Eurovision 2010 – Bærum/Oslo

Eurovision 2010 – Oslo: One Week Later

Howdy Folks,

It has been a week since Germany has won “Europe’s favorite tv show” and I thought it would be a good idea to post some of my final opinions about this year’s Contest.  The following are “awards” I give to the various acts as I see fit.  Feel free to agree, disagree, or post some of your own “awards.”

Awards for This Year:

Best Dressed:

Winner: Iceland (I loved the whirling effects her dress added to the performance)

First Runner-Up: Belarus (very classy; neat butterfly wings)

Honorable Mention: Malta, Poland, Israel, Macedonia, Georgia, Spain

Most in Need of a Costume Change (Worst Dressed)

“Winner”: Lithuania (I could have done without the sparkly shorts)

First Runner-Up: Armenia (really, it looks like it was pulled out of Eva Rivas’ closet at the last second)

Cutest Boy: The hardest category this year, as about a third of the countries entered one

Winner: Harel Skaat (Israel)

First Runner-Up: Marcin Mronzinski (Poland)

Second  Runner-Up: Josh Dubovie (UK)

Honorable Mention: Belgium, Belarus, Norway, Estonia, Russia, Turkey, Cyprus

Cutest Gal:

Winner: Eva Rivas (Armenia)

First Runner-Up: Sofia Nizharde (Georgia)

Second Runner-Up: Safura (Azerbaijan) (as you can see, there seems to be a Caucasus theme)

Honorable Mention: Belarus, Ukraine (though, she scares me a bit), Portugal

“Spirit of ABBA” Award:  Given to the most stereotypical ESC song

Winner: It’s for You (Ireland) – What’s more ESC than an Irish ballad?

First Runner-Up: That Sounds Good to Me (UK) – C’mon, is this a surprise?

Second Runner-Up: Ik ben Verferlied (Sha-la-lie) (NET) – See above

“This is D.C. Calling…” Award: Given to the most American sounding ESC song

Winner: Drip Drop (Azerbaijan) – it’s not hard to imagine Rihanna or Miley Cyrus singing this one

First Runner-Up: Sweet People (Ukraine) – edgy, modern style, implores environmental and social action, this entry has California written all over it

Second Runner-Up: We Could be the Same (Turkey) – If I didn’t know better, I would have thought it was Hoobastank representing the Turks

Honorable Mention: It’s All About You (Albania) – soulful number that actually has three American backing singers

“Pond Leaper” Award: While I think every song would be able to find a niche here in the USA, these are the songs I think would be the most popular.

Winner: Drip Drop (Azerbaijan) – powerful R&B~pop number

First Runner-Up: It’s for You (Ireland) – adult contemporary is one of the most popular genres for radio stations

Second Runner-Up (Tie): Me and My Guitar (Belgium)/Life Looks Better in Spring (Cyprus) – I can’t decide between these two, singer-songwriter types have always been big here

The Shiri Maimon Travesty of the Year Award: In 2005, a true work of art was entered into the ESC; Israel was being 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.

Winner: Fourteenth Place for Israel — It’s one thing to argue whether or not this song should have won, there are valid arguments on both sides of that debate, but there is no reason this song should not have been in the Top Ten.  It is a downright shame and travesty that this song finished just outside the bottom ten.

First Runner-Up: Bosnia & Herzegovina making the Final — The first semi-final was weak!  But still, Finland, Poland, and Macedonia all had superior songs and performances than BiH, yet they failed to make it through.  BiH undeservedly slipped through to the Final this year.

Second Runner-Up: Croatia being left behind in the Semi-Finals — pegged to be a winner and one of the most moving ballads this year, Lako je Sve should have been a shoo-in for the Final.  Instead, come Saturday, Feminnem was watching the show from the sidelines instead of the Green Room.  Not to take anything away from any of the ten qualifying acts from the second semi-final, but there is no reason this song should not have made it through.

Honorable Mention: 23rd place for Ireland — not only is Niamh Kavanaugh a former winner, but It’s for You was the best ballad this year.  It’s an egregious affront that the Emerald Isle finished so low on the scoreboard.

Now, the big award…My Top Ten Award: Given to my ten favorite songs from the Contest.  Like last year, I liked every song enough to put it on my iPod, but only ten of them can make this list.  The winners are ranked from tenth to first (most favorite).  These songs were the ones good enough to grab my attention and affection from the first moment I heard it at the Contest and have gotten the most plays on my iPod.

10. Switzerland: Il Pleut de l’Or – Michael van der Heide – MvdH has won me over, what an enjoyable song!

10. Turkey: We Could be the Same – maNga – awesome pop-rock number, though, I don’t know if a second place finish was right

9. Estonia: Siren – Malcolm Lincoln and ManPower 4 – it’s so unique and captivating…and so much fun to sing along, too

8. Bulgaria: Angel Si Ti – Miro – one of the few dance songs I can listen to regardless of my mood

7. Norway: My Heart is Yours – Didrik Solli-Tangen – a passion filled song with a disappointing performance on the night, nonetheless, I love it anyway

6. The Netherlands: Ik ben Verliefd – Sienke – so it is a little old fashioned, so what?  It is fun and cute, and Sienke does a great job with it

5. Ireland: It’s for You – Niamh Kavanaugh – I loved Niamh Kavanaugh’s first song, and I love this one even more

4. Croatia: Lako je Sve – Feminnem – another passionate ballad this year, it’s a shame they didn’t move through

3. Lithuania: East European Funk – InCulto – it’s so much fun, and high energy, and catchy!

2. Israel: Milim – Harel Skaat – probably the best song and performance artistically speaking (and the fact that Israel became the first country to take all three Marcel Bezençal Awards speaks to that fact)

1. Russia: Lost and Forgotten – Peter Nalitch & Friends – can someone please explain to me why everyone hates this song.  Is it because they beat those six grandmothers?  The song is so moving and so passionate!


Notes on the Eurovision Song Contest 2010 – Oslo

The Grand Final

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

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

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

Pre-Contest Predictions:

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

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

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

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

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

5. Armenia (popular song; large Diaspora)

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

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

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

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

Now, onwards to the show!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Predictions:

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

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

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

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

The Voting:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ü  Poland: No surprises

ü  BiH: no surprises

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

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

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

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

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

ü  Azerbaijan: No big surprises.

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

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

ü  Iceland: no surprises

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

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

ü  Spain: so few for Portugal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ü  Cyprus: And the Greek/Cypriot lovefest continues

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

ü  Belarus: no surprises

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

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

ü  United Kingdom: Whoa!  Only 7 for Ireland?

ü  The Netherlands: no real surprises

ü  Israel: no surprises

ü  Macedonia: low points for Serbia and BiH.

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

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

ü  Sweden: Little points for Norway, hmmm…

ü  Armenia: no surprises

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

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

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

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

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

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


Notes on the ESC 2010 – Oslo: Second Semi-Final

Semi-Final Two:

Pre-Show Predictions for countries that will move forward: Armenia, Israel, Denmark, Azerbaijan, Sweden, Romania, Ireland, Croatia, Turkey, Cyprus

Opening Act: Same video as last time, boo.  The hosts’ outfits improved from last night to tonight.  Therefore, we should expect great things on Saturday!

Lithuania: What a great way to start the night!  Pop-ska, cheesy choreography, and a well timed costume change!  I really liked this one, too bad it won’t make the Final.

Armenia: The first of several favorites tonight.  I thought this was a slow song, guess not.  I like it, though.  It’s not as moving as I think it should be due to the tempo of the song.  However, Eva has a nice voice, the staging is perfect (despite the creepy tree), there is no reason this should not move through to Saturday.

Israel: Is it me, or did Harel Skaat look quite nervous during the postcard?  The second favorite to perform tonight, and another shoo-in for the Final.  I think Skaat has a lovely voice, I really do, but all of his songs sound the exact same!  Essentially, a pretty song that is sung very well, great staging, and an overall moving performance, well done Harel!

Denmark: Whoa!  Go Danes!  And the streak of bookie favorites extends to three.  Chanee and N’Evergreen merely needed a decent performance to make it through, and they did slightly more than that.  If they want to carry the day on Saturday, they need to show the heart and passion they did during the Second Round of the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, otherwise it will be another near miss for Denmark.

Switzerland:  I see why it has such a strong and vocal following.  And I also see why it will probably linger behind in the Semis.  It’s up-tempo and kind of fun, but it is forgettable.  Sorry Switzerland, hopefully we’ll still see you next year!

Sweden: The official website kept saying Sweden would have light staffs, those are just glow sticks!  The song is alright, it sounded like it was too low for the singer.  It will pass through because it is Sweden, but expect another disappointing finish for the Land of ABBA.

Azerbaijan: Safura is showing herself to be the weakest singer among the favored acts.  The song is alright, it will definitely make the Final.  However, like last year, Azerbaijan’s song is too American and too dispassionate to win.  She will definitely have to step up her game if she hopes to carry that microphone trophy back to Baku.

Ukraine: This is so different than anything that the Ukraine has ever done!  A “Call to Action” song dressed up as a rock ballad.  It’s actually not that bad of a song, and doesn’t deserve a lot of the crap people say about it (on a musical level, as you recall, the crap I say about it is more based on the controversy surrounding its selection).  I am tentatively changing my vote and saying that it will go through.

The Netherlands:  One of the most talked about entries this year!  This is so catchy and fun; why do people hate this song?  By no stretch of the imagination is it the only old-fashioned thing this year.  It’s so cherry; I hope it goes through just to spite all of its critics!

Romania: I really like this song, but it is probably the most overrated song this year.  It will move through, but it will probably finish in only the lower teens (11-14) on Saturday.  I do really like the two sided piano, though.

Slovenia:  This was a great concept that was very poorly executed.  First, it should have just been Ansambel Roka Zlindra, without any vocal input from Kalamari.  Second, the polka parts should be expunged, and it should just be like how the refrain is, folk sound with rock music underneath.  No way, no way, no way will this song make it through to the Final.

Ireland: This is what made Ireland the winningest country in the Contest; beautiful ballads like this.  She will definitely make the Final, every previous winner is almost guaranteed this (and past favorites – Chiara, Sakis Rouvas, Dima Bilan, etc…).  Mrs. Kavanaugh merely needs to tweak some spots vocally, and nothing that will be able to stop Ireland from returning to the Top Ten.

Bulgaria: Are those male dancers oiled up enough, I think I can see my reflection on one of their shoulders, and I am watching online!  The Bulgarians took a page out of Greece’s book by sending a generic pop song with an awesome dance routine.  Problem is, this song has a weird ending, and doesn’t come from Greece.  Expect it to linger behind in the Semis.

Cyprus: Another strong with a strong fan base.  I see why, it’s a captivating song.  It’s a shame so many heavy hitters were stacked up tonight, it forces these medium songs to fight it out for two spots.  Cyprus competes for the golden ticket against Sweden, Georgia, Ukraine, Lithuania, even Bulgaria and the Netherlands for one of those spots not taken by a sure bet (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Denmark, Turkey, Croatia, Ireland, Romania, and Israel).

Croatia: The final favorite of the night.  Wow!  This is awesome.  Feminnem is in it to win it this year.  I can definitely see why they are one of the favorites!  I don’t quite understand why they make a heart at the end, since the song is about a woman cheating on her lover; maybe to show remorse and that she is still in love?  We will definitely see this one again, and, depending on its draw and the draw of some other acts, there odds could sky rocket.

Georgia: This is alright.  I really like the choreography and how it interprets the song.  Too bad the song is generally forgettable.  Due the strength of tonight’s competition, I will predict that this will be Georgia’s first time lingering behind in the Semis.

Turkey: As is typical for me, I thoroughly enjoyed the Turkish entry.  It will obviously move through, as the Turkish Diaspora is probably the largest in Europe.  Not to mention that it is just an awesome song and is quite different than all the other entries.

My Top Ten Who I think will be moving through to the Final
1. Israel Armenia
2. Turkey Israel
3. Croatia Azerbaijan
4. Ireland Denmark
5. The Netherlands Turkey
6. Bulgaria Ireland
7. Denmark Romania
8. Lithuania Croatia
9. Cyprus Cyprus
10. Armenia The Netherlands (it will probably be Sweden, but maybe Europe has fallen in love with the happy tune, let’s hope “Sha-la-lie”)

Interval Act: Was that one of the drag queens from Slovenia 2002 in that video with the sound effects choir (playing the part of the flight attendant waling past the main character)?  Oo, Norwegian hip hop dancing.  By the way, that was an awesome Interval Act!  Yay!  They brought back the tiny version of the hosts, and this time with the senior versions, too!

I realized that I didn’t give my opinion of the Big Four and Norway last time from the short clips: Spain – a waltz!  How awesome, definitely the leading candidate to be this year’s dark horse.  Norway – not bad, but i think it wouldn’tbe getting the kind of favor it has if it wasn’t the host country.  UK – so the song is a little corny, it’s Eurovision, songs are allowed to be corny, get over yourselves all you who hate the entry!  In fact, the UK has won and done quite well with corny songs, like Ireland, the BBC has just returned to its wheelhouse.  France – I agree with a comment from the official website, this is going to be a great summer song, especially with the World Cup coming, but it’s not meant for Eurovision.  It will probably finish in the mid-teens.  Germany – this sounds like it’s gonna be an awesome song, I see why it’s a favorite.  It’s quirky but not too eccentric

Songs that Actually Qualified for the Final

  • Georgia (I guess Cyprus is not going to move through)
  • Ukraine (really?  I guess the controversy wasn’t as big a deterrent as I thought it would be, does that mean Sweden isn’t moving through?)
  • Turkey (1 for 3 so far; no surprise here!)
  • Israel (2 for 4 so far; no surprise here, either!)
  • Ireland (3 for 5 so far; yay!  First Irish entry in the Final since 2007)
  • Cyprus (4 for 6 so far; whoa!  I’m happy, but I think another favorite may fall tonight.)
  • Azerbaijan (5 for 7 so far, no surprise, but now things are getting tight!)
  • Romania (6 for 8 so far; it’s official, another favorite will be going Slovakia on the sidelines on Saturday)
  • Armenia (7 for 9 so far; no surprise, let’s see who wins between Croatia and Denmark)
  • Denmark (8 for 10 so far; too much press to fail)

Final Thoughts: Five favorites to win the Contest performed tonight.  Of those five, two came to win, Israel and Croatia.  I get the idea that Harel Skaat (Israel) hit his ceiling tonight and will only decline on Saturday (or at least only maintain), whereas Croatia seemed like they still had a whole lot more to give.  Unfortunately, Croatia will not have a chance to show this; I cannot believe that Croatia failed to move through!  Oh well, such is life at the Eurovision Song Contest.  I am shocked Ukraine moved through, as it is a very off-center song that I wouldn’t think would get much attention in Europe.  Georgia’s success is not a surprise (especially with Azerbaijan and Armenia on the same night), but I don’t know if I think it should be moving on.  Following that, Sweden had a lot of online support, and it failed to go to the Finals.

To recap, a bookie’s favorite (Croatia) failed to progress tonight as well as a fan favorite (Sweden).  Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Denmark all still have some tweaking to do in order to pose a serious threat to Israel, Germany, or Iceland (who I think stand a great chance of winning given its draw in the running order).  I know on Saturday that all of the singers and dancers will up their game tenfold!  I look forward to this year’s Grand Final with much eagerness and anticipation!!!

Looking Ahead to Saturday: So, two favorites have fallen by the wayside, Croatia and Slovakia.  Slovakia was not that big of a surprise, but Croatia, after the press that Feminnem received, the fact that they were returning to the Contest after having a popular song in 2005, and the fact that they were stellar, was a big surprise.  But, such is life.  Denmark, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Israel, and Germany all still remain in the hunt, along with 20 other countries looking for an upset. Since the second semi-final, Belgium and Albania are both strong contenders according to esctoday.  I don’t know how much I buy this.  I honestly think, given the running order, Germany, Iceland, Armenia, Israel, and Denmark are the top entries to beat, with Germany and Denmark being my the two I have the most faith in.  The last three countries to give votes are Georgia (big points to Armenia, medium points to Germany), Sweden (big points to Denmark, medium points to Germany and Armenia), and Armenia (could shoot themselves in the foot by giving medium/big points to Germany and/or Denmark).  This means that we can see a situation similar to 1998 and 2001, when the final countries to give votes determined the winner.

*So, I just read an interesting article on esctoday about the shifting of power in this year’s Contest.  The Nordic countries are held to only three finalists (apparently, it’s the first Final without Sweden since 1976!), and the former-Yugoslav countries are held to only two (Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina).  Meanwhile, Belgium, Ireland, and Cyprus have all returned to the Final after multi-year absences.  So this could mean…well, a few things, actually.  The selection pots are working at lowering rates of diaspora and same geographic bias in voting by splitting up statistically supported voting blocs.  However, Israel, Turkey, Cyprus, Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan were all together on Thursday (whereas Greece was by itself on Tuesday) and that whole little “Barely Europe” bloc is quite strong.  Then there’s the idea that all three countries is putting up entries that are far superior (in the majority’s eyes) than anything from those countries in the past few years.  But then, look at Switzerland.  That country has put up its best acts for the last four years running, gained a strong fan base, and lingered behind in the Semis each time.  A post dedicated to the Swiss will be the one of my first after the Contest is over.  One more possible answer, people.  Niamh Kavanaugh is a former winner, so she was pretty much expected to make it to the Final.  Tom Dice and Jon Lilygreen are both cute, young, emotive singers, which plays well with the large teeny bopper (think 8-16 year old girls) that like that sort of thing — and their style speaks to the 16-25 year old population that seems to be really into this acoustic movement that is sweeping into pop music.  I don’t know, but then Sweden would have moved trough with this logic.  Who knows?  What do y’all think?

(A link to the article: http://esctoday.com/news/read/15869)


Notes on the ESC 2010 – Oslo: First Semi-Final

EUROVISION SONG CONTEST 2010 – OSLO!

It’s finally here!!!  ESC 2010, live from Norway!!!  I am beside myself with excitement.  As always, I will be writing these notes as I am watching the Contest for the first time.  Remember, I have not heard anything more than thirty seconds of each song or seen anything more than one still picture each on the Eurovision website.  I do not mean to offend or hurt anyone or any people with this; I wish only to express my opinion.  As always, your feedback and comments are welcome!  So, shall we begin?

Semi-Final One:

Pre-Contest Predictions for countries to move forward: Iceland, Greece, Albania, Moldova, Slovakia, Belgium, Portugal, Latvia, Russia

Opening Act:  Lovely opening sequence to introduce the concept of sharing the moment!  The stage is a bigger than it had looked in the pictures, hooray.  However, I would have liked to have seen some kind of performance.  I don’t like the “clang” sound that is ringing throughout the opening section before the hosts began speaking.  I am happy to see a Black host; it is very unexpected that there would be one on the ESC stage, regardless of the country, let alone a Scandinavian one.

Postcards: So, this is what was meant by lights being used to create a portion of the postcard in the arena, nifty!  And I like to incorporation of live, on-stage footage.  And I love world flags!  THESE POSTCARDS ARE AWESOME in so many ways!!!

Moldova: Awesome violin, decent sax, the female singer is good, the act would be better without the male singer.  I wouldn’t vote it through on that performance, but, given who they are up against, they probably will performing again on Saturday.

Russia: I am reminded of San Marino 2008 and Switzerland 2009, a really good song – it sounds like something from a musical – but the live vocals leave much to be desired.  Though, his voice improves as the song goes along, especially for that high note.

Estonia: This sounds like some generic 80’s pop song.  Which is appropriate as this stage seems like a retro ESC stage, like something from fifteen-twenty years ago.  It’s funny, what would be typical then is eccentric now.  I really like the camera effect when it spins with the blue dots behind the singer’s head during the refrain.  I like this song – the lyrics, the music (especially the music), even the performance (remember, it’s a song competition, not a talent search!), but it has no shot of passing through to the final.

Slovakia: The first projected top ten song to be performed.  I like the effect of having the singer sing slowly on top of fast music and fast dancing.  I don’t think it has what it takes to get to the Top Ten, so it will be interesting to see what the online comments say.

Finland: What a fun song!  And the duo really seems to be enjoying themselves!  It should move through, it’s folksy, uplifting, and about cherishing relationships and beautiful days, but I worry that Europe will not be as enthused as I.

Latvia: How awkward Aisha looked during the Latvian postcard.  As soon as I learned about this entry, I wondered if the writer team realized that “What for” is not a proper English term (and I’ve never heard “Mr. God” before, either).  I thought Aisha was supposed to be one of the better voices of this Contest, no no!  Or, I at least hope not!  This was also billed as a gospel-esque entry.  The refrain is in this style, but the verses are not nor is Aisha’s voice up to the challenge of gospel singing, at least not tonight.

Serbia: Is it just me, or does the singer look like he is made of plastic?  At least he is happy!  This is definitely true to its “Balkan” title.  I don’t dislike it, but I don’t prefer it.

Bosnia & Herzegovina: I don’t like this.  Maybe the studio version is better?  I cannot see this making the Final.  It’s not poppy enough for pop folks, not rock enough for rock folks, it’s just a middle ground lingerer.

Poland:  Hey!  All you people who whined about the overrepresentation of ballads this year, we are getting our first one at number 9!  Supporters of this song would say that it is the story of a love struck knight trying to convey this love to his wannabe love.  Critics would say that it’s about rape.  I think it is no better or worse than any of the fairy tales or folk stories from Central Europe (Brothers Grimm, HC Andersen, etc…).  It’s an alright song, the performance is better than the lyrics/melody; it actually stands a decent shot of moving through to the Final in my opinion.  Special note – this act features the first jESC singer to perform on the ESC stage, Weroniką Bochat (pol2005), she was the featured backing singer with black hair.

Belgium: I like this.  His voice was shaky at the beginning, but I think it only adds to the genuineness of the performance.  It should be a shoo-in for the Final.

Malta: Oh my goodness; Thea is on fire!  Oh wait, that’s just an oddly placed smoke machine.  The wings, if they have to be used, could have been better utilized for the time they were behind the singer, there were questionable camera angles and choreography.  I don’t think Malta will be performing again in the Final.

Albania:  Okay, this Contest, the staging, the performers, the music, the costuming, it’s all very eighties/early nineties!  The entire Contest this year is retro!  I like this song, and, as you recall, this is the one I listened to by accident.  It is slightly better in English, but I think they could have left it in Albanian and accomplished the same thing.  But listen to that crowd reaction, definitely will be performing again on Saturday.

Greece: One of the most polarizing acts this year; everyone either loves or hates this song.  I like it.  It’s very high energy and once again, Greece sends another well-choreographed number to dance its way into Europe’s hearts.

Portugal: Will Filipa be able to bring Portugal’ reign as “king of most losses” to an end?  Probably not.  But I think this is a pretty little number, though.  It helps that it has a very American sound, and the Filipa is incredibly cute, though I think Portugal will be regulated once more to the mid-teens come Saturday.

Macedonia: Anyone else notice how Skopje was in Cyrillic; did they do that for Belgrade, too?  I don’t understand why everyone hates this song.  Other than the blatantly misogynistic (putting down women for men’s perceived gain) performance, it is one of my favorite entries thus far.  Even the rapping and the overzealous guitar solo don’t ruin the act for me.  Though, they will probably damn the Macedonians to another Semi-Final finish.

Belarus:  Oh no, four of them are perfectly in tune, one of them is not (and it’s neither of the boys)!  It’s amazing, these are five of Belarus’ most prominent rising stars, and they sing about peace and beauty, not love or rivalry or some other passion-producing topic.  Though, this song is so cheesy, I would be afraid to play it to my lactose intolerant friends.  It’s alright, but will probably linger behind in the Semis.

Iceland: The favorite to win the first semi-final (I know, Slovakia is a favorite to win the whole thing, but it’s been going down in the rankings lately while Iceland has been moving up!).  This is great!  And it probably will return Iceland to the top ten on Saturday.

My Top Top on the night: Who I think will be moving through
1. Iceland Iceland
2. Russia Serbia
3. Macedonia Albania
4. Portugal Portugal
5. Greece Greece
6. Estonia Slovakia
7. Finland Latvia (FIN is better, but LAT is more popular)
8. Albania Belgium
9. Belgium Russia
10. Poland Poland (replaces Moldova from pre-show predictions)

The video with the rabid fans…hilarious!!!  The Norwegians most definitely know how to make a great show on a tight budget!

Interval Act: How lovely!  What a great way to incorporate the Contest’s theme.  The video of “Finding Eurpoean people’s voice.” And the funny video clips of “People trying to come to Oslo for the Contest” was also amusing.  And the mini-hosts, so adorable!

The Ten that Actually Made the Final

  • Bosnia & Herzegovina (this is a travesty, but not a big surprise)
  • Moldova (d’oh!  I guess Poland will not be moving through)
  • Russia (1/3 so far; yay, it’s a great song, very 70’s)
  • Greece (2/4 so far; it’s a foot stomper from Greece)
  • Portugal (3/5 so far; a well deserved qualification!)
  • Belarus (WHOA!!!  this is a shocker!)
  • Serbia (4/7 so far; it’s not terrible and it’s catchy as all get out)
  • Belgium (5/8 so far; their first qualification from the Semis (in 2004 they pre-qualified), yay!)
  • Albania (6/9 so far; nice up tempo number, no surprise at all)
  • Iceland (7/10 on the night! Good job Hera!)

Final Thoughts

Two things: One: Never trust the bookies — so much for Slovakia being a favorite to win.  I can’t wait to see the results of the televoting and jury.  Two, I guess Hera is the magic touch for Iceland – she did backing vocals for both of the two previous Iceland that have qualified for the Final, 2008 – It’s My Life & 2009 – Is it True?, the latter of which was runner-up and set a record for points achieved by Iceland.

The “Nordic’s Knot” on the final that developed over the past two years has come undone.  This will be the first time that all five Nordic countries will not be in the Final since 2007.  Which is unfortunate, as Finland had a s great song and deserved to be in the Final.

Overall, a great show!  I don’t fully agree with the results.  Finland should be going to the Final and Bosnia & Herzegovina should not be.  Belarus is pretty and I don’t dislike the song, but Poland and Macedonia both had better songs in my opinion.  The important thing is that Belgium did make it through, as there was a lot of pressure on Tom Dice to turn around the country’s recent misfortunes and qualify, so good for him!  Overall, I feel bad for good songs like Portugal, Albania, Belarus, and Moldova who will be pushed to the bottom of the scoreboard on Saturday by the superior qualifiers from Thursday night and the highly anticipated pre-qualified acts (Germany, Norway, and Spain).