As the illustrious boys from Eden once enthusiastically shouted out: Happy Birthday to you – Dreams will come true – If we party and dance till morning – May the years pass – With fun, happiness and joy – Always. Quite fitting to celebrate Lady Eurovision’s 50th birthday and a joyous occasion it is. May she live happily ever after. What’s another year after all?
And so for the 50th edition we’re off to a country that didn’t even exist when the Contest started way back when but it’s one that was determined to win as soon as they entered – a spirit some of the senior countries in the field sometimes desperately lack (cough…UK). Ukrainian broadcaster NTU continues that spirit in the organisation of the Contest which is very much up to scratch, even though the setting is quite dark at times. Perhaps it reflects the difficult times the country were going through at the time? Loving the stage anyway and the lighting and camera crew did a splendid job. Not too keen on hosts Maria Efrosnina & Pavlo Shylko as their English is pretty average at best but then again we can’t want it all can we. Can we?
On a musical level I am far less forgiving: this Contest is simply all over the place and yet mediocrity (still) rules. I feel a lot of countries are trying to grab the attention of the voters by looking at what was succesful the year before without really knowing what they’re doing. The top 4 of 2004 clearly worked inspirational and so it happens we’re able to divide the field into three categories: (poppy) ethnic (thanks Ruslana & Sakis), ballads (thanks Željko) and rock/alternative (thanks Athena). We really ought to thank Athena properly though because they finally managed to open up the Contest to other sounds! I should have been crying tears of joy over this but some of them fail to tackle it properly – I am sooooo looking at you, Gracia! That was simply awful. And painful. The only other one in the ‘alternative’ segment I didn’t like was Denmark and that’s purely a matter of taste: I’m not overly keen on reggae influences and Jakob Sveistrup‘s voice irritates me quite heavily. I’m not really counting Ukraine I have to stipulate: to me it’s extremely political so I decided to take it out of the equation.
The other categories contain a lot of annoyance from my side however. Let’s start with (Poppy) Ethnic where Turkey manages to make me yearn for the ffwd button like none other in the Contest – the screaming and ‘singing’ off key and the drums and the busy choreo: awful. Bosnia-Herzegovina’s not an awful lot better with their outdated pop song though and neither is FYROM with yet another set of drums livening things up – my heart isn’t exactly beating like a jungle drum. FYROM must have the worst set of lyrics of the night as well (which is saying something actually) ànd I would like to burn that gastly vest on Martin Vučić. That’s all. Others that annoyed the crap out of me are Romania (screamfest), Cyprus (a second hand Sakis), UK (a bleak Sertab-Beyoncé lovechild wannabe), Serbia (lame!) and to a lesser extent Albania which I actually quite liked but it humped on too many musical legs and I’m not too keen on Ledina Çelo‘s voice.
In the ballad section I actually liked only one entry, the rest didn’t cut it for me. Worst of that bunch is definitely Malta, where all instruments come out of one and the same synthesizer – hate it! I still don’t like Chiara‘s voice either and the only positive thing I’ve got to say is about the dress which I feel is an excellent choice for a heavy woman. Still, that can’t have gotten her the silver medal now? I still don’t get it. Oh, and stop winking!! I guess we could call Croatia a mid-tempo ballad as well but its mediterranean-nautical feel is simply not my taste and the Latvian boys with hardly any noise (speak up lads!!) are cute enough but kinda clumsy.
Not my favorite Contest to date I have to say, phew! Perhaps this one from the semi could have improved things a bit?
The One That Got Away: Slovenia – Stop
Poor Omar, landing right outside the top 10 in the semi. I think it’s down to the presentation which is too understated – a bit more drama would have done the trick. And Teja Saksida is too low in the soundmix so that effect doesn’t come across too well either. But I like the composition and the idea of it all. Another rock song yes, but I might as well go full out now that I’ve got the chance.
So without further ado let’s take a look at the points of the Dimivision jury!
1 point: Sweden – Las Vegas
I was a bit hesitant about putting this in my top ten but looking at the rest of the field I decided to grant it mr. Stenmarck anyway. I’m not overwhelmed though and I feel it’s down to the way they try to sell it. He’s vocally not always on par and his enthusiasm isn’t exactly jumping off the screen. On top of that the act is a bit busy and the James Bond feel they try to create doesn’t translate. I can see where they want to go but they only get halfway there. And you know I’m gonna say it, I simply have to: SHOULD HAVE BEEN NANNE! There.
2 points: Spain – Brujeria
Somehow I am able to ignore them completely. I like this Las Ketchup kind of summer song and in studio this is really happy clappy bouncy shiny. Son de sol (sound of the sun) indeed, but not thanks to their vocal performance. The presentation couldn’t get more Spanish as well could it? Such a shame.
3 points: France: Chacun pense à soi
Another one that messes up a great song – one of my pre-Contest faves as it happens so I’m extra severe. Enthusiastic she is, yes, but a great singer Ortal will never be. I still feel like pulling her out of the screen and slapping her there and back again. Thank heavens there’s the black dancer to distract me. And the bouncy violins that make me happy every time I hear this.
4 points: Russia – Nobody hurts no one
I have to say I hardly remembered this but when I rewatched the Contest for this review I suddenly realised this isn’t half bad. It isn’t really half good either: Natalia Podolskaya (doesn’t she look a lot like Alyson Hannigan?) comes across well but her accent is really heavy. On top of that I don’t think the chorus (and the crappy English in it) works very well and the ‘where’s your American Dream now?’ theme isn’t exactly uplifting now. Not that anyone understood with that accent. But I like the rocky feeling!
5 points: Hungary – Forogj, világ!
The most obvious Ruslana copy but disguised in such a clever way it’s hardly annoying. NOX singer Szylvia Péter Szabó is overcome by nerves and that’s their downfall, next to the way too dark presentation. Way too serious as an approach, this could have done with some colour and happiness to give it the boost it deserves. But well composed, a nice cohesive idea with only the slightest of references to Riverdance. Clever.
6 points: Norway – In my dreams
There are a lot of negative things I could say about this. Like the unnecessary KISS comparisons (there’s only one KISS). Or the orange flag they used to try to get the sympathy vote. Or that preposterous (and a bit too small) outfit. In the end it comes down to the song and the execution and we have to admit this works. Even though lead singer ‘Glam‘ isn’t vocally entirely up to scratch this comes across very slick and for me it’s all down to the composition which is very effective. This really led the way for Lordi, didn’t it? That makes me love it even more.
7 points: Greece – My number one
Slicker than slick, and then there’s the violin trick! In a chaotic and drumtastic year like this it’s no wonder something like this walked with it. It’s well executed on all levels, Helena Paparizou manages to control her nerves very well and gives us an excellent vocal performance. It’s a bit busy overall and a bit overrehearsed if you ask me and as far as the song goes I’ve heard better ones (including her own entry 4 years earlier) but it’s got a nice summer vibe and had the hit potential that is so crucial for Eurovision’s survival – we do want it to go on another 50 years after all!
8 points: Switzerland – Cool vibes
Again it’s the composition that convinces and this one’s a nifty one. Very effective I have to say, but why on earth are they going for the Ice Queen award? It all comes across so static and with those white outfits it’s almost sterile – a bit more passion would have given this the results everyone was prediciting/hoping for. Cool doesn’t necessarily mean cold now!
10 points: Israel – Hasheket shenish’ar
From cold to hot in a jiffy with miss Maimon, the kind of Diva that makes gay men scream in admiration, gay women & straight men wet their beds and straight women go on a diet because she’s a downright IT girl. It’s got a bit of a pageant feel this but as far as ballads go this has to be one of the strongest ones we’ve heard in the past decade. And Barbie can belt when she needs to. What more do we want, really?
12 points: Moldova – Boonika bate doba
I’ll tell you what we want: spice! And balls! That’s exactly what we get from Zdob şi Zdub, livening things up with this crazy chaos that works extremely well – it just keeps on thundering down your ears for three minutes non stop! A very exciting performance and a great debute, putting them on the same level as Russia who swept away my douze in their first attempt as well. Oh, and grandma with the drum: best gimmick ever.
No enormous changes in the all time top 25 except for France crossing the Magic Mark of 200 points! Félicitations! Who will follow?
1 France 200 (1960 – 1977 – 1991)
2 Netherlands 193 (1970 – 1971 – 1993)
3 Belgium 169 (1968 – 1983 – 1986 – 1990 – 2003)
4 Portugal 152 (1972 – 1998)
5 Finland 149 (1962 – 1979 – 1985 – 1988 – 1989)
6 Italy 149 (1958 – 1964 – 1978 – 1992)
7 Sweden 142 (1974)
8 Norway 138 (1966 – 1982 – 2000)
9 Germany 134 (1959 – 1975)
10 United Kingdom 132 (1961 – 1965)
11 Spain 130 (1973)
12 Ireland 119 (1969 – 1980 – 1984 – 1996)
13 Israel 112 (1976)
14 Turkey 92
15 Greece 86 (1981)
16 Denmark 84 (1957 – 1963 – 2001)
17 Switzerland 80
18 Austria 59
19 Slovenia 58
20 Croatia 49
21 Iceland 41 (1987)
22 Bosnia-Herzegovina 39
23 Cyprus 37
24 Russia 34 (1994)
25 Estonia 30 (1999)
Off to Athens then… Europe, start shivering now!