Monday, May 28, 2012

Droogi-Poo - EDU Verdict on 2012

The Melbourne jury gathered around the BBC coverage over a few bottles of King Valley's finest merlot and far, too much, delicious French food to pass verdict on what we agreed was the most even contest we'd seen in many years. Much like this year's F1, out of six jury members we each predicted a different winner (and yes, one of us backed Sweden).
We have been doing this for a number of years and it is fair to say that our jury votes have never differed as greatly from the official result as they did for Baku.  

We must pay respect to the shout-out: "...our viewers in New Zealand and Australia, we've never been closer to you"  That was lovely and true, but kind of highlighted the fact that Eurovision was being held in Central Asia.

So, first the formalities: "It was a great show, and the show was fantastic, and shit it is nearly 3am, and don't look now Nargiz but I think one of your political prisoners is getting away!"
And now here are the EDU jury votes:

1 point - Germany (10th). ESC result 8th
Strangely, more popular with the female jury members.

2 points - United Kingdom (9th). ESC result 25th
We're as mad as Hell and we'll probably get over it shortly.  A damned insult to a legend of the music industry.  Respect your elders Europe!  EDU hearts The Hump.

3 points - Romania (8th). ESC result 12th
We can't seem to recall not liking a Romanian entry.  Some of us liked the moonwalking bagpiper, some of us liked the lead singer... a lot.

4 points - Iceland (7th). ESC result 20th
A few of thought this was middle of the field and the rest of us thought it was brilliant.  So what's with finishing 20th?  Did all the Scandinavian love go to Loreen?  The performance in the Final was slightly less than what they gave in the Semi, but this deserved far higher than what it got.  For the love of God, Jedward finished higher than them.

5 points - Ireland (6th). ESC result 19th
They were 8th last year and this song was diminishing returns, so we knew we were being kind giving them 7th place.  But they're mental and so much fun.  For example, in a BBC3 interview with them in Semi 2 John's response when asked if they'd consider performing with The Hump was: "I'm John, he's Engelbert and he's Edward, and together we are Jedgelbert!"  Best gag of the contest.  19th place is pretty nasty.  Perhaps people didn't realise it was Jedward without the high-hair!?!  Yes, Edward, we're blaming you.

6 points - Malta (5th). ESC result 21st
Would we have loved Malta as much without the Mod inspired shoe dance? No. Obviously not.  A great dance, soon to be replicated by the youngest jury member if he ever scores another goal at soccer.  Another ridiculous result from reality, but not the last insult to sense this year, as we will soon see.

7 points - Italy (4th). ESC result 9th
Cyprus, France and then Italy.  It was like the third slice of cake on the night. Possibly we'd all had too much thrown at us to be able to concentrate on Nina.  Or maybe she didn't rub enough bottoms before she went on.  For whatever reason, this brilliant song did not 'pop' on the night.  A Top Ten finish may keep Italy happy, but Nina deserved higher - esp. when one of us had money her winning.

8 points - Cyprus (3rd). ESC result 16th
OK, maybe the guys had drunk a little too much when we voted for this.  But Ivi was 'awesome.'  Presence, vocal ability, good choreography, energy and, um, costuming that was to be admired.

10 points - Sweden (2nd). ESC result 1st
See, we were watching the same show as everyone else.  
The only song in the Top Seven to make our Top Ten list (that is some amazing disconnect, there).  Loreen has reinvented the Euro-act.  Her choreography was so precise that a live performance took on the quality of a music video.  Everyone else looked like amateurs before a professional : or Toyah Wilcox before Kate Bush.  
For all the awful wailing, dull Zeljkos and obvious bloc-voting that ruins the night; when a Moroccan singing in English wins it for Sweden you know Europe will be alright.  When she meets with protesters and still goes on to win, you know Good Ole Europe is alive.

and our douze pointe goes to...

12 points - Moldova (1st). ESC result 11th
We were talking about it when we saw it at rehearsals, we were singing it after Semi 1 and we were making Dr Horrible jokes about the trumpet being his penis before the show.  Costumes were great, the act was fun and the song is a true earworm.  So close to a Top Ten finish, which would have meant one jury member breaking even on his bets... you could feel the tension in the Grun Rom during the final votes.

Years from now (well, in a few weeks) all we will remember of Baku was that Sweden won with a ripper of a song and that Baku put in a huge effort to look not like a tinpot dictatorship between Syria and Iran.

And so, Eurovision returns to 'Western Europe' for the third time in four years.  So much for the Slavic dominance of the show.  Stockholm is calling.  One of the world's most beautiful cities hosting an event the locals are nuts about.  Only 363 days til Kitschmas 2013!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Final: Automatic Qualifiers

Engelbert Humperdinck "Love Will Set You Free"
Will the voice stand up to the arena? Englebert will make it do well. Top ten. Best result since Andrew Lloyd Webber. England will send nothing but octogenarians from now on.

Anggun "Echo (You and I)"
Certainly the worst French entry in recent memory. WTF is with the change of pace at the start. An instant turnoff. And with Indonesia ineligible to vote, this could be a Nul point!

Nina Zilli "L'amore è femmina (Out of Love)"
Who died and made you Amy Winehouse… oh, never mind. Smart bet for the winner. Lousy track from Italy last year scored well, so this is certain for Top Five. Great retro vibe (Lena, anyone) and Italian pop sound there. Genuine and very entertaining.

Sabina Babayeva "When the Music Dies"
Not bad at all. They can afford to host it two years in a row, but will they bribe everyone two years in a row?

Pastora Soler "Quédate conmigo"
You always feel like you’ve heard the Spanish songs before. Whispering is the new screaming.

Roman Lob "Standing Still"
They do try. This time it is The Fray-inspired ‘Standing Still’. Nothing wrong with it – I like it. But people will be saying ‘When’s Sweden on?’

Semi Final 1: Part One

Rambo Amadeus "Euro Neuro"
Crazy and destined to go down like a Trackshittaz sandwich. Rap, political commentary, T-Rex shout-outs and Zorba keyboards. A slim chance it may connect with people. But really will only get the Hipster Ironic votes. (Will not Qualify)

Gréta Salóme & Jónsi "Never Forget"
The return of Jonsi. The first of many ballads for the year. It has a very familiar sounding chorus; mostly meh (Qualifies)

Eleftheria Eleftheriou "Aphrodisiac"
Very Greek. Very Sakis. Not very creative. No one ever goes broke underestimating the public. Will qualify (Qualifies)

Anmary "Beautiful Song"
Meta-references in Eurovision songs can only be for sh*ts n giggles. It is forbidden to get self-referential when serious. (Will not Qualify)

Rona Nishliu "Suus"
Really dull, least engaging Albanian entry I can recall. A three minute warble. (Will not Qualify)

Mandinga "Zaleilah"
Continuing the tradition of female singers from Romania who don’t mind wearing not much on stage. Aiming for the Flor-de-Lis’ demographic from a few years back. Portugal not voting in Semi 1 but Spain is. Great sound. Trivia – the former lead singer of this band sang Balkan Girls in 2009. (Qualifies)

Sinplus "Unbreakable"
Another Swizz band – can they play live will be the big question. And do bands even work at ESC? It is not Unbearable, just Unremarkable (Qualifies)

Iris "Would You?"
This is [my version of] my time. Very Dianne Warren sounding. A committee-written soft-pop ballad. Banal and instantly forgotten. (Will not Qualify)

Pernilla Karlsson "När jag blundar"
Shades of Missy Higgins’ ‘The Special Two’ here. A very sweet ballad, will it stand out in the strong semi? (Qualifies)

Semi Final 1: Part Two

Izabo "Time"
If the verses of Bobby Darren’s ‘Dream Lover’ and the chorus of ABBA’s ‘Nina, Pretty Ballerina’ had a baby it would be this song. A bit of fun, sure – but minus almost your points for lack of creativity. (Will not Qualify)

San Marino
Valentina Monetta "The Social Network Song"
Ralph, give it up man! Can’t wait for 2016 entry about Twitter. So bad, it has to be a Eurovision song. Nothing else in the world invites these songs. (Will not Qualify)

Ivi Adamou "La La Love"
Entire chorus is the word “La” – if you’re going to do 90s euro-dance go the whole-hog. Very fond of this one. (Qualifies)

Soluna Samay "Should've Known Better"
Hooray, Johanna’s back! Hang on… A clear knock-off, but even diminishing returns on Johanna will get this to the Final and probably in the Top Ten. (Qualifies)

Buranovskiye Babushki "Party for Everybody"
Really infectious. Lot of fun. Big novelty factor. Little bit of mysterious voices of Bulgaria happening. Very Verka (that’s a compliment) (Qualifies)

Compact Disco "Sound of Our Hearts"
Perfectly good song but dull as dishwater. Like the forgettable track in the middle of an album, between the singles. The closest thing to a hook is the bridge which sounds very much like Feminnem’s ‘Lako je sve’ (Will not Qualify)

Trackshittaz "Woki mit deim Popo" Shake your bottom
Shake my arse off by laughing?! Will enough kids watch, not care that this is a LMFAO rip-off - and vote? (Will not Qualify)

Pasha Parfeny "Lăutar"
Carnival mood, swing style. Very catchy. (Qualifies)

Jedward "Waterline"
The first Semi finishes with a bang! The boys are back. Far more pop than last year. Their youthful exuberance and social media work might endear them to the Euro-crowd. A less challenging song than this year (one big note before the key change) so this is more within their skill-set. (Qualifies)

Semi Final 2: Part One

Željko Joksimović "Nije ljubav stvar"
Intro sounds like it comes from the Red Cliff soundtrack. Diminishing returns from Zeljko. This song lacks the warmth, structure and beauty of earlier ones. Will the audience reward his persistence (Judy Dench Oscar style) or finally say enough is enough? (Qualifies)

Kaliopi "Crno i belo"
It is very Eastern European (so maybe half the semi will switch off) and halfway in the crap-guitar starts. So the intro is 45% of the song? The chorus does have a hook to it, but that comes 2 minutes in. Strange (Qualifies)

Joan Franka "You and Me"
Sounds like backward country music – like it belongs to a Boags advert. Unpolished Sarah Blasko meets Missy Higgins (Qualifies)

Kurt Calleja "This Is the Night"
It’s not Malta’s night. Tip of the lid to current pop but basically a Rick Astley cover with one less octave than Rick covered. (Qualifies)

Litesound "We Are the Heroes"
Competant pop-rock. Certain to qualify. Wall-to-wall clichés and constipated delivery. Good for a laugh (Qualifies)

Filipa Sousa "Vida minha"
Out of the PIIGS, only Portugal and Spain are really trying to avoid the cost of hosting next year. But Portugal, did you need to try? A toilet-break song. (Will not Qualify)

Gaitana "Be My Guest"
If she can’t nail it live it will be dead last in its heat – so many danger notes. If she delivers it could rip the roof off – not a lot going on though. Half a point extra for the Na Na Nas. (Qualifies).

Sofi Marinova "Love Unlimited"
Poorer 90s eurodance of Semi 2. Will this get everyone sick of techno or normalise it, before Loreen appears. (Qualifies)

Eva Boto "Verjamem"
You know you’re halfway between Serbia and Austria when Opera sounds like Zeljko. (Will not Qualify)

Semi Final 2: Part Two

Nina Badrić "Nebo"
Similar to Edsilia Rombley (Netherlands) from 2007 if she was a screaming woman in a Zagreb karaoke bar. (Will not Qualify)

Loreen "Euphoria"
Loreen has the Kate Bush going on (a Swedish-Berber Kate Bush) – a very intense individual on stage and she will grab everyone’s attention. The song is possibly too techno for Eurovision audiences – it sounds like the remix of a fantastic ESC song. Dark horse for mine. (Qualifies)

Anri Jokhadze "I'm a Joker"
Oh boy! Includes the line “I’m a stalker” in the positive way! Sounds like Sergio & the Ladies covering ‘Prince of Parties’ by Flight of the Conchords. Will go down as well as Sergio. (Will not Qualify)

Can Bonomo "Love Me Back"
Intro sounds like incidental music to a gypsy circus scene from a Bond film. Vocals have the nasal delivery of Blue Café (not as good) (Will not Qualify)

Ott Lepland "Kuula"
The slow song from the school prom. Air Supply meets The Carpenters (Will not Qualify)

Max Jason Mai "Don't Close Your Eyes"
Wake up! Announces itself instantly. Old school Pantera-esque guitar and drum kicks in. Vocals are pop styled though! It is the sound of Slovakia, so that’s good – fulfils Eurovision’s charter. (Qualifies)

Tooji "Stay"
The stage act will be a tongue crawling out of a bathtub looking for a beer. Infectious chorus but best avoided (Qualifies)

MayaSar "Korake ti znam"
Will anything ever happen? How do these tracks win National Finals? Boring (Will not Qualify)

Donny Montell "Love Is Blind"
Good news – it’s not Happy Me Happy You. Bad News - it’s not We are the Weiners or Skamp. Ballad with a touch of 90s keyboards for first half, and then suddenly it’s a disco song. Dog’s dinner (Will not Qualify)