The 56th Eurovision Song Contest Grand Prix was held at a football stadium in Dusseldorf, Germany, from May 10, 2011 to May 14, 2011. This was because Germany earned the right to host the contest having won in 2010 with the extremely earwormy song "Satellite" by one Lena Meyer Landrut. Unusually, Fraulein Meyer Landrut did not reprise her winning song at the outset of the contest, because she was competing for Germany again this year.

This meant the three extremely annoying hosts reprised it instead rockabilly style. After some German humour which must surely have lost something in translation.


Anyhow. This year saw 43 nations taking part over two preliminary and one final round. Back for the first time since 1997 was Italy, who got a free pass to the final on account of contributing so much to the EBU. Part of me suspects that this was buoyed up by the fact that the previous two contests were won by Norway and Germany respectively and thus giving the lie to the fact that the Eastern bloc had it all sewn up (as indeed they had for most of the 2000s - winners from 2001 to 2008 were, in reverse order, Russia, Serbia, Finland, Greece, Ukraine, Turkey, Latvia, Estonia.). Also returning was Austria, which had taken a few years out.

I did, unusually for me, watch the preliminary rounds, however, I am not going to write about them here. A notable entry in those rounds were Israel, which saw the triumphant return of Sharon Cohen (formerly Yaron Cohen), aka Dana International, the transsexual winner of the 1998 contest. Also the Norwegians entered a woman with very nice legs and a dress that seemed to have two other dresses stapled to the back of it.

Anyhow, after the ten-minute Rockabilly Lena and German comedy extravaganza, we were treated to the contest proper. The theme this year was "Feel Your Heart Beat" but the logo, ostensibly a heart, looked more like a uvula and indeed Graham Norton commentating called it the "throbbing tonsil." The postcards were very good though, featuring people from the appropriate nation doing something in Germany.

And so it began. Our panel was rating each song out of thirty on quality, performance, and routine, however, it should be mentioned that one person on the panel was exceptionally mingy with his marking. Therefore, the scores translate as follows:

  • Over 20 - Better than a complimentary blowjob.
  • 15 to 20 - Pretty good, about level with a grilled steak baguette with You Can't Handle This Hot Sauce smeared atop it.
  • 10 to 15 - It's alright I suppose.
  • 5 to 10 - This Song? No Thanks!
  • Under 5 - Regime change is the only option.

So, anyhow, let's get on with it.

1. Finland.

Artist: Paradise Oskar.
Song: "Da da Dam"
Comments: It's a green aesop played by a punchable looking Finn with an acoustic guitar. KILL! KILL!
Our Panel Says: 3/30
Final Position: 21st, 57 points.

2. Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Artist: Dino Merlin.
Song: "Love In Rewind"
Comments: A pretty boring song to be fair, involving bouncing about with an acoustic guitar and whoa-whoas. However, this couldn't detract from the fact that there was a get in a tracksuit striding about stupidly behind everyone, which we all kept watching in preference to the song. And then he whipped out his trumpet. Still, not an auspicious number. I'm sure it only got where it did because the former Yugoslavia all votes for itself.
Our Panel Says: 9/30
Final Position: 6th, 125 points.

3. Denmark.

Artist: A Friend in London.
Song: "New Tomorrow"
Comments: I couldn't work out at first whether "A Friend in London" was the song and "New Tomorrow" the band name, or the other way round. Not bad, if you're a hipster. This will no doubt sell massively because it's bar chords and men with product in their hair and guitar pop. Unfortunately it was boring, even though the singer had Jedward hair and ran around the stage in the middle third of the song. We weren't impressed.
Our Panel Says: 10/30
Final Position: 5th, 134 points.

4. Lithuania.

Artist: Evelina Sasenko.
Song: "C'est Ma Vie"
Comments: Mmmm, cleavage... Sorry, but being Miss Fanservice doesn't get you points or even a good song. This ballad struggled to make it to mediocrity.
Our Panel Says: 9/30
Final Position: 19th, 63 points.

5. Hungary.

Artist: Kati Wolf.
Song: "What About My Dreams?"
Comments: Breaking up the flow of dull guitar pop and similar came Kati Wolf from Hungary, who is a Hungarian X Factor winner. This sounds like something you'd dance to in a questionable club in the early 1990s, which is no bad thing. She was certainly giving it some welly, and it at least was not boring, preachy or both. Unfortunately it didn't have the real WHACK-BLAM-SOCKO factor that other entries had this year.
Our Panel Says: 12/30
Final Position: 22nd, 53 points.

6. Ireland.

Artist: Jedward.
Song: "Lipstick"
Comments: It used to be said that Ireland would deliberately enter shite in the late 1990s to avoid winning and having to host it the next year, for their four wins in five years from 1991 to 1996 almost bankrupted RTÉ. This also explains were Dustin the Turkey came from in 2008. Well... if that was their plan this year it backfired pretty badly. THIS WAS EPIC. Nobody cared that they couldn't sing. Nobody cared that they were wearing sequin-covered lorica segmentata. Or that they were hopelessly out of sync. They almost won The X Factor for a reason, people. This is why. See it. You'll be glad you did. Ohhhhhhh-EH! *jumps up and down*
Our Panel Says: 19/30
Final Position: 8th, 119 points.

7. Sweden.

Artist: Erik Saade.
Song: "Popular"
Comments: He will be with a song like this. Ho Yay. Eric was a pretty boy who had a number of other pretty boys slithering around behind him to a ridiculous dance beat. Every gay disco in Scandinavia now has this on their playlist (incidentally, I was unaware until very recently that Eurovision's really popular amongst gay men. Maybe this sort of thing explains it.)
Our Panel Says: 16/30
Final Position: 3rd, 185 points.

8. Estonia.

Artist: Getter Jaani.
Song: "Rockefeller Street"
Comments: I'm not sure she was in tune. There was a lot of fishing for notes and not enough finding them. This was bouncy dance pop but felt strained compared to some of the other entries in this year's contests compared to this. I actually had to Youtube this song to remember it, which is not a good sign.
Our Panel Says: 11/30
Final Position: 24th, 44 points

9. Greece.

Artist: Loukas Giorkas feat. Stereo Mike.
Song: "Watch My Dance"
Comments: Serious-business singing in Greek plus shitty rap makes this song a fortress of fail. Not even the break dancing wammickers could save it. What idiot voted it through I had no idea. Which was a pity, because the serious business singing wasn't bad. Bring back Opa, says me.
Our Panel Says: 6/30
Final Position: 7th, 120 points

10. Russia.

Artist: Alexey Vorobjov.
Song: "Get You"
Comments: Another Ho Yay dance pop number reminiscent of the Greek entry This Is Our Night from 2009. This one has also a bit of the Take That about it, complete with the doubt as to the gender of the "you" he was going to "get." I also liked his jacket, which lit up across the back. Hmmm. But there was something a bit forgettable about it... another one I had to Youtube in making this writeup, I'm afraid.
Our Panel Says: 13/30
Final Position: 16th, 77 points.

11. France.

Artist: Amaury Vassili.
Song: "Sognu"
Comments: This was reportedly favourite. And it was pretty good. Totally unlike anything else on offer this year. And it wasn't in French, which surely is grounds for [ going on strike in France, but in Corsican, and an operatic number. He was, I must say, though, a bit wobbly at first but by the end the entire bloody stadium had sat up and was taking note. This would have been a worthy winner, to be fair. But then again, to the viewing public on France 3, he already was the moral victor by dint of being French... still, WOW. Almost Secret Garden level WOW. But for the three minute rule, I think this would have been a total winner, as that rule caused it to be a bit abrupt.
Our Panel Says: 20/30
Final Position: 15th, 82 points.

12. Italy.

Artist: Raffaele Gualazzi.
Song: "Madness of Love"
Comments: A jazzy number that wasn't out and out horrible but was forgettable and the person singing did a lot of fishing for notes and not enough catching them. Still, it must have been distinctive enough to hoover up many, many votes. This was another one I had to Youtube because I'd forgotten it.
Our Panel Says: 8/30
Final Position: 2nd, 189 points.

13. Switzerland.

Artist: Anna Rossinelli.
Song: "In Love for a While"
Comments: Here at Hazelnut Insurance, we reward careful drivers and those who don't do many miles. We provide a competitive no claims discount and a transparent, easy to understand policy and claims procedure, because we believe that positive zen and good karma, makes your motoring life... blissful. We also use the Swiss entry for Eurovision 2011 in our ads. Hazelnut Insurance. Fall in love for a while.
Our Panel Says: 7/30
Final Position: Last, 19 points.

14. United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Artist: Blue.
Song: "I Can"
Comments: Actually this wasn't bad. Quite good, even. Despite being a boyband, and an ageing boyband at that, Blue got themselves a fair amount of Ho Yay but the song was... missing something. Yes, it was a good song but it failed to really kick anyone up the arse. Catchy as anything; they'd taken a leaf out of Lena Meyer Landrut's book and also Alexander Rybak's too. But there was something about it that previous Eurovision winners over decades had that this hadn't. Still, at least they weren't Daz Sampson or Scooch. I still say that until we enter Bolt Thrower we will not win.
Our Panel Says: 17/30
Final Position: 11th, 100 points.

15. Moldova.

Artist: Zdob si Zdub.
Song: "So Lucky!"
Comments: The boys in Chisinau must have realised that being totally batty sells records, as Sergey Stepanov, sexophone saxophone player of last year's Moldovan entry Sunstroke Project made clear by becoming a meme. So they entered boys shouting lyrics with four foot pointy hats. None of us could work out how they stayed on their heads. Then a girl on a unicycle appeared and started pedalling round while playing a trumpet of some sort. This was awesome. Something about the Carpathians must make people mad, as the Moldovans and Ukrainians keep doing weird stuff on the Eurostage. If you think this is stupid, you're not cool.
Our Panel Says: 18/30
Final Position: 12th, 97 points.

16. Germany.

Artist: Lena Meyer Landrut.
Song: "Taken By A Stranger"
Comments: Everything her previous song, "Satellite," was - earwormy, well written, bouncy, and devoid of fluff - this wasn't. Behind Fraulein Meyer Landrut, who was the first ever person to defend their Eurovision title the following year, were some backing dancers in silver full body condoms. This song was just meh. She certainly had the home turf advantage, though. Also gone was her... interesting... accent that she affected last year. Sorry, Lena. No repeat victory for you, and the doors of that exclusive club containing Johnny Logan and, erm, nobody else, named "Repeat Eurovision Winners," shall remain shut fast to thou.
Our Panel Says: 11/30
Final Position: 10th, 107 points.

17. Romania.

Artist: Hotel FM.
Song: "Change"
Comments: Can't be arsed. Sorry. It's just too forgettable. Actually, that's what was wrong with this Eurovision - so many mediocre songs. Nothing truly awesome, batshit insane, or totally horrifid to stand out.
Our Panel Says: 8/30
Final Position: 17th, 77 points.

18. Austria.

Artist: Nadine Beiler.
Song: "The Secret Is Love"
Comments: Another female singer who really gave it some welly. Unfortunately that was all it had going for it. It took ages to get going then never did. Also she saw fit to show off her octave-vaulting skills, which really annoys me. Next.
Our Panel Says: 7/30
Final Position: 18th, 64 points.

19. Azerbaijan.

Artist: Ell/Nikki.
Song: "Running Scared"
Comments: Nobody expected this to win, but it did somehow (promises of cheap oil perhaps?). It's a duet in the mould of every other shitbagging award bait duet ever. At least they were in tune... well, sort of. Everyone on stage was singing in a different key. A disappointing and UNDESERVING victor. Bring back "Hobbits On My Mind."
Our Panel Says: 6/30
Final Position: Winner, 221 points.

20. Slovenia.

Artist: Maja Keuc.
Song: "No One"
Comments: At last, a song I can remember and don't have to force myself to be arsed to comment on!!!! Maja Keuc was a well built lass who really gave it some SERIOUS welly, and the song was pretty good as well. Best ballad number this year. She also seemed to be wearing an armoured dress, sort of. Woo.
Our Panel Says: 14/30
Final Position: 13th, 96 points.

21. Iceland.

Artist: Sjonni's Friends.
Song: "Coming Home"
Comments: Next, another number with acoustic guitars that sounded like it fell out of an advert somewhere. I can see this being big with hipsters, and at least it wasn't too dull, being a jolly number and with a nice accelerando towards the end. Expanded universe info - the "Sjonni" was the guy who wrote the song but who since died; his Friends were assembled posthumously to perform the song.
Our Panel Says: 11/30
Final Position: 20th, 61 points.

22. Spain.

Artist: Lucía Perez.
Song: "Que me quiten lo bailao"
Comments: Hey, this was pretty good, a nice folksy number with a genuinely pleasant singer who could sing. Fluffy and nice and upbeat. Not much more to say than that. I liked the routine involving the fireworks all joining hands as well. And I suppose that's why it didn't do so well; just that - nice. Not too outrageous, not too brash, not too awful, just... nice. Sorry.
Our Panel Says: 13/30
Final Position: 23rd, 50 points.

23. Ukraine.

Artist: Mika Newton.
Song: "Angel"
Comments:Unusually for the Ukraine, that usually enters something really alarming and strange, this was a floaty number sung by a woman wearing half a falcon on her shoulders. Really a good song, but the most impressive bit was the stage show. This involved a "sand artist" (one Kseniya Simonova, winner of Ukraine's Got Talent) who artfully arranged sand on a light box with a camera over it projecting it onto the big screen behind the stage. The sand artist's sand art reflected what was a-goin' on in the song (I think). I know, it sounds pretentious but you have to see it, it was actually really good. So good, in fact, that the singer distracted you from it - had they hidden her in a corner and just had the sand artist, this would have been so much better. Seriously.
Our Panel Says: 17/30
Final Position: 4th, 159 points.

24. Serbia.

Artist: Nina.
Song: "Caroban"
Comments: Good song, 60s influenced. The girls who sang it had 60s fashions as well. I suppose under Marshal Tito they didn't get much of the Swinging Sixties so they can make up for lost time. HOWEVER. I docked this one points because it gave me a headache. Not the song, the background, which was all clashing psychedelic colours swirling round in a tunnel-like manner. Sorry.
Our Panel Says: 13/30
Final Position: 14th, 85 points.

25. Georgia.

Artist: Eldrine.
Song: "One More Day"
Comments: Groove metal backtrack! Singer giving it some welly! Alarming costumes! Why did we only give this 10 out of 30? Because halfway through some get with a beard that made his chin look like a scrotum started rapping. NO. NO. NO. DO NOT WANT. I know the former Soviet Union's supposed to be culturally backwards an' all, but that's no excuse for nu metal. Gnagh. Still, good singer and interesting costumes.
Our Panel Says: 10/30
Final Position: 9th, 110 points.

The half time show was shit, so I'm not going to write about it, it was some German star that nobody else cared about and we didn't get.

I will write about the half time show for the first preliminary round though, which was awesome. It was a load of drummers all drumming and soloing and so forth in lines, sort of like ensemble Taiko drumming crossed with Riverdance. It was certainly impressive. Why they didn't get that lot out to do the half time show rather than the balding get they did march on was beyond me. But then I don't run Norddeutsche Rundfunk.

If I had to sum up the contest this year it would be "boring." There was too much Serious Business and not enough nonsense and going out on a limb. I got the impression that a lot of these songs were PR offensives rather than musical offensives. Disappointing, I know.

Voting was as expected - only a bit political, as opposed to a lot political. I was heartened to see the Eurovision audience has become suitably genre savvy, as when Cyprus gave Greece 12 points, and when the former Yugoslavia gave each other 12 points, and when the Norwegians, Swedes, and Danes gave each other 12 points, the audience booed them. Which is what they deserve, frankly - neighbourly voting has meant nobody's taken Eurovision results seriously for decades.

Further pain this year was in the form of a weird trend for each country's voting representatives to sing their results to the hosts. This needs to stop before I rip out my heart and beat someone to death with it. It's so annoying and they're usually off key.

The voting itself, though, was a bit exciting. There wasn't any clear breakaway victor for at least 2/3 of the votes. Azerbaijan, Sweden, Greece, Denmark, and the Ukraine all seemed in it until fairly close to the end the Azeris pulled ahead (buoyed by 12 points from Turkey, natch). Also a late surge by Italy led to them sneaking into 2nd place from the bottom third of the table, which nobody was expected.

And then it was over and Azerbaijan had won. Baku next year chaps.


Within days of the Azeri victory there has been some minor controversy over this. Yano how earlier I said that Eurovision has a huge gay following? Well. Azerbaijan's come under a lot of fire for its record on LGBT rights (there are none) and on human rights in general (there are some, unless you're dumb enough to actually try it, esp. freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.) As such, there's concern about how welcoming it'll be to the fans. So it may be that someone else has to pinch-hit for them.

Watch this space.

The Diggiloo Thrush, at
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

Previous Year ||||| Eurovision Song Contest ||||| Next Year