A brief review of the whole Malmö 2013 Eurovision show
and where the UK is going wrong with all this (still…)
If anyone is going to host a decent Eurovision show, it’s going to be Sweden, almost forty years on from their win with the best Eurovision song of all time. They had a presenter who spoke good English and made jokes that didn’t fall entirely flat. There was a fun comedy segment and a brilliant song section where they made fun of all the thing Sweden is famous for, oddly with a sexy nymph writhing around in a large glass of milk, which has made me change the name of my currently on hiatus band to “Milky Bimbo”, but your bandmates can’t complain about that kind of thing when they’re never bloody present, can they?
It opened with a great parade of flag-bearers from all of the participated nations, very reminiscent of last year’s Olympics opening ceremony (cunning), to a musical backdrop provided by a group of people who were not Abba. Despite a bit of teasing and general musing that Abba would reunite for the main event (although I protested that Agnetha was still doing the rounds elsewhere promoting her solo album), it was a song written by Benny and Björn with Leona Lewis’ best pal, Avicii. Benny and Bjorn didn’t even turn up to wave from the crowd so that was a disappointment. The flag-bearing participants marched across the bridge suspended in the air, a bridge which represented that which links Malmö to Denmark in real life, in itself very suspicious indeed, and you could see all their excited faces: the good looking Azerbaijan guy, the beautiful Estonian girl, the sexy Greek men, the stunning virginal Norwegian lady, then Bonnie Tyler stumbling along looking like Tulisa…
She’s a good lass is Bonnie; she’s been very entertaining in all pre-broadcast appearances, including asking the producers of The One Show to send some drinks to her down the phone line and telling stories about her time in Denmark, before someone awkwardly stepped in to tell her she was actually in Sweden, and had been for a week, while the other guest on the sofa, Christ Tarrant, held his head in his hands. The problem with Bonnie’s entry was the same as with Englebert Humperdinck’s in 2012, and it’s quite difficult to understand how the UK’s relevant team managed to make the same mistake two years in a row.
But before I get onto a long rant about that, let’s see how everyone else got on. It was a pretty decent song contest this year, perhaps a bit ballad heavy, though. Luckily a lot of these ballads were sifted out in the semi-finals, along with a fair amount of decent ones, while a few crap ones somehow slipped through the net. I have made some notes on this year’s entries, compiled from both semi-finals and the grand final, along with a running commentary (of the semis) from my elderly grandmother who often saw past the gimmicks and at times was quite blunt. I probably won’t comment on all songs because some don’t deserve my time, but I’ll see what I can do.
First, last year’s true winner:
Alors… je commence…
France – Amandine Bourgeois – L’Enfer et Moi (Hell and I):
: Rubbish song that didn’t ever go anywhere, despite the singer acting like it did, which was just embarrassing. France is one of the big five so this will be the first time most people have heard it, and the last time for that matter. The singer was not very attractive, which was unusual for this year’s contest where everyone was stupidly beautiful. I bet they had a massive orgy backstage after the event, with Ana Matronic egging them all one. This singer for France looked quite filthy, but it would be unprofessional to say this was a typical French look. Because it is not typical. Definitely not. No.
Amandine opens the show with a real look at how painful hell can be. [4/10]
Lithuania – Andrius Pojavis – Something:
Absolutely dire. There was the good line: “Because of the shoes I’m wearing today, one is called love, the other is pain”, a line that everyone picked up on in the semi-final and this is most likely what helped the song to qualify. The singer had NO stage presence and did not know what to do with his arms at any point. Grandma’s opinion: “He’s a nice looking fella’”. And there you have it.
They say ‘something is better than nothing’, however not in Lithuania’s case. [1/10]
Moldova – Aliona Moon – O Mie (A Thousand):
This song was sung in foreign, which doesn’t help the English viewer, but it was quite a good mid-tempo ballad which nobody seemed to be interested about. The gimmick of having her dress grow really tall, with fiery projections was very cool, but then even this effect was used again later in the show by Romania. Grandma’s opinions: “Isn’t she tiny? She’s petite! There’s nothing of her! I don’t think that’s going to do a lot. [The dress grows and Grandma’s jaw drops] How did she do that!? How did that happen?!”
Aliona shoots for the moon and misses. [7/10]
Finland: Krista Siegfrids – Marry Me:
From the givers of Lordi comes the kind of entry that I hate, but the kind of entry that is perfect for Eurovision as long as it doesn’t win (see Russian grannies). A woman singing that she wants her boyfriend to propose, with the post-chorus chant of ‘Uh oh, Uh oh, a-ding-dong’, which was the highlight of the performance. This did terribly and rightly so, but some have put this down to the lesbian kiss at the end. One friend said to me that it would never win because everyone hates the poor gays, but this is in fact because the woman is not a lesbian, she told interviewers that she has been with her boyfriend for eight years, the kiss was just a tasteless ploy for votes and a ‘shock tactic’ which means absolutely nothing in a post t.a.T.u. fake-lesbian music world.
Let’s hope the boyfriend signs a pre-nup. [3/10]
Belgium – Roberto Bellarosa – Love Kills:
A repetitive song dance song sung by a cute little chap, telling us ‘love kills over and over’, over and over. I had no opinion of it at all but Grandma grew quite agitated: “That’s not a spot on that other one I liked [Croatia, who didn’t qualify] It’s Croatia for me. You don’t need all these gimmicks if you can sing. Those two dancing at the side look as if they’ve got a pain in the Anadin [referencing the sponsor of Deal or No Deal]. [Then to me] You could knock spots off him, but you won’t do anything about your voice!”. Watch out next year, Copenhagen.
Give Roberto an injection of love and wait for it to take effect [3/10]
Belarus – Alyona Lanskaya – Solayoh:
Another hottie. The woman steps out of disco ball and sings a generic Eurovision song to very nice eastern European-sounding music! The rhyming is a bit dodgy, she says “the sun is always shining on YA” so she can rhyme that with CHA CHA! Everybody sing! Solayoh-replay-oh! Grandma: “What the HELL have the men got on? They’ve got their crotch down by their knees! Those men! What on EARTH have they got on?! It’s got a bit of rhythm to it but no, it don’t do nothing for me!”
I will not replay-oh. [4/10]
Malta – Gianluca – Tomorrow:
A very pleasant listen. There is a ukulele which prompted Twitter users to claim it was a rip-off of the lyrically-abominable ‘Hey Soul Sister’ by Train, as it appears that most people have never heard a ukulele anywhere else. This is a lovely song indeed and it is nice to listen to “His name is Jeremy, working in IT. Risk assessment’s his investment”. The lyrics are quite twee and silly, so they’ve put them up in a background lyrics video so everyone can follow the story of Jeremy and his pursuit of love. The singer is a very happy chap indeed though, and I’d put this song’s success 100% down to his pure, unrestrained joy. Grandma notes that she likes this one, mainly because she “likes the men”.
Sadly it’s probably back to the day job tomorrow for nice little Gianluca [8/10]
Russia – Dina Garipova – What If:
I think this may be the one that I labelled as GENERIC on first listen. She has many large orbs, so I think this orb over-usage was what ousted by dear Valentina Monetta of San Marino and stole her glowing orb crown. There is a key change in this so you can’t fault that, but the song was ruddy cheesy. Coming together as one, together, together, change the world forever etc., etc. Grandma: “She’s very plain looking, isn’t she? It’s not a bad song. ‘If’, that’s a little word with a big meaning. Yes it’s got one hell of a meaning. If… if…” [fades, looking longingly into the distance, prompting strange looks from family].
What if Russia entered something decent and original for once? [4/10]
Germany – Cascada – Glorious:
The Cascada entry. One friend attending the party told me that I’d rated this song too highly purely based on my previous knowledge of Cascada, before I pointed out that I have hated all of Cascada’s europop output up to now. Apparently this song plagiarised ‘Euphoria’ but the only similarity I can hear is the dance music and ‘ORRRRR’ syllable. Another party guest noted that “she hasn’t aged well”, which was rather rude, but she looks like she’s been lifting a lot of heavy equipment recently and I wouldn’t want to challenge her to a wrestle (and I wouldn’t say that about many entrants this year, AM I RIGHT?). I thought this was pretty good though, much to my shame. I don’t think many people knew Cascada were German? One Twitter user angrily exclaimed that “Cascada is a TRAITOR! How could she sing for GERMANY?”. Oh dear. They’d probably claim Abba as their own as well, given the chance.
Hardly a glorious return to form but better than most. 
Armenia – Dorians – Lonely Planet:
By far the worst of all the songs in the show. Written by a member of Black Sabbath and sounding nothing like you would expect when considering that knowledge. It’s more Scouting for Girls than Black Sabbath. A song about saving the lonely planet, a shock this got through at the expensive of San Marino and embarrassing for all I dread to think about the carbon footprint they have stamped into Sweden, especially with all those flames and such.
Send them to their own isolated planet and they can protect that as they wish. [0/10]
Note: I will never get bored of how Malmö is pronounced. It is one of my pronunciation highlights of the night.
Netherlands – Anouk – Birds:
A Lana del Rey-like entry from Anouk. It goes on a bit and there is absolutely no beat but it’s nice the Netherlands managed to get through for once. This gets a big cheer though but the subject matter reminds me of one of my favourite B-movies, ‘Birdemic: Shock and Terror’, itself which contains a song far better than this, and all of this year’s entrants. [See below] Grandma: “It’s a bit boring when you get women singing after women. You want something like Brotherhood of Man, or Sandi Shaw with Puppet on a String, that was a lovely one! Nobody can write us a good song anymore. Who could sing it better than Bonnie Tyler with that lovely gravelly voice of hers? What I’d love to hear is Bonnie Tyler singing with Rod Stewart, they’ve both got gravelly voices. [Back on topic] I don’t think this will get far, unless it’s political. LOOK AT THAT BIG FELLA IN THE BACKGROUND!”
Fly away home [3/10]
Romania – Cezar – It’s My Life:
It’s a shame Cezar let down Romania this year. My general Eurovision theory is this: Safura should have won for Azerbaijan in 2010. Azerbaijan undeservedly won in 2011 when Eric Saade should have won for Sweden. Sweden won in 2012 when I had my money on Mandinga from Romania. The theory is that a country always wins Eurovision the year after I wanted it to win (you can’t argue with that evidence!), so Romania should be my bet this year. However it is a falsetto-singing, fist-clenching, dance-opera Rupert Everett lookalike standing on a billowing sheet of plastic while naked dancers jiggle around him. Another novelty entry.
In need of life-coaching [1/10]
Hungary – ByeAlex – Kedvesem (My Darling):
I was very pleased this got through, because it seemed so unlikely. A Hungarian hipster in a beanie and thick-framed glasses bobs up and down singing a song that nobody outside his country will understand, while weird cartoon images pass behind him on the screen. It is not a Eurovision-style song by any means but is pleasant enough to listen to. Grandma said this wouldn’t do well unless they livened it up a bit. They didn’t.
Bye, Alex. (These are writing themselves!) [6/10]
Denmark – Emmelie de Forest – Only Teardrops:
Somebody somewhere decided this was the favourite, despite it not really being a stand out. It gets a rousing cheer before it even starts when the man blows on his cheeky little whistle. The audience are clapping along, as if it’s already won. She’s just a young Danish Shakira-lite but I reckon Shakira will need to release a decent song by the end of the year before Emmelie de Forest is rolled out as her full-time, worldwide replacement. Sparks and glitter are raining down from the sky and she hasn’t won yet, which is very presumptuous and rather arrogant of them, but nobody is going to argue with it at this point. The winner was decided long before the contest and surely it’s just a coincidence that the city of Malmö is connected to Denmark by a short bridge, easing the process of dismantling everything and transporting it to next year’s venue in the most extraordinary way. Suspicious. It’s no better than Romania’s entry last year! Grandma agrees, again referring to her favourite of Croatia which still hasn’t been resurrected since it was kicked out in the semis. “Oh no, it’s Croatia for me. It’s not a spot on the other one, but it all depends what you like.” I tell her that there are a lot of pretty women this year and she tells me off, saying “Yes but you’re not voting for that, you’re voting for the SONG… It’s the men for me”. That’s me told, then.
Lucky that her breasts are fine and ample, so you don’t confuse her with Shakira [7/10]
Azerbaijan – Farid Mammadov – Hold Me:
I don’t agree with countries like Azerbaijan being in Eurovision since they are not in Europe, but you can’t complain when they take it so bloody seriously. Every year Azerbaijan enter a great song and put on a great performance and it puts our country to shame as we enter a steady stream of crap then complain that people hate our country for political reasons. This came second in the end and rightly so; it was a good Eurovision/pop song sung by a stupidly handsome singer, with by far the best and most interesting staging of the night, and you can’t argue with that. I wish this had won, if Norway couldn’t, just so I can hear everyone pronouncing the name AZER-BAI-JAN over and over again. HEHLO BA-KU! Never mind. I got a good laugh out of the various pronunciations of Azerbaijan throughout the night. Grandma had a very deep opinion of this one: “Who is that? [“Azerbaijan”] I can’t say that.”
I don’t suppose he struggled to find someone to hold him after the show [9/10]
Greece – Koza Mostra – Alcohol is Free:
They’ve sent another novelty song again. It’s about alcohol (Lol! I love to drink too!), there is an old man on stage and all the good looking band members are wearing skirts. But at least good old Greece have a group rather than a sexy bimbo this year, it’s just a shame the song is 100% gimmick. Grandma: “That’s jolly. It’s a gimmick but it’s jolly. One with a squeezebox, a guitar, a trumpet!” (“Squeezebox”)
Hangovers all round on Sunday morning [6/10]
Ukraine – Zlata Ognevich – Gravity:
This was my second bet. I loved the song in the studio version but something was lost in the live performance, it didn’t sound as big as it could have done. I don’t understand why she had to be brought on stage by an actual giant either, though he promptly disappears. This caused a lot of bores to complain that this was making light of the man’s condition but he surely made a bit of money from it and got some good exposure for his acting career. This song is great, the lady’s vocals are astronomically good and she is the best looking female in the competition, an eastern European Shania Twain. A worthy top-3 placing. The key changes at the end are ear-piercing and apart from the giant, it’s pretty gimmick free, just an excellent vocalist wailing in a sexy dress and surely worthy of a placement of the Lion King soundtrack. As Zlata wails impossible notes at the top of her lungs, Grandma tells me: “You could knock them all dead if you went on here. You ought to do something with that voice of yours.” I don’t know if I can back up those comments with sufficient evidence.
Sir Isaac Newton’s life’s work was leading up to this moment [8/10]
Italy – Marco Mengoni- L’Essenziale (The Essential):
I like Italy. Since their comeback a few years ago they have entered consistently good songs that will resonate well with the national juries but perhaps not so much with the heckling audience who want accordions and fireworks. I liked this a lot because it was rather beautiful but the staging was terrible. Nothing happened. The room was not impressed at my party.
Seemingly unaware that good staging is essential to win this thing [6/10]
Norway – Margaret Berger – I Feed You My Love:
This was my favourite of the night. I thought it stood out by miles as a darker song than the rest, although this could have been used to better effect in the staging. I was the only person at my party who gave this points, and the UK gave this no points either, so I think everyone has missed something that I saw here. I loved the strings, the drums, the rather nonsensical chorus line/title of ‘I feed you my love’, her clothing, her looks and especially her funny little dancing which appeared to be hugely restricted by her dress. The vocals seemed a bit lacking in the performance on the night, so perhaps better use could have been made of the backing singers. I fully expected this to trounce Denmark and bring the competition back to Alexander Rybak’s homeland, but you can’t complain about a fourth place ranking really. I expect this will chart in the UK, if anyone has any sense.
I like a feeder [10/10]
Georgia – Nodi Tatishvili and Sophie Gelovani – Waterfall:
I hadn’t heard this one before the semi-final but it struck me as a great possible winner, that could sneak up on all the high octane, bare-footed dance gimmicks and give the contest back to a power ballad, much like Azerbaijan’s 2011 winner. I was slightly disheartened to hear that Georgia had bought out Sweden’s winning-song writers from last year in order to secure a hit. Don’t these countries have songwriters of their own? I think a rule will be introduced in years to come that each country’s entry must be written by a national of that country, rather than Scandinavian writers doing the whole blinking lot every year. This did not do nearly as well as I expected, which shocked me. All together now, “I’m flying like if I had wings, like I am sailing on a sea of dreams, your love is pouring down on me, you’re my WATERFALL”. Bloody good showing from Georgia. They can be proud of that.
Things can only get wetter [8/10]
Ireland – Ryan Dolan – Only Love Survives:
I am glad the UK didn’t finish last this year and the competitive side in me is rather happy Ireland did. The song is terribly derivative; it sounds like a Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias effort being sung by Joey Essex. There is an Ibiza rave chorus and half naked super-camp dancers, but I still don’t know why this finished last below atrocities such as Armenia, Iceland and France. My favourite part was that Ireland appeared to have saved up all their Euros for the last few years of Jedward representing them and had finally got a song they thought could win for them, now they were able to host it, yet it does worse than either of the Jedward efforts. Classic. But then Norway’s pretty decent entry came last in 2012. It’s anyone’s guess how the voting will turn out so it’s never worth a wager on something so subjective and unpredictable. Oh no, Graham Norton just said “THAT COULD WIN!”. Grandma noted that Ireland usually have a good song, but it was not as good as other years, so she was disappointed in that respect, but I think she is quite a big Jedward fan, so that’s to be expected.
Back on the dole for Dolan [5/10]
So that’s that. Bonnie had a crack at it but she was never going to win with that song, even though it was written by Desmond Child of Livin’ on a Prayer, Livin’ La Vida Loca, and She Bangs fame, a poor showing from him.
What the UK needs to do is have a look at recent trends of what was popular in the last few Eurovision contests and try to create an entry that takes into account factors of these, to produce a song that people will actually enjoy. This does mean writing a song especially for the event, not just picking a ‘strong’ track that would never, ever have been heard, from the new album of an 80’s star. When the last winner by a mile was a dance track, it may be an idea to follow suit and enter a song that is current and would actually stand a chance of being played on radio, or of being remembered at all by the end of the competition.
You can’t just rely on the name of your entry, even if it is someone as once-good as Bonnie Tyler, because if the song is crap and the UK can’t get behind it, what is the chance that Europe (and parts of Asia) will? If a pensioner like Humperdinck singing a crap ballad came second from last (and last in the jury vote) last year, don’t do exactly the same and enter another forgotten pensioner with a crap ballad. The BBC can tell us all they like that Bonnie/Englebert ‘has a huge fan base across Europe’ when there is no evidence of this come the end of the competition.
Everyone needs to let go of the whole Jade Ewen/Andrew Lloyd Webber thing, yes they came 5th with a ballad but this was a fluke. Nobody seems to have realised that while Blue came eleventh in 2011, if you look at the statistics that the Eurovision folks later published, Blue came FIFTH on public votes, with their score being dragged down by a jury (in a system which was supposedly devised to help countries like ours, to whom the voting public were unjust!). The Blue song was an up-tempo, fairly decent pop song, being sung by a group of handsome, muscular males. Nearly every single act in the in Eurovision final this year was BEAUTIFUL.
I’ve never heard anything about Azerbaijan outside of a Eurovision context, but the one opinion I have of it now is that everyone there is good looking. Similarly, everyone in Azerbaijan must think our country is one full of dizzy old folks being forced to sing for their suppers and work until they are eighty (wait a minute…).
We need to stop complaining that ‘the voting is fixed’, ‘everybody hates us because of war’ and all the other stupid excuses. Germany managed to win it, despite all their past political faux pas, because they entered a cute girl singing a decent and memorable song, and you can’t moan about block voting when the top 4 this year were all actually decent songs.
We need to therefore do the same, and that is why we should enter someone like Marina and the Diamonds, for example. She is gorgeous, every inch the popstar, and writes bloody good pop songs. She’d probably have a good night out and take advantage of the limitless flowing alcohol, like Emmelie de Forest clearly did on Saturday, seeming to get drunker every time she was awarded 12 points. Ideally Marina, or whoever, will be singing a huge pop song, in a colourful dress, preferably not clutching her silly poodle toy, and she will win because of all the silly faces she pulls at the camera, like that nice Maltese chap did this year. This is an example; you could enter anybody young and attractive with a decent song and the idea stands. Sending pensioners with crap ballads is the opposite of what everyone else does, so we’re not ‘breaking the mould’, we’re just showing we haven’t got a clue about how to approach the whole thing. Of course doing all of this doesn’t mean you will WIN, see Eric Saade’s shocking loss and Margaret Berger’s startling oversight this year, but we will place top half and that’s better than we’ve done for the last couple of years.
I do have another theory as to why we don’t place well (and the same goes for France and Spain here), is that we do not get to participate in the semi-finals due to our automatic inclusion and annual backhanders to the producers. Although this allows us to qualify where it will be otherwise unlikely, we do not get the publicity that the other countries get from their appearances in the semi-finals and the subsequent social media coverage of this, as the semi-finals seemingly become more popular every year. For a lot of people, myself and my friends included, the big Eurovision final is the first time you hear the songs from the big 5, whereas the auditioning songs have wormed their way into people’s ears several days before.
Finally, the recent trend of there being a ‘bookies’ favourite’ weeks in advance (decided by WHOM?) which goes on to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, is rather aggravating; I don’t know where these come from. Only Teardrops was a decent song but sounded like any other song, any other year. It was just decided that this was the favourite, so people believed it and paid special attention to it, whereas they would have gone for a wee or to open a beer during someone that hadn’t been touted as a winner, like Moldova or any other random entrant. That needs to stop, ideally.
We could bring back a national selection process after complaining about the acts that the BBC selects for us, but then we would probably go back to selecting people like Scooch, dressed as air stewards and asking the audience if they want anything to suck on. In short we need to send someone attractive singing a decent upbeat pop song. But apparently that’s too much to ask.
To finish off, here are my favourites of Grandma’s ramblings on some songs that didn’t qualify:
Somewhat confusingly, on Montenegro’s rap / dubstep entry with rappers in spacesuits and a wailing cyborg woman: “Are they out of space? *chuckles at joke* It’s different isn’t it! Some people will love it but it’s a gimmick. I’ve got to go and see if my cat is back, he’ll be soaking wet. It costs be a bomb, buying all these tissues to wipe him dry when it rains! I loved this one. It was RUBBISH”.
On Cyprus and skinny entrants. Semi-final presenter Scott Mills says the singer had a sprain and went to hospital but Grandma’s selective deafness comes into play here: “She’s anorexic, I think, she’s been to hospital but is fine now, she must have anorexia. Look at the size of her! She’s been in hospital, I think she’s anorexic. I can’t eat chocolate this late at night [9:10]. It stimulates me, it stimulates me. It stimulates me to eat it this late at night.”
On Israel and larger entrants: A larger lass in a low cut dress and big glasses sings a song:
Grandma: “A fat lady in a mermaid dress, NO NO NO, it’s not good. They say big is beautiful but… How did she get into that dress? She must’ve started putting it on yesterday. You’re eyesight’s pretty bad when you’ve got to wear glasses just to see! That song doesn’t do it for me, I like the men.”
And there you have it. Now Eurovision is over, we’ll have to wait another whole year until the next one. The days after Eurovision are like Boxing Day for me. What the hell am I going to do now? Probably put on that Malta song again…