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Flashbaku: Naming and shaming the doppelgangers of 2012

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

fbbh

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

 

Cyprus’ Ivi Adamou looks like American actress Liv Tyler

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Hostess Leyla Aliyeva looks like Spanish actress Penelope Crúz

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

 

Iceland’s Jónsi looks like Frankenstein’s monster

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

 

Moldova’s Pasha Parfeny looks like Irish actor Colin Farrell

fbmol

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

 

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

fbruss

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

 

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

fbslov

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

 

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

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

 

Switzerland’s Ivan Broggini looks like American actor Eric Mabius

fbswi

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

 

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

 

The ESC MVs: my favourite Eurovision preview videos

Hey there. Welcome to post #301, or the post in which I promise I won’t tell you what number post it is every time I write one (not until #400, anyway…mwahaha!).

As of today, we have all our entries for Malmö. Yay! The lucky last was Italy’s, which is unsurprising considering how much Italy loves to make Eurovision wait for everything as if they don’t care about it. I listened to Marco’s L’essenziale back when it won the Sanremo festival, not expecting it to be the eventual entry, but I’m happy with the choice. Whether or not it can outdo Raphael Gualazzi’s smooth jazz remains to be seen.

Now, with 39 of 39 songs chosen, there has been official preview videos emerging left, right and centre. Giving them a once-over, I couldn’t help being reminded of some I’ve seen in the past. I’m not talking about the music videos that turn out to be recorded performances from the national finals. I mean the actual, separate ones that display a little more effort than that. Sure, some of those are equally as boring – but others are pretty darn awesome. Here’s a list of my personal favourites from the last few years, including a few from 2013.

 

Unsubstantial Blues by Magdi Rúsza (Hungary 2007)

Here’s a tip: if you ever want to spice up an otherwise cliché music video, why not play it backwards? In this case, some clever clogs has already done it for you, but has fortunately left the music running in the right direction. Magdi-in-reverse is extremely angry with her boyfriend for no apparent reason, but decides to clean up her apartment in the manner of an Olympic discus champion before discovering that actually, she does have a reason to be cheesed off at the guy. The right way round, he’s a cheating so-and-so and she’s reacting perfectly normally. BEEN DONE. The rewind? Smart stuff.

 

Mamo by Anastasia Prikhodko (Russia 2009)

There’s no mama in this video that I can locate, but there are a lot of Anastasias, in bejeweled warrior-princess outfits Ruslana would be proud of. There’s also more elaborate settings, yards of chiffon and fancy digital effects than you can poke a rhinestone-encrusted microphone stand at. This is how to go OTT to your advantage.

 

Butterflies by 3+2 (Belarus 2010)

This is all fairly standard for the first few minutes. 3+2 are perched on a stage, performing with their backs to an empty house (?) and looking not at all flustered by the fact that their entry was changed approximately ten minutes earlier. Then, there’s the small matter of all five of them spontaneously combusting into bunches of butterflies, just at the right moment. Magic. I think we all wondered how they were going to recreate it live in Oslo, and even though they couldn’t quite manage it, they did an applause-worthy job with the girls’ remote-control evening gowns.

 

Playing With Fire by Paula Seling & Ovi (Romania 2010)

This is like Star Wars meets Die Hard meets God knows what else – and yes, Paula and Ovi do play with fire in it too (albeit briefly). Somehow, dancing cyborgs don’t look out of place in amongst the virtual game play, grand architecture and ridiculously tight catsuits. It’s a jumble of all sorts, but I like it.

 

Taken By A Stranger by Lena (Germany 2011)

I’m no expert, but I sensed high production values on this one from the get-go. It’s all dark and mysterious which is in keeping with the song, and it really emphasises Lena’s transition from awkward teenager dancing by herself in a room (a la Satellite) to slightly older femme fatale who smashes mirrors with no regard for the seven years of bad luck that will obviously come as consequence. I have to admit, that side of her in this video had me developing a teensy little girl crush.

 

Suus by Rona Nishliu (Albania 2012)

Here’s a video that seems to make no sense whatsoever, but since many would argue that neither does Suus (or Rona’s decision to adorn herself with one of her own dreadlocks in Baku) we should forgive it. I think she looks very elegant in what looks like an abandoned art gallery, with her fancy dress/box and a couple of kids drawing on the walls without getting into trouble (and that’s how we know it’s make-believe). The whole thing is very distinctive, just like her Eurovision performance.

 

La La Love by Ivi Adamou (Cyprus 2012)

I’m a little obsessed with fairytales – the book kind, as opposed to the Alexander Rybak kind – so I got a kick out of Cyprus’ inspiration for Ivi’s video last year. With such a current-sounding song they could have gone with an entirely different concept. But I think this worked, and so did Katy Perry’s people because they clearly stole the idea for her Wide Awake video (just kidding. Don’t sue/kill me). Ivi makes a great princess. You know, I reckon I may have a girl crush on her too. Then again, this video could have had her dressed in a garbage bag and miming from the bottom of a dumpster, and she’d still look stunning. Damn her.

 

Never Forget by Greta Salomé & Jónsi (Iceland 2012)

I have mentioned this video before, but I couldn’t have a list of the best MVs that didn’t include it. You know how they say it’s all about location, location, location? Well, they do. And this video is three majestic minutes of proof. If we were forced to watch a young Jónsi following a young Greta up and down the aisles of a 24/7 mini-mart, it wouldn’t be so amazing (in fact, it’d be crap). But with the snow, and the mountains, and the breathtaking Aurora Borealis…sigh. Take me there right now.

 

Ég á Líf by Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson (Iceland 2013)

There’s something about the Icelandic landscape that can make even the rudimentary filleting of a fish look glamorous, as it does in this other visual gem from the Land of Björk. It combines beautifully shot live-action footage of the golden-locked Eyþór being in a boat and stuff, with adorable animated sequences that are up for interpretation (it probably doesn’t help that I haven’t read an English translation of the lyrics). My thinking is he just wants someone to fish with. Don’t we all.

 

Gravity by Zlata Ognevich (Ukraine 2013)

Ukraine has thrown pretty much everything (including the kitchen sink) at their video this year – that is, if the kitchen sink is full of CGI unicorns. It’s a grand production that really needs to be watched with the song on mute, because if it isn’t, the bombardment of both becomes overwhelming. Still, I have to applaud those responsible for making a serious effort. And it does amuse me, the thought of Zlata standing in front of a green screen and pretending to fondle the muzzle of a fantastical creature.

 

What’s your favourite ESC music video, and why?

 

Separated at birth, yet again: more Eurovision doppelgangers exposed!

We’ve all been watching Eurovision at some stage and thought to ourselves “if there isn’t an ad break soon, I’m going to need a change of pants.” But that’s another story for another post. This post is for all those times we’ve been watching and thought “wow, that person looks so much like Insert Celebrity Name Here!” Yes, it’s time for yet another installment of contest look-alikes to be uncovered. As always, some will have you seeing double whilst others will make you wonder about my eyesight…but that’s all part of the fun, right?

 

Can Bonomo (Turkey 2012) and American actor Vin Diesel

 

It’s not uncanny (and I did borrow/steal this idea from a forgotten source) but the resemblance between these two is there. Once you crop off Vin’s bulging muscles, anyway.

 

Christine Guldbrandsen (Norway 2006) and British actress Victoria Shalet

 

Take Christine and add a box or two of #103 Less-Than-Platinum Blonde hair colour, and you get Victoria.

 

Hanna Pakarinen (Finland 2007) and Australian singer Vanessa Amorosi

 

The professions, the bangs, the tendency to slap on eye make-up like there’s no tomorrow – these ladies were so separated at birth.

 

Ivi Adamou (Cyprus 2012) and American actress Liv Tyler

 

In case Ivi’s singing career peters out, she’ll always have a fallback career in being stunt double for Liv. She doesn’t mind being lifted/thrown around, if her stage show in Baku was any indication.

 

Litesound’s Jacopo Massa (Belarus 2012) and French DJ David Guetta

 

There’s nothing as majestic as having a head of product-filled, side-swept blonde locks…as Jacopo and David well know.  

 

Texas Lightning’s Jane Comerford (Germany 2006) and Australian newsreader Sandra Sully

 

Trust me. In twenty years, SS will be Jane’s twin, right down to the last eye wrinkle.

 

Manuel Ortega (Austria 2002) and co-host of Eurovision 2007, Finnish actor/singer Mikko Leppilampi

 

There’s nothing I love more than a double whammy ESC look-alike. Enter Manuel and Mikko, who remind me of those sets of brothers who look so similar, yet still contain an obviously better-looking one. CoughMikkocough.

 

Ott Lepland (Estonia 2012) and member of British boyband Take That, Gary Barlow

 

Considering Ott looks like a different (but equally attractive) person in every photo I’ve seen, it’s amazing that he could bear any resemblance to someone else. And yet, he kinda sorta almost does.

 

Feminnem’s Pamela Ramljak (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2005/Croatia 2010) and Marcia Brady from The Brady Bunch

 

I’m sure Pamela isn’t as superhumanly perfect as the eldest Brady daughter (and I doubt she has an annoying, jealous sister called Jan) but she sure looks like her.

 

Pasha Parfeny (Moldova 2012) and Irish actor Colin Farrell

 

This one wins the award for Most Obvious Lookalike of 2012. I’m pretty sure these two went to the same salon to get their facial hair shaped (and ears pierced).

 

Soluna Samay’s backup muso (Denmark 2012) and Melodifestivalen semi-finalist Sean Banan

 

I was surprised to see that Sean had wormed his way into the ESC as part of the Danish delegation, until I realised that it wasn’t actually him. If it had been, I suspect the performance would have been much less child-friendly.

 

Urban Symphony’s Sandra Nurmsalu (Estonia 2009) and Australian actress Emily Browning

 

Here are two of those people with magic hair that always looks perfect. One day I hope to join their ranks when I have a posse of stylists at my beck and call 24/7.

 

Got any ESC look-alikes of your own to share?

 

Want more?

Part 1: https://eurovisionbyjaz.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/exposed-the-eurovision-doppelgangers/

Part 2: https://eurovisionbyjaz.wordpress.com/2011/08/23/the-eurovision-doppelgangers-exposed-part-deux/

The Düsseldorf Doppelgangers: https://eurovisionbyjaz.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/dusseldorf-in-rewind-the-dusseldorf-doppelgangers/

 

NEXT TIME: I’m bringing Time-Warp Tuesday back (unlike Justin Timberlake, who we can assume is still bringing sexy back) before the countdown of all countdowns kicks off. That is, the countdown of my top 50 Eurovision songs of all time!!!

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

#1

Mandinga

Club de Mandinga (2012)

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

 

#2

Ivi Adamou

San Ena Oneiro (2011)

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

 

#3

Pastora Soler

Una Mujer Como Yo (2011)

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

 

#4

Ott Lepland

Laulan Ma Sind (2011)

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

 

#5

Compact Disco

II (2011)

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

 

#6

Nina Zilli

L’amore è Femmina (2012)

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

 

#7

Can Bonomo

Meczup (2010)

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

 

#8

Rona Nishliu

Suus (2012)

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

 

#9

Litesound

Going to Hollywood (2010)

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

 

#10

Soluna Samay

Sing Out Loud (2012)

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

 

Which artists were your favourite discoveries this year?

The 2012 EBJ Awards: Part 1 (Artists and Songs)

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the third (I think?) annual EBJ Awards for Eurovision Excellence!

Tonight (if you are in a different time zone to myself, just draw your curtains and pretend) it’s time to look back at Baku and give some gongs to…well, pretty much everyone and anyone who took part. You don’t need a tux or an evening gown, and you won’t need to get drunk to make the ceremony less boring. All you need to do is sit back, relax, and prepare to disagree with everything I say.*

And with that, may the first installment of EBJAFEE 2012 begin!

 

* All of the nominees were narrowed down from a big bunch according to my personal taste, so please don’t abuse me in the comments because I didn’t think Engelbert Humperdinck was quite sexy enough for the ‘Hottest He’ category or something. I’m talking to you, grandma.

 

THE ARTISTS

Hottest He

Dmitry Karyakin (Litesound)

Jónsi

Max Jason Mai

Ott Lepland

Roman Lob

Tooji

I never thought anyone would appeal to me more than my beloved Jónsi, of the Amazingly Chiseled Cheekbones. But there’s something about waistcoat-wearing Idol winner Ott from Estonia – I suspect it’s the eyebrows – that makes Jónsi look like a reject from Iceland’s Next Top Model.

  

 

Hottest She

Anggun

Eleftheria Eleftheriou

Elena Ionescu (Mandinga)

Ivi Adamou

Nina Zilli

Sabina Babayeva

Ivi looks so much like a young Liv Tyler, I bet the actual Liv Tyler wishes she looked more like her. It’s a good thing she’s as stunning as she is, because she’s not exactly super-talented in the vocal department…

  

 

Mr. Congeniality

Engelbert Humperdinck

Donny Montell

Kurt Calleja

Ott Lepland

Roman Lob

Tooji

From what I’ve seen, you don’t get much friendlier than Germany’s latest unser star. Of course, Roman could be an evil genius, expert at convincing the press that he’s a nice guy – but I think he may just be a nice guy. It’s the boring reality.

 

Miss Congeniality

Iris

Ivi Adamou

Gaitana

Kaliopi

Rona Nishliu

Soluna Samay

As she is such a huge star in the Balkans, you might expect Kaliopi to have an ego bigger than Greece’s national debt. But she charmed the pants off everyone in Baku (luckily the weather was warm), became BFFs with Can Bonomo, and was truly appreciative of her qualification and eventual 13th place.

 

The Born Entertainer

Anri Jokhadze

Donny Montell

Jedward

Pasha Parfeny

Rona Nishliu

Soluna Samay

He cartwheels! He plays the air guitar! He memorises camera locations so he can still look down them when he’s wearing a blindfold! For your next function, don’t think twice about the entertainment – just pick up the phone and call Donny on 1800-LOVE-IS-BLIND.

 

Best Artist Gimmick

Buranovskiye Babushki

Engelbert Humperdinck

Eva Boto

Rona Nishliu

Trackshittaz

Željko Joksimović

From the moment they won the Russian final to the moment the bell went off on the oven to let them know their pies were ready, the grannies were the most-talked about contestants. Just call them six colourful, compact publicity generators.

  

 

THE SONGS 

That Sounds Familiar (the award for the song that most resembles another)

Don’t Close Your Eyes (Slovakia – sounds like Kings and Queens by 30 Seconds to Mars)

Lăutar (Moldova – sounds like Ovo Je Balkan by Milan Stanković)

Love Unlimited (Bulgaria – sounds like Mr. Saxobeat by Alexandra Stan)

Should’ve Known Better (Denmark – sounds like Crazy by Seal)

Unbreakable (Switzerland – sounds like Mr. Brightside by the Killers)

Verjamem (Slovenia – sounds like Molitva by Marija Serifovic)

We can’t call it a coincidence that Slovenia’s non-qualifier is so similar to 2007’s winner, since they were both co-composed by the same person.

 

Fanwank (pardon my French) of the Year

Aphrodisiac (Greece)

Euphoria (Sweden)

La La Love (Cyprus)

Party for Everybody (Russia)

Waterline (Ireland)

Zaleilah (Romania)

For once, a song that seemed to have been constructed mainly to appeal to the Eurovision family won the contest, and deservingly. Euphoria did what Haba Haba failed miserably to do last year.

 

Ballad of the Year

Korake Ti Znam (Bosnia & Herzegovina)

Kuula (Estonia)

Standing Still (Germany)

Suus (Albania)

Quedate Conmigo (Spain)

Verjamem (Slovenia)

2012 was the Year of the Ballad, so there was plenty to choose from. What lifted Spain’s above the rest, for me, was that spine-tingling, key-changing, epic note that Pastora delivered flawlessly every time. Has there ever been a more perfect moment for a wind machine to kick in?

 

 

Ethno-pop Song of the Year

Aphrodisiac (Greece)

Lăutar (Moldova)

Love Me Back (Turkey)

I’m A Joker (Georgia)

Stay (Norway)

Zaleilah (Romania)

Quirky Turkey at their best – that’s how I’d describe this year’s nautical delight from Can Bonomo. It narrowly beats out the entries from Norway and Romania by being so weirdly wonderful.

 

Most Danceable of the Year

Be My Guest (Ukraine)

Euphoria (Sweden)

La La Love (Cyprus)

Love Unlimited (Bulgaria)

Party for Everybody (Russia)

Stay (Norway)

This Is The Night (Malta)

Anybody who can keep their rear end firmly in contact with a chair during Be My Guest must either be deaf or dead. That trumpeting and those na na na’s are irresistible to those of us in the land of the living.

 

Novelty Song of the Year

Beautiful Song (Latvia)

Euro Neuro (Montenegro)

I’m A Joker (Georgia)

Party for Everybody (Russia)

The Social Network Song (San Marino)

Woki Mit Deim Popo (Austria)

San Marino’s entry was the most novelty of all the novelty songs this year. It out-cheesed and out-horrified its competition by a landslide (becoming a guilty pleasure for some – a.k.a. me – in the process) and made many a brain ache as we tried to figure out if it was worse than Rebecca Black’s Friday. The debate rages on.

 

Best Preview Video

Albania

Cyprus

France

Iceland

Serbia

Turkey

When you’ve got some of the most beautiful scenery in the world to use in your shoot, you don’t need much else – but chucking the Aurora Borealis in for good measure really helps. Watch as Jónsi follows an angelic Greta through a winter wonderland in a spiffy jumper, and be transfixed.

 

 

NEXT TIME: Naturally, it’s part II of the EBJAFEEs, featuring the performances, costumes and results.

 

Guess who, Baku: my action-packed 2012 prediction special!

The delegations have arrived, the rehearsals are well underway, there’s a wind machine repairman on standby and I have bought out my local supermarket’s entire supply of bite-size junk food. What does this all mean?? That Eurovision 2012 is here, of course!

I’ve got my flags and I’ve got my Minipops…come at me Baku!

The first semi final of this year’s contest is on a) tomorrow, b) the day after that, c) at 4am on Wednesday morning, depending on where you are in the world. Basically, it’s so close I could ask it for an autograph. Being down here in Australia means I have to wait until Friday to see this semi on TV, so I’m about to embark on a period of media abstinence to rival that of the Amish. Before I do, though, I’ve got some serious predicting to do, based on what I’ve heard from those on the ground in Baku, all of whom I hate with a passion.

Without further ado, here’s my take on the events to come for both semis and le grand final!

 

SEMI FINAL 1

Who will qualify: Cyprus, Denmark, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Moldova, Romania and Russia

I-vi phoooone hooooome…to tell your mum you qualified

Who I want to qualify: Albania, Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Moldova and Romania

Who is most likely to…

Win the semi: Iceland. I could so easily say Greece, because it’s Greece (and I believe they won their semi in 2011 with a song that many of us tipped to get left behind) but with a song that’s at least five years past the Eurovision use-by, an unreliable vocalist and some cringe-worthy lyrics, I can’t see it out-pointing the drama (and pretty lights) and magic (and pretty Jónsi) from Iceland. If anyone can, it’ll be Mandinga from Romania.

Lose the semi: Montenegro. Need I say more? Surely, as “clever” as this apparently is, it’s not getting votes from anywhere.

Get the biggest round of applause: Russia. The grannies will be clap-happy when they shuffle off stage, for sure. If you’re in the Crystal Hall, don’t worry about the volume of your Babushki applause, because I’m pretty sure they’re all deaf (or more specifically, tone-deaf…boom boom tish!)

Sing best live: Denmark, Iceland, Israel and Latvia – 5+ reliable singers with few difficult notes to navigate.

Sing worst live: Cyprus and Greece. At least they’ll give each other a good helping of points whether Ivi and Eleftheria suck or not.

Make the best use of the background: Albania, Cyprus and Iceland. I have high (and quite specific) expectations for Iceland in particular. I think I speak for all of us who’ve seen Greta and Jónsi’s preview video when I say that the aurora borealis better make an appearance on the LEDs.

Have the most boring stage show: Belgium. Let’s face it, what can be done with this? You can’t really use a prop or have a troupe of backup dancers, and a wind machine just isn’t appropriate. Dry ice? No. Pyrotechnics? Yeah, right.

Have the best costume/s: Albania and Denmark. Rona has worn some crazy-cool stuff in her dreadlock mountain since she’s been in Baku, so I can only imagine what she’s going to wear from the neck down. Soluna, I hope, hasn’t decided to get rid of her I-just-raided-the-dress-up-box outfit from the Danish final, because I dug it big time.

Have the worst costume/s: Montenegro and San Marino. I’m envisioning safari prints and rhinestones and nothing that really fits. Who knows, maybe Valentina will come out dressed as Mark Zuckerberg.

 

SEMI FINAL 2

Who will qualify: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Estonia, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey and Ukraine

“Mwahahahahahaha…told ya’s I’d make it!”

Who I want to qualify: Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Netherlands, Norway, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden and Turkey

Who is most likely to…

Win the semi: Norway or Sweden. I think Scandinavia’s got this semi in the bag, be it via a more traditional extravaganza or a pared-back performance.

Lose the semi: Portugal. This semi is the toughest of the two as usual, and whilst I think Filipa may get votes from the juries, I don’t reckon the voters will go for her song at all – not with powerhouse artists, acts and songs from the likes of Serbia and Ukraine to pick up the phone for.

Get the biggest round of applause: Sweden, for the second year running (probably in a crab-like sideways manner like Loreen).

Sing best live: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Lithuania and Serbia. I’m yet to hear a live solo vocal from Maya, but she was a great backup for Dino Merlin last year. Donny Montell has proven his worth as a singer and showman more than once, as has Željko, who is one of the most reliable.

Sing worst live: Malta. Kurt is adorable, and I admit it was hard to choose a potential disaster from this lot (so I settled on him) however I have heard he’s had trouble in the rehearsals with certain areas of TITN. I hope I’m wrong and he pulls it together on the night…after all, this is the night to not stuff up (see what I did there?)

Make the best use of the background: Norway and Ukraine. I’m envisioning flashing lights and lots of colour – though hopefully not colour that nauseates, as Serbia’s did in Düsseldorf (and I’m not at all prone to motion sickness).

Have the most boring stage show: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Serbia. I love all three of their songs, but again there isn’t that much that can be done with them when it comes to choreography etc.

Have the best costume: Ukraine. When you’re singing such a summery dance song (and you’re from Ukraine) you’re pretty much required by law to wear something amazing that looks like a rainbow vomited on you.

Have the worst costume: Georgia. I can’t even begin to imagine what Anri will wear. Or do I just not want to?

 

THE GRAND FINAL

Who will win Eurovision 2012: I’ve been through all 42 entries numerous times, hoping not to be blindsided by a random win two years in a row, and finally, I’ve narrowed my potential winners down to Norway, Italy and Sweden. All three countries have in their possession great songs and charismatic artists, and from what I hear have polished up their stage shows nicely. They are bringing it big time.

Norway’s ethno-pop awesomeness and dynamic presentation could be let down by an off vocal from Tooji – but then again, a winner doesn’t have to have the best voice in the competition, do they Nikki? Anyway, I have a feeling he’ll pull everything together.

Italy has all they need to snatch the trophy. Nina and her song ooze vintage cool, and her performance will no doubt be flawless. When you combine the points that will roll in as a result, with the points Italy will get because they’re still being welcomed back…well, you get a lot. I’ll be shocked if there isn’t a win or a top 5 placing in store for Nina.

Sweden has been the bookies’ favourite and the one to beat since Loreen took to the Melodifestivalen stage for her reprise, way back in March. I know the bookies aren’t always right (we have that in common) but I can’t discount Euphoria from my picks. It stands out from the crowd both in sound and staging. Those of us familiar with it will vote for it (well, the 99.99% of us who love it will) and those who are watching/listening for the first time will get it immediately, I think. The juries aren’t as fuddy-duddy as they used to be either, so don’t expect them to rank the ballads higher than this. Sweden are going u-u-u-u-u-up!

Who will make the top 10: Azerbaijan, Germany, Norway, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Romania, Serbia, Sweden and Ukraine. I couldn’t bring myself to put Greece down despite the fact they’ve been in the top 10 every year since the introduction of the semi finals. I just can’t see the dated Aphrodisiac washing with voters or juries in 2012.

Who will be left at the bottom: France, Israel and Latvia. But you never can tell. Didn’t we all think we could be headed to Tallinn pre-Düsseldorf?

How the final 6 will end up: I think Italy, Germany and hosts Azerbaijan will place the highest, in the top 10. Spain and the UK should be somewhere in the 12th – 20th range. As for France…well, you can see just above where I think that one is headed.

 

 

There. I can shove my crystal ball and tarot cards and tea leaves back in the cupboard until Junior Eurovision now, and step away from my computer for the first time since…well, I suppose this time last year. Whether you’re watching the show live or waiting it out like me, I hope you enjoy your Eurovision experience. I also hope you get über depressed afterwards like me so we can all wallow in our misery together. Seriously, don’t make me go through it alone! 

I’m going to attempt some semi wrap-ups over the weekend, so look out for those. For now I’m going to wrap up this long and obnoxious post by saying goodbye, aurovoir, auf wiedersehen, um…

I really need Sofi Marinova to teach me ‘goodbye’ in a few more languages… 

 

What do you expect from Eurovision 2012? Where do you think we’ll be heading next year?

 

 

Baku Reviews: Part 2 (Croatia-Georgia)

Croatia

Nebo/ Nina Badrić

Reminds me of: Wonderful Life by Hurts

The good stuff: I’m a little bit obsessed with Croatia, so I generally have a soft spot for their entries, many of which I feel do not get the points they deserve (I’m thinking Lako Je Sve, not Celebrate *shudder*). But I swear I’m not being biased when I say I love Nebo. I know it hasn’t been that well received, but there’s something about it that just gets to me. Nina’s voice is really raw, like she often breakfasts on gravel, which works well for the rocky style of the ballad. I think the chorus is strong, and the bells/gongs/dropping of cookware onto a tile floor (whatever those ding-dongs are, basically) are the cherry on top.

Everything else: Croatia are in the second semi alongside most of the other Balkan countries, who as we know manage to swap decent amounts of points between each other in spite of the jury influence. But there’s still a lot going against them. I mean, it’s Croatia – one of the less fortunate of this bloc in terms of qualification. Then you have to consider what Nina has to overcome to make the final (e.g. Željko Joksimović) and the fact that as usual, the second semi is going to be the toughest to escape. All of this won’t faze non-fans of Nebo, but it does worry lil’ ol’ me.

Winner, loser or grower: Winner – 10 points.

 

Cyprus

La La Love/ Ivi Adamou

Reminds me of: Titanium by David Guetta

The good stuff: I’m not quite in la la love with this one, despite the fan frenzy and good odds for it to win. It’s a decent dance track with a chorus more infectious than the Black Plague, and it’s certainly something different for Cyprus. It’s like the composers took three or four songs from the top of the iTunes charts, spliced them all together, wrote some new lyrics (nothing too deep or meaningful) and voila, this was the result. For me, Cyprus’ last three entries have been better.

Everything else: The elephant in the room here – although nobody seems to be shy in discussing it – is the mystery of Ivi’s vocals. You would think that having been on The X Factor would guarantee she could at least hold a tune (although Jedward were on theUK version…) but the performances of hers I’ve watched from her time on the show were less than impressive. Plus, having lip-synced at the national final and pulled out of Eurovision in Concert, there’s no record of her singing this song live (that I know of). She has the potential to crash and burn when it comes to the live show.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower – 6 points.

 

Denmark

Should’ve Known Better/ Soluna Samay

Best lyric: ‘Feels like I’m always living out of my suitcase, what about all the years in between, just trying to find my place…’

The good stuff: Has Anna Bergendahl had plastic surgery, changed out of her Converse and upped the tempo on This Is My Life in order to represent Denmark this year? As possibly the only fan of that entry from 2010, for moi that is not an unpleasant possibility. This song surprised me by winning Dansk MGP, but it really was the best choice. It’s cruisy and catchy and has a very reliable, charismatic artist at its helm (an appropriate term considering the nautical theme of Soluna’s NF costume). There’s definite winner potential here, and even more definite top 10 potential.

Everything else: I’m hoping the Danes take inspiration from Sweden, and turn up in Baku with exactly the same outfits as those they wore in the NF. Yeah, I know I’ve already mentioned the clothes, but what can I say? Aesthetics play a big part in the contest, and the hat and the shoulder pads were a seriously striking visual.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower – 7 points.

 

Estonia

Kuula/ Ott Lepland

Top 10 material: Yes

The good stuff: A year ago, I just did not get the whole thing with Rockefeller Street, and in the end neither did Europe. This year, Estonia has got me good with this amazing ballad – their first native-language entry since 2009. Back then, Urban Symphony cracked the top 10, and I think Ott deserves to do the same. Each individual section of Kuula is magic: the verses, the chorus, that other bit before the last chorus that nobody knows the name of…sigh. Also, we should get a great vocal performance from this guy, which is always a plus. Unless you’re listening to Mariah Carey sing Gangsta’s Paradise or something.

Everything else: This is another entry that could be a little boring, presentation-wise. I hope Estonia at least use the inevitable LED background to their advantage, so there is something else going on.

Winner, loser or grower: Winner – 12 points.

 

Finland

När Jag Blundar/ Pernilla Karlsson

Reminds me of: Love by Sasha Son

The good stuff: I love Swedish, so I’m thrilled that in the day and age where Sweden are unlikely to send a song in it, another country has decided to do so. This is a humble ballad in a year of epic ones, but I really like it. It did take me a few listens to develop such affection, but it happened. Finland are rather hit-and-miss in the ESC, and you never know what they’re going to come up with, unlike more predictable (and successful) countries such as Greece. This year, they’ve come up with a gem, although it does beg the question: who do we listen to – Pernilla, who closes her eyes? Or Max Jason Mai who doesn’t want us to? Confusing.

Everything else: Is this song too humble to advance? It is in the first semi which consists of the weakest competition, but it’s no way a cert to make it out. I can’t see the televotes flooding in for it, nor the juries rating it extra high. Then again, coming directly after Belgium in the running order may make it sound like the most exciting thing since Steps announced they were reforming. Then again, again, coming before Israel may make it instantly forgettable.

Winner, loser or grower: Winner – 8 points.

 

Georgia

I’m A Joker/ Anri Jokhadze

Better than 2011: No

The good stuff: If there’s anyone out there who can help me pad out this section, please – DO! I just don’t know what to say, Congratulations, Georgia, you have made me speechless. I guess I feel like this song would only be useful as the background music in an acid trip (which would in turn be enough to put anyone off drugs for life).

Everything else: What is this? Seriously. Anri, it’s very apt that you’re a joker because your song is a complete joke – an unfunny one with dreadful wording. The only reason I’m not giving it nothing is because there is another song that somehow manages to be worse, but I’ll get to that in another lot of reviews. And I will admit to liking the instrumental bits. Mainly because they have no lyrics…

Winner, loser or grower: Loser – 2 points.

 

NEXT TIME: Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel and Latvia become the next nations to be slid under my microscope and examined in the lab of this blog…and I stop describing EBJ in scientific terms.

 

Selection Season Day 2: La la loving the art and allocation draw?

Bonjour again, ladies and gents. It’s time for the second rambling, and this time around it’s time for me to stop using the word ‘time’ so much and turn my attention to the goings on of the last few days in Eurovisionville. Let’s get to it!

 

I I Ivi in La La Love

As expected, Ivi Adamou will perform La La Love in the first semi final (more on that later) in Baku, and I’m hoping to have got it out of my head just in time to get it stuck in there again when she does. I think most of us are pleased with this outcome, although what we aren’t so pleased about is Ivi’s appearance at the national final – an appearance made pretty much redundant by her failure to sing live. Unless I am much mistaken (if so I blame Youtube and my PC speakers) there was more miming going on there than at a sideshow carnival, and that worries me, because the only live performance of hers I have seen – from her time on The X Factor – was less than impressive. Just because you’ve been on a singing talent show doesn’t mean you can sing, does it Jedward? However, I am going to give Ivi the benefit of the doubt, because LLL is, in my opinion, another great song from poor overlooked Cyprus, and if she can put in a good vocal and visual, this could be the one that rockets them into the top ten for the first time since 2004. LLL also seems to be a musical love child of Titanium by David Guetta and We Found Love by Rihanna…but it did inherit the best of both its parents, I guess. Good luck Ivi.

 

The Land of Fire wants you (to light yours)

On Thursday morning, Jaz time (i.e. midnight) the host exchange/insignia/allocation draw/Long and Repetitive Speech ceremony was held in Baku, and for the first time I decided to watch it all unfold (i.e. I just happened to be awake and thought, ‘why not?’). It’s so rare that us Australians get to experience Eurovision anything at the same time as the rest of the world because if we wanted to we’d have to set our alarms for a god-awful hour. Anyway, the theme presentation and draw turned out to be quite exciting, although as alluded by my reference to speeches above, the first fifteen or so minutes were a little sleep-inducing – and awkward, as all over the world fans witnessed a massive technology fail. The less said about that, the better.

A fully functioning video introduced us all to the 2012 slogan and theme art first, which, unless you have been asleep for the last few days (maybe thanks to the speeches?) you will know is ‘Light your fire!’, and looks a little like this:

  

It’s so hot over here at the moment I kind of wish the slogan was ‘Take off all your clothes and pour a bucket of ice water over your head’, but I guess the whole thing is as appropriate for Azerbaijan, the Land of Fire, as it could be. The logo itself I’m not 100% sure about at this point. I do love me some orange, and fire is…good. Good for toasting marshmallows, and…stuff.

Maybe I’ll learn to love it.

 

Who went where?

Now on to the allocation draw, which was worth staying up for. The specific running order draw will take place in March, but for now we know which country is in which half of which semi. Here’s the deal:

SEMI FINAL #1: Albania, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Latvia, Montenegro, Romania, Switzerland (first half); Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Moldova, Russia, San Marino (second half). 

SEMI FINAL #2: Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Serbia, Ukraine (first half); Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey (second half).

We also now know that Azerbaijan, Italy and Spain will vote in semi 1, with France, Germany and the UK casting theirs in semi 2.

Something else we now know is that splitting up the countries into ‘pots’ in an attempt to prevent partisan/bloc etc voting does not always work. As is stands, Greece will be able to vote for Cyprus, and vice versa; most of the Former Yugoslav countries will be able to vote for each other whilst poor Montenegro sits alone in semi 1; and Italy will be able to give San Marino a leg up. On the other hand, the UK can’t help Ireland get to the final and Russia won’t be sending any points to Belarus or Ukraine, so there will be some unpredictability. Plus, if the juries are as dominant as they were last year (remember the shock horror that was Turkey Not Qualifying?) those predictable exchanges may be further reduced. That’s one good thing about being a non-European fan – if there’s a good song or a crappy song, I don’t care where it’s from. I’ll vote for it if it’s good and I won’t if it’s crappy. Well, I would if I could vote.

 

Norway, Vol. II

Last but not least, it’s the second semi of Norsk MGP tonight, with eight more songs competing for three spots in the February final. Those eight are:

  1. Keeps On Dancing by Cocktail Slippers
  2. I’ve Got You by Isabel Ødegård
  3. Make It Better by Tommy Fredvang
  4. Another Heartache by Rikke Lie
  5. Crush by Malin Reitan
  6. Ola Nordmann by Plumbo
  7. You and I by Minnie-Oh
  8. Shapeshifter by Rikke Normann

My personal picks would be Crush, You and I and Shapeshifter. Crush is performed by a formerly tiny schoolgirl with pigtails, now a teenager who may or may not wear pigtails occasionally. Yes, it’s Malin Reitan, who placed 3rd in Junior Eurovision in 2005, and she’s back to have a go at the big ESC (I hope we see a lot more of this in the future). It’s a song with a very 80s vibe to it, but I still like it, and I can’t wait to see Malin onstage again.

You and I is also a bit 1980s-inspired with its electro-pop sound, but it’s definitely contemporary. I’m not sure it’ll pack enough punch live to qualify, but no doubt Minnie-Oh’s choice of face paint will be a talking point.

Shapeshifter is easily my favourite from this semi, although I may be biased because Rikke was responsible for my favourite song of the whole NMGP last year (Not That Easy with Åste). This song is completely different, a little more mainstream, but just as catchy and probably more likely to do well at Eurovision. The weirdness of the lyrics makes it stand out, and with Rikke’s great live vocal and performance position, it has everything going for it.

As far as my predictions for the three qualifiers go, I’m thinking it’ll be the generically pop-rocky Keeps On Dancing, the more traditional Ola Nordmann and Shapeshifter.

And that is all…for now.

 

Selection Season Day 1: Soluna Samay and the songs so far…

Extra, extra, read all about it – HOT OFF THE PRESS! Denmark chooses Soluna Samay for Baku!

What’s that? Denmark chose on Saturday, and it’s now Wednesday? Alright…

Extra, extra, read all about it – from the paper that accidentally fell off the press during the printing process. You can’t complain. You know I don’t break news here at EBJ; I just dissect it after everyone else has moved on to something more exciting.

Anyway, back to Ye Olde Dansk MGP. Once again, I have been shocked into silence (though I am apparently still able to type) by a winning song that wasn’t even on my radar of possible winning songs. Should’ve Known Better by the abovementioned Soluna Samay pipped Jesper’s Take Our Hearts at the post to win the Danish final and secure the new Queen of Epaulets a two-way (I presume, although if she does badly Denmark may not want her back) ticket to Azerbaijan.

Soluna has the hopes of a nation resting on her shoulders...as well as Europe's entire supply of gold thread

For me, it was indeed a surprise, but not a “I just found a tarantula in my underpants” kind of surprise – it was more “I wanted a custard tart from the bakery but they only have fruit flans…well, I do like fruit flans”.

For those who don’t understand what I’m trying to say (i.e. 99% of you) allow me to translate: I love Jesper’s song, but Soluna’s is nice, and grew on me just from my initial listen to my second. There is a definite whiff of Anna Bergandahl’s This Is My Life in the air around this one, which for me is a good thing, but for those who are part of the Ban Bergendahl committee, you’ve got a livelier, rockier ballad with less Converse and more…what do you call those hats, anyway? The song is not the most exciting thing ever written, and I have a feeling it might blend into the background a bit once more songs start coming through – but at the moment, I’d say it’s the best of the three.

Speaking of The Three, it won’t be long until they are joined by forty others, a fact that must be providing hope to all the fans out there who are unenthused by what the Swiss, Albanian and Danish have come up with (in Albania’s case, feel free to replace the word ‘unenthused’ with a suitably offensive alternative). I remember last year feeling a bit disappointed when there were only a few songs and none of them were saying douze points! But as more songs became known, I got more enthusiastic. Generally speaking, by the time my CD arrives in the post there’s not a single song I’m going to skip over/skip in Shuffle once I’ve rejoined my fellow Gen Y-ers in casting aside cumbersome compact discs in favour of tiny machines that will one day rebel against human control and kill us all.

A-hem. My point is, don’t give up hope if neither Unbreakable, Suus nor Should’ve Known Better are tickling your fancy, because, in the near future, you’re probably either a) going to like them if not love them, or b) not care about them because a bunch of other countries have picked songs you do love, and that do say to you, douze points!

Now speaking of DP, here’s a squiz at my top four so far (yes, I said four…just wait):

  1. Cyprus
  2. Denmark
  3. Switzerland
  4. Albania

Do you see what I did there? Well, the Cypriot final is on tonight, and it doesn’t matter which of the three possible entries Ivi Adamou gets to sing in May – it’s still going to be my favourite so far. I’m impressed by all of them, which hopefully is a sign that Cyprus can qualify without a strangely hot Welshman representing them. The bookies and the fans are backing La La Love, and I have kinda sorta already built the title of my next post around that song…but we’ll see what happens. Don’t forget what went down in Armenia last year (and I ain’t talking J-E-S-C).

I think that’s all I’ve got to ramble on about for now, but expect a ton of such rambles to be posted over the coming months as the chaos escalates with national finals Europe-wide. You have been warned.

 

COMING UP: Cypriot results, slogans, theme art, a semi final decider (of sorts) AND a second installment from Norway. Yikes!

 

Eurovision 2012: by the numbers!

  • 1 controversy surrounding the construction of the venue: I’d say that there should have been a tad more planning put into this project so that nobody had to knock on the doors of a bunch of Azerbaijanis and say ‘I’m terribly sorry to interrupt your breakfast/lunch/dinner/grandmother’s funeral, but I’m afraid we have to build a gigantic stadium on the top of your house now.’ Or something like that. There’s no doubt the Crystal Hall will be amazing, but no amount of amazingness can justify making people homeless. Unless it’s made of actual crystal…NO. Not even then!
  • 42 participating countries so far: Every year, around September, I make a point of having a nervous breakdown. Why? Well, it’s not because my birthday is in that month and I am freaking out about getting older (which would be understandable because last September I turned twenty and found a grey hair). It’s actually because the number of confirmed ESC nations is hovering around the 31-34 mark and I panic that it won’t get any higher. Thankfully, it always does. This year’s contest has the potential to have 44 entries, but if it’s 42, I’ll be more than happy, especially since last year’s returnees, Austria, Hungary and Italy (allegedly) are back once more.
  • 1 comeback country: Give me an ‘M’! Give me an ‘O’! Give me a…oh God, I cannot be bothered. It’s Montenegro, okay? In the past I’ve found it odd that Serbia kicks bottom at Eurovision whereas its former spouse struggled three times in the semis before calling it quits. But, perhaps inspired by the changes being brought about by the presence of juries in the voting, Montenegro are back, and despite my being less than fond of their entries, I’m glad. 2012 will be another chance for them to pick a winner – or at least a qualifier (with their artist being called Rambo Amadeus, the latter is all I’m hoping for).

"Please PLEASE perform for us at Eurovision again, Andrea! We really...oh wait. We have Rambo!"

  • 1 withdrawing country: Poland is out and the mourning is well underway. There’s not much to say on this matter apart from ‘I sure hope Poland come back in 2013, preferably with Edyta Gorniak or Ich Troje (now with yellow or purple hair!)’. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
  • 2 ‘will they, won’t they?’ countries: No, neither of them is Slovakia, although you can expect Slovakia to start messing with us again any day now. It is, in fact, Armenia and Morocco. I have a bad feeling they may be missing in Baku. As far as Armenia goes, I find this uncertain status very sad, because they are a trusty Eurovision nation and the idea that they may have to sit this year’s contest out because they can’t be guaranteed safety in Azerbaijan, to be blunt, sucks. Even more so because Eurovision was created to unite the continent.
  • 26 participants in this year’s final: Wow, that means it’ll be almost as marathon as the 2007 semi during which my entire bottom half went numb from sitting on the couch too long! Awesome! But why is it so? Well, that’s because not only do we have the Big 4 (the UK, Spain, Germany and France) but we have the newest member of that exclusive set, Italy (obviously making it a Big 5. I may not have done any maths since high school, but I can count up to ten), and the host country. Add that to the 20 semi final advancers and you have the magic two-six.
  • 26th of January (when the semi final allocation draw will take place): I don’t honestly believe that any particular performance position – except for maybe last – helps a song to qualify, but that doesn’t stop me from immediately setting about predicting once the draw is done. This January draw will determine who sings in each semi, as well as in which half, and that alone is enough to get speculation going.
  • 2 selected songs: I think it’s safe to say that right now, Switzerland is the favourite to win. Unbreakable by Sinplus would definitely deserve the honour and shiny trophy in my book when compared with the “interesting” “song” that is Suus by Rona Nishliu, Albania’s pick. I’ll leave my spite for some proper reviews later in the year (although, if Suus is reworked enough – i.e. completely – the spite level may have decreased by then).

Rona Nishliu: bringing back the dreads we have missed so much in Eurovision since Beth

  • 8 selected artists: Here’s the role call – Iris, Maya Sar, Ivi Adamou, Anggun, Kaliopi, Rambo Amadeus, Zeljko Joksimović and Pastora Soler. I’ll assume you already know which country they’ll be representing (if you don’t, see if you can figure it out by the names…consider it a fun little game!). It looks like Belgium and Cyprus are going down the Lena route by choosing someone young and fresh, whereas France, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Spain are bringing out the big guns with chart-topping, established artists. As for Bosnia & Herzegovina? Well, they’re taking a leaf out of Iceland and/or Georgia’s book by kidnapping last year’s backing singer and forcing them at glitter-gunpoint to sing this year (but without the violence, I guess – I hear Maya was fully consenting). Personally, I’m hanging out to hear what Zeljko will come up with, as he is the creator of two of my favourite Eurovision songs of all time, and another cracking one. He’s under a heap of pressure to deliver the goods, but I reckon he can.
  • 7 national selections scheduled for January: As I write this, here’s the go – Bosnia & Herzegovina, France, Slovakia and Turkey will have both songs and artists by the end of the month; Denmark’s MGP will be on the 21st; Cyprus will pick a song for Ivi on the 25th; and Belarus will make their decision on the 28th. As you read this, none of the above is likely to be true. NFs are so very fickle!
  • Today’s final number is a triple-digit 100, for the amount of times per day I think about how excited I am for Melodifestivalen. The list of entrants for 2012 reads like a who’s who of Swedish music (which is kind of what it is). I’ll be keeping my eye on…

–          Loreen and Danny Saucedo, two of my favourites from last year

–          The Moniker, since last year he came third (like a certain Eric Saade did back in 2010 before coming back and winning!)

–          Timoteij, because they are amazing. Obviously.

–          Ulrik Munther, the Swedish Justin Bieber (there’s one in every country. Australia’s is Cody Simpson. Who’s yours? Unless you live in Canada in which case your Bieber IS Bieber, and I’m very sorry for that).

–          Afro-Dite, Andreas Lundstedt, Molly Sandèn and Charlotte Perrelli, because they have all graced the Eurovision stage in the past – some once, some 7564 times (and it’s still not enough is it, Charlotte?) and others on a smaller scale.

 

So that’s my overblown numerical take on the stale 2012 news that everyone had known about forever. I hope you enjoyed it, and do come back, because I promise to post more regularly and be more hilarious than ever this year. Well, I did at about 11.58pm on December 31st anyway.

Happy New Year!

 

What are you most looking forward to in the 2012 Eurovision season? Who are you excited to see in the national finals?