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Eurovision 2009 - The Contenders

It's a fairly run of the mill year for Eurovision - lots of adequate and competent songs, with lots of videos in black-and-white. There's not a whole lot of fantasy, visual drama, or humor this year, which is a pity, even if means that we get to miss out on the stupid extremes to which the contest can sometimes go. There also isn't a whole lot of dancing this year.

I've gone through the songs the day after the first semi-final without knowing the results, so some of my preferred songs may already be out-of-competition.

Most appealing overall entry - Alexander Rybak - Fairytale (Norway)
Strongest overall entry - Waldo's People - Lose Control (Finland)
Most amusing - Copycat - Copycat (Belgium)
Best anthem - Chiara - What If We (Cyrpus)
Niftiest singing - Malena Ernman - La Voix (Sweden)
Most intriguing - Anastasia Prikhodko - Mamo (Russia)
Most memorable - Jade Ewen - It's My Time (UK; based on having remembered it for months now)

All the entries are listed here.

Albania
Kejsi Tola - Carry Me In Your Dreams
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1mQR1TgAbo
A pop-disco lite piece which might prove memorable, even if it does sound generic on first hearing. The singer, for all her cute coat and the pretty scenery through which she wandered, never seemed like she really meant the lyrics.

Andorra
Susanne Georgi - Get A Life / La Teva Decisió
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zukfWaIggY
Upbeat catchy girlband song, apparenly sung by one lone redhead in a comfy fashion-parade of outfits. Charming.

Armenia
Inga & Anush - Jan Jan
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF9BcOvBwfM
An exercise video with a rash of symbolism: suns, moons, body painting, my favorite, dancing cave art. Some nice outfits, possibly traditional to Armenia, or possibly just meant to look traditionally something.

Azerbaijan
AySel & Arash - Always
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmA82DlI-Pc
Finally - singers having fun! A pop-folk number with belly-dancing movies, black outfits, and fire breathers. I don't think it'll be that memorable - but I liked it for the singers' enjoyment.

Belarus
Petr Elfimov - Eyes That Never Lie
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTdl5BYK6OY
Rock with a white leisure-suited singer and lots of flashy neon. He's a strong singer, but I just can't take him seriously in that outfit.

Belgium
Copycat - Copycat
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoCrJEqS214
Fun and funny country-rock piece on Elvis imitators - from Elvis' perspective. Ridiculous, charming, with an excellent plot twist.

Bosnia & Herzegovina
Regina - Bistra Voda
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liGJ3zo8uW4
Post-war misery with an anthemic tune sung on the scale of a small military marching band with lots of invisible backing string players. Lots of ballet dancers marching with red flags.

Bulgaria
Krassimir Avramov - Illusion
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MLp-GepMY8
It's a pop-disco soundtrack to a really bad medieval movie with dying knights, flashbacks, lots of horses, court dwarves, symbolic blackbirds on swords, and swirling cloaks. "Gimme, gimme your time. Show me, show me your love."

Croatia
Igor Cukrov feat. Andrea - Lijepa Tena
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiXiKRtjJWI
Swirling black smoke and a salsa beat. Yearningly and earnestly sung by a lone man and a posse of drapeily-clad women. Solid performance of strong-voiced wist. It might be more meaningful to me if I understood the lyrics.

Cyprus
Christina Metaxa - Firefly
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSc9ftJ-_TA
I really want to like this song: it's a low-key inspirational pop song with a medievalesque setting with an old fort and woodland about taking risks. It just didn't quite come together for me.

Czech Republic
Gipsy.cz - Aven Romale
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3CgUmzl4sk
This novelty entry is about a red-leisure-suited superhero-eque guy called "Gypsy". You too can feel like him, I hear. There're violins, and there's rap. And other stuff.

Denmark
Brinck - Believe Again
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NN9iln4mqzo
Straightforward, inspiring boyband song - which is what you'd expect, given it was written by well-known boyband artists. Filmed in a limited palette scheme, this year's popular black and white. Gently inspiring, singable, but nothing outstanding for its genre.

Estonia
Urban Symphony - Rändajad
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOsmEO_osXQ
Hypnotic symphonic rock with New Age elements sung by women dressed in black against a starry background. The most striking entry yet.


Finland
Waldo's People - Lose Control
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Td6HeWx_6WQ
Dance-rap, a powerful piece about loss of control in life, set around a homeless man, lying on the street while trucks drive by. Fire and darkness.

France
Patricia Kaas - Et S'Il Fallait Le Faire
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzT8Q15DWOM
A quiet, sharp, dark, reflective lounge-pop song, largely dressed in black and white. It could go nicely in a sad musical.

FYR Macedonia
Next Time - Neshto Shto Ke Ostan
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOQocxoouLg
Rock song with fidgety photography, Bon Jovi hair, vignettes atop tall buildings, and a thunderstorm. I think I'm forgetting it already.

Germany
Alex Swings, Oscar Sings! - Miss Kiss Kiss Bang
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FAuk8qGImA
Fun catchy swing song which I at first hoped was a love song to a car by a nearly topless young man: until the car was abandoned in favor of a Eurovision-pandering continent tour. Oh well. The song was still fun.

Greece
Sakis Rouvas - This Is Our Night
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnLKQWIISJY
This should have been a song about cosmic battles, what with the main characters arriving in flashes of life. The screaming fans really brought down the tone. Driving dance beat with odd touristic intervals, a woman rising out of red waters - the video's confused, but the song's not bad.

Hungary
Zoli Ádok - Dance With Me
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCx2_mHr-T4
Hey, it's science fiction! Futuristic city, floating people doing bizarre dance moves to disco music. Now we're into the WWII sailors and movie star women, and it's working better. 1930s mobsters? '70s disco? Very confused video, adequate song.

Iceland
Yohanna - Is It True
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8w97Z1iwKro
A minor, elegant, singable ballad about betrayal in relationship, backed by strings, and sung by a women in white.

Ireland
Sinéad Mulvey & Black Daisy - Et Cetera
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqVohtaYLeA
Rock-pop women in pink and black about jealousy with a strong sense of humor. Nice running visual joke about the difficulty of spelling the song's title. Very appealing.

Israel
Noa & Mira Awad - There Must Be Another Way
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RN8B1xvCxI0
Elegant, earnest tuneful duet by a Palestinian woman and a Jewish woman. A solid entry.

Latvia
Intars Busulis - Probka
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uubxd_8P97M
High-energy, random chanty song with abstract dancing sung (expectedly, I read), in Russian. I'm feeling a little bored and it's done not yet.

Lithuania
Sasha Son - Love
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJrPfCs8ub0
Pop-ballad against child violence. Somewhat preachy. Singer has a good hat. Not a bad tune the more I hear it, but I don't think it's distinctive enough to do well in this competition.

Malta
Chiara - What If We
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsC4_7pMOSY
Hopeful, inspirational, grand pop ballad by a powerful singer. Lyrics are cliché, but I don't care: I really rather like this.

Moldova
Nelly Ciobanu - Hora Din Moldova
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L20oTDefNcg
It's a "yay, Moldova" song! Its pretty streams, its green lands, its cities, its cheerful traditional outfits and lively dancing, with enthusiastic group chants along the way in a pop-traditional song. Not bad; I bet I'd like it even more if Moldova were a country I related to.

Montenegro
Andrea Demirovic - Just Get Out Of My Life
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rw0fCiccd9U
A driving pop-rock song starring skimpily dressed singers lounging around on cars and chained up in handcuffs. Could work well as a dance floor staple, but I suspect it won't have that much longevity.

Netherlands
The Toppers - Shine
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=te1w81E8L5A
This pop song with an SFnal setting feels like it time-traveled in from the '80s. Very cliché and feels rather paternalistic in its good advice from the trio of male singers. "All we have to do is love the one we hate." Gratuitous use of Obama family television shot.

Norway
Alexander Rybak - Fairytale
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4D_hguWPQE
Plot! Gymnastics! Cute young male singer who fiddles! So much which has been missing from most of the previous entries! "I'm in love with a fairytale, even though it hurts." Lively pop-traditional. I hope it does well!

Poland
Lidia Kopania - I Don't Wanna Leave
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKtPrmYuyzc
Black and white relationship tristesse with a solid singer. A woman sticking it out in a broken relationship. Impassioned middle-of-the-road ballad.

Portugal
Flor-de-lis - Todas As Ruas Do Amor
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AgNjqGFMQo
A terrible recording of an upbeat folk-pop song by a woman with cute red hairpieces. The melody has potential for memorability.

Romania
Elena - The Balkan Girls
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kizLKALHm4
Balkan Girls like to party in unfortunate outfits in this lightweight dance number. It's an advertisement for the Balkan party scene, and reminds me of various other songs which have recently been on the radio, but which aren't coming to mind offhand for me to list them.

Russia
Anastasia Prikhodko - Mamo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZbHXZtm9Ck
The host country entry. A fresh-faced woman sings with deeper wisdom and voice. Catchy song of the sort which sounds as if it has plot and more going on to it than meets surface appearance. It being in Russian, however, I don't actually know. Ends in lightning. I think it well deserves the top-10 place which the host country's entry inevitably earns.

Serbia
Marko Kon & Milaan - Cipela
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRObP8XE4Ko
Black, white, grey, accordian, tipping for service, money-grubbing ballet singer, lead singer with wig. Decent rhythm, but not really sure what to make of the overall result. It doesn't do much for me.

Slovakia
Kamil Mikulcik and Nela Pociskova - Let' Tmou
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3AzJzA2TT8
Operatic pop, lounging around on a white piano. Nice device of a digital picture frame containing the singers. Very earnest.

Slovenia
Quartissimo feat. Martina - Love Symphony
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afPh1slPAsc
Oooh. Operatic rock with shadow screens in gold picture frames and string players. The tune itself is uninteresting, but I really like the lush soundscape/soundtrack of the string and drum players. Better as movie background than Eurovision foreground.

Spain
Soraya - La Noche Es Para MÍ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhqyofl-fP0
Cliché dancing tune with driving beat. Lots of a jewel-covered naked woman anda woman clothed in white with men in black. Has enough distinctive character to the traditional underlying tune that it could do pretty well.

Sweden
Malena Ernman - La Voix
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WH2OwJeMBE
Sarah Brightman does dance. Opera singing star Ernman is impressively versatile in her ranges - refreshing in this contest. She also clearly has a sense of humor - she has an amused secret in her eyes. Song is an accessible ballad with ensemble support. It's really growing on me.

Switzerland
Lovebugs - The Highest Heights
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OE5Cww_Jx0
Alt-rock, laid back, long-haired, and informal. "Will you catch me when I fall?" I could see this becoming a radio staple, but less sure it's distinctive enough to do well at Eurovision.

Turkey
Hadise - Düm Tek Tek
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Nx6iVCaix0
Pop-dance with bellydancing, jeans, and women in skimpy white shirts. All about the hips and the sex appeal. Standard "we're in a perfect relationship" song.

Ukraine
Svetlana Loboda - Be My Valentine
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFqw8_T_mpE
Burlesque/circus setting with erotic use of food and ridiculous S&M setups (i.e. missed Valentine's arrows). Pop-dance silliness and high energy. Could only do well if the stage performance is as memorable as the video's visuals.

United Kingdom
Jade Ewen - It's My Time
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-RJc1i9q34
I watched the show which chose this song for Eurovision, and months later I could still sing is, so I know it's memorable. It's a powerful ballad with a positive message, backed by Andrew Lloyd Webber-power. I think it stands a decent top-10 chance which would, at least, be a refreshing break for the UK which so regularly places last. Note: She's dressed in white.

Edited to add: Humor rarely is a winning formula for Eurovision. "Copycat" is already out of competition. My other first semi votes ("La Voix", "Lose Control", "What if we") have gone through to the finals.

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