Live Commentary on the Night

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

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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!!

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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.