Posts tagged “bosnia & herzegovina

Playlist of the Week: Eurovision for Break-Ups

Hello Dear Readers!

I thought this week, I would try something different. Instead of the usual twenty song playlist, I decided to craft two ten-song playlists – one for the heartbroken and one for heartbreakers. It’s no secret that Eurovision is full of love songs, but there are also quite a few anti-love songs. Here are twenty on both sides of the equation that I think are worth a listen. As a reminder, these songs come from the Televoting Era (1998 – onwards) with focus on recent years.

Songs for the Heartbroken

It’s never fun to be dumped — unless you can turn that pain into a successful song at Eurovision! These songs capture the anguish, remorse, loss, and pain that the end of a relationship can bring.


Find the playlist here: Eurovision for the Heartbroken

  1. DenmarkDenmark 2012 – Should’ve Known Better performed by Soluna Somay
  2. Serbia 2008 – Oro performed by Jelena Tomašević
  3. Cyprus 2010 – Life Looks Better in Spring performed by Jon Lilygreen and the Islanders
  4. Iceland 2009 – Is it True? performed by Yohanna
  5. Bosnia & Herzegovina 2007 – Rijeka Bez Imena performed by Maria
  6. GreeceGreece 2015 – One Last Breath performed by Maria Elena Kyriakou
  7. Sweden 2004 – It Hurts performed by Lena Philipsson
  8. Russia 2010 – Lost & Forgotten performed by Peter Nalitch and Friends
  9. France 2009 – S’Il Fallait le Faire performed by Patricia Kaas
  10. Serbia & Montenegro 2004 – Lane Moje performed by Željko Joksimović

Honorable Mention: United Kingdom 2002, Portugal 2003, Slovenia 2006, Serbia 2012, Cyprus 2015, Montenegro 2015

Eurovision for Heartbreakers

Not every relationship ends in despair, in fact, oftentimes, one person is happy that the relationship is over. Sometimes their emotions can be joy, relief, excitement — just happy to be free of a bad relationship. These songs are for those who are feeling great to be single.


Find the playlist here: Eurovision for Heartbreakers

  1. GermanyGermany 2015 – Black Smoke performed by Ann Sophie
  2. Slovenia 2005 – Stop performed by Omar Naber
  3. Cyprus 2007 – Comme Çi, Comme Ça performed by Evridiki
  4. Italy 2012 – L’Amore È Femmina (Out of Love) performed by Nina Zilli
  5. Macedonia 2005 – Make My Day performed by Martin Vučić
  6. Slovenia 2011 – No One performed by Maja Keuc
  7. BelarusBelarus 2014 – Cheesecake performed by Teo
  8. Lithuania 2007 – Love or Leave performed by 4Fun
  9. Belgium 2013 – Love Kills performed by Roberto Bellarosa
  10. Denmark 2014 – Only Teardrops performed by Emmelie de Forest

Honorable Mention: Andorra 2006, Ukraine 2008, Denmark 2009, Poland 2011, Israel 2014, Estonia 2015

Fun Facts

  • Ballads of heartbreak and sadness are most known for coming from the former Yugoslav countries, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia.Serbia Furthermore, one man, Željko Joksimović is behind some of the most famous and successful entries for these countries as composer and occasional performer:
    • 2004 – he performed Lane Moje, he won the semi-final but ultimately finished second
    • 2006 – he composed Lejla, which Hari Mata Hari performed for Bosnia & Herzegovina. This is not only my favorite ESC song ever, but its third place is the best BiH finish to date.
    • 2008 – in addition to hosting, he composed Serbia’s title defense effort Oro, finishing sixth.
    • 2012 – his triumphant return as a performed, he performed his self-composed entry Nije Ljubav Stvar, finishing in third place.
    • 2015 – he composed the Montengrin entry Adio, which only finished 13th, but is only the second Grand Final qualifier for Montenegro, and its highest ever finish.
  • As female-led songs become more popular, we’ll see more and more heartbreaker songs.
  • Interestingly enough, songs on both sides of the break-up spectrum range in tempo and tone.

The most recent previous list: Eurovision for Rockers
Next week: Eurovision for Baladeers

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RtD14: Looking Back at Bosnia & Herzegovina

And we keep moving on!  Next stop – Bosnia & Herzegovina…aka Bosna i Hercegovina…aka BiH – home to my all-time favorite ESC entry (2006’s Lejla) as well as some of my favorites over the span of this retrospective. As you can see in the table below, there are no real low points (except for this year since they did not enter anything) but a few high ones.

BiH

Click for Full Size

Bosnian Flag Map2007 – Rijeka bez Imena – This is the song that inspired me to learn Serbo-Croatian.  It is amazing – Maria’s heartbreak overwhelms the listener and you have no choice but to mourn along with her – and that’s without understanding the lyrics!  Once you translate them into English, you get words of desolated anguish.  For example “Unfaithful sorrow/I would still go anywhere for you/May this pain bind to soul, for I am dying for you” – seriously, moving stuff!

2008 – Pokušaj – A fun song, though a bit nonsensical.  I’m not quite sure why this song was successful, but hey, the masses seemed to enjoy it.  The staging was high energy and captured the mood of the song quite well.

2009 – Bistra Voda – A slow march that still stands out as one of the most unique and powerful compositions in recent years.  Regina brought a whole different sound to the Contest – a rock march that perfectly fit the song (hmmm…I’m noticing a pattern here).  The Bosnian entries, in my opinion, tend to be well composed, and this one is up there as one its best.

2010 – Thunder and Lightning – A rare English language entry from BiH.  It’s also one of its rare duds.  The song has never really done much for me.  If it means anything, the most compelling thing, to me, about this entry is that Vukasin Brajić is a school teacher and I could imagine how excited his students must have been to watch him on television.

2011 – Love in Rewind – On the opposite end of the awesome spectrum, you have this masterpiece from Dino Merlin, who not only competed previously for BiH, but also wrote its original national anthem – now that’s the guy I want representing me!  This song is fun, but the lyrics go deeper – it’s about an older couple looking at the past, recognizing that their time here is drawing to a close.  Beautifully done!

2012 – Korake Ja Znam – Back to the beautiful Bosnian language.  While the song is well composed, ably performed, and possesses a heartfelt sentiment – it’s just a bit drab.  Artistically, it’s a masterpiece, entertainment-wise….not so much.  But Maya Star gave it her all and left a positive taste in everyone’s mouth as we wait for BiH to return to the ESC.

Let’s Take a Closer Look At: Bosnia & HerzegovinaBosnia and Herzegovina 2009.  I’ve talked a lot about the composition – and it was awesome, it even won the Composers Marcel Bezeçon Award – but let’s look at the lyrics.  “Give birth to me at dawn in May/Bathe me in the clear water/I guard one world, when all others leave/I guard you as long as I’m alive.”  So, to the casual reader, those lyrics may seem a bit…silly.  But let’s keep in mind that the lyricist has told us that it’s a song or reminiscing about love and the illusions to better days gone by elsewhere in the song, and these lyrics make so much more sense.  May is the month most closely associated with the season of spring, which represents new life and happiness.  “Bathe me” in other words – fully envelope me, in the “clear waters” of those better days of life and happiness.  “Guard” is synonymous with “hold” – so he’s saying that he is holding on to “one world” (i.e., the past) despite the fact the rest of the world has carried on (“when all others leave”).  He does this because it’s a way how he shows his love – whom he’ll hold for all of his days.

Such a lovely song!

What do you think?  Do you think “Clear Water” sounds more like muddy puddles?  Do you absolutely love the storm brought forth by Thunder & Lightning, or do you think it’s more of a drizzle?  Leave a comment below!

For the previous stops on the Road to Denmark 2014, click here.  Check back tomorrow for our next stop: Bulgaria.


ESC 2012 – Two Weeks Later

Howdy All!

I was hoping to publish this last week, but decided to wait to see if the EBU would release the split jury/televoting results.  They have yet to do so and I have grown tired of waiting.  If there’s anything significant, you can expect another post!

 

Best Dressed

Winner: France

A beautiful dress that I thought was used brilliantly throughout the performance, particularly when the wind machine was used.

Second Place: Serbia

Not just Joksimović, but the whole ensemble was dressed splendidly.

Third Place: Portugal

I like her dress; I don’t care what others think.

Honorable Mention: Bosnia & Herzgovina, Azerbaijan, Romania

 

Most In Need of Costume Change

Winner: Ireland

Really, really, do I need to explain this decision?

Second Place: Switzerland

There clothes were not too bad, but their hair was horrendous.

Third Place: Italy

I didn’t much care for her dress or her shoes, or the combination of the two items.

Honorable Mention: Belarus, Denmark, San Marino

 

Best Lyrics:

Winner: Bosnia & Herzegovina

“Nemoj mi kvariti dan, nikad mi nije bilo teže/Ti nisi živio sam u zlatu paukove mreže/Kao ja…Korake ti znam”

The lyrics tell a story of woman trying to salvage a relationship.  The tale that unfolds in the lyrics really draws you in.  Bravo!

Second Place: Spain

“Perdóname si no supe amarte, amor/No era mío el corazón/Quédate conmigo, quédate conmigo/Si no estás, no sale el sol”

Talk about trying to salvage a relationship, Quédate Conmigo poignantly captures the desperation one feels as you try to keep your love from walking away.

Third Place: Azerbaijan

“But I still wanna keep us alive/But it’s cold, cold, cold, cold when the music dies /t’s all black and white and there’s no sunrise/When the music dies”

Completing the pattern is a third song about a woman trying to save a relationship.  I love this song because of how final the lyrics are, the singer knows she’s at the end of line this is her final effort.  Also, the use of repetition is highly effective, as each time “cold” is sung it becomes more emphatic, more desperate.

Honorable Mention: Iceland, Macedonia, Finland

 

“Huh?” Award: given to the country the most questionable, lazy, or just plain nonsensical lyrics.

Winner: Russia

“Kırdžjalom žon-žon-žon, ektom mi kuaž-kuaž alji/Kırdžjalom žon-žon-žon, ektom mi kuaž-kuaž alji/Party for Everybody – Dance!”

The lyrics are rather repetitive, both the refrain and the actual stanzas.

Second Place: Ukraine

“You can be my guest!/People, be my/Guest!/Welcome People!/Na na, na na…”

Gaitana stated that she likes to write simple lyrics so that everyone can understand them.  Mission Accomplished.

Third Place: San Marino

“Oh oh, ooh oh oh…/Everybody loves you so/Ooh ooh, ooh oh oh…/Everybody lets you know/Do you wanna be more than just a friend?”

Arguably, it can be said that this was a satirical song.  However, I’m surprised that it was allowed to be performed given how many sexual references were littered throughout it.

Honorable Mention: Montenegro, Georgia, Switzerland

 

“Spirit of ABBA” Award: Give to the stereotypical ESC entry

Winner: Latvia

Mindless pop music – check.  Simple lyrics – check.  Unbelievably catchy tune – check.  Yep, this passes all the tests of standard schlager.  Congratulation Anmary of Latvia!

Second Place: Serbia

Returning Serbia to its roots, Joksimović crafted a beautiful ballad of heartbreak that the region has become known for.

Third Place: United Kingdom

Eurovision, past, present, and future, has truly always been about the ballads.  And the UK brought a strong one this year, definitely in line with a lot of what has been successful on the ESC stage through history.

Honorable Mention: Romania, Malta, Russia

 

“This is DC calling” Award: Given to the most American sounding entry

Winner: Slovakia

Normally, upon playing entries for friends, one is bound to hear comparisons between it and the American music market.  This year, only one elicited an immediate response in this vein – Slovakia.

Second Place: Norway

From the presentation to the costuming to the composition itself, this sounds like something that could easily have been produced in New York or LA.

Third Place: Cyprus

The first time I heard this song, I couldn’t help but think of Rihanna.  I think that fact that Cypriots went completely with dance music and forewent any ethno-undertones also contributed to this award.

Honorable Mention: Romania, Germany, Denmark

 

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

Winner: Cyprus

Because Americans love dance tracks, particularly ones that are still pop-y enough to receive a lot of radio airplay.

Second Place: Austria

Because Americans love anything imploring them to shake their booty.

Third Place: Germany

Because it’s an unexpected, anti-love ballad, Loeb looks and sounds like your standard indie-pop artist, and the song is catchy enough to have wide-appeal.

Honorable Mention: Italy, France, Hungary, United Kingdom

 

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

 

Winning Moment: Iceland finishing 20th

This, in my opinion, should have been vying for victory.  It was an amazing performance of an amazing composition with amazing lyrics.  Of all the entries this year, this one, I think, had the best combination of parts.

 

Second Place: United Kingdom getting second to last place

This was an amazing ballad, well-deserving of a spot in the Top Ten.  It’s a downright shame that this entry faired so poorly.

 

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

 

10. United Kingdom – A wonderful ballad performed by a legend

9. Iceland – A powerful song of lost love

8. Israel – Fun, catchy, and quirky

7. Norway – Great to sing along to!

6. Belarus – This song really grew on me once I looked up the lyrics

5. Italy – The song is dynamic and exciting; not to mention it keeps jazz relevant at the Contest

4. Sweden – An emotional and haunting song, truly beautiful

3. Spain – An impassioned ballad that truly connects the listener to the singer’s pain

2. Cyprus – Fun, catchy, and easy to sing along – and dance – to

1. France – My favorite entry despite the performance on Saturday night because of the lyrics, the music, the originality of the composition; I love Anggun’s voice on this track and love how all the various elements of the song come together as one.

 

Final Thoughts

First and foremost, kudos to Azerbaijan for a job well done!  I was pleasantly surprised by how well the event went.  Even though they did run over on the Final, I thought the pacing of the performances was great.  I enjoyed the postcards (even if they were a bit repetitive) and the interval acts.

Unlike the last couple of years, I do not have any major complaints or qualms about how things ultimately went down and have not seen too much backlash.  Should Norway have been last, probably not, but hey – they’ve done it more than anyone else, so it’s not very surprising.  Did a few songs outperform where they should have ended up, yes.  Did a few songs score lower than they deserved, yes.  Was there any outrageous placements, not really.  2012 was a year with minimal controversy.  I think it’s also worth noting that the Greeks have finally fallen from grace; for the first time since 2003, the Hellenic Republic has fallen outside the Top Ten.  I wonder if this is a reflection of Europe growing tired of them sending the same song every year (I doubt that) or more a reflection of the strength of competition this time around (much more likely).

Overall, a good (but not great) year for the ESC.  There were strong entries that were beautiful examples of artistry and there were entries meant more for entertainment purposes.  The entirety of the Big Five seem to be taking the Contest very seriously and are seeing the fruits of their labor.  In fact, just about every country seems to be taking it seriously, and those that don’t seem to be competing with gag entries that actually stand a chance of doing well.  Overall, I’m pleased with the outcome as well as the trend that Sweden’s victory sets.  Serious entries with heartfelt performances are still winning and the results are diverse enough that no one can complain of bloc voting.  Of the Top Ten, three were from the former USSR, one was Nordic, and one was Yugoslavian (the three blocs considered to be the most powerful).  Of the remaining five, three hailed from Western Europe, one was Turkey, and one was a country with one of the most unremarkable ESC records out there (Albania).  While I don’t think this Contest was particularly historic, I do think it will be remembered as one of the smoothest and least controversial ones to date.


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.