Highlights and lowlights from 2011

This year’s additions to our evergreen content.

Legitimately Good Eurovision Song
For our consideration:
Love in Rewind,” Bosnia and Herzegovina
What About My Dreams,” Hungary
Madness of Love,” Italy
Never Alone,” The Netherlands
I Can,” United Kingdom

Our pick:
None.  Bosnia and Herzegovina got closest with “Love in Rewind.” It’s silly, but repeated listenings confirmed the quality musical structure of the song. We love the vocal harmonies and the musical transitions. “Sito” works on many levels: it’s jarring – it makes you pay attention, it distracts—so you don’t mind it’s bridging two distinct segments of the song, and it’s wacky—it makes you smile.   It was our favorite in 2011, but the song lacks a certain “hell yeah” quality necessary for the legitimately good.  Close but no cigar.

Biggest Misfire
For our consideration:
Rockfeller Street,” Estonia
Sognu,” France
Get You,” Russia
Live It Up,” Turkey
I Can,” United Kingdom

Our pick:
Live It Up,” Turkey
. Turkey went back to its rock formula for 2011, but the entry was perhaps a little too ’80s for peoples’ liking. Many thought Turkey had enough friends that would forgive a so-so song. What wasn’t forgivable was the lead singer’s baffling choice of wardrobe, a gold bird shirt and leprechaun-green jeans. The contortionist in the metal ball upstage center was just there, and no one knew why. Sure, at the end she turned into a bird, but Yüksek Sadakat had lost us by then. Turkey stunned Europe by showing that it was possible for them to not qualify.

Campiest Song
For our consideration:
Boom Boom,” Armenia
I Love Belarus,” Belarus
Celebrate,” Croatia
So Lucky,” Moldova
“A Luta e Alegria,” Portugal

Our pick:
Boom Boom,” Armenia
. Armenia went high concept in 2011, adopting a boxing theme and literally interpreting “Boom Boom” into a 1-2 punch. They had boxing robes, interpretive dance, and an ad hoc boxing ring. If camp is your goal, you can never go wrong with an oversized boxing glove. Presentation, however, cannot compensate for dodgy vocals and poor draw.  Emmy is so out of tune the performance is barely watchable.  Armenia failed to qualify for the finals.

Best Diva
For our consideration:
Aurela Gace, Albania
Nadine Beiler, Austria
Evelina Sašenko, Lithuania
Maja Keuc, Slovenia
Mika Newton, Ukraine

Our pick:
Nadine Beiler (Austria) started her epic Celine Dion-style ballad a cappella; just her, a little black dress, and a severe bob. In textbook style, Nadine built and built (and built) the song, culminating with a gospel chorus. Her powerful voice gives me goosebumps every time. We watched every rehearsal and performance going back to the Austrian national finals and not once did she miss a note. Austria finished 18th, a good finish for a country that hadn’t qualified for the finals since 2004.