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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?

What to expect when you’re expecting (JESC and ESC, of course!)

‘Tis the season to be keeping up to date with every last Eurovision-related development! You may not think there’s much happening at the moment, but planning the ESC is pretty close to being a year-round job – and don’t forget the fact that we’re not too far away from December, when the 9th Junior Eurovision will take place in Armenia. As such, there IS facts and figures about both events piling up already. In case you’ve not had the time or you just want a second opinion, here’s my role call of what we can expect…so far!

 JESC 2011

– It’ll be a trek to win JESC this year, what with the logo and the slogan (“Reach for the top!”) having been selected, both of which are musically mountainous.

– The show will take place on December 3, at the Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concerts Complex in Yerevan, Armenia. The venue can seat 8000 – 11 000 people, and has previously had the likes of Eurovision representatives André (2006) and Hayko (2007) as well as Deep Purple (if all you know about them is Smoke on the Water, you are not alone) pass through its doors.

– It looks like there’ll be 12 countries stepping on the stage, 2 down from last year. They are: Armenia (I should hope so!), Belarus, Belgium, Georgia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine and…San Marino! Italy might not be in it to win it (or lose it, since they really are not in it in any way) but us fans will get to hear Italian after all. Let’s cross our fingers that SM can rake in a few more points than they did in Belgrade and Düsseldorf. Do you remember Düsseldorf? It was such a long time ago now…

– Unfortunately, neither Latvia, Malta nor Serbia will be participating. The lack of Serbia makes my face a particularly sad one as they always have me picking up the phone to vote in Junior Eurovision. Of course, I immediately put it back down again since I’m in Australia and can’t vote…but the mere fact Serbia makes me forget that says a lot! Come back in 2012, all three of you!

– 2 very strong songs have been selected so far: Kak Romeo I Dzhulyetta (which translates to Like Romeo and Juliet) by Katya Ryabova for Russia; and Candy Music (which, believe it or not, translates to Candy Music) by Candy for Georgia. Russia is my favourite so far, but it cannot be denied how up-to-the-mainstream-minute both of the entries are. It’ll be a fab show if these are any indication of the standard.

– The next entry we’ll hear belongs to the Ukraine, who select on July 31, followed (at this point) by the hosts and Lithuania in September and the Netherlands in October.

 

ESC 2012

– May 22, 24 and 26 are the preliminary dates set for the Baku show, which means that the EBU is making us all pay for having to wait less than a year between the 2010 and 2011 contests. We’ve now got a fortnight extra to wait, but remember: it’s July, which means there’s less than 45 weeks to go (I think…I don’t often check things twice, unlike Santa Claus). That must be a scary thought for the Azerbaijani organizers, who did promise a show to rival Moscow!

– Debates continue over where the contest will be held, which is a fairly important detail to determine. Rather than “to be or not to be?” the question seems to be “to use a stadium we already have or to build a brand spanking new one?”. If a 20 000 seat venue doesn’t get built especially for Eurovision (oh to have such power!) then it looks like the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium, which seats a mere 35 700 people, could be the one.

– After just 2 years, voting during the show had been abandoned in favour of the previous voting window system. And just when I was warming to the new one! It definitely made voting for songs rather than performances more likely. Oh well, I should know by now that one of the ESC’s favourite things is change – not the Hotel FM kind either.

– 17 countries have confirmed their 2012 participation so far, which means we’ll have at least one semi final! They are: Austria, Azerbaijan (again, I should hope they’d make an appearance at their own show!), Belarus, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey. I’m hoping the UK confirms soon and isn’t thinking, ‘If Blue couldn’t do it, and Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber couldn’t do it, what’s the bleeding point?’. It’d be nice to have the Czech Republic, Andorra and Montenegro back as well.

– The participation of Israel and Portugal is in jeopardy, with the preliminary final date clashing with a Jewish holiday for the former, and some serious broadcaster issues for the latter. NOOOOOOOO!  

– On a happier note, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Sweden have all begun their selection processes – albeit tentatively. Sweden is calling out for Melodifestivalen entrants, with one small requirement: NONE of the songs can feature the word popular. I am, of course, joking. But really, I think we’ve had enough repetitions of that word to last us a hundred years. Perhaps then Eric Saade can make a triumphant return to the contest via live satellite feed from his nursing home singing (I Used To Be) Popular.

 

So cheer up, because it is certainly not all quiet on the ESC front! If you’re not a JESC fan then keep your eyes on Baku, and if you are, enjoy the upcoming selections and the fact that I like you way better than those people who aren’t JESC fans! Ha ha. Eurovision can last 365 days a year if you really want it to…

Retrospective Reviews 2011: S to Z

Or S to U, whatever takes your fancy!

SAN MARINO

My favourite national finalist: N/A

Song: Stand By

Artist: Senit

Result: 16th in semi final

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

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

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

I give the song: 6

I give the vocals: 8 

I give the performance: 7 

Points for San Marino: 7

 

SERBIA

My favourite national finalist: This one

Song: Čaroban

Artist: Nina

Result: 14th

Gimmick: Welcome to the 60s

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

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

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 10 

I give the performance: 10 

Points for Serbia: 10  

 

SLOVAKIA

My favourite national finalist: N/A

Song: I’m Still Alive

Artist: TWiiNS

Result: 13th in semi final

Gimmick: The Doubles, volume II

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

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

I give the song: 10

I give the vocals: 7

I give the performance: 8 

Points for Slovakia: 8

 

SLOVENIA

My favourite national finalist: This one

Song: No One

Artist: Maja Keuc

Result: 13th

Reminds me of: Fighter by Christina Aguilera

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

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

I give the song: 9

I give the vocals: 10 

I give the performance: 10 

Points for Slovenia: 12

 

SPAIN

My favourite national finalist: Volver by Auryn

Song: Qui Me Quiten Lo Bailao

Artist: Lucía Perez

Result: 23rd

Reminds me of: Hey Soul Sister by Train

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

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

I give the song: 7

I give the vocals: 9 

I give the performance: 9

Points for Spain: 8

 

SWEDEN

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

Song: Popular

Artist: Eric Saade

Result:  3rd

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

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

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

I give the song: 10

I give the vocals: 7

I give the performance: 10 

Points for Sweden: 10

 

SWITZERLAND

My favourite national finalist: Home by The Colors and Ilira

Song: In Love For A While

Artist: Anna Rossinelli

Result:  25th

Reminds me of: I’m Yours by Jason Mraz

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

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

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 10 

I give the performance: 9 

Points for Switzerland: 10

 

TURKEY

My favourite national finalist: N/A

Song: Live It Up

Artist: Yuksek Sadakat

Result: 14th in semi final

Reminds me of: Genius by Jet

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

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

I give the song: 7

I give the vocals: 9 

I give the performance: 9 

Points for Turkey: 8

 

UKRAINE

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

Song: Angel

Artist: Mika Newton

Result:  4th

Gimmick: Magic Sand at a whole new level

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

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

I give the song: 10

I give the vocals: 9

I give the performance: 9 

Points for Ukraine: 10

 

UNITED KINGDOM

My favourite national finalist: N/A

Song: I Can

Artist: Blue

Result:  11th

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

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

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

I give the song: 10

I give the vocals: 6

I give the performance: 7 

Points for the UK: 8

 

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

 

Jaz x

Retrospective Reviews 2011: M to R

MACEDONIA

My favourite national finalist: This one

Song: Rusinka

Artist: Vlatko Ilievski

Result: 16th in semi final

Reminds me of: Cipela by Marko Kon & Milaan

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

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

I give the song: 10

I give the vocals: 7

I give the performance: 9

Points for Macedonia: 10

 

MALTA

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

Song: One Life

Artist: Glen Vella

Result: 11th

Reminds me of: Glamorous by Fergie

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

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

I give the song: 6

I give the vocals: 8 

I give the performance: 9  

Points for Malta: 8

 

MOLDOVA

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

Song: So Lucky

Artist: Zdob şi Zdub

Result: 12th

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

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

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

I give the song: 9

I give the vocals: 9 

I give the performance: 9 

Points for Moldova: 10

 

NETHERLANDS

My favourite national finalist: This one

Song: Never Alone

Artist: 3JS

Result: 19th in semi final

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

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

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

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 9 

I give the performance: 6 

Points for the Netherlands: 8

 

NORWAY

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

Song: Haba Haba

Artist: Stella Mwangi

Result: 17th in semi final

Gimmick: Swahili in the ESC

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

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

I give the song: 10

I give the vocals: 7

I give the performance: 9 

Points for Norway: 10

 

POLAND

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

Song: Jestem

Artist: Magdalena Tul

Result: 19th in semi final

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

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

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

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 6 

I give the performance: 7 

Points for Poland: 7

 

PORTUGAL

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

Song: A Luta é Alegria

Artist: Homens da Luta

Result: 18th in semi final

Gimmick: A comedy troupe troops to Eurovision

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

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

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 6 

I give the performance: 5 

Points for Portugal: 6

 

ROMANIA

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

Song: Change

Artist: Hotel FM

Result: 17th

Reminds me of: Love Song by Sara Bareilles  

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

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

I give the song: 7

I give the vocals: 9 

I give the performance: 8 

Points for Romania: 8

 

RUSSIA

My favourite national finalist: N/A

Song: Get You

Artist: Alexey Vorobyov

Result: 16th

Gimmick: From the man who brought us Gaga, RedOne

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

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

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 9 

I give the performance: 10  

Points for Russia: 10

 

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

Jaz x

Retrospective Reviews 2011: H to L

HUNGARY

My favourite national finalist: N/A

Song: What About My Dreams?

Artist: Kati Wolf

Result: 22nd

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

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

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

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 9  

I give the performance: 8  

Points for Hungary: 8

 

ICELAND

My favourite national finalist: Nott by Yohanna

Song: Coming Home

Artist: Iceland

Result: 20th

Gimmick: Friends paying tribute

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

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

I give the song: 9

I give the vocals: 10 

I give the performance: 8 

Points for Iceland: 10

 

IRELAND

My favourite national finalist: This one

Song: Lipstick

Artist: Jedward

Result:  8th

Gimmick: Double the trouble and double the hair gel

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

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

I give the song: 9

I give the vocals: 5

I give the performance: 10 

Points for Ireland: 8

 

ISRAEL

My favourite national finalist: Or by Chen Aharoni

Song: Ding Dong

Artist: Dana International

Result: 15th in semi final

Gimmick: The resurrection of a winner

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

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

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 6 

I give the performance: 8 

Points for Israel: 7

 

ITALY

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

Song: Madness of Love

Artist: Raphael Gualazzi

Result:  2nd

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

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

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

I give the song: 7

I give the vocals: 10 

I give the performance: 9 

Points for Italy: 10

 

LATVIA

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

Song: Angel In Disguise

Artist: Musiqq

Result: 17th in semi final

Reminds me of: Into The Night by Santana

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

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

I give the song: 10

I give the vocals: 10

I give the performance: 7 

Points for Latvia: 10

 

LITHUANIA

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

Song: C’est Ma Vie

Artist: Evelina Sašenko

Result: 19th

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

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

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

I give the song: 5

I give the vocals: 10 

I give the performance: 9 

Points for Lithuania: 8

 

COMING UP: M to R!

 

Jaz x

Retrospective Reviews 2011: C to G

CROATIA

My favourite national finalist: This one

Song: Celebrate

Artist: Daria Kinzer

Result: 15th in semi final

My favourite lyric: “Shine like a comet in a musical galaxy”

The best bits: I do love a costume reveal! Croatia gave us a whole bunch, alongside a pretty catchy, thumping, synthesized number, which thankfully in the end told us to Celebrate with every step we take, rather than Break A Leg (ouch!).

The other bits: Since Croatia finds it hard to advance whether they go for something parochial or not, I’d rather they did. Take a note from Bosnia, my friends: an ageing superstar in a checked dinner jacket who stomps and waves his arms in the air, is charming. A perfectly adequate woman forced to share the stage with a DJ/magician who seems to lack the ability to walk properly…not so much.

I give the song: 7

I give the vocals: 8

I give the performance: 5

Points for Croatia: 7

 

CYPRUS

My favourite national finalist: N/A

Song: San Angelos S’agapisa

Artist: Christos Mylordos

Result: 18th in semi final

Reminds me of: Molitva by Marija Šerifović

The best bits: Cyprus injected some much needed ethnicity into the 2011 contest with this haunting ballad. The general opinion of it is reflected in its lowly position, but I for one see it both as one of my favourite (and goose bump inducing) entries, and one of the slickest performances of the year. Am I alone in thinking it deserved to qualify?

The other bits: I will admit that the sudden wailing and clanging that kicks in about a minute in to the song is a Cyprus-shaped element trying desperately to fit in to a round hole. I don’t mind it now, but the song would’ve benefited from toning it down a notch…preferably by telling the ball-swinging lady to zip it, and just swing her ball.

I give the song: 10

I give the vocals: 10

I give the performance: 9

Points for Cyprus: 12

 

DENMARK

My favourite national finalist: Drømmen by Jeffrey/Sleepless by Anna Noa

Song: New Tomorrow

Artist: A Friend In London

Result: 5th

My favourite lyric: “…did we forget how to live, to dream and what it all means?”

The best bits: This was the first song that had made the word “WINNER” pop up in my brain. Obviously, I was wrong (my other predictions were also incorrect). But I still think it sounds like one – it’s anthemic, sing-along, and not 100% scandal free, which gives us fans something to talk about…as if anyone remembered that Melodifestivalen song from a gazillion years ago before AFIL “plagiarized” it.

The other bits: I don’t think this is a song that stands out on sound alone, and so I think a classy gimmick of some variety (that excludes monocles and super-sized boxing gloves) would have made the live performance a little more interesting.

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 9

I give the performance: 7

Points for Denmark: 8

 

ESTONIA

My favourite national finalist: This one

Song: Rockefeller Street

Artist: Getter Jaani

Result: 24th

Gimmick: Counting the beat, 2-3-4-5…ah, I mean 1-2-7-3

The best bits: After testing the water with something alternative in 2010 and stepping on a jellyfish, Estonia retreated somewhere shallower this year with a generous slice of mainstream pop. It reminds me of Azerbaijan in the sense that, whilst I just can’t love it, I appreciate how beautifully constructed it is.

The other bits: I am secretly pleased that this only made 24th place, because I never ‘got’ it – got the hype surrounding it that made it one of the early favourites. Maybe it didn’t deserve to be that low, but Getter’s dodgy vocals both in the semi and final make it fairer for her to have ended up on the right side of the scoreboard.

I give the song: 7

I give the vocals: 5

I give the performance: 8

Points for Estonia: 7

 

FINLAND

My favourite national finalist: Good Enough by Father McKenzie

Song: Da Da Dam

Artist:Paradise Oskar

Result: 21st

My favourite lyric: “I’ll walk my way to see the King and parliament. If they don’t help I’ll do it by myself”

The best bits: I hated this when I first heard it, and wasted many a precious minute of my life muttering about how it was the poor man’s Tom Dice entry. But…it turns out Paradise Oskar was a grower, and now I’m more likely to skip Tom on shuffle in favour of PO. A pertinent message, an adorable guitarist wearing a biodegradable shirt and a bloody massive LED planet – what more could you want?

The other bits: Is this not the strangest opening song of a final EVER? Humble does not set the tone for Eurovison. Not that drawing the 1st slot was Finland’s fault, and not that being humble is a bad thing.

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 10

I give the performance: 9

Points for Finland: 10

 

FRANCE

My favourite national finalist: N/A

Song: Sognu

Artist: Amaury Vassili

Result: 15th

Gimmick: The world’s youngest tenor doing popera

The best bits: God bless you, France, for bringing some serious eye candy to Düsseldorf! And a pretty good song too. But such eye candy! In all seriousness, France also changed their tune quite literally from last year by taking us from Africa to Corsica. I loved Allez Ola Olé, but I really like this dramatic, lushly arranged effort as well.

The other bits: Something just wasn’t right with Amaury’s voice on the night of the final, and consequently no amount of sunset graphics, military jackets or artfully tousled locks (sigh) could disguise it, since we’re all aware of the stellar set of vocal chords he usually possesses.

I give the song: 9

I give the vocals: 7

I give the performance: 7

Points for France: 7

 

GEORGIA

My favourite national finalist: This one

Song: One More Day

Artist: Eldrine

Result: 9th

My favourite lyric: “Another forbidden sensation, one more emotional flare, down with the fake hesitation”

The best bits: An electric and energetic performance fromGeorgiawas offset by outfits that made Verka Seduchka look demure by comparision – despite the fact that Eldrine did win the Barbara Dex Award for the worst-dressed artists this year. I can’t admit that I know the words to the chorus off by heart, but I still get a kick out of head-banging and yelling something along the lines of “na dada nah nah nah fire! I’m hmmhnahanahathere!”.

The other bits: The beginning makes me think MaNga. But the rest fails to conjure up the unwavering adoration I had/still have for Turkey’s recent runner-up. I don’t think it’s quite catchy enough for a rock song to appeal to me, as a hardcore pop-tart.

I give the song: 7

I give the vocals: 9

I give the performance: 10

Points for Georgia: 10

 

GERMANY

My favourite national finalist: Push Forward by Lena

Song: Taken By A Stranger

Artist: Lena

Result: 10th

Gimmick: A winner defends her title

The best bits: Was Germany deliberately trying NOT to win this year? Maybe, but there was a lot more thought put into this entry than you might think, if that were the case. I love the fact that I can’t classify it, or compare it to anything else I’ve heard before. It’s mysterious, lyrically curious and stands out. It’s also got a high-class video clip and a live performance that tuned the arena into a smoky underground club and blew me away! (I’m also a little enamoured with Lena’s onesie).

The other bits: I was going to say that the darkness of the song doesn’t suit Lena as much as the sunshine-and-rainbows sound of Satellite…but it actually does. So I’ve really nothing to go on. Claps for you, Germany!

I give the song: 9

I give the vocals: 9

I give the performance: 10

Points for Germany: 10

 

GREECE

My favourite national finalist: I Don’t Wanna Dance by Nikki Ponte

Song: Watch My Dance

Artist: Loukas Giorkas feat. Stereo Mike

Result: 7th

Reminds me of: Cyprus– a song that tries to blend two very different sounds

The best bits: This is yet another grower, a song that I despised three months ago but now chalk it up as another triumph for Greece, who just cannot seem to put a foot wrong in Eurovision these days. It’s also another song that defied expectation via a cracking live performance.

The other bits: I still think the Greek elements are the better ones, and that if Stereo Mike had hopped on his Stereo Bike and ridden away before the national selection, Loukas would have done a fine job on his own.

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 10

I give the performance: 9

Points for Greece: 10

 

COMING UP: H to L!

Jaz x

Retrospective Reviews 2011: A to B

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

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

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

 

ALBANIA

My favourite national finalist: Pranë by Kejsi Tola

Song: Feel the Passion

Artist: Aurela Gaçe

Result: 14th in semi final

Reminds me of: Everyway That I Can by Sertab Erener

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

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

I give the song: 7

I give the vocals: 9

I give the performance: 8

Points for Albania: 8

 

ARMENIA

My favourite national finalist: Ayo by Emmy

Song: Boom Boom

Artist: Emmy

Result: 12th in semi final

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

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

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

I give the song: 6

I give the vocals: 5

I give the performance: 8

Points for Armenia: 6

 

AUSTRIA

My favourite national finalist: Oida Taunz by Trackshittaz

Song: The Secret Is Love

Artist: Nadine Beiler

Result: 18th

Reminds me of: Shine by Sophia Nizharadze

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

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

I give the song: 7

I give the vocals: 10

I give the performance: 9

Points for Austria: 8

 

AZERBAIJAN

My favourite national finalist: N/A

Song: Running Scared

Artist: Ell/Nikki

Result: 1st

Reminds me of: Allt Jag Vill Ha by Josefine Ridell

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

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

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 6

I give the performance: 8

Points for Azerbaijan: 7

 

BELARUS

My favourite national finalist: N/A

Song: I Love Belarus 

Artist: Anastasia Vinnikova 

Result: 14th in semi final

Reminds me of: Born In Byelorussia by Anastasia Vinnikova

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

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

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

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 6

I give the performance: 7

Points for Belarus: 7

 

BELGIUM

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

Song: With Love Baby

Artist: Witloof Bay

Result: 11th in semi final

Gimmick: 100% music free

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

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

I give the song: 6

I give the vocals: 10

I give the performance: 7

Points for Belgium: 7

 

BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA

My favourite national finalist: N/A

Song: Love In Rewind

Artist: Dino Merlin

Result: 6th

Gimmick: The age factor

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

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

I give the song: 10

I give the vocals: 10

I give the performance: 9

Points for B & H: 12

 

BULGARIA

My favourite national finalist: This one

Song: Na Inat

Artist: Poli Genova 

Result: 12th in semi final

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

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

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

I give the song: 8

I give the vocals: 10

I give the performance: 8 

Points for Bulgaria: 10

 

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

Which is your favourite A to B entry?

Jaz x

What’s next for twenty-eleven?

Hello all!   

I hope you’re doing well wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. I’ve spent the last few days “studying” for my exams next week and wishing I could be blogging instead. I’m determined to keep doing so (the latter, that is, not pretend to study) all year round, but it’s a bit hard at the moment.

This is especially frustrating when I’m wanting to put up my retrospective reviews for you! I’ve been putting them together in bits and pieces, looking at the songs, artists and performances from 2011, in between doing what I’m supposed to, and I’m hoping to post them in installments from early next week – the first being countries A to B. So please come back to check them out and share your own opinions (subscribe to EBJ to get alerted…pretty please? Just go to the bottom of the page). In the meantime, why not relive my 2010 retrospective reviews from here: https://eurovisionbyjaz.wordpress.com/2010/06/20/retrospective-reviews-a-to-b/

In the (350 or so) days before Baku, here are some of the other posts I’ve got planned:

– Top 10’s: JESC to ESC, songs that shouldn’t have come last, and anything else I can think of!

– Articles: What does it take to be a runner-up in Eurovision? What have the last decade’s winners been up to lately? Plus, some contest questions that have to be asked…

– Time-warp Tuesdays: I’ll be shining the spotlight on a personal classic moment from the glittery ESC history every week, courtesy of Youtube, just for nostalgic fun!

– And of course, my take on all the developments from Armeniain the lead up to 2011’s other contest, Junior Eurovision.

To conclude, I’ll continue the randomness of this particular post by saying:

a)      I picked up my copy of the Electric Pictures documentary The Secret History of Eurovision today. From an actual shop. Finally, we Australians get something Eurovision easier! I haven’t watched it yet, but I remember how good it was from the broadcast in May, and if you do, or if you didn’t get the chance to see it, you can get it online right now. It’s stocked at www.dymocks.com.au and http://shop.abc.net.au/ for $30AUD, and both ship overseas. What are you waiting for?

b)      My first Time-warp Tuesday begins…now! Yes, I am aware it’s more like Forgotten Favourites Friday, but who’s caring? Let’s go back to 1989 and one of those runners-up…one that really should have gone all the way. It’s the United Kingdom, who back then asked themselves the question that they should be asking themselves more often now (the answer can be found in song form in their 2010 entry): why do I always get it wrong? This is from Live Report, and it’s one of my all-time favourites. Talk to you soon!

 

The EBJ Eurovision Excellence Awards 2011: PART 2

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

And here’s some more proof of that:

THE PERFORMANCES

AWARD NOMINEES WINNER
 

Best prop

 

Armenia, Sweden, Ukraine

 

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

 

Most unnecessary/irrelevant prop

 

Moldova, Portugal, Turkey

 

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

 

Best use of the stage

 

Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Serbia

 

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

 

Best use of the LCD’s

 

Albania, Finland, France, Serbia

 

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

 

Biggest surprise

 

Cyprus, Germany, Italy, Switzerland

 

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

 

Biggest letdown

 

Estonia, France, Poland

 

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

 

The entry that had it all

 

Georgia, Germany, Sweden, Russia

 

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

 

The Bums-OFF-Seats Award for raising the roof

 

Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Sweden

 

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

 

 

THE RESULTS

AWARD NOMINEES WINNER
 

The country that amazingly failed to qualify from the semis

 

Armenia, Norway, Turkey

 

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

 

Most deserved placing in the final

 

Germany, Sweden

 

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

 

Least deserved placing in the final 

 

Austria, Hungary, Switzerland

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

The EBJ Eurovision Excellence Awards 2011: PART 1

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

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

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

THE SONGS

AWARD NOMINEES WINNER
 

Song most likely to qualify…that did

 

Denmark, Russia, Sweden

 

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

 

Song most unlikely to qualify

 

Belgium, Malta, San Marino

 

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

 

The song that sounds suspiciously like another

 

Denmark, Norway

 

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

 

The song most likely to end up as a fan ringtone

 

Armenia, Ireland, Sweden

 

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

THE ARTISTS

AWARD NOMINEES WINNER
 

Hottest He

 

France, Greece, Sweden, UK

 

Sweden: Need I say anything?

 

Hottest She

 

Germany, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia

 

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

 

Mr. Congeniality

 

France, Ireland, Malta, Russia

 

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

 

Miss Congeniality  

 

Armenia, Norway, San Marino, Serbia

 

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

THE VOCALS

AWARD NOMINEES WINNER
 

Best vocal performance

 

Austria, Belgium, Italy, Slovenia

 

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

 

Worst vocal performance

 

Estonia, Ireland, Portugal

 

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

 

Singer most carried by their backing vocalists

 

Ireland, Sweden

 

Ireland: But who really cares…

THE COSTUMES

AWARD NOMINEES WINNER
 

Best dressed

 

Germany, Lithuania, Serbia, Slovenia

 

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

 

Worst dressed

 

Hungary, Portugal, UK

 

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

 

The one who should have packed their national final costume instead

 

Estonia, Norway, Poland

 

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

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

See you then! x