Sunday, May 19, 2013

Eurovision 2013 - The Finals

Congratulations Denmark! Emmelie de Forest is the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest winner with her song "Only Teardrops". It was a relatively closely-fought contest this year, with Azerbaijan coming second.

I’m now officially a Eurovision obsessive. Two friends took me out to dinner in Shoreditch last night in an effort to stem the tide of tweets, all to no avail: all three of us ended up late in the evening on our phones following the fun on twitter, and went back to Paul’s flat afterwards to watch the voting.

My London overground train homewards stranded me at Surrey Keys, and I had to catch two night [Clapham] omnibuses meandering lazily across south London to get back to home base, arriving around 2:30am. I immediately hit iPlayer to catch up on the bits I’d missed.

Of course I was disappointed my favourite Norway didn’t win. I thought Margaret Berger’s final-night nerves showed a little, and sadly “I Feed You My Love” proved to be slightly in advance of current Euro taste, but nevertheless still came a creditable fourth.

Bonnie Tyler gave a heart-warming, engaging performance for the UK but her voice was fragile (too many pre-event interviews?) and the song “Believe in Me” sadly not good enough to do well, although we bettered last year’s dismal second-from-last.

Sweden was never going to win twice running, and Spain’s wasn’t a strong song. I tend to admire France's always sophisticated entries, and Amandine Bourgeois's "L'enfer Et Moi" was no exception - sadly Europe disagreed. Cascada gave a good performance for Germany, but their song “Glorious”  frankly shouldn't have been allowed - it was a virtual aural photocopy of Sweden’s “Euphoria’, even if  officially cleared of plagiarism allegations. A pretty shameful entry from Germany.

Of the big six, Italy did the best (and far better than I anticipated) with a seventh place for Marco Mengoni,  gigolo sharp in a super stylish suit with a massive deconstructed quiff.

But what can one say of the catastrophic results for Finland and Ireland?

Finland’s entry, although cutely and unapologetically bubbly Euro-pop (Krista Siegfrids: “Marry Me”), was nevertheless overtly and politically gay, ending in a lesbian brides’ kiss. Ireland played it straight (Ryan Dolan: “Only Love Survives”) but with backing drummers and dancers who came right out of a gay club night, all oiled muscular torsos and tattoos. Both songs were much much better, with much better performances, than many others that ended far higher up the leader board. Both Finland and Ireland usually do far better in the competition too. So why? Too Queer for Europe?

If so, how ironic for the premier European gay event. Petra Mede, the brilliant Swedish hostess for the night, made knowing, ironic remarks to the ‘Dancing Queens” in the audience who “just haven’t met the right girl yet” - and Sweden’s interval act matched the Finnish Lesbian wedding with a gay male one. As Graham Norton noted, that will give the Azerbaijanis and Georgians something to scratch their heads over.

All-in-all, a triumph for Sweden - terrifically staged. Next year, over the Øresund Bridge to Denmark.

[All photos courtesy EUROVISION]

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Eurovision 2013 - 2nd Semifinal

We have a winner!

I think Norway effortlessly outclasses everything in this competition and should win by a mile. Margaret Berger is an epic Nordic electro ice queen with an anthem that just blows you away. Her song - "I Feed You My Love" - was wonderfully staged and choreographed - minimal, stylish, classy. Gorgeous art deco / Metropolis references. I have a sense that Eastern European audiences are aesthetically in advance of the authorities who choose their countries' entries - so hopefully this very contemporary arrangement will chime with the voters and carry the wonderful Ms Berger to the winner's enclosure.

Norway was also rocking those 2013 essentials, drums on stage - but again, in a masterfully understated way. Drums were very evident once again in Semis 2, but another trend also emerged: geeks are in. Several countries, notably Malta and Hungary, featured geeky boys - here is Hungary's ByeAlex with his entry "Kedvesem":

Finland caused a mini storm in a euro teacup with the lesbian kiss at the end of their cute song. Well done Krista Siegrids and the team behind "Marry Me":

Finland was actually the tamest of the off-beat entries - there were a few classics, not least Romania's Cezar with "It's My Life":


Overall, I was pleased Norway and Finland got through, but sad Israel and Macedonia didn't. But that's the semi's done and it's now full speed for the grand final on Saturday night.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Eurovision begins! - 2013 Semifinals 1

Malmö is a gorgeous city, and must be basking in the honour of hosting Eurovision 2013, which kicked off last night with the first semi-finals. Twitter, as usual, erupted.

The above tweets were in response to this classic Eurovision effort from Serbia:
However, even this was surpassed by the frankly bonkers entry from Montenegro, a must see foregrounding rapping Montenegrin astronauts:
A final costume shout-out must go to Moldova, whose highly imaginative designers dressed their singer in a stunning volcano dress:


In terms of trends, male performers seem to be out of favour this year. Violins on stage have completely vanished. Denmark was rocking the Scandinavian waif look, which has cropped up a few times in the recent past from the Baltics - have to say, though, Denmark has totally nailed it this year. This is my favourite. Big congratulations to Emmelie de Forest with her song "Only Teardrops":

 Denmark also introduces a key new trend this year: drums on stage are the new violins. Another notable exponent was Ireland, interpreting the theme perhaps a little too enthusiastically:

 Lead singer pickled in fake tan and tooth bleach, back up crew in tight black leather, dancing topless tattooed drummers, and a storming dance anthem - is Ireland trying to become Greece? Overall, Ryan Dolan and his song "Only Love Survives" met with a favourable response - another possible contender.
Sadly I will be missing the Eurovision finals this year. However, I will watch tomorrow's semi-final with great interest.