Hello Dear Readers!
Welcome to my wrap-up post, so happy you could join me. Today, we’ll be giving out some awards as well as taking a step back to look at this year’s Contest as a whole. As I’ve noted before, this is one of my favorite winners and am happy with many of the results from this year. Come join me as we honor some of the best and worst from Tel Aviv! Please note, I do not own any photos/videos used here – all rights reserved to the EBU unless otherwise noted.
Annual Eurovision Obsession Awards
Tears won’t fall
While pride stands tall
Maybe they can’t be heard or seen
But tears aren’t quiet things –
A powerful ballad of heartbreak working against the machismo. Just because you are a man does not mean you shouldn’t show emotion. I love how, even though this is a song about a relationship ending, it is really a deeper look at the power of feeling one’s feelings.
‘Cause the face in the mirror
Just couldn’t look clearer right back through me
And how I’d like to say
It will be better tomorrow or any day
Yeah I’m talking ’bout you, you, you…
And the luck you try to find
A song about deep introspection and realizing that pushing beyond your limits for the sake of others leaves one empty and hurting. So powerful.
Honorable Mentions: Albania, Azerbaijan, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Serbia
The “Huh?” Award for Worst Lyrics: Given to the country the most questionable, lazy, or just plain nonsensical lyrics.
The stars are not always visible
Stay true to yourself
Don’t tell me to forgive you
I realize that this song is predominantly meant to capture the feeling of unconditional love between a young couple; but the lyrics make little sense. Perhaps these are common Slovenian phrases and ideas that just don’t translate well into English.
I dream of love
You dream of love
Angels of God
We all dream of love
So, one element of songs that do well in this award is lazy or unimaginative song writing. This one takes the cake in that regard. It is a standard, trite song hoping for a better tomorrow. Not saying that the message is bad, the lyrics are just poor.
Honorable Mentions: Estonia, Finland, Norway, San Marino
Best Dressed Award
A beautiful black dress, stunning silver accessories including a dynamic necklace, flowing blonde hair, and make-up that turns up the contrast. Everything about Nevena Božović’s outfit is amazing and worn with elegance.
Another black dress. Jonida Maliqi outfit perfectly blends traditional elements with contemporary design, just like the song Ktheju Tokës. It even had the added bonus of making the staging reminiscent of the Albanian flag when the stage was lit in red.
Honorable Mentions: Australia, Israel, Montenegro
Most in Need of a Costume Change Award
The outfit, in addition to looking awful, poorly fit Eliot; so, he looked even more mousy and small than he is. It was just a very poor outfit situation all-around. I’m not quite sure what happened here, but I hope Belgium gets their act together moving forward.
Look at that shirt! It’s red and gold and it’s shiny. It does not seem to fit the song at all. I do not understand this outfit choice at all.
Honorable Mentions: Croatia, Cyprus, Portugal, Romania
Best Staging Award
Made to look like a hot music video, She Got Me had a stunning, contemporary, hot staging. From the narrow perspective to open, to the constant use of red throughout, to the dance routine, to even having Luca Hanni wear a mesh shirt. Switzerland went all out and it paid off with the country’s first Top Ten placing since 2005.
The winner for the Marcel Bezençon Award for Artistry, Australia’s staging was magically, whimsical, and impressive. The interplay of the backing screen, her outfit, and their motions created this awesome floating effect. I didn’t have this one win because, unlike Switzerland, which got even sharper from the semi-final to the grand final, the Australian performance took a (small) step backwards.
Honorable Mentions: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Czech Republic, Israel, Moldova, North Macedonia, San Marino
Worst Staging Award
Angel wings equals an automatic zero in the staging department from me. Yes, even though angels are explicitly mentioned in the song. Not to mention there was just so much going on during Croatia’s three minutes. It was all just too much.
When you have a song with the potential to inspire confidence in men, of all sexualities, who do not live up to masculinity ideals – you should capitalize on that and have a broad array of men on stage with you. France did not take this perspective. Aside from my general unease with the laying claim to the experiences of women to serve gay men’s purpose, when the song is literally called “King” shouldn’t that be the emphasis? Otherwise they should have titled the song “Moi” – no other lyric would have to change and the staging would have made more sense and felt more genuine.
Honorable Mentions: Germany, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom
“This is DC Calling” Award: Given to the most American sounding entry. This in NO way counts as an endorsement for the US entering the Contest, an idea which I staunchly oppose.
The twang in Victor Crone’s voice, the vaguely inspirational message of the lyrics, the basic composition – this all screams contemporary Christian music (which I’ve said before). This would be right at home on any generic Christian station in the US.
Just like Storm is a generic contemporary Christian song, Too Late for Love is a generic R&B song – though, not quite as contemporary. John Lundvik actually hit the American sound twice, both with his own song and the one he co-wrote and co-composed for the United Kingdom.
Honorable Mentions: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Slovenia, Switzerland, United Kingdom
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
Runner-Up: United Kingdom
Honorable Mentions: Greece, The Netherlands, North Macedonia, Serbia, Switzerland
The “Spirit of ABBA” Award: Given to the most stereotypical and/or traditional ESC entry
So, an under-appreciated, yet very common ESC genre, is the children’s song. And what lyric can be more childish than “love is forever” when sung with such a saccharine smile. A cute song with a bubbly message and catchy hook. Love is Forever is clearly the most ESC entry this year at ESC.
Runner-Up: San Marino
Additionally, few things represent ESC as nonsense lyrics. Say Na Na Na fits this to a T. It’s so simple and fun, a perfect example of schlager.
Honorable Mentions: Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Norway, Poland, Spain
The “Shiri Maimon Travesty of the Year” Award
In 2005, a true work of art was entered into the ESC; Israel was 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.
Winner: Madonna’s performance
There were simply too many interval acts this year. This was, by far, the weakest of them all. Madonna is a legend who revolutionized culture and deeply impacted pop music. It may be time for her to ride off into that beautiful sunset. I know the retirement age in the US is 65, but I think she’s earned the ability to head home five years early.
Runner-Up: EBU bungling the Belorussian automated jury vote
Human error is to be expected from a human-run event. But still, for all of eternity, when watching this Contest back, this error will need to be pointed out and corrected for folks watching. It also shines a light on the still mysterious and needlessly clandestine algorithm used to calculate votes for missing juries and televotes. Show your work, EBU, we’re curious!
Honorable Mentions: Too many interval acts. UK coming last, Germany’s poor showing, Ireland’s poor performance
Again, one of my favorite years and favorite winners ever. I am so happy to have been able to bring the Eurovision Obsession Awards back after missing last year. What are your favorites and least favorites from this year. Be sure to check-out my Final Thoughts if you have not already; they’ve been updated with the correct scoreboard and with links to the various media outlets I appeared on following ESC in May. Stay tuned for further posts as we celebrate Ten Years of Eurovision Obsession! As always, you can find @escobsession on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and Sporcle.
Hello Dear Readers!
Well, there you have it; another Eurovision in the books. This one was, in my opinion, one of the most entertaining and diverse Contests we’ve had in a while, even if the songs were not as strong as in recent years. And, of course, I’m happy to have seen my favorite win. So, let’s take a breath, take a step back, and take a look at ESC 2019.
Which I will be doing on KUSH 1600AM at 8am US Central Time on Monday (20 May) (of Cushing, Oklahoma, USA – Part One & Part Two) and with the EuroWhat? Podcast this upcoming week to talk with Ben and Mike about this year’s results!
This is the fifth Dutch victory, after the Netherlands won in 1957, 1959, 1969, and 1975. They are now tied for third for all-time victories along with the United Kingdom, France, and Luxembourg (Ireland is first with seven wins, Sweden is second with six). Arcade is only the eleventh winner to be performed by a solo male (Rise Like a Phoenix is not counted, as its credited artist is the female character Conchita Wurst).
This is only the second time the final scoreboard had to be adjusted after the Contest. The first was in 1998 when Croatia was docked 1/3 of its points after the EBU ruled the synthesized male chorus on the backing track broke the “spirit of the rule” requiring all lyrics to be live (this is the reason all backing tracks must be turned in ahead of time in March). The EBU announced that, due to human error, the wrong jury votes were calculated on behalf of the disqualified Belorussian jury. The jury from Belarus was disqualified due to sharing video of the jury deliberation process from the First Semi-Final; this is against the rules and the EBU punished them accordingly. Using a secret algorithm, the EBU calculates automated scores for disqualified juries or televotes. This had been used quite a few times since the new voting system was introduced in 2016. The results read live on air during the Contest were reversed, resulting in the bottom ten of the automated ranking receiving points as opposed to the Top Ten. After several fans noted how weird the votes were given what one would predict for Belarus, the EBU eventually reissued the Belorussian jury points, resulting in several changes to the scoreboard, including North Macedonia now being the jury champion and Israel receiving null points from the juries.
Other historical notes:
**updated with the corrected scoreboard
This is the best ever placing for North Macedonia (
2nd 1st in the jury, 8th 7th place overall) and its first ever Top Ten finish.
This is the best ever placing for San Marino (10th in the televote,
20th 19th overall).
This is the second time that the victor was neither the top in televote nor among the juries (Ukraine 2016 was the first).
This is the third time that Italy has been a runner-up (1974 and 2011 are the others).
This is Switzerland’s best finish (third place) since coming in second back in 1993.
This is the Azerbaijan’s first Top Ten finish since 2013, when it was runner-up.
This is the first Top Ten finish for Iceland since 2009, when it was runner-up. This is also its first qualification since 2014.
This is only the fourth last place for the United Kingdom (2003, 2008, 2010).
This is the third year in a row, and fourth time in five years, that the host country came in the bottom ten.
Finally, Sweden retains the top spot for longest streak of Top Ten finishes, which now stands at 6.
Behind it is Italy, which now has three consecutive Top Ten finishes.
Australia maintains its 100% qualification record.
Montenegro now has the longest non-qualification streak, which now stands at 4.
Unsurprisingly, Sweden has the longest qualification streak at 9, having made the Final every year since 2011.
I am ecstatic that some of my favorite songs did so well, particularly the Netherlands and North Macedonia. So, after all of the performances this week, what are my favorite ten songs from the Contest?
4. Czech Republic
3. North Macedonia
1. The Netherlands
This was quite the year! I think this was perhaps one of the most entertaining and engaging Grand Finals in quite some time. It was also one of the longest. Come on EBU! Five interval acts is way too many. The section with the past winners and runner-ups performing each other’s songs was fantastic! The Ilan Raichel Project was lovely and I quite enjoyed them. The mentalist was superfluous. The Gal Godot video could have been at any other point in the night – perhaps the beginning. The opening act could have clipped down the video or simply replaced it with Gal Godot before the parade of nations. And the Madonna section was unnecessary and bad — we did neither needed it nor wanted it. We can cut the show back down to three hours – or at least down to three and a half. We can do this! It’s not that difficult. Otherwise, I think KAN did a fantastic job – the stage was beautiful. I look forward to what AVROTROS will do next year in the Netherlands — I already have a hotel in Rotterdam; crossing my fingers that it hosts, since it is the only major city not to host a Eurovision thus far.
And, before I go, I want to congratulate AVROTROS on a job well done. This victory was eight years in the making. It started with the TROS (the broadcaster’s previous incarnation) deciding on a new approach: taking Eurovision seriously. They began by connecting with the Dutch music industry, calling upon Anouk, one of the country’s biggest stars, to restore the county to its former glory. Since Birds became the first Dutch entry in nine years to qualify for the Final and first in thirteen Contests to finish Top Ten, the Netherlands has consistently sent industry stars, resulting in five qualifications (out of six Contests), including a second place in 2014 and now this victory. AVROTROS is a perfect example of a country deciding to actively pursue winning, giving musicians the freedom to craft their own song and performance, and not being afraid to take the long game approach. Hmm, perhaps a few other countries can follow this model and give established artists free reign to create strong entries on their own, just saying. The Dutch music industry is not nearly the strongest one on the continent…
One more friendly reminder: I will be featured on KUSH 1600AM at 8am US Central Time on Monday (20 May) (of Cushing, Oklahoma, USA – Part One & Part Two) and with the EuroWhat? Podcast this upcoming week to talk with Ben and Mike about this year’s results!
Another fantastic Contest that I will be watching for years to come. Many strong entries, a great production, and a winner with whom I fully agree. I cannot wait to attend next year!
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:
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!
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:
Now, who do I think will finish in the Top Ten? Not sure…
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.
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)
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.”
For 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!
Hello Dear Readers!
Times for the Second Semi-Final and to select the final ten qualifiers for the Grand Final! Eighteen countries compete, these plus Germany, Italy, and UK vote, and we get ten more songs for Saturday.
As a reminder, here is my pre-show prediction of qualifiers:
These will likely change after hearing and seeing the songs live tonight. So, let’s go!
No interval tonight. Just too many hosts, none of whom are all that interesting unfortunately.
Armenia: I like her look and I think she sounds great! While the overall staging and camera work are good, I think she looks and sounds small, like the space is owning her and not the other way around. Nice pyro effect. OH! She botched that big note. Let’s hope it’s not in the recap. Though, I do not think it is enough to stop her from qualifying.
Ireland: I love her outfit! She sounds super mousy. Is that purposeful? Love the retro look and feel of this staging. She has zero energy, though. I think she’s perhaps too focused on hitting all of her cues and not just singing the song. Some nice shots of Irish fans going wild. Aside from her lack of energy, I think this is as good as it could have been.
Moldova: Oh!! Sand art, we haven’t seen that since Ukraine 2011. As much as I enjoy this song, I don’t know if that gimmick is enough to move this song through. I am LOVING this sand artist and her effects, especially those footsteps. And I love their outfits; they look beautiful. Is it enough? Not sure, we’ll see.
Switzerland: WHOA! Absolutely love this camera work. This staging is perfect. The singing is amazing – both Luca and his backing singer should be very proud of themselves. This is the first song thus far (including Tuesday) that I can feasibly see winning. Let’s just say, I am happy to already have my hotel in Zurich booked for next year (along with a few other places).
Latvia: One of my favorites this year. I love this faux black & white look of the staging. This is a perfect example of a ballad with a lot of energy in it. It’s slow, but she and her backers are still singing fully and you can feel their investment in this. I don’t think it would have taken anything away to have the extra two ladies on stage with her.
Romania: They’re going with the same horror movie aesthetic from the music video. I like that choice – bold but a calculated risk. Hate her outfit, though. She could stand to articulate more, but even without clear words, the madness she’s singing about comes through. Great voice!
Oh, golly, Conchita Wurst is back! And with a brand new look. Actually, my understanding is that Tom Neuwirth actually moved away from Conchita as his primary act and is trying to draw more attention to the more masculine persona “WURST.”
Denmark: I see they are duplicating the DMGP staging. Glad to see the hear the audience get so into it. Love how diverse her collection of performers are. That was nice and pleasant. Not sure if it is enough, though.
Sweden: I am not the biggest fan of this song, but even I can’t help but sing along and be caught up in it. What the heck are his backing singers wearing?! Well done, another easy qualifier.
Austria: I totally appreciate her vulnerability. She is conveying that brokenness of the lyrics very well. I still don’t think it is engaging enough to qualify, but I think this is the best possible performance that this song could have.
Croatia: So, why I like this song well enough, but don’t see a path forward for it. It is impressive that he can sounds so good laying on his back. So, I do not quite get the staging, did he die in the lava and is now among those “angels of God?” Also, I think having literal angel dancers is a bit much. It didn’t work for Bulgaria in 2010, cannot see it helping now. Oh no! He missed that big note towards the end – otherwise, a flawless vocal performance.
Malta: Definitely playing up to her youth, here. The staging is SO MUCH FUN! You can tell they’re having a good time up there. This is also the way how one effectively makes a huge stage small. Another Top Ten performance tonight.
Lithuania: He sounds good and his hair looks nice. This song is just mediocre and overall less impressive than Croatia, which is the other mediocre song tonight.
Russia: Let’s see if this lives up to 2016’s staging. I do think it may have been a mistake to try to rely on his voice so much. Oh! his reflections is sentient. He’s certainly a pop singer. Not gonna lie, I was hoping for a more dynamic staging.
Albania: One of my absolute favorites this year. Let’s see how it goes. I think the backing singers are a bit too loud. It creates this cacophony instead of textured harmonies. I do love her outfit, though, very tradition yet contemporary. Just as I was about to say how her vocals were great, she botched many of those final notes.
Norway: Schlager at its best, everyone. It’s a lot of fun. And I enjoy how the graphics capture the idea of calling out to Sami spirits (which is what the song is about). Just everything about this feels dated, though. The smart money would be on this qualifying, but I am not sure.
The Netherlands: The big favorite and my favorite. Let’s see. Oh! The use of the backing vocals for the refrain is perfect! I don’t quite understand the piano, especially one that is so small. But I think he doesn’t have much stage presence, so the piano is there to give him something to distract himself with so he doesn’t let his nerves take over. The use of lighting is on point!
North Macedonia: Oh, the fleet of reflections is cool. Don’t like her dress, but it’s not heinous. If you’re going to do such a basic, stripped down staging, your vocals must be dazzling. So far, so good. Oh! Love the images being projected on the back. They should have kept it going when she started singing again. Oh! Keeping the backing vocals quiet until the climax was a good decision. Again, a great vocal performance without much energy behind it.
Azerbaijan: Glad to see Azerbaijan back to its over-the-top stagings. The robotic arms are a perfect touch to emphasize the futuristic tone of the composition. Hmm, not sure those high notes are translating as well as they could. Fun.
And there we have it! The eighteen songs from tonight. Time for the recap.
My Top Ten from tonight:
Who I think will qualify (in no particular order):
I think Austria and Lithuania did enough tonight (and, more likely, last night) to push ahead of Albania and Denmark in my predictions. Again, I know the smart money is on Norway to qualify, but, I don’t know, I just don’t think it will.
Interval Act – Shalva Band: So, apparently, this group was supposed to represent Israel this year, but didn’t want to perform on Saturday (which is necessary for Grand Final competition) for religious reasons. So, they gave them this spot instead. Wow, these girls’ voices are amazing! Yeah, this song would do way better than Home in the Grand Final. Oh, well.
Let’s look at our auto-qualifiers!
Germany: My biggest guilty pleasure this year. Meh., they really should have kept the turning table. But they do sound great. Don’t like their outfits, though.
Italy: His outfit is awful. And I hope he has a bit more energy for the real thing. This was one of the big favorites until rehearsals began, I guess now I know why.
United Kingdom: The staging for this is confusing. The BBC has enough money to afford more than some generic space effects. The thing this song has going for it is Michael Rice’s voice, so he better step it up tomorrow night and Saturday.
FINALLY – Our Qualifiers
North Macedonia – Woohoo! Well deserved! (1 correct out of 1 countries)
The Netherlands – Yay! High quality song right here! (2 for 2)
Albania – pleasant surprise! Her jury performance must have been great (2 for 3)
Sweden – as expected (3 for 4)
Russia – no surprises here (4 for 5)
Azerbaijan – woohoo! shaking off last year’s fluke (5 for 6)
Denmark – whoa, guess I should have stuck with my gut on this one. Hopefully this means Lithuania won’t make it? (5 for 7)
Norway – No surprise, I guess, but I still didn’t anticipate it (5 for 8)
Switzerland – Probably the strongest performance tonight, so, makes sense (6 for 9)
Malta! No surprise, well deserved, as well! Happy for Malta to break its non-qualification streak (7 for 10)