It’s almost midnight and I have quite a few things to do that are more important that this but I don’t care, I’m resolved to write this post! Anyway, I’m getting more excited every day about Malmö in May. I’ve started to make more graphics to enhance my rankings and to just have some fun in Photoshop, so I’m really excited about the post where I reveal my top 10, since they all have specialty graphics. Also, in my never-ending quest for design perfection, I’ve changed my list design yet again. However, this is just a massive improvement on what I had before. By the way, that initial, plantation shutter-esque design, was inspired by the beautiful adverts I saw on Georgian Television at 3 a.m. while waiting for the presentation of the Georgian song that had happened about 15 minutes earlier. At least something came out of that sleepless night!
[A video would be here… if I could find one.]
Right, there’s business to take care of. Namely, the fact that we’re finally out of the non-qualifiers and into the finale!
ESC 2013 Reviews: Places 26-23
So, on with it.
Number 26: The Netherlands. “Birds” – Anouk Teeuwe
First, I know she doesn’t use her last name on stage. However, in order to make the graphic work, I needed something longer than just “Anouk.” So don’t get mad at me for that! However, you are more than free to get mad at me for the placement of this song. As a person who has had the Netherlands in his past four top 10s, even winning one year, this is a huge disappointment. And wouldn’t you know, it’s the same year that everyone loves the Dutch song. Perfect. Aside from my personal malaise, I sort of like the retro elements to the song. The orchestration is some of the best this year and Anouk really elevates the song. However, it’s far too heavy for my taste and is a little on the dull side. I see it qualifying quite comfortably and bringing the Netherlands back to Eurovision glory. A win, though? No. Especially when I don’t like the song! That will never do. 😉
Number 25: Cyprus. “An Me Thimase” – Despina Olympiou
In nature, there’s fire and ice. In Eurovision 2013, there’s the Netherlands and Cyprus. Aside from obvious climactic differences, the entry from Nicosia is another ballad, but it’s much warmer. Despina uses her deep, emotive voice to its highest potential and, as a result, this has grown on me and I suppose it will continue to do so. This is much more up my alley, but there’s a large imbalance in the song’s construction. At the beginning, the orchestration is very light and tender. However, it builds to a very high level at the end. This probably won’t matter for most, but it’s enough to perturb me. As for its chances of qualifying, poor Cyprus is totally screwed. It’s the only ballad of a four song block at the end of semi-final one, in between Ireland, Belgium, and Serbia, which are all more likely finalists. Despina will, sadly, be shut out before singing even a single note. Good work, SVT. Not.
Number 24: Croatia. “Mižerja” – Klapa S Mora
At the end of the Eurovision year (18 May), I might hand out awards for things like “Favorite Performance,” “Best Voice,” “Nicest Outfit,” etc. I already know that, for the most part, my number one has most of those scooped up, except for orchestration. The beginning of the song, when the first guy sings all by himself, might be my favorite sound from a Eurovision track all year. All the composition is just lush, rich, beautiful and complex. However, it slowly becomes more of a popera number with an ethnic twinge, which is all right, just, not what it deserves to be. It becomes very repetitive and only two or three of the members get solos. Croatia is probably the most toned-down in a line of six high-powered songs in semi-final one, which probably hurts its chances, even though it’s with most of the Former Yugoslavia. Last year, Nina Badrić sang a better ballad in semi with the same demographics and only managed 12th. I predict a similar fate this year.
Number 23: Russia. “What If? ” – Dina Garipova
From endearing and luscious to super sweet and hyper sugary, we find ourselves listening to, what I predict, is the current frontrunner for victory. Dina was selected by Channel 1 Russia after winning her country’s version of “The Voice” and Channel 1 “chose Dina internally but actually it was a public choice,” said Channel 1 Music Director Yurij Aksyuta. Russian logic, right there. This keen sense of juxtaposition is also on display with the song’s lyrics; it’s a generic call for peace, one of two this year (the other being Denmark). Yes, this from a country known for playing aggressor to the United States in the Cold War and supporting crazy North Korea for most of the past few decades. How sincere. Aside from that, the song is actually quite catchy and Dina is bound to be one of the best vocalists of the year. Definite top 10’er and probable top 5’er.
The Euro-Challenge: Days 4-9
There’s some catching up to do here. No time for a silly sentence… like this.
4. Favorite entry by a female soloist.
5. Favorite entry by a male soloist.
6. Favorite entry by a duet.
7. Favorite entry by a group.
8. Favorite second place entry.
9. An entry that you didn’t like at first but now like.
Day 4: Soluna Samay – “Should’ve Known Better” (Denmark 2012)
I’m trying to put off revealing my 2012 winner until the end, where it’ll make more sense. So, here’s my bronze medal winner from Year Baku, Soluna Samay! Since the question mainly concerns the artist, it would be appropriate to pick my favorite artist to ever discover from Eurovision. So, as a treat, you’ll get two videos for her! Here’s her criminally underrated Eurovision song.
And her newest single, “Humble,” performed live at the phenomenal Dansk Melodi Grand Prix 2013.
Day 5: Marco Mengoni – “L’Essenziale” (Italy 2013)
Yes. Everything about this entry is so classy, and sublime, and gorgeous. Mark my words, this will surprise all its nay-sayers come May. Buona fortuna, Marco!
Day 6: Euroband – “This Is My Life” (Iceland 2008)
And we’ve peaked. This is probably my favorite Eurovision song of the past five years. First, it’s a thumping, catchy, accessible trance-pop track that is very well-constructed. Then Friðrik and Regina made it to Belgrade. Along with Loreen, this is the best performance of any uptempo song. And it was that performance that took it to a special place. So in love with this song. Fun fact: Two of the members of the team that produced this are behind this year’s Icelandic entry. When I saw that, I held off on listening to “Ég á Líf” in hopes that it would be some sort of similar house number. It’s safe to say that when I finally did come around to listening to it, I was not amused.
Day 7: Jon Lilygreen and the Islanders – “Life Looks Better in Spring” (Cyprus 2010)
After discovering Eurovision when the stage in Oslo was still up, I instantly fell in love with probably the third song of my Eurovision life. The airy, lighthearted sound of this warm entry still evokes memories of that summer for me. Not much else needs to be said (which also means that I ran out of things to say).
Day 8: Raphael Gualizzi – “Follia D’Amore/Madness of Love” (Italy 2011)
An unexpected return brought a highly unexpected result. Pipped by plucky Azerbaijan’s vanilla pop duo, this Italian slice of big band jazz infuses me with energy every time. Raphael’s voice had the perfect, raspy quality that fits this genre of music so well. Still, I preferred the original Italian version, not the bilingual version presented in Düsseldorf.
Day 9: Kamil Mikulčík and Nela Pocisková – “Leť tmou” (Slovakia 2009)
When I first made it back into the close annals of Eurovision history, I passed this one over as overblown and gaudy. Now, with a fresh set of eyes and ears, I’ve done a total 180 and now have this in my personal top 10. Aside from the superb lyrics, the orchestration here is top-notch and the singers give it their all. A total missed opportunity from Year Moscow.
Anyway, I’m far too tired to write anymore tonight. Hopefully this was something enjoyable. Tell me your Eurovision 2013 rankings and your 30-Day Challenge winners, please. J