Eurovision Song Contest 2014 : The Grand Final

Grand final

Sam and Julia say that this will be a close contest: Austria v. Sweden v. UK.

Clips of Petra doing what in Denmark is the work of two men and one woman.

And of course, Emmelie and those bloody teardrops.

Video: Ms. de Forest approaches the B&W Hall to put the 2014 trophy on top of a building to light the Eurovision signal. Meanwhile, we get a very chic version of Dansevise (Sam doesn’t know the name.)

As we get to the hall we are greeted by dancers waving flags. Julia makes a somewhat sarcastic comment about last year’s artists having to carry their own flags. (It made good television though.)

We get what is now clearly a new tradition “The Parade of the finalists.”

Ukraine is saucy. Sanna regn. Tolmachevy Twins oblivious to the geopolitics. BaSim overwhelmed. Molly Smitten-Downes kind of anonymous.

And now we have the B&W Trio. Lisa has brought her A-game. Pilou brought his Chinese. And what’s really strange is that there is very little Danish being sung.

1 Ukraine The coincidence of the song being called “Tick Tock” and the current political situation in Ukraine is…interesting. Ukraine has a very effective formula: Sexy young woman (diva-in-training shall we say) sings upbeat dance pop. Mariya doesn’t deviate from the formula. And Svetlana’s wheels are back.

2 Belarus I tell myself “be very happy that other cake song didn’t go through.” Yes, Teo does look like a drag king doing Robin Thicke. It’s still quirky, and the backing male singer/dancers oddly keep things from looking too bizarre. Teo on the other hand is a David Lynch character brought to life. The running against the wind was a bit over the top.

3 Azerbaijan Julia questions whether Azerbaijan’s claim of using an acrobat for the first time this year is correct. Looking at this again, the intimacy that the song calls for is really blown by the acrobats and the linguistic disconnect between Dilara and the Swedish song writers of a song in English. Lots of interesting visuals, no connection between them.

Ad: Vote on this year’s songs on SBS’s website and win a Renault.

Time for Sam & Jules talk to Eurovision stars with varying degrees of English. Carl from Norway is very Nordic and talking clinically about emotions. Julia fawns over Sanna Nielsen.

4 Iceland Sam calls them “The Wiggles gone off the rails.” More like Epic Nordic Punk
Sergeant Pepper Beatles. Would’ve been nice, given the message, if they sang partly in Icelandic. Oddly enough, this performance reminds me of Latvia 2010 as performed on Playschool.

5 Norway S&J love Carl’s backstory (he’s a bouncer). I still find it dull. Yes, I know it’s all about the inability to express oneself emotionally. And I do like theatricality but it’s so mind-numbingly contained. Carl Espen joins the ranks of Andy Park clones slowly taking over Scandinavia.

6 Romania There is a bit of a subtext to this year’s returning (or long struggling to represent) entrants, which is “They were better last time.” Paula and Ovi have ditched the duelling pianos for video screens and an even faster dance music tempo. Even though they are duetting, Paula is one song and Ovi (looking wild-eyed) is a somewhat similar but not exactly the same one.

7 Armenia Sam & Julia go on about Aram’s past as a sick child. (Perhaps he dropped in the betting stakes.) Anyway, Aram does his thing alone onstage, and I continue to wonder if this whole entry is part-satire when the dub step kicks in and Aram macho emotes all over the place. Still, one of the more memorable Armenian entries.

8 Montenegro Julia is firmly in the “bring back the language rule” camp, and mentions that Sergej is singing for all the Ex-YU countries who aren’t in this year (somewhat diminishing the fact that Montenegro made it to the final for the first time.) Sergej manages to look distinguished despite having a ballerina skating around madly. Glad Montenegro got in, but they should’ve last year. (Bring back Nina in 2015,)

S&J mention that the battle of the titans with Austria and Sweden coming up next. I don’t know how Sweden is a contender this year. Already Anglophones are snickering over the lyric “undo my sad.” Besides, I’m for Conchita and Austria. (The last Austrian win was in 1965. Although Portugal deserves a win even more, even if you take my Lusophile bias away.)

Interview time: Everyone likes the Slavic Girls. Julia rightfully gushes over Conchita as the rest of us realise that Arnold Schwartznegger’s accent is a relatively mild example of the Austrian accent,

9 Poland Sam delightfully and sarcastically describes the entry as “classy.” It’s still trashily catchy. Where’s Donathan though? Honestly, we need more Polish comedic entries if they’re going be like this. Cleo’s accent when rapping in English is hilarious.

10 Greece Coming after the colourful rap from Poland, this seems very cold. The staging in traditional Greek Eurovision black, blue, and White doesn’t help. Still catchy. Interestingly RiskyKidd is captioned as “(Rap)”

11 Austria. Julia calls Conchita the “emblem” of the contest, (Fun fact: apparently “Conchita Wurst” is slang for “I don’t care.”) Conchita is now the favourite to win. Great staging combined with Conchita’s great performance. Simply brilliant. Should she win Conchita would be the first drag winner and first openly gay winner.

12 Germany Normally “Germany” and ‘accordion” scream fun kitschy times. Elaiza are a bit too sedate for that. It’s quirky whingepop. The lead singer does have some major pipes on her though.

Eurovision records: The Highest Note Winner: Maja Blagdan for Croatia back in 1996.

13 Sweden Yes, we get it. It’s 40 years since Abba won. It’s Sanna’s first time representing Sweden after seven attempts. Just because the brain wants this to add up to a potential Swedish win, doesn’t mean it will. The song is not bad, and Sanna totally deserves her Lena Ph moment for persistence, but a winner this is not. SVT’s financial year for 2015 is safe.

14 France (aka Julia’s home team) Julia explains that the song is about hipsters talking about consumerism. If Pollaponk were The Wiggles, then Twin Twin are a Gallic combo of Sesame Street and LazyTown. It’s nice to see France go down the party song route again. And it’s damn catchy too. Of the Big 5, I rather like France’s whole “we don’t give a damn what everybody thinks, this is what we call today’s French music” attitude when it comes to Eurovision. Spain tries not to care, but they certainly make a big to do when they have a Swedish written song.

Break time: Apparently the Ruth, the Ruth won’t be on fire. She’ll be dancing in the rain.

15 Russia Sam mentions that this is Russia’s 25th anniversary at Eurovision. (Youdipph, that versatile outfit, and something about an eternal wanderer.) Those poor twins, they really must be copping it with the current state of Russian relations. (Hence the seesaw. Believe you me, you can find the political references anywhere in this song.) The Twins sing admirably, and finally a glimpse of Rui Andrade.

16 Italy Viva Emma! And Julia agrees as well. Emma is dressed like a Roman rock music warrior goddess. Being a longtime (since 1997) fan of Italian rock/pop, this is a seriously amazing moment. Emma owns the stage (albeit not like Conchita, but still impressive).

17 Slovenia Ok, Tinkara is not up there with Sanna in terms of waiting (her quite reasonable 2001 EMA entry is worth a listen.) Slo-pop returns to Eurovision, and that is good. The verses are quite pleasant, and Tinkara is naturally a more mature performer than in 2001, but she really does come alive when playing the flute. Not bad, but more importantly Slovenia is back and hopefully this means Alya is finally going get her due.

18 Finland Eerie Nordic whingepop (lots of adjectives sung solemnly) gives way to Finnish indie anthem ‘rock.’ (Lordi they are not.) I will say that either it’s my advancing age or their Finnish cockney pronunciation, but I can make out 45% of the lyrics.

19 Spain Ruth apparently sang opera at age six. Apparently Dannii Minogue (her X-Factor mentor) is who she called before she went onstage. After Pastora brought the house down (for me and Andy Bell on air at least), a new standard for Spanish ballads has been set. Despite Ruth glory note-ing “The rain” it does come up short compared to the elders.

20 Switzerland Whistling chirpy ragazzo sings something that sounds English-like and could be straight out of an advert for Coles or Telstra. Folksy whingepop made slightly more interesting by the total car crash of a Swiss Italian singing in English really fast with long periods of whistling.

Interviews: Julia is impressed by Ruth and her “wet look” She tries to impress BaSim with her Danish (very carefully spoken)), and then tries to pick him up. Firelight harmonise on camera, because The Common Linnets so wouldn’t.

21 Hungary The dub step drop is so much more natural here than in Armenia, although the lyrics and subject matter are rather appropriate for dubstep. As for Andras, he leads the staging but he does not overwhelm or distract from the message.

22 Malta Firelight has their hootenanny, and honestly I think they must be dressed in H&M (Hatfield & McCoy). Roots/Folk music has its fans, and I am content to go through the highway of Life without being one.

23 Denmark S&J call it a toe-tapper. It’s very “Disney sings Motown knockoffs.” It’s catchy and verging on saccharine with lots onomatopoeia, though the bridge kind of kills the momentum for a bit.

24 The Netherlands Engelbert Humperdinck goes to Nashville and gets a wooden spoon. The Common Linnets go to Nashville get a brilliant sophisticated Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash inspired song that makes it to the final. Whoever at TROS that devised the staging and shots deserves an award. Sultry and seductive.

25 San Marino She’s in the final finally. And yes, we know this is not as good as last year’s. (I still believe in a world where “Crisalide” and “Igranka” qualified. She performs it with confidence.

26 United Kingdom This is not your parents’ British Eurovision song. Molly has got a great stage presence and a voice to back it up. I’m going to say that this is the most impressive dubstep ballad of this year. After being lost in the wilderness at Eurovision, the UK gets back on the path partly suggested by Blue in 2011.

Wish us luck messages: Dilara couldn’t be bothered less, Conchita is demure, Emma is adorable with her “vote for Emma” message.

The boys of the B&W open up the recap.

As with every year, S&J’s recap commentary is liberally peppered with pleas for people to go vote on the SBS website (even though they’re our broadcaster, they got to git dem bills paid)

All I’m going to say is: Conchita was great, Emma was not the giovane Anna Oxa I was hoping for, but impressive, Twin Twin twee twee, and The Common Linnets had the best and beautifully shot performance, and Molly Smitten-Downes majorly impressed.

Interval (of god-knows-how-many): Lisa and the boys sing an ode to 12, complete with the running gag of Pilou being a Sinophile. It’s very charmingly funny, thereby explaining the difference between Swedish and Danish humour.

Interval 2 (The improv comedy interval) Lisa is on green room duty, dressed like Natasha back in 2001 mit tiara. She fortunately is not speaking in rhyming couplets. This is not so much vox pop inasmuch say something to get the contestants to laugh. (The Nordics seem to like this humour as we had it last year and back in Helsinki.) Lisa displays some French however chief voting duties (ergo chief French duties) fall to Nikolaj.

Interval 3 (Last year’ s winner sings their winning song and a their new song.): Yeah, yeah, I’m a Danish Manic Pixie Girl in a Eurovision world, and only teardrops can save me. As for the second song,it’s lots of seemingly deep and meaningful African chanting and Emmelie looking as if every syllable she sings is very profound.

Voting: It’s Nikolaj & Pilou.

Azerbaijan giving Russia 12, who knows what’s true and what’s smoke and mirrors.

Greece gives Austria 12. Conchita looks genuinely touched.

Sweden gives The Netherlands 12. Deserved as well.

Albania gives Spain 12. Ruth ecstatic

Denmark give Sweden 12.

Rather hoping for an Austria v. The Nefherlands battle.

Montenegro gives Hungary 12. Neighbourly.

Current top 3

1 Hungary
2 Sweden
3 Austria

And indeed it does become an Austria vs. The Netherlands with Austria building a stronger lead.

Hoping it keeps up like this. Two very deserving songs and perhaps a sign that Eurovision is prepared for sophisticated subtlety and themes.

Quickly Austria nabs 10s &12s and N&P declare that no other country could catch up.

To say that Conchita is overwhelmed is an understatement. It’s a true testimony to the power of both singer and song being closely and emotionally connected.

Well deserved Conchita and Austria.

And the others in the top 3 (The Netherlands and Hungary) are equally well deserved.

I am tempted to make a very bold statement: This is Eurovision audiences showing that they are more sophisticated than the “camp and tinsel” stereotype suggests.

And a contest developing along those lines is one that I am glad to be a fan of.

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