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The 2017 EBJ Eurovision Excellence Awards | Part 2 (The Performances)

It’s lucky these awards aren’t being broadcast on TV, because nobody would have hung around until the ad break dividing parts 1 and 2 was over. What can I say? Life gets busy sometimes, and since nobody as yet has offered to pay me to talk about Eurovision, other things often have to be prioritised so I can continue to have a roof over my head and eat regular meals.

Hopefully this second slice of trophy-giving will be worth the wait for those of you who enjoyed the first. Back then (last week…totally vintage times), I gave numerous back-pats to the artists and songs of Kyiv 2017. This time, the spotlight’s shining on what happened when those songs were taken to the stage by those artists. Every element of the performances – from backdrops, props and dancers to costumes and vocals – has at least one award in its honour, and the winners weren’t all decided by me. Yes, that means there are more People’s Choice results below for you to feast your ESC-admiring eyes on!

So sit back, relax and do it for your lover…’it’ being checking out my performance awards and nothing more. Get your mind out of the gutter.

 

 

Honourable Mention/s Estonia Winner United Kingdom

With Lucie being a stage star and all, you’d expect her to project serious emotion via both her facial expressions and flailing limbs (i.e. arm flourishes). She did…but there were times when her inner drama switch was turned up way too high, to the point where she looked like she was in physical pain. There is a border between theatrical stage emoting and Eurovision stage emoting, and I think Lucie stayed in theatre territory when she should have crossed over to the other side. Still, I’m rewarding her here for every angtsy look and death-grip hand gesture she poured into her performance. An A for effort is all yours, Luce.

 

Honourable Mention/s Bulgaria Winner Norway

There wasn’t half as much hi-tech trickery on the stage/screen in Kyiv as there was in Stockholm – no holograms of naked Belarusians, for instance, could be seen (you can decide if that was a great loss or not). Both Bulgaria and Norway opted for on-screen graphic overlays – the TV equivalent of the little drawings you can do on your Instagram stories – to pimp their performances. But I’m putting Norway in pole position, because they had some technical trickery going on in their audio presentation as well as their visual presentation. I still can’t wrap my head around exactly how JOWST was manipulating those ‘kill, kill, kill, kill’ bits (live sampling/bending/looping/ warping?) but at least he wasn’t just standing there pretending to DJ like we’ve seen in past contests.

 

Honourable Mention/s Finland Winner Hungary

Getting emotional doesn’t always involve a box of tissues. Joci Pápai’s performance for Hungary wasn’t a sad one per se, but it was the most dynamically emotional of the year in that it featured two very different outpouring feelings. Throughout the verses and choruses of Origo, Joci portrayed the pain of forbidden love and of being a target for prejudice in a very vulnerable, mournful way – then changed gears for the rap, venting his frustration and anger over similar issues. Part of what I love about the song is the range of emotions embedded in it, as well as Joci’s talent for conveying them with authenticity.

 

Honourable Mention/s Finland Winner Portugal

This was a hard one for me to narrow down, because both Blackbird and Amar Pelos Dois DID involve me fumbling for a box of tissues. But there was a delicateness to Salvador’s rendition of his song that gave me goosebumps as well as wet eyes. The lyrics, too, have the power to destroy an old romantic like myself, despite the fact (or perhaps due to the fact) that he’s professing a love big enough to sustain a two-person relationship, when I can’t even beguile a guy into buying me flowers.

 

Honourable Mention/s Finland, Hungary Winner Moldova

When a massive part of your appeal revolves around a musical instrument – the sax played by Epic Sax Guy, obviously – you know you’re using it wisely. With both sax and violin providing serious fun for Moldova’s 2 x 3 minutes on stage, Hey Mamma’s live wouldn’t have been the same without them, even though we weren’t actually hearing the boys play (it matters less with instruments like these than when you’re watching someone rip into a solo on a clearly unplugged electric guitar).

 

Honourable Mention/s The UK’s mirror shell Winner Azerbaijan’s blackboard

You voters out there surprised me a little with this one, but majority rules! Dihaj’s blackboard was definitely a standout addition to 2017’s string of acts-with-props, and made Daz Sampson’s blackboard from 2006 look even tackier than it did at the time. Although I must say, his was more explicitly relevant to his song’s subject matter – between the board, the ladder and the horse-head man, Dihaj has a LOT of explaining to do.

This looks less like one of the daydreams that Dihaj is into and more like one of my nightmares.

 

Honourable Mention/s Hungary, Moldova Winner Sweden

For most of the backing singers and/or dancers who weren’t hidden from view, staying in tune and in time would have been the biggest challenges. Robin Bengtsson’s visible backup crew, however – feat. previous Melfest contestant and ESC backer-upper Alvaro Estrella – not only had to provide vocal support and smooth moves, but do both while walking on treadmills. And we thought Ukraine’s hamster wheel dude from 2014 had a tough job! The quartet pulled it off perfectly, though, and had a big hand in Sweden’s fourth consecutive top 5 finish.

 

Honourable Mention/s Cyprus Winner Sweden

Because treadmills. Too cool for school choreography coupled with an element of danger will win out every time. Handy Hint No. 362: Next time you’re at a party trying to impress someone, why not try moonwalking barefoot on a bed of nails?

 

Honourable Mention/s France, Portugal Winner United Kingdom

It was a shiny gold showstopper for the UK this year, and though that wouldn’t be my personal pick for best backdrop, I can see the attraction. The graphics were perfectly timed to the music and made the stage virtually disappear, as if Lucie were actually singing in space (not the sexy kind Slavko was referring to, but normal, otherworldly space). The numerous glitter explosions at pivotal moments of Never Give Up On You oozed Eurovision sophistication.

A Eurovision star + actual stars…what more could you want?

 

Honourable Mention/s Croatia Winner Israel

You’ll have to forgive me if I’ve forgotten a country in this category, because there were times when it seemed like every second act on stage had found a way to incorporate their giant face/body/boobs (oh, Malta) into their performance. The country that did it best, in my opinion, was Israel, because it wasn’t OTT or used just for flashiness. Super-sized Imri didn’t stay on the screens for the entire song – instead he was used to literally illustrate the ‘breaking me to pieces’ line of I Feel Alive’s chorus. The added bonus was that we all got to stare at not one, but two Imris for a fleeting yet fabulous amount of time.

 

Honourable Mention/s Romania Winner Croatia

I don’t know if I hate to say this or not, but the ESC isn’t as crazy as it used to be – maybe it’s the influence of recent winners having been pretty pared-back on stage. There weren’t many acts that threw everything they could think of at their staging in 2017, but we can’t say Croatia was one of them. To name a few of their staging elements: violinist, cellist, half-and-half costume, giant Jacques x2, LED lightning, an instrumental duel, pyro jets AND a pyro curtain, massive sunflowers and a rainbow. The pyro operator in particular must have needed a nap after that…I know I did!

 

Honourable Mention/s Bulgaria, Sweden Winner Moldova

This award goes to the most perfectly-wrapped package of the year – the country that brought their A-game to vocals, costumes, choreography, staging, lighting and anything else you can think of. Obviously, Portugal and Bulgaria were flawless – but Sunstroke Project managed to corral more performance bits and pieces than Salvador and Kristian had to work with into a cohesive and ridiculously fun whole. And it all seemed to come so naturally.

 

 

Honourable Mention/s France Winner Italy, United Kingdom

We have a tie! I can’t say I’m surprised that Germany and Spain didn’t even come close to winning this People’s Choice prize. Nor did I see this rush of love for the UK coming, but I do get it. As over-emotional as she got at times, Lucie’s performance was vocally perfect and looked stunning on screen. And who wouldn’t get a kick out of Francesco’s three minutes? If you didn’t raise your arms and do that dance along with Gabbani + Gorilla, I have major concerns about you.

 

Honourable Mention/s Artsvik, Tamara Gachechiladze Winner O’G3NE

This is NOT an award the Netherlands would have won back in 2015, when Trijntje Oosterhuis’ black dress (*shudder*) was replaced by the reception tent for a Goth wedding (*double shudder*). But the classic little black dresses – plus one catsuit – worn by O’G3NE this year and suitably sparklified for the occasion, were gorgeous. I’m glad they didn’t go too matchy-matchy, and were able to get the girl group look even though every Vol sister wore a different style. Where do I get my own version?

FYI, these outfits will also double as appropriate attire for Verka Serduchka’s funeral one day.

 

Honourable Mention/s Joci Pápai, Sunstroke Project Winner Robin Bengtsson

One of the minor changes made to Robin’s Melfest performance for Eurovision was a suit swap – matte blue for shiny purple. You’d think I’d be too busy admiring the man IN the suit to notice such a thing, but because it was such a cool costume choice (yes, right down to the lack of socks, which somehow makes the look more crisp) I noticed.

Freaking beautiful (HAD TO).

 

 

Honourable Mention/s Martina Bárta Winner Lindita

If you read my biggest Eurovision 2017 mistakes post, you’ll already know that my eyes felt violated by the very sight of Lindita’s Vegas bride getup. If you didn’t, then you should know that my eyeballs may never fully recover from the experience of seeing her take to the stage in something so atrocious.

 

Honourable Mention/s Ksienija Žuk Winner Artsvik

I love braids, but I’ve only mastered the basic kinds – so I’d be keen to have the contact details of whoever worked their magic on Artsvik’s mane. That was art. It should be on display in the Louvre.

 

Honourable Mention/s Kasia Mós, Lindita Winner Anja Nissen

I know some of you will want to hit me with an inflatable Israeli hammer over this one, but I’m entitled to my (many, many, ESC-related) opinions! Anja just blows me away with the sheer power of her voice every time – there’s a reason she won The Voice here in Australia. Her diva vocal is always ready for action, and it’s so forceful I wouldn’t be surprised if her fire curtain was set off by the woman herself, in a Carrie-like moment of explosive kinetic energy.

 

Honourable Mention/s Jacques Houdek, Salvador Sobral Winner Kristian Kostov

Again, remember: THIS IS SUBJECTIVE. I was torn between Salvador and Kristian, aware that Salvador’s voice is more unique…but Kristian’s silky smooth, beyond-his-years vocals won my internal battle. He looks so young (and IS so young) and then he opens his mouth and it’s all maturity and polish and confidence, and I’m sold. I’m expecting big stuff from this kid.

 

Honourable Mention/s Valentina Monetta & Jimmie Wilson Winner O’G3NE

Who else? Even if all 42 acts of 2017 had been groups, O’G3NE would have reigned supreme. Having sung together as siblings for so long, their harmonies are incomparable and absolutely perfect, always. I would happily listen to them all day long, and I’m convinced they could sing That Sounds Good To Me and make it appealing. That’s how good they are!

 

Honourable Mention/s Anja Nissen, Kasia Mós Winner Lindita

She may have worn a dress designed by the devil himself (or at least the devil’s personal seamstress), but not even that could distract from Lindita’s epic money note, one which first knocked our socks off (though not Robin Bengtsson’s, since he wasn’t wearing any) back in December 2016 when World was Botë and she won Festivali I Këngës. I have to bring back the word amazeballs just to describe it. She should become a deep sea free diver or professional balloon blower-upper with a lung capacity like that.

 

Honourable Mention/s Georgia Winner Hungary

Don’t get me wrong – Joci’s performance at A Dal was great, and a worthy winner of the NF. But I was worried Hungary would leave it be and not adapt it to fit the far bigger and grander stage of Eurovision. I also thought Joci was a little nervous and restrained back then. Fast forward to May, though, and the confidence and fire jets were out in full force. Hungary were one of only two countries to use the satellite stage too, which proved they’d really thought about how to expand on the A Dal staging. Mission accomplished!

 

 

And that concludes the second segment of the EBJEEs ceremony for 2017! Your butts must be pretty numb by now, so I’m sure that’s a relief. Still to come is the third and final part which will feature the awards for The Show: i.e. the hosts, interval acts, postcards and results. That’ll be a short one, so the only butt trouble you’ll have is if you fall asleep after reading it and then wake up with a butt on your hands (is that not the opening line of Verona?).

Between now and then, though, let me know what you thought of today’s awards. Where would your trophies go? Did the People’s Choice Awards pan out your way this time? All polite or constructively critical opinions are welcome in the comments.

 

TTYL Eurofam!

 

 

EBJ turns FIVE!! | Five years of fashion trends, triumphs and tragedies

Hey there, ladies and gents. You are reading the second-last of my bloggy birthday posts on this *insert description of the weather here* Thursday, and this is a post unlike any one I’ve done before. DUH DUH DUUUUUUUUUH!!!!

So, the deal: Eurovision may be a song contest in some respects, but just turning up and belting out your entry without any regard for how you’re lit, who or what is with you, and what you’re wearing (segue into today’s topic alert) is rarely going to be enough to guarantee success. Costumes in particular can have a dramatic effect on the overall appeal of an entry: they can suit a song perfectly or look totally out of place; they can be commendably crazy or just plain distracting; and they can be young and fun or inappropriate and frumpy. I think it’s safe to say we’ve seen all of the above at some point in our lives as ESC freaks (I mean that in the nicest way possible), and so much more.

On that note, I thought I’d take a look back at the contest fashions from the years EBJ has been in action – and not just at the highs and lows, but also the trends that have had artist after artist opting for the same look with varying degrees of success. Cast your critical eye over my selections and let me know below who’s floated your fashion boat over the last five years, and who’s made you wish it had capsized!

Let’s start with the trends…

 

a

Everything was all white for the likes of Kuunkuiskajaat (Finland 2010), Sieneke (Netherlands 2010), Magdalena Tul (Poland 2011), Pastora Soler (Spain 2012), Birgit (Estonia 2013) and Tanja (Estonia 2014). For some, it was about elegance and simplicity, while others took the bed-linen look to the next level via rhinestones and more lace than a sixteen-year-old should ever be seen in.

 

b

When in doubt, however, going back to black works a treat – and it doesn’t have to be basic! Just check out the statements made by Paula Seling & Ovi (Romania 2010), Christos Mylordos (Cyprus 2011), MayaSar (Bosnia & Herzegovina 2012), Kaliopi (FYR Macedonia 2012), Cezar (Romania 2013) and Mei Finegold (Israel 2014). These guys worked leather, sharp tailoring and plunging necklines into their dark ensembles to make an impression.

 

c

Somebody else well aware of the power of black is Lena (Germany 2010 and 2011), who wore an LBD for her winning performance of Satellite and a belted jumpsuit the following year when she represented her country on home ground. The pared-back styling was obviously a good omen for her.

 

d

Eurovision is one colourful contest, so when they’re not donning black or white, many artists take on the idea that brighter is better. In the last five years, we’ve seen a veritable rainbow of fabulous (and not so much) frocks from Lucia Pérez (Spain 2011), Suzy (Portugal 2014), Elena Ionescu (Romania 2012), Raquel de Rosario (Spain 2013), Pernilla (Finland 2012), Dana International (Israel 2011), Kati Wolf (Hungary 2011) and Niamh Kavanagh (Ireland 2010) to name just a few.

 

e

Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on who we’re talking about) being naked on the Eurovision stage is a no-no. But that didn’t stop Anna Bergendahl (Sweden 2010), Aurela Gaçe (Albania 2011), Emmelie De Forest (Denmark 2013), Zlata Ognevich (Ukraine 2013), Ruth Lorenzo (Spain 2014) and The Tolmachevy Sisters (Russia 2014) from going nude for their respective three minutes – if only in their choices of costume colour scheme.

 

f

One of the biggest trends of recent ESC history has been the mullet dress. Party at the front and black tie soiree at the back, unevenly hemmed getups have been rocked by Feminnem (Croatia 2010), Safura (Azerbaijan 2010), Eva Rivas (Armenia 2010), Chanee (Denmark 2010), TWiiNS (Slovakia 2011), Nikki (Azerbaijan 2011), Mika Newton (Ukraine 2011) and Natalie Horler (Germany 2013). Keep ‘em coming, I say. I love the look of what I call ‘the lady-cape’.

 

g

When your song calls for a decision one way or the other, and you’re after an air of elegance, it’s time for full lengths all round. We’ve seen more evening gowns at the contest in the last five years than the Miss Universe pageant has (well, maybe…that’s some fierce competition) worn by, for instance, Sofia Nizharadze (Georgia 2010), Filipa Azevedo (Portugal 2010), Evelina Sašenko (Lithuania 2010), Despina Olympiou (Cyprus 2013), Tinkara Kovač (Slovenia 2014) and Dilara Kazimova (Azerbaijan 2014). From sexy and slinky to prom-style poofiness, we’ve witnessed it all.

 

h

The boys tend to put a little less effort into their onstage wear, generally speaking. Street clothes have remained from rehearsal to the real thing for Jon Lilygreen and the Islanders (Cyprus 2010), Roman Lob (Germany 2012), Max Jason Mai (Slovakia 2012), Dorians (Armenia 2013), ByeAlex (Hungary 2013) and Firelight (Malta 2014). Whatever makes you feel comfortable, guys…or in Max’s case, whatever slowly falls down as you’re performing so that you end up a millimetre away from giving Eurovision an X-rating.

 

i

But wait – the men-folk can bring it in the formal stakes too. Sometimes a suit is the best option, whether sharp and suave complete with tie, or more casual without. Just ask Didrik Solli-Tangen (Norway 2010), Harel Skaat (Israel 2010), Engelbert Humperdinck (UK 2012), Kurt Calleja (Malta 2012), Eythor Ingi (Iceland 2013), Marco Mengoni (Italy 2013), Axel Hirsoux (Belgium 2014) or Basim (Denmark 2014). NOTE: Basim also answers to the name ‘Harry Highpants’.

 

j

A big trend over the years has understandably been anything shiny or metallic. If you can’t go OTT at the ESC, something is very wrong. For 3+2 (Belarus 2010), Stella Mwangi (2011), Maja Keuc (Slovenia 2011), Anggun (France 2012), Nina Zilli (Italy 2012), Jedward (Ireland 2012), Conchita Wurst (Austria 2014) and Molly (UK 2014) all that glittered was gold, silver and bronze. I can’t confirm that no sheet metal or tinfoil was harmed in the making of these costumes.

 

k

For those less keen on blinding the audience with reflective materials, and more interested in emphasising ethnicity, there’s been the option of something traditional. Whether it’s been a hybrid of old and new á la Ansambel Žlindra (Slovenia 2010) and Cleo and the Slavic girls (Poland 2014), or a totally trad look from the likes of Buranovskiye Babushki (Russia 2012) and Klapa s Mora (Croatia 2013), it’s always been nice to see on stage.

 

l

Last but not least, there’s always a place for costumes that look less like clothing and more like creative craft projects for which the only guideline was ‘you’re only limited by your imagination!’. Since 2010, we’ve had: Alyosha (Ukraine 2010) in the contents of her grandma’s knitting box; Olia Tira (Moldova 2010) and Vilija (Lithuania 2014) taking tutus out of the ballet studio; Sofi Marinova (Bulgaria 2012) and Rona Nishliu (Albania 2012) getting architectural with pleather (and a dreadlock); Eldrine (Georgia 2011) practicing their quilling skills on a bin liner; Eva Boto (Slovenia 2012) cultivating a cottage garden on her gown; Gaitana (Ukraine 2012) sponsoring Shamwow by wearing one; and Moje 3 (Serbia 2013) in the inexplicable. Some of these experiments paid off and some didn’t, but I applaud all of the creativity.

 

And now…my five most stylish moments in EBJ history (and remember, this is veeeery subjective):

m

Maja Keuc (Slovenia 2011) – Who would have anticipated that modeling yourself after an intergalactic stripper would prove to be so hot, hot, hot? In her metal-plated, fringed bodycon with thigh-high platform boots and matching fingerless gloves (naturally), Maja looked UH-MAY-ZING. With emphasis on the ZING.

Margaret Berger (Norway 2013) – It is still TBC whether M. Berg was dressing up as a contemporary Nordic version of Princess Leia, but it’s obvious to everyone that she nailed the ice princess look. Both she and Birgit opted for long white dresses with added bling last year, but the then mum-to-be got out-fashioned in this instance.

Getter Jaani (Estonia 2011) – Cute, colourful and coordinated with the backing peeps? Check, check and check. Getter’s dress was bright and bold but not distracting, with just enough quirk and fun to perfectly suit it to Rockefeller Street. Plus, she could sit down and/or eat in it without splitting the material, unlike (I should imagine) Maja or Margaret.

Anggun (France 2012) – I have frequent fantasies in which I get to parade around in a gold leotard with miles of chiffon fanning out from the back in a glamorous manner. Of course, without Anggun’s stunning figure and ability to stay upright in stilettos, I’d be less likely to parade than fall flat on my face and swear my head off. But luckily for her, Anggun had the poise required to pull off this striking look.

Alyona Lanskaya (Belarus 2013) – Her song left a lot to be desired in terms of originality and English pronunciation, but Alyona looked like the tinsel-covered fairy off the top of a Christmas tree in her blue and silver fringed number (a good thing IMO). Fierce and festive. I award extra points for the backing singers’ ombre outfits, also with fringe. See, it’s not just for cowboys!

 

Going now from wonderful to ‘WTF?!?’, here are my five worst style moments of the EBJ era:

o

Daria Kinzer (Croatia 2011) – Tall, blonde and beautiful Daria had not one, not two, but three dresses on during her performance…and somehow, they were all hideous. I’d say they got worse as they went along, but the pink monstrosity in the middle that looked like a child’s party dress gone wrong was the most fug by far.

Dana International (Israel 2011) – Back in 1998, she was a woman who rocked feathers like no other and looked fabulous doing it. Then Dana goes and wears a shredded outdoor chair cover for what was supposed to be a triumphant return to the contest! Whaaa?!? I think John Paul Gaultier lost his touch after the 90s. Just look at what he dressed Petra Mede in for her hosting duties in Malmö…

Blue (UK 2011) – They’re called Blue, and they wore blue. We get it, it’s hilarious, blah blah blah. But when four attractive men ruin a great song with aesthetics alone (lighting and giant heads included) it’s hard to see the funny side. Shiny suits are a risk that didn’t pay off on this occasion. Not even making Simon go sleeveless in the hope we’d all be too focused on his biceps to notice anything else helped.

Moje 3 (Serbia 2013) – It’s too complicated to explain why here, but I lay 95% of the blame for Serbia’s failure to qualify last year on these outfits. These were like ice-cream sundaes with all 31 of Baskin Robbins’ flavours and available toppings included – i.e. way overdone. They also made the angel/devil dynamic virtually impossible to detect.

You have to wonder if this was the moment Nevena realised 'THIS is what we have to perform in?'.

You have to wonder if this was the moment Nevena thought to herself ‘So…we’re actually wearing these? Like, for REAL?’.

'OH. MY. GOD!!!!!!'

‘OH. MY. GOD!!!!!!’

Aisha (Latvia 2010) – It’s been four years and I’m still trying to figure out why Aisha wore her dressing gown on stage. You’d think someone would have told her backstage that she’d forgotten to put on her actual costume. How embarrassing!

 

And finally, what would Eurovision be without the odd costume reveal? These are my five favourites, 2010-2014:

3 + 2 (Belarus 2010) – I for one never saw those butterfly wings coming. Well, not at the semi-final stage. Still, if ever there was a moment in a song that screamed ‘INSERT COSTUME REVEAL HERE!’ it was that key change, and Belarus did not let that pass by.

Aliona Moon (Moldova 2013) – I’m not referring to how Moldova made Azerbaijan’s dress-projection abilities of Baku look amateur, although that was spectacular. The costume reveal in this case was that Aliona could have worn stilts and still had enough material in her skirt to cover them, as seen when she was raised up high enough to look down on Ukraine’s towering Igor.

InCulto (Lithuania 2010) – Because sequinned hotpants.

Daria Kinzer (Croatia 2011) – Yeah, the dresses were rank, but the way she got in and out of them was impressive. If I could get changed that fast, I’d actually be on time for a change, so long as I didn’t choke to death on the confetti or cloud of smoke.

Alex Sparrow (Russia 2011) – All those in favour of light-up leather jackets, say ‘OMG YAAAASSSS!’. I’m going to assume you all said it, ‘cause who wouldn’t want to own something that not only keeps you warm, but also lets people know what letter your name begins with? You’ll also come in handy in a power outage if you get one. What are you waiting for?

 

So that pretty much sums up who wore what, and when. It also serves as proof that I disagree with the majority of Barbara Dex Award winners of recent history (don’t even get me STARTED on 1997-2009). If you have a disagreement re: the Eurofashion I’ve mentioned, now’s your chance to get it off your chest. Whether you thought something was good, bad, ugly, or situated in a very confusing place in-between, I want your opinion. What’s your favourite costume trend? Who got their look right and who failed to flatter their figure? Spill, guys!

 

NEXT TIME: With Junior Eurovision on the horizon, it’s only fitting that my final fifth birthday post should reveal my top 10 JESC entries since this blog got going. That’s a warning for all of you who are anti-JESC to steer clear for a while…

 

The 2013 EBJ Awards for Eurovision Excellence | Part 2 (Performances, Costumes & Results)

Hello there! Yes, I’m still alive (just like TWiiNS). It feels like it’s been ages since the first half of my EBJAEEs, which is probably because it has. I’m not even sure I can get away with posting exclusively about Malmö anymore, since a) the official DVD has already been released, and b) the first artist of 2014 has already been selected (Valentina Monetta again, AGAIN. San Marino obviously believe that ‘third time lucky’ is a thing). I’m sure somebody will let me know if I’m sooo six weeks ago or not.

In the meantime, allow me to present to you the second and final installment of my awards ceremony for 2013. This time, as you may have read in the title, they’re all about the performances, costumes and results that made an impact in Sweden. This includes the award for the All-Rounder of the Year, which (I hope) y’all voted for a little while back. Now you can find out if your favourite won the poll. It certainly wasn’t mine *mutters bitterly*.

So there’s that, and a whole lot more to check out in this slightly bigger episode. Have a looksee, and as always, comment me your agreements and disagreements. I love to hear either, although a ‘My gosh, you are 110% correct on every level and may I also say how nice you look today?’ every now and then is an earner of brownie points.

Ahem. On with le awards.

ebjees

The Performances  

t1

Cezar

Eythor Ingi

Gor Sujyan

Nodi Tatishvili

Klapa s Mora

Robin Stjernberg

 

I need to have a box of tissues handy whenever I hear these guys sing, live or in studio, so I can’t imagine what would happen if I ever heard them in real life. Those harmonies mist me up good. I don’t think it’s Mižerja’s fault, since KsM could perform an a cappella arrangement of Ice Ice Baby and I’d still be blubbering into a super-sized Kleenex. It must be the vocals. Ugh, I’m tearing up just thinking about them.

 

t2

Aliona Moon

Amandine Bourgeois

Anouk

Dina Garipova

Moran Mazor

Sophie Gelovani

Zlata Ognevich

 

If a breathtakingly (literally) tight dress is what it takes for Moran to deliver the type of vocal she did during Kdam and Eurovision, then I say go on cutting off your air supply, you pitch-perfect Israeli songbird! Not to her face, obviously, since she’s not within addressing distance. But that’s what I would say, because that voice is incredible.

 

 t3

Cyprus

Estonia

Georgia

Lithuania

Switzerland

 

DISCLAIMER: I did not actually get up from my couch and go for a toilet break during any of these performances. I would never do such a thing, because I always like to think a boring act could be livened up at some point – for example, with a giant piñata that is lowered from the ceiling and beaten by the artist/s until streamers and confectionery rain down on the thrilled and slightly confused audience.

Unfortunately, there were no giant piñatas incorporated into any of the above performances, to their detriment. Switzerland in particular bored me to tears (and not Klapa s Mora emotion-filled tears). With a 95-year-old forming part of their group, I didn’t expect acrobatics or anything from Takasa, but some use of the stage space would have been nice.

Eurovision performance or karaoke at the office Christmas party?

Eurovision performance or karaoke at the office Christmas party?

 

 t4

Albania

Bulgaria

Denmark

Greece

Malta

 

Greece is no stranger to making schweet props out of onstage instruments (Giorgos Alkaios, hello?). This year, they again lit up the stage with their musical weapons of choice, and though it wasn’t quite as effective as it was in Oslo, it added another element of interest and fun (take note, Switzerland) to an already fun-filled performance. The lights also distracted us from the fact that the instruments weren’t actually being played, which is handy.

 

 t5

Albania

Azerbaijan

Belarus

Moldova

San Marino

Ukraine

 

Whose idea was it to put the man in the box? I want to give them the world’s most enthusiastic pat on the back for coming up with that. It was a pretty simple concept, but so effective, and then it switched to super-drama mode with the lady in red and the rose petals (I hope man-in-box never did a Loreen and choked on one). I salute you, staging…arrangement…person.

 

 t6

Estonia

Georgia

San Marino

 

There was really no better way for the disco ending of Crisalide to kick in than with the simultaneous switch-on of everybody’s favourite wind machine. Sure, we all saw it coming from a continent away – but admit it, you’d have been disappointed if Valentina hadn’t been given any wind for her sails.

 

t7

Azerbaijan

Moldova

Romania

Slovenia

Sweden

 

When I say ‘choreography’, I mean dancing and/or anything else the artists and backup peeps did on stage during their three minutes. Hence I have to give this award to Azerbaijan, for the mirrored movement between Farid and his box friend, and the sliding of Farid down the box, and the running of the red lady followed by her massive train…for all of it really.

Farid and his lady in red argue over who gets to take the box home and use it as an aquarium

Farid and his lady in red argue over who gets to take the box home and use it as an aquarium

 

 t8

Finland

Hungary

Ireland

Malta

Moldova

Netherlands

 

Describe Tomorrow in two words. Done? I bet you said cutesy and whimsical, and if you didn’t then just play along. So, cutesy and whimsical was the order of the day for Malta, and those adjectives were well and truly echoed in the adorable lyrics-on-screen they gave us to back up Gianluca. The colour scheme and variety of fonts was simple but perfectly suited. More than a few countries elected to stick their song lyrics in the background, but Malta did it best.

 

t9

Belarus

Finland

Romania

Ukraine

 

As if It’s My Life wasn’t OTT enough on its own, somebody in the Romanian delegation thought to themselves, ‘you know what we need? A sparkly man-dress with a plunging neckline. And a humongous red sheet. And a bunch of dancers. OH, and a hydraulic platform. Yeah. That’s what we need.’ And then proceeded to share those thoughts with the rest of the delegation who all thought it was a spiffing idea. I’m not so sure, but let’s face it – there’s no point in going subtle for a song like this.

 

 t91

Azerbaijan

Denmark

Greece

Moldova

Norway

Ukraine

 

Thanks to everyone who voted in this poll of yesteryear. The most-voted for turned out to be  Norway, a country that tickled the majority of your fancies with their top-notch act. It was a close one, but Margaret’s strong vocal, the moody lighting in contrast to her costume, and the stage movement make the Norwegians the All-Rounders of 2013.

FYI, the full poll results were: Norway 25%, Moldova 23%, Denmark 21%, Ukraine 14%, Greece 9%, Azerbaijan 7%. I used my vote for Azerbaijan, so that was a waste of time.

'Bow down to me, Margaret...the all-rounder of the year!'

‘Bow down to me, Margaret…the all-rounder of the year!’

 

The Costumes

 t92

Aliona Moon

Hannah Mancini

Klapa s Mora

Margaret Berger

Who See

 

Head-to-toe sprayed-on leather? Check. Shiny metal accessories? Check. Fierce shoes that I will lust after for months? Double check. Hannah had it going on during semi final one. Unfortunately, dressing like a champion no more helps you get into the final than dressing like an extra from ‘Willy Wonka: The Musical’. Speaking of which…

 

t93

Cezar

Lozano & Esma

Moje 3

Moran Mazor

 

They won the Barbara Dex Award for a damn good reason, Moje 3 did. I hope the designer of their nonsensical, childish, polka-dotted and pearl-covered monstrosities has been locked up in Fashion Prison, if there is such a thing. If there isn’t, the Serbian government should build one just for her. I have never seen clothing that so aptly begs the question, ‘what were they THINKING?’.

'For the last time, Nevena, I had nothing to do with these outfits!'

‘For the last time, Nevena, I had nothing to do with these outfits!’

 

t94

Andrius Pojavis

Dorians

Takasa

 

Then again, at least bad costumes get people talking. I doubt anyone has devoted more than a few lines of typing space, if that, to the white shirts and ties of Takasa. I give a lacklustre point to the sporadic red accents, and then cancel it out because a bunch of people who wear school uniforms to Eurovision (excepting Daz Sampson’s backup dancers – at least they made sense) don’t deserve points. Even if they were a bit lost after their Salvation Army uniforms were banned from the contest.

 

t95

Alyona Lanskaya

Koza Mostra

Moran Mazor

 

If you’re wondering about Koza Mostra, let me just say: you can never be sure what is or isn’t under a kilt. But that’s irrelevant, because Moran is the winner of this award. That dress of hers left nothing to the imagination, unless you count all of us having to imagine how she got into it in the first place. My money’s on Lycra-in-a-spray-can.

 

t96

Moje 3

 

I couldn’t think of any other artist/s that made a more monumental stuff-up than Nevena, Sara and Mirna in the journey from national final to Eurovision itself. Of course, we all blame the aforementioned designer for creating them in the first place, but I personally have it in for anyone who vetoed the original devil/angel outfits. Sure, they were a little tacky, but they worked with the song, not against it in some bizarre battle of WTF.

 

t97

Adrian Lulguraj

Aliona Moon

Marco Mengoni

Margaret Berger

 

In a year without Jedward, I wasn’t sure there’d be any nominees for this award. But a bunch of hairstylists who were told ‘you can’t do THAT with hairspray!’ and took it as a challenge came along and saved the day. Aliona’s look was less…sideways than it had been at the Moldovan final, but was impressive and interesting nonetheless. It’s the norm for powerhouse female singers with powerhouse ballads to be given a cursory swipe with a curling iron and nothing more, so I appreciate the extra effort.

'This may look good, but the 10 459 hairpins holding it in place aren't much fun, let me tell you.'

‘This may look good, but the 10 459 hairpins holding it in place aren’t much fun, let me tell you.’

 

The Results

t98

Croatia

Israel

San Marino

Serbia

 

I thought San Marino had qualification in the bedazzled bag this year. It was going to happen, and it was going to be amazing. Valentina, the comeback queen, reinvented, was going to compensate for 2012 in a big way. Then…bah-bow. Nothing. No San Marino in the magic envelopes (as they were). Granted, Val came close, finishing 11th in her semi. But it wasn’t close enough, dammit. I guess her third time could be the charm.

 

t99

Armenia

Belgium

Iceland

Lithuania

 

Now, a surprise I can be happy about. I was never that gone on Tom Dice/Me And My Guitar, so when I found myself attending regular meetings of the Roberto Bellarosa and Love Kills Appreciation Society, it was the first time in a long time I’d been enthusiastic about Belgium’s participation. I’m not stupid though, and I knew they didn’t have a hope in heck of qualifying.

Oh god. I AM stupid!

 

t991

Azerbaijan

Denmark

Georgia

Greece

Russia

 

A final without Azerbaijan in it, automatically or otherwise? Puh-lease. That Junior Eurovision fail was a mere blip on an unrelated horizon. They were back and more or less ready to win for the second time in three years, although I can’t help thinking they would have qualified even if they’d come back willing to settle for mid-table.

 

t992

Albania

Bulgaria

Cyprus

Latvia

FYR Macedonia

Switzerland

 

Despina Olympiou was the Iris of 2013 – an attractive female in a nice dress, who was competently performing one of the most boring songs the world has ever known. She was never going to get far. It’s a shame considering she could out-sing Ivi Adamou any day of the week, but Eurovision ain’t no singing contest.

'An Me Thimase' should really translate to 'why did I bother.'

‘An Me Thimase’ should really translate to ‘why did I bother.’

 

 t993

Azerbaijan

Belarus

Georgia

Greece

Netherlands

 

15th, in my opinion, is around about where the all-too-similar Ell & Nikki should have ended up. It was a huge relief for Sophie & Nodi to not follow in their footsteps. As well-executed as their performance was, I found it soulless and overly choreographed.  Waterfall was just as soulless, and very clichéd. So for me, Georgia got what they deserved. They’re better than that.

 

 t994

France

Germany

Ireland

Sweden

 

Could this be the start of a new Euro-curse? Last in the running order, last place? Or am I desperately searching for an explanation as to why yet another of my favourite entries ended the evening 26th out of 26? I know I’m biased, but I genuinely don’t think Ireland deserved to lose. Ryan’s performance was stronger than Jedward’s last year in many ways, and his song was much more contemporary. Then again, that contemporary feel could have been his and Cascada’s downfall. With the Euphoria effect still present, maybe nothing could have measured up.

 

 t995

Belgium

Finland

Hungary

Malta

 

So we’ve covered the jaw-dropping moment when Belgium qualified. But now we come to the even more flabbergasting moment when they didn’t bomb out in the final, not by any means. For quite a few countries, finishing on the left side of the scoreboard alone is as good as winning, and Belgium is one. So maybe we should forget about Copenhagen and head off to Brussels instead? 12th place warrants a big celebratory party, and as we all know, Eurovision is the biggest of them all.*

Roberto was just as shocked as we were to find himself in reach of the top 10.

Roberto was just as shocked as we were to find himself in reach of the top 10.

 

* Having come out with such a cheesy line, I am now off to Russia to write their entry for the 2014 contest.

 

And we are FINITO! As far as awards go, anyway. I don’t plan on going anywhere. I do plan on getting another post out within a reasonable time period, however. Look out for it between now and Christmas…2020.

Ha ha ha.

Whenever it makes its appearance, I hope to see you then.

EBJ Signature

 

PS – Did I hand the trophies out to the right people and places? Have you got any suggestions for next year’s awards?