A Eurovision post-mortem

Denmark win Eurovision 2013
Denmark win Eurovision 2013

So that’s that. Eurovision over for another year.

And what a show.

Sweden did an excellent job demonstrating that you put can on a fantastic Eurovision without breaking the bank. You just need some style, humour, lashing of irony and avoid the need to sell your country like a commodity. Take note, Azerbaijan.

I really warmed to the host, Petra Mede, as the show progressed. I admit I was quite dismissive of her style during the semi-finals, but by the time she was singing during the interval act and joking about horse meat in Ikea meatballs, she had me eating from the palm of her hand.

If I had my way, she’d be presenting every year. And the way she handled the show-boating vote-monkeys later in the show was priceless.

That is how you leave an international audience with a good impression of your country. Leave out the earnest speeches about how technologically advanced you are and how your civilisation stretches back to the bronze age.

Poke some fun at your own foibles and the rest of the world will laugh along with you.

I’ve been to Sweden a couple of times, but after last night’s show I know I’ll definitely be back for more.

Oh yes, the music.

I thought several of the acts really did themselves proud. Anouk for the Netherlands was a prime example. She took a technically very difficult song and brought the house down. Netherlands ended up in the top 10 after failing to qualify for the final for the last nine years.

A number of the others stand out for me in terms of performance: Estonia, Italy, France, Malta. All did a great job. The voting public failed to agree with me, but I’m used to that.

Denmark won, for example, with a song I never warmed to and an act that was a cross between “Les Miserables” and “High School Musical”. But it raced ahead within 10 minutes of the votes being announced.

Estonia, a song I loved, fared very poorly in terms of votes. But she can walk away with her head held eye after an excellent performance. And then, have that baby she’s been carrying around…

Now. Ireland.

W T actual F? A slick (literally – check out the baby oil!) performance and a decent vocal. A thumping base that will be heard in clubs in this summer, accompanied by hot, tattooed dancers. And we came last.

Is there no pleasing you, Europe?

I hope RTE don’t take this as a sign to recycle some old has-been and send him/her next year. Look what happened to the UK with Englebert and Bonnie Tyler. It’s transparent and desperate. Please don’t.

Incidentally, Bonnie looked and sounded like she’d enjoyed a considerable amount of Swedish hospitality all week. Just saying…

I’m just glad the contest wasn’t won by a gimmick or a dictatorship, which was quite likely based on feedback from the semi-finals. I had wondered if all of Europe would collectively (and ironically) vote for Romania, just to see the song again at the end of the show.

Or Greece, to try and completely bankrupt the country.

Instead, we’ll be back in Denmark next year. Who I hope will put on an equally fun, but unassuming show.

Nice design, combined with quiet confidence. A very Scandinavian approach.

Eurovision 2013: Finland

With less than an hour to go until the second Eurovision Semi-final, I thought I’d sneak in a last preview.

Krista Siegfrids from Finland, singing “Marry Me”.

I’m really looking forward to seeing this on stage – the video is a hoot. Remember: Finland is the country that gave us Lordi.

Really hope this gets through to the final. It deserves to – on multiple levels.

Eurovision semi aftermath…

Ireland2013Last night’s Eurovision semi-final (part one) was actually very entertaining. Sweden put on a good show and, even though the presenter was pretty far on the wrong side of “odd”, we didn’t see much of her. The attention was firmly on the acts.

Which were a decidedly mixed bunch.

Some of my faves performed last night, including Ireland, Estonia and Austria. Of these, only Ireland and Estonia got through to Saturday’s final. And I’m not convinced that Ireland’s Wolverine-esque drummer wasn’t the cause of most of their votes last night…no harm. It’s all entertainment!

Sadly, Cyprus didn’t get through – I could virtually hear the sigh of relief from the Department of Finance in Nicosia. A massive international song contest is not exactly on their wish list right now.

Some surprises, including Belgium and Lithuania. I didn’t see that coming. A positive surprise was the result for the Netherlands – Anouk survived, the first Dutch act to get through to the final since 1997. Well done her. It goes to show that a good song, delivered with style, can succeed without gimmicks.

Politics is never far from the Eurovision.

Sadly, out of the ten acts that got through, two were from dictatorships. I find it ironic that Russia has institutionalised homophobia and yet clamours to win what has to be the gayest television event in the world.

As for Belarus…words fail me.

It also seems like the EBU’s tactic of splitting countries across the semi-finals is paying off – not a single state from the former Yugoslavia got through. I’d like to think this was also in part to a modicum of good taste. Serbia’s entry in particular was dire.

So what’s next?

Thursday evening brings the send semi-final which features corkers like Greece, Finland and Israel, with a couple of nice tunes from Malta (they may well win…at last!) Norway and Iceland.

Eurovision 2013: Ukraine

I’m not really picking this out at random, you know.

I’ve been listening to this year’s crop of Eurovision hopefuls, mostly without knowing which country they represent. This tune has stuck with me and I’ve found myself actually humming it.

For me, this is a good thing. The song, without any stage-based bangs, whistles or gimmicks, seems to work.

The video is a little bit of a step back, reminding me of something Disney would churn out on an off day.

However…

This afternoon, it hit me. It sounds very, very like something else. But I can’t put my finger on exactly what. The closest I can get to is…it’s like something from “Glee”?

Help me out here. Is the Ukrainian song an inspired ear-worm or simply a rip-off of something else?

Eurovision 2013: Sweden

More Eurovision musings…

For me, this is a potential winner. It has all the hallmarks and could mark two years on the trot for Sweden.

Hallmarks? Well, it’s got a catchy, easy to sing-a-long chorus, upbeat tempo and is actually memorable after it’s finished.

Douze points to Sweden from this little enthusiast.

See what you think – I hope Robin is note-perfect on the night. There are a couple of stretching leaps in here that could go disastrously wrong if the nerves get to him.

Let’s see what happens on the night…

Eurovision 2013: Greece

Sigh.

Well, it’s Greek. And angry. And verging on tuneless. Especially the bizarre chorus. I can speak from extensive experience: Alcohol is most definitely not free.

Performed by Koza Mostra, Greece’s entry falls into the newish category of “shout something in English in the hope it will turn into a sing-a-long tune for the masses”.

Funnily enough, I can picture it being played in Mediterranean bars this summer, to accompany the kind of drinking games that result in hospitalisation and pregnancy.

Sometimes both.

Greece won’t win with this and I think Greece knows this.

And is just fine with that.

I also have to wonder: will they wear the kilts on stage?

Eurovision 2013: Spain

This year, Spain are represented by the established act El Sueño de Morfeo – I’ve even got a couple of their albums after hearing them played incessantly on Spanish radio while holidaying there. I’ve no idea why, but at the contest, they’ll be performing as ESDM.

While obviously the initials of the band’s name, to me it sounds unfortunately medical.

Perhaps an embarrassing infection? Something picked up while cavorting in Magaluf?

As per my earlier post on Ireland’s entry, it seems that Spain have hired the Celtic pipes this year. The intro to this way well be cut on the night, as songs have to be three minutes or less in length. But to my ears, it’s still a bit hackneyed.

As for the rest of the song, in the nicest way possible, I have to say that at least El Sueño de Morfeo are consistent. Less charitably, I could say that this song sounds exactly like every other song they’ve ever written.

Hmmm.

It’s nice and I’ve listened to it quite a few times since first finding it on YouTube. But I don’t think we’ll be heading to Madrid next year as this just won’t stand out from the crowd on the night. But, due to the arcane rules of the Eurovision, Spain will automatically make it through right to the final – so they’re already ahead of the pack.

See what you think. Maybe I’m being harsh? I’m only on my second caffeinated drink of the morning, after all… Here’s “Contigo hasta el final”.

Eurovision 2013: Ireland

Wow. Now this is different, for Ireland. After a series of epic wins in the 90’s, Ireland disappeared without trace. Probably after the Eurovision wiped out RTE’s entertainment budget for the best part of a decade. We had to put up with several years of absolute dross.

Including a turkey.

I like this. It has definitely grown on me since I first hear it a couple of weeks ago. Mostly because it doesn’t sound Irish…note the lack of fliddles and Uilleann pipes. That was just getting so cliched. I’m delighted to see that irish is licensing this Celtic sound to our Spanish cousins this year – more on that later. I just hope RTE are getting decent money in return. Preferably something more useful than the Euro.

This is Ryan Dolan, who manages to sound suitably international – increasing his chances of this being played in clubs across Europe between now and the big evening in Malmo.

If he gets through the semi-final, that is.

However, as with many of our European friends, will Ireland actually want to host it if we win? I can’t see too many Eurozone countries being enamoured with the prospect of hosting such a complex and costly event.

But instead of entering Dustin the Turkey, Ireland at least look as if they’re playing for keeps this year.

Eurovision 2013: Norway

This – despite it’s very unfortunate title – has some potential. Between now and the Eurovision Song Contest itself, these songs will be promoted across the continent so that they have a following by the time the votes are cast. Songs that are recognisable or have even built up a fan base will do so much better.

I think Norway’s “I feed you my love” (again, the title!) fits into the memorable category.

Yes, it sounds like a lot of other songs, but also has the potential to stand out from some of the sickly-sweet ballads and dire pan-pipes. I think it will do well if it makes it into the final.