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MY STOCKHOLM SUGGESTION BOX | Darin for Sweden

The fun-filled days of adding artists to our ‘Destination: Vienna’ wishlists may be over – but that just means it’s time to start speculating which European music sensations might grace Stockholm with their presence. Or, more accurately, making it very clear which of our personal favourite acts from the continent simply MUST represent their country in Sweden, OR ELSE.

For me, profiling a potential Eurovision rep is basically an excuse to ramble on about an artist I adore for an exceedingly lengthy amount of screen space…and in case you hadn’t guessed, that’s what I’ll be doing today. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Way back in the lead-up to Eurovision 2015, I was hoping for Finland’s participant to be Robin Packalen, and for the UK to select The Saturdays. Sadly, neither of those wishes came true. But I’ve picked myself up, dusted myself off and decided to angle for another of my favourite artists to aim for Eurovision 2016, via an article full of flattery. And I couldn’t start this season’s so-called suggestion box with any other nation but our host, Sweden!

Given their recent run of results, I don’t think Sweden really need my help in order to choose a great entry, but they’re getting it anyway. My ideal pick for the Land of Loreen is an artist I’ve been fangirling over for years, and someone who has actually attempted to represent Sweden in the past. I think he’d do a damn good job of it if a second attempt became a successful one – so, if he’s willing, can I/we please have…

 

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WHO? WHERE? WHAT?

Darin Zanyar was born in Stockholm, destination of Eurovision 2016 (that’s got be some kind of sign), twenty-eight years ago – and for eleven of those years, he’s been one of Sweden’s biggest, brightest and best-selling artists. He’s also spent a heap of that time doing double duty as a singer and a songwriter, penning tracks for himself and for a myriad of other musos.

You might not have predicted such a future for him if you’d tuned into Sweden’s first series of Idol in 2004, and witnessed the gangly, softly-spoken 17-year-old audition for the judges with an N*SYNC song (which totally gets my tick of approval).

But, after destroying his competition week after week (competition that included future ESC champ Loreen) Darin became the true winner of Idol ’04…by finishing second. Losing to man who nobody remembers (Daniel Lindström, for the record) turned out to be the launching pad for one heck of a career. It began with a signature on a BMG recording contract shortly after Idol ended, then continued with the release of Darin’s first single in early 2005: ‘Money For Nothing’. The song was co-written by Swedish superstar Robyn, as well as Danish Remee (host of Junior Eurovision 2003 and co-writer of multiple ESC entries, including Anti Social Media’s ‘The Way You Are’) and it earned Darin his first-ever #1 single and platinum certification.

His debut album The Anthem followed, also topping the charts in his homeland – and the trend continued with his second, self-titled album, also released in 2005 (he wasn’t a stereotypical lazy teenager, that’s for sure). Darin spawned three top ten hits, including the #1 ‘Step Up’.

Album number three, 2006’s Break The News, followed suit, but fourth album Flashback was Darin’s poorest-performing release, failing to climb higher then tenth on the Swedish charts. It did, however, feature another #1 single in ‘Breathing Your Love’, a duet with American singer Kat DeLuna.

After appearing as a Melodifestivalen interval act in 2009, Darin made the decision that many well-known Swedish acts had made before him, and opted to enter the comp himself in 2010. Performing one of my all-time favourite songs, ‘You’re Out Of My Life’, he progressed direkt til Globen, eventually finishing fourth in a strong final.

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After Darin’s Melfest participation, he became known as ‘The Lord of the Wind Machine’.

Despite not making it all the way to Eurovision, he bounced back with another #1 album later that year: Lovekiller, which featured his Melfest entry, a (love)killer title track, and his hugely successful cover of Coldplay’s ‘Viva La Vida’. Darin co-wrote eight of the ten songs on this album, including ‘Can’t Stop Love’, written especially for the wedding of Sweden’s Princess Victoria. In 2011, he also co-wrote the winning single of Idol’s Amanda Fondell (who would go on to participate in Melodifestivalen herself).

In 2012, Darin appeared on reality show Så Mycket Bättre (So Much Better), tasked with covering the hits of a bunch of fellow Swedish musicians – and to cut a long story short, he nailed his assignment every week. The following year, he unveiled his sixth studio album and fifth #1 album in total, Exit; and appeared on the Eurovision stage during Malmö’s second semi final, alongside the amazing Agnes. There, he performed ‘Nobody Knows’ – shockingly, another #1 single – and ‘So Yours’. As I cried with happiness.

Fast forward to 2015, and there’s another Darin album on the horizon – but it’s not in the usual English-language, R&B/dance-pop mould. Having made the switch to Swedish and adopted a folksy flavour that fits him pretty well, he’ll release Fjärilar I Magen (Butterflies in the Stomach) in September. At this point, it’s already produced two massive hits in ‘Ta Mig Tillbaka’ and ‘Juliet’. It seems there’s no slowing Darin down, and no pigeonholing him when it comes to the type of artist he is, either. I accept that his music may not be everyone’s plate of IKEA meatballs, but I for one am counting down the days to the drop of album no. 7.

 

SOUNDS LIKE…

That depends on the time period you’re talking about. Early-days Darin was a record company’s dream – young, inexperienced, and therefore profitable putty in their hands. Seeing as he’d taken on N*SYNC for his Idol audition, he was shaped into a one-man boy band, sound-wise. Poppy melodies with an R&B edge and emotive ballads were once the bulk of his repertoire. As time went on, record company moves were made and experience in the music industry grew, and Darin settled on an arena pop/dance pop feel for his albums. Lovekiller was all about big choruses and layers of instrumentation, whereas Exit‘s focus was slickly-produced club tracks.

These days, as I mentioned before, Darin’s taken a completely new direction with his sound. Now writing songs that are heavily influenced by folk music, he’s stumbled upon an authenticity that works very well for him. As much as I love everything he’s produced in the past, I have to admit that his latest few singles have more substance, and tell more of a tale, than any that came before them.

To make this post more Eurovision-related, allow me to give you an indication of Darin’s past and present style based on some ESC entries. If you liked Russia 2006 and Moldova 2015, teenage Darin is for you. If you liked Norway 2012 and Ukraine 2013, try him circa 2010-2013. If The Netherlands 2012 and 2014 + Malta 2014 and Lithuania 2015 = some of your favourite entries, you’re bound to prefer him now. If that makes ANY sense at all.

 

DISCOGRAPHY

  • The Anthem (2005) feat. ‘Money For Nothing’ and ‘Why Does It Rain’
  • Darin (2005) feat. ‘Step Up’, ‘Who’s That Girl’, ‘Want Ya!’
  • Break The News (2006) feat. ‘Perfect’, ‘Everything But The Girl’, ‘Desire’, ‘Insanity’
  • Flashback (2008) feat. ‘Breathing Your Love’, ‘See U At The Club’, ‘What If’
  • Lovekiller (2010) feat. ‘Viva La Vida’, ‘You’re Out Of My Life’, ‘Can’t Stop Love’, ‘Lovekiller’
  • Exit (2013) feat. ‘Nobody Knows’, ‘Playing With Fire’, ‘Check You Out’
  • Fjärilar I Magen (2015) feat. ‘Ta Mig Tillbaka’, ‘Juliet’

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THE HIT LIST

‘Money For Nothing’ It’s not a musical masterpiece, but you’d hardly expect that from a seventeen-year-old’s first single. What is it, then? So 2005, and so much fun.

 

‘You’re Out Of My Life’ It couldn’t win in a top-notch edition of Melodifestivalen, but this beautifully-crafted ballad did win my heart FOR LYF.

 

‘Lovekiller’ Neither power nor passion is lacking in this not-so-cheery number. The chorus hits hard.

 

‘Astrologen’ A Så Mycket Bättre cover of a Magnus Uggla track, this atmospheric reworking is gorgeous. I genuinely prefer it to the original (sorry, Magnus).

 

‘Nobody Knows’ Well, that’s not true…we all know if we were watching Eurovision 2013’s second semi. Anyway, this is a top-notch dance anthem with a super-energetic tempo.

 

‘Ta Mig Tillbaka’ Simple and sentimental, this has been a big hit for Darin in 2015, suggesting that many of us can identify with wanting to go back in time every now and then *sniff*.

 

WHY EUROVISION?

If they stopped partying for a second in the wake of their Eurovision 2015 win, Sweden may have offered their condolences to host country Austria on their worst-possible result – all the while expecting a different outcome for themselves when they take over hosting duties next year. There’s no way SVT’s main man Christer Björkman will want to see Sweden on the bottom of the scoreboard, either on home ground or anywhere else. If Darin were to enter and win Melfest 2016, I have no doubt he’d put a smile on Christer’s dial by finishing in a galaxy far, far away from Nul Pointsville. Here’s why.

  • He’s a seasoned performer with countless live performances and tour dates under his H&M-brand belt. He’d have no trouble dealing with the media, intense rehearsals or the pressure to not faceplant on stage in front of thousands of people.
  • He’s got great live vocal chops, having been the runner-up in a TV talent contest. And, since he made it to the final of Idol when he was a teenager, there’s no doubt he could handle competition as an adult.
  • He’s tried to represent Sweden before, so he’s obviously not averse to adding ‘Eurovision participant’ to the Employment History section of his resume. His appearance as an interval act in 2013 is also proof of this.
  • He’s already known to Eurovision fans as a result of that interval act, which could give him some support to start off with (á la Conchita).
  • What with his current folk-flavoured fixation, he could serve up a host entry that stands out – particularly if it’s in Swedish, which we haven’t heard on the ESC stage since 1998.

PS…Darin’s new album drops on September 25th. That’s conveniently after September 1st, after which any song publicly aired or published can theoretically enter the following year’s ESC. So do the right thing, Darin – take the best track from Fjärilar I Magen that hasn’t been released as a single pre-September, and enter Melfest with it!

Update…What I meant to say (having forgotten about the ‘no publishing/airing before Melfest itself’ rule SVT are fond of, until I was reminded in the comments) is do the right thing, Darin – bask in the success of your new album, and then write a brand new non-album single to enter Melfest with. Is that really too much too ask?

 

BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE!

If you’re keen for further info on Mr. Zanyar (which is unlikely, since I’ve forced so much of it on you today that you probably never want to see or hear his name again for as long as you live); or if you just want to see photos of him gazing thoughtfully into the distance with the Swedish sun shining on his stubble, then there’s no shortage of places you can visit to get your fix.

Official Site | YouTube | FacebookTwitter | Instagram

 

Well, I’ve had my say. Return the favour?

Who do you want to see competing in Melodifestivalen next year? In the hope, of course, that they’ll go on to become Sweden’s 2016 host entrant?

 
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Malmö Memories | My top 10 songs of 2013, one year later

I hope you guys like bargains, because today you’re getting two top 10 lists for the price of one. Woohoo?!

Here’s the deal: in my last post – a hilarious (cough) recap of Eurovision 2013 – I promised the next one would be a countdown of my favourite moments from Malmö, expanding on those I included in the recap. Unfortunately, I’ve been forced to semi-break that promise and squish that top 10 into another top 10 due to the general chaos of life at the moment, and also my warped idea of how much I could cram into the few weeks that remain before Copenhagen kicks off.

So, firstly, in condensed form, here are my top 10 moments* of the contest that was:

 

*“Moments” in this instance refers to anything from actual, brief moments to long, drawn-out moments i.e. entire performances. I’m not so strict with the definitions on this blog.

 

#10/ The Kedvesem clapalong – It wasn’t the easiest song to sing along to, so the audience in the Malmö Arena showed their appreciation for Hungary’s entry in a different way. Just the fact that they had that appreciation made me feel all warm and fuzzy.

#9/ Moldova’s magnificent money note – Pastora Soler left big stilettos to fill, and while Aliona didn’t totally fill them in terms of length, she certainly did in impact. How that voice can emerge from such a delicate person I will never know.

#8/ One hell of an Urban Orchestra – The second semi final saw a troupe of dancers transformed into human instruments, followed rather randomly by BMX stunts. Things don’t have to make sense to be awesome (which you have to accept if you’re a Eurovision fan).

#7/ Petra’s trip into Eurovision past – Ms. Mede proved herself up there with the Ankes of the hosting world by venturing into ESC history. She lost her patience with Udo Jürgens and accused Linda Martin of being Johnny Logan’s drag persona, and it was brilliant.

#6/ Astronauts and cyborgs and overall epicness…oh my! – Who See’s performance for Montenegro was a huge highlight for me, because it was executed with excellence that I didn’t expect. The boys were entertaining and Nina was fierce and vocally on her game.

#5/ Carola’s fall from grace – During the completely wonderful ‘Swedish Smörgåsbord’ interval act, the legendary ESC champ Carola opened her mouth to bust out Fångad Av En Stormvind, only to be swept off the satellite stage by a stormwind of the machine variety. This was 100% unscripted, of course.

#4/ Azerbaijan’s glass case of emotion – Virtual high five for the Anchorman reference *smack*! Farid’s glass box was one of the best props/staging concepts of recent memory, IMO. Put that on stage with Jemini and Cry Baby could have come top 5 easily.

#3/ A parade of pop stars – The artist parade is something usually reserved for Junior Eurovision, and I’ve always loved it there. Incorporating one into the adult comp was a nice move on SVT’s part, and I hope we see it again in the future.

#2/ Roberto Bellarosa jumps for joy – This really was a moment. A short but very sweet moment, in which Belgium’s boy wonder sang his last note, then proceeded to do this, which was EVERYTHING.

#1/ A Swedish dream team – I have to bestow the honour of Moment Numero Uno on the interval act of Darin and Agnes, and you’ll know why if you’ve been reading me for a while. It’s because it was my dream come true. I love Agnes, but Darin is my absolute favourite male artist on the planet, and he made it to Eurovision. Technically.

 

Sorry to rush through that without any build-up or suspense, but up next I have the main top 10 for today’s post, which is full of both of those things. It’s been over a year since all the songs were locked in for the 2013 contest, and between then and now, my rankings of those songs have changed many, many, many…*ten minutes later* many times. But as I haven’t actually sat down and figured out just how much in ages, I figured now would be an interesting time to do so.

I’m not going to go through the entire Class of Malmö here and now; instead, I’m going to hand out some very belated points to my newfound top 10 – my current favourite entries from the contest just past. Have your own votes at the ready and let me know where they would go if you could distribute them today. 

Here are the results of Jaz’s mental vote:

 

1 point goes to…

Greece with Alcohol Is Free by Koza Mostra feat. Agathonas Iakovidis

You can’t help loving this song, even as time goes on and you become aware that the alcohol is in fact NOT free – and downright expensive if you’re in Scandinavia. It’s an effortless ethnic party for three minutes, kilts and moustaches included, and appeals to me much more than the cliché Paparizou rip-offs that Greece has been guilty of sending in the past.

 

2 points go to…

Azerbaijan with Hold Me by Farid Mammadov

I didn’t like this much at first. It was doing so well with the bookies, and I was just thinking three letters: W, T and F. But – and this has nothing to do with the awesome stage presentation – I’ve come around. This is a ballad with a lot of impact, in and outside of the choruses. It’s a great addition to my personal Shower Karaoke Collection (the shower is my personal glass box, after all).

 

3 points go to…

Israel with Rak Bishvilo by Moran Mazor

Damn, there were some good ballads last year! Rak Bishvilo was one of the most dramatic ones, with this intensity to it that builds and builds until Moran’s epic crystal-shattering note, well, shatters some serious crystal. It is repetitive, but when the melody is so lovely, it doesn’t matter much.

 

4 points go to…

Sweden with You by Robin Stjernberg

Yep, I still love me some Robin. The ESC’s most recent host entry went from being my favourite in Melodifestivalen to one of my top songs before, during and after the main event, and it’s still up there despite a few other songs developing an edge recently. I see You as an atypical Swedish entry and quite a unique song in general, which I really appreciate.

 

5 points go to…

Montenegro with Igranka by Who See

The reason I was so worried about this live was because it’s so awesome in studio, as a song by itself. I’m not a huge fan of dubstep, but it’s a genre that’s still refreshing to see in Eurovision, and it made for an über cool contribution from Montenegro. It is divisive, which probably explains its failure to qualify in Malmö, but I’m definitely someone who loves it rather than hates it.

 

6 points go to…

Ukraine with Gravity by Zlata Ognevich

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to be “going” to Denmark for Eurovision 2014. But as someone who never felt anything much for Only Teardrops, a part of me wishes we were going to Ukraine. Gravity would have made an excellent winner, being so majestic and soaring and reminding me that I should watch The Lion King again. I’m basically still as impressed by it as I was a year ago.

 

7 points go to…

Moldova with O Mie by Aliona Moon

Oh look, it’s another ballad. This one shares many similarities with Israel’s – it’s a little repetitive but still stunning, not in English which makes it all the more magical, and demands a lot from the lung capacity of the singer. It gets more points from me because…well, I don’t know. Melodically speaking, I guess it just appeals to my ear more. PS – My mother also likes this a lot.

 

8 points go to…

Norway with I Feed You My Love by Margaret Berger

This was the edgiest and one of the most current entries of the year, and had lyrics that we all enjoyed musing over the possibly saucy subtext of (‘I have the future on my tongue’…hello!). Some people didn’t enjoy the backing track of grinding metal, but I loved that too. All in all, it’s intense, catchy and unique, and a side of Norway that I want to see more of in the future.

 

10 points go to…

Hungary with Kedvesem by ByeAlex

I fell in love with this song from the first time I heard it, shortly after it won A Dal kind of unexpectedly. I’ve been raving on about it a lot recently, what with the Malmö nostalgia everywhere at the moment, and I’m not stopping now, because it is that awesome. The original, non-Zoohacker version is the ultimate in beautiful simplicity, but the remix gives the song the bit of pep required to elevate it even higher in my opinion. Plus, Hungarian is one of my favourite musical languages and it sounds particularly lovely in this instance.

 

And finally, 12 points go to…

Italy with L’Essenziale by Marco Mengoni

I haven’t changed my mind on Italy much since they chose their last entry. I still think this is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard (for real) and that Marco is one of the most beautiful men I’ve ever seen (also for real, and irrelevant). It’s a ballad with integrity; one with real meaning to it, which I feel every time I listen to it despite sometimes forgetting the literal English translation. Marco’s performance at Eurovision wasn’t completely spellbinding – I’m not sure he’s capable of taking anything totally seriously – but the song is so magic it didn’t matter. And he’s so delicious I can forgive him.

 

And with the douze doled out, let’s recap. 

  1. Italy
  2. Hungary
  3. Norway
  4. Moldova
  5. Ukraine
  6. Montenegro
  7. Sweden
  8. Israel
  9. Azerbaijan
  10. Greece

Those are my most-loved songs of Eurovision 2013, and it wasn’t all that hard to separate them from the rest. I guess time, in addition to healing all wounds and going by so slowly, also makes you surer of what you like.

You know what comes next, right?

 

Hit me up, peeps – what’s your 2013 top 10, a year after the show?

 

NEXT TIME: Just when you thought it was time to move on from NF season, think again! I’m about to reveal the best could-have-beens of the 2014 season. That’s as far as I’m concerned, of course. #JoinUs #JoinMe and see if we have any in common.

 

Malmö Memories | Recapping Eurovision 2013

Hej hej, ladies and gents. You are reading the first installment of my annual trip back to the Eurovision that was. Was seemingly very recently, but in reality was just about a year ago, at that. Holy crap, right?

There’s less than a month to go until Copenhagen’s first semi, and we bloggers have a lot to cram in to such a short period – i.e. mass reviews and predictions – especially if we’re juggling uni assignments and a new job, as I am. But I’m going to make it all happen, because Eurovision is priority #1. Just don’t tell that to my lecturers or employers.

I’m beginning my re-coverage of last year’s contest right now with the Malmö Memories series (it’s not as catchy as Flashbaku, but what can you do?). During the next week I’ll be revealing my top 10 moments and top 10 entries, one year on, of 2013. But first, it’s recap time, in case anyone out there is having a brain snap and can’t remember what the heck went down in May. For those of you who can and just want a refresher, or even if you recall it all but are totes bored at the moment, this is also for you.  

L-R: Every ESC fan’s dream car at this time last year; even Malmö’s monuments got into the spirit of things; and the official countdown clock closes in on the contest. Danke to my online friend from Germany, Wolfgang, for taking these pics on the ground in Sweden and sending them to me!

L-R: Every ESC fan’s dream car at this time last year; even Malmö’s monuments got into the spirit of things; and the official countdown clock closes in on the contest. Danke to my online friend from Germany, Wolfgang, for taking these pics on the ground in Sweden and sending them to me!

EUROVISION 2013: THE BASICS

Edition 58th

When May 14th, 16th and 18th, 2013

Where Malmö Arena, Malmö, Sweden

Motto “We Are One”

Broadcaster Sveriges Television

Hosts Petra Mede, Eric Saade (green room)

Entries 39

Debutants 0

Returnees 1 – Armenia

Withdrawals 4 – Bosnia & Herzegovina, Portugal, Slovakia, Turkey

 

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Participants 16

Opened Austria – Shine by Natalia Kelly

Closed Serbia – Ljubav Je Svuda by Moje 3

Interval act “Northern Lights” dance piece

My highlights

  • Slovenia: No, Hannah didn’t qualify. And no, she didn’t hang on to her vocal as well as she could have ideally. But did she give it her all? Did she look freaking fierce? Was her staging and choreography top-notch? Um, yes, yes and YES. This was the first performance of the night that impressed me.
  •  Ukraine: Part of me wanted Zlata to be plonked on her boulder only to stack it and spew forth a stream of expletives. One person shouldn’t be allowed to be so stunning, talented AND graceful. But as it turns out, she was, and she gave a perfect performance of Gravity as always. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She’s like a female Ott Lepland, only without the risk of impregnation via a smoldering gaze.
When your heels are so high you can't walk in them, there's only one solution...

When your heels are so high you can’t walk in them, there’s only one solution…

  • Montenegro: Igranka was and still is epic in studio, but could so easily have been the car-crash live act of the year. Fortunately for Who See, not only did Macedonia take out that title, but the boys and Nina managed to pull off a great performance of the tricky dubstep number. The fact that this didn’t qualify still makes me weep.
  • Moldova: This was just…everything. And I mean that. Moldova threw a lot at Aliona – the hair, the gown/projector screen, the dancers, the hydraulic lift – but she and her powerful voice complemented all of that rather than clashed with it.
Thousands in the audience, and not one person told Aliona her dress was on fire.

Thousands in the audience, and not one person told Aliona her dress was on fire.

  • Ireland: Having avoided listening to Ryan live until Eurovision itself (for fear that a song I really liked would go straight on the ‘going nowhere’ pile) I was nervous about how he’d go in a massive arena in front of a huge live audience and an even huger TV audience. But somehow, Mr. Dolan went from amateur at best to a totally competent and on-pitch performer. Bravo.
  • Belgium: Also proving the haters wrong was Roberto Bellarosa, who, despite being dressed like Donny Montell at a funeral, turned out a slick performance of Love Kills that made me as proud as if I were his mother. Weird but true.

 

The results

  1. Denmark 167
  2. Russia 156
  3. Ukraine 140
  4. Moldova 95
  5. Belgium 75
  6. Netherlands 75
  7. Belarus 64
  8. Ireland 54
  9. Lithuania 53
  10. Estonia 52
  11. Serbia 46
  12. Montenegro 41
  13. Croatia 38
  14. Austria 27
  15. Cyprus 11
  16. Slovenia 8
  • Denmark more than improved on 2012’s narrow qualification by winning the first semi, defeating the country that did the same in Baku.
  •  Belgium may have qualified for the first time since 2010, but Roberto’s advancement also marked the first qualification for an act selected by RTBF (Belgium’s French-language broadcaster) since the semi-final system was introduced.
  • The Netherlands made it to the final for the first time since 2004.
  •  Six countries in total qualified for at least the second year running, whilst the other four appeared in the final after previous failures to do so.
  • Serbia failed to qualify for the first time, ending the night in 11th place with Montenegro right behind them.
  • Slovenia lost the first semi, but they scored themselves a better placing than 2012’s 17th.

 

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Participants 17

Opened Latvia – Here We Go by PeR

Closed Romania – It’s My Life by Cezar

Interval act Darin performing Nobody Knows/So Yours and Agnes performing One Last Time/Release Me

My highlights

  • Azerbaijan: Here is a prime example of a country that really entered the Eurovision Staging Contest, but still managed to do damn well in the song equivalent. Hold Me did grow on me a lot, and it may or may not be one of my top 10 entries of the year (drop by later this week to find out!) but it was that nifty glass box and all that accompanied it that won me over. PS – can you buy those on eBay?
  • Greece: In Baku we got cliché Greece, but thankfully Malmö gave us fun Greece. Koza Mostra were a definite personal highlight because, from the moment Agathonas plucked his first bouzouki string, they got the audience going, and you could feel the atmosphere from your couch. Bonus points for having the ultimate sing-along chorus under their kilts.
  • Israel: I won’t mention That Dress (again). Instead, I’ll take a moment to bask in the sheer power and range of Moran’s glorious vocals. Pardon my French, but she sang the shit out of Rak Bishvilo, putting more emotion into her three minutes than the average cast member of Days of Our Lives puts into their entire career. That probably explains her reaction to not qualifying, proudly sponsored by Kleenex.
Moran: projecting true emotion, or in incredible pain from all the fashion tape holding her dress in place?

Moran: projecting true emotion, or in incredible pain from all the fashion tape holding her dress in place?

  • Hungary: What a gem you are, Kedvesem. I love this song to bits. Like Montenegro, however, Hungary could have come undone in the arena setting. But the quiet beauty of it managed to come through in that less-than-intimate context. My favourite part was when the audience began to clap along, because that’s when I knew ByeAlex was connecting and had a chance of moving on.
  • Norway: Girl crush alert! Margaret took to the stage looking like a sexy White Witch of Narnia, and gave an equally magnetic rendition of IFYML. It was Margs, and not an assortment of props, that did most of the vote-capturing.

 

The results

  1. Azerbaijan 139
  2. Greece 121
  3. Norway 120
  4. Malta 118
  5. Romania 83
  6. Iceland 72
  7. Armenia 69
  8. Hungary 66
  9. Finland 64
  10. Georgia 63
  11. San Marino 47
  12. Bulgaria 45
  13. Switzerland 41
  14. Israel 40
  15. Albania 31
  16. Macedonia 28
  17. Latvia 13
  • Azerbaijan topped their semi for the first time, having come 2nd in 2009, 2010, and 2011 – the year they went on to win the whole contest.
  • There were some close calls in this semi: Greece just pushed ahead of Norway to qualify 2nd; Hungary, Finland, and Georgia were in a battle just to make it through; and Israel came very near to nabbing the highly sought-after (not) 13th place from Switzerland.
  • Hungary made it three for three qualifications since their 2011 comeback. Armenia went through for the first time since 2010 (having sat out the Baku contest) and Finland and Georgia were back on their game after DNQs in 2012.
  • San Marino scored their best result ever with Valentina 2.0, but it wasn’t quite good enough to give them their first ticket to the final. She joined Bulgaria’s Elitsa and Stoyan as previous entrants that didn’t make it.
  • Latvia lost this semi, marking their fifth consecutive failure to advance.

 

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Participants 26

Opened France – L’Enfer Et Moi by Amandine Bourgeois

Closed Ireland – Only Love Survives by Ryan Dolan

Interval act Loreen performing a medley of We Got The Power/My Heart Is Refusing Me/Euphoria; Petra Mede performing Swedish Smörgåsbord; Sarah Dawn Finer performing The Winner Takes It All

My highlights 

  • Belgium: Yet again, Le Bellarosa floated my boat, mostly because seeing him in the final meant Belgium was in the final – and that was a shock. He did his country proud, and he must have known it too because OMG THAT ADORABLE LITTLE JUMP FOR JOY AT THE END! I don’t even ‘aww’ at babies, but THAT was heart-melting stuff.
  • Germany: Glorious and all that surrounded it – Natalie’s dress, the props, the timing of the wind machine – lacked the impact we saw at the German final last year. However, that song was made for the stage (and the club) and as it was one of my favourites at the time, I still think it worked in a totally non-biased way.
  • Sweden: Home (country) boy Robin also did his country proud in what I thought was an architectural award-winning jacket. I never get tired of the special reception host entries get from the audience.
Robin clearly forgot to apply deodorant on this occasion.

Robin clearly forgot to apply deodorant on this occasion.

  • Hungary: ByeAlex and his two musketeers seemed to have gained confidence from their qualification, and that showed through in a performance that was just as quietly wonderful, but more polished than it had been in the semi.

 

The results

  1. Denmark 281
  2. Azerbaijan 234
  3. Ukraine 214
  4. Norway 191
  5. Russia 174
  6. Greece 152
  7. Italy 126
  8. Malta 120
  9. Netherlands 114
  10. Hungary 84
  11. Moldova 71
  12. Belgium 71
  13. Romania 65
  14. Sweden 62
  15. Georgia 50
  16. Belarus 48
  17. Iceland 47
  18. Armenia 41
  19. United Kingdom 23
  20. Estonia 19
  21. Germany 18
  22. Lithuania 17
  23. France 14
  24. Finland 13
  25. Spain 8
  26. Ireland 5
  • Denmark won the contest with a decent score, but definitely not by a landslide. Emmelie was helped along by 8 sets of douze points, none of which came from Denmark’s neighbours. Finland and Sweden elected to give theirs to Norway, whilst Norway sent theirs to hosts Sweden.
Emmelie learnt from Loreen that choking on confetti is a bad idea.

Emmelie learnt from Loreen that choking on confetti is a bad idea.

  • In 2012, Loreen won Eurovision with 18 sets of douze, her nearest rivals in that department being Albania, Azerbaijan and Serbia, all on 4 sets. Emmelie scored a meager 8 sets in comparison, two less than Azerbaijan. Ukraine scored 5, and Italy and Norway 3 apiece.
  • Let’s talk language: the 2013 top 10 featured three songs not performed entirely in English, with just two being completely native. Greece was the highest finisher of the three, in 6th place. In 2012, twice as many songs in the top 10 were, at least in large part, in a language other than English.
  • The Netherlands’ top 10 finish was their first since 1999.
  • Moldova once again proved their prowess at not quite making it when they ended 11th for the second year running – after coming 12th in 2011.
  • Countries making the biggest drops from good results to bad included Estonia, who went from 6th in 2012 to 20th, and Spain, who followed up Pastora Soler’s 10th place with 25th.
  • On the upside, Hungary went from 24th to 10th, Malta 21st to 8th, and most impressive of all, Norway from last place to the top 5.
  • Last-placed Ireland received points from three countries – the UK (1), Sweden (2) and Cyprus (2). Spain, in 25th place, received points fro, just two countries – Italy (2) and Albania (6).

 

 

Somebody stop me! I could probably pick out “fun” stat facts until the dawn of Eurovision 2099 (which, btw, will be held in San Marino for the fifth year in a row and be hosted by a cyborg in the likeness of Valentina Monetta). I think I’ve recapped Malmö enough for now. Or ever. So I’ll finish off by saying tack for reading, and by asking you…

 

…what were your highlights (or lowlights) of Eurovision 2013? Was there one performance that blew you away, or a result that shocked you to your very core (how dramatic!)? Let me know below.

 

NEXT TIME: Speaking of highlights, I’ll be expanding on that by counting down my top 10 Malmö moments. That’s everything from money notes to point revelations, interval acts, final poses and…other stuff. I don’t want to give it all away now, do I?

 

I’m (attempting) to make my mind up: My top 39, two months after Malmö

Yes, you read that title correctly. It has been just over two months since the final of Eurovision 2013, and that means it’s also been two months since my hopes of having an unexpected winner were destroyed by a girl with bed hair and bare feet, and two months since we were all plunged into a deep depression at the over-ness of it all. What with that anniversary and the revised dates of the 2014 contest, there isn’t a mahusive wait until Copenhagen/miscellaneous Danish city attempts to outdo the pared-back but still impressive spectacle put on by Sweden in May. So…yay!!

Two months, or eight weeks as I like to call it on special occasions, is a time period in which opinions can change drastically, as I discovered when I decided to redo my top 39 recently. Up until then, I’d only done it once, and to be accurate that was a little while before Eurovision. All this time later, I was über curious to see how extra listens and seeing the performances had changed my rankings, and the outcome was so shocking and astounding that I felt compelled to show it to y’all. So here is my revised top 39 for 2013, complete with explanations of the most WTF shifts in opinion. Keep in mind as you read it that I may have been exaggerating when I used the words ‘shocking’ and ‘astounding’, and let me know below which entries have shot up or come crashing down in your eyes (or ears).

 

 My new and improved top ten 

  1. Italy (+4) – I’m still head-over-heels in l’amore with this, and I can’t see that changing anytime soon. It’s easily my favourite of the three entries Italy has sent since their comeback, and if they want to impress me next year they should start preparing yesterday. Considering they don’t seem that bothered about impressing at Eurovision (but manage to anyway) they’ll probably wait a while longer.

    'Numero uno, and it didn't cost a euro!'

    ‘Numero uno, and it didn’t cost a euro!’

  2. Hungary (+1)
  3. Moldova (+4)
  4. Sweden (-3)
  5. Germany (-3)
  6. Montenegro (+25) – Yep, you could say Igranka made a substantial leap upwards in my rankings. You know, ‘cause it did. I had high hopes for it on description alone, only to hear it and think ‘What The Fudge?’. But a few listens later (away from the raunchy music video), I got it, and now I want to be taken to the party. I can’t promise I’ll dress up as an astronaut, though.
  7. Norway (-1)
  8. Ukraine (-4)
  9. Ireland (+6)
  10. Azerbaijan (+27) – Another extra-large jump was made by The Land That Brought Us Running Scared, Shudder Shudder. I won’t deny it: the man in the box and all that jazz played a part in changing my mind about the song. That presentation took Hold Me to another level, and when I listened to it after the event, I was still feeling positive.  

    Farid and his box-boy, forced to sit through yet another replay of 'Running Scared'.

    Farid and his box-boy, forced to sit through yet another replay of ‘Running Scared’.

 

 The rest

  1. Belgium (-3)
  2. Serbia (-1)
  3. Israel (+8)
  4. Lithuania (-4)
  5. Greece (+14) – I must have been in a bad place when Koza Mostra were chosen to go to Malmö. A place where it’s impossible to see how fun-derful they are. Now I see them as musos that embody Greece at their best; that is, their best when they don’t have a fierce female in a super-short dress performing an up-tempo ethnopop song representing them. Alcohol Is Free is off-the-wall, very Greek and more complex than you’d think (hint: it ain’t all about free alcohol).
  6. Croatia (+19)
  7. Albania (-3)
  8. United Kingdom (-6)
  9. Macedonia (-10)
  10. Russia (+18) – You don’t have to hate me for this, because I’m hating myself enough for all of us. I still despise the lyrics in all their OTT, clichéd grossness, but the melody got to me in the end. Dina also sold the sentiment quite well on stage, which made it feel slightly less forced. She has a great voice (in fact, she’s THE voice in Russia) so let’s hope it’s put to less nauseating use in the future.
  11. Romania (+4)
  12. Estonia (-3)
  13. Georgia (+7)
  14. San Marino (+8)
  15. Slovenia (+8)
  16. Spain (-6) – I still feel more or less the same about this as I did two months ago, and the only reason it’s gone down in my rankings is because a bunch of other songs have gone up. It’s a sweet little ditty (BRB, just got to give my grandmother her terminology back) and it works better purely as a listening song, not as a competition song, so 26/39 is in no way a slap in ESDM’s collective face from me.

    '25th in the contest and now 26th here? WHYYYYYYYYYY?!?'

    ’25th in the contest and now 26th here? WHYYYYYYYYYY?!?’

  1. Netherlands (+7)
  2. Denmark (-4)
  3. Switzerland (-12)
  4. Malta (-4)
  5. Armenia (+5)
  6. France (-19) – I still have a sneaking regard for this, as a lover of the retro style and French language (don’t you just love that ‘toxique’?) but again, it was sent packing to the lower end of my 39 by all the entries that I suddenly became enamoured with. Having said that, it isn’t something I’ll have on repeat.
  7. Iceland (-17)
  8. Austria (-16)

 

My (un)lucky lasts

  1. Latvia (-7)
  2. Finland (-14)
  3. Bulgaria (-10)
  4. Belarus (-15) – Solayoh has finally begun to grate on me, and with the excitement of Eurovision over, I’m recalling how much I hate the way the Belarusian selection panned out. It was a pretty pointless exercise, and THEN somebody decided to go back in time and nab a Helena Paparizou B-side to make up for it. FYI, it didn’t. As of now, I’m officially back to missing Rhythm of Love.

    'Like I care. Which one of us has the gigantic disco ball?'

    ‘Like I care. I’m the one who has a gigantic disco ball.’

  1. Cyprus

 

As usual, at this point, there isn’t a single entry I could claim to hate. Sure, I’m disliking Solayoh at the moment, but if it were a person I wouldn’t want to strangle them with a feather boa – I’d probably just shake my fist in their general direction. Cyprus, the only song that didn’t shift positions in my rankings between May and now, is only at the bottom because it sends me to sleep. But who knows what will happen after another few months have gone by. You may see Cyprus and Belarus catfighting for my #1 position.

Hashtag AS IF.

 

How’s your top 39 looking now compared to way back when? Which entries have grown on you the most and which ones have begun to get a little…*yawn*…tired?

 

The 2013 EBJ Awards for Eurovision Excellence | Part 2 (Performances, Costumes & Results)

Hello there! Yes, I’m still alive (just like TWiiNS). It feels like it’s been ages since the first half of my EBJAEEs, which is probably because it has. I’m not even sure I can get away with posting exclusively about Malmö anymore, since a) the official DVD has already been released, and b) the first artist of 2014 has already been selected (Valentina Monetta again, AGAIN. San Marino obviously believe that ‘third time lucky’ is a thing). I’m sure somebody will let me know if I’m sooo six weeks ago or not.

In the meantime, allow me to present to you the second and final installment of my awards ceremony for 2013. This time, as you may have read in the title, they’re all about the performances, costumes and results that made an impact in Sweden. This includes the award for the All-Rounder of the Year, which (I hope) y’all voted for a little while back. Now you can find out if your favourite won the poll. It certainly wasn’t mine *mutters bitterly*.

So there’s that, and a whole lot more to check out in this slightly bigger episode. Have a looksee, and as always, comment me your agreements and disagreements. I love to hear either, although a ‘My gosh, you are 110% correct on every level and may I also say how nice you look today?’ every now and then is an earner of brownie points.

Ahem. On with le awards.

ebjees

The Performances  

t1

Cezar

Eythor Ingi

Gor Sujyan

Nodi Tatishvili

Klapa s Mora

Robin Stjernberg

 

I need to have a box of tissues handy whenever I hear these guys sing, live or in studio, so I can’t imagine what would happen if I ever heard them in real life. Those harmonies mist me up good. I don’t think it’s Mižerja’s fault, since KsM could perform an a cappella arrangement of Ice Ice Baby and I’d still be blubbering into a super-sized Kleenex. It must be the vocals. Ugh, I’m tearing up just thinking about them.

 

t2

Aliona Moon

Amandine Bourgeois

Anouk

Dina Garipova

Moran Mazor

Sophie Gelovani

Zlata Ognevich

 

If a breathtakingly (literally) tight dress is what it takes for Moran to deliver the type of vocal she did during Kdam and Eurovision, then I say go on cutting off your air supply, you pitch-perfect Israeli songbird! Not to her face, obviously, since she’s not within addressing distance. But that’s what I would say, because that voice is incredible.

 

 t3

Cyprus

Estonia

Georgia

Lithuania

Switzerland

 

DISCLAIMER: I did not actually get up from my couch and go for a toilet break during any of these performances. I would never do such a thing, because I always like to think a boring act could be livened up at some point – for example, with a giant piñata that is lowered from the ceiling and beaten by the artist/s until streamers and confectionery rain down on the thrilled and slightly confused audience.

Unfortunately, there were no giant piñatas incorporated into any of the above performances, to their detriment. Switzerland in particular bored me to tears (and not Klapa s Mora emotion-filled tears). With a 95-year-old forming part of their group, I didn’t expect acrobatics or anything from Takasa, but some use of the stage space would have been nice.

Eurovision performance or karaoke at the office Christmas party?

Eurovision performance or karaoke at the office Christmas party?

 

 t4

Albania

Bulgaria

Denmark

Greece

Malta

 

Greece is no stranger to making schweet props out of onstage instruments (Giorgos Alkaios, hello?). This year, they again lit up the stage with their musical weapons of choice, and though it wasn’t quite as effective as it was in Oslo, it added another element of interest and fun (take note, Switzerland) to an already fun-filled performance. The lights also distracted us from the fact that the instruments weren’t actually being played, which is handy.

 

 t5

Albania

Azerbaijan

Belarus

Moldova

San Marino

Ukraine

 

Whose idea was it to put the man in the box? I want to give them the world’s most enthusiastic pat on the back for coming up with that. It was a pretty simple concept, but so effective, and then it switched to super-drama mode with the lady in red and the rose petals (I hope man-in-box never did a Loreen and choked on one). I salute you, staging…arrangement…person.

 

 t6

Estonia

Georgia

San Marino

 

There was really no better way for the disco ending of Crisalide to kick in than with the simultaneous switch-on of everybody’s favourite wind machine. Sure, we all saw it coming from a continent away – but admit it, you’d have been disappointed if Valentina hadn’t been given any wind for her sails.

 

t7

Azerbaijan

Moldova

Romania

Slovenia

Sweden

 

When I say ‘choreography’, I mean dancing and/or anything else the artists and backup peeps did on stage during their three minutes. Hence I have to give this award to Azerbaijan, for the mirrored movement between Farid and his box friend, and the sliding of Farid down the box, and the running of the red lady followed by her massive train…for all of it really.

Farid and his lady in red argue over who gets to take the box home and use it as an aquarium

Farid and his lady in red argue over who gets to take the box home and use it as an aquarium

 

 t8

Finland

Hungary

Ireland

Malta

Moldova

Netherlands

 

Describe Tomorrow in two words. Done? I bet you said cutesy and whimsical, and if you didn’t then just play along. So, cutesy and whimsical was the order of the day for Malta, and those adjectives were well and truly echoed in the adorable lyrics-on-screen they gave us to back up Gianluca. The colour scheme and variety of fonts was simple but perfectly suited. More than a few countries elected to stick their song lyrics in the background, but Malta did it best.

 

t9

Belarus

Finland

Romania

Ukraine

 

As if It’s My Life wasn’t OTT enough on its own, somebody in the Romanian delegation thought to themselves, ‘you know what we need? A sparkly man-dress with a plunging neckline. And a humongous red sheet. And a bunch of dancers. OH, and a hydraulic platform. Yeah. That’s what we need.’ And then proceeded to share those thoughts with the rest of the delegation who all thought it was a spiffing idea. I’m not so sure, but let’s face it – there’s no point in going subtle for a song like this.

 

 t91

Azerbaijan

Denmark

Greece

Moldova

Norway

Ukraine

 

Thanks to everyone who voted in this poll of yesteryear. The most-voted for turned out to be  Norway, a country that tickled the majority of your fancies with their top-notch act. It was a close one, but Margaret’s strong vocal, the moody lighting in contrast to her costume, and the stage movement make the Norwegians the All-Rounders of 2013.

FYI, the full poll results were: Norway 25%, Moldova 23%, Denmark 21%, Ukraine 14%, Greece 9%, Azerbaijan 7%. I used my vote for Azerbaijan, so that was a waste of time.

'Bow down to me, Margaret...the all-rounder of the year!'

‘Bow down to me, Margaret…the all-rounder of the year!’

 

The Costumes

 t92

Aliona Moon

Hannah Mancini

Klapa s Mora

Margaret Berger

Who See

 

Head-to-toe sprayed-on leather? Check. Shiny metal accessories? Check. Fierce shoes that I will lust after for months? Double check. Hannah had it going on during semi final one. Unfortunately, dressing like a champion no more helps you get into the final than dressing like an extra from ‘Willy Wonka: The Musical’. Speaking of which…

 

t93

Cezar

Lozano & Esma

Moje 3

Moran Mazor

 

They won the Barbara Dex Award for a damn good reason, Moje 3 did. I hope the designer of their nonsensical, childish, polka-dotted and pearl-covered monstrosities has been locked up in Fashion Prison, if there is such a thing. If there isn’t, the Serbian government should build one just for her. I have never seen clothing that so aptly begs the question, ‘what were they THINKING?’.

'For the last time, Nevena, I had nothing to do with these outfits!'

‘For the last time, Nevena, I had nothing to do with these outfits!’

 

t94

Andrius Pojavis

Dorians

Takasa

 

Then again, at least bad costumes get people talking. I doubt anyone has devoted more than a few lines of typing space, if that, to the white shirts and ties of Takasa. I give a lacklustre point to the sporadic red accents, and then cancel it out because a bunch of people who wear school uniforms to Eurovision (excepting Daz Sampson’s backup dancers – at least they made sense) don’t deserve points. Even if they were a bit lost after their Salvation Army uniforms were banned from the contest.

 

t95

Alyona Lanskaya

Koza Mostra

Moran Mazor

 

If you’re wondering about Koza Mostra, let me just say: you can never be sure what is or isn’t under a kilt. But that’s irrelevant, because Moran is the winner of this award. That dress of hers left nothing to the imagination, unless you count all of us having to imagine how she got into it in the first place. My money’s on Lycra-in-a-spray-can.

 

t96

Moje 3

 

I couldn’t think of any other artist/s that made a more monumental stuff-up than Nevena, Sara and Mirna in the journey from national final to Eurovision itself. Of course, we all blame the aforementioned designer for creating them in the first place, but I personally have it in for anyone who vetoed the original devil/angel outfits. Sure, they were a little tacky, but they worked with the song, not against it in some bizarre battle of WTF.

 

t97

Adrian Lulguraj

Aliona Moon

Marco Mengoni

Margaret Berger

 

In a year without Jedward, I wasn’t sure there’d be any nominees for this award. But a bunch of hairstylists who were told ‘you can’t do THAT with hairspray!’ and took it as a challenge came along and saved the day. Aliona’s look was less…sideways than it had been at the Moldovan final, but was impressive and interesting nonetheless. It’s the norm for powerhouse female singers with powerhouse ballads to be given a cursory swipe with a curling iron and nothing more, so I appreciate the extra effort.

'This may look good, but the 10 459 hairpins holding it in place aren't much fun, let me tell you.'

‘This may look good, but the 10 459 hairpins holding it in place aren’t much fun, let me tell you.’

 

The Results

t98

Croatia

Israel

San Marino

Serbia

 

I thought San Marino had qualification in the bedazzled bag this year. It was going to happen, and it was going to be amazing. Valentina, the comeback queen, reinvented, was going to compensate for 2012 in a big way. Then…bah-bow. Nothing. No San Marino in the magic envelopes (as they were). Granted, Val came close, finishing 11th in her semi. But it wasn’t close enough, dammit. I guess her third time could be the charm.

 

t99

Armenia

Belgium

Iceland

Lithuania

 

Now, a surprise I can be happy about. I was never that gone on Tom Dice/Me And My Guitar, so when I found myself attending regular meetings of the Roberto Bellarosa and Love Kills Appreciation Society, it was the first time in a long time I’d been enthusiastic about Belgium’s participation. I’m not stupid though, and I knew they didn’t have a hope in heck of qualifying.

Oh god. I AM stupid!

 

t991

Azerbaijan

Denmark

Georgia

Greece

Russia

 

A final without Azerbaijan in it, automatically or otherwise? Puh-lease. That Junior Eurovision fail was a mere blip on an unrelated horizon. They were back and more or less ready to win for the second time in three years, although I can’t help thinking they would have qualified even if they’d come back willing to settle for mid-table.

 

t992

Albania

Bulgaria

Cyprus

Latvia

FYR Macedonia

Switzerland

 

Despina Olympiou was the Iris of 2013 – an attractive female in a nice dress, who was competently performing one of the most boring songs the world has ever known. She was never going to get far. It’s a shame considering she could out-sing Ivi Adamou any day of the week, but Eurovision ain’t no singing contest.

'An Me Thimase' should really translate to 'why did I bother.'

‘An Me Thimase’ should really translate to ‘why did I bother.’

 

 t993

Azerbaijan

Belarus

Georgia

Greece

Netherlands

 

15th, in my opinion, is around about where the all-too-similar Ell & Nikki should have ended up. It was a huge relief for Sophie & Nodi to not follow in their footsteps. As well-executed as their performance was, I found it soulless and overly choreographed.  Waterfall was just as soulless, and very clichéd. So for me, Georgia got what they deserved. They’re better than that.

 

 t994

France

Germany

Ireland

Sweden

 

Could this be the start of a new Euro-curse? Last in the running order, last place? Or am I desperately searching for an explanation as to why yet another of my favourite entries ended the evening 26th out of 26? I know I’m biased, but I genuinely don’t think Ireland deserved to lose. Ryan’s performance was stronger than Jedward’s last year in many ways, and his song was much more contemporary. Then again, that contemporary feel could have been his and Cascada’s downfall. With the Euphoria effect still present, maybe nothing could have measured up.

 

 t995

Belgium

Finland

Hungary

Malta

 

So we’ve covered the jaw-dropping moment when Belgium qualified. But now we come to the even more flabbergasting moment when they didn’t bomb out in the final, not by any means. For quite a few countries, finishing on the left side of the scoreboard alone is as good as winning, and Belgium is one. So maybe we should forget about Copenhagen and head off to Brussels instead? 12th place warrants a big celebratory party, and as we all know, Eurovision is the biggest of them all.*

Roberto was just as shocked as we were to find himself in reach of the top 10.

Roberto was just as shocked as we were to find himself in reach of the top 10.

 

* Having come out with such a cheesy line, I am now off to Russia to write their entry for the 2014 contest.

 

And we are FINITO! As far as awards go, anyway. I don’t plan on going anywhere. I do plan on getting another post out within a reasonable time period, however. Look out for it between now and Christmas…2020.

Ha ha ha.

Whenever it makes its appearance, I hope to see you then.

EBJ Signature

 

PS – Did I hand the trophies out to the right people and places? Have you got any suggestions for next year’s awards?

 

 

The 2013 EBJ Awards for Eurovision Excellence | Part 1 (Artists and Songs)

Hello there. Long time, no new Eurovision rambling from yours truly. Well, it’s been just over a week, but in blog time that’s an eternity, so I apologise to anyone who cares. I do this, as Krista ‘Ding Dong’ Seigfrids would say, for you-ah, for you-ah, for you, yeah, I do it for youuuuu. Or as Robin ‘I won Melfest?’ Stjernberg would say, for you-ooh-ooh-oohoohooh-oh-ohhhhhh.

OH DEAR GOD, SOMEBODY STOP ME!

Thanks. So, today it’s finally time for me to hand out the first of my awards for the best and worst of all things Eurovision 2013. I realise it’s a bit odd to say they’re for excellence and still rate the bad stuff (costumes etc) but if you think about it, one of the artists who did badly in some way was the most excellent at doing badly in that way. I’m just trying to figure out which one.

Part 1 is devoted to the best and worst of this year’s artists and songs – from the most attractive performers (’cause I’m shallow like that) to the biggest personalities, most unoriginal entries and more. Let the ceremony begin! Oh, and let me know who your winners would be down below. Mine are highlighted in bold.

ebjees

The Artists

1

Andrius Pojavis

Farid Mammadov

Ilias Kozas (Koza Mostra)

Jonas Gygax (Takasa)

Marco Mengoni

Ryan Dolan

 

He may belong in an insane asylum (judging from his behaviour during interviews and the now infamous ‘crotch readjustment’ incident of the jury final) but Marco Mengoni, the San Remo-winning Italian stallion, is also insanely attractive – and when you’re objectifying people by handing out “trophies” to the best-looking, that’s what counts. He can fly to Australia and act like a total space cadet in my company any time.

Marco: the hair of a madman, the face of my future husband.

Marco: the hair of a madman, the face of my future husband.

 

 2

Alyona Lanskaya

Amandine Bourgeois

Natália Kelly

Natalie Horler (Cascada)

Nevena Božović (Moje 3)

Zlata Ognevich

 

If you’re a female and you’ve never secretly hoped that Zlata has bad breath or a problem with flatulence, because NOBODY can be as beautiful and talented and generally perfect as she is, then you’re a better person than I am. I’ll push my jealousy to one side for a second to say this: she is a stunner. If she and Marco Mengoni ever had a love child (never gonna happen, back off Ognevich etc etc) it would be ridiculously gorgeous. Or alternatively, hideous because two lots of super-hot genes coming together might cancel out the attractiveness.

 

3

Andrius Pojavis

Farid Mammadov

Gianluca Bezzina

Gor Sujyan (Dorians)

Marco Mengoni

Roberto Bellarosa

 

This was a tough category, what with 2013 being a year full of animated brows, all jostling for our attention. But the hypnotic quality of Andrius’ pair secures him the disco ball. I’m pretty sure he got into the final by using them to put the jury members and TV viewers into a trance, during which time they were compelled to vote Lithuania. That weird trip-effect halfway through the performance was just a distraction.

'Hush. The eyebrows have spoken.'

‘Hush. The eyebrows have spoken.’

 

 

4

Adrian Lulguraj

Gianluca Bezzina

Ralfs Eilands (PeR)

Robin Stjernberg

Ryan Dolan

 

Perhaps I’m biased because I love Robin to pieces (‘Pieces’ coincidentally being the title of his new album, to be released on June 26th, hashtag shameless plug) but I reckon he was the nicest guy to set foot on Malmö soil during Eurovision week. His priceless reaction of shock at winning Melodifestivalen carried through to the big show, as he was constantly thrilled and amazed just to be there. He was charming with all 468, 952 members of the press he had to speak to (so I hear), taught Australian commentator Sam Pang how to wrestle, and went out of his way (literally; he ran in the wrong direction) to greet fans at the opening party. What a top bloke.

 

5

Hannah Mancini

Krista Seigfrids

Natália Kelly

Natalie Horler (Cascada)

Sara Jovanović (Moje 3)

 

Okay, so Krista and her entourage/bridal party may have been a bit loud at times, and prone to disturbing the relative peace of artist interviews-in-progress…but underneath that noise was someone genuinely excited to be representing her country and someone who wants to make friends with everyone she comes into contact with. Despite her negative result in the final, I’ll bet she and her team spent the plane trip home ding-donging up and down the aisles.

 

6

Bonnie Tyler

Cascada

Koza Mostra

PeR

Robin Stjernberg

Who See

 

In this case, it’s ‘Born EntertainerS’. I’m not including Agathonas as one of the said entertainers, despite how much I love his moustache fondling. It’s just that Koza Mostra, as a fivesome, kind of outshine him in the energetic, crowd-revving, kilt-wearing stakes. I reckon you could hire these guys to perform at a party specifically for people who are bored by everything, and within ten seconds those people would be dancing on tabletops with various items of clothing tied around their foreheads.

It's also entertaining to wonder what's under those kilts.

It’s also entertaining to wonder what’s under those kilts.

 

7

Alyona Lanskaya (the two-time NF winner who finally made it)

Birgit (expecting on the ESC stage)

Elitsa & Stoyan (return of the drum-tastic Bulgarians)

Gianluca Bezzina (the singing doctor)

Moran Mazor (chic geek)

Valentina Monetta (from social networks to sophistication)

 

Miss Monetta takes out this award, and not just because she came straight back to the contest without even a coffee break in between. It’s because she went from ‘inappropriately dressed thirty-something forced to gyrate around singing about cybersex and googling, giggling, gaggling (whatever that is)’ to ‘mature, talented chanteuse with excellent Italian ballad-cum-disco-number and adequately floaty outfit.’ We all wondered whether the Social Network stigma would ruin her second chance, or if she’d be able to shake it off; though she didn’t manage to make the final, I think she well and truly proved that Crisalide Valentina is the real Valentina.

 

 

The Songs

 8

Glorious (sounds like Don’t You Worry Child by Swedish House Mafia)

L’Enfer Et Moi (sounds like Rolling In The Deep by ADELE)

Samo Shampioni (sounds like Water by Elitsa & Stoyan)

Solayoh (sounds like Aphrodisiac by Eleftheria Eleftheriou)

Something (sounds like Mr. Brightside by the Killers)

Tomorrow (sounds like Hey Soul Sister by Train)

 

Last year’s Greek entry sounded at least five years old, and this year’s Belarusian entry, which was more or less a carbon copy, actually turned out to be five years old (read: stale as a bread crust left behind in the pantry for six months). As catchy as it is, it’s that lack of originality and dated-ness that makes me want to never hear the “word” ‘solayoh’ ever again. But my congratulations to Alyona’s songwriters (if they’re still alive…they did write it all those years ago) are sincere. You guys really deserve this award for creating a song so structurally and melodically similar to another one that hadn’t even been thought of at the time.

 

9

Glorious

Hold Me                                                                                            

I Feed You My Love

Only Teardrops

Solayoh

Waterfall

 

A fanwank song is one that a big percentage of ESC lovers go crazy over, that may or may not have been written expressly to appeal to said lovers and that may or may not succeed in the contest itself. Waterfall was (and still is) a ballad stuffed with Eurovision-specific clichés, and had many people booking hotel rooms in Tbilisi for May 2014 before Eurovision week had even begun. Unfortunately for Georgia (and the people who’d booked in to a hotel with a no-refund policy) taking a chance on a fanwank didn’t pay off.

'Whyyyyyyyy couldn't we beeeaaaattt Ell and Nikkiiiiiiiiii?'

‘Whyyyyyyyy couldn’t we beeeaaaattt Ell and Nikkiiiiiiiiii?’

 

95

Contigo Hasta El Final

Et Uus Saaks Alguse

Hold Me

Igranka

Lonely Planet

 

The first time I listened to Hold Me, I was all like ‘Errgh. Yawn. But dammit, Azerbaijan is going to win again with another average song!’ Then a few months went by, and the contest rolled around and the guy in the box happened…and I suddenly became one of the people who wouldn’t have minded if Farid had won, excepting the fact that going back to Baku so soon would have been a tad same-same. As annoying as it is, I love this song as of now. Can we go back to 2011 and make it win in place of Running Scared?

 

91 

Birds

Gravity

Hold Me

L’Essenziale

O Mie

Rak Bishvilo

Waterfall

 

Besides Birds, L’Essenziale was the only subtle, lyrical ballad in the above sea of big, brash belters. That’s not why it’s my personal ballad of 2013 – I love an in-your-face ballad as much as the next person (assuming that next person is a fan of them). I just think it’s beautiful in its simplicity. But it is also lyrically and musically on a different level to most of the others, and I really appreciate that. Are those empty words coming from someone whose main requirement for a good song is catchiness? Maybe. But non mi importa.

 

 92

Contigo Hasta El Final

Identitet

Pred Da Se Razdeni

Samo Shampioni

Solayoh

 

Sadly, the ethno-pop of this year was hard to find, and you could argue that some of the above don’t technically fit into the category. Namely my winner, which is ethno-rock if you want to be picky. You don’t? Great, I’ll carry on then. Identitet is the kind of rock song that appeals to people who aren’t usually rock fans, much like the Turkish rock from Mor ve Ötesi and MaNga (who are responsible for two of my favourite Eurovision songs like, ever). There’s something about it – the melody, those tinges of ethnicity perhaps – that I really like. It’s more instant than Contigo Hasta and more cohesive than Pred Da Se Razdeni, the two songs that I’d name as runner-ups.

 

 93

Alcohol Is Free

Glorious

Marry Me

Only Love Survives

Solayoh

Straight Into Love

 

IMO, Cascada gave us the Macarena of Year Malmö – the up-tempo track that more or less prizes you out of your seat and marches you over to the nearest open space so you can give in to the overwhelming desire you have to shake your thing. Sure, you might not be able to do so at the top of a staircase with a wind machine at your beck and call, but whatever. As Lady Gaga so wisely once said, ‘just dance’. You know you want to.

 

 94

Finland

France

Greece

Iceland

Malta

Ukraine

 

Ukraine threw everything, and I mean everything, at their music video this year, which is so unlike them (ha ha ha). There were CGI unicorns, butterflies, flowers that gave birth to Zlatas, diamonds falling from the sky (not a good thing unless you have a reinforced steel umbrella)…and that’s just to name a few. But the OTT was OMG. The ‘all or nothing’ attitude Ukraine has with regard to Eurovision paid off this time. I’m only disappointed that they didn’t utilise hologram technology to get a unicorn on stage.

'This one'll do nicely for my engagement ring.'

‘This one’ll do nicely for my engagement ring.’

 

Well, that concludes this half of the 2013 EBJAEEs. I hope you enjoyed yourself. If you did, you may want to come back in a few days for the final instalment, which will be commending the yays and nays of the performances, costumes and results from Malmö. Plus, you can find out if your favourite won the People’s Choice Award for All-Rounder of the Year. You wouldn’t want to miss that! I’ll save you a front-row seat, shall I?

In the meantime…

 

Did I make the right decisions? Who/what would you hand these trophies to?

 

 

Separated at birth? The stars of Malmö and their lookalikes

I’m sure you all saw this coming. With a new year and a fresh batch of artists on the Eurovision grill, it was only a matter of time before someone felt compelled to reunite them with the twins they never knew they had – a.k.a. cobble together a list of people who vaguely resemble some of the latest participants.

This year (like most years) that someone is me. So if you liked all 10, 345 of my previous doppelganger posts, then perhaps you’ll be entertained by this here episode. I’ve tracked down the doubles of eleven Malmö-ites for your convenience/judgment. Please let me know below if I’ve missed any from the class of 2013!

 

Albania’s Bledar Sejko looks like British actor Gary Oldman (as Dracula)

mlalbania

And I bet you thought Cezar was the only Dracula on display in this year’s competition. Nope. Albania sent one too, albeit a less obvious, less glamorous one without a penchant for crystal-encrusted gowns with plunging v-necklines. Bledar’s a more conservative type, favouring the same flowing brunette locks and trendy eyewear Sir Oldman worked when he played the vampire to end all vampires back in 1992.

 

Armenia’s Gor Sujyan looks like Kevin from the Backstreet Boys

mlarmenia

I can see it now – a telemovie starring Gor and Kevin as twins adopted out to different families, with one growing up to be a rock star (of sorts) and the other joining a boy band that becomes a phenomenon. Years later, they’re reunited…and immediately start ripping into each other about their respective musical tastes. Wouldn’t that be heartwarming? Though I must say, this backstreet boy has a way to go if he wants to attain Gor’s level of eyebrow thickness.

 

Azerbaijan’s Farid Mammadov looks like Friends star Matt Leblanc

mlazerbaijan

I’m willing to bet my entire DIY flag collection that these guys go to the same dentist to get their teeth whitened, if nothing else. If I happen to lose that collection, I’ll still believe that Farid has more than a hint of Matt-in-the-Joey-Tribbiani-days about him. Just look at the hair, and the untamed brows, and the shape of the noses, and you’ll see it. I hope. 

 

Belgium’s Roberto Bellarosa looks like British actor Luke Pasqualino

mlbelgium

I don’t want to be mean and say that the above looks like a before-and-after plastic surgery comparison, but it kind of does. Roberto is adorable in his own right, so let’s just call Luke his older, more refined sibling. And then let’s celebrate, because we’ve finally found not one, but two people who look reasonable with a Justin Bieber ’09 sweep haircut.

 

Croatia’s Marko Škugor looks like R & B singer Mike Posner

mlcroatia

I’d argue that Marko is the better singer, even though he doesn’t do it for a living. But apart from that, give or take an earring or two and some differing dress sense, you’re left with two men whose names start with M and who enjoy carefully crafted buzz cuts for that ‘bald, but not really bald’ look.

 

Denmark’s Emmelie de Forest looks like Australian actress Jacinda Barrett

mldenmark

Neither of them are fond of hairbrushes, we know that much. It’s a fair prediction to make that in ten to fifteen years’ time, this is what Emmelie will look like, although it’s too hard to say whether she’ll have found some shoes by then.

 

Estonia’s Birgit Õigemeel looks like Australian actress Kate Bell

mlestonia

Kate Bell in turn looks a bit like Lena, but I might save that for another post. Though I really have nothing to say about these two. Except for this: if you stand about ten metres away from your screen and cross your eyes, the resemblance is uncanny.

 

France’s Amandine Bourgeois looks like American muso Courtney Love

mlfrance

Amandine, if you’re reading this (because it’s so likely) bonjour. And I’m sorry. But I am not the first person to wonder if you and Ms Love could be one and the same. I’m sure you’re not as cavalier with illicit substances, but you’ve got to admit, your heavy use of eyeliner and blonde bed-headedness has a lot of us drawing comparisons.

 

Greece’s Agathonas Iakovidis looks like the Dolmio pasta sauce puppet

mlgreece

For anyone who’s easily offended, no, I am not implying Agathonas looks like a Muppet/puppet. I think he’s the coolest moustache-stroker around, actually. All I’m saying is that I suspect he’s been selling pasta sauce around the world for the last couple of decades. No biggie. It is a bit cheeky of him to go around demanding free alcohol when I doubt he’s had to pay for a single meal of spaghetti since 1983. 

 

Iceland’s Eythor Ingi looks like Australian Idol winner Wes Carr

mliceland

It would be all too easy to go for Thor or Jesus or that guy who delivered a pizza to my house once, so I’m pairing Eythor with a less obvious alternative. You could say that he and Wes are just two blonde dudes who happen to grow their facial hair in the same way, and you’d be right. What more does it take for people to look like each other? In fact, if I had some face fuzz (not likely, but bear with me) I reckon I could pass for Eythor’s long-lost womb-mate too.

 

Romania’s Cezar Ouatu looks like American actor Patrick Dempsey

mlromania

Grey’s Anatomy would be a lot more entertaining if Dr. McDreamy sang diagnoses to his patients in an ear-piercingly high falsetto. Unfortunately, it’s only appearances that he and Cezar have in common. These two are literally a cheek mole away from being identical.

 

Sweden’s Robin Stjernberg looks like Glee star Chris Colfer

mlsweden

Firstly, may I make a comment about the glorious hair that you are currently admiring on both of the above parties? Thanks. WHAT HAIR! Señor Stjernberg is more impressive in that department, but Chris holds his own. I don’t believe that two people with such volume up top could have been born to different parents.

 

What do you think? Have all the Malmö twins been reunited, or is there more detective work to be done?

  

NEXT TIME: Part 1 of the 2013 EBJ Awards for Eurovision Excellence is coming your way, so you better get your tuxedoes dry-cleaned and sequined hotpants re-sequined for optimum shine. The artists and songs of Year Malmö will be fighting for many a prestigious statuette…manufactured entirely out of Clipart on my laptop at 1am. You’re invited, so I hope to see you there.

 

It’s a numbers game: Point-ing out all of the results from Malmö (plus a poll for People’s Choice!)

It’s been two weeks since the first semi of Eurovision 2013, and I am well and truly over the PED. My bout of depression was actually pretty short-lived this year, which makes me feel:

a) Good because I’m not still curled up in a ball on my bedroom floor, sobbing and blowing my nose on a Ukrainian flag (with no malicious intent)

b) Not-so-good because that makes me think I’m a bad fan for getting over it so fast.

But so what if I’m already looking forward to the new season, and the possibility of JESC, and Copenhagen 2014, assuming that’s where we’re going? It’s better than crying into your flag collection for even longer.

Anyway, it’s taken me these past two weeks to put together a little analysis (I use that word to sound important, but really it’s just a ramble with numbers) of the results from both semis and the final. I always find it interesting to dissect this stuff, and I hope you do too, since if you don’t you’re going to be mighty bored for the next fifteen minutes or so. Or you could, you know, just not read it.

But for those who think Eurovision numbers are fun numbers, here’s an overview of the figures from 2013.

 

Qs and DNQs: Semi final 1

  1. Denmark 167
  2. Russia 156
  3. Ukraine 140
  4. Moldova 95
  5. Belgium 75
  6. Netherlands 75
  7. Belarus 74
  8. Ireland 54
  9. Lithuania 53
  10. Estonia 52
  11. Serbia 46
  12. Montenegro 41
  13. Croatia 38
  14. Austria 27
  15. Cyprus 11
  16. Slovenia 8

SH_SFone-1

– The Qs in this semi who did not qualify in 2012 were Belgium (last Q in 2010), the Netherlands (last Q in 2004) and Belarus (last Q in 2010).

– The DNQs who qualified in 2012 were Serbia and Cyprus. This is only the second time Serbia has failed to qualify since 2007.

– It was an interesting development for no ex-Yugoslavian countries to qualify this year, but as you can see in Semi 1, three of them weren’t far behind the qualifiers. Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia were hot on the heels of Estonia.

– Poor Slovenia, on the other hand, brought up the rear, having come second last in their 2012 semi. Unless they come last with <8 points in 2014, things can only go up from here.

 

Qs and DNQs: Semi final 2

  1. Azerbaijan 139
  2. Greece 121
  3. Norway 120
  4. Malta 118
  5. Romania 83
  6. Iceland 72
  7. Armenia 69
  8. Hungary 66
  9. Finland 64
  10. Georgia 63
  11. San Marino 47
  12. Bulgaria 45
  13. Switzerland 41
  14. Israel 40
  15. Albania 31
  16. Macedonia 28
  17. Latvia 13

tumblr_inline_mmxgfk8eXi1qz4rgp

– The Qs in this semi who did not qualify in 2012 were Armenia (who did not compete last year), Finland (last Q in 2011) and Georgia (last Q in 2011).

– The DNQs who qualified in 2012 were Albania and Macedonia. In Baku, Albania reached the top five for the first time, and Macedonia achieved their second-best result ever. It was an off year, let’s just say that.

– San Marino may have failed to qualify yet again, but Valentina Monetta beat her own personal best by achieving their best placing to date.

– Latvia’s was the first song out in this semi, but (to quote Peter Nalitch) it was apparently lost and forgotten by the televoters and juries and ended up last.

 

The final top ten: facts and figures

  1. Denmark 281
  2. Azerbaijan 234
  3. Ukraine 214
  4. Norway 191
  5. Russia 174
  6. Greece 152
  7. Italy 126
  8. Malta 120
  9. Netherlands 114
  10. Hungary 84

– In 2011, the winning margin of Azerbaijan over Italy was 32. Azerbaijan received just three sets of douze points, an amount equaled by four other countries and topped by Italy and Bosnia & Herzegovina. In 2012, the winning margin of Sweden over Russia was 113. Sweden received 18 sets of douze, bettering Norway’s 2009 record of 16.

– For 2013, the winning margin of Denmark over Azerbaijan was 47. Denmark received eight sets of douze to Azerbaijan’s ten. This made for a more convincing win than Ell & Nikki’s, but a paltry one in comparison to Loreen’s.

– Speaking again of douze, here’s an idea of the spread: in 2011, 20 different countries scored one or more sets of twelve points. In 2012, 13 different countries had the honour. This year, it was also 13.

– The smallest point margin between any countries here was six, between both Italy and Malta and Malta and the Netherlands.

– Azerbaijan appeared in the top ten for the sixth time in six years of participation, and in the top 5 for the fifth time in a row.

– Other countries who also made the top ten back-to-back were Russia (2012) and Italy (2012, 2011).

– Last appearances in the top ten for the others? 2011 for Denmark, Ukraine and Greece, 2009 for Norway, 2007 for Hungary, 2005 for Malta and 1999 for the Netherlands.

 

And the rest…

  1. Moldova 71
  2. Belgium 71
  3. Romania 65
  4. Sweden 62
  5. Georgia 50
  6. Belarus 48
  7. Iceland 47
  8. Armenia 41
  9. United Kingdom 23
  10. Estonia 19
  11. Germany 18
  12. Lithuania 17
  13. France 14
  14. Finland 13
  15. Spain 8
  16. Ireland 5

– Eleven of these sixteen qualified from the semi finals, with only six of those having qualified in 2012: Moldova, Romania, Iceland, Estonia, Lithuania and Ireland. The only ones to equal/improve on their previous placing were Moldova (11th in Baku) and Iceland (20th in Baku).

– Sweden was the closest auto-finalist to the top ten, with Spain being the farthest from that end of the table. Both countries, as well as 21st-placed Germany, made the top ten last year.

– Ireland’s last place was the lowest-scoring last place entry in a final since 2007…when Ireland also came last with 5 points.

 

Voting in the final: a snapshot of what went where

eurovision-2013-results

– More on that 100% ex-Yugoslavian free final: the minute it became obvious that this would be the case, we all wondered where the points from Serbia, Croatia etc would go. Bets were on Greece, but as it turns out, the majority went to Denmark, Ukraine, Russia and Italy. Montenegro was the only one to award big points to Greece, with eight.

– Winner Denmark received points from every country, bar San Marino, despite getting douze from Italy. I’ll put that down to a slight difference in population.

– There were the usual neighbourly exchanges of douze points in this year’s contest – for example, between the Netherlands and Belgium, and Sweden and Norway. However, some countries chose to vote elsewhere. Austria gave top marks to Azerbaijan with only six points going to Germany. The Ireland and the UK both ranked Denmark highest, swapping seven points and one point respectively.

– Ireland scored points from three countries to lose, whilst second-last Spain scored from just two.

 

Ranking the semi-finalists, point by point

Let’s get back to the pre-final shows for a moment. It’s all very well to say Ireland lost Eurovision 2013, but at least they made it to the final! It’s really down to those left at the bottom of the semis to battle it out for the dishonour of being 39th out of 39. So who actually came last, in terms of points? Well, here are the thirteen non-qualifiers ranked by point value (SF2 participants are highlighted).

San Marino 47

Serbia 46

Bulgaria 45

Switzerland 41

Montenegro 41

Israel 40

Croatia 38

Albania 31

Macedonia 28

Austria 27

Latvia 13

Cyprus 11

Slovenia 8

Looking at it this way, it was Hannah Mancini who impressed the least, which is surprising to me since I was a fan of her performance. No doubt she’s not thrilled about this, but if the penny has dropped with Ryan Dolan, he’ll have something of an Irish smile on his Irish dial.

 

How Australia “voted”

As you may or may not know, every year Australian broadcaster SBS allows us to vote unofficially (duh) online. It’s not as good as the real thing (I imagine…sob!) but it’s better than nothing. Anyway, I present to you our top ten for 2013, which may or may not have been partially influenced by large ethnic communities. I say if you can vote for your birth country, go for it.

  1. Denmark
  2. Greece
  3. Romania
  4. Norway
  5. Ireland
  6. Azerbaijan
  7. Malta
  8. Finland
  9. Iceland
  10. Italy

I have to apologise for Romania doing so well. That had nothing to do with me, I swear. Apart from that, what do you think of the choices from Down Under?

 

With that, I think we should move on to something less confusing.

 

Something completely different…a POLL!

As I mentioned in my last post, the EBJ Awards for 2013 are coming up, and this year I want you guys to be a part of the selection process. That’s right, all three of you who read this blog. Congrats.

Most of the awards I’m going to give out are quite specific and subjective, but I’ve decided on one that I think is general enough to go to a public vote. It’s the All-Rounder of the Year Award, to go to the country that got everything right – staging, costumes, choreography and vocals. I’ve narrowed the field down to six nominees, and I’d love it if you’d help pick the winner.

Next week, all the awards will be revealed. I bet the artists are freaking out, because, let’s face it, winning Eurovision is okay – but it’s the gongs from a bogus blog ceremony that really matter.

 

So I’m off to polish up the equally bogus trophies (in my head, they’re shaped like disco balls, and they shoot out glitter and confetti at regular intervals) so this is ciao for now. May your PED disappear ASAP.

 EBJ Signature

 

Did some of this year’s results take you by surprise? What made you smile and what had you scratching your head in total disbelief?

 

In the end, only teardrops…of happiness! My take on the Malmö finale

Let me ask you a question. Do you remember Eurovision 2013?

I ask you this because, approximately a million days after the final, I’ve just managed to pull myself out of the post-contest funk and do a review, and I’m not sure it’s relevant anymore.

An ancient newspaper clipping to jog your memory.

An ancient newspaper clipping to jog your memory.

 That is, of course, a hilarious joke which exaggerates the fact that it is Wednesday and the final was on Saturday and I’m only just getting my behind into gear to write about it. But I figure, why should anyone have to get all of their thoughts about Malmö out ASAP? We should all be dissecting and discussing it for months! That’s the only good thing about Eurovision being over each year!

Hands up who wants me to stop using exclamation marks! Okay.

I am warning you now that I personally don’t intend on shutting up about Ye Olde Swedish Spectacular until something happens on the JESC front, and/or the 2014 ESC season begins. So here is one of many, many ramblings to come on the subject. These are my thoughts on the final, from top to bottom.

 

A few fascinating factoids about Eurovision 2013

– Spoiler alert (for those who have been hibernating under a rock). For the second time, Denmark won the contest in neighbouring Sweden, after the Olsen Brothers vocoded their way into first place back in 2000 in Stockholm. I wonder if this means Estonia will win next year, and Latvia the year after, and so on? Place your bets now, people.

– For the second year running, the winner was a solo female with an aversion to shoes. #justrealised

– The Malmö show proved that spending a little less of your pocket money doesn’t mean ending up with something substandard. The budget of this year’s contest paled in comparison to that of Baku. No disrespect to Azerbaijan, but Sweden did a lot with a little, which I like to call the Allen key mentality.

This looks pretty darn expensive to me.

This looks pretty darn expensive to me.

– The show did break a record as being the edition with the greatest number of close-up hand shots in history. Well, I can assume that’s the case, because have you EVER seen so many GOSHDARN HAND SHOTS in your LIFE?

– There were 17 non-English language entries out of the 39 competing. 5 of those qualified to the final, and 3 were from Big Five countries. Of those 8, 3 made the top 10, with another just missing out.

– Norway made the top 10 for the first time since their 2009 win, Malta for the first time since 2005, and Hungary for the first time since 2007. But most impressive of all was the Netherlands, cracking the top 10 for the first time since 1999.

 

Hitting the heights of Cezar’s range: performance highlights 

France: I never saw a great result on the cards for France. And when they were chosen to open the show, all I could think was ‘Amandine is tres screwed.’ But my god, can the woman perform! She ripped into L’Enfer et Moi like it was a bag of hot chips and she hadn’t eaten for three days. She was sexy but not sleazy, very, very fierce, and above all taught us that the clichéd singers wear metallic fringe, while the classy ones wear leather fringe.

Moldova: I couldn’t wait to see Aliona in action again after the semi, and apart from one crack of the old voice, she did not disappoint. From the sound to the look to the choreography, Moldova brought it this year.

Belgium: For the first time in a long time, Belgium was in the final AND I was over the (Aliona) moon about it. Roberto looked pretty happy that Belgium was there too, and that made for an excellent performance. I have officially forgiven them for the Iris snoozefest.

Malta: Has anybody ever been as happy to be at Eurovision as Doctor Bezzina? His face must be aching from that smiling, but I’m sure he can prescribe himself something to ease it.

Why so serious?

Why so serious?

Sweden: The walking, talking cuteness that is Robin Hcqwernberg (just wanted to have a go at spelling it how you say it) finally made it…back to the Malmö Arena where his Melodifestivalen semi was held. But hey, it was a different stage, and he was wearing a different jacket. His was one of my favourite acts of the night, and to anyone who thinks he can’t sing, I point you to this three minutes and ask ‘are you freaking kidding me?’

Hungary: I don’t know if this was by accident or on purpose because of that laid back/apathetic vibe ByeAlex has about him, but his vocal was more solid on Saturday than it had been on Thursday, and that combined with the reaction from the audience and the quirky backdrop (and my endless love for the song) charmed my socks off. Not literally – it was a cold night – but still. I swooned.  

Azerbaijan: Hold Me is without a doubt my  grower entry of le year. I’m really digging it now, but I won’t deny that the slow clap-worthy staging had a hand in it. Farid was basically as consistent as he had been in the semi, and I marveled once again at what was going on under and around him.

Someone's never heard of thinking outside the box...

Someone’s never heard of thinking outside the box…

Norway: I loved everything about this performance. Though it was similar to the original from MGP, the subtle differences (i.e. the fact that someone took to Margaret’s dress with a bedazzler and some pinking shears) showed some effort.

 

Lower than Moran Mazor’s neckline: performance lowlights

Russia: This was not as slick as it was in the semi. Dina’s hair was limper, her vocal wasn’t as impressive, and those light-up balls were thrown into the audience a little too late. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pleased, since those tiny errors spelt N-O  W-I-N  F-O-R  T-H-E  R-U-S-S-I-A-N  C-H-E-E-S-E.

Germany: I was looking forward to Cascada in an über-big way, but something didn’t click. I’m not sure what it was – Natalie’s vocal was good, her outfit was much less trashy than that of Unser Song, the stairs were cool…but it just didn’t have the same impact as it did in the NF. I guess the editing of Glorious into an ESC-sized version with less build and drama could be to blame.

Romania: This is a lowlight strangely based on how good (albeit in a bizarre way) it was. I got a teensy bit scared that Romania could win, or at least make the top 10, and that the press would have an absolute field day mocking such a ‘typical’ Eurovision success. Also, none of the glassware in my house made it to Cezar’s final pose unshattered. I’m going to be sweeping it up for months.

'World domination via Eurovision? Genius! Brouhahahahaha!!'

‘World domination via Eurovision? Genius! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!’

Georgia: Watching this, keeping in mind the flood of tips for it to win, I couldn’t help feeling depressed. As much as I’m keen to see a Georgian contest, I really didn’t want it to happen with Running Scared 2.0 – a nice, Swedish-penned ballad sung by a male/female duo who were quite touchy-feely with each other and were showered in sparks (not love) as the clincher. I felt that Sophie & Nodi were more than competent, but kind of soulless on the night.

 

What about the other entertainment of the evening?

– The opening act combined a choir, half of ABBA, a bit of the Olympics and a dash of Junior Eurovision and the result was a testament to the different approach SVT took to this year’s contest. In other words, I hadn’t seen an artist parade before in my Eurovision lifetime bar the mini version, and that’s a part of JESC I’ve always loved. So that was good. Thanks, SVT.

– In the middle came another reprise of sorts from Loreen, who distracted us from her continuing lack of footwear by modeling extreme feathered shoulder pads/hanging from the ceiling/et cetera. It was just an average day on the job, basically.

– Petra’s Swedish Smörgåsbord had ‘Melodifestivalen’ written all over it, and it was glorious (can I use that word without being sued by Cascada?). I would pay to go and see an extended version. It was unfortunate that Carola exited so quickly and ungracefully, but at least we know she doesn’t mind making a fool of herself.

You can't get meatballs this size at IKEA.

You can’t get meatballs this size at IKEA.

– Sarah Dawn Finer on the Eurovision (satellite) stage at last! This was the woman most of us wanted to host the show, and her performance was our consolation prize. I wonder where Lynda Woodruff was at while SDF was doing her thing? You know, I’m starting to wonder if they might be the same person…

 

The final scoreboard – expectations, shocks and surprises

  1. Denmark 281

dwnn

So the favourite turned out to be the favourite for a reason. Fair enough. Only Teardrops wasn’t my ideal winner, but it makes a worthy one, and I’m glad that 2014 will take us to Copenhagen (probably) rather than back to Baku so soon.

  1. Azerbaijan 234

Unlike Running Scared, I would have been happy to see Hold Me win based on song and performance. That staging was pure genius. Yeah, yeah, Eurovision is a song contest…but don’t think the visuals have nothing to do with anything. Still, 2nd place is another excellent result for this country.

  1. Ukraine 214
  2. Norway 191
  3. Russia 174
  4. Greece 152
  5. Italy 126

And Italy does it again, with class and minimalism (and a spiffy blue suit). In your face, haters. I do think this should have beaten Russia.

  1. Malta 120
  2. Netherlands 114
  3. Hungary 84

Places 8, 9 and 10 all make me happier than Gianluca on holiday at Disneyland, for different reasons. In Hungary’s case, it’s because a country that struggles to succeed sent a humble, native-language song that I adore to pieces, and was surprisingly rewarded for it. Doctors and philosophers = Eurovision triumph.

  1. Moldova 71
  2. Belgium 71

Now this was a shocker. After Roberto miraculously qualified (5th, no less) I expected Belgium to come undone in the final. But it seems enough ordinary folk and haughty jurors saw in his song what I do to get him a respectable score.

  1. Romania 65
  2. Sweden 62

This isn’t a dreadful finish by any means, but as president of Team Robin, I was hoping for more. I actually think representing the host country worked in his favour – if he hadn’t been, I suspect he would have ended up lower. I still don’t think YOHIO would have done better.

  1. Georgia 50
  2. Belarus 48
  3. Iceland 47
  4. Armenia 41
  5. United Kingdom 23
  6. Estonia 19
  7. Germany 18

I’m confused. I know I complained about the performance earlier, but Glorious still went off, and I would have at least expected a top 15 result for Germany. I blame the draw. Still, it might be time for Deutschland to revert back to the Unser Star format.

  1. Lithuania 17
  2. France 14
  3. Finland 13
  4. Spain 8
  5. Ireland 5

It’s Tooji all over again, but with less points and a much better vocal. I don’t get it. Why wasn’t the UK all over this?

 

So those are a few (…) of my musings on what went down last weekend. Like I said, 100 years ago at the beginning of this post, there will be more to come, including the handing out of my awards for Eurovision Excellence, and non-excellence. There will be a people’s choice award this year, so look out for that very soon. In the meantime…

 

Got some personal highs and lows of the 2013 finale? Let me know below!

 

Final-ly! My pre-final verdict on the Malmö semis

Hello again! I’m back, at least for this brief window of time during which I’ve seen both semi finals of Eurovision 2013 but the final hasn’t happened yet. Tomorrow I’ll be avoiding even the slightest whiff of a news report from anywhere, until Monday when I can make another comeback to complain about the winner. I bet you’re looking forward to that already.

……

Anyway, I had a lot of stuff to get out of my head and onto le blog in the wake of semis 1 and 2. At last, here it is.

 

 mnzz

SEMI 1

Watching this first installment on Friday night, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was watching Melodifestivalen. That may have had something to do with the location, and the fact that the children vs. Loreen reprisal of Euphoria we saw back in March kicked off the proceedings. But the intimate feel of the stage also gave me that impression. Then Austria opened the show and I started to feel Eurovision-esque again (yay!). Here’s a quick review of Austria and the fifteen countries that followed, as well as some thoughts on the other entertainment, and the results.

 

The performances

Austria: A good opener. Natália sounded great, and that white shirt/jeans combo wasn’t nearly as dull as I was expecting. She looked radiant, which is appropriate. You know, ‘cause of her song. Shine? Oh, never mind. 

Estonia: Birgit was radiant too, but for a different reason (why can’t my mother have participated in Eurovision when she was pregnant with me, dammit? That is too cool). Again, she looked and sounded luverly.

Slovenia: This was the ‘wow’ act of the evening for me. Straight Into Love came off amazing in the arena, and Hannah belted it out like there was no tomorrow (which there wasn’t, if ‘tomorrow’ is a metaphor for ‘chance of qualifying’). Fierce costuming, too.

'Ta-daaaah! I got into my leather pants without any assistance!'

‘Ta-daaaah! I got into my leather pants without any assistance!’

Croatia: Sigh. This was so beautiful I almost wept. And it’s going direct to my list of songs that should have qualified.

Denmark: It was decent, but I felt nothing. Oh, except a tinge of horror when the pyro curtain went off and I had a flashback to Running Scared.

Russia: Dina really is ‘The Voice’ of Russia, isn’t she? Stunning vocal. But everything else, especially the part when the backing singers “spontaneously” joined hands, was as contrived as the song.

Ukraine: Apart from the cringe-worthy camera shake at the beginning (I can’t help being offended on Igor’s behalf) this was another top-notch performance from Ukraine. Zlata made that papier-maché boulder look so glamorous.

Netherlands: Good use of the satellite stage by Anouk, and a lovely background on the main stage too. Her voice was haunting. *Insert scary ghostly noises here*

Montenegro: Sexy cyborg Nina made this performance. She sounded so studio-perfect I had to wonder if Montenegro had found a way to sidestep the live vocal rule. BTW, does anyone see the correlation between astronauts and cyborgs? What kind of party was this?

Lithuania: Eyebrows. That is all.

Belarus: I’m trying to figure out whether this was more Eurovision 2005, 2006 or 2007. Any way you look at it, it’s dated. Alyona also forgot to wear pants, but I’ll forgive her because her stilettos were totally fabulous.

Solayoh? Aphrodisiac? My Number One? It’s all Belarusian to me.

Few people are aware that the Chicken Dance originated in Belarus.

Moldova: Actually, there was another ‘wow’ act, and here it is! That dress, that hair, that voice, that random dude at the piano who definitely didn’t represent Moldova last year…epic.

Ireland: Ryan Dolan obviously made a pilgrimage to Georgia sometime in the last few months and stocked up on their magical singing potion. That’s the only explanation for his almost flawless rendition of Only Love Survives.

Cyprus: Nice dress. How does the song go again?

Belgium: That’s my boy! Thank the Eurovision gods that Roberto and his lady friends put on a good show. And thanks to whoever decided to have the lyrics scrolling in the background to compensate for his off-kilter English pronunciation.

Serbia: I loved the theatrics of this, especially from Sara. But it was theatre that would have gone better with the old angel/devil outfits, not those candy-coloured crimes against fashion.

 

The in-betweeners

– Petra as the single lady (oh-oh-oh oh-oh-oh…) host came off a bit more scripted than I was hoping, but she did a good job. I did enjoy that joke about the potential 2013 slogans.

– For those of you who saw it, the skit to celebrate 30 years of Eurovision on Australian TV was naturally a highlight. I am slightly put out that I wasn’t invited to take part. Ha ha ha.

– I loved the journey through contest history, with Petra popping up in different decades by way of extremely well-executed computer graphics. ‘Merci’. ‘You’re welcome.’ ‘Merci’. ‘Yes…’ ‘Merci.’ ‘YOU’RE WELCOME!’ = hilarious.

– There wasn’t enough green room coverage for my liking, although I’m suspicious that a chunk was edited out of our broadcast. It happened last year, and I was not amused.

– The interval act was nice to look at, but I’ve got to admit, I’ve never been skilled at interpreting interpretive dance.

 

The results

Qualified: Moldova, Lithuania, Ireland, Estonia, Belarus, Denmark, Russia, Belgium, Ukraine and the Netherlands

I predicted: Croatia, Denmark, Russia, Ukraine, Netherlands, Moldova, Montenegro, Belarus, Ireland and Serbia

I feel: Pretty stupid. 7/10 is not my best-ever effort, but that isn’t the cause of the moron vibes emanating from me at this moment. For weeks, I’ve been thinking three things:

– that Estonia would sneak into the final, despite the similarities to Cyprus the Boring

– that Lithuania has a way of qualifying when it seems most unlikely, and;

– that it could well be curtains for Serbia after just one televised performance.

But last week, when it came time to actually predict, I threw all those thoughts out of the window and excluded Estonia and Lithuania from my selected ten, and left Serbia in. Face. Palm. But what is, is, so I may as well move on to the fact that I am ecstatic about Belgium getting through! I don’t even care that I thought Roberto would lose the semi, it’s so good to be wrong. Sure, he’ll probably be in the bottom 5 in the final, but just to have made it there should give him the confidence boost he needs to pull off an even better performance than he did on Tuesday.

Moldova, Ireland and Ukraine were also welcome qualifiers, and for the Netherlands to advance for the first time since 2004 was brilliant. Bravo, Anouk, a.k.a. Depressed Mary Poppins. I was not so thrilled to hear the word ‘Belarus’ come out of Petra’s mouth, and I can’t help feeling that they stole a precious final place from a worthier country (Slovenia or Croatia, for instance) but since Alyona probably didn’t come 10th, that’s probably not true.

I do wish Montenegro had made it, but since I never expected them to, I can deal. I will miss Moje 3, however. Nevena evidently had a better knack for Junior Eurovision.

 

SEMI 2

For once, it was hard to tell whether the first or second semi was the strongest. There was a lot about this one that I was excited for, with a bunch of my top-ranked entries AND one of my favourite artists of all time featuring in the lineup. Here’s round two of my review.

 

The performances

Latvia: Another good opener – I have to praise SVT for that. PeR were also generous enough to give us, as lead singer Ralfs said himself, the first stage dive in Eurovision history. Am I the only one that would’ve laughed if nobody had caught him?

San Marino: This Valentina Monetta was not the same one who took to the stage in Baku. This one was a glamorous, charismatic lady in red with an unusual attachment to an IKEA light fitting. I loved this.

Macedonia: Two words – train and wreck. This song is best reserved for studio audio.

Azerbaijan: Damn, the Azerbaijanis can stage an ESC entry! That’s if they actually were responsible for the staging, and didn’t import that from Sweden as well. Anyway, this was very good, and while Farid doesn’t normally light my fire, he was looking mighty fine.

This is the face of a man who know's he's destined for the top 10.

This is the face of a man who know’s he’s destined for the top 10.

Finland: Loud, energetic, she kissed a girl and we liked it.

Malta: Paging Dr. Adorable…oh, there you are Gianluca. This was so cute, right down to the lyrics popping up in the background in all manner of fonts. I’m a font fan.

Bulgaria: I was transported straight back to Helsinki thanks to Elitsa and Stoyan, which isn’t a bad thing (2007 is one of my favourite contests). It’s a shame Bulgaria had to learn the hard way what we all knew early on – that bringing back this duo wasn’t the answer to their problems.

Iceland: I wonder what brand of conditioner he uses?

Greece: I’ve really come to love these guys. The costumes and choreography were epic, and I’m so grateful for Agathonas’ sneaky ‘stache stroke at the end.

Israel: The song might be a tad repetitive, but Moran’s voice is incredible, and it was in fine form for this performance. As were her lady lumps.

Armenia: I was wrong about Gor’s vocal. He was in tune the whole time, and even held back on the gymnastics. Consider my words eaten.

Hungary: This was three minutes of breathy hipster beauty, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t care if he looked disinterested – I am in love with Kedvesem and the performance was wonderful.

Norway: I know I shouldn’t have been thinking about this, but Margaret’s shoes were kind of hideous. Apart from that, she looked as ethereal/bad-ass as ever.

'And this is how we do the Macarena in Norway.'

‘And this is how we do the Macarena in Norway.’

Albania: Holy flaming guitars, Batman! Adrian and Bledar almost literally set the Malmö Arena on fire. A commendable show, boys. Though I must say, a little too much texturising spray was used on Adrian.

Georgia: Unlike Russia, this performance was more sickly sweet than the song. My mother, who happened to walk past while Sophie & Nodi were doing their thang, said she liked it. I’m not sure if that bodes well for them or not.

Switzerland: I have a soft spot for Takasa, but this was boring.

Romania: And now for something that you could never call ‘boring’. Cezar was like a camp warlord on helium out there, but his voice was on point.

 

The in-betweeners

– The opening act marked the first time I have every enjoyed watching people on BMX bikes.

– But enough bike talk. I’ve got to get on to the interval act that I vote to win Eurovision 2013. Yes, I’m referring to the Darin/Agnes extravaganza. I had been looking forward to this a ridiculous amount, what with Darin being my absolute favourite male artist on the planet and Agnes being one of my top females. My expectations were met, and then some. Both Swedish superstars rocked the arena, with Agnes kindly singing the two songs I would have chosen for her whilst surrounded by a year’s worth of material from a chiffon factory. Darin was just Darin. To see him on the ESC stage when it’s unlikely he’ll ever do so representing Sweden was a life highlight.

– In other news, Lys Assia made it to Sweden!! That woman is my hero. Approximately 147 years old and poorly, but still making the trek to be at the contest and get her mug on the telly.

 

The results

Qualified: Hungary, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania, Norway, Iceland, Armenia, Finland, Malta and Greece

I predicted: Azerbaijan, Finland, Malta, Greece, Israel, Armenia, Hungary, Norway, Georgia and Romania

I feel: less stupid than before. 9/10 ain’t bad. But even if I’d gotten 1/10 (not statistically possible, but I’m trying to make a point) I’d have been happy, because Hungary, the one country I was desperate to qualify, was the first to go through. I can’t even tell you how loudly I screamed when that happened.

The next four to be announced were pretty obvious ones, though part of me was hoping Romania would be left behind. Iceland and Armenia were a little surprising, despite my gut feeling that Armenia would make it. I was chuffed for Finland and Malta.

When it came down to the last butterfly, it was only going to be Greece or San Marino (and so I was wailing for the loss of Israel). As sad as I am that it turned out not to be SM, a final wouldn’t be a final without Greece.

 

 

Well, just like the semis, my wrap-up is now over. But as upsetting as both of those things are, just remember that the grand final is still to be held, and it’s a final that should conclude with a tense voting sequence. The way I see it, there are four or five countries that could score their way into the winners’ club (if there is such a thing). Because I’m head honcho here and I can, I’m going to re-predict who that winner will be right here, right now.

Azerbaijan – They’ve got everything it takes. I still don’t think the song is one of the best on offer, but since when has that stopped Azerbaijan from winning?

Denmark – Yes, the favourite. I may not be overly fond of Only Teardrops, but I’m not idiotic enough to give it no chance of topping the table.

Germany – This song was made for an arena, and I think that will come across strongly enough on TV for voters to respond. The juries could be Cascada’s downfall, but Natalie’s ability to command the stage should be rewarded at least.

Italy – If simplicity and beauty is going to win out over OTT and cheesiness, then Marco could come out on top.

Russia – Speaking of cheesiness…ugh. But after the reasonably cleverly-staged performance, and the reaction of the audience (and the fact that I found myself humming along) I couldn’t not go there. This could happen, people, so prepare yourselves.

Belgium – Just kidding.

 

I’m more than happy for a random country to take out the coveted prize. What about you? And what were your highlights and lowlights and travesties and triumphs from the semi finals? Let me know below.

I’ll be back once the Land Down Under has broadcast the final, to discuss it in detail. As for life after Eurovision 2013? Well, I have a feeling I’ll be chatting about Malmö for a long time to come. Maybe you’ll join me?

 EBJ Signature