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EBJ’s top 10…hosts of the last decade

1. 2007  in Helsinki, Finland: Jaana Pelkonen & Mikko Leppilampi

I’m pretty sure these two wrote Hosting Eurovision In A Genuinely Comedic, Enthusiastic, Engaging and Professional Way Without Making The Home Viewers Want To Thrust Their Fists Through The TV Screen: For Dummies. Bravo, and douze points!

 2. 2010 in Oslo, Norway: Nadia Hasnaoui, Haddy N’jie & Eric Solbakken

There’s always a shining beacon among a trio of hosts and in Oslo it was Eric, who provided some much-needed comic relief by donning a Milan Stanković wig and InCulto hotpants (I’m still wondering where you buy those), among other things. But the ladies were faultless, despite begging the question, “Why so serious?”.

3. 2004 in Istanbul, Turkey: Meltem Cumbul & Korhan Abay

I’m still not entirely certain that Mr. Abay was alive back then, but he did a pretty good job of compeering alongside Miss Cumbul. I particularly liked their banter about George Clooney and Pamela Anderson (the resemblance is uncanny!).

4. 2011 in Düsseldorf, Germany: Anke Engelke, Judith Rakers & Stefan Raab

If it’d been Anke on her own, she’d be at the top, but as it is she can thank Judith (who I’m sure is a great news presenter but at the ESC had all the enthusiasm of Norway when they discovered they hadn’t qualified) and Stefan (who needed to be surgically removed from his guitar) for dragging her down to 4th place.

 5. 2002 in Tallinn, Estonia: Annely Peebo & Marko Matvere

There’s little I love more than hosts presenting a pre-shot fantasy sequence of themselves singing an ode to their ‘love’ and laughing gaily when one catches the other in a face pack. Amazingly 2002 gave me exactly that. Very sweet.

6. 2008 in Belgrade, Serbia: Jovana Janković & Željko Joksimović

These two weren’t bad, but I reckon they should stick to their day jobs if Eurovision lands inSerbia again in their lifetime.

7. 2005 in Kyiv, Ukraine: Maria “Masha” Efrosnina & Pavlo “Pasha” Shylko

If you look up ‘Painfully scripted dialogue’ in the dictionary, there’s a toothy photograph of this duo underneath it.

8. 2006 in Athens, Greece: Maria Menounos & Sakis Rouvas

Great show, Greece. Not so good = the presenters. Did Maria know what Eurovision was before she was asked to host it? I’m not sure. Her partnership with Greek god Sakis was a bit of a shambles in any case, with plenty of stumbles to go round and a cringe-worthy lip-sync from his end.

9. 2009 in Moscow, Russia: Natalia Vodianova & Andrey Malahov/ Alsou & Ivan Urgant

Alsou and Ivan were perfectly adequate hosts, but they pale in comparison to the horror show (or lust-fest, whichever you prefer) that was the Supermodel and the Sleaze of the Semi Finals. Shudder.

10. 2003 in Riga, Latvia: Marie N & Renars Kaupers

I’m sorry, but if I’m watching the ’03 contest and there’s a wall nearby, it’s usually less than a minute after Marie and Renars emerge that I’m driven up it. I wasn’t a huge fan of (read: I really hated) the former’s winning song, so it was easy to turn my nose up at her hosting skills. But I loved Renars in Brainstorm! Perhaps that’s the kind of fronting he should stick to.

 

Just to let you fellow Eurovisionaries know: I’ve made it my mission to blog all year, every year, which can be a tough ask when there’s little happening on the ESC/JESC fronts. But I do have a bunch of random posts lined up, so I thought I’d do up a little schedule to keep you informed of when to expect them, if you’re interested. Remember, it’s two or more a week in twenty-eleven!

Tuesdays: Time Warp Tuesday

Fridays/Saturdays: A random feature, rant, news update or top 10

And of course, a surprise post anytime if I feel like it!

Stay alerted by following EBJ on Twitter, liking on Facebook (links in the sidebar) and/or subscribing (link at the bottom of the page).

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

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 top 20 most-played ESC songs on my iPod

 

In random order:

This Is My Life by Anna Bergendahl (Sweden 2010)

Lejla by Hari Mata Hari (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2006)

Lako Je Sve by Feminnem (Croatia 2010)

Tornero by Mihai Traistariu (Romania 2006)

Džuli by Daniel (Yugoslavia 1983)

Horehronie by Kristina (Slovakia 2010)

Die For You by Antique (Greece 2001)

Wild Dances by Ruslana (Ukraine 2004)

We Could Be The Same by MaNga (Turkey 2010)

Allez Ola Ole by Jessy Matador (France 2010)

Angel Si Ti by Miro (Bulgaria 2010)

Glow by Madcon (Interval 2010 – I think it counts!)

Rijeka Bez Imena by Maria (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2007)

Anytime You Need by Hayko (Armenia 2007)

Run Away by Sunstroke Project (Moldova 2010)

Follow My Heart by Ich Troje (Poland 2006)

Rändajad by Urban Symphony (Estonia 2009)

Cipela by Marko Kon & Milaan (Serbia 2009)

Se Pa Mig by Jan Johansen (Sweden 1995)

Nur Ein Lied by Thomas Forstner (Austria 1989)

 

What are your most played Eurovision songs? Let me know!

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

Statistically speaking: the 2011 top ten and beyond…

1. AZERBAIJAN

Artist: male/female duo Ell/Nikki

Song: Running Scared

Language: English

Style: pop ballad

Change from last appearance: +4

Last top 10 appearance: 2010, 5th place

With:  female soloist Safura and Drip Drop

Which was: an English-language pop/r & b ballad

2. ITALY

Artist: male soloist Raphael Gualazzi

Song: Madness of Love

Language: English/Italian

Style: jazz

Change from last appearance: +2

Last top 10 appearance: 1997, 4th place

With: male/female duo Jalisse and Fiumi Di Parole

Which was: an Italian-language ballad

3. SWEDEN

Artist: male soloist Eric Saade

Song: Popular

Language: English

Style: Club pop

Change from last appearance: Did not qualify

Last top 10 appearance: 2006, 5th place

With: female soloist Carola and Invincible

Which was: English-language schlager

4. UKRAINE

Artist: female soloist Mika Newton

Song: Angel

Language: English

Style: Pop/rock ballad

Change from last appearance: +6

Last top 10 appearance: 2010, 10th place

With: female soloist Alyosha and Sweet People

Which was: English language rock

5. DENMARK

Artist: male quartet A Friend In London

Song: New Tomorrow

Language: English

Style: rock anthem

Change from last appearance: -1

Last top 10 appearance: 2010, 4th place

With: male/female duo Chanee & N’evergreen and In A Moment Like This

Which was: An English-language pop ballad

6. BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA

Artist: male soloist Dino Merlin

Song: Love In Rewind

Language: English/Bosnian

Style: Folk pop

Change from last appearance: +11

Last top 10 appearance: 2009, 9th place

With: male quartet Regina and Bistra Voda

Which was: Bosnian-language folk rock

7. GREECE

Artist: male duo Loukas Yiorkas & Stereo Mike

Song: Watch My Dance

Language: English/Greek

Style: Rap/ethno-pop

Change from last appearance: +1

Last top 10 appearance: 2010, 8th place

With: male soloist Giorgos Alkaios and OPA

Which was: Greek-language ethno-pop

8. IRELAND

Artist: male duo Jedward

Song: Lipstick

Language: English

Style: Pop

Change from last appearance: +15

Last top 10 appearance: 2006, 10th place

With: male soloist Brian Kennedy and Every Song Is A Cry For Love

Which was: an English-language ballad

9. GEORGIA

Artist: male/female group Eldrine

Song: One More Day

Language: English

Style: rock

Change from last appearance: =

Last top 10 appearance: 2010, 9th place

With: female soloist Sopho and Shine

Which was: An English language ballad

10. GERMANY

Artist: female soloist Lena

Song: Taken By A Stranger

Language: English

Style: I actually have no idea!

Change from last appearance: -9

Last top 10 appearance: 2010, 1st place

With: female soloist Lena and Satellite

Which was: English-language pop

  • 6 countries in this year’s top 10 were in the top 10 last year.
  • Of those, 5 sung completely in English in 2010 and 2011.
  • Last year’s winner recieved 9 lots of 12 points and 5 lots of 10 points. Ell and Nikki managed 3 lots of 12 points and 5 lots of 10 points.
  • Azerbaijan have placed no lower than 8th since their debut in 2008. 75% of their Eurovision time has been spent in the top 5!
  • Last year, 9 of the top 10 entries were completely English language, compared with 7 this year. That is despite the fact that 59% of the 2010 songs were in all English, 60% of the 2011 ones were.
  • If the last few years are any indication, these have the best chances of ending up in the top 10: Female soloists performing a pop ballad/ straight pop song sung in English, OR a pop/rock song with an ethnic influence sung in English/ a combination of languages.

Eurovision fan haul: Part 1

The pins: These (from left: Athens 2006, Helsinki 2007, Belgrade 2008 and Athens again) came from the official Eurovision.tv shop, in a surprise package. All you do is order it, and you get a bunch of random items in the mail - merchandise from the last few years - for a great price. There is a risk in that you may receive something you already have (like me) but it’s often worth it. I can’t say I’ve worn the badges yet, but I may have to decorate myself with them this year, as they’re less messy than writing ‘GO TURKEY!’ across your forehead with eyeliner as I did in 2010.

The podcasts: It’s a long story as to why I have these on disc instead of on my iPod, so I’ll try to condense it for you: Chapter 1) They are comprehensive, which is fabulous, but they take up a LOT of room on any device, and my iPod eventually gave me an ultimatum: ‘It’s me or the podcasts, Jaz!’; Chapter 2) I deleted them from said device, but wanted to keep them to listen to again (and again and again); Chapter 3) My laptop is unreliable, having had a meltdown last year of epic proportions. It’s not been the same since, and I didn’t want to risk losing all the podcasts and have to download them all again; Chapter 4) So I burn them onto CDs as I see fit. The End. Get the SBS and ESC Today podcasts on iTunes, and the ESC Insight podcasts at escinsight.com, or iTunes…for FREE of course.
The CD’s: I’ve only recently completed my official album collection (sans 2011, of course), which consists of: 2000-2005 which all came from eBay and together cost me under $50 AUD which is AMAZING; and 2006-2010 which came from both the Eurovision.tv shop, Amazon.co.uk, and music stores here in Australia. I love having them all, not just for display purposes, but because many of the songs from the earlier 2000s aren’t available on iTunes over here. Those CDs are becoming harder to get, but I suggest eBay as a first resource every time, as it is so cheap, and if you pick a reliable seller, you always get what they say you will. My 2001 and 2004 albums cost about $20 AUD…together…including postage. Hence words cannot express my love for eBay.
The ‘other’ CD’s: The first two are: The Very Best of the Eurovision Song Contest from JB Hifi; and Ultimate Eurovision Party from amazon.co.uk. If I had to suggest to you one to get, I’d go for the former, as it features a lot of winners, and all the unforgettables, whereas I think the Party CD originated in the UK, as it’s very biased. It considers James Fox’s Hold On To Our Love a party anthem…still, both are great listens. Lastly, I have: Junior Eurovision 2010 from amazon.co.uk; and Melodifestivalen 2011 from ebay.com.au. I’d never considered buying the JESC or Melodifestivalen albums before these, but I felt both were so strong that I couldn’t go past them.
The videos: Now, before you go emailing the EBU and telling them to arrest me for copyright infringement, I assure you that these are for my private, in-home use only. They are the 2009 and 2010 editions of Junior Eurovision, taped from TV onto trusty VHS and covered to look decent by moi.

Sorry for the layout of this post, but I’m having trouble with the graphics/text combo at the moment. Anyway, this is Part 1 of my ESC haul, which is something that I’ve wanted to do for ages, ever since I became obsessed with watching haul videos on Youtube. For those of you not clued-in to the trend (I for one was quite behind on getting into it), hauls are basically: random people uploading videos where they show you what they bought on a shopping trip, or got for Christmas, or have collectively amassed over a long period of time, and where they got it.

My Eurovision merchandise has been collected over a long period, and though I have done a collection blog before, it has gotten a lot bigger since then – so I wanted to show you how! This is a true haul however, so not only will I be showing you photos of the stuff, but letting you know exactly what I love about it, and where I got it from. So if you’re missing anything from your own hefty pile of ESC trinkets, I hope I can help you out.

Just a few notes:

  • I haven’t got any 2011 things yet, so don’t call me up on that!
  • If you think I’m missing something that every fan should own, please let me know here or via Facebook/Twitter (you can find the links to both of those on the sidebar). And of course feel free to chat to me about anything else ESC.
  • Hauls are great, but they often attract a lot of negative attention from people who think showing off what you own/have purchased is, well, showing off. This is in no way what mine is about. All I want is to give you a look into the ESC side of my life (a large side!). So if you don’t like this sort of thing, don’t read!

 

But if you do, look out for Part 2 soon.

Jaz x

PS – There’s 10 days until Semi Final #1, and the rehearsals begin on Sunday. It’s really happening! You can download the full (and very complicated) rehearsal schedule from eurovision.tv to see when your country will take to the stage for the first time.

An EBJ top ten: ESC to JESC!

Bonjour, everyone, and Happy Easter! I’m finally back from what feels like a year-long (involuntary) break from blogging. In reality, it was just over a week, but I’ve got so much stuff lined up to do in the few weeks left to Düsseldorf, that when I couldn’t do it, time went very very slowly.

You may have noticed a subtle change in this blog upon your arrival today. Gone are the candy stripes and merry flags of yesterday, giving way to sophistication and rainbows…which then gave way to candy stripes and merry flags once again. Still, it’s a little more streamlined now. I’m easily bored with the aesthetics of things, and so I thought I’d try something new – let me know what you think! And don’t be surprised if EBJ looks completely different next time you drop by…

I’m kicking off with a brand new top 10 today. In case the title didn’t give it away, the topic is my top 10 Eurovision songs that could have entered (and possibly succeeded in) its precocious younger sibling, Junior Eurovision! To save myself a lot of time I decided to look at ESC songs from 2003 onwards – that is, those that literally could have competed in the first ever JESC in Copenhagen (although there would have been some stellar contenders prior to that year…Boom Boom Boomerang, perhaps, eh Austria?). Note that this list isn’t intended to rubbish JESC or the songs that make it – I love the mini version of Eurovision very much, and I think a lot of the kids in it could do a better job of writing good songs than the “seasoned professionals” penning for the big ESC (I’m definitely in favour of Armenia drafting in 12-year-old Vladimir Arzumanyan to write their 2012 entry). Anyway, no more stalling!

My top 10 ESC to JESC entries are:

10. Leto Svet by Kreisiraadio (Estonia 2008) – Summer light, it’s summer light…Subtract the trio of tubby, middle-aged men with receding hairlines and primary-coloured polyester suits from the equation and add in a trio of under-tens clad in sequins, as well as a few more flash cards of onions and cakes, and you’ve got yourself a JESC triumph! This song failed miserably in its 2008 semi final, as it should have, but if taken toCypruslater that year, I reckon it could have stolen the victory right out of the Georgian bumblebees’ feelers.

9. Salvem El Mon by Anonymous (Andorra 2007) – Left, right, up and down, turned up and down, that’s how we treat the world right now…I really like this song, but I feel it was just too ‘young’ for Helsinki. It puts me in mind of Anders, the catchy soft-rock track performed byBelgium’s Trust at JESC the same year, which fared about as well then as Anonymous had in May. The tweenage girls inRotterdam would have adored it.

8. Let’s Get Happy by Lou (Germany 2003) – Let’s get happy and let’s be friends, for tomorrow never ever ends…Apart from the fact that the average JESC entrant should not be observing the goings-on in a discotheque (at least, none that I know of) this song fits Eurovision’s younger sibling like a glove that has an irritatingly chirpy mantra embroidered onto it.

7. That Sounds Good To Me by Josh Dubovie (UK 2010) – You bring the sunshine, I’ll bring the good times…I think we all knew that the UK was destined to bring up the rear of the scoreboard last year inOslo. But perhaps if Josh had enlisted his younger brother (whether he actually has one or not, I can’t say) to jet over toMinskand belt it out whilst attempting some clever choreography, it could have fared better.

6. Teenage Life by Daz Sampson (UK 2006) – “What did you learn at school today?”…A catchy song about school days, performed by a bouncy, smiley artist in a track suit, surrounded by girls in uniform, blackboards and wooden desks? If that bouncy, smiley artist hadn’t been Daz “I’m steadily approaching middle age but trying to fool you into thinking I’m not” Sampson, the Russian twins may have been pipped at the post.

5. Weil Der Mensch Zählt by Alf Poier (Austria 2003) – Little hares have short noses and little cats have soft paws…You may think the reggae-to-rock sound of this song – and Alf himself – too frightening for JESC. But think back to the Belarusian entry from 2009, which was about a magic rabbit but sounded more like a song about the devil attacking you in bed and eating your soul as a midnight snack.

4. Ik Ben Verliefd (Shalalie) by Sieneke (Netherlands 2010) – Shalalie, shalala, I can’t get it out of my head…There’s been plenty of retro, cutesy stuff at Junior over the years, though none with a Smurf connection. Maybe that should change? The Dutch won it in 2009 with a song that included the lyrics ‘Wha-oh-wha-oh, ba-daba-di-do, ba-daba-di-do yeah. Tikkeditak, tikkeditak click clack!’ (one of my favourites) so a bit of ‘Shalalie shalala’ wouldn’t go astray, in my opinion.

3. Let’s Get Loud by Suntribe (Estonia 2005) – Come on girls sing along that song, shake the house till the early morning, boring yesterday is gone…Just writing those lyrics has got the chorus stuck in my head!Estoniahas never participated in JESC, but if they do, let’s hope they send something like this. Cartoon T-shirts and coloured boots included!  

2. Coisas De Nada by Nonstop (Portugal 2006) – Gonna make you dance, gonna make you smile, I’ll make you stop thinking sad things for a while…This is more harmless, inoffensive and dated than downright bad. I think it would have fared exponentially better on the Junior stage, so long as there were more pants involved.

1. Celebrate! by Piero and the Music Stars (Switzerland 2004) – Clap your hands, oh clap your hands, have a wonderful time…I want to say this song sounds like it was written by a 10-year-old, but most of the 10-year-olds in JESC are more eloquent and less clichéd. This bunch look like Hi-5 (or The Wiggles in those multi-coloured shirts) – Australians will know what I mean. Everything about them and this entry (which, may I remind you garnered ZERO points in the semi final) screams ‘Kids entertainment troupe’ – and yet, I can’t even see the kids liking this one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVkJd4r7Pd4

EXPOSED: the Eurovision doppelgangers!

Today I’ve got a more visual post for you…are you excited?? You should be! But before the excitement begins, I want to fill you in on the results of the Big 5 poll I ran last week. I happened to be right about the country that topped the poll, but the order of the others surprised me, I can tell you. So who was your favourite Fiver?

1. UK – 45%

2. GERMANY – 25%

3. SPAIN – 15%

4. ITALY – 10%

5. FRANCE – 5%

Thanks to everyone who voted, and to anyone who hasn’t, feel free to have your say now. You can find the poll in my previous post =)

So, onto the expose promised in the title! The deal is this: between Jedward, TWiiNs, and a sudden fascination with crossing my eyes, I’ve been seeing double a lot lately. So in honor of terrific twosomes, I’ve compiled a small collection of Eurovision doppelgangers for your viewing pleasure. I’m thinking of doing one of these every now and then, so let me know if you liked it!

Let’s start with an obvious one:

Koldun (Belarus 2007) and Princess Diana

Corinne Hermes (Luxembourg 1983) and a 1980s Meg Ryan

Jon Lilygreen (Cyprus 2010) and member of The Colors (Swiss preselection 2011)

Jane Bogaert (Switzerland 2000) and Heather Graham

Julie (Malta 2004) and Mariah Carey

Ines (Estonia 2000) and Marie N (Latvia 2002)

Some further thoughts:
Does anyone see some eerie similarities between Denmark’s 2000 winner, and Ireland’s not-so-successful entry from 2003? What about Lidia Kopania’s I Don’t Wanna Leave and Sopho’s Shine? Curious…
Comment me with any visual/aural doppelgangers you’ve seen/heard at Eurovision. I’d love to hear them!

Runners-up running hot: the best of the second best

It’s always a fun thing to do: when all of the songs for a Eurovision have been selected, and the behind-the-scenes work begins, to go back through the national finals and listen to the songs that just missed out, because there is always some gems there – and a lot of room for imagining what could have been.

I’ve taken the liberty of putting off things I should be doing to compile my own list of the best of the second-best – all of those great songs by artists who almost got the opportunity to get another stamp on their passports. Some are fan favourites that were taken by surprise by underdogs, whilst others defied expectation just by getting as far as they did. It’s all my opinion, of course, but I hope you discover something you hadn’t heard yet that you’ll be happy you now have…

So I present to you, my fellow Eurovisionaries, the good: 

ALBANIA/ Alban Skenderaj feat. Miriam Cani/ Ende Ka Shprese

ARMENIA/ Emmy/ Ayo

AUSTRIA/ Trackshittaz and Lukas Plöchl / Oida Taunz

"No matter what song you choose, I will be the one singing it! You cannot escape me! MWAHAHAHAHA..."

GERMANY/ Lena/ Push Forward

ISRAEL/ Idit Halevi/ It’s My Time

LITHUANIA/ Linas Adomaitis/ Floating To You

POLAND/ Anna Gogola/ Ktoś Taki Jak Ty

PORTUGAL/ Nuno Norte/ São os Barcos de Lisboa

SLOVENIA/ April/ Ladadidej

SWITZERLAND/ Bernarda Brunovic/ Confidence

 

And, the über good:

I certainly don't look this good when I've been sleepless

DENMARK/ Anne Noa/ Sleepless/ Yes, she’s the Danish Taylor Swift, we get it. But I like this a whole lot more than anything from Swift herself.

IRELAND/ Nikki Kavanagh/ Falling/ Yes, it’s 2011’s version of Drip Drop, we get it…how nice it would have been to have a bit of Niamh back on stage this year! I love ballads if they’re not ridden with clichés, and this was no exception.

LATVIA/ Lauris Reiniks/ Banjo Laura/ I think this will be the quintessential “one that got away” of this year’s national finals. Many fans, myself included, fell in love with Lauris and his banjo upon hearing it for the first time, and whilst I’m also smitten with Latvia’s eventual choice, I can’t deny that this would have gone down an absolute treat in Düsseldorf.

MOLDOVA/ Natalia Barbu/ Let’s Jazz/ This bears more than a passing resemblance to We No Speak Americano – but what’s wrong with that? It’s something very different from the woman who demanded back in 2007 that we never let nobody in and step right on our dreams. It’s a lot more fun.

ROMANIA/ Distinto, Ianna & Anthony Icuagu/ Open Your Eyes/ I love the drama and climactic sound of this song, although I have to admit, I didn’t expect it to reach 2nd place in Romania. It’s almost (I stress, almost) in the league of France, in my educated (cough!) opinion.

The morning after being "In The Club"???

SWEDEN/ Danny Saucedo/ In The Club/ As much as I adore Eric Saade, I think this is a better song than Popular, and perhaps should have pipped it into the winning position. Once you get used to the repetition, you won’t be able to stop yourself from dancing/singing along (very inadequately). In the club, the club, uh-oh indeed.

UKRAINE/ Zlata Ognevich/ The Kukushka/ This is a corker, and oh-so-Ukraine-in-Eurovision – contemporary, but a little ethnic, and with just enough quirk to make it stand out. Despite the mess that was their national final, there was some great music in it, and this is a prime example.

So if you’ve got a little spare time – or a lot – why not head over to Youtube and give the above a spin? Or go further and sift through the rest of the national finals? It’s just another way of keeping the Eurovision fever high all year round – and getting May to get here ASAP!