Eurovision 2009 Superlatives

We have warm memories of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest.  It’s a high water mark for the Contest, chock full of great songs and amazing performances (and also whatever the hell it was that Belgium and Czech Republic sent). Plus, it was also the first time we hosted a Eurovision party. We’ve been getting our friends hooked on it ever since.

We did a Superlatives post for the 2009 Semifinal, but for some reason we never followed up with one for the Final. Let’s rectify that now.

  • Best Alicia Keys impression: Lithuania (Sasha Son – “Love”)
  • Most genuine plea for peace, love, and understanding: Israel (Noa and Mira Awad – “There Must Be Another Way”)
  • “Move and let me show you how it’s done” award: France (Patricia Kaas – “Et s’il fallait le faire”)
  • Singer who is clearly the most happy to be there: Sweden (Malena Ernman – “La voix”)
  • Weirdly oiliest performance: Croatia (Igor Cukrov – “Lijepa Tena”)
  • Most joyful acid trip: Portugal (Flor-de-Lis – “Todas as ruas do amor”)
  • “And then there’s a dolphin” award for most random background image: Iceland (Yohanna – “Is It True?”)
  • Least necessary shirt: Greece (Sakis Rouvas – “This Is Our Night”)
  • Best Armenians with frickin’ laser beams: Armenia (Inga and Anush – “Jan Jan” )
  • Staging that best captures how we feel watching the performance (see, because it gets old fast): Russia (Anastasiya Prikhodko – “Mamo”)
  • Most eyerolls: Azerbaijan – seven (AySel – “Always”)
  • Best mash-up of American, Russian and French Revolution iconography: Bosnia and Herzegovina (Regina “Bistra voda”)
  • Least utilized guy with a staff: Moldova (Nelly Ciobanu – “Hora din Moldova”)
  • Most intergalactic: Malta (Chiara – “What If We”)
  • Most planetary: Estonia (Urban Symphony – “Rändajad”)
  • The Eric Saade Award for most palpable sense of relief at the end of the song: Denmark (Niels Brinck – “Believe Again”)
  • Best reason to completely reevaluate what you want from the Eurovision Song Contest: Germany (Alex Swings Oscar Sings! – “Miss Kiss Kiss Bang”)
  • Tina Karol Award for best Shakira impression: Turkey (Hadise – “Düm Tek Tek”)
  • Kejsi Tola Award for best Disco Gumby: Albania (Kejsi Tola – “Carry Me in Your Dreams”)
  • Most foregone conclusion: Norway (Alexander Rybak – “Fairytale”)
  • The Svetlana Loboda Award for least subtle sexual innuendo: Ukraine (Svetlana Loboda –  “Be My Valentine”)
  • The Other Svetlana Loboda Award for “more is more” staging: Ukraine
  • Best performance by wood nymphs on a hen do: Romania (Elena – “The Balkan Girls”)
  • Best audition for Sugababes: United Kingdom (Jade Ewen – “It’s My Time”)
  • Most schlagerrifc urban blight: Finland (Waldo’s People – “Lose Control”)
  • Best cover of the 2005 Macedonian entry: Spain (Soraya Arnelas – “La noche es para mí”)
  • Most likely to get there, popular: Norway

Originally published 30 September 2015

A Special Message to Google Users

A lot of people have been searching the phrase “Alexander Rybak shirtless” and finding Lemur Love. Unfortunately, we don’t have any shirtless photos of Alexander Rybak.  But if you follow this link to an article about Daniel Radcliffe in Equus, you’ll find a picture that you may find suitable.

As for people looking for “Niels Brinck shirtless,” well, you’re on your own.

Eurovision 2009 Final Recap

Let’s compare what I predicted and what actually happened:

Me:

  1. Norway
  2. Greece
  3. Azerbaijan
  4. Ukraine
  5. United Kingdom
  6. Malta
  7. Finland
  8. Armenia
  9. ESTONIA!!!!!
  10. Turkey

Last: France

Europe:

  1. Norway
  2. Iceland
  3. Azerbaijan
  4. Turkey
  5. United Kingdom
  6. ESTONIA!!!!!
  7. Greece
  8. France
  9. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  10. Armenia

Last: Finland

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.

Continue reading “Eurovision 2009 Final Recap”

Eurovision Final Preview

So let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: can anyone beat Norway? No. Greece may come close, but Sakis shall have no cigar.  There you go.

I’ve been trying for most of the day to figure out what my top 10 and last place predictions are going to be.  Frankly, it’s difficult, because Croatia aside, this is a pretty strong year.  It’s certainly the best one since I’ve started watching Eurovision religiously.  About the only two things I can say with any certainty is that Norway is going to win and there will be no nul point this year.

In a fair and just world, Croatia would finish last place, but I really don’t see that happening.  I’m going with France, because it’s third in the line-up and way too freaking French.  Croatia will probably finish 15th.

For the top 10… well, I’m going with pure gut on this:

  1. Norway
  2. Greece
  3. Azerbaijan
  4. Ukraine
  5. United Kingdom
  6. Malta
  7. Finland
  8. Armenia
  9. ESTONIA!!!!!
  10. Turkey

Now, I’m off to practice saying “I’m Gumby, dammit” in Albanian until our guests arrive for the big show.

Eurovision Semi-Final #2 Recap

Again, before I start the recap from last night’s Semi-final, here were Jen’s predictions for the result, which she made right after the performances were over:

  • Ireland
  • Norway
  • Denmark
  • Azerbaijan
  • Greece
  • Lithuania
  • Albania
  • Ukraine
  • ESTONIA!!!!!
  • Netherlands

If you compare this list with mine, there are a lot of similarities, even though Jen made her choices during the run of the program.  She picked Ireland, Lithuania and Albania all on the strength of their performances.  If I had seen Hungary before I made my picks, I wouldn’t have chosen it, because frankly Zoli Ádok’s performance was awful.  I would have gone with Ireland instead, and we would have had the exact same picks.

As it was, this was another night where we got eight out of 10.  Here are the final results:

  • Croatia
  • Norway
  • Denmark
  • Azerbaijan
  • Greece
  • Lithuania
  • Moldova
  • Albania
  • Ukraine
  • ESTONIA!!!!!

I was right to fear Moldova, especially because Nelly Ciobanu and her posse were high energy, as expected.  In the end, I wasn’t surprised to see them go through.

Croatia, on the other hand… what the hell?  Igor and Andrea were not as catastrophically out of tune as Kamil and Nela from Slovakia were, but that didn’t mean they were in tune by any stretch of the imagination.  This couldn’t possibly be the jury pick, could it?

So aside from Ireland getting robbed by Croatia, the results went pretty much the way we expected them to.  That the Netherlands got knocked out was not a shock, ultimately.  De Toppers’ performance was low-energy, and the glowing hand effect didn’t quite work.  The large woman with the rhinestone turntable strapped around her waist was a nice touch, though.

For me, the two surprises on the night were Lithuania and Albania.  Sasha Son has done a lot of work on “Love” since we saw him debut the English-language version at the Russia national final.  Using the key change to switch languages from English to Russian was a nice touch that really paid off.  Even Jen, who has not been a fan of this song at all, was impressed.

We both also really liked Kejsi Tola’s performance of  “Carry Me In Your Dreams” for Albania.  The staging was bizarre: what was up with the b-boy mimes and the rhinestone Gumby? But despite a stiff stage presence, Kejsi sang well.  Moreover, the song benefited from the translation into English.

The biggest disappointments on the night were Poland and Hungary. I talked about Hungary earlier, but I’ll add that I really need to stop picking the disco songs to go through. Poland’s entry, “I Don’t Wanna Leave,” is a legitimately good song, but Lidia Kopania did not sing it well.

Svetlana Loboda’s “Be my Valentine! (Anti-Crisis Girl)” decided to aim strictly for the gay audience.  How else to explain the shirtless muscular back-up dancers in Spartan costumes?  For the straight audience, Svetlana went for something subtle: looping graphics of pistons chugging on the video display.

Ultimately, it all comes down to Norway and Greece, however, with Norway the heavy favorite.  Sakis Rouvas went for it on “This Is Our Night,” with an elaborate stage prop to help out with his stage movement (which is a problem because he really can’t dance).  It’s hard to explain, so check this clip out.

Meanwhile, Alexander Rybak brought his Harry Potter-meets-Legolas-meets-Itzhak Perlman charm to “Fairytale.”  The staging hasn’t changed much since the Norway national final, but he took full advantage of the video screens with quaint fairytale imagery all over the place that did not distract from him one bit.  My bet is that he’ll win, with Sakis in second.

As for the rest of the show, we started with a Russian folk band doing a medley of past Eurovision winners, and you haven’t lived until you’ve heard “Waterloo” on a balalaika.  There were, of course, dancing bears.  There also were giant electronic nesting dolls that were very cool.

For the vote-tabulation entertainment, the Mariinsky Ballet company performed traditional dances from around Europe, including the Zorba the Greek dance that drove all the Greeks in the front row wild.  How do the Greeks ALWAYS have the front row at Eurovision?

Finally, as expected, Intars Busulis’ “Probka” did not make it to the final.  I thought he did a fantastic job anyway, so check out his performance here.

By the way, we’ve updated the ESC2009 page with the running order for the final.

Eurovision Semifinal Superlatives

The 2009 Eurovision Semifinals are over, and our finalists have been selected. Makeup is being removed, sets are being rejiggered, and we here at Eurovision Lemurs have awarded superlatives for this year’s competitors.

* Most surprising (in a good way) finalist — Denmark
* Biggest “YES” moment — Greece
* Gayest moment — Ukraine
* Most improved — Lithuania
* Least deserving finalist — Croatia
* Biggest disappointment — Poland
* Contestant you most want on your side in a bar fight — Sweden
* Highest concept — Bosnia & Herzegovina
* Most elven — Norway
* Most Moldovan — Moldova
* Greenest man — Albania
* Biggest balls — Malta
* Most in need of the power of the Lord — United Kingdom

Eurovision Semi-Final #2 Preview

As I said on Tuesday, I think tonight’s line-up is the stronger of the two.  As such, it’s harder for me to make picks.

For example,  on the one hand, past evidence would point to Croatia and Serbia going through.  On the other hand, have you heard their songs?  Even Serbians don’t like their song (which ended up going through based on jury voting).

Anyway, I will go so far as to say I have no confidence in any pick I made after ESTONIA!!!!!

  • Norway – Alexander Rybak: “Fairytale” (This is your likely winner)
  • Greece – Sakis Rouvas: “This Is Our Night” (This is your likely dark horse winner)
  • Netherlands – De Toppers: “Shine” (Have you seen the official video? Holy shit!)
  • Ukraine – Svetlana Loboda: “Be My Valentine (Anti-Crisis Girl)” (It puts the “slutty” in “Ukraine Eurovision entry by Svetlana Loboda”)
  • ESTONIA!!!!! – Urban Symphony: “Rändajad” (There can be only one classical-pop entry. Sorry, Quartissimo)
  • Hungary – Zoli Ádok: “Dance With Me” (Man, I love this song)
  • Azerbaijan – AySel and Arash: “Always”
  • Lithuania – Sasha Son: “Love”
  • Albania – Kejsi Tola: “Carry Me In Your Dreams”
  • Denmark – Niels Brinck: “Believe Again” (Ronan Keating’s involvement may earn this the wild card spot if it doesn’t get voted through)

I’m not picking my non-ironic favorite song, Latvia’s “Probka,” to go through because I think it’s just way too odd a song for Eurovision voters. On the other hand, I am picking my ironic favorite song, The Netherlands’ “Shine,” because, well, seriously, watch the official video. If you watched when I linked to it before, watch it again.

I am not sure if I’m going to regret not picking “Hora din Moldova” to go through.  It’s got a good placement in the line-up (15th), and it should certainly be performed in a highly energetic manner, so it has a shot.  I’m operating under the assumption that it’s just a wee too manic for the rest of Europe.  Also, every one of the songs I picked (and a few I didn’t) are better than this one.

Again, you can watch the big show live at at the Eurovision website at 9:00p CET/3:00p EDT, or on-demand after the show (probably around 1:00a CET/7:00p EDT).  I should mention you need to get the Octoshape plug-in to watch. It’s worth it.

Eurovision Semi-Final #1 Recap

Before I start the recap from last night’s Semi-final, here were Jen’s predictions for the result, which she made right after the performances were over:

  • Montenegro
  • Czech Republic
  • Sweden
  • Armenia
  • Turkey
  • Israel
  • Iceland
  • Finland
  • Malta
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina

Jen wasn’t confident in her Czech pick, but thought it was gimmicky enough to go through.  She picked Finland because “Lose Control” is already a dance hit in Europe, and honestly, if I had known that, I probably would have picked Finland over Andorra.

Jen also picked Iceland based on the quality of Jóhanna’s performance.  I have to say, she was really good (as was the staging… except for the animated dolphin flying through the sky).  The song had done nothing for me before, but, like Norway’s Maria Haukaas Storeng last year, Jóhanna won me over.

In the end, we both got eight out of 10 right.  Here are the results of the first Semi:

  • Sweden
  • Armenia
  • Turkey
  • Israel
  • Iceland
  • Romania
  • Finland
  • Portugal
  • Malta
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina

The really disappointing thing for both of us was that Montenegro didn’t go through.  It’s a great song, and Andrea Demirović sang it well.  Also, her backup dancer was fantastic in a completely campy way.  Words can’t describe it, so just go watch it. It’s worth it.

Speaking of things that words can’t describe, the opening number for the show was this big fairy tale story about Russian kids who learn to fly from a phoenix that they later help defeat a dragon. The narration was done by an American, although I have no idea who.  I’m pretending it was Sam Waterston.

The vote-tabulation entertainment was a Russian military choir singing traditional songs while Russian dancers did traditional dances. It was very Soviet, actually, but to Russia’s credit, the tank and the MIG that were on stage were painted in festive colors.  The tank, for example, was pink with flowers on it.  t.A.T.u. showed up at the end, and the best part of their performance was that the military choir sang back-up for them.

When the show began, the first thing we noticed (because it was hard to miss) was that the stage was enormous.  While the performers are closer to the audience than they have been the past few years, they are also dwarfed by the width of the stage.  Moreover, the video screens behind them are as long as the stage, with additional ones that tower over the performers.  If the graphics behind flashed on the screen are too busy, as they often were, performers can easily get lost.

In fact, some of the performances that stood out were ones that made minimal use of the video screens.  As mentioned, Iceland did well with just clouds and the occasional dolphin as a backdrop.  Malta’s Chiara had nothing but a starfield.  In fact, she didn’t have back-up singers, which was a brave, but effective choice.

On the other hand, Turkey’s Hadise and her female back-up singers and dancers were dressed in red (the males were in olive), and they performed in front of a red video, so they all got completely lost.  That Hadise sucks at belly dancing didn’t help.  On the other hand, she made it through, because, well, she’s from Turkey.  Only Dustin the Turkey as an entrant would keep Turkey from getting out of the Semis. And even then I’m not sure.

Both the Semis are being hosted by model Natalia Vodyanova and TV host Andrey Malakhov, and they of course were charmingly cheesy. Unlike the backstage reporter, whose name I didn’t catch, who was so skeezy that at one point, he actually made one of the Belgian back-up singers visibly uncomfortable.

Anyway, Natalia and particularly Andrey had the gregarious enthusiasm you’d expect from someone at a karaoke bar with a belly full of vodka.  They had a lot of jokes, but because English is not their first language, their timing on the jokes was just terrible.

They were more funny with their off-the-cuff banter during the announcement of the finalists.  The best part: when Israel got through, Andrey said, “The most political-correct song of the Eurovision 2009 goes to THE FINAL!” Brilliant.

Former Eurovision contestant Alsou and “media personality” Ivan Urgant are the hosts of the Finals, so I’m going to miss Natalia and Andrey when they’re done hosting. Fortunately, we’ve got one more night with them tomorrow.

The Guardian Previews Eurovision

Paul MacInnes has a preview of the Eurovision Song Contest up at The Guardian called “Eurovision: 2009’s silliest entries”:

“From a man in a superman outfit to Macedonian cock rock, this year’s Eurovision contenders are more ridiculous than ever. Paul MacInnes picks his favourites.”

Which is funny, actually, because aside from the man in a superman outfit and the Belgian Elvis impersonator, I didn’t think the contenders were as silly as they have been in the past.  Honestly, is anything here besides the Belgian Elvis impersonator more ridiculous than Scooch?

Still, the article is worth it for the description De Toppers: “Resembling a boy band crossed with the cast of Last of the Summer Wine...”

Eurovision Semi-Final #1 Preview

Tonight is the first semi-final for the Eurovision Song Contest, or as I like to call it, “The Weak-ass Semi-Final.” Let’s be honest, with a couple of exceptions, this is not a strong line-up, particularly compared with the second semi on Thursday.

In fact, two of my three least favorite songs are here: the Czech entry “Aven Romale” and the Belgium entry “Copycat,” which I think is one of the worst Eurovision songs ever. (Which, when you think about it, is really saying something.) Fortunately, these two songs are second and third on the night respectively, and I at least have hopes that Gipsy.cz will offer an amusing performance.

Ten songs go through, and I could try to explain the arcane rules behind the voting, but you might just want to visit the Wikipedia page on this year’s contest for that. Instead, here are my picks to go on to the final. We’ll see tomorrow how inaccurate these turn out to be.

  • Turkey – Hadise: “Düm Tek Tek” (No doubt at all on this one)
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina – Regina: “Bistra voda” (My fave on the night)
  • Israel – Noa and Mira Awad: “There Must Be Another Way”
  • Montenegro – Andrea Demirović: “Just Get Out of My Life”
  • Malta – Chiara: “What If We” (If this doesn’t get voted through, I’d bet it’d be the wild card)
  • Sweden – Malena Ernman: “La Voix”
  • Armenia – Inga and Anush Arshakyan: “Jan Jan” (A weak entry, but Armenia is as solid as Turkey in getting out of the semis, I think)
  • Portugal – Flor-De-Lis: “Todas as ruas do amor”
  • Romania – Elena Gheorghe: “The Balkan Girls” (Not confident in this pick)
  • Andorra – Susanne Georgi: “La teva decisió (Get a Life)” (Even less confident in this pick than the Romanian entry)

You can watch the big show live at at the Eurovision website at 9:00p CET/3:00p EDT, or on-demand after the show (probably around 1:00a CET/7:00p EDT).