How to avoid doing any work on the morning of Eurovision

It’s Eurovision 2012.  It’s in Asia.  Since Azerbaijan won the Eurovision in Germany bad publicity has fallen on the country desperately using this as so many countries have done before to put themselves on the world stage.   I hope Azerbaijan is able to reform the world’s opinion of itself with the Eurovision as it wishes, and that Eurovision helps to reform Azerbaijan in similar light.

I’m buzzing for the final – I’m nervous for organising Stockholm’s BIGGEST Eurovision Party, but I’m sure it will be ok…it’s not the same as Durham at all, my demographics are not 20 year old students who want to laugh at Georgians after they finish exams, but serious fans and work colleagues and I haven’t quite adapted, however I think it has all fitted in place now…

In this blog I give my view on the entries, personally and with some predictions, to interest you through the show.

Song  1 – United Kingdom – Engelbert Humperdinck – Love Will Set You Free

I cheered so loudly when the UK was drawn to open the show.  Ha ha.  I am no fan of the UK’s method to selecting a Eurovision entrant and it does defeat some of the purpose of having a songwriting competition.  My biased head thinks of this as complete contrived boredom of what some high class snobby composer thinks a Eurovision ballad sounds like, and forcing the song to make those movements and key changes appropriately.  Lyrically I find it a bit off, and it’s not an entry that does enough to make me satisfied that the BBC did get it right, which last year I could say.

My rating: 4

Prediction rating: 4

Song 2 – Hungary – Compact Disco – Sound of Our Hearts

This snuck into everyone’s qualifiers on Tuesday by the looks of it, including mine, and it is a song more suited for the big stage arena than we thought.  But it plods along happily without the cutting edge to be anybody’s favourite after 24 more songs.  Plus, further to that, for me a song nowadays saying “this is the sound of our hearts, if you listen” actually needs to use a better production maybe utilising some of these effects in the music with emphasis to create the feeling they are going on about.

My rating: 2

Prediction rating: 1

Song 3 – Albania – Rona – Suus

Wow.  Watched the Albanian final at Christmas as always tradition.  This was the favourite to win and was not my favourite there, but far enough.  Didn’t get it in the new version online or at preview parties.  But this piece of tearful drama made such perfect sense on Tuesday, the day after a huge bus crash in Albania (Albania had a day of mourning so did not show the semi final).  I exclaimed after watching it that this could win Eurovision.  I don’t think this draw will help it, but I can see a shock top 10 coming here.  The musical theatre 17 year old in me is in complete awe of the drama that each line that the songwriter gives.  And yes, it is painful, but that is the point – it does what it attempts to do in a way that nothing else ever can.  Suddenly in the semi final, this worked, and I think at least with juries it will work again.

My rating: 9

Prediciton rating: 7

Song 4 – Lithaunia – Love is Blind

Remembered watching the recap of the Lithuanian final going, yes, this is ok isn’t it.  Boring in long 3 minute version though.  My rule is that if you choose to only squeeze in two choruses in a Eurovision song, it’s got to be special.  This isn’t.  The gimmick and Donny work fine, but it snoozes through too much of it to be a worthwhile Eurovision song.  Will be bottom half.

My rating: 4

Prediction rating: 2

Song 5 – Bosnia and Herzegovina – Korake ti znam

Snooze.  Sweet – but I can’t imagine ever sending a song like this to a contest where pleasant is not enough.  It is I’m sure my most skipped iPod song and however sweet it is there is nothing for me to latch onto.

My rating: 1

Prediction rating: 3

Song 6 – Russia – Party for Everybody

Oh dear god no.  I love the grannies, I do, but they have been written a song this year very similar to the UK entry, written with all in mind for the Eurovision and all that is bad about it.  It frustrates off no end.  Guaranteed a result I expect to the only thing I can draw a parallel with, Ukraine 2007.

My rating: 5

Prediction rating: 9

Song 7 – Iceland – Never Forget

Moody and Icelandic and powerful – Iceland does a good entry that before the contest I tipped to win the jury vote.  It ticks all the criteria that we have seen previously, photogenic singers, real song with native song, great vocal and powerful harmonies, and an instrumental section showing in this case Greta’s fantastic violin miming techniques.  I love the song and could not with anything more from it, but it felt actually a little forced on Tuesday and it is more of a hope that this will do better here.

My rating: 8

Prediction rating: 6

Song 8 – Cyprus – La La Love

It’s the first of the Swedish written Greek style Eurovision songs – it is fun and Ivi has finally learnt to make the performance sexy which is a huge advantage!  This got the 12 points from the Swedish fan club and I’m glad to see some of that energy come across on the big stage now.  I was hoping Greece wouldn’t qualify so this could take all the votes it deserves for doing the genre well, but I think it will struggle now as the Greek girl has a shorter skirt and better legs.

My rating: 8

Prediction rating: 5

Song 9 – France – Echo (You and I)

They pick a modern composing team who send a modern well composed song to Eurovision.  But it’s all too hard to access, the beats are different, the main verses long and drawn out without a hook and it all just gets lost in the action.   I can’t see this being any more than anybody’s 11th favourite, making it a candidate for last.

My rating: 2

Prediction rating: 1

Song 10 – Italy – L’amoure e femmina

This is the most confusing one of all for me.  It’s a safe enough and well produced modern, sassy song with the jazzy Italian elements the juries shocked us by loving last year.  The difference with it though is that most people will make the link between Nina Zilli and Amy Winehouse, and if they do it could go flying up the scoreboard once again, but this time with televoting.  I’m expecting top 10, and some big 8’s and 10’s scattered across Europe, but nothing to challenge for the win.  But I could be very wrong.

My rating: 6

Prediction rating: 8

Song 11 – Estonia – Kuula

I was disappointed on my recent trip to Tallinn that the only Eurovision exposure was Rockefeller Street being played on the kids disco on the boat.  Kuula has the same problem that Lithuania has, which Albania manages to pull off – only having two choruses.  Ott Lepland belts this ballad out and it is great – BUT – on that key change it doesn’t have the power that it really needs, there needs to be a kick in the percussion or something to lift the song.  With that missing it knocks it down a couple of points for me.

My points: 7

Prediction rating: 5

Song 12: Norway – Stay

First heard this in January, and I loved it and was very happy with it winning in Norway.  The production is superb, as one would expect from the Boström’s, who finally get the chance they deserve on the Eurovision stage.  Sadly though, being frank about this song, the stage presence is not strong enough, it needs gimmicks to stand out too.  Basically, however good and profession this is, I’m a bit bored of it now, and it has tumbled down my estimations over the last week.

My points: 7

Prediction rating: 6

Song 13: Azerbaijan – When the music dies

Underestimate this and Azerbaijan at your peril.  Never lower than 8th in Eurovision, same songwriting team for third year in a row after finishing 5th (when drawn 1st) and winning it.  This is my favourite of their entries too, and I feel the passion and the fusion of Swedish songwriting and Azeri style through this really strongly.  It’s a great ballad for a host country, but I have no idea if it will do more than get the points from neighbours and get itself top 10, or a bit more.  Will be listening to this very carefully tonight.

My points: 8

Prediction rating: 8

Song 14: Romania – Zaleilah

Oh dear.  Great song, great hit around Romania before the contest, but this is all of a sudden weak and I see the now in trouble to reach the top half of the leaderboard.

Our singer here Elena has some awful camera shots and isn’t at all flirting with the camera like she needs to.  Vocals are off, and those people who like this kind of thing have a magnitude of other songs to vote for I feel.

My points: 6

Prediction rating: 5

Song 15: Denmark – Should’ve Known Better

I remember this passing me by in the Danish final as a simple, nice hook and something that sounds like a Danish entry – and then it went and won.  And then it was all looking so rosy, because safe Danish songs always do very well in the Eurovision Song Contest, much more than any of us actually expect anyway.  It’s a busking song that does fit Soluna very well, and the whole style to that effect is ok for me.  For me, it’s a great finalist, but would be an awful Eurovision winner, and I think the journey for safe Denmark ends here in the safety of mid-tableness.

My rating: 7

Prediction rating: 6

Song 16: Greece – Aphrodisiac

Another Swedish written entry (every Swedish written entry qualified) however this sounds like a poor B-side of Swede-Greek hybrid from 10 years ago.  For me, this offers new to fold and it has lovers, but they are usually the people who like Eurovision once a year as an excuse for a piss up.  I would rather they would vote for something with musical or performance integrity and this recycled nonsense is Greece at the moment.  Clueless about how to fit itself into the world stage after collapsing, it is simply regressing back to former glories.  Awful

My rating: 1

Prediction rating: 6

Song 17: Sweden – Euphoria

If you told me last year that Thomas G:Son would write the Swedish entry, and it would be favourite for Eurovision, and it was sung by somebody who tried and failed to get to even the Swedish final last year, and it would not have a key change – I would have stared at you in disbelief.  But he’s done it – this could possibly go off the starting gun tonight with lower odds than Alexander Rybak (already is with the Swedish bookies) – and if a runaway was going to happen it will be this – scanning iTunes this week it is no.1 in a few countries and charting in places as random as Ireland, Belgium, Greece and if these translate to points then it’ll sail up the scoreboard.  The song is great, but I only really got it on Thursday night – artistically they have finally nailed it.  Oddly for Sweden, the live backing vocals are superb.  Russia to me reminded me of Ukraine 2007 – and finished 2nd.  This only has parallels in the Eurovision circus with one song – Satellite from Lena – a radio hit performed in a quirky different way.  And that won.  Gulp…

My rating: 10

Prediction rating: 10

Song 18: Turkey – Love Me Back

The doubt in my mind about Sweden though is this draw, because the crowd in Azerbaijan are going to be so pro-Turkey this will get a bigger reaction no matter what the fans do.  (Remember that fans are heavily outnumbered by locals this year because of the expense of Azerbaijan).  The song here is not relevant, it’s that bad, but Turkey have lavished their traditional clever stage show into it bound to be loved by the diaspora.  Ha ha, it’s funny yes, but doesn’t disguise a bad boring song to me.

My rating: 3

Prediction rating: 7

Song 19: Spain – Quédate Conmigo

This is a hard one to call.  Fans are in adoration with it, some of them were crying after the dress rehearsal yesterday, and certainly this is a ballad that is belted out with every ounce of Spanish passion – and Spain seems to think this could do well.  For me, it’s a fan favourite ballad, rather than one the everyday voter will go for, and the selling points the song has, the clever harmonies and that ridiculously big key change – are only really loved by a small minority.

However – could this take the jury points?  I think not, in the same way Norway and Ireland didn’t really in 2010, and actually I see a small surprise and Spain in the bottom 10.

My rating: 6

Prediction rating: 3

Song 20: Germany – Standing Still

And now you have the opposite, a ballad that the normal person may fall in love with on first listen, but generally is not the huge fan favourite Spain is.  Roman Lob (best Eurovision name for a long time) stares the camera down and will pick up the votes of women across Europe – not that I really get the look he’s going for with his silly hat, but he’s got a big fan base of women liking it.  I’ll never understand women, but they make more sense than teenage girls (see song 23).  This was co-written by Jamie Cullum, and I can’t help but think that if he thought it was actually a great song he would be singing it for the UK this year rather than giving it to the Germans.

The song is a little pedestrian for my liking, but then it is also called Standing Still – but gosh you could at least move your thoughts in the song somewhere.

My rating: 3

Prediction rating: 7

Song 21: Malta – This is the Night

Collective cheers went up when Malta qualified – we all secretly want a Eurovision Island next year in the Med to have a big fortnight party on.  This is the biggest example I have seen ever of how to polish a shit song and make it into a good Eurovision entry.  The backdrop is superb and the dancing is so appropriate and fun and the new remix brings it to a new level.  It still wouldn’t qualify for the final of the songs native Sweden, but they can’t do anything more with this piece of fun that now is perfectly drawn.

My rating: 6

Prediction rating: 6

Song 22: FYR Macedonia – Kaliopi

FYROM deserve to be in the final, and this starts off great, and then turns into a song that is so Macedonian sounded in the rock production I laughed out loud first time I heard it.  Great song though – but this sounds too Eastern now to get any more than Balkan votes.  Aiming for 15th.

My rating: 8

Prediction rating: 6

Song 23: Ireland – Waterline

As a song goes, Eric Saade did the right thing not picking this, comparing the song to those in Melodifestivalen – it would get through to the final, but be destroyed by the Eric Saade’s and Danny Saucedo’s and David Lindgren’s that do the genre more better and more modern.  But this is Jedward, arguably the biggest pop stars in the contest, with teen girls voting from everywhere – Waterline hit top of iTunes in Slovenia, Estonia – they were no.3 here in Sweden – and they have created a reliable voting block of fans as big as any diaspora.  They have a gimmick with water that might steal votes off the grannies and drunk Eurovision fans and I am expecting them to improve the result from last year when the field for cheesy pop was much tighter.  If there juries weren’t too harsh (and the juries put them 6th last year) going to Ireland is a possibility.

My rating: 7

Prediction rating: 9

Song 24: Serbia – Nije Ljubav Stvar

As a composition, the best Eurovision entry arguably of all time.  I do feel though, Serbia and Sweden would have jumped at the chance to have swapped places in the running order.  By song 24, a ballad like Serbia that is delicate and fragile for 100 seconds and then kicks in and throws everything in beautiful production at it may just have too many fans nipping to the toilets.  Like Jedward – possibly Zeljko is the biggest star in the contest – and he’ll carry guaranteed 8’s minimum not just from the Balkans, but also middle Europe and Scandinavia.  I have no idea if juries in the west will give it the points it deserves – with them, he will take the crown he deserves.

My rating: 10

Prediction rating: 9

Song 25: Ukraine – Be My Guest

Messy and Ukrainian and big and brash – again will appeal to the party demographic – but it’s just not enough to take it further and be enough people’s favourites.

My rating: 5

Prediction rating: 6

Song 26: Moldova – Lautar

The worst dance routine I’ve seen to end the show – it is fun yes, but I still want the live band feel with this song and I have the feeling the juries gave this enough low points to push it over the line on Tuesday, but those low points will disappear tonight meaning only the locals to Moldova and the Med will see the appeal.

My rating; 4

Prediction rating: 4

I’ve just seen this video, and it’s spoilt everything: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74jVC-Gh0As – Sweden may have just fallen on its backside with this – I know the snow has been a problem for the organisers and it might once again give Sweden a message that they need to solve – how to make Melodifestivalen still amazing, yet NOT bigger than Eurovision – these kind of things can’t happen.  Melodifestivalen needs to regress while Eurovision catches up in production quality and funding, and go back to the old rules.

The video above was Loreen performing in the jury final – these are the professional scores across Europe, and I fear she’s lost about 100 points.  Would need a Rybak size televote to win now I think – which is not impossible – but there is no dream impossible…

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