Eurovision Finals 2018

Here we are again, at the Eurovision finals for 2018! The evening opened, as is now traditional, with the parade of the Eurovision finalists. And as if Eurovision were not camp enough, the flags were presented by winking sailors (male and female).

The evening was hosted by Portuguese quadruplets, Daniela, Filomena, Silvia and Catarina.

Thankfully, there was not much talk and we jumped straight into the first contestant.

What a start to Eurovision! Melovin from the Ukraine had it all – trapped in a coffin, dressed in a black morning coat (blown away by wind machines) and flames licking at his feet – it deserved better than 17th place.

 

Amaia and Alfred from Spain duetted a benign love song accompanied by smiles and not much else. The lack of any choreography, coffins or fire cost them dearly – 23rd place.

( Photo by Pedro Fiúza/NurPhoto)

 

Change of pace with Slovenia’s girl power. Lea and her friends were stomping up and down the stage under strobe lighting – the crowd was loving it, but not the voters: 22nd. The first whipping ponytails of the evening!

AppleMark

 

An exhausted Ieva from Lithuania’s had to sit down on stage amongst her floppy pink dress. Finally, she scrambled up to walk up a set of stairs where she was joined by a young man (her husband?), who had no function at all – 12th place.

 

Cesar (Austria), dressed in a star trek uniform, was not distracted by the off-key backing singers, and delivered a solid upbeat performance, carried into 3rd place by the jury vote.

 

Estonia’s Queen of the Night, Elina pierced the evening with a soprano performance that could have shattered wine glasses (and ear drums). Her magnificent dress saved the performance – 8th place.

 

Norway’s Alexander Rybak could not bank on his previous Eurovision win in 2009: 15th place.

 

The host Portugal was up next, but Claudia’s harmony with her onstage friend was off-key and she was swiftly relegated to the last place. Best pink hair of the evening!

 

The UK’s performance was interrupted by some clown who rushed the stage and grabbed the microphone (Kanye?). An undeserved 24th, despite the excellent recovery from SuRie who belted out what remained of her song. Another wardrobe pick from the star trek set.

 

Serbia’s wailing and ethno drums were swiftly punished – 19th place.

 

Michael from Germany was tugging the heartstrings of voters across Eurovision. Dressed in black with excellent curls, and even better visual effects – 4th place.

 

Albania was next with a rock band on stage and a flawless and energetic performance, despite the highly confusing wardrobe – Kiss meets the Klingons? 11th place!

 

Wearing Jean-Paul Gaultiers’ star trek design, France’s Madame Monsieur made heavy use of on-stage fog, but forwent all other gimmicks – a respectable 13th place.

 

Czech sunny boy, Mikolas brought his school satchel on stage. Some high jinx dance moves distracted from a flat vocal performance – an inexplicable 6th place.

. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)

 

The Klingon empire (Denmark) was next – Ramsussen let their flowing beards do all the talking, conjuring up a snow storm on stage – 9th place. Best eye-liner of the evening.

 

Australia’s very own, Jessica Mauboy gave it her best with a big song, some excellent hair whipping and wild dancing. The crowd love it, but no-one else…20th place.

 

Finland’s Saara was pulling all leavers – unsuccessfully. Not sure about the NS style uniforms- 25th place!

 

Keeping the wailing to a minimum, Bulgaria’s Equinox, dressed as Vulcan high priests, delivered a funky anthem and were rewarded with a respectable 14th.

 

Moldova’s shenanigans on stage (think Bennie Hill) were richly rewarded despite the off-key singing, tuba and primary colours! 10th pace.

(Photo by Vyacheslav ProkofyevTASS via Getty Images)

 

Sweden’s disco inferno was a welcome relief after Moldova. A flawless singing performance, albeit the promises of a ‘dance you off’ was not met. Still, a respectable 7th place.

(AP Photo/Armando Franca)

 

At least Hungary’s AWS had a good time on stage, screaming their metal anthem only slightly out of tune. I still dozed off….21st place.

 

Israel’s Netta was operating the console of a Romulan warbird and delivered the best chicken song and dance of the evening – to the delight of the crowd and Eurovision – 1st place! Israel, here we come!

(Photo credit should read FRANCISCO LEONG/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Another band arrived on stage –Netherland’s country & western Waylon. Or so it seemed -the guitars were fake and quickly discarded to make room for some very energetic dancing. This type of deception never goes far – 18th place.

 

Ryan from Ireland was accompanied by a black piano, a street lantern and snow. But it was the two affectionate backing dancers that stole the show and catapulted an otherwise boring song into 16th place.

 

Wearing a spray-on suit, Eleni from Cyprus whips the crowd with excellent hair and dance moves, only narrowly escaping a wardrobe malfunction. Eurovision in its purest form – 2nd place!

 

Italy closed the performances. I can’t quite remember, but someone did – 5th place.

 

The jury votes were all over the place with douze points going to Austria, France, Germany, Sweden, Albania and Cyprus and Israel, changing the lead at almost every vote. The popular votes then rearranged the leaderboard dislodging Austria from the first place to make room for Israel and Cyprus.

In a nail-biting finish, Israel beat Cyprus by 100 points – Tel-Aviv here we come!

It is over, thankfully – I need a nap!

Italy, Latvia, Spain and the UK

ItalyErmal Meta e Fabrizio Moro: Non Mi Avete Fatto Niente

One might easily conclude that Italy’s entry is a happy, toe tapping ditty, probably about summer love or gelato or both. But the upbeat tune is in fact a grim commentary on war, terrorism and displacement. The main message is well illustrated in the video, let’s see what Ermal and Fabrizio dish up on stage. Will political commentaries go anywhere at Eurovision in the 21st century? Probably not…sorry Italy!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

LatviaLaura Rizzotto: Funny Girl

The title and bio pic is deceptive – no sign of Barbara Streisand anywhere in Laura’s performance. There is some staccato singing, a modern version of voguing and a combination of jazz trumpet and cello, leaving me utterly confused. Will Europe be as confused and erroneously allocate douze points?

Review by Mariella Herberstein

SpainAmaia y Alfred: Tu Canción

Look, Spain has sent much, much worse to Eurovision and I am grateful for  young and inoffensive Amaia and Alfred. Still, this sickly sweet, and slightly nasal number will send you to sleep at around 0’21”. While effective, this is somewhat elaborate for a sedative.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

United KingdomSuRie: Storm

 

The UK has cloned Annie Lennox for Eurovision. Obviously, the real Annie declined politely, having seen the humiliation experienced by UK Eurovision entries (cue Engelbert Humperdinck and  Bonnie Tyler). And it almost worked: short blond hair (tick), long, angular face (tick), string riff from Walking on Broken Glass (tick). Yet, CRISPR was unsuccessful in removing the highly annoying For eh-he-he-he-he-ver  chorus. More humiliation awaits!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

France, Georgia and Greece

FranceMadame Monsieur: Mercy

Political statements are not new to Eurovision. The Ukraine, Georgia and Estonia have all had a go at Russia along the years. Why, Portugal even started a political coup to the sound of ‘E Depois Do Adeus’ by Paulo de Cavalho in 1974.

Similarly, Madam Monsieur are making an unambiguous statement about  plight of asylum seekers (the orange life jackets are a sure give away). However, unlike leather clad Ruslana, with her  thumping performance or Jamala’s ear piercing assault, France’s mercy is lost in elegant subtlety. Definitely no where near the top 10.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

GeorgiaEthno-Jazz Band Iriao: For You

Every wondered what happens to boy bands in Georgia when they mature? Wonder no more! They morph into Ethno-Jazz bands, wear grey knitted wests and bore the hell out of Eurovision. Nil points!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

 

GreeceYianna Terzi: Oniro Mou

Not unlike the goddess Athena, who burst forth from Zeus’ forehead, Yianna ’emerged from a musical family of professional singers’. In young years, she embarked on the heroine’s journey that took Yianna to foreign lands (USA), where she faced hideous beasts (mostly Celine Dion) to reluctantly return home (Cyprus Music Awards). And just like Odysseus’ return to Ithaca, no one really recognises Yianna but for the housekeeper. The song? A tragedy!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Ola Portugal!

Dear Eurovisionaries!

Eurovision is back, and so are we! This year, we are travelling to Portugal after Salvador Sobral carried away the first Eurovision win ever for Portugal!  His languid Amar pelos dois was felt in the hearts of everyone,  extracting douze points from an audience weary of wind machines and waxed chests. Let’s hope this is not an enduring theme!

What do we know about Portugal? Other than stereotypes, not much at all – it is long and thin, frequently confused with Spain and serves up delicious sardines. Forty-three countries will compete in Lisbon,  transforming the capital into a festival village – oh my, how exciting!

Stick with us….we will get you through this with essential reviews and commentary!

Club Douze Points

Eurovision finales 2017

Welcome to the final of the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest, from Kiev, Ukraine! The show kicked off with an excellent laser/LED display, and all contestants running the gauntlet through the ecstatic crowd. Already this was taking unbearably long.

Finally, the evening’s hosts, three well-groomed chaps (Huey, Dewey and Louie) officiate the evening. The humour was painful and enduring.

Israel kicked the evening off, with, yes, another well-groomed chap, IMRI, singing off key in a black sleeveless t-shirt. He was ably assisted on stage by two dental nurses – 23rd place.

Kasia from Poland was next, her dress was in danger of an imminent wardrobe malfunction, which we were spared. She had one excellent leg, the other one was rubbish. A big song, but not big enough – 22nd place!

The happiest Belarussians ever were next, all dressed in white crochet (even the guitar)! Their folky tune clearly connected with the crowd, but not the voters – 17th place!

Austria’s Nathan (in white again) was evoking the Little Prince by dancing on a half moon. A solid 16th place.

Back to black outfits (a pant suit, no less) with Armenia and the best braided hair of the evening. The dance moves were reminiscent of Voguing (remember that old chestnut?), enough for 18th place!

The three sisters from the Netherlands were next with furry, glittery, black outfits, some had legs. They were marvellously coordinated, but the lack of wind-machines cost them a spot in the top 10…11th place!

Moldova was raising the fashion stakes with blackties and a (highly annoying) saxophone. The backing singers turned into brides half way through the song, much to the delight of the voters – 3rd place!


Hungary’s Papaj was joined on stage by a fiddler and a dancer. His outfit defies description, other than being very, very handsome! Best use of a milk can as a drum! An excellent 8th place!

Italy! Francesco did a great job and was ably assisted by the Wiggles on stage and a gorilla (also in black). The crowd loved this one, but not enough for a win….6th place.

Denmark’s Anja was in no need of gorillas or gimmicks – she filled the stage with her power ballad and a red flowing dress. Best tooth gap of the evening! 20th place!

Portugal’s Salvador calmed the audience with an oversized black suit and a thoughtful Fado. The audience, and Europe is stunned….first place – Portugal here we come!!!

Dihaj from Azerbaijan had the most extraordinary onstage props, including a horse on a ladder and writing on a blackboard. The significance of the trench coats remains unclear – 14th place.

Croatia’s Jacques brought a split personality and sang his own duet. Technically impressive it did confuse the audience – only 13th place. Creepiest violinist of the evening!Australia’s Isaiah picked up one of the trench coats abandoned by Azerbaijan. The excellent singing matched even more excellent eyebrows and Australia finds herself again in the top 10 with 9th place!

Greece’s Demy also had only one good leg, but a terrible song. For some reason, her barely dressed dancers had to perform in a footbath. A deserved 19th place.

Spain tragically mis-stepped with a boy-band wearing Hawaiian shirts. A deserved last place for silly reggae beats!

Norway’s Jowst brought his own gimp on stage (just in case, I suppose). Dressed as a dentist and quite inexplicably, Norway just makes it into the top 10.

The inane intermission by our three Ukrainian hosts provided the perfect toilet break.

Lucy from the UK appears in gold and belts out the UK’s best performance in years – 15th place. Best use of an on-stage kaleidoscope projecting 3 Lucies!!!

Wearing a studded black cardigan, Hovig was off key and laboured the audience for the full 3 minutes. Douze points from Greece and Armenia (but why?) propelled this into 21st spot.

Rumania yodelled – nuff said! 22nd place (and I am not even going to mention the canons on stage!).

Germany’s Levina was a bit tired and had to lie down on stage. Despite an excellent set of hair and a backless (grey) dress, this went no further than 25th.

Ukraine’s rock band wore excellent sleeveless smocks, but could not carry off the Lordi effect – 24th place.

Belgium was next, and without moving her lips, Blanche performs brilliantly, dressed as the corpses bride. A deserved 4th spot!!!

Stylish Sweden is next, Robin was wearing a shiny mauve suit. His dancing colleagues however, had to wear black turtlenecks. There were some odd hand signals throughout the song, still, 5th place, probably due to the brilliant use of treadmills on stage!

The second toothgap of the evening came courtesy of Bulgaria’s Kristian. The man-child, dressed as a young Viktor Krum, had nerves of steel  and ran away to second place!!!

Alma from France was the last performance for the evening. With two excellent legs, Alma finished the evening for the, by now, delirious audience. Good enough for 12th place. Best use of SimCity graphics.

The intermission brought back Russlana (Eurovision winner 2004) and some clown mooning the audience! The voting landscape was less predictable than previous years (other than Greece and Cyprus awarding each other douze points) – the yodelling Romanian’s received 12 points from Ireland of all places!

There we have it! A glorious win for Portugal! As for fashion trends…I am getting myself some more legs…good ones!

Until next year!

Club Douze Points

Bulgaria

BulgariaBeautiful Mess by Kristian Kostov

Bulgarian man-child Kristian is the third teenager in this year’s line-up. Together with Brendan (Ireland) and Isaiah (Australia), we have the making of a boy band. Kristian would obviously be the edgy one without convincing eyebrows, who would eventually fall out with the others, develop a drug habit and see out his career playing Las Vegas. And the song? Forgettable!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

 

Switzerland, Poland and Lithuania

SwitzerlandApollo by Timebelle

The neutral country. The Euro-dodger. The land of chocolate and cheese, of secret banks and “What Nazi stolen gold?”. One does not expect such a country to make a splash at Eurovision. And you’d be right, as they only won it one time since the invention of colour television, and in Europe’s defense they were preoccupied with the Berlin Wall falling. So, in these politically tumultuous times, will Switzerland step off the sidelines with a powerful commanding performance to finally claim victory?

Well, no.

I mean they try. The fact that none of the members of Timebelle were actually born in Switzerland probably explains their decidedly non-neutral earnestness in their quest for the crown. The lead singer has a pretty decent voice and an eye-catching dress. The song flirts with being catchy. Unlike most of my Eurovision reviews I didn’t compulsively fast forward to make it to the end. But it just can’t get past its Swiss heritage of being neutral and inoffensive. It’ll do well, but not well enough. The Swiss may have once horded the plunders of WWII, but in this year’s geopolitical conflict my money is on them not taking home the gold.

Review by Scott Fabricant

PolandFlashlight by Kasia Moś

I mean if we’re going to be making distasteful WWII references, might as well keep up the trend with Poland, who famously brought a bunch of horses to a tank fight. Same here.

It’s not a bad song by any means, it’s just very old-fashioned (by Eurovision standards). A one-woman power ballad that uses incoherent metaphors to make some vague point about love, or hate, whatever. She’s certainly got an impressive set of pipes, with a hoarse sultry timbre to her voice that’s better suited to blues or jazz. But Eurovision is a new theater of war now, one that considers Australia part of Europe. Recent conquerors of Europe include the amazing interactive graphics of Sweden 2015, the thoroughly modern Austrian drag queen of 2014, and of course Ukraine’s giant war metaphor of 2016, not to mention some spectacular runners-up like Russia’s unstoppable cookie-baking grannies.

And here stands Kasia Mos, holding the line with her old-fashioned pipes, no props, and distinct lack of techno gimmicks. I wish her well.

Review by Scott Fabricant

LithuaniaRain Of Revolution by Fusedmarc

Finally, there’s Lithuania, who wasn’t even a country during WWII so I guess I can finally let this cheap crutch of a trope go and evaluate their entry on its own merits. And I like it! It’s weird and funky, and the lead singer reminds me of a thoroughly modern Bjork minus the theatrical pseudo-insanity. Fusemarc manages to break new musical ground and be truly unique without resorting to cheap gimmicks. I’m predicting we are seeing a taste of Eurovision to come, a time when this old stalwart contest breeds true acoustic innovation.

Just kidding, I already know they never make it out of the semi-finals. A shame really, since they really are funky, and I really did like them. Usually the truly unique sounds never make it to the finals. Eurovision may love its flashy visual gimmicks, but the music remains stuck in the glory days of a pre-Brexit European glory. Maybe Poland has a fighting chance, horses and all.

Review by Scott Fabricant

Ireland, Iceland, Portugal, Romania

Ireland

Dying to Try by Brendan Murray

Rumour has it that, as a young child, Brendan Murray’s cheeks were pinched so vigorously by passing octogenarians that he required reconstructive surgery. They say he is paid entirely in crocheted doilies and lemon tea-cakes, and is banned from releasing a Christmas album amidst fears that it would induce a mass attack of the vapours across the British Isles.

With good looks and titanium-reinforced cheekbones Brendan Murray brings dollops of gorgeousness to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. His melancholy tune about struggling to maintain relationships has one of the most impressive key changes of this year’s line up, and has left women across Europe wondering why their daughters can’t find themselves a nice young man like Brendan. His eyebrows alone are guaranteed to get him as far as the semi-finals.

Review by James O’Hanlon

 

IcelandPaper by Svala

Svala has been granted sabbatical leave from the Borg to represent Iceland this year. The song ‘Paper’, precisely crafted to suit the musical requirements of the assimilated masses, is unsurprisingly mediocre. Nevertheless you will vote for Iceland, resistance is futile. It’s robotic rhythms and synth melodies are perfect listening for the next time you are cruising through the grid on your light cycle. Keep an eye out for the key change goose-step late in the song – a well-timed and subtle build to… nothing at all. Clearly key-changes do not compute.

Review by James O’Hanlon

 

PortugalAmar Pelos Dois by Salvador Sobral

Salvador Sobral was orphaned on the streets of Lisbon as a child. Thankfully a flock of canaries took him in and raised him as one of their own. Years later he was discovered working in a mineshaft – cramped inside a small cage and entertaining the workers with his gentle melodies. Now a full grown man and successful performer, Salvador collaborates with his sister Luisa – who wrote this song and most definitely isn’t pissed about Salvador getting all the credit.

Surprisingly this song, ‘Amor Pelos Dios’ is one of the most coherent Eurovision efforts we have heard from Portugal since, well, ever! The orchestration is tasteful, the soft piano melody is whimsical, and the singing is, believe it or not, in key. Portugal, you have surprised us all and have done well! Maybe you should get Salvador and Luisa to look into your national debt problems, it’s not like they could do any harm.

Review by James O’Hanlon

 

Romania

Yodel It! By Ilinca feat. Alex Flora

It’s Eurovision! Of course there is yodelling! I’m proud to say that Romania have inspired my latest tattoo. The phrase ‘Yodel It!” has been carved into my chest and sits nicely in between my “#YOLO” and “Frankie Says Relax” tatts.

Equal parts East 17, Aqua, and von Trapp family, Romania pairs a seductive yodeller in a leprechaun suit with a tone-deaf rapper to create this year’s abomination. Seriously it’s terrible. Me thinks the novelty value won’t float this boat very far and Romania are likely to sink early on in the quarter finals.

Review by James O’Hanlon

Israel, Italy and San Marino

IsraelI Feel Alive by IMRI

IMRI (I really do not know if this is a name to be shouted or an abbreviation) is already a veteran at Eurovision – Kiev will be his 3rd appearance. Admittedly, the previous times, he was part of the backing singers. I can tell IMRI is determined to make this a success. This young man has oodles of energy and, according the video, oodles of well-groomed friends. Expect some excellent dancing on the night, but perhaps not so many points.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

 

ItalyOccidentali’s Karma By Francesco Gabbani

This catchy and smart number from Italy is the favourite to win, and rightly so. The song is a stylish homogenate of Italian one-hit wonders (I am getting some Adriano Celentano) and light-heartedly homogenises Eastern and Western philosophies.
Surely, any Eurovision entry that exclaims ‘Panta rhei’ deserves a spot in the top 10.

Shave off that ridiculous moustache and it’s ‘douze points’ from me!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

 

San Marino

Spirit of the Night by Valentina Monetta and Jimmie Wilson

San Marino is a more recent addition to Eurovision (competing since 2008) and her strength is clearly driving around in circles. So it comes as no surprise that San Marino has recruited help in the guise of Jimmie Wilson. Regretfully, the outcome is an uneasy fusion of R&B with trashy Euro-disco. Even the key change seems insincere, and at Eurovision, that is saying a lot. Back to the racing track for San Marino this year!

Review by Mariella Herberstein

Greece & Hungary

Greece

This is Love by Demi

 

I had high hopes for Greece this year, expecting an explosive crescendo after the gentle build up. But sadly, Demi just does not reach the screeching heights that Anja from Denmark easily scales. Still, Demi’s video promotes diversity, which surely is a good thing….although with a maximum of 6 people on stage in Kiev, the effect might be somewhat restraint.

Review by Mariella Herberstein

 

Hungary

Origo by Joci Pápai

Hungary has gone from strength to strength over the last few years. Freddy did a great job last year, and my all time favourite is Katie Wolf back in 2015. But Joci is giving us something special. A haunting ethno sound over electronic beats sung in Hungarian. I like it so much that I am willing to forgive the fiddles and the fact that Joci is a samurai.

Review by Mariella Herberstein