Sunday, May 15, 2011

EuropeCrazy presents: The 2011 Eurovision final.

It's May 2011, it's Saturday night, and it's time once again for the annual extravaganza that is the Eurovision Song Contest. As with the first semi-final, it's a fly-on-the-wall report from the living room at EuropeCrazy HQ, with the thoughts of me and my mum. Here goes:

Firstly, the commentator: thank goodness it's Graham Norton and not those BBC3 clowns.

The venue: it's a converted football stadium in Dusseldorf, with the world's biggest LED screen behind the performers. These days Eurovision is big in every way, but that's not always a good thing. During the semi-finals I found the big-screen backdrop to be hugely distracting at times, and some acts used it much better than others.

The presenters: as in the semi-final, there were three of them. Anke Engelke, Judith Rakers, and Stefan Raab. Probably one presenter too many, as I didn't really see the point of Judith. Graham Norton called him 'Dusseldorf's Simon Cowell' although I see him more as Germany's Jonathan Ross. Or how about this description: Germany's one-man personality cult who seems to think he is at least as big, if not bigger, than the contest. As if you needed an example, look no further than the opening act. The previous year's winner would usually reprise their winning song, but not this time ....nope, the Stefan Raab show is underway, and he's 'performing' a rockabilly version of "Satellite" - maybe it's my Freeview where the mouths don't go at the same time as the music, or is he just miming badly? Yes he's milking the moment for all it's worth and thinking of all the iTunes downloads he's gonna get. Oh look! There's 43 Lena lookalikes....and finally the real one to finish it all off.

Mum: If they'd done that version last year it wouldn't have won anything!
Laura: These presenters are annoying me already. Again.
M: when's the show going to start?
It eventually does....

Finland: "Da Da Dam" - Paradise Oskar.
M: This has got a good chance. I quite like this now on second listen. It's actually better when you listen to it without having to look at his smug face.
L: Very effective staging.

Bosnia-Herzegovina: "Love In Rewind" - Dino Merlin.
L: That trumpet player's very annoying.
M: If that doesn't win I'll put a brick through the telly. This is great! (Mum had never heard "Love In Rewind" before the final).
L: I like this and it was one of the main faves, but the draw has probably killed its chances dead. Which is a shame.

Denmark: "New Tomorrow" - A Friend In London.
L: I'll need to check out their other songs after the contest.
M: Oh yes I remember this. It's not bad.
L: I like the way he's using the catwalk. This is not bad at all. This is the one that sounds like "Sing For Me".

Lithuania: "C'est Ma Vie" - Evelina Sasenko.
L: This is my first toilet break of the evening.
M: The sign language is commendable but the song's rubbish. This will probably come last. Absolute rubbish.

Hungary: "What About My Dreams?" - Kati Wolf.
We are both agreed that the styling is terrible. Basically she's wrapped in blue satin, and it's not a good look.
M: She's wearing a cupcake on her finger.
L: What about that ring? I think the problem with this song is that the verses are very poor and only the chorus is selling it.
M: Don't know about 'what about my life'...she should get a life! They should plug the dancers into an electric chair :)
Ireland: "Lipstick" - Jedward.
Trust me on this one: whether or not this wins, it will probably emerge from this year's ESC as the major hit song of the competition. Here I come, here I come, dum-da-dum-da-dum-da-dum.
L: They are going to do very well.
M: Yes they will. That's fine.
L: The backing singers are still doing most of the work.

Sweden: "Popular" - Eric Saade.
M: Oh he's a nice looking young man. Best looking guy tonight.
L: reminds mum about 'Manboy'.
M: Oh was that him? I remember him now, I like him.
The glass breaks, and Eric emerges triumphant. The backing vocals work.
L: goes into a commentary about Eric's debut last year, and even throw in a gratuitous mention of Danny Saucedo for no reason at all.

Estonia: "Rockefeller Street" - Getter Jaani.
M: Is she singing live? Because you can't sing live and dance like that too.
L: Believe me, she's singing live - and not that well either.
M: It (styling) is a bit like Alice In Wonderland. I've heard worse.
L: This was one of the pre-contest faves till she opened her mouth.

Greece: "Watch My Dance" - Loukas Giorkas featuring Stereo Mike.
Gratuitously Greek backdrop, dramatic singing and a rap.
L: It's very different and dramatic but I'm bored with it now.
M: Oh that's that guy! (Loukas).
L: Yes he's hot.

Russia: "Get You" - Alexey Vorobyov.
M: There's nothing wrong with his singing, I just don't like the song.
L: I like it. Don't like the lighted jackets though. It seems to have lost something, can't put my finger on it, but I'm not so confident about its chances anymore.

France: "Sognu" - Amaury Vassili.
Pre-contest massive favourite. A great big opera song sung by a young tenor with a big voice. This really threatened to overwhelm everything else....until he started singing.
L: Staging is good but he is totally off key. This isn't working.
M: I don't like it. Really not my cup of tea and I like some opera songs but this isn't a good one.
L: Can't see it making a connection with the voters.
(we then spend the remainder of the song talking about Corsica).

Italy: "Madness of Love" - Raphael Gualazzi.
The overhead camera shots of the piano keys only reminded me of the same camera angle on Salem Al Fakir's "Keep On Walking" in Melodifestivalen 2010. Just thought I'd mention that.
M: So Italy's back then! They've been away a while.
L: It's still a big ??????????????????? for me. I don't know what to make of it.
M: That screaming - usually Italy's Eurovision songs are very melodic.
L: Very odd. But I'm swaying and waving my hands in the air.

Switzerland: "In Love For A While" - Anna Rossinelli.
L: Time for my second toilet break (I'm drinking Cava tonight and it's beginning to kick in. My mum is not drinking: she is teetotal)
M: This song is boring. A big 'nah' ( na na na na na)

United Kingdom: "I Can" - Blue.
Poor staging - whose idea was it to mix blue and green? And who designed those awful suits? Blue are not going to win this and could end up doing much worse than predicted. The song is far too reliant on Lee hitting the high notes, and it's not working.
M: I can't, I won't. I'm not impressed.
L: Neither am I. Those outfits are terrible. Probably their best performance, better than the rehearsals but that's not saying much.
M: They "can't".

Moldova: "So Lucky" - Zdob si Zdub.
L: I'm really liking this now, and it's not just the Cava to blame.
M: This is mental. It's like the way Eurovision used to be. Those flashing lights are going to give me a migraine though. Very amusing though. Crazy hats.

Germany: "Taken By A Stranger" - Lena.
Great staging but that's not too surprising, they're the host country after all! Lena gives an intense and very un-Eurovisiony performance.
M: She looks totally different.
L: Yes she's really grown up now.
M: Don't know if this will do so well. Don't know about this.
L: I think it will do quite well, but not a winner. That's all the half decent songs out the way - it gets a bit pants from now on.

Romania: "Change" - Hotel FM.
M: What's a British guy doing singing for Romania then?
L: He went over to build orphanages and stayed.
M: It's the trousers...the problem's the trousers.
L: He can't change. But I wish he'd change the trousers, they're so wrong. But this is a better performance than in the semi-final.
M: He looks like a comedy act.

Austria: "The Secret Is Love" - Nadine Beiler.
Or 'Nadine Belter' as she should be renamed, with that big voice. I guess if those showstopping ballads are your thing, then this was probably the best one of the night.

Lots of cheering from the audience. We both spend the duration of the song discussing her shoes and debating about whether her hair is a wig or not...we decide it must be a wig. It's just too perfect.

Azerbaijan: "Running Scared" - Ell & Nikki. Or Ell/Nikki as they are billed on screen.
M: It's a load of tripe.
L: It's nice enough, pleasant enough but doesn't strike me as a winner, and it's still not doing it for me. And they still look so mismatched.
M: Boring. Don't like this at all.

Slovenia: "No One" - Maja Keuc.
M: Shouty woman. A full song of shouting.
L: It's the Christina Aguilera fan club, Slovenian branch. My Cava is running low already...some of these later songs would drive you to drink.

Iceland: "Coming Home" - Sjonni's Friends.
Still a major thumbs up at EuropeCrazy HQ and as near to our united tolv poäng as we're going to get. Mum is singing along with the chorus.
L: I still like this very much.
M: Very nice, simple song. A merry little ditty.

L: Any thoughts on winners?
M: It's probably someone we won't agree with.
L: Strangely enough I've enjoyed this final much more than I thought I's a bad year, but results-wise it's wide open.

Spain: "Que Me Quiten Lo Bailao" - Lucia Perez.
M: discusses when Cliff Richard was beaten by Massiel in 1968.
L: I used to like when the Spanish singer came from Operacion Triunfo.
M: I don't like this much, it's mediocre.
L: I wish David Bisbal would represent Spain at Eurovision one day.

Ukraine: "Angel" - Mika Newton.
L: Ukraine always does very well.
M: You shouldn't vote for the country, you should vote for the song.
L: And extreme gimmicks should be banned.
M: All that stuff going on in the background is to make you forget how bad the song is.
L: Zzzzzzzz....this is rubbish. I want Verka back.
M: She should have used those feathers to fly away.

Serbia: "Caroban" - Nina.
L: breaks into spontaneous outburst of cheesy 60s dancing.
M: (look of disapproval).
L: Where can I get those green tights?
M: No one had tights that colour in the 60s. People wore stockings, and empire line frocks.

Georgia: "One More Day" - Eldrine.
M: It's just all shouting and screaming.
L: I preferred their semi-final performance of this.
M: Hate those flashing lights.

And then that was the end of the songs, followed by what felt like about half an hour of reprises. And was that Gary Go being played over one of the reprises? Totally random!

Onwards to the interval act, Jan Delay and his band Disko No.1. Who in retrospect I can't really remember much about, apart from him rapping/singing "Klar" which I remember and liked a lot, during a previous holiday in Germany. Graham Norton called it 'underwhelming' and I can see where he was coming from. It wasn't Riverdance, it wasn't just wasn't iconic enough I guess. But credit to them for a lively enough performance anyway.

Aww it's the old ESC logo :) And Raab's playing guitar again.
Let's get to the voting, chappies!!

Russia - 12 to Azerbaijan
Bulgaria - 12 to UK!
Netherlands - 12 to Denmark
Italy - 12 to Romania and 10 to UK - believe it or not, the UK is top of the scoreboard at this point!
Cyprus - 12 to Greece (!) No, surely not?????
Ukraine - 12 to Georgia. And hasn't Ruslana aged?
Finland - 12 to Hungary
Norway - 12 to Finland. And totally ignored Denmark!
Armenia - 12 to Ukraine
FYR Macedonia - 12 to Bosnia-Herzegovina
Iceland - 12 to Denmark
Slovakia - 12 to Ukraine (why all the love for Ukraine's song? I can't remember it).
UK - 12 to Ireland (quelle surprise :))
Denmark - 12 to Ireland
Austria - 12 to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

At this point, Sweden lead, Azerbaijan 2nd, Ukraine 3rd, and Ireland 4th.

Poland - 12 to Lithuania
Sweden - 12 to Ireland. And 12 points from the EuropeCrazy jury to Danny, Danny, Danny Saucedo! Who is wearing an Eric Saade T-shirt. Jed are now 3rd - be very afraid :)
San Marino - 12 to Italy. Quelle surprise (again)
Germany - 12 to Austria. Got some real neighbourly love going on tonight.

Azerbaijan leading at this point. Don't know why, but not too surprised that they are. The votes are so spread out that it's not going to be a unanimous, runaway winner this year.

Azerbaijan - 12 to Ukraine (?)

Sweden now leading! Extreme yay! I may never have been the biggest fan of "Popular" but the idea of the contest going back to Sweden....yes please.

Slovenia - 12 to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
It's 10.55, there's no sign of the show ending and Eric needs the loo.

SVERIGE!!!!! Still leading.

Turkey - 12 to Azerbaijan. Another quelle surprise moment.
Switzerland - 12 to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Glad to see it getting a few 12s tonight.
Greece - 12 to France. Had a major chuckle here: wondered what they'd do in the absence of Cyprus.
Georgia - 12 to Bosnia-Herzegovina

Azerbaijan take the lead now, with Ukraine in 2nd place.
France - 12 to Spain
Serbia - 12 to Bosnia-Herzegovina. I'm shouting out the 12s before they're announced.
Croatia - 12 to Slovenia
Belgium - 12 to Georgia
Romania - 12 to Moldova (ha!)
Albania - 12 to Italy
Malta - 12 to Azerbaijan
Portugal - 12 to Spain (!)
Hungary - 12 to Iceland (at last!)
Lithuania - 12 to Georgia
Bosnia-Herzegovina - 12 to Slovenia

I think Azerbaijan have won it (shrug of resignation).

Ireland - 12 to Denmark
Spain - 12 to Italy
Israel - 12 to Sweden
Estonia - 12 to Sweden
Moldova - 12 to Romania (! Is it ever any other way??)

Azerbaijan have won.

Belgium - 12 to France
Latvia - 12 to Italy .Italy have been climbing steady and end in 2nd, with Sweden ending in 3rd place.

Above: Ell and Nikki reprise their winning song, which (IMHO) is possibly one of the worst winning reprises ever!

No, I'm not bitter about Azerbaijan winning: the Swedish-music-loving side of me should be happy that a song with such a high level of Swedish input (writers/backing singers etc) has won, and that one of the singers (Nikki) lives in Britain, but on the other hand it's just so...insubstantial, and not memorable enough to be up there with the great and the good of Eurovision. On the whole, it was a poor year but there were other songs in there which would have made better winners than this one. As recent winners go, it will probably fade fast in most people's memories, if it hasn't done so already. But on the plus side, another 'new' country has won Eurovision, and it'll be interesting to see what Baku comes up with 12 months from now.

My final thoughts: Eurovision remains the great leveller. It doesn't matter if you're one of the world's top producers (RedOne, writing for Russia) or a reasonably well-known reformed boyband (Blue) or for that matter, X Factor attention-seekers extraordinaire (that's you, John & Edward) - when it comes to Eurovision, reputations go out of the window at voting time and it is still the most predictably unpredictable TV show on earth. So it's all over and 'normal service' is resumed - but time flies by so fast and it won't be long till it's starting all over again!

1. Azerbaijan - 221 points
2. Italy - 189 points
3. Sweden - 185 points
4. Ukraine - 159 points
5. Denmark - 135 points
6. Bosnia & Herzegovina - 125 points
7. Greece - 120 points
8. Ireland - 119 points
9. Georgia - 110 points
10. Germany - 107 points
11. United Kingdom - 100 points
12. Moldova - 97 points
13. Slovenia - 96 points
14. Serbia - 85 points
15. France - 82 points
16. Russia - 77 points
17. Romania - 77 points
18. Austria - 64 points
19. Lithuania - 63 points
20. Iceland - 61 points
21. Finland - 57 points
22. Hungary - 53 points
23. Spain - 50 points
24. Estonia - 44 points
25. Switzerland - 19 points

(pictures are all courtesy of the official Eurovision site,


Raquelita said...

Great review! Completely agree about the presenting.Raab's popularity is something I'll never understand- he isn't funny in German and he's even less funny in English.Have to admit I loved the opening though,although as Keira said- it's the only time he'll ever get to sing a winning Eurovision song on stage so it's not surprising he took all the limelight off of Lena.

Speaking of Lena,the amount of love for her in Germany borders on the disturbing.There were programmes on all afternoon Saturday (and after the contest) discussing her chances etc.I couldn't stand her last year but this time around I just felt sorry for her.In one interview on Das Erste she said "I'm just so tired,all I want to do is go on holiday after this." We all thought she'd regretted saying yes to doing it again,but that decision was probably more to do with Raab than anyone else.

Felt a bit sorry for Jan Delay too- nothing in the world was ever going to match up to Madcon last year!

The more I think about it the more it bothers me that Azerbaijan won.Even Safura last year put on a better show and though the song was annoying it was arguably better.Glad they didn't run away with it though,it was nice to see Italy creep up out of nowhere.I like to think my waving of a postage-stamp sized flag in his line of vision on Friday spurred Raphael on a bit :)

Damian said...

Haha))) Lovely idea of publishing your estimates) Made me smile a lot :)
I've been talking to my mom afterwards and she also really liked Bosnia, Eric, Lena (though she hated her last year) and wanted to break TV on Moldova. I'm also was terrified about how off key France actually was.

Laura (EuropeCrazy) said...

Yes I admit I liked the opening song, more than mum did anyway. I think there was too much expected of Lena and I thought she looked a little drained in some of the interviews I saw, so she definitely needs some time out now. I did like her last year, and this year's song has really grown on me now. ouldn't be surprised if Raab's already swollen ego goes totally out of control now...and maybe he'll pick himself to represent Germany. Although for some strange and inexplicable reason I still like "Wadde Hadde Dudde Da". Hm.

Now that some time has passed, it's more and more of a puzzle to me why "Running Scared" won. It's not that it's a bad song, just a very weak one and that reprise was strocious. Well done Italy...and now we know the reason why Raphael did so well! Really glad to see them back and maybe this result will persuade them to stick around a bit longer.

Can't wait to read your review and hope the two of you are recovering well from what must have been an amazing weekend :)))