Notes on the 2008 Contest in Belgrade

SEMI-FINAL I

Prior to the Contest, I selected these countries to make it through:

-Russia

-Greece

-Armenia

-Norway

-The Netherlands

-Estonia

-Ireland

-Andorra

-San Marino OR Azerbaijan, but not both.

And now onwards to the First Semi-Final!

01  Montenegro Stefan Filipović Zauvijek Volim Te

Not a bad start to the contest, not at all.  A nice little rock song, but I am afraid that it will not make much of a dent in voters’ minds.

02  Israel Boaz The Fire In Your Eyes

A very heartfelt ballad from Israel.  Though, the singer sounds ten year younger than he actually is.  A Dutch style performance, in that it was a minimalist performance with the hope that the singer will be captivating enough to get votes.  And like the Dutch entries of the past decade, this one will flop, unfortunately.

03  Estonia Kreisiraadio Leto Svet

Like France’s entry last year, this comedic performance might just go over everyone’s head

04  Moldova Geta Burlacu A Century Of Love

A beautiful song that will not make it through because it’s jazzy and slow (but not emotionally moving enough).

05  San Marino Miodio Complice

A good debut, but it seems like a song that gets better the more times you here it.  Unfortunately for the principality, they only have one shot to impress.

06  Belgium Ishtar O Julissi

Another *unique* entry from the Belge.  I liked the infusion of classical sounds, but the performance was more self-indulgent than captivating, it might place well in the semi, but I’m not sure if it will make it to the next round.

07  Azerbaijan Elnur & Samir Day After Day

This entry immediately makes me think of Austria 2007.  It plays on that line of being so crazy it might do great, or so crazy it will fail miserably.

08  Slovenia Rebeka Dremelj Vrag Naj Vzame

A bouncy pop song with an intriguing performance.  The first entry I will confidently predict to make it through to the Grand Final.

09  Norway Maria Hold On Be Strong

An alright song.  It might be able to slip into the Final in the lower spots of semi-final qualifiers.

10  Poland Isis Gee For Life

Things I remember from this pop ballad entry: a beautiful dress, a bad tan, really long blonde hair, a quartet, and a piano.  The song was ok, however, as the hosts ramble on, it is fleeting from me.

11  Ireland Dustin the Turkey Irelande Douze Pointe

A definite Grand Final entrant, unfortunately.  Though, I can imagine this song being a club favorite for years to come, at least in Cork and Dublin.  But I did laugh at the end, “And don’t forget the Swiss!”

12  Andorra Gisela Casanova

What is wrong with her hair?!  And why is she wearing copper foil?!  Otherwise a pretty good pop song, and I guess that’s what we are supposed to be judging, so it should get through.

13  Bosnia & Herzegovina Laka Pokušaj

Another zainy performance, but a decent song, I guess.  This will probably just make it into the Grand Final (where it will probably be crushed by everyone else).

14  Armenia Sirusho Qele, Qele

A good song with weak vocals.  It will probably benefit from the fact that a majority of tonight’s entrants will make it through to Saturday.

15  The Netherlands Hind Your Heart Belongs To Me

After Ireland, Russia, and Andorra, this has been the most hyped song this year, and it more than lives up to it!!!  By far my favorite on the night, and my favorite from Les Pays-Bays.

16  Finland Teräsbetoni Missä Miehet Ratsastaa

Another nostalgic rock song from a Nordic country (think WigWam NOR2005).  I don’t particularly care for this year’s Finnish rock song, but I think Europe might.

17  Romania Nico & Vlad Pe-o Margine De Lume

A lovely entry from Romania, it won’t win the contest, but I would be highly disappointed if it doesn’t do well on Saturday.

18  Russia Dima Bilan Believe

The much hyped return of 2006 Runner-up Dima Bilan (which overshadowed the hype of the return of 1999 winner Charlotte (Nilsonn) Perelli) failed to live up to the hype.  It would be foolish to suggest that it would not sail through to the final, but the Russians may find themselves coming up short once again.

19  Greece Kalomira Secret Combination

Forget Bilan or Perelli, Greece seems to have reentered My Number One (2005 winner)!  A bad pop song with decent music, and a cool dance performance, it will sail through to the Final.  Unfortunately, I think I will put it on my short list of favorites to win the whole thing.

My Top Five:

1. The Netherlands

2. Romania

3. Moldova

4. Slovenia

5. Israel

Those that I think will make it into the Grand Final:

1. Greece

2. Russia

3. The Netherlands

4. Ireland

5. Slovenia

6. Andorra

7. Armenia

8. Finland

9. Romania

10. San Marino

Honorable Mention to Azerbaijan: a “strong” debut and this year’s first costume change!

Grand Final Preview Now!

I predict another poor showing from the Big Four countries—with them going in descending order, France, Germany, UK, then Spain.  But I think that Serbia has a decent shot of joining Spain, Israel, and Ireland (twice!) to go back-to-back in victories.

Finalists:

-Greece (no surprise there!)

-Romania (hurrah for the prettiest song of the night!)

-Bosnia & Herzegovina (not a surprise, but I guess that Armenia or Slovenia may not make it now)

-Finland (told ya so!)

-Russia (as expected)

-Israel (big surprise here!  Totally unexpected, but I am happy about it)

-Azerbaijan (creepy Heaven/Hell performance, oh well)

-Armenia (a nice little pop song)

-Poland (a surprise victory for the stirring pop ballad)

-Norway (WHOA!  I know what I said in the review, but I am shocked that it made it in)

Travesty of the Night: The Netherlands fall short again, but why?  It was very clearly the best song on the night.  Oh well, I still love you Hind!  Thank you for giving me a new artist to investigate.

As far as my predictions go, 50% of my post-contest list made it through. As far as my pre-contest predictions…Azerbaijan, Greece, Russia, Armenia, Norway all made it through, so that’s at 50%, not bad for guessing sight unseen/sound unheard, or whatever the appropriate idiom would be.  Unfortunately, 50% also means that my guess were as good as random chance, which essentially means that I need to step up my game on Thursday and Saturday if I hope to finish out the Contest with a passing grade.

SEMI-FINAL II

NEWS RELEASED ON WEDNESDAY: In case you didn’t hear, Svante said that 9 by vote, 1 by jury rule for the Semi-Finals will become a permanent thing.  He also revealed that for Tuesday, the jury and the voters were in 100% agreement over the top 10.  Lastly, Lys Assia and Marija Serifovic presented the permanent trophy for the contest winners, a classic-style microphone made of glass (or maybe it’s crystal).

Pre-Contest Predictions:

-Sweden—as a returning champion, I think she is pretty much entitled at least a shot at the Championship.

-Bulgaria—if you so much as thought about Eurovision while on YouTube over the past three months, your searches would have come up with at least ten different videos for DJ Take Me Away, if that’s not good publicity, I don’t know what is.

-Ukraine—aside from its debut and title defense efforts, the Ukraine couldn’t be unsuccessful if it tried.  So look for another strong showing from Kyiv.

-Croatia—Croatia has also had on-again, off-again success, and I think the tide is shifting for another “on” year.

-Georgia—The bookies seem to like Georgia’s sophomore effort, so look for this Call to Action song to do well.

-Hungary—Another popular one amongst the bookies, Hungary might be able to return to the Final for the third time in a row.

-Turkey—Turkey has been creating a lot of buzz in ESC forums, not to mention the large amount of Turks abroad who vote for their home country (for instance, France is the second highest contributor to Turkey)

-Cyprus—Because, as I said a few weeks ago, the rest of the Eastern Mediterranean has seen success as of late, now it’s Cyprus’ turn.

-Latvia—I am hesitant to place what seems to me is going to be a gimmick entry after seeing what happened to Ireland and Estonia on Tuesday, but I still think that Spain won’t be enough to tithe Europe over on Saturday, so look for this one to sneak in.

-Malta OR Portugal, but not both—Portugal has the record for most entries without a victory, and Malta isn’t too far behind them.  After their entries from last year, both of which were projected to do well, flopped, these countries have been somewhat mum about their entries.  Despite this, I think that one of them will benefit from a sympathy vote of sorts.

01  Iceland Euroband This Is My Life

For a song that has been getting a lot of negative press, it was pretty good.  Actually, I know that there are 18 more songs to go, but I have a pretty good feeling that this song is going through to Saturday.

02  Sweden Charlotte Perrelli Hero

How does someone age so much in only nine years?  She must have really pissed off her make-up artist.  A decent song, I think it was just enough to get into the Final.

03  Turkey Mor ve Ötesi Deli

Another great song from the Anatolia region.  And another song I think has a good shot at making it past tonight.

04  Ukraine Ani Lorak Shady Lady

Another hot, big voiced diva out of the Ukraine, but she lacks the fire of Ruslana and the energy of Tina Karol, so it will be interesting to see how this places on the night.

05  Lithuania Jeronimas Milius Nomads in the Night

Where will ESC2009 be, St. Petersburg?  Reykjavik?  Paris?  One thing’s for certain, it won’t be in Vilnius.  I have a feeling that this song has a good studio version, but this live performance just doesn’t cut it.

06  Albania Olta Boka Zemrën E Lamë Peng

A good song, but I don’t think it has enough “umph” to move on to the Final.

07  Switzerland Paolo Meneguzzi Era Stupendo

The Swiss are fighting hard to reclaim their past glories.  While I think this song was a bit overrated, the audience seems to love this guy, as they gave him a standing O before he even opened his mouth (and notice how the arena is full tonight as compared to Tuesday).

08  Czech Republic Tereza Kerndlová Have Some Fun

The Czechs’ sophomore entry will do better than their first, in that I think it will get more than one point in the voting.

09  Belarus Ruslan Alehno Hasta La Vista

When will people learn?  This is the second or third song by this title, and every time it does not do well, and this time will be no different.

10  Latvia Pirates Of The Sea Wolves Of The Sea

I HATE PIRATES, ESPECIALLY THE ONES THAT SING!!!  This goes down as the WORST gimmick I’ve seen in my Eurovision travels, it even beats out IRE2008 or ICE2006.  If this song goes through, they would have robbed a more deserving act (i.e. any of the previous 9 we’ve already heard, or the any of the next 9 we have yet to hear) of a spot.

11  Croatia Kraljevi Ulice & 75 Cents Romanca

Everything about this act dripped cool…the outfits, the hot dancer, the pimp cane the old guy had.  I was about to say bravo to Croatia for another great folksy song, and then the older gentleman had to start scratching, and I think that might have been the kiss of death for them.

12  Bulgaria Deep Zone & Balthazar DJ, Take Me Away

Was I the only one expecting her dress to change, it’s so rare for a dress that long to make it through an entire performance nowadays.  I was highly anticipating this song due to its vicious YouTube campaign.  It’s alright, I think it has a decent shot of making it through.

13  Denmark Simon Mathew All Night Long

See what I said about the Danish entry.  It’s an ok song, but it doesn’t have an ice cube’s chance in Hell of making it through to the Final.

14  Georgia Diana Gurtskaya Peace Will Come

A Costume Change!!!  Who would have thought it would have taken 14 songs before we finally got to one (unless there have been others and I am unobservant)?  Anyway, the bookies are excited about this entry.  I liked it, especially the message.  I am not sure if it will be enough though.

15  Hungary Csézy Candlelight

My favorite so far.  Normally, I wouldn’t think it stood a good chance of getting through, but after the success of Norway and Poland on Tuesday, I am optimistic.

16  Malta Morena Vodka

From Peace and Love to alcohol, only at the ESC.  An alright song, though I don’t think it lived up to all of the hype.

17  Cyprus Evdokia Kadi Femme Fatale

I’m glad the two halves of the island cold stop fighting long enough to put together a great entry.  Which, if I might have to add, is probably the most Cypriot entry I have ever heard.  I think this is a shoo in for Saturday.

Antics from the hosts’ side-kicks down in the green room, should the participants be allowed to advertise themselves like that during the intermission?

18  F.Y.R. Macedonia Tamara, Vrčak & Adrijan Let Me Love You

Not a bad song, I wasn’t convinced that it had the ability to move on until after hearing the complete song, but the important thing is that I was convinced.

19  Portugal Vânia Fernandes Senhora Do Mar (Negras Águas)

Poised to take the travesty of the night award, this is my favorite of the night.  It *should* go through, but everyone seems to hate Portugal.  Will Fernandes be able to get Portugal to its first Final since the inception of the Semi’s?

My Favorite Five:

1. Portugal

2. Hungary

3. Cyprus

4. Turkey

5. Iceland

The Ten I think that will be moving on to Saturday:

-Sweden (Because people are ready for another Johnny Logan—as in a two-time winner)

-Switzerland (Because people are ready for another Johnny Logan—as in an overrated singer)

-Hungary (A great song that should make it through)

-Portugal (Another great song, that if it fails, should get the Portuguese crying “Conspiracy!”)

-Turkey (A fun pop rock song, my kind of rock)

-Cyprus (A feisty song in cool Mediterranean style, this should definitely make it)

-Georgia (I think people will be moved by the message enough to overlook the overzealous background singer at the end of the song.  That, and it had an awesome beat and melody.)

-Bulgaria (I think its YouTube campaign was a brilliant PR move, and that it was already marked down for Saturday a month ago)

-Ukraine (because every hot singer from the Ukraine, heck, every female singer (or impersonator) from the Ukraine has done great)

-Iceland (a fun bouncy song that didn’t deserve all the negative words coming its way before the contest, and I think that Europe will see this, and vote it through)

Honorable Mention goes to…Macedonia; it was convincing, just not quite as much as the other ten.  Malta; the island gave it the old college try, but I don’t that they will make it through.

Is it me, or are the hosts more incompetent tonight than they were on Tuesday.  They weren’t horrible, but things definitely could have been a lot smoother.  Hopefully, they will step up their game for Saturday.

The Ten Finalists Are:

-Ukraine (they can’t stop being successful, even if they tried!)

-Croatia (not surprising, yelling old people must be popular in Europe)

-Albania (WHOA!  I did not think this act had what it took to get through, guess I was wrong)

-Iceland (Hurray for redemption!)

-Georgia (c’mon, how could world peace not make it through?)

-Denmark (WHOA!!!  Well, at least my adoptive country is doing well)

-Sweden (of course)

-Latvia (BOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!)

-Turkey (that was fairly obvious)

-Portugal (one step closer to breaking the curse!)

Travesty of the Night goes to…Latvia.  Why?!  Why?!!  Why?!!!  What a horrible song!!!  Just when I thought the Baltics would have a reason to reconsider their staunch position on entering gimmicks only, this goes on to move through to the Final.  I am utterly angered by this.

On my accuracy…hey, 70% on the pre-show guessing, 60% on the post-show.  I have definitely improved since Tuesday.  But if this little exercise has shown me anything, it’s that I seem to be more objective before hearing the songs, than after (imagine that).  It should be interesting to see what happens on Saturday, as I will be choosing a much shorter list of who I think might win it all (since top 10 really doesn’t mean anything anymore, I will not include a full list of who I think will place in the top 10).

Final Thoughts on the two Semi-Finals:

I was quite surprised on Tuesday when the most solid songs, Norway, Armenia, Israel, and Poland made it through, in lieu of the sending of pop acts like the Netherlands, Andorra, or Slovenia.  I was shocked that Azerbaijan made it through while San Marino did not, I guess Europe prefers countertenors and sexy demons over rock ballads.  I expected Russia to make it through with another song from Mr. Bilan, and as soon as I heard Greece’s entry, I knew that it was going through.  Belgium and Moldova kept up their tradition of sending irrelevant entries to the Contest; sometimes they succeed (BLG2003 & MOL2005, 2007), but for the most part fail to impress the voting public.  Though, I, personally, enjoyed both entries and know that they will be getting a lot of mileage on my iPod.

Thursday brought better songs, but less entertainment.  I figured that Vodka (Malta) and Shady Lady (Ukraine) would have been a bit more exciting.  Though, I think I enjoyed this interval act more so than Tuesday’s (though, Tuesday had the superior Intro Sequence).  The real shocker was that Hungary and Switzerland didn’t go through.  Especially with the way how the crowd was carrying on when the Swiss guy came up to perform.  Another disappointment was Cyrpus’ failure to move through, I thought that the uptempo Mediterranean beat would have won it a spot.  How funny would it be if Sunday, when they release the results of tonight, they failed to make it by 11 points, highlighting their dependency on Greece’s sure 12.

Overall, I think the voters sent out a resounding rejection of gimmick acts, as Ireland, and Estonia were both eliminated (though, the jury is still out on where Azerbaijan’s entry falls).  Has Serbia’s victory reset ESC on the track of the serious entries that dominated the early years of the contest, and made a resurgence in the early and mid 90’s?  Despite the success of Latvia’s entry, and the failure of Switzerland’s and Hungary’s, I think that gimmicks might finally be viewed as immature and not funny, at least until the next eight-costume-changes-to-an-act (LAT2002), latex mask wearing rockers (FIN2007), or Xena lookalike (UKR2003) wins the contest.

Though, look for Spain to do well on Saturday, it and Latvia will probably be the two “funnest” (I know it’s not a word, but it’s applicable here) acts, and will probably get votes for breaking up the monotony that having ballad after ballad will create.

One thing to say about the hype, it doesn’t seem to be working too much, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, and Andorra were all supposed to be shoo-ins, and what happened, they fell by the wayside.  And Iceland persevered against the counter-hype (as I call it) and pushed through to the Final.  How I think this will translate, well, I don’t have nearly as much confidence in Russia as I did before, and I think that Sweden is out of it.  But I guess we will see on Saturday!

THE GRAND FINAL

My Short List of Possible Winners:

-Greece—as I said, Greek pop seems to hypnotize folks into voting for the ancient nation.

-Russia—less confident about Bilan’s return now then I was last week, look for Russia to break their streak of near misses.

-Portugal—they have made it to the Final for the first time since semi’s were introduced in 2004, I hope that they can translate that momentum into breaking their curse of never winning, passing on the record for most unsuccessful attempts to Iceland or Malta (I forget which one it would be)

-Armenia—A fun pop song that just might have enough umph to win the contest.  If Sirusho can tighten up some of her dancing, and sing with a bit more conviction on Saturday, there ain’t nothing that can stop her from taking the crystal mic.

-Serbia—with a great 30 second preview, and the bookies proclaiming that it has a great shot of defending its throne, I think there is a good chance that the Contest will be in Belgrade again next year as well.

-UK—I was originally only going to have five songs on this list, but after tonight’s (Thursday) results, I think that Europe has spoken that they want a more serious song to win again, and Andy might be in the right place at the right time, I think it will come down to his performance.

Intro Act:  *Due to technical difficulties, this performance was missed live.*

How disappointing.  I liked how it opened up with Marija singing a cappella, but it was all downhill from there.  The remix of “Molitva” was an injustice to the song, and the scantly clad dancers cheapened the purity of last year’s victory performance.

01  Romania Nico & Vlad Pe-o Margine De Lume

*Due to technical difficulties, this performance was missed live.*

Another beautiful performance from these two.  I have no idea why it didn’t get more than 45 points.

02  United Kingdom Andy Abraham Even If

*Due to technical difficulties, this performance was missed live.*

A good song.  I think it ends kind of abruptly, which might account for some of its low score.  But, as I have said before, Europe doesn’t seem to like American style music very much (with a few exceptions, HUN2007 is the first that comes to mind), especially when that style is R&B, so I understand why this came in last, but strongly disagree with it.

03  Albania Olta Boka Zemrën E Lamë Peng

*Due to technical difficulties, most of this performance was missed live.*  From what I saw of this performance, she sounded a lot better than she did on Thursday.

Seeing it on the replay, I still think it is better than Thursday, but I still think it’s boring and uncaptivating.

04  Germany No Angels Disappear

What are they wearing???  Hmmm….a poorly sung pop song from Germany, unfortunately, I think it will do better than some of their recent entries, despite not being nearly as good.

05  Armenia Sirusho Qele, Qele

I had high hopes for this song, and she did not disappoint.  Even the dancers were better.  Though, I do not think it was strong enough to win the Contest, it will have a good placing.

06  Bosnia & Herzegovina Laka Pokušaj

Another good performance for the Bosnian entry.  It will end in the middle of the pack when all the voting is said and done.

07  Israel Boaz The Fire in Your Eyes

A beautiful performance, even more moving than on Tuesday.  There is no reason why this song shouldn’t do really well tonight.

08  Finland Teräsbetoni Missä Miehet Ratsastaa

The first of the Nordic countries (all of which made it to the Final)…hey, it’s more tolerable than it was on Tuesday!  I still don’t really like it though.  It will probably do well though, as it’s different enough to gain enough support for being so (unlike Turkey, which is a pop rock song).

09  Croatia Kraljevi Ulice & 75 Cents Romanca

I guess the drumming Granny’s boyfriend (MOL2005), the yelling old guy (who one assumes is 75 Cents) trots the line between gimmick act and peasant sound.  As it was Thursday, the singing and the melody, and the dancer were all superb.

10  Poland Isis Gee For Life

Equally as pretty as Tuesday, and equally as boring.  I think this will fall victim to not being as captivating as the other ballads, and not as entertaining as the pop songs.

11  Iceland Euroband This Is My Life

Probably one of the least remembered countries of Europe, Iceland’s Euroband had an unforgettable performance; outdoing their Thursday performance by miles.  I have a lot of faith in this entry; they will have to be outdone in order to lose, as I think they are the best on the night so far.

12  Turkey Mor ve Ötesi Deli

*Due to technical difficulties, this performance was missed live.*

Wow!  Even better than on Thursday!  But I think that 12th was definitely an accurate placing for this song.

More antics with the wannabe hosts down in the green rooms.  More free advertising for countries they happen to walk past.  Though, I do think that they may be marginally better than that girl in pink from Helsinki last year (I can’t remember her name, but I do know that she is a comedian in Finland)

13  Portugal Vânia Fernandes Senhora Do Mar (Negras Águas)

Oh no!  This was not nearly as good as on Thursday night.  I guess she poured all of her heart out just to get here, and didn’t have enough left to do it again.

14  Latvia Pirates Of The Sea Wolves Of The Sea

I don’t remember that middle part with only the music (between the part with the lady in the bubble and the last two times they sung the refrain) from Thursday.  I will have to say, this song seemed to drag on even more than it did the other night.  They seemed to be forcing the song, taking away the playfulness it had originally.

15  Sweden Charlotte Perrelli Hero

A good showing from the former champ.  I think she just put herself back into the running for victory, even though she did look like an alien for the first verse of the song (before the lights came on)

16  Denmark Simon Mathew All Night Long

My opinion about this song has not changed.  I am not quite sure how it made it to the Final, and I do not think it will do well (though, I don’t know if I will go as far as to say it will get last).

17  Georgia Diana Gurtskaya Peace Will Come

A good performance, very moving, and a great message.  I expect this song to do well.  But I don’t think that it will win.

18  Ukraine Ani Lorak Shady Lady

More exhilarating and better executed than on Thursday, and it’s a female from the Ukraine, so it should do very well.

19  France Sébastien Tellier Divine

* Due to technical difficulties, most of this performance was missed live.*

Not a bad song, I understand its placing though.  If he had controlled his voice a bit more (especially when it was lowering after he sucked on the helium) I think this new age song would have done better.  Oh, I thought the golf cart entrance and the background singers being disguised as him were pretty cool.

20  Azerbaijan Elnur & Samir Day After Day

I don’t care what anyone says, countertenors are just plain creepy!  But I guess it fits in with the creepy performance.  There seemed to be a little trouble with the costume change this time.  But that’s just another thing to add to the heap of reasons why this song shouldn’t win.  A lot of high pitched wailing, and disoriented background dancers, some kind of blood colored liquid being poured over someone, etc….

21  Greece Kalomira Secret Combination

Another cookie cutter pop song, but for some reason, I have a feeling it will do ridiculously well (ridiculously, as in much better than the other cookie-cutter pop songs performed tonight)

22  Spain Rodolfo Chikilicuatre Baila El Chiki Chiki

*Due to technical difficulties, this performance was missed live.*

What a fun song!  And have you noticed something, it seems like every Spanish entry (that’s in Spanish) has way more words than any other country could possibly fit in its song.  Not the best of entries, but it was a fun song in the midst of ballads, so that is probably why it got the highest placing of any Big Four country.

23  Serbia Jelena Tomašević feat. Bora Dugic Oro

Great song, great performance, this song was awesome.  My only negative remark is that she had some pitch problems near the beginning of it.

24  Russia Dima Bilan Believe

A better performance than on Tuesday, I think that this will do well, but I will have to go against the bookies (and my earliest predictions) and say that I do not think that this one will win.

25  Norway Maria Hold On Be Strong

Another good performance for Maria.  I think it will do moderately well (maybe a middle of the pack finisher) but I do not think it has enough steam to win.

My Top Five Songs:

1. Portugal

2. Iceland

3. Israel

4. Turkey

5. Croatia

Post-Contest Prediction, The Five Songs I would put money on:

1. Greece (begrudgingly, I will admit that the Greeks seemed to have perfected the generic pop song, and so, despite my lukewarm feelings for the song, I think it has the best chance of winning)

2. Sweden (a good performance, an ex-champ, and a catchy song, it should do well)

3. Iceland (a good song, a great performance, and marked improvement from the Semi to the Final, they have earned that crystal mic)

4. Israel (such a moving song, and the travesty of 2005 needs to be avenged!)

5. Serbia (a beautiful song plus a beautiful singer plus the host country bump equals a good chance at a title defense)

6. Portugal (I know it says five, but I am not ready to give up hope yet.  It is still a good song and had a great performance)

Honorable Mention goes to…The Big Four, all of them put forth good entries, at least it appears that way from the recap.  Two good songs, an entertaining song, and another strong pop song.  Way to go!  –After seeing the four entries, I realize that I may have acted prematurely to hand them kudos, especially since none of them did overly well.  But I do stand by my words, I enjoyed Spain’s, France’s, and the UK’s entries, and thought that Germany had a decent pop song that would have done better than it did.  Oh, well.–

Additionally, I don’t think any of the songs should finish below the top ten (except for maybe Latvia), but unfortunately, 15 of them have to and an additional 9 will also fall short of the crown.  Despite all of the circumstances, all the performers should be proud of themselves for making this one of my favorite years of the ESC.

AND THE WINNER IS…….Russia!  How many times have I predicted that Russia would win?  Three, Four, Five times?  It figures that the one time I don’t bet for them to win it all, they do.  Oh, well, it’s a decent song, and Russia has surely earned the hosting honors after so many top five finishes in the past decade.  As far as my pre-contest selections, Greece, Armenia, and Serbia all finished in the top ten, and Portugal had a respectable placing, but the UK flopped horribly, finishing tied for last with Germany and Poland.  I didn’t get to hear this entry, but from the short clip I have heard, this seems like a grave injustice.  My post-Contest predictions didn’t fare so well.  Israel got tenth, but Sweden and Iceland finished down in the middle of the pack.  I guess Bilan wanted it more than Perilli, but I guess she already had a championship under her belt and so this was just fun for her.

Note:  Sweden and Poland were the recipients of the jury selection from the Thursday and Tuesday Semi-Finals, respectively.  In Poland’s case, it was tenth, and would have qualified anyway, Sweden, though, finished thirteenth and wouldn’t have made it through without the jury.  It will be interesting to see the trend in jury selections’ performance in finals; if they continue to not do well, they may just go back to straight up televoting all ten.

AWARDS

My Top Five Songs:

1. Portugal

2. The Netherlands

3. Hungary

4. Cyprus

5. Moldova

Best Dressed: The Netherlands (a sexy black number that showed enough to entice, but not enough to give away the secret), Poland (would have won if she didn’t have that horrendous fake tan), Croatia (from the black suit and fedora to the dancer’s wine colored dress, a very classy and snazzy looking group)

Most in Need of a Costume Change: Andorra (not so much because of the clothes, her hair was horrendous though), Ireland (I guess all the backers were dressed to look like giant, kindergarten made turkeys, but it just didn’t work), Belgium (she looked like a giant peppermint)

Best Performance: Bosnia & Herzegovina (did a great job of telling the story behind the words), Azerbaijan (good interpretation of the lyrics) Switzerland (it was the whole package in terms of singing talent, song, and entertainment (when are indoor fireworks not fun?))

Worst Performance: Estonia (they seemed lost and confused throughout the performance—whether this was the point or not, I do not know), Belgium (she was out of breath for a lot of it, and for such a happy, cheery song, everything was quite bleary and drab)

Most Attractive:

Woman: Netherlands—Hind is quite attractive, and on Tuesday, quite sexy as well.

Man: Switzerland—This was a blowout, I don’t think any of the other guys in the competition came close to him.

Spirit of ABBA Award: This was a really hard category to pick a winner for, in that there were not a lot of campy acts this year.  If I had to choose one though, I’m thinking…maybe the Czech Republic, it was fun, bouncy, and not incredibly deep in meaning.  That and it was a nice change from the yelling, screaming men from last year.

Final Thoughts:  I think a lot can be said about the lack of gimmicks and campy acts this year.  Maybe the ESC is regressing back to the more mature, pre-1967 era, when camp first started to become popular.  I loved this large collection of ballads and more serious pop entries.  And the more poppy songs lacked that corniness that would cross the line into ABBA-esque.  I am interested to see what kind of consequences this will have next year in Russia.  Speaking of which, I wonder if they will host it in their capital, Moscow, or in St. Petersburg, both because St. P. is where Russia’s largest arena is as well as the historical significance (Peter the Great established St. P. to be a Western city, to endear Russia to the rest of Europe).

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