Notes on the 2009 Contest in Moscow

Once again, this was written live, as I am watching the contest.  The Semi-Finals were written live with the contest, but I had to watch the Final later as I had social obligations during the day (as the Contest comes on at three in the afternoon for me).  I had someone else access the site for me so that I could not see who won ahead of seeing the Contest.

Pre-Show Predictions

I don’t mind taking a step out on a limb and making a few predictions prior to the show on who I think will be going on and eventually win.  Like last year, I am using various polls and bookies sites from around the web.

From the first semi-final: Belarus, Sweden, Armenia, Switzerland, Turkey, Israel, Iceland, Macedonia, Portugal, Malta

From the second semi-final: Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Slovenia, Azerbaijan, Greece, Lithuania, Albania, Ukraine, the Netherlands

Top Ten Prediction: Russia, United Kingdom, Norway, Ukraine, Turkey, Israel, Switzerland, Malta, Sweden, Lithuania

Shortlist of Victors (in order of how much I believe in them): Malta, Norway, Ukraine, Sweden, United Kingdom

First Semi-Final

Montenegro: Just Get Out of My Life Andrea Demirović

Like last year’s Montenegrin entry which led off the contest, this was a nice way of starting off the contest, but honestly, no chance of moving through, and look, it didn’t!

Czech Republic: Aven Romale Gipsy.cz

BLAH!  This is entertaining, but once again, I expect the Czech Republic to be at the bottom.  I mean, don’t Europeans generally dislike Gypsies not named Carmen?

Belgium: Copycat Patrick Ouchène

I must say, the huge stage allows for a lot of awesome LED work.  This song wasn’t bad, even though it was in the style of Elvis.  I don’t think it will go through, but it was entertaining none the less.

Belarus: Eyes That Never Lie Petr Elfimov

If Diaspora and neighbor voting were to come into play, it would most definitely be for this song.  It’s okay, but not really worthy of the Final.

Sweden: La Voix Malena Ernman

I really like her dress, her upper-body blends into the background, and the bottom part looks like it’s flowing.  Whoa, what was that gurgling sound she made?  It won’t hurt her tonight, but Saturday it may be the difference between top five and top fifteen.

Armenia: No Par (Jan Jan) Inga and Anush

It sounds like something from Turkey – so naturally, I love it.  It’s dark and slightly spooky.  It will probably be strong enough to continue Armenia’s dominance, and land them once again in the Top Ten on Saturday.

Andorra: La Teva Decisió (Get a Life) Susanne Georgi

This entry is okay, but once again, Andorra will not progress to the Final, despite their use of an internationally known star.  Maybe next year will be their year…

Switzerland: The Highest Heights Lovebugs

A nice soft rock number from the Swiss in the Keane/Fray tradition.  Like San Marino last year, due to the singer’s voice, this song may take a few listens to really appreciate.  It might benefit from the fact that two more countries make it through than don’t.  But it will depend on the strength of acts following it, particularly Bulgaria, Macedonia, Finland, and Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Turkey: Düm Tek Tek Hadise

Unlike her bff (best friend forever) Kate Ryan, Hadise chose to compete with a song that sounds just like rest of her successful singles.  How smart of her.

Israel: There Must Be Another Way Noa and Mira Awad

I really like this, it’s upbeat, and inspirational.  I like Come Dance with Me a lot more, but this is great, and the message alone will probably get them to Saturday.

Bulgaria: Illusion Krassimir Avramov

Countertenor = spooky!  And unlike Azerbaijan last year, this guy isn’t nearly as attractive or charismatic.  I see this song not progressing pass tonight.

Iceland: Is It True? Yohanna

Dubbed this year’s “dark horse,” I am a little disappointed with this.  While this is a great song and performance, the website billed Yohanna as a soul singer, but she sounds like any other pure-singing pop artist, along the lines of LeAnne Rimes or Dusty Springfield.  She should be a shoo-in for Saturday, but it all depends on her performance then.  Like Sweden, I think she has the possibility of being top five or top fifteen.

Macedonia: Neshto shto ke ostane Next Time

This song isn’t much, pretty forgettable actually.  It has a very nineties feel to it as well.  I think it will move through simply because 10 out of 18 move through, but it will be stomped in the final when it goes up against the superior pre-qualified and Thursday night acts.

Romania: The Balkan Girls Elena Gheorghe

Well, I can think of five countries that will vote for this song tonight, hmm…they all seem to be from the same region of Europe….  I think I would like this more as a dance number that emphasized the music more than the singer than as this indiscriminate pop song.  Another forgettable performance, Switzerland’s chances get better and better…

Finland: Lose Control Waldo’s People

Ooh!  Fire twirlers!  Usually rap/spoken word is the kiss of death in this Contest.  But this song has been getting so much press…I don’t know, the song isn’t bad, and provides some much needed pep after a long string of slower acts.  And who doesn’t like the idea of helping homelessness?  I’m not sure, I’m on the fence about this one.

Portugal: Todas as Ruas do Amor Flor-de-Lis

How colorful!  What a pleasant entry!  I hope that it moves through, but I don’t think that it will.  But I hope it does.  It is one of those songs that one can’t help but smile when listening to it.

Malta: What If We Chiara

Chiara, Chiara, Chiara!  No, you are better than this!  Despite this not being one of her stronger performances, I stand by my earlier prediction when I said that as soon as she won the Maltese selection special, she had her hole punched through to the Final.  I will say, though, this is her best outfit out of the three she has worn in competition, but the strong is not as strong as Angel.

Bosnia & Herzegovina: Bistra Voda Regina

I like this, I didn’t think I was going to, but I did.  This will most likely move through to the Final, it’s stirring and emotional. – Did you notice the people chanting “Malta!” after their performance, though?

My favorites on the night:

1. Armenia

2. Sweden

3. Portugal

4. Bosnia & Herzegovina

5. Switzerland

Who I think will progress on to the Grand Final:

1. Sweden

2. Armenia

3. Turkey

4. Iceland

5. Macedonia

6. Israel

7. Portugal

8. Malta

9. Bosnia & Herzegovina

10. Switzerland OR Finland (Not both!)

Results:

1. Turkey (big surprise there)

2. Sweden (another shocker)

3. Israel (yay!  Go songs about peace!  I was really hoping that they would go through; wouldn’t it be great if Israel continued to send Arab artists?)

4. Portugal (yay!  happy songs deserve to go through)

5. Malta (didn’t I say that she was going, this semi-final performance was a mere warm-up exercise – and from the way it sounded, she needed it)

6. Finland (there’s goes Switzerland’s chances)

7. Bosnia & Herzegovina (another good choice)

8. Romania (WHOA!  Where did that come from?  Those aforementioned five countries I suppose)

9. Armenia (yay, spooky sisters!)

10. Iceland (again, not a surprise…it looks like this dark horse has legs!  I wonder, given the fact that this country essentially just collapsed from mismanagement, if they win, would they have the money to host it?)

General Comments

Hosts: These are definitely the JV hosts, now I see why they are bringing in new folks for Saturday.  Not that these two are bad, but I’ve never seen a host have to stop and read the cards in the middle of hosting.  Let’s hope she’s a bit more fluid on Thursday!  Haha!  Wow, they’ve had two dress rehearsals, one of which was earlier today, and they still weren’t sure how to start the voting together?!  Putin cannot be happy with this.

Postcards: I think the cityscapes are of the country, not Russia, right?  I felt like I saw that famous bridge in Sweden, but that’s really the only landmark I could make out.  I guess I have to brush up on my sightseeing guides from lesser traveled countries.  I was wondering if they would incorporate the Miss World pictures, apparently they did!  Aren’t computers great?  I do wonder, if Kosovo had gotten EBU status and competed, if their “beauty” would have looked like a fat man, just to spite them, or do you think that they would have been fair?  Same for Georgia, would they have had one of those high-maintenance, controlling looking beauties to demonstrate that Russia thinks that they’re self-centered ingrates?

Greenroom: Why are the greenroom hosts always such cheesy fast-talkers?!  Why can’t we have better greenroom personalities?

Interval Act: I thoroughly enjoyed the interval act.  It was a massive male military choir and drummers paired with a gypsy dance troupe (oh, the irony!).  It was quite entertaining, they sung what I can only assume to be classical-icized Russian folk songs.   And look at this, former pop superstars and the Russian ESC 2003 representatives T.a.T.u shows up, and has the military choir sing backing vocals for them!  While I think all five pre-qualifiers are really great and that the Big Four will all do better than they have been recently, I think that only France and Spain have what it takes to win based off of those preview clips.

Generally Speaking:  This reminds me of the 1998 contest.  I like every, or just about every, song but I don’t really love any of them.  There’s a lot of greatness this year, but awesomeness is scarce!  If I had to guess, than I would say that either Bosnia & Herzegovina or Romania was the jury’s selection, and they probably displaced either Switzerland or Macedonia.

Second Semi-Final

Croatia: Lijepa Tena Igor Cukrov ft. Andrea Šušnjara

Is this seriously the first costume change of the contest?  I feel like I had to have missed one in the first semi-final, even though I’ve seen it like, three times already.  Anyway, a pretty song with a very disappointing performance, more practice is needed!  This better not move through, despite the fact that I think it will get a lot of plays on my iPod.

Ireland: Et Cetera Sinéad Mulvey and Black Daisy

Not bad, a typical girl rock number.  The internet polls predict a poor outcome for this song, but I don’t believe that Ireland will miss the final two years in a row (which would be a first, by the way).

Latvia: Probka Intars Busulis

Probably one of the best comedic songs in ESC history, he has a great voice and the act is entertaining.  I don’t know how this one will play out, I think it depends on some of the other border acts, Serbia, Cyrpus, Denmark, and Estonia.  Though, right now, I am feeling positive about this one.

Serbia: Cipela Marko Kon and Milaan

Yay for funky accordion!  I’m on the fence about this one, too!

Poland: I Don’t Wanna Leave Lidia Kopania

This will not move through due to a poor vocal performance (though, the judges rate the second dress-rehearsal, not the live performance, so if she was amazing in rehearsal, she might still make it to Saturday).

Norway: Fairytale Alexander Rybak

Yay for fiddlin’ Norwegians.  I can’t seem to recall what happened the last time Norway sent a violin player…maybe you could refresh my memory…. 😉  I will say, for the favorite, his singing isn’t all that great.  On Saturday, his vocals will have to be much stronger if he hopes to wrestle the trophy away from Chiara, Patricia Kaas, or Sakis.

Cyprus: Firefly Christina Metaxa

I don’t know if she’s dating a writer or what, but the website constantly talked about this song and how pretty it is, and how pretty Christina is, how sweet it was that her brother wrote the song for her, how she is the youngest person this year, etc…  Maybe it’s like professional athletes, the ones who are the nicest to the press get the most coverage.  Anyway, this song didn’t have much hope coming into tonight, and she most definitely did not help her case with that vocal performance.  All she can do is hope that her rehearsal was strong enough to impress the judges.

Slovakia: Let’ tmou Kamil Milulčik and Nela Pocisková

Why does Slovakian sound so angry when it is sung?  Another pretty song that must rest on the jury’s involvement, their vocal performance (especially the female) is not up to par.  What a shame, like Croatia, Poland, and Cyprus, this was a pretty song that was not justly served by its performers.

Denmark: Believe Again Brinck

Go Denmark!  After the first eight songs, this one better progress to the Final and complete the Nordic family.

Slovenia: Love Symphony Quartissimo ft. Martina Majerle

I’ve been looking forward to this song ever since I learned that there was a group called “Quartissimo” playing a song entitled Love Symphony in the Slovene national selection program.  This song sounds like a sexed up Nocturne.  A little disappointing when gauged against my excitement, but I think it will move through.

Hungary: Dance with Me Zoli Ádok

Oh yes, this was Hungary’s third choice.  I’m sure it will do very well. Yeah, now I know why it was MTV’s third choice, and am wondering why it was that high.  It’s not bad, and I am sure I will be dancing to it in the not so distant future, but it will be stomped come voting time (at least it should be).

Azerbaijan: Always AySel and Arash

This popular song comes from the Land of Fire (how ironic that “snow boots” is the term paired up with this country)!  Apparently, it was supposed to just be AySel, but Arash decided that since he wrote and composed the song, he deserved to perform it, too.  He also cited the fact that he was already a big international star as well.  I don’t know, I think I would have like it better had she performed alone as originally planned, though, that’s not to say that her vocals weren’t flawed, too.  This song had too much press coming in not to progress to Saturday.

Greece: This Is Our Night Sakis Rouvas

He could come out, fall flat on his face, and walk off the stage and progress to the Final.  Like Tuesday for Chiara, this is a mere warm-up for the real thing for Sakis.  Obviously a better song than Shake It (this one has more than six unique lines!), but not nearly as entertaining or fun.  Though, at least he’s not growling or snarling this time.  This is the first favorite I am willing to remove from my list of possible winners.  Despite some really cool stage props (A moving walkway and a giant stapler with a Greek flag on it, oh boy!), I just don’t think this song has what it takes to win.

Lithuania: Love Sasha Son

This would be termed “blue-eyed soul” here in the US, a white person singing R&B, well.  Apparently he’s one of the biggest stars in Lithuania, and an important figure in their music history.  I like it, this song should move through, but I don’t know if it will.  I look to Albania or Estonia to stumble to let this one in.  Actually, I think I take back what I said about Slovenia, this might make it through instead.

Moldova: Hora din Moldova Nelly Ciobanu

Awesome music!!!  Many times better than Balkan Girls, unfortunately, tonight’s competition is much stiffer than Tuesday’s and this will probably be a casualty to that fact.  And the muddling of the English lyrics definitely does not help her case.

Albania: Carry Me in Your Dreams Kejsi Tola

Like Iceland and Cyprus, Kejsi is a mere teenager, barely eligible to compete in the real ESC.  More so than Iceland, and less so than Cyprus, Kejsi is showing her age, and not taking control of the 50m stage.  I will be surprised if this moves on.

Ukraine: Be My Valentine!  (Anti-Crisis Girl) Svetlana Loboda

A female from the Ukraine, gee, all she has to do is exist and she will be in the top ten Saturday.  A good performance might result in a top three placing.  Another performance like this one and she will be the Ukraine’s first sub-top10 since 2005.  Nix that, everything from the drumming on will put her in the top ten, easily.  She better not win, though!  There are too many great songs this year for this one to take the trophy.

Estonia: Rändajad Urban Symphony

Another dark horse competitor, and another entrant for best dressed.  I really like this song, it’s dark and intriguing.  And continues the tradition of having a very strong instrumental aspect.  I hope this moves through to Saturday.

The Netherlands: Shine The Toppers

A great message from the most reported on artist this year.  I don’t think it will be enough to get the Netherlands through, but I think it would be a nice touch if it does go through.  I will say, this is probably the most glitzy, most attention-grabbing Dutch entry to date.

My favorites on the night:

1. Estonia

2. Moldova

3. Denmark

4. Slovenia

5. Lithuania

Who I think will progress on to the Grand Final:

1. Ireland

2. Norway

3. Denmark

4. Latvia

5. Azerbaijan

6. Greece

7. Ukraine

8. Estonia

9. Lithuania OR Poland (but NOT both)

10. The Netherlands OR Albania (but NOT both)

Results

1. Azerbaijan (told you so!)

2. Croatia (!!!  Not overly unexpected, but not deserved)

3. The Ukraine (surprise, surprise)

4. Lithuania (yay! But there goes Poland’s chances)

5. Albania (again, not a big surprise, but I don’t think the performance warranted progression)

6. Moldova (!!! wow, that was highly unexpected!  Does this mean Ireland won’t go through?)

7. Denmark (go Denmark go!)

8. Estonia (yay!  Probably the best performance tonight)

9. Norway (gee, one favorite through, I wonder who will be the last country revealed)

10. Greece (and the other favorite is through)

General Comments

Opening Act: Yeah, what a nice opener!  Crazy cool LED matryoshka dolls, an awesome musical act, and dancing bears!  All that was missing was Stalin and Putin look-a-likes doing a sabre dance and oro!

Advert Breaks: I love ESC history, the first one looked back at past winners (‘56, ‘75, ‘98, ‘04, ‘07, ‘08) and had them talk about the Contest during their time and the Contest today.  Our second advert break takes us back to the greenroom and our greenroom host, his corny jokes, and his lack of articles.

Hosts: These two are much better than on Tuesday night.  It seemed that the solution was to have them speak less French, ironic, since this is the semi-final in which France votes.  But still, more work needs to be done.  Let’s hope that Saturday’s duo is better.  I will say that I am impressed with Andrej’s knowledge of geography, he always manages to name a major city in each country that qualifies.

Interval Act: A ballet with very familiar sounding music.  I can’t believe we have had two opening acts and two interval acts, and still none of that squat-kick dance that the Russians are so famous for.  Another word on the UK entry, with both Lloyd Weber and Warren, you think that the lyrics would be a little less repetitive, in the 30 second clip they played of the song the phrase “my time” must have been repeated at least a dozen times.

Generally Speaking:  Tonight, I think, is more reminiscent of the 1999 contest, I liked fewer songs, but the ones I do like, I really, really like.  Though, I will say, this is the first time in which I have liked every song in the contest (assuming that the five already through to the final are as good throughout as their clips portray them being).  Which would make this the most favored Contest I have seen.  One thing I would really like to see incorporated for the two semi-finals are tributes to the gold anniversary (50 years) and the silver anniversary (25 years) winners.  The songs could easily be adapted into the folk tradition of whatever country is hosting.  Een beetje, despite being annoying, could have been incorporated, even if just instrumentally, during the journey parts of the fairytale story.  And how easy would it have been to play Diggi-loo, diggi-ley instead of Waterloo or Diva, or just add it to the list of songs in the medley.  Though, given the fact that both of these songs are quite annoying, maybe it’s a tradition that should be started next year.  Luckily, there’s no annoying song in the Final this year to continue the tradition.  I also see there’s a trend towards the folk this year (Romania, Moldova, Norway, Croatia, Armenia, Portugal).  If one is to believe the bookies and fan polls/sites, one of the favorites (Norway, Malta, Turkey, France – remember, I already struck Greece off this list) will to take the crown, but expect the unexpected in a strong placing from Iceland, Portugal, and Estonia, the three remaining so-called “dark horses.”  So, now the questions is, what countries will NOT do well?  In a Final with 25 strong entries, it is a shame that ten countries will have so few points that their final placing will not even be dubbed “respectable.” Here’s my unfortunate bottom ten, all of which I think have the potential to be top ten songs in any of the contests after 1995 (when current music trends first started to develop): (in no particular order) Moldova, Romania, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Finland, Portugal, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Armenia.

Grand Final

Preshow Predictions: Listed in no particular order

-Top Ten: France, Malta, Norway, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Spain, Turkey, Iceland, Greece, Sweden

-Bottom Ten: Moldova, Romania, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Finland, Portugal, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Armenia

-Contenders for the Trophy: Malta, Norway, France, Turkey, Iceland

Lithuania: Love Sasha Son

A roar of applause before he even starts, that’s a good sign.  That was really good, and I still like the fire in his hand at the end.  I just don’t know if it will be good enough to overcome being first.  I would say this song has a chance of being in the top ten if the competition wasn’t as notable and/or it was later in the night.  Oh well.

Israel: There Must Be Another Way Noa and Mira Awad

That’s a new dress for Noa, isn’t it?  I think, overall, this is better than it was on Tuesday, though, it still had a lot of pitch problems.  If this song is anthing higher than 15, than it is entirely due to its message, and not the performance.

France: Et s’il fallait le faire Patricia Kaas

Wow, with her composure and the crowd reactions, it almost feels as if the first two acts were just the opening acts for her.  And, I think it is worth noting, for a forty-something, she oozes sex appeal, maybe it’s her cabaret style and voice.  Wow!  This song is so haunting, and her dancing just adds to it.  Listen to the crowd!  If this isn’t a top ten, I will be shocked, and say that France has a legitimate reason for withdrawing next year.

Sweden: La Voix Malena Ernman

The two most seasoned performers perform one after another, and both are struck down by their early appearance in the evening.  Both women look like they could be femme fatales in a film noir.  I must say, as good as this was, it will fall under the first disappointment of the evening; it was not as good or as dynamic as it was on Tuesday, and the last note was slightly sour.  Hopefully, she still gets top ten.

Croatia: Lijepa Tena Igor Cukrov ft. Andrea Šušnjara

Much better than Thursday, but I still can’t help but feel as if this is a “poor man’s version” of Lejla or Lane Moje.  Just a generic Yugoslav heartbreak ballad, guaranteed some votes, but probably not too many.

Portugal: Todas as Ruas do Amor Flor-de-Lis

I have to say this before they start, I love the LED for this song!  Another beautiful performance of this delightfully cheery song, too bad I don’t think it is strong enough to compete with the others, just look at what’s next on the docket, Iceland and Greece, two favorites to win entering tonight!

Iceland: Is It True? Yohanna

I was about to write this off as another disappointment, but the last 45 seconds or so definitely saved this song.  However, despite its status as a favorite, I think it will suffer from the same problem as Lithuania, a great song and performance, just not quite good enough to receive the placing it deserves because it has come so early in the night.

Greece: This Is Our Night Sakis Rouvas

Like when France performed, Sakis makes Yohanna seem like his opening act.  However, unlike Patricia, his performance (despite its flawless choreography) isn’t worthy of a victory.  If it wasn’t for the judges I would say we might have another Ruslana win on our hands – in which an exhilirating performance outweighs other aspects of the entry, in 2004 it was the poor lyrics, this year would be the subpar vocals.

Armenia: No Par (Jan Jan) Inga and Anush

Not as good as Tuesday night, and will probably result in Armenia’s lowest placing to date (dear I say it, a non-top ten finish for the Armenians!).

Russia: Mamo Anastasiya Prykhodko

An entry in Ukrainian for the Russians!  How about that!  The singing faces are kind of eerie, especially since her backers make it sound as if they are a part of this creepy clone choir.  I assumed this song is about a woman trying to seek comfort from her mother after heartbreak, but the crying older version of the singer makes me think that she is crying for her mother and her situation, in which case the LED shows that the singer is now old and in the same situation.  Either way, a creepy LED with a ghostly/eerie song, that was sung decently.  Russia + being host country = a better placing than deserved.

Azerbaijan: Always AySel and Arash

I see a new contender for best dressed, Miss AySel.  Arash’s vocals are much better than they have been.  While the fact that this song is from Azerbaijan means that it will do well, I can’t think of a single mixed-sex duet that has won, or even placed that well – excluding the married pair from Denmark in 1963, but that was different, only the woman sung then.  It will be top ten, but it will not win; I will go so far as to say that it has no chance of winning.

Bosnia & Herzegovina: Bistra Voda Regina

This song keeps popping up in top ten polls across the internet, and I really like it, but I just don’t think it has what it takes to be in the top ten this year.  Another good performance, but I still don’t think that it is a dynamic enough of a song to be in the top ten, especially this year.

Moldova: Hora din Moldova Nelly Ciobanu

Interesting that “chudo” (miracle) was the word for this entry, as in, it was a miracle for it to make it to the Final, and it will be a miracle if it finishes higher than 20th.  Though, I do love this song; it’s high energy and a lot of fun.  I am happy that her enunciation is much better tonight than it was a couple of days ago on Thursday.  She and this song remind me of a de-sexed Severina (CRO2006).

Malta: What If We Chiara

High hopes for Malta, as I am, apparently, the last person who still has faith in Chiara at this point.  This is definitely her weakest song, and probably the hardest to sing of the three.  I think she was a thousand times better than she was on Tuesday, and that the jury votes will buoy her back into the top ten.  However, I think that she will fall short, yet again.

Estonia: Rändajad Urban Symphony

It is unfortunate that this song follows the one entry that they don’t contrast against, I definitely think that it will dampen their ability to garner televotes.  But it is a really strong performance, just like Thursday’s, maybe a nudge or two better (I think that she was slightly more into it tonight than she was last time).  I think this is another one that will be helped out by the juries’ presence this year.

Denmark: Believe Again Brinck

Go Denmark!  Oikotimes said that this song could benefit from the “Dora Effect,” in which neither the juries’ favorite nor the televote favorite wins, but a song that did moderately well in both does, as what often happens in Croatia (“Dora” is the name of the competition to select a song for ESC).  I think that he sounds better tonight, but more removed, more robotic.  It should get a respectable finish, but not top ten.

Germany Miss Kiss Kiss Bang Alex Swings, Oscar Sings

This updated big band song is “extra ordinary.”  I like it, but it is a bit forgettable.    Though the Germans are trying to use double sex appeal by shaking half-naked Americans at their ESC inadequacy.  Too little, too late.  Now, had Alex and Dita been prancing around like that from the beginning of the song, it might have been a bit more effective.

Turkey: Düm Tek Tek Hadise

People said that this song went through purely via Hadise’s name, as her vocals were poor on Tuesday, I disagree.  I think her vocals are poor tonight!  Okay, not poor, but definitely absent; she relied on the backing vocalists a lot more than I have ever heard.  She better not win!  Though, she will probably get twelves from Germany and France thanks to their Turkish immigrants, and from Belgium and the Netherlands, where she is a huge star.

Albania: Carry Me in Your Dreams Kejsi Tola

Not bad, but not dynamic.  I already like this song, and this performance hasn’t made me like it anymore or any less.  Not only that, but I have a feeling that the next songs (bookie- and ESCToday-favorite Norway and the overpowering Ukrainian woman of the year) will make one forget about poor little Albania.

Norway: Fairytale Alexander Rybak

Favored over Greece and Turkey among bookies and on ESC Today’s fan poll, I expect a lot out of young Mr. Rybak.  Who, I have just noticed, isn’t that much older than Albania’s Tola.  I really like this song, even though his live vocals aren’t as good as the studio version.  Cute boy + good stage act with tumbling and folk dancing + cute backing singers with well-balanced vocals + Norwegian violin = a really strong feeling that we will hear this song again tonight.  Patricia and Sakis might have a strong case against him, but I think that it is really up to Jade (UK) and Soraya (Spain), at this point, to keep Alexander from reprising Fairytale.

Ukraine: Be My Valentine!  (Anti-Crisis Girl) Svetlana Loboda

I really like the thing where they spin her upside-down.  This act puts Ruslana to shame, she’s more commanding, the choreography is more stunning, and the song doesn’t have nonsensical lyrics!  Though, I don’t think she has the vocal power that Ruslana had, and thus isn’t quite as captivating, the act just comes off as a bit too busy, and slightly desperate.

Romania: The Balkan Girls Elena Gheorghe

I still have no idea how this song made it to the final over Switzerland, Macedonia, or Belarus (all three were songs that experts said had a lot of potential).  I think that in the future, this song will be seen as a nice commercial from Romania: it’s pleasant, she’s nice to look at, but in the end, the song just isn’t strong enough to fit into the contest, it will probably join Germany on the bottom of the final scoreboard.

United Kingdom: It’s My Time Jade Ewen

The much awaited UK entry, from two of the biggest people in the world of music.  Maybe pop lyrics +  musical theatre will equal a return to the winner’s circle for the UK.  Sir Lloyd Weber did his part, he chose a good talent and the arrangement is beautiful.  Ms. Warren failed, this song is so repetitive.  Though, honestly, no more repetitive than a lot of other songs, it’s more noticeable because I understand what she is saying.  Jade did a decent job, it just wasn’t stunning or exhilarating, though, it did get a really good response from the crowd. I think the Lloyd Weber name and the hype surrounding the entry will propel it into the top ten, but it will not win.

Finland: Lose Control Waldo’s People

Like Romania, Croatia, Moldova, etc… a really good entry that I genuinely like, but there is zero chance of the Finns (or any of the others I mentioned) winning.

Spain: La noche es para mi Soraya

Now for the rainbow coalition’s song, written by Swedes, Greeks, and Spaniards, this song stretches from all over Europe.  Really hot music, but Soraya’s vocals do leave one wanting, I think that she probably has just been waiting too long to perform.  One thing she has going for her, since she is last, she will probably steal a lot of Sakis’ votes from people who like the up-tempo dance numbers.  I like the disappearing trick, it makes the performance a bit more memorable.

My favorites on the night:

1. France

2. Estonia

3. Norway

4. Malta

5. Moldova

6. Bosnia & Herzegovina

My Shortlist of Possible Winners (in the order of my belief in them):

1. Norway

2. Spain

3. Greece

4. France

5. Malta

Rounding out the Top Ten: United Kingdom, Azerbaijan, Sweden, Turkey, Iceland

Results: Rules regarding the jury: http://www.eurovision.tv/upload/press-downloads/2009/2009_juryvotingfinal.pdf

1. Norway 387

2. Iceland 218

3. Azerbaijan 207

4. Turkey 177

5. United Kingdom 173

6. Estonia 129

7. Greece 120

8. France 107

9. Bosnia & Herzegovina 106

10. Armenia 92

20. Germany 35

21. Sweden 33

22. Malta 31

23. Lithuania 23

24. Spain 23

25. Finland 22

Awards:

Best Dressed

Estonia, United Kingdom – Elegant dresses from both countries

Most in Need of a Costume Change

Czech Republic – “Super Gypsy,” c’mon!

Cutest boy & girl

Boy: Norway, Lithuania – a virtual tie, I would say Norway has the slight edge because he’s only one year older than I am.

Girl: Azerbaijan, Portugal – Both AySel and the Portuguese gal are cute, I think the Flor-de-Lis singer gets the edge because she keeps crying, apparently she only started singing with the band eight months ago, and now look, she took Portugal back to the Grand Final.

Spirit of ABBA Award

Romania – fun girl time!

Andorra – bubblegum to the extreme!

This is D.C. Calling… (the most American entry):

1. Azerbaijan – standard pop song here

2. Iceland – she sings with a power that I don’t often see in Western European girls, and without the underlying threat of violence of Eastern European girls

3. Germany – c’mon, they had two Americans on stage!

Songs that Americans would like (if they were in English):

1. Lithuania – Blue-eyed soul from the Baltic

2. Iceland – A powerful, well-sung ballad that I think anyone would enjoy

3. Azerbaijan – a generic pop song, I don’t think there’s too many places this would fail

The Shiri Maimon Travesty Award

While I think that Sweden & Spain both deserved at least a top 15 placing, the biggest travesty has to go to Turkey, Hadise should NOT have been in the Top Ten!  This is an example of big names garnering points at its worst.

Worst in Show

It is hard for me to choose a song for this award, as I liked all 42 of them, so I will be basing this off of the performance.  I think the weakest performances came from Poland and Turkey.  Poland was lackluster on Thursday night, and Hadise never really showed why she was a pop superstar, though she did demonstrate why she didn’t win Belge Idol.

Best in Show

It is hard not to choose Norway after those dominating results, but I think I will have to choose either France or Estonia.  Both countries gave powerful, stunning performances that launched them into the Top Ten.  In France’s case, what should have been the top three, but a poor draw in running order hampered her chances.

General Comments:

Opening Act: A human matryoshka doll, cool!  The narrator, was he speaking Russian?  It didn’t sound like any Russian I have ever heard before.  Cirque du Soleil is crazy, I saw them in an Imax theatre on a school field trip once, and it was mind boggling, though, a little boring – “oh, they’re doing another impossible contortion/acrobat thing, great.”  I really like the thing with Dima Bilan, having him fly in, then walk through the door/wall/paparazzi to a techno mix of Believe.  I just want to reiterate my love for winning song reprisals as the Final’s opening act (take that ESC 2003 – Riga (and a slew of others)!)  I wonder if any entrants next year will be flying around during their performance.

Advert Breaks: The first one comprised of a lady on the street getting people to sing for her, including some soldiers.  It was funny and cute, and a good way to spend time as many countries showed commercials.  I really enjoyed the Russian myth debunking segment during the fifteen minute voting time.  Whoa!  An advert in the middle of voting!  What is this, the United States?!  Hahaha!  t.A.T.u.!  That’s hilarious!

Interval Act: This is nuts!  Not only is it some kind of crazy 2D-water-ballet, but they are smashing the audience and the participants.  Wait!  Where is the green room that they can have one of these aquariums come down on them?  Is it merely just behind the stage where fans can’t get to them?  I guess that’s better than having it way off somewhere, especially at the end, when they are trying to have the reprisal and they have to wait for the winners to come to them.  I think that this act was a little weak, especially compared to those over the past few years, it definitely seemed like one of those things where you had to be there to really enjoy it.

Voting: (After the first country) With Spain giving their 12 to Norway, I am ready to call this contest already for the Norwegians.  (After the two countries) This is only strengthened by Belarus giving them their 12.  He has to have won if he was able to sway these two countries who normally wouldn’t give Norway anything.  (After ten countries) The Russians surely know how to keep the votes rolling, I’ve never seen the voting go this quickly.  I like how the votes come from within the arena.  (After all 42 countries have reported) Okay, I will not bore you with all of my various notes, comments, and witticisms from the voting process.  Here are a few of my more interesting notes.  Sweden did the unthinkable – they gave Denmark 0 points!  And several other countries broke rank and gave their traditional allies few points: UK, Spain, Andorra, and Belgium each gave France 3 or fewer points.  There were more, but these were the ones I noticed.  Like clockwork, Cyprus gave 12 points to Greece (at a point that was too little, too late, I might add) and the audience booed.  General Comments – Spain deserved to be higher.  Her performance was adequate, certainly better than a certain Benelux artist representing Turkey, there is no reason she should have been 23!  Sweden, while it is a great song, had a compartively lackluster performance, and Europe as a whole doesn’t seem to be crazy for popera (remember Slovenia and Latvia from 2007?).  One last note, Norway may have broke the record for most points in a single Eurovision with 387 points, shattering Lordi’s (FIN2006) record of 292, and the record for biggest margin of victory – 169 points, shattering Katrina and the Wave’s (UK1997) record of 70 points.  And Norway may have broke the records for most top points (16-twelves) breaking Katrina, et al. & Helena Paparizou’s (GRE2005) shared record of 10 “douze pointes.”  Norway did not break the record for highest percentage of points available.  He received only 79% of the maximum points available to him (482) which falls about a percentage point and a half short of Brotherhood of Man’s (UK1978) mark.  Despite this last shortcoming, I think this will go down as one of the best Eurovision winners ever, up there with UK1978, UK1997, GER1982, IRE1980, etc… and some of the other more dominating victors.

Generally Speaking: Aside from my notes above (liking all the entries, Norway going down in history) I do have a few more comments.  This year seemed to mark a bit more of a return to old Eurovision, with more ballads, fewer up-tempo songs, and more folksy songs.  Not only that, I really like the inclusion of the jury, now we have countries who previously ignored others giving them twelves (case in point, Serbia, Spain, Slovenia, Ukraine, Israel all gave Norway 12 points, and a slew of others gave the eventual winners 10 and 8 points).  Norway might be the first country, ever, to receive points from every other country in the contest.  And with the exception of Turkey, Portugal, Romania, Albania, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic, Norway received at least eight points from everyone (TUR-3, POR-5, ROM-5, ALB-7, BUL-2, CZR-3).  Also, we had our first null points since 2004, as the Czech Republic finally, after twice receiving only single digit points, received no points from anyone in the first semi-final.

With all that said, I think that this year was significant in a number of ways.  First, music…next year we will probably see a lot more folksy entries, and a lot more serious entries from the West.  Look at France and the UK, they finished in the Top Ten for the first time in ages because they took the contest seriously this year.  Let’s hope they continue showing this kind of effort in the future.  Moldova and Romania both had surprised success with their very folksy, very culture specific songs.  Second, the event…the Russians threw an ESC unlike any seen before; they had the largest stage, the most extravagant opening and interval acts, four hosts plus two extra personalities for advert breaks, and the largest draw of press peoples.  Oslo (or some other Norwegian city) will have a heck of a time trying to top this year!  Third, bitterness…ESC fever is waning in Switzerland, Germany, and Spain, all of which put a lot of effort in their entries this year.  Unfortunately, someone had to come in the lower positions on the scoreboards, and it was them.  I don’t think Germany or Spain are going anywhere, but Switzerland (along with Cyprus and Malta) all worry me for withdrawal in the next couple of years if their fortunes don’t turn around.  Just look, the mighty Chiara fell to the bottom five this year!  Malta may not recover from that blow.  Lastly, history…I already said that Fairytale will live on for quite some time, but this year’s Contest as a whole will as well.  The Russians, aside from their first two hosts, put on quite the show, and the 42 participants were strong.  The drama was high and the end result was surprising, Norway set multiple records, Iceland returns to the runner-up spot, and returning entrants from Greece and Malta, the two that everyone thought would be dueling in the Final, came nowhere close to top position, they didn’t even come anywhere close to any of the Top Five.  The contest is shifting, and hopefully for the better.  The juries definitely brought a new dynamic, and I can’t wait to see the extracted votes in the near future as eurovision.tv publishes them par the rules.

All of this to say, THIS YEAR WAS AWESOME!!!

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