Eurovision 2011 Preview: Romania and Estonia

Whilst thousands in London are running the marathon, here the marathon journey through all 43 of this year’s Eurovision entries continues. Before we do carry on, a quick word about last night’s BBC1 documentary profiling the United Kingdom entry, I Can by Blue. That word is “dire”. It was a horribly predictable mixture of sub-Wogan sneering at other countries’ efforts (when scriptwriting energies would have been more usefully channelled into learning the difference between a verse and a chorus) and talking heads, many of whom had little or no previous Eurovision involvement (you know what makes a good Eurovision song, John Barrowman? Bitch please. You told the nation to vote for Scooch). Interspersed with this was a fly-on-the-wall look at Blue writing the song, performing it (badly) in various countries and deciding whether or not to have some fireworks at the end. The most telling moment was when the band observed how seriously Malta take Eurovision. Malta and the rest of Europe. Except for us. One day we might learn to do the same rather than treat the contest as an irrelevant joke stuck in a 1970s timewarp (talking of irrelevant jokes stuck in 1970s timewarps, one wonders if Cliff will EVER get over not winning. Probably not – but at least he cared enough to be upset about losing).

Back to the preview and we start today with Romania. Romania’s Eurovision record has been somewhat inconsistent lately – twice Top 5 in the mid-noughties, then some poor results, but then 3rd last year, their joint best result. That entry was performed by two people sat at pianos. This year they’ve got one bloke sat at a piano with the singer clearly hoping to get a stint as Billy Flynn in Chicago. Here are Hotel FM with Change:

The clapalong bit in the middle should get the crowd going, if nothing else. Next are Estonia. In the late 90s and early noughties, Estonia were one of the big Eurovision hitters, with six Top 10 finishes in seven years, including victory in 2001. Since then, however, their fortunes have declined dramatically, and they’ve only been in the final once since the semis were introduced, in 2009 when they finished 6th. This year could be very different indeed. The song you’re about to see is one of the big favourites to win, and it’s not hard to see why – annoyingly catchy, bouncy and energetic with nonsensical lyrics. See what you think:

It’s a no-brainer that this will get through the semi-final – whether it will give Estonia their second win, a decade after their first, remains to be seen. Time now for the classic corner, and first up are Romania. I’ve chosen this entry from 2006, Tornero performed by Mihai Traistariu, not so much because of the song (there were an awful lot like this a few years ago) but more because of the copious quantities of guyliner sported by Mihai, and because of the girl at the beginning going overtime as she attempts to channel Flashdance:

Now for the Estonian classic. This comes from 2000, a year when they were (as this year) strongly fancied to win, but in the end had to settle for 4th. I’ve chosen it because it is gloriously camp – the cowboy hat, the lyrics about wings and flying, the buff backing singers. Here’s Ines with Once In a Lifetime:

It’s also, as far as I’m aware, the only Eurovision song that shares its title with that of a Talking Heads song. Unless there have been entries called Psycho Killer or Making Flippy Floppy that I didn’t know about. Anyway, that wraps it up for today. Tomorrow we’ll see what Belarus and Latvia have got lined up for us this year. See you then!

Chris x

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