Eurovision 2016 Review – Love Love Peace Peace

Posted: 26/05/2016 in Eurovision 2015, Eurovision Song Contest Reviews

Come together, all flags allowed, interval act by refugees – world peace was the order of the day on the 14th of May! Well, that interval act was technically not on the 14th, but you catch my drift. Love and peace all around – until the winner was announced of course. Let’s dive right in, let the Eurovision 2016 review begin!

An introduction to match the actual one we so often get in real life, but never has it been done better than this year. Nor anything else, for that matter: Måns & Petra simply kicked ass during the entire (3) broadcast(s). Where the entire production was top notch, they were the icing and cherry on the cake. And where I was wondering if they would be able to top the splendid intro of semi 2, they outshone everyone and everything with that fantabulous interval act. Let’s enjoy that again, shall we:

Not that there were a lot of points of advice they gave that actually led to any winners at all, but that was simply genius. Loving the ‘stare into the tv camera’ moment, and the Charlotte Change-my-name-every-decade outfit reveal. Loving pretty much anything else about the show as well: the stage, the use of modern technology to pimp performances (without going overboard – well, not by SVT anyway) and the cleverness of it all – it all made for a swell evening. Justin Timberlake being there felt kinda random though, and I feel like Lynda, bless her heart, Woodruff has seen her best times.

This edition marks a drastic change in the voting, and I have to say it actually made for an entertaining voting sequence. The differences between juries and televoting, the various douze points being all over the place, the much needed climax right at the end – despite the fact that Eurovision is folding into the Melodifestivalen template a tad too much to be healthy, it all added up to a rather splendid evening. It’s funny how some people seem to think it’s unfair that we got a winner that won neither jury nor televote. I’d say that the combination of two runner-up positions leads to quite a logical winner. But hey, guess some drama simply cannot be avoided.

Speaking of drama and winner, let’s talk shop. Did I expect Ukraine to actually pull it off? Hell to the no. I thought it would be a top 5’er at best. The fact that it managed to convince both juries and touch televoters kinda surprised me. I can see the obvious musical quality of it, and Jamala does a swell job selling it – but her voice is simply not to my taste, it borderlines on very annoying to me. So, do I ‘agree’ with her taking the trophy? Yes and no. Yes, because it’s a stubborn song and I love the fact that something this ‘difficult’ was widely appreciated. It’s a bit of revenge for all the Suus’es, Sama’s & Ale Jestem’s that have graced the ESC stage. And no, because there’s a political layer to it that feels out of place. Let’s not call each other Nancy now: it’s there. And rather blatantly, might I add. Which doesn’t sit entirely well with me. Then again, we’ve seen other political statements (hello, Portugal 2011) – they’ve just never been executed this well. And not everyone got that layer – some viewers were just really touched by it. Like my mum (if ever there was a benchmark to use her for, this was it). So all in all, I don’t really mind that she won. If only for the fact that she kept Russia from winning. But will I ever actively love it? Afraid not.

So, let’s get down to business. I decided to count down to my top ten by laying out my thoughts on every single entry, instead of racing through them like I did in previous years. Happy Hunger Games! Here’s the countdown to the crown:

26. Croatia – Never got it, never will. Everything about this bothers me: the dresses (don’t try to sell this to me as a concept – it’s just a really bad (stage) fashion faux-pas), the lyrics, Nina’s voice… She got it semi right in the semi, but completely derailed in the final.

25. Spain – This was simply a shouty mess. Bloggers were reporting faulty backings, but they were the least of my worries: next to the off-putting lead vocals, the song just goes nowhere for me. It’s a bunch of random soundbites to my ears. And then there was the fall. Such an ironic metaphor.

24. Malta – There was so much wrong with this, I don’t even know where to begin. The giant face on the stage floor, which is all kinds of bad taste? The song itself, which was all over the place? Or Ira herself, who can pull it off vocally but has the stage presence of any random ‘missing the top ten in a pageant’-contestant? Speaking of vocals: Molly Pettersson-Hammar was excellent – too bad she drowned out Ira in places. Or should I say: thank heavens? Anyway – how did this end up so high with the juries?! *bewildered look*

23. United Kingdom – I thought this could come across as sweet and endearing beforehand – it didn’t. It fell completely flat for me – it was all, as we say in Belgium, thirteen in a dozen. Plus, those selfies were *really* stupid.

22. Ukraine – see above.

21. Poland – It came across way better than in the semi – but that still doesn’t make it good. So oldfashioned, really not my taste at all. Still, kuddos to those vocals. And third in the televoting – I’m happy my gut instincts in my preview post were on the mark.

20. Lithuania – Never in a thousand years did I see this end up in the actual top ten. Donny is the redeeming element in this entry – he really sold the pants off this VERY middle of the road pop tune. But THAT HAIR!

19. Azerbaijan – Where I thought this was rather stellar in the semi (my expectations were really low, now), this completely bombed in the final. All due to the fact that Samra was a vocal disaster, which made the difference with the dominant backing in the chorus all the more obvious slash painful. Plus, those weak verses gave us plenty of time to notice how weak the presentation actually was. Happy again that my pre-contest instincts were right.

18. Bulgaria – This is obviously where my instincts were completely off. I still don’t get why this song is widely appreciated, but hey: I’m all for Poli getting the validation she deserves, cause she’s really lovely. Bad fashion sense though. And that chicken move, guuurrrrlll!

17. Israel – This year’s drama queen almost managed to convince me with this emo driven ballad – until they went, Israel-style, overboard with those acrobats in their hoop. Which by the end lit up. Bye, magic. Not that Hovi didn’t ruin it by himself, with that weird baby-move in the last seconds. That calls for a genuine: WTF?!

16. Czech Republic – or Czechia, as fans have lovingly baptized it. Not too keen on this beforehand, but well done to them for making the final. Too bad Gabriela actually only stood there, lost in longshots. Impressive trick with the hair, too *rolls eyes*. They can thank their lucky stars that she’s an accomplished vocalist. Also: zero in televoting? Auch.

15. Netherlands – Not to play on stereotypes, but did DB light up a joint before going on stage? How else should we explain those ‘sleepy’ eyes? Came across really weird to me – or perhaps the song just wasn’t exciting enough to keep my attention. It was all fine, nothing more – bar those 10 secs of silence, with that rather uncomfortable ‘I love you’ mime. I mean, come on.

14. Hungary – Oh Freddie. You gorgeous statue of a man, you. What happened out there? The nerves really seemed to get the best you, didn’t they? Grunting even more, to the point where people were wondering if you were singing in English or Hungarian? Annunciation is a wonderful thing. Carefully choosing and styling your backings too. You don’t want people to think you had to use random people who were wandering about backstage. Still: will you marry me?

13. Belgium – Singing a bit more forced than in the semi, but what a great opener to the show. Slick, bouncy and happy – everything the doctor prescribed. I am ever so proud of Laura – and I’d never have guessed we’d get to hear ‘La Belgique, douze points’ (twice even!). Ever so happy we did. Excellent job. I mean, top ten: who’d have thought?

12. Russia – Yup, I did. Never felt much love for this: the song comes around about five (or fifteen) years too late, and those lyrics are *really* annoying. The stage presentation was nifty, but overworked. Sergey was clearly thinking about his next move (carefully avoiding a fall, like in rehearsals), which influenced his connection to the audience and the cameras.  It’s all very slick, but totally sterile to me. Bonus points for his graceful loser attitude afterwards. I’d gladly see him back with something less formulaic.

11. Cyprus – Originally I had this down as tenth, but I decided to switch – I explain this below… Minus One was much more convincing than in the semi, and this schlagerrock tune was a welcome break from all trickery and balladry around it. But they were trying to convince us too much of the fact that they were so bad-ass, instead of actually being it.

Nope, I’m not really in love with the general musical quality this year. I mean, it’s nice to see that almost anything is radio-worthy. it’s just too bad that almost everything sounds like a single’s B-side, or an album filler track. Where’s the A-stuff?! In my top ten, perhaps? Let’s find out: here are the points of the Dimivision jury!

1 point: Italy – Francesca Michielin – No Degree Of Separation

This was my painful moment of the night. It really hurt me. I adored this beforehand. But my Goddess, did they/she ruin it. In theory, the stage concept could have worked. In reality, it came across really clumsy. But that is nothing compared to what Francesca did. She looked so uncomfortable, not knowing what to do with her arms and hands – and on top of that, strangling her own singing capabilities. This went from beautiful poetry to dodgy kindergarten faster than you can say ‘painful’. Which it really, really was. For me. Had this outside my top 10 on the night, but I decided the song still deserves 1 point. #sigh

2 points: Germany – Jamie-Lee – Ghost

On a comparable note, this gets two points due to the song as well. Those opening lines still touch my fragile heart, as well as those repeated ‘can we get an alternate ending’-s. Love the vibe, don’t even mind the laserbeam-trees. But that’s where the love ends – the song should’ve been in the hands of another singer. Jamie-Lee seems like a lovely girl. She just looks as if she’s really uncomfortable, even though she herself insisted on wearing those little crafts projects – and she sings the song on automatic pilot, there’s no real trace of her feeling the song and lyrics. Das war aber Schade. Please Germany, just send Laing next year.

3 points: Sweden – Frans – If I Were Sorry

Didn’t really expect to see this in my top ten, but strangely enough I actually liked this. It’s nicely different and current, and Frans didn’t annoy me with his vocals (well, most of the time). His boy-charm worked like a charm, and I thought the highlighted words were cleverly chosen to keep the audience’s attention. Thought this would do even better than it did when it comes to the results – perhaps he should’ve thought about a glittery beanie, to Eurovision it up some more? Just thinking out loud.

4 points: Serbia – Sanja Vučić ZAA – Goodbye (Shelter)

Where Sanja came across like a woman who understands what she’s on about in the preview video, on stage she translated as a girl who actually doesn’t really have a clue. Her spot on vocals and the drama of it all is what saves this for me. But I completely get how Europe overlooked this one. There really isn’t much else to say.

5 points: Georgia – Nika Kocharov & Young Georgian Lolitaz – Midnight Gold

This is where things get delicious. Loving that the UK jury gave this twelve points – because really, this is an excellent blend between Oasis and Blur. If only the UK had it in them to dare and send stuff like this to Eurovision themselves. I think this is simply kick-ass – especially that last minute when they go completely overboard with the electronics. Minor side note: rock’n roll attitude is cool on stage, but when you’re keeping it up off stage you’re giving the impression you don’t even want to be there. You’re participating in Eurovision, guys – own it, don’t diss it.

6 points: France – Amir – J’ai Cherché

I was so afraid this was going to tank – especially after hearing the preview bit in semi 1. Thankfully, they toned it down a notch so Amir could keep up and just be his charming, smiling self. The demure, yet mesmerizing visual presentation was right on the money (finally, France!) – Amir missing some camera shots even emphasized the charm of it all. Still feel like it could’ve all been a tad sharper when it comes to execution (look at me, sounding all like *insert random Project Runway judge*) – but this will definitely stay on my ‘Summer of 2016’ playlist.

7 points: Austria – Zoë – Loin d’Ici

Can’t believe I’m awarding this 7 points but hey, in the spirit of Bojana Stamenov: score sheet never lies. This sugary little ditty slithered its way into my veins and brains – the semi performance is better, Brigitte…eum…Zoë’s quite nervous in that final performance. But isn’t she lovely, though? I mean, come on! My sometimes bitter and overly critical heart just melted for this. Or, to say it in Frans’ words: #sorrynotsorry. (But seriously, how much does she look like Brigitte Bardot? On a bad day perhaps, but still!)

8 points: Australia – Dami Im – Sound Of Silence

The ONLY one (well…next to Bulgaria perhaps) to have really upped her game compared to her semi performance – and that wasn’t even all that shabby to begin with. Where I complained she had the presence of a dead fish on stage in the semi, she totally gave it her all in the final. She seemed much more involved, even nailing the different hand gestures this time. Even vocally she managed to take it to another level. She sold this song for way more than it’s worth, it even became slightly impressive and interesting. Perhaps the fact that my heart beats to the sound of silence got me carried a way as well #emomoment Thought this would totally walk with it, only to end up fourth in the televoting. Perhaps the Big Ballad Brigade isn’t as numerous as it used to be? (side note: that ‘lemonade’ answer in the green room. I mean, come on girl – don’t you have an ounce of wit in your body?!)

10 points: Latvia – Justs – Heartbeat

Where I thought the opening draw in semi 2 could be its undoing, it actually was being up rather late in the final. Being male soloist number 687 of the evening sure didn’t help him. Pity, cause I still think this was all kinds of awesome: the cool vibe of the song, the desperate lyrics, and Justs fantastic vocals to match them. I kinda dreaded hearing this live, as the NF performance was quite on the edge, but boy did he pull it off big time. Slightly over-sung in the final, but still fantabulous. Ow, and Justs: if you’d wanna challenge Freddie as my husband to be, don’t let anyone stop you.

12 points: Armenia – Iveta Mukuchyan – LoveWave

Confession time: I know that final performance wasn’t entirely on the money. Especially compared to the semi, where everything DID work out. Vocally a bit strained, camera work was a tad off – but it’s still so fucking cool. The song may be too much to handle for some (or too little, depending on your standards), but I simply adore it. The sexy vibe they gave it makes it only more delicious – side thought: would the red jumpsuit she wore for the flag parade have worked better than that…bathing suit? Doesn’t matter, in this field this easily gets my douze any day. My heart goes ba-ba-da-bu-who-oh-oh!

So, there you have it: let PED kick in and the countdown to (presumably) Kiev begin!

But before we dive into off-season, let’s take a look at my all time top 25. Not that anything exciting happened: France only strengthens its leading position, Sweden draws nearer to the top 5 and Serbia pops up to say hello down at the bottom. Now Christmas is officially over! Stay tuned for some off-season fun though – I’ll be celebrating 60 years of Eurovision on my own!

1             France 237 (1960 – 1977 – 1991)
2             Netherlands 213 (1970 – 1971 – 1993)
3             Finland 188 (1962 – 1979 – 1985 – 1988 – 1989 – 2006 – 2007)
4             Belgium 183 (1968 – 1983 – 1986 – 1990 – 2003)
5             Norway 173 (1966 – 1982 – 2000 – 2013)
6             Germany 169 (1959 – 1975 – 2011)
7             Sweden 169 (1974 – 2012)
8             Italy 165 (1958 – 1964 – 1978 – 1992)
9             Portugal 157 (1972 – 1998)
10           United Kingdom  132 (1961 – 1965)
11            Spain 132 (1973)
12           Ireland 126 (1969 – 1980 – 1984 – 1996)
13           Israel 118 (1976)
14           Turkey 105
15           Switzerland 96
16           Denmark 92 (1957 – 1963 – 2001)
17           Greece 87 (1981)
18           Austria 78 (2014)
19           Bosnia-Herzegovina 66
20           Slovenia 65
21            Iceland 63 (1987)
22           Estonia 63 (1999)
23           Russia 61 (1994)
24           Croatia 49
25           Serbia 47

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