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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Germany won!

After all the speculation that it was wide open this year, the pre-contest favorite won, showing that Youtube decides the winner. I'm a little frightened because this means that my 8th ranked song won for the third time in a row. Like other years, one song from my top 5 was in the actual top 5. I could write more about who I was happy for and who I was disappointed in, but instead of complaining on the internet I'm going to keep it short and go out.

I hope buying tickets is a lot easier next year than it was this year, maybe I can finally get some...lots of direct flights from New York to various places in Germany...
Congrats Germany!

Final predictions!

I was too upset by Sweden and Croatia's failure to qualify from the semifinal to write a reaction sooner (really, I was just too busy). I got 8 out of 10, not bad. I was worried Ireland wouldn't qualify and really wasn't expecting Cyprus to qualify.

So, some predictions for the final of Eurovision 2010!

- I really have no clue who will win. Nobody seems to be giving me nor the internet at large an "oh wow this is going to win" feeling.
-American Idol coverage has taught me that teen girls with unlimited text messaging plans like cute boys who play acoustic guitar. Belgium or Cyprus?
-Or maybe they just like cute boys in general, adding Israel and Serbia (I suppose Josh from the United Kingdom would count as cute too, but I don't want to believe that the song will do well). Maybe they like girls who look like teen pop idols, which would include Azerbaijan (Safura looks more than a little like Miley Cyrus on TV, thankfully she is a better singer) and Portugal.
-Of course, Germany is the pre-contest favorite and since the rehearsals look decent she could do very well. Maybe she'll win and any speculation otherwise will just be denial.
-All I hope for is an exciting voting sequence with a winner who is not apparent from the first few 12s.

So, before I go, enjoy some art and enjoy the show! Good luck to everyone performing!

Petr Nalitch as Marvel character Whiplash, by Anonymous

Thursday, May 27, 2010

2010 Semifinal 2 Predictions

I didn't get a chance to type up a reaction to the first semifinal on Tuesday since I had to hop on a train right after the show, but I wasn't surprised at the results, except for Portugal. I got 7/10 qualifiers right, which is pretty good but shows that my method of making the predictions wasn't very good.

Here are my predictions for the 2nd semifinal of Eurovision 2010:


I had IRELAND in there before, and I'll be crossing my fingers for them to qualify (especially if they replace Denmark, Georgia, or Ukraine), but after the math it was between them and Ukraine and Ukraine simply has more (neighbors) going for them. This is a case where I'd love to be wrong.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

2010 Semifinal 1 Predictions: Math the Moment!

The first semifinal of Eurovision 2010 starts in about three hours and I now have my predictions. I've been watching rehearsal footage and reading reviews, but instead of basing my predictions on something useful like observations of the performance, I'm basing my predictions on meaningless statistics.

I combined two sets of rankings to make a "jury vote" and "public vote." Assuming that hardcore fans vote similarly to the juries, I used the OGAE voting as of the most recent one released on ESCToday, which can be found here, to create a jury ranking. Assuming that general internet users vote similarly to the general public, I used Google's Eurovision forecast, to create a public ranking. I then combined the two rankings, adding the entries' places in both, like so (first number is OGAE, second is Google):
1. Albania 12+5=17
2. Belgium 1+20=21
3. Croatia 19+3=22
The countries used above are just examples.

It feels a little pointless to do predictions based on flawed numbers (both rankings allow countries to vote for entries that are not in their own semifinal), but considering that now one can vote for a song before it has even been performed, it's important to take into consideration the pre-contest hype.

Based on the above, here are my predictions for the qualifiers from this evening's semifinal:


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Top five for you

Finally, it’s under one week to the Eurovision final and thus it’s time for my top five songs this year!

5. Iceland
Hera Björk - “Je ne sais quoi”
Reaction: Of course, I have to put the schlager song in my top five. Formulaic as the genre tends to be, this hits all the requirements for a satisfying experience. It’s more “This is my life” (Iceland 2008, not Sweden this year) than “Someday” , with an uplifting dance beat.
Best Part: Last chorus
Rating: 5/5

4. Ireland
Niamh Kavanagh - “It's for you”
Reaction: It’s a little similar to Norway’s song this year, but this is the better ballad (after the bridge it becomes a power ballad). The chorus feels a little “different,” adding a little mystery and personality to this traditional ballad. Like Iceland, it hits all the requirements in its genre, except these requirements include big strings and a smooth key change.
Best Part: Last chorus
Rating: 5/5

3. Azerbaijan
Safura - “Drip Drop”
Reaction: What good things can be said about this song that haven’t already been said. In short, it sounds like a modern major hit. It’s a little reminiscent of “Believe,” but only because both are slickly produced ballads, hooks all over the place, a little American-sounding (even though “Drip Drop” has Swedish writers). This sounds more 2010 than any other song in this year’s contest.
Best Part: “You smell like lipstick”
Rating: 5/5

2. Armenia
Eva Rivas - “Apricot Stone”
Reaction: This and Greece are the only “ethnic” dance songs this year, and this has the added benefit of being sung in a beautiful voice by a beautiful woman in (hopefully) a beautiful outfit. The lyrics are unique and interesting: instead of being about romantic love, they’re about love of country and self-determination. The chorus is very strong, and gets stronger with the added vocal acrobatics at the end.
Best Part: Final chorus
Rating: 5/5

1. Serbia
Milan Stanković - “Ovo je Balkan”
Reaction: Last year I was kind of wishy-washy with picking a favorite, but this year I’m back to a definite favorite. Yes, Keith Mills isn’t the only person to give this song their top marks! I’m not familiar with much of Bregovic’s work but after this song I might have to be. In a year seemingly filled with ballads, this is the most joyous and fun. Someone on ESCNation described this song as having “farty brass” but I wouldn’t change anything about the brass parts. They build and build until the song is full of energy. The chorus is instantly memorable, and Milan’s vocals are perfect. There are some silly parts (“Balkan Balkan Balkan!”) but instead of ruining it they make it even more fun. My favorite Serbian song since “Molitva” and my favorite song of Eurovision 2010!
Best Part: “Samo malo samo malo” to the end
Rating: 5/5

Tomorrow or Tuesday morning I will post my predictions for the first semifinal!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

200th post! Top 10!

Finally, my 200th post! And it's about my 6th through 10th favorite songs from this year's Eurovision. I love them all and would be happy if any of them won.

10. Moldova
Sunstroke Project & Olia Tira - “Run Away“
Reaction: This seems like it should be a mess -- violins in electro dance? -- but it works really well. The violin is more “Fight” than “Fairytale.” I wasn’t a fan of Ms. Tira in her previous attempts but in this song she sounds great. A little trashy, but a catchy and simple chorus.
Best Part: Bridge
Rating: 4/5

9. Sweden
Anna Bergendahl - “This is my life“
Reaction: Look, I can put Sweden outside my top 5 for once! The lyrics are nonsensical (“misty moon/you’re gonna see”?) and only vaguely about authenticity, but once the backup singers come in before the last chorus it becomes magical and you believe every word.
Best Part: Bridge to end
Rating: 4/5

8. Germany
Lena - “Satellite“
Reaction:I’m giving this my lucky 8th place seal of approval, considering its popularity in the charts, polls, and betting. It’s a fun little pop song of the sort one might expect from a cheery young female singer-songwriter, and works even though that’s not the case here. It would fit in place in a commercial for iPods or something else that gives you a little mainstream hipness. The lyrics have a spunkiness to them and Lena’s accent is adorable.
Best Part: “I bought new underwear light blue/and I wore it just the other day”
Rating: 4/5

7. Norway
Didrik - “My Heart Is Yours“
Reaction: I give up, I can’t resist Fredrik Kempe’s songs. This is one of the strongest ballads of the year, very Irish sounding in a way. The lyrics are a little creepy (“I watch you at night”) but that’s part of its appeal.
Best Part: Classic Kempe key change
Rating: 4/5

6. France
Jessy Matador - “Allez Ola Ole“
Reaction: This song sounds like a big summer hit, very different from anything else this year or in years past. In a sea of ballads it’s nice to have a big catchy party with a big catchy chorus that anyone can sing along to. Allez Ola Ole!
Best Part: Intro
Rating: 4/5

Almost there! Next week brings my top five!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Eastern European Kinds of Funk

Time for songs 11 through 15! Now we're getting to some of my favorites. It's almost Eurovision time: next week rehearsals start and I'll have to rearrange my predictions and favorites based on live performances, but first my ranking of the recorded versions.

15. Albania
Juliana Pasha - “It's all about you”
Reaction: This is a pretty modern electro-pop influenced song, reminiscent of “Keeps Getting Better” by Christina Aguilera. It would be just “okay” were it just an ordinary radio single, but for Eurovision this year it’s pretty good. It’s improved a lot from its first version, with very catchy verses and chorus, and with decent English lyrics.
Best Part: Instrumental after first chorus
Rating: 3/5

14. Lithuania
InCulto - “Eastern European Funk”
Reaction: Some may call this a “novelty” entry because it has a sense of humor, but it’s also got some of the cleverest lyrics in this year’s contest, political yet still entertaining. The kazoos in the introduction and first verse are fun without being insulting. When the brass starts the song becomes a little ska, and when the synth starts at the end it becomes even more danceable. Definitely my favorite Lithuanian entry since I’ve been writing this blog, if not ever.
Best Part: Final chorus
Rating: 4/5

13. Finland
Kuunkuiskaajat - “Työlki ellää”
Reaction: This was one of my early favorites but slid down because of later revealed songs. I can see where this song doesn’t appeal to everyone, but I love it because it’s so cheerful. It’s sweet and folky with cute handclaps. It kind of sounds like it belongs in Tetris. Doesn’t its fast pace and repetition just make you think of falling blocks?
Best Part: Slowed down then sped up final choruses
Rating: 4/5

12. Croatia
Feminnem - “Lako je sve”
Reaction: Feminnem is back! This is a lot of people’s favorite ballad this year, and unfortunately it isn’t mine, but it’s up there. One could say it’s a little similar to “Believe” in production, which is a good sign for its chances. It starts off a bit slow, but its final minute is intense, with strong vocals and instruments, and a soft yet powerful ending.
Best Part: Instrumental, bridge, and final chorus
Rating 4/5

11. Slovakia
Kristina - “Horehronie”
Reaction: I love a good ethnic-influenced pop song, and this is one of the few this year and also one of the best. It has a lot of wonderful drumming and flutes that makes you want to dance in its magical world. I prefer the verses to the chorus, and the melody of “Keď sa slnko skloní na Horehroní” is beautiful.
Best Part: Instrumental intro and first verse
Rating: 4/5

Sunday, May 02, 2010

5 More Solo Male Singers

This week brings songs 16 through 20, which all have something in common...they're all sung by solo male singers!

20. Israel
Harel Skaat - “Milim“
Reaction: Yes, this guy has a great voice, giving the song lots of emotion. One can’t really go wrong with a power ballad. It starts off a little dull but builds to a great finish. But as with Greece, I suspect that this is high in the fan polls because many of those voters have crushes on the singer. I would let it slide if I shared that, but in this case I don’t.
Best Part: Last chorus
Rating: 3/5

19. Russia
Peter Nalitch & Friends - “Lost and forgotten“
Reaction: I really wanted to hate this song, but it’s a lot more listenable than some songs that I wanted to like. The chorus is catchy in a singalong way, even though it’s supposed to be depressing. However, it’s also surprisingly funny: the second verse always makes me smile. That probably makes it a little bit of a novelty song
Best Part: “What are you doing, man?” “I’m looking at her photos. What should I do with them?” “Drop them into the fire”
Rating: 3/5

18. Switzerland
Michael von der Heide - “Il pleut de l’or“
Reaction: This is catchy in a sort of retro way, a mid-tempo song with lots of strings. The male lead and female backing vocals are strong and work well together. I prefer the German version but the French version is very good too.
Best Part: Bridge
Rating: 3/5

17. Bosnia & Herzegovina
Vukašin Brajić - Thunder and lightning
Reaction: Not as good as their past few rock songs, but it’s still pretty good. This song is a strong power ballad with a memorable chorus and an interesting ending. The studio version sounds a little under-produced, but that probably means that it will be close to the live version.
Best Part: Ending
Rating: 3/5

16. Bulgaria
Miro - “Angel si ti“
Reaction: In the past four years, Bulgaria could be counted on to provide some fabulous and trashy dance song. It’s not unique like “Voda,” but it’s more interesting than “DJ Take Me Away.” I think “Illusion” has a slightly better melody than this year’s entry, but that was also a huge mess. Miro sounds like he has his act together, and his song has a chorus that anyone can sing along to.
Best Part: Chorus (“Angel si ti…”, not “Woah-oh-oh”)
Rating: 3/5

Next week: The really good songs! (11-15)

Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Best Cover of Shalalie

Why didn't this go to Eurovision...yes I'm being serious.