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REVEALED! Who really came last in Azerbaijan…

It’s been three weeks since Sweden won Eurovision 2012, and even though we’ve stopped using the word ‘euphoria’ to create lame puns and such, the EBU has still not released the split results, goshdarn them. There’s been a lot of individual country results trickling out on the internet, but nothing complete. Apart from annoying me (I am not a patient person) this has messed me around a bit on the blog front since I had planned a split analysis, which I should be doing now. Without anything to analyse, I’m scraping the bottom of the Baku barrel for something to write about.

Having said that, my mysterious and thrilling title (cough) does not lie – I do have a revelation to reveal. And here it is: Norway didn’t actually lose the contest this year. I don’t know if that has already occurred to you, but as president of the “Tooji is Amazeballs” fan club, the it was quick to occur to me, and I was planning on tweeting the fact to Tooji himself to make him feel better, but I figured he was probably over the whole thing by now.

Basically, we all know what happened in the final, point-wise. Namely, this:

  1. Sweden – 372
  2. Russia – 259
  3. Serbia – 214
  4. Azerbaijan – 150
  5. Albania – 146
  6. Estonia – 120
  7. Turkey – 112
  8. Germany – 110
  9. Italy – 101
  10. Spain – 97
  11. Moldova – 81
  12. Romania – 71
  13. Macedonia – 71
  14. Lithuania – 70
  15. Ukraine – 65
  16. Cyprus – 65
  17. Greece – 64
  18. Bosnia & Herzegovina – 55
  19. Ireland – 46
  20. Iceland – 46
  21. Malta – 41
  22. France – 21
  23. Denmark – 21
  24. Hungary – 19
  25. United Kingdom – 12
  26. Norway – 7

Yes, Sweden nearly beat Rybak’s record, and got the highest amount of douze points in history, blah blah blah. We all know that. But what about the semis? Unlike Norway, there were 16 countries who didn’t even make it to Saturday night, so technically they were all beaten by the Tooj. Now, for your convenience and possible interest, I have combined those 16 and ranked them by the points they accrued* in order to figure out who actually finished last – and who still has bragging rights in saying they came 30th, or whatever.

Let’s start with the 27th– 35th placed countries.

* FYI, the countries from semi 1 are in red, and those from semi 2 are in blue. Also, if there were equal scores, I have ranked them according to who received more high scores. You know, in the slightly dodgy EBU way.

 

  1. Bulgaria – 45
  2. Switzerland – 45
  3. Croatia – 42
  4. Finland – 41
  5. Portugal – 39
  6. Georgia – 36
  7. Belarus – 35
  8. Netherlands – 35
  9. Israel – 33

Bulgaria and Switzerland were the two countries that just missed out, which in way, must be more irritating for them than if they had lost.

Bulgaria not only got the same point total as Norway – failing to qualify because Love Unlimited didn’t get any lots of 8 points – but as Switzerland too. Sofi placed above Sinplus (IMO) because she got a 10 and a triple 6, whereas the Broggini brothers got a triple 8, and a 7 – but feel free to swap them around if it’ll help you sleep at night.

As you can see, there’s a block of higher-ranked songs from semi 2 here, which proves once again which semi was the strongest. Georgia’s 32nd placing is officially their worst ever, considering they’d qualified on every participation in the past. I can’t say I feel sad for them, although I do still want to strangle whoever decided to give Anri Jokhadze a rhyming dictionary for Christmas.

Belarus and the Netherlands also share a point total, but this time the division is clearer – Litesound managed to score a douze and an 8, whereas Joan was left with an 8 and a double 7. If you’d ever wondered what people prefer to look at – chainmail and leather or feathers – wonder no more.

Now we come to the countries ranked 36th– 39th:

  1. Slovenia – 31
  2. San Marino – 31
  3. Slovakia – 22
  4. Montenegro – 20

Poor Slovenia, who most of us had pegged to qualify, finished in a dismal unfortunate 36th place (I don’t want to destroy a teenage girl’s hopes and dreams any more than they’ve already been destroyed), just out-scoring San Marino with a 10 and an 8. Speaking of San Marino – well, they’re not going to be saying ‘uh-oh’ about 37th with 31 points, because it’s one of their best results EVER. That’s not as spectacular as it sounds, but it’s something Valentina Monetta will probably include in her status updates on Facebook…er, I mean, that social network, for the rest of her life.

Amazingly, Montenegro kept themselves out of the bottom three, possibly by borrowing Anri’s dictionary (choosing words with more syllables). Here are the unlucky trio who couldn’t be saved by Eurovision-themed lyrics, see-through dresses or pole dancers (apparently sex does not sell at the ESC).

  1. Latvia – 17
  2. Belgium – 16
  3. Austria – 8

So, when we’re talking about points, it was Austria’s popo-shaking duo Trackshittaz who came dead last this year. Congrats, boys!

I guess it’s apt that a song all about rear ends came bottom. We should have seen it coming – I mean, didn’t Loreen tell us she was going up-up-up-up-up-uuuuuppp? Then again, We Are the Winners didn’t turn out to be gospel back in Athens. I guess you never really know what’s going to happen in this competition. Isn’t that part of the fun?

 

NEXT TIME: If we finally get a looksee at the split results, I’ll be picking my way through them so you don’t have to. Otherwise…well, you’ll just have to wait and see.

 

Baku 2012: My overview of semi final 2

It’s Sunday afternoon, so in approximately nine hours I will know who won Eurovision 2012. The final finished at about 6am my time, which would have been a more respectable hour of the evening for many of you, I’m sure (I swear I’m only a little bit jealous). I did have a dream last night involving Can Bonomo and Pastora Soler, but I don’t think that signified a whole lot other than the fact that I have Baku on the brain right now.

Anyway, last night the second semi was screened here in Oz, and to be honest, it made the first one look like a rehearsal, it was that brilliant! For those of you still interested in my delayed verdicts, here’s a rundown of that very strong semi.

 

LE HIGHLIGHTS 

–  The contrast between Serbia’s opening act and Montengro’s was massive. It was a big moment for me to see Željko back on the ESC stage. He set the standard, and brought a level of class and atmosphere to the line-up that Rambo Amadeus could only dream of as he snoozed on top of his giant donkey.

–  Kaliopi’s performance for Macedonia was excellent, as was Eva Boto’s for Slovenia. Unfortunately only Kaliopi managed to qualify, but she really deserved it (from what I’ve seen, she’s a genuinely lovely lady, and she can sing like a champ). I’m very happy that FYROM managed to make the final for the first time since 2007, after years of just missing out.

–  I can’t not mention the country everyone wanted to see in this semi –Belarus. JOKE! I’m talking about Sweden, of course. Loreen’s performance may have been exactly the same as it was at Melodifestivalen, but Eurovision has never seen anything like it before – especially where the intimacy of the camera angles in concerned. At this point, I’m pretty certain we’re heading to Stockholm next year.

–  Some people make swans out of napkins; others make life-size ships out of bedsheets. Turkey apparently falls into the latter category, and to that I say ‘BRAVO, me hearties!’

–  Estonia and Norway, my two favourites in this semi, lived up to my expectations and then some. I am still mourning the loss of the extended version of Kuula, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the pants off Hott – as I am now calling him –  Lepland’s shorter rendition (Insert Joke About His Pants Coming Off Here). Tooji was amazing. I don’t think there was ever a time when a slot in the final didn’t have his name stamped on it in big glittery letters.

–  My final highlight has to be the interval act, comprised of Dima Bilan, Marija Serifovic, Alexander Rybak, Lena and Ell/Nikki, all of whom looked a lot skinnier than they did when they won, for some reason. Together they more than made up for the lack of interval entertainment the night before, even though neither Ell nor Nikki could seem to recall the lyrics of Waterloo. Fail. I would have loved to see Lordi there too, though. How great would a traditionally Azerbaijani version of Hard Rock Hallelujah have been?

 

LE LOWLIGHTS

–  Again, there weren’t many low points in my opinion. There were a few performances that just didn’t work for me on varying levels though – Belarus, for example, who I think may have cost themselves a place in the final by choosing to rework their song from its original pop-rock version into a messy pop-disco version (with a smidge of rock on the side).

–  I was also let down by Ukraine’s performance, which was a bit chaotic and too colourful for my retinas to enjoy, no matter how many times Gaitana told them to. There’s no doubting her ability to give a cracking vocal performance, but everything else just didn’t mesh. I was hoping for an army (well, a group of five as the EBU rules allow) of backing singers who could belt out the nanananananana’s, but what I got was some tie-dyed trumpet players and Gaitana herself taking care of the nana’s, which didn’t do justice to the studio version. I’m also not sure how fringes and flower garlands fit in with the vibe of the song. If the woman was a bridesmaid at a cowboy wedding it would make more sense.

–  Lastly, Max Jason Mai and his abs (which were on display, as hoped for by many) disappointed. I don’t know if it was just me, but he seemed to be off-key for most of his three minutes.

 

LE SHOCKS AND SURPRISES

–  I was mildly surprised to see Portugal’s Filipa pulling an Angelina Jolie, with a leg on display. It was definitely the most exciting part of her performance.

–  As much as I despise the Georgian song this year, I have to say that they put on a good show, so that was a pleasant surprise. I expected to spend the duration of I’m a Joker smothering myself with a cushion, but I found myself watching, and even tapping my foot to the beat a little. Don’t tell anyone, for God’s sake.

–  With so many strong songs in this semi, there was going to be some gems left behind. For me, Slovenia’s failure to qualify was a shock, and I am going to miss it tonight! Similarly, Lithuania’s qualification straight off the bat shocked me. I do love me some Donny, but I figured he was destined for failure alongside his sparkly blindfold.

 

LE RESULTS

The lucky ten this time around were Lithuania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Ukraine, Sweden, Macedonia, Norway, Estonia, Malta and Turkey, which means I was 80% right in my predictions again. Not bad.

Waiting for Estonia to be announced nearly killed me. I knew Norway would go through, but Ott wasn’t a sure thing – I was just hoping against hope for him to advance. Luckily he did, or I might not have been alive to write this post.

Malta’s qualification surprised me, but it made me happy too, because the tiny island always want a place so badly and they’re always so grateful on the rare occasions they get one. I don’t expect them to get anywhere in the final, but I don’t think that will matter much.

Turkey is back in the final after a year of failure that shocked us all – although the dastardly EBU made sure to leave Can until last to make us wonder if it would happen again. As the final country to snatch up a place on Saturday, Turkey made sure the level of the final would be sky-high.

In the unofficial Australian vote over at www.sbs.com.au/eurovision, it was Sweden who topped the list, followed by Norway and Malta. Finishing our top five were Estonia and Slovakia. Apparently my fellow countrymen and women love their off-key rock and roll.

 

To those of you who Eurovision 2012 is over for, I hope you enjoyed it. There’s still a bit of a wait for me, and so far I’ve escaped finding out the winner by holing myself up in my bedroom and getting excited about seeing the Big 6, particularly Italy and Spain, on stage for the first time.

Just because the contest has come to an end doesn’t mean I’m going to stop posting hilarious (cough) Eurovision-themed posts. For me the party lasts 365 days a year – or 366, in this year’s case – and you’re all invited!

Jaz x

 

PS – What were your highs and lows from the second semi???

 

Guess who, Baku: my action-packed 2012 prediction special!

The delegations have arrived, the rehearsals are well underway, there’s a wind machine repairman on standby and I have bought out my local supermarket’s entire supply of bite-size junk food. What does this all mean?? That Eurovision 2012 is here, of course!

I’ve got my flags and I’ve got my Minipops…come at me Baku!

The first semi final of this year’s contest is on a) tomorrow, b) the day after that, c) at 4am on Wednesday morning, depending on where you are in the world. Basically, it’s so close I could ask it for an autograph. Being down here in Australia means I have to wait until Friday to see this semi on TV, so I’m about to embark on a period of media abstinence to rival that of the Amish. Before I do, though, I’ve got some serious predicting to do, based on what I’ve heard from those on the ground in Baku, all of whom I hate with a passion.

Without further ado, here’s my take on the events to come for both semis and le grand final!

 

SEMI FINAL 1

Who will qualify: Cyprus, Denmark, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Moldova, Romania and Russia

I-vi phoooone hooooome…to tell your mum you qualified

Who I want to qualify: Albania, Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Moldova and Romania

Who is most likely to…

Win the semi: Iceland. I could so easily say Greece, because it’s Greece (and I believe they won their semi in 2011 with a song that many of us tipped to get left behind) but with a song that’s at least five years past the Eurovision use-by, an unreliable vocalist and some cringe-worthy lyrics, I can’t see it out-pointing the drama (and pretty lights) and magic (and pretty Jónsi) from Iceland. If anyone can, it’ll be Mandinga from Romania.

Lose the semi: Montenegro. Need I say more? Surely, as “clever” as this apparently is, it’s not getting votes from anywhere.

Get the biggest round of applause: Russia. The grannies will be clap-happy when they shuffle off stage, for sure. If you’re in the Crystal Hall, don’t worry about the volume of your Babushki applause, because I’m pretty sure they’re all deaf (or more specifically, tone-deaf…boom boom tish!)

Sing best live: Denmark, Iceland, Israel and Latvia – 5+ reliable singers with few difficult notes to navigate.

Sing worst live: Cyprus and Greece. At least they’ll give each other a good helping of points whether Ivi and Eleftheria suck or not.

Make the best use of the background: Albania, Cyprus and Iceland. I have high (and quite specific) expectations for Iceland in particular. I think I speak for all of us who’ve seen Greta and Jónsi’s preview video when I say that the aurora borealis better make an appearance on the LEDs.

Have the most boring stage show: Belgium. Let’s face it, what can be done with this? You can’t really use a prop or have a troupe of backup dancers, and a wind machine just isn’t appropriate. Dry ice? No. Pyrotechnics? Yeah, right.

Have the best costume/s: Albania and Denmark. Rona has worn some crazy-cool stuff in her dreadlock mountain since she’s been in Baku, so I can only imagine what she’s going to wear from the neck down. Soluna, I hope, hasn’t decided to get rid of her I-just-raided-the-dress-up-box outfit from the Danish final, because I dug it big time.

Have the worst costume/s: Montenegro and San Marino. I’m envisioning safari prints and rhinestones and nothing that really fits. Who knows, maybe Valentina will come out dressed as Mark Zuckerberg.

 

SEMI FINAL 2

Who will qualify: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Estonia, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey and Ukraine

“Mwahahahahahaha…told ya’s I’d make it!”

Who I want to qualify: Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Netherlands, Norway, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden and Turkey

Who is most likely to…

Win the semi: Norway or Sweden. I think Scandinavia’s got this semi in the bag, be it via a more traditional extravaganza or a pared-back performance.

Lose the semi: Portugal. This semi is the toughest of the two as usual, and whilst I think Filipa may get votes from the juries, I don’t reckon the voters will go for her song at all – not with powerhouse artists, acts and songs from the likes of Serbia and Ukraine to pick up the phone for.

Get the biggest round of applause: Sweden, for the second year running (probably in a crab-like sideways manner like Loreen).

Sing best live: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Lithuania and Serbia. I’m yet to hear a live solo vocal from Maya, but she was a great backup for Dino Merlin last year. Donny Montell has proven his worth as a singer and showman more than once, as has Željko, who is one of the most reliable.

Sing worst live: Malta. Kurt is adorable, and I admit it was hard to choose a potential disaster from this lot (so I settled on him) however I have heard he’s had trouble in the rehearsals with certain areas of TITN. I hope I’m wrong and he pulls it together on the night…after all, this is the night to not stuff up (see what I did there?)

Make the best use of the background: Norway and Ukraine. I’m envisioning flashing lights and lots of colour – though hopefully not colour that nauseates, as Serbia’s did in Düsseldorf (and I’m not at all prone to motion sickness).

Have the most boring stage show: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Serbia. I love all three of their songs, but again there isn’t that much that can be done with them when it comes to choreography etc.

Have the best costume: Ukraine. When you’re singing such a summery dance song (and you’re from Ukraine) you’re pretty much required by law to wear something amazing that looks like a rainbow vomited on you.

Have the worst costume: Georgia. I can’t even begin to imagine what Anri will wear. Or do I just not want to?

 

THE GRAND FINAL

Who will win Eurovision 2012: I’ve been through all 42 entries numerous times, hoping not to be blindsided by a random win two years in a row, and finally, I’ve narrowed my potential winners down to Norway, Italy and Sweden. All three countries have in their possession great songs and charismatic artists, and from what I hear have polished up their stage shows nicely. They are bringing it big time.

Norway’s ethno-pop awesomeness and dynamic presentation could be let down by an off vocal from Tooji – but then again, a winner doesn’t have to have the best voice in the competition, do they Nikki? Anyway, I have a feeling he’ll pull everything together.

Italy has all they need to snatch the trophy. Nina and her song ooze vintage cool, and her performance will no doubt be flawless. When you combine the points that will roll in as a result, with the points Italy will get because they’re still being welcomed back…well, you get a lot. I’ll be shocked if there isn’t a win or a top 5 placing in store for Nina.

Sweden has been the bookies’ favourite and the one to beat since Loreen took to the Melodifestivalen stage for her reprise, way back in March. I know the bookies aren’t always right (we have that in common) but I can’t discount Euphoria from my picks. It stands out from the crowd both in sound and staging. Those of us familiar with it will vote for it (well, the 99.99% of us who love it will) and those who are watching/listening for the first time will get it immediately, I think. The juries aren’t as fuddy-duddy as they used to be either, so don’t expect them to rank the ballads higher than this. Sweden are going u-u-u-u-u-up!

Who will make the top 10: Azerbaijan, Germany, Norway, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Romania, Serbia, Sweden and Ukraine. I couldn’t bring myself to put Greece down despite the fact they’ve been in the top 10 every year since the introduction of the semi finals. I just can’t see the dated Aphrodisiac washing with voters or juries in 2012.

Who will be left at the bottom: France, Israel and Latvia. But you never can tell. Didn’t we all think we could be headed to Tallinn pre-Düsseldorf?

How the final 6 will end up: I think Italy, Germany and hosts Azerbaijan will place the highest, in the top 10. Spain and the UK should be somewhere in the 12th – 20th range. As for France…well, you can see just above where I think that one is headed.

 

 

There. I can shove my crystal ball and tarot cards and tea leaves back in the cupboard until Junior Eurovision now, and step away from my computer for the first time since…well, I suppose this time last year. Whether you’re watching the show live or waiting it out like me, I hope you enjoy your Eurovision experience. I also hope you get über depressed afterwards like me so we can all wallow in our misery together. Seriously, don’t make me go through it alone! 

I’m going to attempt some semi wrap-ups over the weekend, so look out for those. For now I’m going to wrap up this long and obnoxious post by saying goodbye, aurovoir, auf wiedersehen, um…

I really need Sofi Marinova to teach me ‘goodbye’ in a few more languages… 

 

What do you expect from Eurovision 2012? Where do you think we’ll be heading next year?

 

 

Baku Reviews: Part 5 (Norway-Serbia)

Norway

Stay/ Tooji

Top 10 material: Yes

The good stuff: When your favourite song in a national final wins that national final against all the odds (well, several odds) you’re not going to complain. By ‘you’ and ‘your’, I of course mean ‘me’ and ‘my’, because that’s what happened to yours truly with Norsk MGP 2012. I absolutely adore Tooji and his song, and no amount of ‘Hello, Eric Saade 2.0!’ jibes from you lot will change that. Stay has it all – it’s current, it’s catchy (so very catchy…), it’s dance friendly, it’s ethnic, it’s just repetitive enough AND it has one of those brilliant breaks before the last chorus where we all get to pump our fists in the air and shout ‘yah!’  To top it all off, Tooji can sing (above Eric Saade-level), dance, and be good-looking all at the same time. Plus, in his spare time he’s a child protection consultant (AWW!). What more could a girl want? In a Eurovision act, I mean.

Everything else: As suggested by the above gush-fest, I have nothing bad to say about Norwaythis year. They are in the tough second semi, but they’ve got a decent draw and I think they’ll make the final.

Winner, loser or grower: Winner – douze points!

 

Portugal

Vida Minha/ Filipa Sousa

Better than 2011: Yes

The good stuff: Another year, another drama-filled Portuguese ballad…only applies if we forget Homens da Luta ever existed (I’m sure many people would like to). The man responsible for Portugal’s 2008 entry, Senhora Do Mar – as well as a bunch of entries for other countries – Andrej Babić, is back with a song that actually reminds me of that one a bit. It’s not one of his best efforts, but it’s not bad. As mentioned, it’s more dramatic than an episode of Days of Our Lives, which opens up all sorts of exciting possibilities for staging (hopefully including interpretive dance and a dress with a massive skirt that Filipa can toss around like a bullfighter’s red rag. Oh, and a wind machine dialed up to Level Rip-Your-Hair-Out-By-The-Roots). Filipa herself is a very capable vocalist, so she should turn out a good performance.

Everything else: If I didn’t have the Senhora comparison to jog my memory, I would not be able to recall how the heck this song goes. For some reason, every time I listen to it I immediately forget the entire three minutes. There’s proof on the WWW that I am not the only one to have experienced this phenomenon, and that does not bode well for Portugal’s chances of success. Although, let’s face it, Portugal’s chances for success are never that high.  

Winner, loser or grower: Grower – 5 points.

 

Romania

Zaleilah/ Mandinga

Top 10 material: Yes

The good stuff: After last year’s boring-after-three-listens entry Change, it gives me great pleasure to say that Romania is back to their Eurovision best. Mandinga is made up of a bunch of happy-go-lucky musical men and one super-hot, scantily clad frontwoman, so it’s like they’ve taken InCulto and Ani Lorak and smooshed them together to form an unstoppable act – and that’s before we even get to their song. Zaleilah is a part Spanish, part English bundle of summer-hit fun that should raise the roof on semi night. The construction workers who slaved away on the Crystal Hall for months won’t be too pleased about that, but everyone else will be when Romania sails through to the final.

Everything else: Again, there are uncertainties over lead singer Elena’s live vocal abilities. Apparently, at Eurovision in Concert this song was mimed (tut tut!) and I’m not sure, but I think the national final performance was too. Unfortunately, Zaleilah is not a song in which weak vocals can be disguised. If the leading lady isn’t up to scratch in that department, this could sound dreadful, army of backing singers or no army of backing singers. For now, I’m going to assume that she is so amazing live she didn’t want to make any of the other artists feel inferior pre-Eurovision, so she decided to lip-sync all the way down the road to Baku.

Winner, loser or grower: Winner – douze points!

 

Russia

Party for Everybody/ Buranovskiye Babushki

Better than 2011: No

The good stuff: It’s good that the grannies will be able to build themselves a church in their hometown as a result of their representing Russia. It’s also good that Engelbert Humperdinck now has ladies to flirt with at the after-parties who won’t think he’s a creepy old man (in fact, they’ll probably think he’s a dashing young whippet). It’s also, also good that we get to hear a new language at the contest in Udmurt.

Everything else: I’m sorry, but I just don’t get this song. No, it’s not because I desperately wanted Dima Bilan to win the Russian final (even though I did). I just don’t like it. It wouldn’t be out of place on the soundtrack of a film about a murderous clown who rides around on a miniature bicycle and hacks innocent people to death with a knife he conceals in his giant shoe – and anything that fits that particular bill does not make for an enjoyable listen IMO. However, I’m not going to label it a loser, because being 100% mean to the grannies would be like slapping my own grandmother across the face.

Winner, loser or grower: Grower – 4 points.

 

San Marino

The Social Network Song/ Valentina Monetta

Top 10 material: No

The good stuff: Please don’t throw anything at your screen pretending it’s me when I say this…but I actually like this song. I’m not sure why, and I know it’s wrong, but I do – kind of like the enjoyment one gets from squeezing a particularly horrendous pimple. If I block out the horror that is the video clip and ignore the shocking lyrics, I find it listenable, and even – brace yourselves – catchy (I cannot use that word often enough). That’s the thing with Ralph Siegel, Germany’s ESC addict. Some of his songs are awesome (Reise Nach Jerusalem, for example) and some are dripping in cheese (Let’s Get Happy) but all of them, without fail, get stuck in your head to the max.

Everything else: When this song was called out on its blatant product placement and we knew it would undergo a rewrite, I hoped that rewrite would make it better. Unfortunately, replacing ‘Facebook’ with ‘social network’ did the impossible and made it worse. The lyrics are so cringe-worthy they make those from Switzerland’s 2004 semi-final loser Celebrate sound like prize-winning poetry. In addition, there’s that frightening video clip I mentioned earlier. If you haven’t seen it, don’t. It’s three nightmarish minutes of ill-fitting t-shirts and teeth and creepy old men who want to have cybersex, that you will never get back. Gross.

Winner, loser or grower: Because I can’t get past the lyrics, loser – 3 points.

 

Serbia

Nije Ljubav Stvar/ Željko Joksimović

Reminds me of: Paradise by Coldplay

The good stuff: The day ZJ was announced as Serbia’s 2012 representative is up there with the greatest in my life to date, no exaggeration. Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration. Anyway, that’s not surprising to those who know my all-time favourite ESC entry is Lane Moje, closely followed by Lejla, which ZJ composed. His fans expected big things from him musically, but does Nije Ljubav Stvar deliver? In a word, OBVIOUSLY! This man can do no wrong in my eyes (save for getting together with Jovana Janković instead of me) and he’s taking another epic, ethnic Balkan ballad to the contest after four years away. I love how the song starts off so quietly before building into a final minute that knocks your socks off, even if you’re not wearing any. It’s got light and shade and ZJ written all over it.

Everything else: My only complaint is that I want it to go on for longer than the allowed three minutes. A song like this deserves at least five. Regardless, it should be a magical opener for the second semi final (as opposed to tragic-al, as it will be in semi 1).

Winner, loser or grower: Winner – douze points!  

 

NEXT TIME: I review Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine in the penultimate episode of the Baku Reviews!

 

Selection Season Day 4: Three songs and a Swedish semi

ME: It’s Saturday again?

YOU: Yes…it tends to come around every seven days or so.

ME: Very funny. Did you know sarcasm is the lowest form of humour? I think you…

YOU: Just get on with the darn post, woman!  

Alright. You didn’t have to be so rude. Anyway, it is Saturday again, and this time it’s an evening of three finals. That means three more songs to add to the slowly but surely growing list for 2012. Plus, it’s semi time in Sweden, which as you may know is one of my favourite topics of conversation. So let us converse!

 

I(celand) am Hungary for another song…

You may be disappointed or relieved to discover that I have virtually nothing to say about the Icelandic and Hungarian finals. Having listened religiously to all the songs from every NF so far, I decided to leave these two unheard so the winning songs are a total surprise – something I plan to do a few more times during the season.

My ears were exposed to one song from Iceland by Greta Salomé & Jonsi (man candy of Eurovision ’04) which was rather interesting, and with another before-seen artist in the mix (Regina from Euroband) I reckon something good should come from the country. Let’s hope there’s no horrible-but-all-consuming sob story detracting from the entry this time around.

And let’s all cross our fingers for Hungary to produce another qualifier while we’re at it.

 

Norsk MGP comes to a close

This is the first year I’ve followed NMGP with as much devotion as Melodifestivalen, and I’m glad I did because Norway produced a lot of songs that add to the bank of gems that didn’t make the ESC. Of course, there is one song still to make the ESC, but only one…and it’s something from down below:

  1. Stay by Tooji
  2. High on Love by Reidun Sæther
  3. Sailors by Lise Karlsnes
  4. Ola Nordmann by Plumbo
  5. Crush by Malin
  6. Somewhere Beautiful by Nora Foss al-Jabri
  7. Don’t Touch The Flame by The Carburetors
  8. Things Change by Peter Øien & Bobby Bare
  9. Sammen by Yaseen & Julie Maria
  10. Make It Better by Tommy Fredvang

My picks: For some reason Norway didn’t tailor their qualifiers 100% to my taste (???). If they had, I’d be commanding you all to root for Rikke Normann’s Shapeshifter (you will regret leaving that behind, Norwegians!). MGP 2012 has produced a decent final line-up however, and my picks of the bunch are Stay, Crush, Somewhere Beautiful and Sammen…although High on Love and Make It Better aren’t far behind. The song that would win the whole thing in a place called Jaz’s Perfect World – a.k.a. if I could decide on behalf of an entire country – is Stay, which I think could do wonders at Eurovision despite the Saade Effect. Or maybe because of the Saade Effect? There’s something to ponder, if you are very, very bored.

Rikke's dancers were as shocked by her failure to qualify as I was

My prediction: Usually – not ALWAYS, but usually – it’s one of the songs that won a semi that wins the final of a selection process. If that’s the case, Norway’s representative in Baku will be Plumbo, Nora, or (heaven forbid – how did they get to the final?) Peter & Bobby. I’m definitely feeling in my gut a victory ahead for Plumbo or Nora, but if not, then it’ll be Reidun. I don’t know how you’re feeling about this final, but for me, if the winner is not The Carburetors/Peter & Bobby I will be pleased. The odds are in my favour – how are they looking for you?

 

Melodifestivalen: Volume II

Listening to the semi final songs for MF is always my Saturday night highlight. Semi #2 is especially exciting due to a certain genetically blessed blonde quartet (it’s Timoteij, in case you weren’t sure) who plucked/strummed/fiddled their way into many a fan’s heart in Melodifestivalen 2010 with Kom. Will they better the 5th place they got back then or will it be a shock early exit? We’ll know soon enough. In the meantime here’s their competition – tonight’s line-up:

  1. Soldiers by Ulrik Munther
  2. Baby Doll by Top Cats
  3. I Din Himmel by Sonja Aldén
  4. Aldrig Aldrig by Andreas Lundstedt
  5. Stormande Hav by Timoteij
  6. Shout It Out by David Lindgren
  7. Det Går För Långsamt by Mimi Oh
  8. Ge Aldrig Upp by Thomas Di Leva

My picks: Soldiers, Aldrig Aldrig, Stormande Hav and Det Går För Långsamt.

Ulrik is going to be hard to beat. Combine his vocal talents with this catchy track and a face that could melt even Jon Ola Sand’s heart (is he genuinely of Eurovision age? He could easily pass as a primary-schooler) and you’ve got a package that practically screams ‘straight to the final’. I’ll be thrilled if Soldiers gets there because it’s better than I expected. Not ground-breaking, but going somewhere.

Ulrik has a mug of warm milk before naptime at the nursery...just kidding!

Aldrig Aldrig is a song that could do with a harder punch in the chorus, but I’m still liking it because it has just the right amount of schlager and dance.

I may be into Stormande Hav because I adore everything Timoteij have ever recorded, but I realise it’s no Kom and was never going to be, so when I say I love it I mean it. The folk-pop combo works every time when these girls get their hands/vocal chords on it, and apparently it’s a magic formula that can handle a sprinkling of dance beat. Bravo.

Det Går För Långsamt is another song with a chorus not as good as the verses promise, but I personally am not too fussed. It’s enjoyable and catchy, which is what I expect from Melodifestivalen entries for the most part.

My prediction: It’s a tough one to predict, but who says I have to be right? Thankfully nobody, or else I’d be in trouble. I’m going to say that Ulrik and Timoteij will get the golden tickets to the final, with Sonja and Andreas moving on to Andra Chansen.

 

That’s that. Apart from a semi final in Lithuania (I apologise for my lack of will to cover that as well) what you’ve just read is all the action that will take place around Europe tonight. Join me on Twitter, Facebook and pretty much everywhere else in the online universe tomorrow so we can discuss, dissect and possibly trash the fresh entries…and so much more.

 

Jaz x

 

Selection Season Day 3: Malta, MGP three and (squeal) Melodifestivalen!

Every year, during national final months, there’s one Saturday night that can only be described as crazy, for all the action it brings. Although come to think of it, the “official” description is Super Saturday, so…I guess you can say whatever you want about it. It’s an evening where there are so many semis and finals and whatnots going on that you have little hope of keeping up with it all even if you decide to stay in and not go out to a club and dance on a table into the wee small hours whilst slurring the lyrics to Ghetto Superstar and waving your underpants in the air (I don’t write from experience, I swear).

Well I’m here to tell that today is…

…not that Saturday. Sorry if I got your hopes up. Nonetheless, there are some big things happening tonight, including the selection of Baku’s next entry in Malta, and the first installment of my favourite national final in Sweden. Let’s get to the nitty gritty (INSERT APPLAUSE HERE for my use of the term ‘nitty gritty’) of this not-so-super-but-still-pretty-cool Saturday’s scheduled events.

 

The Maltese Falcon…er, I mean Final  

Last night Malta had a semi final, but I won’t go into detail about that. The important thing is that we check out the final, because one of its 16 songs will be failing to qualify in Azerbaijan in a few months time.

Okay, that was mean of me. But I’m often so unimpressed by Malta’s finalists, and 2012 has been no exception. I feel like the island is stuck in a musical time warp when it comes to Eurovision. Let’s face it; Glen Vella was not the most current of acts. There are some good ones in this year’s group though, and I am pleased to say that my entire personal top 5 advanced from the semi.

The show:

  1. In Your Eyes by Lawrence Gray
  2. You Make Me Go Uh Uh by Deborah C. feat. Leila James
  3. Autobiography by Dorothy Bezzina
  4. Petals on a Rose by Gianni
  5. Pure by Claudia Faniello
  6. 7 Days by Danica Muscat
  7. I Will Fight For You (Papa’s Song) by Fabrizio Faniello
  8. Mystifying Eyes by Corazon Mizzi
  9. Look At Me Now by Richard Edwards
  10. First Time by Kaya
  11. Answer With Your Eyes by Amber
  12. Time by Wayne Micallef
  13. This Is The Night by Kurt Calleja
  14. You Are My Life by Janvil
  15. No Way Back by Klinsmann
  16. Take Me Far by Francesca Borg

My picks: Look At Me Now, I Will Fight For You (Papa’s Song), Answer With Your Eyes, No Way Back and 7 Days.

Look At Me Now is a Nickelback-esque rock track with two main things going for it (besides me) – firstly, it’s very Top 40, which as we now know could allow it to win Eurovision (if it came from somewhere other than Malta) and secondly, it works great live, thanks in no small part to Mr. Edwards. Rock on!

Fabrizio Faniello is back for the 178th time, probably wanting to make up for his dreadful and totally uncalled for result the last time he made it all the way to the big show in 2006. I Will Fight For You is tons better than his last NF entry, and I’d tentatively say it’s my favourite of what’s on offer. It sounds like a mash-up of See You Again by Miley Cyrus, Where Do You Go? by No Mercy and Temple of Love by B.W.O., but I’m partial to all of those songs (yes, even the Miley one) and if this is as close as we ever get to a megamix at Eurovision I’ll be happy.

Amber, Klinsmann and Danica also have decent if not amazing songs of varying genres. I’m hoping, but not expecting, one of them, Richard, or Fabrizio to win. Which brings me to…

My prediction: The reason I’m not expecting a win from my favourites is because my favourites have a knack of never winning. Still, I’m going to say Richard or Fabrizio could do it. Otherwise it’ll be Kurt Calleja, Wayne Micallef or Deborah C.*

* Anyone I predict to win also seems to coincidentally NEVER win, so keep that in mind.

 

Norsk MGP

Norway have a good final on their hands so far (which could be made excellent if they give Rikke Normann and Shapeshifter the wildcard place) and I hope the three qualifiers tonight keep the standard high. It’s not the best semi of NMGP this year, so that might not be as easy as it sounds.

The show:

  1. Stay by Tooji
  2. Si by Marthe Valle
  3. Things Change by Petter Øien & Bobby Bare
  4. Sammen by Yaseen & Julie Maria
  5. The Greatest Day by Håvard Lothe Band
  6. Euphoria by Silya Nymoen
  7. Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time by The Canoes
  8. Sailors by Lise Karlsnes

My picks: Stay, Si and Sailors (ooh, alliteration!).

Tooji has been snubbed for being a clone of Eric Saade, but I have a few things to say about that:

A) There’s no way he’s looking in the mirror every morning and thinking ‘My God, do I look like Eric Saade or what!’

B) The song does not have a (practically) single-word chorus.

C) Where can I get a clone of Eric Saade? Do they have those on eBay?

"I will win MGP, I will win MGP, I'm gonna get there, MGP..."

Marthe Valle’s Si is a nice ballad, but it’ll have a hard time outshining Nora Foss Al-Jabri’s song should it make the final. Sailors is quirky electro-pop that could be very interesting live so long as nobody gets seasick onstage. I’m also thinking Lise should borrow Soluna Samay’s costume.

My prediction: If I was a betting woman, I’d put money on Stay, The Greatest Day and Euphoria to make the final.*

* The reason I’m not a betting woman is because I am usually wrong, as indicated by the previous asterisk.

 

Melodifestivalen

FINALLY! Europe’s most-loved NF is beginning, and I’m so excited I just made an assumption about an entire continent! Melodifestivalen is almost as big a deal as the ESC itself, with 4 heats, a second-chance round and a final to its name, not to mention the Webjoker process that comes before everything else. The standard is often as high as Dana International’s hemlines, and Sweden’s biggest acts aren’t afraid to take part. On the list for 2012 are Ulrik Munther, Timoteij, Danny Saucedo, Charlotte Perrelli and Molly Sandén, to name a few…none of whom are in this first heat. Here’s who and what is (listen to the full songs here: www.svt.se/melodifestivalen)

  1. Sean Den Förste Banan by Sean Banan
  2. På Väg by Abalone Dots
  3. I Want To Be Chris Isaak (This Is Just The Beginning) by The Moniker
  4. The Boy Can Dance by Afro-Dite
  5. Mystery by Dead By April
  6. Salt & Pepper by Marie Serneholt
  7. Jag Reser Mig Igen by Thorsten Flinck & Revolutionsorkestern
  8. Euphoria by Loreen

My picks: Sean Den Förste Banan, Mystery, Salt & Pepper and Euphoria.

Sean Den Förste Banan is a song I feel like I shouldn’t like – I mean, his name is in the title, for Petr Elfimov’s sake (rarely the sign of a high-quality song). But it’s so unbelievably catchy I can’t help myself.

Mystery, on the other hand, is a song I didn’t expect to like. The bits that don’t involve ‘death growl’ are actually really nice, and I can even see myself accepting the death growl in the future. The chorus is a knockout. Dead By April, I think you’re a dead cert for the final.

Dead By April: they were never going to sing a song about ponies and rainbows.

Salt & Pepper is familiar retro pop, and Euphoria is familiar dance pop, but there’s nothing wrong with familiarity! I am a little disappointed with Loreen who was one of my favourites last year, but I knew I would be – nothing could live up to her 2011 entry. What she’s got now in 2012 is pretty darn good.

My prediction: This post has been rather long, so I’ll give you a guess in one sentence: Mystery and Euphoria to the final and I Want To Be Chris Isaak (This Is Just The Beginning) and Salt & Pepper to Andra Chansen.

 

I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow and see what happened in Malta, Norway and Sweden– follow me on Twitter (@EurovisionByJaz) for reactions.

And don’t forget to keep dropping by as the selection season continues!

 

Jaz x