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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.

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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 (E to I)

We’ve already had a look at the songs from the nations beginning with A through to D, so lets go straight into looking at another eleven songs at this years Eurovision.

Estonia: Rockefeller Street – Getter Jaani
getter_48v6085 I’m still in a sulk over Malcolm Lincoln finishing 14th in the first semi final last year. This is no Siren, though to me, that would be tough to achieve. If I put my sensible hat on though, I’ll find this is an alright entry from Estonia. I’m looking at the odds though and see its the second favourite. Its upbeat, positive and you are going to enjoy the chorus. My only negative is the performance itself, which seems poor in the Estonian Final, though I’m sure will be ironed out for Eurovision. Also, Getter Jaani (who seems to be a magician, watch the video) reminds me of one of my substitute History teachers, which is slightly off-putting.

Prediction: Is definitely going to fight for the title. And will be fighting in the top 3 for victory.

 

Finland: Da Da Dam – Paradise Oskar
Tom Dice finished 6th with his just him and his guitar last year. This is a better song and is following the same principles as Dice. The message is simple, young lad called Peter and he wants to save the world from the mess it has found itself in. Its straight to the point and certainly has a deep meaning rather than just a wishy washy pointless love song about someone you can’t have but you really love. Da Da Dam is nice, sweet, lovely and so is the sound of the singer. In the BBC Preview show Your Country Needs Blue (brilliant pun by the way BBC, worth the license fee) it said this sort of song won’t work. Yes it will. Prove them wrong Oskar, prove them all wrong.

Prediction: Ahh, so what, it isn’t going to win. It’ll scrape through the semi finals and finish on the right hand side of the board on finals night, but it shouldn’t.

 

France: Sognu – Amaury Vassili
amauryvassili_fredericalenda-cropped Look, I’m 17. There is no way I should like this. It is in Corsican not English, it is an operatic song and is sung by a French bloke. Yet I like it. Maybe I’m just impressed. But on the grand scheme of things, opera is going to struggle at Eurovision. Despite it being, pretty good, it is going to be hard to appeal to the masses. It’ll stand out at least and I fear its the only thing that might go in its favour on the night.

Prediction: Another one looking good for the win. So far the bookies favourite and is good for a top 3.

 

Georgia: One More Day – Eldrine
The song was going well, a good bit of rock, I was even thinking that it might get itself into the final. And then, oh dear, they decided to put a rapper in it. It doesn’t work, at all. Bizarre mix and ruins everything.

Prediction: It’s a tough song to sell and I can’t see it happening in the first semi final.

 

Germany: Taken by a Stranger – Lena
It is a rare thing for a host country to enter a song which wants to win the competition back-to-back, but Germany have decided to do it. Coming back is Lena, winner for them last year, and Taken by a Stranger is a different beast to Satellite. Although I feel it is a better song, it doesn’t have the same grab to it as Satellite, which won’t appeal to the voting public. It falls down here, despite the song being unique and pretty damn good, it just looks like it will lack the spark to inspire votes.

Prediction: Sadly it won’t be back to back wins for Lena, but looks good still to finish in the top 10. Which for a host country is a good effort.

 

Greece: Watch My Dance – Loukas Giorkas feat.Stereo Mike
Oh Greece. You usually provide us with something memorable, something actually worth listening to and watching. I loved This Is Our Night and OPA, it was an outrage they didn’t finish higher up (UK votes tend to agree with me as well, both times Greece got the 12 points). But this isn’t. The rapper, Stereo Mike, is not very good at all, and in fairness, Giorkas is slightly better. The two however don’t really mix well and it turns into a disaster of a song.

Prediction: For the first time, Greece aren’t going to make the final.

 

Hungary: What About My Dreams? – Kati Wolf
img_9448 Hungary have decided to return in style. Well done MTV. This is a fantastic dance song which is certainly one of my favourites. Kati Wolf is an impressive singer and the dance beat itself isn’t too shabby either. I’m going to put my neck out here and say, if this is in the last five in the running order come Saturday night, this is going to win.

Prediction: As I’ve said, last five on finals night and this will win. Otherwise, I expect a top 3 finish.

 

Iceland: Coming Home – Sjonni’s Friends
Originally, this song was to be performed by Sjonni, however during the Icelandic selection process he sadly passed away. In tribute, his wife and a group of his friends decided to go on and sing this in his memory. It went on to win in Iceland and represent the country, beating former runner-up Yohanna in the process. Coming Home is also a nice enough song, its a sweet little number and with the back-story it has, might find itself being a popular song in Germany.

Prediction: Impossible to predict this one and it all depends on how Europe sees it. It’ll either finish 14th in the second semi final or go out and win it.

 

Ireland: Lipstick – Jedward
This song is brought to you by Marmite. Runners-up in the British reality TV show X-Factor, Jedward have decided to take a crack at Eurovision. I know many, many people who hate them (I may be included), the singing isn’t great and my God is it repetitive. Annoyingly though you can turn that on its head and also say those are good things. You aren’t going to forget this song. It is memorable and will get people talking, which in the end is only a good thing. Turning it again though, that didn’t help Dustin the Turkey. This will either be a massive hit or a massive failure and it depends on how they portray themselves to Europe in the semi final. For me though, they could be huge.

Prediction: Impossible to predict this one and it all depends on how Europe sees it. It’ll either finish 14th in the second semi final or go out and win it.

 

Israel: Ding Dong – Dana International
Dana International won the Eurovision Song Contest way back in 1998, in Birmingham. Ding Dong feels like it belongs in that same competition. Its a poor attempt from a previous winner, feeling very dated and just generally a very average song.

Prediction: Shame for a former winner to put out such a weak song, this isn’t going to make it out of the semi finals.

 

Italy: Madness of Love – Raphael Gualazzi
img_7564_b Italy’s 13 year strop with Eurovision is over as they, as part of the ‘Big 5’, return in Dusseldorf. The entry isn’t too shoddy either, a nice little jazz number from Raphael Gualazzi. It gets you going but jazz is a genre that rarely performs well at Eurovision, and while I imagine it will pick up points, it will only be the lower numbers (apart from when we get to San Marino, of course).

Prediction: In a strong year from the ‘Big 5’ I can see this performing the worst of them. Won’t make the top half, but just below mid-table for me.

 

As ever, if you agree or disagree, please do yell in the comments