Let’s compare what I predicted and what actually happened:
I put the predictions I got correct in bold, and I italicized correct calls in the top 10.
Obviously, I overvalued Finland and undervalued France. As it turns out, Finland was the jury pick in the first Semi, leapfrogging over FYR Macedonia and Montenegro to get to the final.
Asides: As unbelievable as it sounds to me, Croatia actually was the jury pick in the second Semi, knocking out Serbia and jumping over Ireland and Poland. Also, the Czech Republic finished with nul point. Ouch. Even Belgium got une point. Tragically, Latvia got seven points in its Semi. Oof.
Anyway, as it turns out, Patricia Kaas has a pretty big following, which carried France to eighth place. Had I done research…
I don’t think I was the only one who was shocked that Greece did not finish second. I’d say that performing eighth might have hurt Sakis’ chances, except that Jóhanna went seventh, and Iceland finished second. I also neglected to put Bosnia and Herzegovina in the top 10, which was a foolish mistake on my part.
Here’s my recap of the show, starting with Graham Norton’s performance. He was great. He’s no Sir Terry, but few are. Give him 30 years to get it right, and I’m sure he will. Aside from a grumble here and there, it looks like most everyone is in agreement on the job Norton did, judging from this Beeb article.
The opening of the show featured Cirque de Soleil, which if you like that sort of thing was fine and if you don’t wasn’t. Dima Bilan came on with an elaborate intro that required him to walk down a treadmill and break through walls. Then he sang “Believe” and sounded great.
UPDATE: He of course sounded great because he was lip synching. Elena Gheorghe was actually the one singing, I think.
The vote tabulation entertainment featured people writhing and jumping around pools suspended over the auditorium and the green room. It was strange, yet neat at the same time. The hosts were fine. The green room reporter only appeared once. The humorous “woman on the street” segments were supposed to offer proof that Russia can laugh at its image. Aside from the ice cream cones filled with caviar, it really didn’t, but A for effort.
And now, the songs:
Sasha Son surely was hurt by going first. He still did a great job, and like Andy Abraham last year, he did not deserve to be towards the bottom of the table.
Noa and Mira landed in the middle of the pack last night. The significance of the “There Must Be Another Way” probably didn’t help it overcome other stronger ballads. Tonight’s performance was better than the one from the Semis, though.
Like Chiara, Kaas just stood on stage and sang. Obviously, that coupled with her following earned the French high marks.
Meh. I was glad “La voix” was early in the night, because by this point, I was really sick of this song.
I have no idea why the jury picked this to go through. Maybe they thought Igor and Andrea would finally put together a solid performance. They didn’t.
I just died of tweeness. Loved the percussionist, though.
As mentioned, Jóhanna hit this out of the park. I said to Jen that Iceland did just enough to finish respectably without actually hurting the nation’s economy further by winning. This was right before Graham Norton said it.
Poor Sakis. Not that seventh place is anything to sniff at.
I don’t have much to say about this. Inga and Anush were solid, but “Jan Jan” is just not a song that does anything for me.
The staging of “Mamo” was interesting: Anastasiya Prykhodko’s face on all the video screens singing along with her live. As the song went on, she slowly aged on the video screens. It was effective, until she started caterwauling at the end of the song.
I had a good feeling about “Always.” It’s a pretty generic Mediterranean pop song, but AySel and Arash sold it pretty well. Also, apparently AySel is a fairly big star in the Balkans.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
Pretentiously staged, but well-performed.
Another song I will not miss. It was the only pseudo-traditional number on the night, which I think helped it stand out it a bit.
If the results for Sakis and Greece were disappointing, then Chiara’s 22nd place finish has to be devastating. At least Malta made it to the Finals this year. Small comfort, though.
“Rändajad” is just a sweet number, and Urban Symphony sounded great doing it. Well done.
Niels Brinck sang “Believe Again” much better in the final than he did in the Semis. This has actually turned out to be my favorite entry of the year.
“Miss Kiss Kiss Bang” was the biggest misfire on the night. Alex and Oscar must have brought in Dita von Teese way late in the staging process, because she was just sort of there, stripping in the background while two back-up dancers performed in front of her. Then, halfway through the song Alex announces her, even though she’d been on stage the entire time. And she didn’t DO anything really, other than pose a bit. The whole thing just fell flat. And they did not out-perform Roger Cicero in the end, either.
Hadise was another performer who put it together in the final. She still can’t bellydance, though.
UPDATED: I have to say, I cannot stop watching Kejsi Tola’s “Carry Me In Your Dreams.” If you haven’t seen it, here it is:
Graham Norton commented, “What’s the blue thing? Was it sponsored by Sani-Flush?” I just figured he was the Stig’s Albanian cousin. Then there are the two back-up dancers, who look like mini-Wes Borlands. And Jen described the graphics on the large video screens in the back as “Price Is Right circa 1974.” The whole thing is just bizarre. Norton summed this up best: “Now she’s only 17, so please bear that in mind. She wasn’t strong enough to tell them that she didn’t want these creatures on stage with her. But where was her mother? Why didn’t she step in and say no?” After “Carry Me In Your Dreams” was over, he added, “If you’re seeing those things in your dreams, change your medication.”
Another great Norton quote: “I’m sure you’ll like it. I did. Three days ago. I have to admit that having heard it quite a few times, Alexander now has a face I’d quite like to slap.” Instead, he finished with the most points ever in a Eurovision Song Contest.
Norton noted early on that Svetlana Loboda mortgaged her apartment to pay for the elaborate engine set. Later, when announcing the number to call for Ukraine, he said, “To save Svetlana’s flat, dial…” UPDATED: I forgot to mention that Jen described her during the semis as a “slutty Juice Newton.”
Rumor was that Elena was lip-synching to the performance of another singer on stage. If she was, she is the most amazing lip-syncher ever. The performance was pretty low-energy, though.
- United Kingdom
Andrew Lloyd Webber played piano for Jade on this, and she sang very well: all the touring helped her get this right. Also, she was the only performer to walk down to the apron in front of the stage. I still hate the song, but she did a great job.
Being a minor dance hit does not add up to Eurovision success, as it turns out. A last place finish may mean the Finnish start sending metal bands again.
Overall, this was the strongest show we’ve seen in the few years we’ve been watching. It’ll be a hard one to beat. I hope Albania brings back the S&M Gumby next year, though.