Notes on the Eurovision Song Contest 2010 – Oslo

The Grand Final

*Remember, I write these live, so there will be a bunch of typos.  I will edit for readability over the next week.*

So, having two semi-finals adds an interesting dynamic to the Contest, made more noticeable this year with so many entries being equally as good.  I find that I have had a lot of time to grow close with the Tuesday finalists, and am still working on building a relationship with those from Thursday, and I still don’t know the pre-qualified acts!  Nevertheless, I much prefer the two semi-final format to the one semi + 14 pre-qualifiers.  The only country that has earned the right to live off the previous year’s merits is the defending champion.

Even though the past three Contests have all had strong fields, there were always just two-three strong favorites.  This year, there were seven going into ESC week, with five of those remaining and two more being added going into the Final.  While Azerbaijan remains the bookies favorite to win, the press is split between Azerbaijan and Germany.  Despite this, Denmark and Israel both remain atop fan polls and forum discussions.  Meanwhile, a few bookies and members of the press are beginning to throw out Belgium and Albania as new favorites given the demise of Croatia and Slovakia.  One went so far as to say that, Belgium’s qualification in and of itself is enough to demonstrate that Tom Dice has what it takes to take the nation to number one.  While no one is outright choosing Armenis, it remains in the top three~four of just about every poll, no other country can say that.

Pre-Contest Predictions:

10. Greece (up-tempo; garnered bonus points for being in Greek)

9. Ireland (former winner; this year’s best ballad)

8. Belgium (because I couldn’t really imagine anyone else in the Top Ten)

7. Iceland (still picking up steam in popularity; up-tempo)

6. Turkey (awesome song; radically different from the others; largest Diaspora)

5. Armenia (popular song; large Diaspora)

4. Azerbaijan (popular song; huge PR campaign; but won’t be able to overcome running order position without an amazing a transcendent performance)

3. Denmark (mass appeal; potential to be passionate or lame, it’s up to the singers to choose)

2. Israel (popular among fans; passion-filled performance; will be able to woo those not connected to the ESC forums and such)

Winner: German (highly popular, wide-spread support from the experts; quirky; Lena just needs to overcome her nerves)

Now, onwards to the show!

Opening Act: I loved the walk through ESC history in the video and the greetings from each country on the screen.  I wonder why they cut out the first verse of Fairytale.  And host broadcaster NRK said that they couldn’t afford to hire the Frikar Dance Company for the opening this year, I guess this is surprise number one (we were promised a lot of surprises to come throughout the show by NRK).  I am also a little disappointed with the lack of La Det Swinge and Nocturne, though.  Oh well, I guess nothing is perfect.

Azerbaijan: Notice how they don’t show the disputed region of Azerbaijan, tonight, they hid even more of it than on Thursday.  I really don’t like that thing she does when she says “Drip drop, drip drop;” it does not fit with the lyrics of the song at all.  I like her lighted dress though – did it glow on Thursday?  It was pitchy and she did not convey all the emotions I had expected her to, so I am a little disappointed with it.  It will still be Top Ten, but I cannot see it winning after that.

Spain: I like this song, but it doesn’t as much emphasis on the music as I thought it would for a waltz.  Hey!  That dancer looks funny…oh, wait, I think it is a random guy who ran out on stage…yep, there’s security.  Any bonus points Spain earned with Daniel singing right on through the random guy appearing on stage, it lost by having the backing singer be so prominent.  This song will finish mid-teens.

Norway: Okay, this is my third time watching the Contest via the Internet, you would think that the EBU would realize by now that a crap-ton of people are watching and the bandwidth they have is not sufficient!  I missed half of the Norwegian entry!  From what I heard, it was good, but not captivating.  Sorry Norway, no repeat for you (which is good, given that NRK said that they wouldn’t have the money to host two years in a row).

Moldova: Why does the song keep skipping?  It’s like a dirty DVD or something.  This is the same as it was on Tuesday.  It was good, but nothing special.  Expect another mid-teens finish for Moldova.

Cyprus: Okay, why is Jon Lilygreen showing his stomach to Europe?  This is better than it was on Thursday, and that should be the goal, improvement!  While it is better, I don’t think he was quite captivating enough to capture votes away from other, stronger entries – expect an undeserved low placing for Cyprus.

Bosnia & Herzegovina: I was unimpressed by this song on Tuesday, and only disliked it more when the singer Brojic said that he went only 70% in the Semi-Final.  The studio version is tolerable.  It is better than it was on Tuesday, but it will still be a shame if this song gets anything over twenty (granted, there could be a lot of crappy performances to come, let’s hope not!!!).

Belgium: What a reception from the crowd for our newest favorite!  But as I have learned many, many times, the reaction of the crowd in the arena is absolutely no indication of the Final position of the song.  As Psyched Loupes pointed out, this song’s main competition is against Cyprus, and I think Belgium just won, by a lot.  The voting throughout the entire show will help this song, as I think a lot of people will begin voting for it immediately, whereas before, the soft, intimate performance would have been lost among the bright and shiny ones…

Serbia: Despite his…unique…appearance, Milan Stankvic has a really good voice and seems like a really cool guy (he’s also our fourth X-Factor/Star Factory/Idol singer tonight).  It’s still entertaining and catchy.  It still does not deserve to be anywhere close to the Top Ten.

Belarus: It’s still pretty and still pretty boring.  At least all five are in tune this time.  I expect a last place for poor, well-meaning Belarus this year.

Ireland: So awesome; truly Irish balladeering at its best.  This will get a lot of votes from those nostalgic for the Contests of the early nineties.  And, had this song been entered then, it would have won, easilly.  Unfortunately for the Emerald Isle, this is not 1993, but I would still expect a Top Ten finish for Mrs. Kavanaugh.

Greece: Exciting and electrifying.  Expect a Top Ten finish.

United Kingdom: Oh my, isn’t Josh just adorable?  This would be many times better without the backing vocals (or at least with them turned down); they are much too loud and someone is out of tune!  As I said on Thursday, this song is a bit old fashioned, but it is hardly the only one that harrows back to the late eighties/early nineties.  AHHH!!!!  Josh, when you miss a note that big, just stop singing, regroup and hit the next one, otherwise you will miss both big notes, as you just did.  Whatever votes that were won with Josh’s looks and adorable performance and the songs catchiness, were loss with the last note.  What would have been somewhere between 17-22 is now competing for the bottom spot with Belarus.  Though, you can’t blame Josh, how would you feel if everywhere you looked was more negative comments about you, your song, and your performance.  And he had more coming his way than any other country’s performers (except for maybe Slovenia).

Georgia: Not bad, it was slightly better than on Thursday.  I expect Georgia will return to its home in the high teens of the Final scoreboard.

Turkey: I don’t know why maNga was TRT’s third choice, this song is awesome!  It most definitely will be in the Top Ten.

Albania: Joining Belgium as one of the press’ new favorites, albeit less noticeably, Albania hopes to once again crack the Top Ten.  Is it just me, or does Juliana Pasha sound like Eartha Kitt and Dionne Warwick?  I really like this song, but expect it to finish in only the mid-teens.

Iceland: How disappointing, this is not as good as it was on Tuesday, come on Hera, I thought you were better than that!  If Belgium and Cyprus were in competition against each other, so is Iceland and Albania, and Bjork just ceded the victory to Pasha.  Expect Albania to be in the Top Ten and Iceland to linger in the teens.

Ukraine: I am still shocked this song moved through to the Final, I just wouldn’t expect Europe to like it.  With that said Alyosha knows how to work the stage, even when she is all by herself.  She sings with passion and emotion.  Expect a mid-teens finish for Ukraine.

France: What a high energy song!  I am also glad to see that France took the risk of putting an African on stage, it definitely leads in not being afraid to show the far reaching effects of it colonizing past.  I think it will finish low teens, but will become one of the biggest songs of the summer.

Romania: Still fun and bouncy.  Still not good enough to be in the Top Ten in my opinion.  Expect low teens finish, despite this.

Russia: My personal favorite.  The pitch problems from Tuesday seemed to have been addressed, but I think this song has too many detractors to really succeed.  Expect high teens (15-20) for Russia this year.

Armenia:  Good.  I missed most of it due to technical problems, unfortunately.  Not that it really matters, it will be Top Ten.

Germany: The highly anticipated German entry.  Awesome!  I really liked this song, and, for now, am sticking with my decision to make it my pick to win the Contest this year.

Portugal: Honestly, this should take Azerbaijan’s place as a favorite.  The singer is better, the song is more moving, the music is more inspiring, and the performance is much more passion-filled.  Unfortunately, this act suffers from the affliction of being from Portugal, so expect yet another 15th placing for the country.

Israel: Oh no, his voice cracked, but no worries, I think Harel Skaat just won the Contest for Israel.  The passionate performance and the stirring lyrics combine to make a perfect ESC entry.  Good job!

Denmark: It was during the first refrain of the second round performance when I thought that this song would move to the final round and after the key change after the bridge that I thought that it had a good chance to win the Danish ticket.  They did not get anywhere close to that performance; Chanée & N’Evergreen have disappointed me tonight.  Sorry Denmark, this duo did not bring the magic for you.

What’s this?  Spain is performing for a second time?  Because of the crazed fan?  Okay, let’s see what happens…

Spain: I checked the website, due to the disturbance caused by the fan, Spain received the opportunity to perform again after the last entry.  I think he was better this time, but only marginally.  Regardless of how Spain finishes, I predict this will be equally as discussed as the eventual winner, if not more so.

My Top Ten from Tonight’s Performances What I Think the Top Ten will be
1. Israel 1. Israel (incredibly moving performance; just great in every way)
2. Ireland 2. Germany
3. Germany 3. Azerbaijan
4. Turkey 4. Belgium
5. Portugal 5. Denmark
6. Georgia 6. Armenia
7. Belgium 7. Ireland
8. Russia 8. Greece
9. Ukraine 9. Turkey
10. Spain 10. Albania

More Predictions:

11-17: Serbia, Ukraine, Portugal, Norway, Georgia, Romania, Iceland

18-25: France, United Kingdom, Belarus, Cyprus, Russia, Spain, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Moldova

I love the emphasis on history throughout the three shows, but why was the 1991 not mentioned when they were talking about close finishes.  Yes, 1969 had four winners, but 1991 was the only year that the tie-break procedures were used.

Interval Act: The highly anticipated Interval Act, I can’t wait to see it!  That…was…awesome!!!  I loved how they were able to mix the actual arena, the flash mobs, the live, in-home cameras, and the annual outdoor gathering in Hamburg (event the green room).  Best Interval Act I’ve seen since Birmingham 1998.  I am just so happy by that, how lovely, truly, truly lovely!

The Voting:

ü  Romania: 12 to Denmark – oh, dear, maybe the Danes will take it.  Let’s see.

ü  Ireland: another 12 to Denmark from a country that traditionally doesn’t vote for it.

ü  Germany: Why is the crowd singing the riff from Seven Nation Army?  12 to Belgium!  I just realized that the jury may ruin my predictions!

ü  Serbia: Mixed reaction from the audience about that ill-gotten 12.

ü  Albania: 12 to Greece, surprise, surprise.  The 10 to Germany is a little unexpected.

ü  Turkey: I would have thought that Armenia would have gotten more points.  Why did they show Belgium for Azerbaijan’s 12?  And no points for Cyprus?

ü  Croatia: No big surprises, maybe the fact that Bosnia & Herzegovina got fewer points than Turkey.

ü  Poland: No surprises

ü  BiH: no surprises

ü  Finland: 8 points to France?  hmm… No surprise for the 12 to Germany.

ü  Slovenia: Surprising that Serbia and BiH got so few points. 12 to Denmark, hmmm…

ü  Estonia: With 12 countries reporting, I am calling the Contest for Germany.

ü  Russia: 12 to Armenia; yay, Belarus won’t get nul pointes.

ü  Portugal: gee, I wonder where their 12 is going…oh wow, Spain, I never would have guessed

ü  Azerbaijan: No big surprises.

Let’s look at the board.  Germany has a strong lead over Turkey/Denmark who are in 2/3 place. Israel is floating around in the mid-teens, Ireland at the bottom!  What is up with this?

ü  Greece: It’s been a long time since they were able to give 12 points to Cyprus

ü  Iceland: no surprises

ü  Denmark: hmmm, Iceland and Norway are quite low.  Germany strengthens its lead, this time of Belgium.

ü  France: whoa, the French are all over the place, big points to Portugal and Serbia, crazy!

ü  Spain: so few for Portugal?

Recap of top 5: Romania, Turkey, Denmark, Belgium, Germany – The Germans have a hefty 38 point lead going into the halfway point.

ü  Slovakia: like last year, this is a competition for number two.  Belgium, Turkey, and Denmark are fighting it out!

ü  Bulgaria: no real surprises, except the complete blanking of Romania and Moldova

ü  Ukraine: another 12 for Azerbaijan.  Do I smell a late comeback?

ü  Latvia: I’m glad this guy likes the sound of his voice, it allows me time to catch-up.  These votes are going crazy fast!  No surprises in the results

ü  Malta: Chiara!  I guess she doesn’t have to worry about her outfit, but some thought if could have gone into it.  Biggest surprise, no points for the UK.

ü  Norway:  Only 8 for Denmark, well I guess the 12 is going to Germany.  Yep.  I know Tom Dice is cute, but they shouldn’t keep showing him when other countries get 12 points, that’s just rude.

ü  Cyprus: And the Greek/Cypriot lovefest continues

ü  Lithuania: 8 to Spain, hmm… 12 points to Georgia?  What?  Okay, that’s nice, just highly unexpected.

ü  Belarus: no surprises

ü  Switzerland: Both Turkey and Belgium are lower than I expected.

ü  Belgium: Only 10 for the Germans, where will the 12 go?  Greece!  Interesting…  No points for France, interesting…

ü  United Kingdom: Whoa!  Only 7 for Ireland?

ü  The Netherlands: no real surprises

ü  Israel: no surprises

ü  Macedonia: low points for Serbia and BiH.

ü  Moldova: gee…I wonder where their 12 is going…Romania.

ü  Georgia: Even the speaker was confused by only 10 to Armenia and the 12 to Belarus.  The biggest shock in this year’s voting.

ü  Sweden: Little points for Norway, hmmm…

ü  Armenia: no surprises

And the winner is…Germany!  For the second straight year, the winner gives a thorough whopping of the second place entrant.  This year, Lena garnered a massive 76 points, making Germany 2010 second on the all time list of Margins of Victory (six points ahead of UK1997).

Final Thoughts: So Germany returns to the Winner’s Circle, hurrah!  It seems only fitting that the country with the most participations wins the 55th Contest.  Like in 2008, I changed my opinion of who would win.  I’ve been choosing Germany to win up until after all 25 performances.  Oh well, congratulations Germany!  I look forward to next year’s Contest in Berlin…Hamburg…Bonn, wherever the Germans decide to host it!  What’s amazing is that she was a no one before the Contest; she auditioned for Unster Star fur Oslo on a whim ( reported that she didn’t even tell her friends she was auditioning because she figured she would be booted in one of the earlier rounds) and won, not only Unster but the entire ESC.  She just finished her final exams for high school!

Lena’s triumph set the Contest in yet another new direction.  This year’s Contest definitely had a propensity toward younger singers.  The Top Ten’s average age had to be below thirty; Germany, Belgium, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Ukraine all have singers under this bar.  Not only does there seem to be a hunger for youth, but a rejection of the past, look at the reception that the UK, Estonian, and Dutch entries got for their retro sound, not to mention Ireland’s low placing despite having a classic Irish ESC ballad.  Expect next year’s Contest to have even more young faces and more contemporary music.  I am very interested to see the jury vs. televoting breakdown for the Contest.

While this wasn’t the best Eurovision, it was the most evenly matched in a long time.  More on this will come in the next post when I discuss the results and hand out awards.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this year’s Contest.  Norway did a lot with a tight, tight budget.  I applaud them for such an entertaining show, despite the technical and security glitches.  I am a little sad that the Contest is going to be swinging away from heartfelt ballads for the next couple of years, but that is life.  I look forward to next year’s Contest in Germany.  I am happy that a Big Four country won (and another got 11th place – France), it will go a long way to shutting up people who whine about the West’s poor results in recent years.  I wonder, will that mean that next year’s Final will just have the Big Four pre-qualify, as one of them is the winner, or will runner-up Turkey get to prequalify, too, as it is the highest placing non-Big Four country?  Nah!  This isn’t 2005, next year’s Final will just have 24 countries.  Or…maybe…they might create a new wildcard, the song with the most points between the two Semi-Finals will get the twentieth spot.  Haha, yeah right.  I think the only way ESC 2011 will have 25 countries in the Final is if Italy decides to return to the Contest.  With that said…I can’t wait to see the 24 songs that will be battling for next year’s crown.

I want to say one more thing, I think that Azerbaijan will win within the next couple of years, as this young, modern genre seems to be the country’s specialty.

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  1. Pingback: евровидение « О чем говорят блогеры

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