Posts tagged “live notes

Eurovision Song… Celebration – Part Two

Hello Dear Readers!

Here we are! Eurovision Song Celebration Part Two! Celebrating the remaining the twenty-one songs of the 2020 Contest. Once again, I’ll be providing live commentary since I’ve not had occasion to release my thoughts on the songs previously. Like on Tuesday, my comments are below the video.

Greek flag mapGreece I think this is a serviceable pop song, definitely hearkens back Greece’s heyday in the 2000s. It definitely would have qualified but I’m not sure it would have been enough to restore Greece to the Top Ten.

Estonia I think this song is critically underrated. It is a powerful love song that I would happily have a first dance to. I am not quite sure why the fandom does not like this song, but I think it would definitely outperform expectations, though, likely would not have qualified.

Austria One of my favorites this year! I love the 90s R&B sound of this song and I think Vincent Bueno would have been a fantastic performer on the ESC stage. I look forward to seeing what he brings in 2021. I think this had a strong chance of qualifying, particularly with the large diasporas from Southeast Asian countries that would get behind him.

Moldova Another criminally underrated entry from this year. I think the overwhelming consensus is that this song is fine, but desperately average (think Cyprus from Tuesday night). I think this song is fantastic – engaging, interesting, and powerful. Unfortunately, I know I’m in the minority holding that opinion, so I do not think it would qualify.

Sammarinese flag mapSan Marino This is an interesting choice for the running order. But given how unique this song is (disco! likely a stage show with lots of glitter), it was probably difficult to find a place in the running order for it. For what it’s worth, this song really grew on me. Longtime readers will know that, in addition to Denmark, San Marino is my country of choice at Eurovision. Initially, I hated Freaky! but over the course of the past six weeks or so, I have just been utterly taken over by its infectious melody and refrain. Could have been a borderline qualifier for SM, which would be its first back-to-back qualification.

Interval — Ukraine was only 50% not English. Portugal 2017 was one of only three 100% non-English songs to win in the televoting era (Israel 1998 and Serbia 2007). With that said, generally speaking, the non-English to English ratio of songs in the Top Ten and qualifications tend to be representative. I really do love hearing these native language versions of songs and wish broadcasters made it a habit of recording and releasing the native language version when the song is in English/some other language.

Czech Republic I believe I am one of the three people in the fandom who think the song was improved by its “Africa” revamp that added more guitar and adjusted the instrumentation overall. I think it gives the song a bit more of an authentic feel and I hope he further embraces his Angolan roots in his song next year. The African diaspora is quite large. Not sure if this would qualify, especially coming after the glitter bomb that is San Marino and before the ball of female fury that is Serbia, but I think it would sneak through.

Serbia On the opposite side of the revamp spectrum, the revamp of Hasta la Vista is not as strong as the original. Not that it matters as I think would be a shoo-in qualifier. It’s memorable, it’s fierce, and all the girls (and gay bois) would send this through.

Poland One of my favorites this year. It is such a powerful song with a powerful message. It reminds me of the Shelley poem “Ozymandias” – basically, no matter how strong, how invincible, how beloved, we all fade away. This song goes the extra mile to highlight that we fall because of our hubris – we think we’re unstoppable, but we’re merely mortal. Do hate the revamped ending, it’s lame and takes away from the song, especially since she’s not the strongest live performer. I’m not sure what to make of Poland’s chances of qualification.

Iceland You don’t need me to tell you how popular Iceland is – y’all voted it the champion of EO’s inaugural Eurovision Tournament! I love this song, one of my absolute favorites this year and I think it had a very legitimate chance at victory. I wonder if RÚV is paying attention to all the love Think About Things is getting; the band has already said that they would take a direct ticket to Eurovision next year, but would not go through thr national selection process again, so, we’ll see.

Switzerland WHOA! This was one of the big favorites and it is the first song of the back half. Interesting choice, producers. This is my favorite song this year. By a lot. It’s so vulnerable, so honest, so different than anything else this year. With that said, I do not think it would win, but it would have secured Switzerland its first back-to-back Top Ten finishes since the early 1980s.

Interval If you haven’t watched the Eurovision Home Concerts, I would STRONGLY recommend it. They’re fantastic. Also, I love that they used Stand By, my favorite Sammarinese song, for Senhit’s background music.

Denmark The only folksy/country song this year. That automatically helps it stand out, even though it sounds like something from the early 2010s. I like this song quite a bit; it’s just so adorable and earnest. And Ben + Tan have great chemistry together. It breaks my heart that they won’t be able to return next year (DR very strictly uses Dansk Melodi Grand Prix to choose entries and winners of DMGP have to wait like three years or so before they’re allowed back in). I think this would have been another sure qualifier.

Albanian flag mapAlbania RTVSh – don’t think we didn’t notice that you released this music video, like, yesterday in order to have this out for the Celebration. I like this song for a lot of the same reasons I like Poland – it is a powerful song with a powerful message – this time about self-empowerment in the face of someone who is emotionally abusive. While I think this should be an easy qualifier, I’m not sure it would stand out without a stage show that matched its intensity.

Finland Another criminally underrated song. It’s the perfect anthem for the age of nostalgia that we find ourselves in – even more so as this pandemic has forced us to start thinking about our own mortality and futures. I cannot help but wonder how people would feel if he was a conventionally-attractive guy as opposed to bigger guy with a bad mustache. He sings with such power, emotion, and authenticity. I think it could have been a shock qualifier, but not sure it would have the juice to do so, particularly in this running order – with Albania hitting a lot of the same (figurative) notes and Armenia coming behind with what was sure to be a stunning stage show.

Armenia The more I hear this song, the more I think it would finish Top Ten. It is criminally infectious, they would surely have an insane dance routine that likely would have included Athena walking several boys on chains made from diamonds, and it’s one of the few true club tracks songs we have this year. And, again, who doesn’t like a song about a girl threatening a boy with marriage?

Portugal Oh, poor Portugal. This national final performance is both, flat in pitch and flat in emotionality. Which is a shame, I think the studio version of this entry is absolutely stunning. I just think Elisa has the stage presence to compete on the ESC stage, which makes it difficult to succeed – even more so when you have a ballad that requires a lot of power behind it.

Georgia I try my best to avoid speaking when I have nothing nice to say…but…I am not a fan of this song. I understand that it’s a big “F* YOU!” to Western Europe, which I understand and can see why that is message that needs sending. But I just don’t this song at all. The most positive thing I think to say is that the harmonies on the chorus are really stirring and powerful. When it appears on my playlist, I just skip to the last sixty seconds and enjoy it from there. This would likely qualify given that this is a sentiment felt across most of Eastern Europe and Georgia has Armenia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Poland, Albania, Latvia, Estonia, and the Czech Republic to support it in its message – not to mention the diasporas of those countries in the West.

Bulgaria The big favorite of the bookies. It was the selection of this song that knocked Iceland off the top of the betting odds. VICTORIA definitely captures that Billie Eilish bedroom-dream-pop sound that’s quite popular right now, but is somehow more genuine than her more famous counterpart. Now, do I like this as much as I do its nearest competitor (Romania)? No. But it’s a good song and I see why it was atop the betting odds. I think it’s an easy qualifier, not sure it could win.

Latvian flag mapLatvia Our final competitive song for Semi2, an anthem about throwing off the shackles of expectations of womanhood overtop a sick beat. Yeah, I cannot imagine a world where this does not qualify.

France Ugh. I want to like song but dear God does it drone on. I like it better in the original, where it’s a love song to France and not to a specific lady. While likely not a last place entry, France would have dropped to the bottom of the Big Five.

United Kingdom An average song. It’s in offensive and would likely secure a decent amount of 1-4 points splattered from across Europe (mostly from Ireland, Malta, Cyprus, and Australia – but, you know). Here’s the thing, James Newman has written several hits and has two Grammy nominations. That’s the kind of stuff he needs to bring, not this neutered stuff. In all likelihood, the BBC will bring him back next year. They need to set him loose to write a song that could actually do something.

Spain This is another wasted opportunity, I think. He’s one of Spain’s biggest stars and they send him with a (good but) dated tune. It’s okay to give him something dated, but you got to make sure it slaps, and this does not. I know this is already somewhat club-track-esque, next year send him something that we could hear playing in the clubs tonight! They can keep this style while still kicking the composition up a notch….or three.

Another great show! Again, LOVE the fan recap. Is there a way to find the full version of those three girls doing the Latvian song?

Looking back, if this were a competitive show, who do I think would qualify?

Easily:

  • Greece

  • Iceland

  • Switzerland

  • Denmark

  • Armenia

  • Latvia

  • Bulgaria

More difficult: I honestly think just about every remaining entry has a legitimate shot at qualifying, but, if push came to shove:

  • Serbia

  • Poland

  • Georgia

I would prefer to see some other songs in there instead, but I think this is the most likely set of qualifiers. But what are my top ten from tonight? I’m glad you asked.

  1. Switzerland

  2. Poland

  3. Latvia

  4. Austria

  5. Iceland

  6. Denmark

  7. Albania

  8. Moldova

  9. San Marino

  10. Armenia

Now that we have heard all 41 songs in context, what is my final Top Ten of the Eurovision 2020 Season. Good question! I’ll figure this out while I’m calculating a winner from among the some of the major fan media polls.

OH! I’m going to be compiling seven of the biggest fan media polls that offered alternatives to the ESC this year, including Eurostream, Eurovision Online, WiwiBloggs, and OGAE. Check back next week (assuming everyone gets their results in by Sunday) to find out who I would crown the unofficial ESC 2020 winner.

In the meantime, what are my predictions? I think the Top Ten, remembering that this is a compilation of fan polls not the actual Contest with full professional juries and casual folks, will be:

  • Armenia

  • Australia

  • Germany

  • Iceland

  • Italy

  • Lithuania

  • Malta

  • Russia

  • Sweden

  • Switzerland

Who do I think has an actual chance at victory? I do not think it will be any surprise: Iceland, Lithuania, and Bulgaria are the three songs I think have the best chance at victory. A real hot take, I know. So, I won’t waste your time going through each song’s merits at this point other than – these seem to be the three most beloved songs of 2020.

See you next week!

EO logo with the Bulgarian flag

EO logo with Icelandic flag

EO logo with Lithuanian flag


Eurovision Song… Celebration – Part One!

Hello Dear Readers!

In addition to Saturday’s Europe Shine a Light that will be celebrating the Contest, the EBU has put together Eurovision Song Celebration to specifically celebrate the 41 entries from this year. Tonight (Tuesday, 12 May – the date the first semi-final was supposed to happen) were the 17 songs of the first semi-final and the three automatic qualifiers who were going to vote (Germany, Italy, The Netherlands). The video is below. Beneath of that, I have crafted live notes for y’all! Enjoy and see you Thursday!

Eurovision Song Celebration 2020 – Part One (instead of Semi-Final One)

I guess I never did get the chance to review each song. So, I’ll do that here.

Swedish flag mapSweden This sounds like it was written by somebody who learned about American soul music and gospel through reading books. It hits all the right beats, and they’re voices and choreography are on point, but this song just feels kinda empty, yet still has that smugness we all associate with Swedish entries. Clearly, this would have qualified easily.

Belarus A deeply underrated song dragged down because the performers are clearly having a very good time but not in “a cool way” so folks overlook it. Personally, I think this could have shocked us all by qualifying (much like Belarus did last year).

Australia SBS is one of the two broadcasters (NDR – Germany – being the other) that promised to reveal what the ESC staging would have looked like. I look forward to that as the national final staging was good for Australia, but would need to be stronger and clown-free for the ESC stage. Love this song otherwise; I’m a big fan of indie music and this perfectly captures where that genre is in contemporary times. I think Oz would have continued its 100% qualification streak.

North Macedonia The fandom is comparing this song to Dance Alone (N Mak 2017), a song with a lot of love and hype but fell flat in Kyiv. Do I think North Macedonia learned its lesson that an average dance song requires a staging that matches its energy? Yes. Do I think it would be enough to qualify? Naw.

Slovenia While this song has grown on me over the course of the Eurovision season, it is still overwhelmingly dull. By far, the weakest entry this year. Which is a shame because her voice is stunning. Hopefully, things will be better next year.

LOVE genre changing. Is it me or are the Russian, Belarussian, and Croatian remixes bops? It’s probably just my Americanism showing, but bluegrass is nice.

lithuanian flag map

Lithuania Perhaps this year’s most overrated entry. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s an inventive, intriguing song. And I like the message that being in one’s 30s doesn’t make one over the hill. I just do not quite understand the craze around this entry – is it just because of the dance?

Ireland Since this song was meant to be a Pride anthem, I’m going to use this opportunity to be catty. OMG a song about being *unique* and *individualized* done in the most cookie-cutter of approaches. Instead of singing about so-called authenticity, just be authentic! This would have finished 11th or 12th in the semi-final.

Russia The first time I saw this, I was already angry that it took so long for Channel One to release the song. And then I watched the music video. My jaw dropped – what is this madness?! Now, okay, I do love this song. So infectious; a gimmicky entry that doesn’t take itself seriously. Definitely would have qualified.

flag map of belgiumBelgium That gave me a bit of whiplash, are there two entries more different this year than Russia and Belgium? I also grew into loving this entry. It’s so mournful and passionate and slowly builds over time. It would have qualified on the backs of the juries.

Malta This gets right everything Sweden gets wrong. It’s contemporary soul-pop. Destiny has one of the most soulful voices I’ve ever heard this side of the Atlantic. Not to mention maintains the inspirational message that is generalizable for everyone, not just those in relationships. I think this song is clearly about finding one’s faith, but it is vague enough to get past the EBU censors. Can’t wait to see Destiny become the first JESC champion to win the adult version. It may not have been with this song, but she will be! All of My Love would also be a shoo-in for the Grand Final.

Croatia Hmm, this song is quite pleasant but not very remarkable. The club mix from earlier would have given this a much better chance at making an impact. Again, I don’t dislike the song, it’s just kinda – meh. Would not have qualified.

Azerbaijan For all the attention and love this song has been getting, I’m not sure it is as strong as it seems. It wouldn’t be the first Azerbaijani entry to have the love of the fandom and failed to qualify. Not saying it would, I think this would make the Final, but I don’t think it is as strong as people think it is. Still waiting for the Senhit demo to appear online.

Cyprus Our second American! With that said, this is a bit of a tedious track. I think it was aiming for that 90s trance-pop sound, but did not go far enough. So, it just has a dated sound that makes it melt into the background. Would have been left behind in the semis.

Norway A strong contender for the winner of the juries. It is a deeply impactful song that is well-sung with a memorable staging effect. I think it is a standard ballad, but is elevated by Ulrikke’s performance.

Israel Love that we get a new language added to the Eurovision family – Amharic. This song is so much fun and can put a smile on anyone’s face. Alene is also a captivating performer. I think it would have qualified.romanian flag map

Romania Not quite sure why Bulgaria is getting all the love while Romania is being mostly ignored. I like this because I like the contemporary sound and it is fun to sing along to. Though, I do hate the term “fake news” – that is likely due to my country’s current political situation. Likely would have qualified.

Ukraine Love folk infused contemporary entries. You can dance to this. You can sing along to it. You can just listen in awe. I wonder, though, if it has enough wide appeal to get it through. Poland tried an entry like this last year and landed just shy of qualifying, I feel like this could have done the same – breaking Ukraine’s 100% qualification streak.

Italy Another quintessentially Italian song from Italy. Is this song captivating? Yes. Are the lyrics describing the fact that one’s hometown will always be in your heart regardless of where you go relatable and painfully relevant? Yes. Is the composition radio-ready and stirring? Yes. Will this have been yet another Top Ten finish for Italy? Yes. Does this song excite or interest me? Not really.

Dutch Flag MapGermany Germany really swung for the fences with this c. 2010s club thumper. It is so much fun to sing and dance too, but a bit too dated to achieve the results that NDR was hoping for. I think it would have finished mid-table in the Grand Final.

The Netherlands Another strong ballad that would have challenged the likes of Italy and Norway for the top spot of the juries. I hate the way how this song abruptly ends. I do think, though, that the televote would have dragged it down to around 11~13th place.

 

I love the fan recap! Probably for the best that we don’t have to hear them sing, though that would be fun.

What a fun show!

 

Looking back, if this were a competitive event, I would predict the following qualifiers:

  • Sweden

  • Belarus

  • Australia

  • Lithuania

  • Russia

  • Belgium

  • Malta

  • Norway

  • Israel

  • Romania

My instincts are telling me that Azerbaijan and Ukraine would both progress at the expense of Belarus and Belgium. HOWEVER, every year there are always a few shock qualifiers for each semi-final, why would 2020 have been any different.

Of these 20 songs, what are my personal top ten?

  1. Malta

  2. Russia

  3. The Netherlands

  4. Australia

  5. Belgium

  6. Romania

  7. Germany

  8. Israel

  9. Norway

  10. Ukraine


Eurovision 2019 – Grand Final Live Notes!

Hello Dear Readers!

The time is finally here – the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019!!! I cannot believe it and I am beyond excited – as I am sure all of you are. Thank you for joining me for these live notes, it is always nice knowing that there are others watching with me (or, at least, reading them afterwards).

As I mentioned earlier today, my prediction for tonight’s winner is The Netherlands. And my prediction for the full Top Ten is:

  1. The Netherlands

  2. Switzerland

  3. Australia

  4. Italy

  5. Sweden

  6. Iceland

  7. Malta

  8. Russia

  9. Norway

  10. Serbia

And my prediction for last place is: Germany. As with the semi-finals, this may change after seeing all twenty six songs tonight. And, before the show kicks off, I want to let everyone know that I will be featured on KUSH 1600AM at 8am US Central Time on Monday (20 May) (of Cushing, Oklahoma, USA) and joining the EuroWhat? Podcast this upcoming week to talk with Ben and Mike about this year’s results!

And, with that, we now have the beginning of the Grand Final. Let’s watch, shall we – here we go!

Opening Act

Oh, wow, I enjoy this little opening video with Jon Ola Sand and Netta. The parade of nations is a lot of fun. Diva!!!! Woohoo! Winner twenty years ago and the first to win with the televote. For those who do not know, this is Ilanit singing Ey Sham – the first ever Eurovision entry from Israel back in 1973. And now Golden Boy from 2015. Anyone who remembers this song had to expect it to be here tonight. I do enjoy how KAN (the brand name of the host broadcast IPBC) is interweaving history and old clips throughout the shows.

HERE WE GO!

Malta: Not as strong vocally as Thursday, but much better energy. I think enough to land it in the Top Ten.

Albania: Again, I love her dress. And WOW – her vocals are so much stronger than on Monday. Not sure if this is enough to get Top Ten, but she will probably do better than expected.

Czech Republic: So much fun! You can tell they are having a great time up there. Still going to finish mid-table, I think, but they’re going to be remembered for a while as one of the most fun entries to the Contest.

Germany: I missed most of it due to technical difficulties. But what I heard was great! I still don’t know if this song is all that popular, but they should be proud of what they accomplished.

Russia: He sounds miles better than he did on Thursday…for the most part. But this is song and staging are both much weaker than his previous entry and this year presents many more challenges.

Denmark: So much fun. And we know children’s songs do well. And she sounds better than Thursday; less lost on the big stage. Is it enough to finish higher than 14th? Probably not.

San Marino: We know that I am a shill for all things San Marino. Serhat sounds miles better than on Tuesday. Several friends are pointing out to me that they may be going for the “so bad it’s good” vote. You cannot deny that this song is pure energy

North Macedonia: She’s going for tears, but it just makes her voice sound wonky. But, the power of her voice is still unquestioned. This song, it’s so deep and she is conveying the passion she’s feeling behind it so thoroughly. Oh my goodness, I don’t think this could be any better.

Sweden: Another performance, another easy Top Ten for the Swedes. I still do not think this will win, but it’s going to do very well.

Slovenia: Sounding a bit off tonight. I originally had this finishing around eleventh. But I’m thinking it’s going to be lower than that with this performance.

Cyprus: Unpopular opinion: This song will not finish on left-hand side of the scoreboard. It is and average song, but there are much stronger faster entries this year that will knock this down.

The Netherlands: My pick to win. And my favorite entry this year. His passion and performace are about 1000x better than Thursday. Is it enough, though? This early in the running order….not sure. But I hope so! We’ll see how some of the other favorites do later tonight.

Greece: Much better than on Tuesday, by miles. Greece might just go and fill the hole left by Slovenia. It can finish around 11th, I think.

Israel: Meh. He sings this song just fine, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a smug, self-important song with a smug, self-important presentation. And we’re getting a better version of that later with France.

Norway: A fun song; though, I still do not quite understand this song’s popularity. I still think this a very underwhelming staging for such a dynamic song. Clearly the crowd is very much into this! Though, that is rarely an indicator of success.

United Kingdom: This song has one chance, Michael Rice gives a flawless, powerful vocal performance. …And we did not get that. Don’t get me wrong, it’s serviceable, but he’s performed better at the preview events. It had some bright moments, but overall, I do not think it will be enough. It benefits from being before a commercial break, but still.

Iceland: Well, they sound and look better than on Tuesday. Definitely going to do well with the televote but the juries will kill this.

Estonia: Well, he sounds a lot better than Tuesday, but still not very good. It does get better as it goes along. But this just is not good. And will be forgotten coming between Iceland and Belarus.

Belarus: That was good. Not great, but definitely not bad. On par with her performance on Tuesday. Maybe Belarus will finish mid-table, but I cannot see any higher than that.

Azerbaijan: I love that wail at the start. I think this will do so much better than I thought, perhaps even finish Top Ten. Chigiz’ vocal performance was beyond perfect.

France: See, Israel, this is how you do a smug and self-important song. It’s fun, powerful, and completely lacks self-awareness. France will not finish Top Ten, but it might get another 11th under its belt.

Italy: WHAT IS HE WEARING?! That shirt is awful. The song is a powerful one and his performance of it conveyed a lot of that energy. I’m just not sure if it has the mass appeal or connection required to succeed.

Serbia: Another powerful, passionate performance. I truly think she can reach the Top Ten. It’s going to be hard with the Swiss entry coming right behind, but still, this is a Balkan ballad at its best.

Switzerland: By far, the best staging at the Contest this year. We may have just witnessed a winning performance, everyone. That was fun, well-delivered, and very contemporary. I think it will easily take the televote; but not sure how the juries will rate it.

Australia: If Switzerland has the best staging, this is right behind it. But with a higher quality song and a stronger singer. This may have been a winning performance and may have knocked the Netherlands out of the top of the juries list; but not sure how the televote (which traditionally does not like Australia) will rate it.

Spain: He sounds a bit out of breath. But this song is still super fun. I don’t understand the use of the light up puppet man. Not sure if this is enough to get into the Top Ten, but should give Spain a more than respectable finish.

Phew! This may not be one of the top Contests ever, but it surely is one of the hardest to predict. After hearing all the songs and hearing the recap, how I would rate my personal top ten from tonight:

  1. Azerbaijan

  2. The Netherlands

  3. Serbia

  4. North Macedonia

  5. Australia

  6. Malta

  7. Czech Republic

  8. Russia

  9. Spain

  10. France

Now, who do I think will finish in the Top Ten? Not sure…

10. Serbia
9. Spain
8. Norway
7. Sweden
6. Russia
5. Italy
4. Iceland
3. Switzerland
2. Australia
1. The Netherlands

I’m sticking to my guns!! I think The Netherlands will win but, more like how Ukraine did in 2017, by placing second/third on both, the televote and the juries. I think Switzerland will win the televote and Australia will win the juries. Let’s see what happens.

Interval Act One (during the voting – past winners and runner-ups): I LOVE THIS INTERVAL ACT. I want the recordings of these folks doing these covers. EBU – I will give you money for this. Please make it available. One of the best interval acts to date.

Interval Act Two (also during the voting – The Idan Raichel Project): I really like this! Very traditional music and sound and look; also showing off the diversity of Israel. This should have opened the second semi-final so that we could speed things up tonight.

Interval Act Three (also during the voting – The Mentalist): Yeah, yeah, it’s entertaining. The fun part was seeing Tamta from Cyprus freak out. Hahaha

Interval Act Four (also during the voting – Netta): This is a silly song. It’s fine, but not necessary. It should have been a part of her performance on Tuesday (that’s why the winner reprise should be at the Final so the artist can premier another song).

Interval Act Five (also during the voting – Madonna): Madonna turns 61 this year. I think we are at about three too many interval acts at this point. And this is, by far, the weakest. And we just get to the voting sequences please!

In other news, a friendly reminder, I will be featured on KUSH 1600AM at 8am US Central Time on Monday (20 May) (of Cushing, Oklahoma, USA) and joining the EuroWhat? Podcast this upcoming week to talk with Ben and Mike about this year’s results!

Interval Act Six (post voting – Gal Godot): This was nice but could have been earlier, like, during an advert break or something.

FINALLY we get to the votes!

In case you’ve forgotten, because I nearly have, I predicted the Netherlands to win, but not come in first in either — Australia to win the juries and Switzerland to win the televote.

The Juries

  • Portugal: Whoa! no points for Spain? And YAY! points for the Netherlands

  • Azerbaijan: 12 to Russia, no shock there

  • Malta: 12 to Italy. Not too surprising

  • North Macedonia: 12 to Italy! Oh, that is unexpected

  • San Marino: 12 to Italy. NO surprise there

  • The Netherlands: love the shade thrown at Madonna. 12 for Sweden

  • Montenegro: 12 to (let me guess, Serbia?) yup

  • Estonia: 12 points to Sweden

    Don’t forget, the jury votes are ordered to be the most entertaining, so right now does not bare too much on the later votes.

  • Poland: 12 points to Australia – interesting

  • Norway: 12 to Czech Republic! Interesting.

  • Spain: 12 points to Sweden! Interesting.

  • Austria: 12 to North Macedonia! Well deserved, but unexpected

  • United Kingdom: 12 to North Macedonia! OH! Yay!

  • Italy: Some technical issues: 12 to Denmark. Man, the juries are all over the place tonight!

  • Albania: 12 points to North Macedonia. This is not surprising, the two countries swap lots of points

  • Hungary: 12 points to Czechia, to too surprising

  • Moldova: 12 points to North Macedonia! Fun

  • Belarus: 12 points to (N Mak?) Israel! and finally the last country with zero points gets some

  • Armenia: 12 points to Sweden. Interesting, only 5 points to Russia

  • Romania: 12 points to Australia

  • Cyprus: 12 points to Greece, of course

    Whoa!! Halfway, North Macedonia has a commanding lead. Let’s see if it can hold on to it.

  • Australia: 12 points to Sweden

  • Russia: 12 points to Azerbaijan! Not too surprising

  • Germany: 12 points to Italy! Fun

  • Belgium: 12 points to Italy – back up to third place

  • Sweden: It’s about time the Netherlands gets another 12.

  • Croatia: 12 to Italy — interesting point distribution for their points

  • Lithuania: 12 points to the Netherlands! And the charge begins in earnest

  • Serbia: 12 points to (N Mak, for sure) yes, of course

  • Iceland: 12 points going to (Sweden?) Yup. None to Denmark or Norway, though, haha

  • Georgia: 12 points to the Czechs. I am pleasantly surprised by how well they are doing.

  • Greece: 12 to Cyprus, of course

  • Latvia: 12 to (the Netherlands?) Yup!

  • Czech Republic: 12 points to (Sweden?) Yup

  • Denmark: 12 points to (Sweden, of course) – Yep

  • France: 12 points to (the Dutch, I hope!) – Woohoo

  • Finland: 12 points to big brother Sweden

  • Switzerland: 12 points to North Macedonia – quite unexpected

  • Slovenia: 12 points to Czech Republic! Fun times

  • Israel: 12 points to The Netherlands!

And Sweden wins the jury!

Now the Televote! Remember, this year, the points will be revealed in ascending order of the juries’ ranking

(50 points) Aww, poor Spain. They deserved so much more than what they got.

(30) That’s about as expected

(3) Awwww poor UK it deserved way more

(65) to San Marino – I think the most ever for SM

(13) to Belarus

(0) OH NO! That’s just uncalled for!

(48) for Estonia

(54) for Serbia

(??) for Albania enough to get to 90

(59) for Slovenia not as much as expected

(24) for Greece, not too surprising

(291) for very popular song from Norway

(186) for the punk rockers from Iceland – enough to finish in the Top Ten? maybe

(38) WHOA! Not too surprising

(32) Told you it would not perform as well as expected

(51) for Denmark, not too bad

(20) for Malta, awwwww it deserved more

(244) as expected, a big haul for Russia, but not going to be close to victory

(212) Wow, not as much as expected for Switzerland, but definitely going to be its best finish in quite some time

(7) Only seven for the Czech Republic! Wow.

(131) for Australia, not too shabby, definintely better than the Aussies have been getting lately

(100) for Azerbaijan – not bad, they’ll be happy to finish in the Top Ten for the first time in years (since 2013)

(253) for Italy, good to get it back to the lead!

So, winners usually get about 500, so between one of the final three, the winner is remaining still

(261) That is a hefty haul and enough for first place!

(58) Very little for N Mak but not too surprising – Its first ever Top Ten finish!

Sweden needs 253 televote points to win.

And the winner is: The Netherlands!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Sweden only got 93)

Dutch Flag Map

Wowza! First win for the Netherlands since 1975 (Ding Dang Dong performed by Teach In). And I predicted this since March. I truly think the best song won – despite not having a great staging. Other quick historic markers: Switzerland’s first Top Ten finish since 2005. The first ever Top Ten finish for North Macedonia! The Netherlands now moves into a tie with France, Luxembourg, and the UK for the third most wins (at 5) – having won in 1957, 1959, 1969, 1975 and now 2019. San Marino got its best ever placing (20th) and Azerbaijan is back in the Top Ten for the first time since 2013. Sweden now has six consecutive Top Ten placings. Italy is next with three. Sergey Lazarev, who represents Russia, finished third in 2016 with “You Are the Only One” has finished third again this year with “Scream.”

EO logo witch Dutch flagFor my personal statistics, I correctly predicted the winner – The Netherlands – and did so at every point. I was also 80% on my Top Ten estimate, I thought Spain and Serbia would make it, but instead, North Macedonia and Azerbaijan did, both of which I am happy about.

Wow! Just, wow. Expect a more comprehensive summary tomorrow as well as be sure to listen out for me next week. I will be featured on KUSH 1600AM at 8am US Central Time on Monday (20 May) (of Cushing, Oklahoma, USA) and joining the EuroWhat? Podcast this upcoming week to talk with Ben and Mike about this year’s results!

Thank you and goodnight!


Eurovision 2019 – Live Notes: First Semi-Final

Hello Dear Readers!

Since I do not have the privilege of being in Tel Aviv this year, I will be my usual live notes. Join me as I reveal my reactions and thoughts as the semi-final unfolds.

As a reminder, here are the ten songs I am predicting for qualification tonight (in no particular order):

  • Greece

  • Portugal

  • Estonia

  • Iceland

  • Australia

  • Belgium

  • Czech Republic

  • Slovenia

  • San Marino

  • Cyprus

Of course, this will likely change after seeing the songs performed live tonight. I’m excited!

Opening Act:

Interesting fashion choice, but this rendition is no less epic than anticipated.

Can’t say I am a fan of that disco ball dress, but it’s okay I guess

Cyprus: Why does her hair look so wet? What are her dancers wearing?! I like the use of the screen, a lot! Oh golly, she should have kept the jacket on. But the choreography was good. I now understand why she’s dropped in the betting odds, that was not great. But good enough, I think.

Montenegro: Clearly, they’ve been working on sounding like more of a cohesive unit. This is still a very cutesy song. It still will not qualify. They look and sound good, though!

Finland: The vocals could definitely be stronger. I guess the dancing lady is alright.

Poland: WHAT ARE THEY WEARING?! I also do not get this backing projection of their faces. I will say, the camera work is well done. And getting the audience to clap with them is a great idea.

Slovenia: Looking awfully casual, aren’t we. I guess it adds to the intimate feel of the staging. Wow! You can really tell that they have a tight connection. Wow! The staging fits them and this song so well.

Czechia: Love this dance off in the postcard. OMG I love this Eighties camera effect with the rectangles. This was fantastic – definitely the strongest thus far.

Hungary: I love the lights and the use of the screens. As expected, his vocals are on point. His look is not, but as the song goes on, he sings with more and more emotion.

Belarus: Those boots! Best boots since Ukraine 2009! Cool flips from the dancers. Great choreography in general from the dancers. Smart to go with a 90s aesthetic, it makes the song feel more in context. Just not sure, overall, how much appeal it has beyond the teen girl demographic. But they are huge and they vote, so…

Serbia: I love her outfit. and the use of the floor screen! Not sure the 3D water effects were necessary. Her voice is just as powerful and on point as on the studio version. Her biggest issue is that this sounds like a typical Balkan heartbreak ballad, despite being a song of love.

Belgium: The backing screens are well utilized. That is about all the positive I have 😦 He looks and sounds very scared and uncomfortable. I’m glad the crowd is clapping and trying to keep him going, but this just missing the mark, by a lot. Not to mention the costumes are awful; his jacket is WAY too big.

Georgia: That was a great postcard and a smart idea to show him so smiley ahead of this dark and dour song. While the marching silhouettes were weird and creepy, I like the bridge effect on the floor. The fire just adds to how dark this song sounds. It’s like a villain song from a cartoon musical.

Australia: That opening silhouette was powerful and perfect. Love the visual effects to make it look like she’s floating. Way to hit that big note, Kate! WOW! Now I know why Australia shot up the betting odds as soon as the first rehearsals started. This was wonderful!

Iceland: I am happy that they toned the sex aspect of their staging. The singer was a bit off but the screamer was fine. Idk, I am just not convinced that this can connect with most audiences, particularly in the age of juries.

Estonia: I feel like they’ve wasted the potential this stage to create amazing storm effects. His vocals are way off, though. and not by a little bit. And he keeps missing notes on the refrain which is the most important part. These effects at the end are too little, too late.

Portugal: So much energy in such a somber song. The dancer is great. I think this translated very well. Not “too” artsy like one might think. I still think this one qualifies.

Greece: Huh. Her voice is interesting, for sure. For such a high energy, powerful song, this feels quite dull. Just like Belgium, it’s as if someone sucked the soul out them right before they took the stage.

San Marino: Well, the second verse sounded miles better than the first. They should have had a male backing singer that could double his weak vocals. It started off low energy, but it’s picking up throughout the song. Sigh, I do not think SM will get through with this, its tenth entry.

Okay, my favorite ten from tonight.

  1. Australia

  2. Czechia

  3. Slovenia

  4. Poland

  5. Georgia

  6. Montenegro

  7. Serbia

  8. Hungary

  9. Portugal

  10. Greeece

And, more importantly, who do I think will qualify (in order of confidence):

  • Australia

  • Cyprus

  • Iceland

  • Slovenia

  • Czech Republic

  • Portugal

  • Hungary

  • Greece

  • Belarus

  • Georgia

Voting sequence interval act: Dana International is rarely a bad idea. But kiss cams are literally the worst. I wish she would sing one of her songs and not just this Bruno Mars one.

Interval Act: Quite liked the dj mix of ESC songs through history.

Auto Qualifiers:

Spain needs to sound better for the jury and live show at the end of the week. He sounds so breathy.
France’s staging is so smarmy – the words on the screen are so unnecessary.
Israel’s staging is the best one can do with such a boring song. At least he sounds good.

Qualifiers!

  • Greece! As expected (1 correct out of 1 qualifiers)

  • Belarus – the power of a good staging (2 for 2)

  • Serbia! – unexpected but nice! (2 for 3)

  • Cyprus – again, no surprise (3 for 4)

  • Estonia – I guess he sounded better last night (3 for 5)

  • Czech Republic – Woohoo! (4 for 6)

  • Australia – again, perfect staging! (5 for 7)

  • Iceland – no surprise (6 for 8)

  • San Marino!! – the power of the running order, everyone! (6 for 9)

  • Slovenia – as expected, they’ve been a betting odds favorite for quite some time (7 out of 10)

Final Thoughts:

Cannot wait to see the final split scores. I am assuming Estonia and San Marino sounded better last night in the jury finals. Super stoked that San Marino finally qualified again! The song is fun and catchy, though, he needs to sound way better if he hopes to outdo Valentina’s 24th place. I am very pleasantly surprised by Serbia’s qualification. And saddened by Portugal’s lack of qualification. Cannot say that I am surprised by Hungary or Georgia, though I would have liked to see both move through. Georgia was just too dark, I think, and Hungary was a bit too low energy (listen to the studio version, there’s much more passion in it). Overall, I am satisfied. Australia, I think, was by far the strongest tonight. It will be interesting to see how these ten songs fare on Saturday.


ESC 2018 Grand Final Live Notes!

Hello Dear Readers!

The time is upon us once again – we shall be crowning a new Eurovision Champion tonight. Through a series of misfortunes, bad luck, and poor attention paid on my part, I’m in my hotel room here in Lisbon.

Which means I’m here to do live notes! Sonce I’ve seen the final twice before, I will focus on just the performances and votes.

Ukrainian Flag MapUkraine – he seemed weak or something, the intensity was there but not so much the quality.

Spanish Flag MapSpain – it was going really well until about the last third, when the wheels started to come off. They were out of tune throughout the last section.

Slovenian Flag MapSlovenia – ahhh, nice, instead of a power outage, they pulled it off as a call for the music to stop. Much better. The choreography for this act is amazing but the song is still mediocre at best.

Lithuanian Flag MapLithuania – we just saw the first winning performance tonight. Unfortunate for Lithuania, but fortunate for us, it won’t be the last.

Austrian Flag MapAustria – he was good! Still do not understand that outfit or the choice tonhave him appear as a large figure on screen.

Estonian Flag MapEstonia – there seems to be something going on, or perhaps just lost via tv, she seems to be at only partial strength. Still a fantastic song, though.

Norwegian Flag MapNorway – he also seems to be just a bit off tonight. Wow, we may see some unsuspecting entry back into victory with all these acts shooting themselves in the foot.

Portuguese Flag MapPortugal – man! She sung her heart out. This is a song that relies on the conveyance of passion and she pulled it off. It’s not going to win, but it will probably do better than initially thought.

British Flag MapUnited Kingdom – I’m really happy the crowd’s enthusiasm is coming through over the television. Her voice seems—- whoa!! We have a stage interruption first time since 2010 (Spain). She’ll be performing again after Italy.

We’re in the Green Room as we figure out the next steps

Serbian Flag MapSerbia – As good as they could be!

German Flag MapGermany – started off shaky, but got better throughout. I think Europe’s heartstrings are being pulled rather tight.

Albanian flag countryAlbania – still don’t quite get the appeal of this song. But he performs it well; hitting the high notes perfectly.

New French Flag MapFrance – I like this song less each time I hear it. They performed pretty well, though!

CzechFlagMapCzech Republic – definitely one of the best times he performed this. Should easily establish a new best position.

Denmark – he missed that high Danish Flag Mapnote. Though, this song and its call for retreat and sureender seem to resound with many folks.

Australian Flag MapAustralia – if she didn’t lose the victory last night, she surely did just now. That vocal performance was not great; which is a shame

Finnish Flag MapFinland – tame, but better than usual. This was my pick for last place. Maybe I’ll be wrong.

Bulgarian Flag CountryBulgaria – Golly, I love this song. And I think the staging fits it perfectly, as well. And they performed it passionately.

Moldovan Flag MapMoldova – fun performance, as always, perfectly executed. There seemed to be some harmony issues, but the overall impression is positive.

Swedish Flag MapSweden – aside from sounding out of breath at the beginning, he performed and danced flawlessly. Definitely another Top Ten placing for Sweden.

Hungarian Flag MapHungary – I’m really not the best judge of this song. It’s a tolerable screamo song; I guess that’s a positive. It was performed well, not much more I can say.

Israeli Flag CountryIsrael – she’s an amazing performer and this is the best I’ve seen her do this song! Is it enough to win? Probably not, but it’s definitely Top Ten.

Dutch Flag CountryThe Netherlands – In the US, this staging is what we would call “problematic.” I doubt the intention is to put forward the image of a white guy and his four dancing negroes, but that’s how this comes off. Just poorly thought out. The song is good and well-performed.

Irish Flag MapIreland – I hate being pandered to, and this sog about a straight guy going through a divorce hidden behind a pair of cute gay dancers is the definition of such. I like the song, but hate its presentation. I kinda hope it fails, though it probably will not.

Cypriot Flag MapCyprus – the song is catchy and fun, but her voice is not good. The choreography makes this song; without it, it’s just another attempt at sounding contemporary that originally landed at 26th in the betting odds. The performance was flawless, of course, the vocals, not so much, the song is average. It’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

Italian Flag MapItaly – Is it me, or were they going at half power like thise at the beginning of the show? Meh, this song has always not been for me.

*For whatever reason, the UK has decided to not have SuRie perform again. Why not take a free second performance? There is no reason not to. So, because she was shaky before and after the stage invasion, that’s what people are going to remember. Bad choice, BBC, bad choice.

So, my ten favorites from tonight:

1. Bulgaria

2. Portugal

3. Israel

4. Czech Republic

5. Austria

6. Estonia

7. Serbia

8. Moldova

9. Sweden

10. Finland

And who do I think will finish in the Top Ten? (in no prticular order)

• Israel

• Cyprus

• Australia

• Lithuania

• Germany

• France

• Sweden

• Norway

• Estonia

• Austria

And, finally, who is going to win?

CyprusI’m loathe to say this, but I think we might be heading to Cyprus next year. It’s an average song, but it’s gonna siphon a lotnofnthe gay vote and the teenage girl vote given the style and choreography. It will also get a lot of the general vote as it’s one of the more commercial-sounding entries this year. It’s a shame, there are better songs this year, but I don’t think any of them will be able to surmount Cyprus’ appeal.

Jury Votes!

And so it begins! Doize points get sent across all of Europe

Ukraine’s to France

Azerbaijan’s to Albania

Belarus’ to Cyprus

San Marino’s to Israel

So confusing so far!

The Netherlands’ to Germany

Macedonia’s to Estonia

Malta’s to Cyprus

Georgia’s to Sweden?!

Spain’s to Cyprus, none for Portugal

Austria’s to Israel

Denmark’s to Germany

Points are going every which way!!

UK’s to Austria

Sweden’s to Cyprus, none to Denmark

Latvia’s to Sweden

Albania’s to Italy

Croatia’s to Lithuania

Ireland’s to Cyprus

Romania’s to Austria!

Czech Republic’s to Israel

Iceland’s to Austria, none!! to Denmark or Norway

Moldova’s to Estonia

Belgium’s to Austria

Israel, Austria, and Cyprus are leading thus far

Norway’s to Germany, none for Denmark

France’s to Israel!

Norway just got its first 12! (From Italy)

Australia’s to Sweden

Estonia’s to Austria

No one believed me when is said Austria had a winning song.

Serbia’s to Sweden

Cyprus’ to Sweden

Armenia’s to Sweden

Bulgaria’s to Austria

Greece’s to Cyprus, no surprise there

Hungary’s to Denmark – how random

Montenegro’s to Serbia, no surprise there

Germany’s to Sweden

Finland’s to Israel

Russia (Alsou competed in 2000 and got 2nd place; she hosted the Grand Final in 2009) sent its to Moldova, not too surprising

Switzerland’s to Germany

Israel’s to Austria! And it’s back in the lead

Poland’s to Austria!

Three countries left!

Lithuania’s to Austria!

Slovenia’s to Sweden

Ten points between Austria and Sweden

Finally, Portugal’s to Estonia!

Austria wins the Jury with 271 points (Sweden is in second with 253; Israel in third with 212)

On to the televote!!

Australia, only 9

Portugal with 18

18 also for Spain

21 to Sweden — WHAT?!?!?!?!?!

23 to Slovenia and Finland

25 for the UK

32 for the Dutch

55 for Albania

59 for France

62 to Ireland

65 to Hungary (this is not going as expected)

66 to Bulgaria

71 to Austria?! Oh, golly, Cyprus is gonna win (only 130 over Israel)

75 to Serbia

84 to Norway

Lithuania gets 91

102 to Estonia

Moldova get 115

119 to Ukraine

136 to Germany

So, Austria will not win

188 to Denmark

215 to Czech Republic

Three left! Israel and Cyprus are both able to surpass Austria.

249 to Italy

So, for sure, the winner will be either Israel or Cyprus.

Cyprus is leading the vote?

Cyprus gets 253

Israel wins the televote and the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 with a total of 529 points!

Israeli Flag Country

The fourth victory for Israel, exactly twenty years after its third (Diva). In my opinion, a really good song. Truly “different” as Netta just said. As a bigger guy myself, it’s exciting to see a big person win – first time ever! This is also, as I’ve said previously, one of the most original songs this year and is a bit more reminiscent of what one sees at jESC. One of my favorites tonight and overall. Congrats to Isreal and its brandnew broadcaster, to Netta, her songwriting & production teams, and her backing dancers & singers!

Check back tomorrow for reflections and closing thoughts. As well as soon after for my annual awards!


Eurovision 2017 – Second Semi-Final: Live Notes!

Hello Dear Readers!

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

Make sure to keep refreshing the page throught the show!

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

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

 01 Serbia In Too Deep

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

02 Austria Running on Air

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

03 Macedonia Dance Alone

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

 04 Malta Breathlessly

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

05 Romania Yodel It!

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

06 The Netherlands Lights and Shadows

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

 07 Hungary Origo

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

08 Denmark Where I Am

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

09 Ireland Dying to Try

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

10 San Marino Spirit of the Night

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

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

11 Croatia My Friend

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

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

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

12 Norway Grab the Moment

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

13 Switzerland Apollo

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

14 Belarus Historyja Majho Žyccia

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

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

14 Bulgaria Beautiful Mess

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

16 Lithuania Rain of Revolution

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

17 Estonia Verona

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

18 Israel I Feel Alive

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

My Top Ten from tonight

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

Who I think will qualify (in no particular order)

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

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

Interval Act

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

A marriage proposal for Jana from Macedonia!!! Awwwww

Our Automatic Qualifiers

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

Now, on the results! Our ten qualifiers are:

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

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

 
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Eurovision 2017 – First Semi-Final Live Notes!

Hello Dear Readers!!

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


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

What a beautiful stage!!

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

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

01 Sweden I Can’t Go On

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

02 Georgia Keep the Faith

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

03 Australia Don’t Come Easy

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

04 Albania World

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

05 Belgium City Lights

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

06 Montenegro Space

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

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

07 Finland Blackbird

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

08 Azerbaijan Skeletons

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

09 Portugal Amar Pelos Dois

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

10 Greece This is Love

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

11 Poland Flashlight

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

12 Moldova Hey, Mamma!

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

13 Iceland Paper

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

Epic Sac Guy playing his well-known riff.

14 Czechia My Turn

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

15 Cyprus Gravity

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

16 Armenia Fly with Me

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

17 Slovenia On My Way

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

18 Latvia Line

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

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

My Favorite Ten from tonight

  1. Portugal

  2. Finland

  3. Armenia

  4. Albania

  5. Poland

  6. Iceland

  7. Azerbaijan

  8. Greece

  9. Belgium

  10. Latvia

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

  • Sweden

  • Portugal

  • Albania

  • Latvia

  • Finland

  • Armenia

  • Greece

  • Azerbaijan

  • Belgium

  • Moldova

Voting Entertainment

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

And – technical difficulties 😡😡😡

Interval Act

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

Automatic Qualifiers Previews

Spain – well, that performance sounds wholly uninspired

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

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

Voting

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

Qualifiers

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

  • Azerbaijan – cool beans! 2 for 2

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

  • Sweden – probably undeserved; 4 for 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for watching with me!

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ESC2014 – Grand Final Live Notes

Hello dear readers!

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

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

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

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

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

Iceland was Iceland. Exciting but juvenile.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So many wonderful songs – who will win?

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

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

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

It’s time to find our winner!!

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

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

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

ALB – twelve to Spain!!

SM – unexpected twelve to AZR and none for Italy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

MAL – unsurprising points to Italy

FRA – Armenia gets France’s twelve

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

LAT – gives a surprise twelve points to the Netherlands

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

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

MAC – umsurprising twelve to Montenegro

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

Bela – unsurprising twelve to Russia

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

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

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

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

NOR – keeping things interesting with points go the Netherlands.

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

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

MOL – blanks the Dutch, helps Austria extend the lead

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

Netherlands are still within two countries of catching up

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

LIT – more of the same Austria and Netherlands

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

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

BLG – really thought the Netherlands would get that twelve

ITA – mathematically, Netherlands is still in it

UKR – and now the Netherlands are eliminated

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

SUI – nothing interesting

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

SLV – I thought that Montenegro would get their twelve.

And, officially, Austria is the winner!

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

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


Eurovision 2013 — Grand Final Live Notes…Live!

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

Actual Top Ten

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

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

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

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

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

And Azerbaijan is officially second!

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

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

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

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

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

Georgia – no surprises here

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

Montenegro – what’s up with that echo?

Denmark – No real surprises here.

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

Greece – Denmark breaks 200 and Azerbaijan regains second place.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

135 for Denmark, 113 for Ukraine, 100 for Azerbaijan

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

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

Spain – Italy is back in the Top Ten.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romania – Azerbaijan is now only 7 points behind Denmark.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love the sequence of over-the-top endings!

Poor Linda Martin, no need to attack her.

Yay, more history!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poor cameraman, he must have drawn the short straw.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brace yourselves everyone – here comes Romania!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BTW, my pre-Contest prediction for Top Ten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hello Everyone!


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

esc2013 logo

Hello Readers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Denmark

-Russia

-Ukraine

-The Netherlands

-Ireland

-Austria

-Montenegro

-Croatia

-Belarus

-Moldova

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

Opening Act:

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

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

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

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

On to the entries!!

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

Austria Shine performed by Nataliá KellyAustrian Flag Map

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

Estonian Flag MapEstonia Et Uus Saaks Alguse performed by Birgit Õigemeel

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

Slovenia Straight Into Love performed by HannahSlovene Flag Map

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

Croatia Mižerija performed by Klapa s MoreCroatian Flag Map

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

Denmark Only Teardrops performed by Emmelie de ForestDanish Flag Map

I recognize some of those places in the postcard!!

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

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

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

Russian Flag MapRussia What If? performed by Dina Garipova

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

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

Ukraine Gravity performed by Zlata OgnevichUkranian Flag Map

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

Dutch Flag CountryThe Netherlands Birds performed by Anouk

Ooh, I can’t wait to hear this!!

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

Montenegro Igranka performed by Who SeeMontenegrin Flag Map

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

Lithuanian Flag MapLithuania Something performed by Andrius Pojavis

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

Belarus Solayoh performed by Alyona LanskayaBelorussian Flag Map

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

Moldovan Flag MapMoldova O Mie performed by Aliona Moon

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

Ireland Only Love Survives performed by Ryan DolanIrish Flag Map

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

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

Cypriot Flag MapCyprus An Me Themase performed by Despina Olympiou

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

Belgium Love Kills performed by Roberto BellarosaBelgian Flag Country

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

Serbian Flag MapSerbia Ljubav je Svuda performed by Moje 3

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

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

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

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

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

Interval Act

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

I don’t get modern dance.

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

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

Who Actually Qualified

Here we go!  Moment of truth!

Moldova Good stuff! (1 for 1)

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

Ireland No real surprise there (2 for 3)

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

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

Denmark Well, duh! (4 for 6)

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

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

Ukraine No surprise here (7 for 9)

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

Medium Surprise: So did Belgium.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m so excited for Thursday!!

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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.


Notes on the 2008 Contest in Belgrade

SEMI-FINAL I

Prior to the Contest, I selected these countries to make it through:

-Russia

-Greece

-Armenia

-Norway

-The Netherlands

-Estonia

-Ireland

-Andorra

-San Marino OR Azerbaijan, but not both.

And now onwards to the First Semi-Final!

01 Montenegro Stefan Filipović Zauvijek Volim Te

Not a bad start to the contest, not at all.  A nice little rock song, but I am afraid that it will not make much of a dent in voters’ minds.

02  Israel Boaz The Fire In Your Eyes

A very heartfelt ballad from Israel.  Though, the singer sounds ten year younger than he actually is.  A Dutch style performance, in that it was a minimalist performance with the hope that the singer will be captivating enough to get votes.  And like the Dutch entries of the past decade, this one will flop, unfortunately.

03  Estonia Kreisiraadio Leto Svet

Like France’s entry last year, this comedic performance might just go over everyone’s head

04  Moldova Geta Burlacu A Century Of Love

A beautiful song that will not make it through because it’s jazzy and slow (but not emotionally moving enough).

05  San Marino Miodio Complice

A good debut, but it seems like a song that gets better the more times you here it.  Unfortunately for the principality, they only have one shot to impress.

06  Belgium Ishtar O Julissi

Another *unique* entry from the Belge.  I liked the infusion of classical sounds, but the performance was more self-indulgent than captivating, it might place well in the semi, but I’m not sure if it will make it to the next round.

07  Azerbaijan Elnur & Samir Day After Day

This entry immediately makes me think of Austria 2007.  It plays on that line of being so crazy it might do great, or so crazy it will fail miserably.

08  Slovenia Rebeka Dremelj Vrag Naj Vzame

A bouncy pop song with an intriguing performance.  The first entry I will confidently predict to make it through to the Grand Final.

09  Norway Maria Hold On Be Strong

An alright song.  It might be able to slip into the Final in the lower spots of semi-final qualifiers.

10  Poland Isis Gee For Life

Things I remember from this pop ballad entry: a beautiful dress, a bad tan, really long blonde hair, a quartet, and a piano.  The song was ok, however, as the hosts ramble on, it is fleeting from me.

11  Ireland Dustin the Turkey Irelande Douze Pointe

A definite Grand Final entrant, unfortunately.  Though, I can imagine this song being a club favorite for years to come, at least in Cork and Dublin.  But I did laugh at the end, “And don’t forget the Swiss!”

12  Andorra Gisela Casanova

What is wrong with her hair?!  And why is she wearing copper foil?!  Otherwise a pretty good pop song, and I guess that’s what we are supposed to be judging, so it should get through.

13  Bosnia & Herzegovina Laka Pokušaj

Another zainy performance, but a decent song, I guess.  This will probably just make it into the Grand Final (where it will probably be crushed by everyone else).

14  Armenia Sirusho Qele, Qele

A good song with weak vocals.  It will probably benefit from the fact that a majority of tonight’s entrants will make it through to Saturday.

15  The Netherlands Hind Your Heart Belongs To Me

After Ireland, Russia, and Andorra, this has been the most hyped song this year, and it more than lives up to it!!!  By far my favorite on the night, and my favorite from Les Pays-Bays.

16  Finland Teräsbetoni Missä Miehet Ratsastaa

Another nostalgic rock song from a Nordic country (think WigWam NOR2005).  I don’t particularly care for this year’s Finnish rock song, but I think Europe might.

17  Romania Nico & Vlad Pe-o Margine De Lume

A lovely entry from Romania, it won’t win the contest, but I would be highly disappointed if it doesn’t do well on Saturday.

18  Russia Dima Bilan Believe

The much hyped return of 2006 Runner-up Dima Bilan (which overshadowed the hype of the return of 1999 winner Charlotte (Nilsonn) Perelli) failed to live up to the hype.  It would be foolish to suggest that it would not sail through to the final, but the Russians may find themselves coming up short once again.

19  Greece Kalomira Secret Combination

Forget Bilan or Perelli, Greece seems to have reentered My Number One (2005 winner)!  A bad pop song with decent music, and a cool dance performance, it will sail through to the Final.  Unfortunately, I think I will put it on my short list of favorites to win the whole thing.

My Top Five:

1. The Netherlands

2. Romania

3. Moldova

4. Slovenia

5. Israel

Those that I think will make it into the Grand Final:

1. Greece

2. Russia

3. The Netherlands

4. Ireland

5. Slovenia

6. Andorra

7. Armenia

8. Finland

9. Romania

10. San Marino

Honorable Mention to Azerbaijan: a “strong” debut and this year’s first costume change!

Grand Final Preview Now!

I predict another poor showing from the Big Four countries—with them going in descending order, France, Germany, UK, then Spain.  But I think that Serbia has a decent shot of joining Spain, Israel, and Ireland (twice!) to go back-to-back in victories.

Finalists:

-Greece (no surprise there!)

-Romania (hurrah for the prettiest song of the night!)

-Bosnia & Herzegovina (not a surprise, but I guess that Armenia or Slovenia may not make it now)

-Finland (told ya so!)

-Russia (as expected)

-Israel (big surprise here!  Totally unexpected, but I am happy about it)

-Azerbaijan (creepy Heaven/Hell performance, oh well)

-Armenia (a nice little pop song)

-Poland (a surprise victory for the stirring pop ballad)

-Norway (WHOA!  I know what I said in the review, but I am shocked that it made it in)

Travesty of the Night: The Netherlands fall short again, but why?  It was very clearly the best song on the night.  Oh well, I still love you Hind!  Thank you for giving me a new artist to investigate.

As far as my predictions go, 50% of my post-contest list made it through. As far as my pre-contest predictions…Azerbaijan, Greece, Russia, Armenia, Norway all made it through, so that’s at 50%, not bad for guessing sight unseen/sound unheard, or whatever the appropriate idiom would be.  Unfortunately, 50% also means that my guess were as good as random chance, which essentially means that I need to step up my game on Thursday and Saturday if I hope to finish out the Contest with a passing grade.

SEMI-FINAL II

NEWS RELEASED ON WEDNESDAY: In case you didn’t hear, Svante said that 9 by vote, 1 by jury rule for the Semi-Finals will become a permanent thing.  He also revealed that for Tuesday, the jury and the voters were in 100% agreement over the top 10.  Lastly, Lys Assia and Marija Serifovic presented the permanent trophy for the contest winners, a classic-style microphone made of glass (or maybe it’s crystal).

Pre-Contest Predictions:

-Sweden—as a returning champion, I think she is pretty much entitled at least a shot at the Championship.

-Bulgaria—if you so much as thought about Eurovision while on YouTube over the past three months, your searches would have come up with at least ten different videos for DJ Take Me Away, if that’s not good publicity, I don’t know what is.

-Ukraine—aside from its debut and title defense efforts, the Ukraine couldn’t be unsuccessful if it tried.  So look for another strong showing from Kyiv.

-Croatia—Croatia has also had on-again, off-again success, and I think the tide is shifting for another “on” year.

-Georgia—The bookies seem to like Georgia’s sophomore effort, so look for this Call to Action song to do well.

-Hungary—Another popular one amongst the bookies, Hungary might be able to return to the Final for the third time in a row.

-Turkey—Turkey has been creating a lot of buzz in ESC forums, not to mention the large amount of Turks abroad who vote for their home country (for instance, France is the second highest contributor to Turkey)

-Cyprus—Because, as I said a few weeks ago, the rest of the Eastern Mediterranean has seen success as of late, now it’s Cyprus’ turn.

-Latvia—I am hesitant to place what seems to me is going to be a gimmick entry after seeing what happened to Ireland and Estonia on Tuesday, but I still think that Spain won’t be enough to tithe Europe over on Saturday, so look for this one to sneak in.

-Malta OR Portugal, but not both—Portugal has the record for most entries without a victory, and Malta isn’t too far behind them.  After their entries from last year, both of which were projected to do well, flopped, these countries have been somewhat mum about their entries.  Despite this, I think that one of them will benefit from a sympathy vote of sorts.

01  Iceland Euroband This Is My Life

For a song that has been getting a lot of negative press, it was pretty good.  Actually, I know that there are 18 more songs to go, but I have a pretty good feeling that this song is going through to Saturday.

02  Sweden Charlotte Perrelli Hero

How does someone age so much in only nine years?  She must have really pissed off her make-up artist.  A decent song, I think it was just enough to get into the Final.

03  Turkey Mor ve Ötesi Deli

Another great song from the Anatolia region.  And another song I think has a good shot at making it past tonight.

04  Ukraine Ani Lorak Shady Lady

Another hot, big voiced diva out of the Ukraine, but she lacks the fire of Ruslana and the energy of Tina Karol, so it will be interesting to see how this places on the night.

05  Lithuania Jeronimas Milius Nomads in the Night

Where will ESC2009 be, St. Petersburg?  Reykjavik?  Paris?  One thing’s for certain, it won’t be in Vilnius.  I have a feeling that this song has a good studio version, but this live performance just doesn’t cut it.

06  Albania Olta Boka Zemrën E Lamë Peng

A good song, but I don’t think it has enough “umph” to move on to the Final.

07  Switzerland Paolo Meneguzzi Era Stupendo

The Swiss are fighting hard to reclaim their past glories.  While I think this song was a bit overrated, the audience seems to love this guy, as they gave him a standing O before he even opened his mouth (and notice how the arena is full tonight as compared to Tuesday).

08  Czech Republic Tereza Kerndlová Have Some Fun

The Czechs’ sophomore entry will do better than their first, in that I think it will get more than one point in the voting.

09  Belarus Ruslan Alehno Hasta La Vista

When will people learn?  This is the second or third song by this title, and every time it does not do well, and this time will be no different.

10  Latvia Pirates Of The Sea Wolves Of The Sea

I HATE PIRATES, ESPECIALLY THE ONES THAT SING!!!  This goes down as the WORST gimmick I’ve seen in my Eurovision travels, it even beats out IRE2008 or ICE2006.  If this song goes through, they would have robbed a more deserving act (i.e. any of the previous 9 we’ve already heard, or the any of the next 9 we have yet to hear) of a spot.

11  Croatia Kraljevi Ulice & 75 Cents Romanca

Everything about this act dripped cool…the outfits, the hot dancer, the pimp cane the old guy had.  I was about to say bravo to Croatia for another great folksy song, and then the older gentleman had to start scratching, and I think that might have been the kiss of death for them.

12  Bulgaria Deep Zone & Balthazar DJ, Take Me Away

Was I the only one expecting her dress to change, it’s so rare for a dress that long to make it through an entire performance nowadays.  I was highly anticipating this song due to its vicious YouTube campaign.  It’s alright, I think it has a decent shot of making it through.

13  Denmark Simon Mathew All Night Long

See what I said about the Danish entry.  It’s an ok song, but it doesn’t have an ice cube’s chance in Hell of making it through to the Final.

14  Georgia Diana Gurtskaya Peace Will Come

A Costume Change!!!  Who would have thought it would have taken 14 songs before we finally got to one (unless there have been others and I am unobservant)?  Anyway, the bookies are excited about this entry.  I liked it, especially the message.  I am not sure if it will be enough though.

15  Hungary Csézy Candlelight

My favorite so far.  Normally, I wouldn’t think it stood a good chance of getting through, but after the success of Norway and Poland on Tuesday, I am optimistic.

16  Malta Morena Vodka

From Peace and Love to alcohol, only at the ESC.  An alright song, though I don’t think it lived up to all of the hype.

17  Cyprus Evdokia Kadi Femme Fatale

I’m glad the two halves of the island cold stop fighting long enough to put together a great entry.  Which, if I might have to add, is probably the most Cypriot entry I have ever heard.  I think this is a shoo in for Saturday.

Antics from the hosts’ side-kicks down in the green room, should the participants be allowed to advertise themselves like that during the intermission?

18  F.Y.R. Macedonia Tamara, Vrčak & Adrijan Let Me Love You

Not a bad song, I wasn’t convinced that it had the ability to move on until after hearing the complete song, but the important thing is that I was convinced.

19  Portugal Vânia Fernandes Senhora Do Mar (Negras Águas)

Poised to take the travesty of the night award, this is my favorite of the night.  It *should* go through, but everyone seems to hate Portugal.  Will Fernandes be able to get Portugal to its first Final since the inception of the Semi’s?

My Favorite Five:

1. Portugal

2. Hungary

3. Cyprus

4. Turkey

5. Iceland

The Ten I think that will be moving on to Saturday:

-Sweden (Because people are ready for another Johnny Logan—as in a two-time winner)

-Switzerland (Because people are ready for another Johnny Logan—as in an overrated singer)

-Hungary (A great song that should make it through)

-Portugal (Another great song, that if it fails, should get the Portuguese crying “Conspiracy!”)

-Turkey (A fun pop rock song, my kind of rock)

-Cyprus (A feisty song in cool Mediterranean style, this should definitely make it)

-Georgia (I think people will be moved by the message enough to overlook the overzealous background singer at the end of the song.  That, and it had an awesome beat and melody.)

-Bulgaria (I think its YouTube campaign was a brilliant PR move, and that it was already marked down for Saturday a month ago)

-Ukraine (because every hot singer from the Ukraine, heck, every female singer (or impersonator) from the Ukraine has done great)

-Iceland (a fun bouncy song that didn’t deserve all the negative words coming its way before the contest, and I think that Europe will see this, and vote it through)

Honorable Mention goes to…Macedonia; it was convincing, just not quite as much as the other ten.  Malta; the island gave it the old college try, but I don’t that they will make it through.

Is it me, or are the hosts more incompetent tonight than they were on Tuesday.  They weren’t horrible, but things definitely could have been a lot smoother.  Hopefully, they will step up their game for Saturday.

The Ten Finalists Are:

-Ukraine (they can’t stop being successful, even if they tried!)

-Croatia (not surprising, yelling old people must be popular in Europe)

-Albania (WHOA!  I did not think this act had what it took to get through, guess I was wrong)

-Iceland (Hurray for redemption!)

-Georgia (c’mon, how could world peace not make it through?)

-Denmark (WHOA!!!  Well, at least my adoptive country is doing well)

-Sweden (of course)

-Latvia (BOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!)

-Turkey (that was fairly obvious)

-Portugal (one step closer to breaking the curse!)

Travesty of the Night goes to…Latvia.  Why?!  Why?!!  Why?!!!  What a horrible song!!!  Just when I thought the Baltics would have a reason to reconsider their staunch position on entering gimmicks only, this goes on to move through to the Final.  I am utterly angered by this.

On my accuracy…hey, 70% on the pre-show guessing, 60% on the post-show.  I have definitely improved since Tuesday.  But if this little exercise has shown me anything, it’s that I seem to be more objective before hearing the songs, than after (imagine that).  It should be interesting to see what happens on Saturday, as I will be choosing a much shorter list of who I think might win it all (since top 10 really doesn’t mean anything anymore, I will not include a full list of who I think will place in the top 10).

Final Thoughts on the two Semi-Finals:

I was quite surprised on Tuesday when the most solid songs, Norway, Armenia, Israel, and Poland made it through, in lieu of the sending of pop acts like the Netherlands, Andorra, or Slovenia.  I was shocked that Azerbaijan made it through while San Marino did not, I guess Europe prefers countertenors and sexy demons over rock ballads.  I expected Russia to make it through with another song from Mr. Bilan, and as soon as I heard Greece’s entry, I knew that it was going through.  Belgium and Moldova kept up their tradition of sending irrelevant entries to the Contest; sometimes they succeed (BLG2003 & MOL2005, 2007), but for the most part fail to impress the voting public.  Though, I, personally, enjoyed both entries and know that they will be getting a lot of mileage on my iPod.

Thursday brought better songs, but less entertainment.  I figured that Vodka (Malta) and Shady Lady (Ukraine) would have been a bit more exciting.  Though, I think I enjoyed this interval act more so than Tuesday’s (though, Tuesday had the superior Intro Sequence).  The real shocker was that Hungary and Switzerland didn’t go through.  Especially with the way how the crowd was carrying on when the Swiss guy came up to perform.  Another disappointment was Cyrpus’ failure to move through, I thought that the uptempo Mediterranean beat would have won it a spot.  How funny would it be if Sunday, when they release the results of tonight, they failed to make it by 11 points, highlighting their dependency on Greece’s sure 12.

Overall, I think the voters sent out a resounding rejection of gimmick acts, as Ireland, and Estonia were both eliminated (though, the jury is still out on where Azerbaijan’s entry falls).  Has Serbia’s victory reset ESC on the track of the serious entries that dominated the early years of the contest, and made a resurgence in the early and mid 90’s?  Despite the success of Latvia’s entry, and the failure of Switzerland’s and Hungary’s, I think that gimmicks might finally be viewed as immature and not funny, at least until the next eight-costume-changes-to-an-act (LAT2002), latex mask wearing rockers (FIN2007), or Xena lookalike (UKR2003) wins the contest.

Though, look for Spain to do well on Saturday, it and Latvia will probably be the two “funnest” (I know it’s not a word, but it’s applicable here) acts, and will probably get votes for breaking up the monotony that having ballad after ballad will create.

One thing to say about the hype, it doesn’t seem to be working too much, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, and Andorra were all supposed to be shoo-ins, and what happened, they fell by the wayside.  And Iceland persevered against the counter-hype (as I call it) and pushed through to the Final.  How I think this will translate, well, I don’t have nearly as much confidence in Russia as I did before, and I think that Sweden is out of it.  But I guess we will see on Saturday!

 

THE GRAND FINAL

My Short List of Possible Winners:

-Greece—as I said, Greek pop seems to hypnotize folks into voting for the ancient nation.

-Russia—less confident about Bilan’s return now then I was last week, look for Russia to break their streak of near misses.

-Portugal—they have made it to the Final for the first time since semi’s were introduced in 2004, I hope that they can translate that momentum into breaking their curse of never winning, passing on the record for most unsuccessful attempts to Iceland or Malta (I forget which one it would be)

-Armenia—A fun pop song that just might have enough umph to win the contest.  If Sirusho can tighten up some of her dancing, and sing with a bit more conviction on Saturday, there ain’t nothing that can stop her from taking the crystal mic.

-Serbia—with a great 30 second preview, and the bookies proclaiming that it has a great shot of defending its throne, I think there is a good chance that the Contest will be in Belgrade again next year as well.

-UK—I was originally only going to have five songs on this list, but after tonight’s (Thursday) results, I think that Europe has spoken that they want a more serious song to win again, and Andy might be in the right place at the right time, I think it will come down to his performance.

Intro Act:  *Due to technical difficulties, this performance was missed live.*

How disappointing.  I liked how it opened up with Marija singing a cappella, but it was all downhill from there.  The remix of “Molitva” was an injustice to the song, and the scantly clad dancers cheapened the purity of last year’s victory performance.

01  Romania Nico & Vlad Pe-o Margine De Lume

*Due to technical difficulties, this performance was missed live.*

Another beautiful performance from these two.  I have no idea why it didn’t get more than 45 points.

02  United Kingdom Andy Abraham Even If

*Due to technical difficulties, this performance was missed live.*

A good song.  I think it ends kind of abruptly, which might account for some of its low score.  But, as I have said before, Europe doesn’t seem to like American style music very much (with a few exceptions, HUN2007 is the first that comes to mind), especially when that style is R&B, so I understand why this came in last, but strongly disagree with it.

03  Albania Olta Boka Zemrën E Lamë Peng

*Due to technical difficulties, most of this performance was missed live.*  From what I saw of this performance, she sounded a lot better than she did on Thursday.

Seeing it on the replay, I still think it is better than Thursday, but I still think it’s boring and uncaptivating.

04  Germany No Angels Disappear

What are they wearing???  Hmmm….a poorly sung pop song from Germany, unfortunately, I think it will do better than some of their recent entries, despite not being nearly as good.

05  Armenia Sirusho Qele, Qele

I had high hopes for this song, and she did not disappoint.  Even the dancers were better.  Though, I do not think it was strong enough to win the Contest, it will have a good placing.

06  Bosnia & Herzegovina Laka Pokušaj

Another good performance for the Bosnian entry.  It will end in the middle of the pack when all the voting is said and done.

07  Israel Boaz The Fire in Your Eyes

A beautiful performance, even more moving than on Tuesday.  There is no reason why this song shouldn’t do really well tonight.

08  Finland Teräsbetoni Missä Miehet Ratsastaa

The first of the Nordic countries (all of which made it to the Final)…hey, it’s more tolerable than it was on Tuesday!  I still don’t really like it though.  It will probably do well though, as it’s different enough to gain enough support for being so (unlike Turkey, which is a pop rock song).

09  Croatia Kraljevi Ulice & 75 Cents Romanca

I guess the drumming Granny’s boyfriend (MOL2005), the yelling old guy (who one assumes is 75 Cents) trots the line between gimmick act and peasant sound.  As it was Thursday, the singing and the melody, and the dancer were all superb.

10  Poland Isis Gee For Life

Equally as pretty as Tuesday, and equally as boring.  I think this will fall victim to not being as captivating as the other ballads, and not as entertaining as the pop songs.

11  Iceland Euroband This Is My Life

Probably one of the least remembered countries of Europe, Iceland’s Euroband had an unforgettable performance; outdoing their Thursday performance by miles.  I have a lot of faith in this entry; they will have to be outdone in order to lose, as I think they are the best on the night so far.

12  Turkey Mor ve Ötesi Deli

*Due to technical difficulties, this performance was missed live.*

Wow!  Even better than on Thursday!  But I think that 12th was definitely an accurate placing for this song.

More antics with the wannabe hosts down in the green rooms.  More free advertising for countries they happen to walk past.  Though, I do think that they may be marginally better than that girl in pink from Helsinki last year (I can’t remember her name, but I do know that she is a comedian in Finland)

13  Portugal Vânia Fernandes Senhora Do Mar (Negras Águas)

Oh no!  This was not nearly as good as on Thursday night.  I guess she poured all of her heart out just to get here, and didn’t have enough left to do it again.

14  Latvia Pirates Of The Sea Wolves Of The Sea

I don’t remember that middle part with only the music (between the part with the lady in the bubble and the last two times they sung the refrain) from Thursday.  I will have to say, this song seemed to drag on even more than it did the other night.  They seemed to be forcing the song, taking away the playfulness it had originally.

15  Sweden Charlotte Perrelli Hero

A good showing from the former champ.  I think she just put herself back into the running for victory, even though she did look like an alien for the first verse of the song (before the lights came on)

16  Denmark Simon Mathew All Night Long

My opinion about this song has not changed.  I am not quite sure how it made it to the Final, and I do not think it will do well (though, I don’t know if I will go as far as to say it will get last).

17  Georgia Diana Gurtskaya Peace Will Come

A good performance, very moving, and a great message.  I expect this song to do well.  But I don’t think that it will win.

18  Ukraine Ani Lorak Shady Lady

More exhilarating and better executed than on Thursday, and it’s a female from the Ukraine, so it should do very well.

19  France Sébastien Tellier Divine

* Due to technical difficulties, most of this performance was missed live.*

Not a bad song, I understand its placing though.  If he had controlled his voice a bit more (especially when it was lowering after he sucked on the helium) I think this new age song would have done better.  Oh, I thought the golf cart entrance and the background singers being disguised as him were pretty cool.

20  Azerbaijan Elnur & Samir Day After Day

I don’t care what anyone says, countertenors are just plain creepy!  But I guess it fits in with the creepy performance.  There seemed to be a little trouble with the costume change this time.  But that’s just another thing to add to the heap of reasons why this song shouldn’t win.  A lot of high pitched wailing, and disoriented background dancers, some kind of blood colored liquid being poured over someone, etc….

21  Greece Kalomira Secret Combination

Another cookie cutter pop song, but for some reason, I have a feeling it will do ridiculously well (ridiculously, as in much better than the other cookie-cutter pop songs performed tonight)

22  Spain Rodolfo Chikilicuatre Baila El Chiki Chiki

*Due to technical difficulties, this performance was missed live.*

What a fun song!  And have you noticed something, it seems like every Spanish entry (that’s in Spanish) has way more words than any other country could possibly fit in its song.  Not the best of entries, but it was a fun song in the midst of ballads, so that is probably why it got the highest placing of any Big Four country.

23  Serbia Jelena Tomašević feat. Bora Dugic Oro

Great song, great performance, this song was awesome.  My only negative remark is that she had some pitch problems near the beginning of it.

24  Russia Dima Bilan Believe

A better performance than on Tuesday, I think that this will do well, but I will have to go against the bookies (and my earliest predictions) and say that I do not think that this one will win.

25  Norway Maria Hold On Be Strong

Another good performance for Maria.  I think it will do moderately well (maybe a middle of the pack finisher) but I do not think it has enough steam to win.

My Top Five Songs:

1. Portugal

2. Iceland

3. Israel

4. Turkey

5. Croatia

Post-Contest Prediction, The Five Songs I would put money on:

1. Greece (begrudgingly, I will admit that the Greeks seemed to have perfected the generic pop song, and so, despite my lukewarm feelings for the song, I think it has the best chance of winning)

2. Sweden (a good performance, an ex-champ, and a catchy song, it should do well)

3. Iceland (a good song, a great performance, and marked improvement from the Semi to the Final, they have earned that crystal mic)

4. Israel (such a moving song, and the travesty of 2005 needs to be avenged!)

5. Serbia (a beautiful song plus a beautiful singer plus the host country bump equals a good chance at a title defense)

6. Portugal (I know it says five, but I am not ready to give up hope yet.  It is still a good song and had a great performance)

Honorable Mention goes to…The Big Four, all of them put forth good entries, at least it appears that way from the recap.  Two good songs, an entertaining song, and another strong pop song.  Way to go!  –After seeing the four entries, I realize that I may have acted prematurely to hand them kudos, especially since none of them did overly well.  But I do stand by my words, I enjoyed Spain’s, France’s, and the UK’s entries, and thought that Germany had a decent pop song that would have done better than it did.  Oh, well.–

Additionally, I don’t think any of the songs should finish below the top ten (except for maybe Latvia), but unfortunately, 15 of them have to and an additional 9 will also fall short of the crown.  Despite all of the circumstances, all the performers should be proud of themselves for making this one of my favorite years of the ESC.

AND THE WINNER IS…….Russia!  How many times have I predicted that Russia would win?  Three, Four, Five times?  It figures that the one time I don’t bet for them to win it all, they do.  Oh, well, it’s a decent song, and Russia has surely earned the hosting honors after so many top five finishes in the past decade.  As far as my pre-contest selections, Greece, Armenia, and Serbia all finished in the top ten, and Portugal had a respectable placing, but the UK flopped horribly, finishing tied for last with Germany and Poland.  I didn’t get to hear this entry, but from the short clip I have heard, this seems like a grave injustice.  My post-Contest predictions didn’t fare so well.  Israel got tenth, but Sweden and Iceland finished down in the middle of the pack.  I guess Bilan wanted it more than Perilli, but I guess she already had a championship under her belt and so this was just fun for her.

Note:  Sweden and Poland were the recipients of the jury selection from the Thursday and Tuesday Semi-Finals, respectively.  In Poland’s case, it was tenth, and would have qualified anyway, Sweden, though, finished thirteenth and wouldn’t have made it through without the jury.  It will be interesting to see the trend in jury selections’ performance in finals; if they continue to not do well, they may just go back to straight up televoting all ten.

AWARDS

My Top Five Songs:

1. Portugal

2. The Netherlands

3. Hungary

4. Cyprus

5. Moldova

Best Dressed: The Netherlands (a sexy black number that showed enough to entice, but not enough to give away the secret), Poland (would have won if she didn’t have that horrendous fake tan), Croatia (from the black suit and fedora to the dancer’s wine colored dress, a very classy and snazzy looking group)

Most in Need of a Costume Change: Andorra (not so much because of the clothes, her hair was horrendous though), Ireland (I guess all the backers were dressed to look like giant, kindergarten made turkeys, but it just didn’t work), Belgium (she looked like a giant peppermint)

Best Performance: Bosnia & Herzegovina (did a great job of telling the story behind the words), Azerbaijan (good interpretation of the lyrics) Switzerland (it was the whole package in terms of singing talent, song, and entertainment (when are indoor fireworks not fun?))

Worst Performance: Estonia (they seemed lost and confused throughout the performance—whether this was the point or not, I do not know), Belgium (she was out of breath for a lot of it, and for such a happy, cheery song, everything was quite bleary and drab)

Most Attractive:

Woman: Netherlands—Hind is quite attractive, and on Tuesday, quite sexy as well.

Man: Switzerland—This was a blowout, I don’t think any of the other guys in the competition came close to him.

Spirit of ABBA Award: This was a really hard category to pick a winner for, in that there were not a lot of campy acts this year.  If I had to choose one though, I’m thinking…maybe the Czech Republic, it was fun, bouncy, and not incredibly deep in meaning.  That and it was a nice change from the yelling, screaming men from last year.

Final Thoughts:  I think a lot can be said about the lack of gimmicks and campy acts this year.  Maybe the ESC is regressing back to the more mature, pre-1967 era, when camp first started to become popular.  I loved this large collection of ballads and more serious pop entries.  And the more poppy songs lacked that corniness that would cross the line into ABBA-esque.  I am interested to see what kind of consequences this will have next year in Russia.  Speaking of which, I wonder if they will host it in their capital, Moscow, or in St. Petersburg, both because St. P. is where Russia’s largest arena is as well as the historical significance (Peter the Great established St. P. to be a Western city, to endear Russia to the rest of Europe).