….And we’re back! After moving about 720 miles (~1155km), starting a graduate program, and dealing with various personal and health issues, I am back! Thank you for your patience 🙂
So, Dear Readers, this week brings us another playlist. This time, we’re looking at rock songs. When most think of “Eurovision + rock music” they immediately go to Hard Rock Hallelujah (Finland 2006), and with good reason. It is a winning entry and one of the 20 most important ESC songs in history, in my opinion. However, there are many more rock entries that have graced the ESC stage. Below are twenty standout examples from the past few years.
When I say “rock music” — you may think of thrashing guitars and banging drums or power ballad that draws out every emotion or even your favorite eighties hairband. I tried to capture all of these styles (and more) below while also avoiding songs I have previously featured in a playlist. Again, I tried to curate a playlist with a nice flow. Enjoy!
Find the playlist here: Eurovision for Rockers
Georgia 2011 – One More Day performed by Eldrine
Finland 2007 – Leave Me Alone performed by Hanna
Turkey 2010 – We Could be the Same performed by maNga
San Marino 2008 – Complice performed by Miodio
Finland 2015 – Aina Min Pitää performed by Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät
Armenia 2013 – Lonely Planet performed by Dorians
Georgia 2015 – Warrior performed by Nina Sublatti
Turkey 2008 – Deli performed by Mor ve Ötesi
Ukraine 2010 – Sweet People performed by Aliosha
Finland 2014 – Something Better performed by SoftEngine
Iceland 2007 – Valentine Lost performed by Eiríkur Hauksson
Italy 2014 – La Mia Città performed by Emma
Switzerland 2012 – Unbreakable performed by Sinplus
Finland 2008 – Missä Miehet Ratsastaa performed by Teräsbetoni
Albania 2011 – Feel the Passion performed by Aurela Gace
Norway 2005 – In My Dreams performed by Wig Wam
Honorable Mentions: Turkey 2004, Czech Republic 2007, Cyprus 2007, Macedonia 2009, Cyprus 2011, Turkey 2011, Denmark 2011, Macedonia 2012
The Armenian song from 2013 may seem a bit out of place, but it was composed by none other than heavy metal legend Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath fame.
Hard Rock Hallelujah is considered the only rock song to win the Contest. However, quite a few other rock songs have fared well, particularly entries from Turkey, which has three Top Ten rock entries (2004, 2008, 2010).
What’s your favorite rock song from ESC’s history? Do you appreciate the diversity in musical styles that we find at the Contest or would you prefer that most entries just stick to pop?
As a reminder, these weekly playlists are meant to help introduce you to the wide breadth of music from the Contest’s recent history. For various reasons, I am focusing on the “Televoting Era” of the Contest (1998 – present), furthermore, the majority of entries I am choosing come from after semi-finals were introduced in 2004. I also limit the lists to only 20 songs, to help make them more manageable for listening.
The most recent previous list: Eurovision for Dance Parties
Next Week: Eurovision for Breakups
I was hoping to publish this last week, but decided to wait to see if the EBU would release the split jury/televoting results. They have yet to do so and I have grown tired of waiting. If there’s anything significant, you can expect another post!
A beautiful dress that I thought was used brilliantly throughout the performance, particularly when the wind machine was used.
Second Place: Serbia
Not just Joksimović, but the whole ensemble was dressed splendidly.
Third Place: Portugal
I like her dress; I don’t care what others think.
Honorable Mention: Bosnia & Herzgovina, Azerbaijan, Romania
Most In Need of Costume Change
Really, really, do I need to explain this decision?
Second Place: Switzerland
There clothes were not too bad, but their hair was horrendous.
Third Place: Italy
I didn’t much care for her dress or her shoes, or the combination of the two items.
Honorable Mention: Belarus, Denmark, San Marino
“Nemoj mi kvariti dan, nikad mi nije bilo teže/Ti nisi živio sam u zlatu paukove mreže/Kao ja…Korake ti znam”
The lyrics tell a story of woman trying to salvage a relationship. The tale that unfolds in the lyrics really draws you in. Bravo!
Second Place: Spain
“Perdóname si no supe amarte, amor/No era mío el corazón/Quédate conmigo, quédate conmigo/Si no estás, no sale el sol”
Talk about trying to salvage a relationship, Quédate Conmigo poignantly captures the desperation one feels as you try to keep your love from walking away.
Third Place: Azerbaijan
“But I still wanna keep us alive/But it’s cold, cold, cold, cold when the music dies /t’s all black and white and there’s no sunrise/When the music dies”
Completing the pattern is a third song about a woman trying to save a relationship. I love this song because of how final the lyrics are, the singer knows she’s at the end of line this is her final effort. Also, the use of repetition is highly effective, as each time “cold” is sung it becomes more emphatic, more desperate.
Honorable Mention: Iceland, Macedonia, Finland
“Huh?” Award: given to the country the most questionable, lazy, or just plain nonsensical lyrics.
“Kırdžjalom žon-žon-žon, ektom mi kuaž-kuaž alji/Kırdžjalom žon-žon-žon, ektom mi kuaž-kuaž alji/Party for Everybody – Dance!”
The lyrics are rather repetitive, both the refrain and the actual stanzas.
Second Place: Ukraine
“You can be my guest!/People, be my/Guest!/Welcome People!/Na na, na na…”
Gaitana stated that she likes to write simple lyrics so that everyone can understand them. Mission Accomplished.
Third Place: San Marino
“Oh oh, ooh oh oh…/Everybody loves you so/Ooh ooh, ooh oh oh…/Everybody lets you know/Do you wanna be more than just a friend?”
Arguably, it can be said that this was a satirical song. However, I’m surprised that it was allowed to be performed given how many sexual references were littered throughout it.
Honorable Mention: Montenegro, Georgia, Switzerland
“Spirit of ABBA” Award: Give to the stereotypical ESC entry
Mindless pop music – check. Simple lyrics – check. Unbelievably catchy tune – check. Yep, this passes all the tests of standard schlager. Congratulation Anmary of Latvia!
Second Place: Serbia
Returning Serbia to its roots, Joksimović crafted a beautiful ballad of heartbreak that the region has become known for.
Third Place: United Kingdom
Eurovision, past, present, and future, has truly always been about the ballads. And the UK brought a strong one this year, definitely in line with a lot of what has been successful on the ESC stage through history.
Honorable Mention: Romania, Malta, Russia
“This is DC calling” Award: Given to the most American sounding entry
Normally, upon playing entries for friends, one is bound to hear comparisons between it and the American music market. This year, only one elicited an immediate response in this vein – Slovakia.
Second Place: Norway
From the presentation to the costuming to the composition itself, this sounds like something that could easily have been produced in New York or LA.
Third Place: Cyprus
The first time I heard this song, I couldn’t help but think of Rihanna. I think that fact that Cypriots went completely with dance music and forewent any ethno-undertones also contributed to this award.
Honorable Mention: Romania, Germany, Denmark
“Pond Leaper” Award: While I think each song would find a niche here in the USA, I think these songs would be the most popular
Because Americans love dance tracks, particularly ones that are still pop-y enough to receive a lot of radio airplay.
Second Place: Austria
Because Americans love anything imploring them to shake their booty.
Third Place: Germany
Because it’s an unexpected, anti-love ballad, Loeb looks and sounds like your standard indie-pop artist, and the song is catchy enough to have wide-appeal.
Honorable Mention: Italy, France, Hungary, United Kingdom
The “Shiri Maimon Travesty of the Year” Award: In 2005, a true work of art was entered into the ESC; Israel was being represented by Shiri Maimon with the song Hasheket Shinish’Ar. Not only did this song not win, but the winning song that year was not even worthy to be performed on the same stage as the Israeli entry. For me, that was the biggest travesty in Eurovision history. Each year, I hand out this award to the biggest disappointment of the Contest.
This, in my opinion, should have been vying for victory. It was an amazing performance of an amazing composition with amazing lyrics. Of all the entries this year, this one, I think, had the best combination of parts.
Second Place: United Kingdom getting second to last place
This was an amazing ballad, well-deserving of a spot in the Top Ten. It’s a downright shame that this entry faired so poorly.
Now, the big award…My Top Ten Award: Given to my ten favorite songs from the Contest. Like last year, I liked every song enough to put it on my iPod (with one exception), but only ten of them can make this list. The winners are ranked from tenth to first (most favorite). These songs were the ones good enough to grab my attention and affection from the first moment I heard it at the Contest and have gotten the most plays on my iPod.
10. United Kingdom – A wonderful ballad performed by a legend
9. Iceland – A powerful song of lost love
8. Israel – Fun, catchy, and quirky
7. Norway – Great to sing along to!
6. Belarus – This song really grew on me once I looked up the lyrics
5. Italy – The song is dynamic and exciting; not to mention it keeps jazz relevant at the Contest
4. Sweden – An emotional and haunting song, truly beautiful
3. Spain – An impassioned ballad that truly connects the listener to the singer’s pain
2. Cyprus – Fun, catchy, and easy to sing along – and dance – to
1. France – My favorite entry despite the performance on Saturday night because of the lyrics, the music, the originality of the composition; I love Anggun’s voice on this track and love how all the various elements of the song come together as one.
First and foremost, kudos to Azerbaijan for a job well done! I was pleasantly surprised by how well the event went. Even though they did run over on the Final, I thought the pacing of the performances was great. I enjoyed the postcards (even if they were a bit repetitive) and the interval acts.
Unlike the last couple of years, I do not have any major complaints or qualms about how things ultimately went down and have not seen too much backlash. Should Norway have been last, probably not, but hey – they’ve done it more than anyone else, so it’s not very surprising. Did a few songs outperform where they should have ended up, yes. Did a few songs score lower than they deserved, yes. Was there any outrageous placements, not really. 2012 was a year with minimal controversy. I think it’s also worth noting that the Greeks have finally fallen from grace; for the first time since 2003, the Hellenic Republic has fallen outside the Top Ten. I wonder if this is a reflection of Europe growing tired of them sending the same song every year (I doubt that) or more a reflection of the strength of competition this time around (much more likely).
Overall, a good (but not great) year for the ESC. There were strong entries that were beautiful examples of artistry and there were entries meant more for entertainment purposes. The entirety of the Big Five seem to be taking the Contest very seriously and are seeing the fruits of their labor. In fact, just about every country seems to be taking it seriously, and those that don’t seem to be competing with gag entries that actually stand a chance of doing well. Overall, I’m pleased with the outcome as well as the trend that Sweden’s victory sets. Serious entries with heartfelt performances are still winning and the results are diverse enough that no one can complain of bloc voting. Of the Top Ten, three were from the former USSR, one was Nordic, and one was Yugoslavian (the three blocs considered to be the most powerful). Of the remaining five, three hailed from Western Europe, one was Turkey, and one was a country with one of the most unremarkable ESC records out there (Albania). While I don’t think this Contest was particularly historic, I do think it will be remembered as one of the smoothest and least controversial ones to date.
And we’re back for Semi-Final number 2! Unlike most years, when one semi-final is vastly superior to the other (the Thursday one always fits this description), both of this year’s semi-finals are pretty evenly matched, both within themselves and between them. of course, I think, as a whole the six automatic qualifiers are stronger than either semi-final, and I expect to that all six countries will find themselves in the top fifteen, at least. But more on that on Saturday. Tonight, it’s about celebrating these eighteen entries!
So, just to recap, I think the ten qualifiers will be:
Croatia Bosnia & Herzegovina
Let the fun BEGIN!
Why are they making such a big deal out of French? It’s not that hard of a language.
Wow, they really do talk like a bunch of preschool teachers. And why is it always “Az-zer-bai-jan” as if it’s four words?
And that was a miscue – “sit down…music!”
Serbia – Nije Ljubav Stvar performed by Željko Joksimović
Of course, Joksimović has a small orchestra on stage with him. Ooh! Twin lady violinists. Not exactly the most electrifying way to start off the semi-final, but it’s an awesome song, nevertheless.
Macedonia – Crno i Belo performed by Kaliopi
I like this! It’s a greast rock song, and the backing singers are well utilized. I actually prefer this version with the backing vocals and a little less intensity (but more passion) from Kaliopi to the studio version. I hope she does well, this could actually qualify, even though many think it won’t.
People said this had an outside chance of qualifying due to its charm and understated nature. Franka would have to nail the performance for this to happen, and she is quite flat throughout the entire song.
Malta – This is the Night performed by Kurt Calleja
That thing Calleja is doing with his legs during the refrain is kinda creepy. Why, on earth, would you let some random backgin singer take the shining moment of the song? What was Calleja thinking? That killed what little chance this entry had of getting through to the Final. See you next year Malta…hey, isn’t Chiara eligible to compete again in 2013…
Belarus – We are the Heroes performed by LiteSound
This seems like something that would be popular but the singer isn’t that great and they’re dressed like goons. How did the backing guys go horizontal like that? I think I will be giving away their spot to a more worthy contender by the end of the night.
Portugal – Vida Minha performed by Filipa Sousa
Nice, pleasant song with a nice, pleasant performance. Notice I did not say captivating or enthralling. Sorry Portugal, another year in the semis for you.
Ukraine – Be My Guest performed by Gaitana
Already, the most entertaining entry before she’s even started singing. Is she really taking this song on by herself? Oh wait, there’s dancers with trumpets…oh, and now there’s more dancers. This song works because there’s a crowd like atmosphere on the studio track. This just sounds like one loony lady out there trying to advertise her little bed & breakfast on a cheap budget. Disappointing.
I rather like this. Marinova is doing a great job, the stage looks great (I love the sparkler fans). I think that this entry just might surprise a lot of people and sneak into the Final.
Slovenia – Verjamem performed by Eva Boto
The attack of the teenage girls! They’re pretty good though. Definitely one of the better Slovenian entries to date. Boto will definitely carry Slovenia back into the Grand Final.
Was I the only expecting her costume to change when the dancers got closer and the song hit a big note? I don’t quite understand the use of the white sheet in the performance. Otherwise – good stuff! I hope this makes it through.
Sweden – Euphoria performed by Loreen
With all the pyrotechnics in use this year, leave it to good ol’ Sweden to let everyone know that the wind machine is still here and not going anywhere! I’m glad that kept things minimal like the Melodifestevalen performance. I definitely think, though, that Loreen is holding back tonight – I expect her to bring it, and hard, come Saturday.
Georgia – I’m a Joker performed by Anri Jokhadze
Wow. That was a mess. This is why Georgia has never sent a man to be the lead performer before. I really don’t think that they will make it to the Final this year.
Turkey – Love Me Back performed by Can Bonomo
Right, Azerbaijanis basically consider themselves Turkish. That would explain the huge crowd reaction. I’m not gonna lie, I wish I had his coat; that a nice piece of fabric. Am I the only one that thinks that this could be a villain song in a cheesy musical? Guy wants a girl who doesn’t want him and takes her captive on his boat saying that she must clearly love him. All sinister undertones aside, this will easily make it through.
Estonia – Kuula performed by Ott Lepland
Lepland had a real chance to capitalize on weak performances by some of the more popular entries, and I think he’s blowing it. I’m not quite sure if he’s sick or what, but he’s off-key. As the song goes one, he’s getting better, but it’s still generally off. And he definitely botched some of the lyrics, a major no, no!
Slovakia – Don’t Close Your Eyes performed by Max Jason Mai
Mai is rather off-key as well. Such a shame. This is probably Slovakia’s best ever entry and their best chance of qualifying, and I think they’re blowing it. At least the staging was rather nice and the backing singers did their jobs.
The staging of this song is rather nice, but I never did think Tooji was much of a singer. I this will easily progress to the Final; not sure how it will fare once it gets there, though.
Bosnia & Herzegovina – Korake Ti Znam performed by Maya Star
Probably the best artistic piece tonight, and maybe in the entire Contest this year. It should move through easily; though, just because something exemplifies all the qualities that should the key of a strong ESC entry, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will do well (just look at Israel 2010). I do expect her to win at least one Marcel Bezaçon Award.
Lithuania – Love is Blind performed by Donny Montell
Montell is freakin’ adorable, especially when he tries to be cooler than he actually is, like, when the tempo picks up and he starts dancing and saying “oh, yeah.” That was rather pleasant. And, as I always say, never underestimate the power of a pleasant song being delivered by an attractive young person – which this entry clearly exemplifies.
Looking at the recap of songs, Joksimović (Serbia) and Kaliopi (Macedonia) really make the other 16 artists look like amateurs.
My Top Ten
1. Serbia (quite clearly the best act tonight)
2. Bosnia & Herzegovina (great song and great performance)
3. Macedonia (awesome job Kaliopi!)
4. Sweden (I just really like this song, but was generally disappointed and expect a lot more on Saturday)
5. Croatia (strong performance of a decent song)
6. Bulgaria (better than expected performance)
7. Lithuania (better than expected, one of the few to stay mostly on pitch through the whole song)
8. Turkey (fun song with a fun performance)
9. Slovenia (nice, not quite sure if I understand all the hype around this entry, though)
10. Portugal (overall, very pleasant)
The Ten I think will make it through
Serbia – this is not a question
Bosnia & Herzegovina – it’s a strong entry and has a lot of hype
Sweden – again, this is an unquestioned assumption
Lithuania – I think he did enough to win over voters
Turkey – c’mon, no way Turkey’s missing two years in a row
Slovenia – there’s too much hype around this one not to qualify
Ukraine – despite her less-than-solid performance, it’s hard to bet against the Ukraine
Norway – I think this song is too popular not to make it, plus Persians around Europe will be voting for Tooji
Bulgaria – I’m sure I’m not the only fan that she made tonight
Croatia – I think she did enough to make it through, not to mention she is bound to get points from each of the other former Yugoslav countries voting tonight
I love Eurovision medleys, particularly when done by the actual artists. But will we really have to sit through Running Scared again on Saturday? It’s not that captivating of a song and I was not anticipating having to hear so often this week (I don’t know what I was thinking). At least where El was for the past fifteen minutes.
Love the crowd shots (and the one of Joksimović in the Green Room) during Marija Šerofović’s part. Is it just me, or does the instrumentation during her section still sound quite Balkan? Alexander Rybak is in top form tonight and Lena just can’t stay away from the ESC stage. I have a feeling she’s gonna be like Lys Assia and try to come back in her eighties. Satellite sounds kinda weird in this arrangement.
Waterloo! The “Oh No!” is right as Nikki has lost both the words and the pitch. And Dima Bilan shows Europe that his mic has been turned off. What a nice touch – and, we didn’t have hear Running Scared, double bonus!
Honestly, after tonight and Tuesday, I really want to think that all six automatic qualifiers will make the Top Ten.
The ten that actually make it to the Grand Final
A. Lithuania (1 correct for 1 total qualifier)
B. Bosnia & Herzegovina (2 for 2)
C. Serbia (3 for 3; did you see his face, not an ounce of concern there)
D. Ukraine (4 for 4)
E. Sweden (5 for 5; you know, the camera folks should really stop showing the qualifiers before they are revealed. they did the same thing in Germany last year)
F. Macedonia (5 for 6; nice! of course, there goes my perfect record)
G. Norway (6 for 7)
H. Estonia (6 for 8; hmm, interesting, definitely helps that he followed some weak vocal performances)
J. Malta (6 for 9; what! I did not expect this at all! How did this make it through?)
(Surely Turkey will not be left behind again! But, I could not imagine Slovenia failing, either)
K. Turkey (7 for 10; of course)
I am rather shocked that Slovenia did not make it. I know she was picked to do well with the bookies and was receiving a lot of good press. Less surprised by Bulgaria and Croatia coming up short, though. Rather shocked that Malta made it through, but now that I think about it, I assume that the UK gave the tiny nation its 12 points for the night. I wholly expect This is the Night to come in dead last, though, come Saturday as the UK will have its usually suspects (Ireland, Greece, France, and Germany) to dole points out to. As for the Netherlands, that was everyone’s trendy pick for making it through unexpectedly, her early spot in the running order did her in.
Honestly, though, I don’t think tonight did anything to change the landscape for the top contenders (except Slovenia, who some thought could make a big move this year for the top). We will still expect to see Sweden, Iceland, and Serbia duke it out for the victory, with Spain, France, and Norway nipping at their heels – that is, if you can believe the bookmakers. Cyprus and Greece proved themselves to be highly overrated on Tuesday and I no longer consider them serious contenders for the crown. I wholly expect Turkey, Azerbaijan, Russia, Germany, and the UK to get decent placings as well. The only country that I think could really surprise people and make a big move without a lot of attention beforehand is Italy. The bookies have L’Amore É Femmina as potential Top Ten finisher without the Internet chatter really being there to back it up. We shall see, we shall see.
Hello Dear Readers!
We are one week from first semi-final! Rehearsals have kicked off in Baku and things look like they’re going to be awesome! As I said in my previous post, due to timing issues, I broke my rule of avoiding ESC songs so that I can see them fresh on the night. Oh well, now I am doing the opposite, as they seem to be the only music that makes my ears happy as of late.
It’s time for my final, pre-Contest predictions – these are based on listening to the songs, considering history, reading internet chatter, and consulting the bookmakers (betting odds).
Predictions for Semi-Final One:
Greece – it makes sense that the Greeks will move through, they always. They have a decent song with a hot beat. Despite its resemblance to My Number One, I don’t see this song achieving any higher than Top Ten.
Cyprus – aside from having the second most views on the official YouTube channel (which indicates either a lot of folks are choosing to listen to it or there’s an incredibly devout few who listen to it on repeat), this song is trending well, is significantly better than its two neighbors in the running order (San Marino & Denmark) in terms of composition, lyrics, and performance.
Iceland – quite possibly the strongest ballad this year, it’s a well-done, epic composition that is performed passionately. I think Iceland will surprise many people this year.
Denmark – it’s a pleasant entry that will collect votes from those bored by the ballads and turned-off by the dance tunes. It also seems to have a lot of pleasant web chatter around it.
Russia – the most watched video, by a lot. Clearly, though, this gimmick will not win. It’s popular because the six ladies are so adorable not because it’s contribution to the music world.
Ireland – while we’re on the topic of gimmicks, this is one that has outlived its usefulness. Last year they had an electrifying and entertaining entry. This year, they try to bring an entry that requires them to actually sing, I expect this one to limp into the Final and flounder.
Hungary – a pop rock song that people can easily sing along to. I don’t expect it to make much impact in the Final, but at least it will be there.
Switzerland – see Hungary
Moldova – the last one to get in, I think, will be Moldova. It’s just quirky enough to charm juries and fans. It does not seem to have a lot of buzz, but I think it will be hard to ignore once it’s performed on stage.
Predictions for Semi-Final Two:
Sweden – The bookmakers’ favorite and one that often lands near the top of a lot of fans’ lists. She passionately performs this song and gives the Swedes a strong chance of claiming victory number four.
Serbia – Joksimović is a Contest hero and will move through to the Final based on his name alone. I do not think he will claim that much coveted winner’s trophy, but I think that he will get Serbia back to the Top Ten.
Norway – For a song that combines a hot guy with a cool choreography and a fast-paced club tune, it has very little traction across the internet. The prevailing theories seem to think that it will serve the purpose of syphoning votes from Sweden and opening doors for another country to win.
Turkey – I said it before and I will say it again, Turks around Europe will not let this one fail like last year’s song. This holds especially true since The Netherlands, Germany, France, and Georgia are all voting in this semi-final.
Slovenia – a bit of a sleeper, this song seems to be fairly popular across the Internet. I expect it to qualify then flounder in the Final.
Belarus – bloggers seem to have a lot of faith in this song. Since its primary competition is Hungary and Switzerland, it will probably win that race and finish ahead of those two.
Croatia – This song, which I think is better than BiH and Slovenia, seems to have little popularity on the Internet. I disagree and expect Croatia to sneak into the Final.
Ukraine – It’s hard to bet against Ukraine to finish outside the Top Ten, let alone not qualify for the Final. While I think that this song will easily make the cut on Thursday night, I don’t have the same faith that it will succeed in reaching the Top Ten.
Slovakia – Like Croatia, I don’t quite understand the lack of buzz around this song. Surely it is the strongest Slovakian entry to date and stands alone in its style. I couldn’t imagine it not qualifying for the Final.
Predictions for the Automatic Qualifiers:
All six songs seem to have a lot of support, particularly from the bookies. Interestingly enough, the UK seems to have the most fan support while Spain and Italy both are receiving a lot of attention from the bookies. I think Spain has a real chance to win, but the other are just not quite the right style for this year. France was a popular choice when the entry was first released. While I love the song, and think that Anggun will be amazing, I don’t think it has enough to win this year. Same goes with the Azerbaijani song.