It’s today! It’s the final! I have booze, I have Euro snacks, and I have time for some snark before it all kicks off.
We’ve come this far together. One more night. Let’s see at who’s made it through the rigours of the two semi-finals (I mean the acts, not you and I) and look at the line-up for tonight’s Euromusic spectacular. No pussyfooting about – this is Truth.
- United Kingdom – As Arnold Dorsey (call him by his name) himself points out, Love Can Set You Free is a grower. Unfortunately, most of the voting public will see it just once, plus a few recaps. I’m still no fan of the key change in this but on a night with a shocking shortage of key changes, it’s more than welcome. I’ve no doubt Arnold (call him by his name) will belt it out of the arena, in one of the most understated productions of the night, but will that be enough for us to see the contest coming the UK next year? No, no it won’t.
- Hungary‘s song Sound of Our Hearts is one of my favourites and I was most pleased to see it get through to the final. While Tuesday’s live performance didn’t quite bring the power of the recorded version, this is still a nice catchy number from the oh-so-wittily named Compact Disco.
- Rona Nishliu from Albania has quite the pair of lungs on her. That epic shrieking was very much present in the semi-final and clearly impressed the voters. If you have ear defenders, I’d put them on before she gets going..
- Speaking of health and safety, I hope there’s been a proper risk assessment of wearing a blindfold on stage. Lithuania – Donny Montell is a tricksy little man. “Look at my power ballad” he says, tempting you in, and then BOOM he’s swiping you with his up tempo song about the blindness of love. This was one of the two I voted for in the second semi-final Watch out for some seriously sub-Fizz attire removal.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina rightly made it through the final but there’s not much memorable about this perfectly creditable piano number to suggest it will win through. MayaSar is one of several female acts competing in the parallel game of Who’s Got Servalan‘s Best Outfit?
- It’s no surprise that Russia made it to the final with their heady mix of crap singing and crap dancing. At least the grannies appear to be having fun, but bear in mind that they want to lure you to their gingerbread house and then bake you in their oven. You don’t want that, do you? No, of course you don’t. (On a side note: when I suggested on Twitter on Tuesday that homophobic Russia may not be an ideal host country for the next Eurovision, someone replied that they didn’t think Russia was homophobic. This from Human Rights Watch is just one quickly Googled reason to disagree with them.)
- I’m not ashamed to admit that I love Iceland‘s atmospheric duet, with its dramatic lyrics and vibrant fiddling. Sadly, the foreboding silence in the middle of the song that’s in the video didn’t make it to the (tough) live realisation, but it is another song to feature one of tonight’s rare key changes, so cherish it.
- Cyprus‘s own Catherine Zeta Jones has gone up in my estimation thanks to her performance on what looked like a dry stone wall in the first semi-final and I was pleased to see this get through. It’s pretty standard Eurodance but catchy and fun and I wouldn’t be surprised if it does well.
- Whistle and I’ll come to you, my France. The song is strong, original and interesting. The performance is very much targeted at the gays. The danger for Anggun is that eyes are on the topless gymnasts when ears should be on her singing. Well, that’s one danger. The other is that she gets concussion. You’ll see why.
- France is immediately followed by another of the Big Five nations, the recently returned Italy. Nina Zilli has picked a style that will stand out from the crowd, although I’m still finding the transition from verse to chorus jarring. I hope this does well, as it’s been tipped, not least because I’ve drawn it to win in the office Eurovision sweepstake.
- Estonia was the other country I voted for in the second semi. It’s a nice little ballad, with no snazzy production of gimmicks, carried by a strong performance from Ott Lepland. That said, I’d be surprised if it finishes very high and you may be happy never to hear the word “Kuula” again by the end.
- I can picture the discussion at Norway Eurovision Towers (every country has a Eurovision Towers): “That guy from Sweden was good last year.” “Eric Saade.” “Yeah. Do you think he’d enter for us this year?” “I doubt it.” “Oh, why not?” “Well, for one thing he’s Swedish.” “OK, then. Launch a national Eric Saade lookalike contest, give the winner Eric Saade’s clothes and make the him represent us at Eurovision singing a not-quite-as-good-as-2011’s-Popular pop number. Do you think you can do that?” “Actually, I think I know just the man…” This track sounds like something Madonna rejected a decade ago. It’s fine, although I’m still not a fan of the rasping synths and I’d happily exchange it for a Popular or a Manboy.
- Azerbaijan were last year’s winners and so automatically qualify for this year’s final. I’m not sure When the Music Dies would be hear otherwise. Look out for the old man sitting on the glass coffee table. I kid you not.
- Romania present three minutes of unremarkable jollity. The bagpipe player appears to be a scientist from The War Games.
- I was surprised Denmark‘s tiresome entry made it to the final. This is just a middle of the road as it was on Tuesday, except this time I’ve already sat through it once. It’s called Should’ve Known Better and yes, Tuesday’s voters, you should’ve. On the plus side, one of her backing singers has a lovely armchair.
- Good news if Denmark left you slumping in your own armchair – it’s Greece! This is Eurovision by the book and is all the better for it. Catchy, upbeat and fun. I wonder if any wags on Twitter will manage to come up with a joke about the Greek debt crisis when this is on? Maybe a suggestion that Greece couldn’t afford to host the contest next year? I doubt anyone’s thought of that yet so it’ll be pretty funny.
- Won’t somebody rid me of this euphoric Swede? The Eurovision fans have apparently been in quite the priapic state about this for months and I genuinely don’t know why. Is it because she has frizzy hair? Is it because this is the most generic “euphoria” track ever recorded and also called Euphoric? Bring back Eric Saade (see above). I shan’t eat my words if this wins, because I’ll still be baffled, but I don’t believe it will win so ner. Britain, DO NOT VOTE FOR THIS.
- I expect the next song to produce a fairly poor result for Turkey, although it will pick up some votes from fans of capes and stereotypically gay leather caps. It fills three minutes but the only thing memorable about it is a particularly create piece of nautical choreography.
- Spain is another Big Five country with a bye to the final. It’s pretty good, although it might stand a better chance if Spain would accept the hegemony of the English language rather than stubbornly entering song after song in whatever their national language is. Extra points will be available for potentially the best key change of the night.
- Our final Big Five entry is from Germany, whose track is the one that would sound most at home in the British charts. This isn’t surprising when you learn that Jamie Cullum is now working against the UK, having written this ditty for singer Roman Lob. It’s one of the last ballads in the contest, which may stand it in good stead, and Not Being Very Eurovision did no harm at all to 2010’s German winner Lena.
- Malta – This is the Night reminds me of Sakis Rouvas’s Greek entry This is Our Night from 2009, which isn’t a big problem. Malta have a habit of entering tedious ballads so this marks a pleasant change of tack, although you may, like me, feel like slapping everyone on the stage and shouting into their stupid faces that there is no Hoxton in Malta.
- FYR Macedonia – This faux ballad kicks into gear just in time, turning into a nicely rocky number with some electric guitar and strings to drive it home. With all of the big guitar bands knocked out, this may fill a niche.
- 1980s training montage! It’s Ireland and yes, it’s Jedward. For some reason, despite them representing a country that is not the UK (their own choice), the BBC presenters keep encouraging us to get behind Jedward. I might get behind them if they were standing on some kind of high ledge, but otherwise, no thanks. This song could do well if they manage a reasonable live performance – and they have quite the outfits and staging, not to mention the backing singers, to distract from their singing.
- Serbia‘s misfortune at being early in their semi-final is offset but healthy late position in the final. This is another ballad that takes a while to get going – many of its brethren having been cast aside in the qualifying round – but it could do all right if the voters are in the mood. I doubt I shall care much by this point.
- Ukraine – This one’s not for me. It’s upbeat enough but I don’t like the syncopated synths and fake strings. It’s also mostly the same three words over and over again.
- It’s the last song! And thankfully Moldova have a good one. It’s cheerful, fun, has a nice ska jazz thing, a good instrumental bit and is all about how he’s going to a woo a lady with his trumpet. Also, the singer looks like he could do a bit of DIY if you needed it. The only points off are for a teasing almost-but-not-a-key-change moment (plus Moldova’s another country with issues.)
To assist in any scoring you wish to do, I have prepared a Eurovision 2012 scoresheet. You may find this useful if you wish to shun such nonsense categories as “Costume” or “Choreography” and focus on what the content is really about.
And that’s that. See you at 8pm on BBC One. In the immortal words of Delia Smith: “Let’s be ‘avin’ you! Come on!”
Update: So congratulations to Sweden for winning. I’m still bemused but it’s a nice, progressive country and one that takes its Eurovisioning seriously. I’d happily spend a bit of May there next year given half a chance. At least it wasn’t the Russian grannies. And very bad luck to Arnold, who came undeservedly second from last but did a great job on the night.