Just like that, the 57th contest is over, and the PED (Post-Eurovision Depression) has set in. My strategy to combat it is to keep myself busy, a) by getting back to work on the freaking massive uni assignment I have due this week that I should have been working on all weekend, and b) by writing this post which will be a mighty long one, I’m thinking. Be prepared!
As we all know, it was the fan/bookies’ favourite Sweden that took out the title with a not-so-narrow margin over the Russian grannies (who I think may turn their attentions to MasterChef now. If they can bake a tray of pies while performing in front of thousands, they can certainly produce a ten-layer gateau with deconstructed fruit salad sauce). The more I think about it, the more excited I am that we’re off to Sweden in 2013. Melodifestivalen is one of the highlights of the preselection season, and I imagine the first Swedish Eurovision since 2000 will be just as fabulous, especially if it incorporates ABBA in some way (surely SVT won’t be able to resist).
Anyway, enough about the 58th contest – there’s still plenty of Baku to discuss. I’m mainly going to cover the grand final here, so if you want to read/reread my verdicts on the semis, you can find them just behind this post.
Impressions of the show
I think we all got the impression that Azerbaijan would try to match Moscow in terms of an epic Eurovision. I don’t think they pulled it off, and I don’t think the show quite matched last year’s either, generally. Nonetheless, it was a great show, with one of the strongest fields of competition I’ve ever seen.
There were a few absolutely outstanding things about the production, for me.
– The Crystal Hall: Despite the controversy surrounding its construction, the hall was amazing, outside and in, and will probably serve Baku well in the future (it’ll definitely come in handy if they win their Olympic bid). In particular I loved the way it was lit up in the image of each country’s flag at the end of the corresponding postcard.
– The stage: When I first saw it in photos, I thought it was a bit out there, a bit messy, even. But for the live show, it worked like a ginormous fibreglass charm.
– The green room: Plonking this among the audience instead of behind the stage was a nice idea. I’m sure for the people in the arena there was nothing quite like seeing the facial expressions of joy (e.g. on Sweden) and of horror (e.g. on Norway) up close as the points came in.
– The star power: Lys Assia was dragged out again, the last five contest winners took to the stage together to sing the wrong lyrics, and the Azeri president’s son-in-law descended from the roof like a puppet on a string (get it?) Combine that with artists like Amaury Vassili, Getter Jaani, Safura and Mr. Lordi announcing their respective nations’ voting results, and you’ll find that Baku was one of the most high-caliber contests of all time.
The semi-final scoreboards
I’m moving on now to something I couldn’t cover in my semi wrap-ups – exactly how the qualifiers, and non-qualifiers, were ranked.
Here are the results of the first semi:
- Russia – The Babushki must have found favour with the juries as well as the televoters in winning this round.
- Iceland – I thought Greta and Jónsi would blitz the competition here, but I was wrong. It happens all the time every now and then.
- Switzerland – Poor Switzerland just missed out on a place in the final with a commendable performance from Sinplus.
- San Marino
- Austria – You mean San Marino AND Montenegro managed to pip the popo shakers? What has the world come to?
And now the second:
- Sweden – No surprises here.
- Lithuania – For the second year in a row, Lithuania has put my jaw on the floor by sailing into the final. Perhaps it’s because they’re sensitive to the disabled – first with sign language, and then with a blindfold. A blingtastic blindfold.
- Bosnia & Herzegovina
- Norway – How this ranked so low I will never understand. Great song, great performance, great hip movements…it was all there!
- Bulgaria – Sofi scored the same amount of points as Tooji, but obviously received a few less top marks.
- Slovakia – Here in Australia we put MJM in our top 5 (I had nothing to do with that). Luckily Europe knows when someone is doing a Jemini, and puts them in their rightful place.
This year’s final was of an incredible standard, which was both a plus and a minus (the constant BAM! BAM! BAM! of one great song after another was exhausting). Here’s a few of my performance picks.
– Albania’s Rona was flawless yet again, and had all the intensity and emotion you could ask for. Amazingly, she got rewarded for it, but I’ll get to that later.
– The host country’s song wasn’t one of my favourites by any means, but boy, do they know how to put on a show with an unforgettable visual! In this case, it was using Sabina as a projector screen. I wonder if she serves the same purpose at family reunions when Grandma Babayeva wants to look through the family photos?
– Spain’s performance was everything I was hoping for, and I’ll readily admit it made me tear up a little. Pastora looked stunning and sang like nobody had ever asked her to deliberately throw the contest. I must also commend their expert timing with the wind machine.
– Serbia drew a good spot in the final which gave us a few minutes to breathe after Ireland and before Ukraine with Željko’s slow-burning Balkan ballad that I fall more in love with every time I hear it.
The final results
- Sweden – Loreen was a deserving winner. I was hoping for a less predictable victory, but ultimately, she was the favourite for a reason, and I don’t think I’ll need a year to get over this one.
- Russia – I assumed that the grannies would sail to the final, and then the novelty would wear off and they’d end up 19th, or something like that. For me, a low top 10 placing would have sufficed.
- Albania – this result made me a very happy camper. The fact that an artist and song so out there, from a country that struggles to succeed in the contest, made the top 5 is just brilliant. This is Albania’s best result ever.
- Estonia – the last time Estonia sent a native-language entry, they also came sixth. As Kuula is one of my most-loved songs this year, I’m super pleased with the position.
- Spain – Pastora just made it into the top 10, and just missed out on breaking 100 points, but I hope she knows what a great finish this is for her country. The last time Spain made it to 10th place was in 2004.
- Macedonia – Again, 13th was a good result for Macedonia. Qualifying alone was a good result for Macedonia, actually.
- Greece– Greece didn’t make the top 10 for the first time since 2003, and I think it’s justified.
- Bosnia & Herzegovina
- Ireland – I really hope a result like this discourages Jedward from coming back next year. I don’t think I can take any more of those two sober.
- United Kingdom – All I can say is, 11th with 100 points doesn’t look so bad now, does it?
- Norway – In 2009, my favourite song came last in the final. I didn’t think I was in any danger of that happening this year, but it turns out I know NOTHING. How on Earth did this happen? And on Tooji’s birthday, of all days. The poor guy! Apparently Europe’s gift to him was an extraordinarily low amount of points.
That’s my overview of Baku done and dusted! But wait – there will be more. There’s still the split results to be dissected, and in the period between now and then I’ve got some annual awards to give out, among other things.
For now I’ll leave you with this year’s winning act: Euphoria, by Loreen, from Sweden with love (and fake snow).
- 1 controversy surrounding the construction of the venue: I’d say that there should have been a tad more planning put into this project so that nobody had to knock on the doors of a bunch of Azerbaijanis and say ‘I’m terribly sorry to interrupt your breakfast/lunch/dinner/grandmother’s funeral, but I’m afraid we have to build a gigantic stadium on the top of your house now.’ Or something like that. There’s no doubt the Crystal Hall will be amazing, but no amount of amazingness can justify making people homeless. Unless it’s made of actual crystal…NO. Not even then!
- 42 participating countries so far: Every year, around September, I make a point of having a nervous breakdown. Why? Well, it’s not because my birthday is in that month and I am freaking out about getting older (which would be understandable because last September I turned twenty and found a grey hair). It’s actually because the number of confirmed ESC nations is hovering around the 31-34 mark and I panic that it won’t get any higher. Thankfully, it always does. This year’s contest has the potential to have 44 entries, but if it’s 42, I’ll be more than happy, especially since last year’s returnees, Austria, Hungary and Italy (allegedly) are back once more.
- 1 comeback country: Give me an ‘M’! Give me an ‘O’! Give me a…oh God, I cannot be bothered. It’s Montenegro, okay? In the past I’ve found it odd that Serbia kicks bottom at Eurovision whereas its former spouse struggled three times in the semis before calling it quits. But, perhaps inspired by the changes being brought about by the presence of juries in the voting, Montenegro are back, and despite my being less than fond of their entries, I’m glad. 2012 will be another chance for them to pick a winner – or at least a qualifier (with their artist being called Rambo Amadeus, the latter is all I’m hoping for).
- 1 withdrawing country: Poland is out and the mourning is well underway. There’s not much to say on this matter apart from ‘I sure hope Poland come back in 2013, preferably with Edyta Gorniak or Ich Troje (now with yellow or purple hair!)’. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
- 2 ‘will they, won’t they?’ countries: No, neither of them is Slovakia, although you can expect Slovakia to start messing with us again any day now. It is, in fact, Armenia and Morocco. I have a bad feeling they may be missing in Baku. As far as Armenia goes, I find this uncertain status very sad, because they are a trusty Eurovision nation and the idea that they may have to sit this year’s contest out because they can’t be guaranteed safety in Azerbaijan, to be blunt, sucks. Even more so because Eurovision was created to unite the continent.
- 26 participants in this year’s final: Wow, that means it’ll be almost as marathon as the 2007 semi during which my entire bottom half went numb from sitting on the couch too long! Awesome! But why is it so? Well, that’s because not only do we have the Big 4 (the UK, Spain, Germany and France) but we have the newest member of that exclusive set, Italy (obviously making it a Big 5. I may not have done any maths since high school, but I can count up to ten), and the host country. Add that to the 20 semi final advancers and you have the magic two-six.
- 26th of January (when the semi final allocation draw will take place): I don’t honestly believe that any particular performance position – except for maybe last – helps a song to qualify, but that doesn’t stop me from immediately setting about predicting once the draw is done. This January draw will determine who sings in each semi, as well as in which half, and that alone is enough to get speculation going.
- 2 selected songs: I think it’s safe to say that right now, Switzerland is the favourite to win. Unbreakable by Sinplus would definitely deserve the honour and shiny trophy in my book when compared with the “interesting” “song” that is Suus by Rona Nishliu, Albania’s pick. I’ll leave my spite for some proper reviews later in the year (although, if Suus is reworked enough – i.e. completely – the spite level may have decreased by then).
- 8 selected artists: Here’s the role call – Iris, Maya Sar, Ivi Adamou, Anggun, Kaliopi, Rambo Amadeus, Zeljko Joksimović and Pastora Soler. I’ll assume you already know which country they’ll be representing (if you don’t, see if you can figure it out by the names…consider it a fun little game!). It looks like Belgium and Cyprus are going down the Lena route by choosing someone young and fresh, whereas France, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Spain are bringing out the big guns with chart-topping, established artists. As for Bosnia & Herzegovina? Well, they’re taking a leaf out of Iceland and/or Georgia’s book by kidnapping last year’s backing singer and forcing them at glitter-gunpoint to sing this year (but without the violence, I guess – I hear Maya was fully consenting). Personally, I’m hanging out to hear what Zeljko will come up with, as he is the creator of two of my favourite Eurovision songs of all time, and another cracking one. He’s under a heap of pressure to deliver the goods, but I reckon he can.
- 7 national selections scheduled for January: As I write this, here’s the go – Bosnia & Herzegovina, France, Slovakia and Turkey will have both songs and artists by the end of the month; Denmark’s MGP will be on the 21st; Cyprus will pick a song for Ivi on the 25th; and Belarus will make their decision on the 28th. As you read this, none of the above is likely to be true. NFs are so very fickle!
- Today’s final number is a triple-digit 100, for the amount of times per day I think about how excited I am for Melodifestivalen. The list of entrants for 2012 reads like a who’s who of Swedish music (which is kind of what it is). I’ll be keeping my eye on…
– Loreen and Danny Saucedo, two of my favourites from last year
– The Moniker, since last year he came third (like a certain Eric Saade did back in 2010 before coming back and winning!)
– Timoteij, because they are amazing. Obviously.
– Ulrik Munther, the Swedish Justin Bieber (there’s one in every country. Australia’s is Cody Simpson. Who’s yours? Unless you live in Canada in which case your Bieber IS Bieber, and I’m very sorry for that).
– Afro-Dite, Andreas Lundstedt, Molly Sandèn and Charlotte Perrelli, because they have all graced the Eurovision stage in the past – some once, some 7564 times (and it’s still not enough is it, Charlotte?) and others on a smaller scale.
So that’s my overblown numerical take on the stale 2012 news that everyone had known about forever. I hope you enjoyed it, and do come back, because I promise to post more regularly and be more hilarious than ever this year. Well, I did at about 11.58pm on December 31st anyway.
Happy New Year!
What are you most looking forward to in the 2012 Eurovision season? Who are you excited to see in the national finals?