>First and foremost, I’d like to direct to you to a very hilarious and enjoyable Eurovision site: Whoops Dragovic, run by Jamie McLoughlin, considering all the work he’s done for the constantly updating the site’s Encyclopedia Eurovisica, he deserves praise on the level of Cleopatra entering Rome.
All tight, all right, here’s the official ESC player:
Get your sibilants at your side, we’re going from San Marino to Switzerland…the long way.
- San Marino: Many years ago, I used to daydream about being the Sanmarinese entrant for Eurovision (Seriously, I did.) The national final was a joint project between MTV Italy and SMRTV and the atmosphere was more like Glastonbury rather than Melodifestivalen. Good times. Anyway, imagine my total shock when I found out that: a) San Marino really was entering Eurovision, and b) they’d pick a electro-rock band. The video is very similar to the one from Montenegro this year, however there are no big-haired women lying in bed, nor do the lads seem to be interested in doing pastiche. (Well, they’re letting the old buildings do that work.) It’s not all that terribly interesting, nor does it really work with the lyrics, and as much as I like Complice, the video for Deli does angst (along with menace) much better.
- Serbia: I hope it’s established between all of us here, that when it comes to these preview reviews, I don’t do objectivity. I am prepared to be surprised (Romania & Malta) or dismayed (San Marino & Finland), but I definitely come into this with favourites. While I’m certain that Jelena Tomašević is a lovely and talented singer, the fact remains that her song/Serbia’s entry is composed by the same man who is also doing co-hosting duties this year. That looks a bit wrong to me. It doesn’t help that I also despise these droning ballads about god-knows-what that Serbia invariably sends, when there are so many more interesting uptempo songs at Beovizija. Perhaps you have to be Serbian to really be moved by it, but by the same token marija lang did this same thing last year and won the contest itself, so there is an audience for torch songs. Rant over, let’s get back to the video. It’s the national final (RTS, you are hosting the whole contest this year, WTF? Bring your A-game.) performance. The staging is similar to the one for Moldova: Jelena sings, the backing performers do avant-garde theatrics behind her, and everyone looks solemn. The song also reminds me A LOT of Nocturne, except instead of a violin solo occupying the majority of the performance, we have folk dancing and clarinets. It goes without saying that Jelena doesn’t even think of bringing the crazy.
- Slovenia: I thought Rebeka was going to be singing in English! She may very well do so in Belgrade, but the preview video is the Slovenian version. Borrowing heavily from Alenka’s successful sex-laden preview from last year, former Miss Slovenia does more of the same, except she’s taking the angrier techno-laden route. Miss Slovenia is pissed at her swarthy man. Wait, maybe she really is into him. No, she hates him. It’s a sped-up version of Justify My Love in Slovenian. Not bad, although it could be a little more risque, given that Alenka’s video set the bar a bit higher for Slovene preview videos.
- Spain: Even though I have been wondering when Spain would get around to using reggaeton, I have to say I wasn’t expecting it in a comedy number. (By the way, eurovision.tv writers, reggaeton has basically been appearing for several years already in Macedonia’s entries masquerading as turbo-folk, but the beats and structure are not all that different.) If we are to believe his bio, then Rodolfo is apparently Argentinian, and that is not all that surprising to me. The entry looks and sounds like a late-night comedy skit on Sabado Grande (and yes, I know Don Francisco is Chilean, but still). The video is very basic, but–let’s be honest–the joke wouldn’t work if it was done with lots of money: Rodolfo and two very harshly made-up backing dancers (who look like Patricia Kraus) dance around to tinny synthesiser with shaky images of bikini-clad women jumping about in the background. If you read the lyrics, it is actually quite funny, name-checking a bunch of international celebrities, politicians, and even the state of Oregon. (For those of us who have been subjected to the constantly playing if the iO digital cable reggaeton ad, you have to keep yourself from wanting to sing “877-393-4448!” during the refrain.) I’m quite surprised that I kind of like it–albeit after reading the lyrics. Nonetheless, I cannot say that I’m all that pleased with the “mulata” lyric. (Actually, I’m rather pissed off about it, frankly. It could be argued that might be part of the “joke,” as he is “Argentinian” and Argentines have the stereotype of believing themselves of being superior to those from the Caribbean and the rest of Southern & Central America, but the song did not need to go there.) I doubt we’ll ever find out if that’s the intent. Verdict: a draw, due to that lyric, but probably the better of the comedy entries this year.
- Sweden: Catwoman is back! (I don’t want to necessarily link to her picture, but doesn’t Charlotte remind you of Jocelyn Widenstein?) Anyway, it’s her MF performance, which tries to borrow as much as possible from Lena Ph, without actually building upon it. First off, Lena got onstage and it was clear from the beginning that she OWNED it. Charlotte, conversely just rents a minorly significant portion. She half-asses the Swedish strut (again, see Lena Ph & Nanne for examples of it done properly), and never connects with the camera. Although she looks very Amanda Lepore-esque, Charlotte doesn’t even use that to her advantage. (Just imagine what this would look like if David LaChappelle was staging this.) She just does a two-step, smiles, turns, does another two-step, and smiles, over and over again, and I can’t help but think she has no idea what she’s singing about. (Not that the lyrics make any sense either, so I’ll cut her some slack on that.) As was very astutely pointed out, Charlotte is totally overshadowed by her Charlotte 2.0 backing singers/dancers, which might explain why it’s only midway through that they appear. Very very bland. If this was an off year, Charlotte would totally walk all over the scoreboard, this year (and in my view, the quality of Eurovision entries has vastly improved since 2001–2 years after Charlotte’s win at the relatively weak 1999 contest), the chances are less than 50% for Sweden to get out of the semi.
- Switzerland: If I had to summarise this year’s Swiss entry, it would be “Some kid whines about idealism like it’s 1967.” Paolo may be 31, but he certainly looks like he’s barely over 18. After a pleasant, if not poorly executed diversion into camp last year, the Swiss are back to their old tricks: hiring a foreigner to sing about the guilt the Swiss have for being Swiss (read: rich) in a world surrounded by non-Swiss (read: those of us who don’t live in tax havens with liberal banking laws). The video looks like it was shot in Los Angeles, and that makes me interpret it as a “Swiss” (Paolo’s the co-creator, and I don’t think he is Swiss) take on the film Crash (the one about LA’s socio-economic strife, not the one about people getting off on car crashes). Why exactly? Well, we have a fresh-from-a-Bennetton-ad group of diverse ethnicities (complete with dance-offs last seen in Rize!), we have fighting, and we have Paolo whining about how it hurts him when people can’t get along. Paolo takes this theme even further by acting all angsty in a nightclub. The tempo picks up and Paolo starts bopping around, even managing to–gasp–smile. The video switches from Crash to Fame, because everybody (except for Paolo) starts dancing together, and the symbolism is so blatant and stomach-churning that I am glad I haven’t had anything to eat this morning. The one thing I can’t quite comprehend is this: why on Earth was this video shot in LA, especially for an entry representing one of Europe’s historically diverse countries? (It’s not like they couldn’t get the same point across in Zurich or Geneva–hell, even Lugano.)
Let me just say that this was a really tough round to pick 3 from: Serbia & Sweden didn’t bother to film anything new; the Swiss entry was well-filmed, but the message was disingenuous, Slovenia wasn’t really ground-breaking (especially in respect to prior Slovene entries), Spain’s jokes didn’t really come across that well, and the Sanmarinese video was rather pedestrian, especially when compared with this year’s Turkish entry. Nonetheless, here’s the top 3.
- Switzerland (it was well shot, although the symbolism was too heavy-handed).
- Slovenia (Nothing new, but at least interesting)
- Spain (the cheapness works, even though the jokes got a little too offensive for my comfort level)
Coming up very soon: the Top 5 of all this year’s previews.