Hey there! I haven’t seen you since, like, last year. #badjoke #stilltrue #yeswearestillusinghashtagsprofuselyin2014.
That’s right – we are officially in two-zero-one-four, the year of Copenhagen, Valletta (mebbe) and Sochi (the Olympic Games are the Eurovision Song Contests of the sporting world). I’ve only just managed to bring myself to acknowledge that, because to me time is disappearing faster than Jedward’s hairspray stockpile and I can’t believe 2013 is no more already.
The end of last year was a total blur, what with Christmas and NYE and the subsequent food/drink comas, and as such I haven’t blogged since before the day of much turkey and pudding. I didn’t get to wish you guys a Merry Christmas, or a Happy New Year, or ask what you thought of my resolutions which include extending my cooking prowess to something more elaborate than scrambled eggs, and learning an entire Eminem song off by heart. So on behalf of all the slackers out there, I hope you had a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and that you don’t think the Eminem thing is a joke because it isn’t.
My first post of 2014 is a little unusual, if only because it’s going out on the wrong day. Basically, I had a Time-Warp Tuesday in me that needed to come out, and the fact that today is Friday wasn’t going to stop me. You see, I’ve spent a lot of the festive break losing myself in the ESCs of recent history, which I hadn’t done in a while and felt it was overdue. So far I’ve relived the extravaganzas from Stockholm, Tallinn, Riga and Istanbul, and been reminded of the absolute gems (such as Dime, one of Spain’s best-ever entries IMO) and horrifying disasters (Switzerland’s Celebrate never gets better) they brought us. As a result, you can expect a decent amount of Time-Warp Tuesdays over the next few months (some of which may even come out on a Tuesday) to focus on songs from these contests.
That brings me to the subject of today’s TWT. But was it a gem or a disaster in my eyes? Read on to find out…if you haven’t already figured it out from the title of this post.
Where: Tallinn, Estonia
Who: Karolina Gočeva
What: Od Nas Zavisi
Let’s be honest – there were a lot of lame entries on show when Estonia hosted its first Eurovision. Lithuania? Lame. Austria? Catchy but lame. Belgium? Lame, and a little WTF. There were also a lot of inexplicable results. Latvia’s win I still don’t understand (the words ‘it should have been Malta!’ come to mind). Romania’s dull and depressing ballad making the top 10 mystifies me. And don’t get me STARTED on Denmark coming last (the pain…).
FYR Macedonia was also the victim of injustice in ’02, so much so that I have to go on about it for more than one sentence. The statuesque Karolina would go on to get revenge of some sort in 2007 when she qualified from her semi, and finished high enough to automatically qualify her country for the 2008 final (only for the two-nights-of-semis thing to be introduced and relegate FYROM back to a week night). But back in the Tallinn days, it was her first shot at the trophy, and she had a damn good stab at winning it.
Od Nas Zavisi (It Depends On Us) is a dramatic, ethnic ballad that has become one of my favourite entries in the history of forever. The studio version is amazing, and Karolina is a great live vocalist, so room for error only lay in the staging on the night. Did she/her delegation mess up in that respect? Umm, no. The staging was dynamic without being distracting, and included a costume reveal that, whilst not as unique as Marie N’s, took place at the perfect moment – it was almost like it was part of the song. Speaking of costuming – I don’t know what the Macedonian word for ‘perfection’ is, but those gowns were it. With her high braid and dark lip, Karolina was ahead of her time, trend-wise…especially when compared to the likes of Bosnia & Herzegovina and Spain, whose leading ladies were dressed more appropriately for a funeral than a glitzy televised song contest.
I know costume is only one aspect of a winning package, but can we all agree that if Marie N had just stood on the stage in a pastel pantsuit and sung I Wanna, it would have been Ira Losco on top of the scoreboard? With that in mind, and FYROM’s flawless delivery of an epic song, I can’t fathom how Karolina ended the night in 19th place, with 25 measly points. Finishing above her: the bollocks from Belgium, the repetitive earworm from Austria, and Israel, which I’ve just never ‘gotten’. The Romanian jury gave her douze, but only four other countries saw fit to give her anything.
Maybe it doesn’t matter what the result of your favourite song is – no puny amount of points is going to stop you enjoying it, right? But I can’t help feeling perplexed on Karolina’s, and Macedonia’s, behalf, as to why this bombed. Was it a case of wrong place, wrong time? After all, she returned with what I think was a weaker song, and did a whole lot better. Did performing right after the host country screw her over? Or am I just a lonely fan of Od Nas, and you all want me to shut up about it?
What do you blame for Karolina’s unfortunate result? Which other entries of 2002 got a raw deal?
Contest: 47th –Tallinn, Estonia
Artist: Michalis Rakintzis
Result: 17th, 27 points
Greece is one of those golden, untouchable ESC countries. The ones that, no matter what they send – like, even if it was an ethno-rap song performed by a talent show winner and a man way too old to be wearing a baseball cap (as if…) – are guaranteed a place in the top ten. Right?
No. No they aren’t.
Nor are Greece always fronted by a young, hot, buff and tanned type wearing something short and tight. Sometimes, it’s an older, pastier guy wearing something that has to be seen to be believed (though I would describe it as the sartorial love child of a bin liner, and a set of knee pads, with a little tin foil thrown in for good measure – jealous much, Lady Gaga?). Sometimes, the song this Old Pasty Guy is performing is not an up-tempo pop song with added bouzouki for extra appeal, but more of a 1980s wannabe rock track with a chorus that makes most people with functioning ears want to un-function them.
Apparently, I am not most people, because S.A.G.A.P.O. is one of my guilty Eurovision pleasures. Enjoy it…or not.
A song that should have won
Congratulations by Cliff Richard (UK 1968, 2nd place)
Cinéma by Paola (Switzerland 1980, 4th place)
Why Do I Always Get It Wrong? by Live Report (UK 1989, 2nd place)
To Nie Ja! by Edyta Gorniak (Poland 1994, 2nd place)
Die For You by Antique (Greece 2001, 3rd place)
Shady Lady by Ani Lorak (Ukraine 2008, 2nd place)
But the one that really should have won is:
7th Wonder by Ira Losco (Malta 2002, 2nd place)
I feel I may have picked this simply because I detest the song that actually won, but in my heart of hearts I do feel 2002 should’ve been Malta’s year. Give me a catchy song, flared all-in-one and glitter blow any day over a strip tease and an ‘ay yai yai yai yaaaaa!’
PS – I just want to say that I was thinking of the families of the 9/11 victims today. Stay strong everyone.
Least favourite winner
De Troubadour by Lenny Kuhr (Netherlands 1969)
All Kinds of Everything by Dana (Ireland 1970)
Why Me by Linda Martin (Ireland 1992)
But my worst is:
I Wanna by Marie N (Latvia 2002)
Let me tell you something, Marie – I don’t wanna! It’s not just the fact that there were so many better songs in 02 that should have beaten this. Just as a standalone song….oh my god! Nearly a decade on and I’m still in disbelief. Very, very, grudging props for the suit-to-dress thing though.