Eurovision 2011 Preview: Germany and France

And so the Eurovision preview nears its end, as we get to the five countries who, thanks to their “Big Five” status, are already in the final. Starting with the hosts and defending champions Germany. Last year’s win, courtesy of Lena Meyer-Landrut singing Satellite, was a big turnaround in German fortunes. One of the original seven Eurovision participants, Germany had excellent runs in the late 1960s/early 1970s, late 1970s/early 1980s (including victory in 1982) and late 1990s/early 2000s, but in recent years they really have struggled, trying out a variety of musical styles (country ‘n’ western, big band, swing) before finally realising that catchy, contemporary pop might actually do them some favours. And, having enjoyed so much success with Lena last year, they’ve sent her to this year’s contest in the hope of a repeat showing. If Lena were to win, then she’d make history as the first act to win Eurovision two years running – but I don’t think she will. Although this is a very good track, it’s low-key and unsettling, sounding more like the sort of thing you’d play at about 3am in the morning than the successor to Puppet On a String, A-Ba-Ni-Bi, Love Shine a Light and, indeed, Satellite. And if you were surrounded by lots of people in silver all-in-one bodysuits at 3am in the morning, you might just get a bit unsettled yourself:

The sort of song that could get under your skin, I reckon – but Eurovision is about a three-minute fix, and if the juries and the viewers don’t “get” you in those three minutes, then it’s game over – nevertheless, odds suggest that this will achieve a respectable Top 10 finish. On now to France who, like Germany, have been in Eurovision since the start, with the exception of a couple of years – including 1982, when they boycotted the contest, protesting that Eurovision had become a monument to mediocrity and drivel. Like the Germany, France’s days of consistent success seem to be long behind them, and they’ve only placed once in the Top 10 since 2002. However, this year could be very different. They’re currently favourites to win with this entry, Sognu performed by Amaury Vassili. Amaury is a big-selling classical singer, although he presents here in biking leathers and hair last seen on Chesney Hawkes in 1991. Which is perhaps appropriate, as this represents his country’s best chance of winning Eurovision in 20 years:

And if the voters are in the mood for a stirring orchestral anthem, that song could go all the way on the big night. The intelligence does seem to be that it’ll be a fight between this and Estonia’s bubblegum pop offering. Time now for the classic corner, and I’ve gone for two very contrasting songs from the archives. First up, the German entry from 1979. Channelling Boney M for all they were worth, and led by Ming the Merciless showcasing some truly awesome Cossack skillz, here are Dschingis Khan with, well, Dschingis Khan:

If you want more of the same, have a listen to Moskau afterwards. It’s the Judas to their Bad Romance. Amusingly, their tribute to the Mongol warmongerer was written by the same man who, three years later, wrote A Little Peace for Nicole. Now for the classic French entry. I mentioned in an earlier post on this blog that, back in the early 1990s, France had a fine run of entries that reflected that country’s rich cultural heritage. And I mentioned earlier in this post that Amaury Vassili represents their best chance of winning since 1991. So here is their entry from 1991, performed by French-Tunisian singer Amina. Cruelly denied victory by a technicality after she finished in a dead heat with Sweden’s Carola, this is C’est le dernier qui a parlĂ© qui a raison:

Wonderful, sexy, spine-tingling stuff (and you don’t hear that said about Eurovision very often). What makes Amina’s defeat even more agonising is that a subsequent change in the mechanism for dealing with a tie (from counting back the number of 12s, 10s etc received to awarding victory to the country that received points from the most other countries) would, if applied 20 years ago, have given her the win. Whether Amaury and his big voice (and even bigger hair) can put things right remains to be seen. Tomorrow we’ll see what Spain have got lined up this year – and we welcome the return of Eurovision’s prodigal son, Italy. See you then!

Chris x

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