Tag Archives: azerbaijan

Eurovision 2012 Preview Part 14 – Azerbaijan, Spain and Germany

Well here we are. One week to go until the final of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, and today it’s the last of our preview blogs for this year. As well as taking a look at the final trio of entries, we’ll also be seeing who the bookmakers reckon are in the running to take the title this year.

First up in the previews today are the hosts, Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan’s win last year was, in a way, inevitable, as they had gone all-out to win in previous years and had got closer and closer. Ell and Nikki’s victory has brought the contest to Baku, and hoping to impress the rest of Europe in front of the home crowd when she performs 13th on the night is Sabina Babayeva, singing When the Music Dies. Sabina goes for the full-on diva thing here, in a flat that’s clearly in need of new central heating.

There’s a tradition in Eurovision that the hosts present an entry that’s solid enough to perform respectably in the voting, but not so strong that they risk having to foot the bill for a second year (though of course Ireland in the 1990s, try as they might, never quite got the hang of this). The Azerbaijan entry definitely falls into this category – it’ll probably achieve a Top 10 finish, but the contest is sure to be headed West after 26 May.

Performing 19th out of the 26 in the final will be Spain. It’s getting on for a decade now since the Spaniards last had a Top 10 finish in Eurovision, their results in recent years having been poor-to-middling. They’re hoping to get back in the game this year with Pastora Soler, who gives a belting performance singing Quédate Conmigo, or “Stay With Me”. There’s lots of slow-motion dancing before, near the end and for no apparent reason, Pastora acquires a load of feathers and chucks a bucket of water over her dance partner.

Back in the mid-1990s, you could barely move for big ballads like that in Eurovision. It might get a decent amount of votes next Saturday, but will need a really strong, compelling vocal performance. And preferably no feathers.

And so to the very last country to get the preview treatment this year, Germany, who’ll be taking to the stage straight after Spain on the night. Germany of course got right back in the game a couple of years ago, as following on from a pretty dismal string of results they won courtesy of Lena. Lena then represented them again last year, this time just about scraping inside the Top 10. This year they’re represented by the puppy-eyed, check-shirted Roman Lob, performing Standing Still. The song, to be frank, is Matt Cardle-level dull, and viewers are best advised to amuse themselves by constructing some cub-based Eurovision slash fantasies involving Roman and Ott Lepland.

Mmm, Roman and Ott. I’m sure Germany and Estonia could do with finding new ways to strengthen diplomatic relations. Ahem, anyway. The song? Yes, well, bit balladed-out now to be honest. Again, I think Germany’s performance will probably be respectable rather than spectacular when it comes to the vote.

And that, girls and boys, is that. Forty-two countries all previewed and commented upon. So who’s going to win? As I’ve mentioned previously, Sweden are the hot favourites, followed by Italy and Russia. The bookies also seem to think Engelbert stands a good chance, with many having the UK as 4th favourite (although to be fair, our chances are always bigged up by the bookmakers). Serbia, Iceland, Romania and Denmark are all seen as likely contenders for a Top 10 placing at least, with slightly longer odds on Ireland, Spain, Germany, Norway, Greece and Cyprus. Down at the other end of the odds, those who are feeling particularly brave (or foolish) may be tempted to have a flutter on Montenegro, Portugal or San Marino. And frankly, if you put a bet on San Marino to win with the F***b**k song, you presumably want to lose money.

One final thing: where will you be watching the Eurovision final next Saturday? At your own place? Maybe at a friend’s? Or at a venue that’s showing the contest? If you’re not sure and at a bit of a loose end, then you could do a lot worse than come to the LGBT Labour Eurovision Party, which starts at 7pm next Saturday, at 2022nq on Dale Street, Manchester. There’ll be food, drink, a raffle and other fun stuff going on. Tickets are £10 and for more information, you can go to the Facebook (uh oh oh) page here.

It’ll be a fabulous evening – but then any evening involving Eurovision is guaranteed to be fabulous. I’ll be live-tweeting both semi-finals and the final – you can follow me @crispeater. And I’ll be reviewing the whole shebang on here next Sunday. Until then, have a fabulous Eurovision, whatever you’re up to (and wherever you’ll be)!

Chris x

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Eurovision 2012 Preview Part 1 – Montenegro, Iceland and Greece

Apologies, first of all, for not having blogged anything since New Year. It’s been a busy few months, and the last few weeks in particular have got very busy indeed with election activity. So now, with things at their most hectic and the local elections only a week away, I’ve naturally chosen this juncture to start my preview of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. The Contest this year comes from Baku in Azerbaijan. Their win last year was perhaps inevitable, given that they’d been going all out to win since their first entry in 2008 – plus, with its oil reserves, Azerbaijan is one of the few countries that can actually afford to host Eurovision.

It’s also a country whose democratic standing is somewhat dubious, and whose bitter history with Armenia informed the latter country’s decision that it might be safest for them not to send a delegation to this year’s Contest. So there’s darkness lurking not far behind the usual Eurovision facade of glitz and gloss. Arguably only Spain in 1969 (still under Franco) and Russia in 2009 (where gay activists were, and remain, ruthlessly suppressed, a cruel irony given that the openly gay Dima Bilan had won the Contest for Russia the previous year) have been more morally difficult venues for Eurovision fans.

As for the preview itself, well this year I’m going to be doing three countries a go, and as usual I’ll be working through the two semi-finals in order of performance, and then finishing up with the hosts and the “Big Five”: France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, represented this year by Engelbert Humperdinck, who would have been the oldest-ever performer in Eurovision until Russia selected their entry. But more of that anon. First of all we welcome back to the fold Montenegro, who’ve been absent since 2009, and now return with the hope of making the final for the first time. Whether they will with this extremely oddball entry is questionable, but it undoubtedly wins marks for rhyming “hermetic” and “cosmetic”. Here’s Rambo Amadeus with Euro Neuro:

Fans apparently compare him with Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart – he’s certainly just as much of an acquired taste. Still, it’s nice to see him modelling knitted headgear last seen musically on a regular basis adorning Badly Drawn Boy.

Next up, with some more woollens, are Iceland. This year they have the frankly hot pairing of Gréta Salóme & Jónsi, modelling some fabulous knitwear in some gorgeous landscapes. The song itself is called Never Forget, which has nothing to do with the Take That song of the same name, and is instead reminiscent of Evanescence with a bit of Rybak-style fiddle thrown in:

Jónsi will be hoping to do rather better than last time he entered Eurovision, when he only finished 19th in 2004. It’ll need really strong performances though to carry it through the semis and get a decent finish in the final, as there’s nothing particularly remarkable going on musically.

Last up in this initial trio is Greece, who in terms of being financially equipped to host Eurovision are probably at the exact opposite end of the spectrum from Azerbaijan. Having got political last year, the Greeks this time round are playing it conventional, sending Eleftheria Eleftheriou with the song Aphrodisiac. There’s lots of hairography going on here:

Copper-bottomed ethnic Eurovision pop that could have appeared in pretty much any Contest in the last 6-7 years. Given this, and the fact that Greece seem to have had a pretty much permanent Top 10 berth in recent times, it’s hard to see this not doing well.

So, that’s the first tranche of hopefuls. Next time there’ll be Latvia, Albania and Romania. See you then!

Chris x

Eurovision 2011 Preview – Lithuania, Azerbaijan and Greece

It’s Sunday and it’s time for another triple preview of this year’s Eurovision participants, one which rounds up our look at the first semi-final. So I’ll also be looking at who some of the bookies’ favourites are to progress to the final on 14 May (bearing in mind that bookies’ odds tend not to bear much relation to outcomes in the world of Eurovision). First up are Lithuania. They had an ignominous debut in 1994, when Ovidijus Vysniauskas went home with nary a point to his name, and frankly they haven’t done much better since, their solitary Top 10 finish coming in 2006. This year they’ve gone for Evelina Sasenko with C’est Ma Vie, a big ballad in a very big dress, which feels like it’s just lacking the big finish needed to make it a contender:

Next are Azerbaijan, who are looking to make it four Top 10 finishes out of four. Last year they were widely tipped to win (mainly due to an aggressively promoted entry that had some heavyweight songwriting and production people behind it), but in the end only finished 5th. This year they’ve got a very winsome, very earnest pair in the shape of Ell and Nikki, performing Running Scared. Which those with a phobia of auto-tune may be after they’ve listened to this:

Last today, and last to perform in the first-semi final on 10 May, are Greece. They’ll be looking to extend their run of Top 10 finishes to eight. Hoping to keep up the run of form are Loucas Yiorkas featuring Stereo Mike with Watch My Dance. Loucas is very pleasant to look at (and has a quiff to die for). Not sure about Mike and his dodgy rapping though:

So there you have it. Over the last eight days you’ve seen all nineteen acts who are going to be performing in the first Eurovision semi-final on 10 May. According to the latest betting odds, the big favourites to make it through the final are Azerbaijan, Hungary, Norway, Russia and Turkey. Armenia, Finland, Georgia, Greece and Serbia are also fancied. Portugal and San Marino, meanwhile, are the rank outsiders. This is the semi-final in which the United Kingdom get to vote, so our preferences will play a part. Personally I’m not sure who will get through – there are no stand-outs for me in this semi-final, so we’ll see what the remaining entries bring.

To finish off today’s blog it’s the classic corner, and one of Greece’s best entries. Securing 5th place back in 1992, here’s Kleopatra with Olou Tou Kosmou I Elpida:

Stirring stuff. So tomorrow our preview of this year’s contest moves into the second semi-final. And we’ll be back in the Balkans before welcoming back a country who swore they were done with Eurovision for good four years ago…

Chris x

Eurovision 2010 Haiku #24: Azerbaijan

R&B number
With girl in ultra short skirt
And dancers under wraps

Eurovision Haiku #30: Azerbaijan

Leee John lookalike
Shoots fire from his hands with girl
Living in a box