Tag Archives: norway

Eurovision 2012 Preview Part 12 – Norway, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Lithuania

We’re getting near the end of our series of Eurovision previews – today we’ve got the last three countries who’ll be taking part in the second semi-final a week today. Today’s blog not only previews them, it also takes a look at who the bookies have got odds on making it through to next Saturday’s final. We’ll start the previews today with Norway. It’s been a funny few years for the Norwegians: in 2009, they won with a record score; then in 2010 as hosts they finished near the bottom in the final; and then last year, somewhat surprisingly, the failed to qualify from the semis. This year one suspects they’ll be back in the game, as they send Iranian-born singer Tooji, singing Stay. There’s a bit too much farty noise going on the background early on. There’s also an Eastern trill riff nicked direct from Beyonce’s Naughty Girl. Which of course quoted the late Donna Summer. So, in a way, topical.

Fundamentally it’s the sort of power pop that the Scandinavians specialise in, and I’d be very surprised not to see Tooji amongst the contenders in the final. The penultimate country performing next Thursday will be Bosnia and Herzegovina. They’ve done consistently well in recent years, coming sixth last year. This year they’ve sent Maya Sar (who played keyboard backing on Dino Merlin’s entry last year), performing Korake Ti Znam, or “I Know Your Steps” (which sounds like reassurance given by a professional to their celebrity partner on Strictly). In one of those deeply inscrutable music videos, Maya performs on her piano in a factory and on the back of a train, whilst a random bloke with a couple of donkeys wanders about with a giant treble clef. Like you do.

It’s a solid, and very 1990s-sounding, ballad – it’s placing near the end of the running order should give it an extra fillip when it comes to qualification. As for Maya herself, she’s done a lot of really good work in the fight against cervical cancer, which in my book makes her a very good egg indeed.

On to the 36th and final semi-finalist in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, Lithuania. Lithuania still have only one Top 10 finish to their name, and that was with the joke entry We Are the Winners back in 2006. Since then, they’ve tended to alternate between not qualifying for the final, and qualifying, but finishing well down the running order. This year they’ll be pinning their hopes on Donatas Montvydas, or as he’s better known, Donny Montell. With a name that sounds like that of a 90s R&B artist, and the appearance of a 12-year-old, Donny spends the early part of this song (which keeps promising to turn into One Night Only, but doesn’t quite deliver) blindfolded. Because, you see, Love Is Blind.

There’s a decent disco number that never makes it out in that song. Frustrating, and again will need to rely heavily on its placing in the running order to make it through.

And that’s it for the semis. 36 countries previewed, of which 20 will make it through to the final. But which 20? You may well have formed your own opinions based on what you’ve seen and heard, but what do the bookies think? Well, currently the semi-final odds would suggest that the following countries will make it through:

1st Semi-Final – Denmark, Romania, Russia, Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Moldova, Cyprus and Albania, with a tight squeeze between Israel and Switzerland for the one remaining place

2nd Semi-Final – Sweden, Serbia, Norway, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Turkey, Estonia, Ukraine, Slovenia and Belarus, with a toss-up between Slovakia, Croatia and Macedonia as to who gets the other place.

Of course things rarely run to form, so expect one or two rank outsiders to win a place in the final (although possibly not San Marino).

But whilst we can’t be sure about twenty of this year’s finalists, we can be sure about the other six, as Azerbaijan and the “Big Five” – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK – all have automatic places in the final. So for the last two parts of this year’s preview, we’ll be taking a look at their entries for this year, in the order in which they’ve been drawn. And that means next time we’ll have our own effort from Engelbert, plus France and Italy.

Chris x

Eurovision 2011 Preview – Poland and Norway

Yes, it’s that time of year again. With the contest just over five weeks away it’s time to start previewing the 43 songs that are being entered in this contest. Germany are hosting, Italy are back after a self-imposed 14-year exile, and the United Kingdom have done an internal selection and come up with Blue and a thoroughly forgettable number. Which we’ll come to after all the others.

Now, I was planning on doing the haikus as I’d done for the last couple of years. However, I just watched the Polish entry and it was so devoid of anything remarkable sonically or visually that I’d be hard pressed to make seventeen syllables about it even remotely entertaining or striking. So instead each entry this year is going to have a brief introduction. Nevertheless, I still wanted to do something a bit different rather than an imitation of those preview programmes they used to have on BBC1 on the two Sundays leading up to Eurovision. So, each preview post will feature not only a couple of entries for this year, but also a classic entry from at least one of the featured countries, some more well-known than others. A Twitter friend of mine, Liam (@doktorb), does an occasional series of “lost” Eurovision classics, so I hope he’ll forgive me for nicking his idea.

As with last year I’m doing the previews in the order in which the countries have been drawn for the two semi-finals (with the Big Five who are straight through to the final going last). So we start with the first two entries in the first semi-final.

First up are Poland. Poland have struggled a bit ever since the semi-final stage was introduced in 2004. Indeed, they’ve only managed to qualify for the final once in the last 6 years, and when they managed that (in 2008), they finished second-last on the big night. Otherwise they tend to narrowly miss out on a place in the final, and are yet to come anywhere close to emulating the success of their 1994 debut appearance, when they were runners-up. Whether they’ll rectify this with the first of what, I suspect, will be a number of Gaga/Rihanna wannabes this year remains to be seen, but I somehow doubt it as there’s not a lot here that’s memorable, as I remarked earlier. Anyway, here’s Magdalena Tul with Jestem:

Next are Norway, who two years ago finally killed off all those lingering nul points jokes by romping home with the biggest winning score and margin ever, courtesy of Alexander Rybak. However, as hosts last year they entered a singer who bellowed off-key for three minutes and finished well down the table. This year, the Norwegian public voted through Stella Mwanga singing Haba Haba, a number performed partly in Swahili, and whose singer isn’t trying to be Gaga or Rihanna. For that reason, it should stand out. Rather shamefully, and despite a successful series of entries from France in the early 1990s, Eurovision still doesn’t see many entries that reflect the rich cultural and ethnic mix created by immigration. Oh, and between now and 10 May, the two blokes on either end really need to try and learn how to dance in time with everyone else:

Right, the contest is underway, so now it’s time to start the companion series revisiting some of these countries’ past glories. As I mentioned earlier, Poland have never managed to live up to their debut Eurovision showing in 1994, when they finished runners-up to a pair of ageing Irish rockers droning on about the 50s (and they wonder why the juries were temporarily abolished a few years later). So here it is, Edyta Gorniak with a powerful vocal (and a very fetching nightie) singing To Nie Ja:

Time now for a classic Norwegian entry. This one dates from 1984 and sees a pair of Adam Ant fans called Dollie de Luxe singing Lenge Leve Livet. I’ve chosen this promo clip rather than their actual Eurovision performance as the sound quality is better (plus you get Finnish subtitles). What makes this really special is the Phoenix Nights-esque no-frills set-up with the synthesiser at the side, which the one in the headband uses in one of the most unconvincing keyboard-playing mimes ever. Nevertheless, this is actually a very decent bit of synthpop which only finished 17th that year but is, I would dare to venture, superior to the effort performed by another female duo that gave Norway their maiden victory the following year:

Coming next, a couple of more recent additions to the Eurovision family strut their stuff…

Chris x

Eurovision 2010 Haiku #35: Norway

Tintin hair channels
You Raise Me Up – blazer and
Stool short of Westlife

Eurovision Final and IDAHO 2009

I was going to give a full review of the final, but after watching it I finally got wind of what had happened in Moscow a few hours earlier, when a gay pride march in Moscow was brutally broken up by police as part of Mayor Yuri Lukhzov’s continued homophobic stance. Among those arrested was veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell. So instead, I’ll do a much shorter review of the final, but start with links to an account on the Pink News of what happened:

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-12472.html

Tatchell was released a few hours later:

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-12479.html

Hmm, sounds suspiciously to me as though Graham Norton and Andrew Lloyd-Webber were treading a bit too carefully here – on the other hand, the incident received virtually zero coverage on the TV news in this country, so it would have been easy for the Moscow authorities to suppress the story (after all, they’ve had a lot more practice over the years). And nobody boycotted the evening either – instead it went ahead without any glitches. I’ve already commented on the twenty countries who qualified from the semi-finals, so instead I’ll just quickly focus on the five automatic qualifiers.

France sent Patricia Kaas, a woman with a long and very successful career (16 million records sold) and who sang a smoky chanson that felt decidedly out of place in Eurovision, but was nonetheless all the more refreshing for that. Russia, clearly determined not to host the contest in 2010, had a woman wailing in Ukrainian whilst being computer-aged on large backdrop screens. Germany had a poor man’s Ricky Martin with Dita von Teese providing minor distractions, whilst Spain went for an upbeat number that sounded just a bit too much like other upbeat numbers that had come earlier in the night. And then there was us, Royaume Uni, Jade putting in a sterling performance of It’s My Time, a ballad I dismissed as trite and hackneyed when premiered in the final of Your Country Needs You four months ago. This week, however, it’s grown on me – and the weeks and weeks of promotional touring had clearly grown on the audience, as Jade got one of the biggest ovations of the night.

After an intriguing interval performance involving people throwing themselves about on watered sheets of perspex, it was down to the scoring. These days, with forty-two countries casting their votes (including the ones who didn’t get through the semis), only the 8s, 10s and 12s are read out, the minor votes flashed up on screen in order to save time. An opening gift of 10 points to the UK from Spain gave an indication that this would not be the humiliation that we’ve experienced in the last six years. But their 12 points to Norway also gave an indication as to how the scoring would proceed. Indeed, after the first half-dozen or so sets of points had been doled out, it was already clear that Norway were heading for a runaway victory.

Nobody, however, could quite have predicted just how far away Alexander Rybak and his Fairytale would run. His final score of 387 didn’t so much break the record as smash it, a full 169 points clear of second-placed Iceland. Jade, meanwhile, finished a very creditable fifth with 173 points, our best total since 1998, and our first top five finish (or indeed top ten finish) since Jessica Garlick finished third with Come Back in 2002.

So, next year it’s Oslo, as the good ship Eurovision will berth in a liberal, gay-friendly country, thank goodness, leaving me very much inclined to go (I’ve never been to Eurovision before, only ever seen it from my living room). For the gays and lesbians of Russia, however, the continuation of a persecuted existence now the party has left town, one that could have marked a watershed moment for them – instead, the simple desire to express their identity was met with the sort of sickening police brutality that reminds you that the struggle is far from over.

And of course, the struggle also goes on in many other countries, which is why it’s important to mark the fact that today is IDAHO 2009 – the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Gaysdotcom have posted this moving video with one very simple but very powerful message on YouTube:

Now go and research the attitudes towards and laws on homosexuality in the countries of the contributors. Some of it makes for depressing reading. Like I say, the struggle is far from over.

Chris

Eurovision Haiku #24: Norway

No Jan Teigen this
Hot young boy with his fiddle
And his High School folk