Eurovision 2010: Oslo, here we come! It’s gonna be a crapshoot this year. The official site is up and you can check out the videos yourself. Meanwhile, here is my quick take with my favorites:
- Albania: Why does this make me think of Britney Spears?
- Armenia: Jazzy vibe ruined by painfully awkward English.
- Azerbaijan: Unrepentant pop, but they got it right. This will make the top ten.
- Belarus: Pleasant harmonies and may get the old lady vote.
- Belgium: Blah. Won’t make it out of the semis.
- Bosnia & Herzegovina: Oh-so-PC.
- Bulgaria: Could do well.
- Croatia: Best girl band of the lot. Should make it out of the semis.
- Cyprus: Yet another identity crisis; could just as easily be the entry for Ireland.
- Denmark: Standard formula. Could either do well or bomb out. This duet is singing in English, but without some of the more annoying awkward phrasings of many of the non-English speakers.
- Estonia: My vote for the most disturbing video.
- Finland: The first Finish entry that I’ve liked in years. Probably means that it won’t make it out of the semis! But this is a fun folksy detour from their God-awful heavy metal past.
- France: I just don’t get it. Do they simply not care because they always have a guaranteed place in the finals? This pseudo-Islands sound is just annoying.
- FYR Macedonia: “Rising young stars” shouldn’t have receding hairlines and double chins.
- Germany: Very funny and irreverent. Too funky and probably won’t get anywhere, but I thought it was cute.
- Georgia: Boring ballad, but sometimes it is a boring ballad year and it may do OK. At least she has a good voice.
- Greece: Ridiculously pretentious opening to a really silly and fun song. Will definitely make it out of the semis and stands to finish in the top ten. I can guarantee two things: first, someone will choreograph a new Israeli folkdance to this within a week of Eurovision. Second, Greece will move up a notch as a prime Gay travel destination.
- Iceland: More identity crises. Iceland brings out the Big Girl (usually Malta’s trick) and sings in English and French. The song itself is the perfect bland of forgettable Euro-trash disco that seems to do well some years.
- Ireland: They’re bringing out the big guns with past winner Niamh Kavanagh. (Niamh’s got a pair of big guns of her own. I’m amazed that she can stand upright.)
- Israel: Harel looks a bit like a young Shlomo Artzi, but it doesn’t really matter what we put up this year. Bibi has pretty much guaranteed that we will get slammed in the semis. Dana herself couldn’t have overcome the political backlash we’ll get for Bibi’s sophomoric muscle flexing.
- Latvia: Aisha’s deer-in-the-headlights delivery is quirky but I doubt that it will make it out of the semis.
- Lithuania: “We’ve got no taste; we’re all a bore.” I agree.
- Malta: Malta gives us a Big Girl this year (oh, what a surprise). This tiny island nation can produce a seemingly endless supply of hefty sopranos.
- Moldova: Nothing Moldova could do this year would be even close to last year’s gloriously kitsch entry. This anonymous Dance Mix number makes me long for Hora Din Moldova!
- Netherlands: Clearly, the Dutch people were enjoying a little too much legal weed when they decided on this number. Talk about a flashback to the 70s, Eurovision style!
- Norway: Norway, did you say? Sounds like Ireland to me.
- Poland: I actually like Poland this year, but it is too original for Eurovision.
- Portugal: Very classy. Should sail through to the finals.
- Romania: Oh. My. God.
- Russia: You know, I don’t care if this guy was a YouTube sensation. The song is both goofy and boring.
- Serbia: Get your Balkan on! Almost as much fun as last year’s Moldova entry.
- Slovakia: Unless she gets those horses out on the stage, she’s not going anywhere.
- Slovenia: No. Just stop that right now.
- Spain: How did Art Garfunkel get into the competition?
- Sweden: Ho hum.
- Switzerland: If Anthony Perkins and Spock had a love child… But it is catchy and is a safe bet for the top ten.
- Turkey: Huge disappointment after such powerhouse acts over the past few years. This is standard Dance Mix drivel without the slightest hint of Turkish flavor.
- Ukraine: I couldn’t stay awake long enough to come up with anything snarky.
- UK: Forgettable.
Eurovision 2009: Moscow, here we come! While I love Achinoam Nina (aka Noa for her American fans), and yes, Miri Awad is a fine singer, our Hebrew-Arabic-English entry, There Must Another Way, is a bit too PC-sweet for me. Yes, we all think that there must be another way, but this song doesn’t (IMO) have the required “earworm” factor to turn it into a winning Eurovision jingle. Still, it was better than some of our other entries:
The local political gossip about this year’s choice is that Miri Awad got rashers of sh*t from Palestinians about participating, which is odd, because I think that she is an Israeli Arab. As we’ve done for the past few years, someone selected the performer(s) and then songwriters contribute songs. The best few (usually four or five) are then performed on TV, and the nation votes for their favorite. That song goes on to be our Eurovision entry.
The official site has tons of info about all the contestants, statistics, videos, etc. I have to start going through them so that I can make fun of evalutate the competition. We’ll see how we do in the first semifinal (12 May). The finals are 16 May. Oooh, the excitement builds! More updates later!
Eurovision 2008: Belgrade, here we come! Yes, once again we are nearing that most wondrous of all international competitions. No, not the Olympics. It is the Eurovision song contest, where countries duke it out in a glorious exhibition of tackiness.
I realize that Eurovision is pretty much off the radar for most of my American readers, but here, we take it very seriously. We’ve won three times: 1978, 1979, and 1998 (with the one-and-only Dana International, of course).
This year, there are two semi-finals. We are the second performers in the first semifinal (20 May). Dana wrote a totally kick-ass song for Boaz Mauda, and we stand a good chance to make it to the finals (IMHO).
But the breaking news is that you can now see all the contestant videos here. Here’s my take so far.
- Albania: pleasant enough. Might do well.
- Andora: ohmygod. Disco meets Dance Track. Gack.
- Armenia: starts out promisingly enough, but quickly degenerates into generic pop.
- Azerbaijan: wait a minute! I thought we have an exclusive on David D’or! And didn’t DJ Bobo do the whole vampire/demon/angel thing last year? The other guy even sounds like him!
- Belarus: formula, but they might do well.
- Belgium: uh… words fail me. But remember, this is the country that thinks that a cartoon of a farting pig is classic children’s entertainment.
- Bosnia & Herzegovina: fashion zombies with a live chicken on stage. Of course I like it! How can they go wrong?
- Bulgaria: sheer Techno hell until it turns into Dance Track hell.
- Croatia: guys in their 80s rapping and doing DJ scratching. I love it. It won’t get anywhere, but I applaud their refusal to follow the formula.
- Cypress: yassou!
- Czech Republic: totally forgettable half-naked women.
- Denmark: cute, but won’t go anywhere.
- Estonia: reminds me of Ukraine last year, without the aluminum foil.
- Finland: what the hell is it with Finland and Metal?
- France: they are still lost and clueless. How many years has it been since they have done a serious entry?
- FYR Macedonia: fun, funky, modern, but with some local flavor. I predict that they will do well.
- Georgia: oh, please, not another peace song. In bad English.
- Germany: Victoria’s Secret photo shoot. They’ll get votes for the outfits even if the music is totally forgettable.
- Greece: bland song but a double-yassou for the choreography.
- Hungary: gorgeous video effects and an OK ballad, but forgettable without the visuals.
- Iceland: didn’t someone do this song already?
- Ireland: Dustin the Turkey! I guess that Ireland has given up.
- Israel: if we don’t make it into the finals, I will be shocked. Fantastic song written by Dana International and performed well by Boaz.
- Latvia: I hope that they are forced to walk the plank.
- Lithuania: oh, the shmaltz.
- Malta: with a song called Vodka, it will get the Eastern Bloc vote.
- Moldova: nice 60s jazz vibe. I like it but I have the feeling that it won’t go anywhere.
- Montenegro: another forgettable boy band.
- Netherlands: cute.
- Norway: forgettable.
- Poland: yawn.
- Portugal: why is Kirstie Alley singing in Portuguese?
- Romania: annoyingly familiar, but I can’t place it.
- Russia: they clearly got scared off by the negative press they got for the sex kitten act last year (despite its overall high placing) and went for this crap instead.
- San Marino: nice to hear some Italian again (Italy has been AWOL from the competition for a number of years).
- Serbia: could this be the new imperia to replace Ireland’s old dominance?
- Spain: oh dear. I bet these knuckleheads will get some votes, though.
- Sweden: another plastic Barbie.
- Switzerland: I can’t remember the last time they chose to sing in Italian (rather than French or German), but it is a good choice and might help the Swiss people hold their heads up again after last year’s fiasco with DJ Bobo.
- Turkey: I love the sound of Turkish and this band is fresh, modern, and very cool. I predict that they will do well.
- Ukraine: more scantily-clad babes with forgettable pop lyrics.
- UK: fantastic old 70s soul/disco vibe. Thank God they left off the silly stuff this year.
Eurovision 2007: The rules change every few years, so it is hard to keep track. First, you could only sing in your own language. Or French. Then they added English. Then they went back to your language only. Or French. Then there were the rules about dancers on stage, or number of singers. Then there is the incredibly complicated way that countries can get places in the finals (trust me—World Cup qualifying rules are simpler). Currently, there are 14 countries already holding coveted finals spots (the top ten from last year plus a few countries with permanent proteksia). Another 28 are battling for the remaining ten spots in the final, and we are one of them. Semifinals are 10 May, with the finals on 12 May.
People host parties all over the world. They gather outside to cheer on their country in front of massive live feeds. They dress up. They wave their flags. They get drunk. Think huge mobs of gay soccer fans, and you get the general idea. In fact, someone here once referred to Eurovision as “Purim for gays.”
Since each country has complete autonomy to chose their own representative, that process varies from country to country, and is not without some politics. This year’s representative from Israel, Tea Packs, was almost banned when a Eurovision official from Finland objected to the political nature of the song. (If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll recall that I talked about Kobi Oz’s very smart, very wicked antiwar number, Push the Button.) Once that got settled, we were good to go.
Each year, the previous year’s winning country hosts the event. So this year it’s hello, Helsinki. You can see the main site here. Make sure to click the Participants tab and look at all the contestants in the semifinals and finals. You can click through to view videos.
There is no way to classify this. Theoretically, it is pop music, but that ranges from the many disco-Abba-wannabees to tone-deaf head-bangers. This year is as diverse as ever.
- We have the usual collection of the let’s-just-sing-in-English school, with the Netherlands, Austria, Turkey, Poland, Belarus, Belgium, and others all opting for English lyrics.
- We have the linguistically mixed, with countries singing in a variety of languages: Israel, Spain, and Ukraine.
- We have the linguistically confused, with Cyprus singing in French, Latvia singing in Italian, and the Ukraine throwing in some German.
- We have the gender confused, with Denmark’s dumpy drag queen and Serbia’s androgynous question mark.
- We have the usual folks who refuse to take it seriously, and go all out for laughs. Check out England, Ukraine, France, Switzerland, and Poland. (At least, I think that they are trying to be funny.)
- We have the usual assortment of eye candy for women, with Greece and Turkey both offering up cute guys who can shake their tushies. Ditto the usual assortment of eye candy for men.
I have a pretty bad track record of trying to pick favorites; if I like a song, it isn’t usually popular. But that isn’t always the case. I loved Turkey’s entry in 2003 and Ukraine’s in 2004, and in both cases, those were the winners. To see these and other past winners, check out this private Eurovision Winners site. But I’m still leery. I have loved songs that end up getting almost no points at all, so I don’t trust my instincts. Still, I would say watch for the following semifinalists:
- Israel (of course!). See video.
- Bulgaria. Cool drums, cool Bulgarian vocal influences. See video.
- Belarus. Great video.
- Latvia. A bunch of goofy guys in top-hats singing pseudo opera. See video.
- Estonia. Total formula, but they might do OK. See video.
- Turkey. Mmmm. See video.
- Denmark. Someone tell that man not to wear short dresses. See video.
For those already holding a spot in the finals, keep an eye out for:
- Bosnia & Herzegovina. See video.
- Ireland, only because they always do well. See video.
- German. Think Sinatra. See video.
- Ukraine. I don’t even know what to say, but I can assure you that they will get points. See video.
So even if you aren’t in a country that broadcasts Eurovision, you can still watch clips online and cheer for your favorites.
Now, where are my party hats?