Live Commentary on the Night

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


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 – 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.


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!


Eurovision 2017 – Grand Final Live Notes!!

Hello Dear Readers and Welcome to the live notes for the Grand Final of Eurovision 2017!!! Kyiv hosts the 62nd edition after previously hosting the 50th back in 2005. Tonight, 26 songs battle it out to be crowned the victor – but who will win?

Bulgaria, at least, that is my pre-show prediction. I think the rest of the Top Ten will be comprised of: The Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, United Kingdom, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Sweden, and Romania. That can (and probably will) change after we see the 26 performances tonight, but those are my thoughts heading into the show.

**Be sure to keep refreshing the page to see my notes as they appear.

Also, if you’re new or just want some info about this year’s Contest, you can find my ESC Notes and Country Profiles here!

On to the show!!!

Parade of Nations

I still think this is a pointless exercise. But the sparks and the effect of them appearing seemingly out of nowhere is pretty cool.

Opening Act

Boo!! No opening act. Another reason to get rid of the parade of nations.

On to the songs!

01 Israel I Feel Alive

IMRI sounds really off tonight. The dancing is on point, though. Oh, just when I thought he had righted the ship, he misses the big note.

02 Poland Flashlight

I’m guessing Poland didn’tfinish too high on Tuesday to be assigned the cursed #2 spot. This seems less emphatic and enthusiastic than on Tuesday. Still good, though. Especially that last note!

03 Belarus Historyja Majho Žyccia/Story of My Life

So much fun!! They are so into this — definitely taking hold of this moment. Ha – she almost fell! Very good performance; they definitely gave it their all.

04 Austria Running on Air

He sounds WAY better than Thursday night. Still not good enough to make a big impact, but he should definitely be proud with how he did tonight.

05 Armenia Fly with Me

Another fantastic performance from Artsvik – listen to the crowd reaction! Definitely going to the Top Ten.

06 The Netherlands Lights and Shadows

Uh oh, someone seems to be flat. It sounds, like, she is sick, maybe? But they still sound great — their harmonies are just a little less tight than usual.

07 Moldova Hey, Mamma!

Still fun, still exciting, still not going to get into the Top Ten. But I think they’ll finish better than they did in 2010 (22nd place).

08 Hungary Origo

He seems markedly less nervous and has better pacing than on Thursday. Wow! You can feel his passion burning in that rap verse. This could do better than I thought; I probably still not Top Ten, though.

09 Italy Occidentali’s Karma

Our first major contender of the night, let’s see how this goes. Still do not understand the hype. I just don’t. Maybe there’s something about seeing it in person? But my god, the crowd sounds like they’re about to go marching forth.

10 Denmark Where I Am

Stronger than Tuesday, for sure, but still not at the level of her DMGP performance. Definitely good enough for a Top Ten finish, I think, though.

11 Portugal Amar Pelos Dois

Amazing! I just got goosebumps! Even better with Tuesday. He even fixed the part where he backed too far away and wasn’t picked up by the mic. Loved it! Oh, it might actually win. It is number two in the betting odds.

Speaking of odds sitting at third is Bulgaria, which is second-last in the running order tonight.

That was an awesome joke “(from Twitter) ‘I can’t believe in a few hours it will all be over and we’ll be wondering what to do with the rest of our lives.’ (Host) ‘Us, too.'”

12 Azerbaijan Skeletons

Better than Tuesday, but still not good enough to seriously contend for victory. I think Azerbaijan will, however, easily be waltzing back into the Top Ten.

13 Croatia My Friend

I still think this staging comes off as silly. Well, less impressive with the stronger competition ahead of him. He sounded great – it’s just a terrible song.

14 Australia Don’t Come Easy

Definitely better than Tuesday — WAY better! But still a lot of missed notes. There are too many strong songs tonight for this to do well.

15 Greece This is Love

Yikes! That was a big note to miss. I didn’t notice that before, the dancer on the left is also a backing singer. Yikes – she missed another note at the end of a verse. Nope – not going to be Greece’s triumphant return to the Top Ten, but not last place either, so, good?

16 Spain Do It for Your Lover

And if you had any doubts about the vocals being live, that cracked note is your proof. I bet Germany is happy because now they may not get last.

17 Norway Grab the Moment

He sounds spot on tonight. Really good – only makes me like this song more. Perhaps it’ll finish in the 11-15 range. Good, but not great in a year of strong competitors.

Hahahaha! Måns! I love this host-training montage.

18 United Kingdom Never Give Up on You

A love ballad from the UK to Eurovision, haha. Very well done, I see why this song shot up the betting odds over the course of the week. Wow! The UK just might find itself back in the Top Ten.

19 Cyprus Gravity

Why is he so flat? I still think that this staging is oh so very weak compared to what it could be. Even just one silks dancer would have been amazing. At least his vocals seemed to have leveled out.

20 Romania Yodel It!

Ugh, this song is so bad. At least their performance is still good. I can’t believe that this song will probably do well tonight. Hopefully, it will be no where close to the top spot.

21 Germany Perfect Life

This is an average song that is staged quite poorly. Maybe she has done enough to beat out Spain and avoid being the third straight last place finish for Germany.

22 Ukraine Time

This gets two bumps 1) for being from the host country and 2) for being this year’s only rock song. It is alright. I think we’ve heard better ones through the years. But, despite the supercreepy head on stage with them, they did a good job and will probably finish in the 11-15 range.

23 Belgium City Lights

She still looks kind of scared – so, I guess that’s just how she looks. Despite the fear in her eyes, I think she still has a commanding presence on stage. She forces you to pay attention. Well done! Belgium back to the Top Ten!

24 Sweden Can’t Go On

I keep forgetting that he is purposefully singing gravely and low – I think it’s supposed to be sexy. This song is just obnoxious, though. I know Sweden is trying to protect its Top Ten streak (three in a row, including a winner), but this song does not deserve to be in the Top Ten. There are so many more that have greater artistic value (for example: Hungary, Belgium, Portugal) or more genuine performances (for example: Croatia, Romania, the Netherlands) that deserve that spot more.

25 Bulgaria Beautiful Mess

He’s behind Italy and Portugal in the betting odds, but not by much. He needs to bring his top performance if he hopes to win — performing so close to the end does not guarantee a strong placing (just ask the UK). Wow! Started a bit shaky, but he definitely finished strong! Is it enough to win? I’m not sure. Portugal, UK, and Belgium all gave pretty amazing performances as well of their strong songs. Not to mention that Italy sounds like he raised an army with his. We’ll see, it should be close!

26 France Requiem

I am so confused by France’s staging. Why is she alone and without dancers? Is everything spinning? She is stunningly beautiful, though. Hmmm, maybe not enough for the Top Ten, but should finish with a respectable position.

 

And there you have it! One of these 26 songs will be our new champion. But who will it be?!

Well, I think that it will come down to Bulgaria, Portugal, Italy, and the UK. Which, I guess, isn’t too surprising. I think these had the best performances tonight and captured audience interest while also garnering jury support. I think Italy will be super popular among the televoters while Portugal and the UK will be favorites among the jury. Ultimately, I think one song will garner enough support from both to claim victory: Bulgaria. I know, boring that my prediction has not changed, but I still think that this song has what it takes to win. And I think it will be quite close, with Portugal coming second within a reasonable margin.

So, who do I think will be in the Top Ten?

  1. Bulgaria

  2. Portugal

  3. Belgium

  4. Italy

  5. United Kingdom

  6. Belgium

  7. Romania

  8. Sweden

  9. Armenia

  10. Azerbaijan

And, who were my ten favorites from tonight?

  1. Hungary

  2. Armenia

  3. Belgium

  4. Portugal

  5. Bulgaria

  6. United Kingdom

  7. Denmark

  8. France

  9. Norway

  10. Poland

Voting Entertainment/ Interval, I guess

While I think Ruslana, contemporary-traditional Ukrainian fusion music, and Jamala were all super awesome — I don’t understand why this is happening during voting. This is why shows keep running over, because they try to do a thousand things. I bet Jamala is going to be the Interval Act – adding yet more time. This should be a tight, three-hour show. Let last year’s winning artist (in this case, Jamala) open the show with a reprise and whatever new single they are hoping to promote (and get rid of the parade of nations), keep the voting to a tight 15 minutes, and move the entertainment back to the interval act, which can be shorter thanks to the fact that fan votes can continue to be verified while the jury votes are provided. It just doesn’t make sense.

LET THE VOTING BEGIN!! Here are the jury votes!

Sweden – Whoa! Sweden gave its twelve to Portugal. That’s highly unexpected (and no points for Norway) Portugal will either run away with these points or fall flat

Azerbaijan – No Russia, now to its twelve goes to…Belarus.

San Marino – more points to Portugal

Latvia – and the points continue for Portugal

OMG IBA from Israel is shutting down! Bombshell announcement live on air! Maybe Morocco and Lebanon will finally return?

Israel – Another 12 to Portugal

Montenegro – 12 to Greece

Albania – 12 points to Italy

Malta – surprise, instead of the UK their 12 goes to Italy

Macedonia – first 12 for Bulgaria

It’s going to be interesting to see where points from the former USSR will go without Russia. And from the former Yugoslav with Croatia being the group’s only representative.

Denmark – 12 to Sweden. surprise, surprise

Austria – 12 points to the Netherlands. Interesting

Norway – 12 to Bulgaria (and not Denmark or Sweden, surprisingly)

Spain – 12 to…Portugal (no surprise)

Finland – 12 points to Sweden (no surprise)

France – 12 points to Portugal (much to Belgium’s chagrin – zero points from their French friends)

Greece – 12 points to Cyprus (no surprise)

Lithuania – 12 points to Portugal (yea, I’m sensing a runaway)

Estonia – 12 points to Bulgaria (keeping them in the realm of closeness)

Moldova – 12 points to (let me guess….) Romania — no surprise.

Armenia – 12 points to Portugal!

Time for a breather – wow so fast, these votes! I think Portugal will handily win the Jury. The question is, how will it do with the televote?

Bulgaria – 12 points to Austria? That was unexpected. Strategic?

Iceland – 12 points to Portugal. Oh yeah, two out of four Nordic countries, definitely going to win the jury vote.

Serbia – 12 points to Portugal

Australia – 12 points to (the UK?) Yep. First time they sent 12 points to the motherland, fyi

Italy – 12 points to Azerbaijan?! Huh. Strategic?

Germany – 12 points to Norway – interesting

Portugal – 12 points to Azerbaijan! Interesting…strategic?

Switzerland  – another 12 points to Portugal

The Netherlands – 12 points to (wait! only 2 points to Belgium?!) Portugal

Ireland – 12 points to Belgium! (can’t think of the last time Ireland gave 12 points to the UK)

Georgia – 12 points to Portugal!

Cyprus – 12 points to Greece (I love how the spokesperson even knew that everyone already knew that their points were going to Greece)

Belarus – 12 to Bulgaria (benefiting from the lack of Russia, I bet)

Romania – 12 points to (Italy?) the Dutch! wow wow!

Hungary – 12 points to Portugal! Maintain the lead, but its definitely not as thick as it was. But, win or not, Portugal will definitely get its best ever placing tonight.

Slovenia – 12 points to Portugal

Belgium – 12 points to Sweden – that was highly unexpected

Poland – 12 points to Portugal!

United Kingdom – (yes, Katrina, we all know who you are) 12 points to Portugal!

Croatia – 12 points to Hungary – well deserved, I’d say

Czechia – 12 points to Portugal, 94 points ahead of Bulgaria

Ukraine – final 12 points from the juries – 12 points to Belarus! Whoa!

Portugal has won the jury votes by 104 points, leading Bulgaria who is 60 points ahead of Sweden. Australia led Ukraine by 109 at this point last year.

Televote!

Spain is saved from null point land!

And there goes the UK’s shot at the Top Ten

A lot of interesting televote points…And a lot of low point values. All the ones outside the top ten of the televote have fewer than 90 points

France got 90 points

Croatia got 103 points

126 points to Sweden

152 to Hungary – and quite the jump!

Italy – 208 WOW!!! Way underperforming for the bookie and fan favorite going into the Contest

Romania – is next with a sizeable jump

Portugal, Bulgaria, Moldova, and Belgium left to receive points

255 points to Belgium (WOW – how many points did Moldova get?!)

264 points and third in the televote to Moldova

Bulgaria v. Portugal

337 points to Bulgaria

MEANING THAT PORTUGAL HAS WON (with an addition 376 points)

WOW Our first new winner since 2011 (Azerbaijan) and PORTUGAL’s first ever victory!!! It took 49 attempts and a lot of shame, but Portugal has finally won. It is no longer the country with the most participations without a victory (Cyprus now takes that helm with 30 participations without a win). Congratulations and next year in Lisbon! Also, great job Ukraine, after a lot of confusion and craziness, you put on a fantastic show!

Awww, he has his sister (who wrote and composed the song) up there with him to sing the winner’s reprise as a duet with him. A beautiful moment for a beautiful song. A well-deserved, well-earned victory for Portugal.

Check back tomorrow for our wrap-up podcast with DizzyDJC as well as my wrap-up article about the Grand Final.

 

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Eurovision 2017 – Second Semi-Final: Live Notes!

Hello Dear Readers!

It is Thursday of Eurovision Week and we all know what that means: time for the Second Semi-Final! Tonight we will get the last ten qualifiers for Saturday’s Grand Final. As a reminder, the qualifiers for tonight will join the Big Five (Spain, Germany, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom), our defending champs & host (Ukraine), and Tuesday’s ten qualifiers (Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Moldova, Poland, Portugal, and Sweden).

Make sure to keep refreshing the page throught the show!

It’s starting! I love starting with a recap of Tuesday.

…what are the hosts wearing?! No. Not good. I do love a good ESC medley! Euphoria! Fairytale! My Number One (which was the winner the last time we were in Ukraine). Rise like a Phoenix! Definitely not a bad openning act. I always enjoy a reinterpretation of songs into a new folk style.

 01 Serbia In Too Deep

They seemed to have scaled back the epicness of song; why? This is wholly underwhelming. This song is nice, but forgettable. The dancer didn’t add much other than some additional eye candy.

02 Austria Running on Air

Oh no, he sounds a bit underpitch and he’s singing with zero emotion. I also don’t understand this staging – why is there a moon? Oh no, he just botched the big note. I love this song but this is just a poor presentation of it.

03 Macedonia Dance Alone

Interesting to put the backing singers so dominatingly right at the beginning lime that. That was also a poor model walk she is doing. Her outfit is cute, though. I understand the use of the mic effect, but I can barely hear her. She is certainly selling this as hard as she can as a dance number. Ummm…..I’m just not sure how to react. Definitely a HUGE missed opportunity for Macedonia, but it might be enough to qualify.

 04 Malta Breathlessly

I don’t understand this backing scene choice. It should be black amd white images of her and her lover. Not random gifs of her singing. Really pretty dress! No one can say that her voice is not good, but this song is just so drab and boring.

05 Romania Yodel It!

I like the toy soldiers. The cannons look cool – but I don’t know why they’re there. Oh! That’s why — pretty cool. As much as I dislike this song, it is, so far, the strongest performance tonight — by a mile.

06 The Netherlands Lights and Shadows

Oh! Love those outfits! Oh my goodness, they sound amazing hitting those harmonies! Honestly, I was expecting their outfits to turn white during the climax towards the end. Very good – definite qualifier, I think.

 07 Hungary Origo

 He seems to be going a bit fast amd is a bit ahead of the beat. But things seemed to habe caught up with the violin. Cool! Was not expecting the flames. I don’t what it is, but the camerawork just seems — not good – they should have goven the producers better camera choreography to work with. It doesn’t help that he looks so uncomfortable on stage.

08 Denmark Where I Am

Why does her voice sound weird? Did they leave a mic effect on? She seems out of breath as well, like she can’t quite fully support her singing. She hit that big note, though! Too much backing singer on this performance; I hope they turn them down for Saturday.

09 Ireland Dying to Try

Why the hot air balloon? Oh, missed a note there. He’s so adorable, though. Uh oh. He missed that big note. And just barely made the biggest one. Disappointing. This is one of my favorite songs this year and this performance is just flat.

10 San Marino Spirit of the Night

What are they wearing?! Why are they so sparkly?! They have really good chemistry together. Despite the fact tat this is a fairly dated sounding disco-track, given the quality of performances tonight, it has a legit chance to qualify. I think my friend called this the “song of a thousand key changes” — most definitely. They at least nailed them all.

Man, San Marino had a black American guy and now Croatia has a big guy, it’s like Eurovision producers wanted me to feel particularly represented on stage.

11 Croatia My Friend

Oh my goodness, this turning back and forth is silly. As is that glove he is wearing. He sounds good, though. Bad song, but well performed.

–sorry for the interruption, my town is under tornado warning and I had to take shleter– 

**All clear! Picking up where we left off.

12 Norway Grab the Moment

I like the camera effects and how digitized he looks during the refrain and his face is featured on the screen. I know the desire to keep it simple is tempting, but I wish they had added a bit more dynamic elements to the staging, particularly to the climax at the end.

13 Switzerland Apollo

LOVE the dress, hate the hair. Her voice seems to be dancing in the edge of in tune and out of it. I feel the same as I did after Macedonia, just a huge missed opportunity. Maybe enough to qualify, maybe not.

14 Belarus Historyja Majho Žyccia

Love the wite and blue aesthetic! They started off a bit shaky, but their voices leveled out. Some much energy and fun – fireworks!! That screen is fun and that’s a huge crowd reaction!

Time for this year’s youngest competitor and my predicted winner:

14 Bulgaria Beautiful Mess

Love this overhead shot during the first verse! He gets a bit off pitch during the refrain. Love the interplay between the camera, the special effects, the background, and the lyrics – beautifully staged! As good as that was, not sure I’d rate that higher than Portugal’s performance Tuesday. I’ll be interested to see what happens Saturday night when thy can go head-to-head.

16 Lithuania Rain of Revolution

I see they are reproducing their national final performance… includingn that terrible hairstyle. They should have invested in actual spark showers. The animated ones just don’t have the same effect. And, honestly, coming after a song like Bulgaria only makes this, with its super-synthesized instrumentation, sound a bit fake and dated.

17 Estonia Verona

Mic issues! I wonder if they will deemed bad enough to call for a second performance. Vocal issues! I wonder if they will be bad enough to stop this from qualifying. I do love the camera effect making it look like they were on two completely different stages throughout the first verse and bridge. They don’t seem to have much chemistry; maybe that’s why they barely interact with each other throughout the performance. I know this is a big fan favorite, but I remain unimpressed.

18 Israel I Feel Alive

He knows how to work a camera! Which, I guess takes away from his weak vocals. The staging was a lot of fun — quite dazzling.

My Top Ten from tonight

  1. The Netherlands
  2. Bulgaria
  3. Croatia
  4. Norway
  5. Belarus
  6. Denmark
  7. Israel
  8. San Marino
  9. Switzerland
  10. Romania

Who I think will qualify (in no particular order)

  • Romania
  • Denmark
  • Bulgaria
  • Israel
  • The Netherlands
  • Belarus
  • Switzerland
  • Serbia
  • Estonia
  • Norway

Voting Sequence EntertainmentMore Verka (Ukraine 2007 and probably one of the modt popular entries to date)! And yay for talking to fans 🙂

Interval Act

The dancing is really cool. I never know quite what to make of it, but it’s certainly interesting and much appreciated.

A marriage proposal for Jana from Macedonia!!! Awwwww

Our Automatic Qualifiers

  • France – whoa! All the spinning is dizzying, which I guess is the point.
  • Germany – why is she in a dress that matches the background. She’s just going to get lost in the production. Maybe Germany is aimig to break Norway’s most last places record?
  • Ukraine – that head is CREEPY!!! It looks like a possessed baby doll. 

Now, on the results! Our ten qualifiers are:

  • Bulgaria! Woot, woot – we could legitimately be heading to Sofia next year (1 for 1 in my predictions)
  • Belarus – well deserved! (2 for 2)
  • Croatia – not surprised, just didn’t think this and Belarus would both make it (2 for 3)
  • Hungary – one of my favorites, but he’s going to need a much stronger performance Saturday (and Friday) night (2 for 4)
  • Denmark – Gå Danmark!! (3 for 5)
  • Israel – no surprise here (4 for 6)
  • Romania – ugh (5 for 7)
  • Norway – good stuff (6 for 8)
  • The Netherlands – well earned, best performance of the night (7 for 9)
  • Austria – complete shocker!! (7 for 10)

Well, there you have it. Ten qualifiers. Macedonia completes its fall from grace going from big favorite to non-qualifier in six short weeks. Come back tomorrow for my full thoughts and my next podcast ahead of Saturday’s Grand Final! 

 
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Eurovision 2017 – First Semi-Final Live Notes!

Hello Dear Readers!!

This year, since I cannot attend the events live, I am bringing back my live notes – written, running commentary throughout the show! Tonight, the first semi-final.


Wow, an interesting opening act. Rap music. I’m just happy they seem to be returning to the tradition of the reprise being at the start of the Grand Final.

What a beautiful stage!!

Yes, a “Euro-genius” is a great term for those of us who love and are knowledgeable about the Contest.

So, the postcards are a mix of prep and home life for the artists. Cool.

01 Sweden I Can’t Go On

Again, I don’t much care for this song. The staging is identical as Melodifestivalen‘s, per usual. He sounds fine. Why are none of them wearing socks? Pretty much exactly as expected.

02 Georgia Keep the Faith

The staging is pretty dark for a song about hope and faith. Oh! There go the lights. A little off with the pitch there. Love her dress. Hmmm….where are those backing singers hiding? Yay – fire! This performance did not reach the level of epicness that this song requires.

03 Australia Don’t Come Easy

Starting a bit shaky. Is it me or is he just under pitch? Not quite sure they went with a backing screen of infinite Isaiah’s. It doesn’t do the song justice. The backing track is too low. Yeah, he just botched the only big note he had, as the others seemed to have been removed. Underwhelming. Perhaps Australia will miss the Final this year.

04 Albania World

Why so quiet? Not a great outfit; not terrible, just not good. Yay! Backing singers getting some time in the light! That’s how you do epic — she nailed her big notes and staging did not take away from the lyrics or composition.

05 Belgium City Lights

Love her dress and the staging choices thus far. The song has a since of isolation about it, which is well represented by the camera working emphasizing her being alone on such a big stage. She looks quite scared, though. But the fans seem to love her. I like the compositional change at the end here – the chord interval between her and the backing singer is really cool.

06 Montenegro Space

I expect there to be controversy around his song. Whoo! Look at those pants! His pitch seems a bit off. Unlike Australia, the use of his image on the backing scenes fits the song well. I wonder if the EBU limited what he could do. I expected there to be a lot more sexiness to his staging.

Two corrections for the green room host: 1) So, this is NOT Ukraine’s first ESC or even Kyiv’s. It’s the second time we are here in the capital – after they hosted the 50th edition in 2005. 2) Georgia debuted in 2007. Tamara was part of the group that was disqualified in 2009.

07 Finland Blackbird

Oh! Lights throughout the audience. So, they are recreating the UMK staging. Flawless performance. Perfect staging. Beautiful song.

08 Azerbaijan Skeletons

Love the use of the blackboard with the wordcloud of the lyrics. Horsehead guy….? And the pitch issues continue — or maybe it’s the mic effect they have her using? What is she wearing, by the way? What was the point of drawing xs on the singers’ backs? That was an…interesting staging, but not quite in the way I was hoping it to be.

09 Portugal Amar Pelos Dois

His voice sounds great! Good choice to use the satellite stage, too. I would have had a piano up there with him; but this was utterly flawless.

10 Greece This is Love

Some interesting chord choices for the refrain. Fun staging and backing screen. Demy: “This is love: two hot shirtless men dancing in water!” That was fun and accomplished what it set out to do. It is definitely moving forward.

11 Poland Flashlight

Look at those heels! I like this song, but having her up so loud takes away some the mystery and intrigue of the song. She killed it though!

12 Moldova Hey, Mamma!

Surprisingly, one of the best dressed acts tonight. That was good. Fairly unremarkable – no “Epic Sax Guy” memes this year. That was fine. The song was the center of the show, which, I guess, is how it should be.

13 Iceland Paper

She’s got a huge boob window in the dress. No Illuminati earrings like in the video. I’m surprised they went with a white outfit, but I guess it’s the most drastic contrast they could go with between her and the background. And, I guess, most paper is white. She looks more like a superhero that just saved the day (perhaps Powergirl with a weave) than she does a woman broken by her love leaving her.

Epic Sac Guy playing his well-known riff.

14 Czechia My Turn

What is she wearing?! I like the walking path of light effect. This is not how I would have staged this entry — the song needed to do something to standout and they chose to try to do so through a hideous outfit. I do not think this will go well for Czechia.

15 Cyprus Gravity

More pitch problems. Hey! The backing dancers disappeared. Let me guess, they’re gonna come back while flying. Nope. Just reappeared. Wow – this staging is just one huge missed opportunity. There’s so much more they could have done.

16 Armenia Fly with Me

Awww, no giant ring of hair. Cool camera effect of having it bounce around. Nice use of strobes and fire without letting them be overwhelming. Love the flying bird at the end; what a cool effect!

17 Slovenia On My Way

They really need to do everything they can to help this song standout. Let’s see… Why is his suit so sparkly? Pitch problems in the second refrain. So, that was probably the best they could do to stage it without things getting too overwhelming, but, still a bit boring and forgettable.

18 Latvia Line

Her hair – why?!?! The backing screen is really cool. And I love the neon color scheme. I was hoping for some glow-in-the-dark effects… Nope. Those boots, though. That was much more tame of a staging than anticipated.

Why do they keep showing delegations from other countries after a performance?

My Favorite Ten from tonight

  1. Portugal

  2. Finland

  3. Armenia

  4. Albania

  5. Poland

  6. Iceland

  7. Azerbaijan

  8. Greece

  9. Belgium

  10. Latvia

Who I think will be moving through (in no particular order)

  • Sweden

  • Portugal

  • Albania

  • Latvia

  • Finland

  • Armenia

  • Greece

  • Azerbaijan

  • Belgium

  • Moldova

Voting Entertainment

Jamala! If they weren’t going to open with 1944, they needed to have just saved it for Saturday. I do like this version. But again, it should have been during the opening sequence on Saturday. Congrats to her on her marriage, though!

And – technical difficulties 😡😡😡

Interval Act

Oh! Jamala is back for the interval act! I thought they said she wouldn’t be here again until Saturday. I guess I misheard the hosts. Interesting outfits and backing screen choices. Cool song, though!

Automatic Qualifiers Previews

Spain – well, that performance sounds wholly uninspired

United Kingdom – love the infinite stars! Well staged, UK, well staged.

Italy – that was about as expected. It’s the big favorite for a reason.

Voting

Oooohhhh!!!!! Here we go!!!

Qualifiers

  • Moldova – no surprise there; I’m 1 for 1

  • Azerbaijan – cool beans! 2 for 2

  • Greece – fun, positive dance track; 3 for 3

  • Sweden – probably undeserved; 4 for 4

  • Portugal – first time in the Grand Final since 2010! 5 for 5

  • Poland – yay! Loved this song, happy it moved through; 5 for 6

  • Armenia – a favorite of mine, woot! 6 for 7

  • Australia – no, this is the most undeserved qualifier; 6 for 8

  • Cyprus – that was unexpected. Good for them; 6 for 9

  • Belgium – it would have been a huge upset if Belgium failed. 7 for 10.

So, I’m 70% accurate for the qualifiers. I’m bummed that Finland did not qualify. Sad that Sweden and Australia did. And pleasantly surprised that Poland did. Check back tomorrow for 1) my full thoughts on each qualifier and 2) my next podcast previewing the Second Semi-Final.

Thanks for watching with me!

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Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2017 – Live Notes

Image result for dansk melodi grand prix 2017

So, had to wait about two weeks after the event, but never fear – I did not watch it nor did I know who won. Luckily, DR broke tradition and made DMGP amazingly easy to find and watch. For those who are new, DMGP works quite simply. DR (Danmarks Radio, the Danish broadcaster that competes in Eurovision) selects ten songs after an open cattle-call for entries; typically, the ten chosen entries tend to be from professional producers and singers (though, every so often, an independent artist or producer makes it onto the show). All ten songs compete in a televised Final; the three songs with the highest combined score between the jury and televotes move on to a super-final. The winner is the song with the highest percentage of the combined televote and jury score. Typically, the jury is comprised of previous performers and producers. This year, they decided to use five super-fans of DMGP/ESC to create the jury.

These are my notes from watching DMGP 2017 for the first time (having not heard the songs ahead of time). I’m trying something new this year, instead of just using generic comments to sum up my thoughts, I’m scoring each song according to the four aspects that make for a strong ESC entry: composition (the music), lyrics (the words), staging (how the song is presented), and performance (how well the singers and dancers do). I will rate songs on a scale from 1 to 5 within each dimension.

Okay, I think that’s everything – on to the show!

 

Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2017

We are back in Herning for DMGP – the first thing that strikes me is how much the production has been scaled down this year. Is that screen even LED? A few years ago, Herning hosted an amazing event; this year looks more like the DMGPs of old, back when they were forgettable. So, Dansevise is one of my all-time favorite entries and I love that they have the competing artists perform it together. Great message of unity and a strong callback to Denmark’s storied history. Actually, the hosts make it quite clear that DMGP this year is entirely focused on returning Denmark to its former glory. DK, with three victories (1963, 2000, 2013) and Grand Final qualifications from 2008 through 2014 (including four Top Ten finishes), has been one of the most successful countries in recent years. However, Denmark has failed to reach the Grand Final of ESC each of the last two Contests, and has finished towards the bottom of its semi-final both times. DR is being explicitly clear: they want Denmark to be successful again at all costs (I guess, the reduced DMGP budget is to save up for a bigger production in Kyiv).

They’re interviewing the jury now; they’ve been sequestered in their own room (as opposed to sitting by the stage). I like the notion of using fans instead of professionals; though, I wish they had a more diverse (in terms of age and gender) panel. Eurovision fans come from a wide variety of backgrounds, if the goal is to find a song that appeals to everyone and will do well, then DR needs a more representative panel of persons.

Anyway, on to the songs!

Song #1. One performed by Ida Una

Ugh – a peace song – and a trite one at that. It’s simple, but not catchy, It’s trying to be modern, but comes off a but immature in its overall sound. The staging is decent, at least. Though, her singing is not the best.

Composition: 4           Lyrics: 2          Staging: 4            Performance: 2

Average: 3 (out of 5) Squarely average – sounds about right. I would think this song has an uphill climb to get to the superfinal.

Song #2. Vesterbro performed by Thomas Ring

Whoo! A Danish-language song (there always tends to be one), probably won’t win because of it (the Danes have not selected a Danish-language song since 2005). I think it’s a great song; actually, I’ve encountered this before on YouTube without realizing it was a part of DMGP. Unlike the preceding entry, this song successfully achieves a mature, modern sound.

Composition: 4           Lyrics: 3          Staging: 3            Performance: 4

Average: 3.5 I don’t think the staging was enough to get it through, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets to the superfinal.

Song #3. Color My World performed by Rikke Skytte

Definitely a lot of thought went into the staging for this one. It makes a simplistic song seem more artistic than it probably is. By “simple song,” I mean that the composition doesn’t really do much and that the lyrics are fairly weak.

Composition: 3           Lyrics: 2          Staging: 5            Performance: 4

Average: 3.5 Definitely the strongest entry thus far, but the night is still early.

Song #4. Where I Am performed by Anja

Another heavily produced composition. But, unlike the others, this song gas more emotion and sounds more human. This is an example of “less is more” staging; she doesn’t seem to be at a disadvantage with the cheaper staging. It allows more focus on her and her powerful voice.

Composition: 3           Lyrics: 4          Staging: 5            Performance: 5

Average: 4.25 Super strong! It has a 90s sound without sounding dated.

Song #5. Big Little Lies performed by Calling Mercury

In a complete reversal from the previous entry, this has a dated, 2000s sound. The composition doesn’t build or go anywhere, it just kinda…sits there, which is great for a doctor’s office or an elevator, but terrible for a pop song contest. The silhouettes in the staging are a nice touch, though.

Composition: 2           Lyrics: 3          Staging: 3            Performance: 3

Average: 2.75 Forgettable song coming to your local shopping mall soon.

Song #6. Smoke in My Eyes performed by Anthony

Whoa! Completely different song here! I think that the lyrics are sad – but the composition is so much fun! Yeah, maybe not as catchy as it needs to be, but definitely a strong contender. He and the backing singers have great chemistry. This is definitely a strong choice for victory in my book (at least, thus far!)

Composition: 4           Lyrics: 5          Staging: 5            Performance: 4

Average: 4.5 Lots of fun, eye-catching, definitely a memorable entry and a favorite to win. It should sweep into the superfinal.

Song #7. Warriors performed by Rene Mackon

Don’t know if he just started off wonky or what, but his voice is off. The song sounds modern (like, a discount OneRepublic) but the staging is so 80s (in a bad way); it’s distracting. Probably the weakest entry thus far.

Composition: 3           Lyrics: 3          Staging: 1            Performance: 2

Average: 2.25 Nope! Even the climax of this song felt flat.

Song #8. Northern Lights performed by Sala Vidoo

If you ever think wearing a disco ball is a good idea – you’re wrong. It’s NEVER a good idea. The lyrics of this song don’t really make sense. Also, the composition and the dance/movements seem very-Japanese: that’s cultural appropriation (i.e., using someone else’s culture without properly giving it context; it perpetuates the idea that other cultures are merely there to be used like items in a store). Despite this, I would say that the composition is fairly decent.

Composition: 4           Lyrics: 1          Staging: 1            Performance: 3

Average: 2.75 This is the kind of song that will grow on your; however, it has one chance to make an impression. Plus, the cultural appropriation rubs me the wrong way.

Song #9. Hurricane performed by Jeanette Bonde

The mirror effect only works if the two sides look the same. I honestly thought that this was two different people until the camera switched to normal. Also, the outfit is not good. Both the staging and the composition get better as the song continues. Sadly, her singing does not. The lyrics are also quite repetitive.

Composition: 3           Lyrics: 2          Staging: 3            Performance: 2

Average: 2.5 Not really all that great. It’s not terrible, just not good. I bet the studio version is better, though.

Song #10. A.S.A.P. performed by Johanna Beijbon

Her pants make me sad. Okay, so, this is merely a vapid pop tune (she called it “party pop disco”). Fun to dance to, not much for a competition- And that’s a missed big note…

Composition: 4           Lyrics: 1          Staging: 1            Performance: 2

Average: 2 No! This is schlager at its worst.

 

Scores of all Ten Performances
Smoke in My Eyes (Song #6) 4.5
Where I Am (Song #4) 4.25
Vesterbro (Song #2) 3.5
Color My World (Song #3) 3.5
One (Song #1) 3
Big Little Lies (Song #5) 2.75
Northern Lights (Song #8) 2.75
Hurricane (Song #9) 2.5
Warriors (Song #7) 2.25
A.S.A.P. (Song #10) 2

This is a rare instance of my predictions aligning with how I would personally rate the songs. With that said, the three songs I think will move forward to the superfinal are:

Smoke in My Eyes (Song #6)

Where I Am (Song #4)

Vesterbro (Song #2) — I am selecting this over Color My World because 1) I like it better, 2) I hope that the only Danish-language entry can be successful, 3) there’s more potential for where this song can go

So, who actually qualified?

One (Song #1) – I guess a boring song about peace can still do well at these kind of competitions.

A.S.A.P. (Song #10) – The weakest song; it merely combines all the worst traits of a “stereotypical” ESC song.

Where I Am (Song #4) – well, at least I got one right. This song should easily win; it’s miles ahead of the other two.

Time for the songs to be presented once more. This time, for all the marbles!!

Song #1. One performed by Ida Una

Still sounds fairly generic and uninspiring. Her singing is not as strong as it was before. I think that this song will finish third.

Song #4. Where I Am performed by Anja

I can’t help but think about Tell Me Who You Are, Denmark’s 2002 entry that came in last (though, I love that song). I don’t like this song as much as that one; however, I think ESC is at a place where a song like it won’t fail so badly again.

Song #10. A.S.A.P. performed by Johanna Beijbon

I understand this song’s appeal, but it’s weak. If it wins, it’ll be another year stuck in the semi-finals for Denmark. This kind of music is not Eurovision anymore. Schlager has been doing less and less well, and this is a poor example of that genre. C’mon Denmark, let’s live in the present, not the past.

Prediction

  1. Where I Am
  2. A.S.A.P.
  3. One

Rather enjoyed the interval act! I love the idea of a medley of some of the most successful and popular Dansk Melodi Grand Prix entries. I think that this does a good job of driving home the point that DR is actively trying to do well at ESC again, a complaint that they’ve doubtlessly received each of the past two years.

Ouch! A.S.A.P. only got 10% of the vote.

And the winner is…

Where I Am (song #4) performed by Anja

Predictions for Kyiv

Song #4 wins in a landslide, garnering 64% of the vote. While not the strongest song (then again, probably none of the entries tonight would have a strong chance to win in Kyiv), it is the most deserving champion among the three superfinalists and will most likely get Denmark back to the Grand Final in May. The bigger question is, what will it once it gets to Saturday night?

That depends on several factors: its competition and its position, neither of which can I determine at the moment. Building a prediction based upon the song in and of itself, I think that it will finish mid-table, so, 12-18th on the night. I think that it will score highly with the jury, but only moderately so with the voting public. I think people will recognize it to be a good song, but not groundbreaking. I hope that Denmark takes whatever its final position is as inclination that refocusing on victory is a step in the right direction.


Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2016!

denmark_2016_poll-620x330Hello Dear Readers!

Welcome to my annual live notes for the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix! Ever since I studied in Denmark back in college (2007), I have considered it to be my second home country – and I always cheer for them in ESC. Those of you who have been following me for years know that my ESC coverage for the new year starts in earnest with my live notes from DMGP! As a reminder, live notes are my Denmarkrunning commentary; I write them as I watch the show for the first time. This year, I am fortunate enough to be able to watch the show live online (dr.dk) – which I always love doing; sharing the moment with all of Denmark!

What a great opening! First, we’re reminded that each of the last two times that Sweden hosted the Contest: Denmark has won. Perhaps 2016 will continue this pattern?

The hosts singing a rousing song about the glory of Danish music, their closeness with their neighbors to the north (Sweden), and the hope for a great show!

As a reminder, DMGP is determined from a mix of jury and televoting. The ten competing songs are all performed. We have a voting period. Then the top three songs according to a 50/50 combination of jury and televoting move through to the superfinal. These three songs are performed again. We then have another voting period. This year, the winner is determined soley by the votes of the public which are revealed in reverse-order. The public’s votes are distributed proportionately.

Our expert jury, who’s points account for one half of our final score – a songwriter from Satellite, president of the MGP fan club, Chanée (half of the duo from Denmark in 2010), the director from 2014’s Contest, and a music producer.

 

Song 1Rays of Sunlight performed by David Jay

This song is a lot of fun! The performance is great. Why the arrangement is a nice and the lyrics are swell – the song is just a bit too corny, for my taste. Maybe it will grow on me, but right now, I’m a bit lukewarm on it.

Song 2 Heart Shaped Hole performed by Simone

While this is not the song co-written by winning performer Emmelie de Forest (that is song 10), this song brings to mind Rainmaker and Hunter and Prey, two of de Forest’s post-Contest songs. Despite this, I think the song is really great! The oversized heart is also a nice touch – particularly as it raises her up a bit. I don’t quite understand the point of the dancers, as they’re barely onscreen. Very strong song!

Song 3Breakaway performed by Bracelet

Hoping that their dual Danish-Swedish heritage works to their advantage. What are they wearing?! It’s like they want to try to be loud and edgy, but they don’t take any real risks with it; overall, their look is just kind of weak. The song is rather repetitive, but not in a good way. While it may appeal to the hoards of preteen girls watching, I just don’t see this song having mass appeal.

Song 4Blue Horizon  performed by Sophia Nohr

I like this, but think that it tries too hard to be “different and unique” — this is what we would refer to a “hipster” song here in the States. It’s alright, I don’t think it will move through to the superfinal, but it’s not bad.

Song 5  – The Wrong Kind performed by Veronicas Illusion

It’s nice to have another uptempo song, but this isn’t very good. There’s a lot of flashing lights and sounds and dances. It’s just a complete mess. The song is only okay. I am not impressed and don’t anticipate this song being very popular tonight.

So, halfway through, I think songs 1 and 2 are so far the strongest; but  neither are all that stunning. Interestingly, we don’t really see the usual attempts of capturing last year’s magic of Heroes, A Million Voices, or Grande Amore. Perhaps the second half will present a few examples?

Song 6  – Soldiers of Love  performed by Lighthouse X

I don’t care for their voices; at least, not when they sing individually. Despite this, Soldiers for Love is, thus far, the most complete song we’ve seen. The performance and staging are modest, but in a good way. The song is catchy without being overly repetitive. The music is nice. It will just be a matter of whether the Danes can get past their aversion to military metaphors and vote for them.

Song 7  – Who Needs a Heart  performed by Kristel Lisberg

Again, I do not particularly like her voice. I like her outfit, but not those of her backing singers. Umm….this song is okay. It would definitely need to some beefing up and reworking if it somehow wins tonight. But since I do not see that as a major possibility, I don’t think that it will be an issue.

Song 8  – Break It Good  performed by Jessica

Hmm, a reggae-inspired song. I cannot say that I was expecting something like this. But I cannot imagine this song doing well either tonight in DMGP or on the stage in Stockholm. Also, what the heck is she wearing?

Song 9  – To Stjerner performed by Muri & Mario

Our one and only Danish language song tonight. It really is a shame the DR does not promote more Danish language stuff — it’s been almost twenty years since we’ve last heard Danish on the ESC stage. I like the sound of the song; it’s very different and stands out from the crowd. The acrobat is also a nice touch. Once again, the singer’s voice needs some work, in my opinion. But I like the song and think that it could do well in Sweden, but not so much here.

Song 10  – Never Alone performed by Anja Nissen

This is the song co-written by Emmelie de Forest; it has a bit of controversy, because de Forest had performed it at a few, smaller concerts a few years ago. After consulting with the EBU, it was determined that those public performances were not big enough to warrant eliminating the song. Oh no, it sounds like she’s sick or something, her voice just sounds off. As the winner of The Voice Australia, I was imagining a stronger performance. It’s a shame, because this sounds like a song that has a real  shot of, not only winning tonight, but challenging for the crown in Stockholm. Hopefully, the Danish public and the jury look past her rough start and vote for this song!

 

So, my thoughts on our ten songs from tonight.

My Top Five

  1. Song 6 – Soldiers of Love performed by Lighthouse X
  1. Song 2 – Heart Shaped Hole performed by Simone
  1. Song 10 – Never Alone performed by Anja Nissen
  1. Song 9 – To Stjerner performed by Muri & Mario
  1. Song 1 – Rays of Sunlight performed by David Jay

Who I think will make it to the Superfinal

  1. Song 10 – Never Alone performed by Anja Nissen
  1. Song 6 – Soldiers of Love performed by Lighthouse X
  1. Song 2 – Heart Shaped Hole performed by Simone

I know what you’re thinking, “he just chose his top three songs to move through to the superfinal. That’s not very smart.” And you’re both wrong and right. I chose the three songs that I think have the best shot of moving through to the Superfinal; they just so happened to be my favorite three from the night. You’re right in that I do not have a very good history with picking successful entries at DMGP. But hey – no one’s perfect!

Our annual choir of kids.  Yadda yadda yadda. Small talk with hosts and guests. Yadda yadda yaddda.

Okay, and our three qualifiers are….

  1. Song 2 – Heart Shaped Hole performed by Simone
  1. Song 6 – Soldiers of Love performed by Lighthouse X
  1. Song 10 – Never Alone performed by Anja Nissen

 

Buahahaha! I was 3 for 3, 100% correct! That’s exciting! Now another sketch (which, by the way, these sketches are funny, to imagine that her as this tough-as-nails, Godfather-type character, is pretty cool).

Okay, and onwards to the Superfinal. This is for all the marbles. The songs need to be in full glory this time around in order to be crowned in victory.

Song 2  – Heart Shaped Hole  performed by Simone

Her voice is amazing, just as strong as the first time around. However, I don’t feel like this is any better than earlier tonight; it’s merely the same level of performance. She needs to give us more in the last third of the song. Here we go…building up to the final climax…and…meh. A very good job, no doubt, but will it be good enough to leave a massive impression and knock off the other two.

It’s about time we talk about Dansevise, one of my favorite ESC winners of all time! It’s such a haunting song, particularly the guitar rift, which is what we’re focusing on here in this video.

Song 6  – Soldiers of Love performed by Lighthouse X

They’re voices need to be stronger and clearer this time around. So far, so good. It’s good, but I just can’t keep thinking about the 3JS (Netherlands 2011) when I listen to this song. I really like this song, and think it could compete on the ESC stage, however, I just don’t think it has enough to beat either of the other two songs, even with this slightly better performance in the Superfinal.

Song 10  – Never Alone performed by Anja Nissen

So, I think this is hers to lose at this point (which is interesting, as Denmark is not known for choosing non-Danish performers, even when they have Danish heritage). You can see it in her eyes, she’s performing with this look of confidence, as if she’s already won. Listen to the crowd! That was a good performance. Again, her voice was not as strong as it could have been, but I think she gave a great performance.

After last year’s failure, Denmark is striking back with three very strong songs that all are worthy of bringing the trophy back to Denmark. I like Soldiers of Love a lot, but I just do not think that it has what it takes to outperform the other two songs in the voting. It’s not as captivating as the other two and the singers are less appealing to the general audience.  So, while I think that Heart Shaped Hole is the better song and the better-performed song, I have a feeling that Never Alone is going to easily win tonight. Which, honestly, might be the better, strategic choice for DR, as Nissen is Australian which unlocks loyalty voting from Australia, the UK, and Ireland. The song is also more uptempo and more uplifting; it’s catchy and the singer is pretty. We’ll see.

Okay, so now we’re talking about Swedish winners. Oh! A fun picture of Måns Zelmerlöw (Sweden 2015) with a pile of beer. A short interview with C​​harlotte Perelli (Sweden 1999…and 2008). And now, a performance from Loreen (Sweden 2012), who’s as pretty as ever and singing a lovely version of the ever popular Euphoria.

Danish Flag MapFinal Resutls!

So, Heart Shaped Hole gets third place…and the winner is…Soldiers of Love! Of course it is. Right when I predicted that it would come in last. Honestly, I think Denmark would be well off with any of these three songs. This is my favorite song from tonight. It will be interesting to see how the song takes shape between now and when the final version is due in mid-March. As I say above, I think that this song has a very strong chance to do well at the ESC and I look forward to supporting the song in Stockholm!

 

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Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2015

The new DMGP logo

The new DMGP logo

And thus, it begins! In what is shaping up to be one of the more unique Contest years, let’s hope the the actual shows live up to all the craziness that is happening. But, before we dive into the news , my first post of the new season, as always, focuses on Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2015!

Danish Flag MapPer usual, these are live notes.  I am writing this as I am watching this for the first time. I do go back and edit for typos, but that is it. Given that my favorite song rarely wins DMGP, I am predicting that my predictions will be way off once again!

Hmm, just from the opening, the production value seems quite a bit lower than in the recent past. DR is probably still recovering from all the expenses of hosting the Contest last year.

Here we go!

Song One: Love Me, Love Me performed by Sara Sukurani
I’m not quite sure what she is wearing; it’s rather awful. I do love the Bollywood sound to this song. The dance portion is not all that interesting – if she were to win, it would need to be spruced up tremendously. Not a bad song, nor a bad way to start off the evening. I do not, however, think we will be hearing this song again tonight.

Ahhhh…is this social media pandering going to be happening all night? Oh look, a post about the hosts. Yay. (That’s sarcasm, by the way)

Funny video, but I would prefer for us to move through the songs as uninterrupted as possible. All the extra stuff can happen before and after.

Song Two: Mi Amore performed by Tina & René
Oh, our requisite Thomas G:son song for DMGP. A light year for the prolific Swedish  composer, only five songs throughout Europe this year. For me, this song is the definition of generic. Not all that inspiring and rather repetitive. It will not stand up to the competition in Vienna. I hope, for Denmark’s sake, it does not win. I don’t dislike the song, in terms of its musical merit, I just think it’s a weak entry competitively.

So, now we begin introducing the regional juries. This year, DR is reverting to a selection process not unlike its pre-2010 days. DR has divided the country into regions and has given each a jury in the selection process.

The audience vote is a little different.  There are 290 points available. The points are divided amongst the ten songs in accordance with the percentage of the popular vote that it yields.

DR decided to use regional juries and scrap their balance of ONE jury and several popular votes that has been in use since 2010. Interestingly enough, 2010 is when Denmark started its recent string of success. I wonder if this move is as much about avoiding winning, after bearing the expense of hosting last year, as it is about trying to increase nationwide buy-in for the winner. Perhaps DR is just trying to capitalize on the increased interest in the Contest while it can.

Song Three: Når Veje Krydses performed by Marcel & Soulman Group
I almost always like the Danish-language songs in DMGP – and this is no exception. It has a sweet melody, a catchy melody, and a strong performance. The soulful sound is also quite nice! It’s the well ahead of the previous two in my opinion.

Song Four: Hotel A performed by Cecilie Alexandra
Interesting sound…is she singing in English?  Yes.  All of a sudden, Love Me, Love Me is sounding a lot better. The refrain is well articulated and easy to sing along to. However, much like Song Two, this one is pleasant but weak. Ultimately, I cannot see it moving forward tonight. I can’t help but feel that this song was just short of being awesome; I’m not quite sure what is missing, but it just feels incomplete.

Song Five: Love is Love performed by Andy Roda
I don’t know if his voice is strong enough to pull this song off. I am thinking that he is just nervous. This is alright.  Oh! Love the glitter! Hoping it has the same effect that Only Teardrops‘ confetti did? Hmmm…I would say that this is the second strongest song thus far.

Hmmm, halfway through and I am not overly confident that Denmark will return to the Top Ten in Vienna. Let’s hope the second half has some stronger entries!

Song Six: Tæt på Mine Drømme performed by Julie Bjerre
She looks like a child, but is dressed like a middle-aged woman – at least, they are not trying to make her look overly sexy. There is something very 80s about this entry. Personally, this is my third favorite thus far behind songs three and four, but I think, thus far, it is the strongest entry. It is catchy; the singer is cute; the song is pleasant yet memorable. The eighties-style staging captures the song’s sound well and Bjerre’s voice is right on.

Song Seven: The Way You Are performed by Anti Social Media
When one pictures male Danish teenagers, I am pretty sure they are precisely the image that comes to mind. THAT is not the sound I was expecting with a name like “Anti Social Media.” There are definitely some articulation and pronunciation issues, which harkens to the question, “What’s wrong with songs in one’s own language?” Right – if you have ever read my converage on DMGP, you know that I believe that the Danes generally believe that their language, though pretty, would inhibit a song’s success. Therefore, I think Danish language entries have a disadvantage at DMGP.  Whereas the previous song had a distinct 1980s sound, this one had a distinct 1970s sounds to it. What’s next, disco? I think the song still needs some work, but I would put its chances second to song six (despite what I just said about Danish-language entries).

Song Eight: Suitcase performed by Anne Gadegaard
Despite the fact that the backing vocals are a bit too loud, I really like the staging and performance. The song is crazy catchy and tells a story. The camera work is also quite nice. By far, the strongest entry to be performed tonight. This sounds like it would fit right in on the Eurovision stage. More confetti! Though, they lose their effect if the camera is inside the confetti shower. I really like it, though! At this point, this is my choice to win.

Song Nine: Manjana performed by Babou
What language is he singing in? I can barely hear him over the music. Okay – he’s singing in Danish. It only took a verse and a half to figure that out. I do like the sound of the entry, though. It makes me want to get up and dance – which I believe is the point. This volume imbalance has been going on all night. Hmm…I think it is a strong entry. It’s making me think about how I am balancing all the entries against one another.

Song Ten: Summer Without You performed by World of Girls
They described the song as “girl power” and that is the sound – kinda of bubblegummy and very girly. It definitely harkens back to the nineties girl groups, in sound and look. The pause was interesting – as was the slow-motion at the end. Just a lot of interesting staging choices. Not my favorite, but I can understand its appeal.

Okay, so, all the songs have been performed. My predictions for the Top Three:
1. Song Eight – Suitcase
2. Song Nine – Manjana
3. Song Ten – Summer Without You

I think that Suitcase is the best song and the other two are the most infectious. Manjana is the token Danish-language song that will move through, as one (just one and never more) usually finishes in the top three.

Once again, DR seems to have saved the strongest songs for the second half of the show. Which is not fair, but whatever. I am tired of talking about my dislike for producer-decided running orders. ANYWAY, while songs 6-10 are all in the same realm of strength, I think that the three above have the best chances of success tonight and in Vienna.

In terms of my favorite three:
1. Song Three – Når Veje Krydses
2. Song Eight – Suitcase
3. Song Six – Tæt på Mine Drømme

And now, the results of the five juries:
First region (Zealand) in: Hotel A takes the initial lead
Second region (Middle Jutland) puts The Way You Are in a tie with Hotel A
Third region (Southern Jutland & Fyn) has technical difficulties!
Fourth region (Copenhagen) breaks the tie and puts The Way You Are in first.
Back Region Three (Southern Jutland & Fyn) – and more top points for boys with the 70s sound.
Fifth Region (Northern Jutland) extends the lead for The Way You Are.

It is strange to me that they would show the juries’ points BEFORE closing the voting lines. Wouldn’t that influence the audience’s votes?

Now, last year’s winner Basim sings an unexpectedly serious song (when compared to Cliché Love Song) that actually sounds pretty cool. Oh, I should have known that annoying song was going to be performed.

And now, our annual commercial for MGP (the junior song contest that inspired JESC). Every year, the entrants from MGP come and perform their group song to raise awareness and interest for their competition in just a few weeks time.

And now, the results of the audience’s vote read in the order of their eventual final placing
Song 1, only 13 points
Song 5, only 8 points
Song 9 – 35 points (guess I was way off in my prediction!)
Song 10 – 34 points (see above)
Song 2 – 20 points
Song 3 – 18 points
Song 4 is out of the running with only 18 points from the audience
Song 6 gets 38 big points, but it is not enough to stay alive

And now, the winner! I am either really right (for only the second time for DMGP – 2013 being the first) or really wrong

Song 7 gets a whopping 48 points. Not being quick with math, I am not sure if the remaining points are enough for my favorite, Song 8, to catch up.  It needs 65 to win. Let’s see!

D’oh! it gets only 58 points, falling a mere seven points short of victory.
The quintessential Danes and their 70s song win Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2015!

While I do not think that the boys are ready, the juries, and a good portion of the audience, think that they are.

Okay, so, as I listen to their Winner’s Reprise, I think the following things are necessary for them to be successful in Vienna (be mindful, I am much better at predicting ESC success than success at DMGP)
Denmark1. They need to work on their enunciation of English – this is a common ailment amongst non-native speakers, but winners of the modern era have had pretty good diction. There’s no advantage to singing in English if people cannot understand you.
2. There outfits need to coordinate. They need to dive into their seventies sound – where matching suits and put the backing vocalists in coordinated dresses. Think Armenia’s entry from the 2012. The boys of Compass Band were dressed for the era.
3. They need to play up to the fact that they are young, likeable guys. Everyone likes cute young people with catchy songs. They need to avoid negative press and just present themselves as ordinary, European guys.

With a little work, this song could reach the Top Ten. If you think that tween girls are one of the primary ESC demographics, Anti Social Media should have them on lock. I don’t mention gay men, as that demographic is more associated with dance tunes, divas, and hot men (as opposed to younger guys). Ultimately, I think this song is a shoo-in for the Grand Final but will find itself outside the Top Ten. While I think they will achieve a respectful finish, I just don’t see them improving their performance and staging enough to compete seriously on a pan-European level.

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ESC2014 – Grand Final Live Notes

Hello dear readers!

As I lack understanding of how these things work, I am not at the arena tonight.  But that means I can be here with you!

It’s 9:05 and the show is starting! The opening act is stunning and now we have a return of the parade of nations!

Ukraine starts us off with a bang (and a few bum notes)! A nice performance, but not as strong as her others.

Belarus was okay. It definitely got better as it went along and this was his strongest performance thus far. But still, no danger of history being made with a winner from the second position.

Azerbaijan – definitely not as strong as it should have been, especially with that bum note.  Still enough for a top ten.

Iceland was Iceland. Exciting but juvenile.

Norway very strong performance but will it be memorable enough to make a lasting impression on televoters?  Probably not.

Romania had a lot of off notes. I already didn’t think that they would be Top Ten, but now I think that they will contend for bottom five.

Armenia – more bum notes! Was there some kind after party last night? I still maintain that Aram needed backing dancers to support the song. They could act out the story from the video it would have been great! #missedopportunities

Montenegro more botched notes, but overall very strong! I really think that it will do really well!

Poland – this is, by far, Cleo’s best performance! Will it be enough to overcome its so-so jury performance? Probably enough for a mid-table finish.

Greece is letting their age show. They sound out of breath and seem to care more about pumping up the crowd and less about connecting with the TV audience .

Austria was stunning, as usual. It will to see how it scores and from where the points come from.

Germany – I see that they fixed the streamer issue from last night. I also think that they do a good job of making the large stage seem small so that they didn’t get lost on the large stage.

Sweden – AMAZING!!!!!! Sanna is not going to let herself be outdone by Austria or anyone else. Did we just see a winning performance? Perhaps!

France is definitely much stronger tonight and should have a lot of televotes. Though, it really isn’t the kind of song that the juries go for.

Russia gave another fantastic performance of their average song; talk about making lemonade from lemons. In a normal year, it would be an easy Top Ten. It will be interesting to see how the voting is affected .

Italy – definitely a better performance than last night, but not all that great, still. Lowest Italian placing since their return.

Another strong performance for Slovenia. I just don’t think that it will be memorable squeezed between the hot mess of Italy and the laser light show of Finland, speaking of which…

Finland gave a strong performance that washed out Slovenia. Resetting us for the rest of show that contains some of the stronger artistic entries.

Just when you though Ruth Lorenzo reached her peak, she steps it up another level for the Grand Final. She unleashed her full voice and Spain should go roaring into the Top Ten.

I wished I had included Switzerland in my dark horses video. I always liked this song and thought it would do better than most would. I think it will surprise folks with how well it does tonight in the voting. Still not Top Ten, but definitely top fifteen.

Hungary has a truly deep song that leaves me conflicted. In love the message of the lyrics, giving hope to the victims of abuse, but I wonder if it will be lost on most folks and those that do understand it may not like that it is I’m ESC. Regardless, I think it will do well, maybe another tenth place for Hungary, but no better than that.

A rather convincing performance from Malta. Won’t finish last, but I think all the country and folk votes will be absorbed by the Netherlands. Cheers to you Malta for having a great song with a great performance that is just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Denmark – despite Basim’s whiny voice and the obnoxious lyrics, this song gets stuck in your head. There’s no way that this song will not do well performing this late in the running order.

Why us the host popping up after the postcard? Something must be going wrong with the setup for the Netherlands (probably not) or the tear down for Denmark (more likely).

The Netherlands have another great performance and I can definitely see why they have jumped up so dramatically in the betting odds. They will surely do well!

Go San Marino!! By far Valentina’s best performance, not just this year, but across her three entries. A fantastic swan song and performance for a singer who will be forever treasured in ESC history. I hope and pray for a top fifteen finish.

UK – a much improved performance compared to last night. I don’t think she will win, but I think that the UK will be back in the Top Ten this year.

So many wonderful songs – who will win?

My favorite ten tonight
1. Sweden
2. San Marino
3. The Netherlands
4. Austria
5. Switzerland
6. Armenia
7. Norway
8. Germany
9. Malta
10. Hungary

Who I think will be Top Ten
1. Sweden – I still think that Sanna will win tonight. Her performance was flawless and the song is stunning.
2. The Netherlands – I really think they will absorb a lot of the votes from those who want something different. Not to mention how successful country was last time the Contest was in Denmark.
3. Spain – stunning, absolutely stunning
4. Hungary – the highest quality, up tempo song this year
5. Austria – lots of hype, lots of people voting purely due to the message, definitely will translate to success
6. Denmark – catchy and late I’m the running order, plus the host country bump will surely help
7. UK – the jury performance will deflate its final placing
8. Armenia – unique, contemporary, and interesting
9. Montenegro – the best foreign language entry, will suffer from the lack of votes coming from the nonparticipating former Yugoslav countries, but will probably get twelves from Macedonia and Slovenia, as well as nearby friend, Albania.
10. Azerbaijan – a strong jury performance, but a weak televote performance. It’s impossible to not think that Azerbaijan will be somewhere in the Top Ten.

The voting entertainment and the interval act are not noteworthy. So…no comment.

It’s time to find our winner!!

AZR – first ever points for San Marino!!! And Azerbaijan gave a point to Austria, interestingly enough. Our first twelve points go to he Azerbaijani’s best friend after Turkey: Russia.

GRC – surprise points for Russia! And a big twelve to Austria!

POL – a surprise twelve to the Netherlands from an atypical source

ALB – twelve to Spain!!

SM – unexpected twelve to AZR and none for Italy?

DEN – only six for Norway and an unexpected twelve to Sweden

MNG – I missed MNG’s first ever final points :-/ expected points to Slovenia. Points for Hungary!

ROM – 12 to Sweden. Already one of the most exciting voting sequences thus far

RUS – twelve points to their pet Belarus, seven form the Ukraine

NET – some big points for Norway, more points for Austria.

Ten countries have voted and still no clear winner. Good stuff!!
Poor France, though, still no points

MAL – unsurprising points to Italy

FRA – Armenia gets France’s twelve

UK – Netherlands picks up some more points, Malta gets its first big score, Austria gets its third twelve pointer

LAT – gives a surprise twelve points to the Netherlands

ARM – no surprise with the points to Russia or the tasteless boos. Surprise points to Montenegro, their first ever douze points

ICE – Netherlands!!!! Not Sweden. Whoa!!

MAC – umsurprising twelve to Montenegro

SWE – France is saved from null points land! Norway only got three, Austria gets the twelve.

Bela – unsurprising twelve to Russia

GER – Austria only gets seven. Netherlands staying in this!!

Austria maintains a ten point lead over the Netherlands, with Armenia and Sweden not too far behind.

ISR – technical issues prevail for Israel! Is this the beginning of an unreachable gap for Austria?

POR – first time Spain didn’t get points from Portugal, I think. Surprise points to Austria. I am calling this for Conchita Wurst.

NOR – keeping things interesting with points go the Netherlands.

EST – keeping the race from getting out of hand with the twelve to the Netherlands.

HUN – you would have thought the votes would went the other way around, there. The Dutch are creeping up

MOL – blanks the Dutch, helps Austria extend the lead

IRE – handy points to the UK, ten to Netherlands, twelve to Austria

Netherlands are still within two countries of catching up

FIN – well, the Dutch will need a third country…strike that. Austria just crossed 200!

LIT – more of the same Austria and Netherlands

AUS – keeps their rival under two hundred, unexpected points to Armenia

SPA – NET gets seven, technical difficulties for Spain? Netherlands got dangerously close and Austria jumps farther ahead

BLG – really thought the Netherlands would get that twelve

ITA – mathematically, Netherlands is still in it

UKR – and now the Netherlands are eliminated

I really hate when they announce the winner before the votes are done

SUI – nothing interesting

GEO – proof that votes are not political, Georgia and Russia hate each other!

SLV – I thought that Montenegro would get their twelve.

And, officially, Austria is the winner!

I’d like to think that Austria won because the song is freaking amazing! Unfortunately, I think her victory was the result of what the character of Conchita Wurst represents, not due to the song. It is an unfair asterisk that will hang over her, Austria, and this Contest for all of history. This is my favorite song this year and I hate that its greatness will be doubted for all of time. More than that, this victory will be used as key evidence that politics dictate the results of the Contest. And that, above all else, is the biggest issue. More on that to come. For now, let’s just celebrate that the best song won despite potential opportunity for it being derailed by its message. Congratulations to Austria on your second victory!!

Final Top Ten
1. Austria
2. The Netherlands
3. Sweden
4. Armenia
5. Hungary
6. Ukraine
7. Russia
8. Norway
9. Spain
10. Denmark


Eurovision 2013 — Grand Final Live Notes…Live!

Thanks for reading my live-live notes! It was fun, but difficult, but overall, worth it! I hope to make this a tradition (at least for the Grand Final).  If you did not come to this post until after the Contest, you’ll notice that it is in reverse chronological order, so scroll to the bottom and read your way back to the top of the page.  I have hyperlinked each individual performance (click the country’s name).  If you want to follow along in real time, here’s the link to the Grand Final on the official website.  Good night!

Final Thoughts

Looks like I am still batting .800.  Not too shabby!  I had predicted that Germany (finished 21st) and Georgia (finished 15th) would be in the Top Ten and sorely missed the call there.  I also predicted that the UK would finish in the Top 15, nope.  I did call Sweden finishing 14th, though, so that’s pretty sweet!  Overall, I’m quite happy with the results.  While I do not think Denmark was the strongest in any one field (lyrics, composition, performance), I thought it had the best package.  This is a situation similar to Norway’s win 2009.  Now, all three Scandinavian countries have won since 2009 (that’s 3 out of 4 years!) – expand that to include all the Nordic countries (add in Finland and Iceland) and they have 4 victories since 2006 and a slew of Top Ten placings.  I know people in the West like to whine about the East, but it’s the Nordic bloc that has taken control of the Contest. Not a bad thing, since all five of those countries take the Contest very seriously and tend to produce very strong entries.  It will be interesting to see next year.  DR is not as aggressive about change as SVT is (and, really, who is), so I am hoping that some things will revert – like, we’ll go back to random draw for the running order and we won’t have the host try to end the show early.  Denmark won a long time before Petra announced it, so everything just seemed a bit awkward.

Anyway, I have complained a lot about SVT’s production, but I want to note some highlights: the opening and interval acts were all top notch.  While I think they got a little too cheeky with the humor during tonight’s interval act, overall, it was funny and well done.  Sarah Dawn Finer did an amazing job (though, I do wonder if anyone bothered calling the Herrey’s or Charlotte Perelli who also won for Sweden in 1984 and 1999, respectively) both as Lynda Woodruff and when she sung.  I want to go find her now!  I loved the postcards – they really helped endear you to each performing artist. And I thought the stage was really nifty (though, it was a little too easy to hide backing singers) – so well done there!

More to come in my usual “One Week Later” post.  I will also go through and clean up this post for typos, correct factual mistakes, and add images and links to the performances.

Actual Top Ten

1. Denmark (1 for 1)
2. Azerbaijan (2 for 2)
3. Ukraine (3 for 3)
4. Norway (4 for 4)
5. Russia (4 for 5)
6. Greece (5 for 6)
7. Italy (6 for 7)
8. Malta (7 for 8)
9. The Netherlands (8 for 9)
10. Hungary (8 for 10)

I like that Denmark brought their own confetti to add to that which was already falling.  Many said that the Danish staging was made to look like a winner – and it was! It looked good, it sounded good, it had strong lyrics, and a strong composition.  It had huge support from fans, analysts,  and bookies alike.  It was song that was destined to win, albeit, I don’t think anyone (other than maybe the bookies who had this at much lower odds than everyone else) expected it to win by so much.

Boo SVT Boo!!!!!!  You cut off the winner’s reprise – that is wholly unacceptable!

Yay – time for the Winner’s Reprise!!  Not a close race like I was hoping for, but the outcome that I had wanted, most definitely!  I promised myself that I would go to the Contest if Denmark were to win – looks like I’m heading back to Land of the Danes!  As soon as the host city is officially announced – I will be booking plane tickets and hotel rooms (or couches of friends) and heading to the place where I first discovered the Contest back in 2007.

I love that she is walking through the flags of all the other countries – awesome!!  Even better, I predicted this win way back when she took DMGP!

And Azerbaijan is officially second!

It’s a race for second! Azr is back in after Switzerland!

I think they just wanted to get Denmark moving.  We’re already 25 minutes over the 3 hour allotment.

What’s the point of announcing a winner if we’ll keep going to the spokespersons?  Is it simply because no Contest is complete without Cyprus officially giving 12 points to Greece?

We won’t get to the last few (Cyprus, Croatia, Switzerland, and Lithuania) — I like the light effect on her dress.

Macedonia – interesting, she forgot to say “Former Yugoslav Republic of ” before Macedonia, I think she’s getting tired. The FYR folks seem to be lining up behind Denmark. Fun!

Georgia – no surprises here

Slovenia – now the entire top 8 is over 100pts. 12pts to Denmark.

Montenegro – what’s up with that echo?

Denmark – No real surprises here.

Ireland – poor Ireland, they’re on track for their second last place finish.

Greece – Denmark breaks 200 and Azerbaijan regains second place.

France – And the Danes are just outside of 200 points.  I don’t think she’ll crack 300, though.

Iceland – no surprises here.  If I haven’t already, I am officially calling this for Denmark (I think I did earlier, but just in case I did not)

Germany – 12 to Hungary?  Interesting, not too surprising.  First slip up like that from a spokesperson in quite a few years.

Estonia – when will people learn, leading a vote announcement with “Our neighbors…” is not a good idea and will not buy you any love from the fans.

Malta – Oh – Azr! not expected!  Looks like I’ll be eating crow for my words about the UK entry, it’s not doing too well.

Russia – no real shock except for 8pts to Belgium.  But the sentiment seems rampant in Russian art that “love kills,” so I guess that’s why it got so many points.

Belgium – interesting to see where the points go without Turkey in the competition – The Netherlands, they’re fun neighbors to the north!  Yay, at least Anouk got one 12 for the Netherlands.  Good stuff.

Bulgaria – Armenia?  how strange. Oh, Ukraine narrows the gap to a mere 14 points.

And Eric Saade knows a thing or two about leading at the halfway point, only to see that lead slip away.  Though, Denmark’s lead is stronger than his was in 2011.

135 for Denmark, 113 for Ukraine, 100 for Azerbaijan

Latvia – It’s funny, you can hear the annoyance in Petra’s voice as she tries to get people to talk faster.

Belarus – first big points for Russia, who is also holding tight, like Norway. And Ukraine breaks 100.

Spain – Italy is back in the Top Ten.

Finland – Hungary is definitely doing better than expected.  Denmark has a 36 point lead over second place Ukraine.

Italy – Still no points for poor Estonia 😦 And Denmark stretches it’s lead.

Armenia – Interesting, Norway, I think, has only gotten one big point, but it is racking up a lot of small ones and staying in the mix of the Top Ten.  And the Ukraine is making a play for the top.

Norway – the party has been going for nearly 3 hours, Tooji. More big points for Malta!  Do I see an underdog trying to make a run?  No big points for Denmark?  Interesting.  Interesting that Sweden got their 12.

Azerbaijan – 8pts for Malta! The tiny nation climbs to 6th.

Moldova – only ten for Romania? 12 goes to? Ukraine – not surprising.

Romania – Azerbaijan is now only 7 points behind Denmark.

Hungary – Malta is holding tough!  Azerbaijan is trying to keep things close, I wonder if it can close the gap (13 points).

Ukraine – the voting is going so fast! Thanks for slowing things down a bit.  Belarus?  Interesting.

Serbia – first FYR country gives their 12 to…Denmark.  Okay – I think I need to start looking for flights to Copenhagen.

Israel – another unpredictable country. I feel like the same guy gives their points every year.

United Kingdom – only 1 point for Ireland?  Interesting. Hmmm…Denmark has taken the lead.  I wonder if they will relinquish it?  Still too early to call it.

Austria – Azerbaijan is the only surprise, but it was a good performance.  It really annoys me that Azerbaijan tends to hold a Turkish flag – boo!  Support your own country!

The Netherlands – Way to screw things up producers! You revealed the 12 pointer way too early! and on the wrong country! yay neighbor voting in the West! And Roberto isn’t even Flemish!

Albania – Italy! Is this the beginning of a run to the top?

Sweden – way to go Petra, better she caught her issue now, as opposed to later. Finally, Sweden plays the part of a nice neighbor.

San Marino – only 4 points for Italy.  and our first 12 goes to: Greece! Not expected, but who can guess the minds of the Sammarinese

Another awful outfit for our lovely host.  Voting time!!

Oh, it’s Melodifestivalen regular and Lynda Woodruff player: Sarah Dawn Finer.  What a beautiful voice!

I love The Winner Takes it All!  And she’s doing an amazing job with it!  Who is this?

Ooh! I wonder why this is like the second or third time that they’ve gone to Jon Ola without him being ready – but given there is a singer ready, I’m assuming that was planned.  OOh!  Judging by what he said, he makes it sound like it will be a tie – and they’re going through to see who the winner is after the countback — how awesome would that be!!

Aww…he’s reminding us why pop stars do not equal good host.  I’m guessing he’s just nervous.

Everyone’s favorite dancing, overrated singing Swede – Eric Saade!

Love the sequence of over-the-top endings!

Poor Linda Martin, no need to attack her.

Yay, more history!!

Two and a half hours, Petra, two and a half hours.

What?!  That’s all the Carola that we get?  The woman that brought the wind machine to ESC gets only five seconds after all the promotion they did around her appearance, I thought she would at least get to do a medley of her three ESC songs, especially her winner (that we only got three seconds of).

In case you were wondering, Sweden has the highest rate of lactose intolerance in the world.

The video they have preceding the Interval Act is hilarious! (though, they started it a little early, but it was quickly corrected)  How is it that Sweden seems to be allowed to cross all sorts of lines that the EBU typically shuts down (there was a guy with several penises drawn on his face and a bare bottom)?  Azerbaijan would not have been allowed to get away with a lot of this.  I was wondering why Petra was wearing yet another awful outfit – it’s to make fun of her country – yay!  Interestingly enough, this outfit is her least awful.  And she just said “titties” on pan-European television. An entry would not have been allowed to get away with this.  What is going on?  Why is SVT allowed to do whatever it pleases? Oh, more pandering to the gays.  yay.  I expect a lot of backlash in tomorrow’s papers across the Continent.

My Top Ten on the Night Who I think will be Top Ten
Iceland Denmark
Italy Germany
France Azerbaijan
Norway Italy
Azerbaijan Norway
Denmark Georgia
Estonia Ukraine
The Netherlands The Netherlands
Belgium Greece
United Kingdom Malta

What is Loreen wearing?!  I like that she’s back, but I hate the idea of a song being performed during the voting sequence. It distracts from the competitors, especially when they are not running the voting numbers throughout the sequence – which is utterly silly for them to not do.  Boo SVT.  Oh!  My Heart is Refusing Me the song she lost Melodifestivalen in 2011(?) with, but it went on to be a big hit. And, of course, Euphoria complete with stage lift!

After the recap, I think the entries that stand out the most to me are: Greece and France.  That’s it for now.  Top Ten for the night soon to follow.

Poor cameraman, he must have drawn the short straw.

Ireland Only Love Survives performed by Ryan Dolan — those drummers are just a bit much in my opinion.  Why does the standard ESC answer to falling odds always seem to be throwing half-naked people at their problem? Ryan is a bit off tonight – too much pressure closing the show?  I think with the strength of singers we have this year, the vocal performance is going to play a bigger part than ever – I don’t think he has the chops to compete.  This is a nice diddy and he’s singing well enough but that won’t be enough, in my opinion. It’s a nice close to the show, but I don’t expect Ireland to finish higher than, maybe, 14th or so.

Georgia Waterfall performed by Nodi Tatishvili & Sopho Gelovani — the final ballad on the night, which will give it a big boost in the voting, both jury and televotes. The fact that this is also a standard ESC ballad (composed by ESC legend Thomas G:son) will also help it out a lot. What will not help – Sopho singing like she did on Thursday night. She was off-key for a large part of the second half of the song starting at the big note. Tonight – she’s doing better (Nodi is a little off) but will it be enough?  Ex that, she’s flat for that last note.  I don’t know – with Italy, Azerbaijan, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, and Ukraine all turning in flawless performances, I think Georgia just sung their way out of contention.

Norway Feed Your My Love performed by Margaret Berger — in case you didn’t know, she’s a DJ – that’s why she’s dj-ing in the postcard.  She needs a stronger performance here than she gave in the semi-final if she hopes to stay in contention. And she gave it!! Listen to the audience – that could win! I just wonder if Europe will appreciate her sound.

Italy L’Essenziale performed by Marco Mengoni — Mengoni brings the song that he won Sanremo with – given how big and competitive that contest is, we know that this song is battletested and proven in competition.  I think the press, who seem to be rating this song lower than the bookies, are down on this song because he was very nonchalant throughout his time in Malmo.  I think he was flawless during that performance and thrown down the gauntlet.  Italy has reached the Top Ten each of the last years since returning to the Contest, there’s no reason it won’t do the same now (especially with all the former Yugoslav nations out of the running and looking to someone to throw votes at).

Ukraine Gravity performed by Zlata Ognevich — still don’t quite get the giant (apparently it’s a reference to Easter European folklore).  His footsteps still don’t align with the camera shakes. I think this year we are seeing some of the best vocalists we have seen at the Contest in a long time – that was vocally amazing. The song is going to be hit or miss for a lot of folks, so I don’t think it will win, but it will be Top Ten for sure.

Greece Alcohol is Free performed by Koza Nostra fest. Agathon Iakovidis — this song has actually sneaked its way into the oddsmakers’ top ten. It’s so different than everything else – not to mention that it’s staged and performed so well.  And, the fact that it’s Greece doesn’t hurt either.  This song will probably finish in the 5-10 range.

Azerbaijan Hold Me performed by Farid Mammadov — I think his nerves may be getting him, his voice is a little flat and his hand shaky, but he still sounds fairly good (or, at least as good as he can sound). Great performance!  This will definitely be contending for a top spot.

Iceland Ég á Líf performed by Eythor Ingi — flawless performance – utterly flawless.  I think this could also shock a lot of folks, too!  What a strong year this is shaping up to be.

Denmark Only Teardrops performed by Emmelie de Forrest —  Huge crowd reaction for Denmark!  Amazing performance!  Well done well done — Gå Danmark!  This song has winner dripping all over it – I think we just saw a winning performance.

And now we begin our run of heavy hitters – songs 18 (Denmark), 20 (Azerbaijan), 22 (Ukraine), 23 (Norway), 24 (Italy), and 25 (Georgia) are all in the top ten of the oddsmakers.

Hungary Kedvesem performed by Bye.Alex — still a bit dull but he sounds just like he does every time he performs this song.  Apparently, there’s enough hipsters and indie fans to get this song to the Final, but are there enough to get Bye.Alex and Kedvesem on the better side of the scoreboard – probably not.

Sweden You performed by Robin Stjernberg — not as big a crowd reaction as the home performance usually gets, interesting.  Now it’s time for Stjernberg to prove that he actually can sing this song live.  Those two dancers are rather distracting.  That big note is a lot better than when we typically hear it.  Still not great, but better.  With the host country bump, this should finish around 12th or so.

United Kingdom Believe in Me performed by Bonnie Tyler — big crowd reaction for Ms. Tyler. She’s rather off-key 😦  But she just seems to be warming up – there she goes! Love the camera effect for this last run through of the chorus!! The stage lift is nice, unneccessary, but nice.  Huge crowd reaction – though!  Good stuff.  I hope that she is able to prove her countrymen wrong, as Britons seem to be the only folks who don’t think this song can finish in the top half of the entries (it’s 11th or 12th in the odds right now).

Romania It’s My Life performed by Cezar — Not the first operatic act in the Final (not at all) as Cezar thinks he is, but he is the first countertenor who uses his supreme range throughout the entire song to qualify for the Final.  Still not quite sure how he did, though. Still cannot find his backing singer, she’s hidden well! Yeah, still not convinced that this song can do much, Europe has never gone for countertenors before, I don’t think it will now.  Past operatic acts never finished higher than mid-table and I do not expect this one to.

Brace yourselves everyone – here comes Romania!

The Netherlands Birds performed by Anouk — if you don’t understand the lyrics – want to understand why the album this comes from is called Sad Singalong Songs, or just want to feel blue, watch the official video (after the Final, of course). I wonder how big an impact following the advert break will be – I wonder if she was placed here to help bring people back faster.  Oh my, the fans are really into this one! As I’ve said before, this song could shock a lot of folks and win (or at least finish Top Three).

I’m getting tired of all the pandering to the gays.  Really? Really? Do we really need so much pandering?  I think not.

The crowd preemptively cheered for Anouk, only to realize that Petra Mede was on stage.  Then cheered again for Lynda Woodruff – who’s skits are awesome!  Love the viking helmet!  I love how she’s acting as if ABBA is the Swedish royal family – hilarious!!

Armenia Lonely Planet performed by The Dorians — Another song that leaves me curious on how it slipped through to the final. The timing sounds off, like the singer is slightly behind the music.  He got pipes, though! The pyro is unnecessary.  Still do not think it will make the Top Ten, but then again, I didn’t think it could qualify.

Germany Glorious performed by Cascada — I have yet to hear this song performed, in a big concert style like this, in which Natalie Horner (Cascada’s singer) was on key throughout the song.  It’s such a foot stomper, and Cascada is so big, that it probably won’t effect the fan vote at all (I wholeheartedly expect Germany to be top five in the televote) but I wonder if the juries will bring down the score.

Something has just come to mind.  The advert break is usually after song 12.  I wonder if they will push it back for Anouk or if the are subjecting her to following it (a spot that is notorious for hurting the entry).  Not only would following the advert break be a disadvantage, but coming before the craziness that is Romania would not help things.

Russia What If? performed by Dina Garipova — uh oh, first notes were a little off.  Is someone nervous?  She looks it.  She’s recovered, but not as strong as on Tuesday, I think.  Still, though, a solid performance.  There’s every reason to believe that this will finish in the Top Ten.

Malta Tomorrow performed by Gianluca — this song is so adorable, and the lyric video in the background is great. It fits the song so well.  As I said on Thursday, it definitely gives you that sing-a-long on the beach feel, which is what they are going for.  Hey! That one random fan guy was singing along, but facing away from the stage.  Hahaha!

Belarus Solayoh performed by Alyona Lanskaya — much better than on Tuesday.  The staging is still much too busy, but Lanskaya sounded a thousands times better.  Only a couple of times was she screaming, hmm…she may be moving back into my predicted Top Ten.

Estonia Et Uus Saaks Alguse performed by Birgit — Is it me, or does she look naked during this black and white portion? Still a very lovely ballad, still a bit forgettable, still beautifully sung.  And still, all I can think about is France and Amandine’s awesome performance, sorry Estonia.  Great song, though!

Belgium Love Kills performed by Roberto Bellarosa — he definitely seems to have a bit more stage presence this time around.  I guess qualifying gave him the confidence he needed. His dancers are so creepy! And that look he just gave the camera (right after that big note) was a bit deranged!  Overall, a much better performance than on Tuesday – well done young man!! Is he crying? No one expected Belgium to be here, not even him, I suppose.

Spain Contigo Hasta el Final performed by ESDM — another contender for last place.  Not because it’s a bad song (actually, it’s an amazing song; it’s not too often you hear Spain embracing the Celtic roots of Galicia (they sent a major Galician artist in 2011, but gave her a thoroughly Spanish song) but because it’s kinda of just there for most ESC fans.  Did she just change her dress? Let that be a warning – don’t ESC and type, my friends. Iteresting choice to go full throttle, then pull it back.  Love the floating lamps! Is it just me, or was she flat throughout that whole song?

Finland Marry Me performed by Krista Siegfrids — a bit less energy at the beginning here. I hated this song, then liked it, then loved it, then hated it again.  And the part at the end of the performance is silly and, in my opinion, demeaning – but that’s a post for another time. Ably performed once again, albeit with a little less enthusiasm and energy tonight.  The question is, will she be able to garner enough points from the more conservative populaces (particularly those in the East) to land a decent placing?  Not sure.

Moldova O Mie performed by Aliona Moon — her voice is not quite as strong as on Tuesday. And her hair does not seem as high, either. Though, I will say, the song is captivating enough that I forgot about her backing dancers for the entire first half of the song. Awesome! Maybe not Top Ten, though, since it is so early in the Running Order.

Lithuania Something performed by Andrius Pojavis — Still not quite sure how this got through to the Final. It’s pleasant I suppose.  The lyrics still don’t make any sense to me. I predict a near bottom finish for this song.

France L’Enfer et Moi performed by Amandine Bourgeois — That was a heck of a performance – bravo!!  Amandine is going to shock a lot of folks when she scores well, I think.

BTW, my pre-Contest prediction for Top Ten

1. Denmark
2. Georgia
3. Norway
4. Ukraine
5. The Netherlands
6. Italy
7. Azerbaijan
8. Moldova
9. Greece
10. Russia

France is opening for us this year! An interesting choice, but I guess it can inject some energy into the fans – but what kind, I’m not sure. Like any French girl, Amandine loves trying on new clothes.

As I said before, Azerbaijan’s biggest fear is to have Italy too close, and they’re only four songs away, with Italy going after AZR, I predict that neither will win because of this, opening the door for a brawl between Denmark, Norway, and Georgia.  Though, given the semi-final performances, Denmark is the strongest of the three.

Whoo!!  I’m stoked – this promises to be a close a Contest with the five biggest favorites are stacked together at the end of the running order.

Clearly, Sweden does not seem to have any good fashion designers because this is Petra’s third straight ugly dress.

I find it interesting that only Gianluca of Malta got a huge fan reaction – perhaps he’ll bring Malta back to the Top Ten this year?

So, I really liked the opening clip of the caterpillar heading to Malmo.  And I really like opening song.  I know it’s supposed to feel like the opening of the Olympics, but it feels more like the Junior ESC when every country gets introduced.  I do love it, though!

This year I am writing notes live and then immediately posting so remember to refresh your browser.

Hello Everyone!


Eurovision 2013 – Live Notes for the Second Semi-Final

After a few days of thinking about it, I am still fairly satisfied with the results of the First Semi-Final – let’s hope that tonight will be equally as satisfying (if not more!).  A lot of people seemed shocked that none of the former-Yugoslav countries made it through, despite the fact so many of them were in the First Semi-Final together.  Now the big question is: “Who will they all vote for in the Grand Final (since Macedonia most likely will not be in the Final)?”  I can tell you now, Serbia will vote for Russia, Croatia & Slovenia will vote for Italy, and Montenegro & Macedonia will vote for Albania.

Something interesting going on with the draws for the halves of the Grand Finals:

Estonia, the Netherlands, Russia, Lithuania, Belgium, Moldova, Belarus, Spain, Germany, and France have all been drawn into the first half of the Grand Final – that means only three songs qualifying tonight will join them; all the rest will be in the second half.  What does that mean, the Netherlands, Russia, and Germany, who all had outside shots of winning, have much slimmer hopes now.  Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Norway – the remaining favorites (who all will most likely qualify tonight) have had their chances increased! as they will probably land in the second half of the show.  Italy also sees its slim hopes alive, as it is in the second half, and as I said previously, if it is close to Azerbaijan, it will surely still votes from last year’s host as it is the better male ballad between the two.  San Marino, who is a dark horse this year, could also see itself land in higher than expected spot if it qualifies for the Final and gets drawn to the second half.

Onward to the Second Semi-Final!

I was 8 for 10 in my predictions from Tuesday night – not too shabby!  Below are my initial thoughts on who will qualify for Grand Final from tonight’s show:

-San Marino

-Azerbaijan

-Finland

-Iceland

-Greece

-Israel

-Norway

-Albania

-Georgia

-Switzerland

I think San Marino is poised with its best chance to qualify since joining the Contest.  It has a good spot in the running order and is a big fan favorite (it got second place in the OGAE Fan Poll); but, we have seen fan favorites fall before.  Same goes for Norway – it is the kind of thing that would succeed in the Grand Final, but may not do well in a semi-final.  With a strong performance, Switzerland could join the Netherlands and Belgium in the Final – wouldn’t that be a sight!  Anyway, I’m super excited for this – so let the show began!

Opening Act:

I’m rather liking this Opening Act! I think it’s called dance symphony or something like that.  That was pretty awesome!

OH MY GOODNESS – What is our host wearing?!  And what’s up with her hair?!  And why did she compare herself to Indira Gandhi and Mother Theresa?

On to the entries!

Latvian Flag MapLatvia Here We Go performed by PeR

OH MY – this went from zero to sixty in a blink of an eye!  There’s…so…much…sequins – does that jacket really need to be so bright and silver?  Is that guy playing an iPad attached to a guitar?  I get it, he represents today, the keytar represents the 80s and the those two guys represent the 90s, the era from which this song was taken.  That was better than expected – but still rather silly.

San Marino Crisalide (Voda) performed by Valentina MonettaSammarinese Flag Map

Already some positive crowd reaction and it hasn’t started yet.  Looking at this robe she’s wearing – will there be a costume change?  Yes! the first since, what, 2009?  Remember when costume changes used to be the staple of the Contest?  Now the wind machine has taken over.  Well done (except for that last note, which was rather botched), though not quite as strong as I was hoping it would be.

Macedonian Flag MapMacedonia Pred da se Razdeni performed by Lozano & Esma

I like how Esma’s portions of the postcard all show off how famous and decorated she is.  Where’s Lozano’s glasses?  What is Esma wearing?  Is she sick?  Why is her voice so hoarse?  I wonder if Lozano came over to hug her to let her know it was time to start wrapping up the song.  If they had any hope of moving through, they needed a flawless performance.  This, unfortunately, was not it.  It looks like there will not be any former Yugoslav nations in the Final this year (the first time since they started joining the Contest in 1993).

Azerbaijan Hold Me performed by Farid MammadovAzerbaijani Flag Map

Is he singing in English?  Oh, yeah, he is.  He mumbles a lot.  Oh cool!  It’s like his shadow there in the box.  WHOA!  That guy is upside-down!  Does that lady’s dress need to be so long?  Oh – the box is actually a money machine full of little paper hearts!  Whoops – Farid dropped that last note.  His vocals were about as expected – okay, whiny and a bit nasally, but that’s his voice. That guy in the box is much like the sand artist for the Ukraine from 2010, makes the stage show so unique, it’s hard not to like it.

Finnish Flag MapFinland Marry Me performed by Krista Siegfrids

She looks so much more mature with her hair down – I actually think that hinders the song a bit.  Well, this most definitely gets the “Campiest Act of the Year Award.”  Was that part supposed go like that – because on the studio version she says “Yeah” one more time and for a longer amount of time.  And the timing seems rather off for launching back into the chorus.  And I roll my eyes at the girl-girl kiss – really?  That just cheapens everything.  But it’s a cheap song, so perhaps it will work well for them.

Hahaha – yes Petra, folks just tuning in are probably freaking out if the first thing they saw was that Finnish act.  I really like this Lynda Woodruff character – she’s funny!  And I loved the reference to Bonnie Tyler.

Malta Tomorrow performed by GianlucaMaltese Flag Map

I bet Malta is happy they got an advert break between themselves and Finland – gives us time to readjust ourselves.  There was a lot of energy in those first few entries, and we have to recalibrate.  I like the words on the screen, it gives the act a sing-along feel; like, we’re all on that beach with him and his friends in the postcard.  That’s such a sweet song – the whole thing is rather adorable.  Still don’t think it has a shot of moving through, though.

Bulgarian Flag CountryBulgaria Samo Shampioni performed by Elista Todorova & Stoyan Yankulov

And Europe’s favorite Bulgarian percussion duo is back on the ESC stage.  The only act to get Bulgaria to the Grand Final (back in 2007, they got 5th place), they’re hoping for a repeat after Bulgaria’s participating broadcaster polled people and found that folks wanted a ethno-club track in Bulgarian for ESC.  That bagpiper is a bit creepy.  Glad to hear that Elitsa’s voice is much stronger (and more frequently on key) than in 2007.  The bagpiper seems to have evolved into some kind of creepy tribal man – how strange.  This whole package – the song, the performance – just…kinda…strange.

Iceland Ég á Líf performed by Eythor IngiIcelandic Flag Map

Not a strong start out of the gate.  That big note was amazing!!  It completely wipes out the fact that the rest of the song was performed marginally (as compared to the studio version).  There’s his backing singers!  All I can think about is that big note in the middle – and it was amazing!  Well done!

Greek Flag MapGreece Alcohol is Free performed by Koza Nostra feat. Agathon Iakovidis

Oh cool – their instruments light up!  The energy here is maybe not as high as Latvia or as manic as Finland, but it feels Oh! so much more genuine.  While those other two acts may be a bit more dazzling, this one infects you and wants to get you up and moving and dancing and singing.  I thoroughly enjoyed that!

Israel Rak Bishvilo performed by Moran MazorIsraeli Flag Country

Wow, listen to that crowd reaction!  What a shame, that would be such a nice dress if it didn’t go all the way down to her belly button (apparently, it originally went lower before they thought better of it).  So, she’s only 21, but the combination of hair, glasses, and dress makes her look like she’s in her 40s.  Which works for this song, since it has such a mature sound and would seem disingenuous if she appeared her age.  Oh, she hit the high note, but was smart enough to not linger on it as it was getting away from her.  AMAZING!  Her voice is so powerful, it’s awe-inspiring.

Armenian Flag MapArmenia Lonely Planet performed by The Dorians

His voice sounds like a gospel singer – it’s really soulful.  Too bad this song is trite and dull.  Oh, spoke a little too soon, he’s gone a bit screechy.  If we’re trying to save the world – why so many pyros?  All that smoke cannot be good for the ozone.  Ouch – he botched that last note.

Hungary Kedvesem performed by Bye.AlexHungariran Flag Map

Who knew Europe had hipsters?  I like this song and I like reprising the cartoon from the music video in the background.  That was rather pleasant.  Unfortunately for Hungary, pleasant does not go far at the ESC.

Norwegian Flag MapNorway Feed You My Love performed by Margaret Berger

Is it me, or does the timing seem off?  Like, Margaret Berger is just ahead of the beat and that the whole song is a few clicks faster than it should be.  It kinda feels like she’s phoning in this performance.  The one from Norsk Melodi Grand Prix was much more emphatic.  I know she’s a favorite to win – but we’ve seen favorites fall in the semi-final and after with great performances.  With a song that is this different and this out-of-the-ordinary, you cannot risk having a less than awesome performance.  I think she left herself vulnerable here.

Lys Assia!  Glad to see her out of the hospital and looking good (she was hospitalized last week for pneumonia – she said that she thought that she was dying).  We weren’t expecting to see her this year – but here she is!  Great to have you Ms. Assia!  I wish every winner was as endeared to the Contest as she is.

Albania Identitet performed by Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar SejkoAlbanian flag country

Whoa!  We don’t need to be that close to Bledar!  The camera was, like, literally on his cheek!  Everyone seems to like this song so much – I think it’s because it’s the only rock song this year…and it has that killer guitar solo, but still.  It’s alright, but it could be better.

Georgian Flag MapGeorgia Waterfall performed by Nodi Tatishvili & Sophie Gelovani

People compare this song to In a Moment Like This (Denmark 2010) and Running Scared (Azerbaijan 2011).  I don’t think it’s anything like 2011’s winning song; it’s much more powerful and emotive.  It is a lot like the Danish 2010 entry, though, “Eurovision by numbers” they say.  It worked then and I see no reason it won’t work now.

Ooh!  Sopho missed both big notes in that key change – badly!  Disappointing, but they’re going through.  This type of song is too popular and both Armenia and Azerbaijan are voting tonight.

Switzerland You and Me performed by TakasaSwiss Flag County

Another change from the studio version – the girl lead singer gets the second verse.  In case you were wondering, the bass player is 95 and is now the oldest person to ever compete in the Contest.  I don’t know.  I love this song, but it is definitely lacking energy – it just is not very dynamic tonight.  Disappointing.

I find it interesting that calling themselves “Salvation Army” and wearing their uniforms was too political and religious, but Krista Siegfrids can kiss a girl in protest on the stage (something that Russia was forbidden from doing in 2003) and use her song for political activism….interesting…

Romanian Flag MapRomania It’s My Life performed by Cezar

WHAT IS HE WEARING?!?!  What is up with the awful outfits this year?!  Are those dancers naked?  Why are they red, like, they’re covered in blood or something?  Oh, time for “Spot the Backing Singer!”  Oh look, a lady covered in gold.  Oh my gosh!  He’s so tall!  Wait, I think he’s on stilts.

Oh!  Thanks Petra – I guess the backing singer was under Cezar’s vampire cloak.

And, there you have it!  In an hour’s time, we will have the last ten songs to enter the Final.

Any else reminded of Jedward by the Latvian duo?  They jump around, where a small country’s worth of sparkles, and sing off key.

Overall, I am somewhat disappointed.  This was supposed to be the stronger of the two semi-finals, with three favorites (Norway, Azerbaijan, and Georgia), a major fan favorite (San Marino), and a bunch of my personal favorite entries (Macedonia, Switzerland, etc.) but everyone seemed to be under-performing except for Azerbaijan, Greece, and Israel – I hope all three move through!

My Top Ten Who I Think Will Qualify
Israel Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan Greece
Greece Israel
Malta Norway
San Marino Albania
Hungary Georgia
Latvia Armenia
Switzerland Iceland
Norway Malta
Iceland San Marino

Excuse me, I stand corrected, Moran Mazor is actually 22.

I love the history bits!

Haha San Marino!  I noticed that this time they used the faster part of the song as opposed to the slower half in the second recap (in the first recap, the slower half was used).  I guess if people only remembered half of it, they wanted to make sure that they remembered to vote for them!

Interval Act:

Darin!  A major Swedish pop star and Melodifestivalen loser (he got 4th in 2010).  He’s attractive but his voice is not that good.  But he’s a pop start, so I guess that’s a winning combination.

And now we have Agnes.  Who has not competed in Melodifestivalen (yet) but did win the second season of Swedish Idol (Darin was runner-up the preceding season).  I liked her bit better than Darin’s songs, but I am not about to run out and buy either of their albums.

Why isn’t Amadine Bourgeious not in the arena for this semi-final?

The Actual Qualifiers Are:

-Hungary!  Whoa!!  That was not expected! (0 for 1)

-Azerbaijan – no surprise here (1 for 2)

-Georgia – they need to step up their game if they hope to contend for the victory (2 for 3)

-Romania – What…the…Heck!  How did this happen? (2 for 4)

-Norway – I was getting scared after Romania got through…Oh, I hopw San Marino makes it!! (3 for 5)

-Iceland – yay! (4 for 6)

-Armenia – it’s a weak song, but well performed (5 for 7)

-Finland – big reaction!  I wonder if it will be as popular on Saturday (6 for 8)

-Malta – nice, but now a more deserving entry (San Marino or Israel) will not make it (7 for 9)

-Greece – right, I forgot they hadn’t moved through yet (8 for 10)

Final Thoughts:

What just happened?  I like Kedvesem but it did not deserve to go through.  Romania…what?!…how?  I’m so confused!!!  How on earth did he garner enough points to move through?  How did Israel and San Marino fail to garner enough points to progress?  What?!  My head hurts.  I can’t think about what just happened.  San Marino had so much fan support.  Israel was such a high quality entry – what?  Romania?  What? How?  I give up.  Let’s just look at the running order:

Break down of who landed where

The three unlucky entrants that will be in the first half on Saturday: Finland, Malta, and Armenia

All others are in the second half.

They just released the running order (remember, I’m watching the semi-final in the evening (American East Coast time) since I work during the day)

  1. France
  2. Lithuania
  3. Moldova
  4. Finland
  5. Spain
  6. Belgium
  7. Estonia
  8. Belarus
  9. Malta
  10. Russia
  11. Germany
  12. Armenia
  13. The Netherlands
  14. Romania
  15. United Kingdom
  16. Sweden
  17. Hungary
  18. Denmark
  19. Iceland
  20. Azerbaijan
  21. Greece
  22. Ukraine
  23. Italy
  24. Norway
  25. Georgia
  26. Ireland

France gets to open the show – and interesting choice when Spain or Malta might have been provided an easier, smoother opening.

Lithuania gets the kiss of death with the second spot – not that it had much chance to win, anyway.

Finland is sandwiched between two ballads, which will either smother it or boost its ratings, I’m not sure.

The Netherlands once again finds itself at the end of the first half, sandwiched between two very different songs, Armenia (which will probably a slightly smoother transition than Ukraine) and before Romania (which will probably wipe out the Netherlands from people memories with its craziness).

The United Kingdom is much higher in the running order than expected, given the name recognition of Bonnie Tyler (compared to Anouk, who is always as late in the running order as possible, most likely due to her celebrity).

Interestingly enough, with the producer chosen running order, all the favorites are at the end of the show:

18. Denmark

20. Azerbaijan

22. Ukraine

23. Italy

24. Norway

25. Georgia

This has never happened before, where so many betting favorites are lumped together and with prime running order position.  Russia is the only favorite not in that run because it was drawn in the top half of the show.  I’m interested to see how this affects the show, I imagine that it will lead to a more even point spread.  Since many favorites tend to be knocked out by running order position (think Russia last year or Azerbaijan in 2010) points were easily pooled into one or two acts.  This year, the favorites are all together at the end of the show, they will all be vying for points against one another – I think my prediction of a tie just might come to fruition!

Finally, Ireland closes the show.  In my opinion, this song should not even be in the Final, now it will most likely finish in the Top Ten.  Oh well, at least it’s not a bad song.

I think I’ve recovered from Romania’s qualification, but, yikes! it was still so unexpected.  I guess its 100% qualification record survives another year.  Okay, so, we can all take Friday to recover, reflect on what has happened on Tuesday and Thursday, and prepare for the Grand Final – I’ll see y’all here Saturday!  I’m posting my live notes live this year!  So don’t miss out!


Eurovision 2013 – Live Notes for the First Semi-Final!

esc2013 logo

Hello Readers!

It’s that time of year again – when Europe comes together to choose one song to rule them all over the next year.  For the 58th time, the Continent is unifying in this way to select the 61st winning song of the Eurovision Song Contest (remember, 1969 had four winners).  The first stage in this process is the semi-final round in which 33 songs enter, but only 20 will advance to the Grand Final.  Tonight in the First Semi-Final, 16 entries battle for ten available spots.  Tonight we will the big favorite (Denmark), one of the biggest names competing this year (the Netherlands), an American (Slovenia), an American-born singer (Austria), the first jESC participant to be a lead singer (Serbia), and two The Voice champions (Belgium and Russia).  As I have done the past five years, I will be taking notes as I watch the show for the first time and will post them (after some light editing for fixing abbreviations and typos).  Given that I live in the US and have a full time job, I cannot post notes live during the semi-finals because I will not be watching them until evening my time.

This is the tenth year of the televised semi-final (but only the fifth year of the dual semi-finals).  That sets this year up to be historic – some things I expect to happen this year that we haven’t seen in quite a while (or ever):

1. The Netherlands will qualify for the Grand Final (for the first time since 2004). It’s been ten years – they have to!  The Netherlands have sent some of its biggest stars in the past (2007, 2008, 2009, 2011), but never one quite as big as Anouk.  And, this is the best song that the country has sent in a while.  It’s not too often that history is on the Netherlands’ side.

2. Montenegro will also qualify – probably the most popular Montenegrin entry to date and already one of the most commercially successful entries this year, Igranka.

3. Romania will fail to qualify – something that has never happened before.  Again, the law of averages says it must happen eventually and this year seems like as good a time as any for it to come to pass.

4. We will see a tie (or at least a really, really close result) in the Grand Final.  It only took until the 14th Contest for the first tie to occur (1969), then, 22 years passed before the next one (1991).  It has now been 22 years since the last tie, and I think we’re due for one!  I just hope they have an interesting and suspenseful way of going through the tie-break procedure (as opposed to just having the computer do it automatically).

As a reminder, I predicted that these songs would move through based on fan chatter, betting odds, history, and personal opinion:

-Denmark

-Russia

-Ukraine

-The Netherlands

-Ireland

-Austria

-Montenegro

-Croatia

-Belarus

-Moldova

I will make my final predictions during the interval act.  Onward!!

Opening Act:

I like this opening video – Malta to Germany to Greece to France to Russia to Ireland to Macedonia to Israel – I love how Euphoria seems to have swept over all of ESC-land.  And now all these beautiful flag-butterflies arrive in Malmo.  I’m loving this children’s choir!

This is great!!  I love this re-interpreted version of the song.  I love that everyone is signing (though, it’s always fun to be reminded that sign language changes across country boundaries).  I love that Loreen disappeared into the crowd and that the host just came out of the stage.  I wonder if that will be the last we see of Loreen, probably. 😦

The host: For the first time since the mid-90s, we will have only one host to guide us – and she’ll be doing that with her loud, British accent and bright, shiny dress!

The stage looks cool, but a little dated.  Like, this almost looks like a Contest from the early nineties.

On to the entries!!

Love the postcard idea – show the artist in their home country with a flag butterfly floating around!!  Yay!

Austria Shine performed by Nataliá KellyAustrian Flag Map

Where did all this vibrato come from?  Every note warbles.  Uh oh, that big note was not nearly big enough.  Sorry Nataliá, I just don’t think that was enough to get you through (especially since they got rid of the sparkle shower that she had in the national selection).

Estonian Flag MapEstonia Et Uus Saaks Alguse performed by Birgit Õigemeel

So, Birgit Õigemeel is pregnant!  Ooh, black and white!  As if to say, “we don’t think our song is quite dull and dated enough.”  Oh, here comes the color!  That was a pleasant effect; so is having her out on the satellite stage with the backing singer just over her shoulder. The addition of that big note was nice; it definitely gave this song a bit more oomph!  Still don’t think it was enough to qualify, but I don’t think it will be last.

Slovenia Straight Into Love performed by HannahSlovene Flag Map

I don’t know how I feel about them using that beat between each entry.  Ooh!!  She keeps missing those big notes in the refrain.  Her dances trot the line between entertaining and distracting.  Well hid backing singers – I almost lost that round of “Spot the Backing Singer” (they’re behind the stage right butterfly wing).  I love this song – but that performance was a mess!  This will probably be last.

Croatia Mižerija performed by Klapa s MoreCroatian Flag Map

I love how big their voices are!  That was quite pleasant!  I still think Estonia is the best thus far, but this is quite good; a close second!

Denmark Only Teardrops performed by Emmelie de ForestDanish Flag Map

I recognize some of those places in the postcard!!

The crowd reaction is huge!!  And it hasn’t even started yet.

Why are the backing singers up so loud?  This performance is exactly like it was at DMGP – whoops, spoke too soon, there’s confetti here.  This was good, and since she’s the heavy favorite, she’ll sail through tonight, but she’ll have to step up her game on Saturday if she hopes to win.  But that ending (and the whole thing, actually) looked and felt a lot like a winner’s reprise, which I am sure was on purpose.

I liked the tagline bit, particularly the “Don’t complain, it’s even more expensive in Norway.”

Russian Flag MapRussia What If? performed by Dina Garipova

Ahh!  The beat is annoying, I keep expecting Euphoria to start.

Time for another round of “Spot the Backing Singers!”  Nevermind, there they are.  Ooh, she botched some notes there.  This is a revamp from the studio version where she sings mostly on her own.  The choral effect is really effective!!  It actually makes me like this song and the lights throughout the auditorium are lovely!  I know I’ve written off Russia previously, but that was really good and reestablishes this entry as a legitimate contender in my book.

Ukraine Gravity performed by Zlata OgnevichUkranian Flag Map

What was the point of having that tall guy carry her out?  It’s distracting, from his presence to his outfit – just dumb.  It already seems like a much more tacky staging after the beautiful one we just saw from Russia.  I like the backing singers coming out of the ground.  She has a beautiful voice and she is dressed splendidly…but…this is still a weak song in my book, musically and lyrically.  Coming into tonight, I thought this was the most overrated entry, seeing it here has done nothing to change that opinion.  It will most definitely open the Grand Final if it is drawn in the first half, of that I am sure.

Dutch Flag CountryThe Netherlands Birds performed by Anouk

Ooh, I can’t wait to hear this!!

Hmmm…her voice seems a bit off, like, just below where it is supposed to be.  Don’t know if we needed to see the backing singers there.  I still think this is the classiest song in the competition this year; and the staging fits it perfectly.  Not sure if it will go through (despite my immense enthusiasm for this song).

Montenegro Igranka performed by Who SeeMontenegrin Flag Map

This is madness!!  I’m a little dizzy for watching this.  Props to the cameramen and directors, they are doing an excellent job capturing the craziness of this song and performance.  Interesting choice to have her sing without backing singers – I think it added to the “lost in space” vibe.  I think this one will be close.

Lithuanian Flag MapLithuania Something performed by Andrius Pojavis

I think they need a dancer here, just a one woman dancing around Andrius on stage.  This song still does nothing for me.  I do not see it doing anything.

Belarus Solayoh performed by Alyona LanskayaBelorussian Flag Map

Did she seriously just emerge from a giant disco ball?  Is she out of breath?  I can barely hear her.  And when I do, it sounds more like she’s shouting than singing.  Ooh, she botched those big notes there.  Nice pyrotechnics.  When this song was chosen, there were a lot of high hopes and expectations for it, I think those are completely gone now; Belarus will be lucky just to qualify.

Moldovan Flag MapMoldova O Mie performed by Aliona Moon

Aliona Moon, I think because of how red her hair is, always looks like a character from the Final Fantasy series to me.  What’s up with her hair?  It’s like something from The Flintstones or The Jetsons; why isn’t jetting out to the side like in the national final?  I hope you’re paying attention, Slovenia, that’s how you use three male dancers.  Amazing vocals!  Amazing song!  Amazing staging (love the dress and the riser)!  Why is this song not getting more respect?!  Most definitely the dark horse this year; expect Moldova to finish Top Ten on Saturday.

Ireland Only Love Survives performed by Ryan DolanIrish Flag Map

Ooh, shirtless men!  Oh, just when I was going to say that his vocal performance was better than anticipated, he botches that huge note at the beginning of the chorus.  His voice is a bit whiny.  I don’t know, I’m on the fence.  This one might sneak through, but I think that Estonia might take its spot in the Final.

Love the feature on Australia!  Fun how the first Contest broadcasted there was when Sweden gained victory number two!

Cypriot Flag MapCyprus An Me Themase performed by Despina Olympiou

I love the staging of the opening, well done!  She missed that big note going into the last run through of the chorus and again on that second to last note.  Otherwise, this was an amazing performance.  I always appreciate it when a performer goes out on stage with a nice, tasteful, simple performance by themselves.  Well done, well done!

Belgium Love Kills performed by Roberto BellarosaBelgian Flag Country

Perhaps Belgium could have loaned one of its dancers to Lithuania, as, together, they’re a little creepy.  This is going to sound meaner than it is supposed to, but Roberto Bellarosa looks like a robot.  He’s showing zero emotion – is that intentional?  This was better than expected, but I still don’t think that it will do anything.

Serbian Flag MapSerbia Ljubav je Svuda performed by Moje 3

WHAT.  ARE.  THEY.  WEARING?!?!?!?!  If I didn’t already know the lyrics, I would think this is a song about two lesbians fighting over a girl.  It was smart to have the backing singers so that the main three could act out the song, but again, there was something lost – that was…not good.

My Top Ten for the night Who I Think Will Qualify
Moldova Denmark
The Netherlands Russia
Russia Moldova
Denmark Ukraine
Cyprus The Netherlands
Ukraine Belgium
Montenegro Montenegro
Estonia Estonia
Ireland Croatia
Belgium Ireland

I find it interesting that Montenegro chose to use just the part of Nina singing as the recap clip.

Also, I find it interesting that they are not showing the numbers throughout the entire voting sequence.

I love the history clips though!!  Yay for cherishing history!

Interval Act

Hmm…we seem to have a bunch of people dancing in the snow to a deconstructed version of Euphoria.

I don’t get modern dance.

They should have just made the entire interval act Lynda Woodruff – that segment was awesome!

Boo Sweden, boo!  Why are you showing us the postcards for the automatic qualifiers?  Though, I do love that Natalie Horner (lead singer of Germany’s Cascada) is wearing an American flag t-shirt.

Who Actually Qualified

Here we go!  Moment of truth!

Moldova Good stuff! (1 for 1)

Lithuania What?!?!?!?!?!  I guess Belgium is not moving through (1 for 2)

Ireland No real surprise there (2 for 3)

Estonia She had enough tonight to pull it through! (3 for 4)

Belarus Hmm….interesting….that performance was a hot mess!  Guess Croatia is not moving through (3 for 5)

Denmark Well, duh! (4 for 6)

Russia Again, not surprise here, she was great tonight! (5 for 7)

Belgium Interesting.  Didn’t think Belgium and Lithuania would both go through, guess Montenegro will not be moving through (6 for 8)

Ukraine No surprise here (7 for 9)

The Netherlands oohh, why did they have to pause for so long?  That was almost too much anticipation for me to bear! (8 for 10)

Final Thoughts

That was a very satisfying semi-final.  Three surprises.

Small Surprise: Estonia performed well enough to make a lasting impression.

Medium Surprise: So did Belgium.

Big Surprise: Lithuania is going to be performing again on Saturday night.  Shocking!

In the end, I am satisfied with the songs that are moving through.  I love Slovenia, but Hannah sounded awful tonight.  I also loved Cyprus, but no one expected that song to get to the Final.  I am so happy that the Netherlands have made it back to the Final, finally, after waiting so long (in case you did not know, the last time the Netherlands qualified for a Final was 2004, the first year with a televised semi-final).  I’m a little disappointed that Croatia did not progress, but, again, not too surprising given that it was buried amongst a lot of popular female ballads.

In the end, the juries and the public made the best decisions.  An interesting note about the draws that happened during the press conference, with the exception of Denmark, Ukraine, and Ireland, all the songs were drawn for the first half of the show.  That means several things:

1. Estonia will probably end up being second in the running order again.

2. The Netherlands have most likely lost its shot of winning

3. Denmark’s chances have exponentially increased as it will most likely be placed towards the end of the running order (since it’s so popular) giving it amble opportunity to leave a lasting impression.

I’m so excited for Thursday!!

ESC2013 Logo Facebook Cover


Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2013!

It’s that time of year again!  I open up my ESC coverage with live notes for the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix!  This year, DMGP takes us to Herning and gives us three lovely lady-hosts (currently in catsuits).  From my understanding, there are three big favorites thiDansk Melodi Grand Prix 2013s year. Simone, who returns to DMGP with the song Stay Awake and won the DR internet poll, leads the way.  Emmelie de Forest with Only Teardrops is ahead on the international opinion polls.  And Mohammed Ali, who achieved third place on the Danish iteration of X-Factor despite having Egyptian and Iraqi roots, with the song Unbreakable was announced as the big favorite during the DMGP pre-show.  A noticeable absence from the list, Danish representative from ESC2009 – Brinck, who performed Believe Again in Moscow for a respectable 13th place, who will be singing a song that he penned himself called Human.

Let’s see who wins!

As a reminder, the Danes have a one night national final format that they have been using since 2009 and amended last year.  Producers and executives at DR choose ten songs, six that were submitted and four “wildcards” late in the preceding year.  Those ten songs then compete in DMGP in three rounds.  In the first round, the songs are given a number (that stays with them) and perform in numerical order.  Then, using a combination of jury votes and popular votes (via SMS texts), three songs are selected to move through to the Super Final were they are performed again, this time, for al the marbles.  This is new since last year, when a song had to be removed at the last minute, DR decided to throw out the Knock-Out Round and have the top three from the first round go straight to the Super Final.  This year, the points will work a little differently.  There will be a total of 60 points available, 30 from the jury, 30 from the Danish public.  The jury reveals their votes one at a time; each juror gives the three acts either 1, 2, or 3 points.  The votes of the public are then revealed; their set of 30 points is divided proportionally to reflect the voting.  And a winner is crowned!

The Round of Ten

Song 1. Jeg Har Hele Tiden Vidst Det performed by Frederikke Vedel

The title translates to “I always knew it” and is one of only two songs in Danish this year (the other being Song 4 Rejs dig op performed by Louise Dubiel). What an awesome start to the show!!  I really like this song and the staging was very well done!  But fear that it did not make a big enough impact to stay in folks’ minds all the way through to the end of the tenth song.  Though, there’s usually one token Danish-language song in the next round, it will depend on Louise Dubiel’s performance if Vedel moves through to the next round or not.

Song 2. Human performed by Brinck

Brinck, as I said above, represented Denmark in Moscow back in 2009.  He’s ready to try again with a song he wrote himself.  I’m a little confused.  Is he singing in English and just mumbling?  Or is this a song in Danish with a few English lyrics?  Why does he sound so scared?  Is he still so scarred from his experience in 2009?  In DGMP2009 he had a strong performances, as well as in the semi-final in Russia.  It was the during the Grand Final that he started singing like he was scared, and apparently, he’s still scared.  He seems small on the big stage and his voice is lost in the music and backing singers.  It’s pleasant, but does not stand a chance of moving to the next round.

Song 3. I’m Not Alone performed by Kate Hall

Kate Hall is one of Denmark’s bigger pop stars and has some recognition internationally in Northern and Central Europe.  This song is nice, but very generic.  While the Danes do seem to like generic songs (see: any DMGP ever) I don’t see this one moving through unless the remaining songs are as uninspired as this one.  Not to mention, the Danes tend to be easily swayed by stage shows, and Hall botched a major note there.

Now, a short trip to Denmark’s ESC-ally as of late, Ireland.  With a cameo by the one and only Mr. Johnny Logan (if you’re new to ESC, Johnny Logan is the only performing artist to win twice, 1980 with What’s Another Year? and 1987 with Hold Me Now, both for Ireland, both are considered ESC classics.  He also wrote the 1992 Irish winner Why Me? performed by Linda Martin).

Now back to the show!

Song 4. Rejs dig op performed by Louise Dubiel

The song title translates to “Stand Up.”  This is a pleasant enough song and has all the making a dark horse – nice stage show, catchy tune, quirky singer, and a bit nationalistic.  I think this song might surprise a lot of folks (particularly Frederikke Vagel).

Song 5. We Own the Universe performed by Daze

Oh. My. Goodness!  What is up with her hair?!  I like the use of the lights like a keyboard.  The song is catchy and I can see it doing some real damage to the scoreboard.  This is the first song I would confidently say could move through to the next round.

Song 6. Stay Awake performed by Simone

I see why this is a favorite, but I do not say it was the strongest tonight, perhaps she’s saving herself for the Super-Final (she was eliminated in 2010 in the now defunct knock-out round after a stunning first round performance)?  This is a high energy song with a bright stage show, and Simone was just kinda, neutral.  I think it will move through due to its popularity and mass appeal, but she has to turn it up a few notches in the next performance.

The tour of countries with more wins than Denmark continues with…the United Kingdom.  We talk with two of the members of Brotherhood of Man, the third winner from the UK back in 1976 with Save Your Kisses for Me, one of the most commercially successful ESC winners ever.

Song 7. Invincible performed by Jack Rowan feat. Sam Gray

A cute guy, a hot beat, a dj (which is a gimmick in and of itself) with a gimmick (that ugly mask), a simple song with a refrain that even the most English-phobic Dane could sing along to – a recipe for success?  Not quite.  The Danes are rather nationalistic.  Having foreign songwriters don’t lower an entries chances as I doubt many viewers will realize this.  But a foreign singer?  Oh no!  Americans have failed at DMGP.  Icelanders have failed at DMGP.  I cannot imagine a Brit faring much better.  Eurovision.tv seemed to favor this song in its coverage of Denmark until recently when it began to focus on the next entry…

Song 8. Only Teardrops performed by Emmelie de Forrest

Irish whistle!  That’s why the international crowd likes this song.  This is my favorite, by far, thus far!  I can imagine this song being widely popular in Malmö, though naysayers might say Forrest’s voice is too similar to Loreen’s.  This song has good lyrics, a simple stage show (which, admittedly, would need to be enhanced on the international stage), and a slightly Celtic feel – I predict this to move to the Super Final and do very well

Song 9. Beautiful to Me performed by Albi

Hmm…another generic song in my opinion.  Not bad, just not great.

Song 10. Unbreakable performed by Mohammed Ali

How old is Ali, 12?  I see why he did not win X-Factor, his voice is not very good (at least, not tonight).  Perhaps the studio version of this song is why it’s so popular.  Oh wait, look at this staging – cool LED work, the lights go out, choreography, flames!  Almost distracts enough to look past Ali’s horri- crazy face paint on a dancer!!  What?!  No!  The song’s over.  I remember the beat….and a young looking guy…and cool staging!  Wasn’t I saying something negative about this song?  But listen to the crowd reaction, it must be good.

So, my favorite part: the recap!  I love how the crowd is going crazy for every song (except for the first one).  Time for rankings and predictions!

My Top Three Who I think will compete in the Super Final
(Song 8) Only Teardrops Song 6. Stay Awake
(Song 6) Stay Awake Song 8. Only Teardrops
(Song 1) Jeg Har Hele Tiden Vidst Det Song 10. Unbreakable

In the end, the three favorites I mentioned at the beginning had strong enough performances to move through.

Soluna Samay!  Lookee – she’s all grown up.  Glad she ditched the awful dreads from last year.  I like this song and its staging, she should hav re-entered DMGP with this!

Our fair hostess’ travels now takes her to the most recent country to join the Five Winners’ Club and close Danish ally – Sweden.  Eww…the Herrey’s – Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley (the winner from 1984) is, in my opinion, one of the worst songs to win the Contest.

Now the promotion of junior Melodi Grand Prix.  I’m still not quite convinced it’s worth my time to watch Scandinavian fight it out on stage, especially since the three countries all submit multiple entries.  But it is a widely successful show and served as the basis for jESC.

Now, revealing the four songs to move through to the Super Final

Song 6. Stay Awake performed by Simone – of course!  Let’s see if she turns it up in the next round.  Her opponent will be…

Song 8. Only Teardrops performed by Emmelie de Forrest.  Yayayayayay!  My favorite song this year!

Song 10. Unbreakable performed by Mohammed Ali.  The only surprise here: that a Muslim can be popular in Denmark.  Good for him!

Super-Final

Song 6. Stay Awake performed by Simone

So, this song is definitely sexier and edgier than How Will I Know.  And ends much more awkwardly, I wonder if the song is actually longer and had to be shortened.  This was definitely a better performance than in round one, but I don’t know if it was enough to win.  She just doesn’t really have a strong enough voice for this kind of song.

Song 8. Only Teardrops performed by Emmelie de Forrest

Let’s see if Forrest can replicate (or even outdo) her first performance.  I wonder if the older Danes will think she’s too young…never mind, I’m reminded of my earlier comment regarding the popularity of Junior Melodi Grand Prix in the country.  Listen to that crowd reaction!  Folks were up and dancing!  I think we just saw a winning performance everyone.

Song 10. Unbreakable performed by Mohammed Ali

He’s almost guaranteed to carry the votes of the Denmark’s Muslim population.  Not just due to his heritage, but because of the nature of his song.  Denmark is an incredibly homogenous society (everyone looks the same and holds similar beliefs) and people of Eastern European and Arab descent who immigrate there often find themselves the victims of bullying and discrimination.  With that said, there are not enough immigrants, I think, to help him win.  I smell another third place finish for Mr. Ali.  Though, I will admit, his voice sounded much better this time around.

Oooh!  Brotherhood of Man is performing!!  I really do like this song a lot!  Wow – they look so different now, but still good for the age.  Now the Herreys, doing a lot o the original choreography from their winning performance – still don’t like the Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley, but at least they sound good – better than they did back in the 80s.  Johnny Logan!!!  Performing Hold Me Now – good stuff!  I love the ode to Eurovision history, Denmark!  Three of the most popular winners of all time (The Herreys are generally disliked except for in Scandinavia – Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, where they and their song are incredibly popular) all on one stage.  Lovely!

Now the jury votes –

Only Teardrops is the favorite of the jury receiving three “3 points” from the five jurors (two gave the song only 1 point).  Unbreakable leaves the jury round tied for first after receiving two 2 points and two 3 points.

Now the popular vote –

SevenDanish Flag Map points to Stay Awake.  Once again, Simone will go home without the DMGP trophy.  The winner isONLY TEARDROPS!!!  Good stuff.  The final scoreboard:

1. Only Teardrops – 26 points (11 from the jury, 15 from the public)

2. Unbreakable – 19 points (11 from the jury, 8 from the public)

3. Stay Awake – 15 points (8 from the jury, 7 from the public)

And, for the first time since 2008, there’s a Winner’s Reprise – lovely!!

Final Thoughts

For the first time since I have been watching DMGP (since 2007), I can honestly say that I liked all 10 songs that competed.  Don’t get me wrong, Human, Invincible, and Beautiful to Me aren’t great, but, in the end, I did like them.  And, for the first time since I’ve been watching DMGP, I fully, 100% agree with the winner.  It’s about time, too!!  Only Teardrops is the quintessential ESC song of the current era – young performer, hip beat, nice lyrics, lots of potential in its staging.

From here, as Emmelie de Forrest continues to perfect her vocal performance of the song, her producers have to make a decision about the staging of Only Teardrops.  What they had on stage tonight was nice for DMGP, but would be too underwhelming on the ESC stage.  If they want a toned down, simple staging, they need to tone down the LED work and give her a bit more room on stage so it seems less crowded.  On the other hand, I think this song, especially given its arrangement and the existing camera-angles, would benefit from a bit of a bigger staging, with more movement from the backing singers and dancers to and more sophisticated light work to maximize the camera angles that are already in place (as those are already pretty well done).

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed DMGP this year.  I thought the three Super-Finalists were well deserved and that the best song did, indeed, win this year.  Congratulations to Emmelie de Forrest and the entire stage and songwriter team.  I look forward to seeing Denmark return to the Top Ten with this sure hit in Malmö.


Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2012 – Amsterdam

Junior_Eurovision_Song_Contest_2012_logo

In honor of the tenth Junior Eurovision Song Contest (and the fact that I do not have anything better to do); I’ve decided to watch and liveblog the jESC this year.  For the first time, I won’t know the winner while watching the jESC – which is a good thing, as the voting is always rather tight!  If you are looking for my first post for the upcoming ESC2013 – Malmö, you can find it here.

I like the focus on the contestants leading up to the show.  I like the opening act.  The tune is vaguely familiar, but I can’t place it.  Oh!! It’s Euphoria!  Definitely has to be one of the most popular winners of the Contest.  Oh look, some random Dutch singer* singing the song.  What’s up Netherlands?  Couldn’t get the rights to perform Ik Ben Verliefd (Sha-la-lie)?

*After further reflection, I realize it’s the Dutch representative from last year, Rachel!

Look at that dress on the host!  I cannot quite decide if it’s crazy awesome or merely just crazy.  The male host’s suit, though, is much too loud.  And why is his shirt unbuttoned so low?

Belarus!  A More – Egor Zheshko

Interesting.  One thing I always like about the jESC is that a lot of songs tend to have a retro feel to them.  This song is okay, but not my favorite – mostly due to Zhesko’s nasally voice.  But it’s Belarus and jESC is their wheelhouse.  I expect this to do well.

Sweden!  Mitt Mod – Lova Sönnerbo

Sweden, interestingly enough, tends to send slower songs to jESC.  Normally I like their entries, but I think Sönnerbo is suffering from stage fright, as her voice is way off!  And the way they chose to end the song did not help things.  I’m thinking this will be last.

Azerbaijan!  Girls & Boys – Omar & Suada

Azerbaijan’s debut entry and the first time we get to here Azerbaijani on any ESC stage!  Please note, that even though the performers are supposed to at least co-write their entries, neither singer is listed as a writer or composer.  Despite this fact, the song is very childish – it’s things like this that kept me from watching (and continue to keep me from watching) the first five editions; it’s just kid bop stuff.

Belgium!  Abracadara – Fabian

Yay – magic tricks!  This is probably the best set of performers we’ve seen thus far, but the song still leaves me fairly lukewarm.

Russia!  Sensation – Lerika

Russia always has a good entry!  And this year is not disappointing.  What a performer!  I really like this song – the performance, the lyrics, the music.  Good stuff!  This song could even be competitive at the real ESC.

That girl is dancing all over Amsterdam…and with that giant sledgehammer – she must be getting tired!

Israel!  Let the Music Win – Kids.il

The English translation of these lyrics are not on the site, but, given the title, I can pretty much assume what they’re saying.  Opera!  That was not at all what I expected when I saw that boy come forward.  I can imagine this winning, but it will either do really well, or really bad, I think.

We’re already halfway through the acts and we’ve only been going for about a half-hour – way to keep things moving Netherlands!  Dutch host guy – don’t ask the girl about eating moose right after she told you it is her mascot, that’s just poor form!  I like how he doesn’t actually know the kids’ names, so he just refers to them as Ms. Sweden and Mr. Azerbaijan.

Albania!  Kam Një Këhgë Vetëm Për Ju – Igzidora Gjeta

Our third debut entry comes from Albania.  Apparently, it’s the country’s centennial and this song signifies that.  What’s up with Gjeta’s hair?  The song is not bad, not my favorite, but I like it.  And I commend her bravery for coming out and performing by herself.

Armenia!  Sweetie Baby – Compass Band

Another throwback entry – this time in the style of 60s rock (are they trying to look like the Beatles?).  I’m pretty sure that bass is bigger than that kid playing it.  I really like this song, I didn’t think I was going to, but I really like it.  Oh, lookie, English that last time through the chorus.  I think they are new frontrunners (though Russia is not out of it).

Ukraine!  Nebo – Anastasiya Petryk

The Ukraine is trying to recover from a string of disappointing finishes in the past few jESCs.  Petryk is only 10 years old, but she has a much bigger voice!  This song makes me think of the 90s when rock-muzak was popular.  I like it.  Petryk is turning out a very strong performance; I think this an entry that would be competitive in the real ESC.  Though, I’m not sure how it will do tonight.

Georgia!  Funky Lemonade – The Funkids

Georgia attempts to defend their crown and break their tie with Belarus for most jESC wins.  So, another fun feature of jESC is that experimental pop is also rather popular and no one does it better than Georgia, which always sends an entry that is wholly unique.  So, this song mixes Georgian, English, and gibberish – fun.  I don’t know if Georgia has ever submitted a song that was entirely in Georgian…or normal.  Either way, I really liked it, but do not think it was enough to win a third time.

Moldova!  Toate Vor Fi – Denis Midone

His intro clip was full of confidence, his performance, full of nerves.  Did he just start a new song?  Meh, I am not impressed.

The Netherlands!  Tik Tak Tik – Femke

The Netherlands is always good for a solidly retro song every other year.  This is their attempt to defend their home turf and become the third country to win twice within the short history of the jESC.  This would have a better chance of doing well if she didn’t hit those bad notes towards the end of the song.  This most definitely will not win, but the host country bump, performing last, and the pyrotechnics will definitely get her in the top half of the scoreboard.

How are they doing a recap without opening the voting?  Also, I had some technical difficulties – was Belarus left out of the recap?  By the time the site self-corrected, they were on Sweden.

My Top Twelve (might as well rank them all)

How I think the final votes will go

1. Russia

1. Russia

2. Armenia

2. Georgia

3. Ukraine

3. Ukraine

4. Georgia

4. Armenia

5. The Netherlands

5. Belarus

6. Belarus

6. The Netherlands

7. Albania

7. Moldova

8. Belgium

8. Azerbaijan

9. Israel

9. Israel

10. Sweden

10. Belgium

11. Azerbaijan

11. Albania

12. Moldova

12. Sweden

This was very difficult, as I think Russia, Armenia, Ukraine, and Georgia really separated themselves from the pack with vastly superior songs and performances.  I would be shocked if any other entry made it into the Top Four.

So, just like in 2008, the last time all the entrants performed together – everyone is singing without microphones.  Wouldn’t it just be easier to shoot a music video with all of them – same result (using the studio version, ensuring that everything goes smoothly) without insulting the viewers.

Wait, when was voting opened?  There’s not countdown clock so we know how much time is left in voting!  And the male host is causing more awkward moments by trying to get the  Belgian boy (note: he’s Flemish, so his language is essentially a more guttural Dutch) and the Dutch girl to hook up.  Is this how foreign journalists get their stories, they make them happen?  What was the point of the host talking to the Israel boy, just so he could say “Fine, fine?”

That final countdown was definitely shorter than ten seconds!

Oh – it’s always fun to see how the jESC contestants grow up.  Wow!!  He looks so differet – a lot can change two years (he won in 2009, but we saw him again in 2010 when Belarus had all the previous winners together for the Interval Act).  This is crazy!!  It’s like he’s a totally different person – which I guess is what he was going for.

The whole “everyone gets 12 points” thing is nice – I like how they did it last year, where it was as if Australia gave 12 points to everyone.

Hmmm…so this is how they’re working in the jury votes.  I guess it makes sense, since they were able to vote for everyone and there are only a few countries competing.  Hmm…Georgia jumps out to an early lead.  Albania and Moldova start off with nothing.

The official theme song.  Is it me, or does this, the song that Ralf Mackenbach performed, and the version of Euphoria from the Opening Act sound ridiculously similar to one another?  Also, why wouldn’t they bring that girl from the postcards back for the performance of the theme song?

I like Sietse Bakker – I’ve always been a fan (if you wanna know about his rise to where he is now, and why he is a personal hero of mine, check out his Wikipedia page).  But you can tell that he’s still getting used to being on screen – if the results don’t matter, what’s the point of the show?

Voting: So, essentially, everyone will give points to all but one of the other competitors.

Belarus – people are not happy with the small points to the Netherlands, no surprise with the 12 to Ukraine.

Sweden – (so I see we’re going in performance order for the voting) I imagine this will be a long night for Albania – too bad they didn’t debut last year when Macedonia and Bulgaria were still competing.

Azerbaijan – isn’t that the girl who had that amazing song for Georgia a few years back?  She’s surely taking her sweet time, though.  I guess we knew that Armenia was not getting any points, but who would have guessed 12 for Albania?

Belgium – Through 1/3 of the voting, I’m doing pretty well, three of my predicted Top Four is up there.  The Netherlands is definitely doing better than expected.

Russia – So, this is going to be close, but it’s now a two-horse race between Ukraine and Georgia.

Israel – nix that, Ukraine is quickly ascending to the Winner’s Circle.

They need to lose this host!  Why is taking the trophy around?  This is so wrong!!  He needs to be reprimanded!  Poor Albania and Israel, the host did not even acknowledge them.  The Ukraine is separated from the rest of the group at the midway checkpoint, is that simply because she has such a big lead?

Albania – and the technical difficulties continue to abound.  Ha!  And the signal is lost right as she was about to give the 12 points to someone.  Ha!  Who would think that Tirana wouldn’t have a strong internet connection….  Who would have guessed that Albania would blank Russia?

Armenia – Armenia returns the favor of zero points to Azerbaijan.  Fun times.  Ukraine breaks 100!

Ukraine – Time for Georgia to make up ground as the Ukrainians cannot vote for themselves.  Whoops!  Only seven – the Ukraine is in it to win it!

Georgia is behind by 14 points, mathematically, they can pull off a come-from-behind victory.  So can Armenia (they’re down by 31 with three countries left to vote), but it’s not likely.

Moldova – whoops!  there goes Armenia’s shot.  Georgia has to hope for 12 and 0 to Ukraine.  Whoops!  only eight for Georgia.  Ukraine now has an 18 point lead, looks like it’s a lock for Ukraine.

The Netherlands – five points to Georgia and they are mathematically eliminated (but hey, they broke 100).  Congratulations to the Ukraine, you do not need points from the Netherlands or Georgia to win at this point.  And the Ukraine just got another 12.

Georgia – wait, shouldn’t Candy be in Amsterdam to pass over the Winner’s trophy?  This really is merely a formality at this point, though there’s a battle for third!  Armenia gets third!

And the winner is….the Ukraine!

This is most definitely a well-deserved victory!  Anastasiya Petryk has an amazing voice, the song is well-written, and the composition fits beautifully – all from a ten year old!  Petryk not only performed on stage by herself but is also the only person listed as lyricist and composer.  Well done; bravo!

As far as the final Scoreboard goes:

How I thought the final votes would go

1. Ukraine

1. Russia

2. Georgia

2. Georgia

3. Armenia

3. Ukraine

4. Russia

4. Armenia

5. Belgium

5. Belarus

6. Sweden

6. The Netherlands

7. The Netherlands

7. Moldova

8. Israel

8. Azerbaijan

9. Belarus

9. Israel

10. Moldova

10. Belgium

11. Azerbaijan

11. Albania

12. Albania

12. Sweden

Clearly, I am stunned that Sweden did so well despite the singer’s mousey performance.  And, in case you’re wondering, the Netherlands was one point out of the top half on the final scoreboard.  I am mildly shocked that, essentially, I inversely predicted Belgium and Belarus’ final positions.

And, the thing I was most sure about, the countries comprising the Top Four, came to fruition – with a full 16 points between fourth-place Russia and fifth-place Belgium.  As I said before, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, and Russia set themselves apart from the rest and the clear divide in the voting backs this up.

Overall, I think the Dutch put on a good show, though, I did not like the male host at all.  But it was definitely high quality by jESC standards.  However, I think the qualities of entries was down.  Hopefully, next year, the number of participating entries bounces back up.  I think Western Europe has taken to heart the moderate success of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Sweden of late.  Not only that,  I hope the participating countries send stronger entries next year.  With that said, I still found it to be entertaining and enjoyed watching the show.  Next year in…..where ever they decide to hold it next year!


ESC 2012 – Grand Final Live Notes

It’s finally here!  The Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2012!!!  For the first time in a long while, there will be a parity of non-English entries in the Final.  There are nine non-English entries in the Final this year, the most since 2008.  Seven are in national languages, one is in a minority language (Udmurt for Russia), and one is in a foreign language (Spanish for Romania).

The running order also seems to have put the big favorite, Sweden, at a decided advantage.  Not only is she performing 17th, behind a rather weak Greek entry, but her primary rivals, Iceland, Russia, and Norway are all in the first half of the show.  Her biggest threats seem to be Turkey (performing 18th, so a good performance by Loreen can obscure Can Bonomo), Spain (performing 19th with only moderately strong support from the bookies), and Germany (performing 20th and could be wiped out by a strong Spanish performance).  In fact, the biggest fear Sweden should have is if Joksimović and the rest of the Serbian team have an amazing performance in the 24th spot.  I know that I previously said this was going to be a two-horse race between Sweden and Iceland, but the latter’s high starting position just might knock them out of contention.  Whereas Serbia’s prime position between two glitzy, campy, weak entries (Ireland and Ukraine), will only make it standout that much more.  I would bet that we will see Serbia and Sweden duke it out all night on the leaderboard.

Both countries can expect 12s from steady sources.  Serbia will get maximum points from its former Yugoslav companions (Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Macedonia) and friend Russia (who will be looking for a place to stick its 12 now that Armenia is nowhere to be found).  Sweden will get theirs from its Nordic friends (Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Finland) as well as at least two of the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania).  Both can also probably expect about the same number of 12s from surprise sources that don’t consistently vote for the same countries each year (such as Georgia, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Hungary, and Israel).  The difference will be in the small point values, the 1s, 2s, etc. that will be given by because each country was able to impress the juries and televoters just enough to get something.  Five points from Azerbaijan, or three from Malta, or 7 from Portugal might just make all the difference this year.  I anticipate this one coming down to the wire!

Other than Sweden and Serbia coming out on top, how do I see the rest of the field shaping out?

3. Iceland (despite its early time slot, it will still do pretty well for itself)

4. Spain (it’s one of the stronger ballads this year in a great position)

5. Russia (unless the juries hate this song and sink it (like last year), then expect a Top Ten finish)

6. Turkey (this song is too popular not to be in the Top Ten)

7. Italy (like I said on Thursday, I think this song could really sneak under the radar to the top)

8. France (I expect Anggun to give one heck of a performance tonight and convince folks the la France is for real)

9. Norway (this song just has mass appeal that will field it many mid-point values)

10. Azerbaijan (the host country bump will help an already amazing song and performer)

In the next five, I would anticipate the United Kingdom (who has a great song, but will be brought down by going first), Ireland (because, for some inexplicable reason, Jedward is popular despite their lack of singing ability and dated-song), Romania (the song is quite popular and will draw points from unexpected places, namely Spain, Portugal, and Finland), Germany (it’s a strong effort from the Germans), and Bosnia & Herzegovina (it’s the best artistic effort this year).

The remaining ten entries, Macedonia, Estonia, Hungary, Albania, Cyprus, Greece, Denmark, Malta, Ukraine, and Moldova, will come in the bottom simply because someone has to.  Like last year, the competition is fierce and evenly matched and no one really deserves to come in last (other than Ireland, but we all know that they won’t).  It will be interesting to see how everything shakes down in the end.

So, shall we begin with the actual live notes?  I think we shall!

 

Opening Act:

Wow!  All those fireworks just to start the show!  I wonder what it’s gona look like afterwards!

This must be the guy who is singing with Sabina Babayeva tonight, cool!

That was awesome!  How those two guys just flew up into the air like that!

That great dancers and drummers.  I especially like the guys in the black coats, they’re great!  Nice transition into Running Scared.  And nice that it was in short form as opposed to long.

Why are they showing this now?!  I don’t want to see it being built, I want to see the entries!  Save this for an advert break!

Why are they playing the Olympic Theme?  Are they even allowed to?

The Entries:

1. United Kingdom – Love Will Set You Free performed by Engelbert Humperdinck

Truly beautiful staging UK!  What an amazing way to start off the night!  Humperdinck was not necessarily in the top form, but still pretty good.  I hope his early starting position doesn’t hurt him.  The crowd seems to really like it, though.

2. Hungary – Sound of Our Hearts performed by Compact Disco

He looks different than he did on Tuesday, am I just imagining things?  He does look less smug, so there’s that.  No one has ever won from the second position and Hungary does not seem as if they will break that tradition.  Make it 57 losses in a row for the those in the 2 spot.

3. Albania – Suus performed by Rona Nishliu

One of my favorite entries this year.  I can’t wait to hear how she does!

Oh no, just when I was about to say that this was better than Tuesday’s performance, she goes and misses BOTH of the high notes and the big not afterwards.  That may have just bought her last place.  Oh well, I have a feeling the juries liked her very much.

4. Lithuania – Love is Blind performed by Donny Montell

Montell is so freaking adorable.  Too bad he is also off-key.  He was also off-key on Thursday and he made it through, so maybe it won’t matter so much.  I still can’t see this one overcoming all of its averageness (even if the singer is incredibly attractive) and making an impact on the scoreboard.

5. Bosnia & Herzegovina – Korake Ti Znam  performed by Maya Star

I maintain that this is the most artistic entry this year and has the best lyrics by far.  The vocal performance fits it perfectly and the staging is exactly what the song needs.  If only it wasn’t a tad bit boring.  I predict a respectable finish for BiH.

6. Russia – Party for Everybody performed by Buranovskiye Babuski

This song might do well with the televoters, but I honestly cannot see the juries going for this.  I know I predict it being in the Top Ten, but there are so many other entries that are more deserving.  With that said, it is a fun a song.

7. Iceland – Never Forget performed by Greta Salóme & Jónsi

I am in awe every time I hear this song.  It’s such a shame that they had to come so early on the night – they should win easily, but most won’t.  This is the best overall entry this year in terms of composition, lyrics, and performance.

8. Cyprus – La La Love performed by Ivi Adamou

Adamou’s voice sounds kinda low; I hope she’s not flat for the entire song.  I’m am glad, though, that they fixed the issue with the loud backing singer.  Seems like someone read my blog and made the necessary improvements.  Always nice to know that you’ve made a difference.

9. France – Écho (You and I) performed by Anggun

I like half-naked men doing gymnastics as much as the next person, but don’t really see what they add to the performance.  That’s a nifty effect with her dress and the wind machine.  It seems this performance had a lot of distraction to it, maybe, perhaps, because Anggun was not in top form tonight.  That was definitely not a Top Ten performance.  Sorry.  Extra sorry since this is my favorite song this year.

10. Italy – L’Amore È Femmina performed by Nina Zilli

Speaking about disappointing performances of my favorite entries, what’s going on Ms. Zilli?  She’s off pitch, off-beat (at times), and seems to be adlibbing – Disappointing (with a capital D).  Also not a Top Ten performance.  And, she may even find herself in the Bottom Ten with that.

What a waste.  This was the first time in a while that all Big Five entries were solid and they could have taken over the Top Ten.  Opportunity wasted.

11. Estonia – Kuula performed by Ott Lepland

Not as good as the first time.  But it sounds a lot better given that it was following France and Italy.  Same comments, pleasant song but forgettable.

12. Norway – Stay performed by Tooji

Much better than Thursday in terms of his vocal performance.  I think it was solid enough to land him in the Top Ten.

13. Azerbaijan – When the Music Dies performed by Sabina Babayeva

Amazing!  Amazing!  Amazing!  Best Azerbaijani entry by far!  Best performance thus far.  I feel bad for Romania to have to follow that.

14. Romania – Zaleilah performed by Mandinga

I think the choreography and vocals are much tighter than on Tuesday, which is a big improvement.  And, given that France and Italy both will be outside the Top Ten, I think that Romania just might sneak into it.

15. Denmark – Should’ve Known Better performed by Soluna Samay

I still don’t like her voice much.  And I still think this is a rather pleasant entry.  But, this is quite forgettable and will fade away from memory as it falls between two very uptempo numbers.

16. Greece – Aphrodisiac performed by Eleftheria Eleftheriou

Unlike Cyprus, Greece did not look at my blog.  The backing singer is still up way too loud.  I think Greece is just used to doing well that they forget that there are others around this year to soak up the ethno-pop, dance numbers points that usually go straight to them.  Expect them to be outperformed by both Norway and Cyprus.  This is result in an irate Greek population that will post and spam message boards across the internet whining that they were robbed and that there’s no justice in the world.  Then send the same exact song again next year.

17. Sweden – Euphoria performed by Loreen

Here it comes…Loreen can end the competition right now with an outstanding performance, or, she can do what she did on Thursday night and leave the door open for someone to usurp the victory.

I think we just saw a winning performance.  She sung with passion.  She fixed the mumbling issues she was having on Thursday, and everything was just on target.  Spain, Germany, and Serbia will each have to do something truly special to unseat the Swedes.

18. Turkey – Love Me Back performed by Can Bonomo

I like the staging of this entry very much.  Maybe Top Ten, with the large contingency of Turks in the crowd, it’s hard to get a proper audience reading for the performance.

19. Spain – Quédate Conmigo (Stay with Me) performed by Patora Soler

The sheer power of her voice made those backing singers appear out of thin air.  Just when I thought that Sweden had shut the door on the competition, Spain goes it blows it back open…wide!  What an amazing performance!  If that’s not Top Five, then there is something seriously wrong in the Eurovision world.

20. Germany – Standing Still performed by Roman Lob

That was a nice performance of a nice song.  Nothing overly remarkable about it, so not quite sure how it will place.  Maybe 11th or 12th?

21. Malta – This is the Night performed by Kurt Calleja

meh.  Better than Thursday night, still a rather average entry.  Still baffles me as to why that female singer gets to sing and why she does it so strangely.  If they’re trying to incorporate traditional Azerbaijani style, then they should have done it throughout the song.  Doing it in such an isolated instance just sounds strange.

22. Macedonia – Crno i Belo performed by Kaliopi

Another flawless performance from Kaliopi.  I am still not quite sure what to make of this one’s chances, but I rather like the song.

23. Ireland – Waterline performed by Jedward

I still fail to see the appeal of this entry.  It’s so 1995.  Not to mention Jedward doesn’t really have the vocal chops to do it well.  It’s just, bad.  I hope it falls flat in the voting tonight.

24. Serbia – Nije Ljubav Stvar performed by Željko Joksimović

Let’s see if Serbia and throw its hat into the ring with Sweden and Spain.

Am I the only person that had a skip in this performance?  Like it just skipped.  Like there was a scratch or something.

Joksimović just showed the world that he is tired of losing at ESC.  He wants to win.  Whether the entry is strong enough to survive the mind-numbing, sensory overload that will be the Ukrainian performance, not sure.  If it does, then it will definitely be a contender for the title!

25. Ukraine – Be My Guest performed by Gaitana

I like the song, but it still sounds rather strange without any backing vocalists.  This song should fall somewhere in 20s, but I have the sinking suspicion that it won’t.

26. Moldova – Lăutar performed by Pasha Parfeny

Whoa!  They forgot to light the Crystal Hall in Moldova’s colors – fail!

Such a fun song and well performed, too!  Ah, there you go, the Moldovan colors.  Nice way to end the night.

Too bad I can’t vote, otherwise I would votes for My Top Ten Favorites on the Night

1. Spain

2. Sweden

3. Moldova

4. Azerbaijan

5. United Kingdom

6. Serbia

7. Iceland

8. Bosnia & Herzegovina

9. Turkey

10. Cyprus

Who I think will win: As well as I think Spain, Serbia, and Iceland did, and believe me, I think they gave winning performances, I am not confident enough to say that any of them were able to overcome the hype and popularity of Sweden.  I think Loreen’s performance was enough to push out in front of the pack, but not by much.

Now, it’s possible that we could have another tie (as there was one on Thursday night for tenth place), but then again, ties only happen in the Final if France is involved in some way, and Anggun most definitely did not turn out a winning performance.  So, Sweden for the outright win.

My prediction for the remaining Top Ten:

2. Serbia

3. Spain

4. Iceland

5. Germany

6. Russia

7. Azerbaijan

8. Romania

9. Turkey

10. United Kingdom

Other Predictions and Comments:

I think that the next five will be Cyprus, Norway, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Greece.  Italy, France, and Lithuania have outside chances of landing in this group if they gave strong performances to the juries last night, otherwise, all three will be relegated to the Bottom Ten.

Interval Act:

The super postcard, particularly the ending, was pretty amazing!  Definitely makes me want to visit Azerbaijan, which I believe is the point.

As awesome as Azerbaijan’s folk tradition is, they never send it to the Contest.  They always choose some Westernized pop tune when they could probably do very well with folk-inspired music.  Look at Greece, they always send something with distinct ethnic flair and always seem to do well (but not this year, I hope).

Whoops, spoke too soon.  This guy that descended from the ceiling is fairly Western.  For the headliner for the Interval Act, he had such a small amount of time on stage.  Probably for the best.

The Votes: Israel is voting last, they’re always a wild card!  One never knows where their points are going.

  1. Albania – let’s see – 12 to Greece, no surprise there.
  2. Montenegro – absolutely no surprises there
  3. Romania – 12 to Moldova, right?  yep
  4. Austria – hmm, interesting votes, Albania and Serbia getting big points.  12 to Sweden – bound to become a refrain tonight, I think.
  5. Ukraine – only 10 to Russia?  12 to Azerbaijan, not expected, but not surprising.
  6. Belarus – Lots of love for Azerbaijan so far.  No surprise.  Sweden still has a twelve point lead, though.
  7. Belgium – ooh, Normally the Belgians give 12 to Turkey, so I think I will call it for Sweden right now.
  8. Azerbaijan – 8 to Malta, what?!  no surprise for the 12 points.  Iceland, Norway, and Denmark are all sitting there without any points.
  9. Malta – Ooh, the UK must have done something bad to get completely blanked by their steady supply of points from Malta.  12 to Azerbaijan, that’s surprising.
  10. San Marino – whoa!  Italy only gets 7 points!  23 to Albania?  that’s different and highly unexpected.
  11. France – 12 to Sweden, which seems to be soaking up every point headed northward, as Denmark, Norway, and Iceland are still sitting on goose eggs.
  12. United Kingdom – 12 to Sweden.  If you didn’t think this was over by now, I’m letting you now that it is.  Next year in Stockholm (or Gothenburg or Malmo or …)
  13. Turkey – This has become a race to third place as Russia has a strong grasp on second, but the night is still young.  Sweden becomes the first to crack 100.
  14. Greece – 12 to Cyprus, I’m sure.  Yep.  Those are some halfhearted boos, Azerbaijanis.  I expect you to do better when Cyprus gives their 12 to Greece.
  15. Bosnia & Herzegovina – ooh, only 10 to Serbia, 12 to Macedonia (ok, that’s not surprising)
  16. Moldova – Oriental?  She must not know the meaning of that word.  And the duel between Serbia and Azerbaijan for third place continues.
  17. Bulgaria – hmm, Serbia, interesting.
  18. Switzerland – another wild card country.  Who knows where their top points will end up.
  19. Slovenia – Iceland is rescued from null-points land!
  20. Cyprus – 12 to Greece and 8 to Turkey, where is the rest of their points going?  Oh, I was wrong, 8 to Azerbaijan.  No love from Cyprus to Turkey?  The northern part must not have been watching tonight.
  21. Croatia – No surprises, though, Serbia overtakes Russia for second place!

Halfway through, and am pleasantly surprised by Albania’s and Macedonia’s success.  Disappointed by the lack thereof from Iceland, Norway, and the United Kingdom.  Mathematically, every country could still win.  Realistically, unless Serbia stages some kind of comeback of the century, this is Sweden’s fifth win.  And, I think, demonstrates that Ireland should be worried about Sweden catching up to it’s seven wins within the next decade.

  1. Slovakia – another wildcard country gives their 12 to Sweden.
  2. FYR Macedonia – ooh, only ten for Serbia.  Ah, not too surprising, 12 for Albania.
  3. The Netherlands – no surprises  Sweden hits 200 points.
  4. Portugal – no points for the Swedes.
  5. Iceland – And Denmark is saved from null-point land.  Cyprus and Estonia getting big points from Iceland?  What!  Madness.
  6. Sweden – only three for Norway.  Sweden never votes in their bloc.  Serbia and Cyprus take the points that one would expect would have been sent to Denmark and Iceland any other year.
  7. Norway – Serbia is getting a lot of love from unexpected places.
  8. Lithuania – only 6 for Russia.  Ooh, 12 for our hosts, Azerbaijan.
  9. Estonia – Shocked, only 3 for LIT, 2 for Denmark, none for Norway – and the UK is last?!  What is going on?
  10. Denmark – No points for Norway?  Craziness!
  11. Ireland – where’s Ireland?
  12. Latvia – No surprises.  Russia breaks 200.
  13. Spain – 12 to Romania, I bet you!  Whoops, only ten!  I guess 12 for Sweden?  Yep.
  14. Finland – Mr. Lordi surely is a ham, ain’t he.  12 to Sweden.
  15. Georgia – Sweden tops 300!  Another surprise 12 from Georgia, this time to Lithuania.
  16. Italy – Albania is doing really well!
  17. Serbia – Even Serbia is giving points to Sweden!
  18. Germany – was that just a warning to Azerbaijan?  About Europe watching it?  Serbia cracks 200.
  19. Russia – no surprises
  20. Hungary – no surprises at this point
  21. Israel – no real surprises.
  22. Ireland – here they are!

The Winner is: Euphoria from Sweden performed by Loreen with a whopping 372 points.  This is now second all time in point total, second only to Norway’s 2009 victory (387 points).  That’s interesting, normally the camera angles are the same during the reprise as they are during the performance, but that is definitely not the case this time around.  Also, there’s no Swedish flags!  Why did no one have a Swedish flag?

The Final Scoreboard:

2. Russia

3. Serbia

4. Albania

5. Azerbaijan

6. Estonia

7. Turkey

8. Germany

9. Spain

10. Italy

11. Moldova

12. Romania (Romania and Macedonia tied, but Romania places higher after the tie-break procedure is implemented)

13. Macedonia

14. Lithuania

15. Ukraine (Ukraine and Cyprus tied, but Ukraine places higher after the tie-break procedure is implemented)

16. Cyprus

17. Greece

18. Bosnia & Herzegovina

19. Ireland

20. Iceland

21. Malta

22. France

23. Denmark

24. Hungary

25. United Kingdom

26. Norway

Final Thoughts:

I would say this year could be summed up by the word: “disappointment.”  Disappointment that sub-par songs, like Malta and Ireland, made it to the Final when better stuff (like Switzerland or Slovenia) got left behind.  Disappointment that my favorite entries, France, Italy, and Cyprus, all turned out weak performances.  Disappointment in the United Kingdom’s second to last finish.  Disappointment in my “home” country’s abysmal placing at 23rd.

I’m also pleasantly surprised by some things.  Albania (despite a less than stellar performance tonight) and Estonia both finished in the Top Ten.  I am pleasantly surprised that three out of the top five, and five out of the Top Ten, are not in English.  Cyprus not only beat Greece this year, but Greece fell way out of the Top Ten.  This is the first time since 2003 that Greece has been outside the Top Ten.  Pleasantly surprised that Macedonia not only made it back to the Final, but finished in a respectable 13th place.  Glad that Kaliopi could find much more success this time around than in 1996.

Congrats are in order to Spain, for making its triumphal return to the Top Ten, even if they did just sneak in.   And, I do want to point out that I correctly predicted the winner (both before and after the performances) and 8 out of 10 for the eventual Top Ten.

Not really sure how I feel about the Contest as a whole, though.  I like the Swedish song very much and love the performance.  And, having seen Melodifestivalen a few times now, I know that the Swedes are going to put on a fabulous show, but this win was so easy to predict.  I was really hoping for more drama this year.  There were a lot of strong entries this year (by now, I’m sure that you know which ones I am going to name) and a lot of would-be strong entries had the performances not fallen flat (again, by now, you probably know the ones that I will name).  I just thought one of them would provide a challenge to the Swedes.

Poor Željko Joksimović, though, he said this was his last time as a soloist at the Contest and that he was really aiming for victory.  Instead, he fell a distant third to an artist who barely has a career and a pack of old ladies who succeeded on novelty alone.  Not the best of ways to finish a storied Eurovision career.  I bet you anything that he breaks his pledge and returns again in a few years time.

More will come next week after I have had some time to process my feelings and review the results more deeply after they (hopefully) release the split votes from the juries and televoters.


ESC 2012: Second Semi-Final Live Notes

And we’re back for Semi-Final number 2!  Unlike most years, when one semi-final is vastly superior to the other (the Thursday one always fits this description), both of this year’s semi-finals are pretty evenly matched, both within themselves and between them.  of course, I think, as a whole the six automatic qualifiers are stronger than either semi-final, and I expect to that all six countries will find themselves in the top fifteen, at least.  But more on that on Saturday.  Tonight, it’s about celebrating these eighteen entries!

So, just to recap, I think the ten qualifiers will be:

Serbia              Sweden

Belarus            Turkey

Ukraine           Slovakia

Slovenia          Norway

Croatia             Bosnia & Herzegovina

Let the fun BEGIN!

Lead-in:

Why are they making such a big deal out of French?  It’s not that hard of a language.

Wow, they really do talk like a bunch of preschool teachers.  And why is it always “Az-zer-bai-jan” as if it’s four words?

And that was a miscue – “sit down…music!”

Serbia – Nije Ljubav Stvar performed by Željko Joksimović

Of course, Joksimović has a small orchestra on stage with him.  Ooh!  Twin lady violinists.  Not exactly the most electrifying way to start off the semi-final, but it’s an awesome song, nevertheless.

Macedonia – Crno i Belo performed by Kaliopi

I like this!  It’s a greast rock song, and the backing singers are well utilized.  I actually prefer this version with the backing vocals and a little less intensity (but more passion) from Kaliopi to the studio version.  I hope she does well, this could actually qualify, even though many think it won’t.

The Netherlands – You and Me performed by Joan Franka

People said this had an outside chance of qualifying due to its charm and understated nature.  Franka would have to nail the performance for this to happen, and she is quite flat throughout the entire song.

Malta – This is the Night performed by Kurt Calleja

That thing Calleja is doing with his legs during the refrain is kinda creepy.  Why, on earth, would you let some random backgin singer take the shining moment of the song?  What was Calleja thinking?  That killed what little chance this entry had of getting through to the Final.  See you next year Malta…hey, isn’t Chiara eligible to compete again in 2013…

Belarus – We are the Heroes performed by LiteSound

This seems like something that would be popular but the singer isn’t that great and they’re dressed like goons.  How did the backing guys go horizontal like that?  I think I will be giving away their spot to a more worthy contender by the end of the night.

Portugal – Vida Minha performed by Filipa Sousa

Nice, pleasant song with a nice, pleasant performance.  Notice I did not say captivating or enthralling.  Sorry Portugal, another year in the semis for you.

Ukraine – Be My Guest performed by Gaitana

Already, the most entertaining entry before she’s even started singing.  Is she really taking this song on by herself?  Oh wait, there’s dancers with trumpets…oh, and now there’s more dancers.  This song works because there’s a crowd like atmosphere on the studio track.  This just sounds like one loony lady out there trying to advertise her little bed & breakfast on a cheap budget.  Disappointing.

Bulgaria – Love Unlimited performed by Sofi Marinova

I rather like this.  Marinova is doing a great job, the stage looks great (I love the sparkler fans).  I think that this entry just might surprise a lot of people and sneak into the Final.

Slovenia – Verjamem performed by Eva Boto

The attack of the teenage girls!  They’re pretty good though.  Definitely one of the better Slovenian entries to date.  Boto will definitely carry Slovenia back into the Grand Final.

Croatia – Nebo performed by Nina Badić

Was I the only expecting her costume to change when the dancers got closer and the song hit a big note?  I don’t quite understand the use of the white sheet in the performance.  Otherwise – good stuff!  I hope this makes it through.

Sweden – Euphoria performed by Loreen

With all the pyrotechnics in use this year, leave it to good ol’ Sweden to let everyone know that the wind machine is still here and not going anywhere!  I’m glad that kept things minimal like the Melodifestevalen performance.  I definitely think, though, that Loreen is holding back tonight – I expect her to bring it, and hard, come Saturday.

Georgia – I’m a Joker performed by Anri Jokhadze

Wow.  That was a mess.  This is why Georgia has never sent a man to be the lead performer before.  I really don’t think that they will make it to the Final this year.

Turkey – Love Me Back performed by Can Bonomo

Right, Azerbaijanis basically consider themselves Turkish.  That would explain the huge crowd reaction.  I’m not gonna lie, I wish I had his coat; that a nice piece of fabric. Am I the only one that thinks that this could be a villain song in a cheesy musical?  Guy wants a girl who doesn’t want him and takes her captive on his boat saying that she must clearly love him.  All sinister undertones aside, this will easily make it through.

Estonia – Kuula performed by Ott Lepland

Lepland had a real chance to capitalize on weak performances by some of the more popular entries, and I think he’s blowing it.  I’m not quite sure if he’s sick or what, but he’s off-key.  As the song goes one, he’s getting better, but it’s still generally off.  And he definitely botched some of the lyrics, a major no, no!

Slovakia – Don’t Close Your Eyes performed by Max Jason Mai

Mai is rather off-key as well.  Such a shame.  This is probably Slovakia’s best ever entry and their best chance of qualifying, and I think they’re blowing it.  At least the staging was rather nice and the backing singers did their jobs.

Norway – Stay performed by Tooji

The staging of this song is rather nice, but I never did think Tooji was much of a singer.  I this will easily progress to the Final; not sure how it will fare once it gets there, though.

Bosnia & Herzegovina – Korake Ti Znam performed by Maya Star

Probably the best artistic piece tonight, and maybe in the entire Contest this year.  It should move through easily; though, just because something exemplifies all the qualities that should the key of a strong ESC entry, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will do well (just look at Israel 2010).  I do expect her to win at least one Marcel Bezaçon Award.

Lithuania – Love is Blind performed by Donny Montell

Montell is freakin’ adorable, especially when he tries to be cooler than he actually is, like, when the tempo picks up and he starts dancing and saying “oh, yeah.”  That was rather pleasant.  And, as I always say, never underestimate the power of a pleasant song being delivered by an attractive young person – which this entry clearly exemplifies.

Looking at the recap of songs, Joksimović (Serbia) and Kaliopi (Macedonia) really make the other 16 artists look like amateurs.

My Top Ten

1. Serbia (quite clearly the best act tonight)

2. Bosnia & Herzegovina (great song and great performance)

3. Macedonia (awesome job Kaliopi!)

4. Sweden (I just really like this song, but was generally disappointed and expect a lot more on Saturday)

5. Croatia (strong performance of a decent song)

6. Bulgaria (better than expected performance)

7. Lithuania (better than expected, one of the few to stay mostly on pitch through the whole song)

8. Turkey (fun song with a fun performance)

9. Slovenia (nice, not quite sure if I understand all the hype around this entry, though)

10. Portugal (overall, very pleasant)

The Ten I think will make it through

Serbia – this is not a question

Bosnia & Herzegovina – it’s a strong entry and has a lot of hype

Sweden – again, this is an unquestioned assumption

Lithuania – I think he did enough to win over voters

Turkey – c’mon, no way Turkey’s missing two years in a row

Slovenia – there’s too much hype around this one not to qualify

Ukraine – despite her less-than-solid performance, it’s hard to bet against the Ukraine

Norway – I think this song is too popular not to make it, plus Persians around Europe will be voting for Tooji

Bulgaria – I’m sure I’m not the only fan that she made tonight

Croatia – I think she did enough to make it through, not to mention she is bound to get points from each of the other former Yugoslav countries voting tonight

Interval Act:

I love Eurovision medleys, particularly when done by the actual artists.  But will we really have to sit through Running Scared again on Saturday?  It’s not that captivating of a song and I was not anticipating having to hear so often this week (I don’t know what I was thinking).  At least where El was for the past fifteen minutes.

Love the crowd shots (and the one of Joksimović in the Green Room) during Marija Šerofović’s part.  Is it just me, or does the instrumentation during her section still sound quite Balkan?  Alexander Rybak is in top form tonight and Lena just can’t stay away from the ESC stage.  I have a feeling she’s gonna be like Lys Assia and try to come back in her eighties.  Satellite sounds kinda weird in this arrangement.

Waterloo!  The “Oh No!” is right as Nikki has lost both the words and the pitch.  And Dima Bilan shows Europe that his mic has been turned off.  What a nice touch – and, we didn’t have hear Running Scared, double bonus!

Honestly, after tonight and Tuesday, I really want to think that all six automatic qualifiers will make the Top Ten.

The ten that actually make it to the Grand Final

A. Lithuania (1 correct for 1 total qualifier)

B. Bosnia & Herzegovina (2 for 2)

C. Serbia (3 for 3; did you see his face, not an ounce of concern there)

D. Ukraine (4 for 4)

E. Sweden (5 for 5; you know, the camera folks should really stop showing the qualifiers before they are revealed.  they did the same thing in Germany last year)

F. Macedonia (5 for 6; nice! of course, there goes my perfect record)

G. Norway (6 for 7)

H. Estonia (6 for 8; hmm, interesting, definitely helps that he followed some weak vocal performances)

J. Malta (6 for 9; what!  I did not expect this at all!  How did this make it through?)

(Surely Turkey will not be left behind again!  But, I could not imagine Slovenia failing, either)

K. Turkey (7 for 10; of course)

Final Thoughts

I am rather shocked that Slovenia did not make it.  I know she was picked to do well with the bookies and was receiving a lot of good press.  Less surprised by Bulgaria and Croatia coming up short, though.  Rather shocked that Malta made it through, but now that I think about it, I assume that the UK gave the tiny nation its 12 points for the night.  I wholly expect This is the Night to come in dead last, though, come Saturday as the UK will have its usually suspects (Ireland, Greece, France, and Germany) to dole points out to.  As for the Netherlands, that was everyone’s trendy pick for making it through unexpectedly, her early spot in the running order did her in.

Honestly, though, I don’t think tonight did anything to change the landscape for the top contenders (except Slovenia, who some thought could make a big move this year for the top).  We will still expect to see Sweden, Iceland, and Serbia duke it out for the victory, with Spain, France, and Norway nipping at their heels – that is, if you can believe the bookmakers.  Cyprus and Greece proved themselves to be highly overrated on Tuesday and I no longer consider them serious contenders for the crown.  I wholly expect Turkey, Azerbaijan, Russia, Germany, and the UK to get decent placings as well.  The only country that I think could really surprise people and make a big move without a lot of attention beforehand is Italy.  The bookies have L’Amore É Femmina as potential Top Ten finisher without the Internet chatter really being there to back it up.  We shall see, we shall see.


ESC2012 – Semi Final One – Live Notes

Hello lovely readers!  I may not have been able to do my usual round of pre-Contests posts as thoroughly or as often as I would have liked, but I am here now for the live notes – which are really the best part of the blog, in my opinion.  Per usual, I am writing these notes live as I am watching the Contest.  A few things to note, I have the lyrics for each song pulled up, because, how can you judge a song contest without knowing the lyrics.  Secondly, I know that, traditionally, I do not listen to the songs before they premiere live at the Contest, but this year, due to the extreme tightness of my schedule, I had to in order to get my prediction pieces done.  So, I am actually quite familiar with the songs which is a major shift from how I normally write these live notes.  Additionally, unlike previous years, I have not read about the stagings of the songs.  Normally, I don’t listen to the entries and read about the rehearsals, this year, I am doing the reverse.  Also, look for my tweets – #eurovisionobsession.

 

With that said, here are my pre-Contest predictions for who will qualify:

Greece             Iceland

Cyprus             Denmark

Romania          Switzerland

Russia              Hungary

Ireland             Moldova

Since these have not changed since my previous post, I will not go into detail as to why I chose each of these songs.

 

So, let’s begin!

 

Opening Act:

What an interesting arena!  So many diamonds; definitely the most unique arena I’ve seen thus far for a Contest. The stage is rather nice, though!  Looks like there’s not going to be an opening act for the semi-finals this year again.  Did that third host say that she’s a lawyer?  Why is a lawyer hosting?  Did she remember to say Spain in the Big Five?  (“France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom” I don’t think she did).

 

No, El, Azerbaijan is not in Europe.

 

I see that Azerbaijan has returned to showing off the country for the post cards.

 

On to the entries:

Montenegro – Euro Neuro performed by Rambo Amadeus

Crna Gora has been saving up money for two years, and this is the best staging they could afford?  I guess it works for the song.  Speakin of which.  It’s interesting, but I don’t quite think Europe will get it.  Hopefully, Mr. Amadeus can avoid a null point.

 

Iceland – Never Forget performed by Greta Salóme & Jónsi

Gereta’s voice is a little off.  I think that she put down the violin, or least wait until the instrumental break.  Not necessarily a winning performance, but I think good enough to get them through to the Final.

 

Greece – Aphrodisiac performed by Eleftheria Eleftheriou

Is the background singer so loud on purpose?  This just feels so…cheap.  This song had the potential for a really amazing performance, but instead, they settled for depending on a background singer to provide the majority of the vocal support, a scantily clad singer, and some weak dance moves.  I know I said that this was My Number One rebirthed, but it’s not, it’s nowhere close.  As much as I dislike My Number One, it won because it was fresh and well-performed.  This was just stale.

 

Latvia – Beautiful Song performed by Anmary

She might have been born in 1980, but this entry and its staging is rather 1970.  At least she and her backing singers are modestly clad. So, aside from the fact that this song is fairly forgettable, it’s rather presumptuous.  I hate when entries declare themselves the winners and talk about all the fame that will result.  But, I guess, what more could we expect from Latvia?

 

Albania – Suus performed by Rona Nishliu

I don’t know why the press give artists so much flack for performing in their own language, I rather prefer it.  Excellent use of lights for the high notes!  If only she remembered to hold the microphone up to her mouth the entire time.  Did you hear that crowd reaction?  They loved it!  What a heart-wrenching performance – woohoo!  This is one of my favorite entries – and this is why!  Great job!  She should move through, but she probably won’t, unfortunately.

 

Romania – Zaleilah performed by Mandinga

The moon walk would have been so much better if the mouthpiece of the bagpipe was actually in his mouth.  Fire!  Romania, right now, is the country to beat.  I know that they can count on twelve points from Moldova and Spain, and probably several others.

 

Switzerland – Unbreakable performed by Sinplus

Whoa, that was a cool camera effect – that long shot to close up to long, again at the start of the first chorus.  I wonder why he isn’t using the catwalk – this seems like the perfect song for that ­– oh, there goes his brother, he took off down that thing!  I wonder why they didn’t really show it.  Fire!  This is, what, the third or fourth pyrotechnics of the night?  But, where is the wind machine?  I do believe the Swiss are headed back to the Final.

 

I like these postcards – they’re doing a great job of showing off the country.  I just thought of something, are those little diamonds in the audience this year’s green room?  That would be rather interesting and I imagine rather frustrating for the artists who want to relax and decompress after their performance.

 

Belgium – Would You? performed by Iris

This is a sweet song, but ultimately rather forgettable.  But she’s giving her all.  I love it when a competitor, who probably realizes that she’s outmatched, still gives her all.  Way to go Belgium!  There’s no reason for you to feel bad about the outcome, Iris, you did the best you could with a weak song.  Hold your head up high!

 

Finland – När Jag Blundar performed by Pernilla

I love how they make the flags on the Crystal Hall’s exterior!  This song has a sweet story.  The singer’s brother wrote it in honor of their mother (who’s there in Baku with them).  I assume that’s him on the cello.  What a wonderful sight for their mother to behold.  I hope all three of them cherish these three minutes, because I doubt they will happen again.  Thank you Finland for singing in NOT English, even if it isn’t your official language.  I find it funny that we have to go to Finland to get an entry in Swedish, the first time the language has been on the ESC stage since 1998.  A pretty song, but will be forgotten, much like Belgium.

 

Israel – Time performed by Izabo

Anyone else find it interesting that they talk about Azerbaijan being a “holy land” right before Israel’s performance?  I like the 70’s sound of this song; I could totally image roller skating to this song.  Unfortunately, even though Europe is behind the times, it’s not so far back that it will appreciate this entry to the fullest.  The guitarist has his own mic, why is he coming over to the lead singer’s?  What an interesting use of the backing singers.

 

San Marino – The Social Network Song (Oh Oh Uh Oh Oh) performed by Valentina Monetta

This postcard fits nicely, as Monetta is a jazz singer by profession.  Her eyes are so big!  And her voice is so small!  I’m sorry, but this sounds like something adults make to entertain children (the lyrics referring to sex aside, of course).  Why is there a pilot and a doctor?  Sorry, San Marino, another year in the semi-finals for you – better luck next year!  How much more fun would this performance be if they had actual Facebook pages and Tweets floating around behind them, of fans from the 42 participating countries?

 

Cyprus – La La Love performed by Ivi Adamou

This always reminded me of something that Rihanna could sing.  And like the Bahamian singer, Ivi is stunningly beautiful and sings just flat throughout her song.  Again, we have the issue of backing singers who are too loud.  Is the dance routine so rigorous that we need to have all four ladies at full blast to help Ivi out?  The dance break and the bridge had some amazing camera direction – good job whoever directed this performance.  While I like this song, the overbearing backing singers gave it a bit of an amateurish sound.  It was more like something you would expect at a local community musician expo, not a continent-wide song pop contest.  Hopefully, it’s better on Saturday.

 

Denmark – Should’ve Known Better performed by Soluna Samay

I don’t understand the bassist’s outfit – it seems rather out of place.  Aside from that, this is nearly identical to the MGP performances of this song.  There’s something that can be said for consistency.  Well, actually, her voice is a little less whiny this time around, which is a very good thing.

 

Russia – Party for Everyone performed by Buranovskiye Babushki

Didn’t we already see that Baku is a sunny city?  That’s a giant oven they have on stage!  Which I guess makes sense since the song is about a them preparing a party for their children and grandchildren.  The audience seems to be getting really into it! I wonder if they have enough pastries for everybody?  That little short one has some nice moves!

 

Are they allowed to use the term “Golden Girls”?

So, I was right about the green room being out in the arena.  Wow!  Valentina Monetta has a rather deep voice!

 

Hungary – Sound of Our Hearts performed by Compact Disco

I wonder, if for the Final, every postcard is just going to say “Azerbaijan: Land of Fire!” and show things burning throughout the country.  This entry is so…smug.  Like the singer is saying, “Look at me!  I am singing about the human condition!  Aren’t I so artsy!  Be inspired by me!”

 

Austria – Woki Mit Deim Popo performed by Trackshittaz

Whew!  They’re keeping this thing moving – it’s only been 70 minutes since they’ve started and we’re already just about done with the presentation of the entries.  Uh oh, I think the timing was slightly off with lighting effects.  I’m glad they went with pole dancers as opposed to just three girls who shake their butts while holding poles.  I’m glad that they toned down the entry from the National Selection performance, but they may have went a little too far – it definitely lacked a lot of the electricity it had during when they won in Austria.

 

Moldova – Lăutar performed by Pasha Parfeny

So, I’m a HUGE fan of the song he took to the Moldovan national selection last year, Dorule.  This song cannot touch the awesomeness that is Dorule.  Though, this is pleasant and has a decent shot of moving through to Saturday, I think.  It would have been more effective if there was an actual trumpet on stage somewhere, either one of the backing dancers could hold it or just a giant trumpet on the LED screen, something!  There’s one at the end, at least.  The choreography was really great, though.

 

Ireland – Waterline performed by Jedward

Hey, their hair is even worse than it was last year!  WHAT ARE THEY WEARING?!?!  I think we have this year’s Barbara Dex award.  Perhaps they were aiming to get the infamous title renamed for themselves.  Why are they jumping around, this is not that kind of song.  They’re singing is not awful, but this song is dated and forgettable.  If they didn’t have the name recognition that they did, this song would be dead last tonight.  With any luck, Albania did enough to displace them from the projected Top Ten.

 

My Ten Favorite from tonight:

1. Albania

2. Romania

3. Iceland

4. Belgium

5. Denmark

6. Cyprus

7. Finland

8. Russia

9. Switzerland

10. Moldova

 

My Predictions for who will qualify to the Final (in no particular order)

Romania (probably the strongest performance of the night, all things considered)

Denmark (mass appeal soft ballad that was well sung)

Iceland (it’s a contender for victory and was performed well-enough to make it through to Saturday)

Cyprus (not a strong performance, but benefits from the fact that more than half make it through)

Greece (it’s Greece)

Russia (this song is immensely popular and makes people smile)

Ireland (yuck! but Jedward is popular enough to move through)

Switzerland (they had a strong performance)

Hungary (good enough song to move through, despite the singer’s smugness)

Albania (I think she did enough to earn a spot and Moldova did not)

 

Interval Act:

That’s amazing!  I see why this guy was awarded the highest Azerbaijani honor for a musician.  It’s amazing, though, how similar musical and dance traditions can be across regions.  His drumming is not far off from what one would expect in an Afro-Cuban tradition.  And the dancing is not dissimilar from Balkan and Middle Eastern dances (which makes sense given Azerbaijan’s location).  It’s amazing how different we all are from one another, yet so like each other at the same time.  I love it!

 

All six of the pre-qualified entries are amazing and have a legitimate shot of being Top Ten (with Spain, in my opinion, having the best chance of winning among them).  This year has yielded many great entries; unlike last year where there were many entries that were all equally average, this year we have a lot of songs that are equally strong.

 

I see that Jon Ola Sand is still not yet comfortable speaking on camera.

The actual qualifiers:

A. Romania – I am 1 for 1 in predicting the finalists, thus far

B. Moldova – 1 for 2

C. Iceland – 2 for 3

D. Hungary – 3 for 4

E. Denmark – 4 for 5

F. Albania – 5 for 6 (ooh!  I wonder whom else I got wrong in addition to Moldova, hopefully Ireland)

G. Cyprus – 6 for 7

H. Greece – 7 for 8

I. Russia – 8 for 9 (and the audience goes wild!)

Either Ireland or Switzerland will get left behind, I’m guessing it’s the latter of the two, unfortunately

J. Ireland – 9 for 10 (yuck!)

 

Final Thoughts:

First, El talks like a Kindergarten teacher.  I don’t know if it’s intentional or just his accent, but it’s a bit annoying.

 

Second, I was 9 for 10 with the pleasant surprise of Albania making it through to the Final and the unpleasant correct prediction of Ireland moving through.  The song is weak, the performance is weak, and I hope it gets crushed on Saturday.

 

Other pleasant surprises: Belgium was surprising good.  I was not expecting much from since the song was so lackluster, but Iris gave a great performance.  She gets my award for best on the night!  Also, three out of the five non-English entries (Romania, Russia, and Albania) made it through – good for them!

 

Drawing for starting positions for the Final

Romania – 14, so, we can expect at least a decent placing for them

Moldova – 26, lucky man, that will definitely give him a boost.  Maybe even top 15.

Iceland – 7, <insert sad trombone sound here> that might just slay there chance of contending for victory, but it will open the door for Spain (and possibly even Italy)

Hungary – 2, looks like Hungary will be back in the bottom five with that spot

Denmark – 15, dare I say a Top Ten finish for Ms. Samay, depends on who’s around her, I think

Albania – 3, well, she did say she’s just happy to be there and have the chance to sing again

Cyprus – 8, she still has an outside chance of winning, but should still finish Top Ten

Greece – 16, Top Ten is assured for the Hellenic Republic

Russia – 6, they come right before Iceland, which might actually help Iceland’s chances

Ireland – 23, blah! now they will get a placing much higher than they deserve

What we know now:

1. United Kingdom

2. Hungary

3.

4.

5.

6. Russia

7. Iceland

8. Cyprus

9. France

10. Italy

11.

12.

13. Azerbaijan

14. Romania

15. Denmark

16. Greece

17.

18.

19. Spain

20. Germany

21.

22.

23. Ireland

24.

25.

26. Moldova


The Early Selectors: Entries Chosen in December & January

So, many countries chose their entry rather early this year, from perennial early choosers like Albania and Cyprus to rather unexpected ones, like France and Macedonia.  Here is my breakdown of these early choosers.  This is a good time to remind everyone that I do not listen to any entry (except Denmark’s) prior to the first time it is performed at the Contest.  I form my opinions based on the competition that failed to qualify for the Contest, the performing artist’s other work, and a country’s history within the Contest.  When I make my second round of predictions, I will incorporate web chatter, professional opinion, and semi-final placement.  Additionally, these thoughts are merely opinion and are not meant to insult, demean, or be taken as a personal attack.  I wish every country the best of luck and pray for an awesome Contest!

Albania: Rona Nishliu – Suus

Typically, Albania is fairly good about choosing the best entry among their options.  Unfortunately, the best Albanian entry tends to be a middle-of-the-pack finisher.  A placing that is typically earned by the song + performance.  This year should not be any different, especially given that the showing among Festivali i Këngës‘ losers was relatively weak compared to the past few years.  Which is a double shame since this was the 50th one.

Montenegro: Rambo Amadeus – Euro Neuro

Welcome back Montenegro!  We’ve missed you!

I always love it when countries return to the Contest after missing out, especially when they had to sit out due to financial issues.  Now that pleasantries are out the way, getting down to business, Montenegro does not stand a chance.  They’re sending an eighties-style rocker, and not a very good one at that.  Sorry Crna Gora, you will once again be relegated to a semi-final placings.  Perhaps next year!

Switzerland: Sinplus – Unbreakable

Switzerland has once again united its four broadcasters in a royale of musical dominance.  Despite unexpectedly strong competition, not the least of which included hero of the Contest and first-ever ESC winning artist Lys Assia, the group Sinplus emerged victorious.  The Swiss are still celebrating their first Final qualification in six years, even if that qualification did result in a last place.  I think the Swiss Confederation is getting to the place where Iceland and Portugal were in 2008.  After many tries, it has finally reached the Final, now, the new goal is to get beyond the bottom ten.  I am unsure of whether the Swiss have it in them to accomplish this goal.  So, no prediction just yet.

Cyprus: Ivi Amadou – La La Love

So, Cyprus, a country who’s lack of a national identity has led to political distress so severe that a part of it wants to break free, continues to let this identity crisis express itself as, once again, its entry takes a complete 180 from the previous years’ songs.  They’re sending a beautiful young pop singer to do what experience (’07), ethnic music (’08), innocence (’09), indie (’10), and dramatic-rock (’11) could not do: give the island nation some success once more in the Contest.  Ivi Adamou actually has a decent chance of doing this.  She has a good voice, she’s pretty, and is nimble enough to pull off one of a variety of personae on stage.  The key would be a strong performance, not just her singing, but also in the staging of the entry.

Macedonia: Kaliopi – Crno i Belo

Tired of being the one of the worst performing countries on the Balkan Peninsula, Macedonia went for an internal selection this year, bringing Kaliopi back to the Contest that snubbed her in the pre-selection round sixteen years ago (despite the fact that she had an amazing song).  She has been busy making albums and building quite the career over the time between her ESC entries.  I foresee a strong performance with a placing dependent more on the weakness of others than on its own strength.  Unfortunately, Macedonia is almost always in this spot, and constantly falls just short of qualifying (in both years of the former dual semi-final system, Macedonia finished tenth in their semi-final only to be leaped frogged by a jury selected wild card – ’08 & ’09).  Anticipate another hairline qualification/elimination for the former Yugoslav republic.

France: Anggun – Echo (You and I)

France, which has really re-invested itself over the past few years into the Contest, has continued it’s recent tradition of internal selections.  This year, they have chosen the beautiful, Indonesian-French artist Anggun.  Choosing so early this year allows France to do something that it rarely does, engage in the pre-Contest touring that so many other countries do.  Anggun is a veteran and will likely draw the admiration of many of the south-east Asians (particularly her fellow Indonesians) throughout Europe.  She is a seasoned professional with great abilities.  If Amaury Vassili got France back on the bookie’s radar last year, then Anggun must be setting them on fire.  I anticipate this song doing very well.


ESC2011: Notes on the Grand Final

Eurovision Song Contest 2011: Düsseldorf

The Grand Final!!!

After a very eventful year, in which we saw one of the most active Supervisors step down, a new Supervisor be appointed, the return four countries to the Contest – including Italy!, and the fielding of a record-tying 43 entries, and two winners coming returning with the hopes of being the next Johnny Logan, the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2011 is here, live from Düsseldorf, Germany!

Looking at the running order, it looks as if most of the favorites to win (Estonia, Sweden, France, even Ireland and Hungary) fall in the first half of the running order.  Which doesn’t necessarily spell doom – except for dark horse candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina who landed in the deadly number two spot, but it does give a bolster to the United Kingdom, the only favorite to fall after the halfway point (it’s number 14).  Additionally, Austria (#18) and Serbia (#24), both of which have been picking up steam since qualifying, could benefit the most from the running order and both may end up surprising a lot of fans throughout Europe.  After consulting the blogosphere, reviewing history, and watching the recap of songs from the second dress rehearsal, I think this year’s winner will be either Sweden or France.  I think the rest of the Top Ten will include UK, Ireland, Estonia, Denmark, Austria, Serbia, Germany, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

I have this feeling, and I’ve had since even before the semi-finals just from looking at fan sites and bookies, that this year will be the first in which the juries and the televoters disagree.  This will mean one of three things will happen.  1) The televoters’ favorite will win, leaving those who prefer juries outraged.  They will most likely shout something about how the winner is of low quality or something like that.  2) The juries’ favorite will win, leaving conspiracy theorists and teenyboppers whining about the Contest being rigged or some other nonsense like that.  3) The juries’ favorite and the televoters’ will cancel each other out and an entry that received a top five placing on both lists will come out the winner.  Resulting in no one being happy or satisfied – except those of us who like the 50/50 system and realized this is exactly the sort of thing that’s supposed to happen with it.

And now, it’s 3 PM on the East Coast (that’s 17:00 CET) and the Grand Final is beginning!!!  Onward to the show!

Opening Act: Hosts!  Where’s the reprise of Satellite?  We were promised Stefan Raab’s band reprising the song on Lena’s behalf!  Oh, here it is.  Hmmm….I’ll bet you anything that the producers had to talk Raab out of wearing his gold outfit from 2000.  The German’s really don’t do humor all that well (though, tonight was better than the other two nights), but they have picked up Big Band quite well.  I love the flags on stage!!!  LENA!  I didn’t think she would be allowed to open the show since she’s also a competitor. HA!  It’s a good thing I don’t get seizures.  That was quite a fun opening, yay!  It puts Satellite in a whole new context, it was great!

It always gives me chills to think that hundreds of millions of folks are watching this along with me, all throughout Europe, and all throughout the world.  I love it!

01. Finland – Da Da Dam performed by Paradise Oskar

I love how volatile the crowd is in the arena – they’re singing along!  In my notes for the Second Semi-Final, I remarked on how the crowd might make it hard for BiH to stay on beat.  An article posted this morning on eurovision.tv confirmed this with the artist’s own words.  The solution was for Dino Merlin to wear two ear pieces instead of just one, I see Paradise Oskar has decided to do the same.  This was quite a pleasant way to start off the Contest.  The crowd obviously loved it and the singer also seemed to enjoy himself, I hope he places well.

02. Bosnia & Herzegovina – Love in Rewind performed by Dino Merlin

Awesome!  Minus the miscued clapping at the end.  I absolutely love this song!  It sucks that its second in the running order and not twenty-second, then it could actually stand a chance of winning.  I hope that he is at least able to pull off a Top Ten finish.

03. Denmark – New Tomorrow performed by A Friend in London

I guess the event crew said no to the ball idea.  Having just one is quite lamed compared to the bunches they had at DMGP, especially since that one ball fell to the ground.  He also took a different route back to the stage then he used on Thursday, was that a security issue or did he just forget which catwalk he was supposed to use?  It was alright, not as good as Thursday, but it will still do respectable – but it definitely leaves the door open for someone to nab its Top Ten spot.

04. Lithuania – C’est Ma Vie performed by Evelina Sašenko

I am assuming she is using Estonian sign language, or is that English Sign Language as well?  Sašenko’s voice is definitely stronger now than it was on Tuesday.  I always love it when the performers improve from semi-final to final, it’s just great!  Go Lithuania, go!

05. Hungary – What About My Dreams? performed by Kati Wolf

Better than Tuesday, but still not all that great on stage.  I think that she will end up in the mid-teens – people will vote because it’s an awesome club track, but her weak vocals will hamper Hungary’s chances of returning to the Top Ten.

06. Ireland – Lipstick performed by Jedward

Having gone back and watched the music video for this song, and paying more attention to the LED show, I realized something.  This goes beyond the normal gag act.  It goes beyond the normal desire to just bring ridiculousness to the ESC stage.  This whole entry isn’t about humor and fun, it’s about Jedward.  The whole point of this is to bring more attention to the twins; it’s a self-glorifying and pompous entry.  I hope it fails.

07. Sweden – Popular performed by Eric Saade

I don’t like this song anymore than I like Lipstick, but at least this entry is about the performance and the Contest, not the artist himself.  Saade, who generally has very weak vocals, is much sounding much better than he did on Thursday and when he was in Melodifestivalen.  Honestly, they still mistimed the breaking glass?  Why didn’t he just bring the demolition team with him from Stockholm?  I, personally, don’t think that was a winning performance – but hey, I said that three years about Russia and had to eat my words.   Either way, Sweden will do very well despite their position in the running order.

08. Estonia – Rockerfeller Street performed by Geeter Jaani

Come on Jaani, I know you have a magician in your delegation; now prove that he is worth the money that y’all are paying him – I want to see more tricks and illusions than we did on Thursday!  Grrr….lazy illusionist.  Jaani definitely sounded better than she did two days ago, but I am still disappointed with this performance on a whole.

09. Greece – Watch My Dance performed by Loucas Yiorkas featuring Stereo Mike

I am still in disbelief that this was able to win the Greek national selection.  I really like the staging of this entry, but I still don’t get it.  I think this song could really have been so much better.  Oh well, it’s Greece, so I’m sure it will still get plenty of points (and I know one country that will definitely be giving it 12 points), though, I don’t think that it will achieve a Top Ten placing.

10. Russia – Get You performed by Alexey Vorobyov

Wow, much better than Tuesday!  Oh, that was great!  And loved the flip and the how the lights on their backs spelt out Alex.  I think Mr. Vorobyov just bought himself a place in the Top Ten.

11. France – Sognu performed by Amaury Vassili

Another favorite takes the stage.  It’s funny, because this isn’t a song that particularly strikes someone as something that could Eurovision, regardless of what era of the Contest we’re talking about.  But it’s impeccably arranged, except the ending, which was just awkward.  Hmm….I’m not feeling too strong about this one either.  Let’s see what the rest of the night has to offer.

12. Italy – Madness of Love performed by Raphael Gualazzi

AMAZING!  I literally got chills from that performance!!!  I’m speechless.  Why is this not a favorite to win the Contest.

13. Switzerland – In Love for Awhile performed by Anna Rossinelli

Her voice is a thousand times clearer, stronger, and more accurate than it was on Tuesday.  The Swiss are in it to win it!  While I don’t think the Helvetica Confederation will be hosting the Contest again next year, I think they are definitely showing some real signs of fight this year, more so than in years past, despite the fact that the Swiss has been sending its best performers to the last few Contests.

14. United Kingdom – I Can performed by Blue

The screens with their faces are a little much, don’t you think?  Are they trying to prove they’re still attractive despite their age?  I don’t know if this entry is all that much different than Sweden’s.  The choreography and staging isn’t as strong, but the vocals are many times better.  Despite my love for Italy and Switzerland, I think this was really the first performance that could win on the night.  The test is to see whether Moldova’s ADHD performance can erase Blue’s memory or not.

15. Moldova – So Lucky performed by Zdob şi Zdub

I absolutely love the horns in this song.  Interesting, the outrageousness of this song serves almost like a palate cleanser.  It will most likely overpower any lingering thoughts and reflections about the preceding acts (who should all thank their lucky stars that voting goes throughout all the performances) and reset folks for the remaining ten.  I still liket his song, but think that Zdob şi Zdub will be unable to repeat their success.

16. Germany – Taken by a Stranger performed by Lena

I loved the postcard, and how it focused on the hosts.  Why would people compare this to Satellite, they’re two completely different songs, though I think both are perfect for Lena.  Satellite was the perfect song for the young, bright-eyed girl she was last year and Taken by a Stranger is the perfect song the mature, alluring young woman she is now.  I LOVED THAT ENDING!  The shattering lights into sparks, the intersecting spotlights, that sexy look at the end.  GREAT!  Not Johnny Logan great, but Carola great – I think Lena will definitely find herself in the Top Ten.

17. Romania – Change performed by Hotel FM

While many performers are better in the Final, some are better in the Semi-Final – Hotel FM falls into this latter category.  I don’t know if they were nervous following the host country (which can definitely be intimidating), or if they were afraid Taken by a Stranger would make Change seem unsophisticated and immature in comparison (which it does), if they are just tired and fatigued from the endless rehearsals, or have spent too much time at the EuroClub – but the vocals were weak (not bad, just weak) and Romania will find itself outside the Top Ten once again.

18. Austria – The Secret is Love performed by Nadine Beiler

Beiler’s voice is definitely better tonight which should make her entry seem even stronger when juxtaposed against the preceding act (sorry Romania).  If this was the early 90s, I would say that we just witnessed a winning performance.  For better or worse, it is not the early 90s, and thus, this song will probably not win.  But I think Beiler and her backing singers have done Austria proud and will get at least a respectable placing.

19. Azerbaijan – Running Scared performed by Ell/Nikki

Ell and Nikki are fighting to avoid becoming AZR’s first entry to fall outside of the Top Ten, which they are in danger of doing given the strength of the favorites and the surprise success stories (SUI, AUS, etc…).  I like this song and the fact that AZR continually brings the most American sounding entry, year after year.  But I don’t know if this song, let alone the performance, is strong enough to carry the Land of Fire into the Top Ten.

20. Slovenia – No One performed by Maja Keuc

This song could definitely benefit from its running order position.  Her voice is so much stronger than it was on Thursday, though I wonder if this song would be even more effective if she had performed the original Slovene version Vanijia.  I thought it was a well-done performance but it’s impossible to predict where she will fall when the dust settles.

Hmm, the voting numbers…I have vague memories regarding Italy, Ireland, Sweden, and Bosnia & Herzegovina.  The rest are quite fuzzy.

21. Iceland – Coming Home performed by Sjonni’s Friends

This is one of those songs that make you feel good as you listen to it, but leaves you as soon as the song is over.  I think this song will fall to the bottom of the scoreboard, even though it deserves to be in the Top Ten.

22. Spain – Que me quiten lo bailo – They can’t take the fun away from me performed by Lucía Pérez

And the children’s hit parade continues…like Denmark’s song, the Spanish entry sounds like something you would sing with four year olds.  Though, I find this entry much less annoying than the Danish one, in fact, it’s somewhat enjoyable.  Though, I would have thought there would be more color and dancing and a party atmosphere on stage, so I was a bit disappointed with the staging.  Expect another middle of the pack finish for the Spanish.

23. Ukraine – Angel performed by Mika Newton

Technical difficulties?  Or were they just late in getting the sand table out on stage?  Ten to one, the table was positioned incorrectly and the aerial camera was not picking it up.  Newton’s voice was many times better tonight than it was on Thursday.  Ukraine will probably find itself outside of the Top Ten because I think this song is just too…difficult…for most people and jurors.  I think musically and lyrically it is a song that must be digested slowly, and thus it is not an easy pop song to grab hold to.

24. Serbia – Čaroban performed by Nina

😦  I’m disappointed.  This is a great song that had the chance to make a really big splash.  But, like Romania, Nina seems to have shot her wad in the Semi-Finals.  While this performance is still good, it’s not as electrifying and exciting as the one on Tuesday.  I am not quite sure where this one will fall on the scoreboard.

25. Georgia – One More Day performed by Eldrine

Whew, Sophio’s pitch throughout the first verse is quite flat.  That was alright.  Not as good as Tuesday, and it provided a bit of a flat ending to the show, though. It should have been a much more electrifying.  Oh well, Georgia will finish in the middle of the pack.

What is Anke wearing?!  It’s not bad, it’s just, different. Checking the clock now…whoa!  It’s already five!  This show is running long!  We’re about a half hour behind where we should be.  Listen to those crowd reactions during the recap, Switzerland and the UK have, by far, gotten the loudest cheers – discounting Germany of course.  Moldova and Ireland also got some noteworthy cheers.

My Top Ten on the Night My Predicted Top Ten
 1. Italy 1. United Kingdom*
 2. Switzerland  2. Sweden
 3. Bosnia & Herzegovina  3. Bosnia & Herzegovina
 4. Iceland  4. Switzerland
 5. Germany  5. France
 6. Russia  6. Estonia
 7. Moldova  7. Russia
 8. Estonia  8. Ireland
 9. Spain  9. Moldova
 10. Austria  10. Germany

*normally, I go on to predict further results, those I think will end up in the teens and those I think that will be at the bottom, but I just can’t do it this year, I think there are too many unknowns this year and that all the entries are just so close to one another in quality.

**whenever I change my prediction for winner (2008, 2010) my original guess wins.  So, I guess even though I think the UK will win, France or Sweden probably will because fate likes making me eat my words.

Interval Act: That was alright.  It seemed as if it was a little short.  And, apparently, it was, as Jon Ola Sand is not ready to authorize the hosts to start calling the participating countries to receive their votes.

Stalling for time….HAHAHA – Anke screwed up the line, twice.  I love how Stefan is using Te Deum to “tear down” the wall separating the stage from the green room. Oooh, they are keeping the Green Room open for the voting sequence, exciting!

The Voting Sequence!  This year, instead of randomly revealing the votes, they are arranged to help maximize the suspense of the voting sequence.

Russia – Dima Bilan!  Low points for UK, France, and Sweden.  Boos abound for Ukraine.  Hmmm, 12 points to AZR, I guess because Armenia wasn’t there and they hate Georgia.

Bulgaria – the UK’s first 12 of the night, and unexpected one from Bulgaria, that has to bode well for Blue’s chances.

The Netherlands – Denmark gets the Dutch twelve?  Whoa.

Italy – It’s been a long time since Rome has called in.  10 to UK and 12 to Romania?  Wow, I my mind is boggled.

Cyprus – I predict yet another 12 for Greece.  Yep…a let the boos reign down.

Ukraine – Ruslana!  Azerbaijan is doing much better than expected.  And an unexpected 12 to Georgia.

Finland – 12 to Hungary, which makes sense, given the Finns love of dance tracks.

Norway – no surprises here!

Armenia – Only ten for Georgia?  Without Israel around who gets the 12?  Oh, the Ukraine.

Macedonia – Do I hear a 12 for Serbia? Whoa!  Only 8.  Ah, that makes sense, 12 for BiH.

Iceland – no surprises.

Slovakia – yay!  The Swiss are saved from null pointes land.

United Kingdom – why no boos for the predictable 12 to Ireland?

Denmark – only 10 for Sweden, where do the 12 go? Ireland?!  boo

Austria – Only 10 for Germany, for who are the 12?  BiH?  That’s definitely a surprise!

Poland – Lithuania?  how random.

Sweden – ireland, eww.

San Marino – italy gets 12, of course

Germany – no surprises

AZR – Safura! nothing exciting here

Slovenia – that’s a new guy, equally as annoying, though.

Halfway point – Sweden is in the lead, Azerbaijan is surprisingly in the second, and Denmark is, inexplicitly, in third.

Turkey – Of course, 12 to AZR, but what about 8 and 10?  Georgia, no surprise.  BiH, no surprise.  12 to AZR, no surprise.

SUI – Wow, BiH just might pull this off!

Greece – 12 to France, beginning of a comeback or too little too late?

Georgia – Sophia! they always have such random points.

France – Spain gets 12 and France stays true to the alliance.

…I am preparing for my own Eurovision Party this evening, so I can’t comment on each country’s votes as they come up.  I am noticing Azerbaijan and Greece are both doing unexpectedly well and France is not.

Malta –This Contest is officially over, Azerbaijan has won.  Baku 2012!

With one country left, the Azerbaijani performers are just now freaking out and getting excited, apparently, while both seem to be music folks and know about languages, neither one seems to be good at math.  They won a long time ago.

Yay, Italy is welcomed back to the Contest with a second place finish!

Hmm…Nikki seemd to have grabbed the wrong flag.   I know Azerbaijan and Turkey are close, but gosh darn it!  Celebrate the victory for your country – the trophy that you are bringing to Azerbaijan.

Final Thoughts on the Grand Final:

So, a few things to note, this is only the sixth duo to win the Contest.  It will be the farthest east the Contest will have ever traveled.  Estonia and Hungary were stomped, and became this year’s favorites to be shown as drastically overrated.  France also proved itself to be quite overrated as well.  Two Big Four countries came in the Top Ten – Italy (2nd) and Germany (10th).  While this victory for Azerbaijan was completely unexpected by most folks out there (including me), I am very happy that an entry that was truly about the song (not it’s artists, not its performance, not even its historical significance) won.  It will help continue this trend of the ESC being about good music more than about being a good show – besides, when the music is good, the entertainment value follows.  Congrats Azerbaijan, I am sure you made many, many people very rich with your win tonight, as did Italy with its second placing.  I look forward to the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 – Baku (or any other city that might host it).  I guess this makes up for the Eurovision Dance Contest folding right before it was supposed to go to there.  I can’t help but think back to my thoughts before the Contest.  I genuinely think that Azerbaijan was probably second or third on both the juries’ list and the televoter’s list, that Sweden won the televote (but was ranked low with the juries) and that Italy won the juries (but was ranked low with televoters), and that Azerbaijan was able to split the difference and take the crown.  We’ll know for sure once they release the split votes next month.  Though, I guess that should be taken with a grain of salt, I was only 4/10 for the Top Ten and WAY off for the winner, though, I am pretty sure this is the worst I’ve ever done in predicting a Top Ten.

While I can’t say that Azerbaijan was my favorite entry, I am satisfied with the results.  Though, I am rather afraid of the kind of hate speech and ignorance that will be splashed all around the ESC fan sites by those who hate any country east of Germany not called Greece.  I am also very happy that Italy got second, hopefully it will continue on in the Contest.  I also think it is a good sign that Switzerland and Austria both made the Final, hopefully both of those countries will continue on as well (though, I don’t think the Swiss ever had plans of discontinuing participation).

Y’all can expect a final wrap-up article (“ESC2011- One Week Later”) sometime in the next week or so.  There I will have my thoughts regarding the finishing positions of the various countries, hand out my annual awards, and take a look forward to next year.


ESC2011: Notes on the Second Semi-Final

Eurovision 2011 – Düsseldorf

SECOND SEMI-FINAL 2!

Tuesday was a hoot!  While I don’t think that this year has presented songs as strong as the past few years, surprises and entertainment still abound!  Congratulations to Switzerland and Lithuania for making the Final, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if they made it on the backs of the juries.  The blogosphere is still rocking from the absence of Turkey, Norway, and (for the first time since it joined in 2006) Armenia in Saturday’s Final – better luck next year, y’all!

That is a point I want to make before the Semi-Final starts.  I think (and was thinking about this even before Tuesday) that this will be the first time since the new voting system was introduced in 2008 that there will be a strong discrepancy between the juries’ votes and the televotes.  I don’t know why, I just have a hunch.  Hopefully, I am wrong because any major discrepancy (for instance, if the two groups have different winners) might lead to a change in the voting system, which I think is really as good as it can get.  Only time will tell.

One more note, we have this year’s first controversy.  Five broadcasters (Armenia’s for sure and probably, Turkey’s, Norway’s, Poland’s, Albania’s, and Malta’s) have filed a grievance, saying that technical issues prevented many countries from casting votes throughout the first thirty minutes of Tuesday’s semi-final.

My final pre-show predictions.  I think the ten qualifiers will be: Estonia, Denmark, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Ukraine, Moldova, Israel, Sweden, Slovenia, Austria, Romania.  I think Israel almost has a free pass since it is being represented by a Contest icon.  Austria, like Lithuania and Switzerland, is jury fodder and will most likely woo the professionals enough to make it to Saturday.  I have a similar feeling about Slovenia.  I know Ireland is picked to do really well, but honestly, I have a really hard time believing that.  Sweden, who is a heavy favorite, has been having lots of technical issues in rehearsals, not to mention has a very taxing dance routine, so everything must work near-perfectly for it to move through.  The issue with starting voting at the very beginning is that people will vote based upon who they like without figuring in performance, so it almost defeats the purpose of having a televised show at all.  As always, the songs that are able to master the Contest as it is (and not as it should be, or was, or will be) are the ones that deserve to win.

So, onward with tonight’s semi-final!

Opening Act:

Hopefully, the opening banter will be better than on Tuesday – it is slightly better.  The comedienne’s outfit is much better, though.  And again the tv journalist lady is dressed beautifully.  Why is Stefan Raab there?  He adds nothing!

01. Bosnia and Herzegovina – Love in Rewind performed by Dino Merlin

Why is there no yellow in the BiH heart?  Why, oh why, do audiences never clap on beat?  I hope they don’t make it too difficult for the performers to stay together.  As someone who’s performed in front of 60,000 people clapping off-beat, it’s not easy to avoid being swept up in their wrong rhythm.  I really like this song!  I was weary given how awful his previous entry was, but I really, really, really like this – Go BiH!  And it was so beautifully staged – why is this not a bigger favorite than it is?  (Right now, I think it is supposed to be lower Top Ten – but it should be a contender for victory!)

02. Austria – The Secret is Love performed by Nadine Beiler

A capella!  Interesting, she didn’t start going off-key until after the music started – but she does have a really great voice.  I understand why the bookies (and probably the juries) like this, but I couldn’t imagine a slow song like this winning over many televoters.  This is nice; a really strong entry.  If this was the mid-90s, I would say that she absolutely had a chance of doing great!  But it’s not, so I think she should count herself lucky if she makes it to the Final, really lucky if she gets a finish in the top fifteen.

03. The Netherlands – Never Alone performed by 3JS

The 3JS are huge in the Netherlands, but have never done anything in English.  They should have stuck to Dutch; they just sound really nervous and I’m sure the language has something to do with it more so than the size of the audience.  In the end, I did really enjoy this entry, though I think, like most Dutch entries, it’s fairly forgettable.

04. Belgium – With Love performed by Witloof Bay

A capella!!!  I think the song is a bit corny, but they are definitely a great group.  The beatboxer is definitely awesome.  Fan reactions are so dubious, they cheer for everything, and the songs with the biggest reactions don’t always do well.  So it’s hard to really judge how well this entry will do, though, they are quite talented and the arrangement was pretty amazing.

05. Slovakia – I’m Still Alive performed by TWiiNS

I just want to point out that the drum beat we here was created by the Belgian beatboxer just moments earlier.  With a title like “I’m still alive,” one would think that this would be a high energy foot-stomper or a slow, somber song of survival; instead, it’s awkwardly between the two extremes.  I guess that’s the reason why this song has been under the radar…or is it because of the twins’ shaky vocals?  I think it is a pleasant enough entry, but I like it the least so far.

06. Ukraine – Angel performed by Mika Newton

Oh yes, this is the entry with the famed sand artist. She definitely adds a unique and intriguing element to the stage show – which is good because Mika’s vocals are a bit suspect.  I also like the fashion for this entry.  I really liked the music and the performance, but am lukewarm about the lyrics.  It’s an alright entry for me and may fall prey to the same wave that got typical qualifiers Armenia and Turkey.

07. Moldova – So Lucky performed by Zdob şi Zdub

diggiloo.net tells me that this song is in English, I don’t think I believe it.  The staging freaks me out, especially when juxtaposed against Ukraine’s.  I doubt any other act will be able to match their energy, though I am Eric Saade will try.  I definitely like the composition; this sounds like something from the mid-90s Ska-era.  I like it, but I don’t love it, though, I am really confident that this will move through to Saturday.

08. Sweden – Popular performed by Eric Saade

Here I am, thinking that Saade’s voice would have improved since last year when he perofrmed Manboy at Melodifestevalen, how disappointed I am.  And apparently, he is still mourning the loss of the Eurovision Dance Contest, as he seems to try to be bringing it to the ESC stage.  That’s interesting lighting choices, the last thirty seconds all you really see are shadows moving about, effectively hiding the thing that made him “popular” last year when giving the Swedish votes.  It was definitely an electrifying performance, but I think the song is generic and trite, not to mention “I will be popular” is not necessarily a line that will endear you to the hearts of the average middle schoolers who will be voting.

09. Cyprus – San Angelos S’Agapisa performed by Christos Mylordos

And now, a complete 180 degree turn from the last two entries, Cyprus brings a ethno-rock!  Actually, the song was better before the wailing lady and the rock riffs started.  I tend to love songs of heartache, but am underwhelmed by this act.  I think that the performance was good, but comes off a bit amateurish after Saade’s, though I like this song a lot more – and in the end, that’s what it’s all really about.

10. Bulgaria – Na Inat performed by Poli Genova

These last two acts are definitely much more in line with the ESC of the past few years, for better or for worse.  I like this, though, I don’t know how I feel about doing things “for spite.”  I definitely see how this song won the Bulgarian national selection, though, I do miss having the club anthem that the country typically sends.

11. Macedonia – Rusinka performed by Vlatko Ilievski

I thought his voice was strange because he was singing in English, nope, that’s just how he sounds.  And why have that English part?  It’s the only thing not in Macedonian.  Wouldn’t it have made much more sense to put it in Russian, particularly given the song’s story?  I like the staging of this song very much.  Once again, the Second Semi-Final is proving itself to be the stronger of the two – why is this the case year after year?  I like it a lot, but I don’t think it has a shot of moving through.  Also, I am pleased that Macedonia brought back its trademark “lai, lai, lai”s to its song this year; it has been too long since they’ve last sung those on the ESC stage.

12. Israel – Ding Dong performed by Dana International

Dana International is in an uncharacteristically subtle outfit.  Ding Dong is definitely no Diva, though I do really like this song.  It’s not as strong as I would have hoped it to be, in composition, lyrics, or performance – but it’s hard for me to think that Dana International won’t go through to the Final.

13. Slovenia – No One performed by Maja Keuc

The big note should have been bigger.  I would feel better about this song’s chances if the crowd reacted to that big note – but they didn’t.  Talk about a spiteful song, “No one will ever, ever touch you…” that cuts deep.  I think it was ably performed, but was it ably performed enough to get through?  Probably not.

14. Romania – Change performed by Hotel FM

Wow, yet another corny song.  Despite the lyrics…and the cheesy performance…and the shaky vocals, I like this song.  I think it’s terribly overrated, but I do indeed like it.

The advert break medley of ESC songs was alright, but still cheesy and over-the-top.  I guess the Germans really aren’t all that funny.

15. Estonia – Rockefeller Street performed by Getter Jaani

Oh yay! The magic hanky from Eesti Lauul, surely there’s going to be more tricks, as everyone expected that to happen (notice the lack of audience reaction to the trick).  I liked this song, certain parts more than others, but I am left with one question: Why is this song a favorite to win?  I wouldn’t even immediately predict to move through to the Final, let alone win.  Can you say: “Overrated?”

16. Belarus – I Love Belarus performed by Anastaiya Vinnikova

In a quintessential exercise of irony, I Love Belarus is sung entirely in English!  Belarus has its own language and Russian to choose from to show its patriotism, yet they choose English, a language I am pretty sure most of its residents don’t speak.  Apparently, this is popular at the Euro-club, which makes sense – it’s a vapid dance track – but it has zero chance of progressing through to the Final.

17. Latvia – Angel in Disguise performed by Mussiq

I am beginning to think that I could make a killing teaching English to Latvians; “Kill me with killer kiss” – seriously?!  You want to convince millions of Europeans from Iceland to Siberia to vote for you, and you come with “Kill me with killer kiss?”  Seriously?  The actual verses are much better, though I will say, this sounds more like a sex song than a love song (“Kill me with luscious thighs!”).  Despite the rapping, I am not quite sure why this song is not predicted to go through to the Final, it is certainly better than Denmark, Estonia, Moldova, and (presumably) Ireland.

18. Denmark – New Tomorrow performed by A Friend of London

If you’ve read anything I’ve posted about this year’s Danish entry, you’ll know that I don’t like this song at all.  I think it is corny and meant to appeal to four year olds.  I have no idea why this song is predicted to be Top Ten – and I consider Denmark to be my second home (after the USA of course!).  Once again, I am baffled by the popularity of a subpar Danish entry.  Where are the beach balls, that was the one cool effect that this song had at DMGP, and I only saw one – we were promised hundreds of balls bouncing around Espirit Arena, where are they?!

19. Ireland – Lipstick performed by Jedward

Continuing the stupid haircut portion of the show, the twins from Ireland take to the stage.  What are they wearing?  If it was anyone other than Jedward, than I would say this is a prime candidate for DEDF status (decent entry derailed by fashion).  Yes, I said “decent entry,” I actually don’t hate this song despite the fact that I think Jedward’s entry is a gag act (and yes, Latvia’s song is better than this).  You forget that these guys are 19, because looking at how they act, you think they’re more like 9.

My Top Ten on the Night Who I Think Will Progress on to the Final
1. Bosnia & Herzegovina Sweden (of course, and it has a good chance of winning)
2. The Netherlands Ireland (it didn’t suck and people already like Jedward)
3. Romania Austria (the juries will make their voices heard)
4. Moldova Moldova (they’re too crazy not to move through)
5. Austria Israel (it’s an ESC icon!)
6. Belgium Bosnia & Herzegovina (it’s an intensely popular song)
7. Ukraine Romania (it’s a catchy, feel good song)
8. Latvia Denmark (it’s inexplicitly popular despite controversy)
9. Slovenia Estonia (it’s inexplicitly popular)
10. Israel Latvia OR Slovenia (but not both)

Interval Act: I really enjoyed that.  Not quite as much as I did Cold Steel Drummers from Tuesday, but I enjoyed the dancers and their music.

The ten that actually made it to the Grand Final:

Estonia – of course, she’s a heavy favorite to win (I am 1 for 1 so far)

Romania – of course, it’s catchy and fun (2/2)

Moldova – of course, it’s fun gibberish! (3/3)

Ireland – of course, a big change from Tuesday when everyone was shocked by the first few winners announced (4/4)

Bosnia & Herzegovina (5/5)

Denmark – why?  why is this song so popular? (6/6)

Austria – yay, the jury has spoken! (7/7)

Ukraine – not too surprising given that’s its UKR and the amazing stage show (7/8)

Slovenia – awesome, let’s hope she’s even stronger on Saturday (8/9)

Sweden – of course, he’s another huge favorite to win (9/10)

Final Thoughts on the Second Semi-Final:

So, Dana International becomes the first winner to return to the Contest and fail to qualify for the Final.  It’s just as well, as she said so herself, she didn’t care about the competition this time around.  I don’t like the direction that the Contest will take if Sweden wins; however, I have to admit that it is the clear favorite to win in my eyes right now.  I would bet money that he won this semi-final.  Also, it’s a true shame that the Netherlands did not qualify, they had a great song with strong music and strong lyrics, but like most Dutch entries, it had an underwhelming stage show.  Finally, Slovenia, in my opinion, has all the makings of a dark horse candidate this year.  It has been fairly below the radar, yet it is a strong song with the potential of an even stronger performance.  Hopefully, Maja Keuc is up to the challenge.

Final Thought on the two semi-finals:

It once again seems that the Second Semi-Final had the stronger performers and more acts picked by fans and bookies to be successful.  This has happened every year the two semi-final system has been in use.  There has to be something that can be done about this, maybe waiting longer before assigning semi-finals (for instance, waiting until the March Heads of Delegation meetings, where they normally draw the running order).

There also seems to be a stark divide in entries this in the Final this year.  Of the twenty entries that have qualified from the Semi-Finals, seven (Sweden, Moldova, Estonia, Ireland, Georgia, Russia, and Hungary) seem to be weaker artistically speaking (music and lyrics) but appear to be designed to soak up televotes and win fans over.  Conversely, seven (Slovenia, Ukraine, Austria, Iceland, Switzerland, Lithuania, and Finland) seem to be meant more to appeal to juries.  Leaving the remaining six entries (Greece, Azerbaijan, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Denmark, and Romania) to either be crushed by both groups (particularly Greece and Romania) or to be able to split the difference (particularly Denmark and Bosnia & Herzegovina).  Either way, Saturday is up for grabs especially when you throw in additional favorites France and the UK, and the home field bump Germany will receive.  The official list of favorites to win on Saturday is: Sweden, Estonia, UK, France, Hungary.  Only one of those will continue the recent tradition of song-centered winners (France).  That’s not to say that the UK’s and Hungary’s entries aren’t song-focused, just not as much as France.  Furthermore, Estonia and Sweden are generic pop songs trying to win on performance alone, which was the problem with many of the Contests of the early 2000s.  But this is why they brought the juries back, to help deal with this problem (among others), so hopefully, they do their job!

**UPDATE: Bosnia & Herzegovina just pulled the second position for the Final on Saturday, so I am going to go ahead and say that it will not win.  Sorry Dino Merlin; it’s a shame because I really like that song.  Denmark got position three, not much better.  These were probably the two non-favorites that had the best shot of pulling off an upset victory, now that seems so much less likely.  In case you’re wondering why I’m saying this, no country has ever won from the second position…or the third.***