Off to the seventh nation in a row that has never hosted Eurovision before – which isn’t exactly surprising as Serbia has been an independent republic for a full two years. Much like Latvia and Ukraine before them they managed to secure a victory after only a handful of attempts and with the disastrous Contest in 1990, organised in the same region, in mind we all wondered how the new nation would tackle our beloved Contest. But we must all keep in mind now: nathing is impassibal!
And they did pull it off. With the Contest ever expanding it’s not an easy thing to achieve but there were many learnings to take away from the previous Contests, certainly those including a semi final. And as from 2008 we got 2 semis, so Serbian television had their work cut out for them. The tiny bumps in the road in the semis were quickly resolved in the final and we got a lovely show. I wasn’t too keen on the many spots at the back of the stage which made it feel like we were in ’83 again, I’d have preferred to see the video screens that were integrated in the floor behind the singers to get a fuller effect. And sometimes the lighting was a bit off, in Iceland’s performance for example where both singers stand in the dark half of the time. But those are minor criticisms really. Hosts are Jovana Janković & Željko Joksimović and truth be told you wouldn’t say she was the professional presenter of the two with that endless shouting – give me Željko’s warm soothing calm sounds anyday.
With the semis there were a LOT of entries to like or trash and looking back on things I feel the right songs made it out of the semis – or at least I understand why some of them didn’t make it. Our own Belgian entry for example, which was cute enough as a joke in our national final in a tiny television studio but completely died a painful death in Belgrade. There were two however I feel deserved A LOT more than they got – incidentally both last places in the semis:
The One That Got Away Semi 1: San Marino – Complice
Granted, Nicola Della Valle is far from genius vocally in the verses but he manages to keep himself upright in the chorus and as a piece of music this feels very Italian ie. melodic and magical. I’m in love with the strings and the guitars throughout it and it sweeps me away every time I hear it. Beautiful and sadly heavily underrated.
The One That Got Away Semi 2: Hungary – Candle light
I much preferred the original version which was more acoustic as this final version is a tad too Mariah-in-the-’90s for me but as a ballad it ticks all of the right boxes. Could’ve done with a more modern presentation as well. But somehow it works for me… in semi 2 at least. Maybe I’m just dwelling on ’90s Eurovision memories. Oh well.
Over to the final then which is less of a treat than 2007 but still rather enjoyable I must say – Eurovision seems to have found its second (or third etc.) breath after that disastrous start of the decade. Although, judging by some entries we’re not entirely there – I’m giving you the evil eye, Latvia. I live in the center of carneval in Belgium and even over here they’d frown heavily when seeing that piece of nonsense. I think it’s even worse than Romania’s outdated pile of clichés and Georgia’s sugarcoated peace rally (big Whatever!). Or Greece’s living doll that’s programmed to the letter. Plastic seems to be a running theme though, but more on that later on. Spain messed up again by not thinking international enough with their local interpretation of humor and Croatia tried to liven up their quite traditional entry by adding a rapping senior to the mix which sounded really out of place. And France, dear France: how you managed to frack up that fantastic entry just makes me cry, words fail me.
The other half of the Big Four didn’t do that much better actually: The okay German pop song (that could’ve done with a productional make-over to give it more umph) drowned in an amateuristic performance with bad harmonies and even though the UK did slightly better than the past couple of years (in my eyes, mind) Andy Abraham‘s disco song is simply too been-there-done-that to really excite anyone.
The Polish wannabe Shiri Maimon that’s Isis Gee is hilarious in all her desperation, Armenia is just extremely repetitive and rather empty and Denmark’s another one of those thin pub songs (but Simon Matthew makes up for a lot, vocaly and visually).
I like Albania actually but I feel they should have integrated one or two backings to support Olta Boka and make it all sound fuller and Israel not too shabby either with the rather impressive a capella intro (& those arms!) but I’m not too keen on Boaz Mauda‘s color of voice and on those synthesized instruments. Landing right outside the top ten is another impressive debut, from Azerbaijan this time. They made clear they wanted to win within 5 years but this entry was too far out there to be able to be a real threat from the get go: the harmonies are fabulous and the tempo is great but that act and the entire set-up demanded too much from your average viewer really.
Hm, that didn’t sound all too positive did it? I love my top ten though – here are the points of the Dimivision jury:
1 point: Russia – Believe
Confession time: I’m a bit hung up on Singstar on PS3 and among the many titles in my back catalogue is this one. And only by singing this yourself do you fully realise what a b*tch it is to sing. So: hat off to mister Bilan for pulling this off so well on the night. The manic look in his eyes makes me think he’s either obsessed with winning (ie. full of adrenaline) or he’s on a high. Either way: a pumped performance which didn’t need all the fuss with the ice rink and Plushenko in my opinion. Plus, thanks to Jim Beanz aka Timbaland, it’s got a very modern and international sound. Pity it’s ruined by Dima’s thick Russian accent, which is extremely hard to forget when you’re singing along to it. More even: it’s IMPASSIBAL. Ieven when the thander and stoorm bigins!
2 points: Finland – Missä miehet ratsastaa
Spot on yet again but I suspect Europe shrugged its shoulders at yet another Finnish rock song. It’s a nifty entry however and I love that Teräsbetoni kept it in Finnish because it only adds to the power. The vocals on Jarkko Ahola in the high regions are out of this world and finally we get a solo from an electric guitar that’s not at all out of place. About time.
3 points: Sweden – Hero
ET home phone. The fembot that is Charlotte Perelli has all natural life sucked out of her and performs with the gearshift on automatic – this feels extremely sterile and overrehearsed. No spontaneity at all, every second directed to death: it spoils all the fun this over-the-top-schlager is bursting with. I wonder how much cement they used to create that hairdo that never moves an inch and which makes her look extremely skinny. It just doesn’t work at all. But this is perfect getting-ready-for-a-party-doing-my-hair-in-front-of-the-mirror-stuff. I’ll leave thàt up to your imagination.
4 points: Iceland – This is my life
Fishing in the same pond as miss Perelli is Euroband (Euroband? Really?? *insert rolling of the eyes*) with their powerschlager and the spontaneity Sweden lacks Iceland has in abundance. Perhaps even too much so but it doesn’t harm this joyous entry. I just want to take Friðrik Ómar home basically and Regína Ósk is perfect as his counterpart – both are vocally very strong. Could have done without the redundant ‘choreography’ which feels artificial and while I’m all about colors I’m not that convinced bright pink was the way to go in this already très gay setting. But it’s fab, that’s for sure.
5 points: Portugal – Senhora do mar
“I’m crucified, crucified like my Saviour”… I hear a slight resemblance yes but it’s not thàt obvious and certainly doesn’t spoil what is a great entry in my ears. Yes, it’s all abit theatrical and bombastic but with a personality like Vânia Fernandes they can certainly pull it off. I love how this comes across and the vocals are spot on. The semi performance was a bit more convincing, and the trick with the wind machine came across much more effectively, but this should’ve scored much better than it did.
6 points: Bosnia-Herzegovina – Pokusaj
Mesa likes a cup of crazy and cuh-raaaazy this is – in the best possible way. I simply love this for being so far out there and yet musically it manages to strike the right chords – it almost sounds like nillies Britpop in parts (Coldplay is but a wink away). Laka is definitely true to himself, it bounces off the screen and this works both on its own planet and on mine. Genius. With impeccable vocals it could’ve ended up higher though.
7 points: Norway – Hold on, be strong
Simple but effective: that’s the trick. Not too much fuss (hello Sweden?) and Maria Haukaas Storeng comes across very – here it comes – strong, vocally and in her performance. All it needs are a couple of armgestures really (all together now: true, true, true!). Took me along time to overcome the first verse though which is lyrically among the worst this year (like bad crimes? Really??) but the rest of the song more than makes up for it. Loving the blue outfits as well by the way – the whole thing simply works.
8 points: Turkey – Deli
Direct competition for the Finns and the Turks manage to produce a more modern sound that’s very powerful – Eurovision dynamite, this. Harun Tekin looks a tad scary with that rather pale skin and his coal black hair and dito eyes but that man can sing! Me jealous actually. The biggest compliment I can give. And I’m so happy rock has found its place in Eurovision, still can’t believe it.
10 points: Ukraine – Shady lady
And thàt, Charlotte, is how it’s done. A slick routine but performed with a lot of gusto and Ani Lorak knows how to work a crowd. Shaking her thang from start to finish, seducing the camera while never losing her focus: hats off. Even in the dangerous parts (lifted on top of the boxes, lifted again towards the end of the song) she stays in perfect tune and it’s clear from the start this is the only rightful Diva in the Contest (bar Dima perhaps). The light boxes are another rather simple idea but used extremely well and the song is commercial enough without going overboard. Though I think the title is rather weak to be honest. But so bouncy all in all, gotta love it.
12 points: Serbia – Oro
Much unlike their actual winner I actually think this should have walked with it. I’m not all that into Balkan ballads but this is so magical! The chorus is extremely strong and sweeps me off my feet, even though the basic melody sounds a bit familiar (I though of Vangelis but I can be mistaking obviously). Jelena Tomašević seems a bit nervous but manages to control it by the time we get to that beautiful chorus and the atmosphere is simple and lovely. Do you hear that, Dima?
No giant changes again except for the remarkable rise of Norway, residing at number six by now. And we’re not there yet!
1 France 214 (1960 – 1977 – 1991)
2 Netherlands 193 (1970 – 1971 – 1993)
3 Finland 175 (1962 – 1979 – 1985 – 1988 – 1989 – 2006 – 2007)
4 Belgium 169 (1968 – 1983 – 1986 – 1990 – 2003)
5 Portugal 157 (1972 – 1998)
6 Norway 151 (1966 – 1982 – 2000)
7 Italy 149 (1958 – 1964 – 1978 – 1992)
8 Sweden 148 (1974)
9 Germany 141 (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 105
15 Greece 87 (1981)
16 Denmark 84 (1957 – 1963 – 2001)
17 Switzerland 80
18 Slovenia 60
19 Austria 59
20 Bosnia-Herzegovina 58
21 Croatia 49
22 Russia 46 (1994)
23 Iceland 45 (1987)
24 Cyprus 37
25 Serbia 36
Now let’s see what Moscow has got in store for us…