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The 2017 EBJ Eurovision Excellence Awards | Part 1 (The Artists + The Songs)

As O.Torvald would say, it’s TIIIIIIIIIIIIIIME! The trophies have been polished, the red carpet has been unrolled, and I’m ready to start giving out my Eurovision Excellence Awards to the countries, artists and songs that competed in the 2017 contest.

The ceremony will take place in three parts (since I went a little crazy with the amount of awards this year). Following on from this first installment will be The Performances, then The Show + The Results – but today, I’m acknowledging the musicians and the music that made 2017 so awesome…and in some cases, the opposite. You’ll also find out the full results of five People’s Choice Awards, with the rest to be revealed in Part 2 and Part 3. Thanks to everyone who voted in the PC polls, by the way – there were more of you than I expected, and I’m so grateful for your input. I hope you’re happy with the outcomes, but if you’re not you can’t blame me. #offthehook.

Now, without further ado, I’m going to get the first lot of EBJEE trophies off to their new owners before they get dusty. Sit back, relax and enjoy (or get outraged by) the awards for The Artists + The Songs!

 

 

THE ARTISTS

Honourable Mention/s Robin Bengtsson, Salvador Sobral Winner Imri Ziv

He may be hot in an ‘I spend longer in front of the mirror each morning than any girl I know’ kind of way – but hot is hot, right? Those eyes! That smile! Those biceps! Those abs! I won’t go any further down because a) I like to keep things mostly non-smutty around here, and b) you get where I’m going, I’m sure. It’s rumoured that Israel’s finest Imri has a thing for Anja Nissen – and who could blame him – but if she spurns you, Mr. Ziv, it’s highly likely that I’ll be available as a consolation prize.

 

Honourable Mention/s Amy Vol, Lisa Vol, Shelley Vol (O’G3NE) Winner Anja Nissen

Speaking of the stunning Anja, here she is as the winner of the Hottest She Award (imagine how attractive the kids would be if she and Imri got together!). I couldn’t really choose anyone else despite the tough competition, since I have a massive girl crush on her. She’s the ultimate blonde bombshell, drop-dead gorgeous from top to toe…except when she appeared on the Kyiv stage during rehearsals in that notorious and absolutely hideous circus/swimming costume. But NOBODY could have pulled that off (not unless they were a clown competing in the Synchronised Swimming event at the Olympics). Anyway, I’m bowing down to your beauty, Anja!

 

Honourable Mention/s Ilinca, Ksienija Žuk Winner Alma

Apparently Alma has a certain je ne sais quois (both the French and Hera Björk puns are intended) that gave her the edge over the other nominees, though not by much. This award probably isn’t what she’d like to have won recently, but the fact that so many Eurofans would be happy to call her their BFF has to be flattering.

 

Honourable Mention/s Francesco Gabbani, Kristian Kostov  Winner Nathan Trent

I have one thing to say about this result: YAAASSSSS! Well done guys, on voting an actual Mr. Nice Guy (nice guys finish last on the televote, but not overall) the winner of this year’s Mr. Congeniality EBJEE. Nathan Trent is a precious angel sent to Earth to bring pure happiness and light into all of our lives, and anyone who dares dispute that should be burnt at the stake. Or be ignored, one of the two.

 

Honourable Mention/s Kristian Kostov, Sunstroke Project Winner Jacques Houdek

I’m not sure which Jacques to give this trophy to – they might have to share custody of it like a pair of divorced parents with their only child. Regardless, this is an award well deserved by a man – yes, just the one…I’ll let the joke die now – who managed to bring both incredible talent and a LOT of laughter (hvala, Hrvatska, for the comic relief) to this year’s Eurovision. Like Conchita’s facial hair, Jacques’ two voices made him instantly memorable and almost overshadowed every other aspect of his entry. We’ll never see a duet quite like this again.

 

Honourable Mention/s Nathan Trent, Valentina Monetta & Jimmie Wilson Winner Sunstroke Project

Picking a winner for this award was a no-brainer for me, but I did very briefly ask myself which nominee’s concert I’d be the most keen to sit through. The answer, of course, was Sunstroke Project’s – though technically, I wouldn’t be sitting through it so much as dancing my ass off through it. All three of the guys are party-starters in their own right, and look like they could happily live on stage. They’re energetic, enthusiastic and charismatic, and can get even the most stubborn butts off seats without even trying. Born to entertain? Heck yes.

 

Honourable Mention/s Blanche Winner Kristian Kostov

This was one of the smallest categories for 2017, and two of the teens ended up monopolising most of the votes – 91%, in fact. Contest runner-up Kristian beats Blanche yet again, and if that’s partly due to his more confident handling of the whole Eurovision experience – as well as his higher placing on the scoreboard – then I’d say it’s the right result. Still, anyone so fresh-faced who can get up on such a big stage and sing their fully-functioning, youthful heart out deserves a high five. Great job, kids.

 

 

THE SONGS

Honourable Mention/s Gravity, Lights and Shadows Winner Perfect Life

Now, I’m not accusing anyone of plagiarism here. Even if a song is almost identical in some way to another, it doesn’t mean it was purposely plagiarised. Still, you have to wonder about that oh-so-familiar sound layered underneath the lyrics of Levina’s Perfect Life. Everyone has heard David Guetta’s Titanium, and I find it hard to believe that anyone could come up with a beat and riff combo so similar and not think ‘Hang on…I know this from somewhere.’ TBH, it’s a shame that Perfect Life doesn’t sound even more like Titanium – i.e. that it didn’t ramp up and become an equally powerful dance banger.

 

 

Honourable Mention/s Amar Pelos Dois, Beautiful Mess Winner Grab The Moment

A predicable pick? Probably not. But Grab The Moment has a set of lyrics that are interesting, full of clever rhymes (no love/above level stuff in sight) and SO neatly phrased and tightly packed. It’s wordier than I usually like my songs to be, but the rap-like delivery helps make it the modern pop masterpiece it is. Plus, there’s loads of room for lyrical interpretation, which is right up my alley as a former English major. This is my highlight: ‘Getting kinda heavy on my shoulders, try to stand straight but I’m boneless, got a pocket full of prose while I’m walking on my toes and I’m coping with a map that is roadless.’ Remind yourself of the rest here.

 

Honourable Mention/s Skeletons Winner Space

As much as I’m confused (rather than amazed) by “thorn jeans”, I can’t go past Slavko’s Space as the 2017 song with the most WTF words. It’s not that they don’t make sense, because they do. They’re just so…erotically charged. Not to mention all over the place – there’s a ton of space references, obviously, but one minute the lovers in question are Bonnie and Clyde and the next they’re possessed with superpowers. I commend the line in the chorus that connects writing a story with body language *slow clap*. But ‘Wet dreams…come into me from within’? TMI, Montenegro.

 

Honourable Mention/s Lights and Shadows Winner Amar Pelos Dois

This is a very subjective award, hence why I didn’t make it a People’s Choice. It’s for the entry that I personally didn’t rate too highly pre-contest, but grew to love between then and now. I never disliked eventual winner Amar Pelos Dois, but I didn’t love it and I definitely didn’t get the hype surrounding it (why was it second in the odds? I had no idea). For some reason, though, when I saw Salvador’s performance in the first semi final, I ‘got’ it. I was teary-eyed, my heart was warmed and I finally fell in love with the simplistic, romantic beauty of the song. Better late than never.

 

Honourable Mention/s Dance Alone, Verona Winner Occidentali’s Karma

This trophy doesn’t have to go to a song that was hyped by fans and then under-performed according to expectations, but this year it is. Occidentali’s Karma was predicted to be a runaway winner by a lot of fans in the lead-up to the show, racked up more views on YouTube than any entry preceding it, and stormed to victory in the OGAE Poll. And then, just like France did last year off the back of winning that poll, it finished 6th. As soon as I saw Francesco’s final performance, I knew that my gut feeling of months previously had been right – Italy wasn’t going to win. Falling away from the top five, for a song with so much expected of it, this was Sognu all over again.

 

Honourable Mention/s I Can’t Go On, I Feel Alive Winner Hey Mamma

It was the most successful dance track to take part in the Kyiv contest, and now the Sunstroke Project’s Hey Mamma gets another gong to add to the our engraved with ‘Moldova’s Best-Placed ESC Entry Ever.’ I have zero complaints about your choice here, people! There’s something about a good bit of sax that makes dancing more or less irresistible, and as such I can guarantee that this song will frequent the official Euroclub playlist for years to come.

 

Honourable Mention/s Occidentali’s Karma Winner City Lights

And it’s Belgium by a millimetre! The standard of preview videos was pretty high this year, and I personally wouldn’t have chosen City Lights as my favourite. Still, I can’t fault its stylish, slightly unsettling (in a good way) vibes. The isolation of being ‘all alone in the danger zone’ is expertly brought to the screen, while the titular lights have a mind of their own. Overall, it’s just as cool as the song.

 

Honourable Mention/s Keep The Faith Winner Fly With Me

Some songs are just so much better to watch than to listen to – they just come to life when performed live. Artsvik’s Fly With Me, a song that is a perfectly good but not great audio track, was given the royal treatment for Eurovision, and that gave me a new respect for it. The backdrop emphasised the ethnicity of the song as did the choreography, while the pyrotechnics upped the drama. Excellent costume choices were the cherry on top.

 

Honourable Mention/s Space Winner City Lights

And now, vice versa! Belgium’s performances over the past few years have been epic, but there was a question mark over Blanche’s ability to command an audience and take control of her nerves. She faltered in the semi, but in the end pulled off a much, MUCH better performance in the final and earned her 4th place. Even so, City Lights is a radio dream rather than a live one. The slick production and disembodied, distant sound of Blanche’s recorded vocals (minus the distraction of her looking like she wants to run screaming off the stage) is what I love about the song, and it’s just not as impressive in the ESC context.

 

 

That’s all for today/tonight, guys. I hope you enjoyed the show, and didn’t get too drunk and end up tripping and falling into a stranger’s lap which turned out to be the lap of Jon Ola Sand. It’s very awkward when that happens, let me tell you.

Who would you have given these awards to? Are you shocked by some of the People’s Choice percentages? Can I discuss Eurovision 2017 right up until Eurovision 2018 without annoying you? Let me know in the comments – it’s free (although every swear word directed at me costs $50).

 

Until next time, when 2017’s performances will be in the spotlight…

 

 

 

The 2015 EBJ Awards for Eurovision Excellence | Part 2 (The Performances, The Costumes + The Results)

Pull up a comfortable chair (you’re going to be sitting in it for a while), have food and drink within reach (you’ll need the sustenance), and generally prep yourselves for the second and final installment of the 2015 EBJEEs!

I won’t lie – it’s a mammoth ceremony. But it might just be worth it: if you voted in the People’s Choice polls, you’ll find out today whether your remaining favourites won out in the end. Plus, if you make it all the way through, I’ll give you a gift basket full of gratitude and appreciation for your dedication. You won’t be able to sell it on eBay, but hopefully it will make you feel all warm and fuzzy (once you get the feeling back in your behind after sitting down for so long).

So, without further ado, let’s get cracking!

 

mzwee

 

 THE PERFORMANCES

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Winner Guy Sebastian Honourable Mention/s Nadav Guedj, Uzari

You can send threatening notes my way calling me biased, but I’d like to see you argue against Australia’s pride and joy (at this moment in time and exclusively among Eurovision fans) possessing a flawless set of pipes. Even suffering from a cold, as he was in the days leading up to the final, Guy Sebastian demonstrated his usual smooth-as-silk singing technique, and reminded us all why he won Australian Idol back in the day.

 

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Winner Aminata Honourable Mention/s Bojana Stamenov, Polina Gagarina

Barely able to reach the ‘You Must Be THIS Tall To Ride’ marker when queuing for a rollercoaster ride, Aminata’s powerful vocals defy her petite size. Transitioning between crystal-clear high notes and big belters with ease, the control she had over her voice was second to none in this year’s contest as far as I’m concerned. If Beyoncé is #flawless, we’re going to have to come up with a whole new word for Aminata. Aminatamazing? Aminaterrific? The suggestion box is officially open.

 

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Winner Il Volo Honourable Mention/s Genealogy, Mørland & Debrah Scarlett

Singing separately, Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero are mesmerising. Singing together, they send me on a trip to Goosebumpsville, USA, every time (it’s starting to get expensive). The force that is high-quality operatics shouldn’t be underestimated, and high-quality operatics is what we got from the boys whenever they opened their mouths in Vienna. Perfection is spelled I-L V-O-L-O from now on.

 

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Winner Italy Honourable Mention/s Latvia

Let’s talk about Italy for the second time in thirty seconds, shall we? There’s something about an epic vocal performance that sends shivers down my spine. This is particularly true when the performance is given by a trio of hot Italian men…and when one of said men winks at the camera and turns me into a sad excuse for an independent woman who don’t need no man. In addition to the shivers, Il Volo also had every hair on the back of my neck standing up each time they launched into Grande Amore’s explosive chorus. As a result, I resembled a fuzzy triceratops, but it was totally worth it.

 

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Winner Spain Honourable Mention/s Czech Republic, Greece

A dramatic song like Amanecer needs a dramatic performance to go with it, and Spain certainly delivered in that respect. They didn’t rely solely on Edurne’s ability to look super-intense and wave her arms around at every opportunity; instead, they switched the drama into overdrive by adding a costume change, an aggressive dance sequence and a gale from the wind machine into the mix. Subsequently, Spain’s performance rated more highly on the drama scale than an entire year’s worth of Days Of Our Lives episodes.

 

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Winner Austria Honourable Mention/s France, Switzerland

In a move that gave a more literal meaning to Paula and Ovi’s Playing With Fire, The Makemakes’ Dominic set his piano alight at the pivotal point of I Am Yours – a cool (though not temperature-wise) way of spicing up the staging of the cruisy, down-tempo number. It didn’t help Austria score any points, but the risk factor and fresh take on pyrotechnics deserves recognition.

 

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Winner Sweden Honourable Mention/s Lithuania, France

Sweden grabs this People’s Choice Award in very convincing style, with 58% of the votes. It’s not surprising when you consider just how much Måns’ projected stick man and all that jazz had to do with his win. The gimmick made a good song great, and made the performance of that song superior in terms of innovation and creativity.

 

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Winner Greece Honourable Mention/s Georgia, Spain, Switzerland

Maria Elena had everything one needs to pull off a classic Eurovision lady ballad: a big voice; flowing locks; a floor-sweeping gown; and the ability to fake enough anguish to moisten her eyes, but not so much to actually let a tear go and ruin her mascara. All that was required top it off was wind – and boy, did she get it! As much as I want to opt for the logical pun here and say I was blown away by Greece’s performance, I wasn’t. But if it hadn’t been for that manufactured breeze, the climax of One Last Breath would have lacked impact.

 

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Winner Belgium Honourable Mention/s Israel, Sweden

Robotic movements coupled with perfect pirouettes and the occasional face-grab? What a work of art. Belgium’s combo of geometric and organic movements was as complementary to Rhythm Inside as the black-and-white costumes and boxy backdrop. The choreography also played a big part in Loïc and his dance crew snapping at Måns Zelmerlöw’s heels in the creativity stakes.

 

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Winner France Honourable Mention/s Latvia, Poland

Back in 2012, Ukraine neatly sidestepped the six-person stage rule by featuring a crowd of fist-pumping – and it must be said, tacky-looking – party-goers on the screens behind Gaitana. The idea was good, but the execution was poor. Fast forward to 2015, and you’ll see that France took the same idea, and made it work. A digital army of drummers (plus a smaller contingent of living and breathing drummers) appeared behind Lisa Angell, and with that, the last thirty seconds of her performance and its atmosphere were elevated by a mile.

 

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Winner Spain Honourable Mention/s Moldova

No amount of gimmicks is too many – not according to Edurne’s team. It’s a worry when a song is deemed so unentertaining, it needs every backdrop, costume reveal, dance move and wind machine setting known to man to bring it to life (say what you will about Sweden, but at least they limited themselves to lighting and projection). Still, I can’t say I minded the OTT much on this occasion. As I said earlier, Amanecer is a dramatic number, and you have to admire Spain for carrying that through to the staging as well.

 

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Winner The Netherlands Honourable Mention/s The Czech Republic

I’m sure we’d all have forgiven The Netherlands if that horrendous opening shot had been a mistake. But, believe it or not, it was included on purpose. An entire verse of Trijntje eyeballing the camera with netting draped over her face didn’t say ‘I’m on the Eurovision stage and loving it!’ so much as ‘I’m being held hostage by an embittered fisherman who’s threatening to slap me with a sea bass unless his demands are met.’ And yet, rather than feeling sorry for her, all I could do was laugh. ‘WTF?!?’ is an understatement.

 

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Winner Sweden Honourable Mention/s Belgium, Australia, Latvia

This People’s Choice poll was a close one, with Belgium leading until the last minute. Ultimately, it’s contest winner Sweden that can add another trophy to their collection as the All-Rounder of the Year – the country that had the best package of song and performance. Year after year, Sweden puts the ‘vision’ into Eurovision in a big way, and 2015 was no exception. Not only visually spectacular (and I’m not just talking about Måns) but vocally top-notch and full of energy, there was nothing lacking in what they had to offer most recently. This award is well-deserved.

 

 

THE COSTUMES

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Winner Nina Sublatti Honourable Mention/s Ann Sophie, Genealogy

What with Nina being the fierce, take-no-prisoners kind of woman she is, Georgia needed to dress her in something that said ‘I’m a sexy goth, and if you come near me without my permission I’ll whip a Chinese throwing star at your forehead.’ Thankfully, they did, and I am now crushing on an ESC costume like I did when Maja Keuc made Perspex platforms and provocative body armour a thing in Düsseldorf. I.e. to a crazy extent.

bdns

 

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Winner Trijntje Oosterhuis Honourable Mention/s Trijntje Oosterhuis

Well, there was one thing The Netherlands did better than anyone else this year. Upon seeing what Trijntje opted to wear for the show after trying out several alternatives, that haphazardly-cut, boob-baring dress suddenly didn’t look so bad. I guess she’s not one of those people who can wear a bin bag and still look fabulous.

 

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Winner Moldova’s hot cops Honourable Mention/s Ann Sophie

I’m mainly referring to the object of Eduard’s affection (and her teeny-tiny, totally non-regulation police hotpants) here. But the sprayed-on shorts the men were wearing were also grounds for arrest, and for covering the eyes of any children present. How those guys managed to move to the music without something splitting is a mystery.

 

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Winner Debrah Scarlett Honourable Mention/s Loïc Nottet

Adventurous hairstyles were few and far between in Vienna, with nobody even coming close to a Rona Nishliu-style DEAR LORD WHAT IS THAT ON HER HEAD?!? So the conventional but undeniably stunning hairdo of Debrah Scarlett wins this People’s Choice Award. Affixed with an empty pie tin repurposed as artful headwear (zoom in on Norway’s performance and you’ll probably spot some crust crumbs) Debrah’s fiery mane of curls was anything but monstrous. In fact, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want that mane on my own scalp stat (minus the pie tin).

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THE RESULTS

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Winner Conchita Wurst Honourable Mention/s Alice Tumler

This wasn’t a competition, really…at least not a close one. ORF made a big mistake failing to convince Conchita to host the entire show. She’s everything a great host is made of: articulate, humorous, charismatic, and gorgeous to look at (nobody looks more banging in an evening gown).

 

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Winner Denmark Honourable Mention/s Moldova

2015 wasn’t exactly a year of jaw-dropping moments. I can’t say that any of the DNQs had me clutching my chest and feeling faint at the sheer shocking-ness of their occurrence. However, I did have Denmark down as a qualifier, thinking that as usual, the safe and competent song they were fielding would get them into the final. It did not, which was a little surprising…but not devastating, if I’m honest.

 

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Winner Albania Honourable Mention/s Poland

As much as I’m Alive has grown on me in the month or so since Eurovision, I still don’t 100% understand how it got through. Elhaida’s cape game was strong in semi final one, but girl veered right off the in-tune tracks and straight into screech territory for her last thirty seconds on stage. Ouch.

 

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Winner Sweden Honourable Mention/s Russia

For the long-standing bookies’ favourite, there were no questions surrounding qualification. It wasn’t even worth arguing against Sweden winning their semi. We know from the Bergendahl Incident of 2010 that the Swedes can trip up when it comes to making the final, but there was no way 2015 was going to resemble that ABSOLUTE TRAVESTY, thank heavens.

 

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Winner San Marino Honourable Mention/s Portugal

Poor Anita and Michele. Come back next year (after you’ve given Ralph Siegel the flick) and you might have a chance.

 

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Winner Moldova Honourable Mention/s Romania, Switzerland

I don’t know if it’s down to better acoustics in the hall or a voice-box transplant, but Eduard went from putting all his energy into dancing and giving us the vocal performance of nobody’s lifetime, to putting most of his energy into dancing – there was even a backflip thrown in this time – and actually sounding passable. The Jedward Effect of having backing singers do most of the heavy lifting had to have something to do with it.

 

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Winner Australia Honourable Mention/s The Netherlands, Sweden

As awesome/bizarre as it would have been to see Australia win Eurovision, I never really thought it was going to happen with Tonight Again. After Guy’s outstanding live performance, though, a top five placement was not out of the question – and when we nabbed one over Latvia, I felt it was fair (not that I would’ve complained if Australia and Latvia had finished the other way round). When I do the math, 5th seems just right. The song deserved top ten, the performance deserved top five, and the vocal was deserving of the win.

 

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Winner Germany Honourable Mention/s Austria, France

I’ve said this a dozen times already, but even ignoring the fact that Germany wasn’t ranked last in the televoting or jury voting and still ended up at the bottom (no pun intended, if you know what I mean), I remain confused as to how Ann Sophie was so wronged. As if she hadn’t been traumatised enough during the German NF! There was nothing deserving of nul in her sassy, sexy performance, and I for one am outraged that Black Smoke is now the only Eurovision song in history to finish 27th in the final.

 

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Winner Sweden Honourable Mention/s Russia

Aside from a last-minute challenge from Russia, and the possibility of Italy trampling all over their competition, Sweden was the one to beat this year. From the millisecond Måns won Melfest, he was the odds-on favourite to win Eurovision, and he didn’t disappoint those who’d put money on him. I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t think Russia was going to snatch victory (after Polina’s final performance and until halfway through the voting sequence, that’s EXACTLY what I thought was going to happen) but the obvious winner that few of us discounted did turn out to be the actual winner. I don’t think Sweden’s sixth victory blindsided anyone.

 

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Winner Germany Honourable Mention/s Austria

Yep, we’re in agreement – Germany wuz robbed! Since Stefan Raab relinquished control of the German entries, the country’s fortunes have taken a nosedive. As such, we might have expected Ann Sophie to finish mid-table or lower. What none of us expected was to see her sitting as low as possible on the scoreboard, with the host nation and a big fat zero keeping her company. WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO? On the plus side, Ann Sophie is now a member of a rather exclusive club of losers, and will be remembered in a way that whoever finished, say, 22nd (I literally had to Google that to remind myself that it was Cyprus) will not.

 

 

And that, my European song competition-obsessed friends, is it *insert relieved round of applause here*. There are no more trophies left to hand out to the Class of ’15, which the likes of Lithuania will be sad to hear considering they didn’t get one (not This Time….HAHAHA).

I hope you enjoyed this year’s awards. Thanks again to everyone who voted in the People’s Choice polls – I promise there will be more of those, feat. more nominees, in 2016.

I still have a bit of Vienna-themed business to take care of here on EBJ, before I move on and look ahead to JESC in Bulgaria, and the 61st ESC in A City Yet To Be Named (don’t rush, EBU/SVT…I need more time to conduct accommodation research). There won’t be a dull moment here during the off-season, so do drop by over the coming months. I can assure you that, unlike Ann Sophie and The Makemakes, you’ll never have a nul-point experience!

 

nsig

 

COMING UP I count down my top ten national finalists who should/could have gone to Vienna; and you’ll be seeing double as all the doppelgangers of ESC 2015 are exposed!

 

The 2015 EBJ Awards for Eurovision Excellence | Part 1 (The Artists + The Songs)

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Even if it’s nine o’ clock in the morning where you are, just go with the flow, because this is a special occasion.

Yes, oui, and si – the 2015 EBJEES are here! It’s about time, seeing as Eurovision took place over a month ago and the DVD isn’t far from being released (the official indicator that I’ve taken way too long to get these awards going). Today’s ceremony is the first of two, so try not to crease your formalwear. And please pace yourselves with the champagne.

My final command? Take your seats, because the awards in the categories of The Artists and The Songs are about to be handed out. The results of four People’s Choice Awards will also be revealed, so sit back, relax, and see if your favourites came out on top. Oh, and please excuse the messy formatting at times (technology is not my friend today).

Lights, camera, action!

 

mzwee

 

THE ARTISTS

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  • Dominic Muhrer (The Makemakes)
  • Gianluca Ginoble (Il Volo)
  • Guy Sebastian
  • Ignazio Boschetto (Il Volo)
  • Måns Zelmerlöw
  • Piero Barone (Il Volo)
  • Stig Rästa
  • Uzari
  • Vaidas Baumila

Winner Måns Zelmerlöw Honourable Mention/s: Gianluca Ginoble

Okay…so I’m biased. But I find it hard to believe that anyone of any sexual persuasion could look at the shots below and not be affected by the muscular physique, penetrating gaze and strangely alluring meadow of chest hair belonging to our reigning Eurovision champion. Can you buy a flat-pack Måns at IKEA? If not, why not, Sweden? Get on it, and make sure you include the leather pants. hhmzw

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  • Ann Sophie
  • Edurne
  • Elhaida Dani
  • Elina Born
  • Marjetka Vovk (Maraaya)
  • Mélanie René
  • Nina Sublatti
  • Polina Gagarina
  • Tamar Kaprelian (Genealogy)

Winner Edurne Honourable Mention/s Ann Sophie, Elina Born

For the second year in a row, Spain takes the Hottest She trophy home. I don’t know if there’s something in the water over there or if it’s just a coincidence, but either way, Edurne is my número uno girl crush of this year’s contest. I guess it’s not just gentlemen who prefer blondes, on this occasion. hsedn

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  • Dominic Muhrer (The Makemakes)
  • Elnur Huseynov
  • Gianluca Ginoble (Il Volo)
  • Ignazio Boschetto (Il Volo)
  • John Karayiannis
  • Václav Noid Bárta

Winner Gianluca Ginoble Honourable Mention/s Dominic Muhrer

Each year, I award a gong in honour of the previous year’s winner (so expect one for 2016 in the form of The Butt-Hugger Award For Best-Fitting Trousers). In light of that, how could I bypass a beard-themed award this year? Gianluca’s carefully cultivated stubble wasn’t quite as perfect as Miss Wurst’s, but it upped his sex appeal by a factor of five hundred. Plus, it made him look older than his twenty years, meaning I didn’t feel like such a cougar thinking he was a tasty morsel.

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  • Essaï Altounian (Genealogy) 2%
  • Guy Sebastian 33%
  • Il Volo 16%
  • John Karayiannis 16%
  • Måns Zelmerlöw 16%
  • Václav Noid Barta 18%

Winner Guy Sebastian Honourable Mention/s Václav Noid Barta

The people have spoken – and by ‘the people’, I mean you guys, and me, because of course I snuck in a cheeky vote of my own. The first of eight People’s Choice Awards goes to Guy Sebastian, which doesn’t shock me even though I *may* not have voted for him (#teammånsineveryrespectalways). Guy didn’t put a foot wrong with the press from the moment he set foot on Viennese soil, in turn endearing himself to all of us watching interviews and press conferences from home. Even pre-ESC, he was flashing that megawatt smile and working his easy charm at Eurovision In Concert and the like. Way to maintain the Aussie rep of friendliness and approachability, Guy!

  e155

  • Ann Sophie 1%
  • Bianca Nicholas (Electro Velvet) 5%
  • Bojana Stamenov 18%
  • Elhaida Dani 1%
  • Marjetka Vovk (Maraaya) 24%
  • Marta Jandová 32%
  • Polina Gagarina 14%
  • Trijntje Oosterhuis 5%

Winner Marta Jandová Honourable Mention/s Marjetka Vovk

 When it comes to the lady of 2015 you guys would want to hang out with, the reasonably clear choice was Marta – and it’s obvious why! Václav’s partner in crime isn’t suffering from a shortage of personality, whether she’s onstage whipping her heels off or offstage joking and laughing with anyone who crosses her path. If she ever posts a personal ad looking for a new best friend, I’ll respond to it for sure. Me and a million others.

 

e156

  • Anti Social Media
  • Bojana Stamenov
  • Eduard Romanyuta
  • Guy Sebastian
  • Måns Zelmerlöw
  • Nadav Guedj

Winner Nadav Guedj Honourable Mention/s Bojana Stamenov, Guy Sebastian

You might have been expecting me to hand this one to a more seasoned professional. But, at sixteen years old and without the stage experience of most of the other nominees, Nadav can command a stage and pump up a crowd with ease. I’ve got to concede that he’s a natural; that he was born to be on the stage. It’s just a matter of whether that birth took place in 1998 as alleged, or 1988, which seems like the more realistic option.

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  • Elnur Huseynov (return of the screeching angel of ’08)
  • Genealogy (six singers + six continents)
  • Guy Sebastian (Aussie representation in Austria)
  • Maraaya (headphones here to stay)
  • Michele Perniola & Anita Simoncini (from JESC to ESC)

Winner Guy Sebastian Honourable Mention/s Michele Perniola & Anita Simoncini

 Australia, competing legitimately in Eurovision? Puh-lease. At least that’s what was thought when the EBU announced it was happening and we all assumed it was a prank. But it wasn’t, and it did happen, with Guy Sebastian at the helm. What better talking point to have associated with an act? Side note: Aussies were threefold on the Stadthalle stage (not counting Guy’s backing group members): think Mary-Jean O’Doherty lending her operatics to Armenia with Genealogy, Katrina Noorbergen songwriting and backup-singing for Russia, and Guy. Obviously.

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  • Loïc Nottet
  • Michele Perniola & Anita Simoncini
  • Molly Sterling
  • Nadav Guedj

 Winner Loïc Nottet Honourable Mention/s Molly Sterling, Nadav Guedj

 Not only was he the highest-scoring teenager of them all this year, but Loïc proved himself to be perhaps the most talented one too – co-writing Rhythm Inside and choreographing the accompanying stage show in his capacity as dancer as well as singer. The guy (man? Boy? Kid?) is too cool for school, and one to watch as he continues to build his career.

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  • Australia’s smooth movers
  • Belgium’s all-white troupe
  • France’s drummer boys
  • Hungary’s peace preachers
  • Israel’s dirty dancers
  • FYR Macedonia’s MERJ
  • Moldova’s hot cops
  • Montenegro’s classy choir

Winner Belgium Honourable Mention/s Australia, Israel, Montenegro

It’s easy to give the main artist all the credit for pulling off a great performance. But the vocal support and energy backup singers and/or dancers provide rounds out a performance, and is often invaluable. I’m sure Loïc was grateful for his five double-threats who, dressed all in white, both contrasted with and complemented him as the main artist. They even took over when things got overwhelming and he had to have a mid-song nap on the floor. That’s a top-notch support system right there.

THE SONGS

e1591

  • A Million Voices (sounds like What If by Dina Garipova)
  • Heroes (sounds like Lovers On The Sun by David Guetta)
  • One Thing I Should Have Done (sounds like More Than Words by Extreme)
  • Still In Love With You (sounds like the ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ theme)

 Winner Heroes Honourable Mention/s One Thing I Should Have Done

First things first: I think the claims of plagiarism against Heroes are ridiculous. But every year, there’s one entry that cops flak for being a “carbon copy” of something else (as in it’s slightly similar in the way that certain genres just ARE) and in 2015, that entry was our winning one. I’m giving it this award based on the attention those plagiarism claims received in the press – not because I think Heroes is a rehashed version of Lovers On The Sun (a song which annoys the crap out of me, if truth be told).

 

e1592

  • Amanecer, Spain 23%
  • A Million Voices, Russia 4%
  • Beauty Never Lies, Serbia 6%
  • Golden Boy, Israel 11%
  • Grande Amore, Italy 17%
  • Here For You, Slovenia 9%
  • Heroes, Sweden 25%
  • Tonight Again, Australia 6%

 Winner Heroes Honourable Mention/s Amanecer

 Fanwank entries may be drooled over by hardcore ESC fans in the contest lead-up, but they have been known to crash and burn (Kate Ryan’s Je T’adore being the obvious reference point here). Your choice for Fanwank of the Year, however, met pre-show expectations that it was a potential winner by…well, winning. Runner-up Amanecer, on the other hand, was a bit more Je T’adore.

 

 

e15992

  • A Monster Like Me, Norway
  • Autumn Leaves, FYR Macedonia
  • Heroes, Sweden
  • Hour of the Wolf, Azerbaijan
  • Love Injected, Latvia
  • N’oubliez Pas, France
  • Playing With Numbers, Ireland
  • Still In Love With You, United Kingdom

 Winner A Monster Like Me Honourable Mention/s Love Injected, N’oubliez Pas

The alternative (but boring) title of this award = Best Lyrics. How much merit a song’s lyrics have is super subjective, so keep that in mind as I say that Norway’s lyrics were my favourite, in a year where there were many interesting and insightful words put to music. The words of AMLM are quite sparse and simple, but their moodiness and ambiguity (for heaven’s sake, Mørland, put us out of our misery and tell us what you did in your early youth!) sends shivers down my spine. Debrah’s verse is the highlight.

 

 

e1593

  • A Million Voices, Russia
  • A Monster Like Me, Norway
  • De La Capăt (All Over Again), Romania
  • Grande Amore, Italy
  • Hour of the Wolf, Azerbaijan
  • N’oubliez Pas, France
  • Playing With Numbers, Ireland

 Winner Grande Amore Honourable Mention/s A Million Voices, A Monster Like Me

 In such a ballad-heavy contest, at least we had some darn good ones to compensate for the depressing, dated ones. This was a tough category, but I have to single out Grande Amore as having the most ballady goodness. Drama, oomph, popera and gorgeous Italian (not to mention gorgeous Italian men) came together to create a crowd-pleaser and a half that ended up raking in televotes like nobody’s business. No other ballad featured more spine-tingling AND explosive moments.

 

 

e1594

  • Adio, Montenegro
  • Amanecer, Spain
  • Golden Boy, Israel

 Winner Golden Boy Honourable Mention/s Adio, Amanecer

 It’s not as if there was a truckload of ethno-pop to choose from *sniff*….but fortunately, Israel delivered everything I desire in the genre straight to my front door. Golden Boy is a fun-packed floor-filler (though not THE floor-filler of the year IMO, as you’ll see in a second) that takes full advantage of irresistible Middle-Eastern sounds in order to get us all rump-shaking.

 

e1595

  • Beauty Never Lies, Serbia
  • Golden Boy, Israel
  • Here For You, Slovenia
  • Heroes, Sweden
  • I Want Your Love, Moldova
  • Still In Love With You, United Kingdom
  • Tonight Again, Australia

 Winner Tonight Again  Honourable Mention/s Golden Boy

 Call me overly-patriotic if you like…but I can assure you, this winner is at least 67% based on my objective opinion of which song would take a Euroclub from boredom central to buzzing in no time. If you were in the arena, feel free to smugly inform me that Israel or Serbia had way more people on their feet and flailing their limbs about. Meanwhile, I’ll be figuring out which dance move is best suited to the lyric ‘tonight’s so good’.

 

e1596

  • Aina Mun Pitää, Finland
  • Face The Shadow, Armenia
  • One Last Breath, Greece
  • Still In Love With You, United Kingdom
  • The Way You Are, Denmark

 Winner Face The Shadow Honourable Mention/s Aina Mun Pitää

 Based on the ratio of how much I hated it when I first heard it (and every time I listened to it up until I witnessed Genealogy’s live performance) to how much I actually almost kind of enjoy it now, Armenia wins this one. If you read my previous post (which of COURSE you did!) then you would have seen Face The Shadow on my list of the best-performed songs of 2015 – and it was the performance that was solely responsible for changing my opinion of the song.

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  • Face The Shadow, Armenia
  • Golden Boy, Israel
  • Hope Never Dies, Czech Republic
  • Tonight Again, Australia

 Winner Tonight Again  Honourable Mention/s Face The Shadow

 Don’t get me wrong – I reckon the debut Aussie entry is a great song in studio, and a perfect radio track. But it does ascend to superb status when it’s live. Guy is an artist who always appears to be having a ball on stage, and that’s the kind of attitude Tonight Again needs to make it a party-anthem…and to distract us from the fact that it is quite repetitive.

 

e1598

  • Autumn Leaves, FYR Macedonia
  • Here For You, Slovenia
  • Hour of the Wolf, Azerbaijan
  • Time, Belarus
  • Unbroken, Iceland
  • Walk Along, The Netherlands

 Winner Here For You Honourable Mention/s Hour of the Wolf, Walk Along

 Speaking of perfect radio tracks, here’s one Slovenia prepared earlier! Here For You is an audio dream, but for me personally, Maraaya were unable to keep it from being overly static – and therefore devoid of enough energy – on the stage. This wasn’t a major issue in the Slovenian NF, but was a definite problem on the less intimate ESC stage.

 

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  • Amanecer, Spain 20%
  • A Monster Like Me, Norway 26%
  • De La Capăt (All Over Again), Romania 13%
  • Face The Shadow, Armenia 2%
  • Grande Amore, Italy 13%
  • Love Injected, Latvia 9%
  • Still In Love With You, United Kingdom 4%
  • Time, Belarus 13%

 Winner A Monster Like Me Honourable Mention/s Amanecer

 Norway’s unconventional dinner party triumphs over Spain’s CGI everything in this People’s Choice Award – and as I gave my vote to Mørland and Debrah, that’s fine by me. The only bad thing about their glamourous-yet-messy video, in which the duo is cool, calm and collected in the midst of chaos, is that it makes me mourn the loss of a similar atmosphere in Norway’s stage performance. I’m not saying they should have emptied KFC buckets over each other’s heads or anything; but a gloomier, retro-glam look would have upped Monster’s cred as a live song.

 

 

e15991

  • Albania
  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Italy
  • Lithuania
  • Poland
  • Slovenia

 Winner Lithuania Honourable Mention/s Italy, Slovenia

 To be honest, I wasn’t overly impressed with any of the postcards this year (though the concept of them was cute). But how can I not acknowledge how badass Vaidas and Monika were in taking a literal leap of faith together for the sake of a This Time intro? While other acts were frolicking in fields with wild horses and dancing down Austrian avenues, those two were putting their trust in a cable that could have snapped at any moment (in my mind). One word, two syllables: bravo.

 

And that’s Part 1 *insert round of applause here*! I’m going to wrap things up before you lose 100% of the feeling in your popo, but I will be back later in the week to reveal the winners of The Performances, The Costumes and The Results EBJEEs.

Don’t miss it, especially if you want to check out the remaining People’s Choice results. And even more especially if you don’t want me to feel sad and lonely and stuff #guilttrip.

Let me know what you think of the winners above, and tell me which awards you’d like to be able to vote for next year. I can promise more polls with more nominees in 2016!

nsig

HAVE YOUR SAY: Vote, vote, vote for the winners of the 2014 EBJ Awards for Eurovision Excellence!

Never mind Golden Globe and Oscar time – we all know the best awards season is Eurovision awards season! When the contest (and most of the residual PED) is over, it’s time to reflect on the best and worst of everything, from the songs to the scoreboard shockers, the vocal performances to the vile outfits (and I’m actually not referring to Lithuania…I NEVER agree with the Barbara Dex) and everything in-between. Though more important and popular ESC sites have been staging awards ceremonies for weeks, the time for my own – known for three years as the EBJ Awards for Eurovision Excellence – is fast approaching, so iron the creases out of your tuxedoes and brush the lint off your evening gowns in preparation. If you don’t mind? I have a dress code, you know.

Before my star-studded ceremony can take place, however, there’s a little business to take care of. Namely, I need you guys to decide the winners of my super-awesome personalised trophies that were definitely not put together haphazardly in MS Word with Clipart. This year, the EBJ EEs will feature more awards in the categories of Artists, Songs, Costumes, Performances and Results than ever before, and I need more help than ever with choosing the winners. So, instead of having a sole People’s Choice Award for All-Rounder of the Year (which went to Norway’s Margaret Berger in 2013) I’m letting you decide six of the awards. Woohoo! There are many more that I’ll be deciding myself, of course, but just think yourself lucky that you don’t have to spend 48 straight hours going through an endless parade of polls.

So here today, I’m asking you to vote on these particular six which have been taken from each category. I’ve narrowed each list of nominees down to a small group, so if you’re really desperate to vote for someone who’s not included, leave me a comment saying so and I will count that as a vote. The results will be kept secret until the all the awards are revealed next week. Hashtag mysterious.

Without further ado, get ready to make your choices (and share the link to this post to get more people voting, if you’re feeling generous). Here are the People’s Choice Awards for the 2014 EBJ EEs!

 

The Artists

The friendliest, most charismatic guy on the ground in Copenhagen.

  

The woman you’d want to be your BFF.

 

 

The Songs

The most entertaining, amusing or attractive MV of the year.

 

 

The Performances

The act that ticked all the boxes – vocals, costume, staging and so on.

 

 

The Costumes

The most stylish artist/s to take to the stage.

 

 

The Results

The final placing that left you scratching your head.

 

There’s your six! I hope you chose wisely…JK, it doesn’t really matter. But hey, you could be giving a country that didn’t win anything on the night/s a prize of sorts after all, and that’s a big deal. Kind of.

ANYWAY, thanks for voting (and sharing, if you were up for that). Stay tuned for the revelation of the results as well as the revelation of all of the other award victors, when the EBJ EEs kicks off next week. Before that, I’ll be presenting you with my Top 10 Could’ves and Should’ves of 2014 – that is, the national finalists who, on reflection, should have been sent to Copenhagen instead, or who would have had similar success to those songs that were chosen. Putting that list together was no easy task, but I got by with a little help from a friend…

Until next time ↓

EBJ Signature

 

EBJ’s top 10…entries from Croatia

The week before last (on my birthday, of all days…c’est tragique!) we Eurovisionaries received the horrendous news that Croatia will not be competing in Copenhagen next year. Apparently they’re experiencing a cash flow problem, which rumour had it was also affecting Serbia. Thankfully that’s no longer an issue, because if Serbia withdrew it would send me right over the edge. And now I don’t feel compelled to wire the contents of my savings account to the Serbian head of delegation.

Anyway, as things stand, the loss of Croatia is sad enough. But instead of trying to ease the pain by eating our own weight in ćevapčići, why don’t we make like Daria Kinzer and celebrate Croatia’s time spent in the ESC? We don’t even have to don any of her hideous dresses.

Is that a yes? Well, I’m going to go ahead and celebrate whether you want to or not, and I’m doing it by presenting my top 10 Croatian entries of all time.

 

WARNING: This list does NOT feature Neka Mi Ne Svane by Danijela, which will mystify and enrage many people, I’m sure. I like the track, but it’s a bit too national anthem-like to squeeze into my top 10. Haters gon’ hate, but that’s how I feel.

So, here are the ten songs that did make the cut…

 

#10

1997 | Probudi Me by ENI

I was a child of the 90s, and a stereotypically girly one at that – so naturally, I freaking LOVED the Spice Girls (I had their movie on VHS and the Impulse body spray and everything). I say that because ENI are the closest thing to a Croatian version of the Spice Girls that I’ve ever come across, and so my childhood obsession with Ginger, Scary, Sporty, Posh and Baby probably explains my attraction to their Eurovision entry. It wouldn’t win any awards for musical or lyrical depth (or costume design..yeuch!) and it didn’t do very well in the contest (coming in 17th) but I like it. These girls wanted to be woken up in the morning with love, not with breakfast, and I totally get that. Although…can I get the breakfast too?

 

#9

2000 | Kad Zaspu Anđeli by Goran Karan

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqZKKfK2aEA

This song is one of the few from Stockholm that could enter Eurovision today and not sound like it came from 2000, mainly because it actually sounds like it came from 1993. What I’m saying is that it’s vintage, but timeless at the same time. I love the guitar, which makes the song a ballad that wouldn’t be out of place in the background of a movie scene where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie do a sexy dance. I also think the Croatian sounds particularly pretty in it, which is high praise coming from someone who would marry the Croatian language if that were at all possible. My love for KZA has waned to a strong like over the last few years, but I still reckon it was an honourable Hrvatski effort.

 

#8

2013 | Mižerja by Klapa s Mora

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYm4sGd-qP0

Now, for a song that is less ‘Brangelina’ and more ‘Come visit Croatia – it’s majestic!’. You probably don’t need me to mention how much the country’s most recent entry belongs in a tourist campaign, accompanied by sweeping shots of clifftops and beaches and ruins. What we got at Eurovision was six dudes in ornate outfits performing it pitch-perfectly and with a lot of passion, and that was good enough. Despite the title, this is an uplifting and beautifully ethnic three minutes, and it has a strange ability to make my eyes all moist. It’s not emotion. I must just have something stuck in them. Every time.

 

#7

2003 | Više Nisam Tvoja by Claudia Beni

From the country that brought us the Balkan Spice Girls came the Balkan Britney Spears. Let’s face it, this is Hit Me Baby…One More Time 2.0, only without the school uniforms. And that, folks, is why I love it. There’s always room for tear-inducing ethnic ballads at Eurovision, but if a country decides to send trashy 90s pop instead, this fan ain’t gonna complain about it. This example of said trash pop is so catchy, and takes me back to many a primary school dance during which my friends and I would fiddle with our hair chopsticks and pretend to ignore the boys we thought were cute. A.k.a. very good times.

 

#6

2005 | Vukovi Umiru Sami by Boris Novković

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqAKFyZw2Ls

I’ll admit, I didn’t “get” this at first. I watched the 2005 contest shortly after I discovered the ESC, and it kind of flew under my radar amongst the Moldovas and Greeces and Norways that year. But since then I’ve developed a fondness for it. It is very Croatian – you certainly wouldn’t mistake it as an entry from outside of former Yugoslavia, and I like that, because a lot of the songs entered these days could be from anywhere (or in Azerbaijan’s case, are usually from Sweden). It’s also sing-along friendly despite not being up-tempo, which gives it an edge.

 

#5

2007 | Vjerujem U Ljubav by Dragonfly feat. Dado Topić

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UR-I5VwEuQ

You may or may not know that I am a little obsessed with Helsinki’s Eurovision, because it was the first one I watched as a semi-knowledgeable fan. I wouldn’t say that every single entry that year was as amazing as the stage, the postcards, the interval acts and the hosts (Jaana and Mikko have not been out-awesomed yet, IMO) so I’m not just being biased when I say that I really love what Croatia sent to Finland. Vjerujem is cruisy pop-rock with a great chorus and some lovely guitar work, which I know didn’t endear it to a whole lot of people, but it works for yours truly. Keep the abuse of my musical taste to a minimum, please.

 

#4

1999 | Marija Magdalena by Doris Dragović

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2oIkF3sQtE

If you didn’t just start singing ‘Marija Magdaleennna, ah-ah-ah-ah-ahah-ahhhhhhhhhhhh!’, trying your best to imitate the sound of Doris + Gregorian choir, then shame on you. Of course, it was that Gregorian choir that got Croatia stripped of a whole bunch of points in ’99, but that didn’t really end up being a punishment – Doris still came fourth and her country didn’t have to sit the 2000 contest out. And what a deserved fourth this song was! I’d say it’s Croatia’s most epic entry to date. DD owned the stage and belted out the dramatic, up-tempo number in a way that didn’t require oversized props or flashy backing graphics. That was handy, since this was just prior to when those added extras became a real part of the contest.

 

#3

2012 | Nebo by Nina Badrić

I professed love for this entry a little while ago, and surprisingly had more than one person (i.e. my entire blog readership) agree that it was, if not THE bomb, then pretty darn close. Aside from the fact that Nina thought wearing a garbage bag on stage would be a good idea, I genuinely love Nebo. It’s my second favourite Nebo of all Eurovision time, actually (you can’t beat a scarily talented ten-year-old doing dubstep). I love the structure, the music, the bells, the melody…just insert every musical term imaginable here, and you can guarantee I rate it. That may be because it reminds me of one of my most-loved non-ESC songs – Wonderful Life by Hurts (who’d better rep the UK in the near future) – but who cares? Love is love.

 

#2

2006 | Moja Štikla by Severina

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaEzHI_V4U8

Songs that mention shoes are usually awesome, but this one takes the cake…and the stiletto. It combines everything I love in a Eurovision song: ethnicity, fun, quirkiness, and a costume reveal. As a result, seven years after Athens (!!!) it has stood the test of time. Severina is a great performer, and in Greece she brought a song that sounds brilliant in studio anyway to another level. Whether I’m watching her performance or just listening to it, I can’t help dancing (which gets embarrassing if I’m in public, but YOLO, right?) and that’s the mark of a good ethno-pop/turbo-folk song, in my mind.

 

#1

2010 | Lako Je Sve by Feminnem

Having said that, it’s a ballad that outranks the rest of Croatia’s entries as far as I’m concerned. And not just any ballad; this is one that will haunt me for the rest of eternity as a song that should have qualified to the final. Feminnem came back to the ESC with a vengeance (and a different member) after an average showing five years earlier for Bosnia and Herzegovina. They’d tried to return before, but it was the stunning Lako Je Sve that did it and had me thinking ‘we are sooo going to Zagreb in 2011.’ Sadly, it wasn’t to be, with a slightly off-kilter performance and a tacky love heart getting them only as far as 13th in their semi. But I still believe the song was strong enough and should have pushed through. It’s a beautiful ballad that builds, but not predictably, and combines piano with electronic elements which is an excellent combo. But you knew that. I’m just trying to show my ljubav here, for everything the song is. Damn you, Europe, for letting it go.

 

Will you miss Croatia when Copenhagen rolls around? What have been your highlights of their time in the ESC?

 

The 2013 EBJ Awards for Eurovision Excellence | Part 1 (Artists and Songs)

Hello there. Long time, no new Eurovision rambling from yours truly. Well, it’s been just over a week, but in blog time that’s an eternity, so I apologise to anyone who cares. I do this, as Krista ‘Ding Dong’ Seigfrids would say, for you-ah, for you-ah, for you, yeah, I do it for youuuuu. Or as Robin ‘I won Melfest?’ Stjernberg would say, for you-ooh-ooh-oohoohooh-oh-ohhhhhh.

OH DEAR GOD, SOMEBODY STOP ME!

Thanks. So, today it’s finally time for me to hand out the first of my awards for the best and worst of all things Eurovision 2013. I realise it’s a bit odd to say they’re for excellence and still rate the bad stuff (costumes etc) but if you think about it, one of the artists who did badly in some way was the most excellent at doing badly in that way. I’m just trying to figure out which one.

Part 1 is devoted to the best and worst of this year’s artists and songs – from the most attractive performers (’cause I’m shallow like that) to the biggest personalities, most unoriginal entries and more. Let the ceremony begin! Oh, and let me know who your winners would be down below. Mine are highlighted in bold.

ebjees

The Artists

1

Andrius Pojavis

Farid Mammadov

Ilias Kozas (Koza Mostra)

Jonas Gygax (Takasa)

Marco Mengoni

Ryan Dolan

 

He may belong in an insane asylum (judging from his behaviour during interviews and the now infamous ‘crotch readjustment’ incident of the jury final) but Marco Mengoni, the San Remo-winning Italian stallion, is also insanely attractive – and when you’re objectifying people by handing out “trophies” to the best-looking, that’s what counts. He can fly to Australia and act like a total space cadet in my company any time.

Marco: the hair of a madman, the face of my future husband.

Marco: the hair of a madman, the face of my future husband.

 

 2

Alyona Lanskaya

Amandine Bourgeois

Natália Kelly

Natalie Horler (Cascada)

Nevena Božović (Moje 3)

Zlata Ognevich

 

If you’re a female and you’ve never secretly hoped that Zlata has bad breath or a problem with flatulence, because NOBODY can be as beautiful and talented and generally perfect as she is, then you’re a better person than I am. I’ll push my jealousy to one side for a second to say this: she is a stunner. If she and Marco Mengoni ever had a love child (never gonna happen, back off Ognevich etc etc) it would be ridiculously gorgeous. Or alternatively, hideous because two lots of super-hot genes coming together might cancel out the attractiveness.

 

3

Andrius Pojavis

Farid Mammadov

Gianluca Bezzina

Gor Sujyan (Dorians)

Marco Mengoni

Roberto Bellarosa

 

This was a tough category, what with 2013 being a year full of animated brows, all jostling for our attention. But the hypnotic quality of Andrius’ pair secures him the disco ball. I’m pretty sure he got into the final by using them to put the jury members and TV viewers into a trance, during which time they were compelled to vote Lithuania. That weird trip-effect halfway through the performance was just a distraction.

'Hush. The eyebrows have spoken.'

‘Hush. The eyebrows have spoken.’

 

 

4

Adrian Lulguraj

Gianluca Bezzina

Ralfs Eilands (PeR)

Robin Stjernberg

Ryan Dolan

 

Perhaps I’m biased because I love Robin to pieces (‘Pieces’ coincidentally being the title of his new album, to be released on June 26th, hashtag shameless plug) but I reckon he was the nicest guy to set foot on Malmö soil during Eurovision week. His priceless reaction of shock at winning Melodifestivalen carried through to the big show, as he was constantly thrilled and amazed just to be there. He was charming with all 468, 952 members of the press he had to speak to (so I hear), taught Australian commentator Sam Pang how to wrestle, and went out of his way (literally; he ran in the wrong direction) to greet fans at the opening party. What a top bloke.

 

5

Hannah Mancini

Krista Seigfrids

Natália Kelly

Natalie Horler (Cascada)

Sara Jovanović (Moje 3)

 

Okay, so Krista and her entourage/bridal party may have been a bit loud at times, and prone to disturbing the relative peace of artist interviews-in-progress…but underneath that noise was someone genuinely excited to be representing her country and someone who wants to make friends with everyone she comes into contact with. Despite her negative result in the final, I’ll bet she and her team spent the plane trip home ding-donging up and down the aisles.

 

6

Bonnie Tyler

Cascada

Koza Mostra

PeR

Robin Stjernberg

Who See

 

In this case, it’s ‘Born EntertainerS’. I’m not including Agathonas as one of the said entertainers, despite how much I love his moustache fondling. It’s just that Koza Mostra, as a fivesome, kind of outshine him in the energetic, crowd-revving, kilt-wearing stakes. I reckon you could hire these guys to perform at a party specifically for people who are bored by everything, and within ten seconds those people would be dancing on tabletops with various items of clothing tied around their foreheads.

It's also entertaining to wonder what's under those kilts.

It’s also entertaining to wonder what’s under those kilts.

 

7

Alyona Lanskaya (the two-time NF winner who finally made it)

Birgit (expecting on the ESC stage)

Elitsa & Stoyan (return of the drum-tastic Bulgarians)

Gianluca Bezzina (the singing doctor)

Moran Mazor (chic geek)

Valentina Monetta (from social networks to sophistication)

 

Miss Monetta takes out this award, and not just because she came straight back to the contest without even a coffee break in between. It’s because she went from ‘inappropriately dressed thirty-something forced to gyrate around singing about cybersex and googling, giggling, gaggling (whatever that is)’ to ‘mature, talented chanteuse with excellent Italian ballad-cum-disco-number and adequately floaty outfit.’ We all wondered whether the Social Network stigma would ruin her second chance, or if she’d be able to shake it off; though she didn’t manage to make the final, I think she well and truly proved that Crisalide Valentina is the real Valentina.

 

 

The Songs

 8

Glorious (sounds like Don’t You Worry Child by Swedish House Mafia)

L’Enfer Et Moi (sounds like Rolling In The Deep by ADELE)

Samo Shampioni (sounds like Water by Elitsa & Stoyan)

Solayoh (sounds like Aphrodisiac by Eleftheria Eleftheriou)

Something (sounds like Mr. Brightside by the Killers)

Tomorrow (sounds like Hey Soul Sister by Train)

 

Last year’s Greek entry sounded at least five years old, and this year’s Belarusian entry, which was more or less a carbon copy, actually turned out to be five years old (read: stale as a bread crust left behind in the pantry for six months). As catchy as it is, it’s that lack of originality and dated-ness that makes me want to never hear the “word” ‘solayoh’ ever again. But my congratulations to Alyona’s songwriters (if they’re still alive…they did write it all those years ago) are sincere. You guys really deserve this award for creating a song so structurally and melodically similar to another one that hadn’t even been thought of at the time.

 

9

Glorious

Hold Me                                                                                            

I Feed You My Love

Only Teardrops

Solayoh

Waterfall

 

A fanwank song is one that a big percentage of ESC lovers go crazy over, that may or may not have been written expressly to appeal to said lovers and that may or may not succeed in the contest itself. Waterfall was (and still is) a ballad stuffed with Eurovision-specific clichés, and had many people booking hotel rooms in Tbilisi for May 2014 before Eurovision week had even begun. Unfortunately for Georgia (and the people who’d booked in to a hotel with a no-refund policy) taking a chance on a fanwank didn’t pay off.

'Whyyyyyyyy couldn't we beeeaaaattt Ell and Nikkiiiiiiiiii?'

‘Whyyyyyyyy couldn’t we beeeaaaattt Ell and Nikkiiiiiiiiii?’

 

95

Contigo Hasta El Final

Et Uus Saaks Alguse

Hold Me

Igranka

Lonely Planet

 

The first time I listened to Hold Me, I was all like ‘Errgh. Yawn. But dammit, Azerbaijan is going to win again with another average song!’ Then a few months went by, and the contest rolled around and the guy in the box happened…and I suddenly became one of the people who wouldn’t have minded if Farid had won, excepting the fact that going back to Baku so soon would have been a tad same-same. As annoying as it is, I love this song as of now. Can we go back to 2011 and make it win in place of Running Scared?

 

91 

Birds

Gravity

Hold Me

L’Essenziale

O Mie

Rak Bishvilo

Waterfall

 

Besides Birds, L’Essenziale was the only subtle, lyrical ballad in the above sea of big, brash belters. That’s not why it’s my personal ballad of 2013 – I love an in-your-face ballad as much as the next person (assuming that next person is a fan of them). I just think it’s beautiful in its simplicity. But it is also lyrically and musically on a different level to most of the others, and I really appreciate that. Are those empty words coming from someone whose main requirement for a good song is catchiness? Maybe. But non mi importa.

 

 92

Contigo Hasta El Final

Identitet

Pred Da Se Razdeni

Samo Shampioni

Solayoh

 

Sadly, the ethno-pop of this year was hard to find, and you could argue that some of the above don’t technically fit into the category. Namely my winner, which is ethno-rock if you want to be picky. You don’t? Great, I’ll carry on then. Identitet is the kind of rock song that appeals to people who aren’t usually rock fans, much like the Turkish rock from Mor ve Ötesi and MaNga (who are responsible for two of my favourite Eurovision songs like, ever). There’s something about it – the melody, those tinges of ethnicity perhaps – that I really like. It’s more instant than Contigo Hasta and more cohesive than Pred Da Se Razdeni, the two songs that I’d name as runner-ups.

 

 93

Alcohol Is Free

Glorious

Marry Me

Only Love Survives

Solayoh

Straight Into Love

 

IMO, Cascada gave us the Macarena of Year Malmö – the up-tempo track that more or less prizes you out of your seat and marches you over to the nearest open space so you can give in to the overwhelming desire you have to shake your thing. Sure, you might not be able to do so at the top of a staircase with a wind machine at your beck and call, but whatever. As Lady Gaga so wisely once said, ‘just dance’. You know you want to.

 

 94

Finland

France

Greece

Iceland

Malta

Ukraine

 

Ukraine threw everything, and I mean everything, at their music video this year, which is so unlike them (ha ha ha). There were CGI unicorns, butterflies, flowers that gave birth to Zlatas, diamonds falling from the sky (not a good thing unless you have a reinforced steel umbrella)…and that’s just to name a few. But the OTT was OMG. The ‘all or nothing’ attitude Ukraine has with regard to Eurovision paid off this time. I’m only disappointed that they didn’t utilise hologram technology to get a unicorn on stage.

'This one'll do nicely for my engagement ring.'

‘This one’ll do nicely for my engagement ring.’

 

Well, that concludes this half of the 2013 EBJAEEs. I hope you enjoyed yourself. If you did, you may want to come back in a few days for the final instalment, which will be commending the yays and nays of the performances, costumes and results from Malmö. Plus, you can find out if your favourite won the People’s Choice Award for All-Rounder of the Year. You wouldn’t want to miss that! I’ll save you a front-row seat, shall I?

In the meantime…

 

Did I make the right decisions? Who/what would you hand these trophies to?

 

 

Counting down to JESC: Hasselt 2005

I want to start this post with a) an apology for its lateness, and b) a brief mention of what could very well be the best thing about the upcoming Junior contest. The 2012 logo was released last week and looks a little something like this:

 

Actually, it looks exactly like that, because that is it. Anyway, it wasn’t a shocking revelation, with this year’s motto being ‘break the ice’ and all, but as it could have been on a par with the 2012 Olympics logo (i.e. what the #!&%?) it was a pleasant one. In my opinion, it’s very cool, pun 110% intended.

Moving on, and it’s time to look back at the 3rd JESC – the only contest  to have been held in Belgium in my lifetime (what are the chances that will change in 2014?). For some reason, this edition is the one I’m least familiar with. I can’t tell you how many hours I had to spend on Youtube refreshing my memory (oh, the torture!) but I can tell you that I’ve finally managed to put together a recap for your enjoyment, fingers crossed.

And here it is…

 

 

The stats

Edition: 3rd

When: 26th November, 2005

Where: Ethias Arena, Hasselt, Belgium

Motto: ‘Let’s get loud’

Hosts: Maureen Louys & Marcel Vanthilt

Broadcaster: RTBF, VRT

Entries: 16

Debutants: 2 – Russia, Serbia & Montenegro

Returnees: 0

Withdrawals: 4 – Cyprus, France, Poland, Switzerland  

Interval acts: Cirque du Soleil, and María Isabel with Antes Muerta Que Sencilla and Pues Va A Ser Que No

First place: Belarus

Last place: Malta

Most douze points: 4 – Spain

 

The entries

Greece/ Tora Einai I Seira Mas by Alexandros & Kalli

Denmark/ Shake Shake Shake by Nicolai

Croatia/ Rock Baby by Lorena Jelusić

Romania/ Țurai! by Alina Eremia

United Kingdom/ How Does It Feel? by Joni Fuller

Sweden/ Gränslös Kärlek by M+

Russia/ Doroga K Solntsu by Vladislav Krutskikh

Macedonia/ Rodendeski Baknež by Denis Dimoski

Netherlands/ Stupid by Tess

Serbia & Montenegro/ Ljubav Pa Fudbal by Filip Vučić

Latvia/ Es Esmu Maza Jauka Meitene by Kids4Rock

Belgium/ Mes Rêves by Lindsay

Malta/ Make It Right! by Thea & Friends

Norway/ Sommer Og Skolefri by Malin

Spain/ Te Traigo Flores by Antonio José

Belarus/ My Vmeste by Ksenia Sitnik

 

The scoreboard

  1. Belarus – 149   

 

  1. Spain – 146
  2. Norway – 123
  3. Denmark – 121
  4. Romania – 89
  5. Greece – 88
  6. Netherlands – 82
  7. Macedonia – 68
  8. Russia – 66
  9. Belgium – 63
  10. Latvia – 50
  11. Croatia – 36
  12. Serbia & Montenegro – 29
  13. United Kingdom – 28
  14. Sweden – 22
  15. Malta – 18

 

My top 5… 

(Please forgive the lack of actual fives in some areas, for the third time.)

…songs

Spain – once upon a time, Spain did Eurovision in a certain way and it never failed them. Think David Civera, Rosa, Beth, Ramon…and Antonio José. Ethnic and epic.

Belarus – it’s cute, it’s catchy, it’s about togetherness and stuff…what more could you want in a JESC entry? Or in an advertising jingle for summer camp, come to think of it. For me, this is the best of the Belarussian winners.

Norway – this one’s very kiddish, but I still love it. There’s more cuteness and catchiness, but this time it’s concerning school holidays, and that’s a topic I can get behind even though school is a thing of the past (woohoo!).

Netherlands – Dutch JESC ballads kick butt in my opinion. In fact, most of their Junior entries get douze from moi, whilst their big Eurovision efforts leave a lot to be desired.

Romania/Belgium/Macedonia – I can’t split them! I love the energy of Romania, the happiness of Belgium, and pretty much everything about Macedonia.

…voices

Spain – the lesson here must be great song + great singer = musical contest success. It’s a shame Spain don’t follow that formula more often in the ESC.

Greece – this goes more to Kalli than the David Schwimmer-esque Alexandros. But there’s a weak link in every duo, isn’t there? Just ask Ell and Nikki.

Romania – her song seemed to be 10% singing, 90% exuberant shouts of ‘HEY!’, but Alina made it work. She’s an even better vocalist nowadays, but no longer sports those braids (to my knowledge).  

Croatia – Lorena obviously failed to live up to the standard her brother set for her re: The Scoreboard, but it’s clear that vocal talent runs in her family.

Netherlands – there was nothing Stupid about Tess in the tune-belting department.

…costumes

Romania – the combo of red and white is always (well, almost always) a winner. Put it together with traditional elements and some gravity defying, forehead-tightening braids, and voila – perfection.

Belgium – happy and bright…kind of like Lindsay’s song, which makes sense. A special thumbs up goes to the coordinated backup dancers.

Netherlands – this is how you do casual without resorting to sportswear.

Greece – again, it’s mainly Kalli who gets the accolades, this time for Best Cut-Out Garment and Most Impressive Hybrid of Straight ‘n’ Curly in a Hairdo. Congrats.

Norway – all I need to say is ‘aww!’

Clockwise from left: Alina, Lindsay, Tess, Malin, and Kalli & Alexandros

 

My bottom 5…

…songs

Sweden – it’s just so noisy! To me the chorus sounds like two girls who are trying to sing karaoke in their living room, but their mother keeps drowning them out because she’s in the kitchen throwing her pot-and-pan collection at the wall.

Latvia – yawn.

Malta – the lyrics are really what bug me here. At least when you don’t understand most of the languages that are being performed in, you can’t tell how clichéd the words are.

Denmark – yeah, it came 4th. Yeah, that means most people liked it. No, that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to find it too staccato.

UK – sometimes, good voices can make bad songs sound better. Other times that can be reversed, with disastrous results.

…voices

UK – with Joni, it’s not so much a case of ‘she can NOT sing to save her life!’ as ‘what the heck is she doing with that voice of hers?’

Norway – I love Malin and her JESC entry, and when she performed in the Norwegian national final this year it was clear her voice had matured. But back in ’05, she was very nasally.

Belarus – ditto, apart from the whole Norwegian NF thing.

…costumes

Croatia – I may have worn something similar when I was a kid, but I recognise the hideousness of it now.

Belarus – visor hat. Tutu. Legwarmers and giant shoes. Where could it go wrong?

Spain – a song as awesome as Antonio’s deserves a more dramatic, less sloppy outfit.

L-R: Lorena, Ksenia and Antonio

 

How did you like Hasselt? Comment me your personal highlights and lowlights!

 

Counting down to JESC: Lillehammer 2004

Watching Junior Eurovision 2004 back the other day, I felt like the Norwegian organizers really pulled out all the stops to outdo the Copenhagen show. With the hosts (including co-compere of Oslo 2010, Nadia Hasnaoui) on hand to perform physical comedy, exchange lame banter, and change outfits an unnecessary amount of times, JESC was beginning to model itself more on big Eurovision, and so becoming more familiar – i.e. less of a novelty and more of an institution.

I also felt ’04 was a strong year entry-wise, perhaps more so than I did when I first saw it, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t find the ‘nay’ amongst all the ‘yay’! Read on for a recap of the second mini-contest, as well as the promised verdicts on the songs, voices and costumes that floated my boat (as well as those that sunk it).

 

 

The stats

Edition: 2nd

When: 20th November, 2004

Where: Håkons Hall, Lillehammer, Norway

Theme: ‘Bright Nordic Winter Nights’

Hosts: Nadia Hasnaoui & Stian Barsnes Simonsen

Broadcaster: NRK

Entries: 18

Debutants: 2 – France, Switzerland

Returnees: 0

Withdrawals: 0

Interval act/s: Dance medley and Westlife with Ain’t That A Kick In The Head

First place: Spain

Last place: Latvia/Poland

Most douze points: 8 – Spain

 

The entries

Greece/ O Palios Mou Eaftos by Secret Band

Malta/ Power of a Song by Young Talent Team

Netherlands/ Hij Is Een Kei by Klaartje & Nicky

Switzerland/ Birichino by Demis Mirarchi

Norway/ En Stjerne Skal Jeg Bli by @lek

France/ Si On Voulait Bien by Thomas Pontier

Macedonia/ Zabava by Martina Siljanovska

Poland/ Łap Życie by KWADro

Cyprus/ Onira by Marios Tofi

Belarus/ Spiavajce Sa Mnoju by Egor Volchek

Croatia/ Hej Mali by Nika Turković

Latvia/ Balts Vai Melns by Mārtinš Tālbergs & C-Stones Juniors

United Kingdom/ The Best Is Yet To Come by Cory Spedding

Denmark/ Pigen Er Min by Cool Kids

Spain/ Antes Muerta Que Sencilla by María Isabel

Sweden/ Varför Jag? by Limelights

Belgium/ Accroche-Toi by Free Spirits

Romania/ Îţi Mulţumesc by Noni Răzvan Ene

 

The scoreboard

  1. Spain – 183

María Isabel, proud owner of a trophy almost as big as herself

  1. United Kingdom – 152
  2. Croatia – 138
  3. Romania – 135
  4. Denmark – 128
  5. France – 90
  6. Macedonia – 76
  7. Cyprus – 73
  8. Greece – 60
  9. Belgium – 49
  10. Netherlands – 39
  11. Malta – 26
  12. Norway – 24
  13. Belarus – 21
  14. Sweden – 20
  15. Switzerland – 16
  16. Latvia/Poland – 15

 

My top 5… 

…songs

Denmark – one of the catchiest songs in JESC history, this brings out the gangsta in me (hardcore, I know). I feel like Scandinavian languages lend themselves so well to rap/hip hop/whatever you would classify this as.

Spain – As strong as ’04 was in my opinion, and despite the fact that I like Denmark a little better, Spain deserved to win. María was so teeny back then it’s hard to believe she was old enough to tie her own shoelaces, let alone write such a cracking song. And yet, she did.

Croatia – Croatia, like Spain and the UK, is one of those countries that can’t even get a look in at Eurovision these days, yet managed two amazing results in a row in Junior a mere few years ago. Maybe it had something to do with the BLEEDING BRILLIANT songs they sent?

France – This has got to be the Frenchiest song on the planet. It would have been the Frenchiest contest entry ever too, if only Thomas had worn a Breton shirt and a beret and sung into a baguette. That aside, j’adore cette chanson in all its quirky glory.  

Romania – I know I’m supposed to be judging the songs here, but I can’t help it. Is Noni not the most adorable child to ever walk the earth? And I’m usually a sucker for puppies and kittens, not kids. I’m sure he wouldn’t appreciate me saying that now since he’s practically middle-aged, but whatever. PS – yeah, his song was a good one.

…voices

France – with a vocal like this, who needs fancy costumes, backup dancers or cannons that shoot disco balls filled with glitter and confetti?  

Poland – these girls knew how to harmonise. I mean, I think they did. I don’t, but they sounded pretty darn good to me.

Romania – I bet Mariah Carey sounded like this when she was a boy.

UK – Her range goes a bit far northwards for my taste, but I can’t deny that Cory knew her way around those high notes.

Cyprus – I’m not a fan of Marios’ song (and I find it hard to believe he was under the age of sixteen when he arrived in Lillehammer) but he could sing – and bust some serious moves at the same time.

…costumes

L-R: Cory (and her spectacular hair), Young Talent Team, Nika, KWADro, and Noni

UK – Kermit the Frog said it wasn’t easy being green, but Cory apparently disagreed. Bonus points for the crazy-awesome hairdo and singular earring.

Malta – colour-coordination was taken to new extremes by the Young Talent Team.

Croatia – speaking of colour-coordination…I’m guessing there was a massive sale on bright pink corduroy in Croatia circa November 2004.

Poland – as the singlet-over-sleeved-top combo goes, this wasn’t a bad effort. 

Romania – pay attention, Blue: this is how you do a shiny suit.

 

My bottom 5…

…songs

Netherlands – it ain’t all bad. In fact, none of the following are, but I had to come up with something. This one’s pretty cheesy, and the whistle-blowing irritates me.  

Belarus – a little all-over-the-place.

Norway – middling 80s-inspired soft rock just doesn’t do it for me.

Cyprus – this reminds me of Israel’s ESC entry in 2003, which is only a guilty pleasure.

Greece – more middling 80s-inspired soft-rock. Not bad, not good.

…voices

I don’t think any of the 18 acts were vocally heinous enough to name and shame – not even one certain blonde in a blue suit whose voice may or may not have broken live onstage a la Dorijan Dlaka. It’s not like they could avoid it.

…costumes

L-R: Free Spirits, 1/3 of Secret Band, Martina, and Marios

Belgium – unkempt is the word I’d use to describe Free Spirits. A haircut and a quick iron before the show wouldn’t have gone astray.

Greece – again, these outfits were just too casual for such a big event.

Macedonia – there’s something old lady-ish about this costume on Martina that freaks me out.

Cyprus – Did Marios have permission to borrow John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever suit?

 

Were you watching when JESC arrived in Norway? What were your favourite (or least favourite) moments?

 

EBJ’s top 10…random favourites from Eurovision artists

For the first time in a looooooooong time, here’s a post that doesn’t require an intro. The title pretty much says it all, don’t you think?

 

#1 / Dyshi by Serebro (Russia 2007)

This has got to be one of my favourite songs of all time, possibly because the lyrics make no mention of anyone tasting anyone else’s “cherry pie” but probably because it’s got a haunting quality that gives me goosebumps every time. One of the singles from Serebro’s debut album Opiumroz (one of the few albums I own on which no song needs to be skipped over) what makes it particularly memorable is the video, which is beautifully shot…but seriously random.

 

#2 / Mechtateli by Dima Bilan (Russia 2006/2008)

Here’s another Russian pop ballad that, I have to admit, could sound less like Dyshi. What can I say? I have a type. It’s the almost-title track from Dima’s most recent album, coincidentally (or not) another one that requires no skip button. For those of us who would argue that the guy is at his best when singing in Russian, it could also be Exhibit A in the case for.

 

#3 / Skorpion by Urban Symphony (Estonia 2009)

* The version below is shortened. Give the full one a listen if you haven’t before – you won’t regret it!

Italian may be regarded as the world’s most musical language, but I’ve got a soft spot for Estonian. When it’s sung by the amazingly/annoyingly talented Sandra Nurmsalu and backed by pretty much every string instrument ever created, the magic reaches a whole new level. Skorpion is the second single US released post-Moscow, and it’s the same blend of classic and contemporary that got them to 6th place back then.

 

#4 / Broken Angel by Arash (Azerbaijan 2009)

Arash swapped Aysel for Swedish singer Helena Josefsson on this track, which was more of a homage to his Iranian ethnicity than his more distant Azeri. For me this song is better than Always, though it would no doubt have done worse at Eurovision (mainly because it doesn’t scream ‘I need to be danced to by very flexible women in revealing Lycra!’). Side note: Arash calls Malmö home, so here’s hoping he crops up somewhere in the contest next year.

 

#5 / Hasta Que Me Ames by D’Nash (Spain 2007)

If you wanted to like Spain’s entry in Helsinki, but found it too shouty and/or too Spanish, I have two things to say to you. Firstly, what is wrong with you? That entry kicked butt. Secondly, this song may be more to your liking being by the same quartet of hot men, just with a more mainstream boyband sound. I imagine a music video would feature them wearing white and dancing energetically yet mournfully on majestic cliff tops.

 

#6 / Vysoko by Julia Savicheva (Russia 2004)

More proof of Russia’s talent for producing haunting ballads, coming right up! I never thought that much of Julia’s Eurovision entry, but once she’d stopped dancing with clumsy men who’d obviously fallen into a massive paint puddle, her musical stylings suited me better. This song would make a great backing track for a Russian tourism campaign.

 

#7 / Solo by Milan Stanković (Serbia 2010)

I was torn between including this, from Milan’s debut album of the same name, or the more recent Perje – a Balkan ballad in the Željko Joksimović mould – but ended up going for the upbeat one since there’s been so many ballads already (I have a weakness). Solo makes Milan out to be a bit of a ladies’ man, which is hard to believe given that haircut, but it also makes me want to shake my thing. Sometimes that’s all you need.

 

#8 / Moon of Dreams by Ruslana (Ukraine 2004)

I thought Ruslana, champion of Eurovision and human rights, could do no wrong. That was until she decided that teaming up with T-Pain was a good idea. Overly-autotuned rappers aside, it’s another cracker that doesn’t stray too far from her formula of ethno-R-and-B-pop. Nor does the video give any indication that she’s ever strayed from using Xena Warrior Princess as her style icon.

 

#9 / Baby It’s Over by Helena Paparizou (Greece 2001/2005)

Helena is arguably the second-most glamorous lady in ESC history (nobody out-glamours Dana International) as well as a supremely successful recording artist. This track comes from her epic Greatest Hits and More album, and if it’s the first you’ve heard of her since she won the contest, you may be surprised at the lack of Greek-ness involved. Unsurprising is the radio-friendliness.

 

#10 / Break of Dawn by Eric Saade (Sweden 2011)

Speaking of radio-friendly fodder, here’s something from Sweden’s favourite manboy before he was Popular. The song’s excellent, if you like this sort of thing (which I do) but the video is even better, because Eric does more ‘intense face’ in the few minutes of running time than anyone I’ve ever seen. You can’t say the guy’s not talented.

 

Got any  favourite random songs from ESC artists? Let me know below…

 

My all-time ESC 50: the Top 10 revealed!

Alright. I think I’ve kept you waiting long enough. Granted, I did mean to post this three or four days ago, but life kind of got in the way (damn you, life!) and so here we are. It’s well and truly time to bring this countdown to an end and put all of you out of your misery in the process, because I know* you’ve been glued to your wifi enabled devices for the last 96 hours straight, praying to the Eurovision gods that I would post the last part.

I’ve decided to say less than usual about each song, simply because when it comes to the ones you really, really, REALLY love, you shouldn’t have to justify that love with a ramble (as much as I adore rambling). I’ve said a few words, but I’m mostly letting the songs speak for themselves.

Let me know what you think of my choices, as well as which entries would make your list of the best-ever.

 

* I may or may not have accidentally typed ‘I know’ instead of ‘I like to think’. Whoops.

#10

Rivers of words between us
Sometime they will take us away…

Kicking off the list today is a timeless classic of an entry – its country’s last prior to a fourteen-year absence. It was the perfect song for the world’s most musical language. My 10th favourite Eurovision song of all time is:

Fiumi Di Parole by Jalisse (Italy 1997)

 

#9

There, love, where the bells toll, you will forever be mine alone…

You know I love a dramatic Balkan ballad, and the fact that this one was performed by a boy band made it that much more appealing. It’s a great song that was enhanced by a cleverly choreographed stage show. My 9th favourite Eurovision song of all time is:

Zauvijek Moja by No Name (Serbia & Montenegro 2005)

 

#8

Flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone, love’s carving it in the stone…

The 2006 contest was my first, and despite the presence of Lordi in all their prosthetic glory, my strongest memory has less to do with Finnish monster rockers and more to do with women climbing out of pianos to the sound of top-notch Russian pop. My 8th favourite Eurovision song of all time is:

Never Let You Go by Dima Bilan (Russia 2006)

 

#7

It’s hard, it’s hard, when a longing by moonlight is here for a while and then escapes…

The second time Dana International entered the contest, it was as a writer, not as a performer. Who would have guessed the Diva herself could create such a spine-tingling (yet rousing) ballad? Credit also goes to the person who sung it, a man known as ‘The Yemenite Angel’. My 7th favourite Eurovision song of all time is:

The Fire In Your Eyes by Boaz (Israel 2008)

 

#6

I knock and hope that you don’t hear me
You open the door, as if you don’t care…

Here’s an entry that didn’t make the final, much to the horror of many, who thought the reason had to be the singer’s rather casual choice of costume. The song was full of light and shade, and combined ballad elements with rockier ones – a hybrid that grabbed my attention. My 6th favourite Eurovision song of all time is:

Stop by Omar Naber (Slovenia 2005)

 

#5

No borders, no flags, from up there, the world is just beautiful…

The message of this song rings so true with the ESC, and just reading the English translation gets me all choked up. Beautifully atmospheric, it scored the country it was representing one of their best-ever results (though I think it deserved to place a little higher). My 5th favourite Eurovision song of all time is:

Keine Grenzen – Żadnych Granic by Ich Troje (Poland 2003)

 

 

#4

There’s no tomorrow, no today
It’s easy when a song finds your heart…

We know what happens when a Balkan ballad meets a boyband, but what happens when it meets military? Magic, that’s what. This entry quickly became my favourite of the year, and I championed it even though I knew it had no chance up against a certain boy with a violin. My 4th favourite Eurovision song of all time is:

Bistra Voda by Regina (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2009)

 

 

#3

A scent of wind and pain follows me like a shadow
Are you sighing after me somewhere? Where are you hidden from me?

White suits, traditional instruments and Željko Joksimović have long been key to contest success. When they united to represent one of my favourite ESC countries in Athens, none of them disappointed. If I could only use one word to describe the song and/or the performance, it would be ‘stunning’. My 3rd favourite Eurovision song of all time is:  

Lejla by Hari Mata Hari (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2006)

 

 

#2

No more sad songs on lonely nights, no more seeking the wrongs or rights of it… 

I expect some of you to question this one. Then again, some of you may think it should have won rather than been pipped by a repetitive pop number (which also made my list, unfortunately). Power-ballad perfection, it was a runner-up in the late 80s and now it’s the runner-up on my list. My 2nd favourite Eurovision song of all time is:

Why Do I Always Get It Wrong? by Live Report (United Kingdom 1989)

 

 

This is the moment! If I didn’t think you guys had already guessed what my favourite was, I’d ask for a drum roll.

Oh, what the heck. *Insert Drum Roll Here*

 

#1

When I think of you I’m afraid of loving you again…

This entry is on my list for pretty much the same reasons as Lejla, only there’s something especially haunting about it that I love a little bit more. It may be the fact that I get goosebumps every time I hear it (and I think I’ve heard it about 1829813103084 times). That’s what makes my favourite Eurovision song of all time:  

Lane Moje by Željko Joksimović (Serbia & Montenegro 2004)

 

 

The final fifty

#1/ Lane Moje by Željko Joksimović (Serbia & Montenegro 2004)

#2/ Why Do I Always Get It Wrong? by Live Report (United Kingdom 1989)

#3/ Lejla by Hari Mata Hari (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2006)

#4/ Bistra Voda by Regina (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2009)

#5/ Keine Grenzen – Żadnych Granic by Ich Troje (Poland 2003)

#6/ Stop by Omar Naber (Slovenia 2005)

#7/ The Fire In Your Eyes by Boaz (Israel 2008)

#8/ Never Let You Go by Dima Bilan (Russia 2006)

#9/ Zauvijek Moja by No Name (Serbia & Montenegro 2005)

#10/ Fiumi Di Parole by Jalisse (Italy 1997)

#11/ Wild Dances by Ruslana (Ukraine 2004)

#12/ Nocturne by SecretGarden (Norway 1995)

#13/ Džuli by Daniel (Yugoslavia 1983)

#14/ Tell Me Who You Are by Malene Mortensen (Denmark 2002)

#15/ Kuula by Ott Lepland (Estonia 2012)

#16/ Northern Girl by Prime Minister (Russia 2002)

#17/ Heaven by Jónsi (Iceland 2004)

#18/ Rijeka Bez Imena by Maria (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2007)

#19/ The War Is Not Over by Walters & Kazha (Latvia 2005)

#20/ Reise Nach Jerusalem by Sürpriz (Germany 1999)

#21/ Od Nas Zavisi by Karolina (Macedonia 2002)

#22/ Quedate Conmigo by Pastora Soler (Spain 2012)

#23/ Rändajad by Urban Symphony (Estonia 2009)

#24/ Nije Ljubav Stvar by Željko Joksimović (Serbia 2012)

#25/ Hemel En Aarde by Edsilia Rombley (Netherlands 1998)

#26/ Rock Me by Riva (Yugoslavia 1989)

#27/ This Is My Life by Anna Bergendahl (Sweden 2010)

#28/ Suus by Rona Nishliu (Albania 2012)

#29/ Diamond of Night by Evelin Samuel & Camille (Estonia 1999)

#30/ Every Way That I Can by Sertab Erener (Turkey 2003)

#31/ Ein Bisschen Frieden by Nicole (Germany 1982)

#32/ Work Your Magic by Koldun (Belarus 2007)

#33/ Anytime You Need by Hayko (Armenia 2007)

#34/ Ovo Je Balkan by Milan Stanković (Serbia 2010)

#35/ To Nie Ja! by Edyta Górniak (Poland 1994)

#36/ O Meu Coração Não Tem Cor by Lúcia Moniz (Portugal 1996)

#37/ Sanomi by Urban Trad (Belgium 2003)

#38/ Horehronie by Kristina (Slovakia 2010)

#39/ Die For You by Antique (Greece 2001)

#40/ Love In Rewind by Dino Merlin (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2011)

#41/ My Star by Brainstorm (Latvia 2000)

#42/ Never Ever Let You Go by Rollo & King (Denmark 2001)

#43/ Forogj Világ by Nox (Hungary 2005)

#44/ Dansevise by Grethe & Jørgen Ingmann (Denmark 1963)

#45/ Lako Je Sve by Feminnem (Croatia 2010)

#46/ Euphoria by Loreen (Sweden 2012)

#47/ Nur Ein Lied by Thomas Forstner (Austria 1989)

#48/ Il Faut Du Temps by Sandrine François (France 2002)

#49/ Solo by Alsou (Russia 2000)

#50/ Follow My Heart by Ich Troje (Poland 2006)

 

Voila! I hope you’ve enjoyed the countdown.

Until next time…