So let’s begin. My goal tonight is to provide a power ranking for each of the Eurovision 2012 finalists.
Eurovision is the highest aspiration, the most longest running international broadcast. The longest running broadcast IN THE UNIVERSE. I won't start here with theories about Eurovision as a continuation of the Gothic Troubador tradition.
Do I like every song entered? No! My ranking is based not on who I think will win, but on who I thnk should win, if I were the sole and only authority. Here's how I decide.
I will listen in the order that they have been drawn to perform in the finals. I will listen to the official video. As I listen to each song, I will secretly assign a generic ranking of High, Medium or Low. If neccessary, I’ll go back and put a ranking within each category. At the end of this article, I will announce my top 10. Or rank everyone. Or at least provide a top 3. It all depends on how long it takes.
I'll be blunt to begin with - if any of you are part of the tribe “so bad it’s good”, the idea that the camp of Eurovision is why we listen..... I have no time for you. I apologize for the langauge up front. But look at pictures of Coventry Cathedral That's what Eurovision is all about. Don't forget that Eurovision began when many cities in Europe were still rebuilding from war. Germany and France both sent contestants to the first Eurovision. Nothing is perfect.
I have no declared bias in my rankings,but I will be influenced by the bottle of scotch I am drinking. In this case, I have opted to try Black Grouse. Famous Grouse is my preferred scotch, a solid blend priced about the same as a decent bottle of Bourbon. Here in the states they have targeted our cash rich society with an upscale model called Black Grouse.
I’m not concerned with the bookies - they’ve had Sweden as heavy favorites for months now. Since ABBA, really. I’m not concerned here with the complexities of voting blocks and Eurovision Psephology. I will not tell you who *will* win, only who *should* win.
I am using this site to watch http://www.eurovision.tv/page/baku-2012/about/shows/participants
I will use the comments section of this post to update during the live contest...you should too. So let's begin:
United Kingdom. Engelbert Humperdinck. “love will set you free”
Black Grouse is good, but so is Famous Grouse. I’ll talk endlessly about scotch to avoid saying the obvious. “Englebert Humperdinck”? I’m not even listening to the song, and I know what I think. The BBC selectors have looked back to the heyday of UK Eurovision (1978 - 1981, culminating with our astounding Bucks Fizz entry). The BBC Wankers have then looked for anyone still alive who could sing a song today. I would have chosen Leo Sawyer. Jeebus. They could have pulled Bucks Fizz together (the real one, not Bobby G’s bastardization Yes, this is serious). Englebert Humperdinck? Humpywumperdinckdinck?
But no shit, he even ripped ripped the song off from my cousin and his friend Lizzie Emmons...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4AVBaBFUHc. Zero points for Englebert. Wanker. I can only blame Margaret Thatcher for having devoured the soul of our music. Jeebus.
Hungary Compact Disco “Sound Of Our Hearts”
Nice piano to start , make me think I’m going to hear second rate Coldplay. Instead the video confuses me with meaningless juxtaposition of the homeless guy and the rich guy. I do wonder if the rich guy will have sex with the maid, but other than that I don’t follow. Both noble poor guy and arrogant rich guy end up drinking at the end, which is cool. The song itself is crap.
Albania Rona “Suus”
My pre-review favorite. Theory is that Eurovision aesthetics derive from the boulevard. from the cafe and from the french accordian. Music for the Flaneur. I’m not sure why the singer has her feet in a block of wood, and I’m assuming it’s welsh she sings in, or perhaps Albanian. But it’s a hell of a voice and a magnificent entry. ‘Suus’ mean ‘Personal’ and that is certainly how I feel it. I have listened to this one twice. I ask you to consider the lyrics:
My airplane lands
On your souls’s runway without lights.
They elbow their way and rise today
Those who couldn’t live yesterday.
But yesterdays have no importance
they were devoured by stormy seas.
Oh, tomorrows won’t bring anything,
Only hope without hope and madness…
Now place them side by side with a great Wham song (Where did your heart go).
I spend my nights down on the wharf
In unlit alleyways
By the church downtown
Where Sally prays
Come down sometime
We'll share a rusty can of corn...
And listen to the radio
I love you, I love you, it says.
And these were not George Michael's best lyrics!
Lithuania Donny Montell “Love is Blind”
First, I don’t trust a Lithuanian called Donny. Having said that, let’s hear the song, which is crap. But hey, he’s wearing a blindfold. If he does that during the finals it must be worth a few points from the post-Soviet literalists. As if recognizing that his effort is doomed, he switches styles several times and by the end sounds like a pretty catchy derivative of Hungarian Jimmy Somerville. Still crap.
Bosnia and Herzegovina Mayasur “Korake ti znam”
I do think that the emerging Baltic nations are playing their cards right with an emphasis on cool languages (see Estonia later). For what it’s worth, this title is translated as “I know your steps”.
The preview video is awesome, she’s playing piano in a factory, on an old steam train. I regret ruling out qualifying performances, so I break my own rule and look at the semi-final performance. She is awesome. And I regret my crass comments about her wedding ring, which only make sense in the context of a specific American politic debate, and even then only if you share an bitter and ironic view.
Russia Buranovskiye Baushki “Party for Everyone”
No, it isn’t a party for everyone and what on earth is Vladimir Putin doing to allow this fecking joke out onto the world stage? Jeebus, this is perhaps more embarassing than Englebert Humperdinck. I’m a liberal kind of guy, but whoever selected this group should be sent to whatever passes for Siberia nowadays, given climate change and that Siberia is like Florida used to be, without the hiurricanes ( the weather, not the drinks. I like hurricane.). And if this was a TV phone poll, I’d find who voted for them and send them to new-Siberia. Every last damn one of them. This makes Putin look like a fool. More even than my Putin joke in a break I will take after Cypress.
I already listened to this one a few days ago, and I won’t listen to it again.
Iceland Great Salone and Jonsi “Never Forget”
I listened to this one also a while ago and I won’t listen again. There’s some reference to the cross screen breakup in ABBA’s ‘Knowing Me Knowing You”, but I don’t think it was intentional. The song itself is like that bad Grendel movie, not the good one with hot angelina Jolie animated monster sex. Having said that, I would definitely move to Iceland.
Cyprus Ivi Adamou “La La Love”
Finally, a proper Eurovision song title. I already regret the bitchy tone I started with. This is an awesome dance track. La La Love is just the summation of all the possible iterations of repetitious alliteration. Ivi works us through each one. Apparently she is 17, and has had a masterful tour across Greece. I worry about the preview video on this one. So again I break the rules, and I check out her semi final performance. If she keeps the wicked drum solo in the finals, she will get several votes that would normally have gone elsewhere. nThis is a surprise for me, this Cyprus entry. bangabanag a lalalalal lyrics do well, and she carries it off. Ingenue. Star this one for later.
Time for a break. I’m somewhere between a quarter and a half done. Without revealing the final score, I’m leaning heavily towards Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovna , and Cyprus. We haven’t heard any of the Scandinavians yet - all favored by the books. Neither have we heard Estonia, who to be honest I'd say ws a dead shot for the win this year.
Here I am taking a break:
I am a pipe smoker, I rarely smoke cigarettes anymore. My wife will be upset to see my having lit up inside (damn intertubes, but at least I took it outside to smoke). The last time I was commited to smoking cigarettes was was in 1992. Camel had just come out with a new format, what they called ‘Wide‘ I bought a pack, of course I bought a pack I mean ‘wide' who wouldn't try them? . Then i took a solid dose of LSD, and watched the cigarette turn to a tower of ash in my immobilized hand. I never considered myself a smoker after.
As far as Russia is concerned. all I have is a half formed limerick. President Bush asks Vladmir what he's doing at the ranch. Vladmiair says “I’m Putin it in your Bush, hole”. Heh. That may be funnier to me than it is to him. But I'm not responsible for that appalling entry. You are.
France Anggun “Echo”
Well look, hot soldier clones. I’m recognizing a flaw in my methodology. It is unlikely that the final performance will have a corps of sexy legionnaires onstage ironing, doing pushups in their underwear. I do want to account for that in my rankings, but I am changing the rules to say that if the preview video seems non-representational, I will look for the semi-final performance.
This is an issue only because of the extreme hotness of the French entry.
Italy Nina Zalli “L’amore e femmina”
I’m afraid to say that they lose points in my ranking simply because the English translation is so fecking weak...”Love is Female”. What? Jeebus.
See, this is why I love Eurovision. I expect indifference and instead the Italians give me a small hipped big breasted singer stepped out of a cartoon drawn by Mussolini's step child’s grandson. Unless it’s tasteless to say that. Damn the complexities of European poltics. If they had called this song ‘Boom Boom”, it would be a winner. I should refrain from making comments based only on nation and title. Having listened, this is pretty damn good. Top 10? Maybe, but only becaiuse I love Amy Winehouse.
I also love Kate Middleton, that didn't impact my vote for Emblebert fecking Humperdumperdinck.
Estonia Ott Lepland “Kuula”
I make no bones about it, this is my favorite coming in to the evening. The piano riff to start the song reminds me of that one song, “when I was young, I never needed any one” that's right “All By Myself” , Eric Carmen. I just took a 5 minute break and listened to the song. That is an awesome song. But what I really like about the Estonian song is that during the preview video, specific Estonian words are written in a beautiful script on the screen, and then blow away like eastern European digital sand pixels. The words are:
...sind ma oota (I will wait for you)
Well I mean who wouldn’t? Thanks to Google Translate, not only do I enjoy a beautiful song . sung by a gorgeous Estonian guy. But I also get to learn a new language. That’s how you stop Coventry from getting the shit bombed out again, my friends. The Euro-Vision. I’m going to listen to this one again, just because I like it so much not because I expect my mind to change.
You know, for what it's worth you goddamned cynics. I have a cassete from 1980, the year before Bucks Fizz. I sat and recorded each song from the radio. We didn’t have integrated stereo back then. We actually didn't have guarnateed power or garbage pickup. But we did have guaranteed health care. And beautiful trains.
Anyway. I sat with a built in mike, next to a speaker. That was a tape worn out . Most treasured were the comments from Terry Wogan. He had plenty of snark for the Eurovision, which unfortunately gave cover to the vicious snobs. I’ll speak for Sir Terry and say that he loves every minute of Eurovision, and loves it without condition. I met Terry, before he was a Sir. When he was the host for Blankety Blank. It's easy to laugh at high principles and honest ideals. Eurovision is the closest to Socilaist Utopia the world has ever seen, and that's a good thing. A bloody good thing. I’m going to listen to Estonia again. Call me what you will.
Norway Tooji “Stay”
So now we get to the Scandinavians. People are all into Tooji, and for sure he’s got an awesome dance group. Reminds me of George Michael Freek, cross with a bit of Bob Fosse. The buzzy bass synth is intoxicating, and I do keep wondering if he will take his hood off. But it isn’t for me.
Azerbaijan Sabina Babayeva “When The music dies”
Never discount the hosts, they always control the secret service. Scared the Armenians out of performing this year. Won after only 2 years competing in the contest. Apparently building the Death Star as a hotel. And also, Baku is the site of the Symphony of Sirens.
This is a good song. The woman looks like either Ell or Nikki, I could never get the names straight from last year. Should note that I love lasts year’s winning song, it often shows up on my limited rotation playlist on the iPod Shuffle - which means I am in at the gym, worked out or hungover, in the steam room, between Beach Boys “Be true To your School”, or “I get Around” and Stockard Channing singing “ There are worse things I could Do”. I've probably heard Ell and/or Nikki a thousand times since last year, and I still don't know the words. What I'm saying is that this year’s Azerbaijani entry has a lot to compete against, and I don’t think this one has it.
I stil want to stay at the Death Star hotel, when it's finished.
Romania Mandingfa “Zalellah”
This video begins with a drum corps, a bagpipe, and a beautiful woman. Blessed be, those same elements are in the live performance. This is surely a sentimenatal favorite. If only they also had a hurdy gurdy. In fact, from Romania. it is an insult to the rest of Europe that they don’t have a Hurdy gurdy. Damn them. Didn’t they also have all the vampyres? But I forgive that. This is an awesome song, and a fantastic production. If there is justice in the world, this will launch a spectacular global career. But it won’t win the Eurovision.
I confess that while writing the last 3 comments, I have been listening to Estonia. And as I run through the post for editing, I have since purchased a download of the song.
Denmark Soluna Samay “Should’ve KNown Better”
I watched an early round interview with Soluna, and in my pre-Estonia days, would have placed her high in the winning . God Bless the fecking Scandinavians for taking it so seriously. If she were playing a ukelele, I’d place her at the top. But this is a harsh world, and I don’t think we’ll be seeing Soluna in my final rankings. Call off the dogs,I know that pisses off the bookies. They have been anxiously waiting for my blogs, and hoping it won’t disrupt the numbers. Don’t get me wrong, if Soluna wins I’ll smile and appreciate her winsome nordic smile. Don’t break my knees.
Greece Eleftheria Eleftheriou “Aphrodisiac”
Definitely wins for best name. It reminds me of Zippy the PinHead cartoon where Zippy wanders through three panels repeating the name “Boutros Boutrosgali” . Boutros Boutrosgali was then Secretary General of the United Nations, not a position to trivialize. But his name hypnotized.
That is about all I can say of the Greek entry. I don’t even know if it’s good or bad for them to leave the Eurozone.
Sweden Loreen “Euphoria”
OK, so if we listen to the money, this is the song to watch. Well feck that. This is second rate Kate Bush, 30 years too late. Also, Loreen? I don't known about Loreen, but the only Jolene that counts is this one (Dolly Parton). What, you think that's unfair? See how easy it is to dismiss convential wisdom. When I write this, Sweden is at 2.00 while Estonia is at 81.00.
Turkey Can Bonomo “Love Me Back”
If this is what I remember, it’s a crap song with a stupid video about slaves on a galley.
Yes. It is. Is there an entry from Kurdistan?
It may be time to take another break. I may have made an unnecessarily provocative geopolitical statement in my reference to Turkey. So definitely time for another break. The Black Grouse is fine, I like a blended scotch but honestly would I choose this over Famous Grouse? Here I am:
I was all young and Eurovisiony. Taken by my friend Jon on the ferry back from a trip to Paris. Once I wrote a limerick The limerick remains in half written form, goes something like this:
There once were three fellows from Kings
With minds on most decadent things
They drank beaujolais
On the champs elysee
bla blabbidy blabbidy blah.
As a limericist, a writer of limericks, I am limited by my intoxication with a couplet and by my belief that a good limerick can only describe something you have actually experienced. Hence my shrugged shoulders for 'Nantucket' limericks'. This cuts me off from the mainstream of limericks, I know. One of my favorite unfinished limericks goes lick this: ” He sat in his cubicle..a Kafka-esque boobicle” Damn dude that could really have been something.
Spain Pastora Soler “Quedata Conmigo”
Spain in Eurovision is forever tainted by 1968 and Franco and Cliff Richard. Cliff is a wanker, though and straight up, this is a beautiful song. It’s also a beautiful preview video, slow tango, bit of acrobatics. I check the semi- finals performance. At 2:25 is the required Eurovision modulation, most effective yet. I have little to say about this one except I think it gives Estonia a run. Spain won in 1968 and 1969 I’d say Spain has a song on their hands.
Germany Roman Lob “Standing Still
Fuck the germans. I swear this has nothing about the war.
Aw, and then they go and put up this sweet piece of crap. But it’s stil a piece of crap. Is that a xylophone in the background? Let me tell you about xylophone. I was in a band in collge, Bates college with my firend Bruce. We had a xylophone shaped like an elephant, maybe a full octave. A childs toy. I used it in one show, between our real songs, I plucked out “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and sang “ Somewhere..over the rainbow..way up high.. I love you..Judy Garland..even though..you’re already dead.”
So this one has the weight of memory against it. Plus, everyone I've ever kissed would rather choose him. German wanker.
Malta Kurt Calleja “This is the night”
I have a fondness for Malta. Because Princess Grace. Or Monaco . Whatever. Keep entering, country. Wasn’t there a Templar sodomy camp on your rock somwhere? Or was that Gibraltar?
F.Y.R. Macedonia Kaliopi “Cmo I Belo"
I suppose it’s the booze (it’s always easy to blame the booze) but as I move through this playlist I am increasingly intolerant for things that are either hard to type, or that don’t make sense. Since even Wikipedia couldn’t immediately explain what “F.Y.R” means, and since I had to type the title three times to still probably be wrong, they have a lot to overcome. Bring it on...
Well that shows me. this is one of the awesome songs. Why is it awesome? Because it holds to what I consider the true Eurovision aesthetic, which is the boulevard troubadour. The troubadour is someone who starts their song as if they have a story to tell, time to tell it, and the means to make it real. And then she kicks ass. I don’t think this is a winner, but it should be top ten.
Ireland Jedward “waterline”
God bless them if they win. No complaints here if they do. Lipstick was a better song, and deserved more than it got. Hat tip to the Irish, who know who they think should win Eurovision. Two years in a row, and I assume a third or more until the rest of Europe recognizes Jedward. Let’s Go Jedward. And goddam, you certainly aren’t Engleberty Fucking Humperdinckiwinky.
Serbia Zeljko Joksimovic “Nilje Llubav Stvar”
We recently adopted a dog. We call him Reginald. Reggie. Reggie the Veggie. Reggeriffic. Regtable the Vegtable. Thing is, the animal shelter people told us he was originally from Croatia. Came over in a freirght crate or whatever with a bunch of eastern European refugees from communist capitalism. I don’t know how they know that, but I do know that when I told Reggie that Croatia hadn’t made it through the semi finals, he howled something that with my limited understanding of the region sounded like “Milosevic”. I don't know which side was which, I think we bombed them both. When I say ‘we’ I mean both my country of citizenship (UK) and my country of residence (US).
There are some beaustiful violinists, who seem to have made it through to the final performance. And then he starts to sing in English. Forget it, man. Better luck next time,
Ukraine Gaintana “Be My Guest”
I have an enormous soft spot of Ukraine. The coolest person I know is Taras Filenko, pianist, teacher, scholar. He is from Ukraine. When we were young together, I wrote a piece to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Chernobyl. It was a song, text by a 10 year old girl, poet, now dead. Sung by Soprano , accompanied by Taras on the oragan in Heinz Chapel at the University of Pittsburgh. It’s where I learned how to say Ukraine. Four syllables. U-kra-i-ne. There is a lament in the name itself. Ukraine will always be in my top list, and the fact that they have a balls out song reminscent of KLF and Tammy Wynette only seals the deal.
Moldova Pash Parfeny “Lautar”
Last song. Better bring the roof down, or Englwankydumperwunkerdinck is going to win.
I invite Pash Parfeny over to our house for drinks and grilled meat. We will have an awesome time snorting booze. I can buy booze bettter than he's ever tatsed, here in Pittsburgh. I will bring out my hurdy gurdy. They can beat hell out of the other instruments in our house.
But they won’t be in my list for Eurovision winners.
Recall that I had a quick ranking system of High/Medium/Low. No surprises, that turned in to a High/Everything else. I have 8 songs that I consider High
In order of appearance:
- Albania “Suus”
- Bosnia and Herzegovina “korake ti znam”
- Cyprus “ La La Love”
- France “Echo”
- Estonia “Kuula”
- Spain “Quedate conmigo”
- Macedonia “Crno i belo”
- Ukraine “Be My Guest”
Before I choose the top three, I have to again say how appalling the UK entry was this year. United Kingdom should be forced to sit out a year. Scottish devolution should maintain the soverign right to submit an independent entry to Eurovision. Englewneglebertywertyupyourbummywummy humperdinckywinckydo? I don’t know what to think. Except that somewhere, Vladimiar Putin is still laughing at my earlier joke.
The best songs weren’t as hard to pick as I thought they would be
Sentimental favorite: Romania.
Follow comments during the final performances.