The Final Selections
Well, reader, I have failed you. Yesterday was the first day of the Heads of Delegations meeting and I have not put up my opinion of all the entries. For this, I am sorry. But, never fear, with the exception of the Ukraine, I will finish the remaining countries here!
United Kingdom – For the second straight year, the United Kingdom used the program Your Country Needs You to select an unknown singer as its representative, the winner this year was Josh Dubrovie and he will be taking the song That Sounds Good to Me. This year’s high profile song writer is Pete Waterman, mastermind behind many of Donna Summer’s and Kylie Minogue’s hits as well as many other very catchy singles (including the Rick Astley hit, Never Gonna Give You Up). Unfortunately for the UK, the Contest seems to be moving away from the campy stuff, which seems to be Waterman’s strong-suit. Not only that, but there has already been a ot of complaint within the country about the song being…well…bad. I think the main concern is that it is just poorly arranged, which the song writing team blamed on having to write seven different versions of it for seven very different artists. They say they will buckle down, and get a new, re-arranged version finished, but I don’t know how much better it will be. As far as the competition, I think Dubovie won because he was the least bad (though, Alexis wasn’t all that bad either). Unfortunately, he’s no Jade Ewen and Waterman is no Lloyd Weber, expect the UK to find its way back to the bottom of the scoreboard.
Germany – Germany also used a talent search to match a singer to a big-name song writer’s work. The winner of Germany’s Unser Star für Oslo talent search was Lena Meyer-Landrut. She will be singing the song Satellite. Heading the German search for a star was Stefan Raab, the creator of two of Germany’s most bizarre entries, and, ironically, two out of last five top-ten finishes. Meyer-Landrut is like a poor-man’s version of an Adele or a Joss Stone; she has that same jazzy timbre to her voice, but it’s weak and shrill. I definitely liked the runner-up, Jennifer Braun, a lot more. I suspect Germany will continue to land in the low teens, if for not other reason than there will be worse entries than a whiney jazz singer come the Grand Final.
Greece – OPA ! No, it’s not a call for celebration (though, it sounds like it) it is the title of the Greek entry this year. After controversy over a possible withdrawal and two disqualified entries, Greece selected OPA performed by Giorgos Alkaios & Friends. Apparently, ERT, the Greek broadcaster, was able to keep the participation alive by agreeing to cut back on funding, sponsoring only a music video and a very limited promotional tour. So, it seems, for the first time in a long time, Greece will have to depend more on the strength of song than on promotion. Luckily for Greece, Alkaios seems to be a Greek version of Željko Josimović, in that he sings stirring, melo-dramatic ballads. I think, with a name like OPA this will not be one of those type of songs, but the melo-drama will still probably be there. In the end, it’s Greece, it can count on an easy twelves from several countries at this point. Expect this to land in the Top Ten.
Estonia – The duo Malcolm Lincoln and the group Manpower 4 have won the ticket to Norway on behalf of Estonia with the song Siren. I have done a little research on Malcolm Lincoln. First, the singer was on Estonian Idol (Idol count = 6). Second, he is said to have a “surrealist” writing style. Which, according to Wikipedia, means that he first babbles nonsense to a melody, then tries to figure out what words the babbling most likely resembles. Third, the duo is said to best fit into the electronic/techno genre. This should make for an interesting combination! When I think of the term “siren” the first thing I think about is The Odyssey the island of beautiful women that lured sailors to their doom. And, given that this is the ESC, it is probably this connotation they are going for, only set to a crazy techno-dance groove. Obviously, it won’t be about a the ancient poem, but about some girl who tempts the singer (though, it might be more interesting if the song was about the epic). This could benefit from being different and from Estonia’s success last year. But I don’t think so. I think, instead, they will go way to far and crazy on the performance, which will turn-off viewers, which will result in low votes.
Sweden – The Swedes are typically the last to decide and with due reason. Historically, they have the most elaborate and most popular selection special of all the participating countries. While they were not the last to decide this year, the outcome of Melodifestivalen was still one of the most anticipated. The winner this year was This is My Life performed by Anna Bergendahl (bringing our Idol count to 7). Despite SVT’s claims that “there will be a mix of music genres in Melodifestivalen this year,” the final round seemed to be full of good ol’ fashioned schlagger. And while this approach most likely will not work for the Brits, people have come to expect and love it from the Swedes, and will vote for it. Sweden will most likely continue it’s streak of Grand Final qualifications, only a few countries can say that they have qualified for the Final since 2004 (Ukraine, Turkey, Greece, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Romania, and Russia are the others). I am, as of now, still undecided regarding how Sweden will do once it reaches the Final.
Azerbaijan – Azerbaijan actually chose their singer a while ago, but held off from choosing an official song. The three finalist each performed three out of four chosen songs, with a single artist being named the winner and the song being determined at a later date. After needless delay, Azerbaijan finally chose a song, Drip Drop. I was not overly impressed with any of the candidates (except for one of the semi-finalists, Ulviyya Rahimova and her song In Love). They all were decent in the karioke portion of the contest, and all were equally as weak in the original song performance. But, it’s Azerbaijan, expect another ill-gotten top ten finish with a generic pop song posing as something psuedo-ethnic.
Belarus – The Belorussians have changed their song! Originally, 3 + 2 was supposed to perform Far Away in Norway, however, this was changed at the last minute to the ballad, Butterflies. I couldn’t find a reason behind this other than the fact that the original song wasn’t all that good (as soon as the change in plans was announced, I listened to Far Away, let’s say I won’t be choosing to do that again anytime soon). Hopefully, Butterflies will get the added votes that Belarus wants.
Israel – Israel, one of the first to announce their artist, was supposed to have the final song selection on its annual K’dam Eurovision show, though the Ukraine will have that honor. You all already know my great favor towards Harel Skaat, as I bought his debut album after Israel announced he was to be the singer and I listened to some of his earlier work. Not only does he have a great voice, he is quite nice to look at! Anyway…the song chosen for him by both, the juries and the televoting pubilc, was מילים or Milim (which means “words” – in case you are like me and don’t know Hebrew). Given the fact that Milim was the unanimous favorite, and that the other three songs are all awesome, I think Israel will not only make the Final, but reach the Top Five. But maybe I’m just blinded by my fandom for Skaat, though, I honestly believe that Israel will do quite well this year.