Eurovision 2010

30 May 2010

The Eurovision Song Contest is a continent-wide music contest held every year that pits the nations of Europe against one another in a sort of grand, international battle of the bands. Participation is contingent on being a member of the European Broadcasting Union and each participating nation sends their chosen artist (who were, in turn, picked by contests in their own countries) to represent them at the venue in the host country (which was, in turn, decided by the winner of the previous year's competition). Since Norway won last year, this Eurovision was held in Oslo.

What happens is the competing countries -- minus the host country (Norway) and the "Big Four" (the biggest contributors to the European Broadcasting Union, consisting of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Spain) -- are divided into two halves. One half performs their song on Semifinal Day 1 (May 25 this year) and the other half performs on Semifinal Day 2 (May 27). Ten performances from each semifinal are singled out by the judges and proceed on to the Final Day (May 29), where all twenty, plus the host country and the "Big Four," compete to determine the winner, who will host the 2011 competition. Each performance is rated on a point system from on-site judges and text voting from viewers. The song with the most points wins.

Thirty-eight nations competed this year and I will give my thoughts on their songs below. I am basing my opinions on my viewings of the official music videos. These videos depict the song as performed in a studio, under the best audio conditions, and tweaked to meet the artist's personal preferences. Performing them live at Eurovision doesn't always result in the best possible conditions and, thereby, can affect performances. I'm willing to give the artists the benefit of the doubt and base my hugely subjective opinions on the songs as the artists intended them to sound. That said, my reviews are split into two parts. The music half discusses the singer and the music only, on an auditory level. The video half discusses the music video and the imagery it contains, on a visual level.

The method for writing these reviews was to listen to all thirty-eight entries first, then to listen to them individually as I wrote each opinion. During the writing I listened to each song twice without watching the video, instead focusing on the lyric sheet and trying to comprehend the meaning behind the song as well as the quality of the instrumental music itself. Then I watched the song with its video to see what else I could get out of it. Then I wrote the review.

I was writing the last and thirty-eighth review when Germany was announced as the winner. Posting was delayed until I could review, edit, and type up this introduction and the final scores at the bottom. Next year I'll try to get an earlier start. And maybe write less.

My simple scoring system: I liked it = | I thought it was okay = | I didn't like it =

Entry: Juliana Pasha, "It's All About You" (video)
Music: The biggest problem with this song is that the whole thing is about how the narrator is incapable of standing on her own two feet and living a life of her own. It is, as the title says, all about someone else. This makes the singer seem really sad and pathetic, not to mention void of any personality. One hopes that doesn't represent Juliana Pasha herself, but the narrative voice of this particular song is someone who sounds really shallow and boring. It's good on a musical level, just not on a lyrical level.
Video: It's basically Pasha lying in the woods while wearing a white dress. This makes me think of teenage girls taking their high school senior pictures, thinking that a dress in the woods represents something important. No, it's just a girl wearing a dress in the woods. Occasionally Pasha will snuggle up to an empty pair of men's clothing while singing "you're everything that I dream, everything that I need," which is just embarrassing for her.
Score: Music | Video

Entry: Eva Rivas, "Apricot Stone" (video)
Music: I'm writing these in the reverse order of their performances at Eurovision so by the time I've arrived at Armenia I've already written twenty entries. So I'm halfway done! But "Apricot Stone" is the first one that's really gotten me singing along with the chorus stanza. This is a peppy and bouncy song, and Eva Rivas is adorable the way she pronounces "apricot" as "ape-ricot." That fact doesn't determine the score as I'm being impartial to appearances and cute accents, but it probably doesn't hurt either. Anyway, it advocates enjoying fruit, which I fully endorse, but it's the music that matters. The song sounds great when the chorus comes in for the big finale.
Video: It's just Rivas standing at a mic in a recording booth singing the song while the engineers behind the glass jam along, bopping in tune and working the soundboard. If you're thinking, "that doesn't sound very interesting," you would be right. Sorry, Eva.
Score: Music | Video

Entry: Safura, "Drip Drop" (video)
Music: Musically, in terms of notes alone, I like it. At times the melody sounds similar to Avril Lavigne's "Without You." Now, Avril's done some pretty awful stuff, but I never thought "Without You" was among the bad. Even Avril should be approached a song at a time. That said, it's the lyrics that are the problem, being yet another in a long line of songs about an inevitable breakup and, oh, how will I ever get by without this guy? It just makes the artist sound weak and doesn't give her much feminist cred. The "drip drop drip drop" chorus is nicely executed though, especially at the end when it all comes together.
Video: The video is beautiful to look at, with much of it set in the rain or with other forms of water elements. I really like the teams of swing dancers doin' their thang behind her. Though Safura's army of epileptic zombies near the beginning seems a bit strange and I think that the animated jewels raining down at one point look really dumb.
Score: Music | Video

Entry: 3+2 and Robert Wells, "Butterflies" (video)
Music: It's amazing that a song so lovely could emerge from Belarus, the last remaining dictatorship in Europe, ruled over by a nasty little umbrella-wielding tyrant. Belarus, whose human-rights violations have long prevented it from being accepted into the European Union. Belarus, where "elections" are a joke with a pre-determined punchline. Belarus, which maintains a tiny personal Soviet Union with Russia. Belarus, where all forms of political dissent are quashed by making the dissenters disappear. Belarus, the last European nation with the death penalty on the books. And yet this song arises from those circumstances. With that in mind, I have to wonder if the chorus -- I believe / That this'll be opened up / But in the right time / Heartfully just wait for it / It will come -- might be sheer optimism for a better future. Artists should refrain from being too political at Eurovision but the Belorussians ought to be cut some slack ... because they sure can't practice politics at home.
Video: Okay, so the video is a little corny, what with all the CGI butterflies and the singers eventually exploding into a swarm of the insects. But remember what I said earlier: Belarus. That anything so bright and optimistic can flourish there is astounding and "Butterflies" suggests what can be said of all subjects living under oppressive dictatorships. The people are better than their government. They are above the ethical level of their government. They are simply weaker than their government. Someday "President" Lukashenko will be gone and hopefully Belarus will open up for its people. But in the right time. It will come.
Score: Music | Video

Entry: Tom Dice, "Me and My Guitar" (video)
Music: I'm not a huge fan of guitars, especially as a solo instrument accompanying a solo singer. This always makes me think of those people who sit around college campuses strumming and singing, presuming that everyone wants to hear how they express themselves. With that in mind it's surprising that I didn't hate this song, though the singer's attitude -- he only wants to play his guitar and never do any productive work -- reeks of another sort of solo guitarist: those who forgo the college campus and go straight into singing anywhere. Somebody's bound to toss some change sometime. The video proves him to be of this sort.
Video: Tom pawns his guitar for thirty bucks while the video shows him wandering through fields and rocks, strumming and singing about how he never wants to work and wants to be remembered for his music. Eventually he breaks down and buys the guitar back. The way I see it is if it's come down to having to sell his most prized possession for a little dough then maybe he should suck it up and find a job.
Score: Music | Video

Bosnia & Herzegovina
Entry: Vukašin Brajić, "Thunder and Lightning" (video)
Music: Bosnia & Herzegovina's entry this year starts out sounding like any male vocalist on American radio and, at first, I'm less interested. "Thunder and Lightning" picks up once the song gets going and it's not a bad song at all, even if it is another song about a faltering relationship. He and she aren't getting along very well so he offers the imagery of "Thunder and lightning holding hands / Let's overcome the past." There is some nice sounding vocal layering and it does peel away from your average American radio. All told, a decent listen.
Video: A combination of Vukašin Brajić on stage and behind the scenes, plus occasional pans across soundboards. Watching a concert is less interesting than actually being there and that's what this is. Granted, this might not be an official video but it's the closest I could find on YouTube.
Score: Music | Video

Entry: Miro, "Angel Si Ti" (video)
Music: Its title translates to "You Are an Angel," and the lyrics back this up: "there's an angel with you in your heart." It gets worse with, "angel is your destiny." So not only will you eventually die (fact) you your are destined to become a wondrous angel (not fact). Miro also spends some time on the lengthy and repetitive choruses of "oooooh oh oh oooooh, oooooh oh oh oooooh." This is all just far too religious for an international music competition.
Video: An angel falls out of Heaven, past the sun, and down to Earth. There, on the streets, people drop what they're doing and start to follow him, blindly and unquestioningly. The sheer religiosity aside, I'm not a fan of things that discard the notions of free will and human independence of action. The video is well shot but its inherent philosophy is crap.
Score: Music | Video

Entry: Feminnem, "Lako je Sve" (video)
Music: The title translates to "Everything is Easy" and is about apologizing to a guy for somehow betraying him. Their words. However, with lyrics like "I know I make mistakes / But I am just a woman / Who is surrendering," and later, "Without you I know not how to exist / I am no longer me," this turns into another song about weak-willed women who think that they can only exist at the mercy of a man. I would have expected more from a group with a name like Feminnem. The group consists of three women, each with lovely voices but the song could have benefited from more singing in harmony. As it stands, the systematic taking turns to sing feels a little off. Fun fact: Feminnem represented Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2005 with the song "Call Him" where they placed 14th out of 24 finalists.
Video: I like the theme of having the video play out in sepia tone with occasional flashes of vibrant color on certain beats. The ladies are dynamic and the video has a lot of movement and interesting camera angles despite fairly spartan scenery. It works pretty well.
Score: Music | Video

Entry: Jon Lilygreen and The Islanders, "Life Looks Better in Spring" (video)
Music: Jon Lilygreen is from Wales, which makes his representing Cyprus a little odd. Surely this island nation could have found an actual Cypriot group to represent them? As to the song, the guy's got a good voice but I'm not a fan of the style. This is a song that would work perfectly during the end credits of a romantic comedy.
Video: The sweeping crane shots inside an airport are particularly attractive. It's just that the whole idea of saying goodbye to a loved one about to board a plane, possibly for good, is a cliché that made me spend the entire video expecting the girl to rush back, love triumphant, all like it's the final episode of Friends. Instead she did what Bogart said to do: she got on that plane. So yes on visual style, no on the story.
Score: Music | Video

Entry: Chanée and N'evergreen, "In a Moment Like This" (video)
Music: Duets, when done properly, can sound absolutely fantastic and make a great song. Lucky for Denmark, Christina Chanée and Tomas N'evergreen sound great together. Unfortunately the lyrics make this another song about not being able to cope without the other person in your life, but at least it's mutual this time. What's odd is that every time they go "In a Moment Like This" there's a brief instant where it sounds very close to Meat Loaf's "It's All Coming Back to Me Now," just enough to throw me off but not enough to spoil things.
Video: While the lyrics are about living in the moment with the person you love, trying to focus on making your brief time together last forever, the video suggests something else. By cutting between Chanée and N'evergreen performing the song in a studio setting, then to the Dansk Melodi Grand Prix that selected them for Eurovision, and then to their reactions on being told they won they would be going to Oslo, the video turns "a moment like this" into a spectacular, life-changing instance. In a way this is somewhat touching, seeing the sheer thrill on Chanée and N'evergreen's faces after winning the trip to Eurovision for this very song.
Score: Music | Video

Entry: Malcolm Lincoln and Manpower 4, "Siren" (video)
Music: "Siren" is a bit of a dreary song about a guy who feels he's wasted his life and is now trying to find the strength and energy to keep trying, to keep going. "My life has been oh lame / Has been oh lame so far / I wasted years, I wasted time / Trying to reach the stars," the chorus moans. Whatever has happened in this guy's past, or rather hasn't happened, is still attainable. He just has to silence the siren in his head (should I read this as the male equivalent of a biological clock chiming?) and get his act together. As far as it goes on a music level, this song doesn't sound anything like the rest of the music at this year's Eurovision. That helps it stand out and, in this case, it is a good thing. Still, its a song that begins to grate on my nerves a bit, so that hampers its prospective replay value. That, and the song is kind of depressing!
Video: A man struggles along in a blowing blizzard. It is already as dreary as the song. His head seems awfully large and OH MY MOTHER OF GOD WHAT. It is a man with a giant, prismatic head and it is ten distinct flavors of creeping me the hell out. And I can't place why, but I keep thinking of Björk's video for "Human Behaviour". But really, this makes for one of the most unique videos this year. What does it mean? I'm not going to try and guess. Is it interesting to watch? Definitely.
Score: Music | Video

Entry: Kuunkuiskaajat, "Työlki Ellää" (video)
Music: Finland's entry, "Työlki Ellää," which apparently translates to "One Can Work For a Living, Too" (Finnish!) brought a smile to my face like none of the other songs have (I listened to them all before starting to write this entry). Seriously, this is just a happy song, especially when you throw in the video. The meaning lies in the chorus: "Hear me singing, And I sing: / Let the sun shine, glide away my moon / I labor for a living, soon commerce fills my purse." Basically, they're two self-sure women with decent paychecks who feel good about themselves and feel good about the world around them. The sun's in the sky, all's right with the world. No worries at all. How enticingly optimistic!
Video: Between the clapping, snow-tossing, accordion, and throwing hay at a pony, this is the cutest dang video of anything submitted to Eurovision 2010. Between it and the happy song, this is a potential cure for chasing away rainy day blues. Hearts!
Score: Music | Video

France - Big Four
Entry: Jessy Matador, "Allez Ola Olé" (video)
Music: France's entry is just this super happy, bouncy, dancy vacation from the humdrum of the real world. It's a catchy tune and I can see it being a good encourager to exercise because it would work really well as a Dance Dance Revolution track. The lyrics themselves are pretty straightforward: "You need to dance, every body dance with me." With a song like this you don't need instructions.
Video: Oh man, this video makes me just want to flail my arms around like I just don't care. This is because there is not a still limb in the video and I am prone to imitating what I see on screen. There is a con though, and that's all the bikini-clad beach ladies which feels a little too exploitative. Additionally, I kind of suspect that Charles' future will see him turning into the old man living in a bus who laughs like a crazy person and points people toward boats.
Score: Music | Video

Entry: Sopho Nizharadze, "Shine" (video)
Music: I liked it, especially the chorus. But something felt lacking. It felt like when you buy an album and listen to the song that gets all the radio play and, while it's a very nice song, there are others on the album that you feel are far superior. Typically the songs that go mainstream tend to be more conservative to appeal to the widest demographic while the songs where the artist is more expressive remain solely on the album. This feels like one of those conservative mainstream pieces and I can't help but think that Sopho Nizharadze probably has even better songs up her sleeve. So, good song but not likely to be her best.
Video: Red and blue lights penetrate the darkness of a blackened stage. Nizharadze appears in a different dress depending on the color of the light. It's all a simple setup with little in the way of environment. Not wholly exciting.
Score: Music | Video

Germany - Big Four & 2010 Winner
Entry: Lena, "Satellite" (video)
Music: "Lena from Germany," I thought before listening to this song, "that's awesome 'cause '99 Luftballons' is awesome!" Turns out I was thinking of Nena but you know what? I wouldn't mind hearing more from Lena Meyer-Landrut. I liked "Satellite" and I like her sound a lot. Plus, I appreciate the lyric, "like a satellite I'm in orbit all the way around you." More songs about love should take orbital mechanics into account.
Video: A black room with blue beams of light. I'll discuss a bad example of a similar setup when we get to the United Kingdom, but it works here, especially since her black clothing melds into the background putting more focus on her face. There's more going on with the lighting and it reminds me a lot of Jeff Goldblum's mutation chamber in The Fly. Will Lena become the Brundlefly? It is a possibility! My only problem is that her moves don't completely work. Her hand movements especially seem more at home in a hip hop video than with this pop song.
Score: Music | Video

Entry: Giorgos Alkaios and Friends, "Opa" (video)
Music: Some songs at Eurovision give absolutely no indication of the country they represent. Can we take "Life Looks Better in the Spring," as sung by a kid from Wales, to be a realistic indicator of the Cypriot musical culture? Probably not. Or how about the Americans that Germany hired last year? On the other token, "Opa" is exactly how I expect Greek music to sound. This piece offers a lot to like, from its jovial good nature and catchy music to its lyrics about burning the past and "let bygones be bygones, let’s start all over again" All around a splendid piece. Opa!
Video: Giorgos Alkaois and his guys dance around in black clothing in a warehouse and in white clothing on a beach. There's no real message here other than to dance dance dance. To heck with the problems of the past, the present is a time to dance!
Score: Music | Video

Entry: Hera Björk, "Je ne Sais Quoi" (video)
Music: Three artists have tempered my impression of music from Iceland: Emilíana Torrini, Hafdís Huld, and single-name Björk ... to say nothing of Silvía Night at Eurovision 2006. They all have a certain, oh, je ne sais quoi about them, you know? Enter Hera Björk who shatters that impression by sounding like everyone else. Not that that matters in my scoring, but I just thought I'd mention my disappointment that the Iceland artist isn't quirky and a little bit crazy. Moving on, the song is about totally digging on someone for reasons that you can't rationalize or explain: "Something I just can't explain / And when I see your face / I wanna follow my emotions." Anyway, I find it a little weird that a song from Iceland would feature choruses sung in French. Maybe that's the Iceland quirk after all.
Video: Hera Björk goes to the gym and gets a locker key from the disinterested attendant that she has the hots for. She proceeds to change into a bulky red dress, climb up the ladder to the pool's diving board (while everyone looks on in shock), and jump in. This prompts the attendant to dive in after her. So ... I suppose she accomplished her goal of getting him to notice her? I'll give the video this much: it has that bizarre quality that Iceland seems to do well at.
Score: Music | Video

Entry: Niamh Kavanagh, "It's For You" (video)
Music: One of the nice things about Eurovision is that it allows new artists to be seen and heard, giving them the exposure necessary to jumpstart their careers. That said, it's still often nice to see respected singers who have been in the business for a while. Niamh Kavanagh is of the latter, and she has the experience and vocal chops to show these new lads and lasses how it's done. Kavanagh represented Ireland in the 1993 Eurovision, winning the contest that year. This time she sings about following your heart and realizing your dreams no matter how scary it may be, because "it's for you."
Video: The video struck me as being sort of full of itself. It's about her being gussied up and taken onstage, flanked by a small army of ready and willing handmaidens to do her hair and carry her dress. Finally she belts into a microphone with spotlights shining down. It's a video that makes the artist seem a little too sure of herself and her name recognition. Remember, humility!
Score: Music | Video

Entry: Harel Skaat, "Milim" (video)
Music: Israel is an Asian country but gets in because they fall within the European Broadcast Union (Eurovision is bigger than any of us; it is life). Anyway, "Milim" means "Words," and Harel Skaat is singing in Hebrew about the lover who left and left him only words ... presumably this means that all he has to remember her by are their parting words? By now you know how I feel about the "life is terrible on my own" songs but, y'know, this time the song actually sounds truly sad. The song is listen-to-able and it properly reflects the grief this guy is feeling, even if that grief has been sung about again and again and again.
Video: The video starts off okay, with Skaat moving all of his furniture and appliances out into the middle of nowhere and setting them all up on a barren steppe. It's unique, it's surreal, I want to see where this is going. But then he gets pissed and begins smashing everything, taking his aggressions out on everything he owns. This is where it loses me. Watching him act like a psychopath and seeing this all play out, moving his furniture onto this deserted steppe just to smash it all and act crazy actually loses my sympathy and makes me happy that his lost love is hopefully far away from this nut. She's better off not dating sociopaths.
Score: Music | Video

Entry: Aisha, "What For?" (video)
Music: Earlier I criticized Bulgaria for entering a song with far too much religiosity for a diverse, international music competition. Latvia is almost as bad. Again, like Bulgaria, the actual musical tune isn't bad. The problem is in the lyrics. Aisha asks, "What for are we living? / What for are we crying? / What for are we dying?" Each of these are good questions to ask. In fact, we should ask them because it is important to understand the world around us and why things happen the way they do. We should ask questions. However, Aisha answers for us: "Only Mr. God knows why." Oooooh, so that's why. Every single question and problem in the world is attributable to Mr. God. Well, at the very least, he's the one who knows the answers and is simply unwilling to share with us. Like I said before, religion should be kept out of this sort of competition, because songs like this and "Angel Si Ti" just comes off as proselytizing, which might as well be another word for "arrogant presumption."
Video: The video is essentially a three-minute close-up on Aisha's face while she looks concerned and sings the song. No effort at all.
Score: Music | Video

Entry: InCulto, "Eastern European Funk" (video)
Music: The closest comparison to InCulto that I can think of would be to imagine if the Talking Heads had come out of Lithuania. Even then I don't think that really works. "Eastern European Funk" isn't a bad song and could have been a lot more enjoyable if the vast majority wasn't them repeating "Get up and dance to our Eastern European kinda / Get up and dance to our Eastern European kinda / Get up and dance to our Eastern European kind of funk" over and over again. They barely explain what makes the Eastern European kind of funk so special that I should get up and dance to it. If you remove the repetitive chorus there's hardly anything there. So, points for effort and having a good beat that you actually can dance to, but points lost for lack of content.
Video: The boys get ready in their flat while the vaguely David Byrne-sounding member sings into the phone. Then they get people to dance at the supermarket and shopping mall. They also dance with their landlord and later have a wild party full of loose women and a military officer. I feel like I'm at that party because I have no idea what's happening.
Score: Music | Video

FYR Macedonia
Entry: Gjoko Taneski, Billy Zver, and Pejcin, "Jas Ja Imam Silata" (video)
Music: I thought this song, whose English title is "I Have the Strength," was pretty good. The English lyrics add a perk: "I have the strength / To get over you / Not to have you and not to see you." It's another breakup song but this time, finally, the author isn't getting all worked up and depressed about their life because of it. Also, "Jas Ja Imam Silata" has the only rapping in any Eurovision song this year with a brief foray into that genre. It's a welcome change of pace.
Video: I absolutely do not understand the video. He's singing about having the strength to get over a girl but the video plays out like a beauty pageant. If anything, it reminds me of the equally strange "Beautiful Girl" number from Singin' in the Rain. Stylistically it's very attractive, with bright colors against a stark white (albeit blue tinted) background. Given how many videos have had their singers inside a black abyss, it's nice to see a white abyss for a change. Once again the sheer exploitation does me in though. Most of the outfits aren't bad but enough of the women are swinging around in clothing designed solely to keep only the naughty parts of their boobs covered.
Score: Music | Video

Entry: Thea Garrett, "My Dream" (video)
Music: I have been hard on the songs where the singer seems to live and die for love. That's because their goals and dreams are petty and reliant on someone else to provide their happiness. Thea Garrett is here to sing just the right kind of song. "My Dream" is about her dreams, whatever they may be, and her desire to make them happen. It's wonderfully self-interested and suggests that she could actually have interests and hobbies of her own worth pursuing. This is her dream and it's one that doesn't rely on someone else's fickle behavior to see through. Plus, there's a meta aspect to this song as Garrett is presumably now living her dream of a singing career and what better way to gain continent-wide (and some world-wide) exposure than through Eurovision?
Video:No official music video is available so you can smile at the still photo of Garrett on the path to seeing her dreams realized on the YouTube video.
Score: Music | Video n/a

Entry: SunStroke Project and Olia Tira, "Run Away" (video)
Music: It's another song about love, but with a twist. This time there's bickering! Olia Tira wants the guy gone, shouting, "Oh, forgive, I don't need / I won't breathe! / Just get away from my life!" The guy is equally sick of her and retorts, "There's no other time to making / Happiness. You have mistaken! / We have no progressive future! / I know your lying nature!" Mostly I love the insult, "We have no progressive future" and may add that to my own vocabulary. Unlike the other love songs, we know that these two will get along just fine without one another ... unless they're the types who just keep getting back together over and over again and repeating this process every time. I'm not so certain that they aren't. That said, I liked it.
Video: Holy Eighties! I appreciate the 1980s look of the video even if the music feels later. The saxophone guy just screams Hong Kong Cavaliers to my sense of '80s pop culture. The hollow electric violin studded with LEDs is pretty nifty too. Also, I think I might have seen Alessandra Torresani in the crowd? No, that's ridiculous.
Score: Music | Video

Entry: Sieneke, "Ik Ben Verliefd (Sha-la-lie)" (video)
Music: It's fun! Like France's entry, "Ik Ben Verleifd" just makes you want to bounce around and make a dang ole fool out've yourself. The song is kind of a yodel and she says the word "luftballon" early on, so I cannot complain. Mostly though, this song is unique among this year's entries as it's one of the very few that isn't all depressing or weak-willed about love. Instead Sieneke is, dare I say, happily in love. I know! As she bounds about, giddy to the core, all the happy memories run together and she can't keep track of what happened and where. Sieneke is happy so we're happy. Sha-la-lie, sha-la-la!
Video: No official music video is available so you can watch the Sieneke photo slideshow on the YouTube video.
Score: Music | Video n/a

Norway - Host Country
Entry: Didrik Solli-Tangen, "My Heart Is Yours" (video)
Music: Wow. Norway pulled out all the stops and got opera-turned-pop singer Didrik Solli-Tangen to perform against a piano and orchestrated (prob'ly synth) score. It's another love song, but this time it's about devotion despite a long-distance relationship. Apart and yet not bring torn apart, which is a nice change of pace around here. What you get is a beautiful and epic-sounding entry that feels almost too big compared to the rest of Eurovision.
Video: No official music video is available so you can stare at the rugged still photo of Soli-Tangen on the YouTube video.
Score: Music | Video n/a

Entry: Marcin Mroziński, "Legenda" (video)
Music:The singer has taken up an overly romanticized outlook on love, imagining it as a legendary medieval fantasy with his love interest as the winsome princess and he a gallant knight. He proclaims his devotion and safekeeping of the fair lady, "Lovely Princess / I am here to save you / Take my hand and say that you love me." Unfortunately for him, the love interest will have none of this and scorns him as the weirdo that he is. Musically it's really good and our poor hero's delusions and abandonment of that noble architecture of sanity might potentially be costly to my scoring but since the song plays him off as a loony that only manages to scare away the woman, I think it's safe. The point of the song is that the singer has no grasp of reality.
Video: The excellent video to accompany this song just drives home how pathetic and off-kilter the singer is. His "princess" is a stage actress and he's a creepy stalker, imagining her in princess dress and being reflected in her dressing room mirror as she gets herself ready. His inner fantasies play out as surreal tangos and, by the end, actually reminds me a lot of El Tango de Roxanne from Moulin Rouge.
Score: Music | Video

Entry: Filipa Azevedo, "Há Dias Assim" (video)
Music: The English title is, "There Are Days Like This," and it seems to be about a gal questioning how she lost a guy, but then figures it out and ... maybe moves on? She at least understands what happened, which could be the first step to recovery. The lyrics aren't very helpful. Musically it's nice but lacks something that catches the ears and leaves the listener with something memorable in their head.
Video: No official music video is available so you can twist around and look back at the still photos of Azevedo gazing over her shoulder on the YouTube video.
Score: Music | Video n/a

Entry: Paula Seling and Ovi, "Playing With Fire" (video)
Music:"Playing With Fire" starts out with me thinking, "oh dear, this is going to be a Fergie song." Thankfully, that is short-lived and it turns into a piece that's actually pretty decent and catchy. Still, I keep listening to it because something bugs me and I just can't place what it is exactly. Maybe the Fergie feeling never completely leaves.
Video: The video is pretty cool, showcasing a tech-savvy future thanks in part to CG effects. Paula and Ovi go all Avatar-esque, playing out virtual reality video games, flashing between their avatars in a computer world and them going through the identical movements. As a perk, this is officially the only video at Eurovision 2010 to feature a space battle. Also, the plexiglass double piano is kind of neat. They brought that with them to Oslo.
Score: Music | Video

Entry: Peter Nalitch and Friends, "Lost and Forgotten" (video)
Music: I really like this song a lot in terms of its musical theme. The notes are arranged very nicely. And Peter Nalitch's voice singing those notes is not at all displeasing. In fact, I would go as far as to say that his was the right voice for those notes. Where it suffers is in the lyrics, about another sad soul who can no longer deal with life after a breakup. "Here am I, lost and forgotten / For this cruel, cruel time when I'm first time in love," as he keeps looking at her photos over the behest of his friend who suggests burning them. The spoken parts are a neat touch, even if the sung responses are a little clumsy.
Video: No official music video is available so you can instead watch this live performance, probably from the Moscow competition that chose Russia's entry back in March.
Score: Music | Video n/a

Entry: Milan Stanković, "Ovo je Balkan" (video)
Music: ARGH. This song just annoys me. In English the title means, "This is Balkan" and, as such, is essentially a love letter to the Balkan nations. Here's a portion of the chorus: "You kiss me so sweetly / You have no shame / Belgrade, Belgrade / I’m so naughty." That's pretty much the gist of the song. Between the blaring trumpets and Milan Stanoković's singing style, it was just too much. I've listened to each song several times while writing these reviews but suffered the most with "Ovo je Balkan." Excuse me while I take an Excedrin for this headache.
Video: No official music video is available so you can instead watch this compilation Stanoković performing the song in several places on the YouTube video.
Score: Music | Video n/a

Entry: Kristina Peláková, "Horehronie" (video)
Music: "Horehronie" is an ode to the Horehronie region in Northern Slovakia, an area that includes the Hron River valley. Kristina Peláková sings about the tranquility of this region and how she goes there to recoup her thoughts: "When the sun of my life is at its lowest / I go to the land around the Hron river / And I dream there / This land is so beautiful / That suddenly I want to sing / And die and live / And I feel like I am in heaven." It's a nice tribute to a place where, from the photos I Googled, looks to be a beautiful and restful location nestled between river and mountains.
Video: No official music video is available so you can watch this photo slideshow of Peláková on the YouTube video ... though,given this song, it should have included more photos of trees.
Score: Music | Video n/a

Entry: Ansambel Žlindra and Kalamari, "Narodnozabavni Rock" (video)
Music:The song has its moments but feels disjointed. Maybe "Narodnozavavni Medley" would have been a more appropriate title. "Narodnozabavni Rock" means "Native Folk Rock," so it actually is a medley of several folk songs set to a rock track. I have no idea if the music is original or if the lyrics are the only folk music connection. What I do like is the highly catchy main line, the classic and almost 1950ish rock style, and the inclusion of a folksy accordion alongside the electric guitar. The song's only blemish is that it still seems to be in pieces.
Video: No official music video is available so join in at striking a pose back at the musicians behind this song on the YouTube video.
Score: Music | Video n/a

Spain - Big Four
Entry: Daniel Diges, "Algo Pequeñito" (video)
Music: Dang, Daniel Diges can sing. After all of these pre-fab pop tunes, "Algo Pequeñito" ("Something Tiny") is a massive breath of fresh air. The song uses a nice accordion backer and the music never once overpowers the singer. Diges has a powerful voice that makes this song work tremendously well, as he tries to convince his lover to give him just some tiny indication that she still loves him. That's all he wants, something tiny to assuage his worry. But y'know, he acts and sounds like he'll do fine either way. Plus, he looks like actor Ioan Gruffudd. That is strangely reassuring.
Video: The circus setting is a little creepy but DeMille showed us with The Greatest Show on Earth that circuses can also be epic. Diges bounds around the Big Top with ladies dancing, men on the trapeze, straw getting kicked up, and confetti flying. The video is big, bold, exciting, and just tremendous fun. There's always more to see and something is always going on. Spain nailed this one.
Score: Music | Video

Entry: Anna Bergendahl, "This Is My Life" (video)
Music: It's a nice song about a gal who just wants to be herself and do what she wishes with her life. That's good to hear since I just wrote Azerbaijan's entry right before this (I'm writing in reverse presentation order) about a woman who can't handle not having a guy as her "top half" (weird). Anna Bergendahl instead promotes a better image for women to be who they want to be and live the lives they want to live.
Video: Bergendahl's expression sometimes looks like she's just sat on a thumbtack and knows that standing up to remove it will hurt like all heck, so she's bearing through before rising. But maybe that's petty. Personally, it's nice to see that her idea of doing whatever she wants doesn't include driving a flaming limousine through an art museum while chugging absinthe from the rectum of a badger. Mostly it seems to be her sitting in a chair and walking along a railroad track. Not very exciting but maybe she prefers having time to herself.
Score: Music | Video

Entry: Michael von der Heide, "Il Pleut de L'or" (video)
Music: The translation is "It's Raining Gold," which refers to how he feels talking to his love interest: "Gold rains down / Whenever you talk to me about love." Basically her mushy talk makes him feel giddy. Unfortunately this song didn't really do much for me one way or another. That's not to say that Michael von der Heide is a bad singer, because he's not. I just can't get excited here. It's not bad to listen to though, so I'll give him that.
Video: I also have no idea what the video is about. It's van der Heide alternating between silhouette and wearing a coat with a massive collar. At the end collared Michael explodes in a flurry of gold dust into silhouette Michael? I really don't know and my incomprehension is having a negative effect here. Sorry Michael.
Score: Music | Video

Entry: maNga, "We Could Be the Same" (video)
Music:Turkey, part European and part Asian, did well with maNga's song about two people, with different needs and interests, who could just as easily be the same once they get to know one another. Coming from Turkey, which isn't always the friendliest place in the world, this is a fine message. The song itself is a good listen though I personally don't know how much more of maNga's music I'd get into. This isn't a slight against maNga but is more reflective of my own musical tastes. I'm on the fence here.
Video: The setting is interesting and unique, like a dystopian urban war zone with burning oil drums and surrounded by women wearing gasmasks and holding police batons. In a way it feels like it should be the music video for an Eighties action film, with cutaways to Kurt Russell messing people up. That is awesome.
Score: Music | Video

Entry: Alyosha, "Sweet People" (video)
Music: I love this one. Not only is Alyosha a tremendously adept singer whose performance carries the song, but the lyrics discuss things that I completely believe in. Consider: "Oh, sweet people / Have you no love for mankind? / Must you go on killing / Just to pass the time?" as well as "Don't turn all the earth to stone / Because, because, because / This is your home." In our age of pointless wars and oil spills, it's nice to hear a voice calling out, "This is stupid and unnecessary destruction!" Kudos, Alyosha.
Video: Continuing from the music, the video features Alyosha walking through the town of Pripyat, abandoned and left for ruin after the Chernobyl disaster in April 1986. The powerful images that Pripyat brings on its own, of homes and schools left in a hurry, buildings gradually being claimed by nature, the Ferris Wheel standing rusted and desolate, make for the perfect imagery to this cry for sensibility. Here is startling proof of human mishap. Ukraine has had a long, sad history of suffering from disasters both intentional and accidental. Alyosha reminds us that it didn't have to be that way, and I cannot agree more.
Score: Music | Video

United Kingdom - Big Four
Entry: Josh Dubovie, "That Sounds Good to Me" (video)
Music: All I can say is that it's a good thing that the United Kingdom, as a member of the "Big Four," is automatically included in the finalists, because they sure wouldn't have gotten there with this. Josh Dubovie can sing but that pre-packaged pop backing track is just too pervasive and has to go. That track makes the song just another repetitive pop single with nothing that makes it stand out. It does not sound good to me.
Video: A fancy lad in a black abyss singing about how spending time with him is a great deal ("So if you bring the sunshine / I'll bring the good times") while lights flash behind him and strings of crystals hang in front of him? Yawn. The scenery is just as boring as the song.
Score: Music | Video

Whew. Next year remind me of the noble virtue of brevity.

Josh's Personal Top Five:
Best: 1) Ukraine, 2) Armenia, 3) Germany, 4) Finland, 5) Sweden
Worst: 34) Latvia, 35) Bulgaria, 36) Cyprus, 37) Serbia, 38) United Kingdom

Eurovision 2010 Rankings:
Semifinal 1: 1) Belgium, 2) Greece, 3) Iceland, 4) Portugal, 5) Serbia, 6) Albania, 7) Bosnia and Herzegovina, 8) Russia, 9) Belarus, 10) Moldova, 11) Finland, 12) Malta, 13) Poland, 14) Estonia, 15) Macedonia, 16) Slovakia, 17) Latvia

Semifinal 2: 1) Turkey, 2) Azerbaijan, 3) Georgia, 4) Romania, 5) Denmark, 6) Armenia, 7) Ukraine, 8) Israel, 9) Ireland, 10) Cyprus, 11) Sweden, 12) Lithuania, 13) Croatia, 14) Netherlands, 15) Bulgaria, 16) Slovenia, 17) Switzerland

Final: 1) Germany, 2) Turkey, 3) Romania, 4) Denmark, 5) Azerbaijan, 6) Belgium, 7) Armenia, 8) Greece, 9) Georgia, 10) Ukraine, 11) Russia, 12) France, 13) Serbia, 14) Israel, 15) Spain, 16) Albania, 17) Bosnia and Herzegovina, 18) Portugal, 19) Iceland, 20) Norway, 21) Cyprus, 22) Moldova, 23) Ireland, 24) Belarus, 25) United Kingdom


Engaged 23 August 2010 | Updated 23 August 2010