2015 Eurovision in Review
Friends! Sweden did it again and won Eurovision after a tight battle to the finish, beating off Russia in the last few votes. Off to Stockholm we go next year….but here is how it all unravelled…
Sweden’s Mans dressed as butterfly
For the finals, we travel South of the Apfelstrudel equator to the Kaiserstadt Vienna. The evening started off classy with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra sampling across the composers against some Austrian vignettes. Already, it is clear, this evening will be entirely free of irony (or any humour for that matter). We cut across to the Vienna Stadthalle where another fiddler appears on stage… gawd, this is already dragging…
Finally, something interesting – some sort of light spectacles and the appearance of Conchita Wurst, wearing a fuschia pant-suit (the first of several to come) and introducing our three, humour-free hosts: Mirjam, Alice and Arabella, who inexplicitly started to sing. And now they have spilled the Vienna boy’s Choir onto the stage…where are the Lipizzan horses?
Finally, the singing starts in earnest with Slovenia’s duo Maraaya. Wearing a white lace wedding dress and headphones, young Marjetka was giving the windmachines the first run for the evening. A solid 15th place!
France’s attempt to lift the spirits backfired with an on stage show of a village destroyed by war and CGI drummers in beige pyjamas. This was never going to go anywhere but third last with 4 points.
Despite the power of Hermes’ winged sandals, Israel’s Nadav was out of tune and beat, which was generously overlooked by the Eurovision voters, propelling him to 9th place.
Some clever black and white shadow work made Estonia’s ‘Goodbye to Yesterday’ seem more interesting than it actually was. Surely Elina’s black pant-suit carried this contribution to an incredible 7th placing.
The UK changed the pace with a bit of rag-time fun. It clearly resonated with the audience – at least there were no scenes from a war-torn village. The rather ordinary outfits were enhanced by fluro-light strips – just good enough for 5 points and 4thlast placing.
Armenia’s Genealogy was dressed as a witches’ coven and brought us another war story. Fog and gale-force windmachines could not propel this cheerful number beyond 16th.
Monika and Vaidas from Lithuania quickly lowered the tone, with a peppy number and lots of kissing…. Lithuania was feeling the love and so was the rest of Eurovision, sort of: 18th. Was Monika wearing a jellyfish?
Studded in diamantes (Swarovski product placement), Serbia’s Bojana started off with a labouring tune, but delivers a thumping disco-beat to an euphoric audience. Best use of the Phantom of the Opera! 10th place
Norway, the first of the Scandinavians, was next appearing in white outfits. The stage performance consisted of Morland and Debrah walking past each other. I thought it was rather boring, but the rest of the world thought otherwise: 8th!
The favourite – Sweden’s Mans gave a dynamic performance with easily the best LED show of the evening. The win goes to young Mans, and we are going to Stockholm!
Best use of a pyjama top!
After Sweden’s rousing number, Cyprus delivered quite a step change. Dressed as an undertaker, John served a gentle ballade without a future: 22nd. Best use of actual singing.
For the first time in history, Australia competes in Eurovision! And what a debut it was! Recycling his Melbourne Cup outfit, Guy Sebastian, delivers a crowd pleaser and sails straight to 5th place.
One of the more awkward numbers this year was delivered by Loïc from Belgium. The robotic onstage show was a hybrid between of Greece’s 2002 S.A.G.A.P.O. and Kraftwerk. I was not sure where this was going, Europe knew: 4th!
Hipster heaven from Austria, the Makemakes were next with a white pantsuit and a piano on fire! The sleazy wink at the end cost them dearly: nil pointes and last placing.
Most obsolete hat of the evening
Greece’s Maria Elena, caressed by an array of wind machines, delivered a big ballad and matching cleavage. The ring of LED lights behind Maria Elena resembled the 12 stars of the EU…a subtle hint that Greece will stay in the EU? 19th place.
How Knez from Montenegro made it into the finales, we will never know. He was joined on stage by some very stern looking ladies (studded in diamantes). Sadly Montenegro’s choreographer abandoned Knez and his team, resulting in possibly the worst on stage dancing (ie. walking around and lifting of arms).
Most inappropriate moustache of the evening
Despite a black pant-suit Germany’s Ann-Sophie and her backing singers were nailed to the stage. Again, a sleazy wink was brutally punished with zero points and last placing (alongside Austria).
Joined by a white piano and 3 off-key backing singers, Poland’s Monika was also wearing a white wedding dress. After a languid start, the song did pick up half way through but only enough for 23rd!
Aminata from Latvia delivered sophisticated and definitely not your run of the mill Eurovision fare… the woman could actually sing. No dancing, though as her fairyfloss-dress did merged with the stage floor and the depth of her cleavage prohibited any sudden movements: a deserved 6th!
For a light-hearted laugh, Romania’s Voltaj sang about orphans left behind. There was more Swarovski product placement in the form or a diamante neckpiece for the gentleman: 15th!
Spain’s Edurne was dressed as little red riding hood and appeared on stage with an unconscious (or possibly sleeping) half dressed lad. Luckily, he did wake up and started pulling on her red cape…until the whole thing comes off, revealing a dream in beige. Turns out, the lad is slightly cross-eyed, but great at twirling Edurne around. The song, you ask? Sorry, I was not listening…21st place.
Most uncomfortable looking boots of the evening.
Yawn…another anti-war hymn from Hungary….five lamenting singers who were so traumatised they were petrified and unable to move. I am not sure who dressed them, even Swarovski refused to stud this outfit: 20th place.
Finally some irony…Hungary’s peace anthem was followed by Georgia’s Klingon queen calling the audience to arms! Another pant-suit (Hello!) and 11th placing.
Fog and two contortionists accompanied young Elnur from Azerbaijan….the best thing about this song was the key change (possibly the only one for the evening) – 12th place.
Polina from Russia was sporting another dress crevasse and an all-white band on stage. The audience was singing along to this one, and all that Ukrainian mess that earned Russia boos last year, was forgotten: 2nd place!
Best facial expressions for the evening.
Deep cleavage characterised Albania’s Elhaid – her crescendo automatically turned on the windmachines: 17th place
Oh no, it’s Italy’s three tenors. Only one out of three could sing, although they had great hair. So much Schmaltz is hard to digest even for Eurovision…or so I thought: 3rd placing courtesy of Europe’s mothers-in-law!
We have reached the end of the entries, and sadly our three hostesses paralysed the evening with meaningless waffle. Finally, Conchita saved us with some singing and a pant-suit.
The voting landscape was rather exciting with Italy, Russia and Sweden neck-to-neck for most of the evening. Finally, Sweden broke free to win with a convincing 365 points!
Here are my predictions for the 2015 fashion stakes: get thee a pant-suit!
Thank you all, and see you next year in Sweden!
Switzerland and France
Published May 24, 2015
The start to this song is great, with a dark baseline and thumping drums. Mélanie is evoking a tribal feel to this number, that I kind of like. I just hope the stage show can improve on that ridiculous video. The production team has actually managed to find Switzerland’s least scenic locations, and in the end had to resort to surround Mélanie with some white sheets to obscure ugly Swiss scenery.
Since the break of the new millennium, France only found itself in the top 10 three times, and the last time she won was in 1977. Last year, France only collected 2 points in the final. Despite these devastating statistics, France continues to pay for Eurovision and send entries that are completely out of step with modern times. In a way, France’s instance on failure is almost inspiring. This year is not difference – Lisa delivers a classic chançon that no-one will care about.
Romania and the Czech Republic
Published May 24, 2015
Did you know that Andre Agassi, the legend tennis player, is the lead singer for the Romanian band – Voltaj? Imagine my surprise when I began to review this year’s Romanian entry.
Romania have finally decided to take this Eurovision caper seriously entering the pop-rock powerhouse Voltaj. They have been chart-topping Romania’s hot 100 for over 20 years, championing ecological and social causes with their special blend of pop-rock-hippy.
Given Andre is bald, the band has to contend with a massive disadvantage – the wind machine is rendered ineffectual with the lack of hair. To distract the audience, from the lack of hair movement, they have instead decided to move the hair of the audience with their massive key changes and haunting melody. The band also has a secret weapon – a grand white piano – obviously an attempt by Andre to channel the likes of Elton John, John Lennon and of course the great White piano playing maestro Barry Manilow (A fusion of all three would surely be the perfect Eurovision entrant).
The song traces the life of Ronnie the Romanian whose parents have left behind their adorable Ronnie to travel to a wealthier country in order to earn a living. It is a sacrifice that parents, like Ronnies do on a daily basis, with the hope of providing their offspring with expensive plastic toys and a more meaningful life.
By what I could tell Ronnie, and other children like him, are left with the local fishermen who teach the children the skills of beard weaving and fish pickling. Is this the definition of a humanitarian crisis? In the end the story finishes with Ronnie, obviously feeling inadequate as he cannot yet grow a beard, searching for his parents in a dingy on a loch in Romania – ironically if the parents had told him they had moved to Paris their child would not be wasting so much of his life looking for them.
Here we have Marta, with hair to spare and Václav, a balding werewolf (pre-transformation). Both seem to be shouting at each other over there not being enough light. The lack of light is being made up for by wind machines – somewhat wasted on Václav. But as the song rightly points out, we first have to cross the sea of pain until this song is over.
Hungary and Belarus
Published May 21, 2015
From the first few notes that sprang from the gentle guitar, I was longing for this song to end. And for good reason! It is a labouring piece about peace. Something that they will make you sing on scout’s or young socialist camps for ever and ever. At Eurovision the song and the topic is quite inappropriate these days…no one really cares about peace anymore and there are limited opportunities for windmachines or pyrotechnics. No finals for Hungary this year, I am afraid!
Take one werewolf (Uzari) and a classical fiddler (Maimuna), lock them up and wait for a full moon. Or so one would think…instead of the anticipated blood bath we witness a more heinous crime by far: Belarus’ Eurovision entry. A bland melody with benign lyrics (time is like a thunder –aa-aa) interrupted by blood curdling fiddling.
Denmark, Macedonia and Portugal
Published May 21, 2015
Vomiting sunshine and rainbows everywhere is just the way that you are. You would think Copenhagen would be sick of hosting after their recent win, but their irritatingly catchy earworm is a serious contender. Simple heartfelt lyrics, simple major chords (with key change), charmingly awkward would-be go-go dancers… I’ll be humming it for days and hating myself every moment.
Macedonia (spoiler alert)
The more astute followers of this blog will know that Macedonia has already competed in their semi-final. So some might then argue that this entry is late. Perhaps this is so, but, lateness is a pretty lame excuse not to do something. I see it as an opportunity to review the live performance. Daniel Kajmakoski’s effort was pretty uninspired, he sort of wanders around the stage singing a bit out of tune, cutting a few over-rehearsed but poorly executed poses. The best bit is his super-slo-mo stage entry. He seemed pretty happy with himself at the end, sharing a little moment with his backing singers, who were equally lethargic throughout their three minutes of Eurovision fame. The response of the crowd was a pretty good guide to the fate of Macedonia, Daniel will be watching the final from the sidelines.
Portugal has the dubious honour of being the most losingest country at Eurovision. That is they have competed at the most contests without ever winning it. Since semi-finals were introduced in 2004, they have failed to make the final seven times, they even spat the dummy and withdrew in 2013. Against this long history of failure, Leonor Andrade was brave enough to enter her little ditty Ha Um Mar Que Nos Separa (There’s a sea that separates us). This is another in the long line of ballads at this year’s contest, and apart from a strange key change about two-thirds of the way in, this one just kind of rolls along into obscurity. Leonor has a confused stage presence, at times she wants to be a Celine Dion type diva, at other times she breaks into little jumps reminiscent of 90’s pop-punk, she even sheds a tear during the finale. Unless there is a late influx of voters from Brazil, who might appreciate the Portuguese lyrics, I reckon Leonor Andrade is about to add to Portugal’s long history of losingness.
Estonia and Belgium
Published May 20, 2015
Imagine if Sheldon from Big Bang Theory narrated the morning after of his drunken one night stand, with about as much rhythm as you might expect. This song, the offspring of Estonia’s hottest songwriter and a random teen off Youtube whose greatest life aspiration is to pet giraffes, is a telenovela of the worst quality (and trust me, I just spent the past year in Brazil). Expect high marks in the final.
Has Troye Sivan aged poorly and moved to Belgium? The music video is sufficiently homoerotic, but perhaps that’s just European. Young Loïc Nottet (according to his bio) enjoys consulting his lucky stars before getting on stage, but among the lucky stars such as ABBA and Celine Dione, Loïc will not shine. The piece is mildly catchy, and mildly creepy, but without a wind machine or key change it has no prayer. As the song meditates in its lyrics, “And if we die, tomorrow, what’ll we have to show?” The answer, of course, is a middle-of-the-pack finish.
Australia and The United Kingdom
Published May 20, 2015
This song is guaranteed to win! That’s because Eurovision votes are statistically distributed amongst geopolitical historical blocs. Australia has no Euro geopolitical links (despite Abbott’s attempts at reviving knighthoods), so it will automatically win all the spite votes, and that’s pretty much all of them.
The song itself is pretty mediocre, potentially an attempt to piggyback on Mark Ronson’s white bread funk revival. Yawn. Bring back Jessica Mauboy. Exhume the career of Danni Minogue. Or just let Lee Lin Chin sweep everyone off their feet.
Electro-swing dance had
Become this year’s big fad
I don’t mind, I’m still inclined
To be in love with this song.
Big brass and big glam
The set piece a grand slam
Even the scat wasn’t so crap
I’m still in love with this song.
Don’t need no tissues
For all their trust issues
Cause charming croon and catchy tune
I’m still in love with this song.
P.S. Abbott should knight these people.