugly, or situated in a very confusing place in-between, I want your opinion. What’s your favourite costume trend? Who got their look right and who failed to flatter their figure? Spill, guys!
NEXT TIME: With Junior Eurovision on the horizon, it’s only fitting that my final fifth birthday post should reveal my top 10 JESC entries since this blog got going. That’s a warning for all of you who are anti-JESC to steer clear for a while…
Eurovision 2014. My awards. Very delayed second half. No further introduction necessary.
DISCLAIMER: The Conchita persona may be a feminine one, but the majestic voice that comes out of her is, biologically, Tom Neuwirth’s. Therefore I’m classifying Conchita’s vocal performance as a man’s. In this category, she sure showed the boys who’s boss. Soft and vulnerable when it needed to be and all-powerful at every other moment, Tom’s voice never wavered – not even during the notoriously second-rate winner’s reprise (which is excusable). I’d have to give the Money Note of the Year Award (if I’d thought of including one) to that final ‘flaaa-aaaaaaa-aaaaaaa-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaame!!!’ for sure.
Like you thought I was going to pick someone else. I now realise that a lot of what I said above also applies to Sanna. The woman’s got both the soft vulnerability and the lung-busting power down pat. Her vocal was clear as crystal every time I had the pleasure of hearing it (which was many, many times, all of them voluntary) not to mention effortlessly executed. Undo was engineered to show off her voice, and I commend it for a job well done.
Also known as ‘The Goose-Bump Arouser Award’ (for a sexier option) this goes to the performance that had a certain something special; something that connected with me emotionally and gave me the chills. Despite the little sob I had over Sweden in the first semi, I’m giving this to Norway, because Carl had me covered in goosebumps. Plus, I’m fairly sure my spine actually tingled at one point, and unless I had a spider down the back of my jumper (OH DEAR GOD) there’s only one explanation.
To win this award, artists can have made Oscar-worthy facial expressions on stage (hence the title) or been backed by emotional interpretive dance, or…I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture. In the battle of diva drama fought between Conchita and Ruth Lorenzo, it’s Conchita who has the edge, because she managed to ooze drama despite standing in the same spot for her entire performance. There were minimal arm flourishes and hair flicks, and yet, her three minutes were more dramatic than an entire season of Days of Our Lives (though with the acting level on that show, that doesn’t say much). You go, girlfriend. Just not to drama school, ‘cause you’re already qualified.
Like Conchita without her beard (sorry for mentioning her so much, but it’s gonna carry on all year) who is Tinkara without her flute? Having never seen her minus the flute (apart from in her postcard) I’m starting to wonder if she’s had it surgically attached. It added a nice (albeit mimed) touch to the performance, and the way she wielded it made her look even more like some kind of magical lady-warlock, which worked for me.
You know it’s been a good year for props/gimmicks when you’re torn between a trampoline and a giant hamster wheel. In this case, I’m going for the hamster wheel. Ukraine proved once again that they are the masters of on-stage equipment by taking a pared-down version of Svetlana Loboda’s Hell Machine and pimping it out with a fine specimen of male flesh (i.e. a hot dude) to illustrate – I can only assume – the passing of time. As Greece would have, Ukraine get bonus points for having their singer interact with the prop rather than just sing in front of it.
Normally, I like my wind machines turned up to maximum. I’m talking 130km/h gusts that blow even the most gelled-down hair in history into a frenzy. But this year, I found myself appreciating the subtlety of Armenia’s wind machine use. With Aram Mp3 not in possession of a flowing mane, all the breeze did was give his jacket some lift, but that had a big effect – adding more impact to the dubstep portion of Not Alone. If he’d been blown off the stage by 130km/hr gusts, it wouldn’t have been the same. Although it would have been amusing…
Dance made up the bulk of the Estonian ingredients this year, after all. It may not have
ultimately worked in their favour, but Tanja and her man-friend had moves that deserve applause *insert a smattering here*. Apparently Tanja can sing in any position, and that knowledge was used to advantage as she ran, jumped, lunged, and got thrown around all over the place, all the while contributing more to the total vocal than Jedward did in 2011 and 2012 combined. I’m 90% admiration, 10% envy. Okay…60/40.
Say what you like re: the beard winning the contest, but you can’t deny that Austria’s entry was just as well-groomed in every other respect. As has been the norm for a while now, there was a lot of background screening to work with on the Eurovision stage, and in terms of using that to complement the rest of the elements (song, costume etc) I think Austria nailed it. Their background was gold and fiery and gave Conchita wings so she could literally (pardon the blatant misuse of ‘literally’) rise like a phoenix. If it was predictable, it’s only because we all knew what kind of visuals would suit the song.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This has been the mantra of many a Swedish entry in the period between Melodifestivalen and Eurovision, with the likes of Eric Saade and Loreen barely changing costume from one to the other, let alone anything else. In the not-so-curious case of Sanna Nielsen, her people hit on a lighting scheme that was simple but so effective, and almost served as a physical prop. So they didn’t sacrifice it for the big show; they just made it even more impressive. I’m now hoping to receive my very own light cage for my birthday this year. Ikea sells those, right?
It isn’t just an overload of props and/or gimmicks that sends a performance into OTT territory (which isn’t always a negative…if you can’t tie your hair to someone else’s and ride a see-saw whilst brandishing a light saber and dancing in unison in front of a giant sun at Eurovision, where can you?). Poland’s entry was choreographed and costumed to perfection, but it’s their determination to be boob-inclusive at all costs that wins them this gong. Those butter-churning, stain-removing girls had pretty much all of their charms on display despite the contest being a family show. I guess a lot of parents no longer have to give their kids the sex talk.
I am a huge fan of your average costume reveal. Plaid pants are ripped off to expose sequined short shorts? Great, thanks InCulto. Three-piece suit becomes evening gown by the end of the song? Best part of Latvia ‘02. But it turns out that not-so-average costume reveals have the ability to freak me out, as demonstrated when Cristina Scarlat became so irritated with her overgrown weave, she went and yanked it right off. I applaud Moldova for trying something new, but if hair-pulling isn’t the final frontier, what is? Navel lint? Splinters? Teeth?
A lot of countries presented us with the total package this year. In fact, more did than didn’t, and disappointingly, there were zero train wrecks. But the country that impressed y’all the most by a long shot was the Netherlands, and though my vote went to Poland, I can see why. Dressed to perfection, Ilse and Waylon performed like the pros they are, using what could have been a very awkward microphone situation to their advantage. It was intimately staged and graphically effective. Let’s hope the trend continues for the Dutch in Austria.
When you think to yourself, ‘How would I dress this act?’ and can’t come up with anything better than the reality, you know costuming has been well-executed (either that or it’s so horrific, you couldn’t imagine anything worse). In this case it’s the former, and I applaud your choice of Best Dressed for 2014. Waylon would have had a hard time going wrong, so it really came down to Ilse – and fortunately, she appeared on stage looking like a country Americana angel. From the retro bouffant hairdo to the tips of her stilettoed pumps, she was glorious.
What happens when you combine button-up track pants and a tuxedo? A fashion faux pas, that’s what. Throw in some wack blue shoes that match your stunning but completely out-of-place chandelier earrings, and you’ve got one steaming hot mess. Oh Tijana. Suitability for the entry aside, she looked lovely from the neck up. From the neck down, though, it was 100% WTF. And now you know exactly where my Barbara Dex vote went this year.
I know, I know – not every song calls for a backless, crystal-encrusted leotard with a feathered mullet skirt and matching platform boots (particularly not Running). But as I’m convinced that Richard Edwards wore the same outfit to Malta’s rehearsals as he did for the live shows, Firelight nabs this one.
Between them, these nominees had just about every body part on display (and if you’re wondering about Twin Twin, I have two words for you…DEM SHORTS). But I’d be crazy if I didn’t recognise Poland as the sauciest by far. Although, it wasn’t so much the Slavic girls’ costumes that were x-rated as the lack thereof.
Because your average maxi dress is much easier on the eye than a part flouncy, part asphyxiating mix of…whatever that gold thing was a mix of. Also going against this creation was the fact that Kasey could hardly move in it, which made her look very uncomfortable on stage.
It may be forehead-pulsingly tight, but Cleo’s high braid feat. festive materials is one hairstyle from this contest that I’m desperate to copy. Unfortunately, I’m lacking the length of hair necessary to pull it off, so I hope it’s still a relevant look in, say, twelve months. #whocares, #gonnadoitanyway.
I really, truly thought Estonia had the final in the bag. The upside to the choreography’s failure to see them through is that I can now insist to anyone who’ll listen (and even those who won’t) that Sandra should have walked Eesti Laul and would have been dangerous in the final she would have made for sure, blah blah blah. Nonetheless, I remain flabbergasted that one of my certainties back at prediction time turned out to be a DNQ.
Third time lucky is a legitimate thing, and Valentina Monetta knows that now. Let’s just hope she didn’t get one taste of glory and wants more next year (there has to be SOMEONE else from San Marino who can sing). ValMon’s qualification got her this trophy because it was the only one that literally made my jaw drop. I didn’t shut my mouth for hours, and was planning on suing the EBU for extreme dehydration.
As we would later discover, this wasn’t Greece’s most successful year (STILL not over it) but even in an off year, they flew into the final with the greatest of ease. They are part of the exclusive 100% Club, which consists of those countries that have never failed to advance from a semi, so it’s always a safe bet when you put cash on them to go through. That’s not to say it’s impossible for them to DNQ, but the day that happened would be a shocking one (and a good one for all the pigs sprouting wings).
As admirably authentic as it was (and bonkers) there was never any hope for Three Minutes To Earth as far as I’m concerned. There was a possibility it wouldn’t come last in its semi, but even that was slim. Still, The Shin and Mariko gave a great performance, so if you’re reading this, guys…don’t hurt me.
In terms of entry quality and results, Armenia (thankfully) made us forget all about Malmö’s double denim incident courtesy of Dorians. 4th may not have been the win they were hoping for, but I think Sirusho would agree that it beats the heck out of 18th.
Hungary is quietly becoming a force to be reckoned with, and their national final A Dal one of the strongest I’ve ever followed. I have this sneaking suspicion we could be heading to Budapest within the next few years. Running’s somewhat unexpected top 5 placing built on this. I think we were all skeptical of the entry’s ability to push past the subject matter and be judged as a ‘package’ – the package being a well-performed, contemporary song that wasn’t nonsensical fluff, lyrically speaking. Fortunately, it was, and that makes me go WOOHOO HUNGARY YOU GO GIRLFRIEND. Et cetera.
Like I said…soooooo not moving on from this travesty. It’s been two months and I still cry myself to sleep, sobbing ‘ri…ii..iiise upp!’. Just kidding. I don’t say that. I only weep. Even Kalomira clone Eleftheria (the only other recent Greek act to not hit the heights of the top 10) did better than Freaky Fortune. I realise this was an open year, and points were going all over the place, but IMO Greece should have been at least where Romania ended up. I guess holograms > trampolines.
There came a point – a sad, sad point – where I knew Sanna wasn’t quite going to go all the way, despite her victory in the OGAE vote. But after her amazeballs performance in semi one, I was convinced that the haters would be left with many unfortunate emotions to undo when she easily made the top 5. The bronze medal represents a great performance by a great act that was just missing that something extra that would have made it a winner.
The last award of the 2014 EBJEEs (I hear your collective sigh of relief) is also a People’s Choice Award. You voted, and it turns out that Molly’s lack of success shocked you more than anybody else’s (or in Russia’s case, shocked you more than the twins getting that high). You’d think we would have learnt to never overestimate the UK after 2011 (though I still maintain Blue were robbed in part) but nope – here we all were again, gushing about a UK entry that wasn’t crap and/or sung by someone who lived in world sans Eurovision. All dreams of Manchester 2015 were dashed when the points just trickled in, in contrast to the flooding they were doing for Austria and the Netherlands.
At long last, I’m done! Hallelujah. Hard rock hallelujah. Thank the Lordi! And other ESC-related puns. My trophy table is now empty, and it’s time to move on to random filler until Junior Eurovision – now with 100% more Greece and Cyprus – comes along. I will be keeping an eye on the Austrian developments over the coming months, i.e. claiming I knew that INSERT CITY NAME HERE would get the hosting honours, so I hope you’ll join me. I promise I’ll be entertaining.
In the meantime…Part 2 of the awards: discuss.
What do you think of my picks and your picks of the performances, costumes and results from Copenhagen?
I woke up this morning with butterflies in my stomach, and since I didn’t have anything nerve-wracking to do today, it meant one thing and one thing only: IT’S EUROVISION TIME!!! Well, kind of. As I write this intro, the first semi final is mere hours away, although I won’t be seeing it until Friday night. The Australian TV broadcast kicks off then and continues over the weekend, and it’s a ritual for me to wait for it rather than haul myself out of bed to watch the contest live via a very unreliable stream. I’m not even buying my Eurovision food until tomorrow (my snacks of choice this year being sugared popcorn and Redskins) which is also when my internet blackout starts in a quest to avoid spoilers. It’s hard work, but I’ve managed successfully in the past, not counting the year I found out the winner about an hour before the final was screened here (circa 2010). So I won’t be blogging until at least after I’ve seen the first semi, but I will definitely be back. Feel free to comment or interact with me any time, because it’s up to me to avoid any virtual contact until the coast is clear.
My last post before the winners and losers of tonight’s first semi final are known (I still can’t believe today’s the day!) is a mix of rankings, predictions, expectations and hopes for everything concerning Eurovision 2014. I’ve been so busy with uni lately that a lot of this was written last-minute, so I apologise if that’s super obvious, or if it doesn’t sound like I’m that excited about the ESC being upon us. Believe me, I am – it’s my driving force to get as much study out of the way as possible so I can enjoy THE best weekend of the year. On that note, I’ve got many riveting readings to do tonight, so I’ll get down to business right now. First up, it’s ranking time!
My pre-contest top 37 revealed!
This is my second full ranking of the year (I did my first a month or so ago here on the blog) and to make life easier and more accurate, I used this sorter that’s been circulating around the web for a while now. Here are the results, complete with stats showing how each country has moved up, down or not shifted at all since I last ranked.
- Sweden (+1)
- Greece (+1)
- France (-2)
- Hungary (+4)
- Montenegro (+15)
- Armenia (-1)
- Poland (+2)
- Belarus (-4)
- Norway (+1)
- Denmark (-4)
- United Kingdom (+3)
- Moldova (+11)
- Italy (-1)
- Iceland (-7)
- Portugal (+10)
- Estonia (-5)
- Lithuania (+12)
- Germany (-3)
- Slovenia (+3)
- Malta (-2)
- Spain (-2)
- Albania (-9)
- Belgium (+14)
- Ukraine (=)
- The Netherlands (-8)
- Israel (+2)
- Latvia (-11)
- Russia (+6)
- Ireland (-3)
- Switzerland (=)
- Azerbaijan (-4)
- Austria (+1)
- Romania (-12)
- Georgia (+2)
- Finland (-4)
- Macedonia (-4)
- San Marino (-2)
As you can see, there’s been some serious jumps in both directions. Feel free to let me know below which countries’ songs have made major leaps either way in your rankings, and/or what your pre-contest top 10 looks like.
Now, without further ado/rankings…let the predictions begin, show by show!
Semi Final 1
Who will qualify Armenia, Estonia, Sweden, Iceland, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Belgium, Moldova, the Netherlands and Hungary
I’m not convinced Russia’s perfect qualification record will be broken, but based on the song and the purported Curse of the JESC Alumni, I’m not convinced they’re a given either. It’s in the bag for Armenia, Sweden, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Hungary as far as I’m concerned, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see others in place of the rest. There are a ton of ‘maybes’ this year!
Who I want to qualify Armenia, Latvia, Sweden, Iceland, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Moldova, Portugal, Montenegro and Hungary
I’m desperate for Montenegro to go through, but after hearing nothing but negative comments about their choice of gimmick (when they shouldn’t have chosen anything) their chances may be dashed. Latvian and Portuguese qualifications would each be sweet in their own way.
Who is most likely to…win the semi Armenia. As far as I know without bothering to check, Aram remains the bookies’ favourite FTW, and as the first semi final’s opening act he’s likely to blow us all away and make sure nobody forgets about him. Other countries in the mix to win would be Hungary (if the subject matter doesn’t prevent it) and Sweden (a prediction made on behalf of biased Jaz of Team Sanna).
Lose the semi San Marino. Valentina has by far the most boring song in the lineup, and I can’t imagine anything about it, even with staging and costume taken into account, that would attract votes in mass.
Get the biggest round of applause Belgium. Axel is the male, Belgian equivalent of Susan Boyle, is he not? There are multiple “moments” in Mother that just strike me as golden opportunities for rapturous applause that drowns out whatever gushing declaration of love for his mum Axel makes next.
Sing best live Belgium again. Say what you will about their entry – this is a man with one heck of a set of pipes. I’d also have to single out Sweden, because Sanna’s vocal is always on point. The clarity of her voice sends shivers down my spine, for cereal.
Sing worst live Armenia. Before you say anything that could be misconstrued as a death threat, hear me out. I’m only pegging Aram as a possibility because his song requires both soft, subtle notes and big, BAM IN YOUR FACE shouts/notes, and as I’m yet to hear him sing live, I don’t know how well he handles that combination. I have heard Ukraine’s Maria was ropey in rehearsals, so she may also be up for this title.
Make the best use of the background Montenegro. All they need is to model their graphics after the Moj Svijet video clip and I’ll be swooning.
Have the most boring stage show The Netherlands. Boring isn’t necessarily bad; there are some songs that shouldn’t be accompanied by tons of pyro and a twenty-foot Hell Machine, or intricate choreography. Calm After The Storm is one of them. There will not be much going on aside from guitar-strumming and staged eye contact.
Have the best costume/s Moldova. Think back to any Moldovan entries past and you’ll find they’ve got the ‘weird yet wonderful’ outfit market cornered. Don’t let Cristina’s hideous neon lace number from the opening party fool you – they’ll be style and edge aplenty in her stage selection. And probably a hairstyle that could win awards for architectural excellence.
Have the worst costume/s Albania. It’s safe to say that Hersi won’t have a dreadlock wrapped around her neck (unless she borrowed one of Rona’s for the occasion) but judging by some of the outfits I’ve seen on her up until now, what she wears on her big night may not be the most stylish of outfits. In fact…she likes lace and Peter Pan collars. Maybe she’ll wear Cristina’s hideous neon lace number? Sorry, Hersi and fans of. You’re more than welcome to prove me wrong.
Semi Final 2
Who will qualify Malta, Israel, Norway, Austria, Finland, Belarus, Macedonia, Greece, Slovenia and Romania
Once again, there are some definites and more possibles in this bunch. I’m expecting Malta, Israel, Norway, Austria, Greece and Romania to sashay into the final with no troubles, but the other spots could go to any combination of countries. The likes of Macedonia and Belarus could just as easily get left behind as they could make it through.
Who I want to qualify Malta, Israel, Norway, Poland, Austria, Lithuania, Belarus, Switzerland, Greece and Slovenia
I would LOVE the Slavic girls to be there on Saturday night, but I can’t see it based on what I’ve been calling the ‘Igranka effect’ – if that didn’t make the final, why would this? The one time I want Lithuania to do their trick of surprisingly qualifying, it doesn’t seem to be on the cards.
Who is most likely to…win the semi Greece or Romania. My personal preference is for Greece (refer to my bagging of Romania in my last lot of reviews to see why) but I feel like either country could dominate with their high-energy songs and acts.
Lose the semi Lithuania. That’s if they don’t qualify against the odds like they’ve done more than once in the past. I just think there’s so much that doesn’t work with Attention, mostly based on what I’ve heard regarding the visual aspects, that it could easily end up floundering in last place.
Get the biggest round of applause Austria. Conchita’s song is massive, as is her voice and her stage presence. I’ll grow a perfectly-shaped beard if the crowd doesn’t go crazy for her.
Sing best live Conchita. As I said and as we all know, she’s a powerful vocalist who handles money notes and key changes with ease. Unless she’s worn out her chords this week, she shouldn’t fail to impress.
Sing worst live Vilija. Again, I haven’t heard her sing live, so this is more or less down to the possibility. Consider my benefit of the doubt given, though.
Make the best use of the background Finland. Something flashy would definitely spice up a performance in which the band will be in one place the whole time.
Have the most boring stage show Ireland. This song is so mid-tempo, I’m not sure what kind of stage act would work with it. It’s too bad if I turn out to be right about this, because the song doesn’t really go anywhere and some Ukraine-esque score-boosting props or dancers would give it a better chance of success.
Have the best costume/s Poland. Even those of us who haven’t seen Cleo & co’s fashion choices for the contest will know what they are. The mixture of traditional costume and, well, skimpier stuff, goes well with the fusion of folk and modern sounds that is My Słowianie. My runner-up would be Slovenia, as I have seen Tinkara’s dress and it looks amazing. The Slovenian girls always do!
Have the worst costume Lithuania. Again, I’ve seen it, and although it’s nothing on the likes of Moje 3’s candy-coloured monstrosities from Malmö, it’s not good. Actually, come to think of it, one of those ridiculous dresses might have worked for Vilija…
The Grand Final
The lineup, IMO Armenia, Estonia, Sweden, Iceland, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Belgium, Moldova, the Netherlands, Hungary, Malta, Israel, Norway, Austria, Finland, Belarus, Macedonia, Greece, Slovenia, Romania, Germany, Italy, Denmark, France, Spain and the United Kingdom. In a totally random, non-producer engineered order, of course. NOT.
Who will win Oh, how I wish that was an easy question to answer! Apart from the fact that I totally don’t, because this is one of the most open contests I’ve ever experienced and that makes it extra exciting. Still, I’ve had such a hard time predicting the winner that I could only narrow my long list of potentials down to five. In alphabetical order, here they are:
Armenia – Not Alone is the favourite, and you can’t discount the favourite! I’m still having trouble visualising the credits rolling over it (which is apparently a good indication of a song’s winning chances) but it certainly has impact and grabs attention.
Azerbaijan – Because come on, it’s Azerbaijan. They have a comparatively unique ballad up their sequined sleeve, a strong voice in Dilara, and what sounds like great staging as always.
Estonia – Amazing itself is close enough to Euphoria that it would be a questionable winner, but it’s accessible and instant, and the presentation will stick in people’s minds no matter where it crops up in the running order. Don’t forget that history often repeats…
Israel – I didn’t see this one’s success in the OGAE vote coming, so I’m attempting to see a possible contest win coming. Mei’s a powerful performer with a very competent pop song that has edge. She could drive straight up the middle of the scoreboard with consistent 6s, 7s and 8s.
UK – I’m hoping Molly has a real shot, and we’re not all getting ahead of ourselves like we did with Blue. The difference here is that not only is the song good, the performance will likely be too. If I Can reached 11th with that messy performance, COTU could do a lot better. And I mean a LOT.
Who will make the top 10 Again, in alphabetical order, my guess is Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Malta, Sweden and the UK.
This list perhaps features too many cliché top tenners, when in recent years there’s been a few surprise acts making it this far. But they’re a surprise for a reason – it’s hard to predict them!
Who will be left at the bottom Finland or the Netherlands, assuming they both get to the final. I just feel that their songs could be the kind that get overshadowed when the going gets tough. Otherwise, France or Germany are possibilities. I adore Moustache and like Is It Right quite a bit, but that doesn’t mean either will capture anyone’s mood. The chances of predicting this correctly are very slim, so I’m just going with random feelings here.
Where the final six will end up I’m foreseeing two of the auto-finalists in this year’s top 10 – Denmark and the UK. Molly may end up anywhere from 1st-6th position, while the host act will likely be in the 5th-8th range. I think Italy will narrowly miss out on the top 10 in about 11th or 12th place, followed by the too-typical Spain in 13th-16th. As mentioned just before, I reckon France and Germany could be (undeservedly) down the bottom end of the scoreboard – in the 18th-26th area.
A few bonus bits
Here are some extra predictions/hopes etc that didn’t fit in anywhere else. Enjoy?!?
The five countries I want to succeed the most Greece, Montenegro, Poland, Sweden and the UK, all for different reasons and with the knowledge that it’s not going to happen for all of them.
Five things I’m excited for
- Seeing the stage in action – it’s like a giant dissected Rubik’s Cube, and that is freaking awesome.
- Watching the postcards – we’ve all been getting our #MyEurovisionFlag on in the leadup to Copenhagen, and now in the postcards, each artist will be doing the same. Props go to whoever came up with that idea (which does remind me a teensy bit of Belgrade ’08).
- Cheering on the Australian entry – Jess Mauboy is representing us, if only in the second semi’s interval act, and I can’t wait to wave a flag for her! I know she’ll do us proud, and it’ll be great practice for when the EBU finally let Australia participate for real. Hashtag IN MY DREAMS.
- Knowing the qualifiers – this year has been incredibly hard to predict, and it will be a relief to finally know which of the many maybe songs are to become finalists.
- Nail-biting my way through the final voting – with such an open year on our hands, the voting sequence has the potential to be the most tense we’ve seen in a very long time. As stressful as that will be, I say bring it on.
Five cities I’d love to see host the 60th contest
- Budapest, Hungary
- Manchester, England
- Paris, France
- Reykjavik, Iceland
- Warsaw, Poland
Lugano, Switzerland would also be neat, 2015 being a big Eurovision anniversary and all…any chance you can make that happen, Sebalter? Hypnotise the continent into voting for you via your superior whistling skills!
I think that about covers everything. It’d want to, considering I’ve rambled on for the equivalent length of an encyclopedia. It’s very late where I’m at, and I’m falling asleep on my keyboard (the impressions it’s leaving in my face are extremely attractive) so I’m off to sleep through the start of Eurovision 2014 before commencing my spoiler-watch. On behalf of me, myself and I, I wish you the merriest of Eurovisions, whether you’re watching live or you’re waiting for something better (by which I mean a TV broadcast, not the Finnish entry to come on). May the best song win, whatever that may be, but above all, let the show exceed all of our expectations and make for hours of flag and TEAM SANNA 4EVERRRRRRR banner-waving. Or is that just going to be me?
Get in while you still can, people! Give me your tips for qualifiers, the winner and everything in-between. Or, if the results have been and gone, tell me what I can do next year to improve on my terrible predicting skills…
Eurovision 2014 is still months away, but there’s already been casualties, and some major ones at that. Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, and (worst of all, if I may pick one) Serbia (NOOOOOOOOO!) have all said non to Copenhagen, and it sucks. But with a lack of cash being a popular reason for withdrawal, no amount of EBU bribery (unless, of course, the bribe is of the monetary variety) is going to get them back. So instead of dwelling on who won’t be buying airfares to Denmark, let’s focus on who will.
Back in the competition next year we have Bosnia & Herzegovina (which eases the pain of Serbia’s exit a little bit), Portugal, and Poland. Whilst it’s only been a year’s break for B & H and Portugal, Poland hasn’t shown up since failing to qualify for the third time in a row in 2011. Evidently, they’re ready to give it another try (and I don’t mean not qualifying), and I for one am super glad to have them back. To celebrate what will hopefully be a worthwhile return on the twentieth anniversary of their debut, I’m casting a spotlight on their ESC history right here, right now. Refresh your memory or get to know Poland as they were, 1994-2011.
POLAND: THE STATS
Debut 1994 – 2nd place with To Nie Ja! by Edyta Górniak
Silver medals 1 – 1994
Bronze medals 0
Best result 2nd – 1994
Top 10 finishes 2/16
Top 10 success rate 12.5%
Top 5 finishes 1/16
Top 5 success rate 6%
Wooden spoons (last places!) 1 – 2011 semi final
Semi final qualifications 1/7
Qualification success rate 14%
My favourite entry
Keine Grenzen, Zadnych Granic by Ich Troje (2003). Not only is this my favourite from Poland, it’s also one of my favourite Eurovision songs of all time (let’s just say that when Poland are good, they’re really, really good). Who would have thought that a message song largely carried by a guy who, in his own words, can’t really sing – and in my own words, sounds like he lives on a diet of gravel – would be so beautiful? I think it works because it isn’t a cheesy kind of message song, á la What If and a million others from ESC history. If you check out the translation you’ll see it’s not sickeningly sweet, and is actually very pertinent to the contest created to unite Europe. Plus, it has a stunning melody and structure, and builds into something worth waiting two-and-a-half minutes for.
My least favourite entry
Time To Party by the Jet Set (2007). Most of the Polish entries I don’t like are boring, not bad. But this terrible piece of trash (if you know what I mean…I’m being incredibly subtle here) I file away in the ‘Why, God, Why?’ category, alongside such gems as Switzerland 2004. Okay, so the chorus could be less catchy, but lyrically and just generally – yeuch! If you’re not convinced, allow me to present you with a few lyrical samples:
“Every little moment is so special for me. I’m a little bit crazy, crazy, like a baby, uh.” BRB, off to puke.
“Hey guys, you really know what I like, just like that…you know that I’m really hot.” Modesty is always appreciated. Unfortunately, the Jet Set has none.
If you still think Time To Party has some redeeming features, then I respect your right to have your own opinions, but at the same time, I’m afraid there is NO HOPE FOR YOU.
More of the memorable
To Nie Ja! by Edyta Górniak (1994) – A close second-favourite of mine, this spectacularly-sung ballad gave Poland an epic debut result. In my mind, it should have beaten Ireland, but since there was an (inexplicable) sixty point winning margin, I can’t really justify that.
Ale Jestem by Anna Maria Jopek (1997) – This didn’t make much of a splash on the scoreboard, but I reckon it’s an interesting, pleasantly folksy number that’s definitely memorable in comparison to some of Poland’s other entries.
Follow My Heart by Ich Troje (2006) – They didn’t qualify on attempt #2 (it still hurts…) but Ich Troje rocked my socks yet again in Athens. I really dug those elaborate outfits, too.
For Life by Isis Gee (2008) – I really like this, based on everything except Isis’ oompa-loompa spray tan (if that was her natural colour I apologise, but I find it hard to believe anyone could have come into the world so orange).
Legenda by Marcin Mrozinski (2010) – Memorable mainly because Marcin had one of his backup dancers in a headlock at one point. That’s what you get when you try to overshadow the main artist, I guess.
Jestem by Magdalena Tul (2011) – A prime example of a great entry ruined by chaotic staging, inappropriate lighting and unsuitable costumes. The visuals should have been slick, sexy, and heavy on black leather and studs. Still, Mags wasn’t the only one to be let down by staging in Düsseldorf, was she…coughBluecough.
Their best stage show
For Life. Poland brought out the dry ice and string instruments (which were played by people who hopefully didn’t choke on said dry ice) for this soaring ballad, which was performed to perfection by Isis in her striking blue gown with matching, lusted-after-by-Jaz bracelet. The aspect I really liked about this performance was Isis’ move down the catwalk to the mike stand, just in time for the first of several money notes. I don’t think catwalks are used often enough in the ESC when they’re available, so I applaud anybody who does elect to use them – especially when that person is wearing massive high heels.
Their best costume/s
Ich Troje. Like I said, these babies were elaborate, and like something out of a period drama (I think they also served as inspiration for Eric Saade’s Masquerade video). Maybe they distracted a little from the song, which is always a danger when you give your seamstress free reign over the fabric bolts AND bedazzler, but you can’t say they weren’t eye-catching, particularly with Michał’s festive green hair setting things off.
Their best vocalist/s
Edyta Górniak. Who cared that she had forgotten to change out of her nightgown when she was attacking the song like that? Only someone who lives to rally against sleepwear on the ESC stage, that’s who. Edyta’s vocal was full of light and shade, i.e. soft ByeAlex moments and epic Pastora Soler moments (only she pre-dated both of those guys) and she nailed all of them without breaking a sweat. Sometimes it’s the singer that makes a song great, and in this case, top-notch vocals certainly made To Nie Ja! what it was/is. I can’t imagine it having the same impact with a lesser vocalist in charge.
Just because they’re not a hotshot kind of country when it comes to Eurovision, don’t assume Poland won’t be in it to win it next year. You never know when a country will surprise you with a cracking song – and if they do happen to send one, they may even not screw it up with crappy staging!
While we’re waiting for Poland (and everyone else) to choose their song, here’s something to think about…
Are you happy to have Poland back in the contest? What have been your highlights and lowlights from their past participations?
Can anyone believe Amsterdam 2012 happened a whole year ago?
ME NEITHER! It cannot possibly be JESC time again already, because the last show was only, like, a few months ago, right?
Nope. The last year has gone so fast I don’t even think Barbara Popović could’ve kept up with it, and lo and behold…it IS time for Eurovision’s first-born to entertain us once again.
JESC turns eleven this year, and it’s a miracle it’s even happening. Thanks to the EBU, who are obviously very persuasive, or have zero qualms about bribing people with large amounts of money and/or chocolate, 12 artists from 12 countries are about to battle it out for that all-important trophy in the shape of Puzzle Man (and also for two others that look exactly the same). In just a few hours, I’ll be dragging myself out of bed to watch them in action, and you better be there with me. Not literally, of course, unless you happen to be in my ‘hood, in which case come over and bring all the sugary consumables you can carry.
I’m super excited for tonight’s show, particularly because it’s a hard one to predict, which means the voting sequence will be a nailbiter. Then again, I have enough trouble predicting…well, anything, so that makes things difficult. Still, I’m going to have a shot at guessing how things will go down tonight, just for you (‘you’ meaning ‘anyone who happens to stumble across this post’) and I’ll throw in some final pre-contest rankings and expectations as well.
The hours and minutes are ticking down, so let’s get cracking!
PS – RANDOM ALERT! Thought this does have a JESC link…I just wanted to mention that Sweden’s 2011 Junior representative, Erik Rapp, finished 3rd in Swedish Idol last night. I’ve checked out some of his performances from the season, and some of the final two contestants, and I have to say, he was robbed of a place in next week’s final! Robbed, I tell you! Still, it’s great for him to have gotten so far, and with Sweden appreciating their finalists so much, he’s still got a chance to carve out a decent career for himself, á la Robin Stjernberg. I still have hope that a former JESC artist will win one of these talent shows one day.
PPS – This just in (sort of)! Malta’s 2008 Junior representative, Daniel Testa, has been confirmed as a semi-finalist in the Maltese NF for Eurovision 2014! Me so excited. Already I want him in Copenhagen, even over Fabrizio Faniello and the million other competitors who have tried to represent Malta more times than they’ve had hot dinners.
From reviews to rankings
A couple of days ago I rounded off my 2013 reviews. If you haven’t checked them out yet, THERE’S STILL TIME! HURRY! I scored the whole class of Kyiv based on our beloved ESC point system, but I decided to keep you in suspense (ha ha) regarding a full, twelve-country ranking, until right now.
- The Netherlands
- San Marino
Keep in mind that the only song I really dislike is Malta’s. I know it’s a fan favourite and everyone thinks it’s going to win, blah blah blah, but I’m entitled to stand apart from the crowd every now and then. Stand apart from them, all lonesome, weakly waving a mini Moldovan flag, it would seem.
Everybody wants their favourites to do well, but since Moldova is a lost cause and I have a bad feeling about Belarus, I’m relying on the host country to stop me from sinking into a deep depression (especially if Malta wins – then the depression would be brought on both by things not going my way and the generally moany vibe of The Start). But realistically, how do I think they’ll do?
Making (terrible) predictions
Okay, it’s crunch time, a.k.a. prediction o’clock. Before I begin, here’s a disclaimer: not only am I a notoriously inaccurate predictor, but since I never watch any Eurovision-related rehearsals (I’m not getting up at 2am to see something I’ve seen before) all of my guesses are based on feedback from those on the ground in Kyiv, as well as my own warped opinions.
With that said, this is how I think the scoreboard will look at the end of the evening:
- The Netherlands – I type this knowing it doesn’t feel right, but that is how hard the predicting shebang has been this year. I certainly think it’s a possibility, though. The Netherlands have a catchy song, a concept (the whole twin thing…you may not have noticed) and by all accounts, an eye-catching stage show. They are also late in the draw and sandwiched between two much slower songs (Georgia and Malta. And that happened RANDOMLY, EBU) so there’s nothing stopping them from sticking out. If they don’t win, they’ll do very well.
- Malta – going against the masses, I just don’t believe this has the power to reel in the most votes. It feels like a song that could easily come second or third to me. Plus, the closest thing to a ballad that’s ever won JESC is Nebo, and though there’s a first time for everything, I don’t reckon tonight will be the first time a traditional ballad snatches up the trophy (the first-place trophy, anyway).
- Russia – plum draw, great song, not Katya Ryabova who is cursed to share her placing with someone else…Russia has the potential to outdo their 2012 result. Of course, the clichéd nature of the song could result in an epic fail, but I suspect that’s not a big enough issue to stand in their way.
- Armenia – this one’s got more gimmicks than a gimmick store (man, I wish those existed) and a song that actually has Georgia written all over it. Unless Monika’s vocal is truly woeful, I can’t imagine a bad finish for her.
- Georgia – I think we can all agree Give Me Your Smile ain’t Georgia’s best effort; but they’re still Georgia, and Georgia know how JESC is done. What the entry lacks in punch, The Smile Shop will no doubt make up for in vocal ability, fabulous costumes and a slick dance routine.
- Azerbaijan – a week ago, I’d have put this lower, but I’ve heard comments from those lucky people in Ukraine for the contest (who I’m totally not jealous of, BTW) that Rustam has the goods to make us all forget about the Omar & Suada incident. I still don’t think his song is that strong, but it’s gaining momentum.
- Ukraine – I want this to do better, as I said, but there is a lot of competition, and I wonder if the song is a little too alternative in its construction to win the masses over. Sofia has a great voice (I’d listen to her over Gaia any day) and I hear her performance has been top-notch at rehearsals, so my fingers are still crossed.
- San Marino – again, I’d love SM to make the top 5 in their first final. But Michele has an early draw, and there are stronger songs afterwards, so I’m inclined to place him just above the end of the pack.
- Macedonia – this could end up looking ridiculous if they’re not careful. It’s another one that could do really well under the right circumstances. If my prediction comes true (cue uproarious laughter) it may dissuade FYROM from signing up for 2014, which sucks.
- Belarus – it’s taken a lot to rank one of my favourites this low, but like I said earlier, I’ve had a bad feeling about Ilya’s chances over the last few days. This isn’t because I’ve heard bad things (in fact, I’ve heard very little about him, and isn’t a lack of news supposed to be good news?) but just because of what my gut is telling me. Apart from telling me I’m a little hungry, it’s saying Poy So Mnoy might get lost in the crowd.
- Sweden – now here’s someone I’ve heard about. Specifically, I’ve heard about his vocal woes, which may have something to do with every JESC teen boy’s greatest fear: puberty. I had my doubts about this song’s chances even when it was possible Elias was going to deliver a vocal on par with Amaury Vassili. But now that it seems he’s destined to butcher his own composition (and first up too) I am sad to say that I think he’ll be somewhere at the bottom.
- Moldova – one thing that is usually easy to predict in Junior is which country will come last. I mean, who didn’t see it happening to Albania last year from a mile away? Now, I adore Rafael’s song, but I’m under no illusions that he’s going to succeed, unless there’s some miracle, being that I am the only person I know who would throw the ‘L’ word at it.
Well, I’ve justified my choices, and there’s no going back now! What I will do now is make some smaller predictions about the performances (and maybe have another stab at picking the winner).
Best staging – visually, I’m expecting near-perfection from Armenia, Georgia and the Netherlands.
Best vocals – Sweden! Just kidding (poor Elias). Ukraine should be flawless, Moldova too if he can control himself. Georgia is always on point, and yes, I’ll admit that Malta will shine vocally. Shine and/or burst the eardrums of everybody sitting in the first few rows.
Best costumes – Armenia, Georgia and the Netherlands. Armenia’s will be elaborate and confectionary-themed, Georgia’s will be retro, and the Netherlands will most likely come to the party as cheerleaders.
The whole package – I’m talking vocals, costumes, charisma, dance moves, props AND lighting here. Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Georgia and Russia will be contenders for Package Deal of the Year.
Positive surprise – the country that will give a great performance that we’re not expecting? San Marino. And, if Elias’ voice has miraculously broken by tonight, maybe even Sweden.
Negative surprise – the country that won’t pull off as good a performance as we think? Armenia could be the one. Belarus too (noooooooo!) could crash and burn if Ilya can’t nail those high notes and choreography.
The winner…again – because I hate narrowing it down to one, I’m going to widen the scope. The Netherlands are definitely on my radar, but I also think we could see Armenia, Georgia, Malta or Russia take out the comp. That’s five potential winners, and now I’ve rattled them off you can expect to see Azerbaijan, Macedonia or any of the others that I didn’t mention win.
That’s about all I have to say before the show starts. There are so many reasons to look forward to it: the awesome stage; Zlata; the postcards; Emmelie, Anastasiya and Ruslana; the on-stage spokespersons; the exciting voting, and probably other stuff I’m forgetting. Well, there is also the knowledge that tonight’s winner will (allegedly) get the chance to appear at Eurovision 2014. Unlike myself. #pityparty
Odds are there’s at least one reason you should tune in, so do it, and enjoy it! I’ll be tweeting my pajama-clad butt off during the show @EurovisionByJaz, so maybe I’ll see you there.
Good luck to all of the kids, and may the best song win (so long as it’s not from Malta)! I’ll see you in a few days’ time for the annual JESC wrap-up.
Make your last-minute predictions, people! Who’s going to win Junior Eurovision 2013?
Hello there! Yes, I’m still alive (just like TWiiNS). It feels like it’s been ages since the first half of my EBJAEEs, which is probably because it has. I’m not even sure I can get away with posting exclusively about Malmö anymore, since a) the official DVD has already been released, and b) the first artist of 2014 has already been selected (Valentina Monetta again, AGAIN. San Marino obviously believe that ‘third time lucky’ is a thing). I’m sure somebody will let me know if I’m sooo six weeks ago or not.
In the meantime, allow me to present to you the second and final installment of my awards ceremony for 2013. This time, as you may have read in the title, they’re all about the performances, costumes and results that made an impact in Sweden. This includes the award for the All-Rounder of the Year, which (I hope) y’all voted for a little while back. Now you can find out if your favourite won the poll. It certainly wasn’t mine *mutters bitterly*.
So there’s that, and a whole lot more to check out in this slightly bigger episode. Have a looksee, and as always, comment me your agreements and disagreements. I love to hear either, although a ‘My gosh, you are 110% correct on every level and may I also say how nice you look today?’ every now and then is an earner of brownie points.
Ahem. On with le awards.
Klapa s Mora
I need to have a box of tissues handy whenever I hear these guys sing, live or in studio, so I can’t imagine what would happen if I ever heard them in real life. Those harmonies mist me up good. I don’t think it’s Mižerja’s fault, since KsM could perform an a cappella arrangement of Ice Ice Baby and I’d still be blubbering into a super-sized Kleenex. It must be the vocals. Ugh, I’m tearing up just thinking about them.
If a breathtakingly (literally) tight dress is what it takes for Moran to deliver the type of vocal she did during Kdam and Eurovision, then I say go on cutting off your air supply, you pitch-perfect Israeli songbird! Not to her face, obviously, since she’s not within addressing distance. But that’s what I would say, because that voice is incredible.
DISCLAIMER: I did not actually get up from my couch and go for a toilet break during any of these performances. I would never do such a thing, because I always like to think a boring act could be livened up at some point – for example, with a giant piñata that is lowered from the ceiling and beaten by the artist/s until streamers and confectionery rain down on the thrilled and slightly confused audience.
Unfortunately, there were no giant piñatas incorporated into any of the above performances, to their detriment. Switzerland in particular bored me to tears (and not Klapa s Mora emotion-filled tears). With a 95-year-old forming part of their group, I didn’t expect acrobatics or anything from Takasa, but some use of the stage space would have been nice.
Greece is no stranger to making schweet props out of onstage instruments (Giorgos Alkaios, hello?). This year, they again lit up the stage with their musical weapons of choice, and though it wasn’t quite as effective as it was in Oslo, it added another element of interest and fun (take note, Switzerland) to an already fun-filled performance. The lights also distracted us from the fact that the instruments weren’t actually being played, which is handy.
Whose idea was it to put the man in the box? I want to give them the world’s most enthusiastic pat on the back for coming up with that. It was a pretty simple concept, but so effective, and then it switched to super-drama mode with the lady in red and the rose petals (I hope man-in-box never did a Loreen and choked on one). I salute you, staging…arrangement…person.
There was really no better way for the disco ending of Crisalide to kick in than with the simultaneous switch-on of everybody’s favourite wind machine. Sure, we all saw it coming from a continent away – but admit it, you’d have been disappointed if Valentina hadn’t been given any wind for her sails.
When I say ‘choreography’, I mean dancing and/or anything else the artists and backup peeps did on stage during their three minutes. Hence I have to give this award to Azerbaijan, for the mirrored movement between Farid and his box friend, and the sliding of Farid down the box, and the running of the red lady followed by her massive train…for all of it really.
Describe Tomorrow in two words. Done? I bet you said cutesy and whimsical, and if you didn’t then just play along. So, cutesy and whimsical was the order of the day for Malta, and those adjectives were well and truly echoed in the adorable lyrics-on-screen they gave us to back up Gianluca. The colour scheme and variety of fonts was simple but perfectly suited. More than a few countries elected to stick their song lyrics in the background, but Malta did it best.
As if It’s My Life wasn’t OTT enough on its own, somebody in the Romanian delegation thought to themselves, ‘you know what we need? A sparkly man-dress with a plunging neckline. And a humongous red sheet. And a bunch of dancers. OH, and a hydraulic platform. Yeah. That’s what we need.’ And then proceeded to share those thoughts with the rest of the delegation who all thought it was a spiffing idea. I’m not so sure, but let’s face it – there’s no point in going subtle for a song like this.
Thanks to everyone who voted in this poll of yesteryear. The most-voted for turned out to be Norway, a country that tickled the majority of your fancies with their top-notch act. It was a close one, but Margaret’s strong vocal, the moody lighting in contrast to her costume, and the stage movement make the Norwegians the All-Rounders of 2013.
FYI, the full poll results were: Norway 25%, Moldova 23%, Denmark 21%, Ukraine 14%, Greece 9%, Azerbaijan 7%. I used my vote for Azerbaijan, so that was a waste of time.
Klapa s Mora
Head-to-toe sprayed-on leather? Check. Shiny metal accessories? Check. Fierce shoes that I will lust after for months? Double check. Hannah had it going on during semi final one. Unfortunately, dressing like a champion no more helps you get into the final than dressing like an extra from ‘Willy Wonka: The Musical’. Speaking of which…
Lozano & Esma
They won the Barbara Dex Award for a damn good reason, Moje 3 did. I hope the designer of their nonsensical, childish, polka-dotted and pearl-covered monstrosities has been locked up in Fashion Prison, if there is such a thing. If there isn’t, the Serbian government should build one just for her. I have never seen clothing that so aptly begs the question, ‘what were they THINKING?’.
Then again, at least bad costumes get people talking. I doubt anyone has devoted more than a few lines of typing space, if that, to the white shirts and ties of Takasa. I give a lacklustre point to the sporadic red accents, and then cancel it out because a bunch of people who wear school uniforms to Eurovision (excepting Daz Sampson’s backup dancers – at least they made sense) don’t deserve points. Even if they were a bit lost after their Salvation Army uniforms were banned from the contest.
If you’re wondering about Koza Mostra, let me just say: you can never be sure what is or isn’t under a kilt. But that’s irrelevant, because Moran is the winner of this award. That dress of hers left nothing to the imagination, unless you count all of us having to imagine how she got into it in the first place. My money’s on Lycra-in-a-spray-can.
I couldn’t think of any other artist/s that made a more monumental stuff-up than Nevena, Sara and Mirna in the journey from national final to Eurovision itself. Of course, we all blame the aforementioned designer for creating them in the first place, but I personally have it in for anyone who vetoed the original devil/angel outfits. Sure, they were a little tacky, but they worked with the song, not against it in some bizarre battle of WTF.
In a year without Jedward, I wasn’t sure there’d be any nominees for this award. But a bunch of hairstylists who were told ‘you can’t do THAT with hairspray!’ and took it as a challenge came along and saved the day. Aliona’s look was less…sideways than it had been at the Moldovan final, but was impressive and interesting nonetheless. It’s the norm for powerhouse female singers with powerhouse ballads to be given a cursory swipe with a curling iron and nothing more, so I appreciate the extra effort.
I thought San Marino had qualification in the bedazzled bag this year. It was going to happen, and it was going to be amazing. Valentina, the comeback queen, reinvented, was going to compensate for 2012 in a big way. Then…bah-bow. Nothing. No San Marino in the magic envelopes (as they were). Granted, Val came close, finishing 11th in her semi. But it wasn’t close enough, dammit. I guess her third time could be the charm.
Now, a surprise I can be happy about. I was never that gone on Tom Dice/Me And My Guitar, so when I found myself attending regular meetings of the Roberto Bellarosa and Love Kills Appreciation Society, it was the first time in a long time I’d been enthusiastic about Belgium’s participation. I’m not stupid though, and I knew they didn’t have a hope in heck of qualifying.
Oh god. I AM stupid!
A final without Azerbaijan in it, automatically or otherwise? Puh-lease. That Junior Eurovision fail was a mere blip on an unrelated horizon. They were back and more or less ready to win for the second time in three years, although I can’t help thinking they would have qualified even if they’d come back willing to settle for mid-table.
Despina Olympiou was the Iris of 2013 – an attractive female in a nice dress, who was competently performing one of the most boring songs the world has ever known. She was never going to get far. It’s a shame considering she could out-sing Ivi Adamou any day of the week, but Eurovision ain’t no singing contest.
15th, in my opinion, is around about where the all-too-similar Ell & Nikki should have ended up. It was a huge relief for Sophie & Nodi to not follow in their footsteps. As well-executed as their performance was, I found it soulless and overly choreographed. Waterfall was just as soulless, and very clichéd. So for me, Georgia got what they deserved. They’re better than that.
Could this be the start of a new Euro-curse? Last in the running order, last place? Or am I desperately searching for an explanation as to why yet another of my favourite entries ended the evening 26th out of 26? I know I’m biased, but I genuinely don’t think Ireland deserved to lose. Ryan’s performance was stronger than Jedward’s last year in many ways, and his song was much more contemporary. Then again, that contemporary feel could have been his and Cascada’s downfall. With the Euphoria effect still present, maybe nothing could have measured up.
So we’ve covered the jaw-dropping moment when Belgium qualified. But now we come to the even more flabbergasting moment when they didn’t bomb out in the final, not by any means. For quite a few countries, finishing on the left side of the scoreboard alone is as good as winning, and Belgium is one. So maybe we should forget about Copenhagen and head off to Brussels instead? 12th place warrants a big celebratory party, and as we all know, Eurovision is the biggest of them all.*
* Having come out with such a cheesy line, I am now off to Russia to write their entry for the 2014 contest.
And we are FINITO! As far as awards go, anyway. I don’t plan on going anywhere. I do plan on getting another post out within a reasonable time period, however. Look out for it between now and Christmas…2020.
Ha ha ha.
Whenever it makes its appearance, I hope to see you then.
PS – Did I hand the trophies out to the right people and places? Have you got any suggestions for next year’s awards?