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Eurovision Song Contest 2012 (Baku)

57. Eurovision Song Contest

Baku, Azerbaijan

22,24,26 May 2012

The 57th Eurovision Song Contest was held in the Crystal Hall in Baku, Azerbaijan. It was thus the easternmost contest ever (breaking the record of Moscow 2009). Due to the time difference the show started at midnight local time. It was also arguably the most expensive and most controversial contest in Eurovision history. Expensive as the hall on the bay of the Caspian Sea had been built especially for the three shows of the contest. It had only been finished weeks before the first rehearsals started. Furthermore the transportation system in the city and several urban embellishment measures were taken. The final on Saturday was opened by a firework of Olympic proportions above the bay of Baku, the Crystal Hall and one of the biggest national flags in the world.

The reason the contest was so controversial was that Azerbaijan is ruled by the Aliev clan with an iron fist. There were numerous reports of violations of the freedom of the press and attacks against the opposition. Furthermore, there were accusations of corruption (the president’s wife, Mrs. Alieva was the head of the organizational committee, for instance). Prior to the contest there were also tensions with Azerbaijan’s direct neighbor Iran, who withdrew his ambassador from Baku as the Iranian leaders deemed the contest “an insult to Islam”.

Armenia withdrew form the competition for one year, as they are in a war-like state with Azerbaijan and feared for the security of their delegation (Under normal circumstances Armenians aren’t even allowed to enter Azerbaijan.). Apart from Armenia, Poland also withdrew, allegedly due to the Euro 2012 that would be held in Poland and Ukraine that year, which the national broadcaster wanted to focus on. As Montenegro returned, there were 42 participants in Baku.

The composition of the hosting team continued a new tradition from Oslo and Düsseldorf: Two women and one men presented the show. Leyla Aliyeva, and a television presenter, Nargiz Birk-Petersen a lawyer living in Denmark and Eldar Gasimov, who had brought the contest to Azerbaijan as part of the duo Ell&Nikki. Unfortunately, they seemed very robot-like and mechanical for most of the evenings and only read the typical lines from the teleprompters. Especially during the final, Ell did his best to show all of his teeth every time a camera was on him.

The postcards were high gloss tourist commercials for Azerbaijan with almost no connection to the competing countries (opposite to previous years). The most impressive element between the songs was the outside wall of the Crystal Hall shining in the national colors of the respective country before each song.

The Final:

The United Kingdom had the honor of opening the evening. The BBC had internally selected 76-year old Engelbert Humperdinck. For about 20 minutes he held the record for being the oldest singer ever on a Eurovision stage (only the pipe player for Armenia 2010 was older). Humperdinck had had number one hits like “Release Me” and “The Last Waltz” in the 70s and since then had performed all around the world, though most fans had not heard of him, he was announced as a musical legend by the BBC. His Eurovision entry „Love Will Set You Free“ was written by Grammy Award winner Martin Terefe, Sacha Skarbek, who had written hits for Adele, Jason Mraz and James Blunt. The song is a traditional pop ballad that Humperdinck performed well on the night. He wore a black suit and was accompanied by a guitar player and two dancers. Unfortunately, he butchered the song during the dress rehearsal in which the juries voted. He thus came last in the jury vote and second to last over all, which was a big disappointment for the UK.

Hungary selected the electronic rock band Compact Disco for Baku. Their song „The Sound of Our Hearts“ was reminiscent of British rock bands such as Oasis. According to the band the song was supposed to send a message to a struggling Europe in crisis to stand together and help each other. Since the semi-finals the lead singer had changed his outfit to a leather jacket which was an improvement. The song was liked by many, hated by few and loved by even less, which is deadly for a song that needs votes. It came 24th with 19 points.

Albania was represented by the arguably most impressive and extravagant performance (both visually and musically). The young singer and radio presenter Rona Nishliu had won the Festival i Kenges in 2011 and thus the right to represent Albania. She was the first Kosovaran singer to represent Albania and the first Kosovaran singer in Eurovision since the countries‘ independence (due to recognition issues Kosovo can not participate). However, Nishliu had become an Albanian citizen in January 2012 after her win in the national final. She is known as an experimental jazz singer mostly in Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro. Her entry „Suus“ had to be considerably cut due to Eurovision’s time limit. Although entirely in Albanian, the song’s title is Latin and was translated as „Personal“. „Suus“ is an elegy in which the singer bemoans the loss of her lover and sings „Just let me cry as its the best I can do“. Nishliu’s „screaming“ made the number one “love or hate” song for fans. Incidentally, the German commentator warned viewers to bring their glasses into another room, but also praised her intense, dramatic and emotional performance. Her outfit was quite extravagant and she had a bun made of her dreadlocks with one strain on her chest saving as jewelry. Some compared her to dramatic opera singers, others to Star Wars characters. The televoters and juries were mostly favorable and voted Albania into 5th place, its best position yet.

Donny Montel finally got his chance to represent Lithuania. He had competed in the Lithuanian final each year since 2009. With his entry “Love is Blind” he finally won in 2012. The song is a pop tune that changes from a more balladesque beginning to a disco ending. Montell visualized the message of the song with one of the worst gimmicks in the Eurovision Song Contest: For the first part of the song he wore a sparkling eye fold that he ripped off after the ballad part to then express his love for Michael Jackson in eccentric moves. His vocal performance was good though and Lithuania did better than many expected during the voting: The Baltic country came 14th in the final and even Top 3 in the semi-final.

Bosnia-Herzegovina sent a singer-songwriter with Eurovision experience. Maya Sar had supported Deen in 2004 and Dino Merlin in 2011 as a backing singer. In her self-penned entry “Korake Ti Snam” (I Know Your Steps”) Sar sings of her lover that starts to drift away from her and says that he gambels with their life as if the had never said “till death do us part”. She also sings that she has been in the middle of the spider web. An image her dress was maybe supposed to visualize? She wore an unflattering black gown with over dimensional shoulders and overall looked like “Dracula’s wife” as Peter Urban put it. The outfit did not fit her sweet song, a calm Balkan ballad. The tune didn’t really have highlights and may not have stood out enough on the night. Maya Sar came 18th, one of Bosnia’s worst results ever.

The arguably most talked about entry of the year came from Russia. The Buranovskiye Babushki, six grandmothers from a little village in Udmurtia had beaten, among others, Dima Bilan in the Russian national final and were favorites to win in Baku as well. They had become very popular in Russia with covers of English classics such as the Beatle’s “Yesterday” in the Udmurt language. They had started performing to finance a new church for their village that Stalin had destroyed. The smallest grandma I was 86 years old and took the “oldest performer in a Eurovision final ever” record from Engelbert Humberdinck after a mere 20 minutes. Their happy pop song “Party for everybody” is performed in Udmurt, the premier of that language on a Eurovision song, with the song in English. The grandmas could not hold a tune for their lives, but they baked cookies in a giant oven turning on the stage behind them, they wore traditional clothing and the smallest grandma dance in front of the camera as well, which apparently was enough to get lots of televotes. The juries voted them into 11th place, but the second place in the televoting (10 points behind Loreen) still secured them a second place in he the combined result.

Up next was a familiar face from Iceland. Jónsi had represented Iceland in Istanbul in 2004 with the ballad “Heaven”. This time he was joined by Greta Salomé, who was also the writer and composer of the entry “Never Forget”. The song is based on an Icelandic novel about two lovers who can’t have each other (a bit like Romeo and Juliet). Greta spent some days in an old church and in nature in Iceland reading the novel and was inspired to write the song. She also studies violin playing in Iceland and the song thus features a dramatic violin solo. The song is a mystical, dramatic ballad. Unfortunately, while Jónsi looked very angry, Greta smiled throughout the entire song, which did not fit the atmosphere too much. In the end the duo came 20th.

Cyprus sent the popular young singer Ivi Adamou. She performed her dance pop song “La, la love” dancing and being carried around by her backing dancers. She also dances on a table made out of books. The lyrics of her song did, however, not further enhance her literary ambition. The chorus of the song read “I’ve been waiting for your lalalalalalalalalalalalala love” and thus continued the tradition of senseless lyrics in Eurovision. Nevertheless, the song sounds as if it comes directly from a disco by the Mediterranean and Ivi performed it well (not so much vocally). Apart from the winner, the song became the biggest commercial hit after the contest, especially in Greece and Sweden. On the night Cyprus only came 16th, though.

The French entry seemed more like a trailer for the European Gymnastic Championships. Three well trained and generally well equipped topless men danced around singer Anggun and presented their best acrobatic abilities. Anguun is a popular French singer with Indonesian origins. She had had a hit in Europe with the song “Snow On The Sahara” in the late 90s. Her song “You and I (Echo)” is a danceable, contemporary pop tune written by successful French writers. The “Echo” of the song was supposed to be the whistling audible throughout the entire song. The performance seemed a bit messy and very over the top. It seemed as if they wanted to distract people from the song as much as possible (which wasn’t really necessary). The result was a big disappointment for Anggun: 22nd with a lot of help from the juries. In televoting alone she would’ve come last without a single point.

The Italian representative was the charismatic Nina Zilli. She had competed in the San Remo festival with the ballad “Per Sempre”, which was announced as her Eurovision entry. However, it was later changed to “L’Amore è femmina” (“Love Is Female”), a mid-tempo retro soul song about the empowerment of women. Zilli performed in a sliver gown and was vocally flawless. Before the final she had been dubbed the “Italian Amy Winehouse”. A favorite before the contest, the 9th place may have been a disappointment.

Estonia sent a melodramatic, anthemic ballad in Estonian. The 24-year old tenor Ott (speak: Oitt) Lepland performed the self-penned song “Kuula” (“Listen”) in Baku. He had become a star in Estonia as a participant of the Estonian version of Pop Idol and had played a part in the Estonian version of High School Musical. “Kuula” asks the listener to listen to the little and unusual things such as a sunset. Lepland performed a vocally more powerful version of the song than was released on CD before the contest. Dressed in a simple vest, he stood at the microphone stand, only supported by a female backing singer and poured his heart out. The judges and televoters liked it and Estonia came 6th.

Norway sent young singer, actor and model Tooji to Baku. It was Toojis birthday. His mother had fled with him from Iran. Probably due to this experience, he also worked as a social worker helping asylum seekers and children in need. Due to his origins and his dynamite looks, he was dubbed “Persian Prince” in Norway. His song “Stay” is a typical dance song with Middle Eastern elements. Tooji performed in a leather jacket and brown leggings. His slick dance routine could not cover the fact that Tooji was far from a great live singer. In the end he did not get the birthday present he may have hoped for. With only 7 points, Norway got its 11th last place finish in a Eurovision final. The co-writer of the song Peter Boström, also co-wrote the eventual winner from Sweden and thus came first and last in the same year. Incidentally, Norway almost pulled out of the final as some of the national broadcaster’s journalists had been assaulted by Azeri security at the Baku airport.

Up next was the home entry from Azerbaijan. They re-used the formula that had brought them so much success the year before: Selecting the singer and then having a song written by a team of Swedish songwriters (the same as those of Eurovision winner “Running Scared”). Sabina Babayeva, who had tried to represent her country each year since Azerbaijan started participating, finally got her chance in 2012. She performed the R’n’B ballad “When The Music Dies” vocally flawless. On stage, she was accompanied by Alim Qasimov a popular mugham singer, which added ethnic elements to the Azeri entry. The visual effect was Babayeva’s white dress on which color schemes were projected throughout the performance.

Romania sent the popular Latin band Mandinga. Their song “Zaleilah” sounded like a typical Romanian summer hit from the likes of Inna or Alexandra Stan. The song had been a hit in Romania prior to the contest and was criticized for its musical proficiency and the vocal abilities of lead singer Elena Ionescu (who had replaced Elena Georghe (Romania 2009) in 2005). The band was dressed in white, playing their instruments, while the lead singer was dressed in a short, orange dress.

Denmark sent a real cosmopolite to Baku: Soluna Samay was born in Guatemala to a German father and a Swiss mother, who were travelling the world as street musicians. As expected from Denmark, her entry “Should’ve known better” was a radio-friendly pop song. Soluna’s band was dressed casually, while she wore a Captain’s outfit, for no real reason. Denmark was seen as one of the dark horses, but only came 23rd on the night.

The entry from Greece was very reminiscent of the winner of 2005 Helena Paparizou: A typical summer dance tune with a few ethnic elements, performed by a beautiful woman, Eleftheria Eleftheriou (no comments about that name) in a way too short dress with questionable vocal abilities. “Aphrodisiac” had a strong sexual innuendo “You make me want your Aphrodisiac” and Eleftheria kept her promise of “dancing like a maniac”. The entry seemed like the perfect recipe for another Greek Top 10 placing (which would have been the 9th in a row), but this time it did not work for some reason (juries!) and Greece only came 17th.

The biggest favorite of the night came from Sweden. Loreen’s “Euphoria” had dominated every fan voting, betting odds and most importantly the extremely popular Swedish national final “Melodifestivalen”. The song had reached the charts in several European countries even before the contest (#1 in Finland for instance). “Euphoria” is a contemporary dance number reminiscent of songs by David Guetta. Loreen performed the song flawlessly on the night, which given the extreme vocal challenge (5 octaves) was far from a certainty. Furthermore, Loreen presented a slick and mystical dance routine and was enveloped by wind and (fake) snow. The visually impressive performance and good song convinced both judges and televoters: Sweden won with the second-biggest score ever (only 15 points short of Rybak’s score in 2009) and with the highest number of 12 points ever (18). It was Sweden’s 5th victory in the contest. The song became the biggest hit coming from Eurovision in decades, reaching the charts in almost all European countries and even becoming a #1 hit in Germany, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Greece, Denmark and more. It is also noteworthy that Loreen was the only artist to meet members of the Azeri opposition, which created a small diplomatic crisis between Sweden and Azerbaijan. The Azeri government summoned the Swedish ambassador to tell him that Loreen was not supposed to be political. During her winner’s press conference Loreen also said that her dance moves were supposed to symbolize “freedom”.

The entry from Turkey got cheers similar to the home entry. Turkey and Azerbaijan are very close culturally and Azeris consider Turkey their brother nation. The announcement that Can Bonomo had been internally selected by TRT caused less enthusiuams in Turkey itself, as Bonomo belongs to the Jewish community in Turkey. Some newspapers asked whether Bonomo was a real Turk, but when he said that his religion has nothing to do with his music the criticism gradually disappeared. His song “Love Me Back” is an alternative pop-rock song with ethnic elements. In the lyrics Bonomo sings “Never ever sink my ship and sail away” and thus the whole performance got a “sea” theme. Can wore a Marine shirt and Captains cap, while at one point the backing dancers formed a ship out of their capes, with Can as the captain. The result was satisfactory: Turkey came 7th after their failure to qualify for the final the year before.

Spain had internally selected the 33-year-old Flamenco singer Pastora Soler, a popular, successful and critically acclaimed performer. She performed a song co-written by Thomas G:son , who also wrote the eventual winner „Euphoria“ for Sweden. The song “Quédate conmigo” (“Stay With Me”) is a dramatic power ballad in which Soler asks her lover to stay with her as she “can’t live” without him at her side. The song starts as a calm ballad and then grows increasingly intense, climaxing at “that note”, that made Pastora a favorite of fans of great vocals. In her classy dress she performed absolutely flawlessly and with fervency. Only during Eurovision week many started to really notice the song and it became a dark horse favorite. In the end Spain came 10th. Pastora was greeted by a big crowd in her home town after and her song had some chart success in Spain as well.

For the post-Lena year, Germany had once more held the casting show “Unser Star für Baku”, which had also discovered Lena in 2010. The winner of the show was the handsome engine fitter Roman Lob. The 21-year old dominated all shows of the casting series. He performed his radio-friendly pop song “Standing Still”, written by British jazz singer Jamie Cullum in his trademark cap and casual clothes. The performance was simple but effective. Roman sang flawlessly standing in front of his band and showing his eyes and chest tattoo into the camera. The result was much better than many expected and Germany achieved its third Top10 placing in a row.

After two failed attempts in their national final, Malta gave Kurt Calleja the chance to represent his country. As a child he had sung for Pope John Paul and as a teenager had lived in the UK performing in clubs there. His song “This Is The Night” is a generic pop tune about a great night (of course). The performance was quite impressive, with a hyperactive DJ and the most noticeable dance routine in the contest, later dubbed the “kill the cockroach dance”. Calleja and his team sang the chorus’ “Eh, eh, eh, eh” every time a camera was on them during Eurovision week. Maybe this persistency helped them to (unexpectedly) qualify for the final. There Malta only came 21st.

Macedonia sent a familiar face: Kaliopi had already been selected to represent her country in 1996, but did not get enough points in the pre-qualifying round at the time. The Macedonian broadcaster selected Kaliopi internally. She is a well-known and acclaimed singer in all Balkan countries. Her song “Crno I Belo” (“Black and White”) is about a couple who are like Black and White as when she chooses “happiness” he chooses “sorrow”. The song starts quite calm and then turns into a driving rock tune. Kaliopi performed the song confidently and with facial expressions worthy of an Oscar. Her outfit was a classy trouser suit. Her great performance was underrated, probably because the song needs more than one listen. At the end of the voting Macedonia had gotten 71 points and came 13th.

After its 8th place in Düsseldorf, Ireland went for Jedward yet again. The hyperactive twins won the Irish national final with their 80s influence pop tune “Waterline”. They performed the song in silver space suites and in front of, or surrounded by a fountain on stage. They also changed their hair style from the trademark quiffs to a more conventional form. Most of the singing was carried by the backing singers and this time around their usual jumping did not really fit the song. Thus Ireland did much worse than they expected: They came 19th and “Waterline” also did not have as much chart success as “Lipstick” in 2011.

The arguably biggest star of the evening came from Serbia. Runner-up in 2004 as a singer-composer, third in 2006 as a composer and host of the contest in 2008, Zeljko Joksimovic had more than a little experience with Europe’s biggest TV show. He was internally selected and wrote a Balkan ballad called “Nije ljubav stvar” for Serbia. The melodic and dramatic song is about the end of a relationship and Joksimovic tells his lover to go and that their “Love isn’t a thing” . The classy performance, with traditional instruments and a perfect vocal performance by Joksimovic was a favorite before the contest and went on to achieve a good third place. Joksimovic is thus the first artist to achieve Top 3 results for three different countries (Serbia, Serbia-Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina). After the contest he said that his song was an old wine while Loreen’s was a hip cocktail. He also said that it was his last appearance on the Eurovision stage as a performer.

In the year of the Euro 2012, one of the host countries of the soccer championship, Ukraine, sent a football anthem to Baku. The popular pop singer Gaitana sang “Be My Guest” and invited all of Europe to Ukraine. In keeping with her Caribbean origins, she performed with a wreath of flowers on her head and in a white dress. Three movable LED-walls added a visual effect to the performance: A virtual flash mob was projected on the screens. Gaitana performed the song with vocal fervency, her voice being reminiscent of Tina Turner at times. The “loud” performance came 15th, Ukraine’s worst result since 2005.

The last country to perform was Moldova. They sent young singer Pasha Parfeny, who performed his happy pop song “Lautar” (Traditional musician”) about a trumpet that attracts a young ladies’ heart. “This trumpet makes you mine girl”. Parfeny performed in what seemed to be a blacksmith’s leather apron. His backings wore “lamp skirts” and they presented a funny and creative dance routine, with crabbe hands and a polonaise at the end. It finished 11th.

The interval act was Emin Agalarov, the son in law of the president, who seemed to think that he was cooler than ice. Unfortunately his vocal abilities were far from what his attitude may have suggested. At the end he even kissed a giant Azeri flag brought on stage, which to Western European eyes seemed disconcerting.

The voting was completely dominated by Sweden, who were in the lead from very early on. A lead that grew bigger and bigger after every country voting. Memorable moments were Mr. Lordi reading the votes for Finland and giving 8 points to the “hottest babes in the contest” , he meant the grannies from Russia. Furthemore the Swedish votes were given by Sarah Dawn Finer in her role as Linda Woodrof (from the Melodifestivalen of that year), a stiff EBU woman who could not pronounce “Azerbaijan” correctly. The only political statement of the evening came from Germany: Anke Engelke (host in 2011) said “Tonight, nobody could vote for their own country, but it is good to be able to vote and it is good to have a choice. Good luck on your journey Azerbaijan, Europe is watching you.”

The Results of the Final:

Place Country Artist Song Points
1 Sweden Loreen Euphoria 372
2 Russia Buranovskiye Babushki Party for Everybody 259
3 Serbia Zeljko Joksimovic Nije ljubav stvar 214
4 Azerbaijan Sabina Babayeva When the Music Dies 150
5 Albania Rona Nishliu Suus 146
6 Estonia Ott Lepland Kuula 120
7 Turkey Can Bonomo Love Me Back 112
8 Germany Roman Lob Standing Still 110
9 Italy Nina Zilli L’amore è femmina (Out of Love) 101
10 Spain Pastora Soler Quédate conmigo 97
11 Moldova Pasha Parfeny Lăutar 81
12 Romania Mandinga Zaleilah 71
13 Macedonia Kaliopi Crno i belo 71
14 Lithuania Donny Montell Love Is Blind 70
15 Ukraine Gaitana Be My Guest 65
16 Cyprus Ivi Adamou La,la love 65
17 Greece Eleftheria Eleftheriou Aphrodisiac 64
18 Bosnia-Herzegovina Maya Sar Korake ti snam 55
19 Ireland Jedward Waterline 46
20 Iceland Gréta Salóme & Jónsi Never Forget 46
21 Malta Kurt Calleja This is the night 41
22 France Anggun Echo (You and I) 21
23 Denmark Soluna Samay Should’ve Known Better 21
24 Hungary Compact Disco Sound of Our Hearts 19
25 United Kingdom Engelbert Humperdinck Love Will Set You Free 12
26 Norway Tooji Stay 7

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The First Semi-Final

Here we will only talk about the songs that did not qualify for the final.

Montenegro participated in Eurovision for the 4th time and for the third time they opened the show. In 2012, the Balkan nation sent the popular satiric singer Rambo Amadeus, who treated a very current topic: The debt crisis in the Eurozone. His song “Euro Neuro” is a satirical criticism of the crisis that struck Europe at the time. Most of the sentences in the song end in a word ending in –tic, -ion and –ism such as “I don’t like snobism, nationalism, puritanism, I am different organism My heroism is pacifism, altruism, I enjoy bicyclism” or “got no ambition for high position, in competition with air condition” (maybe a hint at wind machines in ESC?). Both “sides” in the fight to save the Euro were represented: The song includes some words in German and on stage there was a Trojan donkey (probably representing Greece). Amadeus performed his entry in a black suit, in the end showing his empty pockets. He may have gotten more points had he washed his hair: Montenegro came 15th.

Latvia sent the runner-up of a casting show: Anmaury sang her song “Beautiful Song” in a blue dress and with 4 backing singers that were compared to the Stepford Wives due to their stiffness and too perfect hair/ dresses. The song is a pop song with quite unusual lyrics. The chorus makes reference to the song itself “Beautiful song is on the radio (…) beautiful song that everybody hums and everybody loves”. In the lyrics Anmaury sings that she was “born in the distant 1980s when the Irish Johnny Logan won”. The song failed to charm the judges and the televoters and only came 16th.

Switzerland sent two young brothers from the Italian-speaking part of the country. The two called themselves Sinplus and performed their rock song “Unbreakable” in leather pants and cheeky hairstyles. Gabriel, the lead singer had quite some problems with English pronunciation but the energetic performance and quite catchy song made up for that. As complete newcomers, the brothers had won the Swiss national final (among others against Lys Assia) almost half a year before their big day and had promoted their entry in several other national finals. In the end it were the juries that destroyed the Swiss dream of a qualification for the final. The televoters had them in 10th place. The combined result was only enough for the dreaded 11th place, though.

In Belgium, it was the Flemish channels turn to select an entry. They used the same formula that had been so successful in 2010: They found a newcomer, young Iris, and had her perform a slow ballad. Her “Would You?” was probably simply too boring to attract any votes. Iris performed rather well and looked very sweet in her white simple dress, but the song was just not good enough: Belgium came second to last.

Finland sent a folk ballad in Swedish, the second official language. The complete newcomer Pernilla Karlsson performed the song “När jag blunder” (“When I close my eyes”) in a green and black dress that did not really go well with her fiery red hair and the atmosphere of the song. It was her brother Jonas who had written the song for his sister. Both belong to the Swedish minority in Finland. After 1990 it was only the second time that Finland used Swedish in Eurovision. It was also the first song in Swedish in 14 years. The viewers were not too impressed and Finland came 12th.

Israel sent the band Izabo (named after a Michelle Pfeiffer film role). The bands style is described as a mix of many music styles featuring high pitch vocals, twisting and powerfully funky basslines, and intense disco beats. Their rock song “Time” with oriental influences had verses in English and the chorus partly in Hebrew. The band performed in nostalgic clothes. The juries wanted the song in the final, the viewers did not: The song came 13th.

San Marino engaged one of the most experienced songwriters in Eurovision history. The German composer Ralph Siegel (“Mr. Eurovision” for some) composed his 20th Eurovision entry for the San Marinese Valentina Monetta. The song “The Social Network Song (OH OH – Uh – OH OH)” got it’s title as the original title “Facebook Uh, Oh, Oh (A Satirical Song)” was refused by the EBU due to the mention of a trademark. The song is supposed to be a satricial view of the modern social networks, the lyrics such as “And your computer is waking you, taking your time away The scene is right for social light You’re on the Internet, anywhere, anytime, night and day” or “Do you wanna be more than just a friend? Do you wanna play cybersex again?“ were supposed to underline this message. Monetta performed the song in a blue leather outfit and with a dancing around while writing at a laptop. Her baking singers were dressed included a doctor, captain and tourist. The song came 14th which is San Marino’s best result ever.

Austria sent the runners-up of their national final in 2011. The hip-hop duo Trackshittaz describe their music as “Tractor gangsta party rap”. Their song “Woki mit deim Popo” (“Shake your booty”) is in a colloquial dialect Austrian German and includes lyrics such as “your ass has feelings”. The two performed the song with young ladies on strip poles. At one point they use neon lights to show the contours of their behinds. The song was criticized in Austria for being sexist and of poor musical quality. In Baku it got 8 points and came last in the semi. Point-wise it was the last placed of all 42 entries of that year.

The interval act was a traditional performance by the Natig Rhythm Group with ethnic instruments and drums, including a giant stone used as an instrument.

The First Semi-Final:

Place Country Artist Song Points
1 Russia Buranovskiye Babushki Party for Everybody 152
2 Albania Rona Nishliu Suus 146
3 Romania Mandinga Zaleilah 120
4 Greece Eleftheria Eleftheriou Aphrodisiac 116
5 Moldova Pasha Parfeny Lautar 100
6 Ireland Jedward Waterline 92
7 Cyprus Ivi Adamou La,la love 91
8 Iceland Gréta Salóme & Jónsi Never forget 75
9 Denmark Soluna Samay Should’ve Known Better 63
10 Hungary Compact Disco Sound of Our Hearts 52
11 Switzerland Sinplus Unbreakable 45
12 Finland Pernilla Karlsson När jag blundar 41
13 Israel Izabo Time 33
14 San Marino Valentina Monetta The Social Network Song 31
15 Montenegro Rambo Amadeus Euro Neuro 20
16 Latvia Anmary Beautiful Song 17
17 Belgium Iris Would You? 16
18 Austria Trackshittaz Woki mit deim Popo 8

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The Second Semi-Final

The Netherlands tried their luck with “The Voice of Holland” contestant Joan Franka. The Dutch broadcaster had managed to convince popular television producer John de Mol (The Voice, Big Brother) to organize the Dutch national final. The show was won by young half-Turkish singer Joan Franka, who performed the song “You and Me” about a childhood love. For the performance she wore a native American headdress and a blue evening gown. She explained her eccentric outfit with the content of the lyrics, as the childhood lover she had written the song about had played “Indians” with her. The song is a nice folk-influence and radio-friendly tune which became a hit in the Netherlands. Unfortunately Joan’s vocals weren’t spot on during the performance and the reason for the outfit may not have been announced by most commentators. In the end the Netherlands failed to qualify for the final for the 8th year in a row.

There were once more some surprises in the selection process of Belarus. The winner of the national final was simply disqualified for minor reasons and the runners-up of the band Litesound were sent to Baku instead. The band had presented their rock song “We are the Heroes” in the national final, but for Eurovision they turned it into a pop-dance song probably to please the “typical Eurovision viewer”. That may have been a mistake. The rather catchy song was performed in Medieval looking costumes and with rather shaky vocals. In the end Belarus came only 16th.

Portugal sent the young Filipa Sousa to Baku. She had tried to gain fame in casting shows and then turned to the traditional Fado music, winning the “Grande noite de Fado” for instance in 2008. Her song “Vida Minha” (“My Life”) is a folk-pop song with elements of Fado music and was written by popular Croatian composer Andrej Babić, who had incidentally also composed the Portuguese entry in 2008. Filipa performed the song in a silver dress that did not really fit the atmosphere of the song. However, she gave a good vocal performance. In the end that didn’t help Portugal only came 13th.

The 36-year old Sofi Marinova represented Bulgaria. She is of Roma origins and was the first member of that ethnic group to represent Bulgaria. Marinova performed an technodance song called “Love Unlimited”, which talked about the universality of love and thus used 11 different languages in the chorus saying “I love you”: Turkish, Greek, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish, Bulgarian, Romani, Italian, Azerbaijani, French and Arabic. Incidentally the short phrase in Azerbaijani was the first ever in that language to be uttered during a Eurovision performance. She performed all alone on stage, which is very unusual for a dance song in Eurovision. Her outfit was reminiscent of Sailor Moon. After her failing to qualify to the final there were racist accusations against her in the Bulgarian press. What these people didn’t know at the time was that it was Bulgaria’s second best result ever. Bulgaria and Norway had received the same amount of points, but the tie break rules let Norway qualify and Bulgaria had to stay in the semi-final.

The youngest performer of the 2012 edition was sent by Slovenia: Eva Boto was a complete newcomer after she had won the Slovenian casting selection “Misija Evrovizija”. Her song “Verjamem” (“I Believe”) was written by Vladimir Graić, the composer of the 2007 winning entry „Molitva“ and accordingly had a lot in common with Marija Serifovic’s song: A dramatic Balkan ballad which Eva and her backings performed with lots of drama. In a semi with tough competition from other Balkan countries, Slovenia failed to reach the final and ended in second to last place.

After six failed attemps to represent her country Croatia, Nina Badric was internally selected by the Croatian broadcaster. She is a popular and acclaimed singer in all of Ex-Yugoslavia. The song „Nebo“ („Sky“) from her 8th studio album, was quite nice but not instant and catchy enough to get enough votes. Badric presented a dramatic, dark performance with bolts of lightning and (again) lots of drama. At the end she came 12th and failed to qualify for the final (The juries had her higher, though)

The weirdest entry that year arguably came from Georgia. Anri Jokhadze had already supported the Georgian entry in 2008 as a backing singer. In Baku he presented a „mini musical“. His song „I’m a Joker“ changed its musical style every 30 seconds. Anri started the performance in a Monks outfit, ripped it off, danced around, played piano and ended it surrounded by 5 semi-dressed female backing singers. All in all a bit too much for 3 minutes. The televoters agreed (the juries wanted it to qualify for some reason). In the combined result Georgia came 14th.

Slovakia sent a former Idol contestant to Baku. Max Jason Mai performed a rock song with long hair, black leather pants and jacket and topless. He screamed his „Don’t Close Your Eyes“ into the microphone and probably felt like a real rocker. The song could not change Slovakia’s bad record in Eurovison. With 22 points, Slovakia came last.

The interval act was quite spectacular: The winners of 2007 Marija Serifovic, 2008 Dima Bilan, 2009 Alexander Rybak and 2010 Lena performed their entries accompanied by Azeri instruments. In the end they were joined by Ell&Nikki to perform Waterloo together. Dima Bilan performed with Michael Jackson shrieks and as if he had taken too much of certain substances. The performance of Waterloo sounded rather off key and Nikki even forgot the lyrics.

The Second Semi-Final:

Place Country Artist Song Points
1 Sweden Loreen Euphoria 181
2 Serbia Zeljko Joksimovic Nije ljubav stvar 159
3 Lithuania Donny Montell Love Is Blind 104
4 Estonia Ott Lepland Kuula 100
5 Turkey Can Bonomo Love Me Back 80
6 Bosnia-Herzegovina Maya Sar Korake ti snam 77
7 Malta Kurt Calleja This Is The Night 70
8 Ukraine Gaitana Be My Guest 64
9 Macedonia Kaliopi Crno i belo 53
10 Norway Tooji Stay 45
11 Bulgaria Sofi Marinovo Love Unlimited 45
12 Croatia Nina Badric Nebo 42
13 Portugal Filipa Sousa Vida Minha 39
14 Georgia Anri Jokhadze I’m a Joker 36
15 Netherlands Joana Franka You and Me 35
16 Belarus Litesound We Are the Heroes 35
17 Slovenia Eva Boto Verjamem 31
18 Slovakia Max Jason Mai Don’t Close Your Eyes 22

…..

2 comments on “Eurovision Song Contest 2012 (Baku)

  1. It’s a bit surprising that the article puts so much emphasis on the singers’ outfit. I can understand it in the case of the Dutch or the Danish entry, among a few others, whereas the dress worn by the Finnish singer barely got my attention.

  2. Hi,. i`m from Norway, and here is my top 5 for 2012 :
    1.Greece. Aphrodisiac
    2.Estonia. Kuula
    3.Spain. Quedate conmigo
    4.Iceland. Never forget
    5.Norway. Stay
    ( I also love Italy, L` amore femmina )

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