It was always to be expected that Europe’s largest nation would make sure that their edition of the Contest would be an affair to remember. Little did we know which rabbits the Russians would have magically appear out of their hat. And how multicolored they would be. Much like that logo really. A rainbowcolored peacock? I’m still trying to catch my breath from laughing! Pretty though.
I had several options for the titel of this post. I’ve used ‘Mine is bigger than yours’ for 2001 so I wanted to play on that. Another one could’ve been a line from one of my favorite movies (Jurassic Park – hey, as a 13 year old it was great!): ‘Spared no expense’ (John Hammond). But I think ‘In your face’ pretty much covers it all: they really pulled out all stops! That stage is immense, which is impressive enough on its own, but the main features are of course those gigantic video screens which really lift every performance to another level. The video screens in 2007 and 2008 were a fantastic step forward but this is just taking it to another level. The way they are used is clever as well and the entire set-up is simply ultra dynamic and a real pleasure to watch. The opening of the final by Cirque du Soleil is a nice cherry on top but almost too in-your-face: nothing but the best is good enough, we get it. Hosts Alsou (aka BonBon in that dress) & Ivan Urgant translate the Russian enthusiasm very well and I love the introduction movies which are not too long and rather clever in set-up (while showing off the Russian Miss World). A big finger to the world, all in all.
Musically it has to be the best Contest since 1998 – in the final at least. Both semis however contained a lot of crap that was thankfully eliminated at the earliest possible moment. Except for these two:
The One That Got Away in Semi 1: Switzerland – The heighest heights
Sounding almost U2-ish… in the studio version. Live this was the disaster that was waiting to happen but as far as the composition goes this is quite good actually. Better than the others that didn’t make it in semi 1 anyway.
The One That Got Away in Semi 2: Hungary – Dance with me
Just because it’s so deliciously over the top and all over the place.
In the final I had a ball watching it all again – I simply love the show, no discussing. And it’s clear all performers are loving being there which translates well on screen. Musically I feel there are a lot of tunes present that are quite relevant in the contemporary music scene and looking back I seem to have flunked only 5 out of 25 entries! At the back of the pack is, not entirely surprising I imagine, Malta’s Chiara and her plastic emotions in that synthesizer ballad – the yang to my number one’s yin. God, I don’t like her style of music and her voice at all. And I can see why people would have liked Azerbaijan but to award them the bronze? Still incomprehensible. It’s so… mechanical. Funny to see how the robot that is Aysel can’t stand Arash at all – not a glimpse there and who can blame her, that man is just ridiculous. Much like Sakis Rouvas really, narcissism in the flesh. And what’s with the giant stapler? Alex Panayi did a great job vocally though! Cheat! One can discuss if it’s better to have so much going on than almost nothing but still I preferred the lame party from Romania over Greece. Just. The last one falling out of grace is Denmark with their 13-in-a-dozen middle of the road pop. Plus Brinck can hardly control his nerves, his facial expression after the last note has died out is just hilarious. And painful, like his performance.
Which leaves ten songs in the middle field and they fall into two categories: the ones I shrug my shoulders at and the ones that could’ve been top ten material in any of the years before (bar 2007). I’m not that overwhelmed by Armenia (good in its genre I suppose but leaves me stone cold), Bosnia-Herzegovina (laying it all on too thick), Germany (I don’t think Oscar wants to kiss Miss Bang which harms the entire concept really) and United Kingdom (they trained her well but the constant belting is a bit much – and the greed on Sir Webber‘s face at the end is… manic/creepy). Those that could have been top ten in other years are Moldova (a happy variation on Turkey ’04, love the folksy feeling), Spain (again a great song ruined by an old fashioned Ice Capades routine), Albania (fantastic vocals, okay pop song but those creepy twins and that eco Spiderman are simply nuts), Portugal (nice Mediterranean vibe and great visuals), Croatia (he’s HOT and that rumba sounds great, just wish that teakettle had been left in Zagreb) and our own Hadise for Turkey, who packed a great bellydancepopsong but lacked the stamina to sing and dance for three minutes. Well done though but in this year it’s a matter of topping it all off…
Again a top ten packed with songs I still adore and play regularly – here are the points of the Dimivision jury:
1 point: Finland – Lose Control
Full blast! Literally, with all that pyro going on! This is extremely ’90s dance but it’s got such a tempo I can’t help but tapping along to this. It benefits hughly from coming after Romania and UK in the line-up though but I’m loving the beats here. Still wondering how they tackled the echo effect as I can’t see any of the backing covering it, suppose it must have been a technical feature. Karoliina Kallio and her shrill high voice work for most of the song but get a bit tiresome towards the end. And mini-Agnetha looks a bit tired. Great fun though.
2 points: Ukraine – Be my Valentine! (Anti-crisis girl)
Ah, the ever repeating mistake of wanting to put too much into 3 minutes. First of all: Svetlana Loboda fracking rules. No doubt about it. But lyrically they should’ve stuck to one idea – either you want someone to be your Valentine or you want to be Europe’s distraction from the financial crisis. And on top of that there’s so much going on visually it all ends up being a bit of a mess. That hell machine is not all that impressive when you take a closer look but works enough, no need to go and drag a drumset on stage as well. The gladiators work though and the way Loboda controls them is genius – loving the ‘yeah’ moment after having spun through their arms mid-song. Could’ve ended up higher with a bit of editing, both in my list and in real life.
3 points: Sweden – La voix
A sucker for diva’s may I remind you and Malena Ernman sure qualifies as one. The song isn’t that great, let’s be honest, but the way she wraps her classically schooled voice around it is nothing short of fabulous. Not too keen on the low parts where she seems quite nervous but the rest of it works like a charm. Hate the green stage lighting, they should have stuck with the black and white contradiction for the Ice Queen effect. And the masks don’t work. Another example of trying to translate the MF version to ESC and falling flat – but I still kind of adore this. Me so gay.
4 points: Lithuania – Love
An excellent opening of the Contest, I love this in all its simplicity. Could have done with a more intimate setting, difficult in this setting I know, but it still comes across very well. Loving the color switch at the end accompagnied by the fire effect on Sasha Son‘s hand, not that keen on the language switch though which is just too obviously sucking up to the host and breaks the atmosphere. And shake that ass, male backing!
5 points: Russia – Mamo
This must be, together with Russia 2001, one of the weirdest entries to date but it’s extremely beautiful in all its weirdness and sadness. Let’s call it special, shall we? The presentation is completely unexpected but extremely effective and gives another dimension to this already layered entry. Anastasiya Prykhodko is not the world’s most gifted singer but an artist she definitely is. loving the shower curtain she’s wearing as well. As in your face as the entire organisation really.
6 points: Israel – There must be another way
As far as peace messages go none has been quite as effective and beautifully wrapped as this one. Hebrew and Arabic go hand in hand in the lyrics, much as the powerful Noa and the sweet Mira Awad on stage. I’m deeply in love with the harmonies here but individually both ladies are very convincing as well (though Noa blows Mira out of the water when it comes to comparing the two). Don’t quite get why they went for the more acoustic version of the song, I feel the more richly produced version would have come across better in this big setting. Loving the watery backdrop as well. Loving it all really.
7 points: Norway – Fairytale
Much like Dima Bilan the year before this was the expected winner and deservedly so: it’s the perfect reconcilement between East and West & pop and folk. The prancing violin is a fantastic lead and Alexander Rybak and the lyrics are almost secondary to it. Rybak isn’t always on par vocally but the mischievous look in his eyes make hearts melt all over Europe really and he comes across extremely well. The dancers are a bit much if you ask me, even though they’re quite impressive and do underline th dynamic of the song, and the backings are lovely. A just winner, no doubt.
8 points: Iceland – Is it true?
I bet we were all thinking the same thing when we say that dress. Such a mistake. Of all the dresses in the world she picked that…costume? Hideous, simply hideous. The only flaw in an almost impeccable entry really: Yohanna is your perfect Icelandic elf with an amazing voice (especially in THAT high note), the backings support her beautifully and the chosen visuals on the screen give this the fairytale (no pun intended) atmosphere it needed to bounce off the screens. Very well put together.
10 points: Estonia – Rändajad
Much like Iceland really but a bit darker and more haunting in composition which makes it a bit more interesting for me. Love the fact the kept it in Estonian which makes it even more magical and mesmerising. I’m usually underwhelmed by musicians faking on stage (we all know it’s playback now) but in this case it underlines the beautiful musicality of this entry. I’m in love with the nightly setting of this, including the sparkling nightblue outfits, and Sandra Nurmsalu sings this perfectly. I’m smitten – a firm resident in my all time top 5.
12 points: France – Et s’il fallait le faire
Ain’t no way about it: this fracking rules. So fragile yet powerful. So real. Patricia Kaas is in a league of her own basically and her professionalism leaks through into every note she sings and every move she makes. Filling that giant stage like that on your own: I bow to thee, miss Kaas. The mood is very five-in-the-morning-and-mesmerizing-over-my-last-glass-of-wine and the lyrics are so emotional and honest – chills up and down my spine. The little twirl in the end all tops it off nicely. Thàt’s how it’s really done, Chiara. My number two of all time.
A GREAT and highly enjoyable Contest this was!
Over to the top 25 where France now firmly sits on the throne and Norway managed to sneak into the top 5. All the way down below Estonia re-enters the list with now Cyprus being in danger of losing its place to one of the newer countries:
1 France 226 (1960 – 1977 – 1991)
2 Netherlands 193 (1970 – 1971 – 1993)
3 Finland 176 (1962 – 1979 – 1985 – 1988 – 1989 – 2006 – 2007)
4 Belgium 169 (1968 – 1983 – 1986 – 1990 – 2003)
5 Norway 158 (1966 – 1982 – 2000)
6 Portugal 157 (1972 – 1998)
7 Sweden 151 (1974)
8 Italy 149 (1958 – 1964 – 1978 – 1992)
9 Germany 141 (1959 – 1975)
10 United Kingdom 132 (1961 – 1965)
11 Spain 130 (1973)
12 Ireland 119 (1969 – 1980 – 1984 – 1996)
13 Israel 118 (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 Iceland 53 (1987)
22 Russia 51 (1994)
23 Croatia 49
24 Estonia 40
25 Cyprus 37
Can we keep the video screens please?