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Baku Reviews: Part 4 (Lithuania-Netherlands)

Lithuania

Love is Blind/ Donny Montell

Reminds me of: I’ll Be Back by 2PM

The good stuff: Who says disco is a no-no? Well, probably many, many people in this day and age. But I don’t pay any attention to those people, not any more – Donny has ignited in me a new appreciation for the genre. His song begins in a ballad-esque way, with the first chorus hinting at what’s to come. Then BAM! With a discarded blindfold and a cartwheel, Love is Blind is off into Disco Heaven. Sure, from then on it’s a big wedge of vintage cheese, but I’ve always been a savoury girl. Donny himself has it all – he can dance, he can sing, he’s probably wanted by the 2012 Lithuanian Olympic gymnastics team, and he’s not too unfortunate to look at. And so I’ll be hunting through my parents’ wardrobe for some flares and platform boots (and I might even find some of my mum’s) to don(ny) for Lithuania’s three minutes in the spotlight.

Everything else: Here’s a random question – why did Donatas Montvydas decide to adopt a rather Irish-sounding stage name? For all I know his real name means Donut Mountain, and that was the motivation, but to my non-Lithuanian understanding ears, ‘Donatas’ has a lovely ring. I’d say it was an attempt to snag more votes fromIreland, but he’s been Donny for years.

Winner, loser or grower: Winner – 8 points.

 

Macedonia

Crno I Belo/ Kaliopi

Better than 2011: No

The good stuff: Kaliopi, as you may or may not know, failed to advance from Eurovision 1996’s version of a semi final. Will she have better luck this time around, representing a country notorious for just missing out? We’ll soon see. This woman is a huge star in former Yugoslavia. She’s also got a powerful, gravelly voice to rival Nina Badrić’s, and that voice is well suited to this rocky number that has grown on me a lot since my first listen. I find the first part, which is the less rocky part, more listenable, but at least it goes somewhere (not unlike Lithuania) when it makes the transition. I’m expecting a well-rounded performance from Macedonia.

Everything else: Like many of this country’s entries, Crno I Belo lacks a certain special something that makes it a shoo-in to qualify. It’s good, but not great. It’s memorable, but not overly so. I guess, as Hera Björk would say, it’s missing je ne sais quoi. Maybe that will change when we come to the live show, with costume and staging coming into play.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower – 6 points.

 

Malta

This is The Night/ Kurt Calleja

Reminds me of: Everybody by Tanel Padar & Dave Benton.  

The good stuff: Poor Fabrizio Faniello again failed to win a third ticket to Eurovision this year, but his fans will be pleased to know he’ll be there in spirit. Kurt’s TITN is not only a reincarnation of 2001’s Estonian winner – it also bears more than a passing resemblance to Faniello’s entry of the same year, Another Summer Night. For all I know, Malta 01 and Malta 12 were composed by the same people (the tiny island is forced to recycle artists and songwriters all the time). In its own right, it’s a summery, fun song with a catchy chorus (who doesn’t love a bit of ‘eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh’?) that won’t be lighting any fires (the Azerbaijani tourist bureau will be disappointed) but should be mildly entertaining to watch on the night.

Everything else: This is the cheesiest entry of 2012 – sorry, Donny Montell – a fact ESC haters might latch on to when they launch their annual ‘Eurovision is crap’ campaigns. I think that is mainly thanks to the lyrics, which are on the Greece level of clichéd-ness. Also, as Maltese entries often do when they aren’t performed by Chiara, it’s lacking in something that would make it outstanding. I’ll be surprised if it qualifies.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower – 6 points.

 

Moldova

Lăutar/ Pasha Parfeny

Top 10 material: Yes

The good stuff: Bravo, Moldova, bravo. I am actually slow-clapping right now. This song is so much fun! It’s everything I look for in a Eurovision song (or listen for, I suppose): it’s infectious, it’s happy, it doesn’t take itself too seriously but it’s not a novelty song, it’s ethnic, you can dance and sing along to it…the list goes on and on. I’m expecting it to go down fantastically in the Crystal Hall, and likewise in my lounge room.

Everything else: Is there anything else I can say? I’ve pretty much laid all of my cards on the table. Although I should mention that, as you can see below, I haven’t given this the douze. That’s because, as much as I love it, there are a bunch of songs that just edge it out of my top 10 of the moment. I think the 2012 field is a strong one, and pretty much everything in my top 30 is much-loved, so Pasha, if you’re reading this, a) you must be desperate for stuff to do, and b) don’t be disheartened by the tenner!

Winner, loser or grower: Winner – 10 points.

 

Montenegro

Euro Neuro/ Rambo Amadeus

Reminds me of: A drunk guy at a wedding doing karaoke.

The good stuff: If I had to pick out one redeeming feature, I’d say the chorus. As much as the ‘eero neero’ irritates, it is part of the most listenable section of the song. As a result, the final thirty or so seconds are not eardrum-shrivelingly bad. Another positive, I guess, would be that Rambo lived up to expectation with the song. Having listened to some snippets of his back catalogue (I can’t bring myself to say ‘past hits’) when he was announced as Montenegro’s representative, I expected a song exactly like this – a.k.a. Man Rambling Incoherently To Music For The Longest Three Minutes You’ll Ever Experience (Oh My God, He’s Opening Eurovision 2012!).  

Everything else: Oh my God, he’s opening Eurovision 2012! That will surely be the strangest first act in a long time, if not ever. I’m sure you’ve figured out how I feel about this, but I’ll reiterate: it’s three minutes (though it seems more like 180 seconds) of a man rambling incoherently to music, about God knows what – or as Aisha would say, about what, only Mr. God knows. What is with Montenegro? If they withdrew from the contest because they weren’t getting anywhere, only to come back with a prime example of why they never got anywhere, then it was probably a waste of time.

Winner, loser or grower: Loser – 1 point.

 

Netherlands

You and Me/ Joan Franka

Best lyric: ‘Our love couldn’t handle time…’

The good stuff: For the first time in forever, the Dutch song has been labeled one to watch – that is, one that could possibly win the contest this year – and all thanks to a former The Voice contestant with ridiculously chiseled cheekbones and a penchant for Native American headwear. Joan’s You and Me is a charming, up-tempo, almost country-style song about her cougarish childhood tendencies (hello, she was five and he was three!). It reminds me a bit of Switzerland last year – it’s sweet, humble, and a little quirky. I hope it doesn’t suffer Switzerland’s 2011 fate in qualifying and then flagging in the final, but surely a ticket out of the semi alone would be like Christmas coming early for the Netherlands, who haven’t qualified since 2004 and who came dead last in their Düsseldorf semi.

Everything else: I want this, more than any other song, to do well – or at least to get somewhere. But I wonder if it isn’t one of those all or nothing entries that will either rake in the votes and blitz into the top 10, or fail miserably (kind of like Italy last year, and France last year if you count what people were saying before the contest). If you’re living in Europe (but not the Netherlands) please send a vote Joan’s way. Can’t you imagine how great it would be for them to be announced as one of their semi winners?

Winner, loser or grower: Grower – 7 points.

 

NEXT TIME: I shower a lot of love (and a smattering of ‘what were they thinking?’) on Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino and Serbia!

 

Selection Season Day 8: A week of results and my top 23

Bonjour and wilkommen to Day 8 of the EBJ selection calendar. On today’s agenda is my take on the latest five competitors from around the continent (if you’re European, I mean your continent. If you aren’t, I mean Europe. Obviously…) as well as the latest yays and nays from my end as I rank the songs so far. Don’t forget to let me know which songs are lighting your fire (slogan pun!) at the moment.

 

Finland, the Netherlands, and Slovenia: the weekend wrapped up

Last weekend saw the first three aforementioned nations pick their winners, and naturally, the only one I decided to predict I predicted completely wrong – but let’s not dwell on that.

After what was a surprise qualification for me in 2011, I don’t want to discount the Finns from qualifying in Baku, no matter how humble/unlikely-to-get-anywhere the song may seem. När Jag Blundar by Pernilla Karlsson seems like the kind of song that would have been left behind in a Melodifestivalen semi a few years ago, and not just because it’s in Swedish. Having said all of those things that may lead you to believe I hate it, I actually quite like it. This is partly because I love Swedish, and since we’re unlikely to get any of that from Sweden in the near future, Finland is filling the gap (provided the song does not undergo the usually dreaded English rewrite), and partly because it’s a quirky but sweet little ballad.

I’m also not going to say that the Netherlands will fail to make the final, because, to make things even more confusing with all these countries picking up each other’s languages/habits, they picked You and Me by Joan Franka which could well turn out to be the In Love For A While of 2012. If that’s the case, it would mean the Dutch would qualify only to limp along in last place when it comes to the final – but this is the Netherlands. They’d probably be happy with that outcome.

Birds of a feather stick together...apparently all over Joan Franka's head

Now we come to Slovenia, or as I am now referring to it, sLOVEnia, who thankfully decided not to send a pair of twins with a song called Konichiwa (the title pretty much indicates the quality of the lyrics) although it would have been fun to have two sets of twins in Eurovision for the second year in a row. Instead they chose Eva Boto, another teenage prodigy who makes me feel both old and talentless, and what is IMO an amazing ballad called Verjamem. The song was composed by the composer of Serbia’s 2007 winner, which does comes across a bit, but Verjamem has a drama and magic of its own. Again, I’m praying that it’s kept in Slovene, but my hopes aren’t high considering Slovenia’s history.

 

Two more make up their minds mid-week 

On Wednesday night it was Bulgaria and Macedonia who selected/presented their entries, and for me the feelings are mixed. Sofi Marinova and Love Unlimited will be flying the Bulgarian flag in Baku, and after just one listen, I have to say I’m pretty pleased about that. The song bears more than a passing resemblance to Mr. Saxobeat by Alexandra Stan (which would be representing Romania in my dreams) which means it’s dance and current, but still something different from Bulgaria. Will it be their first entry to advance since 2007?

Macedonia are also part of the Unqualified Since ’07 club, and as much as I want that dry spell to be over, I’m not sure about Kaliopi’s ability to end it with Crno I Belo. It’s not a terrible effort, but I just didn’t ‘get’ it the way I ‘got’ Bulgaria, and both of them I have heard just once. I’m labeling it a potential grower.

 

All of the above means…

…it’s time for another ranking, and THAT means it’s time to agonise over who goes where. It’s rarely hard to decide which songs you would be happy to never hear again as long as you live, but when it comes to the ones you actually like…well, it’s a different story. However, I think I’ve cracked it (for this minute, at least; my mind has already changed more times than Daria Kinzer did in Düsseldorf, although hopefully with less hideous results)  having excluded Israel (I have heard the alleged song, but I plan to wait until it becomes the actual, confirmed song before I slot it in to a ranking), Italy (who may take per sempre to decide whether Per Sempre is their song or not) and Montenegro (the song of whom is apparently floating around the web but has so far eluded me. I don’t consider that a great loss).

  1. Norway
  2. Croatia
  3. Slovenia
  4. Turkey
  5. Latvia
  6. Hungary
  7. Bulgaria
  8. Ukraine
  9. Austria
  10. Finland
  11. Iceland
  12. Ireland
  13. Belarus
  14. Denmark
  15. France
  16. Cyprus
  17. Netherlands
  18. Switzerland
  19. Malta
  20. Germany
  21. Macedonia
  22. Albania
  23. Georgia

What are your douze/nul pointers at the moment?

 

COMING UP: Two more songs, three more imminent finals, and a second chance in Sweden…

 

My big, fat, sweet as candy JESC 2011 wrapup!

Another year, another Junior Eurovision Song Contest over, and another shock victory. Anyone following me on Twitter last night (or anyone ON Twitter last night) would be aware of how flabbergasted the majority of fans were by Candy’s 5-point win over the Netherlands’ Rachel – Georgia’s second win in four years. There’s a ton of stuff to discuss and dissect re: Last Night, and as I have finally become fully awake after watching the contest which for me was This Morning, I’m chomping at the bit to do so. So, let’s talk about a brilliant but baffling JESC…

WARNING: This may be the longest post I have ever written here at EBJ. In fact, I could probably bind it and submit it as my uni PHD. But if you, like me, are suffering from Post-Eurovision Depression right now, I hope the sheer size of it will aid you in your recovery. Feel free to print it off and make it into a book yourself. Ha ha.

 

The performances

  • RUSSIA: What a great number to kick off the show with! I can see why those lucky people-on-the-ground-in-Yerevan-whom-I-am-insanely-jealous-of thought rehearsals, for Katya, were a little pointless. I wasn’t sure about the all-white theme going on when BAM! the backing dancers turned around to reveal a rather clever heart motif on their backs. Does that count as a costume reveal? Well, whether it does or doesn’t, it added some extra interest to an already polished and professionally performed act.
  • LATVIA: I was pleasantly surprised by Amanda’s performance, even though it featured her lonesome self and nothing else (a.k.a. no frolicking puppies) as I’d expected. I found myself spellbound for the almost-three minutes. And no, I was not by her mouth gear (although she and Dorijan Dlaka should consider getting together sometime). Apart from one wobble, Amanda was in control of her high notes – i.e. the entire song. It’s ironic that Meness Suns is so high that dogs would probably bolt away at the sound of it.
  • MOLDOVA: I would say this was the most perfectly packaged performance of the night. Everything was there – the voice, the costume, the props, the charisma, the scooter Lerica must have borrowed off Katya when she decided not to use it for her own stage show…Moldova had it all. Still, I feel they would have benefited from a couple of backing dancers (maybe also borrowed from Katya) as Lerica looked a bit odd leaping around the stage by herself. She also looked a bit odd pulling handkerchiefs out of a bag, but then she’s not a magician, so I’ll let her off on that one.
  • ARMENIA: Dalita got the biggest round of applause of the night, being the Armenian representative and all, but she deserved it simply for her vocals which were infinitely better last night than in the national final. Despite the throwback to Scooch, I enjoyed the aeronautical shebang. I mean, at least nobody held up a giant lollipop and asked ‘Would you like something to suck on for landing, sir?’ which would have both been blatant plagiarism and an inappropriate allusion for an under-16 to make.
  • BULGARIA: No leathers? Ah, such disappointment! But when it came to the important things, like, I don’t know, the song and the vocals, I wasn’t left disappointed at all. Supergeroy was an early favourite of mine and I thought it worked great on the big stage. I take it Bulgaria drew choreography inspiration from the Wizard of Oz’s Tin Man. Before he’d been oiled up by Dorothy, of course.
  • LITHUANIA: Gorgeous. It’s not a word that crops up often in my vocabulary, but it’s so fitting for what Paulina did last night. I can’t believe she’s only 10 years old! It makes me hate her talented self a little bit, but then she smiles and she’s so cute and I can’t hate her anymore. It’s very confusing.
  • UKRAINE: Speaking of all things confusing, I know a lot of people  were confused as to how Ukraine ended up so low in the table again, especially since Evropa had been backed by bookies and fans (including me) to be a contender for the trophy in a way that Mii Litak never was. But I have to say that Kristall’s vocals were the worst of the night, and unfortunately she can’t excuse that by saying her voice was breaking, unlike the artist who followed her. Kudos for the outfits and her song-writing abilities though.
  • MACEDONIA: As discussed in my prediction post, trouble had been afoot (or should I say, athroat) for Mr. Dlaka through no fault of his own. However there was only one part of the chorus that his vocal chords objected to; the rest sounded fine. The performance was also better than I’d thought it would be, thanks to some nice costumes and choreography. Another point of interest: was that umbrella the same one used for the JESC 2007 postcards? If so, there is some serious black market prop-swapping going on here that the EBU should be investigating…
  • NETHERLANDS: What can I say? Uh-MAYZING! I have a whole list of highlights from this performance alone, including the jackets that rivaled those of Ralf Mackenbach & Co in the awesome department, and the always versatile scaffolding. Plus, Rachel’s hair stayed in position the whole time, just as I’d predicted. It really was a winning act. Well, it should have been.
  • BELARUS: I guess there’s something about good ballads that gets me. I was as spellbound by Lidiya as I was with Amanda and Paulina. I think she has the best live voice of the three, and I can see why she was also a favourite to win. Her violinists reminded me of those people who paint themselves metallic and then stand around on the street hoping you’ll throw money at them.
  • SWEDEN: Erik is another epic vocalist, and I loved his performance despite the presence of the most unnecessary guitarist ever seen on a Eurovision stage. It was definitely a lot more dynamic than last year, and deserved a top 5 finish in my (slightly biased as it was one of my favourites) opinion.
  • GEORGIA: I have a confession to make. I had been a fully paid-up member of the ‘Candy Music = Crappy Music’ Club right up until last night. But I have to admit that when it came to the crunch, Candy impressed me, and I did have a dance to their disco number. The outfits were great, the wacky hair (no afro wigs in sight!) was, well, wacky, and the girls sang really well (particularly Mini Christina Aguilera on the left). Like Moldova, Georgia had it all. I still didn’t want them to/think they would win…but I’m starting to think they deserved to.
  • BELGIUM: Lucky last! Femke is adorable, and the Valentine’s Day theme going on was equally cutesy. I can’t really fault any of it, mainly because I feel like insulting Femke would be akin making a fur coat out of a litter of kittens. You just can’t hurt something so sweet and innocent, can you?

 

What about the rest?

  • The stage: It did bear more than a passing resemblance to the Sydney Opera House, but the incorporation of the logo made it more Armenian. I think the latter alone would have simplified the stage for the better.
  • The hosts: Who knew Penelope Cruz had an identical Armenian twin sister? Or perhaps it was Kim Kardashian disguising herself as Penelope Cruz’s twin (she is Armenian, after all). Anyway, she and the other guy did pretty well at the whole hosting thing. And they only changed outfits twice, rather than the 6148 times viewers are accustomed to.
  • The postcards: Sweet, but also sad. Burning houses with Chihuahuas inside? Broken bones? Not entirely festive, fun subjects, are they?  
  • The interval acts: Very impressive! Molly Sandén was as talentless and hideous as ever, and I don’t know what Eric Saade sees in her. Not. She was beautiful, and the remixed performances of Qele Qele and Mama were really well done also. I’m not a remix fan by any means, but those were good ones. Everyone’s already made the Riverdance comparison (I’m surprised it wasn’t trending on Twitter) so I won’t.
  • The Australian douze points: What a cool way to introduce the whole ‘we don’t want any children to be upset by a lack of votes so we have to give them all some point to start with’ concept! I’m only annoyed that I wasn’t asked to do it instead of that random kid who was a bit too enthusiastic for my liking. There’s always next year…

All in all, Armenia did a great job, and I’d love to see what they would do with big Eurovision. If they revert back to sending genius songs like Anytime You Need and Qele Qele rather than Boom Boom types that are in a genre all of their own, hosting that could be a real possibility in the near future.

 

The voting and the results

  • As usual, the voting was a nail-biting experience, and as Jill & Lauren were doing their bit at the end, I was frantically calculating the Netherlands’ final score, knowing they’d get 12 points from Belgium. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough, but again the Dutch have proved their prowess in JESC with a silver medal.
  • I had had a feeling that if Rachel didn’t win, something unexpected would happen – that is, for the second year in a row the host country would be the previous winning country, OR an underdog would take the whole thing out. Lo and behold…
  • Poor Katya! Back in ’09 she tied for second place, and now she’s come back wanting to win, and instead tied for third place. Technically, she finished fourth, as Belarus got 3x douze to her 2. Please try your luck at Eurovision 2013, Katya – at least you’re less likely to tie there.
  • Another tie that’s harder to break was that between Latvia and Macedonia. Maybe it’s better to come last with someone else, rather than on your own? I also must point out that I predicted these two to be at the bottom. As that’s about the only thing I got right, I plan to gloat a LOT.
  • Belarus, Belgium, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, the Netherlands, Sweden and Ukraine all managed to equal or better their 2010 results, whilst it was a slip down for Armenia, Lithuania, Latvia and Russia.
  • Here’s the final scoreboard, in case you missed it:
  1. Georgia, 108
  2. Netherlands, 103
  3. Belarus, 99
  4. Russia, 99
  5. Armenia, 85
  6. Moldova, 78
  7. Belgium, 64
  8. Bulgaria, 60
  9. Sweden, 57
  10. Lithuania, 53
  11. Ukraine, 42
  12. Macedonia, 31
  13. Latvia, 31

 

And now, for some awards…

Best vocals: Belarus, Georgia, Moldova

Worst vocals: Ukraine

Best performances: Georgia, Moldova, Netherlands

Best costumes: Armenia, Belgium, Georgia

Best choreography: Belgium, Macedonia

Strangest choreography: Bulgaria

Best props: Macedonia, Netherlands 

Most pleasant surprises: Latvia, Macedonia, Moldova

Biggest letdown: Ukraine

Deserved to do better: Sweden

Biggest heart-melters: Belgium, Lithuania

Most likely to win Eurovision: Russia, Sweden

 

Hello. If you’re reading this, you made it to the end of this obnoxiously long post and are still (semi) conscious. I hope you laughed, cried and found it life-changing – but as there is a 99.9% chance you did not, all I really hope is that you’ve enjoyed JESC month here at EBJ. From now on, the focus shifts to Baku; after all, the Swiss final is next weekend! I’ll be keeping my eye and delivering my verdict on that, the other NF’s, developing news and all else concerned with the 2012 contest, as well as bringing you some thrilling (ahem) top 10 lists and editorials. Before that, I suppose I’d better think about reverting the blog back to the standard design. But, always reluctant to let things go, I think I might leave it for now and go and watch Junior Eurovision 2011 once more.

 

The Junior Eurovision 2011 Prediction Special!!!

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Eurovision is only a few short hours away!

I suppose the reason I can’t believe it is because it isn’t technically true – Junior Eurovision is this evening, and it’s more like 12 hours away. But you get the point. Anyway, the closeness of the event means it is well and truly time for a prediction post, and this year I’m going further than ever! Let’s just say it’s not just the winner I’m taking a (semi-educated) guess at, but a whole lot more.

Having banned myself from watching the rehearsals because I love a surprise, my guesses are based on my own thoughts, as well as what fans have been saying AND the backstage gossip from the team at ESC Insight (www.escinsight.com) who have made me very jealous with their presence in Armenia, but a little happier with their podcasts (you can access them at the site or on iTunes).

Of course, all of this may just mean more chances of me being wrong, but I hope it mainly means more chances of you enjoying (and laughing with me/at my expense at) this: EBJ’s 2011 JESC prediction special!

 

Who will win?

The Netherlands, Russia or Ukraine. They may be in alphabetical order, but they are also in the order that I would rank them as chances to win.

Rachel and Ik Ben Een Teenager have been my favourite from the beginning, but also the song that I heard for the first time and thought, ‘that’s The One’. Of course, with my track record of naming ‘The One’ in past years this prediction is not exactly 100% reliable…but I’m trusting my instincts. It’s one of a few Top 40-sounding entries, but it’s by far the best and it stands out. The Dutch send brilliant songs to JESC, and this is a prime example.

If anyone is going to knock Rachel from her glitzy scaffold perch it will be Katya from Russia. It’s her second attempt at the JESC crown (a.k.a. the fibreglass trophy) as we all know, and I’m betting she wants it for her display cabinet badly. A great performer back in 2009, she’s even more polished now, much like Lena ML became in the Oslo-Düsseldorf period; and from what I’ve been hearing from Yerevan she’s been putting in amazing rehearsals of a song that many, including me, are big fans of.

I think Ukraine are a more outside chance, but could still do it. Evropa has that infectious singalong quality and international-ness (great word, Jaz. Sigh.) that makes a successful entry. If Kristall can pull off a dynamic and vocally polished performance tonight, with her slap-bang-in-the-middle draw, the points could flood in on a continental scale (both an accurate and terrible pun).

If I have to pick just one winner, it’s the Netherlands for me over Russia – but not on an Alexander Rybak-type scale. As they often are in JESC, I reckon it will be a narrow victory.

 

Who will come last?

FYR Macedonia or Latvia. I have an appreciation of some kind for both of these songs, but I just can’t see them going anywhere. Dorijan has had a lot against him from the get-go, with his song being negatively received by the majority of fandom, and now the news that his voice is breaking as we speak, and no longer matches up to the backing track recorded for the final. I feel very sorry for him, but I think he’s destined to end up at the bottom end of the table – especially with no Serbia to support him in a neighbourly way.

Meness Suns has grown on me a great deal, but I still think it’s the type of quirky song that could not so much be disliked into last place, but forgotten there – especially since I can’t imagine too interesting a stage show going on. But perhaps I’ll be surprised. A Labrador in a sequined beret and bow tie frolicking around Amanda wouldn’t go astray (although it may breach some EBU and animal ethics laws). The song does remind me of a Christmas carol which could work in its favour, being the festive season and all.

 

What will happen in between?

Here’s my guess at what the final scoreboard will look like:

  1. Netherlands
  2. Russia
  3. Ukraine
  4. Belgium
  5. Belarus
  6. Armenia
  7. Moldova
  8. Sweden
  9. Georgia
  10. Lithuania
  11. Bulgaria
  12. Latvia
  13. FYR Macedonia

And here’s what it would look like in my dreams:

  1. Netherlands
  2. Sweden
  3. Bulgaria
  4. Russia
  5. Lithuania (=)
  6. Belgium (=)
  7. Ukraine
  8. Armenia
  9. Moldova (=)
  10. Belarus (=)
  11. Latvia
  12. FYR Macedonia
  13. Georgia

Fat chance of either of these becoming reality!

 

Moving on, which performances are most likely to:

 

…be unchanged from the national finals? 

Armenia, Belarus, Macedonia and the Netherlands. In some cases, why fix what isn’t broken? (I certainly hope Rachel’s scaffolding isn’t broken. A fractured collarbone would probably mar her act a bit). But with others, I wonder if some tweaks wouldn’t help them reach a bit higher for the top, because a domestic audience is vastly different to an international one. For example, is it possible to de-Scooch Armenia’s performance which at the NF was even Scoochier than Scooch themselves?

 

…feature ballet dancers?

Lithuania and Russia. Dancers en pointe are a staple at JESC, whether they actually complement the song or not (think last year’s entries from the Netherlands  and Ukraine). I think a few girls in tutus could complement Paulina and Katya, perhaps with the more traditional for the former and some contemporary choreography going on for the latter.

 

…feature a costume reveal? 

Bulgaria and Ukraine. Maybe this is wishful thinking because I adore costume reveals, but I can easily picture Ivan (or Alex Sparrow II as I like to call him) with a light-up jacket, or Superman costume hidden away underneath the ubiquitous leathers, and Kristall doing something similarly suitable involving European flags.

 

…have the artist leap out of a giant prop? 

Bulgaria. Okay, so I may have heard this is actually happening – but it does seem appropriate. Let’s hope there is a cape/parachute handy to break Ivan’s fall should the prop be excessively high. He may be a superhero, but that stage is a death trap!

 

…win the Josefine Ridell Award for Least Movement During Song and Lack of Backing Dancers/Entertainment Leading to Most Boring Visual Performance?

Latvia. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a simple performance (and I have so much love for Miss Ridell) but what could Latvia do to create interest? Besides win us over with the ‘ahh’ brought on by the aforementioned Labrador, that is.

 

Which songs will work better live than on disc?

Georgia, Russia, Sweden and Ukraine. I’m not a fan of Georgia, but I can’t help thinking that is a song is determined to be all stale (I mean, retro) in sound then the singers may as well ham it up completely with a disco-tastic stage show. I love watching Katya perform because she’s such a little pro, so I think this song will be great on the final stage. Erik’s Faller will lift the roof off with any luck (not literally. It’s such a lovely venue it’d be a shame for Sweden to destroy it in less than 3 minutes) with the schlager pumping out in a way that just couldn’t be at the “national final”. And Ukraine should get everyone on their feet in the live sphere.

 

What about vice versa?

Armenia and Latvia. Dalita’s vocals frighten me a bit. I don’t like having to wonder whether a singer will be able to cope vocally. In addition, the highly theatrical (read: cheesy) stage show may be too much. Amanda is not one to worry about in the vocal department, however I think her song is just a nice listening song, rather than one to be watched.

 

Well, that’s it – my last post pre-JESC 2011. Now to spend the rest of the day preparing for the show, by which I mean napping so that I can make it to 2.30am for the live stream, and deciding which variety of snack would be better suited to which part of the show. It’s a hard life being a Eurovision fan, isn’t it? Wherever you are and whatever you may be consuming, enjoy your mini contest, ladies and gents. And in the meantime, answer me this:

What do you think will happen tonight?

 

Jaz x

 

JESC challenge: #27- #30

Day 27: Best year

Almost there:

2006

2007

2008

2010

But the best was:

2009 – as long as we are talking musically, and not about the hosting/interval acts (the latter of which were mostly great, but dragged down by the horror of Ani Lorak’s terribly mimed performance). My personal favourite entries from Kyiv would be all but one or two, but so as not to bore you into sleeping and dribbling on your keyboard, here’s a selection: Sweden (Du), Russia (Malenkiy Prints), Armenia (Barcelona), the Netherlands (Click Clack), Ukraine (Tri Topoli, Tri Surmy), and Belgium (Zo Verliefd, which remains my #1 entry of all JESC time).

 

Day 28: Most underrated song ever

Almost there:

Mijn Ogen Zeggen Alles by Roel (Netherlands 2003)

Goed by Kimberly (Netherlands 2006)

Shut Up by Oliver (Belgium 2008) 

But THE most underrated is:

Anders by Trust (Belgium 2007)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCO1qhd0JZo

Well, apparently I really don’t think the Belgians/Dutch get enough Junior credit, which seems odd as both Belgium and the Netherlands perform much better in JESC than ESC. Anyway, Anders has popped up a few times over the course of this challenge, and that is because I love it unconditionally. If ‘underrated’ means a song should have been so much higher on the scoreboard, then this is the very definition of the word. Yes, you can argue that it was too adult to appeal to Europe’s young folk, blah blah…but I’ll still think 15th place was a travesty. Especially in light of the fact that Malta finished 12th with a song that makes me want to do a Van Gogh on both of my ears just so I don’t have to be subjected to the torture of hearing it.

 

Day 29: The song that should have won

Junior Swing by Daniel Testa (Malta 2008)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9z0z-u3VgM

What do you mean, how dare I assert that a brace-and-trilby-wearing entertainment machine should have beaten a trio of buzzing brats in bug costumes? I would have thought it was quite obvious! (PS – I don’t condone my labeling of Bzibeki as brats, but it made for such lovely alliteration I couldn’t write anything else).

 

Day 30: The song that will win this year

Sorry! You’ll have to wait until the end of the week for my Prediction Special to find this one out…

 

Phew! That’s my second song challenge of 2011 done and dusted, and in good time too, because next week is Junior Eurovision week! It’s my second favourite seven days of the year, and there’s some serious non-challenge JESC business to take care of during. I also may have to spend a large portion of the week sleeping in preparation for getting up at 2.30am to watch the contest – but that’s another story.

 

Jaz x

 

JESC 2011 reviews: Part 2

FYR MACEDONIA

Dorijan Dlaka/ Zhimi Ovoj Frak

Sounds a bit like: Vesinniy Jazz by the Tolmachevy Twins (Russia 2006) 

The good: Is this not the best song title you’ve ever heard? I Swear By This Tailcoat – genius! In addition to reminding me of Russia’s ‘06 winner, this song makes me think of Boy and Girl, the almost-winner of Minsk. But (and prepare to be shocked and horrified) I like this better than that. Not that I was overly enamored with Sasha and Liza.

Everything else: I hope Dorijan doesn’t swear by his tailcoat to win him song contests, because it ain’t gonna happen. As much as I want to defend this song, I can’t by saying that it’s exciting/interesting, because…well, it isn’t. I like it, it’s jaunty (that word does not get used enough!) but it doesn’t really go anywhere, and that could be reflected in a failure to go anywhere on the scoreboard.

The verdict: I’m still behind you, Dorijan, if only halfway. 5 points.

 

MOLDOVA

Lerica/ No-No

Sounds a bit like: Kapoia Nychta by Niki Yiannouchu (Greece 2008)

The good: This girl has a powerful voice on her that really suits this song, and this song is one that I’m getting into. It’s not as instantly loveable as most of the others, but it is interesting, and like Latvia, it stands out because of its differences. The chorus is great, mainly because it doesn’t see the need to repeat the title a hundred times, but also because of its cha-cha sound. Any song I can do my old high-school ball choreography to (in the privacy of my empty house) is a winner!

Everything else: I am uncertain about it in several ways – i.e. is it too old for JESC or just right? What kind of stage performance will work in its favour? And just what IS with that lyric that everyone is talking about? There are just so many questions…and that could be a dangerous thing.

The verdict: I have to say it: yes-yes. 8 points.

 

THE NETHERLANDS

Rachel/ Teenager

Sounds a bit like: Du by Mimmi Sandèn (Sweden 2009)…very slightly. Very very slightly.

The good: Everything from 0.00 to about 2.45, I would say. That is, in fact, everything. You know when you’re listening to the ESC entries every year as they are picked, and suddenly one day, BANG! You hear the one that screams ‘winner’? Well, this JESC season, the Netherlands gave me that moment. I have witnesses to the fact that I knew Rachel would win the Dutch final, and I still think she can go on and wipe the floor with the other 12 tweens/teens in Yerevan. This song is catchy, contemporary, interesting and up-tempo, and ik ben verliefd.

Everything else: I’ve got nothing negative to say, so I’ll say something ridiculous instead –  if there is a wind machine involved in this performance, watch out for Rachel’s bangs, because they look just the type to settle back down in perfect place when said wind machine is switched off (for all of 30 seconds until the next performance). Don’t you just hate people with that kind of hair?

The verdict: Having said that, I can’t hate Rachel, no matter her level of hair supremacy, because her song is brilliant. Douze points!

 

RUSSIA

Ekaterina Ryabova/ Kak Romeo I Dzhulyetta

Sounds a bit like: Viva La Dance by Šarlote (Latvia 2010)…again, just a tiny bit.

The good: I always worry about returning artists because their second songs are often much weaker than their originals. In this case I can happily say thanks to the rule-changers of JESC, for allowing Katya to come back with, in my opinion, a song just as good as Malenkiy Prints – which won her a shared 2nd place back in 2009. Like Lena ML, Katya has matured a lot in sound and look since her first appearance, so as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t matter that she getting another go.

Everything else: I did prefer the national final version of this entry to the most recent studio version I heard, which may well not be the final studio version, because every country likes to produce at least 173 different ones just for laughs. I’m also confused as to whether I do or don’t want that boy on the scooter to come out in Yerevan. I suppose it’s better for there to be a boy on a scooter than a reenactment of the Romeo and Juliet that ends less with pyrotechnics and a pose and more with suicide; NOT an ideal theme for a JESC entry.

The verdict: If I could, I’d give it 11 points, but I can’t, so it has to be 10. 

 

SWEDEN

Erik Rapp/ Faller

Sounds a bit like: I’ll have to dust my dancing shoes off before December.

The good: As much as I wish there was a Sandèn sister representing Sweden again – there is a fourth one, isn’t there? Her appearance is inevitable – I’m pretty darn pleased with the choice of Erik, the first boy/man (manboy!) to give it a crack for the Scandinavian country I always love at JESC. This is a song that could stand up proud in big Eurovision. I’m really loving it, and I’m not a person who raves about the clubby songs that are all over the radio at the moment, that this could easily fit in with. It only loses the ‘Best Use of Oh’s and/or Eh’s’ trophy to the Netherlands.

Everything else: I worry that, as super cool as this song is (to moi) it could be too adult-sounding for the contest and so end up with a pitiful position – like Trust and Anders a few years ago. Also, there is no live performance available as yet, so we don’t know whether Erik can handle the vocals. There are some videos of him singing other songs at festivals on the Web, which he does fine, but they are much slower-paced than Faller, so it’s not a real indication…

The verdict: Chair-a-plane or no chair-a-plane, it’s douze points from me.

 

UKRAINE

Kristall/ Evropa

Sounds a bit like: another reason for me to give up song writing.  

The good: Before I heard the Dutch song, this was the one that put my winner radar on high alert. I still think it has ‘Top 5’ written all over it, especially with such an infectious sing-a-long chorus that doesn’t need to be in English for everyone to sing along to. I think if the Ukrainglish version is what we get inArmenia it might have wider appeal, but generally, it stands out enough in any language to do well. In 2010, poor Ukraine came last (a position they are definitely not accustomed to) and I cannot see that happening again.

Everything else: If it wasn’t for a few other songs that have wormed their way into my affections to a greater extent, this would be my favourite. For some reason I am majorly looking forward to seeing the costumes, perhaps because of my obsession with flags. I’m hoping that, as in her pre-JESC performances, Kristall chooses to paint her clothes with PVA glue and then roll in a pile of assorted flags and glitter. Voila! A continental costume fit for anyone singing a song called Europe.

The verdict: 10 points.

 

Well, that’s all folks, as far as my 2011 reviews are concerned. Stay tuned though, because the JESC madness doesn’t stop here…MUAHAHAHAHA!!!

 

Saying goodbye to January with selections and a song

That song is Je Vecht Nooit Alleen, or You’ll Never Fight Alone, by the lads from 3JS.

I don’t have a whole lot to say about this song at the moment – I’m waiting to put it into perspective alongside the other 42 entries in my reviews closer to May. I will say that I was initially disappointed, especially since the other work of 3JS I’d heard was great. But, as often happens with Eurovision songs, the second and last time I listened to it, I liked it a little more – so I’m thinking it’s a grower. It’s certainly not a bad song, but I’m not certain it will stand out from the others. Let me know what you think here or on Facebook – I’d LOVE some more support at the latter. Remember, just search for Eurovision By Jaz and like.

Anyway, putting the so-far chosen entries into perspective will be easy soon as we are officially in Frantic February, peeps! Have you SEEN the 26th? I won’t have time to take a breath that day with the amount of selections finishing up – but I wouldn’t want it any other way. As a little guide to the month, and beyond, here’s a little selection schedule I prepared earlier (correct as of Feb. 1 2011):

February 

San Marino: 3rd

Ireland: 11th

Belgium, Malta, Iceland, Norway, Finland: 12th

Poland: 14th 

Turkey: 16th

Spain, Germany: 18th

Armenia: 19th

Bosnia & Herzegovina: 20th

Bulgaria: 23rd

Austria: 25th

Macedonia, Moldova, Lithuania, Serbia, Latvia, Denmark, Estonia: 26th

Slovenia, Ukraine: 27th

Also choosing: France, Georgia, Greece, Azerbaijan

 

March

Croatia, Portugal: 5th

Israel: 8th

Sweden: 12th

 

And still undecided…

Italy

Slovakia

Russia

Hungary

Belarus

In other notable news, reigning Eurovish champ Lena took to the stage last night in the first semi final of Unser Song für Deutschland. She performed six songs, of which three qualified to the final. Three that I have to say in no way floated my boat, though if I was held at gunpoint by Lena herself and forced to choose, I’d say Maybe was my favourite…maybe. In any case, I’m hoping the three deemed the best from semi final two (this weekend) are better. Jump onto Youtube and decide for yourself what you think. Can ANYTHING live up to Satellite? And more to the point, does Germany want anything to? Hmm.

Ponder away, my fellow Eurovision family….

Jaz.