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Eurovision Sofa: The Songs – A to D

Well, here we go then. A full and slightly comprehensive review of all 42 songs in this years Eurovision Song Contest split into four parts which will be posted inside the next four days. So, instead of the usual waffling, lets dive straight into it.


Albania  Rona Nishliu                                                                                                  Albania
  Suus                                                                                                                    150/1
Albania My ears, my poor, poor ears. I’m sure there’s a good song in there between the unbelievably annoying screeches and screams of Rona Nishliu, but those really turn me off a song I don’t care for much in any case. By far and away one of the songs I dislike the most, and it’s a shame because she is clearly a talented singer who is inflicting pain on my ear drums.
My Verdict: Run my friends, run far away.
Europe’s Verdict: Could do well with the juries, the fact it’s in Latin and is, well, quite annoying, could detract audience votes.


Austria  Trackshittaz                                                                                                  Austria
  Woki mit deim Popo                                                                                            150/1
AustriaOh the opportunities Austria have offered us this year, Trackshittaz certainly live up to their name. The name of their song literally translates to ‘shake your bum’, and you’d never guess what the main focus of attention was when they performed it in their national final. The rapping is worse than Daz Sampson and the only thing anyone’s going to like about this is their amusing name. And potential shaking of body parts.
My Verdict: Dreadful.
Europe’s Verdict: Will fail miserably, and thank God for that too.


Azerbaijan  Sabina Babayeva                                                                                    Azerbaijan
  When the Music Dies                                                                                             25/1
Like all good host nations, Azerbaijan have sent something so average that they just know won’t win Eurovision for the second time in a row. It’s quite bland, and by quite, I mean very, certainly isn’t knocking anything out of the park or striding for the win. In fact, the only way it’ll get close is the support of the home nation.
My Verdict: Not very good and easily the worst of the automatic qualifiers.
Europe’s Verdict: Will be on the right hand side of the scoreboard very easily.


Belarus  Litesound                                                                                                      Belarus
  We Are the Heroes                                                                                                66/1
BelarusIt’s a bold claim to sing ‘we are the winners’. When LT United performed it in the more literal sense, they came fairly close. In terms of this context, Litesound are more sure that they have sorted everything out and passed the tough challenge. I quite like it, it’s good enough and in a turgid semi-final, really does stick out like a sore thumb. Especially if it sticks with it’s slightly over the top sci-fi theme.
My Verdict: It’s not spectacular or special, but this is still my third favourite song in the second semi-final.
Europe’s Verdict: Has every chance of qualifying, but will become anonymous when mixed with the big guns.


Belgium  Iris                                                                                                                Belgium
  Would You?                                                                                                          200/1
BelgiumIris is 17. Slovenia’s entry Eva Boto is 16. Both are younger than me. What am I doing with my life? Well, I can tell you I’m not sending a decent, if not unspectacular song to Eurovision. And I won’t be expected to have just returned from appearing from a rather emotional, and dreadful, episode of Hannah Montana, in which she is about to propose to the guy of her dreams (who has been there for about 20 minutes). And I think she’s taller than me too, damn her.
My Verdict: Iris is arguably more talented, younger and taller than me, so, I can’t stand her.
Europe’s Verdict: Mediocre at best and will struggle to get out of its semi-final.


Bosnia-and-Herzegovina  Maya Sar                                                                          Bosnia & Herzegovina
  Korake Ti Znam                                                                                                      80/1
BosniaI presume you all remember the ridiculous piano player behind Dino Merlin last year? Well guess what, she is back! And this time, she can’t pretend to sing, mainly because she’s just singing an OK song. Just, OK. Nothing even special, just, OK.
My Verdict: So, so average I really don’t care much for it.
Europe’s Verdict: Could do fairly well in the semi-final, dependant on the neighbours voting in it. Then a poor showing in the final.


Bulgaria  Sofi Marinova                                                                                               Bulgaria
  Love Unlimited                                                                                                    200/1
BulgariaIf Bulgaria couldn’t qualify with a good song last year, God knows how they will qualify with this. While it seems to be an attempt at be a pain in singing in as many languages possible, it fails to work and ends up in, surprise, surprise, another bland, unimaginative song.
My Verdict: I don’t want to be enforced to listen to this on a regular basis.
Europe’s Verdict: Will get nowhere, and fast.


Croatia  Nina Badrić                                                                                                    Croatia
  Nebo                                                                                                                    150/1
Croatia While, like Bosnia, it should do well because of their neighbours in the second semi-final, there is nothing amazing that stands about this. The song feels longer than three minutes and just goes on, and on, plodding along like a limping horse. There are few redeeming features, Nina Badrić is decent enough, but the song is horrendously bland.
My Verdict: So dull. Croatia can’t get anything right can they?
Europe’s Verdict: As I’ve said, the Balkan-heavy semi-final should assist them, aside from that though, they’re going to struggle everywhere else.


Cyprus  Ivi Adamou                                                                                                     Cyprus
  La La Love                                                                                                            33/1
CyprusI hated this song to start off with, a seemingly never ending  stream of ‘la’s’, with an occasional ‘love’ thrown in when you least expect it. I still can barely stand it, but I do note there is a great chance for it to be stuck in everybody’s heads for a bit, like it has mine. Curse my stupid head.
My Verdict: I don’t like it, even if I can’t stop thinking about it.
Europe’s Verdict: Could be popular, it is catchy, bouncy, and very pop-y. Will qualify from the semi-final and will be mid-table come finals night.


Denmark  Soluna Samay                                                                                           Denmark
  Should’ve Known Better                                                                                       18/1
DenmarkI love Yohanna, quite literally. But with her absence in recent times I find myself drifting towards Soluna Samay, the Guatamalese-turned-Dane who is one hell of a good singer. Her song is just lovely and positive, and should do well even in such a strong semi-final.
My Verdict: I do quite like her. Quite a bit. One of my personal favourites as well, and would love to see her do very well.
Europe’s Verdict: Should go far, but might be just short to challenge for the win.


All odds are correct as of Sunday 13th May and all images are courtesy of the European Broadcasting Union.

If you agree, or more likely disagree, please do share in the comments.

Eurovision Sofa: How did we end up in Azerbaijan?

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A step back even moments after last year’s contest and you would have been stunned to ask how Azerbaijan won. On the night, there were so many better songs that were performed so much better, yet Azerbaijan prevailed with a comfortable margin to the even more surprising runners-up Italy.

I can’t complain with ‘Running Scared’, the studio version for me was brilliant enough to warrant a thought that it might be up there and competing for the win. But the live version was shockingly bad, especially the vocals from Nikki, and was saved only by the good ones from Elgar. On reflection, the theme of white was like a highly disappointing heaven, it just wasn’t what was in the brochure.

Without a question Azerbaijan will put on one impressive show, and in any case it was only a matter of time until they went and won it. It’s just unfortunate that the year they finally do it (I say finally, they have only been competing since 2008), is with virtually the worst song they have sent. Safura would have been with a chance the year before had she not been the opener, and AySel and Arash were well worth their third in 2009. If hadn’t been for the outstandingly good songs from Norway and Iceland.

Ifs and buts of course, but it is wondering which songs, on the night, we’re superior to Azerbaijan. Technically, Italy’s Raphael Gualazzi and Slovenia’s Maja Keuc were by far the best, and I still can’t help myself listening to Keuc’s ‘No One’ every now and then. However they really failed to capture the general audience’s inspiration and wouldn’t have got where they did (2nd and 13th) without the jury vote. The running order certainly hampered others, Dino Merlin started from the dreaded 2nd spot, while another of my favourites, Denmark’s A Friend in London started 3rd, although performed brilliantly, would have benefitted from taking Azerbaijan’s spot.

Then the frustrating voting system ruined others chances. While Jedward were seen as the sixth best song by the jury (yeah right), a poor performance by Blue, on the day before the final itself, saw them rated 20th, only better than eventual wooden spoon winners Switzerland, the cocky Russians and the usual woeful Spanish. Yet again, while a 50-50 split between the jury and the public votes is the fairest and less likely to end up in a mass British acceptance that political voting is to blame, the fact the jury vote is based on a totally different performance to the actual final is unbelievable. It should be the same performance, and it is ridiculous that the jury performs on a dress rehearsal, where clearly Blue were out of sorts and weren’t up to the standards they set themselves in the Final. And while we’re at it, surely an out of sorts Blue is not fourteen places worse than Jedward in any situation.

But while we’re going through songs that were better than Azerbaijan, lets not forget the ever left field Moldova. It must have been hard for Zdob şi Zdub to top bringing the lead singers Grandma on stage in 2006, but with unicycles, cone hats and clear insanity, they managed it, and we all loved it. Lena didn’t humiliate herself on her return, Eldrine was surprisingly enjoyable and Eric Saade, was, well, popular.

While we’re at it, can I include the opening featuring ‘Mr German Eurovision’ Stefan Raab and Lena with a brilliant rock and roll cover of Satellite, which I would have happily voted for back in 2010. Or how about the gigantic screen in the background, I could have easily spent three minutes just staring at it. Actually, I did, with Ukraine.

So that’s nine songs I’ve decided were more worthy of a win than Azerbaijan. Granted it’s not much use complaining now, they’ve wasted a lot of money on a good looking stadium to host Eurovision. As a whole, the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest was highly enjoyable, especially with very few songs that I didn’t like reaching the final. And in those cases, the gimmicks were usually good enough to get me through the three minutes. It’s something I don’t expect this years contest to match, no matter the propaganda spread out by Azerbaijan. They’ll go big and spectacular, with a few pyrotechnics added in for good measure, but the quality simply isn’t there, and that is really going to hamper the overall quality. And quality, is what Azerbaijan crave.

Eurovision Sofa: Grand Final

© Alain Douit (EBU) , Peter Van Den Berghe (EBU):  The winner of the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest

*Looks at predictions. Looks at results. Throws predictions in the bin*

So, after 2 weeks of build-up, Europe has managed to decide that probably one of the worst live songs is the best one! Only in Eurovision.

Maybe I’m being too harsh on Azerbaijan, I did say right from the start I loved the song, and I still do, the studio version. But on the night it was nowhere near the best song, I need more than two hands to count who was better than them.

But let us start at the bottom, poor old Switzerland and Anna Rossinelli. In the end, the song was just too nice, but too finish that far off 24th and not that be that bad a song is very unfair for her. Elsewhere in the bottom five there were three main shocks for me, the two fan favourites of Estonia and Hungary and a personal favourite of mine, Finland. Kati Wolf was for more impressive in the final than the semi final. I think she was hampered by a lack of movement on the stage and the horrible dress, but this should have still done far better. Estonia never appealed to me live, but Getter Jaani did improve her singing, but she just wasn’t good enough to do a half decent song justice. Poor Finland, Tom Dice finished 6th for Belgium last year, Paradise Oskar finished 22nd with arguably a better rendition when it was just him and a guitar.

The rest of the right hand side of the table only has one major talking point, France. Amaury Vassilli came in as favourite, the person the bookies thought might be up and around the winning positions, and he ended up 15th.  He never performed on the night, the big stage and he struggled. He didn’t get in the right key and it failed to pay off. Massive upset.

Elsewhere there was the dreadful finishing of Russia, and if you compare this year’s effort to last year’s which made ‘My Lovely Horse’ look like a potential Eurovision winner, this could and should have easily done better.  At least it shows the bloc voting isn’t just for dodgy Russian songs anymore. Romania finished just behind them, notably gaining no votes from the United Kingdom, and making me think I may have been the only person in this country to vote for him (interesting and slightly pointless fact, the countries I have voted for in the last two years have both finished 17th. Yes I did vote for Bosnia last year and yes I loved it). Iceland did Sjonni proud, and sadly didn’t do better than 20th.

Just outside the top 10 were the trio of the United Kingdom, Moldova and Slovenia. All three of those positions are probably the only ones I agree with. I thought Zdob si Zdub could be the dark horse and get votes because it was just so blooming awesome. I liked Slovenia (it might have been because of Maja Keuc) and United Kingdom didn’t deserve anything more really.

And to the top 10. Nice to see the host nation put some effort into it and get a good result on their home soil, which doesn’t happen enough. Georgia surprised me, because it wasn’t all that good, neither was Greece (god damn that diaspora) which if it probably didn’t have that rap wouldn’t have won it. Though, thank you everyone for making sure Ireland didn’t get anywhere near it. It was probably me predicting them to win. And Dino Merlin, he sure improved for the final and if it wasn’t for that ridiculous decision to mime the piano…

Moving up and in 5th was Denmark, for me the best song on the night. The fact that the lead singer ran all the way down the catwalk and back again didn’t affect anything vocally this time. This should have won for me.

Then, in 4th, Ukraine. How many people were voting for the song (I’m thinking about 5%), the country (possibly 30%) and the sand artist (65%)? I won’t lie, this song is really forgettable because of the sand artist. I promised I wouldn’t do that for the second live show in the row but I did. I’ll give her full credit, it is massively impressive. The song wasn’t.

Into the top 3 was Eric Saade and Sweden. This was the favourite before the rehearsals and then one by one was written off during them. But, almost like he was sandbagging, he performed, and even the glass box smashed on time to make it work. The whole thing worked well for him, and I’m not going to lie, this isn’t a bad song live to finish third.

2nd were the returning Italians and I reckon 0% of the experts I followed on the internet expected this. Out of nowhere, the song France could have easily sent, got itself into second. Probably mainly down to the jury vote, but it is fantastic to see this sort of jazz number get a good enough reception from the televote as well to get itself into second place. Fine result.

And all of that leaves us with Azerbaijan. Credit to Elgar, he is a brilliant singer and if he sung this by himself I would have agreed with the result. But it isn’t, Nikki is a awful singer. Its known that one day in the next few years Azerbaijan were going to win, they are consistently sending good songs into Eurovision, it’s just a shame their first victory will be this one.

So that is it, Eurovision 2011 is all over. And we have 54 weeks before it happens all over again in Baku (assuming they can find/build a venue, sort out the issue of visas and don’t get the privilege taken away from them from not letting Armenia in the country). Plenty of countries can take positives (such as Belgium, who with an a cappella number, finished 11th and were only one point off qualification, how?!!) and some negatives (Norway, the Netherlands). Thank you to everyone who have read my blog posts over the last three weeks or so, if you have suggestions for improvements or general comments, please do tell me any way. I’ll keep talking about Eurovision some way or another throughout the year.

See you all from Baku, from my sofa.

Eurovision Sofa: The Songs (A to D)

A record 43 songs will be performing in Dusseldorf and I, the kind chap that I am, have decided to give you a run down of all 43, in a nice alphabetical list which is hopefully easy to follow. Links to each song can be found under the country name. Naturally if you don’t wish to have the songs spoiled, then don’t read on or click any of the links.

Albania: Feel the Passion – Aurela Gaçe
To use a favourite expression of mine: meh. Its not the nicest song to listen to, it feels forced and shouty and it isn’t a nice thing to have in a song.

Prediction: Not going anywhere from the first semi final. Easy miss.

 

Armenia: Boom Boom – Emmy
emmy_final_02 A cheesy pop song over a Greek/Turkish bed. It’s poor, it has been done before, it offers nothing new and nothing I’d actually want to listen to again. The lyrics are also dreadful. This won’t get far.

Prediction: Like with Albania, this is staying in the first semi final and I don’t think anyone would miss it.

 

Austria: The Secret is Love – Nadine Beiler
This isn’t too bad but unfortunately found itself in the ‘semi final of death’ (a term I have just made up). Nadine is a good singer and its a fine ballad, nothing too spectacular however will see this low down the order in the final. Which isn’t the end of the world for the returning Austrians.

Prediction: Might just squeeze into the top 10 in the ‘semi final of death’, will end up finishing in the top 20 come the final.

 

Azerbaijan: Running Scared – Ell and Nikki
img_9876_2 Name a bad Azerbaijan entry to Eurovision. Hard isn’t it. That’s probably because there are none. Sure they’ve only been in since 2008 but its clear that they want to win Eurovision and they sure do put out some good stuff. Running Scared is not an exception either, its a good song that I really do like. Very friendly for the radio and generally in my eyes it is excellent. Ell is probably the superior singer which is the only issue, although Nikki is alright to look at (she has a bit of Louise Redknapp about her) which will partially make up for being not the greatest singer. I adore you Azerbaijan. You have my vote.

Prediction: Putting personal preference aside, this might not be enough, but still good enough for a top 5 finish.

 

Belarus: I Love Belarus – Anastasia Vinnikova
vinnikova_03 Is this a Eurovision entry or a promotional song for the Belarusian Tourist Board? The lyrics have already been modified once because they promoted political views, and ultimately the title and the lyrics come across as arrogant and self centred generated for propaganda about Belarus. This isn’t going to impress the viewers and no matter how decent the song and beat is, I hope it fails miserably.

Prediction: Last in the second semi final. Hopefully with nil points as well.

 

Belgium: With Love Baby – Witloof Bay
Risky business from Belgium, acappella. I do honour their attempt at trying this out at Eurovision and the immense ability they clearly have to have to do it in the first place. However this can only flop in my eyes. This isn’t a song for Eurovision and is aimed towards a niche amount of people. Will be lucky not to finish last.

Prediction: Second to last in the second semi final. Shame I suppose.

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Love in Rewind – Dino Merlin
dm_img_12 I love this song. There is something about it that makes it fantastic. It might be the feet stomping and the clapping or the general feel that it puts a smile on my face when I watch it. Dino Merlin has done a good job here and really hope it gets into the top 10. Will probably do it easily if they get rid of that pianist, or actually give her lessons.

Prediction: You know what, top 10 finish this. Just top 10, but that is still a damn good result.

 

Bulgaria: Na inat – Poli Genova
This could be easily mistaken for a Pink song. I imagine Pink would do alright with this in the charts as well, as it isn’t too bad. It’s a nice little guitar powered pop rock song and might do well in a live performance.

Prediction: Will make it through the semi final but not get very far up the leaderboard on the Saturday.

 

Croatia: Celebrate – Daria
Anything that starts with ‘Friday’ naturally has me concerned, but thankfully this is far better than what you hear from Rebecca Black. Its a good dance tune with light lyrics and a lot of strong energy that will work in the clubs around Dusseldorf but not the stadium. When compared to other songs of the same genre, such as Hungary, it doesn’t quite seem as memorable.

Prediction: May, just, miss out on a top 10 in the semi.

 

Cyprus: San aggelos s’agapisa – Christos Mylordos
the5421 In the end this tries to be too many songs at once, and it struggles to pay off. I think it gets better towards the end and it is unknown how it could perform on a live stage. But in the ‘semi final of death’ I can’t see it making it out. Also, the music video for this seems to have been made in the 1980s and features the worst female actress of all time, which may have put me off slightly.

Prediction: Can see this finishing low down in the semi finals.

 

Denmark: New Tomorrow – A Friend In London
Come on boys, come on girls. You know it isn’t original, and it really lacks something towards the end of it, but this has the potential at least. The song reminds me of Coldplay, and while that might put some people off, I happen to like their music. Probably at the state it was in at the final though will find it mid-table come finals night.

Prediction: Will qualify easily, and be around or about 10th place.

 

I shall place part two (of four) up on Saturday. Till then, if you disagree with my suggestions, yell loudly at me in the comments and criticise me for not knowing a thing about anything. Or if you agree, do the same.