>It’s pretty much all decided now who is (nearly every country in Europe + Israel) and who isn’t going to the big shindig in Moscow (Georgia, who probably were not keen on going to anything celebrating Russian success this year).
I must admit that this crop of national final winners and “winners” are kind of weak. Sweden’s highly obsessed-over and mostly high quality MF-in’ Melodifestivalen was won by trained operatic singer Malena Ernman and her English/French opera meets trance song La Voix.
Now, I’m not saying that La Voix is a bad song, because it certainly isn’t. Is it good enough to get out of whatever Qualifier Hell Sweden is put in this year?* I don’t think so. It’s not as easily “accessible but different” as most Swedish songs are in odd years (Sweden seems to get “experimental” in odd years recently: Steinmarck’s Vegas kitsch ode in 2005, The Ark being themselves in 2007, and now Malena Ernman singing beautiful nonsense in 2009), but if the juries are still giving out wildcard places to the final then Sweden might very well be saved again.
*Apparently they are in the first one with Israel, Andorra, Montenegro (one of the few good “new Europe” entries this year), Bulgaria, Switzerland, Turkey, Malta, and others. Yikes.
What I find shocking is that Alcazar came in 5th (with the best song of the entire festival!), the Janis Joplin-wannabe came in 2nd, and the acronym boys in top hats with their catchy foolishness came in 3rd! Seriously, how could they not pick this?
The Czechs also decided on what Gypsy.cz song would represent them: The rap about being a Gypsy with the English title, or the rap about being a Gypsy with a (Gypsy Latin?) title. Turns out that the Czech SMS voting public likes the one with the non-English title.
This is really turning out to be a…well…crap year. Walloon Belgium has remembered that it is the land that spawned Magritte and decided to send a Elvis impersonator singing a song called Copycat.
Slovakia chose the most overwrought ballad of all the overwrought ballads they had at their aeons long selection process. (Believe it or not, the most upbeat Slovakian Eurovision entry was their official proper debut in 1994.)
We’ve got Chiara representing Malta again with another inoffensive midtempo anthem full of milquetoast sentiment. (I’d put some money on her, she’s already finished 3rd and 2nd.) Cyprus sent something relatively similar but more anonymous. Israel went for symbolism with an Israeli Arab singer & Israeli Jewish singer singing in Hebrew, Arabic, and English, but it’s not as sickly sweet as you’d think. Serbia went for a comedy entry assuming that the rest of the non-Serbian world would get the joke (and dissing Ana Nikolic royally).
Iceland gives us yet another well-performed, but lyrically dull ballad, that sounds more like it escaped from an Irish final. Meanwhile, Belgian Turk/Turkish Belgian Hadise thinks we all want her cookie, and since songs about how we apparently all want some woman’s cookie (and vice versa) do VERY well (especially if they are from Mediterranean/Black Sea countries: Greece 2005/2008, Turkey 2003, Ukraine 2004/2008–god willing not 2009, Bulgaria 2007, Russia 2000/2003/2007, Romania 2005), I would watch this one do very well in Moscow.
Armenia has sisters Inga & Anush singing the living daylights out of a Armenian folk-meets-something-like R&B song called Nor Par or Jan Jan. Whatever it is, it’s damn catchy and meant to be so. No pun intended, but they’re a legitimate dark horse this year, especially since they are similar in spirit with Moldova’s entry, but do it in a more accessible manner (in other words, not screaming “Moldova” every 10 seconds).
The Azeris (who I thought were only doing a one-off in 2008) are back with a slightly less shouty duet between singer Aysel and singer/songwriter Arash called Always, and it sounds like Arash listened to Expose‘s Greatest Hits and just added a few Azeri folk touches. I don’t think it’s got as much punch as they think it might. They might need the jury sympathy card.
The less said about Belarus and Macedonia’s foray into bad 1970s glam (Belarus) and 1980s hair rock (Macedonia), the better off we all are. Well, one thing to Petr from Belarus: Jahn Teigen did this in 1976–in Norwegian, wearing a silly costume and pulling faces no less–with much more panache. (Although he was more in the progressive rock genre.)
Finland on the other hand has made a very astute choice for a 90s revival act, with Waldo’s People singing Lose Control. In an earlier time, this would probably be duking out in Sweden, the UK, Romania, or Bulgaria, but yes, this is the Finnish entry.
And the Irish actually manage to do a proper upbeat song that isn’t embarassing, even if the electro-pop/rock wave it’s riding is very 1992.
Andorra has a Danish emigre doing the honours this year, and she has managed to create the cutest of all cute Andorran entries. They might make it this year, especially with New & Eastern Europe pretty much imploding or preparing to do so at this year’s Eurovision–including the host country. (Poland? Isis Gee, but less cartoonish. Lithuania? Really good in Lithuanian, but the truncated English version I think will lose a lot of the punch.)
Yet, I have to say of all the songs selected, I only like a very scant few of the 41 (*sigh* no Georgia, nor San Marino) : Spain, Norway (although it’s too cute for its own damn good), Finland, Sweden (not that I think it ought to have won MF), Switzerland, Estonia, Latvia, Hungary (another dark horse), Armenia, and if I get really liberal with the liking, then I’d add The Netherlands (it’s also too twee for its own good), Greece, Ukraine (even though it’s a hot mess that should absolutely not win or even place in the top 5), and Turkey.
The only prediction I’d be willing to make is that it won’t be one of the usual subjects that wins this year, and Malta, Greece, Turkey, Spain, France, and with the slightest chance that everyone wants to get all message-y, Israel are the only ways I see Eurovision going Med.
Still, I’d rather be planning for Tbilisi 2011 (even though I pretty much think the intent was to be agitprop,,,those shooting and hanging gestures plus the close approximation to the fascist salute followed by the “shush” sign would be even more controversial than the lyrics) .