Eurovision 2011 Preview: Macedonia, Israel and Slovenia

It’s time for a Saturday triple-bill in the latest Eurovision preview. First up today it’s the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The homeland of Alexander the Great has a Eurovision track record that gives lie to the notion that Balkan states have run rampant in the contest ever since the introduction of televoting. They’ve yet to record a Top 10 finish and haven’t managed to qualify for the final since 2007 (in both 2008 and 2009 they finished 10th in the semi-finals, but lost out on jury votes). This year they’re hoping to put that right with Vlatko Ilievski performing Rusinka. Vlatko comes across as a not-unappealing combination of Ewan McGregor attempting some Ricky Martin moves, albeit in that 40-a-day voice that seems endemic amongst male singers from the Balkans:

Nothing amazing, but then given that his main competition appears to have been a bloke dressed as a chicken, it’s not like he had to do anything fantastic to win the national competition. And after the double helping of angst we had yesterday (and will have had on the night of 12 May before the Macedonian entry), anything will come as a relief. Although perhaps not a bloke dressed as a chicken.

Next are Israel. Having enjoyed a consistently good run of form from their debut in 1973 through to the end of the last century, Israel have struggled a bit in the last decade. So it’s perhaps no surprise that they’ve decided to enlist the help of the artist who helped them to their most recent victory. And, following on from Boom-Boom and Da Da Dam, here’s Dana International with Ding Dong. Disappointingly, it’s not quite as all-out camp as you might expect from the singer and the song title:

That won’t give Dana International her second Eurovision victory, and I’m not even sure it’s got the necessary impact to make the final. Fear not though, there’s some major camp coming up in the classic corner in a bit.

Last up today are Slovenia. Slovenia are another country who have struggled to get past the semis since they were introduced in 2004 – in fact they’ve only managed to do so once, in 2007. Hoping to improve their record and maybe even give them their first Top 10 result for a decade is Maja Keuc with No One, a song that’s possibly even more auto-tuned than the Azeri entry:

Of the three entries we’ve seen today, I’m going to stick my neck out and say that, purely on the basis that it sounds the most like a contemporary pop song, that one will get through to the final. I’ll have the odds for the second semi-final in a few days’ time. Meanwhile, let’s delve into the archives once more. First we have Slovenia and the camp injection that I promised you. Back in 2002, five years before Scooch did a cheap knock-off of the same idea, Sestre gave us cabin crew in drag performing Samo Ljubezen. And these bitches are fierce:

See, I promised you camp and I gave you camp. Next we have Israel. And for me there was really no question as to which classic entry of theirs to go for, because as far as I’m concerned it’s their best and one of the best songs never to win Eurovision. The runner-up in 1983, and subsequently a major international star before her untimely death from AIDS-related illness in 2000, here is the wonderful Ofra Haza with Khay:

Fantastic. A superb voice and a true talent. And I’m not going to say anything else, except that I’ll be back tomorrow with Romania and Estonia’s entries. See you then!

Chris x

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