Eurovision, what is it? It’s a song contest, across Europe (and some countries that I wouldn’t necessarily count as Europe, but we’ll let that slide – like Morocco). Apparently, I’ve just been told, anyone within the European Broadcast Area is eligible to send an entry. This includes North Africa. This year, no non-European countries made it to the final. The name of the game is singing, and the winner takes all. Or hosts the contest the following year. So by take, I mean spend, and by spend I mean an exorbitant amount of money to put on a huge show that is broadcast across the world. (This year it was broadcast in Australia and New Zealand for the first time.)
Each country sends one song, which is to be sung live. The methods of choosing which song is submitted vary from country to country. I cannot vouch for all of them, but here in Sweden there is a vote. A pre-Eurovision competition is held, called Melodifestivalen (literally translated to the song festival). Appropriate. There are 32 songs that initially compete in a televised competition where the residents of Sweden vote for their favorite song. Up until the final, where the residents of Sweden’s votes are accompanied by votes from a selected group of countries who give their favorite songs points.
The countries who send a singer don’t necessarily get to perform their song in the final. There is a semi-final first, your place in which is determined by your positioning in the ranks of last years votes. However, since 2000 the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Spain all qualify automatically for the final, as these are the four countries who contribute the most money to the European Broadcast Area. And in 2010 Italy joined this group, known as the Big Five. (Slightly different from the Big Five of the African bush.) Another fun fact, is that in 2010 Germany became the first country of the Big Five to win Eurovision, with Lena’s song ‘Satellite‘. (Which I do actually like.) The other country that automatically qualifies for the final is the hosting country. This year that was Azerbaijan, who won last year with the song ‘Running Scared‘ by Ell and Nikki.
The final consisted of 26 countries this year. And here’s a rundown of the show:
1. First up, Great Britain. My summary of the performance: pretty old guy, sings a pretty old song. But, he does have a pretty nice voice. The best part: his name is Engelbert Humperdinck. He sang ‘Love Will Set You Free’.
2. Then came Hungary. Not the song for me, but in order to stay positive, I will comment that they have won 5 Eurovision competitions, and have come in second place 15 times. A pretty impressive track record! ‘Sound of Our Hearts’ by Compact Disco.
3. Albania. Again, aiming to stay positive. . .I just really have to comment on her dreads. Do you see the one, snake-like dread, slithering out of her bun and down across her neck? Pay attention people, this is the fashion of the future. Y’know, when we have consumed all precious metal and stones. Rona Nishliu sang ‘Suus’.
4. Lithuania. Don’t worry guys, he’s only wearing the blind fold because he’s singing about how love is blind. It’s a metaphor. Or a simile. Or. . .art? The song was titled ‘Love is Blind’ sung by Donny Montell.
5. Bosnia and Herzegovina, and yes, every time I try, I spell Herzegovina wrong. It’s a tough word. Gimme a break. MayaSar, the singer, sang in the native language of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnian and Herzegovinian. I know you already knew what it was called. I’m just trying to show off. She sang ‘Korake ti znam’ which translates to — I have no idea. Let me know if you know.
6. Then there was Russia. Oh Russia. They sent a group of babushkas to sing about how it’s a party for everybody. A party for every body. Come on and dance! Come on and boom boom. Now, I don’t know what you associate ‘boom boom’ with. . .but I don’t want my grandmother singing it. It was said during the competition they missed home. Some of them never venturing out of their village before in their lives. I hope they had at least a little fun. Group name: Buranovskiye Babushki. Song title: Party for Everybody.
7. Iceland sent a duo Greta Salome and Jonsi. (Both O’s are accented, as well as the first E. I can’t figure out how to add accents on the computer at work.) Oh, also, Jonsi is probably the boy. Summary of the song: some very Icelandic people sand about how attractive they are. Or something. Regardless, I couldn’t help but like their song ‘Never Forget’.
8. Cyprus sent Ivi Adamou to sing ‘La La Love’. She stood on a table made of stone. Or made to look as if it were made of stone, and sang and danced. I could understand her English, as long as I focused very, very hard.
9. France, who always sings in French (who would have thought) sent the song ‘Echo (You and I)’. Yes, there was English involved. And, although my French is poor, I did enjoy the song. I also enjoyed the attractive athletic men doing tricks across the stage. Not un-enjoyable in the least. Sung by Anggun.
10. Italy sent a beautiful woman, Nina Zilli, who they say is compared to Amy Winehouse, and I suppose she did look like an Italian version of her. However the similarities stopped pretty much there. Don’t get me wrong, she had a strong voice, and I’d say ‘L’amore e femmina (Out of Love)’ was a good over all performance.
11. Estonia. This was the song that I enjoyed the most that was sung in the native language of the country. Ott Lepland sang ‘Kuula’.
12. Norway sent Erik Saade?? Wait, Adam Lampert?? Nope, no, that’s Tooji. You heard me right. Tooji. Born in Iran and taken to Norway as a one year old (don’t worry, taken by his family) he then went on to take the stage in Azerbaijan at age 25. His song ‘Stay’ wasn’t half bad in my opinion.
13. Lucky number 13 went to host country Azerbaijan. At first I thought it was an old Beyoncé song, but don’t worry, they haven’t infringed on any copyrites. Or whatever it is they use to protect music with these days… They had a cool thing going with her dress and the lights, but over all Sabina Babayeva’s performance of ‘When the Music Dies’ wasn’t my favorite.
14. Romania sent a woman and band. And the band had a bag pipe. You pretty much couldn’t get any cooler, unless you also had an accordion. Far and away one of my favorite performances of the night, and a song that I actually wouldn’t mind listening to in my free time. (Yes, watching TV is considered work in my world.) The group was named Mandinga and their song ‘Zaleilah’ was sung in both English and Spanish.
15. Denmark was up next. With a sailor. Oh, no. A graduating Swedish high schooler. Oh, oh, sorry, that’s fashion. Despite the outfit, this was one of my favorite songs, ‘Should’ve Known Better’ sung by Soluna Samay.
16. Greece sent. . .Paula Abdul from the 80’s?? Pretty much actually. During the entire performance all I could think about was what Greece would do if they actually won. The amount of money necessary to put into the Eurovision production is, I assume, above their current spending budget. Which, from what I understand, is zero. Eleftheria Eleftheriou sang ‘Aphrodisiac’. And, frankly, I’m not sure what it means to want your aphrodisiac. The specifics escape me.
17. SWEDEN!!! Yes! Finally. The song I’d been waiting for. Kind of. Seeing as they’ve plastered it onto every radio station, where it is played at least once an hour, as mandated by the King, I have heard the song enough. But it’s always fun to see a live performance, and I do think that Loreen sang ‘Euphoria’ to the best of her ability. Which is pretty damn good. I love the choreography, and her outfit. I pretty much wish I was as cool as she is. Heja Sverige!!
18. Turkey sent Borat. Or at least that’s what Evelina thought. I must say, it does seem like it. A clean-cut version of Borat. Turns out his name was Can Bonomo, and he sang ‘Love Me Back’ well.
19. Spain sent the second Spanish language song of the evening. Not a shock. It was a very beautiful song, ‘Quedate conmigo’ (again the e is accented, sorry about my lack of computing abilities). Performed by Pastora Soler.
20. Germany sent Roman Lob, who I really truly hope did not change his name, or come up with a stage name, because Roman is an awesome first name. He sang ‘Standing Still’ and it was one of my favorites. His performance was good, although I think this was more due to the enjoyment of watching attractive people do things, than his actual singing ability.
21. Malta. Some fun facts about their history in Eurovision: their national languages are English and Maltese, and the last time they sang in Maltese was in the 70’s when they came in dead last. From that point on it was decided that English would be the only language they would sing in, in Eurovision. True story. I’d say it was a good choice, because it lead to this song, ‘This is the Night’, sung by Kurt Calleja. Who brought it with his awesome dance moves.
22. F. Y. R. Macedonia sent this woman, Kaliopi. If I knew Macedonian I may have enjoyed the song. The music was pretty, but there wasn’t much of a performance on stage. Honestly, she scared me a little bit half way through with a combo of electric guitar and angry voice. ‘Crno i belo’ turned out to be a pretty fun song though.
23. Ireland sent JEDWARD. Yes!! These blond, energetic, twin brothers made their first Eurovision appearance the previous year with their song ‘Lipstick’ which was epic. To the nth degree. They’re a ton of fun to watch on stage. But in this performance I did miss the energy a little. Their song ‘Waterline’ was a mellower version of their usual hype. Still fun to see them.
24. Serbia sent Zeljko Josimovic, with lots of accents and fun things attached to his name. ‘Nije ljubav stvar’ was the song he sang, and yes, you guessed it, it was in Serbian. I cannot be certain, but I do think that he said poop in the first line of the song. Don’t quote me on that, because my Serbian is also poor. This lack of language ability probably inhibited my enjoyment of the song, but I just don’t seem to have the time to learn Serbian. Maybe next year.
25. Ukraine’s song was all about me being a guest. Which is pretty awesome, because when you’re the guest places you usually get stuff. And as I always say, free stuff is the best stuff. ‘Be My Guest’ was the song title, sung by Gaitana. There was a lot of fun and color going on on stage. One of Evelina’s favorite songs.
26. Last but not least, Moldova. They sent Pasha Parfeny with the song ‘Lautar’. I honestly thought it was the guy from Fight Club for the first half of it. Then Evelina said, no, no it’s the guy from American History X. Turns out that’s the same guy, Edward Norton, and it turns out he is not a singer in Moldova. An entertaining performance, with some very cool dresses (not on the guy, on the other dancers.) To be clear.
Humperdink. I just needed to say it again.
Anyway. Quickly after the culmination of performances, while Europe was voting (not me, because you have to PAY… MONEY to vote) I composed my top 12 list. 12 songs that I would voluntarily put on my iPod and listen to on a day to day basis. For downloading onto Spotify in the future, as well as to compare to the actual voting results.
My Top 12:
After waiting and waiting, for approximately 10 minutes. The results were in, and each country who voted awarded points to the performances. Depending on the vote of the people of the country a performance received 12, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1. Then comes the real suspense as you view a representative from each country come on the air and award the points. 42 countries voted, and the winner was SWEDEN!! Yes! Go Loreen!!
It was a very exciting night in Sweden. For me at least. And yes, I do plan on attending Eurovision next year when it is in Sweden. So look for me in the crowd.
Europe’s Top 12:
- Sweden – 372
- Russia – 259
- Serbia – 214
- Azerbaijan – 150
- Albania – 146
- Estonia – 120
- Turkey – 112
- Germany – 110
- Italy – 101
- Spain – 97
- Moldova – 81
- Romania/Macedonia – 71
In the history of Eurovision Sweden has now won 5 times. Also, in the voting this year Sweden was awarded points by every country. Except Italy. Which begs the question: Italy, what’s the deal???
(All flag photos were found on Google Images. All other photos were taken with my iPhone of the broadcast by SVT. All editing was done on my iPhone.)