Eurovision! A time for lights, glitter, sequins, dancing, panoramic camera shots, smiles full of teeth, more lights, geo-political voting blocs, and copious amounts of gratuitous French speaking (or maybe that’s just me…). It’s that time of year again!
Like any self-respecting Australian, I absolutely love Eurovision. For one day a year we become a part of Greater Europe, and this year that is quite literally true as Australia got to participate in the contest as a wildcard. Get hype! For the occasion I have fully immersed myself in the spectacle, watching the semi finals, and getting up at 5am to live Tweet, live…watch and actually VOTE in the final itself. Participating made everything even more interesting, as I spent the time they were reading the results out trying to figure out how we’ve somehow joined the Scandinavian voting bloc. And of course, drinking for every time someone gave douze points to their geographical neighbour, a sure-fire way to get alcohol poisoning at 8am on a Sunday morning.
As much as I have enjoyed this, I kind of have to ask: where did the fun go? A major part of the appeal of Eurovision is the kitsch, the camp, the utter absurdity. My first memory of the competition is Lordi winning in 2006, and it’s the wacky acts that always stick in my mind. But it seems like now as each year passes, the acts all get a little more safe, a little more samey, a little more…bland. Instead of craziness and the unique flavour of the different countries of Europe, we have the same English language pop song sung twenty seven times, by equally beautiful people, all accompanied by the same dazzlingly shiny production. It ends up resembling a good episode of The Voice more than Eurovision. These people can all sing, don’t get me wrong, but sitting through 27 earnest ballads is not as much fun as a Eurovision filled with Ukrainian tinfoil trannies and Russian bread bakin’ grannies.
Still, having said that, the trade off is that you get a field of really well written, well performed pop songs. It may just be the heat of the moment, but I feel like the top of the card was the strongest it’s been in a good many years. When it came time to vote I found that there were a whole bunch of songs I wanted to vote for. I was going to try to rank the songs in order for this blog post, and I’m finding it impossible because there is almost nothing between the top, say, ten songs that I liked, and nothing between the bottom ones either. So instead I am just going to rank them in tiers.
Songs That I Really Liked
Belgium – Loic Nottet “Rhythm Inside”
Estonia – Elina Born & Stig Rasta “Goodbye to Yesterday”
Latvia – Aminata “Love Injected”
Sweden – Mans Zelmerlow “Heroes”
Germany – Ann Sophie “Black Smoke”
Azerbaijan – Elnur Huseynov “Hour of the Wolf”
Russia – Polina Gagarina “A Million Voices”
Israel – Nadav Guedj “Golden Boy”
Serbia – Bojana Stamenov “Beauty Never Lies”
Australia – Guy Sebastian “Tonight Again”
Songs That Were Fine
Albania – Elhaida Dani “I’m Alive”
Slovenia – Maraaya “Here For You”
Italy – Il Volo “Grande Amore”
Greece – Maria Elena Kyriakou “One Last Breath”
Georgia – Nina Sublatti “Warrior”
Montenegro – Knez “Adio”
France – Lisa Angell “N’oubliez pas”
Songs That Were Boring or Kind of Sucked
Romania – Voltaj “De La Capat”
Norway – Morland & Debrah Scarlett “A Monster Like Me”
UK – Electro Velvet “Still in Love With You”
Spain – Edurne “Amanecer”
Lithuania – Monika Linkyte & Vaidas Baumila “This Time”
Poland – Monika Kuszynska “In the Name of Love”
Austrla – The Makemakes “I Am Yours”
Cyprus – John Karaviannis “One Thing I Should Have Done”
Armenia – Genealogy “Face the Shadow”
Hungary – Boggie “Wars for Nothing”
Those last couple were just…eesh. Soporific. Like I said, where did the fun go? If you’re not going to send a decent song, at least send something upbeat. It makes the three minutes go so much quicker.
BUT not to be negative, there were a lot of songs I liked. I think Germany was incredibly ripped off to finish with nul points, I really liked her song and can’t understand how she didn’t even win in Germany, let alone how she bombed in the final. Azerbaijan just had an incredible hook, as did Russia, who totally won me over with her intense, emotional performance in the final. Latvia’s sparse beat-driven tune was ballsy and wonderfully performed. The animations for Sweden were incredible and I’d suggest went a long way in securing the victory. It may not have been the best song per se, but it was the best overall performance. With my eyes closed I think Belgium might have had the best song, although I liked their offbeat choreography as well. And of course, STRAYA.
I’m probably going to spend the immediate future listening to all the songs in my first tier, to see which ones are really keepers. That’s the funny thing about Eurovision: for what are ostensibly throwaway pop songs, I really do get a lot of play out of the good ones. Maybe because I myself am a sucker for a good throwaway pop song. In which case, long may Eurovision live.
So long from very, very, VERY South-Eastern Europe.