Posts tagged “grand final

Eurovision 2013 – Final Predictions!!!

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Here we are, less than one week out from the First Semi-Final!  With rehearsals in full swing, we are seeing some of the last throws of changes and adjustments ahead of next week’s shows. Below, I will be giving my final review and predictions for each entry – pulling in everything I know and have learned in terms of history, betting odds, and fan chatter.

I’ll give a brief review of every entry, then dive deeper into who I think will win.

Starting with the First Semi-Final:

Austrian Flag MapAustria – It’s a very pleasant song, but I do not think it will have a very lasting impact.  It may sneak into the Final, but it will not do anything once it gets there.

Estonia – This song has definitely grown on me since the first time I heard it.  It’s still quite dull, though, and will make zero impact on the night.  I fear that it will be struggling to avoid last place.

Slovenia – I love this song! And the fact that Hannah Mancini is American only makes me like it all that much more.  Unfortunately, there’s usually only room for one club track in ESC and Norway owns it this year. Even within its own semi-final, Slovenia is less memorable (and appears earlier than) Montenegro and will likely suffer because of it.

Croatia – Classy, simple, clean – it’s lovely.  It will garner points for being so culturally true, but it will suffer from beCroatian Flag Maping so early and so slow. Like Austria, I think it might sneak into the Final and then just sit there.

Denmark – This is the big favorite to win, I loved it since the first time I heard it at DMGP.  If this song is not in the Top Five, I would be shocked.

Russia – Dina Garipova has a beautiful voice, but this song is sooo bland.  It will do well given that its Russia and I wholeheartedly expect this to finish in the Top Ten.

Ukraine – I’ve said it before, the retooled version is miles better than the original, but it’s still a bit too theatrical, I think, to challenge for a win. I think being from the Ukraine will get the entry some points as will the sheer power of Zlata Ognevich’s voice. Unfortunately, the feedback from rehearsals is not good and her chances are sinking.

Dutch Flag CountryThe Netherlands – Anouk is a rather amazing performer and the chatter is that she is keeping her presentation simple, which is perfect for this song.  I think there’s a lot of positive buzz around this song but the Dutch’s stock seems to be dropping. I think she will qualify, but struggle to reach the Top Ten.

Montenegro – I’m still on the fence about this song, personally.  Depending on the mood of the voters, I think this could take the last qualifying spot away from Austria or Croatia.

Lithuania – The song doesn’t entirely make sense and it’s not very dynamic.  I think this will be challenging Estonia for last place on Tuesday.

Belarus – I think of this year’s 39 entries, Belarus’ stock dropping faster than anyone else. When Solayoh was revealed, it was immediately counted as a contender to win. Now, people think it will be lucky to qualify – which I think it will do as long as the presentation is decent.

Moldova – I think this is the most underrated entry – I think it’s captivating, well-sung, and not getting any bad press – look out! Moldova is up to big things!Irish Flag Map

Ireland – I think this is in a similar situation as Slovenia, except Ireland is a much more popular and successful country than Slovenia or Montenegro in ESC. I think that it will qualify for the Final, but not do too much after that.

Cyprus – Another one of my absolute favorites this year. But, like Estonia, I think it is a bit too dull to do anything.  I think it benefits from being expertly sung (particularly, following Ireland) but I do not think Serbian Flag MapDespina Olympiou’s fantastic vocals will be enough to bring success to Cyprus this year.

Belgium – This song gets better each time I hear it.  Unfortunately, viewers only have one time to listen and Roberto Bellarosa is not necessarily a great live singer.

Serbia – This song is a hot mess, and I think it’s stock is also headed in the wrong direction. It has all the makings of a dud.

Bottom Line: Who do I think will qualify?

-Denmark

-Russia

-Ukraine

-The Netherlands

-Ireland

-Austria

-Montenegro

-Croatia

-Belarus

Danish Flag Map-Moldova

I think Denmark is the only one from this bunch that can actually win.

Take a quick breath.  Ready?  Onward to Semi-Final Two.

Latvia – I never particularly cared for this song.  I recently looked up their other song from the Latvian, Sad Trumpet, it’s amazing, which makes me dislike this song even more.

San Marino – Already proving itself to be SM’s most popular entry, it scored a second placing in ESCToday/OGAE’s Annual Poll of Clubs.  I think this could surprise a lot of folks and finish Top Ten.

Macedonian Flag MapMacedonia – I love this song and do not understand why it’s being panned across the web. Anyway, I have very low expectations for this entry.

Azerbaijan – I think Azerbaijan’s weakest entry yet, but it will benefit from the fact that Turkey is not voting. They even released a Turkish language version (which is awful, by the way) in order to capitalize on the Turkish diaspora.

Finland – Like Belgium and Estonia, this song has definitely grown on me and she has a cult following across Europe. But, most Finnish entries seem to garner a cult following of some degree (I’m thinking of 2010, especially) and still not go anywhere. I’m thinking that this will qualify and finish mid-table.

Malta – I really like this, it’s adorable, genuine, and very sweet.  I do not think, though, that it will make a lasting impression on the night, but it could sneak through.

Bulgaria – Not as good as Voda, I think it will fall flat.Bulgarian Flag Country

Iceland – This song is a bit captivating and is generally well-received throughout the fan-sites.  I think it will qualify and has a chance to sneak up the scoreboard.

Greece – Great song! It will definitely qualify, but how will it do? I think it depends on the running order – if it’s surrounded by two ballads (like it is in the semi-final) I think it has a real shot of being Top Ten, otherwise, it will finish mid-table.

Israel – The question is, will the amazingness of this song be outweighed by the horrendous fashion and hairstyle?  Probably.

Armenian Flag MapArmenia – Meh. This song is decent, but still not great.  I do not think it will do that well, but may qualify on virtue of the fact that over half will move through.

Hungary – I really, really like this.  But it’s so soft I think that it will be loss among the shuffle.

Norway – This song is very different from the grand majority of ESC entries, which means that it will either be wildly successful or fail greatly. It has a lot of fan support and haunts you long after listening – it’s bound to do well.

Albania – This song seems to be fairly popular, but I do not know why.  It will benefit from being the only rock song in the Contest this year.

Georgia – “Eurovision by Numbers” is the phrase that everyone seems to be throwing around for this entry.  I agree, but I don’t mind – it’s a fantastic entry in my opinion and can challenge for the win.Swiss Flag County

Switzerland – I love this song but it seems to be getting mixed reviews. I think it’s just good enough to qualify (when was the last time the Dutch and the Swiss were in a Final together? 2003 I think).

Romania – Romania will be the next country with a 100% Final qualification rate to fall (as Turkey did in 2011 and Georgia did in 2012).

The Bottom Line: Who do I think will qualify?

-San Marino

-Azerbaijan

-Finland

-Iceland

-Greece

-Israel

-Norway

-Albania

-GeorgiaGeorgian Flag Map

-Switzerland

I think Georgia and Azerbaijan are the most serious contenders.

Whew!  Blink a few times – maybe take a sip of water – onward to the Final!!

France – I love! this song.  It’s great!  For some unknown reason, no one else seems to.  New French Flag MapI think with a really good presentation (Amandine Bourgeois alone on stage (the backing singers can be off-camera on the catwalk – like Sweden last year) with flames that grow higher throughout and begin to dance by the end), this song could be a dark horse.

Germany – I like this a lot, I wonder if Europe will get up and dance or be tired of all the club tracks between last year and this year. I think Cascada, on name alone, will be able to break the Top Ten.

Italy – In my opinion, this is the most overrated song this year. Everyone is talking about how much they love it and how great it is, but I do not see what separates this entry from Iceland or Israel (or even Cyprus and Estonia for that matter) – they’re all well sung ballads in my opinion. Expect it to fight with Georgia for jury points.

Spanish Flag MapSpain – I really like this entry, it’s really sweet and I love the Celtic sound (the band is from northern Spain, where Celtic Galician region is).  However, it will merely be a palate cleanser between whatever two song its performed between. I don’t think it will be last.

Sweden – I think this song has great potential, but I have yet to see Robin Stjernberg perform this song live well.  While the viewing public may not care as much, the juries will (remember Russia 2011?).

United Kingdom – I like it; it’s grown on me. Most of the comments I see and the betting odds all seem to have this song doing well (except for Britons, but after following the Contest since 2007, Briton Flag MapI do not think there is a single thing the BBC can do that won’t make British fans whine).

Bottom Line: Which of these six do I think can finish in the Top Ten?

-Italy

-Germany

So, who’s going to win?

I think there are only four legitimate contenders: Denmark, Italy, Georgia, and Azerbaijan.

Danish Flag MapDenmark – the big favorite among the fans and the bookies – by a country mile!  This song’s biggest challenge is whether it can withstand being in a field of 26 others. If this song is stuck in the first half of the Grand Final, then it can sink.  It’s a great song, but it doesn’t leave a lasting impression; if it’s mixed with other pleasant entries (like Switzerland, the UK, Spain) or more memorable entries (like Ukraine or Norway) then it will be forgotten by the average viewer.Italian Flag Map

Italy – perceived, by just about everyone, as the strongest ballad in the field this year.  If Marco Mengoni has to worry about Eythor Ingi (Iceland) being within close range, then I he’ll also have to worry about losing votes to him.  The two songs are similar in appearance, tone, and mood and can split votes, resulting in lower placings for both of them.

Georgian Flag MapGeorgia – a powerful, stirring ballad that represents one of the best efforts of ESC legend Thomas G:son.  Conversely, the drawback from of having a renowned ESC composer writing for you – all his songs have a similar sound and put this song at risk of sounding generic.

Azerbaijan – Turkey is not competing, leaving Europe’s biggest diaspora up for grabs and ripe for the picking for mini-Turkey:Azerbaijani Flag Map Azerbaijan.  Everything about this entry is average – thehttps://eurovisionobsession.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=608&action=edit singing, the lyrics, the music; I also doubt Azerbaijan wants to host again so quickly after last year’s Contest.

I stick by my prediction from a few weeks ago, Denmark and Georgia will be battling it out for victory.

Be sure to check back on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday when I will be posting my annual live notes! Every year, I take notes as I am watching the Semi-Finals and Grand Final and post them here for your reading pleasure!  The shows occur at 3PM here, so I have to watch the semi-finals later in the day (hence why the notes are posted the following day). I will try to keep my Grand Final notes on here live this year after Twitter failed me last year – so be sure to check back in on Saturday!

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Eurovision 2013 – Big 5, Sweden, & Predictions!

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And we have reached the conclusion of our five-part series previewing the 39 entries to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.  For those who may  have missed it, each day this week, I looked at one half or each semi-final.  Find those articles here: First Semi-final: first half, second half; Second Semi-Final: first half, second half. Today, I turn my focus to the six automatic qualifiers – the Big Five (France, Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, and Germany) and Sweden, our host and defending champion.

France L’Enfer et Moi (Hell and Me) performed by Amandine BourgeoisNew French Flag Map

I rather like this song!  The lyrics are unexpected and tell a story of a painful, unhealthy love (think Bad Romance) that is poignantly performed.  The composition also fits it perfectly, always steadily driving forward, pushing the song further and further to the edge until it boils over. I have high hopes for this!

German Flag MapGermany Glorious performed by Cascada

How disappointing!  It’s a decent song, but I’ve come to expect so much more from Cascada.  I hate to say this, but I think Cascada will demonstrate why international mega stars, who are currently still relevant all around the globe (not just Europe), do not take part in ESC.  I think they will fail to reach the Top Ten. I don’t think they will embarrass themselves, I just don’t think they’ll do that well.

Italy L’Essenziale (The Essential) performed by Marco MengoniItalian Flag Map

So, after two years of reaching the Top Ten with remarkably popular jazz songs, Italy tries it hand at submitting a desperate, pop ballad.  It works, it really does.  I think if Megoni can win San Remo with this, he has a strong chance of taking ESC as well (lest we forget that San Remo was the contest upon which ESC was based).  Oh!  What if he actually was crying by the end of the song – that would better his edge!  Expect this song to do well!

Spanish Flag MapSpain Contigo Hasta El Final (With You Until the End) performed by El Sueño de Morfeo

What a pretty, sweet song.  It’s so nice!  It kind of reminds me of POR2009 – just a sweet, innocent song that makes one want to fall in love.  I think this will, like POR2009, finish in the middle of the pack.  It’s just not quite dynamic enough.

Sweden You performed by Robin StjernbergSwedish Flag Map

Meh.  The live version of this song leaves much to be desired and the studio version is marginally better.  This song has a lot of wow potential, particularly with all those extended notes throughout the refrain.  Who knows, with its favorable spot in the running order (16th) perhaps he will have an amazing performance the night of the Grand Final and surprise me (but I doubt it).  Next year we will not be in Sweden.

Briton Flag MapUnited Kingdom Believe in Me performed by Bonnie Tyler

If one old legend doesn’t work, try another!  That seems to be the BBC’s logic in choosing Bonnie Tyler after Englebert Humperdinck flopped last year.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Love Will Set You Free, but Europe did not.  I fear this song will have the same fate.  Though, with the fact that the Swedes will personally assign each song in the running order (except their own), the Britons will take a year off from whining about Eastern Europe and turn their ire northward, like in the olden days of the Contest!  I think this song is nice, but it doesn’t make a big impact and it’s vaguely reminiscent of late 80s/early 90s music (go figure!).

So, what do I think of the Automatic Qualifiers?

My Order of Preference How I think the final scorecard will look
France Sweden*
Spain Germany+
Italy Italy
United Kingdom France
Germany Spain
Sweden United Kingdom

*Who I think will definitely be Top Ten
+Who I think may be Top Ten depending on the strength of the Semi-Final qualifiers

So, what does all of this mean?

For the first time since 2008, none of the Big 5 are favored to win, or even be in the Top Five (as far as I know). In 2009, the UK was supposed to be tops, 2010 was to belong to Germany, France was to win in 2011 but only after defeating the UK and a strong German effort, and all were thought to be in the mix last year.  In my opinion, Sweden has the best chances of a Top Ten finish this year with Germany not too far behind.  Italy tends to do rather well, particularly since it’s rejoined the Contest, but I would expect a sub-10 finish this year.  While I love the French entry, I don’t think Europe will.  And the UK has little chances given the slower speed of the song and age of the performer.

So, how will they fare amongst the 20 entries I predicted would be in the Grand Final?Swiss Flag County

My Order of Preference How I think the final scorecard will look
Switzerland Denmark
The Netherlands Azerbaijan
Norway Norway
Moldova Moldova
France Georgia
Denmark Greece
Israel Russia
Hungary Ukraine
Azerbaijan Sweden
Greece Ireland
Georgia Germany
Ireland Switzerland
Austria Israel
Spain Italy
Malta The Netherlands
Cyprus Spain
Italy Austria
Bulgaria Armenia
Belarus France
United Kingdom Belarus
Germany Malta
Sweden Cyprus
Russia Bulgaria
Ukraine Serbia
Serbia Hungary
Armenia United Kingdom

Please note:Danish Flag Map

1.) These are based on my first listens and opinions.  The next round of predictions will have a bit more research to back them up.  This is also my first attempt to predict the final position of each entry this far in advance!

2.) As I said in January, I think Only Teardrops has the potential to win, and, honestly, is one of the best Danish entries in a long time in my opinion.  Even though I think the Netherlands and Switzerland should be duking it out for the top spot, I’m not foolish enough to think either country will win.  Both will be happy just to make it to the Grand Final and avoid last place.

3.) I don’t trust, nor can I predict, the Swedish producers.  When the running order was random, every entry had an equal chance of a crappy starting position or a great one, now, that’s not the case.  The Swedish producers will be deciding the running order and it is impossible for me to guess their prejudices, production opinions, and objectives for the show.  I say this because, despite how much SVT and the EBU deny it, running order drastically affects how an entry finishes on the scorecard.  Hopefully, next year, the EBU returns to randomized running orders.

This concludes my five-part series previewing the 39 entries to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.  The Heads of Delegations meeting was this past week, so I will have a post hitting some of the main points from that meeting tomorrow!


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.


ESC2011: Notes on the Grand Final

Eurovision Song Contest 2011: Düsseldorf

The Grand Final!!!

After a very eventful year, in which we saw one of the most active Supervisors step down, a new Supervisor be appointed, the return four countries to the Contest – including Italy!, and the fielding of a record-tying 43 entries, and two winners coming returning with the hopes of being the next Johnny Logan, the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2011 is here, live from Düsseldorf, Germany!

Looking at the running order, it looks as if most of the favorites to win (Estonia, Sweden, France, even Ireland and Hungary) fall in the first half of the running order.  Which doesn’t necessarily spell doom – except for dark horse candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina who landed in the deadly number two spot, but it does give a bolster to the United Kingdom, the only favorite to fall after the halfway point (it’s number 14).  Additionally, Austria (#18) and Serbia (#24), both of which have been picking up steam since qualifying, could benefit the most from the running order and both may end up surprising a lot of fans throughout Europe.  After consulting the blogosphere, reviewing history, and watching the recap of songs from the second dress rehearsal, I think this year’s winner will be either Sweden or France.  I think the rest of the Top Ten will include UK, Ireland, Estonia, Denmark, Austria, Serbia, Germany, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

I have this feeling, and I’ve had since even before the semi-finals just from looking at fan sites and bookies, that this year will be the first in which the juries and the televoters disagree.  This will mean one of three things will happen.  1) The televoters’ favorite will win, leaving those who prefer juries outraged.  They will most likely shout something about how the winner is of low quality or something like that.  2) The juries’ favorite will win, leaving conspiracy theorists and teenyboppers whining about the Contest being rigged or some other nonsense like that.  3) The juries’ favorite and the televoters’ will cancel each other out and an entry that received a top five placing on both lists will come out the winner.  Resulting in no one being happy or satisfied – except those of us who like the 50/50 system and realized this is exactly the sort of thing that’s supposed to happen with it.

And now, it’s 3 PM on the East Coast (that’s 17:00 CET) and the Grand Final is beginning!!!  Onward to the show!

Opening Act: Hosts!  Where’s the reprise of Satellite?  We were promised Stefan Raab’s band reprising the song on Lena’s behalf!  Oh, here it is.  Hmmm….I’ll bet you anything that the producers had to talk Raab out of wearing his gold outfit from 2000.  The German’s really don’t do humor all that well (though, tonight was better than the other two nights), but they have picked up Big Band quite well.  I love the flags on stage!!!  LENA!  I didn’t think she would be allowed to open the show since she’s also a competitor. HA!  It’s a good thing I don’t get seizures.  That was quite a fun opening, yay!  It puts Satellite in a whole new context, it was great!

It always gives me chills to think that hundreds of millions of folks are watching this along with me, all throughout Europe, and all throughout the world.  I love it!

01. Finland – Da Da Dam performed by Paradise Oskar

I love how volatile the crowd is in the arena – they’re singing along!  In my notes for the Second Semi-Final, I remarked on how the crowd might make it hard for BiH to stay on beat.  An article posted this morning on eurovision.tv confirmed this with the artist’s own words.  The solution was for Dino Merlin to wear two ear pieces instead of just one, I see Paradise Oskar has decided to do the same.  This was quite a pleasant way to start off the Contest.  The crowd obviously loved it and the singer also seemed to enjoy himself, I hope he places well.

02. Bosnia & Herzegovina – Love in Rewind performed by Dino Merlin

Awesome!  Minus the miscued clapping at the end.  I absolutely love this song!  It sucks that its second in the running order and not twenty-second, then it could actually stand a chance of winning.  I hope that he is at least able to pull off a Top Ten finish.

03. Denmark – New Tomorrow performed by A Friend in London

I guess the event crew said no to the ball idea.  Having just one is quite lamed compared to the bunches they had at DMGP, especially since that one ball fell to the ground.  He also took a different route back to the stage then he used on Thursday, was that a security issue or did he just forget which catwalk he was supposed to use?  It was alright, not as good as Thursday, but it will still do respectable – but it definitely leaves the door open for someone to nab its Top Ten spot.

04. Lithuania – C’est Ma Vie performed by Evelina Sašenko

I am assuming she is using Estonian sign language, or is that English Sign Language as well?  Sašenko’s voice is definitely stronger now than it was on Tuesday.  I always love it when the performers improve from semi-final to final, it’s just great!  Go Lithuania, go!

05. Hungary – What About My Dreams? performed by Kati Wolf

Better than Tuesday, but still not all that great on stage.  I think that she will end up in the mid-teens – people will vote because it’s an awesome club track, but her weak vocals will hamper Hungary’s chances of returning to the Top Ten.

06. Ireland – Lipstick performed by Jedward

Having gone back and watched the music video for this song, and paying more attention to the LED show, I realized something.  This goes beyond the normal gag act.  It goes beyond the normal desire to just bring ridiculousness to the ESC stage.  This whole entry isn’t about humor and fun, it’s about Jedward.  The whole point of this is to bring more attention to the twins; it’s a self-glorifying and pompous entry.  I hope it fails.

07. Sweden – Popular performed by Eric Saade

I don’t like this song anymore than I like Lipstick, but at least this entry is about the performance and the Contest, not the artist himself.  Saade, who generally has very weak vocals, is much sounding much better than he did on Thursday and when he was in Melodifestivalen.  Honestly, they still mistimed the breaking glass?  Why didn’t he just bring the demolition team with him from Stockholm?  I, personally, don’t think that was a winning performance – but hey, I said that three years about Russia and had to eat my words.   Either way, Sweden will do very well despite their position in the running order.

08. Estonia – Rockerfeller Street performed by Geeter Jaani

Come on Jaani, I know you have a magician in your delegation; now prove that he is worth the money that y’all are paying him – I want to see more tricks and illusions than we did on Thursday!  Grrr….lazy illusionist.  Jaani definitely sounded better than she did two days ago, but I am still disappointed with this performance on a whole.

09. Greece – Watch My Dance performed by Loucas Yiorkas featuring Stereo Mike

I am still in disbelief that this was able to win the Greek national selection.  I really like the staging of this entry, but I still don’t get it.  I think this song could really have been so much better.  Oh well, it’s Greece, so I’m sure it will still get plenty of points (and I know one country that will definitely be giving it 12 points), though, I don’t think that it will achieve a Top Ten placing.

10. Russia – Get You performed by Alexey Vorobyov

Wow, much better than Tuesday!  Oh, that was great!  And loved the flip and the how the lights on their backs spelt out Alex.  I think Mr. Vorobyov just bought himself a place in the Top Ten.

11. France – Sognu performed by Amaury Vassili

Another favorite takes the stage.  It’s funny, because this isn’t a song that particularly strikes someone as something that could Eurovision, regardless of what era of the Contest we’re talking about.  But it’s impeccably arranged, except the ending, which was just awkward.  Hmm….I’m not feeling too strong about this one either.  Let’s see what the rest of the night has to offer.

12. Italy – Madness of Love performed by Raphael Gualazzi

AMAZING!  I literally got chills from that performance!!!  I’m speechless.  Why is this not a favorite to win the Contest.

13. Switzerland – In Love for Awhile performed by Anna Rossinelli

Her voice is a thousand times clearer, stronger, and more accurate than it was on Tuesday.  The Swiss are in it to win it!  While I don’t think the Helvetica Confederation will be hosting the Contest again next year, I think they are definitely showing some real signs of fight this year, more so than in years past, despite the fact that the Swiss has been sending its best performers to the last few Contests.

14. United Kingdom – I Can performed by Blue

The screens with their faces are a little much, don’t you think?  Are they trying to prove they’re still attractive despite their age?  I don’t know if this entry is all that much different than Sweden’s.  The choreography and staging isn’t as strong, but the vocals are many times better.  Despite my love for Italy and Switzerland, I think this was really the first performance that could win on the night.  The test is to see whether Moldova’s ADHD performance can erase Blue’s memory or not.

15. Moldova – So Lucky performed by Zdob şi Zdub

I absolutely love the horns in this song.  Interesting, the outrageousness of this song serves almost like a palate cleanser.  It will most likely overpower any lingering thoughts and reflections about the preceding acts (who should all thank their lucky stars that voting goes throughout all the performances) and reset folks for the remaining ten.  I still liket his song, but think that Zdob şi Zdub will be unable to repeat their success.

16. Germany – Taken by a Stranger performed by Lena

I loved the postcard, and how it focused on the hosts.  Why would people compare this to Satellite, they’re two completely different songs, though I think both are perfect for Lena.  Satellite was the perfect song for the young, bright-eyed girl she was last year and Taken by a Stranger is the perfect song the mature, alluring young woman she is now.  I LOVED THAT ENDING!  The shattering lights into sparks, the intersecting spotlights, that sexy look at the end.  GREAT!  Not Johnny Logan great, but Carola great – I think Lena will definitely find herself in the Top Ten.

17. Romania – Change performed by Hotel FM

While many performers are better in the Final, some are better in the Semi-Final – Hotel FM falls into this latter category.  I don’t know if they were nervous following the host country (which can definitely be intimidating), or if they were afraid Taken by a Stranger would make Change seem unsophisticated and immature in comparison (which it does), if they are just tired and fatigued from the endless rehearsals, or have spent too much time at the EuroClub – but the vocals were weak (not bad, just weak) and Romania will find itself outside the Top Ten once again.

18. Austria – The Secret is Love performed by Nadine Beiler

Beiler’s voice is definitely better tonight which should make her entry seem even stronger when juxtaposed against the preceding act (sorry Romania).  If this was the early 90s, I would say that we just witnessed a winning performance.  For better or worse, it is not the early 90s, and thus, this song will probably not win.  But I think Beiler and her backing singers have done Austria proud and will get at least a respectable placing.

19. Azerbaijan – Running Scared performed by Ell/Nikki

Ell and Nikki are fighting to avoid becoming AZR’s first entry to fall outside of the Top Ten, which they are in danger of doing given the strength of the favorites and the surprise success stories (SUI, AUS, etc…).  I like this song and the fact that AZR continually brings the most American sounding entry, year after year.  But I don’t know if this song, let alone the performance, is strong enough to carry the Land of Fire into the Top Ten.

20. Slovenia – No One performed by Maja Keuc

This song could definitely benefit from its running order position.  Her voice is so much stronger than it was on Thursday, though I wonder if this song would be even more effective if she had performed the original Slovene version Vanijia.  I thought it was a well-done performance but it’s impossible to predict where she will fall when the dust settles.

Hmm, the voting numbers…I have vague memories regarding Italy, Ireland, Sweden, and Bosnia & Herzegovina.  The rest are quite fuzzy.

21. Iceland – Coming Home performed by Sjonni’s Friends

This is one of those songs that make you feel good as you listen to it, but leaves you as soon as the song is over.  I think this song will fall to the bottom of the scoreboard, even though it deserves to be in the Top Ten.

22. Spain – Que me quiten lo bailo – They can’t take the fun away from me performed by Lucía Pérez

And the children’s hit parade continues…like Denmark’s song, the Spanish entry sounds like something you would sing with four year olds.  Though, I find this entry much less annoying than the Danish one, in fact, it’s somewhat enjoyable.  Though, I would have thought there would be more color and dancing and a party atmosphere on stage, so I was a bit disappointed with the staging.  Expect another middle of the pack finish for the Spanish.

23. Ukraine – Angel performed by Mika Newton

Technical difficulties?  Or were they just late in getting the sand table out on stage?  Ten to one, the table was positioned incorrectly and the aerial camera was not picking it up.  Newton’s voice was many times better tonight than it was on Thursday.  Ukraine will probably find itself outside of the Top Ten because I think this song is just too…difficult…for most people and jurors.  I think musically and lyrically it is a song that must be digested slowly, and thus it is not an easy pop song to grab hold to.

24. Serbia – Čaroban performed by Nina

😦  I’m disappointed.  This is a great song that had the chance to make a really big splash.  But, like Romania, Nina seems to have shot her wad in the Semi-Finals.  While this performance is still good, it’s not as electrifying and exciting as the one on Tuesday.  I am not quite sure where this one will fall on the scoreboard.

25. Georgia – One More Day performed by Eldrine

Whew, Sophio’s pitch throughout the first verse is quite flat.  That was alright.  Not as good as Tuesday, and it provided a bit of a flat ending to the show, though. It should have been a much more electrifying.  Oh well, Georgia will finish in the middle of the pack.

What is Anke wearing?!  It’s not bad, it’s just, different. Checking the clock now…whoa!  It’s already five!  This show is running long!  We’re about a half hour behind where we should be.  Listen to those crowd reactions during the recap, Switzerland and the UK have, by far, gotten the loudest cheers – discounting Germany of course.  Moldova and Ireland also got some noteworthy cheers.

My Top Ten on the Night My Predicted Top Ten
 1. Italy 1. United Kingdom*
 2. Switzerland  2. Sweden
 3. Bosnia & Herzegovina  3. Bosnia & Herzegovina
 4. Iceland  4. Switzerland
 5. Germany  5. France
 6. Russia  6. Estonia
 7. Moldova  7. Russia
 8. Estonia  8. Ireland
 9. Spain  9. Moldova
 10. Austria  10. Germany

*normally, I go on to predict further results, those I think will end up in the teens and those I think that will be at the bottom, but I just can’t do it this year, I think there are too many unknowns this year and that all the entries are just so close to one another in quality.

**whenever I change my prediction for winner (2008, 2010) my original guess wins.  So, I guess even though I think the UK will win, France or Sweden probably will because fate likes making me eat my words.

Interval Act: That was alright.  It seemed as if it was a little short.  And, apparently, it was, as Jon Ola Sand is not ready to authorize the hosts to start calling the participating countries to receive their votes.

Stalling for time….HAHAHA – Anke screwed up the line, twice.  I love how Stefan is using Te Deum to “tear down” the wall separating the stage from the green room. Oooh, they are keeping the Green Room open for the voting sequence, exciting!

The Voting Sequence!  This year, instead of randomly revealing the votes, they are arranged to help maximize the suspense of the voting sequence.

Russia – Dima Bilan!  Low points for UK, France, and Sweden.  Boos abound for Ukraine.  Hmmm, 12 points to AZR, I guess because Armenia wasn’t there and they hate Georgia.

Bulgaria – the UK’s first 12 of the night, and unexpected one from Bulgaria, that has to bode well for Blue’s chances.

The Netherlands – Denmark gets the Dutch twelve?  Whoa.

Italy – It’s been a long time since Rome has called in.  10 to UK and 12 to Romania?  Wow, I my mind is boggled.

Cyprus – I predict yet another 12 for Greece.  Yep…a let the boos reign down.

Ukraine – Ruslana!  Azerbaijan is doing much better than expected.  And an unexpected 12 to Georgia.

Finland – 12 to Hungary, which makes sense, given the Finns love of dance tracks.

Norway – no surprises here!

Armenia – Only ten for Georgia?  Without Israel around who gets the 12?  Oh, the Ukraine.

Macedonia – Do I hear a 12 for Serbia? Whoa!  Only 8.  Ah, that makes sense, 12 for BiH.

Iceland – no surprises.

Slovakia – yay!  The Swiss are saved from null pointes land.

United Kingdom – why no boos for the predictable 12 to Ireland?

Denmark – only 10 for Sweden, where do the 12 go? Ireland?!  boo

Austria – Only 10 for Germany, for who are the 12?  BiH?  That’s definitely a surprise!

Poland – Lithuania?  how random.

Sweden – ireland, eww.

San Marino – italy gets 12, of course

Germany – no surprises

AZR – Safura! nothing exciting here

Slovenia – that’s a new guy, equally as annoying, though.

Halfway point – Sweden is in the lead, Azerbaijan is surprisingly in the second, and Denmark is, inexplicitly, in third.

Turkey – Of course, 12 to AZR, but what about 8 and 10?  Georgia, no surprise.  BiH, no surprise.  12 to AZR, no surprise.

SUI – Wow, BiH just might pull this off!

Greece – 12 to France, beginning of a comeback or too little too late?

Georgia – Sophia! they always have such random points.

France – Spain gets 12 and France stays true to the alliance.

…I am preparing for my own Eurovision Party this evening, so I can’t comment on each country’s votes as they come up.  I am noticing Azerbaijan and Greece are both doing unexpectedly well and France is not.

Malta –This Contest is officially over, Azerbaijan has won.  Baku 2012!

With one country left, the Azerbaijani performers are just now freaking out and getting excited, apparently, while both seem to be music folks and know about languages, neither one seems to be good at math.  They won a long time ago.

Yay, Italy is welcomed back to the Contest with a second place finish!

Hmm…Nikki seemd to have grabbed the wrong flag.   I know Azerbaijan and Turkey are close, but gosh darn it!  Celebrate the victory for your country – the trophy that you are bringing to Azerbaijan.

Final Thoughts on the Grand Final:

So, a few things to note, this is only the sixth duo to win the Contest.  It will be the farthest east the Contest will have ever traveled.  Estonia and Hungary were stomped, and became this year’s favorites to be shown as drastically overrated.  France also proved itself to be quite overrated as well.  Two Big Four countries came in the Top Ten – Italy (2nd) and Germany (10th).  While this victory for Azerbaijan was completely unexpected by most folks out there (including me), I am very happy that an entry that was truly about the song (not it’s artists, not its performance, not even its historical significance) won.  It will help continue this trend of the ESC being about good music more than about being a good show – besides, when the music is good, the entertainment value follows.  Congrats Azerbaijan, I am sure you made many, many people very rich with your win tonight, as did Italy with its second placing.  I look forward to the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 – Baku (or any other city that might host it).  I guess this makes up for the Eurovision Dance Contest folding right before it was supposed to go to there.  I can’t help but think back to my thoughts before the Contest.  I genuinely think that Azerbaijan was probably second or third on both the juries’ list and the televoter’s list, that Sweden won the televote (but was ranked low with the juries) and that Italy won the juries (but was ranked low with televoters), and that Azerbaijan was able to split the difference and take the crown.  We’ll know for sure once they release the split votes next month.  Though, I guess that should be taken with a grain of salt, I was only 4/10 for the Top Ten and WAY off for the winner, though, I am pretty sure this is the worst I’ve ever done in predicting a Top Ten.

While I can’t say that Azerbaijan was my favorite entry, I am satisfied with the results.  Though, I am rather afraid of the kind of hate speech and ignorance that will be splashed all around the ESC fan sites by those who hate any country east of Germany not called Greece.  I am also very happy that Italy got second, hopefully it will continue on in the Contest.  I also think it is a good sign that Switzerland and Austria both made the Final, hopefully both of those countries will continue on as well (though, I don’t think the Swiss ever had plans of discontinuing participation).

Y’all can expect a final wrap-up article (“ESC2011- One Week Later”) sometime in the next week or so.  There I will have my thoughts regarding the finishing positions of the various countries, hand out my annual awards, and take a look forward to next year.