2013 Eurovision finals summary

Friends, what a night Malmö gifted us with!!! With only a third the budget of last year’s host Baku and three times as much charm, comedian hostess Petra Mede navigated us through the treacheries of windmachines, off key singing, and many rather dreary songs. Indeed, the fly in the ointment was that the field this year did not generate any interesting songs, and hence we ended up with Denmark’s Only Teardrops taking home Eurovision. Compared to last year’s euphoric win by Sweden, we truly only had teardrops left by the conclusion of the evening.

ImageThe contest started off rather like an Olympic opening with all contestants (and their flag bearers) walking down a replica of the Oresund bridge (luckily, much reduced in length). Our hostess Petra Mede greeted us in a hot pink evening dress. I have to say, I was very pleased with how Petra handled the entire evening…her French was impeccable and her jokes sometimes even funny. Douze points from me!

France started the evening off with a sultry, angry number from Courtney Love lookalike Amandine, who wore a discarded carwash brush. Not angry enough to rise above 23rd.

Next, the first of the dreary lot: Lithuania’s Andrius. He blamed his shoes for the poor outcome, I blame his off key singing: 22nd!

Moldova: You can’t go wrong with a white piano…ever! Aliona, wearing a starched napkin, gave us an action packed performance, including her on a raised stage surrounded by virtual  fire (which looked a little bit like a witch burning). A deserved 11th placing. Best sleeveless white tuxedo of the evening!

Finland assaulted us with their matrimonial blackmail (Marry me). And even though Krista wore a single fingerless hot pink glove, with matching knee bandage, the feminist backlash did not see Finland rise above 24th. Most insincere lesbian kiss of the evening (and since T.A.T.u.).

Spain’s entry was highly controversial due to the illegal use of bagpipes. The song started out of tune and never recovered. Even the buttercup dress worn by the lead singer could not pull it above second last.

I am not sure if Belgium’s Roberto Bellarosa had the best dancing eyebrows or the best comb-over of the competition. The two female dancers did remind me of Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love. An undeserved 11th place.

Estonia’s Brigit was very sweet, and had both fog and windmachines on full crank. There may even have been the first key-change for the evening. But all this was not enough: 20th place.

Alyona from Belarus gave us the best legs of the competition. She wore a Kylie inspired outfit, which the SBS commentator claimed was only ‘one tassel away from a wardrobe malfunction’. 16th place.

Then came another great set of eyebrows: Malta’s singing doctor (or is he a clown doctor?). The use of a Ukulele is bordering legality and I am looking up the Eurovision rule book as we speak. An inexplicable 8th.

After last year’s legion of grandmothers, Russia sent a teenager, possibly a cast member from the Twilight saga. Dina offered us the best Ryan Air Commercial of the evening – 5th.

After all that sweet Russian drivel, Germany put Eurovision firmly back into the realm of pop, fog and windmachines. Towering high on a platform Cascada’s energetic performance failed to convince the audience: 21st.

Armenia’s dream in denim (Dorians) came with more eyebrows and a dull rocksong – 18th place.

The Netherlands challenged Eurovision perception with a sombre, labouring number by Anouk – and Europe liked it…kind of…9th. Definitely the most courageous entry of the evening.

Romania gave us Cezar the magnificence! Falsetto, a stunning evening dress and a set of dancers hidden under tarpaulin, pretty much summarises Romania’s version of ‘Phantom of the Opera’: 13th place. Best evening dress of the competition!

Next up was Bonny!!!!!!! Look, the lady is a veteran and a rock queen and she deserved much more respect than 19th place. But…the song was dreadful and the dress questionable with bits of torn fabric hanging off the lower bits. I can’t wait to see who the UK re-animates next year…Sir Cliff?

Swedens’s lovely number (Because of Youuuuuuu) sent Malmö stadium wild! Young Robin wore a sleeveless kimono, which he borrowed from Belarus’ dancers. I love the song, but can’t sing it…14th place

The next entry is my personal favourite: Hungary’s Kedvesem, which came in at a respectable 10th (Hungary’s best performance in years). Best (and most appropriate) use of a beany.

The winner, Denmark followed with windmachines and good eyebrows. The pesky pipes gave the false impression that this is an Irish entry (which could explain the lone 5 points Ireland received). 1st place with a convincing 281 points. We are so going to Copenhagen next year!

Azerbaijan offered an excellent on-stage show with a man trapped in a terrarium and two others trying to get him out of there. Ah, yes, there was a song too…delivered by Mr Eyebrows, Farid! Second place with 234 points!

Greece’s Koza Mostra offered us a ska tune and kilts. The legality of the use of a piano accordion AND a Balalaika is currently under investigation. And yes thank god, alcohol was free, and the only thing that got me through this one. Best use of a moustached grandfather. 6th place.

How did the Ukraine sweep into 3rd place? We will never know, but having a giant on stage might have helped. Zlata performed a song from the Lion King and was richly rewarded: 214 points

Italy is always classy. Young Marco wore eyebrows and a matching suit: 7th place.

Electro pop was the recipe for success for Norway’s Margaret: 4th place. Best shoulderpads of the evening? (Did I detect a slight resemblance to Seven of Nine?)

Georgia offered us the dullest duet in the history of Eurovision. Not even the rising fog, threatening to engulf Nodi and Sophie brought any relief: 15th

Last AND least, Ireland. Look, this was not the worst entry Ireland ever sent to Eurovision, so I can’t quite condone the last place. Best use of shiny male chests sporting tribal tattoos.

The Intermission was actually hilariously self-deprecating with giant meatballs and Eurosion superstar Carola blown off stage by a rogue windmachine. Hats off, Sweden!

The voting landscape gave us the usual neighbourly love: Sweden – 12 points to Norway, Norway – 12 points to Sweden, Finland- 12 points to Norway…etc…etc.

Every year Eurovision inspires fashion trends, and my prediction for this year is: eyebrows! Get them now!

Friends, this is the end of another year of Eurovision. We thank Darwin and Wallace for seeing us through this one and see you all again in Copenhagen 2014!


Italy

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Artist: Marco Mengoni

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Song: L’Essenziale

Reviewed by James O’Hanoln

“Listen here my boy, if you’re going to grow sideburns, grow big ones. If you’re going to grow a moustache, make it seedy. And if you’re going to enter Eurovision, make it underwhelming.” These were the dying words of Luigi Mengoni to his grandson Marco. Since that day young Marco has grown to fulfil his grandfather’s wishes and honour his memory. He has exceeded expectations with his sideburns and moustache and topped it all off with a Tintin inspired quiff that could overshadow the Sydney Opera House. And to create his underwhelming Eurovision spectacle he has done his grandfather proud by handcrafting a mellow piano driven ballad that is easily forgotten as that pair of sunglasses you have been meaning to get out of the car for the past 3 years. Marco pulls heartstrings, pouts sensually and gazes wistfully as he sings his way into Euro-obscurity. Papa Luigi viva!


Latvia

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Artist: PeR

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Song: Here We Go

Reviewed by James O’Hanlon

As a child of the 90s I often regret that I didn’t embrace the pseudo hip-hop, faux rebellious spectacle of 90’s boy bands, instead of spending so much time invested in respecting the artistic integrity and anti-pop sentimentalities of alternative grunge music. Luckily for me Latvia is bringing the 90s back into the new millennium with an extra special, extra pathetic Caucasian hip-hop spectacular! They rap, beat-box, play key-tars, have ridiculous hair and are bringing a whole sack of WOAH! (Their words, not mine). One thing that they didn’t bring however was an auto-tune machine. My indie 90’s upbringing instilled in me an instinctive disk like for auto-tuned pop music, however Eurovision presents an exceptional circumstance where the lack of these undervalued wonders of technology are solely missed.


Lithuania

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Artist: Andrius Pojavis

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Song: Something

Reviewed by James O’Hanlon

This quirky and understated rock anthem provides a gentle respite from the usual wallow of Euro-sludge pop songs that make up the majority of this year’s Eurovison entries. Will it win? Probably not. Will it make the finals? Maybe… Will Andrius Pojavis walk away from the stage with his integrity intact? Actually, he very well may do so!

Israel

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Artist: Moran Mazor

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Song: Rak Bishvilo

Reviewed by Mariella Herberstein

Here comes a fashion mashup the likes Eurovision has not seen. Moran sports an intellectual look with her black-framed spectacles, but the amount of bling, coupled with a plunging décolletage and the mother of all evening dresses leaves me entirely confused and slightly dizzy.

Moran, singing in Hebrew has a giant voice that she uses for good. The song starts off mildly and controlled with just a piano and Moran gently setting the stage, and it is clear that she is holding back, to explode the stage in just moments. And yes, there it is, she breaks the gentle and we know she has more to give. With the cunning use of key change Moran sores through the skies of Malmö and is brought to an abrupt stop at 3 minutes (believe me, she could have gone on for hours!). I am utterly exhausted dear reader…..


Macedonia

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Artist: Esma & Lozano

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Song: Pred Da Se Razdeni

Reviewed by Mariella Herberstein

I breath a sigh of relieve at the sight of young Lozano who thankfully does not wear a flowing dress, but a tux   Miami Vice style (with shiny white t-shirt and a 3-day stubble). Yet seconds later, Esma (who is the Queen of Gypsies) appears wearing, yes, you guessed it, a fabulous red flowing dress! Esma’s personality dominates the stage (brushing away the now rather weedy looking Lozano) and so does her voice. The song craftily melds classic Eurovision beats (Lozano’s schtick) with ethnic rhythms (Esma’s domain). What are my predictions? Definitely on high rotation in Club Med resorts along the Adriatic Coast this summer.


Switzerland

Switzerland

Artist: Takasa

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Song: You And Me

Review by Mariella Herberstein

We know the Swiss only for clichés: precision clocks, delicious cheese and bank secrets. Swiss musical accomplishments are lesser known, and Takasa are unlikely to significantly change that.

After having listened to ‘You and Me’ I almost wish Celine Dion came back to sing for Switzerland (did I just say that?). The song is boring and quite awful. I can’t even categorise the genre…..street busking? Swiss house music…and I do not mean ‘Black Box’ (hipsters, wiki it!), I mean people sitting at home making music. The group’s outfits are borrowed KwikKopy uniforms. Are there any (and I am searching deep here!) redeeming features? Not even the oldest contestant of the competition (95 year old Emil) can win me over.

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Artist: PeR

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Song: Here We Go

Reviewed by Mariella Herberstein

Now this sounds awfully familiar. I am sure I have heard this song back in the 90s. I am racking my brain! Got it: Robby William’s Freedom!

Full points to PeR for copying a pretty catchy tune – they could have done much worse. But is it ok to enter a re-animation? Hell, yes, this is Eurovision! Everything is allowed (but for more than 6 people on stage or piano accordions), even beatboxing and plagiarism. My guess is that due to the bimodal age distribution of Eurovision viewers (over 75 and under 19) no one will even remember Robby Williams (actually, where IS Robby these days?). Top 15 is my prediction!


San Marino

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Artist: Valentina Monetta

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Song: Crisalide (Vola)

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Oh, dear…another young woman in a long flowing dress. Loreen! What have you done to Eurovision?! Valentina hails from the small, tiny, incy-wincy country of San Marino. Never mind if you have never heard of San Marino. It is really just a town in the middle of Italy that staunchly defends its medieval independence.

Valentina could represent San Marino’s best chance to enter the Eurovision finals for the first time. The song starts off like all the other ‘young woman in flowing dress’ songs as an atmospheric and mystical ballad, but thankfully it does lift mid-way into the classic Eurovision disco beat, and by 2’56’’ I love it! Definitely a final’s place for San Marino and possibly on rotation in discotheques in Italian summer resorts.


Bulgaria

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Artist: Elitsa Todorova, Stoyan Yankulov

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Song: Samo Shampioni (Only Champions)

Reviewed by Mariella Herberstein

Here comes the dynamic drumming duo of Elitsa and Stoyan. I could almost like this song, if it were not for the incipit whining of ethnic pipes and Elitsa modulating her voice to match the pipes. To be honest, this type of wailing is my personal nightmare. Even though the onstage drums are trying hard to drown out Elitsa and those pesky pipes, I am developing a cluster migraine. I am sorry Bulgaria, but it is ‘nil points’ and an aspirin forte from me.

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Artist: Moje 3

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Song: Ljubav Je Svuda

Reviewed by Mariella Herberstein

Hello Serbia! Full points for the costumes! I was getting quite bored by the flowing dresses so far. There is something ‘powerpuff’ about Mirna, Nevena and Sara. Is it their explosive performance, the fact that there are 3 of them, or the colourful, funky outfits? I do not care, I love it! The song feels like all Eurovision anthems melded into one, and the hair is fabulously coiffed – bring on the windmachines! If only I could figure out what this song all about…on stage Mirna, Nevena and Sara seemed to be having some sort of argument, but by the end of the song, they are BFFs again!

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Artist: Andrius Pojavis

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Song: Something

Reviewed by Mariella Herberstein

Can Andrius stem the tide of haunting ballads performed by ephemeral young women in flowing dresses? He certainly tries, but there are no spectacular moments on stage, and together with an imminently forgettable song, I fear that Andrius will be washed up by the tsunami of  evocative ballads that is Eurovision 2013.


Armenia

Armenia

Artist: Dorians

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Song: Lonely Planet

Reviewed by Nik Tatarnic

Armenia is represented by the band Dorian, with their song Lonely Planet. I wish they could be shipped to a very lonely planet, so I wouldn’t have to listen to them. Knocked out in the first round? I sure hope so, though they’ll probably win.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

After reading Nik’s appraisal of Armenia, I had to find a redeeming feature to save Armenia’s honour. For one, it is a rock band, and they mean rock-business (including sun glasses on stage). The lead singer looks like a pirate  and there is a key-change. What is there not to love? I think Armenia’s heart-felt rock ballad will offer a counter weight to the  somewhat homogenous offering of Loreen clones. Definitely entry into the finals!


Belgium

Belgium

Artist: Roberto Bellarosa

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Song: Love Kills

Reviewed by Nik Tatarnic

OK, this is a tough one. The music is so powerful, with layers of subtlety that compel one to listen over and over again. Each time I hear it I feel more moved than before. It’s absolutely incredible. Definitely top 3.

I’m just kidding. I hated it.

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Artist: Birgit

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Song: Et Uus Saaks Alguse

Reviewed by Mariella Herberstein 

Oh Birgit! How absolutely lovely! There you are on stage, wearing a lovely flowing white dress (strapless, even) and while I have no idea what the lyrics mean, I am buying it all! Birgit is the type of Estonian you would definitely invite home for a cup of tea! Will she win? Most definitely not, but, never mind, Birgit does not crave empty accolades, she enjoys walking through meadows picking flowers!


Russia

Russia

Artist: Dina Garipova

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Song: What If

Reviewed by Mariella Herberstein

Young enigmatic women in flowing dresses are de rigueur at Eurovision 2013. This is not particularly surprising after last year’s overwhelming win by the enigma herself, Loreen. But, can Dina equal Loreen? Me thinks not, even though she snuck in a key change and sings with great conviction. Dina is just not enigmatic enough. I mean, who understood what Loreen was singing (other than euphoria)? Plus Loreen did tai-chi on stage, while Dina seemed to be nailed to the stage. So, What if Dina ends up in the bottom half?

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Artist: Despina Olympiou

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Song: An Me Thimasai

Review by Patricio Lagos

Cyprus gifted us with Despina Olympiou, a professional singer with a prolific career. With 6 albums and 6 singles, she brings her latest one, “An me thimasai” (If you remember me) to Eurovision 2013. Despina shows her beautiful voice, and she absolutely fills the space around her with both her voice and her fiber.

Sadly, the song is nothing new. The typical story of a love lost, and the abandoned one sobbing her misfortune. “I will always be there for you”… please!! Show some dignity! I really think these lyrics are quite old-fashioned and veeery sad. Please composers, write about something we can feel happy about, something that will cheer us up!

The video clip is also very simple. Just Despina and some landscapes (very beautiful though). I think someone in the design team has to take some “creativity pills”. Anyway, it is not a big deal. Despina has a good quality: she overcomes the lack of a good scenario with her melodious and harmonic voice. I am looking forward to see a good show in Sweden!


Spain

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Artist: ESDM

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Song: Contigo Hasta El Final (With You Until The End)

Review by Patricio Lagos

Spain comes to Eurovision 2013 from the hand of “el sueño de morfeo” (Spanish for “Morpheu’s dream”), a band composed of Raquel (voice), David (acoustic guitar), and Juan Luís, (electric guitar), who sing the song titled “Contigo hasta el final” (Spanish for “with you until the end”).

The first thing I thought about this song, when I saw the video, was “is it the Scotland’s song? Is this a bagpipe-like instrument? Wasn’t this Spain? But not, it was just the intro. The music and the first lines of the lyric make us think about a sweet young girl answering a proposal for a date, like Sansa Stark waiting for Ser Loras. However, suddenly everything became… mmm… creepy. The song, that appears to be a romantic pop-folk ballad dedicated to this prince charming, apparently is dedicated the… a horse? Yes, A HORSE! I am literally in shock!

I can say no more…..

The video clip is excellent. Beautiful landscapes combined with nice camera effects, bright colours and, of course, THE HORSE (gosh, is it really dedicated to the horse???). One good thing about this videos clip and that I hope they keep it in the show in Sweden: please! Juan Luís: keep that outfit, with the beret and the braces! They are awesome!


FINLAND

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Artist Krista Siegfrids

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Song Marry Me

by Kate Umbers

I was actually shocked by this entry. If ever anyone was in need of a gender equality workshop – here they are. The first stage of my reaction to this song was the lyrics to Sister Suffragette by Robert Sherman (in Mary Poppins) ringing like an alarm in my brain, here’s an excerpt:

From Kensington to Billinsgate

One hears the restless cries, from every corner of the land

“Womankind, arise!”, political equality and equal rights with men

Take heart for Mrs. Pankhurst has been clapped in irons again.

No more the meek and mild subservients, we

We’re fighting for our right militantly, never you fear!

Then, I had to check out some stats on Finland, my good stereotype of the northern European nations as progressive must be wrong if this is representative (which it’s clearly not)! I found out, according to www.stat.fi, that the salary gap in Finland between men and women is closing but that trend has slowed in recent years. Also, just over half of Finland’s doctoral graduates are women. Both of these were interesting factoids. I think, though, I was getting close to explaining the popularity of this song when I saw that since 1965 the number of marriages in Finland has decreased, while the number of divorces has increased. Krista seems to be on a mission to reverse this trend with her song Marry Me. Unfortunately the lyrics promote a rather unsavoury picture of marriage as she begs to be the slave of her man. Despite outlawing slavery in 1335, could the Soumi Eurovision voters be signalling a change in popular attitudes as they propelled Krista to represent them at Eurovision with this song?  No, I don’t think so, that’s an outrageous claim that I whole heartedly deny ever eluding to, even in jest, but then, what explains this song’s popularity? I don’t have the answer. But I do think that Krista’s song is an icon of what’s wrong with the world.

Votes for Women!

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SWEDEN

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Artist: Robin Stjernberg

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Song: You

by Kate Umbers

Look, I know I say this every year about one of the acts I’m reviewing but this time I definitely have it – I think this is could be the winner. Big hair, big voice, catchy tune, simple lyrics… hang on, , wait, wait I can distinguish it some how… Hmm, well I guess I think the bit that’ll win it for him will be how he sings “because of youuuuu U u iiie eoeoeooeoooouuuu uuu uuu, because of youuuu UUU iiiiieee UUuuuIIIoouuuuu, because of youuuuu UUUU iiiiieeeeuuu uiiii ooouuuueeeeuuuuu.” And also the bit where he goes “you, u, eeep!, you, u, eep!”

I think that’ll get him over the line.

I mean just look at him:

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Moldova

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Artist: Aliona Moon

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Song: O Mie

Review by Scott Fabricant

Looks like Ms. Frizzle got a serious makeover. I presume we’re going together on an adventure to the Abyss, seeing as she’s wearing a hybrid of a Blue Ringed and Blanket Octopuses (octopi?). Sadly, the only abyssal plain here is her performance. Nevertheless, I boarded my submersible like a good scientist and soldiered on. As a behavioural ecologist, I have a keen eye trained for stereotyped behaviour; however, this specimen defies the reaction norms we’ve come to depend on. How, for example, am I to quantify the effects of the Wind Machine when her hair is glued into a bent traffic cone? How am I to assess courtship value of a key change when her melodies are monotone mumbles?

Persisting, this intrepid scientist discovers that the specimen in question is actually colonial organism, with the main singer in a commensalistic relationship with her background dancers. I say commensal, because they offer her no benefits. They are, however, a fantastic example of deceptive signalling – specifically Batesian mimicry. The shadowed Tai Chi dancers are clearly intending to hijack the slick (if baffling) moves of Loreen, but lack her potency and end up coming off as plagiaristic. In a moment of novel behaviour, these organisms come together to hunt in coordinated fashion, like a Portuguese Man O’ War crossed with the Three Stooges, but sadly it doesn’t last.

Lyrically, Ms Frizzle (I mean Ms Moon) claims she is from Venus, and her jilting lover is from Mars; I can believe this, seeing as she is primarily composed of dense burning gas and her passion is dry as red dust. In fact, as the song reaches its dramatic climax, her blanket appears to catch on fire, much unlike the response of the ‘enthused’ audience, but very much like my ears as she veers dramatically off-pitch for a cacophonous crescendo that defies credibility. As she laments her failed courtship, she screeches how the Maya were not so wrong after all, and it is, in fact, the end of the world. If only she were right, about 3 minutes ago.


Slovenia

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Artist: Hannah

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Song: Straight Into Love

Review by Scott Fabricant

When I think of Eurovision, I think of many aspects of behavioural ecology. I think of ornate displays and other forms of sexual selection. I don’t normally think of the actual act of mating, but that’s what this song sounds like. Specifically, the mating acts of Transformers, which is exactly what this sounds like. I hate dubstep so much.

Let’s fast forward, shall we? Let’s skip the mediocre Eurotrash tarnished by electronica, and the unabashedly creative dancing (oh yes, they’re doing The Robot), and go to the meat, so to speak, of the video. Recently, Dr. Malin Ah-King visited our lab group to raise important questions about gender bias in studies of sexual selection. This seminar couldn’t have come at a better time. Here we see an illuminating example of what we might stereotypically label “Reverse sexual dimorphism” . Specifically, there is an almost naked man rubbing himself whilst being doused in water, in provocative poses which would make Lindsey Lohan blush. He even has a bathing scene. No, seriously.

And he performs Tai Chi. Seriously, get off the Loreen bandwagon, it’s already failed to ford the river and everyone got cholera (sorry, Oregon Trail reference).

Anyway, there’s little more to say about this “song”. It’s boring, derivative, and it won’t make the finals, but I’m curious to see how they translate this gender studies thesis into a live semi-finals performance. I for one applaud this gender inversion, with an objectified male figure and a suited-up female performer with a most masculine chin. Kudos, Slovenia.


Greece

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Artist: Koza Mostra feat. Agathon Iakovidis

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Song: Alcohol Is Free

Review by Scott Fabricant

Let me regale you, noble traveller, with a farfetched tale. A tale that must be seen to be believed. The tale of a troupe of troubadours from the distant Hellenic lands who sing sweet lyrics while on a Homeric quest for the fermented nectar of Olympus…

Oh, who are we kidding? It’s a bunch of guys in kilts singing (of sorts) about drunk driving. Look up the lyrics if you can’t understand slurred Greek. Naturally, they are a ska band, freed from their cryogenic sleep since the late 1990’s. Inevitably, one has an accordion. Occasionally they line dance. So edgy. But I won’t deny the fact that, moral qualms about their broken Aesop aside, this song is catchy. I hope it makes the finals, if only to provide sweet relief from all the dubstep and tai chi.

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Artist: Cascada

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Song: Glorious

Review by Jasmin Ruch

Woh oh oh oh oh! A pop song!! What can I say, I am not a friend of pop-songs, but I suppose this is the kind of song that Eurovisioners love. Wind machines, a catchy refrain and (not the best) lightshow, combined with a passionately singing blonde front woman: what can possibly go wrong? Germany will be in the top 10!


Georgia

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Artist: Nodi Tatishvili & Sophie Gelovani

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Song: Waterfall

Review by Jasmin Ruch

Georgia’s entry is a very very boring duet entitled ‘Waterfall’. It’s a love song, but just because it is so boring I actually tried to find some more information about waterfalls in Georgia. There are lots of mountains in Georgia, so there should be waterfalls. And indeed, a very nice one can be found in the Lagodechi National Park in east Georgia, but amongst the highest are the Gveleti Waterfalls in the Kazbegi National Park. Why was I searching for this? Ohhh, right, the song was so boring!


Iceland

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Artist: Eythor Ingi

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Song: Ég Á Líf

Review by Jasmin Ruch

A bearded and longhaired young man with a fairly unemotional face from Iceland! What kind of music would you expect? O.k., death-metal is relatively uncommon in Eurovision-Wonderland, but at least I expected some sort of rock (we all remember Lordi, right?). But far from it!! Eythor Ingi surprises with a ballad, sung in Icelandic. If you are curious about the translation of the title: it means ‘I’m alive’ and this is basically what the song is about. The song is not bad, but I’m afraid that it is a bit too melancholic for this kind of donnybrook.

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Artist: Natália Kelly

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Review by Mariella Herberstein

Austria has had a tempestuous relationship with Eurovision. Entries seem to fit only one of two categories: ‘aurally offensive couched as humorous’ or ‘benign’. Natália’s Shine is definitely benign….dare I say, well meaning. She seems nice, the video is nice (full of somersaulting hipsters, a couple of dogs and Natália playing every instrument in the band) the song is nice. It actually starts off more promising than it ends. It is really only the chorus that is mildly offensive.

What is the future for Natália and Shine? I predict that Natália will crash post-eurovision after having been built up and cruelly discarded by her heartless producer. She will turn her back on performing and start a successful career as a real estate agent.


Hungary

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Artist: ByeAlex

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Song: Kedvesem (Zoohacker Remix)

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Now, here is something interesting and new! It is the Hungarian version of Jose Gonzales’ Heartbeat, it is a toe tapping number, it is sweet, the video is cute and it is in Hungarian. I love it…well I love everything Hungarian. My prediction is definitely top 10, but I also predicted Hungarian Kati Wolf’s fabulous Eurovision anthem to reach the top 10 in 2011 and she did not even make the top 20. So, I am sorry ByeAlex if I have just ruined your chances…


Malta

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Artist: Gianluca

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Song: Tomorrow

Review by Mariella Herberstein

I recon Gianluca just copied ByeAlex’s (Hungary) lovely song, translated it into English, made it a little bit more boring and entered it into Eurovision. Look, I am Malta’s biggest fan. No other country tries harder with less success at Eurovision. But even I cannot condone this blatant case of plagiarism. ‘Tomorrow’ I imagine Gianluca will return to his medical career!


The Netherlands

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Artist: Anouk

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Song: Birds

Review by Mariella Herberstein

 No offence to Anouk (who apparently sings from her toes) who seems nice and very earnest, but I think the Netherlands are misunderstanding Eurovision. This is not about artistic expression and honesty. Where the hell are the windmachines, the key changes, bronzed dancers, angle grinders or at least court chesters? I want my money back!

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Artist: Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko

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Song: Identitet

Review by Nik Tatarnic

Albania rocks the house.

The 2013 entry from this former communist state is by the duo Adrian Lugjuraj and Bledar Sejko. Adrian, 32, only started to focus on singing once he got his law degree. Now he’s a judge on The Voice and apparently singing makes him feel like a beast.  Bledar is 42 and is Albania’s answer to Slash. As a student he helped drive out the commies and this is his fifth Eurovision appearance. Oh, and the song? It’s ok I guess. It’s all in Albanian but I think it’s about freedom.  That’s powerful stuff.


Belarus

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Artist: Alyona Lanskaya

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Song: Solayoh

Review by Nik Tatarnic

You know, I like a lot of music. I like classical music, jazz, oldie-times folk, funk, rock, rap, hip-hop, country AND western, tuvan throat singing, etc. People sometimes say to me, “Geez, you sure have an eclectic taste in music”. It’s true, I like plenty of music. But I don’t like this. I’m sorry.


Denmark

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Artist: Emmelie de Forest

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Song: Only Teardrops

Review by Nik Tatarnic

Emmelie de Forest (French for Emmelie of Forest) is only 20 and sings without wearing shoes. In this song there’s a guy playing one of those little Celtic whistles and some drummers walking around drumming. There are also some background singers in there. Um…. what else can I say? Apparently this song is pipped to win, people really seem to like it. OK, I’m sorry, but I can’t do this anymore. These artists are all talented – not just the Demarkonians (?), but all of the Eurovision performers. I could never do what they do. But I don’t like any of it. Maybe I’m just out of touch with the youth of today. But what do I know? I’m going back to bed.


Montenegro

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Song: Igranka

Artist: Who See

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Reviewed by Tom White

Jazz was once hailed as the Devil’s music, but I say the smart money is on dubstep. An unforgiving and generally unlistenable genre, it is an interesting choice for a popular music contest. Perhaps Montenegro known something I don’t, but with an all-time best ranking of 11th, I doubt it.

Enter Who See, the hip-hip duo charged with the task of leading Montenegro to their first glorious victory. The song, Igranka (‘The Dance’), holds to the genre’s standard build and drop structure; complete with tumescent baseline and descent-into-hell rhythmic sensibilities. The most interesting parts are the spaces that punctuate Who See’s aggressive rambling, before they are filled by the banshee-driven chorus. Why are they so angry anyway? Maybe it’s because they ‘can’t paranoia no more, everything smells on good party’, I don’t know.

The hallucinogenic video raises questions of its own; not least of which are the serious Work Health and Safety violations hinted at by the mix of full hazmat suits with bikini clad women and shirtless, angle grinding muscle men. By the time the cheerleaders and pirates turn up, I had well and truly lost interest in this misogynistic slop. While Who See assure us that ‘the beat and the bass are so catchy, no one gonna left now’, I suspect the votes for this badly misjudged offering are well and truly gonna left, and not a minute too soon.


Romania

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Song: It’s My Life

Artist: Cezar

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Reviewed by Tom White

 Just when you thought opera-disco-dubstep was going entirely unrepresented this year, in steps Cezar.  Hailed as using an ‘ambitious and special vocal technique’ by the press, I admit my interest was piqued from the start.

The song begins as these things do, with a tale of mountains and diamonds and love-oceans or whatever. But just when you are resigned to another by-the-numbers ballad, Cezar steps, nay, leaps onto the wings of angels and soars into an octave that most gentlemen dare only dream of. Perhaps most impressive is that fact that once Cezar takes off around 30 seconds in, he never does come back down. Some would call his choice of key foolish, and given his occasionally apparent discomfort, I can sympathise with such a view. I ultimately find it a bold pick though, and can’t help but be drawn into his aural wonderland.

The dubstep flavoured middle-8 is truly inspired, and the synchronised fist pumping dancers and flamethrowers hit all the right notes as they swirl about. Who See could learn some valuable lessons here. This effort is truly remarkable, and I love it, but I fear the world of pop music may not be ready for the splendour of Cezar just yet. I would gladly take it over the Bon Jovi namesake any day though, and I would be happy to see Romania land in the top 10 after this flight of fancy.


Ukraine

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Song: Gravity

Artist: Zlata Ognevich

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Reviewed by Tom White

This Shakira flavoured homage to The Lion King is an odds-on favourite and has apparently been widely hyped. It exemplifies the warbling, torturous ballads that are always overrepresented, and I hate it.

The song begins with strings and harps and Zlata emerging from a steel flower-prison, and meanders downhill from there. It is lyrical nonsense, and when Zlata finally strikes into the chorus about sword wielding butterflies, the suspicion that she’s just making it up as she goes along can be put to rest. I may have misheard it slightly, I don’t know, I drifted off. It’s a safe (read: excruciatingly dull) choice by Ukraine and I wouldn’t be surprised, though I would be sorely disappointed, to see her land somewhere in the top 3.


United Kingdom

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Believe in Me

BONNIE TYLER!!!

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Review by Rachael Gallagher 

The UK needs a hero, and that hero is Bonnie Tyler! Yes, she’s back, eclipsing hearts with what appears to be an age-defying full face replacement and black leather slacks. For those too young (or too uninterested) to care, Bonnie was a huge star of the early 80’s who belted out the perennial karaoke hit “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. However, 1982 was 31 years ago people and it’s safe to say that Bonnie has seen better days. The song itself is sentimental pappy crap, but the video is something else. Never before has so much Vaseline been applied to a lens, or so much white light been used to deflect the possibility of any shadows. Bonnie’s contract clearly states ‘NO CLOSEUPS’. It looks like the UK will continue its run in last place again this year… but this time they truly deserve it.


France

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 L’enfer Et Moi

Amandine Bourgeois

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Review by Rachael Gallagher

Translation: “Hell and Me”. This song has it all! Voodoo, alchemy, sadomasochism…all delivered from the lass that won the French equivalent of Australian Idol! I have absolutely no idea what she was singing about, but it was a pretty dark and twisted affair. Lots of eye makeup and candles. The song itself is a bluesy number, heavy on the Rickenbacker, with a distinct lack of key changes. Good luck to the French this year – the mood in Europe after endless financial strain and record joblessness may just suit their brand of angry girl pop.


Azerbaijan

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Hold Me

Farid Mammadov

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Review by Rachael Gallagher

Although English is Farid’s fifth language, he does a good job at delivering Azerbaijan’s entry for 2013. He has no flashy, well produced video – just a handicam recording of him singing the entry on a plinth with some lady dancers in the background. Methinks the debt crisis has hit Azerbaijan’s Eurovision coffers pretty hard this year. As former hosts of the song contest, they have must have blown their budget for the next 15 years and Farid is the best their manat could buy.  It’s pretty middle of the road stuff – key changes, hair gel, wind machines, mournful lyrics. I predict that Farid won’t stand out from the pack, but best of luck to the walking eyebrow nonetheless!

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Artist(s):Ryan Dolan

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Song: Only Love Survives
Reviewed by: Peter Mahoney

Ireland scores big points this year without singing a note. Simply choosing not to inflict Jedward on us all again has to be worth several bonus marks. This is a solidly conceived, if slightly formulaic, pop hit; right to the point of rehashing several pop lyric clichés and simply repeating the song title several times in lieu of a chorus. Ryan Dolan handles the vocal role well and probably doesn’t even need all of the electronic tweaking his voice receives in the video clip. I am left with the strong feeling that Mr Dolan will shortly disgrace himself by appearing on one of those execrable television singing shows such as Idol or The Voice, and he may very well win. This song has a strong chance of success on the UK pop charts but seems to lack the flash and showmanship that marks a Eurovision winner.


Croatia

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Artist(s): Klapa s mora

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Song: Mižerja
Reviewed by: Peter Mahoney

Klapa s mora appear to be Croatia’s most successful 1980’s boy band on a mid-life-crisis reunion tour. They are performing a love song, they harmonise well and have learned not to try synchronised dance moves anymore. The song itself is quite good and is performed well. The producers have chosen to eschew lots of electronic interference with the vocals which was a good decision, allowing the vocal harmonies to become the focus. They also chose to avoid lots of lighting effects and video which may not have been so clever. The singers seem a little boring as they stand there in a row in their dark suits, and this detracts from their performance. Perhaps they need to bring back some of their 80’s dance moves? I cannot see this breaking away from the pack to place well on the night.


Norway

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Artist(s): Margaret Berger

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Song: I Feed You My Love
Reviewed by: Peter Mahoney

Norway may be a very serious contender this year. Margaret Berger handles her vocal role extremely well and her producers have chosen wisely in allowing her to have the stage largely to herself. There is a solitary drummer in the background but he remains there, allowing Margaret to dominate. The lighting is well designed and compliments the performance rather than dominating it. Margaret gives a pop performance worthy of Kylie or Celine Dion and seems very much in command of the stage. While she remains largely immobile throughout the song, I suspect that this is because her form-hugging gown doesn’t allow her to move. She certainly looks every-inch a pop diva in her full-length white dress. I would not be surprised to see Norway with a podium finish at Malmö.

Friends & lovers of good music!!

Eurovision is upon us, and this time it comes from the land of the most successful Eurovision entry EVER: Sweden.

Of course I mean ABBA’s energetic Waterloo (and not Anna Bergendahl’s 2010 sedative ‘This is  my life‘)

The iconic city of Malmö will host the 2013 Eurovision show. What do we know about Malmö? Not much at all, other than the extraordinary high rates of homicide in that area of Sweden. This should make for some interesting viewing on the night.

How to best prepare? Subscribe to this blog for all song reviews and commentary, visit the official website and watch the finals on SBS May 18-20.

Yours faithfully

Club Douze Points

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