The 58th Eurovision Song Contest Grand Prix was held in Malmo, Sweden following the victory for common sense over Eurotrash that was "Euphoria" by Swedish singer Loreen in 2012 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

This year, there were 39 entrants, and thus two semi-finals, as before, and the big five (UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany) and last year's winner, Sweden, through automatically. I'm not sure if this is bribing your way to victory or not, but then again, the big five never seem to enter anything that might get anywhere, all things considered, so... yeah. I'm going to concentrate on the finals here, but the semis did have some notable alarmingnesses, such as Montenegro with rapping astronauts, Bulgaria with lots of banging of drums, and many other such stuff. In addition, here in the UK we had some of the most annoying commentary ever during the semis from Scott Mills, a Radio 1 presenter, who was okay but a bit dull, and some seppo called Ana Matronic who apparently is a Scissor Sister. She reminded me unpleasantly of Dajve Bikinus from Nathan Barley. Deary me her commentary was annoying. But I digress.

Speaking of annoying, the main Eurovision presenter was an alleged comedian called Petra Mede who seemed to be trying to outridiculous herself each time with what she was wearing. From tinfoil to My Big Fat Gypsy Funeral to an eye-watering pink contraption designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier, this, combined with her constant efforts to sound like she'd fallen out of Downton Abbey made her almost as bad as those Danish eejits who spoke in rhyming couplets. There was also every so often some sort of skit where she became the myopic pseudo-British Eurovision official Linda Woodroffe and clowned about like an unfunny arse. At least there was only one of her.

Opening acts were good. The now-traditional reprise/rework of the winner from last year was shunted to the beginning of the first semi, where Loreen sang "Euphoria" accompanied by a children's choir all signing it. Themeswise, they'd given it a butterfly motif and edited butterflies in the colours of the national flag of who was about to perform next into the postcards before each entry, which depicted the entrant doing whatever they were accustomed to be doing on their time off, which was a welcome break from last years' "Azerbaijan is awesome" postcards. And also there were no human rights wrangles this year either in respect of Eurovision.

There were a total of 39 countries competing. A lot of people had pulled out. Turkey were out because they were in a snit over the combined jury/televote scheme. Czech Republic were out. Poland and Portugal were out as their respective TV channels couldn't have afforded to host it if they won. The former Soviet Union was out in force, however, including Armenia who was back after missing last year because if they went to Azerbaijan, whose national policy is that all Armenians are bastards, they'd probably have been beaten to death in the street. We were still in, despite the repeated annual calls to bugger off because we never win, though entering folks who are nearly dead doesn't help. But I digress. Our panel watched this year and scored it accordingly out of 40, for first impressions, show, voice, and presentation. The scores translate to something like this:

 

  • Over 25 - Actually genuinely good.
  • 20 - 25 - Listenable.
  • 15 - 20 - Possessed of some small quality but not much.
  • 10 - 15 - Okay, if you want people to leave.
  • 5 - 10 - Really not very good.
  • 0 - 5 - Abjectly terribad.

 

Right, that's enough waffle. Let's get on with it then.


1. France.

Artist: Amandine Bourgeois.
Song: "L'enfer et moi"
Comments: French bint trying to rock it up but singing off key. No wonder the French haven't won since the 1970s if this is the best they can come up with. She also seemed to be doing a hopeless Amy Winehouse impression (although without the overdosing to death in the bath bit, although it would have been a lot better had she actually done that on stage). Next.
Our Panel Says: 11/40
Final Position: 23rd, 14 points.

2. Lithuania.

Artist: Andrius Pojavis.
Song: "Something"
Comments: Pretty boring pretty boy singer and boring song but with the grand Eurovision tradition of incomprehensible lyrics that make little sense and lost something in the translation. Here's the bit in question: "If you don't know, I'm in love with you. When some of that calls, it becomes untrue. Because of the shoes I'm wearing today. One is called love, the other is pain." Deary me. I think you need to see a cobbler, mate. Or a psychiatrist. I don't know. At least he didn't show his soles with "love" and "pain" tippexed on them, because that would be very, very, Eurovision. But other than that... dull song.
Our Panel Says: 10/40
Final Position: 22rd, 17 points.

3. Moldova.

Artist: Aliona Moon.
Song: "O mie"
Comments: Starts out fairly inoffensively with her singing in a large dress to a piano backing. She also seems to have a hairdo held together with glue and a trio of wammickers behind her doing mouse trail impressions. However, given the Moldovan penchant for silliness at Eurovision, we become ominously aware that she's slowly ascending and ascending until she's a full 25 feet off the arena floor on a little podium hidden under her ginormous skirt until she looks like a human volcano. And she gives it more and more welly and flames get projected onto her skirt. We quite liked this one and not just for her volcanic thing.
Our Panel Says: 22/40
Final Position: 11th, 71 points.

4. Finland.

Artist: Krista Siegfrids.
Song: "Marry Me"
Comments: She wrote this song, allegedly, as a hint to her boyfriend. Love, if he can't take this hint, with you in a dress and singing about changing her last name and going down the aisle, bugger off and find some other bloke. Anyhow. The first notable thing about this song, aside from the sheer inability of Krista to at all be subtle in any way, shape, or form, is that the chorus was a masterpiece in getting crap past the radar. It goes like this: "Marry me, and be a queen bee, I love you endlessly, I do it for you, for you, for you." But she made it sound obviously like "I do it to fuck you, I fuck you, I fuck you, I fuck you." The second notable thing about it was that it butthurt certain feminist types, but nobody cares about that. The third notable thing was that at the end there was a same-sex kiss with a woman. Now this didn't offend me, but, well, obvious publicity stunt is obvious. It got a huge reaction in the hall but the voters didn't like it.
Our Panel Says: 20/40
Final Position: 24th, 13 points.

5. Spain.

Artist: ESDM.
Song: "Contigo hasta el final"
Comments: Out of tune woman with bagpipes and a boring song. Next.
Our Panel Says: 10/40
Final Position: 25th, 9 points.

6. Belgium.

Artist: Roberto Bellarosa.
Song: "Love kills"
Comments: Bishie pretty boy who I'm not sure is in tune. Boring song. Boring performance. Boring everything. I scorned it.
Our Panel Says: 9/40
Final Position: 12th, 71 points.

7. Estonia.

Artist: Birgit.
Song: "Et uus saaks alguse"
Comments: Another power ballad. Okay voice, but a bit dull really. I had to Youtube it just now to refresh my memory as to what it was all about. She also was wearing what appeared to be a glittery shower curtain, apparently because she was five months' pregnant. I think she's the first pregnant woman ever to have performed in Eurovision (well, at least knowingly - back in the 1960s when Serge Gainsbourg was about I dare say there were others.)
Our Panel Says: 12/40
Final Position: 20th, 19 points.

8. Belarus.

Artist: Alyona Lanskaya.
Song: "Solayoh"
Comments: We quite liked this. She, Alyona, was almost wearing some tinsel and there was a giant disco ball and a bunch of himbos in white shirts hanging open. Fapping material for all the family - and a rather good song. I also liked the upside-down inverted handclapping as well as well as the gratuitious drum banging (a common feature this year). Had a slight Middle Eastern thing about it as well, which is usually Turkey's bag, but they weren't about this year as they were in a snit. We quite liked it and not just for the fanservice.
Our Panel Says: 19.5/40
Final Position: 16th, 48 points.

9. Malta.

Artist: Gianluca.
Song: "Tomorrow"
Comments: Despite being the only song in Eurovision history to be about an IT bloke who carries out risk assessments, it was boring scheisse involving an acoustic guitar and a bloke with big eyebrows. It also sounded like an advert for car insurance. I scorned it.
Our Panel Says: 11.5/40
Final Position: 8th, 120 points.

10. Russia.

Artist: Dina Karipova.
Song: "What If"
Comments: Another cloying, caring, sharing power ballad. Ugh. BORE-RING. Did well because, well, they've got the gas, haven't they? Which explains why they came fifth despite clearly not trying.
Our Panel Says: 13/40
Final Position: 5th, 174 points.

11. Germany.

Artist: Cascada.
Song: "Glorious"
Comments: This was really, really, genuinely good. Not Eurovision-good, actually good. Loreen, who had lots of hair and huge choppers and more than a bit of Kate Bush about her, is someone I might actually pay to go and see. The song had real sit up and take note value - whoa! Sorry there, I thought that this was last year's entry from Sweden! No. This is Germany basically copycatting last year's winner. An honourable Eurovision tradition, but not one which ever has really worked. Okay song but totally unoriginial.
Our Panel Says: 20/40
Final Position: 21st, 18 points.

12. Armenia.

Artist: Dorians.
Song: "Lonely Planet"
Comments: Hipster-baiting indie snorefest. Got booed.
Our Panel Says: 10/40
Final Position: 18th, 41 points.

13. Netherlands.

Artist: Anouk.
Song: "Birds"
Comments: During the introductions to this one, Graham Norton mentioned how the singer, who is reportedly very large in Holland, injured herself ten-pin bowling. Aside from how one manages to do that, the fact is that this song sounds like it is the sort of number that would be written by the sort of person who could injure themselves ten pin bowling. Words fail. It was rotten! Dreary mumbling over random notes that came tumbling out the television at me, it was, and absolutely nothing of any redeeming value either. That this placed so highly is thoroughly astounding. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that this is the worst song Eurovision has ever had performed on stage, ever, of all time.
Our Panel Says: 4/40
Final Position: 9th, 114 points.

14. Romania.

Artist: Cezar.
Song: "It's My Life"
Comments: The opera dubstep vampire. This was excellent. Cezar was dressed in a robe plated in large gemstones and other than the first verse, in a lovely tenor, sang the rest of it in a voice that required testicular grabbing surely. While he was doing this, he rose out the stage and then these gymnasts hoved into view and started doing a bit of routine with a big red sheet and a wind machine. There were also these giant red things in the background. The song is strangely compelling. Throbbing dance beats, a spot of wubwubwub, and throat-shreddingly high singing. It gets extra points for the Spirit of Eurovision without a shadow of a doubt.
Our Panel Says: 23/40
Final Position: 9th, 114 points.

15. United Kingdom.

Artist: Bonnie Tyler.
Song: "Believe in Me"
Comments: So the BBC, not content with failing with Engelbert Humperdinck last year, dredges up everyone's favourite Welsh she-bellower to represent us this year. They then proceed to give her a dull, totally impactless song that, compared to "Lost in France," "Holding Out for a Hero," "Total Eclipse," "Ravishing," (HO KOGAN! HO KOGAN! Sorry!) or "Faster than the Speed of Night," gives her no chance to bellow into the microphone properly. Result: good, but not quite good enough. I'm pretty sure that the BBC's unearthing of aged folks is entirely so that next year they can foist Cliff Richard upon us. After all, he is a Eurovision veteran - second place with "Congratulations" in 1968, respectable showing with "Power To All Our Friends" and a red PVC leisure suit in 1973... But yeah. Bonnie Tyler. Good effort, but missing something. Also, she was pumped so full of Botox for this I'm surprised she could still sing.
Our Panel Says: 17/40
Final Position: 9th, 114 points.

16. Sweden.

Artist: Robin Stjernberg.
Song: "You"
Comments: Bishie boy with Jedward hair singing a warbly dance number. It was okay but really rather forgettable. In fact, it was so mediocre I can't remember a thing about it and had to resort to Youtube.
Our Panel Says: 13/40
Final Position: 14th, 62 points.

17. Hungary.

Artist: ByeAlex.
Song: "Kedvesem"
Comments: Dull as ditchwater drone. Kedvesem. Kedvesem. Kedvesem. By some forgettable boy called ByeAlex. Sorry, but this bites. Bye, Alex.
Our Panel Says: 9/40
Final Position: 10th, 84 points.

18. Denmark.

Artist: Emelie de Forrest.
Song: "Only Teardrops"
Comments: We didn't really rate this one particularly highly when we first heard it but, then again, we said that about Lena Meyer-Landrut for Germany in 2010 and this is just as earwormy. Like Loreen last year, Emelie had no shoes. There was also lots of drum banging as well. And to be fair, she could give it some welly, could Emelie. However, although a rather good song, wasn't a total sit-up-and-take-note entry where you thought, "that's gonna win," as soon as you heard it, unlike Loreen last year, Lena Meyer Landrut in 2010, Lordi in 2006, or Ruslana Lyzhichko in 2004. It was, however, not completely hopeless, and as such a fairly deserving winner.
Our Panel Says: 19/40
Final Position: Winner, 281 points.

19. Iceland.

Artist: Eythor Ingi.
Song: "Ég á líf"
Comments: Do I have to? This was so boring I can't even be arsed to look it up to comment properly.
Our Panel Says: 12/40
Final Position: 17th, 47 points.

20. Azerbaijan.

Artist: Farid Mammadov.
Song: "Hold Me"
Comments: The song was fairly inoffensive, a power ballad, but then there were the other things. Firstly, Farid had really big eyebrows and bigger ears, from which one could not tear one's eyes. And secondly, the performance. He was writhing on and over a glass box inside of which a bloke was mirroring his movements. It was very impressive. There was also, partway through, a woman with a fifty-foot-long train on her dress, the temptation of which to stage-invade and stand on would have been too great had I been there. I actually quite liked this, it was something unusual yet genuinely impressive. Well, the stage show was, but the song was... average. There was also some controversy when it was alleged that Azeri agents had been bribing people in Lithuania to vote for them, but nothing came of this.
Our Panel Says: 17/40
Final Position: 2nd, 234 points.

21. Greece.

Artist: Koza Mostra feat. Agathon Iakovidis.
Song: "Alcohol Is Free"
Comments: Well... firstly, the title of the song is a total lie if it is sung in Sweden, but that's beside the point. Excellent song. Excellent. Like Korpiklaani but Greek. Lots of traditional dance, drum-banging, and even a squeezebox, and extolling the virtues of binge-drinking. It was also nice and fast-paced at 180bpm which made a change from the middle of the road pop dance and power ballads that clogged up the contest this year. At one point during the voting it was in the lead as well, which surely made the Greek finance ministry require their brown trousers, but then it settled down to 6th. For my money the best song this year.
Our Panel Says: 26/40
Final Position: 6th, 192 points.

22. Ukraine.

Artist: Zlata Ognevich.
Song: "Gravity"
Comments: Okay song but notable for one reason - her stage entrance. She was carried onto the stage by a giant. Yes, an actual giant, not just some bloke on stilts. And to be fair, the lass could sing. Hmm. Not the usual psychotic stuff that we've expected from Ukraine. They also overdid it with the truck-driver's key changes, having a total of five. And there were worse songs that could have come third. Still... FEAR THE GIANT.
Our Panel Says: 17/40
Final Position: 3rd, 214 points.

23. Italy.

Artist: Marco Mengoni.
Song: "L'essenziale"
Comments: Another power ballad sung by a bloke with douchebaggy facial hair and a dinner jacket. No wonder Italy haven't won since 1990 if this is the stuff they put out - and before that, their only victory was in 1964 when they had a 15 year old girl sing about how she wasn't old enough to love you or go out alone with you. BORE-RING. And I'm not sure he was on key either.
Our Panel Says: 8/40
Final Position: 7th, 126 points.

24. Norway.

Artist: Margaret Berger.
Song: "I Feed You My Love"
Comments: It's a Daenerys Targaryen lookalike singing a song about feeding you her love over a rather flatulent synth. We quite liked this one to be fair as it stuck out somewhat. The name is a bit suspect - "I feed you my love" anyone? I'm sure that the act of feeding someone your love is banned in 22 US states. But still, not bad all things considered. Not really deserving of 4th though.
Our Panel Says: 19/40
Final Position: 4th, 191 points.

25. Georgia.

Artist: Nodi Tatishvili and Sophie Gelovani.
Song: "Waterfall"
Comments: Boring duet affair. The use of sparkly synth, soprano sax, and lashings of molten mozzarella made it sound like the song from a mid-1990s Disney animation. You know, the ones that just scream out, "Gissan Oscar!" Ugh. Tastes like diabetes. Almost as sickly and saccharine as The Most Wanted Song. We abhorred it.
Our Panel Says: 9/40
Final Position: 15th, 50 points.

26. Ireland.

Artist: Ryan Dolan.
Song: "Only Love Survives"
Comments: This was really quite good actually. It was also without a shadow of a doubt the most obviously homoerotic of all the entries. I should mention that Eurovision has a massive gay following, which was one of the sources of the controversy over it being held in Azerbaijan last year. And it's songs like this which reflect this. Ryan was surrounded by several shirtless wammickers in tight-leather trousers engaging in pelvic-thrusting bodhrán-playing and drum banging. That, combined with the fact that it was a bit of a dance number as well, and I'm sure that there's not a single gay disco on the Emerald Isle the weekend after where this wasn't played. Rather good song too, even if Ryan did spend a bit too much time fishing for notes and not enough catching them. Certainly didn't deserve to come last.
Our Panel Says: 23/40
Final Position: Last, 5 points.


It was then time for the interval act. There was unfunny comedy in the form of Linda Woodroffe, that godawful excuse for a comedy character, and then Petra Mede performed a rather amusing musical number called the "Swedish Smorgasbord" in which the Swedes took the piss out of themselves and their national character and how they're all progressive and liberal yet reserved and structured and suchlike. We quite liked it. While it was certainly no Riverdance it wasn't bad. There was then another performance by Loreen, including a reprise of Euphoria and one of her other songs. Then we were treated to another appearance of Carola, who won for Sweden in 1991. Then there was one of the other presenters in the green room terrifying the performers, as is usual, and then we had the results. As expected, there was massive political voting despite the mixed jury/vote system. While the disappearance of Turkey, Cyprus, Poland, and the Czech Republic amongst others meant that the usual blocs weren't quite in full force, the fact that everyone, not just the participants, can vote in the final (because the EBU needs the money) meant that, yes, Scandinavia all stuck together, the former Soviet Union all stuck together (apart from Azerbaijan and Armenia hating each other). Astoundingly, none of the former Yugoslavia was in the final this year so their votes were generally thrown all over the place, though Serbia gave 12 points to Russia (yay, it's like the outbreak of World War I all over again) and suchlike. As for us in Britain? Nope. Not much there.

I can only assume this is because we sent someone aged and creaky AGAIN. Thing is, it's not like the rest of Europe has reason to hate us. It's not like the mid 1980s when we got booed due to the prevalence of football hooligans, and it's not like 2003 when we nul-pointed and this was blamed on us joining Dubya in his Iraqi adventure (which is clearly wrong - the Spanish and the Polish were just as deep in this enterprise and they did okay that year). The problem is that the BBC won't send anyone who might have a chance. Some time around 2003 we just basically stopped caring. We'd send Fame Academy rejects (Jemini, whoever entered in 2004, Javine Hylton), pederast lookalikes (Daz Sampson), unfunny rejects from the 1990s (Scooch), singing binmen (Andy Abrahams), and people who just couldn't sing (Jemini again, also Josh Dubovie). The best we've done in recent years has been 2009 when we sent Jade Ewen (who is now a Sugababe) and Andrew Lloyd Webber and came fifth. Why? Because we actually entered something that was good and performed by people with actual talent. Unfortunately this failed and now we're digging out aged folks.

I really, really, hope we don't sent Cliff Richard next year. I really, really, hope we don't send Cliff Richard next year because he'd probably do quite well, and this would encourage him. Who we do need to send are Alestorm or Bolt Thrower. But the BBC won't do that, because we might have a chance if we did it.

The correspondents calling to give the results were, as usual, crawly and tried to be funnier than they were. The French also were the only ones who didn't give their points in English. Yawn.

So, Denmark next year then. Depending on whether I can get tickets, I might go as it's not too far away. Though I said that last year.


Sources:
www.eurovision.tv
The Diggiloo Thrush, at www.diggiloo.net
This is Sweden Calling: Everything You've Ever Wanted To Know About the Eurovision Song Contest but were Laughing Too Hard to Ask, Des Mangan, 2003

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