Tonight is the Finals of the 54th Eurovision Song Contest, live from Moscow's Olympiyski Indoor Arena and hosted by Alsou and Ivan Urgant. In London, it will also be the first year without favorite host Terry Wogan, newly replaced by Graham Norton – who the Eurovision website inexplicably calls Norton Graham. Just part of the Eurovision wackiness, I suppose.
In this Final, the twenty entries from the two Semi-Finals are joined by the four original Eurovision nations: United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Germany as well as last year’s winner and this year’s host country, Russia who all automatically qualify for the contest. Some of the entries will remain the same as what was seen in the Semi-Finals, and some will pull out the stops and the surprises for this final appearance. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Another surrealist fairytale opens the Finals, of the sort that only occurs at Eurovision, and then spins into a bit of amateur Cirque Du Soleil – that actually turns out to be the real thing. I like the music and the participants are frantic and non-stop, and there seems to be too much going on. Last year’s winner, Dima Bilan, appears from the sky on a wire, and with lots of special effects (and one of two glitches) and reenacts his barefoot stage rolling performance that won last year.
None of it makes sense, but that’s okay, this is Eurovision.
The participants, in order of appearance on the stage:
01 Lithuania - Sasha Son’s “Love”
This is just the first of what I assume will be many sharper and more refined performances that simply repeat what was done in the Semi-Finals. Nice start.
02 Israel - Noa & Mira Awad’s “There Must Be Another Way”
The music is a bit more upbeat and the singers a bit more charismatic. The Finals are A game time. Lots of support for Israel in the audience.
03 France - Patricia Kaas’ “Et S'il Fallait Le Faire”
Very simple and understated, and to the point, reminiscent of the old cabarets. One has to wonder how much France really wants to win when they make such a big deal about having the song in their native language. It’s almost like saying, “We don’t care about your silly contest as long as our culture remains intact.” Hope the voters in the rest of Europe feel the same way, as no country can vote for their own entry. A shame as the song is quite pretty and might stand a decent chance if everyone could understand it.
04 Sweden - Malena Ernman’s “La Voix”
Still not thrilled with the song, but Malena seems both more confident and happy to be on the stage.
05 Croatia - Igor Cukrov featuring Andrea’s “Lijepa Tena”
Does Igor know something we don’t know? He’s not trying as hard as he was the other night, as a matter of fact I think that night’s performance was better than tonight’s.
06 Portugal - Flor-de-lis’ “Todas As Ruas Do Amor”
Like many others, a more practiced and competent repeat of the Semi-Final. The backgrounds still look like a 1970s “Brady Kids” cartoon threw up. Quiet and colorful, upbeat and traditional, Portugal is a serious contender.
07 Iceland - Yohanna’s “Is It True?”
Not as boring as the first time. Strong ballad, but I still can’t place who she sounds like. I like the subdued blues in the stage, lights and costumes. At least it didn’t put me to sleep this time.
08 Greece - Sakis Rouvas’ “This Is Our Night”
Sakis is more in step with his back-up dancers tonight, and seems obsessed with showing the world his toned tummy. An outstanding performance, yet, he doesn’t look as happy or confident as he did in the Semi-Final.
09 Armenia - Inga & Anush’s “Jan Jan”
Theatrics abound in this entry that surprisingly impressed last time. A prime example of how visuals can propel a so-so song to the top. I like this one the more I hear it. Pavlov in the MTV age.
10 Russia - Anastasia Prikhodko’s “Mama”
Highlighted by gigantic Big Brother-esque TV screens that don’t highlight her looks, my first thought is would this entry have gotten to the Finals had Russia not won last year? The aging effects on the screen are interesting but not attractive. The Russian audience loves it, but I don’t.
11 Azerbaijan - AySel & Arash’s “Always”
For me this one seems to be the opposite of Armenia. The more I hear the less I like it. The two singers’ overtheatrical expressions don’t help the situation either.
12 Bosnia & Herzegovina - Regina’s “Bistra Voda”
Zzzzzz… I don’t know. I know folks who think this could win, but it does nothing for me. But what do I know, I still don’t believe barefoot boy won last year. And I hope they can get the bleach out of those costumes before they return them to My Chemical Romance.
13 Moldova - Nelly Ciobanu’s “Hora Din Moldova”
The performance seems weaker and shakier than the other night, and the stage much bigger. It picks up later but still… What happened?
14 Malta - Chiara’s “What If We”
Did Chiara catch something from Nelly Ciobanu? Is her mike broken? Nowhere near the power or talent Chiara has had in the past on the Eurovision stage.
15 Estonia - Urban Symphony’s “Rändajad”
This is growing on me. There are others I want to win more, but I’m still pulling for Estonia. Watching it I have to wonder if some flash and color could push this one over the top to the winner’s circle?
16 Denmark - Brinck’s “Believe Again”
Lionel should have done “Brick House” instead. Although, jokes aside, he sounds more like an American country singer tonight. Weird.
17 Germany - Alex Swings Oscar Sings!’s “Miss Kiss Kiss Bang”
This one was one of my favorites early on. After seeing the stage performance I’m not so sure. A sexy guy and girl (even if it is Dita Von Teese, and only for a few seconds) just isn’t enough. I still think it might be just quirky, retro and catchy enough to capture all of Europe’s imagination. But not enough to win.
18 Turkey - Hadise’s “Düm Tek Tek”
The audience cheering before and as the music begins says a lot. An early and steadfast favorite, this is still a strong contender, and has an excellent chance of winning.
19 Albania - Kejsi Tola’s “Carry Me In Your Dreams”
Vote no on Disco Gumby.
20 Norway - Alexander Rybak’s “Fairytale”
Like Turkey, the audience roared before and as the music started for this one. Catchy tune and cute guy are sometimes all you need. Still love the dancers. Another strong contender.
The male host of the show just better stop shouting at me. This is TV and internet, he doesn’t have to yell loud enough for me to hear. The nation hats in the inserts and intros border on the interesting to the boring. Good concept though.
21 Ukraine - Svetlana Loboda’s “Be My Valentine! (Anti-Crisis Girl)”
I love this entry, and although I doubt it will win, I’m still pulling for Svetlana. I suspect there might be too much going on on the stage, but based on the pre-show, it would appear folks in the Russian states like that sort of thing. Oh well.
22 Romania - Elena’s “The Balkan Girls”
The dancers certainly don’t appear to have practiced much since the other night. Very tame and I’m not sure about the pseudo-fairy costumes. Elena should have borrowed some of Svetlana’s stage dressing. In this case, the audio version of the song is much better.
23 United Kingdom - Jade Ewen’s “It's My Time”
Also much cheering before this entry. The UK would like very badly to win another Eurovision. There was talk a couple years back of Morrissey entering in the nation’s name but that fell through. This year, at least one big gun has been pulled out in this entry written by Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber himself. Sadly, it’s not one of his better efforts. And Jade doesn’t help that much either.
24 Finland - Waldo's People’s “Lose Control”
This is a much stronger performance than the other night’s, so much so it’s surprising. High energy and enthusiasm. Could this be another win for Finland?
25 Spain - Soraya’s “La Noche Es Para Mí (The Night Is For Me)”
Spain opens with a bang and much theatrics, beautiful people and of course Soraya’s incredible outfit. She might win alone for that dress from her admirers throughout Europe. The song however is just standard dance music, but that dress… And they also take a cue from Belarus a few years back and add some stage magic, always fun. Great showstopper, but not a winner I don’t think.
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