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2011 Review

Eurovision 2011 Review & Analysis

Here goes my personal opinion & analysis on Eurovision 2011. Through the years I’ve tried to maintain a certain critical level on my commenting Eurovision. It’s not about “I like/I dislike” in my book. Or to be fair, not just about that. I won’t get into philisophical debate, to prove that beyond taste there is common sense and the objectivity that one’s opinion must reach. It’s all technical and beyond what must be said here. I have rewatched and relistened to the songs. To be fair, a great deal of them do not interest me. I would not have listened to them b myself, and not because they’re foreign but because they are light years away from me. So ranking them already asks a lot for me: it means i must get out og my head what I also would like. Because, as so many of our friends who hate esc do, I could just go “this is crap, I don’t want to hear it again” to all the songs I don’t care for, and I don’t end up with an actual ranking, but more or less groups of songs. No, I must take an objective look at these efforts.
 

Introduction

I. First of all, I salute all 43 entries for taking the courage of the big stage to represent a country, an esc history, and a culture even in its most graphically bad modern aspects. Yes I will be terribly harsh towards many of you but I do not forget that I do not hate any countries or any cultures that you represent. That this is ONLY a very very small eurovision aspect of a culture and it has no impact on the greater scale of things. With that being said, and even if it may sound typical and expected, it must be said and remembered: we hear and see way too much hatred and violence in esc forums all around the net to not emphasize this. We are here to comment entries. Whatever money or geopolitical aspect behind them, which I will comment of course, we do not forget that, to this day, no one died over Eurovision 2011 and no political or economical changes occured either.

II. Second I want to discuss the overall show before we get one on one with the year’s hopefuls. The show was hosted in Germany, the strongest economy in Europe right now and a Big 5 member of Eurovision. Seriously? I had the biggest hopes for many reasons. One because being rich it could mean an extremely neat host on a pure technical level. Second because the hosting for the World Cup 2006 was definitely superb and proved that the Germans could do it very well and be an amazing and respectful audience. What a letdown! Yes Oslo 2010 was pretty bad but Düsseldorf barely made up for that. The first semi-final saw many bad technical mistakes, lots of singers had no returns in their ear plug all throughout. As for the hosting in general, I didnt get a single laugh from the show. The hosts were hugely boring if not purely scary at points (obviously, after 20 years of Raab killing esc, we’re on for 20 of Stefan doing just the same). The stage was too big, and the big led screen was crushing them. Very little performances were actually better than expected because of that. Most of them were let downs coz the overal look wasn’t just there. The postcards are the worst. So very clichéd lamely shot videos of Germany. That’s neither original nor interesting. In the exact same type, something like Denmark 2001 made them more interesting coz very often off putting. And then, add one guy from the country the card is representing: and that’s how Europe was told every rich european country gets tourists in Germany while the poorer ones have immigrants in Germany. No no of course that is not insulting. (To me the worst remains the Georgian ones with the kid). The bar for votes were there for like a full third of the song (beginning and end of the song) and they’re so big you keep going “stop ruining the live and let me watch”. The interval acts were insultingly boring and lame (except maybe for the second semi). Let me add that my boyfriend is british and this was his first eurovision (he caught some in the past, but this was his first one he watched all through and got to know more of the inside with me) and he agreed on everything, he even put on his FB “wow its true germans really arent funny”. True, Oslo’s interval acts or postcards were even worse, and the stage was cheap, but then the overall flow was well conducted and the hosts were excellent. With Düsseldorf, I don’t think anything was horrific (except the postcards and Raab’s hosting), but nothing was good to make up for the rest. Huge let down and just like Moscow, I’m pretty sure Baku will do a much stronger job. It felt like Germany wanted to party but get rid of it as soon as possible.

III. As for the overall level, I get an average of 44,23/100 which is the lowest average since 2006, making it the second worst esc ever. But this must be qualified, I do not hate esc 2011 as I hate some other esc, and not just 2006. Its good songs are actually all really good, I think I didn’t get as strong a top 10 the past two years (which admittedly were quite strong overall, but apart from very strong top songs, Fr/Est/Bh 2009 ; Est/Tur/Ser/Isr/Bel 2010 had no other goodies, it was just a nice level overall). 2011 takes us to more strong songs, but also more shits. The extremes are pushing and the usual average is just not there (for instance, I already dislike songs past the 16th rank!) With that being said, we also get the one or two oddities that just bring Eurovision to a new level. It’s impossible to hide that Patricia Kaas and Robin Jukhental have managed to bring Eurovision to spheres it barely dared to go before in terms of music quality AND performance quality. Both were at the same time very simple but very alternative in its camera shots and overall feelings. You felt something had happened while when you look at the singers actually do, not much. Well 2011 brings us not one but two of these. And in a way, what do you want? An overall ok nice esc without big monsters, or getting more and more boom boom but at least bringing strong music in esc? I don’t prefer any, I just aknowledge which kind of esc years we’re in and go with whatever. But then what about results? Odd enough, this year’s results were all over the place with juries and televote disagreeing a lot (Juries: Dk 3rd, Slo 4th, Aus 5th, Uk 22nd, Russia 25th / Televote: Uk 5th, Russia 7th, Dk 18th, Slo 22nd, Aus 24th) and in the end, Azerbaijan, which is like second in televote (actually first by 2pts only to Sweden, which would be the closest televote results ever since 2003, but in 2003 only 26 countries had voted) and second to juries (which made it clear Italy was their winner). All in all, this is all mathematicall. The best example is Iceland and Lithuania. Look at that closely. Iceland was 19th in juries and 19th in televote. Lithuania was 20th in juries and 20th in televote. In the end, Lithuania is 19th, Iceland is 20th. And there you think, wait. That’s not right. But it is all mathematical now. What does it tell us? Well with a short analysis, it means that to do well now a country must get high pts from EITHER televote or jury. Let’s take an example, Lithuania would get very high televote from its neighbours, as it has always been. Enough to push it 20th. Likewise, eastern european juries ended up liking it a lot but it was totally ignored by others. Enough only to make it 20th. Iceland on the other hand was a small silly thing that attracted small points by many countries both in televote and juries, and get 19th. But PUT TOGETHER, the big points Lithuania got from its neighbours are stronger to make it a 4 here and a 7 there (and 12 from its closest neighbour, Poland) and in the end get 2 more than Iceland (whose only 12 came from Hungary, not a neighbour). Another example is Bosnia getting only pts from 16 countries but making it 6th thanks to getting almost always 8, 10 or 12 from these 16 whereas France got points from 18 countries but always small pts and it finished only 15th! So in the end, the two together have even each other out to a pretty decent and expected results (Azerbaijan, Sweden and Ireland were previous esc favorites and did not fail, only France and Uk, other big bookmakers favorites before the contest failed to attract. Italy was a surprise but it had a good draw and an impressive lead by the juries, securing a top 5 in the end).

So now, I will discuss it more further with each song. They will be shown in my ranking, from last to first. I do believe that, even if we can disagree on this or that, overall, i have made a very objective list. I don’t think anyone would have my bottom songs in their top or vice-versa. And if they do, it’s because the songs are that different. I will sometimes stop to make an analysis on geopolitical things, or a specific trend (almost all of my top 10 share a common aspect which is something i will have to tackle!) but overall I will try to make it a simple flaw of ranking songs one by one on a steady pace. So stay tune!

Bottom 5

What strikes me most when I look at my bottom 5 is that we get the most old fashion types of entries. Not that they’re retro or vintage (actually, most of my top 10 will be along these lines in a good way), but that they have everything wrong of what esc in the 00s was all about: cheap routines, cheap effects, cheap songs, cheeky performances or pure joke entries. Even if every entry has its own specialties that we must discuss at length, one can definitely note that the poor results of my bottom 5 (4 of them failed to qualify) show a certain decline of that genre in esc. For the better, hopefully, as countries will pick up on the trend soon. No more “boom boom” and “ding dong” for esc! Another thing, though this also will be discussed at length, a lot of usually well ranked eastern european esc countries are in the bottom, proving an obvious shift in esc geopolitical power already noticed in previous years.

43 Croatia | “Celebrate” Daria Kinzer (000 pt)
Croatia was one of the best eastern european esc countries when it joined our eurovision party. After a while, results started going down and when it missed the final for the first time Serbia actually won, leaving the balkan with least interest towards Eurovision. Since then Croatia has kept going down the flame, even if the country reached the final in 2008 (with a very nice song) and in 2009 (it had a very clichéd song that qualified only thanks to juries). For the third year in a row, Croatia has used a very old formula that proved to work in the past. In 2009 it’s the grand balkan ballad (Serbia 04, Bosnia 06), in 2010 the modern R’n’B ballad (Norway 08, Iceland 09) an in 2011 the cheeky europop that needs no list to know how much we had in the past. However, Croatia has never been a great esc country actually (even if it kept reaching high ranks, it never got the top 3) and as soon as it started playing copycat, it went very boring and clichéd. There’s nothing wrong with using an old formula. It can make either a good song or an excellent song if the composition and/or performance plays on such old formula. Croatia does neither. It’s just the lamest possible form of the genre that we get years after years. Croatia copied the German NF of 2010 which brought them the victory, except they kept chosing the worst singer. Daria can not sing really well (without being purely horrible) and to be fair, she’s a very tall woman who isn’t hot to look at. I have nothing against “not hot” singers for sure, but the fact that they played the hot chick card without having a hot chick (Katie Wolf is times and times hotter, and the comparison was doom to kill Croatia’s chances) makes it lamer. Overall, the change of clothes is the oldest esc trick, since Buck Fizz or Marie N. won using it. The oldest one might be Iren Sheer in 78 but through the 00s we didn’t have a single year without someone ripping its clothes. The fact that this was done not once but three times and with very ugly clothes (oh my that bright pink) proves it was over the top. Added the lame routine of going up and down the stairs and you get the 43rd esc entry, 3 minutes of nothingness covered up into all over your eyes performance. Disgustingly cheap song that was revamped three times itself as well, ugly singer who can’t sing and an over the top disgrace made it an obvious last to me. Anyone begs to differ? Really?!

42 Armenia | “Boom Boom” Emmy (001 pt)
And surprisingly, after the Baltics and then the Balkans, the Caucasus was the last and most Eastern european region to take a strong interest in Eurovision. So far, Armenia and Azerbaijan had never failed to enter the top 10 and Georgia the top 12. Just like Croatia and Serbia in the middle of the 00s however, Armenia started to go down and the first year it failed to qualify was the year Azerbaijan won eurovision. In the 2010 Armenian NF, Emmy was one of the hot favorites, along with Eva who ultimately smashed the NF. Emmy left the stage ina  fury. Mad, she did not have to put much of a fight as she was this time chosen internally. Her revenge was complete? Except they had only horrible songs to offer. They chose even the worst one (but ultimately the one she could at best defend by simply shaking it). Does anyone remember that Emmy said that Mihran would join her on stage, since he also was robbed in 2010? But after that announcement, we never heard more about that plan. Probably that Mihran discovered how horrible the esc 2011 was looking for Armenia: the song is an insult to music, it’s a clichéd to all the cheeky esc songs that have relatively simple repeated titles (“Qele Qele” for Armenia in 2008 already), and a singer that can’t sing a single note. In the end, the performance was no surprise and it tried to cover up its all stupidity in a supposed story over boxing which no one fell for. True, it used to work and it would have worked too as it finished 7th in televoting. But nowadays juries are not easily convince by poor vocals and repeated emptyness and failed it to qualify. Justice at last in an esc word.

41 Greece | “Watch My Dance” Loukas Giorkas feat. Stereo Mike (005 pts)
Greece is champion in the esc world to cover up their clichéd attitude. For instance, their cheeky manly shake-up entries which we get every year (2007, 2009, 2010, 2011) have always a twist to pretend to bring something else. After the “but it’s in greek” opa “about the crisis”, we get the “but it’s traditional nicely mixed with modern rap”. Except well as rude as I was with Daria, I don’t fall for the hot guy even if he is hot. To me hot looks don’t cover up for the fact a song is crap. Nope, the fact the main singer is good looking won’t do it for me IF we don’t have something good to start with. I dont care for popish lame illusionated copies of traditional music. The rap was not only the worst rap I ever heard of, it was also horribly mixed with the traditional bits. It seriously scares me anyone would think otherwise. The whole column overall look tells me how hard they keep pushing on the “this is tradition” button. And as much as people fall for it (Greece won its semi, and finished 3rd in televote), juries know better (they had it 9th in semi, 14th in the finale). I seriously hate nothing more than a country that just pretends and doesn’t even try to impress Europe with something that is of actual music relevance. Since when did we get a simple pure piece of music from Greece? I myself believe we didn’t get a single one since the big Greek return in 2001 while I really enjoy the country’s esc history before that. But it gets even worse when it’s a clichéd nationalistic pretention behind the entry. I truly hate this and everything about it is wrong. I recognize that it’s smart as it tricked people in voting for it. But that’s all I’m willing to give it.

40 Portugal | “A Luta É Alegria” Homens da Luta (006 pts)
And the other horrible type of songs we had in the 00s were the joke entries (Ireland 2008, Lithuania 2006…) which should not be confused with off-beat type of entry which actually meant something (Bosnia or France 2008) or were actually funny. There is a fine line between funny and being a joke entry and in order to figure out which is which you have to look at what the entry aims to do: does it want to actually do music in a different kind of way or does it just not care for the results or the contest or even appealing to people but just make fun of the whole tradition around it. Obviously, when Homens da Luta entered the very nice Portuguese NF they were already tipped as favorites along as being hatred by the other half of people. Their lyrics are political and along the satire line but in a cheap lame way. So it’s not even smart. Add to that they dressed in a very clichéd way in a way that I am sure no Portuguese would ever dress but not in an artsy way, in a caricature kind of way that wasn’t inspiring but just crude and insulting. It’s the toughest line to play with, actually being funny and smart with it all and this was a huge failure at it. So ok I recognize that they pretend being something else than just an entry but they tried too many things at once: comedy, satire, caricature… and all of these could still be ok if the song was extremely strong. The problem with these songs is that people forget that we are willing to buy all of this still as long as we get entertained and a strong melody. I seriously never managed to keep up with the melody and this is because of these types of entry that you’re ashame of showing esc to your friends. Obviously, not a funny entry, not a strong song, absolutely no vocals and no melody. So ok, we get it that it’s meaningful. But in a song contest, there is both contest and song and this fails at both.

39 Israel | “Ding Dong” Dana International (007 pts)
Wow I never thought I’d manage to pull this off but I can actually say that this is also a very typical of the late 00s esc: the former 90s winner returning. Charlotte failed at it (and only made it to the finale thanks to juries); Niamh failed at it and in some ways, Chiara failed at it (even if she’s no winner, she was a very succesful esc singer). Now admittedly, “Hero”, “It’s For You” and “What If We” were insanely weaker than the 99 or 93 esc winners and 98 third. That is also true if one wants to compare “Diva” and “Ding Dong”. The first one is an esc evergreen and still a very popular disco song. The second is the lamest and simpliest disco tune ever. But then something else explains why “Ding Dong” was such a big failure that, unlike all the other three I named which all at least reached the esc final, it deserves to be in the bottom 5. First of all, Charlotte, Niamh and Chiara all are extremely strong singers. However bad some of the 90s esc were, all of the winners picked by the juries were extremely good singers. But Dana International was never a good singer. “Diva” is shouted at best, if not screamed, murmured and plain spoken. “Ding Dong” had less of a melody or a wow factor than “Diva” and of course absolutely no relevance has “the israeli transexual” which brought huge publicity to the 98 esc and a victory. So in the end, it was a very boring and old fashion song extremely poorly sung. Dana International felt the need to be herself absolutely, meaning walk like a model on stage in a dress that is weird and fashionable instead of looking just good. In other words? Pointless. It all came together in 98 in what is still a rather bad esc winner, but it worked as a whole. This is obviously wrapped on each other while winners must reinvent themselves to make strong come backs, we’re not the 80s anymore when people wanted Johnny Logan to do Johnny Logan. “Ding Dong” in its essence is the explanatory of how “Diva” worked and therefore, being so self-conscious, could only fail. Now if you even add that I absolutely hate this tradition of having the most pointless word that sounds good repeated shouted over which Israel overloves (“Hora”, “Hi”, “Olé olé”, “Kahn”) and sadly puts into fame (with such “Qele Qele” and other “Boom Boom” already mentioned), you get that this has nothing and I do mean nothing to attract me.

38th-31st

I was supposed to do 38-29 tonight, but will only do eight songs because it striked me that the songs ranked 31st and 30th were definitely better than these 8 which are definitely into the second half of the year but none, apart arguably from Russia, are truly horrible either. If you look closely, apart from the lame Slovakian song, 7 of them are euro cheeky pop songs, which we have way too much in Eurovision and usually I only like one or two per year, the best overall package (to me, if you wanna play the europop card, you gotta have the catchiest tune possible and a strong performance… it wouldn’t hurt to actually sing it too). So all the other ones fall straight to the bottom half. Each have their quality (and their best quality is “they are not ‘Celebrate’ or ‘Boom Boom'” lol) but another thing I’d like to point out is that none of these countries are anywhere near my fave country list. If we look at last year, we get that these 8 countries were ranked 20th, 21st, 23rd, 31st, 32nd, 33rd, 35th and Hungary was 34th in 2009. In other words, all these countries were already mid-table if not close to the end of the list already. They are used to the average typical type of songs and I barely liked any songs from these countries lately. But without generalizing too much, let’s get right into this year’s entries from them.

On a different note, the overall paragraphs will be shorter (a bit), not because I don’t feel like writing them, but simply because it will be very straight forward “this is bland and typical, let’s move on”. There are always more to say on the best and the worst. Even if these are below average, they won’t bring anything memorable to esc history.

38 Russia | “Get You” Alex Sparrow (007 pts)
Now we start with a song that truly belongs to the first part of the ranking, meaning the bottom craps. If we are to look at Russia in Eurovision, we’ll get a lot of frustration. It started off great (94, 97, 01 are still their best to date) and even when Russia turned to more modern entries, it remained pretty impressive (02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07 all have qualities to make them into the better half of their years). Tired of being so well placed but still without a victory, they brought new type of entries that just sunk the level of their entries. No esc winner is more camp than Dima Bilan (with a Justin Timberlake wanna-be), the idea behind “Lost & Forgotten” was interesting but it was to be a pure disaster live, only “Mamo” was great, but host countries tend to give a go to different and edgy songs since they don’t care much for winning, bringing us memorable entries we wished had won instead (“Oro” or “Taken by a stranger” are recent examples). For 2011 Russia thought that, since americanized entries do so well, they should just get RedOne to do a song. After all, the Lady Gaga producer seemed interested in eurovision entering a song to MF. But did Russia listen to “Dance alone”? A huge horror of lameness: RedOne doesn’t do Lady Gaga in esc, he does esc stereotypes meet the US mod-table chart. And that’s a no from me. Add that Russia was more interested in bringing a hot ass (for sure Alex and his dancers were all hot and orgy-worthy) than a voice. Alex did not bring a single right note in Düsseldorf. He kept shouting and encouraging the crowd but the lameness of the song added to a boring live made it the pure last of the juries. If Russia wasn’t at the center of all Eastern European diaspora votes, it wouldn’t have made it to the esc finale. Sigh.

37 Slovakia | “I’m Still Alive” – Twiins” (014 pts)
Another country not unlike the previous one. Slovakia? I love their three first daring entries, all so different from one another and from almost anything in their respective esc years. I simply have them all 6th in 94, 96 and 98. And then they came back, with two impressive and terribly long and rough NF, filled with interesting songs. But both time Slovakia picked random forgetful songs. True, 09 was great vocally but we never like a song that is just a show-off for vocal performances. 10 was playing too many cards at once, was it folk or edgy? Oh wait, it’s just boring and repetitive. Out but too late, Slovakia ended up picking internally two hot chicks with a very Americanized R’n’B Ballad. I still have very kind feelings for Slovakia. Up to me, I’d have this a bit higher than the cheap europop I have above it. But to be fair, apart from a decent show, with hot looking dresses and a great light show that made it, as an entry, passable (and juries had it 9th of the semi), this has nothing. No one can sing the melody after hearing it once, the girls can’t sing at all and in the same genre, Azerbaijan was light years better. So all in all, we can get only mixed feelings. Slovakia’s best place in the 3 past years makes us hopeful the country will stay in esc. But wait, will it stay only to send such typical entries to hope to make it to the final and then be last there? That’s not what I want from an esc country. I want a daring country not afraid or caring of its final results but sending true entries. For the first time in English, with such a bland song, I never felt like watching Slovakia and that pained me. Obviously, this having nothing can only be very low in my rankings, but I keep personally hoping for a great come back from Slovakia.

36 Macedonia | “Rusinka” Vlatko Ilievski (015 pts)
I never really liked Macedonia in esc, apart from Karolina and the 09 gig was pretty cool for what it was. At least, yes, Macedonia sings in its native language, as they very often do. Let’s also remember that Macedonia was that terribly annoying country that would qualify every year back in the days of that immensely stupid and unfair one semi-final. Since then, Macedonia lost all of its luck, when indeed it should have made it to the finale in 08 and 09. True to its very odd NF where things never quite go as planned from our perspective, but bore off their asses all macedonians we know online who can predict the winner long in advance based, they say, on a lot of corruption and the channel just going its way. I truly hope one day we’ll get a huge Macedonian entry. But this year won’t be the case. The song’s dull and repetitive and the guy had a terribly annoying voice. The reason this climbs so high is the native language and the show. It was nice enough in its oddity, but Moldova did it just so much better. And to be fair, this is the type of entry that, while I don’t hate them, I never listen to the end. They’re just so boring and don’t go anywhere. It’s not just that they’re dull. It’s that they don’t entertain us and bring anything to surprise, shock or intrigue us. Even if I saw that in this forum Macedonia made it higher usually, I also nod that no one had the crazy idea of calling it a masterpiece or having it in the top 3. There’s just nothing. So if you like that genre I guess you’ll just go with it and won’t get annoyed. I still think the contest is a great place to experiment, try and trigger something. Instead, this is the type of entry you can tell are just there to please a specific audience. And who can win like that?

35 Hungary | “What About My Dreams” Kati Wolf (016 pts)
We’re getting now to 5 songs that are so similar in so many aspects that I just find it the hardest way to rank them. In all objectivity, these 5 are equivalent so this time I decided to let a bit of personal idea come into play, which meant that Hungary was definitely the first one down. Why? Not just because of my reputation of hating the fans favorite (I don’t really care what fans like) but because it’s got everything wrong. Changing from Hungarian, where the stupidity of its lyrics were hidden, using the ugliest dress of the night, very sytupid hair-do that gave Kati the whole “I’m a barbie girl” look which I simply hate with a passion bigger than life itself, irrelevant dancing that made no points to the story, to the interaction with the singer or the camera or the audience, irrelevant background, and the cheeky europop crap as a melody. It’s so wrong this is almost a walking clichéd. Luckily enough, Croatia was even worse in every single level. To me, Kati was so hyped because she wasn’t Daria. But I still hate both entries a lot. True, I expected Kati to fail big live, but her voice stood ok which leads this higher than Slovakia or Russia without being any much better. That’s the one credit I will give it. Also, a lot of people expected it to be the Kate Ryan of the year and she actually was (midtable in semi and close to dead last in final, ignored by everyone except the Finns???) let’s not forget Kate would have made it to the final with the 2 semis system (being 13th of the one semi was impressive, especially for Belgium) and would also have died in the final. All is fair in… wait, there’s no love here.

34 Belarus | “I Love Belarus” Anastasiya Vinnikova (017 pts)
But there’s love here with a Belarussian loving, well, Belarus. I guess it’s almost constitutional there to love their country. I won’t make much joke because the political situation in Belarus is no joking matter but it is so big of a joke in eurovision that it’s hard to reisst. While the contest, with all its many flaws still, is trying to get better on its geopolitics year after year, Belarus is the one country with the most hilarious and lame votes and songs. Let’s get this one out right away too, “Butterflies” should never have made it to the finale but this, 9th in televote, wouldn’t have been such a crime so high. The guilty pleasure of many (because they laugh AT it and not WITH it, which means that pity is still a powerful force that I’m sure Anastasiya and the Belarussian delegation are more aware than what the gayest esc fans would ever imagine!) is not one of mine. I can’t really say why. I get the appeal of why this would be laughable, but melodywise I can’t see it better than Kati’s or Alex’s entry. So what, just add stupid nationalistic and you get something funny or listenable all of the sudden? Well not for me. Belarus has never given us anything good. Their NF had had in the past a few entries I would have liked to see and hear on the big esc live, so maybe we’ll get this one day. But the past two years NF and final internal selection turned to pure disaster and I doubt we’ll see Belarus any high, both in the contest and in our list. Actually, the joke factor made it the highest it could ever dreamed of being right now. Let’s already move on to the next entry.

33 Poland | “Jestem” Magdalena Tul (018 pts)
Now this one could have been better. The Polish NF, much more indie last year, failed to impress me this year again. It’s like every year, we get the OGAE Poland doing all the chosing. 9 songs run to try to defeat a huge favorite that is only an eye candy for esc queers but will obviously flop big time in esc and then bring many tears to the fags who supported it. “Legenda” was the essence of that and I never thought Poland would go for it for a second time in a row. But they did. Last in the semi is harsh but it serves them right. Hopefully next year they’ll reconsider. So what did we have here? A catchy (at least it’s better than Hungary and Belarus) tune, with a native-language lyrics (another bonus to the nationalistic or the english-switch from the previously named countries). It was off to a good start. But let the public’s lil starlet do her thing, and you’ll be sure she’ll ruin it live. A disaster of gimmicks, horrible horrible look, terribly lame overall look, and going first is never a good thing when you’re a huge letdown. I can’t believe it actually got points from televote. It surely didn’t deserve any. So ok there were worse songs but this is the perfect representation of why, while europop does do well in eurovision as everyone likes to remember in tv before and after esc, europop also does horribly in eurovision and even more often than it does well! There are just so many in that genre that, the minute you make something wrong, you’re gonna pay by a lot of points. And since this got it all wrong live, it was doomed to keep Poland in the semi once more. Three years of typical and clichéd songs that were on the verge of being plain stupid but were also not that bad and yet were suicidal disasters live. Poland really does need to shake it up at some point. Hopefully soon.

32 Norway | “Haba Haba” Stella Mwangi (020 pts)
Oslo really loved Jessy and danced along and pushed him so high that he finished 12th. For the first african-american shaky song, and not europop, the result was very convincing and Norway was very into it. Enough that they held Stella as the huge winner of MGP. Now let’s remember that this year’s MGP wasn’t as impressive and magnificient as the previous ones: 2009 was great and 2010 was purely amazing with a lot of songs which would have easily marched in my esc top 5 (Gaute, Bjorn Johan, KoK to name the best three). This year, a lot of the names on paper were just incredible but a lot were disappointing. Most of all Girl Happy which can do so much less camp, but Susperia were definitely way too pop to get into KoK’s costumes. Helene and Noora were the divas in an edition where Isabella and Aste/Rikke were very decent performers. All four totally overlooked (2 didn’t even make it to the top 4 of their semis, the other 2 qualified from the first semi only to be forgotten in the finale). And for what? Stella can’t reach a single note. “Haba Haba” is an insult of repetitiveness and to any form of human intelligence. The live in the finale was grand, but we already knew Norway can deliver great staging (after all, it won not so long ago with a smashing result). I want to also state right away that Stella is gorgeous to look at (probably the hottest female singer this year) but again, that won’t cover up for the fact she can’t sing. She can dance, she looked happy and fun and the backings were impressive. Actually too impressive. Maybe people would have overlooked her incapability if only the backings didn’t deliver so much. I remember that Jessy’s performance was incredible, even if he can’t sing and isn’t THAT great of a dancer. But everything worked smoothly together harmonously. Here we have Stella who just can’t keep up. Add to that the silly clichéd african look (Jessy played the anonymous look of the sailor style much more effectively), and you get a lil earthquake in esc 2011 with Norway rightfully kept out of the finale. I won’t complain.

31 Malta | “One Life” Glen Vella (022 pts)
For the first time in this year’s ranking I will say this: this one was actually better live. Another disgraceful NF from Malta would never lead to a song top ten worthy, neither in esc nor in my ranking. But they actually played the simple card. Unlike over the top like the previous ones, they had him on stage singing. And he just had so much fun! He really lived for this moment and gave it all and I’m glad that there are people who can just accept of having their best of time. 11th by one point to the final is a great reward. Not for Glen who apart from having an oddly cute monkey-like face was one of the worst singers of the year, but for proving Malta that it did not take a Disney bird on stage to do well. This simple tune did better. Maybe something to work on? Malta’s NF this year was definitely the worst one in all Europe (or at least top 3) but in there I heard a lot of people singing in tune, a lot of grooves here and there. If only they didn’t have such a big extravaganza NF and instead worked more together to make a great entry, it could be interesting. Malta used to have a great interest in esc. They always had odd weird juries votes so I don’t mind and accept that their taste is that much different. And honnestly, their great results in the 90s were one of the biggest injustice in esc (no way their 91, 93, 95 or 96 songs deserved the top 10!) But Debbie or Chiara, with insanely great vocals, pulled off together great results that made a lot of fans think this was turning into a great esc country. But all we have lately is camp over the top stuff which really sickens me and that is why Glen’s cheerful yet simpleness is a true treasure. The look was great, the performance made it bearable (I hadn’t listened to all 3 mns before) and overall this is in the second half of esc 2011 but it is definitely not an insult to Eurovision. It will just be one of the many forgotten songs of the decade that really didn’t do anything except made esc 2011 a little bit horrific than it could have been with the other maltese possible entrants.

30th-21st

It is now time to look at countries in the midtable. The points go from 26/100 (a 1/4 of the total points) to 48/100 (almost 1/2 of the total points) and the country ranked 22nd is right in the middle, with 21 points below and above them. The comparison with last year is still interesting. Two of these ten countries were in my top ten last year (6th and 9th), one was 11th, another one was 13th and another one was 15th. Which means that 7 songs from my top 10 last year are in the top 20 again (Israel being the first one to go). It also says that half ot the countries in the midtable are going down a bit. But the other countries here were 39th, 38th, 36th, 34th, 29th last year and are therefore going up reaching midtable. It tells me that a lot of countries in the bottom remain in the bottom, a lot of the top stay on the top and from 30th to 11th there are more possible switch. Of course there’s always the one big exception (Israel for instance, going from 4th to 39th) but overall, there are definitely “good esc countries” and “bad esc countries”. We’ll see which is which, for now we’re looking at the “meh” countries where we can find good stuff about their 2011 entries but none reached above 50/100 even if we are passing half of the songs.

30 Ukraine | “Angel” Mika Newton (026 pts)
No one can actually sum up the ukrainian selection of the past few years. In 2011 we had some quarter finales, some semis, then a lot of talks of corruption, mad singers, disagreeing, then an actual finale, with lots of doubts on the fairness of it all. In the end, one of the many modern ballads in the finale won it, the one with the most shouty singer. Look at this entry, if I say “Angel” by Mika Newton, no one in the world would guess “Ukraine”. It’s so americanized it makes me sick. Terribly lame language change, totally dumb song. Mika is a very annoying shouty singer who has a very weird weasel-like face. Add some shoulder pads that made it so lame and cheesy that it made me want to vomit. The song in its melody and production is very neat. Everything about it is done very well and you can tell, this was done to do well. And that’s what bugs me. Everything about this was over the top. I hate it because it’s over the top but I can see the “quality” (sort of) in it and the appeal. I just thought the televote would never go with such stupid sand show. Sure it was good and of course it took all the attention to it. Sure I knew such songs would do well with juries (7th) but the fact it did so great in the televote (4th) is really weird. People do fall for the biggest stupidest stuff. So a soundtrack to a sandshow can do 4th of Eurovision. It’s because of all the countries voting, and the vote going all over the place to this or that, and in the end, Ukraine got enough points from many to get top 5 but seriously, it’s got a very incredibly low result overall for a 4th. In a smaller edition, it only finished 6th of its semi. Mh.

29 Spain | “Que Me Quiten Lo Bailao” Lucía Pérez (030 pts)
I hated the Spanish NF as well. It was another one of many who copied the German format of 2010 that drove the country to find Lena and win (as if they all forgot that it was not just Lena but also “Satellite” which won). The results of each show were a huge insult joke. Their specialists kept making the worst choice, televote was being televote, chosing the hot boys isntead of the good voices or great performers. In the end, Lucia was not the worst (they had a very annoying boys band who couldnt sing even if they were all hugely hot) but she was far from the best. But worst, they chose the biggest crap to send to Eurovision. A typical latina cheeky europop in Spanish. Gosh, does the Spanish tv have any memory to spare? Can’t they look at all their results since 2001-2004 when all of these latino tunes got a top 10? Anyway, this was terribly dumb. Lame irrelevant song with a poor singer. The preview video was a big joke and I feared the worst. Actually, live it was pretty decent because they decided to not go over the top (unlike Ukraine) and decided to just have fun with it. That I approved of. It was silly and irrelevant still, but it wasn’t lame anymore because it wasnt pretentious. It was just an acceptable entry with a cute girl trying to sing. THe overall look was pretty good on the big screen and this was harmless after all. I’m very surprised it did not get last. Before the show I had tipped it as a sure last. I never saw Estonia dying (I thought more of a 17-20 results) and Switzerland could have made a cute surprise. But looking at it, without Turkey, Armenia, Israel and Portugal, France had no other choices but give Spain the 12 pts (and for the same reasons Belgium gave 12 to France and Spain 10 to Amaury).

28 Latvia | “Angel In Disguise” Musiqq (034 pts)
I can’t really be too rude at this, because it’s not hateful. It’s got it all wrong, but it’s so harmless and they weren’t pretentious. They just thought it would work. It did for Netherlands 2004, for Latvia in 2005 so why not them? Why can’t a single little tune with two guys being cool just not do well just because? Well for many reasons: first of all, you can’t just have a regular radio friendly rock n pop that no one will remember. It takes a little bit more than that. Second of all, you dont have a pointless walk around routine where you show your total absence of rhythm. Last, you dont look like two fag boys who have no idea what they’re doing. They got it all wrong but they tried to look like they didn’t try and while it’s annoying and irritating, I can’t really hate it. And why? First of all because the Latvian NF, which was back on track in 2010 especially with “Risti Rasti” and Dons (a great song with a so so singer and an incredible singer and performer, who also looked hot and got a very unfair second place), was terrible this year and had at least half of the songs being ridiculous or/and hateful. And “Angel In Disguise” is by far the best “song” of the bunch. While “You Are” was my favorite, very cool retro disco, well performed and sung, this I thought was an ok choice. Second because Latvia improved so much from the disgusting christian whory entry they had last year and Latvia comes from an incredible esc record (they are my winners in 2000 and in my top 10 for 2002, 2004 and 2005) so you just want to see them go back to that. So in the end, very mixed feelings. Sure this belongs on the second half though.

27 Slovenia | “No One” Maja Keuc (035 pts)
Slovenia keeps making the worst choices in their NF. But then, they really can’t be the only ones to blame, as the juries also took a big part in such mistakes. So this year they had a jury choose for the first half but let televote makes the final selection. Weird. Feliks Langus deserved to make it a couple of times to esc already, but this time they were only second to no less than Omar Naber, who surprised me by NOT being typically himself with a big balkan ballad but seemed fresh with a new look and tune, still a strong singer. But no, it was down to two very similar women singing the same type of americanized entries. Slovenia just did not want to repeat the folk or daring entries of the past (who can blame them, they seriously were disgusting last year and deserved the bottom place). But then, of course, the song gets switch to English. And Maja, like so many, can’t really pronounce English. This was a pain to watch on esc: i hate her accents and to be fair, she has a very annoying voice which sometimes make me wonder how on-tune she really is (like so many singers who don’t really get off but have such terrible accent you just hate it). Typical rnb ballad that brings juries to orgasm. 4th with juries, and not higher than 22nd with televote, which just hated it. Thank god. It was pretentious, she was ugly on stage, bad make up, stupid S&M look that made no sense, very bad overall, as I said, annoyingly bad vocals without going off tune. I can’t get why fans love it. So just on the Slovenian audio version, this deserves top 10? Oh yeah, but esc is not a radio show, it’s a live performance and she surely ruined it ruined it ruined it. So the song is pretty decent and well put together. 13th is so high, but juries will always fall for a well put together americanized tune and I’m not mad at all for it going in the finale. It’s just that everything bugs me and I find it overrated.

26 Lithuania | “C’est Ma Vie” Evelina Sašenko (036 pts)
I wasn’t that surprised it qualified. But I was surprised it qualified along with Switzerland and Estonia, leaving both Turkey and Armenia out. But we know the juries, yes them again, fall for such songs. And yes, this is almost exactly like Slovenia. Just like Portugal last year, they encouraged in the first semi one of the year’s strongest voice to get to the finale. Well better her than Emmy. The song starts nicely. The light effect was efficient. The dress was nice. But the chorus is a disney crap and to make it even more camp, the sign language bit just made me burst with laughter. Of course I shouldn’t; but I’ve never been a friend with politically correct and I found that lame and cheesy. So in the end, this is where it belongs, barely in the finale but dying there. I wonder if she had Ukraine’s running order and vice versa, would they have switched results? I doubt it, but Lithuania might be higher and Ukraine lower. Anyway, Lithuania, 20th for both juries and televote ends 19th. It got an incredible number of points from disney-friendly anglo saxon countries and all its neighbours. And that’s it. Indeed, it’s not a song that drives lots of appeal and it’s no surprise that this never was a contender for victory. But the reason I have such a camp thing I hate so high is that, in the end, if the “worst” type of entries we had in Eurovision were like this, Eurovision would be really decent. Indeed, while this is every thing I hate, it’s still well put together, and a very very serious entry. Sure it’s only a radio lullaby that won’t harm or change the world, but it’s filling in Eurovision with an irrelevant tune no one will remember, which, in the case of bad songs, is a good thing.

25 Albania | “Feel The Passion” Aurela Gaçe (038 pts)
FiK is usually an impressive NF, and one of the reasons I got interested in the NF to begin with. Still live music with orchestra, still usually a great show, still you can see the juries coz they’re right here and you can hear the audience boo. True, I hate its corruption (we know every year who is going to win as soon as we know who’s taking part), and lately it’s been really poor musically. And I mean extremely poor. To be fair, Albania has never really pleased me, except in 2006 and most of all 2008 but I still follow FiK with great interest, even if in the latest years it’s been more of a chore. But it’s given me lots of joy before and I keep hoping. And last year, while I really was annoyed at Juliana last year in FiK, she won me over live. For Albania is one of these rare countries that can totally revamp for the best live, with great shows, better vocals and an overall cool entry. Aurela was a big star no one would have beaten in FiK. I never liked her songs, and I hate her singing which isnt bad, it’s just a big vocal performance all throughout instead of singing. “Feel the Passion” is not that bad in English, and the show was very weird, but it wasn’t bad. They actually tried to be on the edge of pop going goth, and I really enjoyed it but with all the shouting and the oddity of it all, I was also glad when it was over and totally forgot about it afterwards. It was just trying hard to be what it wasn’t and while it wasn’t poorly done it wasn’t convincing either. Midtable. That’s exactly where it ended and where it is for me as well. I’m sure if this had reached the finale it would have been midtable as well. Albania reached the final always lately, unfairly even in 2009 and died there. Maybe it will make them reconsider sending something less regular and consensual with a good live but something more daring and see where their strong live abilities will take them with that.

24 The Netherlands | “Never Alone” 3JS (042 pts)
Again, The Nentherlands got last. A place they seem to flirt with lately and finally reached this year. Ironically, they deserved it last year when they didnt die surprisingly (but 14th was still pretty bad) and got it this year with a song that is, just like so many in this night’s round, harmless. It’s better overall in its tune and genre than Latvia (such similarities): juries had Latvia last with 11pts and the Netherlands one before last with 22pts. If televote wasn’t unfair as we know for neighbours, I’m sure Latvia would have done worse than the flat lands. The problem with this is that it doesn’t have a striking melody. When you listen to it, you don’t want to hum along after the first two minutes and therefore, once it’s gone it’s just gone. While it’s one of the better of these harmless sing along pop-rock americanized tune, it’s got it all wrong in the live as well: first of all, the vocals were very shaky, here and there off. He looked horrible, that white shirt was an insult to good taste. The backings were great though, and remind me how amazing the dutch backings can be (I often stated that the best ever backings were for the Nl in 98 which totally put Edsilia 4th, but the backings in 2003 or 2004 were incredible for the Nl). But no one relies on the backings to qualify (what Jedward? lol) The Netherlands keep chosing their singers internally and let people decide between 4 similar songs. This has got to stop (and it will apparently next year). The Netherlands don’t have any idea what Eurovision is about and 3JS would have won esc 2000 but these are getting seriously out dated. It’s time to pull the big gun, some modern twist songs. In 1975 they followed nicely the trend sent by ABBA, and while ABBA is untouchable and a classic, the whole schlager tradition in esc was less due to ABBA winning than Teach-In winning right after showing what it was like to “make anew” with some old format. Why can’t the country does that with the modern cool songs we get in esc? I expected a Ryback or Lena from the Nl and instead we get the same old things which will not bring Nl any closer to qualifying. Even Belgium got it seriously right lately. Learn from thy neighbour.

23 United-Kingdom | “I Can” Blue (043 pts)
Mad in football (4-1 in the World Cup 8th of final), mad in Eurovision, the old Uk-Germany rivalry should have put the Uk to bring the big gun. But the biggest guns the Uk ever found for Eurovision are Andrew Lloyd and Blue. I guess we will never have Franz Ferdinand, Portishead or Radiohead in Eurovision, which we all know are not only the country’s best but among the world’s best. What I consider one of the very best musical country ever is actually doing what it always did: while it had amazing singers in the 60s and 70s they never actually brought them on esc stage (Beatles or Rolling Stone had to leave the stage to The Shadow, Lulu or Mary Hopkin). And it’s not that Lulu or Mary didn’t have a huge fame with big songs. But it sent their worst songs ever to Eurovision. So now the Uk still has amazing singers but they don’t bring them on stage, and for instance, Blue’s “I Can” is their worst and I never liked them before. Huge in Europe? I had forgotten them and no one knows them in France for sure. The song, well produced, got 5th in televote, as we all know televote always falls for “big names in Eurovision” just as it did Andrew Lloyd. But the juries hated it and had it 22nd for the best reason ever: it was camp and had disgusting, horrible and terrible vocals. They never blended together. Their looks were way off. The whole “look it’s us” in the back was sickening. The whole idea of the BBC finally trying and bringing such a well put together entry which I actually can listen til the end (unlike the uk entries in 2005-2010) is enough to bring this on the edge of averageness. But its disaster live and the fact it did so well by televote falling for it makes me purely mad at it and I seriously can’t see it doing better than bottom 10 in the final. And yes, I rather have the Uk try and maybe one day bring a great newcomer (that’s what I’m resigned to considering no big star would do the contest in the Uk) instead of just mock the old contest with scooch and josh and others.

22 Cyprus | “San Angelos S’Agapisa” Christos Mylordos (046 pts)
When I did my “mathematical” ranking (I do it all by points without looking who is going to end up where), I was so glad to see Cyprus had the magical 22nd spot, right in the middle of all entries. While it is a below average song, it’s exactly spliting songs in half this year. It’s got only half of it working too. Basically, the song is nice enough to listen to. We all were glad to hear it was going to stay in Greek and that it was mixture of folk with modern elements in a way Greece can’t seem to know how to put together. But people seem to forget that we all were dead scared of Christos’ vocals and seriously? They were stinky and among the worst ones. He didn’t hold a single note, sighed most of the lyrics and goes off key half the time. Another thing, to me an entry is a well crafted put together song, with an idea behind it. Compare the video clip to the live performance. It’s like two different entities. The bitter sweet love story ends up in erm hot air balloon with a folk hammer used ridiculously on stage. And the whole boots thing is quite old fashioned but it looks ok at first, then many camera angles show the plaques where the boots stand and when the guy gets them off to dance around the stage, a camera shot shows the boots stuck on the plaquet by themselves. Stupid. And the woman all by herself, doing nothing except annoying us. Bad vocals, terrible lame performance, Cyprus did deserve to do bottom 3 and while many whine, this really did not deserve the esc finale. This had all the potential as a song, ruined by its live. This is what Eurovision is about: not just good songs, not just good lives, but entries entirely, crafted, put together, coming together. It’s a recipe that makes the whole. This never took and belongs right there, below average in the long run, but in the middle of this average contest. Sure I get that people like the song if they like the genre, but ignoring how poorly this ended up makes me quite mad.

21 Romania | “Change” Hotel FM (048 pts)
I might be wrong but I’m also glad this is the first song of the better half. Because it’s so lame and cheesy, and yet yet yet he’s kinda cute, it’s very well sung vocally (all in control, but you tend to forget and forgive) and after two minutes it’s a sing along. Look how close it can be to Latvia or the Netherlands and how it smashed them in its semi to get a very close 4th (only one pt from Slovenia 3rd and 2pts above Bosnia 5th). Without the other two to compare with, Romania lost a lot of its appeal and finished very far below, behind Bosnia and Ukraine, 5th and 6th behind it in the second semi (6th and 4th in the final respectively, while Romania finished at a very anonymous 17th spot). It’s a very midfield song that got very unlucky. It’s 3 pts above France in televote and 4pts behind France in juries. But it’s 5pts behind in the overall, having Russia squeezing between the two. It could have easily gone the other way, without Greece and Belgium giving the 12 to France. It’s unluckyness comes from the fact it’s a nice song you want to give points to but really really really don’t think it’s a winner or top 10 worthy and in the end runs short of so many little points. It’s got, in a silly way, too optimistic stupid lyrics that also doom it to the “catchy but that’s it” remarks in every household in Europe. The pants, well, seriously, he knows they’re over the top cheesy. Even the background played on that. They really DID want to go to the “nothing but catchy”. So it worked enough to bring them this rank, but it could never have done better. And I wonder, do you want to secure an ok result in esc, or do you actually want to try and win, even if it means people not getting it at all (like it was with Amaury)? Well one way or another, Romania keeps its good roll of being in the finale, but I miss the times Romania, in 1994 or 2000 surprised me with different but amazing entries, or in 02, 03, 05, 06 when, while very typical, Romania did bring exquisite entries of “the best of the schlager typical”. At that time people were sure Romania was soon to win Eurovision. It seems now they just wanna do “ok” instead. Tired of esc? Bored of not winning? The NF did bring odd enough tries, and someone like Catalin Josan, who is a great singer and performer, went from simple pop rock in 2008 to more and more odd entries in 09 and 10. I wish he’d get another go, pushing more the pop limits. Or anyone else, as long as we don’t get yet another “yeah ok” song from Romania. At least it won’t be “Balkan horror girls”.

20th-11th

Already getting to the end of this ranking, even if I did take a lot to get it going, mostly because of personal issues. On a side note, I’d like to thank Niko for his daily support. He is a great and understanding friend and it was important to me to acknowledge it publically. And it is now to say it, even if I had sai it before and implied it, but Eurovision is getting more and more divided between the best countries and the worst ones. Apart from the oddly enough bad or good surprise (Israel was a let down this year, Italy a great srprising come back). So let’s look at the rankings from last year or recent years of my top 20 countries: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 8th, 10th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 22nd, 24th, 28th, 37th (Austria, Italy and San Marino were returning). In other words, as shocking as it is, and it is shocking to me more than anyone less, 13 songs out of 17 possible are common in my top 20, and Austria, Italy and San Marino have always been really high countries in my list to begin with (Italy was amazing in the 90s being my winner in 92 and in my top 5 in 93 ; Austria was in my top in 2003 and 2005 and 2004 was oddly enough one of the best boys band ever on esc, even if it’s bad; San Marino was 10th for its only participation ever) It’s even more obvious when we look at the last year’s rankings from my top 10 this year: 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th, 16th, 18th, 19th and one country returning. In other words, not a single country in my top 10 comes from outside my  top 20 last year and five countries in common! We should look at more years in the past to see how relevant this is, but I’ll do it country by country from now on to not make the list too long. Yet it’s obvious that, without me wanting to like a country more (I am willing to be surprised, and Bulgaria jumps from my bottom 3 to the top 20 this year), there are trends of countries actually doing their best in Eurovision and others either not caring or really sending low level entries. The last thing to point out is how these 20 songs were chosen, many of them used internal selection (Turkey, Bosnia, France, Italy, San Marino), others had already had it down for the NF to select a good entry anyway (Germany, Serbia) but also almost all countries which used Internet ended up having good entries (Austria, Belgium, Switzerland). Obviously, the overall big NF is less likely to bring an entry on top, unless you’re actually used to have a great NF (Estonia, Denmark and however disappointing it can be Sweden). Now let’s look at the ones who are in the top 20 but failed to make it to the top 10.

20 Turkey | “Live It Up” Yüksek Sadakat (049 pts)
Turkey had me used of being great in even years (2004, 2006, 2008, 2010) and really horrible in odd ones (2005, 2007, 2009) so I wasn’t really expecting much but that was misjudging the impact of Manga’s runner-up place, the country’s all time second best placing ever. First of all, let’s remember that Turkey by chosing internally, even if they made some choices I’d never approve of, brought itself some amazing results lately and is now among the very best esc countries of the last 10 years. Many fans complain about Turkey choosing internally, of course, they don’t like a country daring sending other type of entries. Insulting. I hope they keep doing it even if this year, in retrospect, was a mistake. Because, like so many big names in esc, the group felt they had to go more soft pop for Eurovision, and in English. YS sent a very disappointing entry that is still a rather nice song in comparison. But I remember thinking the same thing of Bosnia when I heard the song the first time. It’s “meh”, now because Vukasin never really did anything I liked and made an amazing professional performance, I had it at 50pts, only one point better than this. But YS can do so much better, and their live was so awkward. No one knew if they wanted to do something burlesque or if it was meant to be serious. But the green pants, which I usually like, were over the top with the gold extravaganza and extra props like a birdy woman in a ball cage, it has to make a point, it has to be played with, or bring an overtone to the whole entry. It just felt like it was added to cover up the repetitiveness of a lame song. In the end, Turkey did not get more than its diaspora votes, not enough to make it to the final. Let’s hope this brings the idea that the groups or singers must stay faithful to what they do best and not the idea that they should have an open amateurish national final. I’m still hopefull on Turkey, two years without belly dancing is a lot already.

19 Bulgaria | “Na Inat” Poly Genova (051 pts)
This one is a bit confusing. Two of my best esc friends have it as their winner (sic), but some others hate it. A love or hate entry? It’s funny coz I never saw it as such, only a good midtable entry, pretty well delivered. It should have made it to the final, but then Bulgaria is one of the least lucky esc countries. I liked their 2005 entry, and loved 2007; since then I didn’t like what they sent, but they really reached the bottom horror in 2009 and 2010 and I never thought the country would pull it off for a while. Actually, this one decided to have an open NF that was pretty decent. The songs were good, but the lives were more or less all disappointing. In the end, they chose one of the most likely entries, a punkette show well crafted. Problem? It’s phony. All along, you never buy it. If you don’t really really like the song, you just look at it from outside and never get inside the show, the shouting, the dresses… If you like the song, you’re gonna think it delivers it pretty well, and shouting is acceptable. I guess that’s why it’s a love or hate entry, even though, after all, it’s an irrelevant entry that pushed its limits to get as much points as it could with all the rock lovers. But this wasn’t rock enough, nor pop enough. And it suffered the comparison to something that played the exact same crazy rock woman card, Georgia, and it just did it so much better. My ex (I like to use him a lot, becuase he is not into esc at all) just said “what? bulgaria, gone already?” He had forgotten it. You can’t win with that, Bulgaria probably knew it before hand and therefore played its card at its best and I do recognize the quality in that. I am more likely to accept that than a europop gone crazy but nowadays it’s even harder to qualify with that as well. Too bad.

18 Austria | “The Secret Is Love” Nadine Beiler (052 pts)
Austria came back. Well 2007 was just horrible and we agreed to forget it even existed. Before that, Austria was usually a country I enjoyed a lot, I thought 2000 and 2002 were underrated. Problem with the country is that it was serious but of low quality. For 2003-2005, the country chose to go insane, not serious anymore but bring actually interesting sounds to the contest. With their return I was wondering which of the two options they would pick. What strikes me the most is that they had both of them in their NF. First of all, they had probably the best Internet NF this year and had made some very good choices for the top 30. I was really disappointed to some they had picked for the top 10 but also many were good. This one was only 9th in my list of their live NF and it won. I was mad. Terribly mad. She really has no sense of style and isn’t a charismatic performer so I watch 3 minutes of discussing and commenting and disliking her clothes, style, live mistakes and forget that the song is a dull american ballad. But then, to go back objectively, it is among the better american ballads (sorry eastern european countries, but most of the time, the american ballads are much better done by countries which have had american music in their radio for so long, like Norway, Iceland or Austria) and Nadine is, imo, the best vocal performer of the esc final 2011. Vocally it was so perfect I’m shocked anyone would consider Slovenia better on that subject (you can go read back what I said on Maja’s vocals). Performance wise, they really did make a good stage for this, and the German 12 pts were a nice touch (though very unfair) but Nadine really looked bad and still failed to bring any “love” in this stage. So all in all, this is more midfield than the bottom of the list I had it before esc, still so mad at Austria for killing so many great songs in their NF over this. But it’s a decent return, hopefully leading to better entries!

17 Azerbaijan | “Running Scared” Ell & Nikki (053 pts)
Any country who sets its mind on winning Eurovision ends up doing it. Even if they had to sell their souls to the devil, or in our case, their music quality to the most mainstream thing. Russia showed us exactly that, giving up on so many great entries to have Dima winning (even his 2006 song is great, but “Believe” gosh), Greece or Finland are not different. Serbia is the only one who managed to win by being itself and with quality. But then, came Rybak and Lena, who won without the country pushing a victory but by just having had good songs that won Europe over. So I really thought that from now on esc winners would always be of a high standard and possible hits in Europe. But no. So ok I’m glad it won instead of “Drip Drop” but they had the best draw of all the favorites which helps when we see how juries are influenced by the running order (even more so than televote!) But it always bugs me that the esc winner is an entry put together just for victory. Such a long NF with no rules to bring the best format, this surprising duo, the american bland entry which none of my friends who watched esc with me can sing anymore, it’s always annoying that it works in the end and won. Vocally weak, melody average, this won thanks to the best light performance of the year. No clichéd heart, no stories told behind, purely the lights, well crafted light show, neat white look, this came out as very simple and professional, just camp but camp works always in mainstream general vote. Still the best Azeri entry ever to me, and I’m glad it won instead of many fans favorites or bad entries, but this is, for sure, one of the most boring and irrelevant esc winners and in 10 years no one will remember, plus by then Azerbaijan won’t care for Eurovision anymore. But this is it, a mid table boring entry won. I guess I could go on but there’s no point. I carefully avoid to insult this as a winner, but yes it is a huge disappointment.

16 Sweden | “Popular” Eric Saade (054 pts)
A lot has to be said here; Can mentioned it earlier and a lot of my friends hate it (Ian, Togravus). Obviously, I hate the lyrics. But then Fredrik Kempe’s songs have never been popular for their lyrics now, have they. A huge name in MF, having won 3 of the last four editions (while he finished 3rd last year with Eric Saade already). Funny too, “Manboy” is a stronger song overall and especially performance wise, the shower was better and easier to put together than the glass break, less difficult to sing too for Eric. Let’s not kid ourselves, Eric can’t sing and at MF with the recorded vocals, and the 8 people on stage rule, it was easy to get by. Obviously Danny would have done better live in Düsseldorf and “Manboy” would also have been easier for Eric to sing. Still, a huge hottie who can shake his little bum, who sings “girls” and knows that at Eurovision and at MF, apart from teenage girls, it’s mostly “boys” who crave him. Leather, great look, still a decent performance, not the best executed by Eric, the dancers were great, but the glass which would not break was annoying. Still what’s good about Sweden is that it has a catchy oh so catchy song and such a striking performance would for sure stick to people’s mind. I’m sure it would have won televote actually, but juries were uptight on vocals and had it a bit too low for it to contest the victory. Still, to be fair, for all the competition, I wanted more Sweden to win than Azerbaijan, which is why I have both around 50 something points and one right after the other. Now if I have to answer the many questions on why me of all people have it as high as 16th, well I’ll have to say that I still hate europop but still, every year I do like one or two europop songs and to be fair, i’ve always had Kempe’s songs really high, Charlotte and Malena are in my top 15 (but neither in top 10) and Eric is almost like them. The song is hell catchy, the performance was what it had to be, the boy is eye candy. Sure I have it mid table. What people forget is that, nowadays, being midtable at 50 something points is already enough to be in my top 20! That’s all there is to it. I’m not crazy enough to have it top 10 but when I look back at esc 2011, so many things will be totally forgotten, like Hungary or Norway, while this will stick for a tiny bit longer. Sure it’s annoying that such an expected package gets 3rd, but while many people are mad it’s as high as 3rd I’m more happy to see that Sweden is as low as 3rd. This had it all to win, and Italy people beat it. Italy! That’s good news.

15 San Marino | “Stand By” Senit (055 pts)
Wow, another americanized ballad, I forgot how many there were this year. Well this one was the best one. It’s actually got the best production of them all and the melody is catchy; I’ve actually surprised myself going “if you don’t mind, I will stand by” and Senit is a great singer, actually with more charisma than Nadine. I thought the whole live production was of great quality, great light effects. True a bit too much smoke, but it wasn’t annoying or distracting. Senit was beautiful but her dress a bit camp, nothing as bad as Slovenia or Austria though. But in the first semi, it got lost, whereas in the second semi all of them qualified, due to being boosted by the comparison. At least San Marino did not get last unfairly this time and hopefully they’ll come back again, with still that same seriousness, coolness and most of all simplicity. Because it pleased juries, it was tied with Greece and above Hungary in their list, if only it wasn’t dead last with 8pts in televote, but mid table, it would have made it. So what, San Marino, like Andorra and Monaco, is doomed to rely on only one close country (France, Spain, Italy) and then hope to do well. I hope this won’t drive them to despair, because i can see them like Georgia or Serbia, one of the most recent new comers that started esc well and then brought decent after decent entries. I can see San Marino picking up where Italy left, unless Italy itself picks its quality. Anyway, having them both in my top 15 is a privilege that already makes esc 2011 worth while. Senit in her pre-esc interviews was definitely the nicest of them all and I liked her upbeat songs on youtube and was disappointed we didn’t get a cool italian R’n’B in esc stage. Something to think about: keep the simplicity but do dive into the daring entries. And we might make something out of them for sure.

14 Finland | “Da Da Dam” Paradise Oskar (056 pts)
People have often called me unfair for France being so often high in my list. I tend to tell them that I like a certain idea of Eurovision and that France matches it and even does better than live up to the expectations. What people who complain tend to forget is that France is not the only country that almost always does well in my list, if not very well. With only 11 times out of my top 10 in more than 40 years, Finland is one of my favorite esc countries ever (top 3 of all time with France and Bosnia). Lately, they had had bad years (2004-2005, 2009) but with still very strong NF, I kept forgiving them and enjoyed 2006-2008 a lot, while 2010 was a cool irrelevant entry deserving top 10. This year the NF was disappointing. The songs were pretty good but live, none of them delivered, they all dressed awfully and had very poor vocals and you wonder what went wrong, when you compare to old Euroviisut of 2006 or 2007 for instance. In the end, the only one who lived up to the audio format was PO and he went to winning the NF. Good. And good to know the format for 2012 was changed. I like that a country who spots that something is going wrong dares changing things around, let’s hope it’s for the best. As for PO, the Tom Dice effect never took. And I don’t wanna hear it’s about going first. Azerbaijan got 5th last year going first, and Tom Dice was going 7th which isn’t that good. The difference? Tom Dice had a modern entry and it was performed in ABSOLUTE simplicity. Don’t tell me that having the Earth roll up is “simplicity”. it’s camp and the lyrics are annoyingly s*** to me. “Da da dam” even the title is stupid. But PO is sweet, the live was decent in its campness and the melody is a sing along lullaby. I just like Finland and think all of this, as a whole, makes it an ok entry that deserved to be higher than it got, but definitely not a top 10. There I have it 14th and hope for better from Finland.

13 Moldova | “So Lucky” Zdob şi Zdub (058 pts)
Another country I never much cared for was Moldova: I liked 2005 ok-ish but actually really don’t like the song just thought it was ok and overrated. Then hated 2006-2007 but the country interested me in 2008 and finally got my top 10 in 2009. I liked 2010 way more than many people because it was over the top cool and catchy, and this year the country remains in my top 20 for the fourth year in a row. Admittedly, when they did not chose “Let’s Jazz” I was very mad, they had a top 5 worthy entry and a singer we could trust for esc. And I never really liked ZZ before as I said, so I wasn’t very hopeful. The live won me over because again it was over the top cool and I laughed all throughout. The vocals were a bit shaky, the melody is a bit annoying, everything here is a bit too much and yet as a whole I think it conquers you. Funny how so many entries are very mid table in the semi almost not making it to the final, and then do much better than many other songs in the final, still ending midtable: Moldova was 10th, only 1pt from Belgium 11th in the semi and finished 12th, above Slovenia and Romania, 3rd and 4th in the semi. Because people who voted for it still voted for it, while Slovenia and Romania, the mainstream entries, lost a lot of their votes to better songs in their categories from other semis or big 4. In the end Moldova ended up where it belonged, in the mid table. It’s an above average entry that you really wouldn’t want to listen to but you would enjoy watching each time. It’s true it was a bit too much on the joke entry side to get better, but it’s definitely an entry I find more charming than annoying and am glad to see in esc. If I do hope Moldova can bring a huge entry one of these days at least the genre it gave itself makes it a country to watch for year after year.

12 Iceland | “Coming Home” Sjonni’s Friends (059 pts)
Iceland is a country I used to really hate in Eurovision, because it’s 90s entries are almost all awful. I never liked 2003 and hated 2005 like I did 99. But then, the country has a great NF years after years, and they made interesting choices, to say the least in 2006-2007. Since 2008 their singers have been amazing vocal singers with great performances and this one is no exception. Out of a good NF where I was afraid Yohanna would win it, many interesting entries had a lot to offer and the whole story behind the song gave it the extra edge. The Friends surely delivered and the song in English isn’t bad (but still, I don’t get the need to switch, especially if the NF has a specific rule to have all songs in Icelandic!) I think it looked great live, but it didn’t match the song. It felt like it was there just to look good, not to service the entry and that was a bit annoying. Third year in a row that Iceland is the last envelope, and this year I thought it wouldn’t make it once Switzerland did, but it was a nice surprise and well it did get a very low result but the song had never top 10 material on it. People who like the simple well performed and very efficient entries would go for this, but I bet no one has it first. You can like it, but you’d never have it as your winner. You would have it close to it, and now people vote for 3 or so entries so it gets a few votes, but it doesn’t have the quality of an evergreen or an ever lasting masterpiece. At all. 12th is really the best I can rank it, and I don’t find it that low in esc considering that it already had qualified to the final, which is an achievement all together. It’s annoying to be on 12th and still talking of songs I consider mid table, nice but not impressive. And it will be the same for my 11th!

11 Switzerland | “In Love For A Little While” Anna Rossinelli (060 pts)
Right afterwards, I have Switzerland, which has a less interesting song (oh so many “nanana”) but had a better performance. I was hoping Anna would inspire herself from Lena and see what a strong simple performance could be like. Yes, it looked cool but in the end, it didn’t look as good as it could be. Let me explain. The dress? nice. The backing screens, sure looked nice. The bubbles were funny and entertaining. Anna was charismatic and nice. But this song felt like a retro piece of song, and instead of playing the retro card they had this modern dress and very impressive screen that ended up completely crushing Anna who looked so small and irrelevant. The idea of the only two singers playing strings with her should have been emphasized, the stage should have been reduced max to give the impression Anna was owning it and it should have been a dark moody ageless type of entry that would have stormed lots of votes the way Italy managed to do. Instead, they played too many things at once, it felt like they wanted to give it a modern-disney edge to it and it was just annoying with such a simple song. Sure it looked better than Iceland and at least it always was in English, but apart from that it’s impossible to make a difference to my list. Maybe I was just so glad Switzerland made it and so sad they came last I feel more generous towards them. In the end, Switzerland is one of the most robbed esc countries. Their many internally selected songs were good at least and underrated (mostly 2009 and 2010 never deserved last) and their big Internet NF was interesting. Too bad they had so little good ones in the final. The French and Italian ones were good (Italy had two great ones that withdrew sadly). The new format is exctiting: Internet again and actually internally selected ones again, but this one competing in the NF. Maybe we will get great entries from Switzerland again. Anyway after Germany’s victory and Austria / Italy returning, France doing pretty well for the past few years, Switzerland is definitely inspired to do better and well, considering the seriousness of their last picks (2005, 2007-2011), I’m pretty confident it’s not going to be horrible and might turn out to be just right.

Top 10

I know that this is long overdue but i was busy with my love story because, well, I’m depressed. But let’s not get there and let’s see if I can put some interest back into the rankings. At first I wanted to get on with it quickly, but I opened the “my winners” thread and it got a lot of fame and responses. Which is a good thing because it got more people involved and busy with the forum, which is what we wanted. But now I should be done with it already and I’m going to work on that all through tonight.
I also know that I’ve recieved a lot of complains on this “as objective as possible” list of mine, considering that, for an objective list, everyone had a song he hated in my top 10. But that’s the point. Everyone had one, maybe two songs he hated in. But then we know how everyone here disagrees usually so, having one song each hates is also proving that my list isn’t just a “this is me” but a “this is good” and while you usually agree around 6 or 7 songs, you have to deal with 3 or so that you dont like but are, seriously, better than most songs in the 2011 eurovision in my humble analysis. Especially that I recieved complains about Georgia (from Niko), Belgium (from Can), Ireland (from Ian), Denmark (from Remy) and Estonia (Can and Ian). Funny because these songs are indeed ranked 10th-6th, meaning that my top 5 is probably the fairest possible ever. True it’s purely my personal opinion that will decide who is first and who is fifth (and I must say I probably have the most debatable choice for a winner considering how France is the absolute favorite in this forum and won’t make it to my first).. But I also enjoy reading that, while everyone gets bugged for this or that, they mostly agree on the overall rankings; if we sliced the rankings in sections of awful, bad, average, good and great, we’d all have almost the same songs in the same categories, and that’s what I try to do. Judging fairly the songs for what they are. Having Sweden dead in the bottom as “awful” is for instance not a fair ranking for what it is. It’s an “average” song which, a schlager-hater like me, would surely hate. But it is “average” and in all fairness, in the same category, tons better than Hungary, Poland, Croatia, Armenia, etc.
Now to look at the countries. Their rankings last year, as I said: 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th, 16th, 18th, 19th and one country returning (being one of the better esc countries of all time too). 5 countries make their second top 10 out of two editions in the 2010’s while no countries beyond the top 20 last year reached the best ten this year. Therefore, I will not be hiding a lot of praises towards these countries who are among the very best that eurovision has to offer in the recent years (Bosnia & Herzegovina, France, Estonia, Serbia and slightly below Georgia and Denmark and I’d add mostly Turkey missing from the top 10 but still had a decent song with a bad performance. We’ll see how Italy, Ireland, Belgium and Germany do after these few good years). Geographically, because Eurovision is so political we have: 6 western countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland and Denmark), 2 balkan countries (Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia), 1 baltic country (Estonia) and 1 caucasus country (Georgia). To me that’s respecting the new shift operated in Eurovision history. After the explosion in the number of participating countries in the 90s each eastern european countries had its moment, the baltics first in 99-02 then the balkans in 04-08 and now the caucasus, each leading to at least one victory. The only other countries to keep doing well are nordic (Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway all managed a victory) and the big 5. Not surprisingly, after having Iceland, Finland and Sweden in the top 20 I had one in the top 10 (Denmark), three big 5 countries (France, Germany and Italy) and each big eastern european regions having one or two songs in the top 10 from their very best esc countries.
In terms of genre, we have mostly some pop-rock (Georgia, Denmark), some pop (Ireland, Serbia, Estonia) and a lot of imitations of unexpected genres in eurovision: opera (France), jazz (Italy, Belgium), electro (Germany). Only one song in the eurovision-popular genre of traditional folk (Bosnia & Herzegovina). Even though even that song wasn’t pure to its genre, for it had a lot of moderning sounds as well, including the surprising choice of English as a language for a country who didn’t accustom us to that. The most striking element in this is the new trend of “retro” genre in this most recent eurovision edition: Serbia, France, Italy, Belgium and Bosnia & Herzegovina all have a very distinct hint of vintage in them. Probably part of our societies current love for the indie-vintage which we’ve seen a lot this year (somehow, with less success, the bulgarian punk, the spanish latina, and the british boysband were all looking backwards instead of forward). Making something retro the most trendy, a typical cycle of things in fashion and art. Eurovision had to come to this, and the best countries at doing it are therefore in the top. Yet, only one of them is conscious enough of doing it and therefore plays all around it in the smartest and most delightful ways (and it will be my winner).
Now we shall look in details to all countries, their modern esc history and their 2011 bid that got them a deserved top 10 spot.

10 Georgia | “One More Day” Eldrine (063 pts)
While Armenia and Azerbaijan are doing much better in the official rankings (though Armenia, which has always been in the top 10 before this year, has finally failed to qualify to the final in 2011, and Azerbaijan started much more recently and are spending like crazy and are doing very doubtful americanized songs and entries), Georgia has done more of a mid-table results which are still very good for modern eurovision standards (12th, 11th, 9th and 9th). To me, Georgia is the best of the most recent new comers, being my winner for the first entry and having reached the top 10 in 2008 and 2011. While I am not cray about their song last year, it was by far the best the Caucasus had to offer with a very professional performance (though overly produced which can backfire) but more importantly, a very strong singer. The country plays on very different cards each time and keeps surprising us with very unexpected esc entries and performances. This year, when I saw the dress I went “huh?” and thought it was a good idea, with my ex, to call it the “Xbox dress”. I’ve always salutated people daring to go over the top and playing on a fine line between over doing it, joke entries and being funny and odd and different. To me, just like I went along with Moldova last year, Georgia did great this year. The background, probably the best of the year, was impressive and matched perfectly the song, while the dresses and make ups, more or less ageless (they had a little “tron” feeling to them, so modern? 80s?) to go with a rocky tune that was pretty much harmless. I was convinced when I heard it in audio and thought that Georgia’s nf was pretty good, but then the first live of the song there was off putting. However, as usual, it got great by the time it was performed in Eurovision. She was shouty in its best posisble way, not overly annoying screaming, and not just singing a rocky tune. It was what I expected to be, and it’s true that going last helped it a lot to emphasized its edgyness. All along I approved it and felt like once more Georgia was contributing to Eurovision. Usually a rock song does well, and it’s usually Turkey. The fact that Georgia in the same semi took the points from the Turkish rock song proves that this was just better in the same genre (and Georgia has much less diaspora televotes). It got one of my ex’s four televotes (the other three are also in my top 10) and he’s the anti-eurovision type so you can get that this tells me something really did happen with “One More Day” to lift a pleasant but irrelevant rock tune, into a good esc entry. It’s sitting right on the edge of the top 10 just like in Eurovision, where it belongs.

9 Belgium | “With Love” Witloof Bay (069 pts)
The a capella is not new to Eurovision as Latvia in 2006 used it in a very boring tune with some odd vocal exercices. Cute boys, but a very camp robot love performance. Forgettable. What makes this one better ? Well first of all, there was another strong very strong song in the same genre, in the Swiss final, entitled “Come What May” and it would have been very high in my list in the end. This is a lesser strong song but at least, they knew that such a song needed a very strong melody and that’s what they brought in. It’s a very repetitive song that makes you go “With love” very soon with them. Also, both Switzerland and Belgium used the amateurs’ internet format, which of course would bring people who can sing more or less trying such songs. In Switzerland it was a professional group, so it was even stronger melody wise, but in Belgium they’re authentically new to this. Admittedly, the Belgian NF was extremely strong this year, as I’d never thought it would be using this format and I never rooted for them (Sarina,or Fen being probably better). They never won any qualification rounds, but then they became an obvious favorite at the live show and won quite easily their NF. Why? Well that’s why performances are so important. The idea of an a capella entry got enough fans to go as far as this but to win it, they had to bring something else. That’s the perfect performance that did it for them. They found a perfect harmony in their body movements, in their appearing on screen, in their use of their own voices as instruments. If you had that, instead of being just 6 people on stage they gave the indie 50s flavor to the entry, and you get what no one expected, a one-point short from making it 11th in the semi. Too bad, they really deserved a place in the final, a first time in a long time that Belgium would do it twice in a row. Indeed, using the switch format between Wallonia and Flanders, we usually get a stronger Belgium every other year (mostly Wallonia in the old esc, Flanders in the modern one). After being 2nd in esc 2003 with Wallonia, Belgium came 6th in 2010 with Flanders. I also have Belgium very high these years, 1st in 2003 and 5th in 2010. Quite naturally I’m surprised to see that two years in a row Belgium managed to be among the better entries. I hope that Flanders next year really do keep pushing and we might have here, quite ironically, one of the new better esc countries. This entry is iconic of the new better internet selections, of amateurs living up to the expectations, of indie retro vintage used to the best and of Belgium’s revival. Darker point is what should have been their major point: vocally they weren’t all equally good. Nevertheless, this is deserving a little top 10.

8 Estonia | “Rockefeller Street” Getter Jaani (070 pts)
Before the actual contest, it was clear to me that 7 songs were going to battle my top rankings. As it happens, only one of them failed to stay in my top 7. That song is from Estonia. Now Ian said that I take so much interest in the performance and look that it’s insane I’d have it in the top 10 while my mathematical system does put a stronger emphasis on melody and lyrics (which are not up to grab live), vocals (where Getter was bad but much better than many other singers) and then only performance and look (where it was bad but not horrible either). First I’d like to go on records that when i started following esc, Estonia was a really annoying country. I hated 2002 at the time (less now but still a song I find totally bland and irrelevant) and then hated 2005, 2006 and 2008 with so much passion that I never took a second time thinking that one day I’d put Estonia on top. But then I remembered that an Estonian friend of ours did an amazing selection to represent her country in the EUSC in the old forum. Estonian music was good I was sure of it, just never thought such goodness would come across the eurovision stage. But in 2008 tired of the sudden bad results they dropped completely their Euro Laul (“Song for Europe”) into Eesti Laul (“Song for Estonia”) and decided to bring songs that the country in all its honesty would like, regardless of what Europe would think and of course suddenly more estonian singers got involved, interested and the results came on, with a 6th place for the country in 2009 with one of the three masterpieces of the year (which I have 2nd or 3rd depending on my mood). In 2010 the NF got stronger even with an impressive NF which I still consider the best I’ve ever seen with a brilliant outcome and Estonia got its first victory from me that year. Now for the third year in a row, their NF was just impressive and put all of Europe to shame (14 out of 20 songs are great!) and their best there “I wanna meetBob Dylan” finished only second. They went for something more contemporary with a mix of electro-pop crazy performance and a hint of (very slight) political lyrics. The melody, super catchy, was written by the same guy who wrote their 2009 success so no wonders it got hyped and the country was one of the few tipped for victory. Finally at a very disappointing 24th place, totally underrated, but having an amateurish live, though they seemed to have a lot of fun out of it, totally killed them. To me the main reason is Getter Jaani who was way too young and amateurish to conquer the big stage and the super hard live they had organized for her. The song is edgy, she was just sweet. That sort of thing. In the end, it’s a good song representing a hell of a modern esc country who isn’t afraid to send totally unprecedented esc songs (2009 and 2010 are both in my all time top 30)… true the disappointment is as big as the hopes were before esc, but anyone who would ruin this out of its sole performance would really be crazy to ignore it’s a really really good song to begin with. And let’s hope Estonia keeps on going.

Ireland | “Lipstick” Jedward (071 pts)
It’s always difficult to talk about Ireland in Eurovision, they call themselves “home of Eurovision” with 7 victories of which three are massively overrated (1970, 1987 and 1992) just like they often scored high with very undeserved craps (1991 is my most famous example, top 10 with that is just…!) but then the country didn’t deserve to be atrociously killed in recent years with their songs (2005 or 2007 were underrated). After reaching the bottom with Dustin the Turkey, Ireland had two options: leave or actually take the contest seriously. We’re all glad they chose the second option with one major low point being that they just don’t get what modern eurovision is. Johnny Logan, twice winner, and who would just die in modern eurovision, is smart enough not to take part and just comment. If he is right that the country doesn’t take the contest at the proper angle, he does say some really stupid things because simply his hatred to Jedward blinded him to the fact that Ireland actually DID reach the top 10 this year. I think the punkette entry of 2009 was cute, but too harmless and boring to do better than its 12th place in semi. Bringing back an old esc winner is a sure miss, we’ve seen how poorly they scored and Niamh did no better with one of the ugliest looks of 2010 but she did sing superbly live and with such an empty-hearted song does not harm and therefore scored top 20 for me. Now. Jedward. My ex is british and of course he hates Jedward. But the second of his four votes went to Ireland and he even made a FB status out of it (“voted for jedward, yes jedward!”). His last two votes went to my first and second. So why would someone who hates an x-factor entry still vote for it? Let’s get some things out of the way first. They can’t sing and it was indeed weak vocally. Which explains why they’re not higher, but not why they’d be out of the top 10. Actually their ultimate results imo are due to such bad vocals, they’re not as high as 8th with that performance, they’re as down as 8th with such vocals. Apart from that? For three minutes I did not think once of the vocals. I loved the song. It’s the most modern 2011 song: with all I said on the retro entries, this ends the prize of the most modern entry. It’s got that gagaesque atttitude (and I’m not a gaga fan like my ex was). It’s got the crazy, big performance that is now hugely popular. Another excellent background which gave edgyness to a performance that was super cheeky but in a good way. Yeah “Lipstick” is one song I love listening to in the shower or see boys shake their ass too (on a totally side point, did you notice that the one on the right shakes his ass like, a lot and in a very sexual way while the one on the left barely shakes it at all?) It’s a modern song delivered with much energy and crazyness by the boys. In France, the only article on eurovision 2011 on “serious press” in Le Monde was very qualified and expressed both the good and the bad of Eurovision titling “Europe just like the US” with a big picture of Jedward, analyzing the likeness of the US xfactor successes. It’s a great song that is, really, the symbol of modern esc, at least this esc. Yeah the voices are bad and the boys are their own imature pile of communication. But I remember in the press conference the serious Dino sitting next to them and saying “when i was young, I was just like that” and it’s all a symbol that the most mature serious and wonderful esc entrant of 2011 said that about the least mature ones.

6 Denmark | “New Tomorrow” A Friend In London (075 pts)
Another country that came out of nowhere, considering the low quality of their 00s entries (2006 and 2007) but Denmark is one of the only scandinavian esc countries who was not tempted by the superiority and big format of the swedish MF… its old and original MGP did not follow the Norwegian trend of trying to extend (which did give them a victory in 2009) but instead decided to keep a smaller profile. Small doesn’t mean bad though. For a few years now, especially since 2009, the danish MGP is a NF like no others. It’s very americanized, it’s very simplistic but at the same time, its professionalism is like no others in Europe. The hosting and stage of MGP 2011 are the best there is. And the songs, with a strong selection before hand, are getting more and more diverse, less formated. Though Danes still love the very anglo-saxon and slightly typical entries, their realism saved us from Hera in 2009 and brought them 4 finals in a row, and more importantly, two top 5 in a row! No surprises then that I have them twice in my top 10 because I always value such professional performances and show. The song is a pop rock that tends to be more of a rocky popped down than a pop rocked up as we have too often and that means we got the simplistic and yet so efficient boys on instruments performance. Amazing looks because it was what you’d expect of such a band (black leather, black make-up, trendy hair cut) but it wasn’t falling into the stereotypes of its genre. And the reason why? Because unlike so many fake acts made for Eurovision, AFIL are an actual act with enough experience to know how to pull it together. For instance their use of stage was excellent. The backings really did enlighten them, help us see THEM better (and not crush them down so that we forget there’s someone singing, like Ukraine or Switzerland). I thought his running down there was good, especially since his vocals are so strong, but the running back was a bit lame. Apart from that, excellent english except for “chance” (which was bugging my ex all along), very strong enjoyable song, perfect neat performance. This in all fairness, however american it can be, is one of the absolute top entries of the year. My main problem is that it’s not spectacularly good, it’s just a good song in Eurovision. That’s enough to be 6th but I expect that inch more to actually make it an exquisite top 5 entry. Still, Denmark’s in a very good mood for Eurovision and I really hope they’ll push for more, why not in Danish ?

5 Italy | “Folia d’Amore” Raphael Gualazzi (088 pts)
If you look at the points, you’ll notice how far ahead we now jumped. The top 5 is beyond reach for all other songs in this edition’s contest. The first one off for me is Italy, who failed to reach a symbolic 90 pts (where I usually start talking abut “great and excellent songs”, the “masterpiece” word being left only for 98 pts and more songs, more than 10 pts ahead of where Italy 2011 is at. True, it’s a great song that brings jazzyness to the contest. Right before the contest it was tipped in bottom 5 but thanks to a decent televoting result (11th) the country managed to bring an extraordinary and unexpected result of 2nd with a smashing victory in the jury results. I’ve said it before and I’m not afraid to say it again. EBU took close to ten years to convince Italy to be back. The contest was doomed with a terrible disgraceful organization by the Italian channel and the show was a huge failure there. But the money is back with a fifth member in the elite group so I do believe that the juries did like the way this song was so different and off but I do believe the juries felt a need to push a bit Italy to convince them to stick to Eurovision this time. For the juries, so keen to love whatever is well sung, could not have all failed to notice that Raphael can’t sing properly. His singing is very off putting and sometimes even just off. Not to mention that it’s not powerful and sometimes stereotypical of the jazz vocals. That aside, the country did bring a great show on stage and an interesting tune to the contest. Germany had something very similar in 2007, the year before the juries came back (a bit) and that we had the fairer two SF system, a year where all the big 4 finished bottom 4 and the contest, imo, had its most unfair results ever. Italy, a few years back, would never have reached the top ten let alone a top five with such an entry. I’m not gonna complain now, because as I said, this is just too unique (well sort of) to miss and this is the kind of things we want to hear more and more in the contest. Obviously this belongs way on the top. But the fact the song isn’t inspiring, that the vocals are so bad and that the country is so reluctant to take part, however happy i can be to see Italy back, I just can’t get them above the 5th rank which, if I go by what I read online, is considered very generous. How will they pick next year? Their internal selection out of San Remo this year proved interesting but chosing the winner of the youth section proves that none of the italian big guns are willing to enter eurovision. No Patricia Kaas or Blue for Italy in anytime soon, especially if Italians, finishing 2nd (a place France itself failed to reach in twenty years now, even though everyone agrees unfairly), still can’t give a crap about the contest. We shall see but I doubt juries will manage to keep Italy in the top 10 year after year and if they don’t start playing by the Eurovision rules, Italy will start following the sad Spanish path which lead them now to a sure ticket in the bottom 5 almost every year (2010 being an exception).

4 Serbia | “Čaroban” Nina Radojčić (093 pts)
There are a few countries out there which you just love talking about in eurovision. They’ve inspired others. They change an edition. And they keep doing it too. Let me remind you that, tired of countries with so little participation and thanks to a very distinct NF between the two countries, I’ve given 2004 to Serbia and 2005 to Montenegro. So, since 2004, Serbia has been 4th (2004), 10th (2007), 1st (2008), 3rd (2010) and now 4th (2011). An almost perfect record, knowing that I do like 2009 for what it is, very different, a great cheerful funny and odd entry, but that is musically under the level for the great 2009 eurovision edition and of Serbia’s usual level. Even though the great did amazing at first, it’s true that it used mostly the same format of the big balkan ballad (2004, 2007 & 2008) which brought them a victory both in esc and for me. Since then the country has changed its way to look at Eurovision. Like every other eastern european countries, the interest has been dropping for Eurovision, the economic crisis makes it harder to find songs and to manage entries of a certain quality. Serbia is one of the rare countries to have found the perfect solution: smaller NF but of extraordinary quality. Letting the public chose the entry but out of a certain direction given to the country already (chosing the star composer Goran Bregovic in 2010 for instance, or the same family for 2011). The amazing balkan crazyness of 2010 is now followed by a retro pop 50s song that, though inspired, could never have been written in the 50s. It’s that twist that I particularly like. It’s vintage but it’s not old fashioned at all. Quite the contrary, Serbia 2011 felt very fresh in this contest, the big background of bright colours and nothing else was a risky but nice touch. Add that Serbia kept Serbian even using such a western music genre, and you have a surprising song that you just can’t forget. Nina, so sweet looking, so great looking too, made a charistmatic performance which was vocally flawless. 13th and 14th are the results, surely a bit disappointing, at esc for such a superb country that imo, with its risks and its talents should have stayed twice in the top 5. Every year I get a bit worried at what Serbia announces and every year, the Nf blows me away and I’m hardcore behind them. This year is no different and truly it’s hard to find bad things to say about this. Except this: there are three better entries this year.

3 France | “Sognu” Amaury Vasili (094 pts)
I’ve always had a bit of mixed feelings about this. Oh nothing big or serious as you’ll see. But it’s easier to start on that because from then on I don’t think I’ll be able to make a lot of harsh words and we all know they’re my favorite. All of my eurovision friends have been loving this the moment they heard it. It’s grand, it’s professional, it’s got tons of emotions, it’s ambitious and adds a whole new level to Eurovision. Like, actual music, no electronics, nothing. Instruments. A voice. That already made everyone happy and wishing the orchestra was back. Plus it was France, a country many regard rightfully as the best in Eurovision history, having had lots of great periods and managing to almost never send a horror or crap, making regularly the top of people’s list. Apart from last year, our worst entry ever which ironically did really good, France has also a terribly clean recent records: having sent, for the past four years, four totally different entries with four different genres, all performed superbly on stage and having reached higher than what most people thought in 2008 and 2010, and lower than the “it’s a winner” favorite that the 2009 and 2011 songs had hoped for. Yet, for those who hate Patricia and Amaury, they have Jessy in 2010 to love and France, as usual, has been so obviously trying that it pleases people. Such diversity is remarkable and must be acclaimed. It should never be taken for granted, look at what Sweden (three out of the four past years entries were written by the same guy) or Greece (can anyone tell the difference between the songs in 2008-2010?) have done lately. Now Amaury. Young, beautiful, charismatic, and a good voice, it was a winning ticket. Problem, if any, is that he isn’t an amazing opera singer. His singing is an inch above almost everyone in the 2011 edition (apart from the few I mentioned before, Austria and Serbia mostly) and surprisingly, my top 2 are both terrible vocal singers but have managed to deal with it in surprising ways. Amaury is the 2011 singer for sure. Too bad that “Sognu” was so passionate that it required, probably, an even more talented singer, but then we wouldn’t have had a young blondie sexy boy to go with that. The idea of actual opera, and not just an operatic song, but a bolero, is amazing, unexpected, well executed (winner of the Marcel Bezençon award). The idea of Corsican is superb too, it plays on what is being French, but the expectations of a more italian-sounding lyrics to opera. It’s not your usual “Mama Corsica” that’s for sure. A song without a chorus, without your usual format (France 69 and Norway 95 are probably the only esc winners without a chorus), it was too tricky to make it a winner, though people thought it would pull it off. They surely did everything, a simple and great sky effect, a boy by himself, well dressed. It had it all, except the votes: 15th in televote, 12th in juries, it’s a song that got a lot of small points, meaning it’s very often in the top 10 but the irony of the new format is that, in order to get some points, you must be high in either juries or televote, but you can’t afford to be average in both. Too bad for Amaury and France, underrated once more, though a hell of a fans favorite around the Internet, just like Patricia Kaas, or before them Sandrine François (I haven’t seen a single Eurovision blog without Sandrine being the 2002 winner). Let’s see what that darn smart internal selection from France will bring in 2012. But that’s one country I just can’t doubt anymore.

2 Germany | “Taken By A Stranger” Lena Meyer-Landrut (096 pts)
Its probably the only one I’d want to qualify: Germany has been indeed twice in a row in my top 10 but with the same singer, whose “corkyness” has brought much to the contest to bring it into the 2010’s with glory. While “Satellite” is a good song, it’s also a very typical Lily Allen rip off that didn’t feel anything German, especially considering that she won such an american show to represent her country. True, I was against her participating again, because a winning country usually has a great opportunity to bring popularity to the contest and make a lot of singers interested in participating that would have never considered doing it before. It felt like a repetition, like nothing new, creative. Thank god Lena did make it interesting, new, creative. Nothing like “Satellite” but an actual superb song. Using Lena was a good idea in order to be the most daring country of the year. An incredible tour deforce, served by what must have been the outrageously best overall look using the mirrors and lights on stage, the very 80s electro feel that this had (especially with the silver suit for the dancers) and Lena’s voice, being so quiet, small. So what, she can’t sing really well then let her have these type of songs so that her voice becomes a powerful sound to trick you into this mystic world. Surreal. Grand. Different. The song, in itself, is a song I’d listen to over and over again and that I’d still listen in years. My ex called it “just too good for Eurovision” and also had it way on top of his list (along with our joint winner). To everyone I showed the contest in 2011 that don’t follow usually, they all came across saying that Germany was just too good. My only regrets is that this is probably a pinacle in their esc history. Will they really have a song as good as, let’s say just “Satellite” next year? After 30 years of esc being destroyed in Germany by one man (Ralph Siegel) who composed like 20 esc songs and won only once, we have now Stefan who took part in esc, found Lena, hosted the NF, wrote her songs, hosted esc… I’m afraid we’ll have to deal a lot with his boringness (such lame songs he wrote for Lena, her worst in the new album, billion light years from “Taken by a stranger”) for a whole lot til Germany brings again something new and fresh. This second place congratulates all that Germany did lately for Eurovision, with a truly boring esc hosting, but making it possible for a Big 5 to win, trying to be modern and daring and of course, having probably the best modern composition of the year. I understand that not everyone can like such off putting electro weirdness, but esc fans should really take a step back and look at Eurovision in all of what it is and then all of music industry and notice how this song and entry is just a magnificnet link between the two. Yes for all of these, Germany is an absolute second and could really well be a proud winner. Except that same old damn Bosnia took it home again.


1 Bosnia & Herzegovina | “Love in Rewind” Dino Merlin (100 pts)
So much to cover, I don’t even know where to begin. This will be a classic. For sure. For now, forever. I know it’s not the most well recieved song among fans, who as I’ve read around the internet, have it more or less around 6th or 7th usually. But it’s perfect in its imperfectness and that’s what makes it so intense. Let me explain that idea first. The semi-final performance, when Dino had to open the contest, wasn’t that great. It’s a bit messy, all over the place, vocally shaky. In the final, when Dino went second (the doom place of Eurovision through which he came miraculously 6th), it was neat perfect to the centimeter, when the arms are waving in the first chorus, from the semi when each was doing his own, they were all synch, vocally Dino was trying his best and to my ears, he remains in tune even if he isn’t a great vocal singer for sure, the performance and camera shots are perfect to give the impression the team wanted to give it. If I ask you what is the song’s genre, you’ll notice how hard it is to describe. It’s got a few balkan typical instruments and sounds, but the song, in English, a shock for Bosnia (who did sing in English once before, last year, but after the bosnian version was dropped though initially chosen, while this was always going to be sung like this), has nothing of your typical balkan ballad, of which “Lejla” is the masterpiece and archetype. It’s very sweet, soft, gentle and got that all-red merry-go-round that brings a lot of nostalgia, if not melancholia, to the song. Yes it’s a happy look at the past, at the retro, but not without its own dark side to it. And making it about the past, mentioning childhood, Dino makes a funny reference to “a few songs of mine”, as if he was looking indeed into his own past as a singer, as a Bosnian citizen, a Yugoslav singer, where are mixed all the influences from his life as a musician (balkan music, melancholic poprock) and his life as a man (who knew a few love, kids of his own)… the children and songs of his past, now of his life, what he can be proud of but reminds him that he is an aging old singer . All of this in a composition where Dino’s low singing matched perfectly the little tune, instantly hooking you. For the past year, I spent almost every night online with a boy I fell in love with. He lived far and it was hard. We met a few times together, we spent wonderful weeks together, but now he has decided a long distance relationship wasn’t possible. Yet a few things are ours forever. He didn’t know any eurovision songs during Eurovision he discovered them all, the week before that we had spent together in each other’s arms and said our first “I love you”. When he discovered this song I already loved, he sent me on my FB wall “Sito!” and that’s been a bit of a catch phrase for us since then. He often sent it to me, and me to him. That only balkan word, that is just there, shouted, as if to remember our roots, who we are and can not quite escape because the past is done forever done. Yes, this is, to me, purely perfect. Intensely going to be with me forever and if I were to be objective, it is at worst, one of the three best songs of the year with France and Germany. Bosnia & Herzegovina, what a ground breaking record they’re doing. I believe that they deserve the top 3 in 95, 97, 99, 01, 07, 08, 09 and sent three masterpieces already in eurovision in 93, 06 and 2011. Each song plays with so much smartness in what it is to be Bosnian, from the rock-war song of 93 to the balkan ballad in 06 to this. What can we say to this country except, maybe… Sito!

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