Sweden by a landslide

Friends of Eurovision, I barely slept last night, that’s how exciting Eurovision was! And I can’t stop humming Loreen’s winning tune (Euphoria). Financial crises aside, Europe stood united behind Sweden who won with a staggering 372 points!

But the evening did not start on such high notes. Our hosts,  Nikki (last year’s winner, and Azerbaijan’s favorite son-in-law) and Laila seem to have been held at gunpoint throughout the show: they smiled as they were told, but gave us little else (no humor, little charm, nor did they move).

The first act, Engelbert Humperdinck (UK), hurled us into a depression: an aging wolverine with a song so bad not even the fireworks on stage could save it. Sending Engelbert was cruel for him and for us: second last!

Hungary was next with an angry man-band…some liked it, apparently: third last place.

Albania was a highlight: a minimalistic stage set up (actually other than the laser work, there was no one on stage but Rona and her broken heart. The audience burst into instantaneous applause twice during her song! A deserved 5th place!

Lithuania’s entry was very cheeky with young (and I mean very young…has his voice actually broken?) Donny wearing a diamond studded blindfold, because ‘Love is blind’. Not even a one-arm handstand could pull this song above 14th place.

Russia delighted everyone! How can you not love a bunch of grandmothers cooking biscuits on stage? 2nd place!

Iceland did not deserve 20th place (behind Ireland) with their sophisticated ballad, even though Greta fiddled with great gusto on stage channeling young Alexander Rybak (Norway winner 2009). The Scandinavian block voting system failed miserably for Iceland!

Cyprus brought us back to Eurovisionverse…with a silly song, benign lyrics (lalalalala) and very very short dresses – enough for douze points from Greece (which they borrowed from Germany): 16th place.

Incredibly, France wore even less, and gave us the opening ceremony to the Olympics. 22nd place!

Italy did not do as well as I thought it deserved to (9th), but maybe that is because of the rather unanimated three-some backup singers with possibly the lamest finger snapping in the competition.

Estonia brought us Ott! A young lad, a microphone, a song! And Europe liked it – 6thplace.

Norway was clearly the stinker for the evening. – last place with 7 points. The cast from Vampire Diaries gave us acrobatics on stage, and not enough fog!

Azerbaijan was clearly the crowd favorite, and almost promised to carry off a back to back win, but settled for 4th. 10 points from Israel!

Romania violated Eurovision rules (and possibly the Geneva convention) by producing bag pipes, drums and a piano accordion on stage! 12th place

Poor old Denmark – they were really earnest with their song! And one of the singers looked like Raelene Giffney! Best use of an arm chair on stage: 23rd  place!

Short skirts were back with Greece. While the central group of five (3 women, 2 men) held the audience captive, a lone singer with a microphone hovered on the edge of the stage – did anyone see her? I suspect that she actually sang the song while the other 5 just threw their legs around. Why does every Greek entry have to end up in a Sirtaki? 17th place

Then came Sweden with a great song and minimalistic stage antics (just a bit of Tai-Chi and snow). The clear winner for the evening, so, pack your bags for Stockholm in 2013!!!!

Turkey really produced something awful….I can’t quite describe it, maybe I should not even try! 7th!

Tears were en vogue in Spain with a big song and the best eye-liner of the evening: 10th!

Germany sent a man child with big eyes and a beanie – some say he is Lena with a beard! 8th place.

Malta stood out with its single yellow leather fingerless glove! 21st!

Macedonia came and went and honestly, I cannot remember a thing…maybe I was looking up ebay for yellow leather fingerless gloves? 13th place.

Then came Ireland. Why oh why does Eurovision let them compete??? Please stop it!!! What will they send next year, triplets? 19th place. Best use of a water fountain on stage.

Serbia was surprisingly successful and somber, and one of the musicians sported a man-skirt! 3rd place.

The Ukraine used the most props on stage and with the clever use of mirrors managed to circumvent the 6 people on stage rule..…and there were man-skirts! 15thplace. Best Mardi Gras anthem.

And finally, the evening ended with a Benny Hill sketch by Moldova…all that was  missing was a nurse in underwear running across the stage: 11th place!

Every year Eurovision sets the trends in the fashion stake. I do not know about you, but I will be stocking up on anything black, man-skirts and yellow leather fingerless gloves!

Thank Darwin it is over! Thank you for traveling this treacherous journey with us!

Club Douze Points

Party For Everybody

Artist: Buranovskiye Babushki

Review by Olga Kasakova

While I have to give these adorable senior citizens credit for getting up on stage and trying (or getting up on stage at all!) I’m not entirely sure the entire gang will live to see the night of the contest, let alone win it.

However, if the weird washing machine in the background has been offered as a prize by their agent if they win, it may be just the encouragement these girls need to keep singing their little hearts out till the night of the contest.

But in all seriousness, if their shtick is singing English songs in Ukranian, then they should have chosen a song every viewer would know instantly – they list Queen as one of the bands in their repertoire so let’s hope we hear a folky rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody on the finals night.


Ukraine

Be My Guest

Artist: Gaitana

Review by Olga Kasakova

Thoroughly polished, it’s obvious why this girl has been a star for the past decade – her HUGE talent…which is prominently on display in this music video. With its strong funky rhythm this song about accepting yourself for who you are is set to become the new gay anthem. Wait… this isn’t Born This Way by Lady Gaga? My mistake – it’s just the same pop princess drivel we’ve been hearing on the radio for the past twenty years.

Beautiful Song

Artist: Anmary

Review by Nik Tatarnic

OK, so let me get this off my back. I’ve been putting off my Eurovision reviews. It’s not that I dislike Eurovision (hell no!), it’s more that I’ve lacked the inspiration to tackle a very impressive trio of contestants. But now, after five days of mind boiling fever, sleep deprivation, and a flight into the steamy heart of Borneo, I feel I’m finally ready. My bacterial (or is it viral) peyote wishes to speak.

I picked Latvia because my mom’s Latvian, and the singer looks like my cousin. How shocked I was when the song began “When I was born in distant 1980”. Distant 1980? Yikes! That makes me bloody Paleolithic. Anyway, the song went on and on with all this white noise that I didn’t pay much attention to, but on my second listen (yes, I took it for the team twice) and actually focused on the lyrics, I was shocked. It turns out that Anmary’s song is all about how great a song it is, how it’s going to win, she’s going to join a parade of winners, and how Mick Jagger wants to hang out (does anyone remember “We are the winners of Eurovision?”). Huh? Sorry kid, but that kind of preemptive victory dance doesn’t cut it for Eurovision 2012.


Estonia

Kuula

Artist: Ott Lepland

Review by: Nik Tatarnic

Maybe it’s the icy grip of death’s fingers on my windpipe (or is it just indigestion?), but I feel I need to make another confession. I never made it through Estonia’s entire song. Ott seems like a nice enough guy, his piercing eyes convince me that he really cares deeply about whatever he’s singing about, but I just couldn’t bring myself to care at all – not even enough to google the meaning of “Kuula”, which he kept saying over and over (I guess that’s the name of the song). I don’t know, maybe this one will win, maybe it won’t. But either way, poor old Ott got zero emotional response from me.


San Marino

The Social Network Song (Oh Oh – Uh – Oh Oh)

Artist: Valentina Monetta

Review: Nik Tatarnic

I’m nearing the end here, and it seems only fitting that I go out with a bang. San Marino’s entry is titled The Social Network Song, “sung” by Valentina Monetta. Now this was a song I can finally sink my teeth into. The first time I heard it I got an actual, deep in the gut, visceral response – nausea. This song is absolutely, unequivocally, terrible. The lyrics are inane, Valentina’s voice is so autotuned as to be almost unintelligible, and to top it off the whole teenage girl act by a late 30-something (or more?) is frankly a little embarrassing. Alas I fear that much like the climber Joe Simpson, who had the misfortune of nearly dying with the chorus of Bony M’s “Brown Girl in the Ring” playing endlessly in his head, I’m going to cash it in with The Social Network Song playing over and over and over and over. Oh Oh, Uh Oh Oh, Beep Beep. Please make it stop.

Korake ti znam

Artist: Maya Sar

Review by Lucy O’Farrell

Maya Sar has a lovely voice. As she croons in her Bosnian tongue words that I do not understand I find myself liking the song. Watching the music video I see a man in a hat and dark glassess lead his donkey to the train station. There- we don’t know how- he acquires a mysterious bundle that he ties to his donkeys back and heads home. Meanwhile Maya passionately sings astride her piano in a deserted warehouse. She doesn’t seem to notice when her piano is hoisted from the ground and loaded atop a train. Eventually She feels the wind in her hair and enjoys the view. The Man unwraps the mysterious bundle to expose a metal musical note- he feels compelled to weld it to the top of a tower. And why??? Not a clue. The lyrics speak of a strained relationship riddled with love and hate and a hate of the love…. There’s blame and regret and ‘poison blood and soul’. Did anyone else pick up on such angst? Not me- I just marveled at how well that donkey foal behaved and wondered why the man looked like a body guard. Maya looked happy enough- her suffering is quite cryptic. As to the songs predicted success I’d say it’s up there at the top (ish) but not exceeding 7th place.


Bulgaria

Love Unlimited

Artist: Sofi Marinova

Review by Amy Smart

This is a head turning performance from the start! …for the dancers anyway.  Sofi can sing and you can tell she loves it on the stage. The song is surprisingly catchy but after a while it will get on your nerves. This song is in Bulgarian and for a non-Bulgarian speaker I had no idea what the song was about even with the video. The dancers spent the majority of the time stroking themselves, with the occasional Saturday Night Fever move and jog on the spot. Although Sofi seems to be a born winner, of other song festivals, there are definitely more entertaining performances at Eurovision than this one.


Azerbaijan

When the Music Dies

Artist: Sabina Babayeva

Reviewed by Amy Smart

This contestant may lack the costumes, make up and hairstyles of the other contestants but Azerbaijan may have produced another winner with Sabina Babayeva. Although the videos a bit drab and “cold” her voice should warm you up. This beautiful woman not only has a stunning voice but the wardrobe to match. With three full length dresses and a figure that can pull them off, young females will want to be her and we all know what young males will be thinking. Eurovision, what is Sabina doing there? It’s been her long term goal to be in Eurovision! She did however keep her options open by obtaining not only a music degree but also a degree in law. Now Sabina’s achieving her dream in her home town of Baku, will she make it the top?


Belarus

We are the heroes

Artist:  Lightsound

Reviewed by Lucy O’Farrell

‘We are the heroes’ is what this years contenders from Belarus assure us. Who could argue when the four of them strut around in their matching futuristic space bounty hunter outfits- the power rangers are back! Not only are they the heroes, apparently they ‘are the winners’ also- sorry to spoil that for you. According to their music video should ever your plane crash all four of them will be there within moments, descending from a helicopter and marching four abreast through the smoke. Once they’ve performed the adequate number of swat team roly poly’s and thrown themselves over the odd pile of debris they’ll fish you out. Enough of that- as to the actual song itself it’s not bad but it’s not very memorable either (for good or bad). I expect that amidst the usual crazy array of musical hilarity that they may be forgotten. ‘We are the (forgotten) heroes’. There’s actually something lyrical to that.

Love Will Set You Free

Engelbert Humperdinck

Review by Nansi Richards

The UK did remarkably well in Eurovision competitions back in the day. It’s true, really!!  ‘Back in the day’ being the ’60’s and ’70s…..  Something went spectacularly wrong thereafter. This year, in an effort to usher back in the glory days, the Brits have wheeled out the true essence of their heyday – Engelbert Humperdinck (guess Tom Jones wasn’t available).

Engelbert was certainly a huge hit once, hounded by a rampant horde of proper young twinset-and pearler British girls (shame on you Princess Anne!). Whether the Humperdinckers can still whip off their undies and hurl their saggy missiles stage-wise, all while balancing ballerina like on their zimmerframes, is questionable to say the least. Unfortunately, at 76 the Dinck himself is also well and truly over the hump. The song is as dull as the proverbial despite having all the big music industry names behind it (today’s industry that is). He strains into the bridge and cardiac arrest seems alarmingly imminent when he hits the climactic final notes. After this Lovin’ there may have to be some mouth to mouth resuscitation.

However, we mustn’t forget, the Hump, the Dinck, the Bert, whatever you want to call him, has been in training for this moment all his life (as have his side burns). Not to mention that (as a last ditch effort?) they appear to be planning to dress it all up with a truck load of mood lighting, a pair of melodramatic dancers and a rather dashing but manly young classical guitarist (there has to be some eye candy for the loyal old Humperdinckers after all). So you never know……  Meantime, please release me from having to listen to this!!


Russia

Party For Everybody

Buranovskiye Babushki

Review by Nansi Richards

Each and every one of these ladies is giving Englebert Humperdinck a run for his money!! One of them is notable as being over 76, knocking the Hump off the ‘oldest entrant’ spot by a few months. Amazing!! None of them look a day over 90!! And they all seem to have buns in the oven!!!

Love Me Back

Can Bonomo

Review by Kate Umbers

These Pirates of the Mediterranean present a very catchy tune and in my Eurovision heart of hearts I really feel that THIS IS THE WINNER OF 2012. Turkey incorporates traditional sounds with modern Europop to make a very big splash. The pirate theme and ship imagery in the film clip adds a lot to the song and it will be interesting to see how it translates to the stage.

Here’s some interesting stats on turkey’s geopolitical voting strategies.

Turkey has given the most points to…

Rank             Country                                     Points

1                          United Kingdom                         126

2                          Bosnia Herzegovina                  119

=                          Ireland                                          119

3                          Spain                                             118

4                          Germany                                        86

5                          Yugoslavia                                     80

Turkey has received the most points from…

Rank             Country                         Points

1                          Germany                         162

2                          France                            146

3                          Netherlands                   124

4=                          Switzerland                  101

4=                          Belgium                         101


Ireland

Waterline

Artist: Jedward

Review by Nansi Richards

Ireland was justifiably astonished at not taking home the golden disco ball last year with their Lady Gaga tribute duo (they placed a totally baffling 8th!!). In the mistaken belief that talent wins the day, they’ve sent last years crop of golden-quiffed twins back to shame the judges into seeing sense. Or maybe Ireland was too demoralised to run a preliminary selection process again this year….

Unfortunately, as if the vagaries of block voting weren’t enough of an obstacle to Eurovision success, Jedward haven’t quite matched their own hype this time (just not up to the waterline!). It’s a cute-enough pop number with anthem-esque undertones but the unpretentious, boucey castle party vibe, and (somewhat suspiciously) ultra- enthusiastic acrobatics, is well…… just a bit flat.  Jedward (aka EDzerbaiJOHN) just seems jaded. Not surprising, poor dears – massive overexposure and the indignity of placing 3rd in BBC’s ‘Most Annoying People’ would grind anyone down!

Having said that the hair’s still super perky and it’s reassuring to see that climate change has done nothing yet to alter the Irish tan. Kudos for the outfits too – there’s something for every voter on those white jackets! If you check the interviews there’s a double-trouble haute-couture number that’ll just make you wanna smack ’em hard in the chest – in a good way, of course!

There’s a fine chance the endorphins (or whatever we’re calling them) will kick in as the final photo-shoot approaches. If it’s a competition about who’s having (had?) the most fun though, they’re a shoe-in!!


Reminiscing about Eurovision

Friends of fine music,

just today, I found myself looking back at our somewhat sordid love-affair with Eurovision. We have provided insightful reviews, cutting commentary and gentle guidance to Eurovision since 2003. There was an inexplicable break in 2004 and for some reason I lost our 2005 assessments. Our beginnings were humble. We started with a few printed reviews on a board in the Department tearoom and started the blog last year (with over 4000 views…3763 of which are my own). So, treat yourself and revisit past Eurovision glory!

2003: Riga, Latvia

Eurovision2003allreviews

2006: Athens, Greece

Eurovision2006

2007: Helsinki, Finland

Eurovision2007allreviews

2008: Belgrade, Serbia

allreviews08

2009: Moscow, Russia

eurovision09

2010: Oslo, Norway

Eurovision2010allreviews

2011: Düsseldorf, Germany

I’m a Joker

Artist: Anri Jokhadze

Review by Matt Bruce

According to his bio Anri Jokhadze has a vocal range spanning four octaves. After listening to “I’m a Joker” I’ve got no reason to doubt this. Hint; if listening through headphones turn the volume down to avoid permanent hearing damage. This offering has all of the elements for Eurovision success, a great voice, a charismatic singer and most importantly slightly creepy makeup.

As a performer, Jokhadze might best be described as the love child of Freddie Mercury and Robbie Williams, although I’m not sure if he looks more like British comedian Julian Clary or the evil albino monk from the Da Vinci Code, perhaps with a little Annie Lennox thrown in. The bookies don’t agree but I reckon “I’m a Joker” could be the smoky of this year’s competition. That’s right if Jokhadze wins you read it here first, if not this post will be deleted immediately and I will deny any involvement.


Cyrpus

Artist: Ivi Adamou

Song: La la love

Reviewed by Ana L. Llandres

Oh my god! the first time that I heard this song I didn’t realize that the music video of the song is based on the story of Snow White!! I would say that this is a kind of gothic snow white representation… but definitely someone should have told Cyprus that the cheesy story of snow white does not fit very well with the disco rhythm of “la la love” even when you are trying to sing about unconditional love.  But, as I said in my revision of France, although the story and the song do not really match, I think that Cyprus comes this year with many ingredients to surprise us and make it the biggest success to date in the Eurovision contest.

You and Me

Artist: Joan Franka

Review by Matt Bruce

Ahhh, the Dutch you have to love them for trying. Who could forget such Eurovision classics as Corry Brokken’s “Net als toen” and “Ding-A-Dong” by Teach-In? Well I have. Joan Franka’s “You and Me” a tale of long lost childhood love is pretty standard Eurovision fare, a cheesy, folksy, yet quite catchy effort that wouldn’t be out of place in 1976.

So what is it about Franka that made me instantly forget all of the Dutch classics that have gone before her? Well check out the video. Franka seems to be going for the as yet untapped Native American market, a lost nation in central Poland perhaps? Unfortunately she looks as though she is being attacked by a pelican. Dick Bakker and his Teach-In bandmates can rest easy, there’ll be no new Dutch winner this year. I can’t see this one getting past the semis.


Israel 

Time 

Artist: Izabo

 Review by Anne Wignall

The first 5 seconds of the introduction from Israel’s entry comprises an eerie riff. Probably going to be an heart-wrenching ballad, I decide, especially with a name like ‘Time’. Who doesn’t like a bit of musical mystery mixed with unrequited love in their playlist?…it looks promising for Israel at this stage.

Then starts the music proper. With tones reminiscent of the B52’s, this cheesy, alternative fair is actually a song about needing more time. I didn’t even know an alternative band could be cheesy. While we can all relate to needing more time, unfortunately we’ll never recover the time taken to listen to this half-hearted attempt at folk-pop. Complete with bubbly 60’s moves from the back-up singers, classic Eurovision lyrics and fanatical lighting techniques, this entrant is not recommended for the epileptic. I do however suggest a quick look at their music video – they have dancing clowns!!

Never Forget

Artist: Greta Salóme & Jónsi

Review by Jasmin Ruch

Duet, drama, drums  and violin: these are the ingredients for Iceland’s recipe for success in Baku. Gréta Salóme & Jónsi present the folkloristic pop song ‘Never Forget’. If the title itself does not immediately cause goose bumps, then the snow and the icicles in combination with the Gréta Salóme’s ice-clear voice will. The really good thing about both of the performers: they can sing!! While the female part of the duo is a Eurovision-newcomer, Jónsi is an old hand. Unfortunately his song ‘Heaven’ had little success in Istanbul (2004), but in combination with the professional member of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra – Gréta Salóme- the Icelandic Eurovision audience felt safe sending them out to Baku. Let’s hope for them that it is not too dramatic, too folkloristic, too icy…What do you think?


Germany

Standing Still

Artist: Roman Lob

Review by Jasmin Ruch

Isn’t he lovely?? Look into these eyes!!! I wanna hug this boy and tell him it’ll be all good again soon!! Roman sings about the end of a love story in a very honest and innocent way. Only his brown eyes could be more honest and innocent. The song is very pleasant to listen to, a song you would not immediately switch of when being played in the radio. It neither causes severe pain in the ears, nor does it provoke the feeling of ‘fremdschämen’. Considering that the vast majority of Eurovision songs and/or artists are a threat to the eyes, ears and nervous system, Roman’s song is a rarity in Baku.

Roman started his career only now, even though music has always been a part of his life. Unlike many other Eurovision participants, but very much like his predecessor Lena, Roman is a newcomer in the business.  His song is not as catchy as Lena’s ‘Satellite’ was, but it has a little something that will be honoured, I’m sure!  My prediction: Germany will be in the top 10!


Albania

Suus

Artist: Rona Nishliu

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Holy guacamole! What a creepy video (think Bergman), what a voice, what hair! I speak not a fragment of Albanian, but I swear I understood everything. Poor old Rona is eviscerating herself with this song. The stage performance is minimalistic (think Bergman) with Rona as a human statue, only much more emotional, broken and bawling her eyes out. I actually hate those human statues…and who are those weird children in the video?

Albania has not really produced anything interesting for Eurovision since joining in 2004. Rona might be it, probably not a win, but definitely top 10. I will be watching closely (with tissues at the ready).

Euphoria

Artist: Loreen

Review by Scott Fabricant

Imagine Bonnie Tyler in the classic music video for Total Eclipse of the Heart. Now pick up the pace, and add a background of mediocre 90’s club ‘hits’. You know, the energetic dreck you’d find on your mother’s gym playlist (sorry mom!). Add even more billowy costuming, and a heftier wind machine. Add a healthy dash of supremely bizarre tai-chi karate dancing. Subtract any of the camp 80’s charm that made Bonnie Tyler tolerable. You have Euphoria, in a warped sense of the word.

Here’s the thing though: This song went platinum in Sweden. ABBA is crying itself to sleep. Clearly, this country has horrible taste in anything except affordable furniture. The highest praise I can give this song is that it could pass as its own mediocre Glee cover, and who wouldn’t want to see Lea Michelle play ninja? Maybe she’d be silent for once.


Switzerland

Unbreakable

Artist: Sinplus

Review by Scott Fabricant

“You can do anything you want, no matter how hard it is” are the inspiring opening words to this song. This is their hypothesis, nay, their thesis statement! And by the end of the song, they’ve managed to comprehensively prove themselves wrong. They can’t sing (in English particularly, but I’d imagine any given language), they can’t dance, and they certainly can’t (or won’t) be stylistically relevant to actual music or its mutated, locked-in-the-attic-and-fed-fishheads cousin, Eurovison.

Eagle-eyed viewers will spot the ridiculous onesie-clad dancers from Lena’s misguided entry last year as backup dancers in the video, a meaningful counterpoint to the “sexy repressed office chick” dancers who pointlessly populate the rest of the video. These dancers are arguably the best part of the performance, because they don’t sing or play “music”.


Slovenia

Verjamem

Artist: Eva Boto

Review: Scott Fabricant

As her entry page proudly gloats, Eva Boto is just 16 years old. So I’ll be gentle on her. Instead of mocking her, I’ll just copy a passage from her biography.

“Eva’s favourite singer is Beyonce, but she likes 1980s and 1990s music as well. In her spare time, Eva plays guitar, plays with her dog and cat and, as every teenager loves to hang out with her friends. She’s no stranger to computers and make-up, either. Eva enjoys cooking, especially baking. She is very emotional and sometimes shy. Her biggest bad habit is laziness. Eva’s best friends and supporters in life and in her music career are her mother, father and elder sister Sanja. Eva describes her participation in Baku as her greatest life experience and challenge so far.”

Wasn’t that interesting? Well, it’s more interesting than her Disney-without-magic ‘power’ ballad. Don’t get me wrong, she’s got a great voice, but what’s the point of powerful pipes if you’re just going to sing a lullaby?

However, ample kudos should go to the background singers. It takes guts to get in front of a packed concert hall, and millions of international viewers, wearing shower loofas on your head. Princess Beatrice would be proud.


Slovakia

Don’t Close Your Eyes

Artist: Max Jason Mai

Review by Scott Fabricant

Slovakia’s self-proclaimed hard rocking entry is very atypically Eurovision. Clearly it’s hoping to follow the dark horse hoofprints of its spiritual predecessors and cash in on the Lordi Effect. Maybe it has a chance. For the sake of Eurovision, I hope it doesn’t.

This screamo anthem may actually be passable as good music to people who are fans of such acts as 30 Seconds To Mars and Panic at the Disco!… and honestly, who is? If you are, stop watching Eurovision, you’re in the wrong song contest. And we can’t be friends anymore. I’ll take listening to ABBA over watching Jared Leto wannabes anyday, unless it’s watching them being punched in the face by Edward Norton. But let’s not talk about that.

Finally, since I can never resist taking potshots at biographies, “He reveres all living beings, that’s why he’s vegetarian and he doesn’t wear clothes made from leather, as he wouldn’t want to be a handbag either.” Max, take a look at Axel Rose these days. One day you too will be a leathery handbag. Please make good on your assertion that you revere all living beings, and change genres.

Quédate Conmigo (Stay With Me)

Artist: Pastora Soler

Review by Patricio Lagos

Romanticism, romanticism, romanticism. The song “Quédate conmigo” (Stay with me) represents the pitiful (pathetic?) prayer of someone (you can’t know if it is a man or woman), begging to her/his love not to be abandon he/she, claiming that he/she knows he (or she) deserves it, but if she (or he) left, then “the sun will not rise”. Can it be so cliché? Is there any theme for a song more recurrent? Zero innovation, zero originality. In addition, Pastora Soler, the singer, is so loud-voiced, so it becomes annoying at a certain point. Another weak point is the video clip. So basic, so poor. We can just see the singer in a poorly decorated stage and a couple dancing. One detail. The singer starts with one dress, but in the middle of the video, she appears with other dress. Was it on purpose or was it a production fail? Nevertheless, I can imagine that certain ladies will like this song, specially those who die for a suffered love. The picture that represents this song is:


Macedonia

Crno I Belo

Artist: Kaliopi

Review by Patricio Lagos

The song, titled Crno I Belo (Black and white?) is the song that Kaliopi brings to us. A pop song in the beginning, with violin and piano coupling nicely with the lyric/gipsy voice of the singer. Suddenly, the rhythm changes to a more rock style, and piano and violin are replaced by electric guitar and drums, which does not match so nicely this time with the lyric/gipsy tone of Kaliopi. However, the song became somehow sticky, specially when it comes to the rock part, and made me move my head up and down (even though I had no idea what the lyric was about). One quite important detail regarding the video clip. The musicians are not playing at all! It is so obvious that they are not playing their instruments, especially the drummer, that makes it look funny.

Austria

Woki Mit Deim Popo

Artist: Trackshittaz

Review by Mariella Herberstein

This painfully annoying contribution from Austria falls under the niche genre ‘tractor gangsta party rap’. Lukas and Manuel (Trackshittaz) are two alpine fellows who like to wriggle their behinds. They are so passionate about this new regime of calorie-burning exercise that they are encouraging everyone to do it! They have even hired three very adroit ladies to demonstrate Popo wriggling. This song delves deep into the Austrian soul.

My only hope is that at 3’14’’ this song will be disqualified for breaching the 3-minute rule.


Croatia

Nebo

Artist: Nina Badrić

Review by Mariella Herberstein

This uncharacteristically restrained offering by Croatia maybe in the running for a place in the top 10. It has the classic Eurovision phenotype, but somewhat on sedatives. It is a big song, sung in Croatian, there are wind machines, heat ache, overt threats (heaven settles every debt and remembers everything you owe) and Nina’s big voice.

But is it big enough for Eurovision? The wind speed barely registers on the Beaufort scale, Nina has merely chipped but hardly broken her heart and where is the all-important key change? Of course on the night, the on-stage show could catapult Croatia into Eurovision heaven. So, I will be watching Croatia closely to see if Nina can pull it off. The bookies have less faith at 1:151.


Italy

L’Amore E Femmina

Artist: Nina Zilli

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Italy did fabulously well last year (second place) after decades of snubbing Eurovision. Typically a good year is followed by something dreadful, but not so in Italy, who is clearly unfamiliar with Eurovision etiquette. This year, Italy reanimated Amy Winehouse in the form of the energetic and determined Nina Zilli (not to be confused with Croatia’s Nina Badric). Nina wreaks havoc on the fragile hearts of men, tearing them into itsy bitsy pieces. The song is upbeat and classy, and I like it! Nina has excellent stage presence, as does her hair –  definitely top 10!


Malta

‘This is the night’

Artist: Kurt Calleja

Review by James O’Hanlon

Eurovision songs can often be categorised into a number of broad genres reflecting their competitive strategies. The ‘White-noise pop’ strategy employs underwhelming songs that can sneak unnoticed into the top spots; whilst the ‘Hair metal resurrection’ play appeals to the masses of rebellious teenagers with SMS votes to splurge.  ‘Folk ditties’ are a desperate sympathy ploy whereas ‘Operatic divas’ simply scream the testicles off anyone within a 20m radius (check out Albania this year, approach with caution). These are but a few of the many complex and sinister tactics we have come to know so far.

An intriguing yet rarely employed strategy is the ‘Pre-emptive victory song’. This ploy was taken to new heights in 2005 with Lithuania’s entry featuring the chorus line “We are the winners of Eurovision”. Needless to say they were booed off stage in the semi-finals.

In theory this strategy sounds ingenious. An artist plants a not-so-subliminal message into voters’ minds, and crawls their way towards that victorious moment where they can stand on the winner’s stage and sing their chorus line “Suck on that year nine music teacher” in front of a worldwide audience. Yet it is a strategy, which to my knowledge, has never paid off. That isn’t stopping Malta as their song “This is the Night” is a classic pre-emptive victory ploy thinly veiled behind a mask of bland radio pop.

As he smiles through his perfectly manicured stubble and straightens his Italian made suit jacket Kurt Calleja dreams of the moment when he will triumphantly sing, “This is the night, this is the night, I will be the star.” Well I hate to break it to you Kurt but your song sucks.


Moldova

‘Lãutar’

Artist: Pasha Parfeny

Review by James O’Hanlon

Tell me ladies, is there anything more seductive than a trumpet? How about a French Horn? Well keep your smelling salts at the ready because this song has both! But it doesn’t end there. Edward Norton has donned a pair of suspenders, emigrated to Lithuania and joined a gypsy-ska troupe to bring us this hip and happening Eurovision entry.

Bright colours, skinny leg jeans and jazzy dance moves combine to form a fun, entertaining yet easily forgettable song about a beautiful girl and the corrupting influence of brass instruments.

Its fun, its funky and most importantly its short.


Montenegro

 ‘Euro Neuro’

Artist: Rambo Amadeus

Review by James O’Hanlon

Thirteen years after the Euro was introduced as official currency in 17 member states of the European Union the benefits are finally being reaped. The rotting arms of financial crisis have reached beyond the Eurozone into neighbouring Montenegro and planted a seed into the mind of a man known as Rambo Amadeus. The result? One of the highlight entries of this years Eurovision song contest.

The artist, Rambo Amadeus, is a chunk of walking satire, wrapped in understatement and served with a side of hot-quirk.  He is the Montenegran Frank Zappa, only with higher cholesterol. He doesn’t like snow peas. His constant companion, a white panther clad in the garbs of a common donkey, serves as his bodyguard, muse and closest friend. Some say he refuses to work with left handed guitarists. Others say his backing vocals are performed by illiterate space badgers. An enigma sleeps within a hot-pink double-decker bus as Rambo Amadeus travels through time on his annual pilgrimage to the ancient city of Plonkvanoska bringing sunshine and Christmas trees to its citizens. You know what, I don’t have a clue what I’m talking about anymore. Eurovision is starting to get to me…

 Just listen to the song ok.

Singer: Iris

Song: Would You?

Review by Peter Mahoney

Can this really be a Eurovision entry? Where is the spectacle? The flash? It seems polished and packaged for the commercial market in a most un-Eurovision way. That having been said, the whole performance is pretty good. The song is a pretty formulaic pop hit, but it is better than most of what is in the pop charts currently. The piano intro is excellent and Iris turns in a good performance, even if she does occasionally seem to be riding an imaginary horse. The song and the singer seem well matched and my only complaint would be that the set dressing is a little cheesy. If the judging favours serious attempts this year then Belgium could well land near the top of the field.


Portugal

Singer: Filipa Sousa

Song: “Vida Minha” (English translation: “Life of Mine”)

Review by Peter Mahoney

I really wanted to hate this one but in the end I was only mildly confused by it. Filipa Sousa has a pretty good voice but seems determined to sound overwrought. This is a love song but, without the translation, you could be forgiven for assuming that her mother has just been run over by a tractor for all of the vocal pathos. The backup singers are more distracting than useful as they pace woodenly in the background for a while. The reason for this appears to be that they have all forgotten the words because after a minute or two they form up and begin to hum. It takes another minute before the words come back to them and they actually sing. They do try their best to balance the over-emoting of Filipa by looking very serious and adopting wooden poses, but without real effect. The final element of the performance was a couple in white dirty-dancing between the stage and the audience. They also served to distract from rather than add to the main performance. This number fails to reach the heights of ridiculous theatre which can make Eurovision so entertaining but also manages to miss its apparent target of producing serious music. Probably good for a mid-field placing but I cannot see Portugal being there at the end.


France

Artist: Anggun

Song: Echo (you and I)

Reviewed by Ana L. Llandres

This year France will be represented by Anggun and her song “Echo (you and I)”. This singer is an Indonesian-French naturalized singer who comes with…. wait for it… SIX versions of her song!  In addition to the original French/English version, an English version, a remix version and three different duet versions with a Maltese, a Hungarian and a Danish singer have been released. Given that from 1975 to 2011 France has received the most points from Switzerland, Norway, Greece, Ireland and Netherland in the Eurovision contest, one can wonder if  Anggun is following this year a “Sarkozy strategy” to achieve its aim of gaining votes by promoting her song in those countries that would not vote her…

Politics Asides, up-tempo and ambitious, Echo (You And I) is a boring song about love between two people. As the singer, more nicely, puts it in her song:  despite our frenetic modern lifestyles and our consumist obsessions, what really counts and gives our life meaning is “You and I”. I do not know YOU but I would bet that, with all this promotion, France will be in the top ten this year… so…Allez Anggun!

But… if I have to vote for a winner love song empty of deep feelings I will vote for Cyprus with its “la la love”:  singer with long legs, easy music, synthetic voice, disco environment and a song that is stuck in your head from the very first few noises…I mean… the very first few notes. I would say that Cyprus come with lots of ingredients to win the Eurovision contest this year!

Friends of Eurovision,

We have all waited a long 12 months, and finally, the 2012 musical spectacle is upon us. This time, Eurovision travels all the way to Azerbaijan. The capital city, Baku (meaning wind-pounded city) is ranked among the top 10 destinations for urban nightlife! Did you know that average yearly temperature (14.2 C) matches the average temperature of the global landmass to within a tenth of degree?

All this can only mean one thing: one hell of a Eurovision spectacle!

So brush up on your Azerbaijani, learn how to cook plov and start listening to the2012 Eurovision contestants. You can trust us to gently guide you through this melodic madness with regular updates and song reviews!

Club Deuze Pointes

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