Eurovision 2008 Superlatives

The 2008 Eurovision Song Contest seems to have been the last gasp of the properly jokey entries, at least in the Final. Some may lament how serious Eurovision has gotten, but we say, watch “Wolves of the Sea” and tell us that is something that’s missing from the Song Contest.

  • Best unintentional musical representation of the premise for The War of the Roses: Romania (Nico and Vlad – “Pe-o margine de lume”)
  • Andy Abraham award for entry least deserving of its fate: United Kingdom (Andy Abraham – “Even If”)
  • Act most in need of back-up singers: Albania (Olta Boka – “Zemrën e lamë peng”)
  • Dervish Award for tone-deaf vocals: Germany (No Angels – “Disappear”)
  • Best casting choice for Elaine in the Armenian remake of Seinfeld: Armenia (Sirusho – “Qélé, Qélé” )
  • Most Dadaist Eurovision entry ever: Bosnia and Herzegovina (Laka – “Pokušaj”)
  • Best use of silver lamé to accentuate chiseled biceps: Israel (Boaz Ma’uda – “The Fire in Your Eyes”)
  • Best reminder that Finland won with Lordi: Finland (Teräsbetoni – “Missä miehet ratsastaa”)
  • This award goes out to a gang-bangin’ player who ain’t with us no more: 75 Cents, Croatia (Kraljevi Ulice and 75 cents – “Romanca”)
  • Best tan: Poland (Isis Gee – “For Life”)
  • Most anthemic anthem: Iceland (Euroband – “This Is My Life”)
  • Must not make “Deli” Turkey joke award: Turkey (Mor ve Ötesi – “Deli”)
  • Award for telling that hurricane who’s boss: Portugal (Vânia Fernandes – “Senhora do mar (Negras águas)”)
  • Best reason to walk the plank: Latvia (Pirates of the Sea – “Wolves of the Sea”)
  • Best drag impersonation of Charlotte Perrelli: Sweden (Charlotte Perrelli – “Hero”)
  • Pushiest demand to celebrate good times: Denmark (Simon Mathew – “All Night Long”)
  • Best costume change: Georgia (Diana Gurtskaya – “Peace Will Come”)
  • Best song that didn’t win Eurovision: Ukraine (Ani Lorak – “Shady Lady”)
  • Annual award for most successful theft of France’s thunder: The cameraman (Sébastien Tellier – “Divine”)
  • Best recap of a Dan Brown novel: Azerbaijan (Elnur and Samir “Day After Day”)
  • Perkiest call for abstinence: Greece (Kalomira – “Secret Combination”)
  • Best dance tutorial: Spain (Rodolfo Chikilicuatre – “Baila el Chiki-chiki”)
  • Best attempt to not win Eurovision while not embarrassing themselves in the process: Serbia (Jelena Tomašević – “Oro” )
  • The platinum medal for best strategic Plushy deployment: Russia (Dima Bilan – “Believe”)
  • Worst lyric ever, not just in Eurovision history but in the history of all music: “Love can be hard sometimes/Yes, it can catch you off guard like bad crimes”, Norway (Maria Haukaas Storeng – “Hold On Be Strong”)
  • Most likely to get there, popular: Russia

Originally published 28 September 2015

Chris' Eurovision Finals Recap, Part Two

15. Sweden

Man, so much eyeliner. Solid performance, and I’m sure the neighborly voting will help Charlotte Perrelli out.

16. Denmark
So frigging perky! I wonder if Simon Mathew has an outside shot at hitting the top five. He won’t win, because Russia is going to, but he could do well.

17. Georgia
Who raided DJ Bobo’s closet? Time for another bathroom break.

18. Ukraine
Absolutely fucking awesome. Brilliant, I tell you.

19. France
Could the back-up singers be any more out of tune? I wonder if they’re auditioning for No Angels. This is a bit of a train wreck because of that.

20. Azerbaijan
Speaking of train wrecks, Samir is particularly screechy tonight. This is so over the top, and yet try to look away. This number is what Terry Wogan sees if he goes to bed on a full stomach.

21. Greece
Kalomira’s performance was better in the Semis, but this is a memorable enough performance and a catchy enough song to win votes. The back-up dancers for Kalomira are pretty good, by the way.

22. Spain
God help me, I love this song. It’s so stupid, and so awesome, and so silly, and so fantastic. A joke song perfectly executed.

23. Serbia
Grand, dramatic, and epic. Jelena Tomašević had a couple of bum notes, but who cares? This is a great song.

24. Russia
Okay, Dima wins. No doubt.

25. Norway
Dima is a tough act to follow, but Maria Haukaas Storeng does an admirable job. This lacks Russia’s gravitas, but it’s still a cool song.

So, here are my predictions:
1. Russia
2. Ukraine
3. Serbia
4. Sweden
5. Greece
6. Portugal
7. Azerbaijan
8. Turkey
9. Armenia
10. Bosnia and Herzegovina
11. Iceland
12. United Kingdom (What the Heck pick)

Note that even though I thought Denmark could place in the Top Five, I didn’t pick them. This is what is known in the business as FSOM (“Freaking stupid of me”).

Also, my predictions for bottom three:
23. Poland
24. Germany
25. France

And here are the actual results:
1. Russia
2. Ukraine
3. Greece
4. Armenia
5. Norway (oops, wrong Scandinavian country)
6. Serbia
7. Turkey
8. Azerbaijan
9. Israel
10. Bosnia
11. Georgia
12. Latvia

And the actual bottom three, much to Terry Wogan’s chargin:
23. Germany
24. Poland
25. United Kingdom

Actually, that’s a three-way tie for last place. They all finished with 14 points.

Jen wondered if maybe the big four (U.K., Germany, France, and Spain) are hurt by having a bye to the finals. It’s possible, although the bye didn’t hurt Serbia that much. On the other hand, Serbia has guaranteed votes from the other Balkan countries.

Still, there was no doubt in my mind Russia would win. It should be an interesting show next year in Moscow.

Chris' Eurovision Finals Recap, Part One

It’s Eurovision time again, and why not kick off the show in Belgrade with last year’s winner, Marija Šerifović? She does “Molitva,” which for tonight’s show has a more Euro-dance feel to it, not to mention gender-bending back-up dancers. She also does a second song that features the lyric, “They will find one day/Love DNA.”

After a little introductory spiel from hosts Jovana Janković and Željko Joksimović, we get underway.

1. Romania
Bad first note from Nico. In fact, she’s pretty awful tonight. It’s like Vlad is the Steve Lawrence of Romania and Nico is the Eydie Gorme.

2. United Kingdom
It really sucks Andy Abraham is going second. I do love this song, and he does a great job. Slick, polished fun.

3. Albania
Olta Boka just cannot carry that chorus. Her voice lacks the richness to sing it over the orchestration by herself. I kinda like the song, but her performance doesn’t do it for me.

4. Germany
Die alle Heiligen! No, wait, No Angels are nowhere near as good as All Saints. The chorus is actively annoying, and the blonde singer is so far out of tune that she might as well be singing “I’m a Little Teapot.” Horrible.

5. Armenia
Love the song, but Sirusho was a bit flat throughout. Better than her performance in the semis, but still not as good as it could be.

6. Bosnia & Herzegovina
The staging of “Pokušaj” strikes me as a window into how Bosnians interpret French comedies. Regardless, it brings a tear to my eye. I love this song so much. (Sir Terry Wogan appeared to have liked it too, until it got more votes than the U.K.)

7. Israel
Man, I really can’t stand Boaz’ upper register. I wish Dana International did this song, seeing as she wrote it and all.

8. Finland
Bathroom break.

9. Croatia
If it weren’t for 75 Cents yelling at me, I’d completely forget about this number.

10. Poland
Sayeth Sir Terry: “The brightest teeth outside of the Osmond family.” The fake tan brings out the whiteness.

11. Iceland
The orchestration is terrific, the performance is fantastic. A Euro-dance classic.

12. Turkey
The more I hear Mor ve Ötesi’s live performance of this song, the more I like it. I wasn’t sure about Turkey deviating from the Mediterranean pop, but this is a really good song.

13. Portugal
Vânia Fernandes is far and away the best singer at Eurovision. Terrific performance. Maybe a little bloc voting from Andorra, Spain, and France will help. Romance languages gots ta stick together.

14. Latvia
God, this is so dumb.

Chris' Eurovision Semi-Finals Two Recap, Part Two

11. Croatia

If it weren’t for the old guy accosting the audience, I would totally forget about this song. Still, having him scratch using a record on an old phonograph is pretty amusing.

12. Bulgaria

“DJ, Take Me Away” is a pretty generic Euro-dance track. There are all these things going on during the act, such as handheld turntables that are held like guitars and turntables on fire and the lead singer’s can-can dress. But these don’t add up to a compelling performance. I do like the song itself, but the performance was not up to snuff.

13. Denmark

Simon Mathew looks way too hardcore to be signing a number this chipper. This is a peppy, cutesy number that might just do well because of when it’s performed. If this were earlier in the show, it’d totally get lost.

14. Georgia

I cannot stand Diana Gurtskaya’s voice. It’s not that she can’t sing (although she was a bit pitchy during her number), but there’s a quality to her voice that grates on me. This is a painfully earnest song that I couldn’t give two shits about. Such a comedown from Sopho.

15. Hungary

Here’s an 80s-style R&B ballad that is completely dull and not particularly well-performed. But I bet little old ladies watching Eurovision will like it.

16. Malta

VODKA! As Terry Wogan said, it’s the Eurovision commentator’s best friend. The opening riff of the song is annoying, but Morena sings the hell out of it. Being towards the end of the night should help get it through.

17. Cyprus

Eurovision Blog refers to this as “The Oompa Loompa Song.” No shit. It’s sung well, but it’s poorly orchestrated and it has a lot of manic, unfocused energy. Plus, it’s like three minutes, but it really feels like 10. Blech.

18. FYR Macedonia

If this Eurovision thing doesn’t work out for Tamara, she could totally do the Balkan Liza Minnelli impersonator circuit. She’s not a strong singer, but her back-up singers help lift the song. It’s not great, but much better than their performance during the Macedonian selection show. I suspect it will get through based on Balkan bloc voting and the fact that it’s the second to last song.

19. Portugal

Man, Vânia Fernandes can belt. This is a poppy fado number, and while the orchestration is a bit busy, Vânia just takes over and brings it home. Considering this is a slower, downbeat number, it ends up being a strong ending to a mediocre semi-final.

Here are my picks to go through:

  1. Turkey
  2. Ukraine
  3. Switzerland
  4. Latvia
  5. Bulgaria
  6. Denmark
  7. Hungary
  8. Malta
  9. FYR Macedonia
  10. Portugal

I really really really want Iceland to go through, but like I said, I think kicking off the show might hurt them.

Some ballet dancers perform a routine inspired by a popular Serbian film. Judging from the make-up and costumes, it’s a film about destitute zombies working on a Soviet farm. Or something like that.

After some more vamping from the hosts, and an amusingly awkward interview by one of the backstage hosts with Tamara from FYR Macedonia, we get the results:

  1. Ukraine
  2. Croatia… what the fuck?
  3. Albania… bloc voting!
  4. Iceland… HELLS yeah!
  5. Georgia… gawd, really?
  6. Denmark
  7. Sweden
  8. Latvia
  9. Turkey
  10. Portugal

I underestimated Sweden, obviously, and I guess it’s not a surprise that the earnest number from Georgia got votes. I’m surprised Hungary and Switzerland didn’t go through, but I am even more surprised that Croatia did. Maybe all that jibber jabber from the old guy was actually a form of mass hypnosis.

Tonight was pretty painful, but the end result means we get a really strong final on Saturday. Be back then!

Chris' Eurovision Semi-Finals Two Recap, Part One

The second semi-finals of the Eurovision Song Contest were held in Belgrade, Serbia earlier tonight. As with the first semis, I’ve divided my recap into two parts. Again, unless I mention that the dancing was good, assume that the dancing sucked.

1. Iceland

I love this song. It’s got a Real McCoy feel to it. Euroband’s performance is excellent, but I fear that going first may kill their chances.

2. Sweden

My god, Charlotte Perrelli has had a lot of work done. I mean, she looks unnatural. The song is catchy and she sings it well, so overall a good performance. Nul point for the plastic surgeon, though.

3. Turkey

Turkey’s rocking out this year. I wasn’t into this song before, but Mor ve Ötesi’s performance is very good. They sound great, and they have a lot of intensity. So far, so good tonight.

4. Ukraine

I think Dima Bilan is going to win Eurovision for Russia, but Ani Lorak’s “Shady Lady” is definitely my favorite song this year. The staging of this number is fun. The male dancers are in this box that lights up on each of them during the opening lines of the song. That description so doesn’t do this justice, so just check out the video from the show:

Just fantastic.

5. Lithuania

Now the evening goes downhill. This is absolutely awful. Jeronimas Milius’ singing is all over the place, and he’s over-emoting horribly. This is the Eurovision equivalent of Laurence Olivier in The Jazz Singer. Abysmal.

6. Albania

Olta Boka is not a horrible singer, but she doesn’t have an intense enough voice to handle the chorus of the song. It’s kind of an amateurish performance, which is too bad, because the song is not bad.

7. Switzerland

Here’s your Johnny Logan number for the night. Unfortunately, while “Era Stupendo” is not horrible, Paolo has trouble holding notes. He goes flat if he holds a note longer than three seconds. It’s a problem, but I’m sure this one goes through anyway.

8. Czech Republic

I had high hopes for this, because while “Have Some Fun” is not a profound song by any means, the recorded track sounded pretty good. Live, however, this was an absolute train wreck. They’ve remixed the song for the show and added a deejay who yells throughout the entire song. There are lots of extraneous explosions at random times during the song. The dancing is strikingly awful, even by Eurovision standards. And the singer, Tereza, is completely drowned out by the music. This is utterly atrocious.

9. Belarus

This song is called “Hasta La Vista.” How appropriate. This is so bad that I found myself looking forward to the day Belarus merges into Russia. Also, there are these big mounds with lights in them on the stage that look like leftover props from Invasion of the Body Snatchers: The Musical.

10. Latvia

“Wolves of the Sea” by Pirates of the Sea. Sample lyrics: “We’re robbing you blind/I hope you don’t mind” and “There’s no Peter Pan, so what can you do?” All I can say is never underestimate Rednex’ influence. Still, this is cute enough to go through, I bet.

Chris' Eurovision Semi-Finals One Recap, Part Two

11. Ireland

A lot of people in the crowd are already booing. The song wouldn’t be half-bad if the fucking turkey puppet could sing in tune. I realize that Ireland isn’t even trying this year, but this is an absolute mess even as a joke tune. Irelande, nul pointe!

12. Andorra

Try following Dustin the Turkey, Gisela. Her outfit is horrible, and I think she’s wearing a plate on her head. Also, what did she do to her hair? What the hell? Man. I like the song, but she’s not doing it any it any favors tonight.

13. Bosnia and Herzegovina

This is staged like a joke song, and for all I know, the Bosnian lyrics are probably jokey too, but I gotta tell you: I love this song. I really do. Laka’s voice is a bit nasal, but I really don’t care. I’m rooting for bloc voting tonight.

14. Armenia

Sirusho oversang this by a mile, but “Qele Qele” a great song. I suspect it’ll do well, although that’s in part because Armenia always does well. If she goes through, I hope she dials it back a bit.

15. The Netherlands

The Greeks called. They want their entry back.

16. Finland

Sludgy Judas Priest-style metal. This sticks out of the competition like a swollen eyeball. Oh, Lordi, what hath thou wrought?

17. Romania

Here is your operatic entry for the night (ignoring Elnur’s little operatic vamp at the start of “Day After Day”). It reminds me a lot of Bonaparti.lv from last year’s show, only… you know… good. I figure if Bonaparti.lv makes it to the final, this will too.

18. Russia

Honestly, this year’s Eurovision is Dima Bilan’s to lose. I really can’t imagine him not winning. And to show he’s serious about the competition, he’s got Evgeni Plushenko ice skating to his song. Take that, Europe! Dima’s way pitchy, but I doubt that will affect the voting. Hopefully, he’ll have a better night on Saturday.

19. Greece

I love Kalomira olives! Actually, Kalomira is one of two Americans performing tonight (Isis Gee is the other). This is a fantastic number. I know Timbaland has worked with Dima Bilan, but this song reminds me of his production style a lot. (I am convinced, by the way, that Timbaland is a massive Eurovision fan.)

Now that the performances are done, Novak Djokovic comes out to kick off the voting. Here are my picks, in order of appearance:

  1. Israel
  2. Belgium (What King Kaufman calls the What the Heck Pick)
  3. Slovenia
  4. Norway
  5. Poland
  6. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  7. Armenia
  8. Romania
  9. Russia
  10. Greece

After the voting stops and the vote counting begins, we get a long performance by an act that apparently is shown on Serbian public television during pledge drives. Finally, we get to the results, and they’re a bit surprising:

  1. Greece
  2. Romania
  3. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  4. Finland… FINLAND?!!?
  5. Russia
  6. Israel
  7. Azerbaijan…!?
  8. Armenia
  9. Poland
  10. Norway

Well, there you go. As usual, I should never make picks on whims. Otherwise, I guess this was a pretty predictable finish, Finland notwithstanding. Even Azerbaijan I can understand a bit, but Finland? I wonder if Scandinavian bloc voting is going to start battling Eastern European bloc voting.

Anyway, that’s all for tonight. The second round is on Thursday, and I’ll be back then.

Chris' Eurovision Semi-Finals One Recap, Part One

The first semi-finals of the Eurovision Song Contest were held in Belgrade, Serbia earlier tonight. Here is the first part of my notes about the show. By the way, unless I mention that the dancing was good, assume, as always, that the dancing sucked.

After the opening festivities, with the first klezmer version of “Waterloo” I’ve ever heard, we jump in with…

1. Montenegro

Thanks for playing.

2. Israel

I hate the sound of Boaz’ voice in his upper register. The song itself is good, but his voice is a bit nasal. Still, he’s a good enough singer, and certainly dreamy, so he might just be memorable enough to make it to the finals.

3. ESTONIA!!!!!

“Leto Svet” is just… odd. The song has grown on me, actually, the way Verka did last year, but the staging is so… odd. I mean, I know it’s a jokey song and all, but still… odd. There’s a bit of booing after the song is over.

4. Moldova

Ah, the Bacharach song. Geta is performing on a couch with a teddy bear and a trumpet player. The performance is competent, although I think she goes flat a bit in the end. Not bad, but I don’t know what her chances are to escape the semi-final.

5. San Marino

I forgot about this song while I was watching it.

6. Belgium

This is frigging adorable. Pitchy, but adorable. Also, the lead singer is wearing a costume made from old White Stripes backdrops. The crowd is clapping along, but I’ll be honest: a little of this song goes a long way, and it went further than that.

7. Azerbaijan

High concept: Elnur is dressed in white as an angel, and Samir is dressed in black as an evil guy, but the twist at the end is that Samir has a face turn and changes into a white outfit. This is so very silly, and so very shrill. In other words, it is everything that’s right about Eurovision and wrong about Eurovision all in one over-the-top package.

8. Slovenia

S&M! Rebeka starts off in chains, surrounded by gimps (well, just two, but they move around a lot). Then she breaks her chains and changes her costume all at the same time. This is serviceable Euro-dance-pop, competent, but hardly memorable. Still, it could go through.

9. Norway

A little tip for anyone who stages Eurovision numbers: don’t have back-up dancers who are all a foot taller than the lead singer. This is another song that has grown on me, but still, you can’t get past those lyrics: “Love can be hard sometimes/Yes, it can catch you off-guard like bad crimes.”

10. Poland

Apparently, Poland is still behind in tanning booth technology. Isis Gee is so tan she’s almost leathery. I mean, seriously, she looks like Barbie hitting middle age like a divorced Beverly Hills socialite. The song is a grand power ballad in the Celine Dion vein, and it’s not bad at all.

Eurovision 2008: Final

Here are the countries already in the final, in order of appearance:

2. United Kingdom: Andy Abraham – “Even If”
4. Germany: No Angels – “Disappear”
19. France: Sébastien Tellier – “Divine”
22. Spain: Rodolfo Chikilicuatre – “Baila el Chiki-chiki”
23. Serbia: Jelena Tomašević & Bora Dugić – “Oro”

The semi-finals winners will fill in the other spots, obviously. (Well, I think it’s obvious, anyway.)

Eurovision 2008: Semi-Final 2

Here are the countries participating in the second semi-final, in order of appearance:
  1. Iceland: Eurobandið – “This Is My Life”
  2. Sweden: Charlotte Perrelli – “Hero”
  3. Turkey: Mor Ve Otesi – “Deli”
  4. Ukraine: Ani Lorak – “Shady Lady”
  5. Lithuania: Jeronimas Milius – “Nomads In the Night”
  6. Albania: Olta Boka – “Zemrën Lamë Peng”
  7. Switzerland: Paolo Meneguzzi -“Era Stupendo”
  8. Czech Republic: Tereza Kerndlová – “Have Some Fun”
  9. Belarus: Ruslan Alekhno – “Hasta la Vista”
  10. Latvia: Pirates of the Sea – “Wolves of the Sea”
  11. Croatia: Kraljevi Ulice & 75 Cents – “Romanca”
  12. Bulgaria: Deep Zone & Balthazar – “DJ, Take Me Away”
  13. Denmark: Simon Mathews – “All Night Long”
  14. Georgia: Diana Gurtskaya – “Peace Will Come”
  15. Hungary: Csézy – “Szívverés”
  16. Malta: Morena – “Vodka”
  17. Cyprus: Evdokia Kadi – “Femme Fatale”
  18. FYR Macedonia: Tamara Todevska, Vrčak & Adrian Gadza – “Vo Imeto Na Ljubovta”
  19. Portugal: Vânia Fernandes – “Senhora do Mar”

Eurovision 2008: Semi-Final 1

Eurovision is doing things a little differently this year, because the number of countries participating is ever-increasing (especially since new countries keep popping up; Kosovo, we’re looking at you). The organizers have divided the semi-finals into two groups. The top nine vote-getters from the two semi-finals will make the finals, along with the host country and the Big Four. In addition, a special jury will select one wild card each from the two semi-final groups.

Here are the countries participating in the first semi-final, in order of appearance:

  1. Montenegro: Stefan Filipović – “Zauvijek volim te”
  2. Israel: Bo’az Ma’uda – “Ke’ilo Kan”
  3. ESTONIA!!!!!: Kreisiraadio – “Leto Svet”
  4. Moldova: Geta Burlacu – “A Century of Love”
  5. San Marino: Miodio – “Complice”
  6. Belgium: Ishtar – “O Julissi Na Jalini”
  7. Azerbaijan: Elnur Hüseynov & Samir Javadzadeh – “Day After Day”
  8. Slovenia: Rebeka Dremelj – “Vrag naj vzame”
  9. Norway: Maria Haukaas Storeng – “Hold On, Be Strong”
  10. Poland: Isis Gee – “For Life”
  11. Ireland: Dustin the Turkey – “Irelande Douze Pointe”
  12. Andorra: Gisela – “Casanova”
  13. Bosnia & Herzegovina: Elvir Lakovic Laka – “Pokusaj”
  14. Armenia: Sirusho – “Qele Qele”
  15. The Netherlands: Hind – “Your Heart Belongs to Me”
  16. Finland: Teräsbetoni – “Missä Miehet Ratsastaa”
  17. Romania: Vlad Miriţă & Nico – “Pe o margine de lume”
  18. Russia: Dima Bilan – “Believe”
  19. Greece: Kalomira – “Secret Combination”