Blog Archives

Semi Final 1 Predictions

Israel Semi 1

Here we are then, in just a few hours the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in Baku kicks off with the first of two semi-finals, deciding the first ten songs that will head on into the final. The juries have sent their votes off after watching the second dress rehearsal last night and it’s just time for the big two hour show to impress the voters from home.

The order of the first semi-final can be found on the right hand side of this page, and all these countries can vote in this one, along with hosts Azerbaijan, Italy and Spain. So, while I can’t vote (I can’t even watch it live) here are my predictions for the first semi-final (not who I want in the final it must be said, as much as I’d love to see San Marino make it…), in the order that we’ll find out at the conclusion of the final. Belgium is not a typo, either.

Pos Nation Song
1 Iceland Never Forget (Greta Salome & Jonsi)
2 Russia Party for Everybody (Buranovskiye Babushki)
3 Denmark Should’ve Known Better (Soluna Samay)
4 Greece Aphrodisiac (Eleftheria Eleftheriou)
5 Romania Zaleilah (Mandinga)
6 Israel Time (Izabo)
7 Hungary Sound of Our Hearts (Compact Disco)
8 Ireland Waterline (Jedward)
9 Moldova Lautar (Pasha Parfeny)
10 Belgium Would You? (Iris)
  —–Non-Qualifiers—–
11 Albania Suus (Rona Nishliu)
12 Switzerland Unbreakable (Sinplus)
13 Cyprus La La Love (Ivi Adamou)
14 Latvia Beautiful Song (Anmary)
15 Austria Woki mit deim Popo (Trackshittaz)
16 Finland Nar jag blundar (Pernilla Karlsson)
17 Montenegro Euro Neuro (Rambo Amadeus)
18 San Marino The Social Network Song (Valentina Monetta)
Advertisements

Eurovision Sofa… Talks…

In a small change, I, along with the fantastic Noelinho who runs noelinho.org, have decided to have a little (it’s actually quite long) chat about this years Eurovision Song Contest! We discuss last years Eurovision, and pretty much all 42 songs who are competing. I can’t promise much in the way of slickness, but if you do fancy listening to our voices for an hour, then it’s all on you (much of the credit should not go to me mind, it’s all Noel’s idea, recording and editing, I was just available). Still, enjoy…

Listen to it here.

Eurovision Sofa: The Songs – S to U

San-Marino   Valentina Monetta                                                                                San Marino
   The Social Network Song (Oh Oh – Uh – Oh Oh)                                                   200/1
San MarinoHmm, there appears to be a lot of traffic ahead. Oh, I see why, there’s a massive car crash with this song up ahead.
My Verdict: I do quite like her. Quite a bit.
Europe’s Verdict: Why would anyone want to intentionally vote for this? Why? WHY?

 

 


Serbia   Željko Joksimović                                                                                          Serbia
   Nije Ljubav Stvar                                                                                                  14/1
Serbia No one seems to be talking about this, and I’m surprised. Serbia have the countries who can vote for it, and a song that’s pretty good too. He came close to victory with Lane Moje back in 2004, and his song this year although of a similar quality, can equally challenge.
My Verdict: Not a personal favourite, but it is memorable. 
Europe’s Verdict: At least the second semi-final gets a good song opening it. Should qualify and be in the top 10 at worst.


Slovakia   Max Jason Mai                                                                                            Slovakia
   Don’t Close Your Eyes                                                                                        125/1
Slovakia In a year totally devoid of any decent rock songs, Slovakia have of course sent a rock song that is far from decent, it’s painful. It doesn’t appeal to the proper rock fans, and gets rather shouty for a good time too. Ahh, it could’ve promised a change from the ballad’s, but it’s not getting there.
My Verdict: No, no, or in tribute to this song, NO. 
Europe’s Verdict: I can’t see anyone who will want to vote for this, or listen to this.


Slovenia   Eva Boto                                                                                                     Slovenia
   Verjamem                                                                                                           100/1
Slovenia She’s 16 and she can sing like that? I give up, just what hope for me is left? Sigh.
My Verdict: It’s annoyingly good.
Europe’s Verdict: I wouldn’t be surprised if this got out of the semi-final, and is a lot better than the other ‘Just old enough not to qualify for Junior Eurovision’ song from Belgium, and quite charming in another context. Could easily do a Switzerland on the Saturday, but I’m sure Eva won’t care about that.


Spain   Pastora Soler                                                                                                    Spain
   Quédate Conmigo (Stay With Me)                                                                        18/1
Spain In a strong year for the big 5, it’s hard to believe this song I find to be one of the weakest. It’s not that bad, Pastora is one hell of a singer, I just find the song waning my interest half way through. But, for Spain certainly, this is easily their best song in at least a decade.
My Verdict: Why did Spain start taking this seriously?
Europe’s Verdict: This could be a huge hit with the juries, but will fall short. Still going to be good for Spain. Which in fairness, is usually being higher than 16th.


Sweden   Loreen                                                                                                         Sweden
   Euphoria                                                                                                                 7/4
As fan favourites go, this is right at the top threatening to go into a league of its own. Yes, it’s a song that is going to do well, and a song that is unique at this years contest, but it relies on a lot on the stage performance. Thankfully for Sweden, that part is unbelievably brilliant. Everything but together and this will go down incredibly well.
My Verdict: It isn’t one of my own favourites, but I can see why everyone else loves it. 
Europe’s Verdict: Should be pushing for victory.


Switzerland   Sinplus                                                                                                     Switzerland
   Unbreakable                                                                                                            125/1
Switzerland It took me quite a while to realise the chorus was ‘Swim against the stream’, rather than ‘somethingsomethingsomething’. I want to like it, but it’s too middle ground, and two Swiss people struggling to be clear in speaking English.
My Verdict: I can’t even sing aloud to it… not that I would want to, of course.  
Europe’s Verdict: In such a strong semi-final, this could get left behind


Turkey   Can Bonomo                                                                                                 Turkey
   Love Me Back                                                                                                       33/1
Turkey After mixed success in the rock genre the last few years, Turkey have returned to a more ethnic and ‘Turkish’ song. A lot about this is relatively charming, if not a bit annoying to listen to it after quite a few listens. It should be unfeasible to see Turkey fail to reach the final again.
My Verdict: If only I hadn’t kept on listening to it! Though the two time listens it needs should be fine for everyone else.
Europe’s Verdict: Practically has the Eastern Europe vote in the bag, could be mid-table on finals night.


Ukraine   Gaitana                                                                                                        Ukraine
   Be My Guest                                                                                                         40/1
Ukraine Ukraine, being Ukraine, do well at Eurovision whatever they send, and that’s not going to change this year or many years in the future. The saving grace is at least they do send good entries (or something to distract us from the fairly average ones, looking at you Mika Newton), and Gaitana is sending a catchy, fun and a high energy three minutes to Eurovision
My Verdict: Enjoyable and fun to listen to.
Europe’s Verdict: They’re practically guaranteed a top 10 finish already, this could keep pushing it up for a dangerous result.


United-Kindom   Engelbert Humperdinck                                                             United Kingdom
   Love Will Set You Free                                                                                          20/1
United KingdomWell, well, well. As ingenuity goes, the BBC may have surprised us all, no one expected Engelbert Humperdinck, no one expected anything to good from it either. But, for the second year in a row, the internal selection has come up good, yet fails to be brilliant. It’s a song that can go anyway and everyway possible, but hey, at least I’m not embarrassed with it.
My Verdict: It’s good, at least. 
Europe’s Verdict: Who knows? Won’t win but a good performance should be on the cards.

Eurovision Sofa: The Songs – L to R

Latvia   Anmary                                                                                                           Latvia
   Beautiful Song                                                                                                    125/1
Latvia Hey everyone, lets look at how totally brilliant it is Anmary is singing at Eurovision. She’s even giving us her biography, born in 1980, same year as Johnny Logan was born (look at how she knows that!), and now she is singing a ‘beautiful song’ and everybody loves it. Hooray! Isn’t she totally brilliant? I mean, she even knows Sir Mick Jagger, her contact book must be overflowing, she is simply so popular! Because everyone loves this, it surely must win, yay for Anmary!
My Verdict: If you couldn’t tell, I was being a bit sarcastic.
Europe’s Verdict: Please make it go away Europe, please.


Lithuania   Donny Montell                                                                                         Lithuania
   Love is Blind                                                                                                       150/1
Lithuania In football we have a game of two halves, and well, something similar is going on here. We start with a rather dull ballad, and about half way through it turns magically into a rather dull dance act. And he thinks he’s clever that he uses a blindfold to represent how he find love to be blind. Oh the tedium.
My Verdict: Painful to listen to, for the whole three minutes.
Europe’s Verdict: Even performing at the end of his semi-final, this will struggle for votes.


Macedonia   Kaliopi                                                                                                   Macedonia
   Crno I Belo                                                                                                          150/1
Macedonia What’s this, another uninspiring and fairly average ballad in the second semi-final? Thank you so very much Macedonia. And then, you get a bit rocky, and your song becomes a lot better. Shame you couldn’t start with that, otherwise I’d be totally behind it.
My Verdict: It takes forever to get going, and is probably too late to make an impact.
Europe’s Verdict: I can’t decide, will probably miss out.


Malta   Kurt Calleja                                                                                                      Malta
   This is the Night                                                                                                 200/1
MaltaAs guilty pleasures go, this is, not exactly the worst to admit to. I am aware it’s poor live, quite clichéd, repetitive and so on, but I find it fun to listen to.
My Verdict: It’s on my favourites list, and I don’t care if no one else has it on theirs.
Europe’s Verdict: Not as popular for everyone else as it is for me. But Malta is the first opportunity that the second semi-final gets to get energetic, and this could do well.


Moldova   Pasha Parfeny                                                                                             Moldova
   Lăutar                                                                                                                   80/1
Moldova A personal grower for me, starting off largely indifferent, I’ve grown to actually find the song quite decent. Up-tempo and a very fun song, performed by someone who looks to be enjoying himself singing it.
My Verdict: Although it took its time getting there, I love it!
Europe’s Verdict: Assuming people love this first time round rather than the fourth, I can see this proving to be a very popular song, with a very memorable performance.


Montenegro   Rambo Amadeus                                                                                 Montenegro
   Euro Neuro                                                                                                         200/1
MontenegroAnd the award for ‘We’re not taking this seriously’ goes to Montenegro, congratulations for sending, whatever this is. They say it’s a song, but I’m not convinced. It opens the show on Tuesday night, and will be quite the introduction, but you just can’t see this doing anything. Especially since you can’t have live animals/naked women on stage with you.
My Verdict: Yeah, it does my head in.
Europe’s Verdict: It’s hard to guess the impact it will have, I doubt the juries will be thrilled with it. I suspect something similar with the public vote.


Netherlands   Joan Franka                                                                                       Netherlands
   You and Me                                                                                                           66/1
Netherlands The Dutch usually suck and they don’t care, and for once they don’t (relatively suck). As long as she doesn’t stick to that ridiculous Native American theme, which I find to be quite a bizarre costume choice based on the song. It’s a decent folk entry, but nothing more.
My Verdict: I find myself not caring much for it, but for the semi-final it’s in, it’s an OK entry.
Europe’s Verdict: Sorry Dutch folks, I can see you missing out once again.


Norway   Tooji                                                                                                            Norway
   Stay                                                                                                                      25/1
NorwayI couldn’t care less for this song, really is not for me and while the music style isn’t the same as Eric Saade, the performance and everything else is. Saying that, if it worked for Saade it could work well for Tooji, and the teenage fan girls will no doubt be jamming whatever phone line Norway get, potentially more so than Jedward. Despite my hatred of this song, this could worryingly do very well.
My Verdict: Not my cup of tea, and well, in a different postcode to my cup of tea.
Europe’s Verdict: Will be huge, could surprise itself into getting a great finish.


Portugal   Filipa Sousa                                                                                                Portugal
   Vida Minha                                                                                                         200/1
Portugal While I give credit for it sticking to its Portuguese routes, my God do I get bored a third of the way through the song. I could make the cup of tea I wanted from Tooji, and get back in time to see this finish, I find it that boring that quickly.
My Verdict: Dull, so very dull.
Europe’s Verdict: They may see it the same way as me, and with no friends to help them along the way, this could potentially finish last in their semi-final.


Romania   Mandinga                                                                                                   Romania
   Zaleilah                                                                                                                 16/1
RomaniaFun, upbeat and… bagpipes. I really do enjoy listening to Zaleilah, and so do most of Romania, reaching number 2 in their charts all the way back in September and appearing on several high profile shows (aside from, say, the Graham Norton Show). A really enjoyable song and should spark off interest across Europe.
My Verdict: So fun to listen to, and potentially dance to.
Europe’s Verdict: Will do well, will be a good top 10 bet.


Russia   Buranovskiye Babushki                                                                                  Russia
   Party for Everybody                                                                                                9/1
Russia There’s only one humanly possible reaction to this song, awwwwwwwww. The Babushki Grandma’s, singing part in their native Udmurt and part in English. The song is dreadful, they can’t sing and are horrible out of tune with each other… but still… they’re all so adorable, especially the small one. I just want to give her a hug.
My Verdict: It’s just so adorable. I could watch them sing it, but not listen to them sing it.
Europe’s Verdict: Will walk the televotes, and will be high up, but the jury vote might just knock it back from winning.

Eurovision Sofa: The Songs – E to I

Estonia   Ott Lepland                                                                                                  Estonia
   Kuula                                                                                                                    66/1
EstoniaEstonia have sent a very strong, and vocally brilliant, song to Eurovision, but it’s hard to see it make much of a large impact when it comes to the big moment. In a year full of ballads, the only real thing that stands out is it isn’t in English, and that it’s rather better than most of them.
My Verdict: It’s not a bad song, but another ballad loses my enthusiasm for it.
Europe’s Verdict: Another ‘touch and go’ qualifier, though I reckon it will make it.


Finland   Pernilla                                                                                                        Finland
   När Jag Blundar                                                                                                   125/1
FinlandCould someone wake me up when this is over. While I appreciate it’s efforts to be sung in Swedish, it’s just so tedious and never ending. And when you see the likes of Israel, San Marino, Cyprus, Denmark and Russia follow this, I can’t help but see this get lost in the first semi final. And it’s one of the few bad songs in the first semi final.
My Verdict: Dull, tedious, dire, sleep-inducing. It’s a no from me.
Europe’s Verdict: Will easily struggle, especially with such a strong second half following her.


France   Anggun                                                                                                          France
   Echo (You and I)                                                                                                  100/1
FranceFrance tried to go big, and they kind of did, going with Anggun who is (or was) massive around Europe. However, it sounds like it could appear in a Mario Kart game, a 80’s disco and a GCSE French revision pack all at the same time, and that combination isn’t fantastic. And her vocals, well, I don’t think she was too chuffed to hear that she couldn’t mime at Eurovision.
My Verdict: France will get it right one year, simply not this year.
Europe’s Verdict: Won’t inspire anyone and will be in a battle with Spain for lowest of the top 5.


Georgia   Anri Jokhadze                                                                                              Georgia
   I’m a Joker                                                                                                          200/1
GeorgiaAs one of the two real ‘insane’ entries to this years Eurovision, I could certainly live with listening to this than whatever the hell Montenegro sent. But it really isn’t all that good to attract the televoters, his voice is surprisingly good and probably wasted on this song. However, put up a good show, which it no doubt will, could pull of a shock result.
My Verdict: While more enjoyable to listen to than Montenegro, I couldn’t put up with it very often.
Europe’s Verdict: Many expect it to make no impact, although a strong stage presence and I think this could sneak into 10th.


Germany   Roman Lob                                                                                               Germany
   Standing Still                                                                                                        22/1
Germany Germany have turned over a new leaf, and now can’t seem to stop sending very good songs. And, well, Jamie Cullum co-wrote it! How can you not love it? Roman Lob is clearly a talented singer, sought out in the same way as Lena, and the song itself is just fantastic. Well done Germany, good going.
My Verdict: Love it. Really couldn’t have picked a better song to suit me, at least.
Europe’s Verdict: Could easily get top 5, but I have my doubts on a push for victory.


Greece   Eleftheria Eleftheriou                                                                                  Greece
   Aphrodisiac                                                                                                           33/1
GreeceWell who’d have thought it, Greece have went out and done a Greece. Here, ladies and gentlemen, is your standard, typical pop number which is nothing new nor special. But, it works well for Greece so they might as well keep pumping them out, and it will no doubt work again in 2012. Assisted, no doubt, with very little clothing on the part of Eleftheria. Well times are tough in Greece, aren’t they.
My Verdict: I’m largely indifferent to this one, could stand three minutes of it, at least.
Europe’s Verdict: Being Greece, it’ll do well, but might only just edge into the top 10.


Hungary   Compact Disco                                                                                           Hungary
   Sound of Our Hearts                                                                                           100/1
I was highly sceptical of the live performance, the vocals seemed weak, and things just didn’t seem to click for Compact Disco. But since then I’ve grown to really like the song, granted the studio version. With any luck the vocals will have improved by the time we get to Baku, otherwise the quality of the national final will see it end in disaster.
My Verdict: The song is enjoyable enough, the live performance will have to step it up a gear to be good though.
Europe’s Verdict: On the borderline to qualify, I keep going back to the vocals of the lead singer, but it’s going to be the difference.


Iceland   Greta Salóme & Jónsi                                                                                  Iceland
   Never Forget                                                                                                        18/1
IcelandWow. As things go, this is pretty much the best. I’d normally contest the move from Icelandic to English, but, it’s still powerful, still stunning. It’s magnificent. 
My Verdict: Best song at Eurovision this year. 
Europe’s Verdict: They did get a rough draw in the semi-final, but it shouldn’t be an issue. The song is good enough to challenge for the victory. I reckon Iceland must look lovely in May.


Ireland   Jedward                                                                                                        Ireland
   Waterline                                                                                                              20/1
IrelandI was scared when Jedward announced their intention to compete again. We all knew they’d walk the Irish finals (which they did), and I feared that it would be second time lucky for the really annoying duo. But, Waterline, is thankfully a song so unsuited to Jedward it’s great for the rest of us. It lacks the ability for them to jump up and down, and is rather muted for a Jedward song. While they may have more support from the central European teenage girls, I doubt it will be anywhere near enough to compete with the top half.
My Verdict: A poor song performed by the wrong people, what’s to like?
Europe’s Verdict: Should qualify from a strong starting position, will be lucky if it gets any serious points aside from the UK.


Israel   Izabo                                                                                                                Israel
   Time                                                                                                                   150/1
IsraelI can’t believe this is so far out, I absolutely love this song. It’s quirky, with a unique sound that really stands out amongst the field. I really want to see this one do well, and I live in hope that it will.
My Verdict: Fantastic song, I can listen to it all day.
Europe’s Verdict: Sadly, most others seem less keen than I. But, what do they know? (A lot, is the answer). It’s ‘on the bubble’ to qualify, but could do surprisingly well. With luck.


Italy   Nina Zilli                                                                                                             Italy
   L’Amore È Femmina (Out of Love)                                                                          9/1
ItalyNo one saw Italy finishing second last year, this year, Italy could well be disappointed to only finish second. They won’t bother with the rubbish pop that’s flung out by Cyprus and Greece, but they bring a classy, well sung and frankly brilliant song to the table. It’s a shame she drifts from Italian to English, especially as the all-Italian version is pretty much perfect.
My Verdict: Comes a close second to Iceland for me in terms of brilliance. If only it was all-Italian. 
Europe’s Verdict: Pretty much a certain top 5, and will be looking for the win.

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?

AD4_8090

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 2012: The Return

VUG_6341

I simply couldn’t stay away. Eurovision Sofa has returned for the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in Baku, Azerbaijan. Of course, the whole concept is that I’m not interested in going to Baku (it’s a bit far, and well, I’ve got some fairly important exams around the corner), and instead I’m commenting, complaining and analysing things from my very own sofa and on my very own laptop.

Granted, the quality of this year’s songs are very much on the ‘bad’ side. I think I can count on two hands how many songs I like/can just about listen to, which is less than a quarter than all of the songs. Sadly, we’ve lost Poland because their broadcasting company thought the European Championships were more important. And even more sadly, Montenegro have returned, with something which definitely isn’t a song.

So that’s the introduction done, all without mentioning a certain someone too. My final point is Eurovision Sofa is taking over the Northern Waffler on a permanent basis, but not to worry, all posts prior to this one will remain in one place. For whatever reason you might want to go back to them. So, from now until the first semi final on the 22 May, and the final on the 26 May, it’s Eurovision Sofa.

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: Grand Final Preview

And just like that it is almost over. In just a few hours time we will know the winner of this years Eurovision Song Contest and where we will be heading to do all of this all over again in 2012.

But yet no one has quite the idea of who will go on and win it. It is hardly like 2009 where everyone new it was Norway’s weeks before the event, or last year, where it was certainly between two countries. This year, any of about five or six could feasibly win, and I don’t think I would be disappointed or surprised with any of them doing it.

The draw for the final has been kind to the neutrals, it certainly has put out a level plain field and only one or two songs have benefited by their positions. The winners of draw must certainly be Azerbaijan (19th), UK (14th) and Serbia (24th). Azerbaijan is probably getting a good mark for the late draw, similar to Serbia which sticks out and I promise you you will not forget it. UK has the advantage of following France, Italy and Switzerland, and having Moldova (the ‘crazy’ song) after it. My only concern for the UK is from all accounts in rehearsals and especially in the Jury voting final they have been very, very poor. I don’t think the other two will go on and win either, Serbia is only going to attract a small audience and the female Azerbaijani singer still isn’t all there.

For me the favourites are going to be France, Ireland, Finland, Denmark and Germany. I want to add Iceland onto that list, I really do, because it is a fantastic song, but I just don’t think it is going to have enough. The problem for Ireland is that the three main pop songs in this are all bunched together, obviously Jedward, as well as Eric Saade and Getter Jaani. For me the one with the bigger appeal is Jedward (sadly) and the two others, despite being favourites in the run up, have barely sounded good at all. Finland and Denmark are struggling from an early running order, I don’t think it is going to affect Finland that much, its going to stand out by a mile, with its simple use of a bloke, a guitar and giant spinning Earth. France is strong no matter what and I think being in her own back yard will help Lena a lot.

The rest of the top 10 will feature the previously mentioned UK and Azerbaijan, but for me, and I’m sorry to everyone who takes Eurovision seriously, but Moldova is just BRILLIANT. It is nice to have a good time in a song and that’s what I’m seeing in ‘So Lucky’, so what it doesn’t feature Epic Sax Guy, they have crazy cone hats! I want this to do well, oddly enough, even as someone who wants more people to realise this isn’t just a light entertainment programme. Yay for contradicting myself. Who cares.

Bosnia and Herzegovina unfortunately managed to draw position #2, this is bad because a) no one has ever won from there and b) people have finished last from there than any other position. Despite the fact that I love the song, you can’t possibly hate Dino Merlin, it wasn’t too impressive on the stage, and sadly, this may struggle. Or at least, not do as well as many people are figuring.

So what about if we look towards the bottom? For me I reckon Lithuania, Spain, Italy, Greece and Georgia. Personally, Spain is my guilty pleasure of this years final and I do want this to do better than it will inevitably do. Italy is a jazz based song but will struggle, its only for a niche market after all. Lithuania remains for me deathly boring, and disappointed me by qualifying ahead of say, Turkey. Greece still ruined their song with rap, and I don’t care for any diaspora, this won’t do well. And Georgia, just isn’t that good.

I simply can’t go the whole post without mentioning Romania, of course I am going to vote for this. I love the song and I love where David Bryan comes from, but I can’t see this having any severe impact on the rest of the competition. (May also vote for Iceland, depends if I can remember to vote before the last 10 seconds this time).

There we are, quick, not covering everyone, but that is my preview. And after some thought, here is my final predictions for it (please, please note, just because I predicted Jedward will win, it does not mean I like it. OK?)

Pos Final
1 Ireland
2 France
3 Denmark
4 Germany
5 Finland
6 Azerbaijan
7 Russia
8 Moldova
9 Austria
10 United Kingdom

It all starts at 21:00CET on all good national broadcasters.