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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
5. United Kingdom
8. Bosnia & Herzegovina
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:
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.
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.
- Albania – let’s see – 12 to Greece, no surprise there.
- Montenegro – absolutely no surprises there
- Romania – 12 to Moldova, right? yep
- Austria – hmm, interesting votes, Albania and Serbia getting big points. 12 to Sweden – bound to become a refrain tonight, I think.
- Ukraine – only 10 to Russia? 12 to Azerbaijan, not expected, but not surprising.
- Belarus – Lots of love for Azerbaijan so far. No surprise. Sweden still has a twelve point lead, though.
- Belgium – ooh, Normally the Belgians give 12 to Turkey, so I think I will call it for Sweden right now.
- Azerbaijan – 8 to Malta, what?! no surprise for the 12 points. Iceland, Norway, and Denmark are all sitting there without any points.
- 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.
- San Marino – whoa! Italy only gets 7 points! 23 to Albania? that’s different and highly unexpected.
- 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.
- 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 …)
- 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.
- 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.
- Bosnia & Herzegovina – ooh, only 10 to Serbia, 12 to Macedonia (ok, that’s not surprising)
- Moldova – Oriental? She must not know the meaning of that word. And the duel between Serbia and Azerbaijan for third place continues.
- Bulgaria – hmm, Serbia, interesting.
- Switzerland – another wild card country. Who knows where their top points will end up.
- Slovenia – Iceland is rescued from null-points land!
- 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.
- 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.
- Slovakia – another wildcard country gives their 12 to Sweden.
- FYR Macedonia – ooh, only ten for Serbia. Ah, not too surprising, 12 for Albania.
- The Netherlands – no surprises Sweden hits 200 points.
- Portugal – no points for the Swedes.
- Iceland – And Denmark is saved from null-point land. Cyprus and Estonia getting big points from Iceland? What! Madness.
- 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.
- Norway – Serbia is getting a lot of love from unexpected places.
- Lithuania – only 6 for Russia. Ooh, 12 for our hosts, Azerbaijan.
- Estonia – Shocked, only 3 for LIT, 2 for Denmark, none for Norway – and the UK is last?! What is going on?
- Denmark – No points for Norway? Craziness!
- Ireland – where’s Ireland?
- Latvia – No surprises. Russia breaks 200.
- Spain – 12 to Romania, I bet you! Whoops, only ten! I guess 12 for Sweden? Yep.
- Finland – Mr. Lordi surely is a ham, ain’t he. 12 to Sweden.
- Georgia – Sweden tops 300! Another surprise 12 from Georgia, this time to Lithuania.
- Italy – Albania is doing really well!
- Serbia – Even Serbia is giving points to Sweden!
- Germany – was that just a warning to Azerbaijan? About Europe watching it? Serbia cracks 200.
- Russia – no surprises
- Hungary – no surprises at this point
- Israel – no real surprises.
- 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:
12. Romania (Romania and Macedonia tied, but Romania places higher after the tie-break procedure is implemented)
15. Ukraine (Ukraine and Cyprus tied, but Ukraine places higher after the tie-break procedure is implemented)
18. Bosnia & Herzegovina
25. United Kingdom
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.