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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Eurovision Semi Final 1-3

posted by on April 20 at 9:08 AM

We’re kicking off the contest with Montenegro. Eurovision Queens like to believe that Eurovision is one of the reasons why Serbia en Montenegro split back in 2006. When a boyband from Montenegro won the national preselection (over a “qualitatively better” Serbian song) rumours of tactical nationalistic voting arose. Serbia & Montenegro then withdrew from the contest, only to split a month later. Not-Eurovision-Queens would claim that the withdrawal was one of the effects of the growing Serbian and Montenegrin nationalism, but they’re wrong. Obviously.

So now we get two countries for the price of one, and this year Montenegro sends us Stefan Filipovic with Zauvijek Volim Te (“never forget I love you”). Aw… isn’t that sweet.

You’ve got to love the clumsy straightboy dance moves Stefan is pulling off here. He’s hardly the first to manage this at Eurovision, one of funniest clumsy straightboy dance routines was –for me- FYR Macedonia’s Martin Vucic in 2005 (Specifically pay attention to his backing vocalists! Hilarious. And look how excited Martin is to be at Eurovision, you can just see him thinking “Wait till I tell the guys!”). Also a close contender in this category was Malta’s Julie & Ludwig in 2004, just look at Ludwig shake in the chorus!
Anyway, back to Stefan, he seems to have brought along his cousins and they look like they’re at a wedding aching to have a little dance but not yet drunk enough. Come on, this is Eurovision, give this guy something to do! Get him some costume changes or a juggling elephant.

This song is utterly forgettable, but I have a weak spot for Balkan pop/ballads/anything so it will have me (as probably the only person in Western Europe) swaying along.

Second in line is Israel. Hang on a second, Israel’s not in Europe. No, it’s not. That doesn’t matter. Israel sends Boaz with “The Fire in your eyes” . True to Israeli tradition, like everyone else they’ve ever sent before, Boaz sings the song in both English and Hebrew (treat yourself and look at the gorgeous Shiri Maimon in 2005 singing a gorgeous ballad in an even more gorgeous dress). Also true to tradition, they send some serious eyecandy (see Shiri Maimon, again. Can you tell I’m a fan?), and they do the trick with the singer with the androginous voice again (see David D’or in 2004… wait for the unintentionally hilarious moment where he switches from his countertenor voice to his normal speaking voice “Come on, everybody!”).

And now for something completely different: Estonia sends Kreisiraadio (Crazy Radio) with “Leto Svet”. They’re sending one of the more adventurous Eurovision entries, or at least it looks that way. Girls in gold bikinis? Check! Girls waving Estonian and –for some reason German- flags? Check! Weird guys who can’t hold a tune? Check! Eurobeat? Check! Slow-mo Riverdance? Check! Guy pretending to do unspeakable stuff to a piano? Check! Posters of cakes and is that an onion or a bomb? Check! Song sung in Serbo-Croatian in a sure-to-fail attempt to get the balkan vote? Check! This whole thing could be a sketch from The Fast Show. It’s a song and act that followed the “how to make a crazy Eurovision entry”-guidelines to the letter. Unfortunately for them, they’re not the only ones who had that idea this year, and the other idiots are better.

Next up: Moldova, San Marino and… Belgium.

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The reason why there are German flags is that they sing in German too-
"es ist sommerlich" means "it is summery" in German.

Posted by pwa | April 20, 2008 3:06 PM

I thought it was "Sommerlicht", but really, it doesn't matter does it? I've been on and off on Estonia, but currently I'm on. Yes, there are better joke entries this year, but it's got its charms anyway and is way too catchy. Also, I have a soft spot for the random middle-aged guys.

Israel was better last year, it's a bit dull this time around. But that means it'll probably do better as I've found what I like and what Eurovision voters go for are completely different things most of the time.

I'd totally forgotten Montenegro before this post, and alas, I'll probably continue to forget them. That performance video is pretty hilarious, though. The backup singers look rather uncomfortable.

Posted by Abby | April 20, 2008 5:54 PM

oh yeah right, I misheard it. Not that it would make sense now...

Posted by pwa | April 20, 2008 6:10 PM

is the joke thing something countries do to piss off eurovision officials or is it really because they love the total campiness of it?

estonia is wiggy-wiggy-wack!

Posted by terry miller | April 20, 2008 6:28 PM

ps. so nice of you to put isreal on passover weekend!

Posted by terry miller | April 20, 2008 6:52 PM

@5: a little from column A, a little form column B, mixed with irritating the other countries that they feel aren't voting for them enough...although I'm not sure why Estonia need to be cranky. They've done well normally.

Posted by Abby | April 20, 2008 10:20 PM

@2: I just keep chanting "little slut" over "Leto Svet"... I know, I'm shallow, I'm horrible... I do love the flag-waving, I must say. Shame they didn't include Carola's old wind machine.
And I'm a big fan of dull ballads.

@4: They say they do it to show the stupidity of Eurovision (but then why do they enter their national preselection?), but I think they mainly do it because it usually gets countries in the top 10. Verka Serduchka came second. A few years back Lithuania sent a hilarious song called "We are the winners (of Eurovision)" and they came sixth. Alf Poier in 2003 (he of the cardboard animals) also came sixth. Then again, the UK did nothing last year... but that might have been too er...refined campy.
If you want to do well, you've either got to send something incredibly good, incredibly ridiculous (but catchy!) or have great neighbours. And the odds that you're sending something incredibly good are usually not that great. So it's a safer bet.

Posted by Griet | April 20, 2008 10:36 PM

Lithuania two years ago was epic. Vote for the winners indeed. Too bad they were in a year with Lordi, which got everyone's vote for being awesome.

Posted by Abby | April 21, 2008 9:32 AM

I've not got the Banana Splits theme song stuck in my head after listening to that Estonian one. At least the Banana Splits theme had the obligatory key change.

None of these three had a key change - what's up with that? Hopefully the next batch should set things right.

The UK song last year wasn't camp; it was painfully trying to be camp, and failing miserably. The whole mess was "written to win eurovision" - they even brought in Andy Hill, writer of the Bucks Fizz winner Making Your Mind Up - to work on it. A good example of a design by committee if there ever was.

Verka Serduchka, on the other hand, achieved high camp not by trying to be camp, but instead by being really good at being Verka Serduchka. (Contrast with the Dutch entry, also a drag act, albeit a somewhat tired one, which didn't even make it past the semis.)

Posted by Brendan | April 22, 2008 12:36 AM

@9: no key change and no "fire/desire" rhyme in sight yet... I don't know what this year's eurovision is coming to.
And last year's drag queen was Danish if I'm not mistaken. I agree, the UK tried too hard, but the "would you like something to suck on for landing, sir?"-lyric made me smile nonetheless.

Posted by Griet | April 22, 2008 5:32 AM

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