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Playlist of the Week: Eurovision for Americans

USA flag in EO logo

Hello Dear Readers!

Well, with Netflix releasing its…. Eurovision-inspired movie; I thought, “What better time to counterbalance the image of ESC being a trashy, campy, dumpster fire?” USA flag in EO logoEven more so now that the new executive supervisor, Martin Österdahl, has announced that he’s continuing the tradition of putting style-before-substance. But now is not the time for a rant (but there will be one – promise!).

Instead, since many Americans will be learning about Eurovision for the first time this week, I thought it would be a good idea to 1) remind folks of my Eurovision for Beginners, 2) remind folks of my Essential Eurovision playlist, and 3) create a Eurovision for Americans playlist highlighting the performing artists coming from the States, spent significant time in the US, or otherwise are American citizens regardless of where they spent their youth.

  1. EO logo with Union JackUnited Kingdom 1997 – Love Shine a Light performed by Katrina & the Waves

    The only winning song to be performed by an American! Katrina, who is from Kansas, and the Waves are also known for their hit Walking on Sunshine.

  2. Portugal 2017 – Amar Pelos Dois performed by Salvador Sobral

    Sobral (and his older sister who wrote the song) spent his middle and high school years in Florida

  3. Hungary 2014 – Running performed by András Kállay-Saunders

    Saunders was born and raised in New York City before moving to Hungary, where his grandmother was, and began his music career.

  4. Austria 2000 – All to You performed by The Rounder Girls

    Kim Cooper of the Rounder Girls is from Long Island, NY.

  5. Italy 1975 – Era performed by Wess & Dori Ghezzi

    Before pursuing his music career in Italy, Wess spent his life in Winston-Salem, NC. in 2009, he passed away in his hometown.

  6. EO logo with Albanian flagAlbania 2011 – Feel the Passion performed by Aurela Gaçe

    After building her career in Albania, Gaçe spent the majority of 21st Century in the US engaging with the Albanian immigrant community.

  7. Germany 2009 – Miss Kiss Kiss Bang performed by Alex Sings Oscar Swings!

    Oscar Loya is a singer and thespian from California. Bonus American! Dita Von Teese joined Alex and Oscar on the stage in Moscow.

  8. Yugoslavia 1990 – Hajde Da Ludujemo performed by Tajci

    Tajci retired from music soon after her appearance at Eurovision and moved to the US where she eventually settled in Cincinnati, Ohio.

  9. Greece 2008 – Secret Combination performed by Kalomira

    Former prom queen Kalomira is from Long Island, NY.

  10. Israel 2006 – Ze Hazman performed by Eddie Butler

    Butler and his brother also were a part of the group representing Israel on home soil in 1999. Butler is from Detroit.

  11. Cyprus 2020 – Running performed Sandro

    Born in Germany, Sandro’s American citizenship comes from his father. Sandro represented the USA at the prestigious New Wave Festival in 2009.

  12. EO logo with Austrian flagAustria 2013 – Shine performed by Natália Kelly

    While Kelly spent the majority of her life in Austria, she was born in Connecticut.

  13. Poland 2008 – For Life performed by Isis Gee

    Originally from Seattle, but now based equally in California and Italy, Gee represented the land of her ancestors.

  14. Bulgaria 2018 – Bones performed by EQUINOX

    LA-based producer and singer Trey Campbell and Flint, Michigan native & America’s Got Talent alum Johnny Manuel comprised two-fifths of the group EQUINOX.

  15. United Kingdom 2009 – It’s My Time performed by Jade Ewen

    The UK’s most recent foray into the Top Ten was, in part, provided by American lyricist Diane Warren.

  16. EO logo with Luxembourgish flagLuxembourg 1979 – J’ai Déjà Vu ça Dans Tes Yeux performed by Jeane Manson

    Manson, from Cleveland, OH, built a career as a model before entering music.

  17. San Marino 2017 – Spirit of the Night performed by Jimmie Wilson & Valentina Monetta

    Primarily an actor in musicals, Wilson is a Detroit native.

  18. Slovenia 2013 – Straight into Love performed by Hannah

    Hannah is from Fresno, CA, love took her to Slovenia, where her music career took hold.

  19. Cyprus 2006 – Why Angels Cry performed by Annet Artani

    Artani comes from America’s biggest city: New York, NY.

  20. Sweden 2020 – Move performed by The Mamas

    Member Ashley Haynes is from the US capital: Washington, DC.

  21. Albania 2017 – World performed by Lindita

    Lindita is from Kosovo, but moved to the US in 2013 and even took part in American Idol in 2016.

  22. Serbia 2020 – Hasta la Vista performed by Hurricane

    While none of the three singers in Hurricane are American, the group was formed in LA and remains based there.

  23. EO logo with Danish flagDenmark 1981 – Krøller Eller Ej performed by Tommy Seebach & Debbie Cameron

    Cameron comes from Miami, FL where she grew up and attended university before moving to Copenhagen.

  24. Germany 2010 – Satellite performed by Lena

    Another songwriter, this time Chicago-based Julie Frost, co-wrote and co-composed the only winning song – thus far – from the Big Five since the rule was instituted (she also wrote the 2012 DMGP entry Best Thing that I Got).

 

Additionally, I will be starting a series focused on American Eurovision media outlets and organizations, both those based in the US and those started by Americans in Europe. You can read the first entry which focuses on Eurovision Obsession, which you can consider an extended “About EO” page.

Many thanks goes to the WiwiBloggs article that served as the jumping off point for my research for this playlist.


Ask an American…Eurovision Obsession!

Hello Dear Readers!

Welcome to a new (summer 2020) series for Eurovision Obsession: Ask an American About Eurovision! Specifically, we’ll be highlighting the array of Americans actively engaged in the ESC media-sphere. There’s a small, but growing number of Americans engaging with ESC; the goal of this series is to highlight some of the people who are helping grow ESC’s reputation in the US and bolstering the ESC fandom’s perspective of American fans.

Me with Jennifer BreningTo kick things off, I will give my answers, as it’s been a while I have shared my story with y’all.

Hometowns: Ellicott City, MD | Stillwater, OK

1. What was the first Contest you saw and how did you find it?

I found the Contest in 2007 while studying in Denmark. I had Dansk Melodi Grand Prix without much understanding of what was happening. But from the first entry at the semi-final, I knew I was hooked for life.  I had to convince my host family to watch the Grand Final because Denmark had failed to qualify.

2. What was the point at which you went from “oh, this is an *interesting* European thing” to “EUROVISION!!!”?

Honestly, nearly immediately. Probably the mid-point of Serbia’s Grand Final performance in 2007. When Marija Šerifović hit that big note, I knew that she had just won. I began watching the back catalogue of Contests and learning as much as I could. I even took SerboCroatian my last year at university and made a movie based on the Bosnian entry from 2006 Lejla. 

3. What are your top three all-time favorite Eurovision songs? What are your top three most underrated Eurovision songs from the Televoting Era (since 1998)?

It’s hard to narrow down to just three songs. Denmark’s 1963 winner, Dansevise, is often overlooked, but it’s just so haunting. For the same reason, i also love Switzerland’s would be entry from 2020, Répondez-Moi. Normally, I don’t go for existentialism, but this is just so stunning. Finally, again, Bosnia & Herzegovina 2006 Lejla – c’mon, I made a movie about it! Of course this is in my Top Three.

The Televoting Era has become so big and diverse (over twenty years!) it is more of an epoch at this point, haha. But I think my top three (at this moment in time) that persist in being underrated are Andorra 2006 Sense-Tu (who doesn’t love a passionate, sexy torch song?!), Ireland 2015 Playing with Numbers (definitely a song that has grown on me in the ensuing years, it’s just so honest and open), and Portugal 2018 O Jardim (I like this for a lot of the same reasons I like, IRE 2015, the added effect of a mournful effect by being a song about death).

4. What country(ies) do you cheer for at ESC? Why?

Denmark and San Marino. As I said above, I discovered ESC while in Denmark, so it will always be my country of reference. Copenhagen 2014 was the first Eurovision I attended live. As far as San Marino goes, I’ve always had an affinity for small things (probably because I, myself, am pretty big, haha) and immediately fell in love with San Marino when I saw the flag (that shade of blue is my favorite color) and heard its entry Complice. Been a hardcore SM fan ever since.

5. What is your biggest hope for the Contest’s next steps as the ESC gets a new executive supervisor?

Already disappointed with his first act as Executive Supervisor. The live vocal rule has been an integral part of the Contest since the beginning. So, aside from reversing course on that, it would be great to see some of our missing countries return – Andorra, Turkey, Luxembourg, etc.

6.Where in the US are you from?

I grew up in Maryland but have been living in Oklahoma since 2015. Between the two, I lived in several other states. I currently reside in Norway.

7. What’s your favorite year to use to introduce other Americans (and other New-Worlders) to Eurovision?

I have used 2009 often to great effect; 2012 has also been proven effective. Unfortunately, I haven’t had too many opportunities to introduce new friends to the Contest as of late.

Eurovision Obsession logo8. What inspired you to start your blog? And what would you say is your mission?

Literally, my friends in late 2009 – who I had just met – were not interested in Eurovision and told me that I was obsessed with it. I chose to screen into the void of the internet – naming my blog after the comment I heard the most: Eurovision Obsession.

9. What is the ultimate goal(s) you hope to accomplish with your blog?

Ultimately, I want to spread my passion for Eurovision. I want to introduce as many people as possible to the Contest, hence my Eurovision for Beginners, my creation notes and country profiles each year, and my aspiration to write a book about ESC basics. Not only that, I want to help folks who are already casual fans to deepen their interest in ESC.

10. What is something you want Europeans to know about American fans of Eurovision?

Many of us have a passion comparable to any European, even those of us who did not grow up with it. You should start expecting to see more of us in the arena at the Contest!

11. In addition to your own blog and the official channels, what are your go-to Eurovision media outlet(s)?

Nowadays, I still spend a lot of time on ESC Extra, Wiwibloggs, and listening to (and guesting on!) The EuroWhat? Podcast. It’s fun to see how my primary ESC media outlets have shifted and changed through the years as the fandom has ebbed and flowed.

12. On a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is “No No Never” and 10 is “La La Love,” how do you feel about the prospect of the US joining Eurovision in the same capacity as Australia?

Most definitely a 1. I have ZERO interest in ever seeing the US in the Contest. Unfortunately, I think we would take a British approach to the Contest (seeing ESC as a joke, not getting our mighty music industry invested into it, choosing “Euro” songs instead of thinking of them as good songs), but unlike the UK, we would withdraw after two or three poor results and the Contest would return to not existing here. I do, though, love the idea of Americans writing songs, composing, singing, and performing at Eurovision. Clearly, not tied to the land of their ancestors, that implies that most Americans know their lineage and that their lineage goes through Europe. But I think if an American has developed a tie to a nation, why shouldn’t they try to represent that country?

Plugs?

Follow @escobsession on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Sporcle, and Spotify!


Playlist of the Week: Eurovision Stagings for the Uninitiated

Hello Dear Readers!

Trying to pull together more playlists (and potentially updating old ones). This playlist was inspired by one of my favorite podcasts, Hella in Your Thirties; the hosts advertised EO and promised to release playlists of their favorite Eurovision stagings. Interestingly enough, this will also be the first playlist to have a corresponding Spotify song list.

These will be twenty of the songs with the most dynamic, impactful, mesmerizing, and/or effective stagings (in my opinion, duh). A few things to note, because I anticipate this post seeing traffic mostly from the US, all songs will be 1998-2015 since the EBU started geoblocking the Contest in the Western Hemisphere starting with 2016. Check out the honorable mentions for a bonus ten songs from 2016-2019. Also, because this might someone’s entry point to the Contest, I’m going to eschew some of the zaniest stuff because 1) the Contest is so much more than that and 2) it’s not really all that typical anymore.

Once again, all the songs come from the Televoting Era (post 1998) of the Eurovision Song Contest. Not every featured staging will be over-the-top; sometimes, less is more. Not every song is one that I like, but every staging is one that is memorable. Enjoy!

View the playlist here: Eurovision Staging for the Uninitiated
Find it on Spotify

So, unexpectedly, lots of winners on the list (songs 1-6), runner-ups (7, 12, 26), and a slew of Top Tens songs (8, 10, 13, 15, 17, 18, 20-22, 25, 27, 28-30). You can also see the countries with lots of strong stagings – Sweden, Ukraine, Russia, Moldova – all legendary stage show makers. And yes, 2016 deserves four songs – and really deserves more – watch those three shows!

  1. EO logo with latvian flagLatvia 2002 – I Wanna performed by Marie N

  2. Ukraine 2004 – Wild Dances performed by Ruslana

  3. Serbia 2007 – Molitva performed by Marija Šerifović

  4. Russia 2008 – Believe performed by Dima Bilan

  5. Sweden 2012 – Euphoria performed by Loreen

  6. EO logo with Swedish flagSweden 2015 – Heroes performed by Måns Zelmerlöw

  7. Azerbaijan 2013 – Hold Me performed by Farid Mammadov

  8. Ukraine 2011 – Angel performed by Mika Newton

  9. Moldova 2010 – Run Away performed by Sunstroke Project & Olia Tira

  10. Belgium 2015 – Rhythm Inside performed by Loïc Nottet

  11. Moldova 2013 – O Mie performed by Aliona Moon

  12. Ukraine 2008 – Shady Lady performed by Ani Lorak

  13. EO logo with Belorussian flagBelarus 2007 – Work Your Magic performed by Dmitry Koldun

  14. Russia 2011 – Get You performed by Alexey Vorobyov

  15. Sweden 2011 – Popular performed by Eric Saade

  16. Croatia 2006 – Moja Štikla performed by Severina

  17. Malta 2013 – Tomorrow performed by Gianluca

  18. EO logo with Maltese flagBulgaria 2007 – Water performed by Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankulov

  19. Iceland 2010 – Je Ne Sais Quoi performed by Hera Björk

  20. Spain 2014 – Dancing in the Rain performed by Ruth Lorenzo

Honorable Mention: MANY MANY SONGS! But, these ten specifically for those in the Eastern Hemisphere or with a VPN.

  1. EO logo with Swiss flagSwitzerland 2019 – She Got Me performed by Luca Hänni

  2. Russia 2016 – You Are the Only One performed by Sergey Lazarev

  3. United Kingdom 2017 – Never Give Up on You performed by Lucie Jones

  4. Czech Republic 2019 – Friend of a Friend performed by Lake Malawi

  5. EO logo with Armenian flagArmenia 2016 – LoveWave performed by Iveta Mukuchyan

  6. Australia 2016 – Sound of Silence performed by Dami Im

  7. Hungary 2017 – Origo performed by Joci Pápai

  8. Belgium 2016 – What’s the Pressure performed by Laura Tesoro

  9. EO logo with Moldovan flagMoldova 2018 – My Lucky Day performed by DoReDoS

  10. Australia 2019 – Zero Gravity performed by Kate Miller-Heidke

What are some of your favorite stagings from the Contest’s recent history? What about from the early years, when almost every song was a person standing alone on a stage with a microphone? Should I do another list of insane and bizarre stagings?

Follow @escobsession on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Sporcle, and Spotify!


So, who would have won in 2020?

Graphic for the "Totally Definitive" winner of 2020

Graphic for the "Totally Definitive" winner of 2020

Hello Dear Readers!

Well, another Eurovision season is in the books. This one was unlike any other because of the historic cancellation of the 65th Edition of ESC. There have been an array of fan media sites and organizations across the internet holding mock competitions and polls in order to decide their own winner. Here on EO, we held the inaugural Eurovision Tournament this year, which was handily won by Iceland. While the Eurofandom will be arguing until the end of time about who would have won had 2020’s Contest occurred, EO hopes to draw its conclusion through combining some of the largest fan media polls of the 2020 Season. These are Eurostream, Eurovision Online, WiwiBloggs Fan Poll, Dziennik Eurowizyjny, ESC Plus, and the INFE fan poll, and – the biggest of them all – the OGAE fan poll (which allowed non-OGAE members to vote for the first time). These were chosen because: Eurostream and Eurovision Online are new, fan-driven pseudo-Contests that deserve attention and accolades, WiwiBloggs is (currently) the largest and most popular fan media website, Dziennik Eurowizyjny created the best video Contest, ESC Plus is one of the oldest and biggest fan media sites, and INFE & OGAE are the official confederation of fan clubs approved by the EBU. Let me be clear, Eurovision Obsession is not directly in partnership with any of these organizations/media outlets. Additionally, only three of the ten national broadcasters (not counting the RTVE poll from Spain) – those from Australia, Iceland, and San Marino – released a full list of the final ranking of all 41 songs. These rankings were compiled to provide an eighth ranking for this process.

Procedure

The results of each poll will be enumerated. For those that use semi-finals, the same thing most of us do for the real Contest will be done; the results of the two semi-finals will be combined to create the 27-41 rankings based on points earned and the specific media site’s tie-break procedures. Yes, this privileges the Netherlands and the Big Five, but that is how ESC is structured.

Once all eight 1-41 rankings are crafted, a composite 1-41 ranking will be crafted using each entry’s average placing (out to two decimal points). In the event of a tie, I will use the average percentage of points received as the tie-breaking variable. If the tie persists, then the countries’ performance in the EO Eurovision Tournament will be used. If the tie persists, then the two entries will just be considered tied. So, let’s look at the detailed results of each of our eight polls (which, again, are completely unaffiliated with ESC Obsession and have not provided any endorsement to this blog).

  • EuroStream 2020 logo

    Eurostream 2020

    • Date: 9 May

    • Total number of points: 95,058

    • Voting Structure: Televote: individuals could vote in both semi-finals and the final; individuals can vote for 1-5 entries per vote. Jury: a selection of ESC stars, music professionals, and former ESC jurors from 38 of the participating countries; jury panels ranged from 1-4 members. Countries without juries Russia, Israel, and Latvia) were given a composite score from a selection of their neighbors.

    • Final Ranking: 50/50 Jury and Televote; jury points are totaled. The jury total provided the number of points available for the public. The televotes were totaled, converted to percentages, then the percentage was used to calculate points to be awarded.

      EuroStram Winner Graphic Iceland

      Copyright EuroStream 2020

  • Winner: Iceland (9.12% of vote)

    02. Lithuania (6.31%)

    22. Australia (1.70%)

    03. Russia (6.01%)

    23. Serbia (1.49%)

    04. Sweden (5.89%)

    24. Armenia (1.47%)

    05. Belgium (5.84%)

    25. Israel (1.41%)

    06. Malta (5.72%)

    26. Albania (1.32%)

    07. Switzerland (5.59%)

    27. Estonia (4.19%)

    08. Italy (5.55%)

    28. Poland (4.11%)

    09. Bulgaria (5.38%)

    29. Finland (3.82%)

    10. Georgia (4.25%)

    30. Latvia (3.69%)

    11. Azerbaijan (4.25%)

    31. Ireland (3.58%)

    12. Germany (3.89%)

    32. Ukraine (3.49%)

    13. Netherlands (3.70%)

    33. Czech Republic (3.33%)

    14. Romania (3.51%)

    34. Cyprus (3.23%)

    15. Norway (3.28%)

    35. San Marino (2.96%)

    16. France (3.07%)

    36. Moldova (1.89%)

    17. Greece (2.99%)

    37. Portugal (1.60%)

    18. Denmark (2.48%)

    38. Croatia (1.55%)

    19. Austria (2.00%)

    39. North Macedonia (1.51%)

    20. United Kingdom (1.98%)

    40. Belarus (1.25%)

    21. Spain (1.81%)

    41. Slovenia (1.21%)

  • Eurovision Online logoEurovision Online 2020

    • Date: 16 May

    • Total number of points: 9,512

    • Voting Structure: Jury – 41 jurors voted via traditional ESC points to name their top ten. They were separated into their respective semi-finals, and then all 41 were used for the jury votes in the Final. Televote – Collected by country. When this failed, the results from at-large voting were employed. See their explainer (linked on “Voting Structure”) for a full explanation from Eurovision Online.

    • Final Ranking: Combination of jury scores and televote scores at a 50/50 ratio.

Eurovision Online's Bulgaria graphic

Copyright Eurovision Online

  • Winner: Bulgaria (10.87%)

    2

    Iceland

    10.51%

    22

    Slovenia

    1.47%

    3

    Sweden

    9.59%

    23

    United Kingdom

    0.80%

    4

    Italy

    5.93%

    24

    France

    0.76%

    5

    Lithuania

    5.70%

    25

    Greece

    0.40%

    6

    Russia

    5.45%

    26

    Spain

    0.38%

    7

    Switzerland

    5.34%

    27

    Serbia

    4.56%

    8

    Ireland

    4.84%

    28

    Romania

    4.31%

    9

    Malta

    4.81%

    29

    Azerbaijan

    3.97%

    10

    San Marino

    3.99%

    30

    Belgium

    3.15%

    11

    Germany

    3.83%

    31

    Belarus

    2.84%

    12

    Ukraine

    3.60%

    32

    Georgia

    2.67%

    13

    Norway

    3.15%

    33

    North Macedonia

    2.72%

    14

    Armenia

    2.71%

    34

    Finland

    2.46%

    15

    Denmark

    2.69%

    35

    Portugal

    2.09%

    16

    Austria

    2.69%

    36

    Croatia

    1.94%

    17

    Israel

    2.61%

    37

    Cyprus

    1.94%

    18

    The Netherlands

    2.44%

    38

    Estonia

    1.72%

    19

    Australia

    2.14%

    39

    Poland

    1.68%

    20

    Albania

    1.77%

    40

    Czech Republic

    1.31%

    21

    Latvia

    1.53%

    41

    Moldova

    0.70%

  • Wiwibloggs LogoWiwiBloggs Fan Poll

    • Date: 16 May

    • Total number of votes: 35,644

    • Voting Structure: Open public vote

    • Final Ranking: Summation of votes cast

Swiss flag map

Winner: Switzerland (14.90%)

2

Italy

11.93%

22

Latvia

1.19%

3

Serbia

8.78%

23

Albania

1.14%

4

Greece

6.02%

24

Spain

1.01%

5

Lithuania

5.96%

25

United Kingdom

0.95%

6

Iceland

4.69%

26

Ireland

0.94%

7

Bulgaria

3.52%

27

Belgium

0.85%

8

Malta

3.40%

28

Poland

0.80%

9

Russia

3.26%

29

Croatia

0.75%

10

Norway

2.58%

30

Cyprus

0.75%

11

Ukraine

2.46%

31

Portugal

0.60%

12

Romania

2.36%

32

France

0.57%

13

Germany

2.31%

33

Austria

0.56%

14

Azerbaijan

2.26%

34

Czech Republic

0.54%

15

Israel

2.11%

35

North Macedonia

0.46%

16

Georgia

1.92%

36

Slovenia

0.45%

17

Armenia

1.90%

37

San Marino

0.45%

18

Sweden

1.85%

38

Belarus

0.45%

19

The Netherlands

1.62%

39

Finland

0.42%

20

Australia

1.46%

40

Estonia

0.33%

21

Denmark

1.21%

41

Moldova

0.28%

  • ESC Plus Poll logoESC Plus

    • Date: 16 May

    • Total number of points: 2375

    • Voting Structure: Open public vote

    • Final Ranking: The raw votes were converted using a proprietary algorithm into the “final classification.”

Screen capture of Lithuania from ESCPlus video

  • Winner: Lithuania (8.59%)

    2

    Switzerland

    6.61%

    22

    Albania

    1.77%

    3

    Iceland

    5.60%

    23

    Armenia

    1.68%

    4

    Bulgaria

    5.56%

    24

    France

    1.52%

    5

    Malta

    4.51%

    25

    Ireland

    1.52%

    6

    Norway

    4.51%

    26

    Latvia

    1.43%

    7

    Italy

    4.25%

    27

    The Netherlands

    1.26%

    8

    Azerbaijan

    4.25%

    28

    Poland

    1.14%

    9

    Russia

    3.92%

    29

    Georgia

    0.97%

    10

    Germany

    3.83%

    30

    Portugal

    0.97%

    11

    Sweden

    3.45%

    31

    North Macedonia

    0.97%

    12

    Romania

    2.99%

    32

    Cyprus

    0.93%

    13

    Australia

    2.82%

    33

    Croatia

    0.93%

    14

    Greece

    2.78%

    34

    San Marino

    0.88%

    15

    Israel

    2.69%

    35

    Austria

    0.88%

    16

    Ukraine

    2.61%

    36

    Moldova

    0.84%

    17

    United Kingdom

    2.15%

    37

    Estonia

    0.80%

    18

    Serbia

    2.11%

    38

    Belarus

    0.67%

    19

    Spain

    2.06%

    39

    Czech Republic

    0.59%

    20

    Denmark

    2.02%

    40

    Slovenia

    0.55%

    21

    Belgium

    1.94%

    41

    Finland

    0.46%

  • Logo for Dziennik EurowizyjnyDziennik Eurowizyjny

    • Date: 9 May

    • Total number of points: 9513 points across three shows

    • Voting Structure: Televote: individuals could vote in both semi-finals and the final. Jury: a selection of ESC fans and stars from the participating countries

    • Final Ranking: 50/50 Jury and Televote; jury points are totaled. The jury total provided the number of points available for the public. The televotes were totaled, converted to percentages, then the percentage was used to calculate points to be awarded.

DZ Eu Online WInner - Switzerland

Copyright Dziennik Eurowizyjny

  • Winner: Switzerland (12.09%)

    2

    Lithuania

    11.65%

    22

    United Kingdom

    0.46%

    3

    Bulgaria

    10.89%

    23

    Albania

    0.21%

    4

    Norway

    8.52%

    24

    Spain

    0.19%

    5

    Malta

    7.95%

    25

    France

    0.17%

    6

    Azerbaijan

    6.14%

    26

    The Netherlands

    0.08%

    7

    Iceland

    5.78%

    27

    Austria

    3.45%

    8

    Germany

    5.51%

    28

    Finland

    2.54%

    9

    Russia

    5.17%

    29

    Czech Republic

    2.30%

    10

    Sweden

    4.58%

    30

    Belgium

    2.28%

    11

    Ukraine

    3.93%

    31

    Portugal

    2.05%

    12

    Romania

    3.36%

    32

    Ireland

    1.94%

    13

    Israel

    2.23%

    33

    Georgia

    1.89%

    14

    Italy

    2.14%

    34

    Cyprus

    1.72%

    15

    Greece

    1.98%

    35

    Croatia

    1.03%

    16

    Serbia

    1.53%

    36

    North Macedonia

    0.99%

    17

    Denmark

    1.49%

    37

    Estonia

    0.94%

    18

    Australia

    1.39%

    38

    San Marino

    0.78%

    19

    Latvia

    0.93%

    39

    Slovenia

    0.78%

    20

    Armenia

    0.84%

    40

    Moldova

    0.74%

    21

    Poland

    0.78%

    41

    Belarus

    0.52%

  • INFE Poll 2020 logoINFE Poll 2020

    • Date: 12 May

    • Total number of points: 1262 points from 22 INFE Member Groups

    • Voting Structure: Each of the 22 INFE member groups submitted points in classic Eurovision style (points 12, 10, 8-1) to a total of ten entries.

    • Final Ranking: Simple summation of all points distributed

lithuanian flag map

  • Winner: Lithuania (14.74%)

    2.

    Switzerland

    10.54%

    22.

    Australia

    0.87%

    3.

    Italy

    7.69%

    23.

    Slovenia

    0.79%

    4.

    Iceland

    7.37%

    24.

    Greece

    0.79%

    5.

    Russia

    7.37%

    25.

    Albania

    0.79%

    6.

    Bulgaria

    6.66%

    26.

    Belgium

    0.55%

    7.

    Norway

    6.42%

    27.

    United Kingdom

    0.55%

    8.

    Malta

    4.75%

    28.

    Poland

    0.40%

    9.

    Sweden

    4.52%

    29.

    The Netherlands

    0.24%

    10.

    Azerbaijan

    4.44%

    30.

    Georgia

    0.24%

    11.

    Ukraine

    3.80%

    31.

    Czech Republic

    0.24%

    12.

    Germany

    3.17%

    32.

    N. Macedonia

    0.16%

    13.

    Romania

    2.06%

    33.

    Croatia

    0.16%

    14.

    Armenia

    1.98%

    34.

    Austria

    0.08%

    15.

    Serbia

    1.74%

    35.

    Portugal

    0.00%

    16.

    Cyprus

    1.35%

    35.

    Belarus

    0.00%

    17.

    Latvia

    1.58%

    35.

    Estonia

    0.00%

    18.

    Israel

    1.03%

    35.

    San Marino

    0.00%

    19.

    Ireland

    1.03%

    35.

    Finland

    0.00%

    20.

    Spain

    0.95%

    35.

    Moldova

    0.00%

    21.

    France

    0.95%

    35.

    Denmark

    0.00%

  • OGAE Fan Poll 2020 logoOGAE 2020 Fan Contest

    • Date: 16 May

    • Total number of points: 4989

    • Voting Structure: Each of the 45 member clubs submitted points in classic Eurovision style (points 12, 10, 8-1) to a total of ten entries. These votes constitute a pseudo-jury vote. The televote is comprised from non-OGAE members, who could vote for the first time this year. These votes were collated and countries were ranked from 1 – 41. Points were distributed via taking the same amount of points distributed by the OGAE fan clubs and divvying them up based on percentage of votes received.

    • Final Ranking: OGAE club votes combined with at-large voting at a 50/50 ratio.

lithuanian flag map

  • Winner: Lithuania (15.43%)

    2

    Iceland

    12.71%

    22

    Albania**

    0.42%

    3

    Switzerland

    12.43%

    23

    Belgium**

    0.42%

    4

    Bulgaria

    8.04%

    24

    Ireland^

    0.42%

    5

    Italy

    7.62%

    25

    The Netherlands^

    0.42%

    6

    Norway

    5.93%

    26

    Croatia

    0.40%

    7

    Germany

    5.79%

    27

    Spain

    0.38%

    8

    Russia

    5.23%

    28

    Estonia

    0.30%

    9

    Malta

    4.91%

    29

    Cyprus

    0.28%

    10

    Sweden

    3.79%

    30

    Poland

    0.22%

    11

    Azerbaijan

    3.59%

    31

    Georgia

    0.16%

    12

    Ukraine

    1.96%

    32

    Austria+

    0.14%

    13

    Serbia

    1.78%

    33

    Moldova+

    0.14%

    14

    Romania

    1.14%

    34

    San Marino+

    0.14%

    15

    Israel

    0.98%

    35

    United Kingdom

    0.10%

    16

    Latvia

    0.90%

    36

    North Macedonia#

    0.08%

    17

    Australia

    0.78%

    37

    Portugal#

    0.08%

    18

    Greece

    0.72%

    38

    Finland#

    0.08%

    19

    Denmark

    0.68%

    39

    Slovenia#

    0.08%

    20

    Armenia*

    0.64%

    40

    Belarus

    0.02%

    21

    France*

    0.64%

    41

    Czech Republic

    0.00%

    *Armenia had a higher OGAE televote than France

    **Albania had more wins in the EO Tournament

    ^Ireland had a higher OGAE televote than the Netherlands

    +San Marino had the fewest OGAE televotes, Austria had more wins than Moldova in the EO Tournament

    #First tie-break, Finland & Slovenia had fewer wins in the EO Tournament, Finland had the higher vote percentage in the EO Tournament. North Macedonia had higher vote percentage than Portugal in the EO Tournament

  • TV Broadcasters

    • Date: 17 May

    • Total number of votes: 3 broadcasters: SBS (Australia), RÚV (Iceland), SMRTV (San Marino)

    • Voting Structure: While the linked Eurovision World article uses all ten broadcasters’ top ten lists to determine who would have won, EO required a ranking of all 41 countries in order to include it in this calculation. All three rankings were averaged for each country (or two rankings for Australia, Iceland, and San Marino).

    • Final Ranking: The final averaged rankings were used to compile the songs from 1 to 41. Average ranking is given in the table below.

  • lithuanian flag map

    Winner: Lithuania (2.67)

    2

    Russia

    3.00

    22

    Serbia

    22.00

    3

    Iceland

    3.50

    23

    Belgium

    22.33

    4

    Italy

    4.00

    24

    San Marino

    22.50

    5

    Bulgaria

    5.00

    25

    France

    23.67

    6

    Switzerland

    5.33

    26

    Austria

    25.33

    7

    Norway

    9.67

    27

    Cyprus

    26.00

    8

    Sweden

    9.67

    28

    Latvia

    26.33

    9

    Malta

    10.00

    29

    Armenia

    26.67

    10

    Germany

    10.33

    29

    Ireland

    26.67

    11

    Azerbaijan

    10.67

    31

    North Macedonia

    29.00

    12

    Denmark

    13.67

    32

    Finland

    29.67

    13

    Romania

    14.00

    33

    Georgia

    30.00

    14

    The Netherlands

    15.00

    34

    Croatia

    31.67

    15

    Ukraine

    17.00

    35

    Moldova

    32.33

    16

    United Kingdom

    17.33

    36

    Australia

    33.00

    17

    Israel

    18.00

    37

    Estonia

    33.33

    18

    Greece

    18.33

    38

    Slovenia

    34.00

    19

    Spain

    19.33

    39

    Czech Republic

    34.33

    20

    Albania

    21.33

    40

    Belarus

    34.67

    21

    Poland

    21.67

    41

    Portugal

    35.00

Final Ranking

41. Belarus
40. Moldova
39. Czech Republic
38. Estonia
37. Finland
36. Slovenia
35. Portugal
34. North Macedonia
33. Croatia
32. San Marino
31. Cyprus
30. Poland
29. Austria
28. Georgia
27. Ireland
26. France
25. United Kingdom
24. Belgium
23. Albania
22. Spain
21. Latvia
20. The Netherlands
19. Australia
18. Denmark
17. Armenia
16. Serbia
15. Greece
14. Israel
13. Ukraine
12. Romania
11. Azerbaijan

And our TOP TEN is:

10. Germany
9. Sweden
8. Norway
7. Malta
6. Russia
5. Italy
4. Bulgaria
3. Switzerland
2. Iceland

And our winner is:

1. LITHUANIA

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it, seven major polls plus three broadcasters reveal that it is quite likely that LITHUANIA would have won (for the first time) had Eurovision 2020 been held. This would have toppled betting odds favorite, Bulgaria and relegated Iceland to the runner-up position yet again. Do I think this is accurate? Well, I think it is the best I can do to find a legitimate prediction. Of course, the majority of voters are not the same mega-fans that would have been voting in these polls and viewing these alternative programming. The broadcasters’ ranking may be the closest we get to representing the general public’s view and there’s evidence that, had all ten been incorporated, Iceland would be the broadcast favorite. So, what do I think all this means? Lithuania and Iceland were legitimate contenders. Bulgaria and Switzerland, while strong entries, would likely needed to have relied upon world-stopping performances in order to seriously contend for victory. Additionally, fan favorites Latvia and San Marino under-performed whereas fan scourges Norway and (to an extent) France over-performed.

Meanwhile, my personal Top Ten is:

10. Israel

9. Austria

8. Latvia

7. Albania

6. Australia

5. Russia

4. Iceland

3. Poland

2. Malta

1. Switzerland

I think 2020 would not have been an earth-shattering Contest, resulting in only a few classics (Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Russia) while being considered mostly forgettable by most, much like 2006 or 2017. It breaks my heart that Bulgaria, Iceland, Lithuania, and Malta all had top ten betting odds to win – which would have been a first for each country. Throw in Switzerland which would have gotten its first back-to-back Top Ten finishes since 1981-1982. But, hopefully, this means that these (and other) countries will more seriously take into consideration the fact that they have a legitimate chance of winning against the likes of juggernauts like Russia and Sweden. I look forward to a lifetime of debate over who would have won, but hope that this article can provide guidance to folks in debate.


Eurovision Song… Celebration – Part Two

Hello Dear Readers!

Here we are! Eurovision Song Celebration Part Two! Celebrating the remaining the twenty-one songs of the 2020 Contest. Once again, I’ll be providing live commentary since I’ve not had occasion to release my thoughts on the songs previously. Like on Tuesday, my comments are below the video.

Greek flag mapGreece I think this is a serviceable pop song, definitely hearkens back Greece’s heyday in the 2000s. It definitely would have qualified but I’m not sure it would have been enough to restore Greece to the Top Ten.

Estonia I think this song is critically underrated. It is a powerful love song that I would happily have a first dance to. I am not quite sure why the fandom does not like this song, but I think it would definitely outperform expectations, though, likely would not have qualified.

Austria One of my favorites this year! I love the 90s R&B sound of this song and I think Vincent Bueno would have been a fantastic performer on the ESC stage. I look forward to seeing what he brings in 2021. I think this had a strong chance of qualifying, particularly with the large diasporas from Southeast Asian countries that would get behind him.

Moldova Another criminally underrated entry from this year. I think the overwhelming consensus is that this song is fine, but desperately average (think Cyprus from Tuesday night). I think this song is fantastic – engaging, interesting, and powerful. Unfortunately, I know I’m in the minority holding that opinion, so I do not think it would qualify.

Sammarinese flag mapSan Marino This is an interesting choice for the running order. But given how unique this song is (disco! likely a stage show with lots of glitter), it was probably difficult to find a place in the running order for it. For what it’s worth, this song really grew on me. Longtime readers will know that, in addition to Denmark, San Marino is my country of choice at Eurovision. Initially, I hated Freaky! but over the course of the past six weeks or so, I have just been utterly taken over by its infectious melody and refrain. Could have been a borderline qualifier for SM, which would be its first back-to-back qualification.

Interval — Ukraine was only 50% not English. Portugal 2017 was one of only three 100% non-English songs to win in the televoting era (Israel 1998 and Serbia 2007). With that said, generally speaking, the non-English to English ratio of songs in the Top Ten and qualifications tend to be representative. I really do love hearing these native language versions of songs and wish broadcasters made it a habit of recording and releasing the native language version when the song is in English/some other language.

Czech Republic I believe I am one of the three people in the fandom who think the song was improved by its “Africa” revamp that added more guitar and adjusted the instrumentation overall. I think it gives the song a bit more of an authentic feel and I hope he further embraces his Angolan roots in his song next year. The African diaspora is quite large. Not sure if this would qualify, especially coming after the glitter bomb that is San Marino and before the ball of female fury that is Serbia, but I think it would sneak through.

Serbia On the opposite side of the revamp spectrum, the revamp of Hasta la Vista is not as strong as the original. Not that it matters as I think would be a shoo-in qualifier. It’s memorable, it’s fierce, and all the girls (and gay bois) would send this through.

Poland One of my favorites this year. It is such a powerful song with a powerful message. It reminds me of the Shelley poem “Ozymandias” – basically, no matter how strong, how invincible, how beloved, we all fade away. This song goes the extra mile to highlight that we fall because of our hubris – we think we’re unstoppable, but we’re merely mortal. Do hate the revamped ending, it’s lame and takes away from the song, especially since she’s not the strongest live performer. I’m not sure what to make of Poland’s chances of qualification.

Iceland You don’t need me to tell you how popular Iceland is – y’all voted it the champion of EO’s inaugural Eurovision Tournament! I love this song, one of my absolute favorites this year and I think it had a very legitimate chance at victory. I wonder if RÚV is paying attention to all the love Think About Things is getting; the band has already said that they would take a direct ticket to Eurovision next year, but would not go through thr national selection process again, so, we’ll see.

Switzerland WHOA! This was one of the big favorites and it is the first song of the back half. Interesting choice, producers. This is my favorite song this year. By a lot. It’s so vulnerable, so honest, so different than anything else this year. With that said, I do not think it would win, but it would have secured Switzerland its first back-to-back Top Ten finishes since the early 1980s.

Interval If you haven’t watched the Eurovision Home Concerts, I would STRONGLY recommend it. They’re fantastic. Also, I love that they used Stand By, my favorite Sammarinese song, for Senhit’s background music.

Denmark The only folksy/country song this year. That automatically helps it stand out, even though it sounds like something from the early 2010s. I like this song quite a bit; it’s just so adorable and earnest. And Ben + Tan have great chemistry together. It breaks my heart that they won’t be able to return next year (DR very strictly uses Dansk Melodi Grand Prix to choose entries and winners of DMGP have to wait like three years or so before they’re allowed back in). I think this would have been another sure qualifier.

Albanian flag mapAlbania RTVSh – don’t think we didn’t notice that you released this music video, like, yesterday in order to have this out for the Celebration. I like this song for a lot of the same reasons I like Poland – it is a powerful song with a powerful message – this time about self-empowerment in the face of someone who is emotionally abusive. While I think this should be an easy qualifier, I’m not sure it would stand out without a stage show that matched its intensity.

Finland Another criminally underrated song. It’s the perfect anthem for the age of nostalgia that we find ourselves in – even more so as this pandemic has forced us to start thinking about our own mortality and futures. I cannot help but wonder how people would feel if he was a conventionally-attractive guy as opposed to bigger guy with a bad mustache. He sings with such power, emotion, and authenticity. I think it could have been a shock qualifier, but not sure it would have the juice to do so, particularly in this running order – with Albania hitting a lot of the same (figurative) notes and Armenia coming behind with what was sure to be a stunning stage show.

Armenia The more I hear this song, the more I think it would finish Top Ten. It is criminally infectious, they would surely have an insane dance routine that likely would have included Athena walking several boys on chains made from diamonds, and it’s one of the few true club tracks songs we have this year. And, again, who doesn’t like a song about a girl threatening a boy with marriage?

Portugal Oh, poor Portugal. This national final performance is both, flat in pitch and flat in emotionality. Which is a shame, I think the studio version of this entry is absolutely stunning. I just think Elisa has the stage presence to compete on the ESC stage, which makes it difficult to succeed – even more so when you have a ballad that requires a lot of power behind it.

Georgia I try my best to avoid speaking when I have nothing nice to say…but…I am not a fan of this song. I understand that it’s a big “F* YOU!” to Western Europe, which I understand and can see why that is message that needs sending. But I just don’t this song at all. The most positive thing I think to say is that the harmonies on the chorus are really stirring and powerful. When it appears on my playlist, I just skip to the last sixty seconds and enjoy it from there. This would likely qualify given that this is a sentiment felt across most of Eastern Europe and Georgia has Armenia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Poland, Albania, Latvia, Estonia, and the Czech Republic to support it in its message – not to mention the diasporas of those countries in the West.

Bulgaria The big favorite of the bookies. It was the selection of this song that knocked Iceland off the top of the betting odds. VICTORIA definitely captures that Billie Eilish bedroom-dream-pop sound that’s quite popular right now, but is somehow more genuine than her more famous counterpart. Now, do I like this as much as I do its nearest competitor (Romania)? No. But it’s a good song and I see why it was atop the betting odds. I think it’s an easy qualifier, not sure it could win.

Latvian flag mapLatvia Our final competitive song for Semi2, an anthem about throwing off the shackles of expectations of womanhood overtop a sick beat. Yeah, I cannot imagine a world where this does not qualify.

France Ugh. I want to like song but dear God does it drone on. I like it better in the original, where it’s a love song to France and not to a specific lady. While likely not a last place entry, France would have dropped to the bottom of the Big Five.

United Kingdom An average song. It’s in offensive and would likely secure a decent amount of 1-4 points splattered from across Europe (mostly from Ireland, Malta, Cyprus, and Australia – but, you know). Here’s the thing, James Newman has written several hits and has two Grammy nominations. That’s the kind of stuff he needs to bring, not this neutered stuff. In all likelihood, the BBC will bring him back next year. They need to set him loose to write a song that could actually do something.

Spain This is another wasted opportunity, I think. He’s one of Spain’s biggest stars and they send him with a (good but) dated tune. It’s okay to give him something dated, but you got to make sure it slaps, and this does not. I know this is already somewhat club-track-esque, next year send him something that we could hear playing in the clubs tonight! They can keep this style while still kicking the composition up a notch….or three.

Another great show! Again, LOVE the fan recap. Is there a way to find the full version of those three girls doing the Latvian song?

Looking back, if this were a competitive show, who do I think would qualify?

Easily:

  • Greece

  • Iceland

  • Switzerland

  • Denmark

  • Armenia

  • Latvia

  • Bulgaria

More difficult: I honestly think just about every remaining entry has a legitimate shot at qualifying, but, if push came to shove:

  • Serbia

  • Poland

  • Georgia

I would prefer to see some other songs in there instead, but I think this is the most likely set of qualifiers. But what are my top ten from tonight? I’m glad you asked.

  1. Switzerland

  2. Poland

  3. Latvia

  4. Austria

  5. Iceland

  6. Denmark

  7. Albania

  8. Moldova

  9. San Marino

  10. Armenia

Now that we have heard all 41 songs in context, what is my final Top Ten of the Eurovision 2020 Season. Good question! I’ll figure this out while I’m calculating a winner from among the some of the major fan media polls.

OH! I’m going to be compiling seven of the biggest fan media polls that offered alternatives to the ESC this year, including Eurostream, Eurovision Online, WiwiBloggs, and OGAE. Check back next week (assuming everyone gets their results in by Sunday) to find out who I would crown the unofficial ESC 2020 winner.

In the meantime, what are my predictions? I think the Top Ten, remembering that this is a compilation of fan polls not the actual Contest with full professional juries and casual folks, will be:

  • Armenia

  • Australia

  • Germany

  • Iceland

  • Italy

  • Lithuania

  • Malta

  • Russia

  • Sweden

  • Switzerland

Who do I think has an actual chance at victory? I do not think it will be any surprise: Iceland, Lithuania, and Bulgaria are the three songs I think have the best chance at victory. A real hot take, I know. So, I won’t waste your time going through each song’s merits at this point other than – these seem to be the three most beloved songs of 2020.

See you next week!

EO logo with the Bulgarian flag

EO logo with Icelandic flag

EO logo with Lithuanian flag


Eurovision Song… Celebration – Part One!

Hello Dear Readers!

In addition to Saturday’s Europe Shine a Light that will be celebrating the Contest, the EBU has put together Eurovision Song Celebration to specifically celebrate the 41 entries from this year. Tonight (Tuesday, 12 May – the date the first semi-final was supposed to happen) were the 17 songs of the first semi-final and the three automatic qualifiers who were going to vote (Germany, Italy, The Netherlands). The video is below. Beneath of that, I have crafted live notes for y’all! Enjoy and see you Thursday!

Eurovision Song Celebration 2020 – Part One (instead of Semi-Final One)

I guess I never did get the chance to review each song. So, I’ll do that here.

Swedish flag mapSweden This sounds like it was written by somebody who learned about American soul music and gospel through reading books. It hits all the right beats, and they’re voices and choreography are on point, but this song just feels kinda empty, yet still has that smugness we all associate with Swedish entries. Clearly, this would have qualified easily.

Belarus A deeply underrated song dragged down because the performers are clearly having a very good time but not in “a cool way” so folks overlook it. Personally, I think this could have shocked us all by qualifying (much like Belarus did last year).

Australia SBS is one of the two broadcasters (NDR – Germany – being the other) that promised to reveal what the ESC staging would have looked like. I look forward to that as the national final staging was good for Australia, but would need to be stronger and clown-free for the ESC stage. Love this song otherwise; I’m a big fan of indie music and this perfectly captures where that genre is in contemporary times. I think Oz would have continued its 100% qualification streak.

North Macedonia The fandom is comparing this song to Dance Alone (N Mak 2017), a song with a lot of love and hype but fell flat in Kyiv. Do I think North Macedonia learned its lesson that an average dance song requires a staging that matches its energy? Yes. Do I think it would be enough to qualify? Naw.

Slovenia While this song has grown on me over the course of the Eurovision season, it is still overwhelmingly dull. By far, the weakest entry this year. Which is a shame because her voice is stunning. Hopefully, things will be better next year.

LOVE genre changing. Is it me or are the Russian, Belarussian, and Croatian remixes bops? It’s probably just my Americanism showing, but bluegrass is nice.

lithuanian flag map

Lithuania Perhaps this year’s most overrated entry. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s an inventive, intriguing song. And I like the message that being in one’s 30s doesn’t make one over the hill. I just do not quite understand the craze around this entry – is it just because of the dance?

Ireland Since this song was meant to be a Pride anthem, I’m going to use this opportunity to be catty. OMG a song about being *unique* and *individualized* done in the most cookie-cutter of approaches. Instead of singing about so-called authenticity, just be authentic! This would have finished 11th or 12th in the semi-final.

Russia The first time I saw this, I was already angry that it took so long for Channel One to release the song. And then I watched the music video. My jaw dropped – what is this madness?! Now, okay, I do love this song. So infectious; a gimmicky entry that doesn’t take itself seriously. Definitely would have qualified.

flag map of belgiumBelgium That gave me a bit of whiplash, are there two entries more different this year than Russia and Belgium? I also grew into loving this entry. It’s so mournful and passionate and slowly builds over time. It would have qualified on the backs of the juries.

Malta This gets right everything Sweden gets wrong. It’s contemporary soul-pop. Destiny has one of the most soulful voices I’ve ever heard this side of the Atlantic. Not to mention maintains the inspirational message that is generalizable for everyone, not just those in relationships. I think this song is clearly about finding one’s faith, but it is vague enough to get past the EBU censors. Can’t wait to see Destiny become the first JESC champion to win the adult version. It may not have been with this song, but she will be! All of My Love would also be a shoo-in for the Grand Final.

Croatia Hmm, this song is quite pleasant but not very remarkable. The club mix from earlier would have given this a much better chance at making an impact. Again, I don’t dislike the song, it’s just kinda – meh. Would not have qualified.

Azerbaijan For all the attention and love this song has been getting, I’m not sure it is as strong as it seems. It wouldn’t be the first Azerbaijani entry to have the love of the fandom and failed to qualify. Not saying it would, I think this would make the Final, but I don’t think it is as strong as people think it is. Still waiting for the Senhit demo to appear online.

Cyprus Our second American! With that said, this is a bit of a tedious track. I think it was aiming for that 90s trance-pop sound, but did not go far enough. So, it just has a dated sound that makes it melt into the background. Would have been left behind in the semis.

Norway A strong contender for the winner of the juries. It is a deeply impactful song that is well-sung with a memorable staging effect. I think it is a standard ballad, but is elevated by Ulrikke’s performance.

Israel Love that we get a new language added to the Eurovision family – Amharic. This song is so much fun and can put a smile on anyone’s face. Alene is also a captivating performer. I think it would have qualified.romanian flag map

Romania Not quite sure why Bulgaria is getting all the love while Romania is being mostly ignored. I like this because I like the contemporary sound and it is fun to sing along to. Though, I do hate the term “fake news” – that is likely due to my country’s current political situation. Likely would have qualified.

Ukraine Love folk infused contemporary entries. You can dance to this. You can sing along to it. You can just listen in awe. I wonder, though, if it has enough wide appeal to get it through. Poland tried an entry like this last year and landed just shy of qualifying, I feel like this could have done the same – breaking Ukraine’s 100% qualification streak.

Italy Another quintessentially Italian song from Italy. Is this song captivating? Yes. Are the lyrics describing the fact that one’s hometown will always be in your heart regardless of where you go relatable and painfully relevant? Yes. Is the composition radio-ready and stirring? Yes. Will this have been yet another Top Ten finish for Italy? Yes. Does this song excite or interest me? Not really.

Dutch Flag MapGermany Germany really swung for the fences with this c. 2010s club thumper. It is so much fun to sing and dance too, but a bit too dated to achieve the results that NDR was hoping for. I think it would have finished mid-table in the Grand Final.

The Netherlands Another strong ballad that would have challenged the likes of Italy and Norway for the top spot of the juries. I hate the way how this song abruptly ends. I do think, though, that the televote would have dragged it down to around 11~13th place.

 

I love the fan recap! Probably for the best that we don’t have to hear them sing, though that would be fun.

What a fun show!

 

Looking back, if this were a competitive event, I would predict the following qualifiers:

  • Sweden

  • Belarus

  • Australia

  • Lithuania

  • Russia

  • Belgium

  • Malta

  • Norway

  • Israel

  • Romania

My instincts are telling me that Azerbaijan and Ukraine would both progress at the expense of Belarus and Belgium. HOWEVER, every year there are always a few shock qualifiers for each semi-final, why would 2020 have been any different.

Of these 20 songs, what are my personal top ten?

  1. Malta

  2. Russia

  3. The Netherlands

  4. Australia

  5. Belgium

  6. Romania

  7. Germany

  8. Israel

  9. Norway

  10. Ukraine


2020 Country Profiles & ESC Notes

Eurovision Obsession logoHello Dear Readers!

Even though our beloved Eurovision has been cancelled for this year, that doesn’t mean that things have gone silent. In fact, quite the opposite has occurred as fan media outlets (including this one) have rushed to fill the void. And while next week I’ll have coverage of the major fan polls in an attempt to reach consensus on who would have won had ESC 2020 been held, that does not mean you should go into Eurovision Week 2020 unarmed! I am releasing my Notes (10 pages of covering ESC history, rules, recap of the 2020 entries, highlights of 2020, and general info) and Country Profiles for all the alternative ESC programming going on this week. The annual lyrics quiz will be coming in June. Per usual, feel free to distribute at your (virtual and/or socially-distanced) Eurovision 2020 gatherings, however those may look. See you next week as we try to make sense of this most unusual ESC season.

ESC 2020 – Write-ups

2020 Country Profiles


ESC Write-Ups & Quizzes

Hello Dear Readers!

As you know, one of the primary objectives of Eurovision Obsession is to help introduce new people to the ESC. To that effect,each year since 2013, I have been posting the notes that I originally crafted for my Eurovision parties introducing my American friends to the Contest. These notes include a brief history of the Contest, a brief explanation of its rules, highlights for that particular year, an explainer of Eurovision Week, and profiles of each competing country. Additionally, for the more obsessed, EO has been making quizzes on the website Sporcle since 2015 for those who want to test their knowledge.

Below, you will find the complete collection of Eurovision Write-Ups and Country Profiles published on this website as well as links to each Sporcle quiz EO has produced.

Eurovision 2020 – Rotterdam

Eurovision 2019 – Tel Aviv

*Some of the country profiles have outdated info in the brief histories, EO apologizes for the error.

Eurovision 2018 – Lisbon

Eurovision 2017 – Kyiv

Eurovision 2016 – Stockholm

Eurovision 2015 – Vienna

Eurovision 2014 – Copenhagen

Eurovision 2013 – Malmö


Eurovision 2019….Several Months Later…

Hello Dear Readers!

Welcome to my wrap-up post, so happy you could join me. Today, we’ll be giving out some awards as well as taking a step back to look at this year’s Contest as a whole. As I’ve noted before, this is one of my favorite winners and am happy with many of the results from this year. Come join me as we honor some of the best and worst from Tel Aviv! Please note, I do not own any photos/videos used here – all rights reserved to the EBU unless otherwise noted.

Annual Eurovision Obsession Awards

Best Lyrics

EO logo with Russian flagWinner: Russia

Tears won’t fall
While pride stands tall
Maybe they can’t be heard or seen
But tears aren’t quiet things –

They scream

A powerful ballad of heartbreak working against the machismo. Just because you are a man does not mean you shouldn’t show emotion. I love how, even though this is a song about a relationship ending, it is really a deeper look at the power of feeling one’s feelings.

Runner-Up: Austria

‘Cause the face in the mirror
Just couldn’t look clearer right back through me
And how I’d like to say
It will be better tomorrow or any day

Yeah I’m talking ’bout you, you, you…
And the luck you try to find

A song about deep introspection and realizing that pushing beyond your limits for the sake of others leaves one empty and hurting. So powerful.

Honorable Mentions: Albania, Azerbaijan, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Serbia

The “Huh?” Award for Worst Lyrics: Given to the country the most questionable, lazy, or just plain nonsensical lyrics.

EO logo with Slovenian flagWinner: Slovenia

The stars are not always visible
Stay true to yourself
Don’t tell me to forgive you

I realize that this song is predominantly meant to capture the feeling of unconditional love between a young couple; but the lyrics make little sense. Perhaps these are common Slovenian phrases and ideas that just don’t translate well into English.

Runner-Up: Croatia

I dream of love
You dream of love
Angels of God
We all dream of love

So, one element of songs that do well in this award is lazy or unimaginative song writing. This one takes the cake in that regard. It is a standard, trite song hoping for a better tomorrow. Not saying that the message is bad, the lyrics are just poor.

Honorable Mentions: Estonia, Finland, Norway, San Marino

Best Dressed Award

Nevena Božović at rehearsal. Photo copyright EBU/Thomas Hanses

EO logo with Serbian flag

 

Winner: Serbia

A beautiful black dress, stunning silver accessories including a dynamic necklace, flowing blonde hair, and make-up that turns up the contrast. Everything about Nevena Božović’s outfit is amazing and worn with elegance.

Jonida Maliqi at the second dress rehearsal on Weds. Photo copyright EBU/Thomas Hanses

Runner-Up: Albania

Another black dress. Jonida Maliqi outfit perfectly blends traditional elements with contemporary design, just like the song Ktheju Tokës. It even had the added bonus of making the staging reminiscent of the Albanian flag when the stage was lit in red.

Honorable Mentions: Australia, Israel, Montenegro

Most in Need of a Costume Change Award

Eliot during a rehearsal. Copyright EBU/Andres Putting

EO logo with Belgian flagWinner: Belgium

The outfit, in addition to looking awful, poorly fit Eliot; so, he looked even more mousy and small than he is. It was just a very poor outfit situation all-around. I’m not quite sure what happened here, but I hope Belgium gets their act together moving forward.

Mahmood at the Grand Final. Copyright Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Runner-Up: Italy

Look at that shirt! It’s red and gold and it’s shiny. It does not seem to fit the song at all. I do not understand this outfit choice at all.

Honorable Mentions: Croatia, Cyprus, Portugal, Romania

Best Staging Award

EO logo with Swiss flag

Winner: Switzerland

Luca Hanni during rehearsals. Copyright EBU/Thomas Hanses

Made to look like a hot music video, She Got Me had a stunning, contemporary, hot staging. From the narrow perspective to open, to the constant use of red throughout, to the dance routine, to even having Luca Hanni wear a mesh shirt. Switzerland went all out and it paid off with the country’s first Top Ten placing since 2005.

Runner-Up: Australia

Kate Miller-Heidke during a rehearsal. Copyright EBU/Andres PuttingThe winner for the Marcel Bezençon Award for Artistry, Australia’s staging was magically, whimsical, and impressive. The interplay of the backing screen, her outfit, and their motions created this awesome floating effect. I didn’t have this one win because, unlike Switzerland, which got even sharper from the semi-final to the grand final, the Australian performance took a (small) step backwards.

Honorable Mentions: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Czech Republic, Israel, Moldova, North Macedonia, San Marino

Worst Staging Award

EO logo with Croatian flagWinner: Croatia

Roko during rehearsal. Copyright EBU/Thomas HansesAngel wings equals an automatic zero in the staging department from me. Yes, even though angels are explicitly mentioned in the song. Not to mention there was just so much going on during Croatia’s three minutes. It was all just too much.

 

Runner-Up: France

Bilal Hassani and his dancers during a rehearsal. Copyright EBU/Thomas HansesWhen you have a song with the potential to inspire confidence in men, of all sexualities, who do not live up to masculinity ideals – you should capitalize on that and have a broad array of men on stage with you. France did not take this perspective. Aside from my general unease with the laying claim to the experiences of women to serve gay men’s purpose, when the song is literally called “King” shouldn’t that be the emphasis? Otherwise they should have titled the song “Moi” – no other lyric would have to change and the staging would have made more sense and felt more genuine.

Honorable Mentions: Germany, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom

“This is DC Calling” Award: Given to the most American sounding entry. This in NO way counts as an endorsement for the US entering the Contest, an idea which I staunchly oppose.

Winner: Estonia

The twang in Victor Crone’s voice, the vaguely inspirational message of the lyrics, the basic composition – this all screams contemporary Christian music (which I’ve said before). This would be right at home on any generic Christian station in the US.

Runner-Up: Sweden

Just like Storm is a generic contemporary Christian song, Too Late for Love is a generic R&B song – though, not quite as contemporary. John Lundvik actually hit the American sound twice, both with his own song and the one he co-wrote and co-composed for the United Kingdom.

Honorable Mentions: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Slovenia, Switzerland, United Kingdom

Pond Leaper Award: While I think each song would find a niche here in the USA, I think these songs would be the most popular

EO logo with Cypriot flagWinner: Cyprus

Runner-Up: United Kingdom

Honorable Mentions: Greece, The Netherlands, North Macedonia, Serbia, Switzerland

The “Spirit of ABBA” Award: Given to the most stereotypical and/or traditional ESC entry

EO logo with Danish flagWinner: Denmark

So, an under-appreciated, yet very common ESC genre, is the children’s song. And what lyric can be more childish than “love is forever” when sung with such a saccharine smile. A cute song with a bubbly message and catchy hook. Love is Forever is clearly the most ESC entry this year at ESC.

Runner-Up: San Marino

Additionally, few things represent ESC as nonsense lyrics. Say Na Na Na fits this to a T. It’s so simple and fun, a perfect example of schlager.

Honorable Mentions: Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Norway, Poland, Spain

The “Shiri Maimon Travesty of the Year” Award

Israeli Flag Country

In 2005, a true work of art was entered into the ESC; Israel was represented by Shiri Maimon with the song Hasheket Shinish’Ar.  Not only did this song not win, but the winning song that year was not even worthy to be performed on the same stage as the Israeli entry.  For me, that was the biggest travesty in Eurovision history.  Each year, I hand out this award to the biggest disappointment of the Contest.

USA flag in EO logoWinner: Madonna’s performance

There were simply too many interval acts this year. This was, by far, the weakest of them all. Madonna is a legend who revolutionized culture and deeply impacted pop music. It may be time for her to ride off into that beautiful sunset. I know the retirement age in the US is 65, but I think she’s earned the ability to head home five years early.

Runner-Up: EBU bungling the Belorussian automated jury vote

Human error is to be expected from a human-run event. But still, for all of eternity, when watching this Contest back, this error will need to be pointed out and corrected for folks watching. It also shines a light on the still mysterious and needlessly clandestine algorithm used to calculate votes for missing juries and televotes. Show your work, EBU, we’re curious!

Honorable Mentions: Too many interval acts. UK coming last, Germany’s poor showing, Ireland’s poor performance

Closing Thoughts

Again, one of my favorite years and favorite winners ever. I am so happy to have been able to bring the Eurovision Obsession Awards back after missing last year. What are your favorites and least favorites from this year. Be sure to check-out my Final Thoughts if you have not already; they’ve been updated with the correct scoreboard and with links to the various media outlets I appeared on following ESC in May. Stay tuned for further posts as we celebrate Ten Years of Eurovision Obsession! As always, you can find @escobsession on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and Sporcle.


Eurovision 2019 – Final Thoughts!

Hello Dear Readers!

Well, there you have it; another Eurovision in the books. This one was, in my opinion, one of the most entertaining and diverse Contests we’ve had in a while, even if the songs were not as strong as in recent years. And, of course, I’m happy to have seen my favorite win. So, let’s take a breath, take a step back, and take a look at ESC 2019.

Which I will be doing on KUSH 1600AM at 8am US Central Time on Monday (20 May) (of Cushing, Oklahoma, USA – Part One & Part Two) and with the EuroWhat? Podcast this upcoming week to talk with Ben and Mike about this year’s results!

Dutch Flag Map

Historical Markers

This is the fifth Dutch victory, after the Netherlands won in 1957, 1959, 1969, and 1975. They are now tied for third for all-time victories along with the United Kingdom, France, and Luxembourg (Ireland is first with seven wins, Sweden is second with six). Arcade is only the eleventh winner to be performed by a solo male (Rise Like a Phoenix is not counted, as its credited artist is the female character Conchita Wurst).

This is only the second time the final scoreboard had to be adjusted after the Contest. The first was in 1998 when Croatia was docked 1/3 of its points after the EBU ruled the synthesized male chorus on the backing track broke the “spirit of the rule” requiring all lyrics to be live (this is the reason all backing tracks must be turned in ahead of time in March). The EBU announced that, due to human error, the wrong jury votes were calculated on behalf of the disqualified Belorussian jury. The jury from Belarus was disqualified due to sharing video of the jury deliberation process from the First Semi-Final; this is against the rules and the EBU punished them accordingly. Using a secret algorithm, the EBU calculates automated scores for disqualified juries or televotes. This had been used quite a few times since the new voting system was introduced in 2016. The results read live on air during the Contest were reversed, resulting in the bottom ten of the automated ranking receiving points as opposed to the Top Ten. After several fans noted how weird the votes were given what one would predict for Belarus, the EBU eventually reissued the Belorussian jury points, resulting in several changes to the scoreboard, including North Macedonia now being the jury champion and Israel receiving null points from the juries.

Other historical notes:

**updated with the corrected scoreboard

North Macedonian flag mapThis is the best ever placing for North Macedonia (2nd 1st in the jury, 8th 7th place overall) and its first ever Top Ten finish.
This is the best ever placing for San Marino (10th in the televote, 20th 19th overall).
This is the second time that the victor was neither the top in televote nor among the juries (Ukraine 2016 was the first).

This is the third time that Italy has been a runner-up (1974 and 2011 are the others).
This is Switzerland’s best finish (third place) since coming in second back in 1993.
This is the Azerbaijan’s first Top Ten finish since 2013, when it was runner-up.
This is the first Top Ten finish for Iceland since 2009, when it was runner-up. This is also its first qualification since 2014.

British flag mapThis is only the fourth last place for the United Kingdom (2003, 2008, 2010).
This is the third year in a row, and fourth time in five years, that the host country came in the bottom ten.

Finally, Sweden retains the top spot for longest streak of Top Ten finishes, which now stands at 6.
Behind it is Italy, which now has three consecutive Top Ten finishes.
Australia maintains its 100% qualification record.
Montenegro now has the longest non-qualification streak, which now stands at 4.
Unsurprisingly, Sweden has the longest qualification streak at 9, having made the Final every year since 2011.

My Thoughts

EO logo with Albanian flag

I am ecstatic that some of my favorite songs did so well, particularly the Netherlands and North Macedonia. So, after all of the performances this week, what are my favorite ten songs from the Contest?

10. Albania
9. Russia
8. Moldova
7. Malta
EO logo with Czech flag6. Georgia
5. Australia
4. Czech Republic
3. North Macedonia
2. Latvia
1. The Netherlands

 

Israeli flag map

This was quite the year! I think this was perhaps one of the most entertaining and engaging Grand Finals in quite some time. It was also one of the longest. Come on EBU! Five interval acts is way too many. The section with the past winners and runner-ups performing each other’s songs was fantastic! The Ilan Raichel Project was lovely and I quite enjoyed them. The mentalist was superfluous. The Gal Godot video could have been at any other point in the night – perhaps the beginning. The opening act could have clipped down the video or simply replaced it with Gal Godot before the parade of nations. And the Madonna section was unnecessary and bad — we did neither needed it nor wanted it. We can cut the show back down to three hours – or at least down to three and a half. We can do this! It’s not that difficult. Otherwise, I think KAN did a fantastic job – the stage was beautiful. I look forward to what AVROTROS will do next year in the Netherlands — I already have a hotel in Rotterdam; crossing my fingers that it hosts, since it is the only major city not to host a Eurovision thus far.

EO logo witch Dutch flag

And, before I go, I want to congratulate AVROTROS on a job well done. This victory was eight years in the making. It started with the TROS (the broadcaster’s previous incarnation) deciding on a new approach: taking Eurovision seriously. They began by connecting with the Dutch music industry, calling upon Anouk, one of the country’s biggest stars, to restore the county to its former glory. Since Birds became the first Dutch entry in nine years to qualify for the Final and first in thirteen Contests to finish Top Ten, the Netherlands has consistently sent industry stars, resulting in five qualifications (out of six Contests), including a second place in 2014 and now this victory. AVROTROS is a perfect example of a country deciding to actively pursue winning, giving musicians the freedom to craft their own song and performance, and not being afraid to take the long game approach. Hmm, perhaps a few other countries can follow this model and give established artists free reign to create strong entries on their own, just saying. The Dutch music industry is not nearly the strongest one on the continent…

One more friendly reminder: I will be featured on KUSH 1600AM at 8am US Central Time on Monday (20 May) (of Cushing, Oklahoma, USA – Part One & Part Two) and with the EuroWhat? Podcast this upcoming week to talk with Ben and Mike about this year’s results!

Another fantastic Contest that I will be watching for years to come. Many strong entries, a great production, and a winner with whom I fully agree. I cannot wait to attend next year!

 


Eurovision 2019 – Grand Final Live Notes!

Hello Dear Readers!

The time is finally here – the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019!!! I cannot believe it and I am beyond excited – as I am sure all of you are. Thank you for joining me for these live notes, it is always nice knowing that there are others watching with me (or, at least, reading them afterwards).

As I mentioned earlier today, my prediction for tonight’s winner is The Netherlands. And my prediction for the full Top Ten is:

  1. The Netherlands

  2. Switzerland

  3. Australia

  4. Italy

  5. Sweden

  6. Iceland

  7. Malta

  8. Russia

  9. Norway

  10. Serbia

And my prediction for last place is: Germany. As with the semi-finals, this may change after seeing all twenty six songs tonight. And, before the show kicks off, I want to let everyone know that I will be featured on KUSH 1600AM at 8am US Central Time on Monday (20 May) (of Cushing, Oklahoma, USA) and joining the EuroWhat? Podcast this upcoming week to talk with Ben and Mike about this year’s results!

And, with that, we now have the beginning of the Grand Final. Let’s watch, shall we – here we go!

Opening Act

Oh, wow, I enjoy this little opening video with Jon Ola Sand and Netta. The parade of nations is a lot of fun. Diva!!!! Woohoo! Winner twenty years ago and the first to win with the televote. For those who do not know, this is Ilanit singing Ey Sham – the first ever Eurovision entry from Israel back in 1973. And now Golden Boy from 2015. Anyone who remembers this song had to expect it to be here tonight. I do enjoy how KAN (the brand name of the host broadcast IPBC) is interweaving history and old clips throughout the shows.

HERE WE GO!

Malta: Not as strong vocally as Thursday, but much better energy. I think enough to land it in the Top Ten.

Albania: Again, I love her dress. And WOW – her vocals are so much stronger than on Monday. Not sure if this is enough to get Top Ten, but she will probably do better than expected.

Czech Republic: So much fun! You can tell they are having a great time up there. Still going to finish mid-table, I think, but they’re going to be remembered for a while as one of the most fun entries to the Contest.

Germany: I missed most of it due to technical difficulties. But what I heard was great! I still don’t know if this song is all that popular, but they should be proud of what they accomplished.

Russia: He sounds miles better than he did on Thursday…for the most part. But this is song and staging are both much weaker than his previous entry and this year presents many more challenges.

Denmark: So much fun. And we know children’s songs do well. And she sounds better than Thursday; less lost on the big stage. Is it enough to finish higher than 14th? Probably not.

San Marino: We know that I am a shill for all things San Marino. Serhat sounds miles better than on Tuesday. Several friends are pointing out to me that they may be going for the “so bad it’s good” vote. You cannot deny that this song is pure energy

North Macedonia: She’s going for tears, but it just makes her voice sound wonky. But, the power of her voice is still unquestioned. This song, it’s so deep and she is conveying the passion she’s feeling behind it so thoroughly. Oh my goodness, I don’t think this could be any better.

Sweden: Another performance, another easy Top Ten for the Swedes. I still do not think this will win, but it’s going to do very well.

Slovenia: Sounding a bit off tonight. I originally had this finishing around eleventh. But I’m thinking it’s going to be lower than that with this performance.

Cyprus: Unpopular opinion: This song will not finish on left-hand side of the scoreboard. It is and average song, but there are much stronger faster entries this year that will knock this down.

The Netherlands: My pick to win. And my favorite entry this year. His passion and performace are about 1000x better than Thursday. Is it enough, though? This early in the running order….not sure. But I hope so! We’ll see how some of the other favorites do later tonight.

Greece: Much better than on Tuesday, by miles. Greece might just go and fill the hole left by Slovenia. It can finish around 11th, I think.

Israel: Meh. He sings this song just fine, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a smug, self-important song with a smug, self-important presentation. And we’re getting a better version of that later with France.

Norway: A fun song; though, I still do not quite understand this song’s popularity. I still think this a very underwhelming staging for such a dynamic song. Clearly the crowd is very much into this! Though, that is rarely an indicator of success.

United Kingdom: This song has one chance, Michael Rice gives a flawless, powerful vocal performance. …And we did not get that. Don’t get me wrong, it’s serviceable, but he’s performed better at the preview events. It had some bright moments, but overall, I do not think it will be enough. It benefits from being before a commercial break, but still.

Iceland: Well, they sound and look better than on Tuesday. Definitely going to do well with the televote but the juries will kill this.

Estonia: Well, he sounds a lot better than Tuesday, but still not very good. It does get better as it goes along. But this just is not good. And will be forgotten coming between Iceland and Belarus.

Belarus: That was good. Not great, but definitely not bad. On par with her performance on Tuesday. Maybe Belarus will finish mid-table, but I cannot see any higher than that.

Azerbaijan: I love that wail at the start. I think this will do so much better than I thought, perhaps even finish Top Ten. Chigiz’ vocal performance was beyond perfect.

France: See, Israel, this is how you do a smug and self-important song. It’s fun, powerful, and completely lacks self-awareness. France will not finish Top Ten, but it might get another 11th under its belt.

Italy: WHAT IS HE WEARING?! That shirt is awful. The song is a powerful one and his performance of it conveyed a lot of that energy. I’m just not sure if it has the mass appeal or connection required to succeed.

Serbia: Another powerful, passionate performance. I truly think she can reach the Top Ten. It’s going to be hard with the Swiss entry coming right behind, but still, this is a Balkan ballad at its best.

Switzerland: By far, the best staging at the Contest this year. We may have just witnessed a winning performance, everyone. That was fun, well-delivered, and very contemporary. I think it will easily take the televote; but not sure how the juries will rate it.

Australia: If Switzerland has the best staging, this is right behind it. But with a higher quality song and a stronger singer. This may have been a winning performance and may have knocked the Netherlands out of the top of the juries list; but not sure how the televote (which traditionally does not like Australia) will rate it.

Spain: He sounds a bit out of breath. But this song is still super fun. I don’t understand the use of the light up puppet man. Not sure if this is enough to get into the Top Ten, but should give Spain a more than respectable finish.

Phew! This may not be one of the top Contests ever, but it surely is one of the hardest to predict. After hearing all the songs and hearing the recap, how I would rate my personal top ten from tonight:

  1. Azerbaijan

  2. The Netherlands

  3. Serbia

  4. North Macedonia

  5. Australia

  6. Malta

  7. Czech Republic

  8. Russia

  9. Spain

  10. France

Now, who do I think will finish in the Top Ten? Not sure…

10. Serbia
9. Spain
8. Norway
7. Sweden
6. Russia
5. Italy
4. Iceland
3. Switzerland
2. Australia
1. The Netherlands

I’m sticking to my guns!! I think The Netherlands will win but, more like how Ukraine did in 2017, by placing second/third on both, the televote and the juries. I think Switzerland will win the televote and Australia will win the juries. Let’s see what happens.

Interval Act One (during the voting – past winners and runner-ups): I LOVE THIS INTERVAL ACT. I want the recordings of these folks doing these covers. EBU – I will give you money for this. Please make it available. One of the best interval acts to date.

Interval Act Two (also during the voting – The Idan Raichel Project): I really like this! Very traditional music and sound and look; also showing off the diversity of Israel. This should have opened the second semi-final so that we could speed things up tonight.

Interval Act Three (also during the voting – The Mentalist): Yeah, yeah, it’s entertaining. The fun part was seeing Tamta from Cyprus freak out. Hahaha

Interval Act Four (also during the voting – Netta): This is a silly song. It’s fine, but not necessary. It should have been a part of her performance on Tuesday (that’s why the winner reprise should be at the Final so the artist can premier another song).

Interval Act Five (also during the voting – Madonna): Madonna turns 61 this year. I think we are at about three too many interval acts at this point. And this is, by far, the weakest. And we just get to the voting sequences please!

In other news, a friendly reminder, I will be featured on KUSH 1600AM at 8am US Central Time on Monday (20 May) (of Cushing, Oklahoma, USA) and joining the EuroWhat? Podcast this upcoming week to talk with Ben and Mike about this year’s results!

Interval Act Six (post voting – Gal Godot): This was nice but could have been earlier, like, during an advert break or something.

FINALLY we get to the votes!

In case you’ve forgotten, because I nearly have, I predicted the Netherlands to win, but not come in first in either — Australia to win the juries and Switzerland to win the televote.

The Juries

  • Portugal: Whoa! no points for Spain? And YAY! points for the Netherlands

  • Azerbaijan: 12 to Russia, no shock there

  • Malta: 12 to Italy. Not too surprising

  • North Macedonia: 12 to Italy! Oh, that is unexpected

  • San Marino: 12 to Italy. NO surprise there

  • The Netherlands: love the shade thrown at Madonna. 12 for Sweden

  • Montenegro: 12 to (let me guess, Serbia?) yup

  • Estonia: 12 points to Sweden

    Don’t forget, the jury votes are ordered to be the most entertaining, so right now does not bare too much on the later votes.

  • Poland: 12 points to Australia – interesting

  • Norway: 12 to Czech Republic! Interesting.

  • Spain: 12 points to Sweden! Interesting.

  • Austria: 12 to North Macedonia! Well deserved, but unexpected

  • United Kingdom: 12 to North Macedonia! OH! Yay!

  • Italy: Some technical issues: 12 to Denmark. Man, the juries are all over the place tonight!

  • Albania: 12 points to North Macedonia. This is not surprising, the two countries swap lots of points

  • Hungary: 12 points to Czechia, to too surprising

  • Moldova: 12 points to North Macedonia! Fun

  • Belarus: 12 points to (N Mak?) Israel! and finally the last country with zero points gets some

  • Armenia: 12 points to Sweden. Interesting, only 5 points to Russia

  • Romania: 12 points to Australia

  • Cyprus: 12 points to Greece, of course

    Whoa!! Halfway, North Macedonia has a commanding lead. Let’s see if it can hold on to it.

  • Australia: 12 points to Sweden

  • Russia: 12 points to Azerbaijan! Not too surprising

  • Germany: 12 points to Italy! Fun

  • Belgium: 12 points to Italy – back up to third place

  • Sweden: It’s about time the Netherlands gets another 12.

  • Croatia: 12 to Italy — interesting point distribution for their points

  • Lithuania: 12 points to the Netherlands! And the charge begins in earnest

  • Serbia: 12 points to (N Mak, for sure) yes, of course

  • Iceland: 12 points going to (Sweden?) Yup. None to Denmark or Norway, though, haha

  • Georgia: 12 points to the Czechs. I am pleasantly surprised by how well they are doing.

  • Greece: 12 to Cyprus, of course

  • Latvia: 12 to (the Netherlands?) Yup!

  • Czech Republic: 12 points to (Sweden?) Yup

  • Denmark: 12 points to (Sweden, of course) – Yep

  • France: 12 points to (the Dutch, I hope!) – Woohoo

  • Finland: 12 points to big brother Sweden

  • Switzerland: 12 points to North Macedonia – quite unexpected

  • Slovenia: 12 points to Czech Republic! Fun times

  • Israel: 12 points to The Netherlands!

And Sweden wins the jury!

Now the Televote! Remember, this year, the points will be revealed in ascending order of the juries’ ranking

(50 points) Aww, poor Spain. They deserved so much more than what they got.

(30) That’s about as expected

(3) Awwww poor UK it deserved way more

(65) to San Marino – I think the most ever for SM

(13) to Belarus

(0) OH NO! That’s just uncalled for!

(48) for Estonia

(54) for Serbia

(??) for Albania enough to get to 90

(59) for Slovenia not as much as expected

(24) for Greece, not too surprising

(291) for very popular song from Norway

(186) for the punk rockers from Iceland – enough to finish in the Top Ten? maybe

(38) WHOA! Not too surprising

(32) Told you it would not perform as well as expected

(51) for Denmark, not too bad

(20) for Malta, awwwww it deserved more

(244) as expected, a big haul for Russia, but not going to be close to victory

(212) Wow, not as much as expected for Switzerland, but definitely going to be its best finish in quite some time

(7) Only seven for the Czech Republic! Wow.

(131) for Australia, not too shabby, definintely better than the Aussies have been getting lately

(100) for Azerbaijan – not bad, they’ll be happy to finish in the Top Ten for the first time in years (since 2013)

(253) for Italy, good to get it back to the lead!

So, winners usually get about 500, so between one of the final three, the winner is remaining still

(261) That is a hefty haul and enough for first place!

(58) Very little for N Mak but not too surprising – Its first ever Top Ten finish!

Sweden needs 253 televote points to win.

And the winner is: The Netherlands!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Sweden only got 93)

Dutch Flag Map

Wowza! First win for the Netherlands since 1975 (Ding Dang Dong performed by Teach In). And I predicted this since March. I truly think the best song won – despite not having a great staging. Other quick historic markers: Switzerland’s first Top Ten finish since 2005. The first ever Top Ten finish for North Macedonia! The Netherlands now moves into a tie with France, Luxembourg, and the UK for the third most wins (at 5) – having won in 1957, 1959, 1969, 1975 and now 2019. San Marino got its best ever placing (20th) and Azerbaijan is back in the Top Ten for the first time since 2013. Sweden now has six consecutive Top Ten placings. Italy is next with three. Sergey Lazarev, who represents Russia, finished third in 2016 with “You Are the Only One” has finished third again this year with “Scream.”

EO logo witch Dutch flagFor my personal statistics, I correctly predicted the winner – The Netherlands – and did so at every point. I was also 80% on my Top Ten estimate, I thought Spain and Serbia would make it, but instead, North Macedonia and Azerbaijan did, both of which I am happy about.

Wow! Just, wow. Expect a more comprehensive summary tomorrow as well as be sure to listen out for me next week. I will be featured on KUSH 1600AM at 8am US Central Time on Monday (20 May) (of Cushing, Oklahoma, USA) and joining the EuroWhat? Podcast this upcoming week to talk with Ben and Mike about this year’s results!

Thank you and goodnight!


Eurovision 2019 – Grand Final Predictions

Hello Dear Readers!

Finally, it is here: The Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 in Tel Aviv! One of the greatest days of the year. So, what are we looking at? Well, an array of uptempo crowd-stoppers, a once-in-an-era ballad that has been a runaway odds-favorite since it was selected, and a piece of crossover-operatic-musical-whimsy.

For your ESC Parties:

  • Help your uninitiated friends with my Eurovision for Beginners

  • Check-out my ESC 2019 – Write-ups that provide a brief history of ESC, explains the rules, and gives an explanation of the songs.

  • Also check-out my 2019 Country Profiles – Grand Final Only which covers the 26 entries of the Grand Final – giving a brief history of each country, details of each entry, and a brief bio for each performing artist.

 

After two semi-finals (live notes for the first and second semis) short on surprises (hmm, Portugal failing and Belarus qualifying might be the two biggest ones), We turn to a Grand Final with a running order that may turn things over completely. Let’s look at the top ten in the betting odds (post-jury final):

  1. The Netherlands (performing 12th)

  2. Australia (performing 25th)

  3. Switzerland (performing 24th)

  4. Sweden (performing 9th)

  5. Italy (performing 22nd)

  6. Iceland (performing 17th)

  7. Russia (performing 5th)

  8. Azerbaijan (performing 20th)

  9. France (performing 21st)

  10. Norway (performing 15th)

First reactions: Cyprus, Greece, and Malta are completely out of the top ten (guess they truly were pretenders). Australia and France have moved into the top ten, while France peaked around third place and started dropping again, Australia has firmly placed itself into the second position behind the Netherlands after qualifying on Tuesday night.

If the Netherlands was in the second half, I would say it was an easy win for the Dutch. While 12th is a good spot, it is surely not the sure thing that, say, 22nd is. So, now the door is open for the likes of Switzerland (which has the strongest staging and performance across the 41 entries), Italy (whose edge and novelty helps it standout), and Australia (a powerful and captivating song that has shot up the odds á la Cyprus 2018).

 

In my opinion, the winner will be one of these four

The Netherlands     Australia      Italy     Switzerland

Dutch Flag Map

 

 

The Netherlands, my personal favorite, is perhaps one of the highest quality entries to date. It is earnest, honest, and heart-breaking. It also suffers from a singer without much stage presence leading to a boring, trite staging.

 

 

Australian flag map

 

Australia is perhaps the most fun “believe in yourself” song we’ve seen since, perhaps, Austria 2014. It has the magic of a Disney song and a whimsical staging that is absolutely stunning. It also is a song from a country that historically fares quite terribly with the televoters surrounded by two equally as mesmerizing stagings and songs (Switzerland and Spain).

 

 

 

Italian flag map

Italy is a powerful, dark song that stirs deep emotions in the listener performed passionately from a country that is quite popular with juries and televoters. However, it is staged in such a way to diminish this impact – much brighter than it should be; not to mention, juxtaposed to France (which is preceding it), it may come off as over dark.

 

 

 

 

Swiss flag map

Switzerland, much forlorn and forgotten on the Eurovision stage, has come with the tightest, most interesting, most dynamic performance this year and beyond. Unfortunately, this is a rather generic song that is like so much else we hear on the radio; plus, the juries historically drag down the Swiss.

 

 

Taking all of this into consideration, right now, if I had to predict the winner (and I do, since I am a decade-long ESC blogger), I believe that The Netherlands will win!

EO logo witch Dutch flag

I have believed this from the first time I heard the song and am choosing to stick to my instincts on this. Its quality as a composition, as a lyrical work, and in Duncan Laurence’s sheer vocal talent will all shine through. I think the Netherlands will handedly win the jury vote and, furthermore, will finish top five among the televote, though, not number one, but still high enough to win the Contest.

I think the top ten will comprise of:

  1. The Netherlands

  2. Switzerland

  3. Australia

  4. Italy

    Icelandic flag map

  5. Sweden

  6. Iceland

    Maltese flag map

  7. Malta

  8. Russia

  9. Norway

  10. Serbia

And who will be in the Bottom Ten? I hate thinking of the negative, but again, I must make a prediction:

Cypriot flag map

  1. North Macedonia

  2. Cyprus

  3. Denmark

  4. Belarus

  5. Israel

  6. Albania

  7. Estonia

  8. San Marino

  9. United Kingdom

  10. Germany

As y’all know, I love North Macedonia, Albania, and Denmark – but I cannot see them succeeding (this is doubly so as Albania was put in the 2nd slot, which is generally reserved for the weakest ballad).

Quite frankly, while my prediction average needs to go back up (it’s back down below 80%, currently) as long as the Netherlands wins, I will be happy. I cannot wait to see how this turns out!

Happy Eurovision Everyone!
Be sure to come back tonight so you can follow my live notes as the Contest unfolds.


Eurovision 2019 – Live Notes: Second Semi-Final

Hello Dear Readers!

Times for the Second Semi-Final and to select the final ten qualifiers for the Grand Final! Eighteen countries compete, these plus Germany, Italy, and UK vote, and we get ten more songs for Saturday.

As a reminder, here is my pre-show prediction of qualifiers:

  • The Netherlands

  • North Macedonia

  • Azerbaijan

  • Russia

  • Sweden

  • Malta

  • Albania

  • Denmark

  • Armenia

  • Switzerland

These will likely change after hearing and seeing the songs live tonight. So, let’s go!

No interval tonight. Just too many hosts, none of whom are all that interesting unfortunately.

Armenia: I like her look and I think she sounds great! While the overall staging and camera work are good, I think she looks and sounds small, like the space is owning her and not the other way around. Nice pyro effect. OH! She botched that big note. Let’s hope it’s not in the recap. Though, I do not think it is enough to stop her from qualifying.

Ireland: I love her outfit! She sounds super mousy. Is that purposeful? Love the retro look and feel of this staging. She has zero energy, though. I think she’s perhaps too focused on hitting all of her cues and not just singing the song. Some nice shots of Irish fans going wild. Aside from her lack of energy, I think this is as good as it could have been.

Moldova: Oh!! Sand art, we haven’t seen that since Ukraine 2011. As much as I enjoy this song, I don’t know if that gimmick is enough to move this song through. I am LOVING this sand artist and her effects, especially those footsteps. And I love their outfits; they look beautiful. Is it enough? Not sure, we’ll see.

Switzerland: WHOA! Absolutely love this camera work. This staging is perfect. The singing is amazing – both Luca and his backing singer should be very proud of themselves. This is the first song thus far (including Tuesday) that I can feasibly see winning. Let’s just say, I am happy to already have my hotel in Zurich booked for next year (along with a few other places).

Latvia: One of my favorites this year. I love this faux black & white look of the staging. This is a perfect example of a ballad with a lot of energy in it. It’s slow, but she and her backers are still singing fully and you can feel their investment in this. I don’t think it would have taken anything away to have the extra two ladies on stage with her.

Romania: They’re going with the same horror movie aesthetic from the music video. I like that choice – bold but a calculated risk. Hate her outfit, though. She could stand to articulate more, but even without clear words, the madness she’s singing about comes through. Great voice!

Oh, golly, Conchita Wurst is back! And with a brand new look. Actually, my understanding is that Tom Neuwirth actually moved away from Conchita as his primary act and is trying to draw more attention to the more masculine persona “WURST.”

Denmark: I see they are duplicating the DMGP staging. Glad to see the hear the audience get so into it. Love how diverse her collection of performers are. That was nice and pleasant. Not sure if it is enough, though.

Sweden: I am not the biggest fan of this song, but even I can’t help but sing along and be caught up in it. What the heck are his backing singers wearing?! Well done, another easy qualifier.

Austria: I totally appreciate her vulnerability. She is conveying that brokenness of the lyrics very well. I still don’t think it is engaging enough to qualify, but I think this is the best possible performance that this song could have.

Croatia: So, why I like this song well enough, but don’t see a path forward for it. It is impressive that he can sounds so good laying on his back. So, I do not quite get the staging, did he die in the lava and is now among those “angels of God?” Also, I think having literal angel dancers is a bit much. It didn’t work for Bulgaria in 2010, cannot see it helping now. Oh no! He missed that big note towards the end – otherwise, a flawless vocal performance.

Malta: Definitely playing up to her youth, here. The staging is SO MUCH FUN! You can tell they’re having a good time up there. This is also the way how one effectively makes a huge stage small. Another Top Ten performance tonight.

Lithuania: He sounds good and his hair looks nice. This song is just mediocre and overall less impressive than Croatia, which is the other mediocre song tonight.

Russia: Let’s see if this lives up to 2016’s staging. I do think it may have been a mistake to try to rely on his voice so much. Oh! his reflections is sentient. He’s certainly a pop singer. Not gonna lie, I was hoping for a more dynamic staging.

Albania: One of my absolute favorites this year. Let’s see how it goes. I think the backing singers are a bit too loud. It creates this cacophony instead of textured harmonies. I do love her outfit, though, very tradition yet contemporary. Just as I was about to say how her vocals were great, she botched many of those final notes.

Norway: Schlager at its best, everyone. It’s a lot of fun. And I enjoy how the graphics capture the idea of calling out to Sami spirits (which is what the song is about). Just everything about this feels dated, though. The smart money would be on this qualifying, but I am not sure.

The Netherlands: The big favorite and my favorite. Let’s see. Oh! The use of the backing vocals for the refrain is perfect! I don’t quite understand the piano, especially one that is so small. But I think he doesn’t have much stage presence, so the piano is there to give him something to distract himself with so he doesn’t let his nerves take over. The use of lighting is on point!

North Macedonia: Oh, the fleet of reflections is cool. Don’t like her dress, but it’s not heinous. If you’re going to do such a basic, stripped down staging, your vocals must be dazzling. So far, so good. Oh! Love the images being projected on the back. They should have kept it going when she started singing again. Oh! Keeping the backing vocals quiet until the climax was a good decision. Again, a great vocal performance without much energy behind it.

Azerbaijan: Glad to see Azerbaijan back to its over-the-top stagings. The robotic arms are a perfect touch to emphasize the futuristic tone of the composition. Hmm, not sure those high notes are translating as well as they could. Fun.

And there we have it! The eighteen songs from tonight. Time for the recap.

My Top Ten from tonight:

  1. Switzerland

  2. Latvia

  3. Malta

  4. The Netherlands

  5. Romania

  6. Moldova

  7. Armenia

  8. Azerbaijan

  9. North Macedonia

  10. Sweden

Who I think will qualify (in no particular order):

  • The Netherlands

  • North Macedonia

  • Azerbaijan

  • Russia

  • Sweden

  • Malta

  • Austria

  • Lithuania

  • Armenia

  • Switzerland

I think Austria and Lithuania did enough tonight (and, more likely, last night) to push ahead of Albania and Denmark in my predictions. Again, I know the smart money is on Norway to qualify, but, I don’t know, I just don’t think it will.

Interval Act – Shalva Band: So, apparently, this group was supposed to represent Israel this year, but didn’t want to perform on Saturday (which is necessary for Grand Final competition) for religious reasons. So, they gave them this spot instead. Wow, these girls’ voices are amazing! Yeah, this song would do way better than Home in the Grand Final. Oh, well.

Let’s look at our auto-qualifiers!

Germany: My biggest guilty pleasure this year. Meh., they really should have kept the turning table. But they do sound great. Don’t like their outfits, though.

Italy: His outfit is awful. And I hope he has a bit more energy for the real thing. This was one of the big favorites until rehearsals began, I guess now I know why.

United Kingdom: The staging for this is confusing. The BBC has enough money to afford more than some generic space effects. The thing this song has going for it is Michael Rice’s voice, so he better step it up tomorrow night and Saturday.

FINALLY – Our Qualifiers

  • North Macedonia – Woohoo! Well deserved! (1 correct out of 1 countries)

  • The Netherlands – Yay! High quality song right here! (2 for 2)

  • Albania – pleasant surprise! Her jury performance must have been great (2 for 3)

  • Sweden – as expected (3 for 4)

  • Russia – no surprises here (4 for 5)

  • Azerbaijan – woohoo! shaking off last year’s fluke (5 for 6)

  • Denmark – whoa, guess I should have stuck with my gut on this one. Hopefully this means Lithuania won’t make it? (5 for 7)

  • Norway – No surprise, I guess, but I still didn’t anticipate it (5 for 8)

  • Switzerland – Probably the strongest performance tonight, so, makes sense (6 for 9)

  • Malta! No surprise, well deserved, as well! Happy for Malta to break its non-qualification streak (7 for 10)

Well, another semi-final in the books. Only Friday’s jury show and Saturday’s Final are left. We await the drawing of halves and the final running order. In the meantime, who do I think from among these ten has a legitimate shot at victory? Well, the Netherlands, still, and Switzerland. My goodness, Switzerland looked like a winner right away. The Dutch song is still the highest quality one this year, I think, and who I think should win. It may all come down to the running order.

Thanks for joining me on this ride. See y’all Saturday!


Eurovision 2019 – Live Notes: First Semi-Final

Hello Dear Readers!

Since I do not have the privilege of being in Tel Aviv this year, I will be my usual live notes. Join me as I reveal my reactions and thoughts as the semi-final unfolds.

As a reminder, here are the ten songs I am predicting for qualification tonight (in no particular order):

  • Greece

  • Portugal

  • Estonia

  • Iceland

  • Australia

  • Belgium

  • Czech Republic

  • Slovenia

  • San Marino

  • Cyprus

Of course, this will likely change after seeing the songs performed live tonight. I’m excited!

Opening Act:

Interesting fashion choice, but this rendition is no less epic than anticipated.

Can’t say I am a fan of that disco ball dress, but it’s okay I guess

Cyprus: Why does her hair look so wet? What are her dancers wearing?! I like the use of the screen, a lot! Oh golly, she should have kept the jacket on. But the choreography was good. I now understand why she’s dropped in the betting odds, that was not great. But good enough, I think.

Montenegro: Clearly, they’ve been working on sounding like more of a cohesive unit. This is still a very cutesy song. It still will not qualify. They look and sound good, though!

Finland: The vocals could definitely be stronger. I guess the dancing lady is alright.

Poland: WHAT ARE THEY WEARING?! I also do not get this backing projection of their faces. I will say, the camera work is well done. And getting the audience to clap with them is a great idea.

Slovenia: Looking awfully casual, aren’t we. I guess it adds to the intimate feel of the staging. Wow! You can really tell that they have a tight connection. Wow! The staging fits them and this song so well.

Czechia: Love this dance off in the postcard. OMG I love this Eighties camera effect with the rectangles. This was fantastic – definitely the strongest thus far.

Hungary: I love the lights and the use of the screens. As expected, his vocals are on point. His look is not, but as the song goes on, he sings with more and more emotion.

Belarus: Those boots! Best boots since Ukraine 2009! Cool flips from the dancers. Great choreography in general from the dancers. Smart to go with a 90s aesthetic, it makes the song feel more in context. Just not sure, overall, how much appeal it has beyond the teen girl demographic. But they are huge and they vote, so…

Serbia: I love her outfit. and the use of the floor screen! Not sure the 3D water effects were necessary. Her voice is just as powerful and on point as on the studio version. Her biggest issue is that this sounds like a typical Balkan heartbreak ballad, despite being a song of love.

Belgium: The backing screens are well utilized. That is about all the positive I have 😦 He looks and sounds very scared and uncomfortable. I’m glad the crowd is clapping and trying to keep him going, but this just missing the mark, by a lot. Not to mention the costumes are awful; his jacket is WAY too big.

Georgia: That was a great postcard and a smart idea to show him so smiley ahead of this dark and dour song. While the marching silhouettes were weird and creepy, I like the bridge effect on the floor. The fire just adds to how dark this song sounds. It’s like a villain song from a cartoon musical.

Australia: That opening silhouette was powerful and perfect. Love the visual effects to make it look like she’s floating. Way to hit that big note, Kate! WOW! Now I know why Australia shot up the betting odds as soon as the first rehearsals started. This was wonderful!

Iceland: I am happy that they toned the sex aspect of their staging. The singer was a bit off but the screamer was fine. Idk, I am just not convinced that this can connect with most audiences, particularly in the age of juries.

Estonia: I feel like they’ve wasted the potential this stage to create amazing storm effects. His vocals are way off, though. and not by a little bit. And he keeps missing notes on the refrain which is the most important part. These effects at the end are too little, too late.

Portugal: So much energy in such a somber song. The dancer is great. I think this translated very well. Not “too” artsy like one might think. I still think this one qualifies.

Greece: Huh. Her voice is interesting, for sure. For such a high energy, powerful song, this feels quite dull. Just like Belgium, it’s as if someone sucked the soul out them right before they took the stage.

San Marino: Well, the second verse sounded miles better than the first. They should have had a male backing singer that could double his weak vocals. It started off low energy, but it’s picking up throughout the song. Sigh, I do not think SM will get through with this, its tenth entry.

Okay, my favorite ten from tonight.

  1. Australia

  2. Czechia

  3. Slovenia

  4. Poland

  5. Georgia

  6. Montenegro

  7. Serbia

  8. Hungary

  9. Portugal

  10. Greeece

And, more importantly, who do I think will qualify (in order of confidence):

  • Australia

  • Cyprus

  • Iceland

  • Slovenia

  • Czech Republic

  • Portugal

  • Hungary

  • Greece

  • Belarus

  • Georgia

Voting sequence interval act: Dana International is rarely a bad idea. But kiss cams are literally the worst. I wish she would sing one of her songs and not just this Bruno Mars one.

Interval Act: Quite liked the dj mix of ESC songs through history.

Auto Qualifiers:

Spain needs to sound better for the jury and live show at the end of the week. He sounds so breathy.
France’s staging is so smarmy – the words on the screen are so unnecessary.
Israel’s staging is the best one can do with such a boring song. At least he sounds good.

Qualifiers!

  • Greece! As expected (1 correct out of 1 qualifiers)

  • Belarus – the power of a good staging (2 for 2)

  • Serbia! – unexpected but nice! (2 for 3)

  • Cyprus – again, no surprise (3 for 4)

  • Estonia – I guess he sounded better last night (3 for 5)

  • Czech Republic – Woohoo! (4 for 6)

  • Australia – again, perfect staging! (5 for 7)

  • Iceland – no surprise (6 for 8)

  • San Marino!! – the power of the running order, everyone! (6 for 9)

  • Slovenia – as expected, they’ve been a betting odds favorite for quite some time (7 out of 10)

Final Thoughts:

Cannot wait to see the final split scores. I am assuming Estonia and San Marino sounded better last night in the jury finals. Super stoked that San Marino finally qualified again! The song is fun and catchy, though, he needs to sound way better if he hopes to outdo Valentina’s 24th place. I am very pleasantly surprised by Serbia’s qualification. And saddened by Portugal’s lack of qualification. Cannot say that I am surprised by Hungary or Georgia, though I would have liked to see both move through. Georgia was just too dark, I think, and Hungary was a bit too low energy (listen to the studio version, there’s much more passion in it). Overall, I am satisfied. Australia, I think, was by far the strongest tonight. It will be interesting to see how these ten songs fare on Saturday.


Eurovision Notes 2019!

Hello Dear Readers and Happy Eurovision Week!

Eurovision Obsession logoOnce again, I have created notes for y’all’s various Eurovision parties. This way you do not have to answer the same questions, over and over again.

First, we have the Notes! This includes a brief history of the Contest, a summary of the major rules, information about this year’s event, and what to expect from the show. Also, new this year, I have included brief summaries of each song.

ESC 2019 Write-ups

Second, we have the traditional country profiles! A brief rundown of a country’s history, this year’s entry, and a little bit about the performing artist. All in alphabetical order (by country).

2019 Country Profiles*

Enjoy!! I’m going to try to update them so you can have Grand Final versions.

*Editor’s Note: This version of the country profiles has some outdated info. EO apologizes for the error.


ESC 2019: Contender or Pretender!

Contender or Pretender logo

Hello Dear Readers!

It is time again for our annual Contender or Pretender series! And, for 2019, it’s all in one easy-to-read post. This series looks at the top ten of the betting odds prior to the start of rehearsals and attempts to figure which ones are truly challenging for victory (contenders) and which ones do not stand a realistic chance at winning (pretenders). Per usual, the ten entries will be examined in random order.

  1. Sweden

  2. Italy

  3. Switzerland

  4. Azerbaijan

  5. The Netherlands

  6. Russia

  7. Greece

  8. Cyprus

  9. Iceland

  10. Malta


Country: Sweden
Entry: Too Late for Love

Performed by: John Lundvik
Written by: John Lundvik, Anderz Wrethov, and Andreas “Stone” Johansson
Composed by: John Lundvik, Anderz Wrethov, and Andreas “Stone” Johansson

Why it is a contender: It is a strong (by European standards) R&B song that stands out from the crowd. It has a compelling collection of performers who know how to command the stage. The song is also quite catchy and warm.

EO logo with Swedish flag

Why it is a pretender: It’s schlager reminiscent of the 90s era of the Contest. There also is not a lot of strong precedent of people of color doing well at the Contest.

Final Verdict: Pretender! Aside from racism still being a very rampant part of Europe, this song is just too generic to actually win. I imagine that it will continue the trend we’ve seen with Sweden over the past few Contests, big jury score with a moderate to low televote.

 


Country: Italy
Entry: Soldi [Money]

Performed by: Mahmoud
Written by: Charlie Charles, Dario “Dardust” Faini, Alessandro Mahmoud
Composed by: Charlie Charles, Dario “Dardust” Faini, Alessandro Mahmoud

Why it is a contender: It’s super-contemporary, and quite biting. Plus, Italy always seems to have an automatic boost at ESC. The composition is also quite intriguing – immediately grabbing your attention and forcing you to listen.

Why it is a pretender: More diversity issues…Muslims are not exactly well-received throughout the continent. Furthermore, rap is not very successful at the Contest, with only two rap songs ever finishing in the Top Ten (Greece 2011 and Romania 2017).

Final Verdict: Contender! Aside from the facts that this song won the OGAE fan poll and has been jockeying at the top of the betting odds, this song is quintessential of today’s sound. Soldi has more sales, streams, and views than any other Eurovision song this year, by far.


Country: Switzerland
Entry: She Got Me

Performed by: Luca Hänni
Written by: Laurell Barker, Frazer Mac, Luca Hänni, Jon Hällgren, Lukas Hällgren
Composed by: Laurell Barker, Frazer Mac, Luca Hänni, Jon Hällgren, Lukas Hällgren

Why it is a contender: A contemporary song in the vein of Fuego performed by a hot guy who is an equally as good dancer. It sounds like something one hears in the clubs or at special events – i.e., it has mass appeal and gets folks moving!

Why it is a pretender: It is a bit of a generic song with two others, Malta and Cyprus, that have similar sounds that will siphon off points. Hänni has also shown himself to be not the strongest live performer.

Final Verdict: Contender! This song has been insanely popular since its release and has the added benefit of being a male-driven song when its nearest competitors are female. Expect Switzerland to not only reach the Top Ten for the first time in a long time, expect it to challenge for victory.


Country: Azerbaijan
Entry: Truth

Performed by: Chingiz
Written by: Borislav Milanov, Trey Campbell, Pablo Dinero, Hostess, Joacim Persson
Composed by: Borislav Milanov, Chingiz Mustafayev, Trey Campbell, Pablo Dinero, Hostess, Joacim Persson

Why it is a contender: Azerbaijan is back! This is the blend of ethnopop and ridiculousness that Azerbaijan has made itself known for in its earlier years. Chingiz is particularly hot and is a showman.

EO logo with Azerbaijani flag

Why it is a pretender: Even at its height, Azerbaijan never truly threatened for victory. And the one year it did win, was a matter of surviving when the televote and jury vote were deeply split. This song is also a bit dramatic and stands out in not necessarily a good way.

Final Verdict: Pretender! Aside from the fact that Azerbaijan does not have a great track record of success since Turkey resigned from the Contest, Truth does not really have enough quality to surpass the stronger entries and not enough flair to surpass the flashier entries.


Country: The Netherlands
Entry: Arcade

Performed by: Duncan Laurence
Written by: Duncan de Moor, Joel Sjöö, Wouter Hardy
Composed by: Duncan de Moor, Joel Sjöö, Wouter Hardy

Why it is a contender: A powerful song of heartbreak arising from naiveté, sung powerfully by a beautiful boy. Not only that, the song is simple and direct, which has been a successful combination as of late.

EO logo witch Dutch flag

Why it is a pretender: Laurence has not proven himself to have the strongest stage presence. Not only that, the song’s simplicity can cause it to get lost among the array of uptempo songs, particularly if the producers give it a poor spot in the running order.

Final Verdict: Contender! Just like Portugal in 2017 and Israel in 2018, Netherlands has been atop the betting odds since it was released by the Dutch broadcaster. This song also is consistently popular across the web.


Russian flag mapCountry: Russia
Entry: Scream

Performed by: Sergey Lazarev
Written by: Sharon Vaughn, Dimitris Kontopoulos
Composed by: Philip Kirkorov, Dimitris Kontopoulos

Why it is a contender: The song is dynamic, we know that Lazarev is good for performing a stunning stag show. He’s attractive and has a good voice. Not to mention, precedent currently shows that a Russian singer returning to the Contest after finishing in the Top Ten wins (Dima Bilan was runner-up in 2006 and then won in 2008).

EO logo with Russian flag

Why it is a pretender: This song, much like his previous one, is more style than substance. The juries have also repeatedly shown a distaste towards Russia, and it seems unlikely to change this year.

Final Verdict: Contender! Russia has been aiming towards victory since it last won. Expect this year to have an even more amazing stage show than we saw in 2016 and for Russia to soak up a higher percentage of jury votes as other songs, which are more similar, split points.


Country: Greece
Entry: Better Love

Performed by: Katerine Duska
Written by: Katerine Duska, David Sneddon
Composed by: Katerine Duska, Leon of Athens, David Sneddon

Why it is a contender: Better Love is an easy to sing along with anthem celebrating love. It’s catchy and Duska is a character. If the staging is in the same vein as the music video, this act will stand out quite a bit.

Why it is a pretender: Anthems, while catchy, rarely succeed outside of the arena and with those beyond the core demographics of the fan base. Furthermore, if the staging is in the same vein as the music video, this act will be seen as a more than a bit overtop and overwhelming.

Final Verdict: Pretender! As much as I would love to be able to pronounce that Greece has returned to its former glory, it’s just not the case. Duska will have to work hard to nail the vocals and carry the same attitude she has become known for. Expect this to be one of the bigger favorites that fall short of the Top Ten.


Country: Cyprus
Entry: Replay

Performed by: Tamta
Written by: Alex Papaconstantinou, Geraldo Sandell, Viktor Svensson, Albin Nedler, Kristoffer Fogelmark
Composed by: Alex Papaconstantinou, Geraldo Sandell, Viktor Svensson, Albin Nedler, Kristoffer Fogelmark

Why it is a contender: A sexy lady singing a catchy song that exudes a confidence that many aspire to have. And, if Fuego is any indication, the Cypriot broadcaster has top choreographers and directors on hand to plan a stunning performance.

Why it is a pretender: This song is pretty much a carbon copy of Fuego, as such, these kinds of duplicates rarely surpass the achievements of their predecessor.

Final Verdict: Pretender! Don’t get me wrong, I am quite confident that this will finish in the Top Ten. However, I do not think it will come close to winning. There are simply too many stronger entries in the field this year and too many direct comparisons for this to overcome.


Country: Iceland
Entry: Hatrið mun Sigra [Hatred with Prevail]

Performed by: Hatari
Written by: Einar Hrafn Stefánsson, Klemens Nikulásson Hannigan, Matthías Tryggvi Haraldsson
Composed by: Einar Hrafn Stefánsson, Klemens Nikulásson Hannigan, Matthías Tryggvi Haraldsson

Why it is a contender: As the strongest rock song this year, Iceland gets a boost to its interest. Not only that, but the overall outlandishness of Hatari’s persona is enough to draw an abundance of attention.

Why it is a pretender: The outlandish nature of Hatari is a double-edged sword and will likely turn off many viewers. Lordi in 2006 had the added benefit of a generally inoffensive song (though, it was not without controversy), with a title like “Hatred will Prevail,” this entry will surely turn off the millions of casual viewers who will be casting the bulk of votes on Saturday.

Final Verdict: Pretender! Hatari is no Lordi and I doubt that they can reproduce the Finnish band’s success. Not to mention, novelty acts have been losing popularity over the past decade and, regardless of Hatari’s level of sincerity, they will come off as a mere gimmick. I’m not sure if this even has enough to reach the Top Ten.


Country: Malta
Entry: Chameleon

Performed by: Michaela
Written by: Joacim Persson, Paula Winger, Borislav Milanov, Johan Alkenäs
Composed by: Joacim Persson, Paula Winger, Borislav Milanov, Johan Alkenäs

Why it is a contender: Like Cyprus and Switzerland, this song is in the same vein as Fuego and is more than capably performed by the young Michaela. It’s a catchy and assertive song that will get folks up and moving.

EO logo with Maltese flag

Why it is a pretender: Unlike most of the songs on this list, Malta has direct competition with Cyprus and Switzerland. As such, there will be direct comparisons that Chameleon will have to deal with that the Netherlands or Russia will not.

Final Verdict: Pretender! As much as I think this is the strongest entry between the three Fuego copies, it is consistently performing behind the other two among fan votes and throughout most of the betting odds. Furthermore, few teenagers have the stage presence enough to win the Contest. I do think it will finish in the Top Ten.


Contender or Pretender 2019: Recap!

So, there you have it, the top ten in the betting odds heading into the rehearsals divided into serious contenders and those pretending to challenge for the win. A quick recap of this year’s predictions:

Contenders:

Italy
Switzerland
The Netherlands
Russia

Pretenders:

Sweden
Azerbaijan
Greece
Cyprus
Iceland
Malta

A few other songs not currently in the top ten of the betting odds to put on your radar?

None this year, I truly think one of the four above contenders will win. I do think we’ll see some surprises (per usual) in the Top Ten come the Grand Final. I think Australia will return to it (since the crafting of this series, Australia has moved into the betting odds top ten). France has also moved into the Top Ten, but France has not had much luck when going in with betting favor (see: 2009, 2011, 2016, and 2017). Spain and North Macedonia will also be much higher than usual, likely in the Top Ten. I think both songs are strong and stand out among those around it in the crowd.


ESC 2019 – Song Reviews: Recap!

Hello Dear Readers!

I think this might be the quickest I’ve gone through the reviews, haha, but desperate times call for desperate measures. So, a quick recap of the reviews for those who want the simple TL:DR summary.

My Personal Top Ten

  1. The Netherlands

  2. Latvia

  3. North Macedonia

  4. Czech Republic

  5. Greece

  6. Azerbaijan

  7. Albania

  8. Germany

  9. Portugal

  10. Norway

Who I think will qualify:

First Semi-Final

Second Semi-Final

  • Greece

  • Portugal

  • Estonia

  • Iceland

  • Australia

  • Belgium

  • Czech Republic

  • Slovenia

  • San Marino

  • Cyprus

  • The Netherlands

  • North Macedonia

  • Azerbaijan

  • Russia

  • Sweden

  • Malta

  • Albania

  • Denmark

  • Armenia

  • Switzerland

And who do I think will finish in the Top Ten?

  • The Netherlands

  • Italy

  • Russia

  • Sweden

  • Malta

  • Cyprus

  • Spain

  • Portugal

  • Greece

  • Switzerland

Who among these do I think can win? Well, you’ll have to come back for my Contender or Pretender Series!


ESC 2019 – Song Reviews: Automatic Qualifiers

Hello Dear Readers!

We are storming right along with song reviews. Now, we turn to the six songs automatically qualifying for the Grand Final: Israel + the Big Five.

Votes in Semi:

Country

Performing Artist

Song

Selection

1

Germany

S!sters

Sister

National Final

Another sweet song; this one is about two women overcoming catty infighting. There’s a lot of mixed feelings about this song among the fan community; but I like it. It’s inspiring and just makes you feel good when you hear it. With that said, it is likely that this will take Germany back to the bottom of the scoreboard. Just not sure how much mass appeal it has.

1

Italy

Mahmood

Soldi

National Final

The other big favorite after the Netherlands, the first rap song that has real potential to win (and only the second predicted to do well). Soldi has the added bonus of winning the OGAE fan club vote, which is 5-7 in predicting the winner in its 13-year history. Clearly, Italy will continue its dominance among the Big Five; and perhaps, we’ll be back in Rome next year.

1

United Kingdom

Michael Rice

Bigger than Us

Mixed

The UK continues to send strong, yet underappreciated, songs. We’ll see how the running order treats the Brits this year. Rice is a powerful singer and this is a very likeable song with appeal to both, the juries and the older folks who watch ESC. I imagine this will finish mid-table, which isn’t too bad for the UK which has been struggling these past few years.

2

Israel

Kobi Marimi

Home

Mixed

I appreciate the power of Marimi’s voice and the inspiring message of the song. But Home is so boring. I just..I can’t even. And Marimi looks so smug. I just…I can’t even. Expect this to continue the recent trend of host nations falling flat.

2

Spain

Miki Núñez

La Venda

National Final

Spain is back, baby! Well, it has a fun song that is both catchy and contemporary. Unfortunately, there are much stronger entries this year, but Spain should be back in the Top Ten with La Venda. You just can’t help but smile and dance when you hear this.

2

France

Bilal Hassani

Roi

National Final

While Toy was an anthem that was merely stolen & adopted by the gays, this is an anthem built for gays, by gays. The composition, the lyrics, even Hassani’s voice – none of these indicate that this should be good. But when this song comes on, I swear, rainbows shoot out of me. Expect this to light up rainbow flags across the continent and end up in between 11th and 15th.

How do I rank these six songs for my personal preference?

  1. Germany

  2. Spain

  3. France

  4. Italy

  5. United Kingdom

  6. Israel

How do I think they will finish (relative to one another) in the Grand Final?

  1. Italy

  2. Spain

  3. France

  4. United Kingdom

  5. Israel

  6. Germany

But, more importantly, do I think any of these songs has a chance at victory?

Italy is a legitimate contender for victory. Which, as I said before, is weird because it is a rap song. I think it captures a certain angst or frustration that so many experience without a positive outlet for it. This song is wildly popular, won the fan poll, has the highest streaming numbers, and is perhaps the most modern song this year. We could very well end up in Rome (or Naples or Venice or Milan…) next year.


ESC 2019 – Song Reviews: Second Semi-Final

Hello Dear Readers!

While the First Semi-Final is packed full with average level songs, the second semi-final is a juggernaut, containing six of the top ten of the bookies’ favorites within it. Definitely one of the strongest semi-finals to date. So, who is going to survive?

 

 Running Order

Country

Performing Artist

Song

Selection

EO logo with Armenian flag

1

Armenia

Srbuk

Walking Out

Internal

This song represents an intriguing phenomenon. When you listen to it, you’re rocked by its banging composition and the powerful vocals. But as soon as it’s over…you forget it. Which puts its position in the running order – first – as a particularly bad omen. It needs to hope for a perfect 30 second clip for the recap to survive this gauntlet of a semi-final.

2

Ireland

Sarah McTernan

22

Internal

This is a cute song and an adorable singer. However, it is not very memorable and I am unsure of McTernan’s ability to perform live. I think this is a serviceable song and will likely give Ireland a respectable finish, but not a qualification.

3

Moldova

Anna Odobescu

Stay

National Selection

I love this song. It’s powerfully sung, has an interesting composition, and is not just a standard “please don’t leave me” song. However, it is a bit dated and has not exactly been tearing it up on the charts. Sadly, it is not going to qualify, but I do quite like it.

4

Switzerland

Luca Hänni

She Got Me

Mixed

WHOA! When was the last time that Switzerland had a contemporary song that was at the top of the betting odds? Now, personally, I think this song is a bit overrated, but I definitely get its appeal. The beat is fun, the lyrics are simple, and I imagine the dance routine will be outstanding. Expect the Swiss’ fourteen year dry spell to come to an end.

5

Latvia

Carousel

That Night

National Final

One of my favorites this year. Smooth, simple, and just plain groovy. Unfortunately, like Moldova, this is not a popular song. Unlike Moldova, I do not quite understand why. It is contemporary and stands out from the crowd. Expect this to fall flat in the arena and one television, unfortunately.

6

Romania

Ester Peony

On a Sunday

National Final

A fun and interesting song that helps you feel better about that break-up. If this was just about any other year, then it would be an easy qualifier. If this was on Tuesday, it would be an easy qualifier. In this semi-final, though, I’m not sure it can survive.

7

Denmark

Leonora

Love is Forever

National Final

This song is so adorable and Leonora is so sweet. It is exciting that, after 21 years, Denmark is finally sending a song that has a significant amount of non-English, but heartbreaking that DR is shying away from using the Danish language. This is likely to finish in the 8-12 range. It might sneak into the Final, but at the expense of songs with stronger betting odds.

8

Sweden

John Lundvik

Too Late for Love

National Final

In my opinion, the most overrated song in the Contest this year. It is a serviceable R&B song, but overall fairly generic. There are various, potentially problematic situations I am seeing around the ESC community around his backing singers (great articles here and here about the subject). I know this song is likely to finish in the Top Ten, but I think there are better entries that it will be blocking.

9

Austria

PAENDA

Limits

Internal

Like Denmark, this is a sweet song. Unlike Denmark, though, this song is not very interesting or captivating. While PAENDA is adorable and her voice is ethereal, this song is just…boring.

EO logo with Croatian flag

10

Croatia

Roko Blaževic

The Dream

National Final

This song is great for vocal warm-ups. One of the last things I do to make sure I’m ready to go. Otherwise, this song does not have too much merit. The lyrics are trite; the composition is basic – but his voice is amazing! I hope he comes back next year with a good song.

EO logo with Maltese flag

11

Malta

Michela Pace

Chameleon

Mixed

So, this song is often compared with Cyprus and Switzerland. While it is also quite popular, it is languishing behind the other two in the betting odds, despite being a stronger song in my opinion. A clear qualifier, for sure, and likely to finish in the Top Ten.

EO logo with Lithuanian flag

12

Lithuania

Jurijus Veklenko

Run with the Lions

National Final

My least favorite song, by far. The lyrics are poor, the composition is unappealing, and his voice is not a good fit for either. While this song may have had a chance in a weaker semi-final, there is no way it is qualifying.

EO logo with Russian flag

13

Russia

Sergey Lazarev

Scream

Internal

Sergey Lazarev is back! And hoping to reproduce the magic Dima Bilan was able to generate with his return trip in 2008 (Bilan achieved second place in 2006 before winning in Belgrade). Lazarev is back two Contests later after a Top Ten placing (remember, Russia skipped 2017) and, if his music video is any indication, he’s going to be bringing another astounding stage show. Expect this to qualify and threaten to win.

EO logo with Albanian flag

14

Albania

Jonida Maliqi

Ktheju Tokës

National Final

Another one of my favorites, a deeply powerful song. Like Georgia, this song has a distinct national flair to it. Unlike Georgia, this song is assertive instead of aggressive and captivating instead of frightening. Despite these advantages, I’m not sure it will qualify; I’m thinking 8-12th place for this.

EO logo with Norwegian flag

15

Norway

KEIINO

Spirit in the Sky

National Final

This is a fun song that attempts a genre that one only sees at Eurovision – the blending of traditional folk with schlager. This song does it quite well, too. The energy is amazing and the three of them work well together. However, there’s always a song each year that is high in the odds but fails to qualify; I think this might be it for 2019.

16

Netherlands

Duncan Laurence

Arcade

Internal

Another one of my favorites. Like Austria last year, from the first moment I heard this I thought it sounded like a winner. And, unlike Austria last year, this is leading the betting odds. It is contemporary, it is powerful, and Laurence is amazingly attractive. These come together to form a perfect storm for a potential winner.

EO logo with North Macedonian flag

17

North Macedonia

Tamara Todevska

Proud

Internal

A powerful song about female empowerment; like a mature version of Toy. This might be NMak’s best chance at qualifying in ages. Todevska has already proven that she can perform well on the ESC stage; this time, though, she has a song worth her amazing talent. I expect this to qualify but not quite reach the Top Ten.

EO logo with Azerbaijani flag

18

Azerbaijan

Chingiz

Truth

Internal

Finally, Azerbaijan is back with a song that is eccentric, unique, and will have an inherently interesting staging – just like in its golden years. A real banger of a song by a hot guy with a composition that is stunning. I cannot wait to see what it looks like on the stage in Tel Aviv.

My favorite ten

  1. The Netherlands

  2. Latvia

  3. North Macedonia

  4. Azerbaijan

  5. Albania

  6. Norway

  7. Moldova

  8. Denmark

  9. Russia

  10. Malta

Who I think will qualify (in no particular order)

  • The Netherlands

  • North Macedonia

  • Azerbaijan

  • Russia

  • Sweden

  • Malta

  • Albania

  • Denmark

  • Armenia

  • Switzerland

Russian flag mapBut, more importantly, do I think any of these songs have a legitimate shot at winning?

Oh my goodness, yes! The Netherlands, Switzerland, Russia, Malta, and Sweden all have legitimate chances at victory. All are in the top ten of the betting odds and will be memorable when standing against the other entries in the field. Realistically, I do not think Malta and Sweden are as serious contenders as the other three, but they should be taken seriously.


ESC 2019 – Song Reviews: First Semi-Final

…and we’re back!

Hello Dear Readers!

Standard reasons for my disappearance apply…life…school…dissertation…mental health issues…and I founded a Pride Festival! With that all said, don’t think I’ve forgotten about you or Eurovision and am stoked for next week’s shows! Per usual, since I listen to the songs before the show, I don’t watch the stagings until the broadcasts.

We start with the First Semi-Final, the weaker of the two, by far. As such, after the handful of easy to guess songs, it was difficult to pick through all of these songs that are so evenly matched to determine who would qualify. Let me know your thoughts!

Running Order

County

Performing Artist

Song Title

Selection Method

1

Cyprus

Tamta

Replay

Internal

Like Greece a decade ago, Cyprus is repackaging basically the same song it found success with last year. There’s actually a nifty video that has a mash-up of Fuego and Replay that drives the point home. Redundancy notwithstanding, Replay took a successful formula and continues to extend it with a driving rhythm, easy lyrics, and an equally as beautiful singer. Let’s see if they can stage it as well as last year’s song.

2

Montenegro

D mol

Heaven

National Final

Supergroups are rarely a good idea at Eurovision. These six all seem sweet and nice enough, and their voices work well together, but the song is just boring and unforgettable. I do not expect this to qualify.

3

Finland

Darude &Sebastian Rejman

Look Away

Mixed

This song, unsurprisingly, has an incredibly dated sound. Why five to ten years ago, it would have fit in well with the popularity of 90s dance retro sound, today it just sounds…old. I’m also not a big fan of these kind of, “let’s make the world a better place,” generic songs that have more talk than actual action.

4

Poland

Tulia

Fire of Love (Pali się)

Internal

I’m not sure how I feel about this song. Tulia is more than a bit creepy with the way they stand so still and look so blank and sing in unison. This song, though, it’s hard to pull away from; it grabs you and it’s hard to shake off. What does that mean in terms of their qualification chances? Ehh, not sure, but I don’t think they’re going to make it.

5

Slovenia

Zara Kralj & Gašper Šantl

Sebi

National Final

This song is immensely popular, so I think it will have no trouble qualifying. In fact, I think this could theoretically land Slovenia back in the Top Ten for the first time since 2001. Though, I think a more realistic expectation would be mid-table, much like There for You in 2015, which was also quite popular but not a strong competition song.

6

Czech Republic

Lake Malawi

Friend of a Friend

National Final

I really like this song – it’s so fun. It also has the added benefit of being incredibly catchy and easy to sing along to. I think that it should qualify, but I don’t expect it to repeat last year’s success. I’m thinking mid-table finish in the teens.

7

Hungary

Joci Pápai

Az en Apám

National Final

Pápai returns with an emotional song about his father. Unfortunately, it is not quite as moving as Origo. I think it depends on the staging, as we know his vocals are quite strong, as to whether he will qualify or not. I see this finishing somewhere between 8-12.

8

Belarus

Zena

Like It

National Final

Blatantly going for the teen girl vote, Belarus hopes that Zena, this year’s youngest performer, can get them back to the Final for the second time in three years. Unfortunately, this song is rather generic and will seem even more so coming between two emotion-driven songs in Hungary and Serbia. Expect this song to languish behind in the semi-finals.

9

Serbia

Nevena Božovic

Kruna

National Final

I love the power of this song and Božovic sings this amazingly. Unfortunately, I don’t think this song has mass appeal. It is a standard Balkan ballad without any kind of notable composition or lyrics that set it apart. I do not have much hope for this one, but would be pleasantly surprised to see it succeed.

10

Belgium

Eliot

Wake Up

Internal

I like this song, but do not quite understand why it is so high on people’s lists and with the bookies. To me, this is a generic pixie-dream-boy song, but, we know that Belgium does well with these (see 2010, 2013, and 2015) though, this is nowhere near as strong as Rhythm Inside or Me and My Guitar.

11

Georgia

Oto Nemsadze

Keep on Going

Mixed

This is perhaps one of the most powerful songs, in terms of vocal delivery, in recent memory. Unfortunately, the song is so intense that I fear he comes off as angry. On top of that, the song is not very accessible – it lacks a catchy a melody or lyrics – so, expect this to fare quite poorly.

12

Australia

Kate Miller-Heidke

Zero Gravity

National Final

Interestingly, this is Australia’s fifth entry, but the first time that it is sending a white person. A testament to that country’s cultural shift of appreciating and promoting diversity. With that said, this song is quite pleasant to listen to and she’s such a fun performer. Australia has always been a jury favorite and I see no reason why this would change things this year. Expect Australia to qualify easily and challenge for the Top Ten.

13

Iceland

Hatari

Hatrið mun Sigra

National Final

Since the advent of the semi-final 16 years ago, Iceland has qualified eight times, every year from 2008-2014. But its recent string of failures will likely turn around this year. Hatrið Mun Sigra is a bookies darling and has a hoard of devoted fans. Will it actually finish in the Top Ten? Perhaps, it is the only rock song this year, but it will likely not get anywhere close to the top.

14

Estonia

Victor Crone

Storm

National Final

This is song has all the trappings of contemporary Christian music – easy to sing along to, super basic composition, and vaguely inspiring lyrics. Just like CCM, though, this song will have wide appeal because it is meant to burrow itself into your brain. In this semi-final, Estonia should easily qualify, but probably will fall flat in the Final.

15

Portugal

Conan Osíris

Telemóveis

National Final

Another head-scratcher, but, like Poland and Iceland, strangely captivating. Unlike Poland and Iceland, though, Telemóveis is more widely popular and appealing. It is a modern take on Portuguese fado music – as haunting as this traditional genre tends to be but with an updated sound that is both, intriguing and interesting. Definitely going to qualify and potential return Portugal to the Top Ten for only the third time.

16

Greece

Katerine Duska

Better Love

Internal

A song built to be an anthem (likely for the sizeable gay male fan base), Better Love is a traditional Eurovision song, like one would expect from the Swedish juggernaut. Why the song is a bit average in its construction, Duska is a great singer and this song is likely to trigger a sense of familiarity in listeners who associate this sound with Eurovision. This is likely to finally return Greece to the Top Ten for the first time since 2013.

17

San Marino

Serhat

Say Na Na Na

Internal

Serhat returns with a song actually designed to be uptempo. Like in 2016, it is hard to truly predict where this song will end up. It is fun and catchy, but not high quality. However, Serhat is popular among the fans and was able to achieve 12th in the semi-final with a weaker song three years ago. I think it has what it takes to qualify, but it will be close.

My favorite ten

  1. Czech Republic

  2. Greece

  3. Portugal

  4. Australia

  5. Poland

  6. Serbia

  7. Slovenia

  8. San Marino

  9. Hungary

  10. Cyprus

Who I think will qualify (in no particular order)

  • Greece

  • Portugal

  • Estonia

  • Iceland

  • Australia

  • Belgium

  • Czech Republic

  • Slovenia

  • San Marino

  • Cyprus

    Eurovision Obsession logo

But, more importantly, do I think any of these songs have a legitimate shot at winning?

 

Quite frankly, no. Don’t get me wrong, I think Cyprus, Greece, and Portugal can break into the Top Ten, but none of them are legitimate contenders (more in my upcoming Pretender or Contender series later this week).


San Marino Goes Internal

Hello Dear Readers!

As a part of the OGAE ROW points race for tickets for ESC 2020, I am keeping tabs on San Marino’s selection process. Unfortunately, this year, SMRTV has decided to revert to an internal selection as opposed to doing another national selection like their collaboration with 1in360 from last year. Anywho, this is my first post for their blog. Enjoy!

San Marino’s Entry is Slowly Becoming Clearer

San Marino under a magnifying glassSan Marino after the swirling of rumors and anticipation on social networks, the microstate’s participating broadcaster, Radiotelevisione della Repubblica di San Marino (SMRTV), made an unexpected announcement shortly before we all flipped our calendars into the new year. Not only would SMRTV not be working with 1in360 this year, but they have reached an agreement with an “international artist” who will be announced soon along with their song; we must only stand by for the official press conference in a few weeks. Head of Delegation Alessandro Capicchioni and the SMRTV team are optimistic that this will entry will bring about a change in fortune for San Marino, who has qualified for the Final only once.

The Sammarinese delegation noted they considered a variety of proposals (maybe that including holding a national final again) and that this was the best option. I didn’t know, nor did most of the Eurovision community, that San Marino had so many options available to them. SMRTV General Director Carlo Romeo had this to say in an official press release,

This year we have worked hard on several proposals, as the Israeli edition is important to us for many reasons. Eventually we chose the best project, fully supported and approved with a wonderful International artist. Fingers crossed, but I think we will have a very good entry. Good luck to all our friends and colleagues involved in the organisation of such an important TV event, a world-wide event based on a joyous combination of music and dialogue, spectacle and friendship.

While I am disappointed in the lack of a semi-final, let’s hope the right choices are being made as post-production of the entry wraps up. SMRTV hopes that this song, their tenth in the Contest, will be the chain of light leading San Marino out of the depths of the ESC scoreboard.


ESC 2018 Grand Final Live Notes!

Hello Dear Readers!

The time is upon us once again – we shall be crowning a new Eurovision Champion tonight. Through a series of misfortunes, bad luck, and poor attention paid on my part, I’m in my hotel room here in Lisbon.

Which means I’m here to do live notes! Sonce I’ve seen the final twice before, I will focus on just the performances and votes.

Ukrainian Flag MapUkraine – he seemed weak or something, the intensity was there but not so much the quality.

Spanish Flag MapSpain – it was going really well until about the last third, when the wheels started to come off. They were out of tune throughout the last section.

Slovenian Flag MapSlovenia – ahhh, nice, instead of a power outage, they pulled it off as a call for the music to stop. Much better. The choreography for this act is amazing but the song is still mediocre at best.

Lithuanian Flag MapLithuania – we just saw the first winning performance tonight. Unfortunate for Lithuania, but fortunate for us, it won’t be the last.

Austrian Flag MapAustria – he was good! Still do not understand that outfit or the choice tonhave him appear as a large figure on screen.

Estonian Flag MapEstonia – there seems to be something going on, or perhaps just lost via tv, she seems to be at only partial strength. Still a fantastic song, though.

Norwegian Flag MapNorway – he also seems to be just a bit off tonight. Wow, we may see some unsuspecting entry back into victory with all these acts shooting themselves in the foot.

Portuguese Flag MapPortugal – man! She sung her heart out. This is a song that relies on the conveyance of passion and she pulled it off. It’s not going to win, but it will probably do better than initially thought.

British Flag MapUnited Kingdom – I’m really happy the crowd’s enthusiasm is coming through over the television. Her voice seems—- whoa!! We have a stage interruption first time since 2010 (Spain). She’ll be performing again after Italy.

We’re in the Green Room as we figure out the next steps

Serbian Flag MapSerbia – As good as they could be!

German Flag MapGermany – started off shaky, but got better throughout. I think Europe’s heartstrings are being pulled rather tight.

Albanian flag countryAlbania – still don’t quite get the appeal of this song. But he performs it well; hitting the high notes perfectly.

New French Flag MapFrance – I like this song less each time I hear it. They performed pretty well, though!

CzechFlagMapCzech Republic – definitely one of the best times he performed this. Should easily establish a new best position.

Denmark – he missed that high Danish Flag Mapnote. Though, this song and its call for retreat and sureender seem to resound with many folks.

Australian Flag MapAustralia – if she didn’t lose the victory last night, she surely did just now. That vocal performance was not great; which is a shame

Finnish Flag MapFinland – tame, but better than usual. This was my pick for last place. Maybe I’ll be wrong.

Bulgarian Flag CountryBulgaria – Golly, I love this song. And I think the staging fits it perfectly, as well. And they performed it passionately.

Moldovan Flag MapMoldova – fun performance, as always, perfectly executed. There seemed to be some harmony issues, but the overall impression is positive.

Swedish Flag MapSweden – aside from sounding out of breath at the beginning, he performed and danced flawlessly. Definitely another Top Ten placing for Sweden.

Hungarian Flag MapHungary – I’m really not the best judge of this song. It’s a tolerable screamo song; I guess that’s a positive. It was performed well, not much more I can say.

Israeli Flag CountryIsrael – she’s an amazing performer and this is the best I’ve seen her do this song! Is it enough to win? Probably not, but it’s definitely Top Ten.

Dutch Flag CountryThe Netherlands – In the US, this staging is what we would call “problematic.” I doubt the intention is to put forward the image of a white guy and his four dancing negroes, but that’s how this comes off. Just poorly thought out. The song is good and well-performed.

Irish Flag MapIreland – I hate being pandered to, and this sog about a straight guy going through a divorce hidden behind a pair of cute gay dancers is the definition of such. I like the song, but hate its presentation. I kinda hope it fails, though it probably will not.

Cypriot Flag MapCyprus – the song is catchy and fun, but her voice is not good. The choreography makes this song; without it, it’s just another attempt at sounding contemporary that originally landed at 26th in the betting odds. The performance was flawless, of course, the vocals, not so much, the song is average. It’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

Italian Flag MapItaly – Is it me, or were they going at half power like thise at the beginning of the show? Meh, this song has always not been for me.

*For whatever reason, the UK has decided to not have SuRie perform again. Why not take a free second performance? There is no reason not to. So, because she was shaky before and after the stage invasion, that’s what people are going to remember. Bad choice, BBC, bad choice.

So, my ten favorites from tonight:

1. Bulgaria

2. Portugal

3. Israel

4. Czech Republic

5. Austria

6. Estonia

7. Serbia

8. Moldova

9. Sweden

10. Finland

And who do I think will finish in the Top Ten? (in no prticular order)

• Israel

• Cyprus

• Australia

• Lithuania

• Germany

• France

• Sweden

• Norway

• Estonia

• Austria

And, finally, who is going to win?

CyprusI’m loathe to say this, but I think we might be heading to Cyprus next year. It’s an average song, but it’s gonna siphon a lotnofnthe gay vote and the teenage girl vote given the style and choreography. It will also get a lot of the general vote as it’s one of the more commercial-sounding entries this year. It’s a shame, there are better songs this year, but I don’t think any of them will be able to surmount Cyprus’ appeal.

Jury Votes!

And so it begins! Doize points get sent across all of Europe

Ukraine’s to France

Azerbaijan’s to Albania

Belarus’ to Cyprus

San Marino’s to Israel

So confusing so far!

The Netherlands’ to Germany

Macedonia’s to Estonia

Malta’s to Cyprus

Georgia’s to Sweden?!

Spain’s to Cyprus, none for Portugal

Austria’s to Israel

Denmark’s to Germany

Points are going every which way!!

UK’s to Austria

Sweden’s to Cyprus, none to Denmark

Latvia’s to Sweden

Albania’s to Italy

Croatia’s to Lithuania

Ireland’s to Cyprus

Romania’s to Austria!

Czech Republic’s to Israel

Iceland’s to Austria, none!! to Denmark or Norway

Moldova’s to Estonia

Belgium’s to Austria

Israel, Austria, and Cyprus are leading thus far

Norway’s to Germany, none for Denmark

France’s to Israel!

Norway just got its first 12! (From Italy)

Australia’s to Sweden

Estonia’s to Austria

No one believed me when is said Austria had a winning song.

Serbia’s to Sweden

Cyprus’ to Sweden

Armenia’s to Sweden

Bulgaria’s to Austria

Greece’s to Cyprus, no surprise there

Hungary’s to Denmark – how random

Montenegro’s to Serbia, no surprise there

Germany’s to Sweden

Finland’s to Israel

Russia (Alsou competed in 2000 and got 2nd place; she hosted the Grand Final in 2009) sent its to Moldova, not too surprising

Switzerland’s to Germany

Israel’s to Austria! And it’s back in the lead

Poland’s to Austria!

Three countries left!

Lithuania’s to Austria!

Slovenia’s to Sweden

Ten points between Austria and Sweden

Finally, Portugal’s to Estonia!

Austria wins the Jury with 271 points (Sweden is in second with 253; Israel in third with 212)

On to the televote!!

Australia, only 9

Portugal with 18

18 also for Spain

21 to Sweden — WHAT?!?!?!?!?!

23 to Slovenia and Finland

25 for the UK

32 for the Dutch

55 for Albania

59 for France

62 to Ireland

65 to Hungary (this is not going as expected)

66 to Bulgaria

71 to Austria?! Oh, golly, Cyprus is gonna win (only 130 over Israel)

75 to Serbia

84 to Norway

Lithuania gets 91

102 to Estonia

Moldova get 115

119 to Ukraine

136 to Germany

So, Austria will not win

188 to Denmark

215 to Czech Republic

Three left! Israel and Cyprus are both able to surpass Austria.

249 to Italy

So, for sure, the winner will be either Israel or Cyprus.

Cyprus is leading the vote?

Cyprus gets 253

Israel wins the televote and the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 with a total of 529 points!

Israeli Flag Country

The fourth victory for Israel, exactly twenty years after its third (Diva). In my opinion, a really good song. Truly “different” as Netta just said. As a bigger guy myself, it’s exciting to see a big person win – first time ever! This is also, as I’ve said previously, one of the most original songs this year and is a bit more reminiscent of what one sees at jESC. One of my favorites tonight and overall. Congrats to Isreal and its brandnew broadcaster, to Netta, her songwriting & production teams, and her backing dancers & singers!

Check back tomorrow for reflections and closing thoughts. As well as soon after for my annual awards!


Thoughts After the Grand Final Jury Show

Hello Dear Readers!

Whoo!! What a show! This is a very competitive year with many popular songs and many songs deserving of victory – with there being much overlap between the two.

So, thoughts and predictions after the jury Final?

Who helped their cause?

  • The ballads – Spain, Ireland, Germany, Portugal, and Lithuania all were top notch and performed the best they could. At least one will be top ten, if not two.

  • UK – while the audience reaction may not be conveyed on tv, the juries are  sequestered in the arena; SuRie had one of the biggest crowd reactions of the night and it definitely enhanced an already great performance.

  • Cyprus was, by far, the strongest uptempo number on the night. Still not convinced it appeals to the juries, but when compared to Czech Republic, Israel, Israel, UK, and Moldova – it shines.

  • France – again, Madame Monsieur stepped up their game and were stronger than ever. Paris is a feasible option for ESC 2019.

Who still has work to do?

  • Australia most likely lost this last night. It’s popular with the fans but it needed a strong jury performance to contend and it just wasn’t there.

  • Finland – she was screechy throughout the entire song; it just was not very well performed.

  • Italy seemed to be going at half power (which is to be expected at this point) – I predict another low jury score with a sizeable popular vote.

  • Slovenia – seemed to be off their game as well. I cannot quite put my finger on it, but they were not as strong as they have been all week.

Of course, there were songs that did well but probably still won’t impact their position with the juries: Hungary, Estonia, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and Serbia. These are genre songs that juries will either enjoy or not.

Fan reactions aren’t everything, but…

  • Cyprus, Australia, UK, Israel, France, Denmark, Germany, Slovenia, Estonia, and Norway had huge reactions in the arena.

  • Ukraine, Austria, Lithuania, Ireland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Sweden, and Spain all had big reactions that seemed to fizzle away.

  • Albania had little to no reaction (other than the high note)

So, who do I think will finish in the Top Ten (in no particular order):

 

 

  • France

  • Israel

  • Spain

  • Cyprus

  • Australia

  • Germany

  • Lithuania

  • Norway

  • Sweden

  • Estonia

 

So, after all of that, who do I think is going to win?

The smart money is on Cyprus. It has the fan support, mass appeal, and running order spot necessary for the win. It’s also been a few years since an uptempo song won.

If not Cyprus, then France would be the next smart choice. Popular song, jury appeal, and good running order position.

However, long time readers know that I don’t always go with the smart choice. So, who am I predicting to win?

LithuaniaLithuania — I think it has massive jury appeal and quite a bit of televote appeal, as well. For sure, Germany and Ireland will cut into its success, but I don’t think quite enough.

We’ll see!! I’m so excited and hope you are, too! See you after the show!


Reaction to the Second Semi-Final

Hello Dear Readers!

Ugh! I am losing my touch. Once again, only seven out of ten on predictions: Slovenia, Denmark, and Serbia all qualified whereas I had predicted Montenegro, Malta, and Romania.

So, as always, first, some historical markers:

  1. Russia and Romania join Azerbaijan as countries having their 100% qualification streak snapped.

  2. Leaving Australia and Ukraine as the last countries to hold that honor (thus far, Australia has always qualified for the final, once automatically and now three times from a semi).

  3. Slovenia qualifies for the first time since 2015.

  4. Russia’s Top Ten streak also comes to a halt at six. Leaving Sweden as the frontrunner, with four consecutive Top Ten finishes. Followed by Australia, with three, and then Bulgaria with two.

Key Reactions:

  • My biggest disappointment would have to be Malta’s failure. The staging was amazing! Truly elevating the song and conveying its meaning.

  • Biggest point of satisfaction would be Moldova’s qualification. At the end of the day, things were getting tight and they squeaked through.

  • Biggest Takeaway: Australia has come to win. When I watched it, I just got the feeling that I had just watched a winning performance. The crowd got more into it than any other song I’ve seen this year, including other top contenders like France, Cyprus, Israel, and Estonia.

There you have it! Our finalists are known. As I write this, the running order was just announced and Cyprus has risen to the top of the betting odds. It’s going to be an interesting and competitive year.