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Flashbaku: My most-played entries, one year on

Before I had a looksee at my play stats of the Baku 42, I had zero expectations. What with my ever-changing moods and the bias my iPod seems to have towards particular songs when it’s on shuffle mode (I swear those things have minds of their own and will one day rise up and take control of planet Earth) there was no guarantee that the entries I rated the highest a year ago would make equally high appearances on this list. It turns out that, while some of them clawed their way up, songs that I didn’t realise I had a penchant for bumped others way down. I’ll let you decide which are which, as I present to you the 20 entries of 2012 that I’ve listened to most since May.

 

#1 | Love Unlimited by Sofi Marinova

If you happened to be drinking when you read this, I apologise for the liquid you just spat out all over yourself in shock and/or horror. Then again, if you’ve read me before you should know that I am probably the #1 fan of this song, worldwide. I don’t think Sofi herself loves it as much as I do (although she has had to sing it a billion times, so the boredom must have set in by now). So why have I played it more times than any other of the 2012 entries? Well, I just think it’s incredibly catchy (great to dance wildly to in the comfort of any place where there are no other humans present), I love the mixed languages in the chorus (great for singing along to in the same situation) and I find it super motivating (great for jogging to, etc). What a useful song it is.

#2 | Waterline by Jedward

#3 | Euphoria by Loreen

#4 | Zaleilah by Mandinga

I’ve been playing zaleilah-leilah-lay almost everyday, everybody.

I’ve been playing zaleilah-leilah-lay almost everyday, everybody.

#5 | Kuula by Ott Lepland

#6 | När Jag Blundar by Pernilla Karlsson

I want to compare this to Hungary ’13, being the simple, quiet and pretty but not too well-liked song that it is, that I and a few others I know LOVE. But Kedvesem has actually proved itself more popular than I expected, so you’re on your own, Pernilla. I think this song is really beautiful, well constructed and has a lovely sentiment (having been written by Pernilla’s brother for their mother and all). It gets me all misty-eyed even though I have no idea what she’s singing about because I never bothered to translate the lyrics #mybad. But they say music is the universal language, so if I can get the emotion without knowing what’s being said, that’s acceptable, right?  

#7 | Love Me Back by Can Bonomo

#8 | Aphrodisiac by Eleftheria Eleftheriou

That’s one high-powered wind machine ya got there, Greece.

That’s one high-powered wind machine ya got there, Greece.

#9 | Verjamem by Eva Boto

#10 | Be My Guest by Gaitana

#11 | La La Love by Ivi Adamou

Here’s a song I didn’t think douze-worthy at first, but have gotten more and more obsessed with over the last year. It’s a good thing we’ll have this genuine Cypriot gem and the awesome stage show that accompanied it to cling on to while Despina Olympiou takes to the Malmö stage and bores us all to death (more on that in my upcoming reviews). La La Love wound up 16th in the final, which is an excellent result for Cyprus (it’s practically a win, like it would be for Austria, Switzerland, and co) although once it had qualified I was predicting it to do better. Maybe Ivi’s average vocal was to blame; though that didn’t stop Eric Saade from coming 3rd

#12 | Quédate Conmigo by Pastora Soler

#13 | Standing Still by Roman Lob

#14 | Woki Mit Deim Popo by Trackshittaz

My ultimate guilty pleasure from last year’s lineup.

My ultimate guilty pleasure from last year’s lineup.

#15 | Nije Ljubav Stvar by Željko Joksimović

#16 | Sound Of Our Hearts by Compact Disco

#17 | We Are The Heroes by Litesound

This, even in its post-NF disco-lite version, is SO much better than the tropical trash (albeit damn catchy tropical trash) Belarus are sending this year. The unfortunate thing is that Alyona will likely be much more successful than Litesound, and then she’ll knock on their doors and point and laugh at them because they “stole” her ticket to Eurovision 2012 and she’ll have gotten her revenge. Or perhaps not. Anyway, back to We Are The Heroes: another song written expressly to motivate me when I’m on the treadmill and this close to bailing. Thanks, guys.

#18 | Nebo by Nina Badrić

#19 | Laŭtar by Pasha Parfeny

#20 | When The Music Dies by Sabina Babayeva

Rounding out my most-played list is Baku’s host entry. I have long suspected that Sabs was referring to Running Scared as the thing that made the music die. But that’s irrelevant. This isn’t my favourite entry from Azerbaijan, but it’s one I’m still liking all these months later. I didn’t think it was going to do as well as it did, but I think we’ve all learnt that the power of Azerbaijan-representing, Swedish-penned ballads cannot be underestimated.

 

I’ve showed you mine – show me yours? Which entries of last year have you been playing on repeat?

 

Flashbaku: An Azerbaijan-tastic, bumper Baku quiz!

I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t think us grown-ups get enough opportunities to do childish things, unless we happen to work in a daycare centre (which would be fine by me if there was no kids involved). So for all of you who, like me, spend too much time wishing it was socially acceptable for a twenty-something to finger paint, hula hoop and watch movies starring Hilary Duff, I’ve put together this thought-provoking, Baku-themed quiz…complete with FILL-IN-THE-BLANKS GAMES *insert squeals here*!

This isn’t the first quiz I’ve posted, but I’d like to think this is the hardest (even if it really isn’t). It’s more a test of your memory than anything else, so if you’ve watched the contest a few times over the past year and/or read my Flashbaku recap last week, you should do alright. Not that it matters if you don’t, since there’s nothing up for grabs and nobody will be there to see you succeed or fail. Winning.

So, the only “rules” are:

– All facts have been checked to the best of my ability, and all lyrics have been verified via the official 2012 fan book. If you do spot a mistake, feel free to pick me up on it, but be nice, because it’s nice to be nice to the nice.

– You can find the answers at the bottom of the post. If you decide to cheat, fine, but be warned: Dana International WILL hunt you down and make you walk up the main street of your town wearing her feathered Gaultier.

– Let me know how you did in the comments. I managed to get 100%, but I’m guessing being the person who came up with the Qs and As had something to do with that.

Without further ado, I want to know…

 

bakuquizzz  

THE ARTISTS

Random trivia

a) Macedonia’s Kaliopi failed to pass the pre-qualifying round of a previous ESC with her song Samo Ti. In which year did this take place?

b) What is the real name of Max Jason Mai from Slovakia?

c) What about Donny Montell from Lithuania?

d) Željko Joksimović took to the ESC stage for the second time as composer/artist in Baku. He represented Serbia; but how many other countries has Željko composed a Eurovision song for?

e) Eventual winner Loreen had attempted to represent Sweden in 2011 via Melodifestivalen. What was her entry called?

f) How old was Rona Nishliu when she stepped onstage last year – 25, 28 or 32?

g) Which TV talent show did Ott Lepland win in his home country in 2009?

h) Which member of Pernilla Karlsson’s family wrote her entry När Jag Blundar?

i) What did Buranovskiye Babushki want to do with any proceeds from entering Eurovision?

j) Elena Ionescu fronted Mandinga in Baku. Which past Romanian representative used to be the lead vocalist of the group?

k) Which 2012 artist was once a member of the Sunstroke Project, who represented Moldova in Oslo?

l) Jedward are not known for their conservative clothing. Which snack food did they dress up as during rehearsal week?

m) Who did Roman Lob beat in the Unser Star Für Baku final to win his ticket to Eurovision?

n) Which artist purposely performed without an earpiece during her semi-final?

 

Unscramble these artist names:

a) CKARHTZTIATS

b) IRNA OHDKAZEJ

c) NIUSSPL

d) CAMPCOT SOCID

e) YAMRAN

f) HAAPS FREAPNY

g) NCA MOONBO

h) TIGAAAN

 

THE SONGS

Fill in the blanks of these titles:

a) N_ _ _   _ _ u _ _ _   _ t _ _ r

b)  _ h _ _ _ d’_ _   _ _ _ _ _   B_ _ _e_

c)  _ _ h_ (_ _ _   _ n _   _)

d) E_ r _   _ _ _ r_

e) _ _h_ _ _ i_i_ _

f)  _ _ _ la

 

What is the first line of lyrics in each of these songs?

a) Beautiful Song by Anmary

b) The Social Network Song by Valentina Monetta

c) You And Me by Joan Franka

d) Euphoria by Loreen

e) L’amore é Femmina by Nina Zilli  

f) When The Music Dies by Sabina Babayeva 

g) Would You? by Iris

 

And which songs do these first lines belong to?

a) ‘You can do anything you want’

b) ‘The whole big world is just one place’

c) ‘I hear music as I walk down the street’

d) ‘When the day becomes the night, you know that I’ll think of you’

e) ‘So graceful and pure, a smile bathed in light’

f) ‘When the night is falling from the sky’

g) ‘She’s singing softly in the night’

h) ‘At the wedding tonight she looks nicer than the bride’

 

What do these titles translate to in English?

a) Suus

b) Korake Ti Znam

c) Kuula

d) Quédate Conmigo

e) Crno I Belo

f) Vida Minha

g) Verjamem

 

THE SHOWS AND THE RESULTS

Random trivia

a) What are the full names of the three hosts?

b) Name the previous contest winners who supplied the interval act of semi 2 – in order of appearance.

c) Which country was the last to be announced as a qualifier in semi 1?

d) What about semi 2?

e) Which former Eurovision hostess could be seen in the green room on Thursday and Saturday nights, providing moral support for her husband?

f) How many lots of douze points did Loreen receive in the final?

 

Which countries did these props belong to?

a) A bench made of books

b) A laptop computer

c) Pole-dance poles

d) A water fountain

e) A pizza oven

 

Which country…

a) Opened the first semi final?

b) Closed the first semi final?

c) Opened the second semi final?

d) Closed the second semi final?

e) Opened the final?

f) Closed the final?

g) Won the first semi final?

h) Lost the first semi final?

i) Won the second semi final?

j) Lost the second semi final?

k) Drew the dreaded slot 2 in the final?

 

You know who won (and lost) but do you remember, on the final scoreboard, which country came…

a) 4th?

b) 6th?

c) 11th?

d) 16th?

e) 22nd?

f) 24th?

 

 

Congratulations (as Cliff Richard would say if he wasn’t currently in the toilet)! You’ve made it to le end of le quiz. Now it’s time to see how you did.

Answer alert!

 THE ANSWERS

The Artists

Random trivia: a) 1996 b) Miroslav Šmajda c) Donatas Montvydas d) 2, technically – Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia & Montenegro e) My Heart Is Refusing Me f) 25 g) Eesti Otsib Superstaari, or Estonian Idol h) Her brother i) Build a church in their village j) Elena Gheorghe k) Pasha Parfeny l) Popcorn m) Ornella de Santis n) Sofi Marinova

Unscramble: a) Trackshittaz b) Anri Jokhadze c) Sinplus d) Compact Disco e) Anmary f) Pasha Parfeny g) Can Bonomo h) Gaitana

The Songs

Fill in the blanks: a) Nije Ljubav Stvar b) Should’ve Known Better c) Echo (You and I) d) Euro Neuro e) Aphrodisiac f) Kuula

First lines: a) ‘I was born in distant 1980’ b) ‘Are you ready for a little chat?’ c) ‘I was five, you were three, we were dancing in the street’ d) ‘Why, why can’t this moment last forever more?’ e) ‘Unbelievable, I can’t wait to go’ f) ‘You, you are my best friend’ g) ‘Come and find me, I’ve been hiding from you’

First line, which song: a) Unbreakable b) Sound of Our Hearts c) Stay d) Love Is Blind e) Love Will Set You Free f) We Are The Heroes g) Never Forget h) Laŭtar

Title translations: a) Personal b) I know your steps c) Listen d) Stay with me e) Black and white f) Life of mine g) I believe

The Shows and The Results

Random trivia: a) Leila Aliyeva, Nargiz Birk-Petersen and Eldar Gasimov b) Dima Bilan, Marija Šerifović, Alexander Rybak, Lena, Ell & Nikki c) Ireland d) Turkey e) Jovana Janković f) 18

Props: a) Cyprus b) San Marino c) Austria d) Ireland e) Russia

Which country: a) Montenegro b) Ireland c) Serbia d) Lithuania e) United Kingdom f) Moldova g) Russia h) Austria i) Sweden j) Slovakia k) Hungary

Final scoreboard: a) Azerbaijan b) Estonia  c) Moldova d) Cyprus e) France f) Hungary

 

So, ladies and gents…how well DID you remember Baku??

 

Flashbaku: Naming and shaming the doppelgangers of 2012

Not that there’s anything shameful about having a lookalike. In fact, if I had one I’d be honoured. But apart from my nose bearing a slight resemblance to Roberto Bellarosa’s from the right (or wrong) angle, I’m yet to stumble upon my sister from another mister. So it’s lucky I can at least live vicariously through the doppelgangers that abound in the ESC.

Having kicked off my Flashbaku series last week (with a side-splitting recap of the 2012 contest which you simply MUST read if you missed it then…pretty please?) this particular exposé of long-lost twins is naturally centered on the 42 artists who competed in Azerbaijan. There are a few included here you may remember from previous posts, or just your own observations, but the rest are brand new. Give or take a few years and/or cosmetic procedures, and these resemblances are uncanny. Kind of.

 

Albania’s Rona Nishliu looks like animated Snow White’s Wicked Queen

fbalb

I’ll admit, I didn’t notice this resemblance until the collective Twitterverse saw fit to point it out about 0.35 seconds after Rona had opened her mouth to sing (I guess I was distracted by that errant dreadlock). But there was definitely something about her unique look that screamed ‘villainous Disney bitch not only willing, but eager, to off you and eat your heart if you happen to be prettier than she is’.

 

Bosnia & Herzegovina’s MayaSar looks like Australian media personality Mia Freedman

fbbh

Coincidentally (or maybe not?) Maya also settled on a witchy, evil queeny-type outfit for her Eurovision performance. But when the dangerously pointed shoulder pads are nowhere to be seen, I reckon she could play Mia’s sister in a heartwarming telemovie in which one of them can’t get pregnant and the other offers to be her surrogate. Just as an example.

 

Cyprus’ Ivi Adamou looks like American actress Liv Tyler

fbcyp

Here’s one you’ve seen before; but in my opinion, there are never enough occasions on which one can say how much Ivi and Liv look like they were separated at birth. Even their first names are similar. And Ivi being Steven Tyler’s secret daughter would explain where her musical genes came from.

 

Estonia’s Ott Lepland looks like UK singer and X Factor judge Gary Barlow

fbee

Matching suits, facial hair, intense browlines and brands of hair gel? What more proof do you need that these two share a resemblance? I bet a morning hasn’t gone by since Baku when Gary didn’t roll out of bed, go to the bathroom to brush his teeth, see his reflection in the mirror and think to himself, ‘My God, I look a little bit like Estonia’s own Ott Lepland!’.

 

Greece’s Eleftheria Eleftheriou looks like former ESC hostess Maria Menounos

fbgre

There’s nothing better than an inter-ESC pair of lookalikes, and to top this one off, they’re both part Greek. Maria stood alongside/flirted with Sakis Rouvas as co-compere of the 2006 contest, and Eleftheria stood alongside/probably flirted with him when she participated in Greece’s X Factor a few years ago. So it’s not just appearances that these two have in common.

 

Hostess Leyla Aliyeva looks like Spanish actress Penelope Crúz

fbhos

Let’s face it, the only difference between Leyla and Pene is that, to my knowledge, Leyla has never cavorted around on a pirate ship with Johnny Depp. Unfortunately for her. They clearly go to the same hairdresser and dress for formal events with funerals in mind.

 

Iceland’s Jónsi looks like Frankenstein’s monster

fbice

I never thought I’d be comparing the chiseled magnificence of Jónsi to something made up of multiple people’s body parts, but that monster of Dr. Frankenstein’s has got some serious cheekbones on him. The likeness doesn’t stop there, however – check out the mouth, and that intense brow (again with intense brows!) AND the stiff tailoring of the suits. Don’t worry Jónsi. If you were in fact stitched together by a crazed GP then he sure chose some good-lookin’ bits to work with.

 

Moldova’s Pasha Parfeny looks like Irish actor Colin Farrell

fbmol

This pairing rivals Ivi and Liv’s (Livi’s?) as the most striking of 2012. I can’t even say for certain that Pasha and Colin aren’t one and the same, especially since Colin is a big fan of the ladies and Pasha appeared on stage with the entire female population of Moldova. We haven’t heard much from the Irishman lately…could that be because he’s been busy composing and playing piano for Aliona Moon?

 

Russia’s Buranovskiye Babushki look like this set of matryoshka dolls

fbruss

I bet you didn’t see this coming. NOT. We’ve all thought it – does the teeniest Russian granny fit inside the next size up, and so on? Did they only take up one plane seat on their flight to Baku because of this? Maybe we’ll never know. The grannies are 100% as cute as these wooden creations though, and much more huggable.

 

Slovakia’s Max Jason Mai looks like US talk-show host Chelsea Handler

fbslov

Since MJM is a guy in his twenties and Chelsea is an almost-forty-year-old woman, this is more a case of the possibility that she’s his mother than anything else. They both have trademark blonde locks, although I’d have to say that Max’s are more impressive. Chelsea does tend to wear more clothing on a regular basis, but apart from that, they could totally be related.

 

Sweden’s Loreen looks like Canadian model/actress Hannah Simone

fbswe

Yeah, I know it’s the hair. I think we can all agree though, that there are a heck of a lot of people who look less like Loreen than Hannah does, and that’s got to count for something.

 

Switzerland’s Ivan Broggini looks like American actor Eric Mabius

fbswi

I could have cheated and put the frontman of Sinplus next to a photo of his brother Gabriel, but I wanted to put in a bit more effort than that for you guys (plus, they don’t even look very similar). Strip away the differing hair and eye colour – as well as a whole bunch of other stuff – and you’ll see the similarities here. I hope… 

 

Did any of these have you seeing double? Which doppelgangers did you spot in the class of 2012?

 

Flashbaku: A recap of Azerbaijan’s first ESC

Can anybody believe it’s been almost a year since Baku?

I’m definitely having issues getting my head around it. One minute I’m all excited for the next installment of Eurovision amazingness – making stuff to wave over the three nights and contemplating baking a Swedish-themed layer cake to mark the occasion. The next, I’m having a panic attack about where the last 11 months have gone, and contemplating inventing a device to stop time instead of baking some stupid cake. It’s a little confusing. What is for certain is that Malmö is heading straight for us, whether we like it or not. Ultimately, that’s a very good thing!

Before the thirty-something days until the first semi are up, I figured it would make sense to go back in time (not literally…I haven’t invented a device for that yet) and remind everybody what went down in the Crystal Hall last May. I’m going to do this via a series of posts known as Flashbakus (see what I did there?) and this first episode is an overview of the Azerbaijani action made possible by Ell & Nikki…and Azerbaijan’s ability to do so well in the contest despite sometimes having an, ahem, average entry. So sit back, relax, and take a trip down memory lane feat. stats, facts and some of my personal highlights from the most easterly ESC of all time.

 

  lyf

THE BASICS

Edition 57th

When 22nd, 24th and 26th May, 2012

Where Baku Crystal Hall, Baku, Azerbaijan

 bch

Motto ‘Light your fire!’

Broadcaster İctimai Television

Hosts Leyla Aliyeva, Eldar Gasimov & Nargiz Birk-Petersen

len 

Entries 42

Debutants 0

Returnees 1 – Montenegro

Withdrawals 2 – Armenia, Poland

 

SEMI FINAL 1

Participants 18

Opened Montenegro

Closed Ireland

Interval act Natig Rhythm Group

My highlights

– Albania: This was the first performance to give me goosebumps, which I really wasn’t expecting as I wasn’t a big Suus-aholic at that point. But you can never anticipate which entries will blow you away live, a la Ukraine 2010.

– Romania: Watching Mandinga’s tangerine queen Elena struggle as her earpiece failed her was both cringe-worthy and highly amusing. Fortunately, apart from a few timing issues she pulled off a decent vocal, so kudos to her for that. I also enjoyed the 2012 version of Epic Sax Guy – the Moonwalking Bagpiper.

The question is, is he a moonwalking bagpiper...or a bagpiping moonwalker?

The question is, is he a moonwalking bagpiper…or a bagpiping moonwalker?

– San Marino: Yes, I admit it. I enjoyed this performance more than I thought I would and more than I knew I should. It helped that Valentina could actually sing (and she’s getting the chance to showcase her voice in all seriousness this year) but really, anything would have been an improvement on the music video *shudder*.

– Cyprus: And I thought the Cypriots brought their A-game in Düsseldorf! Ivi and her gal pals totally outdid Greece in every department last year, which is not the norm. Costume, choreography, lighting and props all deserved…well, props.

– Russia: Oh, those grannies and their pizza oven! This was the act everyone was waiting for, and I for one was not disappointed. The BB gave us that promised party for everybody, as well as a midnight snack (the show had to be held later than usual thanks to Azerbaijan being über east, so thank you Russia for the sustenance).

Baking and representing Russia at the same time? That deserves a group hug.

Baking and representing Russia at the same time? That deserves a group hug.

– Ireland: I’d consider Jedward’s performance of Waterline relaxed compared to the ‘we’ve been living on red cordial for the last six months’ vibe of Lipstick. What I liked most was watching the twins’ perfectly primped hairdos be destroyed by the water fountain they carted across the continent with them. Although giving them a good scare by announcing them as the lucky last qualifiers was pretty priceless. 

 

The results

1. Russia 152

2. Albania 146

3. Romania 120

4. Greece 116

5. Moldova 100

6. Ireland 92

7. Cyprus 91

8. Iceland 75

9. Denmark 63

10. Hungary 52

– Greece made their ninth consecutive final, whilst Cyprus qualified from a semi for only the third time since 2004.

– Hungary qualified for the second year running, having returned to the contest in 2011 following several failed attempts.

– Switzerland, on 45, and Finland, on 41, missed out on qualifying by a Nishliu dreadlock.

– Austria lost the first semi, only getting 8 points’ worth of popos shaking.

 

SEMI FINAL 2

Participants 18

Opened Serbia

Closed Lithuania

Interval act (A rather horrifying) winner’s medley

My highlights

– Serbia: My beloved Željko back on an ESC stage once again? Of course that would be a personal highlight! His opening of the second semi with the atmospheric Balkan ballad (how unexpected) Nije Ljubav Stvar more than compensated for Montenegro’s, shall we say, unusual opener in the first.

– Macedonia: I kind of fell in love with Kaliopi during Eurovision week. Not only is she apparently the nicest person on Earth, but she’s a great performer too – as we saw on this Thursday night. It was a simple presentation from FYROM, but the lady rocked the house.

Kaliopi strikes a peaceful pose before the rocking begins

Kaliopi strikes a peaceful pose before the rocking begins

– Sweden: As is usual with Sweden, nothing had changed performance-wise since Melodifestivalen. Did anyone care? I don’t think so. The crowd was buzzing (with euphoria, perhaps?) as the lights went all laser on us before the camera closed in on Loreen, the woman of the moment. What followed was an act staged like no other in the history of forever/the contest.

– Turkey: They made a ship. Out of their COSTUMES. TWICE! Is that not one of the most amazing things that has ever happened?

– Estonia: Naturally I appreciated the opportunity to stare at my future husband for three whole minutes, while he sang his little heart out. Again, this performance was a simple one (with an exceptional selection of background images, I must say), all about the song and the emotion. And me drooling over my TV screen #pathetic.

Few people can fall asleep mid-performance and still finish in the top 10.

Few people can fall asleep mid-performance and still finish in the top 10.

– Lithuania: If there was ever a one-man show, its name is Donny Montell. Well, its stage name, anyway. The man sings, dances, wears blindfolds, plays air guitar, and does all of them brilliantly. Well, he doesn’t look entirely normal in a blindfold, but who does?

 

The results

1. Sweden 181

2. Serbia 159

3. Lithuania 104

4. Estonia 100

5. Turkey 80

6. Bosnia & Herzegovina 77

7. Malta 70

8. Ukraine 64

9. Macedonia 53

10. Norway 45

– Sweden won the second semi for the second year running.

– Macedonia reached the final for the first time since 2007.

– Norway just squeezed into the top 10 ahead of Bulgaria, who also scored 45 points.

– Slovakia brought up the rear this time, suggesting that no amount of exposed flesh can guarantee one a good result.

 

THE GRAND FINAL

Participants 26

Opened United Kingdom

Closed Moldova

Interval act Emin, chewing gum and performing Never Enough

My highlights

– France: The French gymnastics team figured Eurovision was as good a place as any to get in some Olympics practice, and I agree. John-Paul Gaultier decided that stapling an entire roll of chiffon to the back of Anggun’s leotard was better than a mere few metres, and I double agree. That costume + a decent wind machine = a match made in Eurovision heaven.

'Throw your train in the air like you just don't care, s'il vous plaît.'

‘Throw your train in the air like you just don’t care, s’il vous plaît.’

– Azerbaijan: I don’t think the last-minute addition of ethnicity was a good idea, but that dress – you know, that dress – certainly was. It was a clever “prop” that struck a balance between ‘not exciting enough’ and ‘so exciting I’m distracted’. It must have caught on, because I’ve seen it done a few times since.

– Spain: This was the performance of the final as far as I’m concerned. Pastora delivered a faultless vocal that genuinely made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck (I’m telling you, I looked like a hedgehog) and when she launched into her epic note and the artificial breeze kicked in, there were tears in my eyes.

 

The results

trf

  1. Sweden 372
  2. Russia 259
  3. Serbia 214
  4. Azerbaijan 150
  5. Albania 146
  6. Estonia 120
  7. Turkey 112
  8. Germany 110
  9. Italy 101
  10. Spain 97
  11. Moldova 81
  12. Romania 71
  13. Macedonia 71
  14. Lithuania 70
  15. Ukraine 65
  16. Cyprus 65
  17. Greece 64
  18. Bosnia & Herzegovina 55
  19. Ireland 46
  20. Iceland 46
  21. Malta 41
  22. France 21
  23. Denmark 21
  24. Hungary 19
  25. United Kingdom 12
  26. Norway 7

– Sweden’s was a record-breaking win: Loreen out-douzed Alexander Rybak in being ranked first by 18 countries. Rybak scored 16 sets of douze points. What a loser.

– The honour of twelve points did not come easily to the other 25 participants. Coming a very distant second to Sweden in those stakes was Albania, Azerbaijan and Serbia, all receiving four sets of douze.

– Three Big countries, as well as host country Azerbaijan, made the top 10. Germany’s 8th place was their third top 10 finish in a row; not bad for a country that had struggled not to come last in the years BL (Before Lena).

– Spain’s 10th place marked their first top 10 appearance since 2004, when they also came 10th. Pastora Soler scored ten more points than Ramón did in Istanbul.

– Albania secured their best result ever, and after failing to qualify in Oslo and a disappointing showing in Düsseldorf, Estonia was back on form in 6th place. Their previous Estonian-language entry had also finished 6th.

– Ukraine’s recent results have been impressive – 7th in 2006, 2nd in 2007 and 2008, 10th in 2010 and 4th in 2011. But last year’s 15th was proof that they’re not invincible (and possibly that Europe disliked Gaitana’s floral and fringe combo just as much as I did).

– The same goes for Greece, with 2012 being their first finish outside of the top 10 since 2003.

– The UK was the lowest ranked Big country, only outscoring Norway (and I’m still not over it). Sending a household name with a less than contemporary ballad did not pay off, but at least they’ve learnt from that mistake going in to Malmö. Oh wait…

 

I realise now that it may have taken you longer to read this recap than go back and watch both semis and the final again, but, hey, you could have given up if you wanted to. Now that I think of it, maybe you should go back and watch the show again if you need to, then let me know below what you loved, hated, and were shocked and surprised by in Baku. We all need the practice, since we’ll soon be doing the exact same thing for Eurovision 2013.

 

COMING UP: If you thought I couldn’t possibly find any more ESC lookalikes, you were wrong! The Flashbaku doppelgangers will have you seeing double. Then, my longest and most difficult quiz EVER rears its head, in an Azerbaijan-tastic test of your Eurovision 2012 knowledge.

 

NEW! Song Battles: Round #1 (2012 VS 2013)

Pitting two Eurovision songs against each other to determine which is the best for no particular reason is such an original idea, said NO ONE EVER. But that won’t stop me from inflicting my own version on you poor, unsuspecting readers. Muahahaha!

What makes my version different (to some of the others, maybe) is that each round will have a theme – for example, songs by the same artist – to make things more interesting (again, maybe). I’ll be picking my personal winners, justifying those decisions, and then asking you to discuss my taste or lack thereof in the comments. Now if that isn’t fun, I don’t know what is.

Soon I’ll be launching a series of posts that recap Baku, so today’s debut round of song battles is aptly pitting a bunch of last year’s entries against their counterparts of 2013. From Azerbaijan to Croatia and Norway to the UK, which countries are sending better songs to the ESC this time around? Check out my thoughts, then leave your own below. 

 

Azerbaijan’s When The Music Dies by Sabina Babayeva VS Hold Me by Farid Mammadov

sbaz

Still flabbergasted by Ell & Nikki’s win in 2011 (let’s just say I was never an active member of the ‘I ❤ Running Scared’ fan club) I managed to get on board with what Azerbaijan put forward as host country last year. Heck, I wasn’t just on board – I was cartwheeling up and down the deck and making a general nuisance of myself. But I just don’t see the winning potential in Hold Me, which means it’ll probably go on and win.

 

Albania’s Suus by Rona Nishliu VS Identitet by Adrian & Bledar

I think I’ve droned on about Rona on enough occasions for you guys to know I love her. But there’s always room for more droning, as far as I’m concerned! Suus is a very original and very emotional song, and with her crazy vocals it was magic on stage. Having said that, Identitet has grown on me, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m glad it didn’t get disqualified.

 

BelarusWe Are The Heroes by Litesound VS Solayoh by Alyona Lanskaya

Neither of these were originally supposed to go to Eurovision (let’s all have a slow clap for the trustworthy Belarusian NF system, shall we?) and of course, it was Alyona who was sent packing – or not, rather – in favour of cheat-free Litesound. In 2012, this was a blessing, but in 2013 I was not amused. That’s why WATH is my pick of this battle, whether in its initial rock form or post-remix disco version.

 

Bulgaria’s Love Unlimited by Sofi Marinova VS Samo Shampioni by Elitsa & Stoyan

 sbbul

Sofi and Elitsa are both women with voices of an acquired taste (unless you are instantly attracted to high-pitched shrieking) but the infectious, language-stuffed Love Unlimited trumps in the song department. I thought that was one of Bulgaria’s best ever entries, and as it just missed out on qualifying, it seems I wasn’t the only one.

 

Croatia’s Nebo by Nina Badrić VS Mižerja by Klapa s Mora

Hi. My name’s Jaz and I am the only person I know who liked Croatia’s entry last year (but don’t worry, I did NOT like Nina’s dress/trash bag. I have some standards). What can I say? I enjoy any song with bells in the background. Ding dong.

 

Germany’s Standing Still by Roman Lob VS Glorious by Cascada

This is really a matter of subtlety versus in-your-face, and for me, in-your-face wins. I can’t help shaking my thing to Glorious, and it’s one of the songs I’m most excited to see live at Eurovision (‘live’ in this case meaning ‘on TV’). Standing Still is a nice song and I think Germany deserved its top 10 placing in Baku, but I need more ‘oomph’ to be 110% satisfied.

 

Hungary’s Sound of Our Hearts by Compact Disco VS Kedvesem by ByeAlex

Hungary haven’t scored as well as they should have over the last few years IMO, and I have a feeling it’s going to happen again with ByeAlex’s absolute gem of a song. I take back what I said just then about ‘oomph’ in this case, because this is a simple but stunning song. I love Hungarian to bits as a musical language.

 

Italy’s L’amore É Femmina by Nina Zilli VS L’ezzenziale by Marco Mengoni

sbit

The Italy we see at the ESC is always classy, and I don’t think you could ever call one of their entries outright bad. I’m fond of Nina’s retro Italinglish number, but I’m head over heels for Marco. Er, I mean, L’essenziale. There’s something about Italian ballads that gets to me, and I think this is the best of the songs Italy has sent since their comeback.

 

Norway’s Stay by Tooji VS I Feed You My Love by Margaret Berger

I felt like a mother being forced to choose which of her children she loves more with this one (which in my mother’s case is an easy decision. My brother just doesn’t measure up) but the decision has been made. My obsession with Stay has faded a little since it won NMGP, but I have to stay loyal to it, since it was my favourite entry of 2012 and I spent so many hours trying to comprehend it losing the final. I still love ya, Margs.

 

Slovenia’s Verjamem by Eva Boto VS Straight Into Love by Hannah

An atmospheric ballad like Verjamem was a very Serbia-like thing for Slovenia to come out with, which makes sense since one of its composers also composed Molitva. Despite the similarities, I think it had its individual charms, and it’s certainly got more drama than Straight Into Love.

 

Ukraine’s Be My Guest by Gaitana VS Gravity by Zlata Ognevich

sbuk

Ukraine rarely fails to impress me. They just ‘get’ Eurovision, and they always send a top-notch artist who can belt one out (or more, if required). Zlata may be the Queen of Belters, and although Gravity lacks the quirky fun factor of her last attempt to represent her country, The Kukushka, it’s a definite contender for victory. I will be very surprised if it doesn’t considerably improve on Gaitana’s result.

 

The UK’s Love Will Set You Free by Engelbert Humperdinck VS Believe In Me by Bonnie Tyler

Another year, another big name from the UK with a slightly too old-fashioned ballad. Still, at least they’re going younger. At this rate we should get an entrant under the age of 30 by 2025. But let’s not be ageist, not when this year’s song is a lot better than the last. It is to me, anyway – I tried to love Love Will Set You Free, but eventually the charade became too much and I had to call it quits. Believe In Me is more current and a lot catchier, and after a couple of listens I was willing to wave a Union Jack with genuine enthusiasm.

 

So that’s that; but what exactly does ‘that’ tell you? Well, the overall result of the duels is as follows:

58% of my winners came from 2012

42% of my winners came from 2013

If those numbers are any indication, the standard of 2012 was higher than the standard of 2013 in my book, though not by a massive margin.  

Now it’s your turn to battle. I want to know if you totally agree with me, partly agree with me…or think I’m bonkers with a side serving of very poor judgment when it comes to the above duels. Which songs would be your winners?

 

 EBJ Signature

 

Most-played…Melodifestivalen entries of 2012

Can you believe that Melodifestivalen, everyone’s favourite national final (‘everyone’ being a slight generalisation) is about to wrap up for another year on Saturday? For me that’s a double-edged Swarovski-encrusted sword: on one hand, it’s always sad when the mammoth Melfest ends, but on the other, this last installment is the first and only NF I will be getting up at 3am to watch, so I’m pretty excited. Even though I know – and you’ve heard me complain about this before – my stream will be rubbish. What’ll make the 2013 final really worth watching though is the fact that it’s a two, three or possibly even four horse race for the win, unlike in 2012 when the trophy had Loreen’s name engraved on it from the second she struck her final pose in semi 1. Here’s a reminder of the ten left standing:

  1. Tell The World I’m Here by Ulrik Munther
  2. Skyline by David Lindgren
  3. Falling by State of Drama
  4. Begging by Anton Ewald
  5. Only The Dead Fish Follow The Stream by Louise Hoffsten
  6. Bed On Fire by Ralf Gyllenhammar
  7. En Riktig Jävla Schlager by Ravaillacz
  8. Copacabanana by Sean Banan
  9. You by Robin Stjernberg
  10. Heartbreak Hotel by YOHIO

Wow, the ladies really need to step it up next year. Where’s the girl power? Although the lack of women does mean lots of eye candy. I mean, those dudes from Ravaillacz – whew!

*awkward cough*

Anyway, before we find out who will fly the home flag in May, I thought it would be nice to go back in time and celebrate the best of the Class of ’12. Well, my personal best, at least. So here is a list of my most-played…eh, you read the post title.

 

#1 | Why Start A Fire by Lisa Miskovsky

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‘Hey you! One more crack about my guitar being unplugged and I’ll throw it at you!’

I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t expect much from lil ol’ Lisa, a stranger to me this time last year. Her Melfest 2012 entry was the second-to-last to be premiered, and at that point I thought I’d heard all the amazing-ness possible, excepting Danny Saucedo’s aptly titled Amazing (remember the olden days when MF was of a consistently high standard?). But I fell in love with it immediately, and was a teensy bit excited when it qualified to the final. I would describe it as ethereal, atmospheric guitar pop, if I was über pretentious. Otherwise, it’s just awesome guitar pop…although we never do find out why we should start a fire. For warmth? To burn all the physical copies of Josh Dubovie’s That Sounds Good To Me we can get our hands on? Why, Lisa, WHY?

#2 | Förlåt Mig by Mattias Andréasson

#3 | Soldiers by Ulrik Munther

#4 | Pä Väg by Abalone Dots

#5 | The Boy Can Dance by Afro-dite

This was more or less the same song Afro-dite went to the ESC with in 2002, which by 2012 was sounding majorly dated. But just because something isn’t contemporary, and you know it’s never going to go anywhere in a million years (unless there’s a sudden resurgence of disco schlager) doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. I actually like this a lot better than Never Let It Go.

#6 | Aldrig Aldrig by Andreas Lundstedt

#7 | Euphoria by Loreen

Loree, thrilled to realise that Danny Saucedo is no match for her and her bangs

Loreen, thrilled to realise that Danny Saucedo is no match for her and her intense bangs

#8 | I Mina Drömmar by Maria BenHajji

#9 | Salt and Pepper by Marie Serneholt

#10 | I Din Himmel by Sonja Aldén

Sonja gave my hands-down favourite performance of Melfest last year. This is a ballad that begged for a great vocal, floaty dress, dry ice and a machine-engineered breeze to blow her chiffon around. Not only did we get all of that, but we got a bleeding bridge as well! Bridges are not used half as often as they should be on musical competition stages. Sonja sang her figurative pants off and commanded the stage, never faltering or tripping when a long hemline and all that mist would have made it so easy.

#11 | Youngblood by Youngblood

#12 | Mirakel by Bjorn Ranelid feat. Sara Li

#13 | Amazing by Danny Saucedo

I bet Danny didn't think anyone was amazing after placing second...again

I bet Danny didn’t think anyone was amazing after placing second…again

#14 | Shout It Out by David Lindgren

#15 | Mystery by Dead By April

I am very much an anti-fan of heavy metal, Lordi’s Hard Rock Hallelujah being the one song of that genre that I can stand. My main peeve is the ‘death growling’, a.k.a. incessant screaming, which makes my throat and ears hurt just listening to it. That very same screaming was part of DBA’s non-heavy rock entry last year, but somehow I got past it, probably because the rest is such a contrast. All in all, I think Mystery is probably what would happen if Mr. Lordi did guest vocals on State of Drama’s 2013 entry.

#16 | Just A Little Bit by Love Generation

#17 | Why Am I Crying? by Molly Sandén

#18 | Sean Den Förste Banan by Sean Banan

He’s back this year with a very similar but not-quite-as-good chaotic dance track, is Sean Banan, and this time he’s wearing a diaper instead of fake body hair. I’ve always preferred fake hair myself. Say what you will about this hyperactive man-child – you can’t deny this song is an ear worm and a half. In fact, if you aren’t hearing it in your head right now there must be something wrong with you.

#19 | Stormande Hav by Timoteij

#20 | The Girl by Charlotte Perrelli

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Charlotte, a few seconds after pricking her thumb on her dress

Back in ’08 it would have been more appropriate for Charlotte to sing a song called The Extra-Terrestrial, but nowadays she is looking fierce in the best kind of way. Last year in Malmö Arena, she pulled out all the stops (and 95% of the planet’s spike appliqué supply) for what turned out to be an unsuccessful comeback, but one that stuck in my mind. The Girl took a step back from the straight-up schlager of Take Me To Your Heaven and Hero, which possibly freaked out some people who thought that was all she was capable of.

 

Which Melodifestivalen 2012 entries are still racking up the plays at your end? And who do you think should win the 2013 final on Saturday night?

 

A tale of two cities, and JESC in jeopardy – what’s making news in the world of Eurovision

I don’t do breaking news – there are way too many ESC sites out there that do it already, and I am both too unwilling and too lazy to compete with them. However I do occasionally do collective news, and that is what’s on the agenda today. Here’s an overview of the JESC12/ESC13 story so far.

 

Junior Eurovision twenty twelve – the stats

This year’s JESC will be the 10th edition, and is scheduled to take place on December the 1st in the Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam (there’s no sponsor for a children’s song contest quite like an alcoholic one). The Netherlands will be the first country to have hosted it twice, after the 2007 edition in Rotterdam. I hope they make the most of it, because they aren’t likely to be hosting big Eurovision any time soon…#harshbuttrue.

Similarly, Kim-Lian van der Meij will become the first person to co-compere the show twice. Let’s hope she can refrain from telling us that she’s so excited she could wet herself this time. Either that, or that she and Eric Saade get together. Apparently they both enjoy making mention of their full bladders on live television.

8 countries have confirmed participation so far – Armenia, Belarus, Belgium, Georgia, the Netherlands (I should hope so), Russia, Sweden and Ukraine. Italy, Moldova, San Marino, Serbia and Spain are still mulling it over. Unfortunately, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Latvia have withdrawn, which means no superheroes, no clouds and no moondogs for Amsterdam (and possibly no Amsterdam either, but I’ll get to that in a minute).

2 songs have been selected, with Russia recruiting last year’s Moldovan entrant Lerika to sing Sensatsiya, which roughly translates as ‘I’m still pissed that I didn’t wipe the floor with everyone else in Yerevan so I’m back for revenge’. Sweden, upgrading to Lilla Melodifestivalen from last year’s non-event national final (a la Greece’s shopping centre showcase for Baku) will be sending a less familiar face in Lova Sönnerbo, and a humble ballad in Mitt Mod. I will be reviewing all the songs in full when the time comes, but for now I will say that Russia has the edge, and not just because Lerika is hell-bent on getting her hands on the trophy and will probably run over all of the competition with her scooter. Lova doesn’t stand a chance.

‘Hey you!! No looking anywhere except at me during my performance!’

Ukraine, who always bring it to JESC and ESC but have flailed over the last few years in the former, will pick their entry this Sunday from a selection of approximately a gazillion. I personally could not muster up the strength to listen to them all, so the winner will be news to me; but Annika (www.sternenstaub-esc.blogspot.com) did (impressive) and has also reviewed them (double impressive!) so head here to check out what’s on offer from the 2009 host country in 2012: http://www.sternenstaub-esc.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/jesc-2012-ukraine-2012-reviews.html.

 

What will be, will be…but will there be JESC?

I feel a little strange talking about Junior like it’s definitely going ahead, because the reality is that Yerevan may have hosted the last one, for a while or even for good. The reason for this is a general lack of interest that’s so far resulted in too few countries confirming participation. This is a real shame, especially because it is the 10th anniversary, and you’d think that would make it bigger than ever. But while big Eurovision continues to expand (I expect there’ll be about eighteen semi finals by the year 2283), Junior, it seems, is shrinking. Well, maybe not consistently, but certainly over the last couple of years. See for yourself:

Copenhagen 2003 – 16 entries

Lillehammer 2004 – 18

Hasselt 2005 – 16

Bucharest 2006 – 15

Rotterdam 2007 – 17                                                        

Limassol 2008 – 15

Kiev 2009 – 13

Minsk 2010 – 14

Yerevan 2011 – 13

Amsterdam 2012 – 8?

At this point, the number of confirmed countries is half the number that competed in the inaugural contest in Denmark, and positively paltry in comparison to the record number of 2004. Even worse is the fact that eight is not enough (no matter what that old TV sitcom said) to keep the traditional Eurovision point system of 12, 10 and 8 to 1 in use. Sure, the system could be altered to fit, but I get the feeling the organizers wouldn’t view the show as worth putting on at all if that had to be done. I think it’s up to at least three of Italy, Moldova, San Marino, Serbia – who last entered in 2010 – and Spain – who last entered in 2006 – to confirm in order for the show to go on. There really needs to be eleven participants, so come on! It can’t be that hard to find some precocious singing child to send to the Netherlands for a few days in December, can it? If you’re short on cash, drive them there yourself and make them a costume out of takeaway food containers. Just MAKE IT HAPPEN, so Lerika and Lova and whoever gets selected to represent Ukraine this weekend don’t have their fragile hopes and dreams destroyed. And so that I have an excuse to buy a truckload of sugary crap to consume at 3am whilst watching the contest on my laptop.

Moving on…

 

The who’s who of Eurovision 2013

This is more like it: 21 countries have already confirmed that they’ll be gracing Sweden with their presence next May, which means we’re guaranteed at least one semi final. They are Albania, Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Slovenia, Switzerland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Yes, Sweden will be there. What a relief! It’s also great to see Armenia back on the list after an understandable hiatus this year. I couldn’t help noticing how quickly they confirmed, which makes me think they want to remind Azerbaijan that they were the problem…but let’s not get too into that issue.

It’s also worth noting that many of the countries above had a bad time in Baku, results-wise, i.e. Austria, Belarus, Norway, France and the UK. Kudos to them for getting back on the horse, and better luck next year.

On the ‘possible’ front, it looks like Andorra won’t be making its first appearance since 2009, if the prime minister is to be believed – but since when could we believe the declarations of political figures? (That was a joke. Please don’t kill me.) Anyway, there is a chance that Liechtenstein will make a debut, so keep your eyes peeled for developments there. If only Poland and the Czech Republic would give it another go. Then we’d be on track to the biggest ESC of all time, which would make me feel a little better about the whole Junior debacle.

 

When and where?

The preliminary dates of the 58th ESC are May 14th, 16th and 18th, and that’s probably how things will stay. As for where – well, we’re going to Stockholm!

Or Malmö.

Yes, the battle is still raging between the two cities left standing, but apparently the decision is to be made within the next week. I suspect I know which one will be The One, but in the meantime, here’s a look at what each has to offer:

–  Stockholm hosted the contest the last time it was in Sweden, in 2000. If they nab it again, it’s goodbye Globen and hello Friends Arena. Formerly known as Swedbank Arena, this venue is currently under construction and will reopen in October with a measly 67 500-seat capacity for concerts to its new name.

I’m sure there’s a more glamorous angle of Friends than this…

–  When I say ‘measly’, I of course mean freaking massive. Even if that amount were slashed in half to accommodate the stage/green room/wind machine storage facility etc, it would still offer the largest ever amount of seating for an ESC. To give you some perspective, the largest offering to date was 25 000, shared between the Telenor Arena in Oslo, the Olympic Indoor Arena in Moscow, and the Belgrade Arena.

–  The Friends Arena has been pre-booked for the Melodifestivalen final in March, and is supposed to host the Svenska Cupen final a few days after Eurovision, but apparently that can be postponed to the end of May to make way for the contest. What a refreshing change to have Eurovision put before (yawn) a sporting event! I think it’s safe to say that Stockholm wants it bad.

–  More proof: in addition to renovating the Friends Arena, hotels, parking areas and only the largest shopping mall in the Nordic vicinity (swoon!) are being built nearby. Stockholm: can accommodate Eurovision much?

–  Malmö is humbler by comparison, but as they say, it’s quality, not quantity. The city has put forward Malmö Arena (I wonder why they called it that?) as their venue, which has a capacity of 15 500 for concerts. It may be smaller, but it works – the arena has played host to many a Melodifestivalen semi.

–  It’s also said to resemble Helsinki’s Hartwall Areena, the location of Eurovision 2007 which was a big success (and will always be my most-loved edition).

 

Whew! I don’t know about you, but I’m all newsed out, so I’ll end this post with something new, but not newsy. Does that make sense? Ahh, just geddon with it.

Basically, in a week or so I’m going to start posting a countdown of my top 50 Eurovision songs of all time. This is something I never thought I’d do because I figured it would be impossible – and believe me, it has not been easy. But I have finally completed my list, and I’m pretty excited to share it with you.

I thought it would be even more exciting if you guys did it with me, so if you’re interested, get listing! I’ll be going backwards from #50 all the way to #1, so with each installment, I’d love to see yours. This is a challenge I’m issuing to anyone reading this, but it’s ultimately a fun one, not a Hunger Games-type one where you may not make it out alive, so please join in. I can’t wait to see how diverse the rankings are. With 1000+ songs to pick from, they’re bound to be.

Until next time…

 

Jaz x

 

EBJ’s top 10…artists I want to hear more of (2012 edition)

Just as the national final season is a great way of discovering new music, so too is Eurovision a great way of discovering new artists – artists that appeal to your taste.

For example, think back to 2006, when Lordi won the contest with an epic rock song about angels and lambs and stuff (hardcore!). Hard Rock Hallelujah is one of my all-time favourite winners, but I knew I wasn’t likely to be interested in what the band had produced before and after it. On the other hand, there was a Russian guy with a mullet named Dima Bilan, who I fell in love with (not physically…I did just mention that mullet, didn’t I? I mean musically) and so spent the next six years squealing girlishly every time his name was mentioned, especially in relation to the ESC.

My point is, this year’s contest was no different. I’ve come away with the intention of acquainting myself with a bunch of artists I’d never heard of six months ago. Now that I’ve got a bit of time to do that, I plan to. So here is my list of the performers who impressed me in Baku, at least enough to make me search for their albums on iTunes and consider giving them a listen.

NB – Obviously, I’ve excluded anyone I was familiar with prior to the 2012 season, so please don’t abuse me for leaving out Loreen or Željko or Anybody Else.

 

#1

Mandinga

Club de Mandinga (2012)

There are few things I love more than catchy, summery, ethnic pop music, and I hear that’s Mandinga’s specialty. I am slightly perturbed by the fact that the graphic of Elena on the cover of their latest album looks nothing like her, but as that has nothing to do with their music and my potential future enjoyment of it, I’ll push it aside. I wonder if you can hear the moonwalking bagpiper in any of the tracks (hear him moonwalking, that is, not bagpiping).

 

#2

Ivi Adamou

San Ena Oneiro (2011)

Ivi’s not the best live vocalist, but she sounds great in studio, and as her preferred genre fits in nicely with what I usually listen to (outside of Eurovision-land – when I’m inside, I listen to everything) I’m excited to rifle through her back catalogue. I did listen to one of her hits, Crashing Down, back when she was announced as Cyprus’ representative, and I gave that douze points.

 

#3

Pastora Soler

Una Mujer Como Yo (2011)

Quedate Conmigo was basically a three-minute showcase for Pastora’s uh-mazing voice, so I’m eager to see how she works with less epic material. This woman has been around for a while, so attempting to listen to everything she’s ever done could take me until Eurovision 2060, but I’ll give it a try.

 

#4

Ott Lepland

Laulan Ma Sind (2011)

I can’t deny that one of the best parts of Ott’s performance in Baku was him being there and me getting to stare at him because of that. But he is genuinely talented, something I managed to notice on those occasions when I tore my eyes away from his wonderful eyebrows. I love a bit of piano ballad-ness and I love listening to Estonian, so further exploring Ott’s repertoire should be disappointment-free.

 

#5

Compact Disco

II (2011)

These guys were doing electro-rock-pop way before Katy Perry tried it out, so whilst they may not look as good in latex leotards as she does, I’m guessing they’ve got the edge when it comes to the sound.

 

#6

Nina Zilli

L’amore è Femmina (2012)

Judging by her San Remo entry Per Sempre and her Eurovision song, I’m expecting a hybrid of classic chanteusery and retro sassiness from Nina. Italian really is one of the most musical languages, so my hopes are high.

 

#7

Can Bonomo

Meczup (2010)

Can’s latest album begs to be heard – the title translates as ‘lunatic’. Who wouldn’t want to investigate that further? It’s the kind of album title I’d expect from Rambo Amadeus, but in this case I’ll be listening voluntarily.

 

#8

Rona Nishliu

Suus (2012)

Apparently Rona’s genre of choice is experimental jazz, a departure from Suus and not my thing in the least. But I’ve got to see (or rather, hear) what else she can do with that ridiculous voice of hers. I’m beginning to think that her dreadlocks hold some sort of mystical powers that make her sing like nobody’s business. That would explain why she had to wrap one around her neck…

 

#9

Litesound

Going to Hollywood (2010)

I’m assuming that back in 2010, these guys hadn’t disco-fied their music to death. If so, their debut album should be worth a spin. If not, well, I could get used to wearing flares and leathers when I’m listening.

 

#10

Soluna Samay

Sing Out Loud (2012)

She may be one of those people who make me feel inadequate and talentless, but her adequateness and talent drew me to her at Eurovision (as did her hat-and-shoulderpads combo. I must visit a costume store and find me one of those). It will be a relief to answer that eternal question: what happens when a busker gets a record deal?

 

Which artists were your favourite discoveries this year?

Warm off the press: a look at the 2012 split results

Bonjour! I hope you remember me after the week or so I didn’t manage to post (I had to actually prioritise study over Eurovision for the first time, and it was very traumatic). Now I am free as a bird – a bird with a bachelor degree, that is. Insert Applause Here. Anyway, that means it’s back to business, and the business of the week was the release of the 2012 split results, at long last. As usual, the splits showed some very interesting inconsistencies, as well as some very boring, very expected placements. For those of you who haven’t checked them out, and for those of you who have but want to/are being forced to again, here are the results for the semis and the final, accompanied by a little analysis. Enjoy (even if you’re one of the people being forced to read this. In that case I COMMAND you to enjoy).

 

Semi final 1

Rank Jury vote Televote
1 Albania Russia
2 Moldova Romania
3 Greece Albania
4 Cyprus Ireland
5 Romania Greece
6 Denmark Cyprus
7 Hungary Moldova
8 Russia Iceland
9 Israel Denmark
10 Ireland Switzerland
11 Iceland Hungary
12 Finland Finland
13 Switzerland San Marino
14 San Marino Montenegro
15 Belgium Latvia
16 Montenegro Israel
17 Austria Austria
18 Latvia Belgium
  • After the first semi it was revealed that one country only made the final thanks to the juries, and another only because of the televoters. We all thought those two countries were Albania and Russia, when in fact Rona and the grannies topped the jury and televoter lists respectively, and ranked decently vice versa. It seems to me that it was Hungary and Iceland who were lucky to make it. If things had been a little bit different, Israel and Switzerland may have advanced instead.
  • Only two countries were ranked on the same level – Finland and Austria. Amazingly, neither party disliked San Marino enough to place them last. I guess the juries found some musical integrity in The Social Network Song (presumably outside of ‘so you wanna make love with me?’ Actually, outside of all the lyrics).
  • I was surprised to see Moldova and Greece ranked higher by the juries than the televoters. I guess the days of over-the-hill, fuddy duddy jurors are gone. Either that, or they’re all sleazy old men who really wanted Eleftheria’s aphrodisiac.
  • If the televotes here prove anything, it’s that the public aren’t that interested in sexy sex. Neither Iris’ see-through dress (unintentional, I’m sure) or Trackshittaz’ pole dancers made them want to pick up their phones. Then again, they did vote the grannies first, and they are hot stuff.

 

Semi final 2

Rank Jury vote Televote
1 Sweden Sweden
2 Serbia Serbia
3 Ukraine Lithuania
4 Estonia Turkey
5 Malta Estonia
6 Bosnia & Herzegovina Norway
7 Croatia Bosnia & Herzegovina
8 Georgia Macedonia
9 Macedonia Bulgaria
10 Lithuania Netherlands
11 Belarus Malta
12 Portugal Belarus
13 Turkey Portugal
14 Slovenia Croatia
15 Slovakia Slovakia
16 Netherlands Slovenia
17 Bulgaria Ukraine
18 Norway Georgia
  • There were a few countries that the Js and Ts completely disagreed on, which allowed a few low-rankers to squeeze in to the final. The juries favoured Croatia (yay!) and Georgia (hmm…) over eventual qualifiers Turkey and Norway, which I suppose is understandable – Love Me Back and Stay were very much fan-geared entries. It was thanks to the viewers at home that Norway advanced.  
  • As for those peeps at home, well, they would have preferred to see Bulgaria and the Netherlands in the final over Malta, and, unbelievably, Ukraine. That has to be a teensy victory for two countries who kind of suck at Eurovision (don’t be offended. The same could’ve been said about Germany a few years ago).
  • Speaking of Ukraine, does anyone else find it strange that Be My Guest rated so low with the televoters and so highly with the juries? You’d think it would have been the other way round. I know what I said earlier about the juries being hip and cool these days (unlike myself, since I just used the term ‘hip and cool’) but this still strikes me as odd.
  • Congratulations to Sweden, who won the jury vote, and Sweden, who won the televote. I did NOT see that coming.

 

The final

Rank Jury vote Televote
1 Sweden Sweden
2 Serbia Russia
3 Albania Serbia
4 Italy Turkey
5 Spain Azerbaijan
6 Estonia Germany
7 Ukraine Romania
8 Azerbaijan Albania
9 Moldova Greece
10 Germany Ireland
11 Russia Macedonia
12 Cyprus Estonia
13 France Moldova
14 Lithuania Lithuania
15 Bosnia & Herzegovina Cyprus
16 Malta Bosnia & Herzegovina
17 Macedonia Italy
18 Greece Spain
19 Iceland Iceland
20 Romania Ukraine
21 Denmark United Kingdom
22 Turkey Hungary
23 Hungary Denmark
24 Norway Norway
25 Ireland Malta
26 United Kingdom France
  • The differences between the jury top 10 and the televote top 10 are much more drastic here. The people at home got their gold, silver and bronze preferences just as they wanted, but it was the juries who got their way for the most part. 8 of their top picks made the final top 10.
  • If you were in any doubt over Sweden’s victory, here is proof that it was deserved. Unlike in 2011, when Italy topped the jury vote, the decision was unanimous in 2012. Apparently Loreen choking on her fake snow during the jury final didn’t affect the marks they gave her. For all we know, it made her voice huskier and they liked it.
  • It was well and truly a public success for Turkey. Can may have come out with 7th place and been ranked 4th with the viewers, but the juries were not impressed by his stripes or sailboats. Or his song, come to think of it.
  • Again, Ukraine’s placement confuses me, as does the UK’s. We could put Engelbert’s higher placing with the public down to his widespread fanbase, but I still don’t get why he was placed last with the juries.
  • Italy and Spain were saved by the juries, and in Spain’s case, I thank them for it. Muchas gracias! I can’t help but wonder if the televoters are a bit dead inside not to have been moved by Pastora Soler’s performance, but I suppose I’m biased. And very emotional during the Eurovision season.
  • Lithuania, Iceland and Norway were the only countries (besides Sweden) to be ranked equally, in 14th, 19th and 24th places. Unfortunately, due to the disparity between the lowest-placed songs, this still meant a last place for Norway.
  • Some of the major differences: Italy (J 4th/T 17th), Spain (J 5th/T 18th), Ukraine (J 7th/T 20th), France (J 13th/T 26th), Greece (J 18th/T 9th), Romania (J 20th/T 7th) and Ireland (J 25th/T 10th). Turkey made the biggest jump, as mentioned, from 22nd place to 4th.

 

The release of the splits was really the final stepping stone to the 2013 contest, which is now hovering between Malmö and Stockholm (I suspect the capital will prevail…though I did say that last year too). Developments are already underway, which is understandable given there’s less than a year to go. In the meantime, we have JESC to look forward to, so long as it isn’t cancelled due to low participation numbers – but more on that later.

Until next time…

 

Jaz x

REVEALED! Who really came last in Azerbaijan…

It’s been three weeks since Sweden won Eurovision 2012, and even though we’ve stopped using the word ‘euphoria’ to create lame puns and such, the EBU has still not released the split results, goshdarn them. There’s been a lot of individual country results trickling out on the internet, but nothing complete. Apart from annoying me (I am not a patient person) this has messed me around a bit on the blog front since I had planned a split analysis, which I should be doing now. Without anything to analyse, I’m scraping the bottom of the Baku barrel for something to write about.

Having said that, my mysterious and thrilling title (cough) does not lie – I do have a revelation to reveal. And here it is: Norway didn’t actually lose the contest this year. I don’t know if that has already occurred to you, but as president of the “Tooji is Amazeballs” fan club, the it was quick to occur to me, and I was planning on tweeting the fact to Tooji himself to make him feel better, but I figured he was probably over the whole thing by now.

Basically, we all know what happened in the final, point-wise. Namely, this:

  1. Sweden – 372
  2. Russia – 259
  3. Serbia – 214
  4. Azerbaijan – 150
  5. Albania – 146
  6. Estonia – 120
  7. Turkey – 112
  8. Germany – 110
  9. Italy – 101
  10. Spain – 97
  11. Moldova – 81
  12. Romania – 71
  13. Macedonia – 71
  14. Lithuania – 70
  15. Ukraine – 65
  16. Cyprus – 65
  17. Greece – 64
  18. Bosnia & Herzegovina – 55
  19. Ireland – 46
  20. Iceland – 46
  21. Malta – 41
  22. France – 21
  23. Denmark – 21
  24. Hungary – 19
  25. United Kingdom – 12
  26. Norway – 7

Yes, Sweden nearly beat Rybak’s record, and got the highest amount of douze points in history, blah blah blah. We all know that. But what about the semis? Unlike Norway, there were 16 countries who didn’t even make it to Saturday night, so technically they were all beaten by the Tooj. Now, for your convenience and possible interest, I have combined those 16 and ranked them by the points they accrued* in order to figure out who actually finished last – and who still has bragging rights in saying they came 30th, or whatever.

Let’s start with the 27th– 35th placed countries.

* FYI, the countries from semi 1 are in red, and those from semi 2 are in blue. Also, if there were equal scores, I have ranked them according to who received more high scores. You know, in the slightly dodgy EBU way.

 

  1. Bulgaria – 45
  2. Switzerland – 45
  3. Croatia – 42
  4. Finland – 41
  5. Portugal – 39
  6. Georgia – 36
  7. Belarus – 35
  8. Netherlands – 35
  9. Israel – 33

Bulgaria and Switzerland were the two countries that just missed out, which in way, must be more irritating for them than if they had lost.

Bulgaria not only got the same point total as Norway – failing to qualify because Love Unlimited didn’t get any lots of 8 points – but as Switzerland too. Sofi placed above Sinplus (IMO) because she got a 10 and a triple 6, whereas the Broggini brothers got a triple 8, and a 7 – but feel free to swap them around if it’ll help you sleep at night.

As you can see, there’s a block of higher-ranked songs from semi 2 here, which proves once again which semi was the strongest. Georgia’s 32nd placing is officially their worst ever, considering they’d qualified on every participation in the past. I can’t say I feel sad for them, although I do still want to strangle whoever decided to give Anri Jokhadze a rhyming dictionary for Christmas.

Belarus and the Netherlands also share a point total, but this time the division is clearer – Litesound managed to score a douze and an 8, whereas Joan was left with an 8 and a double 7. If you’d ever wondered what people prefer to look at – chainmail and leather or feathers – wonder no more.

Now we come to the countries ranked 36th– 39th:

  1. Slovenia – 31
  2. San Marino – 31
  3. Slovakia – 22
  4. Montenegro – 20

Poor Slovenia, who most of us had pegged to qualify, finished in a dismal unfortunate 36th place (I don’t want to destroy a teenage girl’s hopes and dreams any more than they’ve already been destroyed), just out-scoring San Marino with a 10 and an 8. Speaking of San Marino – well, they’re not going to be saying ‘uh-oh’ about 37th with 31 points, because it’s one of their best results EVER. That’s not as spectacular as it sounds, but it’s something Valentina Monetta will probably include in her status updates on Facebook…er, I mean, that social network, for the rest of her life.

Amazingly, Montenegro kept themselves out of the bottom three, possibly by borrowing Anri’s dictionary (choosing words with more syllables). Here are the unlucky trio who couldn’t be saved by Eurovision-themed lyrics, see-through dresses or pole dancers (apparently sex does not sell at the ESC).

  1. Latvia – 17
  2. Belgium – 16
  3. Austria – 8

So, when we’re talking about points, it was Austria’s popo-shaking duo Trackshittaz who came dead last this year. Congrats, boys!

I guess it’s apt that a song all about rear ends came bottom. We should have seen it coming – I mean, didn’t Loreen tell us she was going up-up-up-up-up-uuuuuppp? Then again, We Are the Winners didn’t turn out to be gospel back in Athens. I guess you never really know what’s going to happen in this competition. Isn’t that part of the fun?

 

NEXT TIME: If we finally get a looksee at the split results, I’ll be picking my way through them so you don’t have to. Otherwise…well, you’ll just have to wait and see.