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Retrospective Reviews 2011: S to Z

Or S to U, whatever takes your fancy!

SAN MARINO

My favourite national finalist: N/A

Song: Stand By

Artist: Senit

Result: 16th in semi final

My favourite lyric: “Waves of eternity, waves of serenity”

The best bits: It was great to have Italy Junior (would a San Marinese person kill me for saying that?) back in the contest after two years away, and they at least managed to improve their record by a few points. Senit looked and sounded pretty spectacular on the night.

The other bits: In my opinion, this is San Marino’s worst entry EVER! That’s mainly due to my unconditional love for their only other one from back in 2008, Complice. Stand By is of an equally lazy tempo, but it’s just so much drearier, and there wasn’t a whole lot they could do on stage with it.

I give the song: 6

I give the vocals: 8 

I give the performance: 7 

Points for San Marino: 7

 

SERBIA

My favourite national finalist: This one

Song: Čaroban

Artist: Nina

Result: 14th

Gimmick: Welcome to the 60s

The best bits: Serbia can’t put a foot wrong in my eyes, always bringing something unique to the stage. This year, they had a theme and they stuck to it in costume, graphics, choreography and hairdos (apparently Nina’s normally a long-haired brunette). But why not go all out, when you can do it in a classy and entertaining way?

The other bits: Whilst I like that they made the decision to keep the song in Serbian, I reckon the English version – which was really well written – could have gotten them some more points and perhaps a position in the top 10. Also, I don’t think the people behind the performance took into consideration all the viewers who suffer from motion sickness.

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 10 

I give the performance: 10 

Points for Serbia: 10  

 

SLOVAKIA

My favourite national finalist: N/A

Song: I’m Still Alive

Artist: TWiiNS

Result: 13th in semi final

Gimmick: The Doubles, volume II

The best bits: Is this more American-sounding than the US national anthem? Perhaps, but so is Azerbaijan, and I like this a lot better! The twins (sorry, TWiiNS. That name = the worst part of the entry) pulled off quite a polished performance. I was expecting some awful vocals, Jedward-style, but was impressed, if not blown away, by those they gave. Both looked absolutely amazing – there’s definitely not a prettier twin with those two.

The other bits: I’m sure a lot of other people could, but I can’t really complain about anything here. Apart from the fact that their absolutely amazing-ness makes me feel about as attractive as Dustin the Turkey.

I give the song: 10

I give the vocals: 7

I give the performance: 8 

Points for Slovakia: 8

 

SLOVENIA

My favourite national finalist: This one

Song: No One

Artist: Maja Keuc

Result: 13th

Reminds me of: Fighter by Christina Aguilera

The best bits: Now here’s some mind-blowing vocals! I can’t sing Maja’s praises enough (although when I do I get told to shut up because I can’t sing an eighth as good as her). For a long time, in fact, right up until the Düsseldorf performance, I couldn’t see why people were bandying “Slovenia 2012!!!” around the place. But something happened on that stage, with the hand flourishing and body armor, akin to what happened with Ukraine in 2010 – an electrifying three minutes.

The other bits: I can’t believe security allowed those platform boots into the arena! Surely they qualify as a weapon?

I give the song: 9

I give the vocals: 10 

I give the performance: 10 

Points for Slovenia: 12

 

SPAIN

My favourite national finalist: Volver by Auryn

Song: Qui Me Quiten Lo Bailao

Artist: Lucía Perez

Result: 23rd

Reminds me of: Hey Soul Sister by Train

The best bits: This song is a little closer to the upbeat Spanish pop entries that I always get into – think Dime from 03, Para Llenarme De Ti from 04 and I Love You Mi Vida from 07 (e-eh-oh!). It’s cheesy, but sunny, and no matter what Lucia really thought of it – as she reportedly wanted to sing something else – she did a good job of convincing us that she was having a good time on stage. You can’t be in a bad mood when listening to it.

The other bits: IMO it’s the weakest entry from the Big 5. And the performance featured the most awkward dance move I think I’ve ever seen at the contest…you know the one!

I give the song: 7

I give the vocals: 9 

I give the performance: 9

Points for Spain: 8

 

SWEDEN

My favourite national finalist: This one/In The Club by Danny Saucedo

Song: Popular

Artist: Eric Saade

Result:  3rd

My favourite lyric: “Don’t say that it’s impossible, ‘cause I know it’s possible”

The best bits: I don’t give a pile of sequins how little sense the lyrics make, or how questionable Eric’s vocals are – I LOVE THIS SONG! Fredrik Kempe is the Einstein of Schlager, having written about a gajillion fabulous Melodifestivalen/ESC songs over the last decade or so, and he delivered another in 2011. I’m not quite sure how one is supposed to dance to Popular when one is not on stage and one is not famous and one has not been taught choreography, but I dance anyway whenever this comes on. I loved the stage show, the breaking (and sometimes, non-breaking) glass and Eric, of course.

The other bits: Yes, there is that ever-present issue of his vocals. But Dana International won Eurovision, and back in 1998 she had the voice of an angel…with strep throat.

I give the song: 10

I give the vocals: 7

I give the performance: 10 

Points for Sweden: 10

 

SWITZERLAND

My favourite national finalist: Home by The Colors and Ilira

Song: In Love For A While

Artist: Anna Rossinelli

Result:  25th

Reminds me of: I’m Yours by Jason Mraz

The best bits: One of my favourite moments was when the Swiss made it to their first final since automatically qualifying in 2006. I don’t think they were expecting their country to be in a magic envelope. Come to think of it, neither was I! The song is sweet, but seemed too humble to make an impact, and in the end it got lost in the crowd. However Anna (a delightful vocalist) and her cohorts turned out a charming performance, with enough sun to rival the Spaniards.

The other bits: As I mentioned, the song is modest: not dull, but simple, and it doesn’t go far from start to finish. It reminds me of those dreams where you’re running as fast as you can but you aren’t moving. ILFAW is definitely less frustrating than that, but still…

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 10 

I give the performance: 9 

Points for Switzerland: 10

 

TURKEY

My favourite national finalist: N/A

Song: Live It Up

Artist: Yuksek Sadakat

Result: 14th in semi final

Reminds me of: Genius by Jet

The best bits: Electro-rock strikes again! Only now with 99% more green pants and hamster balls. I don’t think Turkey is capable of sending a bad song to Eurovision, though we know now they are capable of not qualifying (shock horror!). I love a reliable band/artist: one you know you’ll get to watch and listen to without fear of cringing at a bum note. Yuksek fit that ball..er, I mean, bill.

The other bits: It seems to me that Turkey was trying to recreate the success they had in Oslo by sending a similar band with a similar song. But as a hardcore We Could Be The Same fan, I find this inferior. It just doesn’t capture my attention. Maybe go back to ethno-pop next year?

I give the song: 7

I give the vocals: 9 

I give the performance: 9 

Points for Turkey: 8

 

UKRAINE

My favourite national finalist: This one/The Kukusha by Zlata Ognevich

Song: Angel

Artist: Mika Newton

Result:  4th

Gimmick: Magic Sand at a whole new level

The best bits: Am I the only person who missed most of the sand because I was watching Mika? Yes, I was mainly thinking ‘I love those feathers’, ‘I wonder where her shoes are from?’ and ‘Wow, mullet dresses have really caught on this year!’, but it’s also due to my undying love for this song – I wanted to pay attention to her performance. Say the words un-clichéd, haunting and ballad in the same sentence and I’m so there. Follow them up with feathers, stiletto boots and a mullet dress (sigh, and sand art) and I’m a goner.

The other bits: I did confuse myself a bit by falling head-over-heels for the original version, then reaching the summit of Mt. Disappointment when it was rocked up, sped up and retitled in English, THEN saying how it didn’t work on stage, and now deciding that it really did and I adore it more than ever. I am also confused as to how this did so well when so many people seemed to dislike it.

I give the song: 10

I give the vocals: 9

I give the performance: 9 

Points for Ukraine: 10

 

UNITED KINGDOM

My favourite national finalist: N/A

Song: I Can

Artist: Blue

Result:  11th

My favourite lyric: “We’re not the first ones to be divided, won’t be the last to be reunited”

The best bits: I salute you, UK, for clawing yourselves out of the depths of last place and a shocking “tune” by recruiting one of the most cherished boy-bands of my girlhood to sing a modern, anthemic, self-composed song – aptly about getting back up again.

The other bits: I will stand by (to borrow a phrase from San Marino) my assertion that the UK had the best and most winner-like song of the 2011 contest. Unfortunately, the performance was bordering on shambolic. If the shiny suits had caught fire beforehand and had to be swapped for street clothes, Lee had drunk some honey tea, and someone had suggested that perhaps green lighting and giant LED head shots of Blue (apparently half-naked) were not the most suitable effect options, things would have been a whole lot better. The song deserved more than 100 points; the staging, considerably less.

I give the song: 10

I give the vocals: 6

I give the performance: 7 

Points for the UK: 8

 

COMING UP: The first ever official Time Warp Tuesday…what Eurovision moment will I pick? Tune in Tues and see!

 

Jaz x

Retrospective Reviews 2011: M to R

MACEDONIA

My favourite national finalist: This one

Song: Rusinka

Artist: Vlatko Ilievski

Result: 16th in semi final

Reminds me of: Cipela by Marko Kon & Milaan

The best bits: I think I would marry this song if I could. In my adoring eyes, it has everything: one of the catchiest choruses of 2011; ethnic and modern influences; the right balance of fun and seriousness; the ability to work well live and on disc; AND it incorporates the use of a megaphone – something I often look for in a Eurovision song but rarely find.

The other bits: I can’t help feeling that one of Vlatko’s pre-performance rituals is to down a gravel milkshake, if his slighty rough vocals are anything to go by. We’re talking stone-shredding material here! It does suit the song style, however.

I give the song: 10

I give the vocals: 7

I give the performance: 9

Points for Macedonia: 10

 

MALTA

My favourite national finalist: If I Could Do It All Again by Raquela

Song: One Life

Artist: Glen Vella

Result: 11th

Reminds me of: Glamorous by Fergie

The best bits: Glen’s definitely got the ‘aww’ factor going on – he is so ADORABLE! Or is that just me? Anyway, he’s one of my favourite personalities of Düsseldorf because of his enthusiasm and sense of fun, qualities which really showed through in the performance. Malta may not always send the most contemporary songs to the contest, but they always come prepared to give 110%.

The other bits: The song is stuck pretty much back in the Age of Padded Shoulders (the 1980s) and that just doesn’t cut it in modern Eurovision, as proven by Dana’s similar failure to qualify – though Glen was actually only oooonnnnne point away from making it.  

I give the song: 6

I give the vocals: 8 

I give the performance: 9  

Points for Malta: 8

 

MOLDOVA

My favourite national finalist: Let’s Jazz by Natalia Barbu

Song: So Lucky

Artist: Zdob şi Zdub

Result: 12th

My favourite lyric: “You pull me in your private side show”

The best bits: The boys who joined forces with the drum-beating nanna six years ago brought a similarly quirky-fun entry to Eurovision on their second go. It took me a while to warm to this, but once I did, I thought it equally as good as their 2005 song. I particularly like its clever lyrics and variety.

The other bits: I’m still nonplussed as to the relevance of the monocle. I mean, if this was called So Lucky To Own A Monocle, I’d understand. But it’s not…still, it did serve to  increase the forget-me-not level for Moldova.

I give the song: 9

I give the vocals: 9 

I give the performance: 9 

Points for Moldova: 10

 

NETHERLANDS

My favourite national finalist: This one

Song: Never Alone

Artist: 3JS

Result: 19th in semi final

My favourite lyric: “And we’ll find the freedom you left behind”

The best bits: The best entry from the Netherlands since about 2004 didn’t manage to qualify, but it certainly advanced its way into my heart (sorry). Sure, it’s not the most exciting song in the world, but sometime you fancy vanilla ice-cream even more than peanut butter crunch. It builds really nicely into a chorus you can both sing along, and wave your arms in the air to.

The other bits: This song suffered in the transition from Dutch to English. The rewrite fits nicely, but I can’t get past the crowd of clichés and weather analogies.

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 9 

I give the performance: 6 

Points for the Netherlands: 8

 

NORWAY

My favourite national finalist: Not That Easy by Åste & Rikke

Song: Haba Haba

Artist: Stella Mwangi

Result: 17th in semi final

Gimmick: Swahili in the ESC

The best bits: Norway can officially join Macedonia in the exclusive Catchy Chorus Club, although I think they may be the president rather than the secretary. What I love most about this entry is how happy it is. I’d like to see someone listen to it without breaking into song and/or dance, Glee style! Personally, I can’t resist doing the little arm-arm-hair flick-elbow along with the effervescent Stella.  

The other bits: Repeat after me: this is repetitive!  

I give the song: 10

I give the vocals: 7

I give the performance: 9 

Points for Norway: 10

 

POLAND

My favourite national finalist: Ktoś Taki Jak Ty by Anna Gogola

Song: Jestem

Artist: Magdalena Tul

Result: 19th in semi final

Reminds me of: It’s All About You by Juliana Pasha

The best bits: On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d rate Poland’s song of 2010 at about 2. This, on the other hand, is off the scale in comparison! It’s a cracking song, whether you take into account its failure to qualify or not. I feel sorry for the country – they made a real effort here with the song and performance, but they just can’t get the votes! Or perhaps the right draw…still, Jestem was a lovely opener for the first semi.

The other bits: I still think modeling the stage show after the video clip (costumes included) would have served Poland better, giving them more of a sultry Slovenia vibe rather than a demure Swiss one, which didn’t seem to fit the song.

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 6 

I give the performance: 7 

Points for Poland: 7

 

PORTUGAL

My favourite national finalist: São os Barcos de Lisboa by Nuno Norte

Song: A Luta é Alegria

Artist: Homens da Luta

Result: 18th in semi final

Gimmick: A comedy troupe troops to Eurovision

The best bits: Guilty pleasure alert! I don’t know how I can enjoy listening to a relatively tuneless, extremely repetitive protest song, but gosh darn it, I do. Like Cyprus and a few other countries, Portugal saved the 56th contest from being completely lacking in national musical identity. And like Macedonia, saved it from being a megaphone-free contest!

The other bits: Perhaps they could have taken that one step further and dressed in some sort of national costume, rather than their parents’ 70s throwbacks.

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 6 

I give the performance: 5 

Points for Portugal: 6

 

ROMANIA

My favourite national finalist: Bang Bang by Mihai Alexandru/One By One by Adi Cristescu

Song: Change

Artist: Hotel FM

Result: 17th

Reminds me of: Love Song by Sara Bareilles  

The best bits: It’s a nice, smiley, life-affirming song with an interlude for us all to clap in, and some very fetching pinstriped pants. The man wearing said pants isn’t too bad to look at, either.

The other bits: I think this is one of Romania’s blandest entries. They don’t seem to be capable of producing a bad one, but at least a bad one gives us fans something to talk about. Despite the key change, Change doesn’t change that much from start to end.

I give the song: 7

I give the vocals: 9 

I give the performance: 8 

Points for Romania: 8

 

RUSSIA

My favourite national finalist: N/A

Song: Get You

Artist: Alexey Vorobyov

Result: 16th

Gimmick: From the man who brought us Gaga, RedOne

The best bits:Russia threw pretty much everything at this – backflips, light-up leather jackets, podiums, choreography…I reckon I also saw a kitchen sink in there somewhere. And why shouldn’t they? I thoroughly enjoyed their performance, although my favourite part is found in the song itself, when the tacked-on dramatic Russian opening gives way to thumping, characteristically RedOne beats.

The other bits: In the semi final, the Australian commentators pointed out that Alexey, or Alex, or Clothilde (whatever name he’s going by these days) totes failed at his backflip. What I want to know is, did he really? Because if nothing had been said, I’d never have noticed. I mean, I thought when you did a backflip you were supposed to dislocate your collarbone.

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 9 

I give the performance: 10  

Points for Russia: 10

 

COMING UP: The final RR’s for 2011 – S to Z (technically, S to U…just the last ones, okay?)

Jaz x

Retrospective Reviews 2011: H to L

HUNGARY

My favourite national finalist: N/A

Song: What About My Dreams?

Artist: Kati Wolf

Result: 22nd

My favourite lyric: “Should I live all my life for only your cause?”

The best bits: This is how you do retro in a good way! There was something distinctly 80s about this song, the performance and, as I’ve previously mentioned, Kati’s hairdo in the semi final (thankfully, someone hid the volumising spray before the final). But I basked in that, being a lover of all things 80s. Plus, the song does have a contemporary feel at times, and I bet it went down like Dana International at the 1999 contest in the Euroclub. F-U-N fun.

The other bits: The blue dress. Oh dear. May this be the last we speak of it.

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 9  

I give the performance: 8  

Points for Hungary: 8

 

ICELAND

My favourite national finalist: Nott by Yohanna

Song: Coming Home

Artist: Iceland

Result: 20th

Gimmick: Friends paying tribute

The best bits: Take away the back story of a sad sudden death, and like stripping away the costumes of Lordi – assuming they are, in fact, costumes – there’s still a great song there. I was as bitter as the next person when Yohanna failed to win the Icelandic final, but as soon as I heard Sjonni’s Friends charming their way through this, I was in love. And yet I can’t explain why. It just makes me happy…which in turn makes me feel a little guilty under the circumstances.

The other bits: Sjonni Brink might have originally written the song in English, but I think there’s something magical (or should I say, čaroban) about it in Icelandic – as it was performed at the national final. Aftur Heim has definitely had more plays on my iPod than Coming Home.

I give the song: 9

I give the vocals: 10 

I give the performance: 8 

Points for Iceland: 10

 

IRELAND

My favourite national finalist: This one

Song: Lipstick

Artist: Jedward

Result:  8th

Gimmick: Double the trouble and double the hair gel

The best bits: Lipstick makes a mighty fine ringtone, people – I speak from experience! I pretty much love everything about Jedward and their song, despite knowing how irritating they are and that they can sing…badly. They had one of the most up-to-the-minute songs of 2011, the highest shoulders, and really used their twin status to advantage in the choreography.

The other bits: Darn them for beating the United Kingdom!

I give the song: 9

I give the vocals: 5

I give the performance: 10 

Points for Ireland: 8

 

ISRAEL

My favourite national finalist: Or by Chen Aharoni

Song: Ding Dong

Artist: Dana International

Result: 15th in semi final

Gimmick: The resurrection of a winner

The best bits: I love Dana and I love this song! Seeing her on stage, in Gaultier again is definitely one of my highlights from this year’s show. Ding Dong’s a little dated in sound and reminds me of Croatia’s entry, but of the two I much prefer this. Israel also made good use of the catwalk stage, with Dana strutting up there for her finish in a woman-walking-competently-in-heels manner that I can only dream of achieving.

The other bits: The Israeli selection was so strong that it’s difficult to say for sure that Dana DIDN’T only win because she’s Dana. She’s one of the many artists who had come back to Eurovision (or tried to) with a song obviously inferior to her last.

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 6 

I give the performance: 8 

Points for Israel: 7

 

ITALY

My favourite national finalist: Vivo Sospesa by Nathalie/Javez by Davide Van De Sfroos

Song: Madness of Love

Artist: Raphael Gualazzi

Result:  2nd

My favourite lyric: “I know for certain I won’t bother you with nostalgia”

The best bits: As you may or may not know, I hated this the first time I heard it. A month later, I was in amore. It’s probably the 2011 song I’ve listened to the most, what with Eurovision, San Remo, and my iPod’s tendency to bring it up in every shuffle. I think Italy turned out to be what we all thought France would be – a fabulous performance that relied on the song and artist alone, and could have skyrocketed or bombed, but ended up doing the former. 

The other bits: More than a month on from the show and I’m still amazed that Italy came second. I think it’s a deserved place (and hopefully one that gets them back in Baku), but really – who saw it getting so high? And I mean the song, not Gualazzi’s vocal range.

I give the song: 7

I give the vocals: 10 

I give the performance: 9 

Points for Italy: 10

 

LATVIA

My favourite national finalist: This one/Banjo Laura by Lauris Reiniks

Song: Angel In Disguise

Artist: Musiqq

Result: 17th in semi final

Reminds me of: Into The Night by Santana

The best bits: Love me with luscious thighs…if you say so! My thighs, and the rest of me, certainly love this entry. Pop-rap-hip-hop-ballads apparently cater perfectly to my musical tastes. So do banjos, but let’s not go there.

The other bits: The live performance was a bit boring – not bad, just boring. The song is much more effective in audio form alone. Although there is a downside to that too, in that you can’t look upon Emils’ glorious face and better-than-Beiber hair if you’re only listening!

I give the song: 10

I give the vocals: 10

I give the performance: 7 

Points for Latvia: 10

 

LITHUANIA

My favourite national finalist: Best Friends by Donny Montell & Sasha Son

Song: C’est Ma Vie

Artist: Evelina Sašenko

Result: 19th

Reminds me of: Latvia’s similar use of sign language in 2005 (only I liked that song)

The best bits: I would have a completely wonderful review of this entry if I’d watched it in Düsseldorf with Mute on – though then I wouldn’t have heard Evelina’s lovely vocals. She also looked great, when you could see her past all the dry ice.

The other bits: Cringe. That’s what C’est Ma Vie makes me do. Particularly the chorus. I can see why other people liked it (occasionally) but I just can’t.  

I give the song: 5

I give the vocals: 10 

I give the performance: 9 

Points for Lithuania: 8

 

COMING UP: M to R!

 

Jaz x

Retrospective Reviews 2011: A to B

FINALLY! ‘Early next week’ may have turned into ‘the end of the week’, but the first of my five Retrospective Reviews installments is ready to be read. I won’t ramble on with a wordy introduction, because I think you know the deal: 43 countries, 43 looks back in time and 43 opinions on the songs, the vocals and the performances.

However…I do have a few things I want to let you know:

  • I’ve rotated Gimmicks, My Favourite Lyric, and Reminds Me Of throughout each entry, so they’re all a little different.
  • My scoring system is out of 10 for the song, vocals (based on those live in Düsseldorf) and performance, but with the final score, I’ve taken the average of those three scores, and rounded it up to match the ESC score system – i.e. if a country’s average was 8.7, I’ve rounded it up to 9 and given that country 10 points, which is the equivalent of 9 in that system. Whew! I haven’t done that much maths since high school! Still, it’s Eurovision-related maths which is a little more fun.

 

ALBANIA

My favourite national finalist: Pranë by Kejsi Tola

Song: Feel the Passion

Artist: Aurela Gaçe

Result: 14th in semi final

Reminds me of: Everyway That I Can by Sertab Erener

The best bits: This is a very unusual song that can’t really be pigeonholed – I guess that’s why Albania went with the eagle theme instead! I love the ethnicity and mystery of the verses, and the fact that the song does go somewhere, rather than staying put on a safe level. Aurela’s stage presence, along with her Rihanna-red hair, Nailene talons and the majestic LED graphic made for a powerful performance.

The other bits: The chorus is too shouty and aggressive for my liking. It especially grates towards the end of the three minutes, leaving me wanting some serious peace and quiet.

I give the song: 7

I give the vocals: 9

I give the performance: 8

Points for Albania: 8

 

ARMENIA

My favourite national finalist: Ayo by Emmy

Song: Boom Boom

Artist: Emmy

Result: 12th in semi final

My favourite lyric: “It’s time to win me in the ring of love”

The best bits: I’ll admit it: the giant boxing glove/medallion belt/dressing gown combo got me hook (pardon the pun), line and sinker! Yeah, it was cheesy – but I’ve always been more of a savoury than sweet type of girl. Plus, the song is catchy.

The other bits: It’s Armenia’s worst entry by far, as evidenced by its failure to qualify. The dated disco sound of the chorus may be catchy, but it doesn’t work the retro angle to its advantage in the way that Serbia does.  

I give the song: 6

I give the vocals: 5

I give the performance: 8

Points for Armenia: 6

 

AUSTRIA

My favourite national finalist: Oida Taunz by Trackshittaz

Song: The Secret Is Love

Artist: Nadine Beiler

Result: 18th

Reminds me of: Shine by Sophia Nizharadze

The best bits: There were two serious divas in the 2011 contest (of the “Da Vinci of the vocalists” kind, not the “Hurling phones at assistants” kind) and Nadine is one of them. I feel like she could yodel her way through the Macarena and I’d still be enchanted, though thankfully, her self-penned song is more pleasing to the ear than that. The presentation was simple, but all eyes were on her.

The other bits: Nadine’s asymmetric, yet somehow perfect hair makes mine look as attractive as Bon Jovi’s, circa 1988. So envious. The lyrics do cross over into cliché territory at times, as well.

I give the song: 7

I give the vocals: 10

I give the performance: 9

Points for Austria: 8

 

AZERBAIJAN

My favourite national finalist: N/A

Song: Running Scared

Artist: Ell/Nikki

Result: 1st

Reminds me of: Allt Jag Vill Ha by Josefine Ridell

The best bits: I love thatAzerbaijanwon this year when they were half as desperate to win as they were in 2010. This is a well written, nicely constructed, contemporary pop song that was elevated by an effortless, classy presentation.

The other bits: There’s always a weaker one when it comes to performing duos (though with Jedward it’s hard to tell which one it is) and with these two it’s clearly Nikki/Nigar. She’s an adequate vocalist, but when you compare her to the lovely ladies from Lithuania, Sloveniaand Austria, for example, she falls way short. I also have to say that whilst I’m happy for Azerbaijanand I know they won fair and square, I still can’t wrap my head around Running Scared as THE winning song. It’s too…nice.

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 6

I give the performance: 8

Points for Azerbaijan: 7

 

BELARUS

My favourite national finalist: N/A

Song: I Love Belarus 

Artist: Anastasia Vinnikova 

Result: 14th in semi final

Reminds me of: Born In Byelorussia by Anastasia Vinnikova

My favourite lyric: “…I’m writing a new song” (Oh, how apt!)

The best bits: Guilty pleasure. That’s really all I need to say…but I’ll say a bit more. I feel I shouldn’t like this, considering it’s basically a rocked-up copy of Belarus’ original (better) then disqualified song. But the ethnic snatches and sing-along chorus win me over every time.

The other bits: It’s basically a rocked-up copy of Belarus’ original (better) then disqualified song. Also, I heard someone say that the lyric “courage and my grace” sounds like “cabbage in my bed” and now I can’t think of anything else when I hear it.

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 6

I give the performance: 7

Points for Belarus: 7

 

BELGIUM

My favourite national finalist: C’est La Musique by Steve Linden

Song: With Love Baby

Artist: Witloof Bay

Result: 11th in semi final

Gimmick: 100% music free

The best bits: This song has definitely grown on me since it was chosen; something helped along by seeing it onstage in Düsseldorf, because it’s hard to deny the vocal talents of Witloof Bay! It definitely has variety going for it, standing out and being a lot less repetitive (repetitive repetitive) than most of the other entries.

The other bits: Those “whoa whoa’s” irritate me to the point of the “whoa oh oh oh yeeeeeeeaaaaaah’s” in last year’s UK entry – remember them?

I give the song: 6

I give the vocals: 10

I give the performance: 7

Points for Belgium: 7

 

BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA

My favourite national finalist: N/A

Song: Love In Rewind

Artist: Dino Merlin

Result: 6th

Gimmick: The age factor

The best bits: Now that I look and listen back, this is becoming my absolute favourite. Bosnia and Herzegovina always brings something unique that just gets me (apart from last year). I think of songs like Lejla and Bistra Voda when I hear this, and how they give me goose bumps in the exact same way. Dino’s a class act and I wouldn’t mind having a granddad like him! No offence, he is only 48, after all. Supposedly.

The other bits: I have nothing bad to say about this. Although…if Mr. Merlin had brought his superb dancing skills from his debut performance to Düsseldorf, we so could have been going to Sarajevo next year!

I give the song: 10

I give the vocals: 10

I give the performance: 9

Points for B & H: 12

 

BULGARIA

My favourite national finalist: This one

Song: Na Inat

Artist: Poli Genova 

Result: 12th in semi final

Reminds me of: a song that the lovechild of Robyn and Pink would record

The best bits: Every time I listen to the first disc of the 2011 album, this is the song that I get stuck in my head. Poli’s not as POLIshed a vocalist as you know who from you know where, but her voice is raw and she belts this out like there’s no tomorrow (or a New Tomorrow, if you’re Denmark…GOD I have to stop these terrible jokes!). Overall, her song is strong, with enough pop to keep me interested and enough rock to allow for lounge room head-banging.

The other bits: A key change wouldn’t have gone astray in lifting this higher in the last chorus. But if you put that aside, what do Bulgaria have to do to qualify? Apart from sing about water, whilst wearing leather pants?

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 10

I give the performance: 8 

Points for Bulgaria: 10

 

So the winner of these reviews was Bosnia & Herzegovina…should I pit all of the top-scorers together at the end in one last 2011 battle? Hmm…anyway, look out for the C to G reviews this weekend!

Which is your favourite A to B entry?

Jaz x

The EBJ Eurovision Excellence Awards 2011: PART 2

Here’s Volume II of the EBJEEA’s (say that three times fast!). You know the drill by now, but I just want to clear up one teensy thing before we begin: I could have had 10 or 15 nominees for each category, but as to not overwhelm you all I narrowed them down to no more than 5. So whilst I acknowledge how well Denmark used the stage, for example, in my opinion, there were other countries who used it better. Rest assured that I commend every country for its efforts in every field this year!

And here’s some more proof of that:

THE PERFORMANCES

AWARD NOMINEES WINNER
 

Best prop

 

Armenia, Sweden, Ukraine

 

Ukraine: This country definitely has talent, as UGT winner Kseniya Simonova proved with her unusual artistry. The best use of sand since the Moose’s Magic variety came out!

 

Most unnecessary/irrelevant prop

 

Moldova, Portugal, Turkey

 

Moldova: The girl on the unicycle was strange enough, but what was with the monocle?

 

Best use of the stage

 

Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Serbia

 

Cyprus: They took the leaning even further than Sakis Rouvas, and used the catwalk stage to their advantage.

 

Best use of the LCD’s

 

Albania, Finland, France, Serbia

 

Finland: An almost-to-scale Earth wasn’t as fancy as some of the others, but it sure made an impact.

 

Biggest surprise

 

Cyprus, Germany, Italy, Switzerland

 

Germany: I had no idea how this one would work live…but in the end it was amazing!Lena’s smoky performance turned the arena into a quirky basement club (in a good way!)

 

Biggest letdown

 

Estonia, France, Poland

 

France: His debut performance of Sognu in France took my breath away, but on the night the vocals just missed the mark.

 

The entry that had it all

 

Georgia, Germany, Sweden, Russia

 

Sweden: Yes, I have given Sweden a large amount of awards, but I’m doing for a reason. Slick choreography? Check. Smashing glass? Check. Money note? Check And so it goes.

 

The Bums-OFF-Seats Award for raising the roof

 

Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Sweden

 

Sweden: Not even the home country taking to the stage lifted the noise level to this extent.

 

 

THE RESULTS

AWARD NOMINEES WINNER
 

The country that amazingly failed to qualify from the semis

 

Armenia, Norway, Turkey

 

Turkey: A great live band, with a great rock anthem, from Turkey…fromTURKEY! How did they get left behind?

 

Most deserved placing in the final

 

Germany, Sweden

 

Sweden: Bronze was the most suitable substance for Popular to go home with.

 

Least deserved placing in the final 

 

Austria, Hungary, Switzerland

 

Switzerland: Granted, there isn’t any song I would have wanted to come last. But I truly think this charming, sunny effort deserved better.

 

Once again, I’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s post…is there something you particularly agreed with, or not? Do you have a category that you think I should introduce in 2012, or for JESC in December? Anything!

More later this week…including my mum’s verdict on the 2011 album! It’ll be more interesting than it sounds, I promise!

 

PS – Speaking of JESC…just when you thought Eurovision was done for 2011, its younger sibling kicks into gear with its first song chosen! And it seems the trend of artists coming back for another go is rubbing off on mini-ESC. Katya Ryabova, who represented Russia in 2009 coming joint 2nd, won this year’s preselection last night with a song that I’m a little bit in love with, Kak Romeo I Dzhulyetta (a.k.a. Like Romeo and Juliet). If you haven’t heard it yet, give it a spin and see what you think (www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ck-vW7Z4hg)

The EBJ Eurovision Excellence Awards 2011: PART 1

Hello everyone, and welcome to the 2nd Annual Eurovision Excellence Awards – no tuxedo/ballgown required. You don’t even have to leave the house! Just sit back, relax and enjoy Part 1 of the 2011 edition.

Tonight, I honour the best and worst of this year’s songs, artists, vocals and costumes. I highly doubt you’ll 100% agree with me, and I’d love to hear why not, so comment, Tweet or Facebook me with your own EE picks.

Okay, the orchestra is starting up, everyone is seated, and the sequinned envelopes are in my hands. So here they are…

THE SONGS

AWARD NOMINEES WINNER
 

Song most likely to qualify…that did

 

Denmark, Russia, Sweden

 

Sweden: It was anything but Haade for Saade to leave most of the competition in his dust.

 

Song most unlikely to qualify

 

Belgium, Malta, San Marino

 

San Marino: It wasn’t the worst song of 2011, but it just didn’t have the ‘oomph’ to progress.

 

The song that sounds suspiciously like another

 

Denmark, Norway

 

Norway: La Coco-Dance (Monaco 2006) did just as well at Eurovision as its twin Haba Haba.

 

The song most likely to end up as a fan ringtone

 

Armenia, Ireland, Sweden

 

Ireland: Speaking of twins…this is already my ringtone. What about you?

THE ARTISTS

AWARD NOMINEES WINNER
 

Hottest He

 

France, Greece, Sweden, UK

 

Sweden: Need I say anything?

 

Hottest She

 

Germany, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia

 

Slovakia: Daniela and Veronika can admire themselves without looking in a mirror.

 

Mr. Congeniality

 

France, Ireland, Malta, Russia

 

Malta: Glen Vella was the life of pretty much every party in Düsseldorf!

 

Miss Congeniality  

 

Armenia, Norway, San Marino, Serbia

 

Armenia: Emmy doesn’t walk away empty-handed. She’s more bubbly than a bathtub of Coca-Cola.

THE VOCALS

AWARD NOMINEES WINNER
 

Best vocal performance

 

Austria, Belgium, Italy, Slovenia

 

Slovenia: No One would be Nothing without Maja’s voice. Maybe people will call Christina Aguilera the American Maja Keuc now…

 

Worst vocal performance

 

Estonia, Ireland, Portugal

 

Portugal: What did we expect from an improv comedy troupe?

 

Singer most carried by their backing vocalists

 

Ireland, Sweden

 

Ireland: But who really cares…

THE COSTUMES

AWARD NOMINEES WINNER
 

Best dressed

 

Germany, Lithuania, Serbia, Slovenia

 

Serbia: Taking the 60s theme and running with it, Nina and her backups looked groovy baby!

 

Worst dressed

 

Hungary, Portugal, UK

 

Portugal: Unfortunately, the 70s don’t translate so well on stage. I think HDL might have been on a trip to the Anchorman set at some point.

 

The one who should have packed their national final costume instead

 

Estonia, Norway, Poland

 

Estonia: Getter swapped an amazing geometric dress for Minnie Mouse’s nightgown.

Whew! That concludes the first part of the ceremony. Stay tuned, because Part 2: The Performances and The Results, will be up very soon. There are a few more countries who don’t have to remain empty-handed, and then some who’ll collect yet another prize to stuff into their cabinet.

See you then! x

Ten more qualifiers, and the final’s finalised!

The (always) stronger semi final is over for me now, and wasn’t it a cracker! Even the performers I’d been worried about put on great shows, didn’t they, Jedward/TWiiNS/Eric Saade? Even though we all know that the backing singers were doing 90% of the work, don’t we, Jedward/TWiiNS/Eric Saade? Anyway…tonight’s final should be out of this world amazing! And I have a sneaking suspicion we haven’t seen the winner perform yet.

If you read my wrap-up of semi 1, you’ll know what to expect from this one! So here come the highlights:

–         Bosnia & Herzegovina’s gorgeous opener. I had to ignore all the senior citizen jokes coming every second from Aussie commentators Julia and Sam in order to bask in Dino’s ambience. He is just lovely, that’s the only way I can describe him. And despite my fears that the song would be a strange opener/wouldn’t translate to an arena, it worked. Big love. And big love for that checkered coat. Where can I get one?

–          The jaw-dropping vocals from Austria and Slovenia. I’m not loving either of these songs, but when Nadine and Maja were on that stage in their mini-dresses and designer stilts, I could not tear my eyes away from them. Or should that be my ears? Whatever. When I grow up, I want to sing like that (let’s just forget the fact that both Nadine and Maja are about my age).

–         Cyprus throwing everything including the kitchen sink (albeit aptly decorated) at their act. No, it didn’t qualify, but it was haunting and exciting and dangerous and how on earth do they do that leaning thing? I meant to write a letter to Sakis Rouvas when he did it atop that giant stapler in Moscow, to ask how, but now I can pick Christos’ brain!

–          Those über-awesome break dancers from the interval. They may not become a worldwide phenomenon á la Riverdance, but how epic were they! I also must mention Cold Steel, SF1’s interval act, who were also top notch.

My lowlights:

–          Ukraine. Not Kseniya Simonvoa, the sand artist who it turns out I’d gaped at on Youtube about a year ago (she’s got skillz). Not even Mika, who looked stunning as always and sang perfectly. But Angels itself. Sure, I’m pleased they qualified, but I was hoping the new version of the song would smash it live, unlike on the CD where it sounds so…meh. But it didn’t. I still believe the song was perfection in its original, preselection form, and whoever transformed it into what it is now should be jailed. I fear a last place in the final is upon Ukraine for 2011.

–         Estonia turning out a much more mediocre performance than I’d expected. Getter’s vocals were a little off, and as for the outfits – they went from modern magnificence to Minnie Mouse on meds. I’d thought Estonia still had a chance of winning before tonight. Not any more. Sorry!

–         Latvia staying in the semis. Sob.

So who managed to escape the semis? That’d be Estonia, Romania, Moldova, Ireland, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Denmark, Austria, Ukraine, Slovenia, and Sweden, lucky last as I think we all knew they would be. And this means, that, you know, I got 90% of them correct-a-mundo! I reckon that’s the closest I’ll ever get, so it’s a personal cause for celebration. Now, I know Germans like to be prompt, but they certainly raced through the magic envelopes tonight! At this rate, the final voting should be done and dusted in ten minutes. Phew.

Now to check up on the Australian scoreboard over at SBS Eurovision: Bosnia & Herzegovina topped the poll, followed by Ireland, Belgium, Austria and Sweden. We also liked Macedonia, Slovakia, Netherlands, Israel and Cyprus. We didn’t love Belarus, who only got 21 votes – still, the website did crash from an overload of traffic. We’ll blame that, ok Anastasia? Visit http://www.sbs.com.au/eurovision/ to check it all out yourself.

I’ll finish up with, as you’re all making the last arrangements for your parties, a quick preview of the grand final!

–          Paradise Oskar from Finland has the honour of kicking things off, which proved beneficial for Azerbaijan last year. I have officially been won over by this guy and his cutesy message song. I even love his grandpa dress shirt.

–          Singing in the damned 2nd position is Bosnia &Herzegovina. Let’s hope Dino can break tradition and finish on the right side of the scoreboard (by which I mean the left side).

–          France is the first Big Fiver to take the stage tonight in 11th place. Lena won last year singing 22nd…is this a double-digit sign from the Eurovision gods?

–          On a similar note (pun!) the UK will take the 14th slot, taken by Manga in 2010, who as we all know, ended up with the silver medal. I firmly believe the Blue boys can do the same, or better, if they can (another pun!) pull off a powerful, polished show.

–          For the penultimate and last songs, we’ll have two very different sounds. Serbia and Georgia will end the running order.

When it comes down to it, the trophy is up for grabs by a bunch of countries. Who will be the winner? And more importantly, which outfit will be deemed awful enough to win the Barbara Dex Award? Time will only tell…make the most of it!

A Very Excited Jaz x

Big love for the Big 5

It’s often debated whether automatic entry into the Eurovision final is an advantage or disadvantage. Less than impressive results from the Big 4 (and occasionally the previous contest winner) in recent years would suggest the latter…but then again, we’re going to Düsseldorf in a little over a month for a reason!

Personally, I have generally found the standard of the Big 4-and-5 entries to be pretty low in comparison to the semi final qualifiers, especially those like Ukraine and Azerbaijan who always impress me. But this year, I have to say I’m impressed. Though I hold a few of 2011’s finalists in higher regard than others, all of them have grown on me – especially Germany and Italy, whose songs I hated at first. My preferences  would be: 1. UK, 2. Italy, 3. France, 4. Germany, and 5. Spain, which differs quite a bit from last year (though obviously, Italy was out and Norway was in back then). Mainly because the UK were at the very bottom of the pile…for everyone.

Anyway, my point in posting this is to figure out what you fans think of the Big 5 this year. I have a sneaking suspicion of who will come out on top, but please humour me and vote anyway!

I’m looking forward to the results =)

PS – 37 days and counting!

The chaos comes to a close, and the countdown continues to number 56!

It seems like yesterday we were all celebrating Germany’s win of 2010 and imagining where we’d be tuning in to one year on. But that year has almost passed already, and the host city, stadium, and of course, all forty-three songs, are locked in place! There’ll be a bit of a lull in action from now as behind-the-scenes work carries on until May – but before that, there’s a whole lot of fun stuff for me to cover, having been otherwise occupied for just a few days. Let’s get to it!

The running order has been decided…

And I was a lot more anxious to find out what happened than I thought I would be! I won’t list the full results as I’m sure you’ve already seen them (if not, check out eurovision.tv or the 2011 Wikipedia page), but I will skim over the crucial info – such as  Poland opening the first semi final, and Greece closing it. Both of those countries are in these positions as wildcards, meaning they were randomly selected to have the advantage of choosing their slots (in the first and second halves). You can imagine why they would have picked these – going first has its perks, and being the last flavour on everybody’s tongue does too.

What is harder to imagine is why the wildcards in semi final two, Slovakia and Latvia, chose the 5th and 17th positions respectively. I’m sure they had their reasons, but you have to wonder why they didn’t mimic those of Poland and Greece. Still, Latvia’s lateness in the draw pleases me (a HUGE fan of Angel In Disguise) despite the fact that I don’t really believe any particular draw helps an entry to qualify/prevents them from doing so. In any case, Bosnia and Herzegovina is numero uno in SF2, whilst Jedward will be the second set of twins to perform that evening at the end.

The dreaded “curse of number two” has befallen Norway and Austria this year, two countries that have been predicted to advance since early in the piece. It’s a curse that has been less evident in recent years than in the past, so if I were Stella or Nadine, I wouldn’t lose any beauty sleep over it. Stella, especially, should sail through to the final even if the curse floats through the air conditioning vents and slaps her in the face during the seventeenth ‘Haba haba!’.

None of the Big 5 have to worry about that either, with all of them being drawn (almost) in the second half of the final. France will be the first of them to grace the stage in 11th position, followed directly by Italy (12th), then the UK (14th – a fairly good slot for them), the host country (16th), and the wildcard of the final, Spain (22nd).

 

Whilst Azerbaijan is running scared.

After keeping us in suspense for slightly longer than intended, one of Eurovision’s newest but most successful countries revealed its entry earlier in the week. It’s titled (as alluded by the hilarious pun above) Running Scared, and whilst in my opinion, it makes Drip Drop look like a winner, it isn’t a bad effort.

For a fairly generic ballad with no ethnic influence, the chorus is strong and after only one listen, I could still remember how it went. Praise has been very generously doled out online for this entry, which I don’t quite understand…but it’s nice. In a 6-point kind of way.

 

Belarus is feeling the love…

As you probably know, Belarus was forced to cobble together a new song for Anastasia Vinnikova when it was revealed that the original, Born In Bielorussia (a song I loved for its fun Junior Eurovision-like qualities) had been publicly performed prior to the allowed date. The newbie, I Love Belarus also sounds like a JESC song, though not such a good one.

Short of hanging a neon sign around Anastasia’s neck in the video clip that flashes “Written in five minutes!”, it couldn’t be any more obvious that this was written in five minutes in a mad dash to meet the deadline (well, maybe more than five. Seven at least). In an apparently desperate effort to pen a song about how wonderful Belarus is – as I’m sure it is – those responsible for this entry have taken the old song, put in a blender with copious amounts of predictable soft rock and poured the contents into a glass only to find it half-empty. And yet…I kind of like it. Why, I don’t know. Nonetheless, it’s not a likely qualifier, being in the second semi. But I give it 6 points, having given the original song 10.  

 

As a handful of countries go English…

Whilst I see the pros of rewriting a song in English for Eurovision purposes, I wish there weren’t so many countries so quick to do it. I love European languages, and having learnt to love the likes of Poland in its native one, the recently released English translations sound very clichéd. When thought is put into the rewriting, and it isn’t just done for the sake of doing it (Albania, Slovenia, and Iceland) it can turn out quite well. As for Poland and the Ukraine…all I can say is, for Bucks (Fizz) sake, go back to Polish/Ukrainian! The translations of those have turned two great songs into two average ones. I should say that it isn’t 100% settled whether or not these two will go with the English versions. Poland has said they’ll see what the fan response is…I could tell you right now the verdict.

Luckily, there are a few countries that have gotten it right: the Netherlands’ 3JS, whose rewrite is both meaningful, and so seamless that there isn’t much difference from the Dutch version; and Italy, who have gone for a combination of the original Italian, and English, which is very effective (Madness of Love, as it is now referred to, has really grown on me over the last few weeks). So I will be applauding these songs, as well as the few countries who will sing in their own language – Cyprus, Bulgaria and Serbia for example – extra vigorously in May.  

 

And more Düsseldorf details are revealed.

A sneak peek of the stage has been released (only in writing unfortunately, as construction is yet to get underway), as well as the postcards and interval acts, on eurovision.tv. The mystery of the reprise has been solved therein, with co-host and my favourite German, Stefan Raab’s Big Band set to perform Satellite in Lena’s place (whilst she’s backstage experiencing a severe case of déjà vu). With 53 days to go until the first semi, the organizers will be going full speed ahead. They’re sure to have the Esprit Arena and its trimmings ready on time if German train schedules are any indication (you know what they say about the punctuality of public transport).

I’m so excited, and I really can’t hide it – can you?

Eric Saade, Alexey, and the mysterious absence of Azerbaijan…

So we thought we’d be ringing in this fine Sunday (depending on where you are in the world) with all 43 songs picked in preparation for the running order draw on Monday, right? But this is Eurovision, and since when did things ever go 100% smoothly in the lead-up? Exactly. But before I get to the issues and absentees, there are two more songs to be dissected after last night – one from Sweden, and the other from Russia.

Let’s begin with Sweden, and the genetically blessed homosapien that is Eric Saade, who managed to beat out fellow repeat-offenders like Linda Bengtzing and Sanna Nielsen in the Globen Arena with Popular.

I didn’t particularly rate this song at first, but was still cheering it on (for reasons I’m sure you can hazard a guess at). After a few listens, however, I have been won over to the point where right now, I’d give it 10 points. Manboy I would have given the douze, but if I deem a song worthy of the 8 or 10 it still means I’m loving it. You can guarantee that Eric will give it all he’s got onstage; hopefully deviating a little from the Melodifestivalen performances (he may have to deviate a lot if the consequences of shattered glass are any indication). He’s in the first half of the second semi, so it will be a tough battle to qualify, but if anyone can do it, he can. Good luck, I say!

For anyone interested/who hasn’t seen them yet, here are the results of the Melodifestivalen final:

  1. Eric Saade/ POPULAR/ 193
  2. Danny Saucedo/ IN THE CLUB/ 149
  3. The Moniker/ OH MY GOD!/ 124
  4. Sanna Nielsen/ I’M IN LOVE/ 114
  5. Swingfly/ ME AND MY DRUM/ 93
  6. The Playtones/ THE KING/ 79
  7. Linda Bengtzing/ E DET FEL PÅ MEJ/ 58
  8. Nicke Borg/ LEAVING HOME/ 57
  9. Sara Varga/ SPRING FÖR LIVET/ 50
  10. Brolle/ 7 DAYS AND 7 NIGHTS/ 29

It’s interesting to note that neither of the Andra Chansen qualifiers came last – in fact, The Moniker managed a commendable third place, higher than both Sanna and Linda who both qualified first in their semis. I’m not surprised by Brolle’s last place, as that was the song I had been least impressed with this year for Sweden. It is a shame for Sanna, though, to miss out AGAIN by a short distance. I don’t think she’ll give up though – she’ll be croaking her way through the schlager on day release from the nursing home.

Now for a quick word on the Russians, who enlisted RedOne to pen a song for them this year, performed by Alexey Vorobyov. After yet another early leak, the song was presented for us all to see without getting into trouble last night:

I have to say, if I didn’t already know who was behind this song, I never would have guessed it to be the man responsible for a chunk of Lady Gaga’s back catalogue and Love Generation’s MF entry. It doesn’t sound very RedOne-ish at all. Do I like it? Yes. It’s not a real boat-floater for me, but it’s quite catchy. Alexey’s heavy accent does get in the way a bit, but I suppose to no greater an extent than Koldun’s did in 2007, and remember how well he went down (FYI – Work Your Magic is my ringtone at the moment – how vintage!). I wouldn’t be shocked if it missed out on a place in the final, unlike last year when I was flabbergasted that Russia did make it (and only narrowly lost out on a top-ten finish). It gets 6 points from me, right here, right now.

While you’re figuring out how you feel about Saturday, here’s some more Düsseldorf dribs and drabs to consider.

–          A song we all should have been rating today is from Azerbaijan, who were down to reveal it yesterday, but for some reason did not. They’re cutting things a bit fine, with the 14th being the selection deadline, so let’s hope that there’s some news on that in the very near future. The website of the Azerbaijani broadcaster doesn’t reveal any more than is already known by us fans…

–          Another country putting us on edge is Belarus, who initially picked the song Born In Bielorussia for Zooey Deschanel…er, Anastasia Vinnikova (the resemblance is uncanny). The lyrics were soon deemed too controversial and so were rewritten, with the song’s title changing to I Am Belorussian. But wait, there’s more! It was then revealed that the song had been publicly performed before the 1st of September 2010, against the EBU rules, and so now, it has been disqualified, and a new song, called I Love Belarus, will (allegedly) premiere on the 14th, just in time. Watch this space to see if that is actually what happens!

–          English versions of this year’s native-language entries are slowly emerging, with the Netherlands and Iceland now set to use the former. Part of the charm of these two entries for me was the Dutch and Icelandic they were sung in, so naturally I am disappointed. I haven’t heard Sigurjon’s Friends’ Coming Home (as it’s now known), but I have heard Never Alone from 3JS, and I have to say it hasn’t lost much in the transition from Dutch to English – it still appeals as much as ever.

A day before the deadline, and there’s still two entries MIA. Will they both make it on time? Or will there be prices to pay? (Quite literally – a hefty fine or two). It’s more dramatic than a soap opera cliffhanger. Don’t you just love it?