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Selection Season Day 12: The beginning of the end

Oui, we are getting closer and closer to having a full 42 (which may turn into 41, but more on that later…) with only Belgium, Azerbaijan and the UK still to choose/reveal their songs for Iris, Sabina and Engelbert. I’ve been very busy this week, and so today’s post is jam-packed with all I couldn’t cover as it happened. Better late than never, right?  

 

More songs, more reactions

The last seven days have continued the gap-filling for Baku in spectacular fashion, with nine more songs now part of the 2012 family – a family with more offspring than the Brady Bunch and the Octo-Mom combined.

Now, before you read my reactions and abuse me because I forgot to mention Sweden, I must tell you that I always feel the need to give Melodifestivalen a segment all of its own. It is, after all, almost as huge as Eurovision itself (technically huger if you consider the amount of shows/weeks/locations/wind machines involved). So you’ll have to wade through my verdicts on Bosnia, Greece, Moldova, Montenegro, Portugal, Romania, San Marino AND Serbia’s entries to get to Sweden (if you don’t know what happened there a) where have you BEEN? Holidaying in an Amish caravan park? and b) here’s a clue: even a blindfolded Donny Montell would’ve seen it coming). Commence your wading.

 

Bosnia &  Herzegovina (Korake Ti Znam by MayaSar): When I was researching Maya, I listened to her Bosnian hit Nespretno. I was both surprised that she is already an established artist and not just the tartan keyboard lady from Dino Merlin’s performance in Düsseldorf, and taken with how interesting the song was. Interesting is again how I would describe Korake Ti Znam, and not in a bad way. It’s a song that makes you pay attention to figure out where it’s going. I don’t know quite where that is myself, but I know I enjoy the journey. If Maya sounds as good live and solo as she does in studio, hers will be three minutes to look forward to.

Greece (Aphrodisiac by Eleftheria Eleftheriou): With Cyprus in the same semi final, I wonder if Ivi and Eleftheria will cancel each other out (I also wonder why someone would name their daughter ‘Eleftheria’ when their surname was ‘Eleftheriou’, but that’s another matter). With these two countries you’ve got two young and pretty girls singing catchy dance-pop, and though Aphrodisiac has the ethno-pop thing going on, the sameness is present. Will it lead to the downfall of one or both? I personally like Greece’s song better, and I think if only one were to qualify, it would be Greece because it always is. Still, Cyprus does have another strong entry that doesn’t deserve to be overlooked, so hopefully there’s a chance for both to go forward.   

Moldova (Lăutar by Pasha Parfeny): This reminds me so much of one of my favourites of Year Oslo – Ovo Je Balkan from Serbia. Consequently I’m loving it. It’s one of those songs verging on the novelty (based mainly on the NF performance) so it has that element of fun, but it’s not a joke of an entry. I’m not easily impressed, but I’m easily pleased, and anything that’s catchy AND ethnic will get my vote. Not literally, of course. Sadly, that is impossible…sob.

Milan Stankovic - Lego hair = Pasha Parfeny?

Montenegro (Euro Neuro by Rambo Amadeus): This was everything I expected and more, and that’s all I can say. Apart from WHY, Montenegro, WHY?

Portugal (Vida Minha by Filipa Sousa): The fact that I listened to this for the second time about five minutes ago and I can’t remember how it goes is not a good sign. I do remember liking it a little more this time, but I could still take it or leave it, which surprises me since the song was written by Andrej Babić, a Croatian who has written five ESC entries since 2003, all of which I am a fan of.

Romania (Zaleilah by Mandinga): Now this is what I’m talking about – Romania doing catchy, ethnic pop and doing it so well. It’s everything I want in a song really, and it should get the Crystal Hall audience going. I’m not expecting the Zaleilah to become the Macarena of the 2010s, but I’d shake my thing to it if it came on at a party, for sure.

San Marino (Facebook Uh, Oh, Oh  by Valentina Monetta): Uh oh indeed. German Ralph Siegel is responsible for some Eurovision brilliance, but this is not an example of that. I do think that if its subject matter was anything, and I mean anything, else, it would be a nice, poppy if not groundbreaking number. But as it stands, Mark Zuckerberg is soon to be mentioned on the ESC stage for the first time. That is if disqualification isn’t on the cards, as many fans are hoping it is, in which case will San Marino be able to come up with an alternative, or will it be bye, bye, Italy Junior? The next few days will tell.

And to think, this photo is the least scary thing about this year's Sammarinese entry...

Serbia (Nije Ljubav Stvar by Željko Joksimović): Since the split of Serbia and Montenegro, Serbia has flourished in Eurovision whilst Montenegro has floundered. That is not about to change in 2012. Željko’s entry was the most anticipated, and so had a lot to live up to. For me, it has well and truly succeeded in that mission. I love the instrumental start, the way it builds, ZJ’s always-reliable vocals, and the epic second half. I love it all!

 

A brief mention of Melodifestivalen

I mean, I want to go on and on about it, but I want you guys to stay awake more. Speaking of staying awake, I managed to do so a week ago as I watched the live stream of the MF final at 3am on Sunday morning. I use the word ‘stream’ very loosely in this context, considering that mine was pausing every ten seconds before catching up with itself (sometimes it’s so hard living in Australia and having a dodgy Internet connection). But all the pixilation was worth the thrill of seeing my favourite final live for the first time. The show was amazing, from Eric Saade’s all-dancing, semi-miming opener, to Sarah Dawn Finer’s hilarious sketch in which she put on such a convincing British accent I did not realise it was her, to Helena Paparizou’s de-schlagered rendition of Popular, the voting, and everything in between.

The real winner of the night was of course Loreen, whose surprise when the final points put her on top was so genuine it made me love her even more. She should have been in the final last year, so I reckon her predictable but deserved win with Euphoria was fated. The song is dance gold (and from the buzz, could be ESC gold also), but the pared-back staging and perfect vocals are what really make the entry special – at least, they will if they are carried through to Baku, which I think is likely. Loreen’s sitting pretty on top of both the digital and physical charts in Sweden right now, but can she get that high at the big show? Stockholm 2013 does have a ring to it.

 

Sweden's entry for 2012: Wind Machine 34D001F featuring Loreen

PS – I have to mention my beloved Danny Saucedo, who was forced to look happy and applaud as he was pipped into second place for the second year running. I wonder if SVT will make him announce the Swedish votes wearing a Loreen t-shirt just to keep things consistent. Poor, poor Danny. Come back next year with an unbeatable song, please!

PPS – If you want to relive Melodifestivalen (and who wouldn’t) the official CD is available online now. I recommend the Scandipop Facebook store for fast shipping and good prices. There you can also pre-order the DVD, set for release on the 30th, something I was quick to do being desperate to see the show sans stoppages.

 

Forever no more

First, it was ‘We don’t know about Per Sempre’. Then it was ‘Si, si, that’s the one!’. Now, in what we hope is a final decision but understandably may not be, Italy have announced that Nina Zilli will be singing L’amore é Femmina instead of her San Remo Song Festival entry at Eurovision. And just when I was really getting into it!

I do have to say, though, the change of mind is not an entirely horrendous change to have made. L’amore… is very catchy (and dare I say, swinging) and a lot more instant than Per Sempre, so it may have a better chance in the final; although I don’t think many of us saw Raphael Gualazzi’s song making waves last year, and lo and behold, it came second. Perhaps Nina will fail miserably in Baku while, in a parallel universe, Per Sempre Nina will flourish.

Perhaps I should save my predicting for later?

 

Is that all there is?

No, but there’s not a whole lot more. As mentioned way back in my intro, there are just three countries left who are yet to finalise their entries. Belgium and the UK are pretty set on what they’re doing, but the hosts are not – there’s a rumour of a song tonight and a video Monday, among others. Considering the deadline, this is what should be happening:

Belgium– Saturday the 17th

Azerbaijan (song announcement tonight)/ UK– Monday the 19th

Whether that happens or not, we are coming to the end of Selection Season for another year. I’ve got to say that I’ve really enjoyed it, in all its craziness.

 

But don’t worry – if, by chance, you like reading EBJ, I’m not going anywhere. In the few months left before Baku, I’ll be taking a look at the best of the 2012 national final runner-ups, reviewing all 42 (or 41) entries and bringing you a month of Düsseldorf in Rewind to recapture the magic of the 56th contest before we arrive at the 57th. Oh, and there is the all-important prediction special, of course. It’s going to be a hectic few months, but I’m always willing to push aside study for blog’s sake!

 

Jaz x

 

There’s no challenge like a Eurovision challenge!

I like to think of myself as an original blogger, but sometimes I stumble across an idea that’s too good not to borrow (take, steal, whatever word in your thesaurus you prefer). Right here, right now, it’s a 20 Day Song Challenge – Eurovision-style! You may have taken part in a song challenge on Facebook before, which is where this one came from. However I found it, upsized, on a fantabulous fan blog – http://www.sternenstaub-esc.blogspot.com – and immediately thought to myself, O TO THE M TO THE G, I MUST DO IT! So here we are.

This is the deal, for the uninitiated: every day for 20 days, you post a Youtube video on Facebook according to that day’s request, tagging the page from whence you received said request. Now, Sternenstaub has taken it large, picking runners up as well as winners and choosing to post on her blog rather than the old FB, and as a person who has many friends that do not know what Eurovision is/would not like it if they did, and as a person who does not wish to annoy those friends by clogging up their newsfeed with Eurovision stuff, I rate it as a concept! And isn’t the fun of it seeing how opinions differ?

My opinions start tomorrow, with Day 1: My favourite winner. Here’s the full 20 day list:

Day 1: Favourite winner

Day 2: Least favourite winner

Day 3: Winner of the first Eurovision you watched

Day 4: A fact hardly anyone knows

Day 5: Favourite song from a solo singer

Day 6: Favourite song from a group/band

Day 7: favourite song from a national final, which should have gone to Eurovision

Day 8: Semi finalist that should have made the final

Day 9: The most memorable performance

Day 10: The tackiest performance

Day 11: Artist/band you now love because of Eurovision

Day 12: A song that should have won

Day 13: A song that finished last

Day 14: The sexiest performance

Day 15: The best costume

Day 16: The song that never fails to make you dance

Day 17: A song from your birth year

Day 18: Worst ever entry

Day 19: Funniest moment

Day 20: Who should have won this year (formerly known as ‘who will win this year’)?

I’m so excited and I literally just can’t hide it (count yourself lucky that you’re far, far away in front of a computer screen), to embark on this quest as a knight in shining sequined hotpants, and I hope you tune in over the next…well, you know the amount of days. And PLEASE comment me your picks!

A final note that’s kind of relevant: don’t forget to follow me on Twitter or like the EBJ page on Facebook (links are in the header/sidebar) to keep updated on the Challenge. You can also subscribe to my blog right down there at the bottom for email alerts, or friend me on eurovisionfamily.tv…just for general chitchat! Search for JazzMan.

Wish me luck…there’s quite a few songs to sift through!

Social networking and song selections

Merry Post-Xmas, folks!

Here’s a little belated gift for you: TO KEEP UP WITH THE LATEST FROM ebj, LIKE IT ON FACEBOOK!!!

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Eurovision-By-Jaz/168490799853930?ref=sgm

And when you’ve done that, head over to Youtube if you haven’t already, and have a look and listen to the latest ESC 2011 song to be chosen. Or watch it right here – it is Albania, the performer is Aurela Gaçe, and the song is “Kenga Ime”.

Keep in mind that the last two Albanian entries were performed at the national final in Albanian, but had been translated and tweaked into English for Eurovision purposes, so this is something that may well happen to Aurela’s ethnic effort by May. I did, but I have to say this song is decent the way it is. I really like the instrumental beginning, and the sound of the verses. The chorus is powerful though it does got a bit shouty – but the plus side of that was it made it obvious that Aurela can cut it live, which is one more worry off our chests for her country’s appearance in Dusseldorf. I won’t say too much more as I plan to review all 41 songs in March/April ’11 (check the EBJ archives if you missed the 2010 reviews!), but at this stage I ‘d give “Kenga Ime” 7/10. I like it, some parts more than others…but right now it’s not The One for me, and I don’t think it is as good as Juliana Pasha’s “It’s All About You” from Oslo (Juliana, BTW, has recently won Kenga Magjike, one of Albania’s premier music festivals, by duetting with 2006 entrant Luiz Ejili. Youtube that too, it’s a great song. So congrats to her).

I am disappointed that Kejsi Tola not only didn’t win, but couldn’t even qualify from Friday’s semi, with her song “Prane”, a more sedate number than her last from Moscow but, in my view, equally as good. But there’s always a chance that Aurela will enlist the services of The Blue Man to amp up her stage presentation. I can see that! Can’t you??? You can’t. Oh.

What we can ALL see, I’m sure, is the rapid approach of Romania’s national final next week, which I am v. excited about, as I really like over half of what’s on offer. Looking around on the net, the popular ones seem to include Claudia Pavel and Mihai Alexandru, whilst the general consensus is that “My Facebook Girl” is not going anywhere near Germany (phew!). I mean, I heart Facebook as much as the next person (as you can see from my wee plug for EBJ’s page at the top of this very post) but that does not mean that that next person, whose name might be, say, Dan, should go and write a song about it and enter it into a Eurovision preselection. Nil point, Dan, nil point! I’ll have a poll up to gauge your opinions of Romania’s musical buffet later on in the week. Please tell me if you actually like “My Facebook Girl” *shudder* – I’d love to know what the helium balloon you see in it.

I hate to blog and run, but I have quite the amount of leftover turkey to consume. What a chore!

Waiting for R O M A N I A ! ! !

Jaz x

Fan books, Facebook and photographic evidence

Sooooooo my uni exam is done and I am too, for the semester. I am officially halfway through my degree! But the best news is now I have six weeks to blog away. It was very hard staying away when I needed to be studying – especially since there was so much going on at that time!

My fan books arrived the other day (=D=D=D!!!) and they are beautiful! I will definitely be continuing my collection from next year. I was very pleased with the promptness of the delivery – almost exactly 12 business days after my order, there they were! So grab your credit cards and get on down to eurovision.tv/shop (or something like that – just go to the official site). I will be posting some photos of my ESC collection at some point, including these newbies – coz I love them THAT much. I’m considering setting aside an entire shelf on my bookcase for all my merchandise….whattaya think???

Speaking of phabulous photos, I promised some pics of my Oslo celebrations, which I wanted to upload TODAY but I have a pathetic net connection at the moment, so it just isn’t going to happen. Tomorrow, perhaps? As a briefing on them,  yes, I realise it is a bit sad having a party for one, but I have no direct contact with anyone who is into the contest. My parents just looked at my eyeliner-graffitied face and then retreated to the lounge room post-haste. They are constantly mystified with my obsession, although my mother appreciates my thirst for knowledge of Europe and its culture, my memerising of all its capitals, and even some of the music from the ESC albums that I force her to listen to at every opportunity.

I’ll try to get the photos up ASAP. Damn this weather and the lack of internet speed it brings!

PS – I’ve got a group going on Facebook now called Eurovision Australia – please join! It’s a little tied in to this blog as you will see. As it says in the description, it’s not just for Aussie fans, but for anyone who appreciates the ever-increasing popularity of Eurovision over here, so come and join for a bit of fun.

x