Friday, May 25, 2012

Eurovision Song Contest 2012, The competitors

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 25, is the grand finale of Eurovision Song Contest 2012! As the fan you know I am, this is almost like a national holiday.

During the week past, 36 countries have competed for the 20 coveted tickets to the grand finale. This was done through two semi-finals, one on Tuesday and one on Thursday. I'm pretty happy about how it turned out. I didn't necessarily have 10 favorites in each semi-final, but most of the songs I really cared for did make it through.

Let me give a short note on the songs competing in the grand finale:

Semi-final 1
Iceland - Never Forget: I liked this song and hoped for it to go through. However, I have a feeling I would have liked it more if it was sung in Icelandic, it would have added to the mystery.
Greece - Aphrodisiac: This, I didn't care for. To be honest, many of the songs in Eurovision Song Contest is on the generic side. When generic music is done ok, it usually stays below the radar, it doesn't excite nor offend. However, the Greek contribution was so generic, it made my angry. The song, the singing, the girl singing, the beats and the dancers all wrapped up into a very irritating package.
Albania - Suus: Not my favorite, but I did put it in my top ten for this semi-final. I shun drama from my everyday life, but some added drama on stage is always welcomed. Also, the artist fascinated me. She was regal and mature, two elements you don't typically find in this competition. So, all in all, she was different, and different is usually good.
Romania - Mandinga: Not the most profound song, but it did make me happy. Any song that makes me think of a sunny day at the beach, sipping cold drinks, is ok in my book. I'm glad this upbeat summer tune made it to the finale.
Cyprus - La La Love: Herein lies the biggest controversy, I really didn't like this song. I didn't hate it, but people in general seemed to really like it. I will admit that the artist, Ivi Adamou, was beautiful. I was also very intrigued by her voice. But the song itself was really annoying. Somewhere deep within, I think I might have been able to distinguish somethings that might have been interesting, but everything was drowned out by the incessant euro-techno beat.
Denmark - Should've Know Better: It wouldn't be the Eurovision Song Contest is there wasn't any wardrobe malfunctions, Denmark being a good example of that. The outfits felt gimmicky and distracted from what was actually a really good song. I will enjoy seeing them again on Saturday, but I really look forward to hearing them again, on a CD.
Russia - Party for Everybody: Old Russian ladies. Cute and adorable as they may be, I challenge anyone who would claim this is good music. Do I need to remind people that this is Eurovision SONG Contest, not a "cute" contest, not a "good effort" contest and definitely not a "it's-actually-better-if-I-hit-the-mute-button" contest! This is not good, not good at all!
Hungary - Sound of Our Hearts: Not great nor offensive. Not good nor bad. Very bland and very boring.
Moldova - Lautar: This I enjoyed. Sure, the stage-show was a bit messy, but this song had an ease to it I really appreciated. It was playful and didn't take itself too seriously.
Ireland - Waterline: Jedward is back. Last year, I was one of their supporters. This year, not so much. You can't blame them for not bringing energy to everything they do, but if your image is a Energizer/Duracell Bunny on speed, you need a song reflecting that image. Waterline was far too meek.

All in all, I was especially happy to see Iceland, Romania, Denmark and Moldova make it to the finale. Unfortunately, my favorite from this semi-final was eliminated. I absolutely loved Finland's contribution.

Semi-final 2
Serbia - Synonym: Well worthy of a ticket to the grande finale, this was one of the most genuine performances of semi-final 2. Simplicity is underrated, sometimes all you need is a good artist singing a good song. Having said all this, Serbia was not one of my favorites, but it had more to do with genre than anything else.
F.Y.R. Macedonia - Crno i Belo: I'm not sure I understood this song. To me, it felt more like a medley of a handful songs, rather than one coherent one. Also, I wasn't too fond of the artist's voice.
Malta - This is the Night: Cheesy is not usually a positive word. Being cheesy in a cheesy world makes you blend in, but it still doesn't make it good. However, once in a while, cheesy can translate into catchy and Malta did just that. As cheesy as this was, I couldn't help but smile. I'm quite happy about seeing this in the finale, though I'm sure I'll grow tired of it really fast.
Ukraine - Be My Guest: Sometimes when you listen to a brand new song, you have the feeling that you have heard it before. I have, in fact, heard this before but with the title "When Love Takes Over" by David Guetta feat. Kelly Rowland. The similarities were blatant, in other worlds, Be My Guest, doesn't necessarily fit the Eurovision Song Contest stage, but I'm sure people all over Europe will party to it this summer.
Sweden - Euphoria: I'm not sure how I should comment on this. I'll just say that I haven't been this proud of our contribution in many, many years. Go Loreen!
Turkey - Love Me Back: I surprised myself, I really liked this. Without a doubt one of my top 10 songs this year and I can't even explain why. There was just something about this song, especially the chorus, that appealed to me, for some strange reason.
Estonia - Kuula: My favorite ballad this year. It wasn't very orignal and it did sound awfully familiar, but then I think that's the curse of many ballads in general. The song was pleasant and the artist looked his part. I think what made it stand out to me was his voice. It's not always you get an artist with a nice voice who knows how to sing but when you do, it makes the world of a difference.
Norway - Stay: Dear neighbors, how I wish I liked this more than I do. It's not terrible, it's not even bad, but the artist Tooji needs to work on his singing and I can't get over how feminine they choreographed his dance. But it's still better than many other contributions and I can't help but feel happy about Norway making it to the finale, for no other reason than them being Norway.
Bosnia-Herzegovina - Korake Ti Znam: Nope, this did nothing for me. One word: Boring!
Lithuania - Love is Blind: If Malta succeeded in translating cheesy into catchy, Lithuania took cheesy and added some extra cheese and then some. The song was over the top clichĂ© and it was further exaggerated by the singer Donny Montell, his moves and his dancing. His poor singing didn't help. The cheese-fest wasn't just bad, it was almost offensive.

In summary, semi-final 2 was a mixed bag of goodies. I guess I wished Slovakia would have made the cut, but I didn't care enough to be disappointed. Obviously, I loved Loreen, because the song was great, she is wonderful and because I'm Swedish. I'm a bit nervous about her being listed as the favorite to win, but I'm cautiously hopeful.

I should also mention the six countries automatically qualified to the grand finale. They have not performed live yet, so it's difficult to judge them fairly:

France - Echo: This interests me. Maybe because I'm intrigued by the artist, Anggun. She has a very neat voice and look. I feel like I would like to know more. The song itself is catchy yet a little bit different, so I suspect I will like it, even live.
Spain - QuĂ©date Conmigo: Spain is one of the countries that makes me cringe each year, cause they have had many questionable contributions in the past. Given their track-record, I was pleasantly surprised this year. This is not a favorite of mine, but it sounds good and the artist can sing.
Germany - Standing Still: This is the most radio-friendly song in this year's competition. That is a huge compliment. As much as I love the Eurovision Song Contest, I know most of the songs wouldn't survive in the competitive world of radio and records sales. The German contribution might not be as exciting or glittery as others, but it is a complete package and it's nice to be able to relax and enjoy a good song without having to worry about where it might go next.
United Kingdom - Love Will Set You Free: You never know what the UK has to offer and this year they have prepared yet another surprise. The 76 year old Engelbert Humperdnick is taking us back to the British roots with this ballad. His voice is surprisingly crisp and pleasant, and I appreciate the song for being so distinctively British. Not a winner, but I'm sure I'll happily sing along to this tune in the future.
Italy - L'Amore E Femmina: I hope this will sound as good live. If it does, this will be one of my favorites this year. Flirting with the past, this song is still undoubtedly modern. I like it!

Who will win? I have no idea, but I hope Sweden and Loreen will. Within 24 hours we will know and Eurovision Song Contest 2012 will have its winner!

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