20 – Malta – Vertigo – Olivia Lewis.
Poor old Portugal. Having first been eclipsed by Norway in the Latino Pop stakes, they are now about to be robbed of their one remaining USP: the fan dancing. Augmented by NOT ONLY a gypsy fiddle, BUT ALSO by a couple of bare-chested hunks, Malta is playing all the trump cards. Oh, and the song’s pretty decent as well. It’s one of those “dramatic”, Bond-theme affairs. Yes, another! James Bond is the new Big Drumming!
Composer Philip Vella has previous form, having composed the Maltese entries in 2000 (8th place), 2002 (2nd place) and 2004 (12th place), and “Vertigo” is an object lesson in button-pushing. Not that it’s without its lyrical idiosyncrasies, mind:
You’re lifting me high
Then you’re taking me low
It’s feeling like I’m getting vertigo!
You colour me blue
Turn my passion to red
It’s feeling like I’ve become… indigo!
If you say so, Olivia. If you say so.
21 – Andorra – Salvem El Món – Anonymous.
Before the start of the rehearsals, this was ranked as a 100-1 outsider. Thanks to some exceptionally strong showings in the Hartwall Arena, Andorra have now shot up to 16-1, and are many people’s smart tip for a profitable flutter. This, my Euro-chums, is the acceptable face of the Lordi Effect – for instead of the usual gnarly old Dad Metallers, Anonymous are a bunch of baggy-shorted, floppy-fringed, fresh-faced punky-poppers, in the tradition of Green Day and Blink 182 (and also arguably McFly, but let’s not get snotty).
“Salvem El Món” is therefore possibly the most modern-sounding of this year’s entries, being full for vim and vigour, loads of excitable “One! Two! One-Two-Three-Four!” count-offs, and appropriately adenoidal bored-teenager vocals. And it’s a Let’s Save The World Anfem, to boot! (“We can do our world some good, we can make a change, that’s what we should, time will tell us but we must act now.“) With spirited youngsters like this leading the way, our futures look rosy indeed!
Another dead cert to qualify.
Update: Thanks to Chig for informing me of an important Andorra-UK connection: namely, that the lead singer is from Guildford. That’s my tele-vote in the bag, then…
22 – Hungary – Unsubstantial Blues – Ruzsa Magdolna.
So here’s a gimmick we haven’t seen before: a bus stop. Genius! 21 year old Magdi Rúzsa displays all the signs of a Hungarian Elkie Brooks in the making, and “Unsubstantial Blues” is, well, exactly what it says on the tin. You spend the first thirty seconds thinking “Ooh, how refreshing, some blues at Eurovision at last, I’m going to enjoy this”, and the next two and a half minutes thinking about something else. Nevertheless, we welcome diversity – so I’ll give it three for concept.
23 – Estonia – Partners In Crime – Gerli Padar.
Hedging her bets somewhat, Gerli has opted to straddle the schlager/soft-metal divide (my, there’s a lot of straddling going on this year), but merely ends up falling between two stools. (Not literally. That would be fun, though.) This is a Meh, Next, Christ Are There Still Five More To Go moment.
24 – Belgium – Love Power – The KMG’s (Krazy Mess Groovers).
I’m sucker for Classic 1970s Disco Revivalism, especially when it comes seasoned with Earth Wind & Fire horn stabs and a Herbie Hancock vocoder. All of which induces me to overlook the slightness of the composition, and its less-than-authentic resemblance to Germany’s “Guildo Hat Euch Lieb” (1998) and “Wadde Hadde Dudde Da” (2000). Four for inspiration + two for execution, which averages out at:
25 – Slovenia – Cvet Z Juga – Alenka Gotar.
Oh great, another Bond Theme orchestral introduction – but hark, are those bouzoukis which I hear? Then in come the dance beats, and CUE Alenka’s operatic warbling, and CUE the celestial choir, and WA-HEY is that a big Top C finish? It’s a bit of a stylistic mish-mash, and I’d never choose to listen to it at any other time of the year – but what the hell, with this week’s skewed aesthetic perspectives it’s getting a:
26 – Turkey – Shake It Up Shekerim – Kenan Doğulu.
I’ve got this marked with four stars on my iTunes, so I must have liked it once upon a time – but not today, good gracious no. There hasn’t been much R&B-influenced material this year (or is that what they call a “reggaeton” beat; I am old and out of touch), so it has novelty on its side, but those Sertab Erener string swirls fairly scream “three or four years too late”.
Update: Since this is one of the more hotly tipped entries on the live-from-Helsinki blogs, I’m clearly missing something. The consensus seems to be that it will easily qualify. Can you spot the reason why? ‘Cos I can’t…
27 – Austria – Get A Life – Get Alive – Eric Papilaya.
Ooh, ooh, British songwriter alert! Composer Austin Howard used to be the singer with Ellis Beggs & Howard, whose “Big Bubbles, No Troubles” reached #41 in the UK charts in 1987 (although it was a bigger hit in the rest of Europe). So if you’re casting around for a “patriotic” vote, then this could be the one.
(Update: Scratch that thought. The “patriotic” vote rightly belongs to Andorra – see above.)
I’d be surprised if it qualifies, though. Not my cup of tea at all – all those yowly rock guitars have started to do my head in good and proper – and as for the AIDS ribbon staging, well, nuff said.
Update: Ah, apparently all proceeds from the sale of the single are being donated to an AIDS charity. Since we now have context, I withdraw my misgivings.
28 – Latvia – Questa Notte – Bonaparti.LV.
Six operatic tenors in top hats, singing in Italian, bring the qualifiers to a dignified and comparatively “cultural” close. My personal prejudice against all things operatic precludes me from further comment – I know my limits – but we’ll deffo be seeing this again on Saturday.
If you’d made it thus far, then you might like to view a ten-minute video reprise of all 28 songs. While it plays, I shall consult my crystal ball.
My predictions: Belarus, Switzerland, Serbia, Andorra and Latvia are all virtually certain to qualify. As for the other five, I’m plumping for Cyprus, Denmark, FYROM, Malta and Slovenia. But don’t listen to me, I’m crap at this.
Enjoy yourselves on Thursday night, Euro-fans! I know I shall.
Update: Well, I got five out of ten – not having predicted the Eastern European Landslide. Switzerland deserved to tank on the night, but come ON, Denmark and Andorra beaten by Turkey and Moldova? It’s a DISGRACE, I tells ya!