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RESULTS REVIEW | Facts and figures from the perplexing point-y end of Portugal’s first ESC

Well, Eurovision 2018 is over (NOOOOOOOO!!!) and we have a winner (obviously…what an anticlimax it would be if we didn’t). In case you somehow missed the entire voting sequence and haven’t been online since Italy’s final note, that winner was Israel. Netta’s Toy did what the odds had suggested she would do up until Cyprus’ Fuego overtook it last week – but she clucked her way into first place anyway, and you can’t say we don’t have the most original and unique Eurovision winner in a long while on our hands.

I’ll talk more about what I think of Israel’s win, my favourite performances and much more (and I’ll be holding the annual EBJ Awards for Eurovision Excellence) later on. The first order of business though, now that the show is done and dusted, is to check out the results. I’ve taken a look at the overall and split results from both semi finals and the grand final and pulled out some of the most interesting *she hopes* facts and figures, successes and fails and other observations for your reading pleasure *she hopes some more*.

Let me know what caught your eye, shocked you and made you cry tears of joy (or sadness…Eurovision is an emotional time) where the 2018 scoreboard is concerned in the comments!

 

 

SEMI FINAL 1  

Image credit: escxtra.com (because I couldn’t be bothered making my own when this brilliant one was already in existence).

 

THE OVERALL RESULTS

Israel won a semi final for the first time with Netta. Also qualifying more successfully than ever before were Cyprus (previous best 5th) and the Czech Republic (previous best 9th).

That second-ever qualification for the Czech Republic’s came far more comfortably than their first. In 2016, they slipped through in 9th, but Mikolas managed to fall only behind the two big bookies’ favourites, Israel and Cyprus – even without doing a backflip.

Ireland’s 6th place in the semi equals their highest qualification, achieved by Jedward 2.0 in 2012.

It was Finland who just snuck in to the top 10, out-scoring Azerbaijan by 14 points. A qualification is a qualification (and you deserved it, Saara!) but 10th is the lowest position Finland has qualified in.

In terms of my predictions (as seen on Instagram), I correctly predicted that the Czech Republic would qualify 3rd, Estonia 5th and Bulgaria 7th. Happy accidents happen, guys!

 

THE SPLIT RESULTS

Like in 2016 but unlike 2017, the televoters and jurors did NOT rank the same country first. Portugal won both votes last year, but Cyprus steamrolled the televote this year, finishing only 6th with the juries. Israel, on the other hand, won the jury vote but finished 4th with televoters – below Cyprus, the Czech Republic and Estonia (all of whom Netta obviously beat in the final).

The biggest differences between the televote and jury vote in the first semi concerned Finland (7th T/15th J), Greece (10th T/16th J) and Belgium (16th T/9th J).

Greece would have qualified under a 100% televote; Belgium and Switzerland deserved to be in the final according to the juries.

The only countries to be ranked in the same positions by both voting groups were Azerbaijan, Armenia, Macedonia and Iceland in 12th, 14th, 18th and 19th respectively. No agreeing to disagree there!

 

 

SEMI FINAL 2

Image credit: escxtra.com (again…I hope they don’t mind/notice).

 

THE OVERALL RESULTS

Alexander Rybak may not have won Eurovision again, but he is now the first person to win a semi final twice. That’s how you kick some butt! Maybe he’ll come back in another nine years and win a third SF?

The countries that qualified better than ever before this time were…well, none of them. All of this semi’s qualifiers have made it through in a higher position in the past (apart from Norway, of course).

Sweden has now qualified in the top three songs of the last six semis they’ve participated in. Of those six, five finishes – including Benjamin’s – were in the top two.

Denmark sailed into the final (pun intended) in the top five for the first time since 2013. There’s magic in them there beards, I tell ya!

As it turns out, it was Hungary who was lucky to make the final from SF2, beating out Romania by just 4 points.

I (miraculously) predicted that Norway would win this semi, Sweden would come 2nd and Moldova would come 3rd. I also thought Ukraine would finish 4th, which they did in the televote. Does that count? Am I psychic yet?

 

THE SPLIT RESULTS

Again, two different countries took the fancy of the televoters and juries – in this case, Denmark won the televote (!) and Sweden won the jury vote. Can you score points like a Scandinvian, ALL NIGHT LONG?!?!? Denmark ranked only 12th with the juries though, while Sweden dropped to 6th with televoters (not my fault – Benjamin got more than half of my 20 votes).

The most drastic differences between the televote and jury vote on Thursday night were with Denmark (as I just mentioned, 1st T/12th J), Hungary (5th T/13th J), the Netherlands (12th T/4th J), Latvia (15th T/6th J) and Malta (18th T/5th J).

Poland would have qualified under a 100% televote; Malta, Latvia and Romania, meanwhile, would have made it to Saturday if the juries had all the power.

Both parties were on the same wavelength with Slovenia, Montenegro and San Marino, whom they ranked 9th, 14th and 16th respectively.

 

 

THE FINAL   

Image credit: escxtra.com (ICYMI).

 

THE OVERALL RESULTS

Winner Israel netted 529 points in total, with 42 countries able to give them points – a little less than Ukraine’s 534 (with 41 countries available) from 2016, and a LOT less than Portugal’s 758 (with 41 countries available also). 2018’s competition was clearly more open than the two that preceded it.

Toy is Israel’s 4th winning song and first since 1998. They also won in 1978, so I guess we know who’ll be crowned champion in 2038.

Cyprus’ strut straight into 2nd place makes for their best result, having competed (mostly on, not so much off) since 1981 and only reached the heights of 5th in the BE era (Before Eleni). I have to say it: YEAH YEAH FIRE!

Four years after their epic win with Conchita Wurst, Austria pulled a bit of a (tall) dark (and handsome) horse move by finishing in 3rd. This marks the first bronze medal ranking for Austria in their ESC history. Hail Cesár indeed.

Germany surprised many of us (i.e. me) with a stunning 4th-place finish. This comes after an über-awful run of results that left them languishing in 21st, 18th, 27th, 26th and 25th from 2013-2017. Could they be the new Belgium?

Italy’s (again, surprising) top five finish adds a 6th top 10 finish to the collection they’ve amassed since their 2011 comeback. Power to the message song!

As expected – once Mikolas Josef got out of hospital – the Czech Republic outdid any contest outcome they’ve had before by a million miles. Qualifying once in 2016 and finishing last in the final was their personal best until Saturday night. A substantial televote allowed them to leapfrog into 6th place, no lie (HA HA HA), and I feel strangely like a proud mother despite having no Czech ancestry whatsoever.

Sweden found themselves in the top 10 for the fifth year running, though not in their usual style (I’ll get back to that). Estonia, meanwhile, made it after DNQs in 2016 and 2017. Moldova dropped to 10th from last year’s 3rd, but since that’s two top 10 results on the trot (Hey Mamma being their first song to hit those heights since 2007), I don’t think DoReDos will be unhappy with that.

Albania’s commendable 11th place came mostly via the jurors who clearly rewarded Eugent’s INCREDIBLE vocals. I’m fine with that – the man is a powerhouse, and I’m proud of Albania for qualifying and then grabbing a really decent spot after all was said and done.

Alexander Rybak must have come back to the ESC with the intention of winning again, but that was always going to be the toughest of tasks. What ultimately happened was that Norway became the first country to win a semi final, then finish outside of the top 10 in the final. Hey, at least it’s another milestone for Rybak…just not the kind he was hoping for.

I can’t not be a little devastated for Australia and my girl Jess Mauboy, after we ended the evening with our worst result ever. But we still qualified comfortably, and Jess did an amazing job in the final (that I think deserved a better deal, but I’m biased). She left nothing in the tank, and the crowd LOVED it.

We’re all aware of the Eurovision Curse of Number Two, but Saara Aalto’s personal curse of a similar nature struck again in Lisbon – only this time, she wasn’t just behind the winner, but just ahead of last-placed Portugal. Ouch. I’d predicted Finland to wind up mid-table, so that’s a bit of a shocker. But maybe they threw a bit too much at the staging and people didn’t know where to look (a problem shared with Malta).

 

THE SPLIT RESULTS  

We had a clear televoting winner and a nose-ahead jury winner this year. Eventual all-around champ Israel snatched the public vote preference from Cyprus by a 64-point margin, finishing third with the juries; and Austria (the most pleasant surprise of the night) pipped Sweden by 18 points with the professionals…despite ending up with the 13th-highest televote.

Sadly for our hosts Portugal, the one thing televoters and jurors agreed on during the final was that O Jardim should be ranked last. I’m not quite sure how the heck that happened – I thought Claúdia was mesmerising, and not just because her hair had reached new and extreme levels of pinkness. Whatever went wrong, Portugal can now join the unfortunate club of countries who have dropped as far down the scoreboard as possible from one contest to the next (but if it helps, at least they weren’t slapped with a big fat zero á la Austria 2015).

Inconsistencies between the televote and jury vote were all over the place in the final, and in a big way. The most notable differences, from least OMG to most OMG were re: Austria (13th T/1st J), Australia (26th T/12th J), Italy (3rd T/17th J), Denmark (5th T, 20th J), Ukraine (7th T/26th J), and Sweden (23rd T/2nd J). Australia’s televote bomb and Sweden’s whopping difference of 21 places between televote ranking and jury ranking were the revelations that had my jaw on the floor. I have no explanation for those, and I am NOT AMUSED.

 

 

Which scores and split results caught you by surprise, and which ones were exactly what you were expecting? Let me know below!

 

 

 

 

Lights and Shadows: Reviewing the good, the bad and the OMG results of Eurovision 2017

Hey guys! This is the kind of post that should have gone up about five minutes after the Eurovision final ended on Saturday, but I have been internet-less (cue Psycho shower scene music) for the whole week up until this point. So please excuse the slowness.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but on the weekend Portugal did something pretty cool by winning that Eurovision final after more than half a century of trying. No biggie.

Okay, okay…like Ron Burgundy, Portugal’s win IS kind of a big deal. And obviously you already know what went down during the show – from Austria’s giant moon to a flag-draped Ukrainian’s moon (of a different kind) and everything before, in-between and after.

The more-than-convincing win by Salvador Sobral with Amar Pelos Dois is one for the ages. Salvador is a quirky and precious gift to humankind (the Michael Cera of Eurovision, if you will) and APD is a stunning song, lovingly crafted by his equally talented sister Luisa. I’m so glad we got to witness the two of them come together (Stockholm 2016 slogan pun not intended, believe it or not) to perform the best ESC winner reprise in contest history:

I’M NOT CRYING. YOU’RE CRYING.

That’s three years in row now that the Eurovision victory lap has moved me to tears, for one reason or another. If the thought of heading to Lisbon next May wasn’t appealing enough, whoever takes the trip (which might include me!) will also get to see at least one Sobral sibling perform live. BRB, off to plaster a sticker on my loose change jar that says ‘PORTUGAL FUND’.

Of course, many of us were expecting to start up an Italy fund over the weekend, if we hadn’t already. While Francesco Gabbani + gorilla hardly crashed and burned, such a steaming hot favourite finishing outside of the top 5 is flabbergasting.

Occidentali’s Karma wasn’t the only song to end the night in an unexpected place. There were plenty of surprises – good and bad – on the semi and final scoreboards…and then the full split results were made public and provided even more open-mouth moments. It’s customary for every Eurovision-related site to pick all of those results apart like a chicken carcass, so that’s what I’m (finally) doing today. Sans the grease that accompanies picking apart an actual chicken carcass. Sorry for the visual, vegetarians.

FYI 1.0: I’m not too bothered about points, because there are (other) Eurovision nerds out there who can crunch numbers with ease (I can’t) and have beaten me to it anyway. I’m more interested in other stats: agreements and disagreements between the televoters and juries; which countries continued to succeed and which countries fell off the ‘We’re Good At Song Contests!’ wagon; who outdid all of their previous results and who hit a brand new low…that sort of thing. If you want to know how many jurors from Eastern Europe gave five or more points to countries in Western Europe (or something like that), you won’t find that info here.

FYI 2.0: I like to ramble. Even if this is your first time visiting EBJ, then this overly-long intro will have made that clear. So before you go on and read this post (which I hope you do ‘coz it’s interesting, I promise), find a comfortable seat and some energy bars to have by your side – or, as Ilinca from Romania says between bouts of yodeling, ‘Get another coffee, get another one to make it through’. Wise, wise Ilinca.

Now let’s look back at the rankings from the semi finals and the final of Eurovision 2017, and see what stands out for better…or for worse.

 

 

Semi final 1

 Split results stats

  • Countries the juries and televoters agreed on were Portugal and Greece, but they both ranked Sweden, Armenia, Iceland and Latvia
  • The biggest differences of opinion were over Australia (2nd J, 15th T), the Czech Republic (7th J, 18th T) and Belgium (13th J, 3rd J). Fortunately for televoters, the juries didn’t manage to keep Blanche out of qualifying range.

 

 Combined results stats

  • Portugal won a semi for the first time this year. Their previous highest qualification came from a 2nd placing in 2008.
  • Moldova’s 2nd place overall equals their best semi result ever – they also finished 2nd the last time the contest was held in Kyiv in 2005.
  • For Sweden, this was the fifth semi final in a row (host years excluded, of course) in which they’ve finished in the top 3.
  • Australia maintained its 100% qualification record – it could be worse with two semi participations – alongside Azerbaijan (slightly more impressive given they’ve participated in nine semis).
  • The countries that did NOT qualify in 2016 but made it through in 2017 are Portugal (they didn’t compete in Stockholm), Moldova and Greece.
  • The countries that DID qualify in 2016 but failed to this year are Georgia, the Czech Republic and Latvia.

 

Moldova’s out-of-the-ordinary strong result and Sweden’s predictably excellent one put a smile on my Post-Eurovision-Depression-ravaged face. I’m also pleased with Isaiah’s 6th place, since after his performance last Tuesday I wasn’t sure Australia would even get to the final at all.

I’m not surprised by Georgia’s narrow miss of the final based on the flawless performance Tamara gave during the broadcast. I’m guessing she didn’t miss a beat, note or dramatic arm flourish during the jury show either.

I feel a bit better about losing Blackbird now that we know Finland wasn’t totally disregarded. The juries just found a few other songs that catered more to their tastes (or better met the criteria they were supposed to be searching for).

Latvia’s last place has left me shook. The juries ranking it right at the bottom makes some sense, but I expected the public to go for this particular pimp-slot song in a big way. Then again, I didn’t vote for it, and apparently I wasn’t alone.

 

 

Semi final 2

Split results stats

  • The countries juries and televoters agreed on this time were Bulgaria and Ireland, with Serbia, Switzerland, Macedonia, Lithuania and San Marino ranked closely with both.
  • It was a different story for the Netherlands (2nd J, 9th T), Austria (4th J, 14th T), Malta (8th J, 18th T), Croatia (13th J, 5th T), Romania (15th J, 3rd T) and Estonia (17th J, 6th T). The jury got their way with Estonia, but not with Malta.

 

Combined results stats

  • After qualifying for only the second time ever last year, Bulgaria did it for a third time in style by winning the second semi.
  • Hungary achieved their equal best semi result in history, with Joci doing what Magdi Ruzsa managed in 2007.
  • This semi saw Romania pick up their 100% qualifying record where they left off in 2015.
  • Switzerland may have missed out on a spot in the final for the third time in a row, but 12th place isn’t bad considering they placed dead last in their 2015 and 2016 semis.
  • Despite having a hotly tipped song up their sleeve, Macedonia failed to make it out of the semis for the fifth consecutive year.
  • The countries that did NOT qualify in 2016 but made it through in 2017 are Norway, Romania (after being expelled like a naughty school kid last year), Belarus and Denmark.
  • The countries that DID qualify in 2016 but failed to this year are Serbia, Malta and Lithuania. Where’s Donny Montell when you need him?

 

Nothing warms my (formerly cold, unfeeling) heart more than seeing Hungary’s Origo – my favourite entry of 2017 – so high in the combined ranking. I figured Joci’s rap would repel a lot of juries, but they still had him in their top 10.

I was a little surprised to see that Denmark just scraped through, but I’m biased when it comes to Anja and Where I Am. Maybe I should have seen it coming. I’m not shocked that she had more jury appeal than televoter appeal. Claudia Faniello did too, but with worse consequences.

San Marino actually finished far lower than I thought they would. Because a) Valentina and Jimmie put on a good show in spite of the material they were working with, and b) I figured I shouldn’t underestimate a Sammarinese disco song after last year, I’d prepared for them to claw their way into 12th-14th territory. Serhat must be pretty pleased with himself now!

 

 

The final

I’ve noted each country’s jury (J) and televote (T) ranking below in the overall ranking.

Split results stats

  • Just like in the semis, the juries and televoters only agreed on the ranking of two countries – Portugal and Bulgaria (who’d also been ranked first by both in their respective semis).
  • It was a close call for Italy, Azerbaijan, Greece, Israel, Germany, Belarus and Spain, who were all ranked reasonably equally by J and T. The televoters’ way would have seen Austria finish last, but the juries elevated Nathan to 16th place overall (which I’m thankful for, because I couldn’t bear to watch that adorable human fall victim to a total lack of love).
  • The biggest disagreements between J and T were over Australia, the Netherlands, Croatia, Austria, Poland, Romania and Hungary. Australia gets the award for the largest gap between rankings, with a jury 4th and a televoting 25th.

 

Combined results stats

  • We all know that the entire top 3 – Portugal, Bulgaria and Moldova – achieved their best-ever results on Saturday. Portugal and Moldova also made massive leaps after each failing to even qualify the last time they competed. This time last year, Bulgaria had just reached a best-ever placing of 4th, so well done to Kristian for improving on Poli’s already stellar result.
  • Belgium hit the heights of the top 10 for the third time in a row, and Sweden finished 5th for the second time in a row. Consistent!
  • Australia continued their top 10 trend despite receiving the second-lowest amount of public votes, while Norway found themselves back on the left side of the scoreboard after a non-qualification last year. Prior to 2016, the last time Norway had finished outside of the top 10 was 2012.
  • The Netherlands ended up in 11th place again – Douwe Bob did the same last year. Cyprus came 21st for the second straight year. More consistency!
  • 19 of the 26 finalists were also in the Stockholm grand final. Of those 19, 8 improved on their 2016 final placings and 8 dropped down. The most notable dropper is Poland, who went from 8th then to 22nd
  • In terms of host entries, Ukraine put in one of the worst performances – on the scoreboard, not on the stage – of the last decade. Austria’s 26th place with nul points from 2015 obviously outdoes O.Torvald’s 24th place (with 36 whole points) but those are the only two host entries to sink that low in recent years.
  • Spain found themselves in the bottom 5 again this year, after Barei finished 22nd in 2016. This is the first time since 1999 they’ve come last, though, which might seem surprising since they’ve had such bad luck for so long.
  • Germany, on the other hand, managed to better their last few results despite finishing second last. They trailed the pack of participants in both 2015 and 2016, so Levina shouldn’t be too One box of tissues, tops.

 

On Portugal’s win…was Amar Pelos Dois my favourite entry this year? No. Do I agree with everything Salvador said in his spontaneous slash controversial victory speech? No, but that’s more to do with the way he said it (and he’s easily defendable on that front). Am I happy that he and Portugal won the contest last weekend? HECK YEAH!!! Simple, beautiful and emotional – and yes, more about feeling than fireworks, although fireworks are fine – this winning song will be a timeless classic.

Bulgaria and Moldova achieving their best-ever results makes me do a happy dance every time I think about it (so I’d better avoid attending funerals for a while #inappropriate). Kristian’s placing was expected, but the Sunstroke Project outdid even their own expectations, I suspect. I feel strangely like a proud mother (as opposed to the hard-to-impress kind they sang about).

5th place (again) for Sweden is solid if not sensational. They had some tough competition to take out this year, and winning was never a realistic possibility. But they get to hold on to their Eurovision powerhouse title for at least another year.  

Poor Italy. After all of that buildup and so much time spent as the bookies’ fave to win, they didn’t even make the top 5. After seeing Francesco’s performance, I got the impression it wasn’t a winner, but I still thought top 3 was going to happen for him. Nope. Interestingly, France won the OGAE vote last year, like Italy did this year, and also went on to finish 6th. Spooky.

It proved to be a non-event with the juries, but Hungary’s Origo – my beloved #1 song of the year – was thankfully boosted into the top 10 by the televoters (including me…it got about 15 of my 20 votes). Since their 2011 comeback, Hungary has qualified for the final every year and has finished in the top 10 three times. Not too shabby.

On the other hand, Australia was virtually ignored by televoters but adored by the juries. I don’t really understand either response, but I can’t help being thrilled in my own biased way that we made the top 10 yet again.

I figured France was a goner after Alma appeared on stage last looking very lonely and not leaving much of an impression behind her. But 12th? Tré bien! The song definitely deserved that left-side finish, even if the staging left something to be desired.

I thought Israel might do a little better, but I think we all saw Spain’s wooden spoon coming – even before Manel sealed the deal with that cringeworthy vocal fail. I think he’s sweet, and he doesn’t deserve the hate he got before the contest and will probably get now – but I also hope Spain learns a lesson from his lack of success.

 

 

Lastly…the comeback acts, then versus now

Kyiv was a more successful contest for:

  • Sunstroke Project 22nd in 2010/3rd in 2017

…and that’s it! The trio should be particularly grateful for their success, because every single other returning artist had a worse result than they did when they last competed.

  • Koit Toome 12th in 1998/DNQ (14th in semi) in 2017
  • Laura Põldvere DNQ (20th in semi) in 2005/DNQ (14th in semi) in 2017*
  • Omar Naber DNQ (12th in semi) in 2005/DNQ (17th in semi) in 2017
  • Valentina Monetta 24th in 2014/DNQ (18th in semi) in 2017

*I’m calling Laura’s result this year worse because with Suntribe in 2005, she beat five other countries. This year, she only beat four.

 

 

Okay…I THINK I’ve gotten all of my scoreboard-related thoughts out of my system. Parabéns if you made it all the way through, and parabéns to Portugal for being the cherry on top of a contest with such discussable ingredients. I mean, EVERY Eurovision has an aftermath worth having in-depth conversations about that really confuse everyone outside of the ESC bubble. This one, though, will easily keep us going until the 2017/2018 national final season starts – or until Junior Eurovision in November, if that floats your Naviband-esque boat (it keeps mine extremely buoyant, BTW. Yes, I’m a JESC fangirl).

On that note, if there’s a result or ranking you’re burning to comment on, you’re in the right place. Did Eurovision 2017 pan out how you thought it would, or has it SHOCKED YOU TO YOUR VERY CORE and given you Koit Toome face?

 

Whatever you’re thinking, type it down below. I’m not willing to shut up about this contest until Lisbon’s (maybe) so let’s keep the conversation going in the comments.

 

Until next time – when I’m planning on counting down my top 10 performances of Eurovision 2017 – muitas felicidades!

 

 

 

From ‘Heroes’ to zeroes: Reviewing the Eurovision 2015 semi and final scoreboards, all the way from first to worst

Ah, yes. What a gift the combo of Sweden’s winning song title and Austria/Germany’s double nul-points has been to Eurovision journalism! Just to warn you – this may not be the last time I make use of the heroes/zeroes thing. But, in my defence, it is particularly relevant to today’s post:, even though today’s post isn’t particularly relevant.

Allow me to explain: it’s been over a fortnight since the first semi final of Eurovision 2015; over a week since the final; and three days since May came to an end (WHAT THE?!?!). That means it’s beyond time I did what everyone else has already done: look back on this year’s results. I’m going to pretend the lateness is intentional because I want to stand out from the crowd, when really it’s due to me being a slowpoke and taking this long to mould everything I want to say into something readable. You guys know by now that there’s waiting involved (for other people) in everything I do. It’s part of my charm…I hope.

At long last, though, I have performed a results analysis on all three nights of Viennese competition (feel free to applaud before reading any further). You won’t find a dissection of every single split and combined figure from all forty countries below – if you want the specifics, you can seek them out yourself here) – but you will find:

  • Some brief opinions on the final re: everything except the performances (since I already reviewed all 27 performances in my previous post);
  • An overview of how the Australian televoters and jurors ranked the finalists, and a reminder of where our first (but not last?) final points went; and
  • Plenty of stats from/observations of the split and combined scoreboards of the final and both semis.

So, in the words of Eurovision groove master Guy Sebastian: let’s (oh) get on it, (ooh) get on it!

 

The ESC 2015 final: A Twitter-friendly, Jaz-eye view on everything BUT the performances

‘Twitter-friendly’ = brief. I am capable of being short and sweet, you know.

Having said that, it would take at least two or three Tweets to make all of this info public.

  • The opening You had me at ‘flying Conchita in sparkly jumpsuit’. The Building Bridges theme song was a bit too JESC for ESC in my opinion, but I could learn to love it. The intro in its entirety was too long-winded. Nearly half an hour before song no. 1? Give me a break. A shorter break.
  • The hosts Alice, Mirjam and Arabella became slightly more appealing as the shows progressed – by final night, they were almost charismatic. But the main reason I was happy for them to have camera time was so I could stare at their outfits (Austrian design gets my tick of approval!). Conchita, as Green Room host, left the other three ladies in her glittery wake. #QUEEN.
  • The postcards As adorable as something can be when that something isn’t a puppy. These pre-performance featurettes were somewhat similar to last year’s – all thematically linked, but all unique in what they depicted each act doing, this time around Austria. It’s obvious there’s a lot to do over there, and if showing us that was ORF’s way of increasing tourism, it’s worked on me. But I think I’ll leave the bungee jumping to Monika and Vaidas.
mvpc

Monika and Vaidas, hoping they’ll be out of their body casts in time to perform at Eurovision. Spoiler alert: they were.

  • The interval acts An interval act has to be really, really, really good for me to watch it without thinking to myself ‘Is this STILL going? Me want results!’. Unfortunately, Mr. Percussionist didn’t fit that brief. But Conchita’s mini-medley was fabulous – I could watch and listen to her all day long. Can we have Conchita at Eurovision every year in some capacity? She can be the new Lys Assia (even though we still have the old Lys Assia).
  • The voting sequence The most exciting one we’ve sat through in years…but more on that later. I will say now that I’m legit going to start a petition to stop that ‘We don’t need to hear the results from any more countries to know that so-and-so is the winner! Congratulations! Oh, but I suppose we’d better hear the rest…’. HATE. IT. WITH. A. PASSION. It’s unnecessary, and disrespectful to the countries who are yet to announce their points and who aren’t in first place on the scoreboard. Yet it’s becoming a contest trend. Ugh.
  • The end result I more or less covered this last time, but in terms of the winner and where we’re headed in 2016 as a result, I’m RIDICULOUSLY HAPPY. CAPS LOCK IS TOTALLY NECESSARY TO GET ACROSS TO YOU JUST HOW HAPPY I AM. Take Eurovision as seriously as Sweden does, and there’s no reason you can’t win twice within four years. I expect them to equal and overtake Ireland’s winning tally in the not-too-distant future.

swwwThat is all.

 

‘Straya’s say: A little look-see at the points from the land Down Under

Speaking of Eurovision strutting back to Scandinavia next year…with Australia-in-the-ESC-for-keeps advocate Christer Björkman in a position of power where the 61st contest is concerned, it’s becoming more and more likely that we Aussies will be invited back to the party. I’ll make my thoughts on this matter public when the time’s right. For now, let’s just have a nosy at Australia’s debut grand final votes.

The Aussie points were presented by our beloved newsreader Lee Lin Chin (can’t help wishing it’d been me though). Lee Lin may not look like a badass (in fact, if Twitter is to be believed, she looks more like a certain extra-terrestrial, which I think is a very cruel and not at all amusing comparison) but I can assure you that her appearance is deceiving. She swept her sass to one side for her result-reading time, ever the professional when she needs to be. Here are the points she revealed to Europe and beyond:

  • 1pt Georgia
  • 2pts Israel
  • 3pts Estonia
  • 4pts Norway
  • 5pts Serbia
  • 6pts Belgium
  • 7pts Latvia
  • 8pts Italy
  • 10pts Russia
  • 12pts Sweden
Eurovision-Lee-Lin-Chin

Seeing red: Alice and Mirjam pale in comparison to the resplendent Lee Lin Chin.

As it turned out, Australia’s combined result was in keeping with quite a few other countries’ results. Our top three – Sweden, Russia and Italy – matched the Belgian and Latvian top threes exactly. Romania, Spain, Israel and Portugal also deemed Måns, Polina and Il Volo worthy of top points, in one order or another.

In addition, we predicted the eventual top six, not including ourselves (obviously) and with Belgium and Latvia in the wrong places. I don’t think that’s an indication of our collective psychic prowess so much as an indication that a handful of countries were almost universally popular this year.

So that was the combined result. Now, let’s banana split it a bit.

The Australian jurors’ top threes:

  • J1 Amanda Pelman – Russia, Sweden, Cyprus
  • J2 Richard Wilkins – Russia, Italy, Sweden
  • J3 Danielle Spencer – Russia, Belgium, Sweden
  • J4 Ash London – Sweden, Belgium, Russia
  • J5 Jake Stone – Russia, Sweden, Norway

Russia and Sweden were particularly popular with our jury, making it into all five members’ top threes. Italy, a little surprisingly, only featured once (who knew Richard Wilkins had such good taste? Amiright, Aussies?) as did Cyprus and Norway. Belgium was ranked second twice.

The Australian televoters’ top three:

Sweden, Belgium, Serbia

Clearly, we were feeling some Serbia ljubav that the jurors – who ranked Bojana 9th in the final – were not. This could have something to do with our sizeable Serbian population, or it could be down to the bulk of early-morning voters being Eurovision fans easily sucked in by the oh-so-ESC anthem of self-love that is Beauty Never Lies. Or it could be neither. I didn’t vote for Serbia, so you’ll have to direct any whys to someone who did!

The Australian jurors’ bottom threes:

  • J1 Amanda Pelman – Belgium, Poland, Montenegro
  • J2 Richard Wilkins – Armenia, Israel, Albania
  • J3 Danielle Spencer – Poland, Armenia, Slovenia
  • J4 Ash London – Germany, Montenegro, Slovenia
  • J5 Jake Stone – Armenia, United Kingdom, Slovenia

Reading the above as places 24, 25 and 26, you can see that Slovenia was ranked last three times. I’m somewhat taken aback by this. Could it be because Marjetka’s voice left a bad taste in multiple mouths (a.k.a. bad sound in their ears)? Or was there a widespread aversion to those damn headphones? My confused face is well and truly on. Interesting here is Belgium’s appearance, when Loïc was ranked in the top five of three other jurors. These bottom threes are a lot more varied than the top threes, with nine different countries appearing (as opposed to six appearing in the top threes).

The Australian televoters’ bottom three:

France, Albania, Azerbaijan

Now you can see just how different the tastes of televoters and juries can be. Without any specific criteria to assess the songs/performances against, we ranked three countries that barely factored into the jury’s bottom three at all 24th, 25th and 26th. For further comparison, our jury ranked France 21st, Albania 23rd and Azerbaijan…6th. It doesn’t take a genius to determine which party Elnur was more appealing to (and that wasn’t the case in Australia alone).

 

So, all of the above was Australia’s first – but, as we’ll be forced to say until who knows when, perhaps not last – contribution to the final results. ‘What results?’ I hear you ask. ‘It’s been that long since the final actually happened that I can’t remember a thing about them!’. Well, fear not, because I’m about to refresh your memory.

 

Final-ly…an overview of the expected and ‘OMG!’ outcomes of Eurovision 2015’s last hurrah

This year’s voting sequence really was an epic one. The algorithm employed by the EBU to make the results as exciting as possible can only do so much when it has to be based on the jury votes. Often the addition of the televotes screws it up completely (i.e. it’s quite obvious who’s going to win when we’re only a quarter of the way through the announcements).

But this year, we were treated to a spectacle in which Russia took an early lead and held it with both hands for the entire first half of the sequence. Then, Sweden slowly but surely closed the gap, overtook Russia, then built up their own lead. By the time there were five or so countries left to announce their points, we knew Måns had Polina beat – but that’s far, far later than usual. The tension up to that point nearly killed me.

Knowing how the sequence ended will make future viewings much less taxing, and I intend to enjoy many of those in the coming months. How come? For the result that was in my favour for the first time. For Guy Sebastian personally thanking the artists from the countries that gave Australia high points (*melts*). For Måns’ priceless facial expression when it dawned on him that he’d won! I could go on, but instead I’ll jump into the promised scoreboard overview.

 

scoreboard-2015-eurovision

 The top five (a.k.a. the five countries I predicted as potential winners, by some miracle):

1. Sweden (365)

2. Russia (303)

3. Italy (292)

4. Belgium (217)

5. Australia (196)

  • The televoters’ top five consisted of Italy, Russia, Sweden, Belgium and Estonia. The juries chose Sweden, Latvia, Russia, Australia and Belgium as their favourites. Sweden becomes the first country in the combined jury/televoting era to not win the televote and still win the entire contest.
  • Sweden and Italy were the only countries to receive points from everyone but themselves. Sweden’s lowest score was a 4 from Greece; Italy’s was a single point from Belarus and Lithuania.
  • Sweden scored twelve sets of 12 points, to Italy’s nine and Russia’s five. Belgium received three sets, including one from Hungary, and Australia nabbed two, from hosts Austria and winners Sweden.
  • Måns’ victory is Sweden’s second in four years and their sixth overall (watch out, Ireland!). If you’re still not convinced that they know how to succeed at Eurovision, just take a look at their track record, starting at 2011: 3rd, 1st, 14th (as the 2013 hosts, you can cut them a bit of slack), 3rd, and 1st. If the pattern continues, the winner of Melodifestivalen 2016 should prepare themselves for a mid-table finish at the ESC.
  • The winning margin of 62 is the biggest since Sweden last won in 2012. Back then, Loreen defeated the Buranovskiye Babushki by 113 points.
  • Russia is the runner-up for the second time in four years. They haven’t finished outside of the top ten since 2011.
  • Italy makes up for last year’s misstep with their second-strongest finish since their comeback, also in 2011 (a lot happened/has happened in/since 2011).
  • Belgium can be proud of their first top five finish since 2003. Only three countries – Azerbaijan, Malta and Montenegro – saw fit to leave Loïc pointless.
  • Australia rounded out the top five with points from all but six countries. We found ourselves the third favourite of seven countries, scoring a very respectable 8 points from Denmark, Hungary, Iceland, Poland, San Marino, Switzerland and The Netherlands.

 

The rest of the top ten:

6. Latvia (186)

7. Estonia (106)

8. Norway (102)

9. Israel (97)

10. Serbia (53)

  • After a string of non-qualifications between 2008 and 2014, Latvia not only advanced to the final (just behind Sweden) but rose up the ranks into the top ten for the first time in ten years. This amazing success (seriously…I’m SO proud) was helped along by three sets of 12 points. If the contest had been completely decided by the juries, Aminata would have finished second.
  • Estonia also makes a return to good fortune after Tanja’s surprise DNQ in Copenhagen, despite not scoring any douze points. Neither did fellow top ten finishers Norway and Israel.
  • Speaking of Norway…Mørland & Debrah’s eighth place is Norway’s second in a row, and their third top ten result in a row.
  • Israel pulled a Latvia/Estonia, with a happy ending that was a long time coming. Having not seen a final since 2010, it took a sixteen-year-old in the body of someone twice that age to get them there. Nadav and his shiny sneakers secured Israel’s best placing since 2008.
  • Rounding out the top ten was Serbia, scoring just 53 points. This is the lowest score for a 10th-placed entry since Croatia squeezed in with 42 points in 2001.

 

The mid-to-low table finishers:

11. Georgia (51)

12. Azerbaijan (49)

13. Montenegro (44)

14. Slovenia (39)

15. Romania (35)

16. Armenia (34)

17. Albania (34)

18. Lithuania (30)

19. Greece (23)

20. Hungary (19)

21. Spain (15)

22. Cyprus (11)

  • Azerbaijan didn’t quite manage to manoeuvre their way back into the top 10, but their 12th place is a big improvement on last year’s 22nd place, which was their worst-ever placing by far. After finishing 8th with their debut entry in 2008, then enjoying successive top five results between 2009 and 2013, it still seems like they’ve lost their touch a bit. But perhaps jumping from 22nd to 12th is evidence that they’re clawing their way back up. Will we see an equally impressive leap to 2nd place in 2016?
  • Montenegro can bask in the glory of their most successful Eurovision to date as an independent nation, while Adio composer Željko Joksimović can only wonder what went wrong as he contemplates his first finish outside of the top ten. For Montenegro, though, 13th place in the final is a coup. After their first semi-final qualification in Copenhagen, they seem to be surfing a little wave of success.
  • Greece scored less than last year, but received a (slightly) higher placing with Maria Elena’s ballad than they did with Freaky Fortune’s dance banger. If the latter had represented Greece in down-tempo Vienna, I suspect the country would have fared a lot better.

 

The bottom five:

23. Poland (10)

24. United Kingdom (5)

25. France (4)

26. Germany (0)

27. Austria (0)

  • Poland finished 15th in the televote, but the juries weren’t keen on In The Name of Love at all and ranked Monika last.
  • After two years of avoiding the bottom five, the UK found themselves back there once again. France languishes in the lows of the bottom five for the fourth time in a row (ouch). Still, with four whole points to her name, Lisa Angell doubled Twin Twin’s measly two points from 2014.
  • The double-whammy of woe for Germany and hosts Austria is the first of its kind since 1997, when both Norway and Portugal got the goose egg. Germany wasn’t ranked last with the televoters (25th) or juries (20th), so got a particularly raw deal. Austria did rank last in the televote, but 13th in the jury vote.

And that, ladies and gents, was the final. Before I wrap up this momentous post, let’s whiz through the semi results as well.

 

A snapshot of the semi-final scoreboards, split and combined

Here are the combined results of semi final 1:

  1. Russia (182)
  2. Belgium (149)
  3. Estonia (105)
  4. Georgia (98)
  5. Romania (89)
  6. Greece (81)
  7. Armenia (77)
  8. Hungary (67)
  9. Serbia (63)
  10. Albania (62)
  11. Moldova (41)
  12. Belarus (39)
  13. Denmark (33)
  14. The Netherlands (33)
  15. FYR Macedonia (28)
  16. Finland (13)
  • The winner of this semi, with the televoters, juries and overall, was Russia. This is the second time Russia has won a semi they’ve participated in – the Buranovskiye Babushki also won theirs in 2012.
  • Placing last, Finland achieved their worst result in Eurovision semi history. But if it had been purely up to us televoters, PKN would have qualified!
  • Four of the ten qualifiers did not qualify last year – Belgium, Estonia, Georgia and Albania (Serbia did not participate in 2014).
  • The televoting top three = Russia, Estonia and Belgium. The jury top three = Russia, Belgium and Greece.
  • Loser of the televote was FYR Macedonia; loser of the jury vote was Finland.
  • Only Russia and Georgia were ranked equally by the televoters and the juries. Both parties did agree on three of the eventual top five, with Russia, Belgium and Georgia appearing at the top on both sides of the split vote. The televoters also had Estonia and Romania in their top five, while the juries had Greece and The Netherlands up there.
  • The most drastic differences between the televotes and jury votes involved Armenia (6th T, 12th J); Serbia (7th T, 13th J); The Netherlands (15th T, 5th J); Finland (10th T, 16th J); and Estonia (2nd T, 9th J).

I predicted nine of the ten qualifiers (thinking Denmark would qualify in place of Serbia…d’oh!) but only predicted the correct finishing positions of Russia, Greece and Albania. How did you do?

 

Here are the combined results of semi final 2:

  1. Sweden (217)
  2. Latvia (155)
  3. Israel (151)
  4. Norway (123)
  5. Slovenia (92)
  6. Cyprus (87)
  7. Lithuania (67)
  8. Poland (57)
  9. Montenegro (57)
  10. Azerbaijan (53)
  11. Malta (43)
  12. Ireland (35)
  13. Czech Republic (33)
  14. Portugal (19)
  15. Iceland (14)
  16. San Marino (11)
  17. Switzerland (4)
  • This semi’s televote, jury and overall winner was Sweden. This marked Sweden’s third semi final win after 2011 and 2012 victories.
  • Unfortunately for Switzerland, they lost a semi for the third time. Piero & the Music Stars and Michael von der Heide also finished last in 2004 and 2010.
  • Three of the qualifiers did not qualify last year – Latvia, Israel and Lithuania (Cyprus did not participate in 2014).
  • Azerbaijan recorded its worst-ever result in a semi final, qualifying tentatively in 10th.
  • The televoting top three = Sweden, Israel and Latvia. The jury top three = Sweden, Latvia and Norway.
  • Loser of the televote was Switzerland; loser of the jury vote was San Marino.
  • This time (Lithuanian pun not intended) three countries – Sweden, Cyprus and Portugal – were ranked equally by both parties, while Sweden, Latvia, Israel and Norway were agreed upon in both top fives. The televoters had Poland in their top five, while the juries had Malta in the mix.
  • In semi no. 2, the split revealed big disagreements regarding Malta (12th T, 5th J); Ireland (16th T, 7th J); and Poland (4th T, 16th J).

I also predicted nine out of ten qualifiers in this case (a personal best), under the impression that Iceland would qualify instead of Poland. Oops. Again, I managed to guess three finishing positions – Sweden’s, Malta’s and Ireland’s. Better luck next year to me, and to you if you couldn’t see the future so well either!

 

 

That’s all for today (as if it wasn’t enough for a lifetime) but rest assured that I have serious posting plans for the nest few months.

Up next will be my argument in favour of retaining the jury vote in the wake of Sweden’s “controversial” triumph. Then, you’ll have your chance to vote in the People’s Choice categories of the EBJ Eurovision Excellence Awards 2015 (woohoo?); the EBJEEs themselves will take place; I’ll reveal my top 10 performance highlights from Vienna and my picks for the national final runners-up who probably should have gone to Eurovision; and I’ll be publishing my exposé on all the lookalikes from the Class of ’15.

I hope you’ll drop by for some or all of these (hopefully) exciting events! In the meantime, let me know what you thought of this year’s voting sequence, results and winner. Please note that members of the Anti-Måns Brigade may be given the cold shoulder for a few days.

Just kidding.

Until next time…

 

nsig

 

The world’s most overdue JESC wrapup: Grande amore for a grande show!

From Ti Si Moja Prva Ljubav to Tu Primo Grande Amore (or from one first love to another) we have our twelfth Junior Eurovision champion!

I know this news is so old by now it’s practically growing fungus, but I have had a hectic couple of weeks by the standards of the disorganised sloth that I am – so it’s only now I’ve managed to pull some kind of JESC recap together (or rather, #together…no points for ‘seeing what I did there’). I may as well have waited until Junior Eurovision 2015 happened and then combined this post with a review of that, but being late to every kind of party is more my style. So here I am.

Anyway…that aforementioned Junior champ is Naples’ own Vincenzo Cantiello, who beat out fourteen all-girl acts and Bulgaria (some say it was all about Krisia, but I say Hasan and Ibrahim deserve serious credit too) to nab the biggest, shiniest trophy of the three on offer, in a victory that I did not see coming until it…well, came. As someone who saw/heard something special in Italy’s debut entry from the start, but who had convinced herself that it was going to bomb spectacularly, I could not be happier with this result. For the first time in the entirety of Eurovision history, my favourite song as of comp night HAS WON. O to the M to the G.

Obviously, that glorious triumph was my highlight of the November 15th show, but read on for my extremely delayed rundown of everything else that took place in the lead-up to Vincenzo’s victory.

 

Malta’s first (Junior) ESC: How did they do?

Generally speaking, Malta deserves a round of applause (which I am giving them right now. If you listen very carefully you may be able to hear it). Size doesn’t matter when it comes to putting on a jolly good show, as the awesomeness level of the stage and production will attest. I mean, that stage was so high on the sweet-as-o-meter that it was reused for MESC a week later (and it’s the best stage MESC has ever had).

1

Shipbuilding chic at its finest.

Hostess-wise…well, save for a dodgy jumpsuit and a visible bra that I’m not sure was entirely appropriate for a children’s song contest, Moira Delia more than fulfilled her presentation duties, proving that having two people at the helm is unnecessary – especially when it results in the kind of painful, scripted banter we got from Zlata and Timur last year. She even managed to keep her composure during that pre-reprise stampede of under-16s, which was definitely not scripted. Extra claps for you, Moira!

Like any true Eurofan, however, there are some aspects of Malta’s show I would like to bitch about:

a) The “artist parade” at the beginning, which was way too rapid-fire for my liking;
b) The postcards, which were nicely shot but kind of same-same (and didn’t feature the participants at all…bad Malta!);
c) The fact that the Australian broadcast was chopped up as usual, so I was punished for not being able to watch live this year (sadface) by missing out on stuff that I’m going to assume was unmissable. This, of course, is not Malta’s fault, but I’m on the complain train and I’d like to complete the journey in one leg; and
d) The…ah…well, I guess that was it.

A flawless contest, junior or senior, is almost impossible to execute, so in spite of my little gripes, I’m happy with how Malta’s first try turned out. Based on this, I’d love to see how the island would handle adult Eurovision. I don’t think we’re going to see that in 2016 based on the MESC outcome, but stranger things have happened…

 

The points from the EBJ jury (i.e. me)

Now’s the time for me to tell you what I thought of the most important (not counting the voting sequence) part of JESC 2014 – the performances. And is there a more perfect way to do so than in point-giving style? Possibly, but this is how I roll. So:

1 point goes to…Sweden – Julia was far from being the best vocalist in show, but as Du Är Inte Ensam makes a better live song than studio one, and I totally dug those glittery outfits (backing dancers’ fringed sleeves included) her time on stage was enjoyable for me.

2 points go to…Slovenia – When Sanna Nielsen’s already trademarked a cage of light, where do you go next? Well, duh…you flick the switch on a cage of pyro! Throw in a simple but effective white and metallic outfit and an impressive vocal range, and you’ve got a solid, if not mind-blowing, debut entry for Slovenia.

3 points go to…San Marino – Based on how horrendous The Peppermints had the potential to be, they pleasantly surprised me. A few of the girls should have left the solos to the stronger singers, and there were some rather unladylike dance moves in the performance, but generally the harmonies were tight and the engagement with the crowd and camera was good. My thumbs are up for those rainbow skirts, too.

2

Just swap the red with the yellow, and I’ll be satisfied.

4 points go to…the Netherlands – You could never accuse them of slacking off in the dance department. Julia had an accomplished posse of movers and shakers behind her as she delivered a confident rendition of Around, sometimes joining in with them without missing a beat. Coming directly after Malta must have been intimidating, but she tried her best to repair the damage from Federica shattering everybody’s glassware with her operatics.

5 points go to…Belarus – Nadezhda was my pre-contest favourite, so I was pretty excited to see her open the show. After a slightly shaky start, she pulled a polished performance out of her hat (a.k.a. her elasticky feather dangler thingy) complete with giant Ruslana-worthy horns, and though it didn’t give me the major feels I was hoping it would, I was struck yet again by Belarus’ knack for producing brilliant JESC entries as opposed to their not-so-brilliant adult entries. If the EBU suddenly decides to bend more than one rule regarding the ESC, can we have Nadezhda for Vienna?

6 points go to…Cyprus – Sophia needed dancers to elevate Pio Omorfi Mera, and possibly a change of stylist. However, she owned that big stage, oozing stage presence, looking like she was having the time of her life, and giving one of the best vocals of the evening. That key change made me love key changes again! To think, once upon a time I was worried she wouldn’t be able to sing this song live. #idiot.

7 points go to…Ukraine – One of the most interesting performances to watch was Sympho-Nick’s, due to their unique entry onto the stage, and the interpretive dance that followed. I also commend them for the drastic improvements in their harmonies since the Ukrainian final. The only reminder of that winning-yet-quite-awful performance was the identical outfits (they did…wash those since then, right?).

3

“Here’s to NOT making the audience run screaming from the hall at the sound of our attempts to harmonise!”

8 points go to…Armenia – This was JESC all over, and nobody in their right mind could have sat through it and not enjoyed it (so if you didn’t, Google insane asylums in your area STAT). Betty’s almost-studio-perfect vocals made Monika of the Chocolate Factory’s throaty screaming session sound even worse than it actually was.

10 points go to…Bulgaria – After all the bad luck they had during rehearsals (throat afflictions, incomplete run-throughs, electrical faults…Bulgaria experienced it all) Krisia, Hasan and Ibrahim nailed their three minutes when it mattered most, jury final aside. There was nothing about this that wasn’t perfect and magical and filled with rainbows and smiles and unicorns. And I don’t care if she already has loving parents – I am adopting Krisia ASAP because she is PRECIOUS.

12 points go to…Italy – This was the only performance that I can say blew me away. I was on Team Vincenzo from the beginning, but I didn’t think Italy had a hope in heck of JESC success until this kid created a magic moment on stage. Even then I didn’t think he’d win, but I guess good things do come to those who wait (for an eternity in the hope their favourite song will come out on top for once).

4

Vincenzo : JESC champ and record holder for the biggest ‘TA DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!’.

And for good measure, here are my thoughts on the leftovers:

Croatia – The glory days of Dino Jelusić and Nika Turković were hard to recall as poor Josie struggled to keep her voice in check. It did turn out to be game over as, despite her best attempts to dance, schmooze the audience and sing at the same time, Croatia pretty much secured themselves the wooden spoon over 180 cringe-worthy seconds.

Montenegro – Unfortunately, the fluoro skirt/leather jacket combo wasn’t the only thing Maša and Lejla borrowed from their dreadful preview video for their turn on stage. They also adopted the same air of ‘get both of us out of here PRONTO!’ only this time with 110% more lethargy. I’ve never seen such half-hearted “dance moves” and attempts to get the audience going in my life.

Russia – Meh. Yeah, she’s cute, and yeah, she can sing, but Alisa faltered just enough leading up to the final twenty seconds of Dreamer to underwhelm. As someone who disliked this song anyway, she would have had to go above and beyond to impress me.

Serbia – Nice vocals from Emilija, but not a lot of personality was injected into her performance. And what was going on with her outfit? I’m all for the monochrome trend, but this girl is 14 and was at Junior Eurovision – she wasn’t a high-powered 45-year-old attending an office meeting.

Malta – There’s no doubt about it, Federica’s an incredible talent (even if I still can’t wrap my head around that voice coming out of an eleven-year-old) and I did enjoy her performance. But I was disappointed in one respect, and again, it’s fashion-wise. When your song’s called Diamonds, live a little! Get that Swarovski-brand bedazzler and go crazy. Don’t just wave a roll of beige fabric at a pile of rhinestones and think that’ll cut it.

 

Whew. After far too much performance critiquing, let’s take a look at where those performances got the contestants on the scoreboard.

 

The results

My prediction for each placing is in brackets (like this) and shockingly, I have never predicted a Eurovision event so accurately (which doesn’t say much based on my embarrassing prediction history). But I’ll let you figure out exactly how accurate I was for yourselves, as I don’t like to brag. Well, I do, but I don’t want you all to hate me.

1. Italy 159 (Malta)
2. Bulgaria 147 (Ukraine)
3. Armenia 146 (Armenia)
4. Malta 116 (Bulgaria)
5. Russia 96 (Cyprus)
6. Ukraine 74 (Russia)
7. Belarus 71 (Belarus)
8. Netherlands 70 (Netherlands)
9. Cyprus 69 (Georgia)
10. Serbia 61 (Serbia)
11. Georgia 54 (Slovenia)
12. Slovenia 29 (Sweden)
13. Sweden 28 (Italy)
14. Montenegro 24 (Montenegro)
15. San Marino 21 (San Marino)
16. Croatia 13 (Croatia)

IMG_7429

Armenia had the most flags, but it’s who has the most points that matters!

  • Italy’s win came pretty convincingly, with one of the higher scores achieved in JESC history and a solid four sets of douze points.
  • Bulgaria also scored four lots of top points, while bronze medalist Armenia received six sets. Vincenzo’s six sets of 10 points, however, helped him leapfrog Betty’s single 10.
  • Georgia, Malta and the Netherlands were the only other countries to get douze points, with one apiece.
  • Poor Croatia! They attracted one measly point in addition to the automatic twelve, which came from San Marino. I’m not surprised, but I feel sorry for Josie nonetheless.

 

Aaaaaaaaaaand I’m done. I think. I’m also done with my JESC “coverage” for this year (cue grumblings of ‘Well jeez, it’s about time!’) so those of you exclusively on Team Senior can rejoice – though I can’t promise I won’t be slipping in the odd Junior-flavoured morsel from time to time pre-Italy (?) 2015. But for the most part, it’s Vienna and Vienna’s NF season that I will FINALLY be focusing on in the coming months. Just like everyone else. Hey, I never said I was groundbreaking!

On that note, I’ll end this post in the most predictable way possible, saying the only thing that should be said (via a crappy graphic as per usual):

cv

Until next time…

EBJ Signature

 

 

All #together now…some quick predictions for JESC 2014!

O, JESC, why art thou so hard to predict? Every November I find myself tearing my hair out with indecision over who’s going to end up where on the scoreboard, and I’m finding it more and more difficult to disguise the resulting bald patches.

This prediction dilemma isn’t something that tends to happen with adult Eurovision, despite the fact that there are a bajillion more entries to contend with. Anyone with an explanation for this phenomenon, please call me ASAP on 1800-NO-CLUE. Then sit back, relax and read through the following extra-quick (I’m a little time-poor at the moment) and extra-questionable predictions for Malta 2014 – due to begin in a matter of hours! Hashtag unbelievablebecauseKyivseemslikeyesterday.

Not even a real crystal ball would help me now...

Not even a real crystal ball would help me now…

Let’s start with a few guesses as to which countries will have the…

 
…best staging – Armenia, Belarus, Ukraine (Armenia and Ukraine are never to be underestimated when it comes to putting on a show, and with all the fantasy/falcon imagery Belarus has to work with, they wouldn’t want to disappoint.)
…best vocals – Georgia, Italy, Malta, Russia, Serbia (This is THE year for epic vocalists – not to say there aren’t any weak links. I expect the best of the best to come from Georgia as usual; Italy, Malta and Russia, all of whom have big ballads that will bomb without top-notch vocals to set them off; and Serbia, because Emilija’s been down the talent show route relying on her voice alone, and I don’t reckon she’s got the ability to sing bum notes.)
…best costumes – Armenia, Belarus, Sweden (Armenia’s are guaranteed to be bright and fun, and I’ve seen snapshots of the Belarusian feather-fest and Sweden’s glitter extravaganza, and I liked what I saw.)
…total package – Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria (So long as Bulgaria’s Krisia is no longer suffering from the world’s most inconvenient throat infection, I expect everything you can hear and see with these three entries to be on point.)

 

Now, who’s going to be…

 
…a positive surprise – Ukraine (I know not everyone’s anti-Sympho-Nick, but plenty of people aren’t getting it. Just wait and see, though, haters…I think these girls might impress you and do a lot better than you’re giving them credit for. Remember the three magic words: NEVER UNDERESTIMATE UKRAINE!)
…a negative surprise – Georgia (In terms of a normally well-performing country failing for the first time, I think Georgia could be The One. I just don’t see Happy Day having enough to offer to get it raking in the points.)
…the winner – Armenia, Cyprus, Malta, Ukraine (This is the part I was dreading most. Apart from the insistence of press on the ground in Malta who believe JESC’s the host country’s for the taking, I’ve got nothing. This competition is still wide open, folks! Nevertheless, I’ll have a stab and say: Armenia, who have an irresistible ethno-pop entry that gives me those triumphant vibes; Cyprus, who need a lot to go right for Sophia to win but who aren’t out of contention by any means; Malta, based on those insistent claims from the peeps who’ve seen rehearsals; and Ukraine, as somewhat of a dark horse prediction…albeit a dark horse dressed in a blinged-up blue nightgown.)
…the loser – Croatia, Montenegro, San Marino (It’s GOT to be one of these three, right? None of them are my personal losers, but I can see any of them, particularly Croatia and San Marino, just doing nothing.)

 

Finally, here’s my guess at what the scoreboard will look like at the end of the evening:

 
1. Malta
2. Ukraine
3. Armenia
4. Bulgaria
5. Cyprus
6. Russia
7. Belarus
8. Netherlands
9. Georgia
10. Serbia
11. Slovenia
12. Sweden
13. Italy
14. Montenegro
15. San Marino
16. Croatia

Anyone who’s made a full scoreboard prediction and gets it at least 50% right, deserves a medal in my opinion. Psychics not included.

 
Well, that’s all I have time for. I’m sorry if this post seems rushed, but that’s because it was rushed. I’ve got a super busy weekend ahead of me – so much so, I won’t be watching JESC live tonight *insert sadface here*. Instead, I’ll be watching on actual television tomorrow night when we in Australia get the (slightly, by past standards) delayed broadcast, complete with our own commentators. That’s after I’ve been gallivanting around all day, which in turn is after I’ve spent tonight dancing up a storm at my very first Euroclub (more on that to come next week, fingers crossed). So, as I head off to cover myself in PVA glue and dive into a swimming pool full of glitter in preparation, I wish you fun times watching Junior Eurovision 2014. May the show be epic, may the voting be nail-biting, and may the best song win!

EBJ Signature

 

My Very Late ESC 2014 Grand Final Review (Part 2): Thoughts on the scoreboard feat. the semis

If there’s a prize for being late to the party (the party being reviewing Eurovision 2014) then back off, because it’s mine! The thing is – and you’ll be bored of me rehashing this – since I was too excited to study during the ESC week, and too depressed to be productive in the few days afterwards, I’m now in a period of chaos where I have multiple MAHUSIVE assignments due within the next week (my last week of the semester, thank the Lordi) that I’ve barely begun. Therefore, I’m having to work my butt off with little time to blog, which sucks. That’s my excuse for why the second part of my final review is coming out over a fortnight after the contest, and over a week after the first part.

This is basically just a run through of the scoreboards from the final and the semis, with comments by moi, plus a recap of the Australian online vote and a mini post-show ranking to show you how my preferences were changed by epic lighting and/or magnificent costuming. I’m not going to get into the intricacies of the split results much, as similar analysis has been done (The Eurovision Times published a a few particularly good ones you can find here and here if you haven’t checked them out yet) so this is more of an overview accompanied by catty judgments.

 

The Final Scoreboard: A Closer, Totally Unbiased Look

 Two things about the voting sequence before we get to the results:

a) Crossing to all of the spokespersons at once on the big screen? More of that please. Although if I’d spotted Alyona Lanskaya I would have remembered to mute her impromptu and totally unnecessary version of Solayoh. You had your moment last year, Alyona. NO ONE CARES.

b) Umm, that early winner announcement! I’ve had more than one night’s anger over that. After the backlash caused by the same thing in Malmö, I assumed it wouldn’t happen again. But oh no, charming Nikolaj and adorable Pilou lost a bit of their charm and adorableness when they announced Austria as unbeatable with about two or three countries left to vote (I know they were just doing what they’d been instructed to, but I have to lash out at somebody). We all knew Conchita was the winner – to announce it early took away from the significance of the remaining countries votes, turning them into an afterthought. I am hoping this doesn’t become a tradition.

Now, those results…we’ve all seen them, but who wouldn’t want to see them again and then hear me complain about Greece not beating Romania for several paragraphs?

1. Austria 290 – No real surprises here. After Conchita’s performance I was thankful I’d predicted Austria as a probable winner. Still, with the spread of scores and the relatively low gap between 1st and 2nd place, this was no landslide.

If you don't have proper weights, why not use your Eurovision trophy to tone those arms?

If you don’t have proper weights, why not use your Eurovision trophy to tone those arms?

2. The Netherlands 238 – I’m thrilled for the Dutch, still. If Anouk had been last year’s runner-up, I’d have struggled to understand it, but The Common Linnets captured the mood and created a magic that I totally got (in the end).

3. Sweden 218 – I’m happy with this, and I hope Sanna is too. I knew my favourite song of the year wasn’t quite going to go all the way after a certain point, but because I was worried Sweden could head in the direction of Hungary in 2011, the bronze position is brilliant.

'And directly in front of me you can see the most valuable light saber in my collection...'

‘And directly in front of me you can see the most valuable light saber in my collection…’

4. Armenia 174 – Again, this ain’t exactly shocking. I never saw Armenia winning with Not Alone, as much as I love it. Finishing in 4th, they’ve got to be at least a teensy bit pleased that they blew Azerbaijan out of the water.

5. Hungary 143 – This is proof that Hungary is getting better and better at playing the Eurovision game every year. A very good, very current song that many thought would bomb because of its subject matter triumphed instead. Well done Andras!

6. Ukraine 113

7. Russia 89 – Now THIS was a surprise. As the televoters much preferred it over the jurors, I put it down to the staging, which I personally couldn’t tear my eyes away from. The hair trick and giant see-saw are surely what people remembered when they picked up their phones.

8. Norway 88

9. Denmark 74

10. Spain 74 – I guess the lesson here for Spain is if they send an attractive brunette who can sing the leg off a chair to perform a typically Eurovision ballad, they’ll secure themselves 10th place. That’s a good showing for Spain.

'If my hair touches any of this electrical equipment, we could be in trouble!'

‘If my hair touches any of this electrical equipment, we could be in trouble!’

11. Finland 72

12. Romania 72 – Romania and Moldova are experts in just missing out on the top 10. In this case, Romania should have completely missed out IMO.

13. Switzerland 64

14. Poland 62 – The jury sealed Donatan & Cleo’s fate via the drag effect of ranking them 23rd to the televoters’ 5th. Not that 14th is a terrible result – I’m just mourning what could have been for one of my favourite entries.

15. Iceland 58

16. Belarus 43

17. United Kingdom 40 – Ouch. After weeks of steadily declining odds and promising rehearsals, Molly failed to meet expectation and then some. But there was only 34 points between her and Ruth, which is something of a consolation.

Due to nerves, Molly couldn't wait for her three minutes to end so she could go to the toilet...

Molly soon regretted eating that curry just before her turn onstage…

18. Germany 39

19. Montenegro 37 – Not only did they make the final for the first time, but Montenegro beat big players Greece, Italy and Azerbaijan. That’s a win for them as far as I’m concerned. Figure skaters = success. Just ask Dima Bilan.

20. Greece 35 – How…just how did this happen? I am CRUSHED. Okay, so when I step back and look at all the factors I can kind of see how it happened. But even cookie-cutter, dated Aphrodisiac did better than this!

21. Italy 33

22. Azerbaijan 33 – So, they’re not invincible after all, eh? For the first time since their 2008 debut, Azerbaijan finished out of the top 10, and not narrowly. I have to admit, it pleases me to learn that they are capable of failure, since up until now I assumed they’d do amazingly even if they sent a bag of garbage (literally) to represent them, and that irritated me.

23. Malta 32

24. San Marino 14 – Props to SM for not coming last. I hope such an unprecedented result doesn’t encourage a fourth consecutive appearance from Valentina (and Ralph)…*shudder*.

It was Valentina's incredibly accurate zombie impression that got her to the final.

It was Valentina’s incredibly accurate zombie impression that got her to the final.

25. Slovenia 9

26. France 2 – Not for the first time in recent history, one of my most-loved entries lost the final. Waldo’s People in 2009, Tooji in 2012, and now this! Maybe Moustache wasn’t very effective in such a grand setting, but…TWO POINTS?!? I guess I should just be grateful that Twin Twin didn’t pull a Jemini.

 

Australia calling! The results from our unofficial final vote

Over on broadcaster SBS’s Eurovision site, us fans Down Under had the chance to thumbs up or thumbs down each entry as was our want. I couldn’t even do that, because of state-related time zone issues, so it was up to the rest of my fellow Aussies to decide our “points”. Here’s our top 10, in traditional ESC fashion:

1 point went to Ukraine

2 points went to Malta

3 points went to Switzerland

4 points went to the UK

5 points went to Poland

6 points went to Iceland

7 points went to Finland

8 points went to the Netherlands

10 points went to Sweden

Aaaaaaaaand, surprise surprise…our 12 points went to Austria.

So it looks like Conchita has recruited herself a fan club over here as well. We actually agreed with Europe’s entire top 3 (albeit in a slightly different order) but put Finland, Iceland, Poland (woohoo!), the UK, Switzerland and Malta in place of Armenia, Hungary, Russia, Norway, Denmark and Spain. Oh, and in case you were wondering, San Marino came in 26th. So I guess it wasn’t so much a Maybe here as a Definitely Not.

 

Back To The Semis: The Winners, Losers and Almosts

Semi final 1 ↓

  1. The Netherlands 150
  2. Sweden 131
  3. Hungary 127
  4. Armenia 121
  5. Ukraine 118
  6. Russia 63
  7. Montenegro 63
  8. Iceland 61
  9. Azerbaijan 57
  10. San Marino 40
  11. Portugal 39
  12. Estonia 36
  13. Latvia 33
  14. Belgium 28
  15. Albania 22
  16. Moldova 13
  • For the first time ever, the Netherlands topped a Eurovision semi final. I’m still surprised by this to be honest (because I didn’t think the majority would rule on a humble l’il country number…and it’s the Netherlands) but it’s something for all of the countries in a rut to take note of. With the right song and act, anything is possible.
  • Sanna pipped Andras for the honour of qualifying second, but not by much. Hungary are going from strength to strength, having qualified every year since their 2011 comeback, and made the final top 10 for two consecutive years.
  • There was a 55-point gap split between the 5th and 6th qualifiers – Ukraine and Russia. Montenegro made it to their first final on the same point level as Russia, with Iceland very close behind.
  • Azerbaijan’s 9th place made quite the change from their previous stellar history. During the 2008-2011 period they qualified 6th, 2nd, 2nd and 2nd, and won their semi final last year in Malmö. It’s safe to say Dilara didn’t start many fires with her slow-burn ballad!
  • Jaws all over the globe hit the floor when San Marino went through, unsurprisingly in 10th place. What we didn’t know at the time was that poor Portugal had finished just under San Marino. A single point was all that separated Valentina and Suzy, which probably left the latter wondering what she could have done to win over a few more jury members (it was the juries who sealed her fate by ranking her last).
  • Moldova’s hair-ripping routine failed to get them to the final for the first time since 2008. Perhaps now they’ll realise that the classic costume reveal is still okay?

 

Semi final 2 ↓

  1. Austria 169
  2. Romania 125
  3. Finland 97
  4. Switzerland 92
  5. Belarus 87
  6. Norway 77
  7. Greece 74
  8. Poland 70
  9. Malta 63
  10. Slovenia 52
  11. Lithuania 36
  12. Ireland 35
  13. Macedonia 33
  14. Israel 19
  15. Georgia 15
  • From losing their semi final and limping only to 16th place in last year’s to winning the whole thing, Austria sure rose up (pardon the pun) in the rankings this time around. Conchita’s powerful pipes won convincingly over Paula Seling’s dog-frightener of a note.
  • Surprisingly high qualifiers in this semi (for me) were Finland and Switzerland, in 3rd and 4th places. Switzerland turned out to be less of a borderline entry than many of us thought it would be. Greece, on the other hand, didn’t do as well as is expected of them, nor as well as I was hoping.
  • Poland’s qualification was pretty convincing for a country that hadn’t seen a Saturday night since 2008, putting them 18 points ahead of just-in Slovenia.
  • Vilija can’t have been as devastated as Suzy must have been to end up 11th, as her result was brought on by much more than one point. Things were quite tight in the 11th-13th-placed range.
  • Israel coming second-to-last with only four more points than bonkers Georgia was a big shock for me, and I’m not even a massive fan of Same Heart. Mei’s performance was fiercer than 100 angry Beyoncés in a fistfight, and I’m sure she’s made it her mission to hunt down and poke her sword at everyone who failed to vote for her.
  • Georgia last = duh. Okay, so the song has grown on me, and the parachute thing actually worked IMO, but Three Minutes To Earth was always going to be more like Three Minutes to the Bottom of the Scoreboard.

 

My top 10, two weeks later

As usual, seeing the songs performed live for the real deal changed my already changeable mind a LOT. Once again I used this handy sorter to gauge my own opinion, and below you can see my post-show top fifteen (because I didn’t think anyone would want to read through my entire top 37 for the third time) and how they’ve moved from my most recent ranking done just prior to the first semi. I’m sorry to disappoint those of you who might have been hoping for a renouncement of my Team Sanna membership.

  1. Sweden (=)
  2. Poland (+5)
  3. Greece (-1)
  4. France (-1)
  5. Armenia (+1)
  6. Denmark (+4)
  7. Italy (+6)
  8. Belarus (=)
  9. Norway (=)
  10. Hungary (-6)
  11. Montenegro (-6)
  12. Ukraine (+12)
  13. Iceland (+1)
  14. Finland (+21)
  15. Albania (+7)

So I’m clearly crushing on Finland after Softengine rocked the Hallerne…what about you? How have your rankings changed since the show?

 

That’s about all I have to say on the scores at the moment. I hope this overview was worth the delay in one way or another! If you’re still up for complaining and/or rejoicing in the outcomes of this year’s contest, I’m up for listening, so comment down below with any of your unaired thoughts.

 

NEXT TIME: Watch out…the 2014 EBJ Awards for Eurovision Excellence are coming! I’m about to open my People’s Choice polls, and I want you to vote to decide each winner (duh. That’s the whole point) so make sure you drop by in a few days’ time to have your say. This year you get to vote on more awards than ever before in the two-or-three-year history of the ceremony, so get excited! Please? Just a little bit?

 

An EBJ top 10: best of the bronze medalists!

Let’s take another break from the hustle and bustle of the national finals with another list! Today it’s all about the songs that managed to grab the last of the most coveted positions in a Eurovision final: places one, two and three. I’ve compiled a few ‘best-of winners’ lists in my blogging time, and as my last top 10 focused on the silver medalists of the contest (if you didn’t read it, firstly, what are you, crazy? And secondly, why not read it now: www.eurovisionbyjaz.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/an-ebj-top-10-the-best-of-the-runners-up/) it’s only logical that I should now turn my attention to the runner-ups to the runner-ups. Finishing third is nothing to be sneezed at – unless you suffer from hayfever that is triggered by impressive results in competitions – and here are my all-time favourites.

 

#1

Lejla by Hari Mata Hari (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2006)

Hari Mata Hari: singing about a girl called Lejla, hoping he didn't drop any souvlaki on his lapel in the green room

You might remember my #1 runner-up being Zeljko Joksimović’s Lane Moje, which is also one of my all-time favourite Eurovision songs. It’s no coincidence that my most-loved bronze medalist was also composed by ZJ, and again is up there with the best of the best, by which I mean my best. Everything about Lejla was perfect – the costumes, the choreography, the visuals, the vocals…if Bosnia had only thought to stuff someone into a piano they might have come second. Still, it’s the song that matters, and as the co-creator Zeljko made it magic. With another top 10 placing to his name since Athens, his ESC pedigree makes me I can’t wait to see desperate to hear what he’s come up with as Serbia’s 2012 representative.

 

#2

Reise Nach Jerusalem by Sürpriz (Germany 1999)

So I absentmindedly typed ‘Turkey’ next to the name of this song. So what? Germany weren’t the first and they won’t be the last country to put forward a song that owes more to the culture and sound of somewhere else – Norway being a recent and prime example. Besides, it was the German songwriting superstars Siegel & Meinunger who decided that a Turkish delight might find favour in Jerusalem. What a wise decision that turned out to be!

 

#3

Se På Mej by Jan Johansen (Sweden 1995)

Sweden is one of my favourite ESC countries, and in the 1990s they were one of Europe’s too, for the most part. Jan, his open-necked shirt and plea for us all to look at him (where else would we be looking?) brought the country another commendable result. I love this song because it defies many expectations of Swedish music and showmanship (although I have no issues with the stereotypical Swedish stuff) – it’s subtle, it’s not cheesy schlager, and there were no feathers, sequins or glitter eyeshadow to be seen anywhere in the performance. Sometimes simple trumps flamboyant.

 

#4

My Star by Brainstorm (Latvia 2000

Brainstorm's Renars would be my #1 craziest-looking artist for sure

Who’d have guessed that a group of Latvian hippies (I base that assumption purely on costume) in need of a dance lesson or two would charm their way into third place, especially considering they marked Latvia’s first Eurovision appearance? My Star is a gem in so many ways, and every time I hear it I find myself thinking ‘Yes, Renars, as a matter of fact I would like to be your runaway bride’. Ah, the power of a song.

 

#5

Die For You by Antique (Greece 2001)

This song is the Greek formula in a glossy, glittery nutshell. Up-tempo ethno-pop just like it has consistently earned the country a spot in the top 10, including the 2005 victory of Helena Paparizou, one half of Antique. I have to admit I’m a bigger fan of Helena’s Eurovision debut than her second successful attempt, and because I am not that way inclined you can’t blame that on her catsuit.

 

#6

Always by AySel & Arash (Azerbaijan 2009)

Ethno-pop strikes again! I never get sick of listening to this one, although I prefer to just listen and not watch, because watching means having to hear AySel’s less than reliable live vocal. I especially love the Middle Eastern influence of Arash – when that instrumental bit kicks in, it’s dance time no matter where I happen to be (note to self: never listen to Always when there are other people present).

 

#7

The One That I Love by Chiara (Malta 1998)

Apart from a particularly hideous, wallpaper-green suity dressy type outfit that would have made Elizabeth Taylor look as attractive as Jabba the Hut, Chiara’s first trip to Eurovision can be hailed a triumph (as can her second. Her third, not so much). Her sweet love ballad was made all the more lovely by her über fabulous voice – take note, AySel – and some strategic candle placement. In fact, I think I can even forgive the costume; it was the 1990s, after all.

 

#8

Popular by Eric Saade (Sweden 2011)

"With all this glass-smashing I have to do, one glove was NOT a great idea"

Less than a year ago, Eric literally smashed his way into third place, surprising many and making others wonder if, had she smashed her guitar over the head of one of her backing singers the year before, Anna Bergendahl would have done better. Popular whipped the audience into a frenzy in a way not even Jedward could manage, as the scoreboard will forever be testament to. My own love for the song is proof of my prioritising of catchiness over meaningful, multiple-word lyrics.

 

#9

Let Me Try by Luminita Anghel & Sistem (Romania 2005)

If Eurovision were a fast food drive-thru, it’s unlikely the cashier would ask ‘Would you like some angle grinding with that?’. But when Romania decided a bit of industrial work would liven up their performance in Kyiv (the sparks literally flew) the decision made for an extra-memorable stage show that made an already great song even better. Luminita handled the big notes with ease and even found the time to get in a little drumming of her own. You’ve got to love a frontperson who gets involved.

 

#10

Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu by Domenico Modugno (Italy 1958)

‘Voooooooolare, whoah-oh…’ Like I could leave this off the list; it’d be like leaving ABBA out of a ranking of winning songs. There’s a reason it remains one of the ESC’s most famous and enduring entries. Fun fact: the chorus was recently used in an Aussie advert for pasta sauce. I love the thought of Eurovision infiltrating the homes of people who find it unworthy of attention via mushy tomatoes.

 

DVD extras, blog style…here are the ones that just missed out:

Gente Di Mare by Umberto Tozzi & Raf (Italy 1987), Kaan by Duo Datz (Israel 1991), Wir Geben ‘Ne Party by MeKaDo (Germany 1994), Dinle by Şebnem Paker & Group Etnic (Turkey 1997), Song #1 by Serebro (Russia 2007)

 

What are your favourite third-placers?

 

1 to 43, down the Eurovision street…

My manicure's still intact...unfortunately, "Baku" doesn't fit so well. Lucky "Azerbaijan" does!

It’s the morning after the morning after, and there’s still so much 2011 to talk about! I need a bit of time before I crown this year’s winners of the EBJ Awards for Eurovision Excellence (your invitation should be in the mail), but in the meantime, let’s go through the Düsseldorf results once again – this time all the way from 1 to 43, with a little bit extra!  

1. Azerbaijan (221) – Now that I’ve had a few hours to mull this victory over, I’m seeing it as a ‘Russia 08’ win – right country, right time…but not necessarily a memorable song and maybe not the one that’ll be seen as the right winner in the future. That is just my personal opinion, of course, and I’m still just as happy for Ell, Nikki and Azerbaijan as I was last night! Last year they threw everything at their entry with Safura (including Beyoncé’s choreographer, who’s still in traction), desperate to win, and now they’ve done it by trying a little less hard. Still, I think their triumph was a surprise to a lot of people.

2. Italy (189) – I get the feeling Raphael wasn’t overly excited by such a great result. That’s okay, because I’m excited enough for the both of us! To come back to the contest after more than a decade with a song few expected to make an impact, only to rake in the points and score one of the most coveted positions on the board is an über awesome achievement (sorry, I’m still feeling German). I think Mr. Gualazzi gave the best performance out of the Big 5, one that made me want to scat loudly in my living room even though I’m SO not a jazz fan – despite my name. Fingers crossed for Italy to grace Baku with their presence next year!

3. Sweden (185) – Sweden won the 2nd semi, and for a while during the voting, it looked like Eric Saade would be the most Popular act of the night, and though I’d previously thought to myself that if Sweden won, I’d just die, all of a sudden I was cheering them on. Alas, it was not to be. But I think this is a place well deserved. Eric may not have the best live vocal (although maybe if they let him stand still and sing rather than making him run up the walls/smash glass/run marathons and sing, he’d do better) but he had a cracking song and show that got the Düsseldorf Arena going, and he sold them both to the max.  

 4.Ukraine (159) – I love this song, but I can’t help thinking…how did this happen? I didn’t know Europe loved sand so much.

5. Denmark (134)

6. Bosnia & Herzegovina (125) – Way to show the Curse of No. 2 who’s boss, Dino Merlin! This fan couldn’t be happier for B & H. Their entries are usually hit-and-miss for me, but when they hit, they hit with something really unique that stands out – Putnici, Lejla, Bistra Voda…sigh. I’m adding Love In Rewind to that list of wonderful-ness for certain.  

7. Greece (120)

8. Ireland (119)

9. Georgia (110)

10. Germany (107) – Lena put in one of the most polished performances of the night – very sultry, very mysterious, and just plain eye-catching! It’s clear she’s really grown as a performer since the Satellite days of yesteryear (or last-a-year, in this case). And yet, she was 19 then and is still 19 now. I’m actually hoping Germany makes her their permanent representative.

11. United Kingdom (100) – Blue didn’t quite live up to expectation, but with 100 points – 10 times their 2010 result – and 11th place, they shouldn’t beat themselves up about it. Though Lee Ryan could do with a minor beating for choosing the moment theUK sang for real in the final to have his voice break. And we could have done without 2D-Blue in the background. Ireland and Slovakia gave us enough doubles to last a lifetime. Still, it was a commendable performance, so close to the top 10.

 12. Moldova (97)

13. Slovenia (96)

14. Serbia (85)

15. France (82) – Speaking of not living up to expectation! There were a lot of fans and journalists convinced that France would run away with the glass microphone in 2011, and as you probably know, the bookies had them instilled as the firm favourite most of the way. I hate to brag, but I never saw Amaury on top. And yet I didn’t think he could possibly leave Germany with anything less than a 10th place under his belt. I have to say, his vocals weren’t as breathtaking as they were on the French variety show where Sognu premiered, and so I spent the last half or so of the song wondering how many hours it had taken to maneuver his hair into that ‘I just rolled out of bed into a vat of styling gel (Schwarzkopf, naturally)’ arrangement. Better luck in Baku.

16. Russia (77)

17. Romania (77)

18. Austria (64)

19. Lithuania (63)

20. Iceland (61)

21. Finland (57)

22. Hungary (53)

23. Spain (50)

24. Estonia (44) – Speaking of not living up to expectation…again. Poor Getter failed to make the splash many thought she would, although she did bring the Peter Pan collar to the Eurovision stage. Her vocals weren’t the best, and I guess that coupled with being the filling of a dramatic Sweden/Greece sandwich led her to the second to last place.

25. Switzerland(19) – Would someone give the Swiss a break? I fell in love for a while with this sunny song after seeing it in the first semi, thinking if it qualified it could make the top 10. Amazingly, it did qualify – but fell flat in the final. As much as just reaching the final must be an achievement for the country, nobody wants to be last.

Then again, Anna Rossinelli didn’t technically come last. Here’s the rest of the scoreboard, with the semi 1 acts in blue and the semi 2 acts in red:

  1. Malta (54)
  2. Armenia (54)
  3. Belgium (53) – As talented as they are, I can’t believe Witloof Bay were so close.
  4. Bulgaria (48)
  5. Slovakia (48)
  6. Albania (47)
  7. Turkey (47) – Not only did the Turks not qualify, but they weren’t even on the border! Major shock.
  8. Belarus (45)
  9. Croatia (41)
  10. Israel (38)
  11. FYR Macedonia (36)
  12. San Marino (34) – 37th may not seem like an impressive result, Senit – but it makes you the singer of San Marino’s most successful entry ever!
  13. Norway (30)
  14. Latvia (25)
  15. Portugal (22)
  16. Poland (18)
  17. Cyprus (16) – IMO, this is one of the least deserved positions of 2011. The staging and choreography was up there with Germany’s in terms of professionalism, and the song just gets me. If the performance had mimicked Germany’s in choice of outfits, I wouldn’t be surprised with 16 points (Christos could not carry off that onesie) but as it stands, I don’t understand what went wrong.
  18. Netherlands (13) – Yes, it was 3JS from another unlucky ESC country who have the dubious honor of being 43rd out of 43. Was it deserved? I don’t think so. But it has to be someone. Or three someones, in this instance. A problem shared is a problem halved!

 

More this week, so stay tuned…just because Eurovision’s over doesn’t mean we have to stop discussing it!