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GRAB THE MOMENT | Vote in the 2017 EBJ Eurovision Excellence Awards People’s Choice polls!

Yes, it’s that time again – when, in the wake of Eurovision and in the midst of PED, a heap of ESC-themed sites feel compelled to hand out some trophies of their own. They may not be fancy, microphone-shaped Kosta Boda glass, but they give every country, artist, backing singer and man with horse mask on the chance of taking one home.

In the immortal words of Martina Bárta, now it’s my turn. The EBJ Eurovision Excellence Awards, as they’ve been branded the past few years, are back! But before I give out any awards personally, I need you guys – yes, YOU (I love that shirt, by the way…it’s totally your colour) – to decide on some winners for me. That’s not because I’m too lazy to choose them myself, but because I love having input from anyone who takes the time to read this blog, and I definitely want to know what you thought were some of the highlights and lowlights of Kyiv 2017. So here we are.

This year, there’s not one…not two…not three…*ten minutes later* but TWELVE People’s Choice Awards up for grabs. I’ve tried to keep the nominees as numerous as possible, but if I haven’t listed someone/something that you REALLY want to vote for, leave me a comment and I will count it as a valid vote. The rules? Well, you can only vote once (on any one device, so feel free to hijack all of the phones/computers/tablets in your household) but you can make multiple choices on each poll – so if you’re struggling to decide, for instance, whether Oleks, Vova or Timur was the best host, just vote for all three.

Who says I’m not generous?

You’ve got one week to vote (and to spread the word so all of your Eurofan friends get to have their say too). Now go forth and pick your personal winners!

 

 

Miss Congeniality

She’s friendly, she’s fun, and she’s the female singer of 2017 you’d choose to hang out with above all others. It’s about personality rather than looks for this award (although all of these ladies are beautiful on the outside AND the inside).

 

Mr. Congeniality

Now it’s time to pick the most personable male artist who charmed both fans and the media in Kyiv. You’d take a road trip with him without hesitation, because you’d be guaranteed a great time and a lot of laughs.

 

Teen Act of the Year

Years and years of experience can come in handy when handling Eurovision…but teenagers can do pretty well for themselves too. All of 2017’s teen acts finished in the top 10, but which one was your favourite?

 

Dancefloor Filler of the Year

Whether you were in the Euroclub, at a Eurovision party or home alone in your pajamas, there had to be at least one song this year that you could NOT resist dancing to – and you’ll be playing it again any time you need to add some life to a future party!

 

Best Music Video

We don’t get preview videos from every single country competing in the contest (this is the one area where Sweden shows weakness) but the bunch we do get often bring their A-game. 2017 was no exception – let’s see which video you think is the best of the best.

Check out all of the nominees here.

 

Best Prop/Gimmick

The Eurovision stage sees more stand-out props and gimmicks than any other, and they (usually) add something special to a performance. Vote for the little – or large – extra something that impressed you the most this year.

 

Best Use of the Backdrop

The sky is the limit these days when it comes to pimping performances via high-def screenage. It’s a missed opportunity if the background isn’t used to a country’s advantage, but there weren’t many missed opportunities in Kyiv! Which backdrop wowed you when you laid eyes on it?

 

Best Performance From the Big 5

There are always musical hits and misses from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK – but this award is for the country that stood out on stage when compared to their fellow automatic finalists (the hosts not included).

 

The Host With The Most

It’s a hard job, choosing between three attractive Ukrainian men – but somebody has to do it! Oleks, Vova and Timur took the reins between them this year, but only one can be crowned the Host With The Most. Take your pick.

  

Opening/Interval Act of the Year

We were spoiled this year when it came to pre and in-between song entertainment, with Ukraine trotting out a bunch of its biggest stars – including ESC 2016 winner Jamala three times (fine by me). Without comparing anything to Love Love Peace Peace, decide on your no. 1 performance.

Check out all of the nominees here.

 

OMG Moment of the Year

There were many jaw-on-the-floor occurrences this year, including the moment rehearsal viewers spotted a questionable (a.k.a. penis-like) image front and centre on one of Latvia’s screens (which had to be covered up). Which one had you shaking your head in disbelief?

 

The ‘How Did THAT Happen?’ Award for Most Shocking Result

Speaking of shocking…even the most talented predictor wouldn’t have seen some of the Eurovision 2017 scoreboard placements coming. Some countries defied expectations while others failed when we thought they’d flourish. Choose your personal WTF result below!

 

 

Congrats, your work here is done. Thanks for taking the time to vote…and if you didn’t but you’re still reading this, then GET BACK UP THERE AND DO YOUR DUTY!

Drop by EBJ next week for the full results of the People’s Choice Awards – and find out who won all of the other trophies in the categories of The Artists, The Songs, The Performances, The Show and The Results. Things may kick off a little sooner, so if you want to know exactly when, be sure to subscribe in the sidebar, or follow me on Twitter/Instagram.

 

Until then, stay fabulous!

 

 

 

The 2015 EBJ Awards for Eurovision Excellence | Part 2 (The Performances, The Costumes + The Results)

Pull up a comfortable chair (you’re going to be sitting in it for a while), have food and drink within reach (you’ll need the sustenance), and generally prep yourselves for the second and final installment of the 2015 EBJEEs!

I won’t lie – it’s a mammoth ceremony. But it might just be worth it: if you voted in the People’s Choice polls, you’ll find out today whether your remaining favourites won out in the end. Plus, if you make it all the way through, I’ll give you a gift basket full of gratitude and appreciation for your dedication. You won’t be able to sell it on eBay, but hopefully it will make you feel all warm and fuzzy (once you get the feeling back in your behind after sitting down for so long).

So, without further ado, let’s get cracking!

 

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 THE PERFORMANCES

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Winner Guy Sebastian Honourable Mention/s Nadav Guedj, Uzari

You can send threatening notes my way calling me biased, but I’d like to see you argue against Australia’s pride and joy (at this moment in time and exclusively among Eurovision fans) possessing a flawless set of pipes. Even suffering from a cold, as he was in the days leading up to the final, Guy Sebastian demonstrated his usual smooth-as-silk singing technique, and reminded us all why he won Australian Idol back in the day.

 

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Winner Aminata Honourable Mention/s Bojana Stamenov, Polina Gagarina

Barely able to reach the ‘You Must Be THIS Tall To Ride’ marker when queuing for a rollercoaster ride, Aminata’s powerful vocals defy her petite size. Transitioning between crystal-clear high notes and big belters with ease, the control she had over her voice was second to none in this year’s contest as far as I’m concerned. If Beyoncé is #flawless, we’re going to have to come up with a whole new word for Aminata. Aminatamazing? Aminaterrific? The suggestion box is officially open.

 

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Winner Il Volo Honourable Mention/s Genealogy, Mørland & Debrah Scarlett

Singing separately, Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero are mesmerising. Singing together, they send me on a trip to Goosebumpsville, USA, every time (it’s starting to get expensive). The force that is high-quality operatics shouldn’t be underestimated, and high-quality operatics is what we got from the boys whenever they opened their mouths in Vienna. Perfection is spelled I-L V-O-L-O from now on.

 

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Winner Italy Honourable Mention/s Latvia

Let’s talk about Italy for the second time in thirty seconds, shall we? There’s something about an epic vocal performance that sends shivers down my spine. This is particularly true when the performance is given by a trio of hot Italian men…and when one of said men winks at the camera and turns me into a sad excuse for an independent woman who don’t need no man. In addition to the shivers, Il Volo also had every hair on the back of my neck standing up each time they launched into Grande Amore’s explosive chorus. As a result, I resembled a fuzzy triceratops, but it was totally worth it.

 

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Winner Spain Honourable Mention/s Czech Republic, Greece

A dramatic song like Amanecer needs a dramatic performance to go with it, and Spain certainly delivered in that respect. They didn’t rely solely on Edurne’s ability to look super-intense and wave her arms around at every opportunity; instead, they switched the drama into overdrive by adding a costume change, an aggressive dance sequence and a gale from the wind machine into the mix. Subsequently, Spain’s performance rated more highly on the drama scale than an entire year’s worth of Days Of Our Lives episodes.

 

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Winner Austria Honourable Mention/s France, Switzerland

In a move that gave a more literal meaning to Paula and Ovi’s Playing With Fire, The Makemakes’ Dominic set his piano alight at the pivotal point of I Am Yours – a cool (though not temperature-wise) way of spicing up the staging of the cruisy, down-tempo number. It didn’t help Austria score any points, but the risk factor and fresh take on pyrotechnics deserves recognition.

 

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Winner Sweden Honourable Mention/s Lithuania, France

Sweden grabs this People’s Choice Award in very convincing style, with 58% of the votes. It’s not surprising when you consider just how much Måns’ projected stick man and all that jazz had to do with his win. The gimmick made a good song great, and made the performance of that song superior in terms of innovation and creativity.

 

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Winner Greece Honourable Mention/s Georgia, Spain, Switzerland

Maria Elena had everything one needs to pull off a classic Eurovision lady ballad: a big voice; flowing locks; a floor-sweeping gown; and the ability to fake enough anguish to moisten her eyes, but not so much to actually let a tear go and ruin her mascara. All that was required top it off was wind – and boy, did she get it! As much as I want to opt for the logical pun here and say I was blown away by Greece’s performance, I wasn’t. But if it hadn’t been for that manufactured breeze, the climax of One Last Breath would have lacked impact.

 

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Winner Belgium Honourable Mention/s Israel, Sweden

Robotic movements coupled with perfect pirouettes and the occasional face-grab? What a work of art. Belgium’s combo of geometric and organic movements was as complementary to Rhythm Inside as the black-and-white costumes and boxy backdrop. The choreography also played a big part in Loïc and his dance crew snapping at Måns Zelmerlöw’s heels in the creativity stakes.

 

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Winner France Honourable Mention/s Latvia, Poland

Back in 2012, Ukraine neatly sidestepped the six-person stage rule by featuring a crowd of fist-pumping – and it must be said, tacky-looking – party-goers on the screens behind Gaitana. The idea was good, but the execution was poor. Fast forward to 2015, and you’ll see that France took the same idea, and made it work. A digital army of drummers (plus a smaller contingent of living and breathing drummers) appeared behind Lisa Angell, and with that, the last thirty seconds of her performance and its atmosphere were elevated by a mile.

 

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Winner Spain Honourable Mention/s Moldova

No amount of gimmicks is too many – not according to Edurne’s team. It’s a worry when a song is deemed so unentertaining, it needs every backdrop, costume reveal, dance move and wind machine setting known to man to bring it to life (say what you will about Sweden, but at least they limited themselves to lighting and projection). Still, I can’t say I minded the OTT much on this occasion. As I said earlier, Amanecer is a dramatic number, and you have to admire Spain for carrying that through to the staging as well.

 

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Winner The Netherlands Honourable Mention/s The Czech Republic

I’m sure we’d all have forgiven The Netherlands if that horrendous opening shot had been a mistake. But, believe it or not, it was included on purpose. An entire verse of Trijntje eyeballing the camera with netting draped over her face didn’t say ‘I’m on the Eurovision stage and loving it!’ so much as ‘I’m being held hostage by an embittered fisherman who’s threatening to slap me with a sea bass unless his demands are met.’ And yet, rather than feeling sorry for her, all I could do was laugh. ‘WTF?!?’ is an understatement.

 

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Winner Sweden Honourable Mention/s Belgium, Australia, Latvia

This People’s Choice poll was a close one, with Belgium leading until the last minute. Ultimately, it’s contest winner Sweden that can add another trophy to their collection as the All-Rounder of the Year – the country that had the best package of song and performance. Year after year, Sweden puts the ‘vision’ into Eurovision in a big way, and 2015 was no exception. Not only visually spectacular (and I’m not just talking about Måns) but vocally top-notch and full of energy, there was nothing lacking in what they had to offer most recently. This award is well-deserved.

 

 

THE COSTUMES

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Winner Nina Sublatti Honourable Mention/s Ann Sophie, Genealogy

What with Nina being the fierce, take-no-prisoners kind of woman she is, Georgia needed to dress her in something that said ‘I’m a sexy goth, and if you come near me without my permission I’ll whip a Chinese throwing star at your forehead.’ Thankfully, they did, and I am now crushing on an ESC costume like I did when Maja Keuc made Perspex platforms and provocative body armour a thing in Düsseldorf. I.e. to a crazy extent.

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Winner Trijntje Oosterhuis Honourable Mention/s Trijntje Oosterhuis

Well, there was one thing The Netherlands did better than anyone else this year. Upon seeing what Trijntje opted to wear for the show after trying out several alternatives, that haphazardly-cut, boob-baring dress suddenly didn’t look so bad. I guess she’s not one of those people who can wear a bin bag and still look fabulous.

 

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Winner Moldova’s hot cops Honourable Mention/s Ann Sophie

I’m mainly referring to the object of Eduard’s affection (and her teeny-tiny, totally non-regulation police hotpants) here. But the sprayed-on shorts the men were wearing were also grounds for arrest, and for covering the eyes of any children present. How those guys managed to move to the music without something splitting is a mystery.

 

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Winner Debrah Scarlett Honourable Mention/s Loïc Nottet

Adventurous hairstyles were few and far between in Vienna, with nobody even coming close to a Rona Nishliu-style DEAR LORD WHAT IS THAT ON HER HEAD?!? So the conventional but undeniably stunning hairdo of Debrah Scarlett wins this People’s Choice Award. Affixed with an empty pie tin repurposed as artful headwear (zoom in on Norway’s performance and you’ll probably spot some crust crumbs) Debrah’s fiery mane of curls was anything but monstrous. In fact, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want that mane on my own scalp stat (minus the pie tin).

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THE RESULTS

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Winner Conchita Wurst Honourable Mention/s Alice Tumler

This wasn’t a competition, really…at least not a close one. ORF made a big mistake failing to convince Conchita to host the entire show. She’s everything a great host is made of: articulate, humorous, charismatic, and gorgeous to look at (nobody looks more banging in an evening gown).

 

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Winner Denmark Honourable Mention/s Moldova

2015 wasn’t exactly a year of jaw-dropping moments. I can’t say that any of the DNQs had me clutching my chest and feeling faint at the sheer shocking-ness of their occurrence. However, I did have Denmark down as a qualifier, thinking that as usual, the safe and competent song they were fielding would get them into the final. It did not, which was a little surprising…but not devastating, if I’m honest.

 

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Winner Albania Honourable Mention/s Poland

As much as I’m Alive has grown on me in the month or so since Eurovision, I still don’t 100% understand how it got through. Elhaida’s cape game was strong in semi final one, but girl veered right off the in-tune tracks and straight into screech territory for her last thirty seconds on stage. Ouch.

 

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Winner Sweden Honourable Mention/s Russia

For the long-standing bookies’ favourite, there were no questions surrounding qualification. It wasn’t even worth arguing against Sweden winning their semi. We know from the Bergendahl Incident of 2010 that the Swedes can trip up when it comes to making the final, but there was no way 2015 was going to resemble that ABSOLUTE TRAVESTY, thank heavens.

 

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Winner San Marino Honourable Mention/s Portugal

Poor Anita and Michele. Come back next year (after you’ve given Ralph Siegel the flick) and you might have a chance.

 

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Winner Moldova Honourable Mention/s Romania, Switzerland

I don’t know if it’s down to better acoustics in the hall or a voice-box transplant, but Eduard went from putting all his energy into dancing and giving us the vocal performance of nobody’s lifetime, to putting most of his energy into dancing – there was even a backflip thrown in this time – and actually sounding passable. The Jedward Effect of having backing singers do most of the heavy lifting had to have something to do with it.

 

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Winner Australia Honourable Mention/s The Netherlands, Sweden

As awesome/bizarre as it would have been to see Australia win Eurovision, I never really thought it was going to happen with Tonight Again. After Guy’s outstanding live performance, though, a top five placement was not out of the question – and when we nabbed one over Latvia, I felt it was fair (not that I would’ve complained if Australia and Latvia had finished the other way round). When I do the math, 5th seems just right. The song deserved top ten, the performance deserved top five, and the vocal was deserving of the win.

 

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Winner Germany Honourable Mention/s Austria, France

I’ve said this a dozen times already, but even ignoring the fact that Germany wasn’t ranked last in the televoting or jury voting and still ended up at the bottom (no pun intended, if you know what I mean), I remain confused as to how Ann Sophie was so wronged. As if she hadn’t been traumatised enough during the German NF! There was nothing deserving of nul in her sassy, sexy performance, and I for one am outraged that Black Smoke is now the only Eurovision song in history to finish 27th in the final.

 

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Winner Sweden Honourable Mention/s Russia

Aside from a last-minute challenge from Russia, and the possibility of Italy trampling all over their competition, Sweden was the one to beat this year. From the millisecond Måns won Melfest, he was the odds-on favourite to win Eurovision, and he didn’t disappoint those who’d put money on him. I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t think Russia was going to snatch victory (after Polina’s final performance and until halfway through the voting sequence, that’s EXACTLY what I thought was going to happen) but the obvious winner that few of us discounted did turn out to be the actual winner. I don’t think Sweden’s sixth victory blindsided anyone.

 

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Winner Germany Honourable Mention/s Austria

Yep, we’re in agreement – Germany wuz robbed! Since Stefan Raab relinquished control of the German entries, the country’s fortunes have taken a nosedive. As such, we might have expected Ann Sophie to finish mid-table or lower. What none of us expected was to see her sitting as low as possible on the scoreboard, with the host nation and a big fat zero keeping her company. WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO? On the plus side, Ann Sophie is now a member of a rather exclusive club of losers, and will be remembered in a way that whoever finished, say, 22nd (I literally had to Google that to remind myself that it was Cyprus) will not.

 

 

And that, my European song competition-obsessed friends, is it *insert relieved round of applause here*. There are no more trophies left to hand out to the Class of ’15, which the likes of Lithuania will be sad to hear considering they didn’t get one (not This Time….HAHAHA).

I hope you enjoyed this year’s awards. Thanks again to everyone who voted in the People’s Choice polls – I promise there will be more of those, feat. more nominees, in 2016.

I still have a bit of Vienna-themed business to take care of here on EBJ, before I move on and look ahead to JESC in Bulgaria, and the 61st ESC in A City Yet To Be Named (don’t rush, EBU/SVT…I need more time to conduct accommodation research). There won’t be a dull moment here during the off-season, so do drop by over the coming months. I can assure you that, unlike Ann Sophie and The Makemakes, you’ll never have a nul-point experience!

 

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COMING UP I count down my top ten national finalists who should/could have gone to Vienna; and you’ll be seeing double as all the doppelgangers of ESC 2015 are exposed!

 

EBJ PRESENTS…Would You Rather: The Eurovision Edition!

Greetings, fellow lovers of flags and key changes (providing there aren’t twenty of them in one song). Now that national final season is O-V-E-R over, we’ve arrived at that unsettlingly quiet period during which our forty Eurovision 2015 acts are barricaded in rehearsal rooms, not permitted to emerge again until they have to catch their flights to Vienna. Or, in The Makemakes’ case, until it’s time to stroll over to the Wiener Stadthalle for run-through numero uno.

Re-ranking and prediction-making aside, there aren’t a whole lot of ESC activities we can undertake at the moment, and it’s rather depressing. But fear not, because Jaz is here to save the day – if what will save the day is a (hopefully) entertaining, interactive ball of Eurovision fluff!

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the concept of Would You Rather, i.e. where you’re presented with two equally exciting or horrifying options/scenarios, and you have to sweat it out and choose which one you’d…well, rather. It’s pretty self-explanatory.

What Would You Rather is not – for the most part, in my experience – is Eurovision-themed, and I personally think that is wrong on an abundance of levels. So, with the intention of altering that shocking reality, I have come up with fifteen WYR questions on our favourite subject: the greatest show on Earth, besides Big Fat Gypsy Weddings.

You know what I’m talking about.

Some of these questions will be easy for you to answer; others may bring on an existential crisis. Either way, you’ll be able to see whether you’re in the majority or minority with your ‘rathers’, and you’ll probably be making some of these faces:

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So, pull yourself out of that post-NF season funk and get your game on! The Eurovision decisions are waiting to be made. This is really serious stuff, guys.

 
PS – I’ve justified my own choices under each WYR, so if you don’t want me to influence you, check those out after you’ve voted.

 

WHAT I’D RATHER: This is a tough one, but as I can only sing in the shower, or if someone’s drowning me out with a vuvuzela version of Waterloo, I’d have to go with the hosting duties. Grinning like Gianluca Bezzina on happy pills and saying ‘Europe, stop voting NOW!’, I can do.

 

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WHAT I’D RATHER: Wind machine, every time. Nothing makes one feel quite so glamorous as having their mane of hair blown into their lip gloss.

 

WHAT I’D RATHER: If you need to be reminded of how hard it would be to fall asleep to either of these voices, check out Remedios here and Dustin here. I vote Dustin as the lesser of two evils. He has an Irish accent, and that’s never a (completely) bad thing.

 

WHAT I’D RATHER: Back to the future, baby! I’d be very curious to find out if Eurovision will eventually be hosted by C3PO and R2D2, and/or if Ralph Siegel has FINALLY realised his music is past its prime and stopped entering. Fingers crossed.

 

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WHAT I’D RATHER: I would feel so awkward being in a stadium by myself (bar the cameramen and floor crew, etc) I’d end up leaving before the hosts even finished saying ‘Good evening Europe!’. I’ll take the tiny stage, thanks.

 

WHAT I’D RATHER: Never hearing Lane Moje again isn’t an option, as far as I’m concerned.

 

WHAT I’D RATHER: Thinking along the lines of quality, not quantity, I’d go with one minute.

 

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WHAT I’D RATHER: The ballads…but by a margin smaller than San Marino’s chances of winning in Vienna.

 

WHAT I’D RATHER: Cher did it, Kanye West did it, Wil.i.am’s entire vocal range is due to it – ‘it’ being use of the good old vocoder. It is amusing to listen to (although I might not think so after 180 seconds of nothing but).

 

WHAT I’D RATHER: Seeing as my favourite, or one of, has finished last in the final on more than one occasion (Denmark 2002, Finland 2009, Norway 2012…I could go on) I’m accustomed to it. If that didn’t go hand in hand with my most despised entry taking out the contest, I could easily deal with the pain again.

 

WHAT I’D RATHER: Can I have both? No? I suppose that does defeat the purpose of this game. In that case, I’ll be Ursula to Pastora’s Ariel and take her voice for my own use. Gracias.

 

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WHAT I’D RATHER: Well, everyone finds farts funny, whereas I’m not sure the hosts or the millions of viewers watching on would appreciate the incompetence of two consecutive stuff-ups. Both scenarios are embarrassing, but I could laugh off the flatulence…or at least blame it on someone else.

 

WHAT I’D RATHER: Epic Sax Guy would be great for life’s highs (birthday parties, etc) and for getting me up and out of bed in the morning. But I’m not sure the sound of sax would suit when my grandma’s just died or I’ve found out that Valentina Monetta’s coming back to Eurovision, again.

 

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WHAT I’D RATHER: I do enjoy that foot swivel, and it’s a less conspicuous dance move to be stuck with.

 

WHAT I’D RATHER: Milan’s bowl haircut would do me zero favours, so I’d take my chances on Rona’s wayward dreadlocks and unique taste in wearable materials (who says a bin liner and Plexiglas can’t combine to make a swanky evening gown?).

 

 
You’ll either be sorry or relieved to hear that I have no more Would You Rather questions in me today. If you enjoyed this post and would like a Volume II, and if you have any suggestions for ESC-themed dilemmas that could feature in it, let me know below!

Also, feel free to comment which question was the most torturous for you to answer, so I know just how evil I am at this point, and just how evil I should be if WYR Part 2 does materialise in the near future…

 
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Düsseldorf in Rewind: My top 10 gimmicks

gimmick /ˈgɪmɪk / noun. A trick or device intended to attract attention, publicity, or trade (The Oxford Dictionary)

This list features gimmicks of the prop and people variety (and no more pompous definitions, I promise). There actually weren’t that many to make a list of in Düsseldorf, but for you, I have managed to locate ten.

Which one was your favourite?

 

#1 Ukraine’s sand art

Tried and tested by: nobody

I love it because: I loved everything about the Ukrainian entry last year. But I also love how original it was. Many, many gimmicks have graced the Eurovision stage, but 2011 was the first time a woman dressed like Dracula’s missus got up there and proved that playing with sand can be impressive, if you do it the right way. I don’t think Ukraine would have managed 4th place without Kseniya Simonova, sand artist extraordinaire.

 

#2 The UK’s reformed boy band

Tried and tested by: technically, nobody

I love it because: boy bands like Blue defined the music of my girlhood, alongside Westlife, Five, the Backstreet Boys, Boyzone, and any other band from the 90s or early 00s that featured a bunch of relatively good-looking guys, including one who got really famous and one whose name nobody remembers. The news of Blue’s reformation for Eurovision turned my then nineteen-year-old self into a hysterical, screeching fangirl (something that will only happen again if One Direction represent the UK in a future contest…a.k.a. never).

 

#3 Belgium’s a cappella performance

 Tried and tested by: Cosmos (Latvia 2006)

I love it because: it’s an amazing talent, and it takes guts to stand on a teensy stage in front of thousands with millions watching on TV, and provide not only the vocals, but the music for your song too, using only your mouth. Witloof Bay’s live performance was studio perfect, and even though I’m not a huge lover of their entry, I’ve watched it back more than a few times over the past year.

 

#4 Sweden’s smashing glass

Tried and tested by: nobody, unless you count Søren Pilmark’s “Whoops, I dropped the trophy!” gag during his co-hosting gig of Eurovision 2001.

I love it because: Eric Saade looks terrified when he goes in for the smash, and I find that very funny. It’s unknown whether he was afraid that a) he might end up with a shard of glass permanently wedged in his person or b) the glass-smashing detonator would fail to work and Sweden would be responsible for a big boo-boo on live TV, but either way I get enjoyment out of the barely disguised ‘HELP ME!’ expression on his face.

 

#5 Croatia’s costume revelations

(This image refused to upload. Apparently my computer refuses to cooperate with images depicting such hideous clothing…)

Tried and tested by: How much time do you have? There is two words for the quintessential costume reveal, however, and they are Bucks, and Fizz.

I love it because: it never gets old. Despite the fact that each and every one of Daria’s revealed outfits was appalling (and that the magician guy was always loitering creepily in the background) the quick changes were well executed and timed.

 

#6 Germany’s returning winner

Tried and tested by: several, including Carola, Dana International and Charlotte Perrelli – but the last winner to defend their title directly after winning was Corry Brokken in 1958.

I love it because: it showed how proud the Germans were of Lena and their victory, figuring she would do well again. I am still bitter that, in making the top 10, she did leapfrog Blue, but ultimately I have to be pleased about Germany’s turnaround in luck, which will hopefully continue in Baku.

 

#7 Cyprus’ bendy choreography

Tried and tested by: Sakis Rouvas (Greece 2009)

I love it because: it’s amazing! HOW do they do that? If you know the secret, I’m begging you, tell me. It’d be a great party trick to have up my sleeve (or possibly the leg of my pants).

 

#8 Slovakia and Ireland’s double acts

Tried and tested by: someone, I’m sure. Or should that be ‘someones’?

I love it because: one set of twins would’ve been great enough, but two sets? Well, that opened up the opportunity for some hilarious and “spontaneous” photographs, one of which I’ve stuck here for your enjoyment.

 

#9 Russia’s light-up leathers

Tried and tested by: Safura (Azerbaijan 2010). Sort of.

I love it because: who wouldn’t? Russia found an inventive way of getting Alex’s name up in lights, and for that I congratulate them.

 

#10 Lithuania’s lyrical sign language

Tried and tested by: Walters & Kazha (Latvia 2005)

I love it because: well, it’s the only notable gimmick left that isn’t Armenia’s giant boxing glove. I’m sure there’s people out there who would appreciate the gesture, although any hearing-impaired viewers would surely have lip-read the lyrics as Evelina sang them. Kudos to her anyway for multitasking.

 

NEXT TIME: In my last DIR post, I’ll be comparing my top 10 from this time last year with my current top 10. Have things changed? Time will tell…

 

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