May 8th, 2011

Fishy Circumstances

Eurovision 2011: The Contestants

It is that time of year again: Eurovision is next week. This year sees the annual song competition bouncing back from the recession-inspired noncompetitors. It is the largest number of entries yet that this contest has seen, including the long-absent Italy which paid enough to catapult itself directly back into the final contest. The semi-finals meanwhile are jam-packed, with 19 countries competing for spots in the final from each.

Looking over the list, a couple of past winners catch my eye: for the second year running, Germany is having Lena sing its entry - and she only won it for them last year! Dana International is back for Israel. As usual, the title range is astonishingly limited, with many of the titles looking like repeats from previous years, even when they are not.

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So. A collection of generally positive songs with a couple of ones with stalker-lyrics inamongst them, irritatingly. Last year's winner had a good influence on this year, I thought, with lots of small-scale song concepts. Lots of previous decades have influenced one or another songs or videos.

Favorite Song: Azerbaijan - Ell/Nikki, "Running Scared"
Favorite Video: Finland - Paradise Oskar, "Da Da Dam"
Best Anthem: Denmark - A Friend In London, "New Tomorrow"
Most memorable video: Germany - Lena, "Taken By A Stranger"
Best a capella: Belgium - Witloof Bay, "With Love Baby"
Best Production: United Kingdom - Blue, "I Can"
Happiest: Spain - Lucía Pérez, "Que Me Quiten Lo Bailao - They Can't Take The Fun Away From Me"
Best song in praise of Manhattan: Estonia - Getter Jaani, "Rockefeller Street"

I was really enthused about Jedward's entry for Ireland, "Lipstick", after that country's national finals, but the video managed to drain most of the energy out of it, so it is currently an also-ran for me, compared to these others. Two other songs I was tempted to put on my shortlist but, in the end, resisted: Iceland's "Coming Home" and Norway's "Haba Haba".

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As ever what really matters is what the stage presentations are like on the actual night of competition, and first impressions matter a lot more than those from the repeated listening I have had of some of these.