The most memorable performance
Sweden 1974 (Waterloo by ABBA)
Spain 1990 (Bandido by Azucar Moreno)
United Kingdom 2003 (Cry Baby by Jemini)
Finland 2006 (Hard Rock Hallelujah by Lordi)
Ukraine 2009 (Be My Valentine (Anti-Crisis Girl) by Svetlana Loboda)
Spain 2010 (Algo Pequeñito by Daniel Diges)
Italy 2011 (Madness of Love by Raphael Gualazzi)
But my most memorable is:
Ukraine 2010 (Sweet People by Alyosha)
I rate this as my most memorable because it took me completely by surprise – and I’ll never forget it. It wasn’t a song I rated initially, but much like Cyprus this year, something just happened when it came to the live performance. The simplicity of Alyosha standing there, in that crazy-awesome bodysuit/dress-with-tentacles ensemble, with the wind machine and the red lights, and singing like a champion…wow. It’s definitely a performance I can’t look away from!
Favourite song from a national final (that should have gone to Eurovision)
Cara Mia by Måns Zelmerlow (Sweden 2007)
Zavet by Beauty Queens (Serbia 2008)
La Histeria by Marquess (Germany 2008)
Razborka by The Nicole (Sweden 2008)
Breathing by Bryan Rice (Denmark 2010)
You’re Out of My Life by Darin (Sweden 2010)
Or by Chen Aharoni (Israel 2011)
But my favourite is:
Nada Es Comparable A Ti by Mirela (Spain 2009)
So her live vocal is a bit off. So what? The song itself is amazing, and wouldn’t have had to work hard to improve on Soraya’s result (her vocals, may I say, were not exactly worth writing home about). The studio version is one of the most listened to/spine-tingling moment tracks on my iPod. Mucho amor!
Listen to the studio version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ODdQ2A_l1Q&feature=related
1. 2007 in Helsinki, Finland: Jaana Pelkonen & Mikko Leppilampi
I’m pretty sure these two wrote Hosting Eurovision In A Genuinely Comedic, Enthusiastic, Engaging and Professional Way Without Making The Home Viewers Want To Thrust Their Fists Through The TV Screen: For Dummies. Bravo, and douze points!
2. 2010 in Oslo, Norway: Nadia Hasnaoui, Haddy N’jie & Eric Solbakken
There’s always a shining beacon among a trio of hosts and in Oslo it was Eric, who provided some much-needed comic relief by donning a Milan Stanković wig and InCulto hotpants (I’m still wondering where you buy those), among other things. But the ladies were faultless, despite begging the question, “Why so serious?”.
3. 2004 in Istanbul, Turkey: Meltem Cumbul & Korhan Abay
I’m still not entirely certain that Mr. Abay was alive back then, but he did a pretty good job of compeering alongside Miss Cumbul. I particularly liked their banter about George Clooney and Pamela Anderson (the resemblance is uncanny!).
4. 2011 in Düsseldorf, Germany: Anke Engelke, Judith Rakers & Stefan Raab
If it’d been Anke on her own, she’d be at the top, but as it is she can thank Judith (who I’m sure is a great news presenter but at the ESC had all the enthusiasm of Norway when they discovered they hadn’t qualified) and Stefan (who needed to be surgically removed from his guitar) for dragging her down to 4th place.
5. 2002 in Tallinn, Estonia: Annely Peebo & Marko Matvere
There’s little I love more than hosts presenting a pre-shot fantasy sequence of themselves singing an ode to their ‘love’ and laughing gaily when one catches the other in a face pack. Amazingly 2002 gave me exactly that. Very sweet.
6. 2008 in Belgrade, Serbia: Jovana Janković & Željko Joksimović
These two weren’t bad, but I reckon they should stick to their day jobs if Eurovision lands inSerbia again in their lifetime.
7. 2005 in Kyiv, Ukraine: Maria “Masha” Efrosnina & Pavlo “Pasha” Shylko
If you look up ‘Painfully scripted dialogue’ in the dictionary, there’s a toothy photograph of this duo underneath it.
8. 2006 in Athens, Greece: Maria Menounos & Sakis Rouvas
Great show, Greece. Not so good = the presenters. Did Maria know what Eurovision was before she was asked to host it? I’m not sure. Her partnership with Greek god Sakis was a bit of a shambles in any case, with plenty of stumbles to go round and a cringe-worthy lip-sync from his end.
9. 2009 in Moscow, Russia: Natalia Vodianova & Andrey Malahov/ Alsou & Ivan Urgant
Alsou and Ivan were perfectly adequate hosts, but they pale in comparison to the horror show (or lust-fest, whichever you prefer) that was the Supermodel and the Sleaze of the Semi Finals. Shudder.
10. 2003 in Riga, Latvia: Marie N & Renars Kaupers
I’m sorry, but if I’m watching the ’03 contest and there’s a wall nearby, it’s usually less than a minute after Marie and Renars emerge that I’m driven up it. I wasn’t a huge fan of (read: I really hated) the former’s winning song, so it was easy to turn my nose up at her hosting skills. But I loved Renars in Brainstorm! Perhaps that’s the kind of fronting he should stick to.
Just to let you fellow Eurovisionaries know: I’ve made it my mission to blog all year, every year, which can be a tough ask when there’s little happening on the ESC/JESC fronts. But I do have a bunch of random posts lined up, so I thought I’d do up a little schedule to keep you informed of when to expect them, if you’re interested. Remember, it’s two or more a week in twenty-eleven!
Tuesdays: Time Warp Tuesday
Fridays/Saturdays: A random feature, rant, news update or top 10
And of course, a surprise post anytime if I feel like it!
Stay alerted by following EBJ on Twitter, liking on Facebook (links in the sidebar) and/or subscribing (link at the bottom of the page).
In random order:
This Is My Life by Anna Bergendahl (Sweden 2010)
Lejla by Hari Mata Hari (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2006)
Lako Je Sve by Feminnem (Croatia 2010)
Tornero by Mihai Traistariu (Romania 2006)
Džuli by Daniel (Yugoslavia 1983)
Horehronie by Kristina (Slovakia 2010)
Die For You by Antique (Greece 2001)
Wild Dances by Ruslana (Ukraine 2004)
We Could Be The Same by MaNga (Turkey 2010)
Allez Ola Ole by Jessy Matador (France 2010)
Angel Si Ti by Miro (Bulgaria 2010)
Glow by Madcon (Interval 2010 – I think it counts!)
Rijeka Bez Imena by Maria (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2007)
Anytime You Need by Hayko (Armenia 2007)
Run Away by Sunstroke Project (Moldova 2010)
Follow My Heart by Ich Troje (Poland 2006)
Rändajad by Urban Symphony (Estonia 2009)
Cipela by Marko Kon & Milaan (Serbia 2009)
Se Pa Mig by Jan Johansen (Sweden 1995)
Nur Ein Lied by Thomas Forstner (Austria 1989)
What are your most played Eurovision songs? Let me know!
Sorry for the layout of this post, but I’m having trouble with the graphics/text combo at the moment. Anyway, this is Part 1 of my ESC haul, which is something that I’ve wanted to do for ages, ever since I became obsessed with watching haul videos on Youtube. For those of you not clued-in to the trend (I for one was quite behind on getting into it), hauls are basically: random people uploading videos where they show you what they bought on a shopping trip, or got for Christmas, or have collectively amassed over a long period of time, and where they got it.
My Eurovision merchandise has been collected over a long period, and though I have done a collection blog before, it has gotten a lot bigger since then – so I wanted to show you how! This is a true haul however, so not only will I be showing you photos of the stuff, but letting you know exactly what I love about it, and where I got it from. So if you’re missing anything from your own hefty pile of ESC trinkets, I hope I can help you out.
Just a few notes:
- I haven’t got any 2011 things yet, so don’t call me up on that!
- If you think I’m missing something that every fan should own, please let me know here or via Facebook/Twitter (you can find the links to both of those on the sidebar). And of course feel free to chat to me about anything else ESC.
- Hauls are great, but they often attract a lot of negative attention from people who think showing off what you own/have purchased is, well, showing off. This is in no way what mine is about. All I want is to give you a look into the ESC side of my life (a large side!). So if you don’t like this sort of thing, don’t read!
But if you do, look out for Part 2 soon.
PS – There’s 10 days until Semi Final #1, and the rehearsals begin on Sunday. It’s really happening! You can download the full (and very complicated) rehearsal schedule from eurovision.tv to see when your country will take to the stage for the first time.
Last night, the long-awaited entry from France premiered on the program Chabada, and the official preview video was let loose into the cybersphere! Watch Amaury Vassili stand on majestic cliffs, drive convertibles whilst running a hand through his hair and flicking through countless photographs of himself and a long-lost love (really admiring the bouffant-ness of said hair) right here:
I have to point out that this is the polar opposite of France’s entry from last year, which I have to confess I shook my thing quite vigorously to. Unfortunately, there will be no shaking of any body parts to this number – but what a number it is! The juries will be in a frenzy over this dramatic, climactic piece of opera, and the response from fans has been positive so far too, which bodes well for another one of those countries that has struggled to win people over in the contest for a while. Mr. Vassili’s voice sounds like it should belong to a middle-aged, overweight Italian man with a moustache, which also works in his favour, making him resemble the rich man’s Didrik Solli-Tangen (no offence to my darling Didrik intended). But can these elements really come together to make a winner in this day and age?
As I mentioned, fans have reacted well to this song, many proclaiming it as ‘The One’. However it strikes me as a song that will be lifted into the top six or so by the juries and some enamored voters, but will be pipped into the top three, and indeed to the gold medal, by something more stereotypically Eurovision – think Patricia Kaas, whose 2009 sixth place was a boon for France, but whose cabaret-inspired chanson was never going to outrank Norway or Iceland, songs that catered better to modern ESC tastes.
Lots of people have also stated that Sognu is “too good for Eurovision”. But I don’t believe there is such a thing! It is a song contest after all, and that allows anything, no matter how lyrically or musically substantial, or clichéd and novelty, to participate. Sure, we all know that the contest is not always about substance, but it has always brought us diversity, not just in style but in quality. What makes this song “too good” in comparison to Serbia and Montenegro from 2004? Or Amina Annabi’s entry back in 1991 which very nearly took out the top prize (and was also described as being too superior to participate)? Or even Patricia? Maybe is it simply the opera genre that has people saying this, as it is one that holds more credibility than your average pop or rock song. I’m sure there will be people out there who can’t stand this entry and wouldn’t dream of insinuating that its standard would be lowered by being in Eurovision. Then again, saying that a song is too good and implying that it won’t succeed is also implying that Eurovision fans don’t have the capacity to appreciate more credibly perceived genres and therefore vote for them. And that is just not true, a fact proven by the great results of the songs I mentioned – and many more that I didn’t.
Anyway, I just wanted to have that little rant. My personal thoughts on the song are that it is perfect for Eurovision – it really hits the aural heights, and will do a nice job of breaking up the pop/rock/ethnic/ballad numbers that will fill up the final, giving us a full smorgasbord of musical treats to look forward to! Whilst the straight opera genre is not my preference to listen to (I do like a bit of popera, though), it’s music to my ears, quite literally, when combined with all of those other genres on the Eurovision stage. So I’m giving it 8 points.
Before I go and do some coursework (a.k.a. what I SHOULD be doing at this moment), I’ll just mention the upcoming action in National Final Land. Israel’s lineup go head to head this evening in Kdam, one of which is Dana International. Will her song Ding Dong get her back in the fold, or will it be a new face (and a more promisingly titled song) we see in Germany for the Israelis? 12 hours or so, and we will know!
According to the free (code for: extremely unreliable) encyclopedia, Hungary will make their internal selection tomorrow, so look out for that, before the UK FINALLY presents I Can on Friday, joined by San Marino and Senit. Saturday brings us, if all goes according to plan, the final two selections/presentations, with Sweden’s Melodifestivalen final (also known as The Eric Saade Show) and Russia’s revelation. Six songs, six countries, six more possible winners – I’m excited! Keep dropping by for my verdicts, and all the fun of the lead-up to Düsseldorf.
62 days to go!
All you Eurovisionaries may or may not be aware of the weekly podcasts from ESC Insight, and their accompanying website, one that takes an in-depth look at the contest through feature articles, reviews and more (www.escinsight.com). If you haven’t visited iTunes to subscribe to the podcasts, put it at the top of your priority list, because they are great! They began by judging the 2010 entries, but have expanded to keep us all up to date with the latest Düsseldorf developments, gossip, national finals and everything else that is Eurovision-related. At the moment, the podcasts are mainly devoted to the subject of winners, in what they call the Ultimate Jukebox Jury, in which four winners (and occasionally a well-reputed wildcard) are pitted against each other on the long road to determining THE greatest Eurovision song EVER! Hurrah!
I’ve been enjoying these UJJ’s immensely, so much so that they got me wondering: which winner would I deem the best of them all? We all have those songs which we like better than others, and those that didn’t really make an impact on us. It was difficult for me to pick my absolute favourite, so I’ve spent a bit of time compiling a list of my top ten winners ever instead (which involved a great amount of last-minute switching) which I have scored in the good old-fashioned ESC way. There is a numero uno song that I’m not sure many people will agree with, but remember these are my opinions. If you have one, which I’m sure you do, share your top ten with me here or on Facebook (just search for Eurovision By Jaz =D). So, I present to you Part 1 of Jaz’s Terrific Ten:
#10. 1974/ Waterloo/ ABBA
I can’t see many a top ten Eurovision winner list existing without Waterloo, the quintessential ESC song, on it! There may be cries of outrage at my only deigning to place it at number ten, but it’s my prerogative (I say, sticking my tongue out).
The song is irresistibly catchy and was well-sung and performed by the then relatively unknown Swedish supergroup. Its mark on Eurovision has never faded – think of how many entries (and not just those from Sweden) have emulated this one since then and up to now. More than a decade ago, Charlotte Nilsson’s 1999 victory was with a song that reeks of Waterloo. Even in 2010, Sieneke’s Smurf song for the Netherlands filled the Telenor Arena with a very similar sound. Waterloo is a classic winner, and I don’t think any amount of attempted replication by Scandinavia and beyond will ever measure up. One point goes to ABBA in my countdown.
#9. 2007/ Molitva/ Marija Šerifovic
2007 was a year when, unlike 2009, few could have predicted the outcome of Eurovision. The majority of press and fan attention was focused on a fabulous tin-foil encased, Maybelline guinea pig named Verka Seduchka and whether or not his/her song was indeed bidding goodbye to Russia. And yet it was a drastically different song and performer who took out the top prize that May in Helsinki.
Molitva is my idea of a stellar ballad, one that I didn’t find clichéd, despite the fact that in essence it was ridden with them (flute interlude, loveheart gimmick, backup singers rallying behind emoting soloist…). It is anthemic, it is powerful, and it was belted out by a faultless vocalist in a dapper suit. In comparison to Verka, the whole thing was very understated and serious, but they were both great songs. In the end though, I think Serbia was the right winner. Two points.
#8. 2000/ Fly On the Wings of Love/ Olsen Brothers
This is another song (featuring pan flutes) that almost came out of nowhere to win. I must mention that I do prefer Alsou’s Solo over FOTWOL and wish a little bit that it had won instead…but having said that, there is something about the Olsen brothers’ humble song that I just love. They may have been middle-aged back then – I can only assume they’re in nursing homes now – but hey, they employed the use of a vocoder years before Kanye West decided it was worthy of his genius (though not before Cher. Darn you Cher…) and I liked it! The chorus is great to sing along to in the car/shower/middle of dinner etc which is always a point-scorer for ESC songs, and the rest is simple and repetitive but catchy enough to catch your attention. Or mine, at least. Three points for the Danish duo.
#7. 2006/ Hard Rock Hallelujah/ Lordi
Ask someone to name a Eurovision winner from the last five years and it’s highly likely you’ll receive one of two responses: a) A vacant look and a ‘Euro-what what?’; or b) ‘The monsters from Finland!’ or something to that effect. Yes, 2006 brought us one of the most unforgettable winners in Lordi, and a song that somehow managed to appeal to even the hardcore pop fans like moi. Hard Rock Hallelujah stood miles out from the rest of the entries despite what I believe was a strong year. I’m betting that after 40+ years of failure to win, very few Finns thought that a heavy rock song performed by Lord of the Rings extras who had forgotten to remove their costumes would be the one to clinch it.
Once again there is just something about the song, even when you remove the visual, that is special. For me, it’s the one where I take my hair out, put my hands in the air like I just don’t care, and do some neck-injuring head banging…generally alone. In my lounge room (mosh pit for one, anyone?). It just goes from level to level, getting better as it goes along. And it sure packs a hell pf a punch in three minutes. A monstrous four points to you, Lordi.
#6. 1963/ Dansevise/ Grethe & Jørgen Ingmann
Denmark’s first winner and a very unusual song make 6th position on my list. James Bond movies come to mind when I hear it – there’s an air of mystery and intrigue in the sound. After seven years of relatively similar winners (no discredit to them), this broke the mould simply because it wasn’t quite a ballad and it wasn’t quite a happy-clappy tune either. It’s very surreal. Yeah, I can definitely see 007 romancing a woman (shirtless) or deep-sea diving (shirtless) to this. Or even having a fitful dream. Still shirtless.
There are not many Eurovision songs pre-1980 that I love, perhaps due to my age, my taste or coincidence. But Dansevise gets me every time. Five points.
So there you have it – points 1-5 have been allocated and my justifications made. But which five songs have scored the big points with me? You’ll have to wait and see! Drop by again soon if you want to know ‘my number one’*.
* It isn’t My Number One, FYI.
I’ve already expressed my confusion over why Albania must have their selection on Christmas Day. I mean, for the finalists, they have the chance of going to represent their country at Eurovision, which is obviously a boon – but they miss out on the turkey and pudding! Maybe I’ll have an extra helping on their behalf 😉
Two semi finals over as many days will lead to the 18-strong final tomorrow, one of which has already seen 9 artists including one newcomer, advance. I don’t think many of us outside of Albania will recognize any names from this semi, but performing the song ‘Pranë’ in the second semi is none other than Kejsi Tola, the teenager who took to the Moscow stage in 2009 in a tutu, with a couple of street mimes and Gumby in tow (whatever happened to that wonderful bluish man anyway?). I haven’t heard her song yet, but nor have I heard Eric Saade’s entry into Melodifestivalen next year, and that hasn’t stopped me from wanting him to get to the final!
In addition, Adrian Hila and Pandi Laço, the duo who brought us Olta Boka’s entry in 2008, are back with another song I haven’t heard, to be sung by Enkeleda Arifi, a singer whom I don’t know (rely on this author for well-informed postings!). It’ll be interesting to see how Kejsi, and Panda – as I will now refer to Adrian and Pandi – do. Will they both get through to the decider? Will we see Kejsi have shot number two at ESC, and if so, will she bring the blue man with her? (I know I have an unhealthy obsession with him, FYI). Even if she doesn’t, I trust Albania to choose a decent and unique song, something they’ve managed to do often since their 2004 debut, which in my opinion was one of their best selections.
In the meantime, ladies and gents, enjoy your Christmas, however you choose to celebrate it. Let me know if you celebrate it by watching the Albanian final, won’t you? Because then you may be the person who celebrates NYE by watching the Romanian final, and therefore I admire you! Yes, there’s an even smaller gap between songs this time. Next weekend Romania picks their representative for Düsseldorf in what I must say is a final bulging with muscles – aka a very strong one. I’m hoping for Mihai Alexandru, Adi Cristescu, Rallsa, Claudia Pavel, Leticia or the Blaxy Girls, but only one will be having a particularly fabulous start to 2011. I hope you guys do too! See you soon.
DON’T BE ALARMED! This is not a post devoted to Lithuania’s Eurovision entry from 2006. Though it was apt to borrow some lyrics for this title, so LT United – cheers.
This is what it’s really about:
Happy voting =)
(PS – Just in case your wondering, my pick is a tie between 2006 and 2010…but I love them all really)
Recently, as I was reliving the unbeatable extravaganza that was Moscow 2009 on my laptop, my dad emerged from the dark recesses of the lounge room to make himself a cup of tea. This was not an unusual event in itself – it happens every night (don’t click away just yet; I swear I have a point). What got me thinking was his remark, after he had asked me what I was watching (as if I would be watching anything else musical). To my reply of “Do you have to ask?” came this response: “It doesn’t sound like Eurovision.” The country that was on at the time was Sweden, which as you’ll know was Malena Ernman with La Voix. This got me thinking. What exactly does Eurovision sound like?
You and I, loyal ESC fans, have been there as the music has become more diverse from one decade to the next, and adapted to the myriad of sounds that is no longer limited to schlager or ballads. But what is the Eurovision sound to non-fans like my dad? I think we can rule out popera.
A lot of the people that make fun of the contest must be stuck in a time warp, thinking they know what a Eurovision song is, as if there’s one formula that everyone follows. Eurovision is not Making Your Mind Up, nor is it Dancing Lasha Tumbai. Those songs are awesome, but they don’t encompass all of the other entries that came before and after them. Nowadays anything could be a Eurovision song. California Guurls? Sure. Cooler Than Me? Why not? Even that new one from the guy who used to front Live which sounds exactly the same as a Live song could represent the UK or … well, anywhere really. Consider these:
The Highest Heights (Lovebugs); Satellite (Lena); Sanomi (Urban Trad); For Real (Athena); Lady Alpine Blue (Mumuiy Troll); In My Dreams (Wig Wam); No No Never (Texas Lightning); We Could Be The Same (Manga); Unsubstantial Blues (Magdi); There Must Be Another Way (Noa & Mira Awad); Pokusaj (Laka); Et S’il Fallait Le Faire (Patricia Kaas).
If I played these songs from the last decade of ESC to the people who take great pride in squeezing the credibility out of ESC with zero evidentiary support (besides something they’ve been told or a snippet of a song they heard twenty years ago) without telling them they were entries, they’d never guess. The Highest Heights is an aural doppelganger for a good portion of indie songs on Triple J, a youth-aimed alternative radio station here in Oz. Satellite could have been Kate Nash’s or Lily Allen’s latest single. I could go on.
So I will. A song I have to mention is the one that shocked everyone, fans and haters alike, when it romped to a monster (pun wholeheartedly intended) victory four years ago. I refer, of course, to Hard Rock Hallelujah. “How could THAT impress Eurovision fans?” I hear the anti-ESC crowd yelp. “Why on Earth would they vote for a bunch of instrument-thrashing extras from The Lord of the Rings over the happy clappy sequin-encrusted Eurotrash that populates that ridiculous featherfest?” I’ll tell you why, peeps. Because times have a-changed, and our minds are open. And we obsessors know that Eurovision has never even been about happy clappy sequin-encrusted Eurotrash. Well not totally (What’s wrong with a bit of that anyway?). You can never guess who will bring what to the table in the preselections each year, even Sweden, the country with the most schlager-tastic reputation of all. Hey, without them, and Malena, and ‘la vwah’ I never would have written this genius post =)
So next time you relive a contest through sight or sound, pay some attention to the diversity, and you’ll see that the Eurovision sound is everywhere and nowhere. Dad, you can no longer say “That doesn’t sound like Eurovision” to anything, unless it’s the Dukes of Hazzard horn.*
* I’m not saying novelty horns are excluded from the ESC sound collective; in fact there’s a high likelihood of their making an appearance onstage in the future. All I’m alluding here is that due to the contest rules, the DOH horn would be disqualified, having already been published.
I think I’ll stop talking now.