Friday, December 28, 2012

What A Great Year It Was

2012 certainly has been a wonderful year for Eurovision fans. We've learned new things about the contest, we're now better able to ask other questions, but what stands out?

Without a doubt the star of 2012 in the eyes of so many fans. I must admit I was not impressed by Euphoria at first but it does take me a couple of listens to get my head around a good song. At Eurovision she has definitely wrote a chapter in the history of Eurovision, not just for being a great song or gaining the second highest number of points ever received, but more importantly she won the contest for the fans. For this we should be grateful.

What national final formats actually work?
There is a huge difference of opinion about the best way to run a national final. While most fans will talk about running Melodifestivalen styled finals that may be too big and expensive to run in smaller countries, there has been many changes to national final formats this year. Yet, in spite of this there has been little convergence in formats which makes it very difficult to argue that one type works. 

Are the changes to the contest for the better?
Certainly it has been well flagged by the EBU that Eurovision will change substantially over the coming years, as Sweden the contest this would appear to be a relativity easy thing to achieve this year. We saw the beginnings of this change in Oslo in 2010, but it to difficult to say what the ultimate results of this change is. There have been differing opinions about the changes to the contest. Personally on the macro level I agree with the change and I don't see it as threatening the future of the contest. However I don't agree with everything that has changed but as with nearly all changes to the contest we cannot say how they will affect it until we see it in practice.

 Will we see another Junior Eurovision Song Contest?
This is probably one of the more regrettable questions that I write here. There are a lot of threats to JESC at the moment however I think it would be a real shame to lose it. Rather than being just a smaller version of the contest run in December, it has developed its own distinctive flavour and is differ to many of the other shows, I hope that the EBU will continue to develop ideas about how to allow it to continue and hopefully grow in size. 

So those are the main stand out points and themes of this Eurovision year. 

I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas!

I always love this time of year.

I'm  lying on my bed at one o'clock in the morning thinking about the joy this time of year spreads around the world....I know tomorrow that many children around Ireland and the world can look forward to a visit from St. Nicholas. I know Santa has visited the two children who live across the road from me and their presents are sitting under their tree, waiting for them to get up. Its a really nice thought that though we become obsessed at this time of year with commercialism and materialism it is nice to know that once in the year the whole of the world can come together in the spirit of community, happiness and a sense of loving thy neighbour.

The spirit that comes with Chirstmas is unique but the spirit of Eurovision, as it is known, is also built on the same principles, its just expressed differently. But no matter what the occasion it shows we can strive for a more peaceful time in our lives. This is Christmas, and what it means to me.

Whether you've never visited this blog before, whether you visit everyday. Whether you're Irish, British, Russian, French or any other country, whether you're a celebrator of Christmas or just someone who likes the time off, whether you like the winner of ESC or not, I wish you, your family and your friends the very best this Christmas. I also hope you will stick with me until the end of our Eurovision year, when around midnight on May 18th we will know the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2013. Until then, let us pause to think of the important time of year, relax and embrace the spirit of  Christmas.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Tranche One Has Arrived

I think its definitely a strange year to have no less than six Eurovision songs already selected and its not even Christmas. Over the last four days three more songs have been picked. To summarise:

Albania have chosen to send Adrian Lulgjuraj and Bledar Sejko, with the song Identitet. This is a rather odd choice from Albania in my opinion, I was expecting something that was a bit closer to Rona's song last year. While that would have been a difficult song to spot I really didn't expect Albania to go with such a rockish song. You can listen to the song here.

Lithuania have decided that Andrius Pojavis will represent them in Malmo with the song Something. There was going to be nothing formulaic from Lithuania this year after last year, still this song fails to impress me, thought with a little work it could improve greatly. You can see the national final performance here.

Ukraine have decided the runner up from last years contest will represent them in Malmo. Zlata Ognevich will represent them in Malmo with the song Gravity. It sounds like it was pulled straight from the Lion King, not that I view this as a bad thing. Certainly one of the best songs selected so far. Very much looking forward to seeing this one on the Eurovision stage. You can see the national final performance here.

Overall I am not overly impressed by the first tranche of songs which have arrived, however they are generally from countries who I am rarely a huge fan of. The remaining songs, in case you missed them are:

Belarus - Alyona Lanaskaya - Rhythm of Love
Belgium - Roberto Bellarosa - Love Kills
Switzerland - The Band that won't perform under the name The Salvation Army - You and Me

If anyone has written a post that attempts to explain why so many songs have been picked before Christmas, please let me know, I'd be most interested to reading it.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Disappointedly Sitting On The Fence

For those who have not yet looked at what is in the news in Eurovision land you may not be surprised to hear that there will be only 39 countries in this years Eurovision Song Contest, as the trends were suggesting, there are no surprises on the list, only the absence of four countries. According to Jon Ola Sand, three out of the four have left due to financial reasons. And then there is Turkey.

Also in the news was the changes to the rehearsals schedule. In future we are looking at closed rehearsals for the first round and open rehearsals for the second round of rehearsals. I have no problem with this. Countries arrive at Eurovision and generally the amount of rehearsals done by countries before Eurovision varies a lot, depending on the broadcaster or artist. It makes a lot of sense not to let everyone be able to see the first couple of rehearsals. Those of you who follow the rehearsals may have noticed that in each of the last three years the eventual winners were slated by the press for their first rehearsals. As long as some level of footage is released from the first rehearsals I really could not care.

In addition the other noticeable change is that rehearsals will begin the 8 rather than 9 days before the first semi-final. However in reality this is just one nights accommodation savings, and really the higher prices for accommodation occur during the week of the contest. Looking at a four star hotel in Malmo this will represent an average saving of €160 per delegate. Based on the Irish figures obtained through the freedom of information act, this would represents a saving of about 1.5% for Ireland [excluding the participation fee]. Once again I am drawn to mention a Big 5 country would make a saving of 7.75% if they had to arrive as early as some of the semi-finalists. [Assuming the same size delegation as Ireland].

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

News Flash: So Much News, So Little Time!

We're at that stage of the Eurovision year where there are announcements left, right and center and it is near impossible to keep up especially when you have exams this week (poor me). Anyhow here's an overview of the news of late:

  • Spain have announced that El Sueno de Morfeo will represent them at Eurovision. They are a pop/rock band with some Celtic influences. Personally I am excited by them at look forward to seeing what they have to offer in the National Final.
  • Heilsarmee selected to represent Switzerland in this years Eurovision Song Contest, and the EBU looked to be having a little bit of a discussion about the whole Salvation Army thing they have going on. Anyway they have committed to work for a solution so that should not have a huge impact on the overall contest though it was exploited a bit during the slow news days that were there earlier this week.
  • Germany have announced eleven of the twelve names participating in their national final including Cascada who I am very interested in, particularly as she should have a good chance and it certainly it a big name in the contest
  • Anyhow Malta have published their 24 songs for their national final, so far I have not heard all of the songs but I am impressed by Deborah C - I have a soft spot for her but there will be reviews in due course. 
  • Over in Israel they have changed the selection process making it larger, one of the few countries to enlarge their national final this year.  I haven't ever paid much attention to K'dam so I don't really expect to do so this, but you never know.
  • So that's all for now Lithuania hold their national final tomorrow night, so hopefully I'll be on Twitter watching it with you, and if I'm not there's always the first proper endurance contest of the year - Albania on Saturday evening.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Belgians Are Tone Deaf and The Swiss Make Bad Choices

We now have two more songs for Eurovision 2013 as Switzerland and Belgium selected their songs over the weekend which made me feel like we were almost in March [it's a rather bizarre idea to hold a national final at 10:30 CET in the morning too I might add.

Belgium have decided to send Roberto to Malmo with the song Love Kills, which was a very interesting choice given the fact that the song was dull [it's amazing people remembered it two hours later] however Roberto's vocals were poor at the start of the song and turned into a complete train wreck towards the finish.
Switzerland have also chosen to send Heilsarmee to Eurovision 2013. While I respect it as a reasonable song it just doesn't click with me, however I would say that there was nothing in the Swiss national final that really got me feeling that I wanted one of them to go to Eurovision
So there you have it, two more entries for Eurovision. I wonder what will befall us next.

In other news Tone Damli has a new song I really think is excellent. The song is called Smash and really it is a fairly normal chart song. However if her Melodifestivalen entry is as good she could certainly make Andra Chansen - my thanks to Swedish Stereo for pointing it out.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Two Withdrawals In One Day

The news of the withdrawal of Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina in one day is genuinely shocking news. Bosnia's decision appears to be due to financial reasons, however Turkey's decision is in light of recent rule changes in the contest such as the 50:50 voting and the big 5 rule. This means that we are currently looking at a contest of 40 or less countries (current projection is 39, assuming only Armenia returns), which is concerning.

Given that at least two of the four of the countries who have withdrawn have withdrawn due to financial costs of the contest it will be interesting to see if the changes that will be introduced by the EBU this year will actually allow for a reduction in the participation fees for countries who cannot afford to pay.

Though there has been some discussion about the costs of coming to Eurovision for two weeks and the price of that particularly in an expensive country like Sweden, it still is a problem. I would argue that more should be done to assist helping with the expense of the contest. While some have discussed shortening the rehearsal times you still are probably looking at a ten to twelve day contest which would represent a 14%-25% cut in the costs of accommodation, which is probably one of the biggest costs that are part of the contest outside the participation fee. Given that we are also looking greater numbers of performers on stage in the future (i.e. changing from a max of 6 to a max of 8) this is likely to off set any gains on the accommodation expense.

However I would argue that the EBU should seek to minimize costs through simple things such as hiring out whole hotels for competitors, rather than leaving individual countries to find their own accommodation. How costs to individual delegations can be minimised by using a certain city, particularly for countries that are large enough to have competition for the contest, should be taken into account when selecting a host city.

I understand that my inner accountant has probably had to much say in this piece but there you have it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Switzerland Decides!

Normally the first country to decide Switzerland is this year the second country to decide. However December 15th is a day with a national final that I continue to look forward. So what has Switzerland in store for us this year?

Ally - Catch Me
This song has an all to familiar opening but then opens up into a jazz infused pop song that is pleasant to listen to but offers very little else. Sounds like Shania Twain but without an oophhh. Grade: D

Chiara Dubey - Bella Sera
Chiara returns to this years contest after putting up a very good show last year. The song is very gentle but is still able to hold my attention. In ways it sort of reminds of the old classical song that we used to her. The song certainly is very introverted and acoustic though it does develop through more instruments. Though I like it I'm not sure it has the punch to compete at national final level. Grade: B

Carrousel - J'avais Rendez-Vous
I'm not sure what to make of this song. At the start it reminds me of the French entry in 2007 but it does develop into something more serious. Still the song is a little repetitive and doesn't hold my attention for long enough. I was never a fan of this French influenced pop-y songs, so it is not surprising this is not over interesting for me. Grade: C

Anthony Bighead - Do The Monkey
So much potential, but nothing really done about it. This is ok but I've heard so many more impressive songs online - Whoppa Gangnam Style. Grade: E

Heilsarmee - You and Me
What is this? It starts out with a sort of rock opening but then doesn't really fulfill its promises. Repetitive and boring, *yawns* Grade: E-

Nill Klemm - On My Way
Nice song but it could develop a bit more, but its upbeat and optimistic and definitively a grower. There's a lot of different shades of music in this but it is a nice song, however as I always say, nice never won anything.
Grade: D+

Melissa - The Point of No Return
It's about time that we got the party started. This is a good song. Ok, it might not high quality its still a bit of a stoomper and could do well but this will be a tempting song to shout it - we shall see but it is a definite contender. Personally I like it up to a point. Grade: C+

Nicolas Fraissinet - Leve Toi
The opening of this song has a couple of Coldplay overtones, but it develops into a rather interesting combination of a variety of songs that Switzerland has sent to the contest since 2008, it particularly reminds me of The Highest Heights and Era Stupendo. This may be a contender simply because of this. It has a good punch in the last chorus but it could go a bit further. Grade: C-

Jesse Ritch - Forever and A Day
Another X-Factor sounding reject. See review some of the average comments above this post. Grade: D

So it looks like I'll be supporting Chiara Dubey on Saturday night....

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Loving The Credibility Of It All

So Belarus have decided after the failure to have a proper national final last year to send Alyona Lanskaya this year. That was lucky for her. She really did very well in the national final. Especially the way she won both the televote and juries by a huge margin. Wasn't that wonderful? Surely you couldn't be in the least bit suspicious after all that?

Anyhow this is what they have chosen and possibly will be the Belorussian entry at Eurovision 2012.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

First Review of The Year!

So with Junior behind us, we now can begin to look forward to another season of National Finals. This year surely sees the earliest start to the contest in memory (if you can think of an earlier one please let me know) and also this year sees many countries opting to hold their national finals in December whereas up until now we'd be lucky to get two. Though some complain it is nice that we can enjoy national final season rather than the rushed end to it we always seem to have in March. Anyway what are Belarus up to?

Max Lorens - The latino sound in this song reminds me of some of the songs we saw around the earlier half of the noughties. However I would say that generally speaking the song fails to deliver substantially as it cannot seem to figure out if it is a ballad or an uptempo song. Grade: D

Alena Lasnkaya - Well every national final has one of these. A pop song that just has spent to long in the studio and has far to many gimmicks in it. However I like the general raw feeling of the song. The song develops a nice beat but its a little strange. The song also doesn't seem to reach a climax which means it just doesn't seem to hang well together. Grade: D+

Alexy Gross - Seriously is early 00's pop the theme of this national final or something. This song is fine. It starts as a sophisticated Eastern ballad with western influences and then BOOM! Westlife B side. Grade: D-

Daria - Daria brings a song that I'm surprised that we don't see it in a Swiss national final. It is a little amateur but I still have a soft spot and it certainly the best we have heard so far in this tranche of songs. This could be great fun on the night. Grade: C

Satsura - This sounds like it was one of the first songs to be rejected from Loreen's album. However it develops into a club song that does make for very nice listening. The verses are certainly lacking something but the violins in the background are nice but have I just listened to a bit to much Loreen? This is still going to challenge for the ticket to Malmo though. Grade: C 

Nutika Band - Is it a rock song? Is it a pop song? No its pop/rock. Then there's some rap in the background. However I really like the sounds of this one. It is getting me going at a quarter to eleven at night which is quite an achievement. This is probably a possible winner and it would be a credible song from Belarus if they can pull it off live. Grade: B-

Uzari - The whistle in the background of the song makes for a very dramatic opening. However the song develops into a relatively average song in the first verse and chorus. The arrangement is a good mix but there's just something in this song that is not making me love it. Grade: C-

Beaver Band - Here we go, time for things to get a little Finnish. The was a song in the Finnish national final Hullana Humpasta, by a band whose name a cannot remember but it certainly sounds like a carbon copy of the song except it is in English. It still is a bit of fun though. Grade: C

Yankey - Big dramatic and dull open. We've heard this song before, remember that song? You know the one with the good singer bit dull though. No? Well you'll hear it tomorrow night. Grade: D+

Vitaly Voronko - Time for a bit of electro-something with some other musical instrument thrown in. Nice but could do much better, I don't like his voice that much either.Grade: D+

Looks like I'm supporting Nutika Band so.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Congratulations Ukraine!

After a trilling night of Eurovision Ukraine has walked away with their first win at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest.

Ukraine certainly was a surprise victor having not really been talked about before the event. Ewan Spence over on ESCInsight deserves credit for noting that Ukraine were a contender just before the final.

Less Than One Hour To Junior Eurovision

Here we go again!

With less than one hour to go to the final of the Junior Eurovision Contest 2012, excitement is certainly building, even those who don't normally pay the slightest attention to JESC appear to be starting to having a peak at what is going on.

Tonight is definitely difficult to call, there's probably about six possible winners. JESC is generally more difficult to call than its larger adult version. This probably is more because we don't spend as much time discussing the contest and Eastern Europe has a majority of entries in the contest.  However it still looks like an enjoyable evening and voting should be exciting.

At the moment in my opinion, the main contenders to winner are Russia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Of these I think Russia has the best chance, though that's only a guess, Georgia could do anything though I don't think that it is as strong as Candy Music was. Azerbaijan did not sound brilliant last night, so it may not be in contention.

I'll be tweeting from The Best Eurovision Blog twitter account. Please do follow us and feel free to tweet your opinions to us.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

JESC Reviews: Part 3

With less than 48 hours to go until the grand final in the Netherlands how do the last four songs on my list measure up?

Israel - Let The Music Win
Israel make their debut at the contest with a song that combines many of the bizarre elements of so many songs. While it sounds like a group of primary school children at first it then strangely picks up, and makes for a nice listen, which, if pulled off well live could give Israel a good finish on the score, however being sixth in the running order may not help it greatly and Georgia have yet to sing.
Verdict: Reasonable debuting attempt
Grade: C+

Denis Midone - Toate Vor Fi
This is reasonably boring JESC songs and coming after Georgia this just may not work on the night. However Moldova have had mixed results at JESC, so though this is predictable it could do well and the last verse could help it to leave some impression.

Verdict: Meh, middle of the road attempt not a challenger
Grade: D

Femke - Tik Tak Tik
This certainly is Netherlands showing that they believe people are gullable and just might fall for the same song again. Still I do like this one it does bounce along very nicely and the tik tak tik being sung in the back ground. I also like Femke, I think she is a charismatic singer. The problem for Netherlands is that they are just out shone in this competition.

Verdict: Could do very well but probably won't hit the highs of the last two years.
Grade: C

Lerika - Sensation
One way or another I think that this is one of the most promising songs in this years contest. Lerika has the experience of last year to build on, and she impressed when live last year despite virtually no support from Moldova itself. The song is polished and professional sounding and certainly will be a great cracker in the contest however it is very conceivable that this could go into a neck and neck race with either Azerbaijan or Georgia for the top place.

Verdict: Creditable winner with experience.
Grade: A

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

JESC Reviews Part 2

We'd all like a little extra time to do something, and with end of semester exams knocking on the door I sure am one of those people. Anyhow somehow I shall get these finished with the joy of Junior Eurovision and the  rehearsals to look forward to. Anyhow time to look at a couple more songs (and hopefully not shredding them to death).

FUNKIDS - Funky Lemonade
After the very successful Candy Music, Georgia appear to be trying a similar strategy this year. JESC is most unusual, as the winning country does not have to host the contest the defending champion appears to be more inclined to come back stronger. The song though does lack the impact of Candy Music, though the kids are cute, the song lacks a lot and gets a bit repetitive. Personally, it reminds me of the nineties
Verdict: Not a winner and not what we saw last year.
Grade: D

Anastasyia - Nebo
The strange staging is the first thing that stands out almost instantly at me. The song itself is difficult to like however maybe this is all just a weird package that when its all brought together will look great at JESC. Though the song picks up towards the end. The change to English is nice but still it is not quite what I was hoping for.
Verdict: Don't like it but stranger things have happened at JESC....
Grade E

Fabian - Abracadabra 
Belgium has stuck to the formula and gotten a catchy song that lacks a knockout punch to send to JESC. I like this one and I think that Fabian has a lot more charisma than many other JESC contestants will offer. The song is a good listen on the first hearing though my interest in it began to fade in it after multiple listens. While it is to late to say it now the song could be changed somewhat to substanically improve it with only minor changes.
Verdict: In spite of its faults it's a good attempt from Belgium.
Grade: B-

Omar and Suada - Girls and Boys
"Kids wrote this song". In your dreams, Azerbaijan, maybe a child was present in the room while this was drawn up, but seriously, pull the other one. However this is Azerbaijan's debut entry at JESC and it certain is going to be in serious competition to take the top spot and take yet another trophy to Azerbaijan. In compassion to the other songs that we have heard this definitely stands a head and shoulders about the others. It's catchy and has all the elements of a winner. However I would just question whether or not this is all just a little bit clinical, and it may not be in the best place in the running order.
Verdict: Strong song that will be in contention but not a definite winner.
Grade: A- 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Next Tranche of Melodifestivalen Artists

As many of you will have seen this evening the last of the Melodifestivalen artists were announced [bad day to announce it, I know]. However there is very few "notable names" coming through.

Caroline Af Ugglas is one that has caught my attention. Her song in 2009 was remarkable and I look forward to seeing what she has to show in February.

Ulrik Munther was one of the surprises in last years contest as I didn't expect him to score so low. I sort of feel the same way this time. Singers rarely do better when they come back for the second year running.

I'd give Sweden a great chance to win the contest again this year on home turf, but judging by the names that have come out I don't think that this will be a game changing Melodifestivalen. Though maybe I am wrong, only time will tell.

Back to JESC reviews tomorrow and if you were looking for a ticket to the final today I really hope that you got one.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

JESC 2012: Reviews - Part 1

It's hard to believe that another Eurovision year is nearly upon us. And, like every year, it kicks off with the Junior Eurovision Song Contest. This year, as you should know, Netherlands is hosting it. In the run up to the rehearsals here at the Best Eurovision Blog, I'm taking the time to look at the contestants and what they have on offer this year.

Egor Zheshko - A More-More
Belarus kicks off this years contest with a rather odd but catchy song for Junior. This is vocally pot on but may be hard to pull off on the night, though some might argue that he survived the national final so should put up a good show at Junior. Backing dancers are distracting and I think that they might be Belarus's acceptance that the song is not really that good. Personally I could see this doing very well with the juries on the night but I don't think it is a winner by any stretch. It bounces along nicely but does feel longer than 10 minutes.
Verdict: A good show and vocal but not a winner.
Grade: C

Lova Sonnerbo - Mit Mod
This is what I love to see at JESC. A simple song and good singer who capable of performing a moving performance of the song. However as much as I love it is difficult to see it doing extremely well at JESC and Sweden have entered more interesting songs than this to the contest and yet have not really reaped the rewards of it. So it is difficult to see this one doing extremely well.
Verdict: Strong song but lacks a lot, though I still love it.
Grade: B+

Igzidora Gjeta - Kam Nje Kenge Vetem Per Ju
At any level it is difficult to understand what Albania will send to the contest and sadly this year is no different. There song this year has a really promising opening but then descends into the dangerous hell that many we have heard so many times at JESC. Though Albania's light jazz song may have done well at grown-up Eurovision this one clearly is disorganised with the strangest combination of instruments I've heard in recent years. Not a winner, but maybe I've set the bar to high for a debuting country.
Verdict: Poor debuting entry
Grade: E

Compass Band - Sweetie Baby
The last review for today is for the Armenian entry. Once again this does not live up to my expectations but then again it is JESC. However this song does not work on any level. It sounds like a poor school choir and I just don't get what is good about it. However some parts of the song are ok, so I shall not tear it to shreds.
Grade: E

Disappointing first set of reviews, but you are more than welcome to disagree with me. Bring it on (Bitch!)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Portugal, What A Loss.

I'm genuinely gutted to see that Portugal has decided to withdraw from Eurovision 2013. Over the past number of years Portugal has become one of the most interesting countries at Eurovision and was one of the first western countries to start to buck the trend in 2008 when it came second in the semi-final of the contest in Serbia.

I've always looked forward to the Portuguese entry each year and while I rarely though they picked the right song, they always had a good song in my book.

I don't think there's a whole lot to say about it but I wanted to publish this post as it is an important country to me. Will miss you.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Melodifestivalen! Whoop, Whoop!

So today we had the first 16 names for Melodifestivalen this year. In the usual style there are some there that I've never heard of before but there are some who are very interesting names indeed! Let's have a quick look:

Semi-Final 1
Cookies 'n Beans return with a song written by Fredrick Kempe. However the big name here in my opinion is David Lindgren who returns again this year. I liked him last year and I though his song was pretty good however I will be keeping a very close eye on what he produces for this year's contest. Definitely one to watch.

Semi-Final 2 
Semi-final 2 produces some very interesting names, particularly Tone Damli who is singing a duet with Erik Segerstedt. Tone is definitely someone who I am glad to see participating in a Eurovision selection process, however because it is Sweden it may be more difficult for her to get the vote out. The other major names in the semi-final is Jenny Silver, Pernilla Wahlgren and Hanna Helund. Interesting group of female singers who I would not have put together, but we shall see what happens. Lastly Sean Banan returns, meh I thought his song was good last time but I will be interested to see what he comes up with this time.

So any guesses who will be in semi-final 3 or 4?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A National Final On My Birthday

One of the strangest things that I can say about Eurovision this week is that this year for the first time ever there will be a national final on my birthday. Belgium this year have made an unusual decision to go from being one of the last national finals of the year to one of the first.

In case you haven't heard Belgium have picked their singer, Roberto Bellarosa, to sing in Malmo next year. Their national final is on the 16th of December. Anyhow, I have the delight to say that this is also my birthday which will be rather exciting. Of course, many people might go out for a meal on their birthday, not me, oh no, I have an accounting exam the next day.

It's going to be exciting.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Running Order Shock Reaction

There has been quite a lot of mixed reaction to today's announcement by the EBU about the running order being decided by the producers. So naturally I would like to add something to the debate:

Those who may have seen Ewan Spence's recent discussion about how Eurovision is very different from reality TV may have noticed that he concluded that the contest probably better reflects real life. It is fair and unbiased, unlike reality TV shows. The contest is organised so as to minimise the variables which may affect the outcome of the contest. Ewan also notes the importance of using random selections where certain elements of the contest may affect its outcome. I wonder did he understand what was around the bend.While some very influential Eurovision fans have stated that this represents a logical shift to make the contest more exciting, there has been widespread criticism of today's decision throughout the fan community. This is very understandable and should not simply be dismissed as ludicrous by those who welcome today's announcement.

Personally I cannot find a logical reason to oppose this. The running order draw has its limitations but on the other hand the running order can prove highly influential not just at Eurovision, but in many TV music competitions. The most obvious place where it is to be found is in Melodifestivalen, which despite its similarities to the Eurovision Song Contest can be considered a much more producer controlled show. There have been attempts to use the running order to the advantage of certain contestants.

However Eurovision is a very different scene. While in shows like the X-Factor contestants are bound by a legal contract to pretty much obey the show producers, Eurovision is simply not like that. Many contestants are supported by massive delegations who can ensure that every contestant is fairly treated. Like any major Eurovision decision the outcome of the rule change is likely to be difficult to understand until it is seen in practice. One major thought that pops into my head though is will the running order always be accepted? Is there any chance that a country might disagree with the producers? Maybe.

I strongly suspect that there is little reason to worry about this. This system has been seen at JESC since 2003. It could do a lot of good. However for many fans and this includes me, this move represents a change in the contest that hands power over to the producers of the show. This is not a trend that I can strongly support as it does mean a move towards a contest that resembles reality TV. You can call me a Tea Party Eurovision fan but that's just me. However for the moment I will accept Siste Bakker's point that there is little reason to suggest that the producers will be baised, unlike X-Factor, they have no stake in who the ultimate winner is.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Mandatory Ireland Post

Though I am otherwise engaged tonight following other world events [Four More Years!], I did notice that RTÉ has quietly announced the mentors for Eurosong 2013. They are:

  • Mairéad Farrell
  • Shay Healy
  • Mark McCabe
  • Niall Mooney
  • Stuart O'Connor
I'll be honest and say that these are hardly the biggest names of the Irish music scene over the last number of years. This also means that RTÉ are sticking with the same strategy that they have employed over the last couple of years. The question is whether this will actually yield anything other than Jedward.

This mentor format has not really brought forward anyone other than Jedward over the last two years. It will be interesting to see if any real talent that may have been suppressed by the treat of Jedward. Only time will tell.....

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Friend In London Vs. Crystal Lake

The good people at Crystal lake music sent me over this video which I thought I might share with you. It is an interesting remix of one of my personal favourite Eurovision songs, and before anyone asks I'll be starting to review the songs in this year's JESC shortly

Monday, October 1, 2012

It's Been A While

Once again I'm back in college and adjusting back into that routine is hard going particularly when your workload is increased on last year. I'm also getting to grips with a new blogger interface which powers the blog. This is a bit tricky to deal with but hopefully in the future I'll be able to do a little more with the blog.

Anyhow if you should notice any problems with the way the blog is being displayed please let me know!

News is once again picking up but I have found myself a little more detached from it than I normally am. I think that this might be due to the fact that I know what to expect over the next two or three months in the run up to the Swiss national final/JESC. I will be starting some coverage of JESC probably in months time.

In the meantime some of you may have noticed the famous Gangnam Style video by PSY that is gaining over 5 million views per day. However I think that this honour really does belong to Lys Assia and her rap video with New Jack. It's actually quite an interesting song but as I always it's about how this might come across live. There's got to be a way to bridge that gap but I'd say there's a low probability of them doing that successfully.

Friday, September 7, 2012

What's Happening In Ireland?

You may have been closely following the series over on ESCXtra about who Ireland might send next year. This makes RTÉ sound like great strategic Eurovision experts. They're not. I think what is going on in RTÉ at the moment might look a little like this:

Or maybe they're just thinking about Jedward again.....

Monday, August 27, 2012

Some News (Bit Early Though!)

As I'm sure you've noticed the amount of actual Eurovision news has increased this week. The main points are:
  • Switzerland will, as usual, probably be our first song of 2013. Their National Final is scheduled for Dec 15th (One day before my birthday!). Their pre-selection process is as complicated as ever but there will a few less songs in the national final, not a bad move on the Swiss part I do think.
  • Finland hold their national final on Feb 9th. No confirmation as to the exact format of the contest but submissions will be taken from Sept 3rd. 
  • Turkey are going to do something other than withdraw there appears to be some from of discussion about changing the selection format. Personally I think if it ain't broke don't fix it.
I know that it does seem early to be restarting so early, and last year as many broadcasters did not seem to plan for the change of the Sept 1st rule nothing really happened until October. Of course we still have Junior Eurovision to look forward to but as I realised today another month would be a welcome break particularly if you, like me have had a very sporting summer.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Looking Back On The Oldies: 2002

Let's face it: Without a doubt this has to be one of the quietest Eurovision summers on record, so to try to stop going me insane, I decided to re watch a contest from the years gone by. From me, the golden era of Eurovision was from the late 90's up to 2004, when the semi-finals were introduced.

Why these years? Well, while there have been many great contests, this era saw some real competition grow. No longer was Eurovision between a couple of songs that would appeal to juries now it was in the hands of the public. There were many surprise winners during this era, and it also was one where high quality performances began to score well, not just the song. This era is unqiue also as it was just before the introduction of the semi-finals and we still could have many surprises "on the night".

John Kennedy O'Connor (2009) noted that 2002 was a year where relatively new reality TV talent shows began to make an impact on Eurovision. Singers like Jessica Garlick from the UK came to Eurovision via a television show, this was also the case for some of the other contestants.

The songs were a fairly diverse range when compared with previous years. Obviously by today's standards they are fairly bland though. The show itself was a big event in Estonia and helped to contribute to the young states national image, follow the break up of communism in 1989 (Jordan, 2011). Music is also hugely important in Estonia many protests of singing were held against communism before 1989.

The show was presented by Annly Peebo and Marko Matvere. The show's opening act was simple the winning song from last year, "Everybody". The show was opened by Cyprus with a strong performance of the song "Gimme" by One, a boyband. Jessica Garlick from UK was second with a powerful performance of her song "Come Back", eventually coming a very respectable 3rd place. Greece definitely sent the oddest song of the night, with men dressed as robots. Personally I feel that it was the worst song ever to go to Eurovision, but that is only my opinion.

Spain's high energy song was extremely popular in Spain but failed to really impress even though it was one of the pre-contest favourites. Sahlene, the Swedish singer represented Estonia and was sang a very competent performance which eventually led to a high leader board placing for the host nation. Sweden's high energy performance probably hurt Spain's chances of winning, with their infectious and catchy song "Never Let It Go", dressed in silver boots and dresses eighth place was surprisingly low in my opinion. Sweden's neighbour Denmark were one of the pre-contest favourites but ultimately ended up in last place after a subdued performance.

Of course the 01 and 02 were the two outstanding years for France in Eurovision. In my view this should have been the winner of the contest by a mile. Sandrine Francois's performance was faultless and one of the best we've seen at Eurovision. Malta sent the wonderful Ira Losco with her fantastic song "7th Wonder" her extremely strong performance was well received. But Latvia's performance was stronger and they were eventual winner. Personally this is a result that really throws me.I don't think that Marie N's win was great for the contest. Failing to enter the Top 20 in any country it can widely be seen as a poor winner. My personal Top 10 would have been:

  • 12 - France
  • 10 - Estonia 
  • 8 - Malta
  • 7 - Sweden
  • 6 - Spain
  • 5 - Austria
  • 4 - Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • 3 - UK
  • 2 - Finland
  • 1 - Switzerland


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

It's Time To Talk About Malmo

I know things are very quiet at the moment. I know I should still be posting a little more than I am but sometimes in life you've just got to accept that. Put simply things are quite for the summer and that probably will not change until October or November. But in the mean time it's time to take a look at the city that is Malmo.

Malmo, as everyone now knows was announced as the surprise host of ESC 2013. While many fans will be familiar with Stockholm, Malmo is somewhat unknown territory. So what do we known about Malmo?

  • Malmo is the third largest city of Sweden.  
  • It has a a population of more than quarter of a million people. 30% of the population are non-Swedish. 
  • The economy is largely traditional historically being a shipbuilding city. Construction is a major employer. During the financial difficulties in the early 90's in Sweden, Malmo was the worst hit city in Sweden for unemployment.
  • The economy is largely integrated with Copenhagen. 10% of the population work in Copenhagen. They commute over the large bridge spanning between the two cities.
  • Women are allowed to be topless in public swimming pools on the grounds that men are not told to cover up their upper bodies and men can have bigger breasts than women. 
  • Football and Ice Hockey are the two main sports of Malmo. However they have a GAA club! They won the Scandinavian championship.
 I'm going to leave it there for now but more facts to come!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Reaction: Malmo to host ESC 2013

In what can be best described as one of the most shocking decisions to come from Eurovision organisers in many years SVT has announced that Malmo is to host Eurovision 2013. Malmo is Swedens third largest city and is in very close proximity to Copenhagen. The city has a 15,500 seat stadium to hold Eurovision.

This decision has been greeted with some surprise over in Sweden. Many Swedes see this as an opportunity to share hand over part of the contest to Denmark. I'm not entire sure what to make of all of this. On one hand I can understand the EBU's wish to have the contest in a smaller city and in general break the cycle of trying to beat last year's contest. However I thought that Sweden would have been less agreeable to this. I still will be interested to see what happens and if any more reasons come in relation to the choice. [I'm expecting some more detail as to why the Friends Arena failed].

I've nothing against Malmo, whatsoever. In fact this would make the possibility of me being able to attend the contest even more possible. [It still is a long shot]. I'll put up a fact sheet about Malmo in due course.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

New Singles and Videos!

So with virtually no news of Eurovision of late, we turn to the follow up singles and videos that come in the mist of Post Eurovision Depression.

Elferia Elferiou [or something like that] from Greece has released her song Hearts Collide. The song is a bit hollow for the average northern European but it is a good summer song.
As, in similar news Loreen has released the video of Euphoria which is sort of what I expected, as Loreen is keen not to link the song with relationships/love/normal Eurovision topics in my opinion and the video reflects that. A link to the video is here.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Split Jury Results Are Out!

The last couple of weeks have seen a definite slow down in stories coming through about however today the most important piece of news to come from EBU in the form of a split jury/televoting break down. Here we discuss what happened in the final.

Unsurprisingly Sweden topped the televote. The surprising thing was that Russia came second on the televote but by only 9 points. This means that, for the second year running if combined voting was not used there would have been a far more interesting finish. It will surprise many people how well Russia did. Serbia came third, Turkey came fourth and Azerbaijan came fifth. Estonia only came 12th despite coming 6th overall. Germany came 6th in the vote. Romania, surprisingly

On the other end of the list France came last with 0 points, which many will find quite shocking, especially considering the level of promotion that she did. UK would also have finished a more respectable 21st place. This will have implications at the BBC as their entire strategy was based on a good jury vote. But for the second year running the jury final performance was not up to standard.

Generally the public split over Russia and Sweden. However the top 5 managed to soak up a huge propotion of the votes, and the top 10 soaked a massive 71% of the televote points, meaning that the rest had very little points between them.

Juries once again proved surprising, but fair, even if their year on year voting seems inconsistent. Sweden won the jury vote by a massive 123 points. Unlike the televote the juries were extremely spread in the songs that they voted for. Though the number of points given by the juries to the top 10 was similar to the public vote (63%) the spread of the votes between places 9 and 22 was only 54 points, which is very small.

Somewhat surprisingly the Hump came last here, followed by Jedward. Albania and Italy tied for third, Spain came fifth and Estonia came 6th. Unlike the televote the jury top 5 would have been radically different for the actually one. France and Ukraine were the big surprises in the jury votes, coming 7th and 13th respectively.

The combining of the two votes worked very well. If you add up jury and public televoting points the order of the top 10 remains the same, in fact other than some rearranging at the bottom, the scoreboard is very similar. Many people brush this aside but I think that it is important that this occurs for me to have confidence in the voting.

That concludes the first piece of analysis. Tomorrow [All going to plan] I'll do a piece of the semi-final breakdown.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Where In Sweden?: Another Hypothesis

There has been quite a lot of speculation about where in Sweden Eurovision might be going to. It's pretty likely that it will be in Stockholm, however some people also suspect that Malmo and Gothenberg could also be contenders but the biggest problem this would bring would be the difficulties in getting the semi 2 qualifiers from Malmo or Gothenburg to rehearsals in Stockholm on Friday afternoon.

It did occur to me that it is possible that Stockholm could host both semis by putting one semi-final in Globen and one in Svedbank or the friends arena. This would roughly halve the amount of rehearsal time needed.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Most Accurate Country?

We all have a short list of Eurovision pundits, bloggers and webmasters who in our own minds are pretty accurate about predicting the contest. There are also some polls that we might pay close attention to, all of which is an understandable aspect of human nature, but are there countries that are just more accurate when it comes to Eurovision. Countries who just seem to have their fingers on the pulse of Europe? Or is everyone just guessing. Well looking at the points in this years contest they're might just be....

So how can you figure this one out? Well, I decided to calculate this as follows: Take the points given to the top 10. The amount of points given to the winning song is multiplied by 12. The amount of points given to the second placed song is multiplied by 10. Third place is multiplied 8, 4th is multiplied by 7 and so on until we reach 10th place. The maximum number of points that can be given is 448. So with out further ado the most accurate countries were:
1. Germany
2. Bulgaria
3. Lithuania 
4. Belgium
5. Austria
6. Hungary
7. France 
8. Norway
9. Netherlands
10. Finland

That's a rather interesting mix of countries. Interestingly voting in line with Europe at the contest has little to do with how successful the country's entry was Austria came 5th here despite coming last in their semi-final. Norway came last in the final and finished 8th here.

But what about the crazy inaccurate countries who throw points all across Europe? Who are they?

1. Albania - Just weird votes 
2. Serbia - Giving high points to neighbours doesn't make you accurate.
3. Sweden - Not being able to vote for yourself never helps, but seriously 12 to Cyprus?
3. Romania - Tied with Sweden
5. Azerbaijan - More strange votes

I intend to look at this in more depth as the summer goes on.

Friday, June 8, 2012

One Year Online

One year and 307 posts later I'm delighted to be celebrating one year online. What a year it's been. It seems like a long time ago since I first wrote my first post. To look back on the previous year I've compiled a list of different posts which were on the blog over the past year.

June was the strangest month ever to start a Eurovision blog, largely because no one wanted to read about Eurovision but in that time I did suggest 8 changes that the reference group could make to the contest. 6 still have to be implemented, one was continued and one is a little hazy, but hey, I made some impact(?). July and August were as dull as ever with some exceptions such as the end of a Schlager era. October eventually came around and Melodifestivalen kicked off and Netherlands became hosts of JESC 2012. December saw Georgia win JESC 2011 and the start of the Eurovision season with a National Final in Switzerland and Albania decided to send Rona Nishliu to Eurovision, but it wasn't just national finals. December saw me publish what is still my favourite post, a book review of Ewan Spence's It's Cold and There Are Children Singing.

2012 rolled in and national finals came with it. Denmark was my favourite national final in Janurary, having said that I was disappointed with the songs as I felt that the Denmark had a serious chance of winning the Eurovision Song Contest 2012. I also published a Running Order research paper, though it received a quite reception at the time it was very popular during Eurovision week, in contrast my piece on why Ireland needs Jedward for Eurovision 2012 seems just a little out of place at this point in time. Having said that it was one of the most popular pieces this year.

February 2012 saw the strongest Icelandic national final in years with a great result. Regardless of what may have happened at Eurovision "Never Forget" will always have a special place for me. Though Norway should have sent Bobby Bare and Petter Oien or maybe Plumbo their national final this year leaves me with a lot of really great memories. Jedward too were selected for Ireland. March 2012 saw Engelbert Humperdinck being selected for the UK. Melodifestivalen 2012 came and went and of course this meant that Loreen was choosen for Sweden. I published analysis of Melodifestivalen containing an important line where I did saw Sweden had this years contest.

Everything went quite for April until the contest sprung up in Baku in May. ESCToday was hacked and rehearsals began in earnest. Eurovision week came, semi-final 1 was as predictable as expected, semi-final had some surprises and of course Sweden won the final. A win for Sweden, Loreen, Melodifestivalen, Eurovision and most of all Eurovision fans.

After one year there's a couple of people who I owe thanks to, far to many to mention and if I left you out well, sorry, I can't remember everyone. Special thanks is due to Ewan Spence and the team over on ESCInsight, who were the first people to list the blog. I'd like to mention Samantha Ross and Tobias Larsson who have been great inspirations for Eurovision blogging, and whose blogs are remarkably interesting pieces of work. I'd also like to mention Anthony Granger who is a great inspiration for Eurovision bloggers everywhere, showing us all that no matter how young Eurovision fans can achieve great things. A huge thanks is also due to escXtra and All Kinds Of Everything whose coverage of Eurovision 2012 allowed me to form opinions on this year's contest with information I'd otherwise not have.

Special thanks is also due to you the readers, whose Tweets, Comments and Messages always let me know that people are still reading and interested, which is very important to me.

Sadly despite my best hopes it is highly unlikely that I will be at Eurovision 2013, as my exam timetable is most likely going to clash with Rehearsals week and Eurovision Week. But, I still am looking forward to a second great Eurovision year.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cultural Voting In This Years Contest

At last I was able to take the time to do some analysis of the results, of course while many sites are looking at the impact of the running order and where neighbourly and diaspora voting exists I'm going to do something just a little more controversial and look at Cultural voting or Block voting in this years contest. When I think of voting at Eurovision I prefer not to deny the existence of block voting. But I do differentiate it from neighbourly voting.

So What Is Block Voting? 
Block or Cultural voting is when groups of countries which are geographically fairly close vote the same way. This does not mean constantly exchange 12's though. The qualifications that I'd make with Cultural voting are:
  • It is usually only one way. 
  • It is common for a group of countries to vote for a country completely outside of the group. 
  • It is also common for the group to give a lot of points to other members of the group. 
  • Not all Eurovision countries are contained in one of these groups. Middle Europe (Hungary and Slovakia) are excluded as their votes can go anywhere.
  • These groups are not scientifically derived but arrived at after a good number of years spent looking at Eurovision voting.
Below I have listed what I feel are the five cultural groups and forces at Eurovision with some commentary on anything strange that happened within them. The results are shown of each of the top 10 in each country and the average points awarded by that block.

Group 1: South-Eastern Europe - Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Malta, Israel, Albania.
This group mainly consists of the countries in the south east of Europe who don't tend to always do the same thing. However overall I believe that they do tend to vote in a similar way. They top 10 here was:
1. Sweden - 7.9
2. Azerbaijan - 7.4
3. Greece - 6.6 
4. Russia - 4.9
5. Serbia - 4.8
6. Turkey - 4.1
7. Albania - 3.6
8. Cyprus - 3.3
9. Italy - 3.3
10. Spain - 3.1

Other than the high placing of Greece and Azerbaijan this vote was fairly unremarkable. A notable absence from the list is Germany, who only came 18th in this block.  Romania was the only member of this block not to feature in the block's top 10.

Group 2 - Ex-USSR - Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan.
This is a fairly logical block, consisting of mostly Russia's neighbours and Moldova. 

1. Azerbaijan - 10.2
2. Russia - 8.2
3. Sweden - 8
4. Ukraine - 6.2
5. Lithuania - 4.8
6. Malta - 3.6
7. Moldova - 3.3
8. Estonia - 3
9. Turkey - 2.9
10. Romania - 2.7

There's a couple of surprises here. Sweden only managed to get one set of 12 points from here so I suppose unsurprisingly didn't actually win the block. But Azerbaijan always does extremely in this part of the world. I suppose Ukraine is very high here for a song that came 15th. Malta also did remarkably well here, coming 6th when they came 21st overall.

Group 3 - Balkan - Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, FYR Macedonia and Slovenia.
We all know of this block, it is the various parts of what used to be Yugoslavia

1. Serbia - 11.2
2. FYR Macedonia - 9.2
3. Sweden - 8
4. Bosnia & Herzegovina - 7
5. Albania - 6.2
6. Russia - 5.3
7. Azerbaijan - 2.8
8. Italy - 2.3
9. Turkey - 2
10. Cyprus - 1.3

I'd say the low placing of Russia here and the fact Sweden only came third in the group is a bit odd. It is also noticeable that the three countries in the final in this block came in the top 4. Albania also came fifth, who can tend to be in or out of the block depending on the mood that they are in. Malta also did fairly well, they came 11th here. 

Group 4 - Old Europe - France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, San Marino and Italy.
This group is what I call a traditional part of Europe that is not the north. Cultural voting here is not extremely strong voting between internal countries it does tend to vote the same way.

1. Sweden - 8.5
2. Serbia - 7
3. Russia - 6.4
4. Albania - 6
5. Spain - 5
6. Germany - 4.2
7. Turkey - 3.9
8. Estonia - 3.4
9. Moldova - 2.8
10. Romania -2.6

This was clearly one of the stranger of the groups as the highest placed of the group here was Spain. This was generally a fairly logical vote, the only surprise was the exclusion of Azerbaijan, who managed to only get 4 points from this whole group of ten countries.

Group 5 - Northern and North West Europe - Norway, Sweden, Ireland, UK, Iceland, Denmark, Finland, Estonia and Latvia.
This grouping might surprise some people. Definitely Scandinavia tends to have cultural voting. However it is interesting to see how all these countries interact with each other. In the final Ireland has not given 12 points to outside of these countries since 2007. 

1. Sweden - 12
2. Russia - 7.2
3. Estonia - 6.9
4. Germany - 5.2
5. Ireland - 4
6. Lithuania - 3
7. Iceland - 3
8. Serbia - 2.8
9. Spain - 2.3
10.   Cyprus - 2.2

This was an interesting group as in almost every country in final that was in the group [except Sweden] received almost or more than half their points from these countries. In addition Germany did very well here, much like when they won in 2010. Iceland too gained points here. Also as we go further down the list France came 12th here, United Kingdom and Denmark came 13th.

So that is all five of the groups I see. Comments as always, are welcome. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

One Week Later....

This time last week I was, like I am now sitting at my desk. The main difference this time is that rather than being in total unsurprise at Sweden winning the contest the after effects of Post-Eurovision Depression [PED] has really started to kick in.

Anyhow, as I have alluded to in some postings this week, I have been inclined towards stepping back from blogging purely because after the whole two weeks that have gone by I'm glad to have some time to myself and not be as driven to blog.

This week I noticed that there was a lot more news than there was the week after last weeks contest, as well as some very interesting reading. So, in bullet points here's the last week in Eurovision:

  • Loreen returned home to Sweden after the contest and received a heroes welcome. Her winning song, Euphoria, has gone to number one in many Western European countries, a great achievement for both Loreen and the contest. Here in Ireland Eurovision has made an impressive impact on the charts. Full details of that here.
  • 'Tis the season of Opinion Pieces and over on ESCInsight the team have thrown up two really impressive pieces of discussion on accepting responsibly for your defeat and another on what (or indeed who) the UK needs to do to improve at Eurovision.  
  • Danny Saucedo [the guy who didn't represent Sweden in this year's Eurovision] has come under fire for his comments he made after Melodifestivalen 2012 about Loreen not being the best choice to send to the contest. He asked for people to give him a break and said that any song could have won for Sweden this year. I think this is in fact a huge insult to Loreen and the quality of her song. Anyway if any song could have won they should have sent Bjorn Ranelid and Sara Li. Give Europe something to stare at. 
  • As well as being the season of opinion pieces it is also the season of statistics and this year Eurovision Times are leading the charge. They have an excellent piece on where Sweden got it's points from. They have a far more interesting article on Azerbaijans scoring in the contest. Make of it what you will but I would be interested if the EBU makes any comment on the matter.
  • The Scissor Sisters have offered to entry for the UK next year. Personally I don't care who they send but I believe that the public should have a say on either the song or preferably both singer and song.
  • Before anyone asks me I don't know when the jury/public results will be released. From the last three years it should be out by the end of June but is liable to come up at any stage. Unlike last year though I don't expect that there will be as many differences of opinion. 
  • RTÉ will screen a documentary about Jedward's time in Baku on Thursday evening at 21:30 on RTÉ 2.
So those are the main stories in what has been a rather busy Eurovision week. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Soluna Samay Gets A Little Bitchy!

I just happened to come across Soluna Samay's YouTube channel and she has some really entertaining videos up there but one that I noticed was a cover of Taylor Swift's Mean (One of my favourite songs) but with a little message in the video. See how many seconds it takes to you work out what that message is!

Friday, June 1, 2012

What If?

Today I ask the simple question: What if the only the countries with songs in the each contest actually were the ones who could vote. Essentially this means that the six automatic qualifiers are excluded from the semi-finals.

Interestingly in the semi-finals this would not have changed the qualifiers.

Semi 1 
1. Russia - 135
2. Albania - 118
3. Greece - 98
4. Romania - 91
5. Ireland - 83
6. Moldova - 80
7. Cyprus - 75
8. Iceland - 67
9. Denmark - 57
10. Hungary - 50

As you can see the qualifiers don't change but the order of them does. Finland would also have come 11th with Pernilla getting 41 points. In semi-final 2 it was a similar situation.

1. Sweden - 155
2. Serbia -134
3. Lithuania - 89
4. Estonia - 76
5. Bosnia + Herzegovina - 67 
6. Turkey - 61
7. Ukraine - 60
8. Malta - 58
9. Macedonia - 53
10. Norway - 45

This might not seem to make a vast amount of sense but it does show which countries got through with the support of Eastern Europe rather than countries like Estonia who nearly got 1/4 of their points from Germany, Spain and the UK.

Stats from the final will be up shortly

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Monday After

Only 351 days to the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2013. [Seems a long way away doesn't it?].

Anyway as Loreen starts to climb up through the charts across Europe it's time to start looking at what happened last night and who came where. 

As you just might already know Sweden won the contest, with 372 points and gaining the most number of 12 points ever [18 sets]. Whether you liked the song or not I think that this is a serious win and one that helps the contest as whole. It shows that the best song can win the contest regardless of where it is geographically. Most of all Sweden's is a huge one for fans of the contest.

Russia came second on Saturday, the grannies proving that age is no barrier to success. [Despite what Engelbert Humperdinck might think]. Serbia came third Zeljko proving that a safe Balkan ballad can bring you some success, especially when there isn't many other Balkan ballads in the competition. Azerbaijan came fourth which is a very respectable for a host country and suggests that Azerbaijan will still be a force to be reckoned with in future contests. Albania came fifth, which might raise a couple of eyebrows, but I did say that this would do a bit better than expected. It shows that a technically good song, combined with an outstanding vocal performance can do well in the contest.

Estonia came sixth which was as surprising as when they came sixth in 2009. Definitely Ott deserved his placing, but this was a big surprise. Turkey came seventh which, I do believe was a fair placing for them. Then three of the big 5 came Germany - Roman Lob doing about as well as can be expected. Italy - I'm not sure how Nina Zilli might feel about her placing but I felt it was a bit below where I'd put the song. Spain came tenth, their best result in since 2004, which they should be pleased with. Personally speaking, Spain was the standout performance of the evening, it was the song I voted for and I think it deserved a high place than it got.

Looking down at the bottom of the table, Norway came last [again] which was a big surprise but given that Loreen most likely hoovered up votes from around Europe this is understandable. UK and Engelbert Humperdinck came second last with just 12 points which was a disappointing results for The Hump. I think the running order really went against the UK though. Also for the second year running the UK did a poor jury final performance. This really will raise some questions in the BBC and I also intend to have a post on the UK over the summer.

Hungary, despite being well tipped to come last didn't, which might be seen as a success. Denmark came 23rd which was disappointing for Soluna Samay. I think she did a wonderful song and full credit to her for that. France came 22nd, showing that touring around Europe doesn't really help your chances. Malta came 21st, no big surprises there. Iceland and Ireland both should be disappointed with their results, Ireland especially, where Jedward were hotly tipped to do well.

The only other real surprise was that Greece fell out of the top 10 for the first time since 2003. This might mean that one of the most consistent Eurovision countries may be falling, but also I don't think that the song deserved to come much higher.

I'll have more  analysis of the results during this week.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Congradulations To Sweden

Well that was all a bit surprising wasn't it? Sweden wins the Eurovision Song Contest 2012. Loreen and her song incredible song Euphoria won tonights vote amassing a massive 372 points. 

While this result may not be surprising the remaining top 5 were quite a surprise. In fact they were very close to how the bookies had expected. Russia came second, Serbia third, Azerbaijan fourth and Albania fifth [they're best result yet]. There were no massive records broken but there is quite a lot to be analysed.

The big surprise tonight was the low scoring of the rest of Scandinavia and the UK and Ireland. I haven't seen a full score table yet and once I've had time to process these I'll be better able to discuss the overall  result.

In the meantime, and until Sweden 2013 I wish you all the very best.

Voting Order

The voting order was announced over on earlier this afternoon. Looking briefly over them it would appear that a western European country is being held back as 12 western countries are going to announce their votes in places 25-35. Balkan countries are generally announcing their votes earlier.

Who Will Win Eurovision 2012?

Tonight sometime after 11pm a years worth a speculation, of wonder and projections will all be shown to be either true or untrue. Will 2012 be another 2009? Or maybe a shocking 2000? Well there still is time for a lot more predicting today. So lets look at how the field is shaping up:

Hypothesis 1 - Most Likely

UK - Engelbert didn't have his greatest performance since he arrived in the jury final and I think that this is falling by the wayside at great speeds. Being the first of five slow songs won't help either. Despite earlier predictions of beating Blue, I suspect that this could end up lower than the UK expected. Prediction: 16th-20th

Hungary - This is a song that I really feel is not up to the required standard of the final. I think this will most likely come last but it might do a little better due to a lack of rock in this years final. Prediction: 21st-26th

Albania - Despite what many might say about this song it has a lot of fans out there and is getting quite a lot of views on YouTube. I think this is going to do a lot better than people expect. However the draw will hold it back but I suspect this will be in the jury top 5 and do well on the public televote. Prediction: 6th-10th

Lithuania - I am happy to see Lithuania in the final, however I do suspect that it got there as the 10th qualifier. I think this is just one of those songs that won't standout on the final night. Prediction: 21st-26th

Bosnia & Herzegovina - This is another song which I think shouldn't have made the final as it is really dull. The other Balkan songs will hoover up the votes so I think that this is going to go nowhere and is another potential last place song. Prediction: 21st-26th

Russia - Russia really have a great piece of entertainment in this entry. I suspect though that they will find it difficult to bring this song over the line when the points come in. I think that while there will be some jury support for this I can't really see it making the dizzying heights of the Top 5. However it is sandwiched between a large number of ballads which helps to make it stand out. Prediction: 6th-10th

Iceland - Despite this being a fan favourite and the fact that I do like it as a song, I think this was the one that was saved by the juries from the first semi-final. It is a strong song, and could score reasonably well with juries. However I think that this just isn't going to get enough public televotes. Prediction: 16th-20th

Cyprus - I was impressed with this song in the first semi-final but given the draw and the opposition it is going to come under a lot of pressure. Ivi didn't have the best jury show [vocally] and I think that this will lose out in a high quality show. Prediction: 21st-26th

France - This was another one which could have gone either way. However I think that this song is just to inaccessible to get in one listen and that in the jury final where Auggun would have needed a lot more votes from she didn't sing well enough. Parts of the song were pretty off-key. Overall I can't see this having a huge impact. Prediction: 21st-26th

Italy - Once again Italy and France are beside each other in the final. But this year I think it is very safe to say that Italy will outscore France. Out of Love is a really great song and deserves recognition. I don't believe that this has the oomph to get it over the line but it does have the strength to score well with juries. Nina has given a very consistent performance since she arrived in Baku, there's no reason to suspect that she won't tonight. I think it is a possible winner but an unlikely one. Prediction: 1st-5th

Estonia - I think this is one that is going to do better than expected. I think juries will like this song over other vocally good songs and I think it won't do awfully on the televote. It's not going to win by any stench of the imagination though. Predictions: 16th-20th

Norway - This is a song that I suspected might do well if it got a strong draw. It didn't but it still could do reasonably well for Norway. Tooji didn't give the best performance last night but it wasn't to bad. I think this might come around 10th with the public but about 15th with juries. Prediction: 11th-15th

Azerbaijan - Azerbaijan have definitely sent the typically host country bland song. However it is the host country and it is Azerbaijan who have a short but good track record. There's something in this song for both  juries and public. Prediction: 6th-10th

Romania - If it wasn't for their 2010 entry I'd say this was going to do really well for Romania. This didn't go perfectly in the jury final but it still will score well. This song has a track record so it will do pretty well. Prediction: 11th-15th

Denmark - Despite this being a favourite of mine I think this is not going to do very well. It is a bit of a neutral entry but has some potential. Prediction: 16th-20th

Greece - Tonight is going to be a real test of the strength of the Greek vote. There will be a good number of diaspora votes but I still think this won't get the jury support that it needs. This might well be the first Greek song out of the top 10, but then again di dn't we all say that last year? Prediction: 11th-15th

Sweden - Despite one small mistake in the jury final I think that this is the one to beat. I think that the extra votes that it got at Melodifestivalen, the fact it has been a success in Norway, Finland and Greece shows that it is neither just a fan favourite nor a piece of Swedish music that will only score well in Scandinavia. However if this doesn't win it could come further down the scoreboard. Prediction: 1st-5th

Turkey - After shockingly missing the final last year Turkey are back in a big way, I think that while some think that this is a poor enough song I actually think that it is fairly strong [I still don't like it]. This also works really well on stage. Turkey and Azerbaijan are both very able to score well when both have strong songs and I think that this year will be no different. Prediction: 2nd-5th

Spain - I'm not Spanish but unlike most people I think that this is a really, really good song and the vocal performance is simply jaw dropping. I think this could win the jury vote [marginally] but I think while it is a contender to do that anything is possible tonight so I think it might not do all that well as I'm unsure what the public will make of it. Prediction: 6th-10th

Germany - I think that Germany have come up with a song that might do better if it was only the northwest of Europe voting. I also wonder if Germany is going to be able to override their political image tonight. I know they did this in 2010 but I'm not convinced that they can do so tonight. Juries might well give this a couple of extra points  but I don't see it as the dark horse that everyone else seems to. Prediction: 6th-10th

Malta - Malta were a surprise qualifier in my books but now they have a great draw which might help them, especially when they are surrounded by ballads. I suspect though that this scrapped into te final and I think they should be happy with that. However it is a strong song, compared to those around it so it might get a few more votes. Prediction: 11th-15th

FYR Macedonia - Macedonia have quite a strong song relative to the position in the draw. Kaliopi is one of the more well-known Balkan singers and should score well across the region. She has excellent vocals and is another potential jury winner. But I suspect that the song may not have huge appeal outside of the Balkans. Prediction: 11th-15th

Ireland - I can only say that I'm really proud of Jedward and feel that they are great ambassadors for Ireland. I wish them the best of luck tonight. This was good in the jury final and they have scored well with juries before. The big question is can they overcome Eastern Europe? Last year nearly all the points they got came from Western Europe so if they can't they'll most likely not score as well. But I suspect that they may break Eastern Europe and do pretty well. Prediction: 1st-5th

Serbia - Despite this being third favourite I'm not convinced that this song is fresh enough to be a winner. If Lane Moje could not do it in 2004, when Balkan Ballads were popular I find it difficult to believe that a less exciting copy of the song can beat it in 2012. Having FYR Macedonia doesn't help Zeljko's chances either. Prediction: 1st-5th

Ukraine - Ukraine did well in the draw, drawing the well regarded second last slot. Ukraine have a very strong singer with a not-so-strong song. It will pick up a couple of undecided votes in the coming so late. Prediction: 6th-10th

Moldova - This is a song I feel will be lost at the end. After a rake of strong songs this almost pales in comparision. Pasha is a great performer and singer but there is little in this to really bring in a lot of votes. Prediction: 16th-20th

So it's time to get off of the fence. I think that the Top 5 will look like this:
1. Sweden
2. Italy
3. Turkey
4. Ireland
5. Serbia

That's really all that can be said. I wish everyone good luck tonight. It's in the hands of the juries and the public now. May the best song win.

Friday, May 25, 2012

My Favourites!

After a minimum of two months listening to all of these songs suddenly you have to consider all of them together and now that I have seen them all performed live we can start to see just which songs are in my Top 10 for 2012.

This year as with any is difficult to work out exactly which are my favourites. But here we go, (with reasons why). Ireland is always excluded from my favourites due to bias towards our entry which I think you should all vote for and bring the contest to Dublin. As you can see a tiny amount of bias is coming through. So in no particular order my top 10 are:

Sweden - Well it's been one of my favourites since it was picked. I just love this and I think it would be a deserving winner. I'm not convinced that the song was performed as well as it could have been in the semi-final but maybe that's me being picky though. 

Estonia - Ott may not have the best song in the competition but his vocal performance is strong. It is a great relaxing song and came across well in the semi-final. I think this did well in the semi and could score well off the juries in the final.

Romania - Since the rehearsals started I have gone from thinking that this is OK to thinking that it is fairly flat to being one of the most fun entries this year. The song comes across really well and this is hugely thanks to a strong performance from Mandinga. 

UK - Despite some reservations about Engelbert going to Eurovision for the UK I still think that the song he as produced is really really good and is a great one to listen to. Engelbert has come up well in the rehearsals and it should be good on the night.

Spain - Whatever people might say about Spain I think that this is just an outstanding song. It's not a great one for the MP3 player but it is a truely amazing song live. I know how the Spanish fans feel about this entry and I'm not quite sure that it is a winner, but it is a strong song. 

Italy - Of course as second/third/fouth [depends on the bookmaker] favourites they have a really strong song and a really good singer to pull it off. Italy did well last but I don't expect that they will break last years results.  
Largely because it's to safe to do really well. It doesn't have the risk of Raphael last year.

Russia - One of the most discussed songs this year had fallen in my estimation during the run up to the rehearsals. However on Tuesday night I though that this was stunning. Not my favourite and I don't think that it is a winner but I still think that it has hit potential. 

Denmark - I accept that not everyone loves this song. Despite the cute and cuddly image this has come through a seriously tough DMGP and continues to divide fans. The jury rehearsal of this was strong. I don't think it is a winner but it isn't going to come last. Personally it was my favourite in the first semi-final, it has fallen a bit since then but it still is really great. 

Iceland - I've had a soft spot for this song as have many fans. I'm not convinced that this is as good as some people make out based on the semi-final performance and YouTube numbers. I recognise it as a really great song and I acknowledge that.

Albania - This is another song that was simply outstanding in the semi-final. It's a simple performance of a really complex song. Well done Albania.

You're still reading? Great. You skipped down here without reading the above? That's not so good but I'll survive. So I would place these songs in the following order.

12. Sweden
10. Albania
8. UK
7. Italy
6. Spain
5. Iceland
4. Denmark
3. Romania
2. Estonia
1. Russia

I'll put up real predictions either tonight or tomorrow morning once the jury final is over.