While 2016 finds me as physically distant from the Eurovision action as I’ve been since 2012 (when a Swedish woman of Moroccan-Berber descent won!), I am attempting to live the dream. Previously I reviewed entries from countries I’ve visited, in the order I visited. Here are the countries I have not visited, in rough order of how much I would like to visit them.
This song is getting a lot of buzz and I just don’t get it. NO ONE cares about Malta except as a vacation destination. Point getting requires a popular song + a coalition of other countries that are:
a) your friendly neighbors (the powerful Nordic voting block led to five of the last 10 winners hailing from Nordic countries)
b) terrified of you (hello Russia! Please don’t invade us!)
Is anyone concerned about an impending Maltese invasion?
Oh sweet Nordic country of my reindeer-infused dreams. You give us jungle gym, hot pants, fringe, and faclogoe-chained lady on horseback. I am not going to pretend to understand the narrative arc of the video. But I’ll dance with you!
Logo is airing Eurovision in the U.S. this year! But sadly for the lesbians, Poland will leave their 2014 butter-churners at home and instead gives us this dude who escaped from a 1980s hair band, joined the circus and stole the ringmaster’s outfit. Blech.
“Hey guys, guys…guys listen! What if we go for the sound of a low-rent Alice in Chains backed up by one of the dancers from Beyoncé’s ‘Single Ladies’ video?”
“That sounds awesome, but we’re the 8th poorest country in Europe so we’ll need to take it down a notch. Let’s go with low-rent Stone Temple Pilots backed up by some white lady who practices the ‘Single Ladies’ dance in her living room and almost has it.”
Sometimes converting your lyrics to English doesn’t actually do you any favors. The all-Albanian version was way better.
Sweet baby Jesus I hope that giant swing makes an appearance on the Eurovision stage.
Poli first came to Eurovision back in 2011 with Bulgarian lyrics, not-made-for-wind-machines hair, and very curious epaulets. She did not make the finals. Now she’s back with grown out hair (at least one half of it), singing (mostly) English lyrics.
I don’t think it’s more spectacular than the other pop-friendly songs but there’s just something about Poli. She’s so sassy with her half head of wind-machine ready hair. I want her to do well.
Kaliopi represented Macedonia (sorry Greece, I mean F.Y.R. Macedonia) brilliantly back in 2012 but only came in 13th. I blame the fact that they made her perform in a pantsuit.
While I feel her earlier entry is perhaps a purer example, this is some awesome Balkan bombast. She is singing us a lullaby. Wait, now she is angry. Why is she angry? Is it injustice? Probably. The world is unjust, especially in the Balkans. But I don’t know. Why don’t I know? Because she is singing in Macedonian! I don’t speak Macedonian! No one speaks it! Some people don’t even think it is a language!
The south Slavs are no Nordic voting block but the countries that spent the ’90s shelling, genociding and sniping the shit out of each other tend to stick together come Eurovision time. If there’s an F.Y.R to rally behind in 2016, it’s definitely F.Y.R. Macedonia.
Estonia has time-traveled to a 1950s New England country club and plucked the WASPyest boy they could find to represent them. With all that technology, you’d think they could also give him some kind of singing voice.
I try not to giggle at mispronounced English, but when it comes to V/W issues, all my battles are in wain. Not that King’s English pronunciation would do a thing for this crap song.
Unquestionably our strongest Baltic entry. Hardly high praise but young Donny at least puts in some effort, although I think he just let one of his buddies handle his choreography. He looks about 17 and yet he performed at Eurovision in 2012, blindfolded! And he did well. I say this is our only Baltic State in the finals.
Could Sweden win back-to-back? Maybe. Sweden’s fresh-faced youths always poll well with me (3rd place Eric Saade, you were robbed!).
Although on first listen I was very confused about if the singer was, indeed, sorry or extremely not sorry. Fortunately for those of us who don’t do well with ambiguity, he clarifies at the end that is definitely not sorry. Dick.
Belgium, like France, has had a rough year. I thoroughly enjoyed last year’s militaristic Little Drummer Boy entry. I thought that might have been the actual Belgian army performing with him as I imagine it as pretty small and with little to do. Things may well be different this year as to the busy-ness of the Belgian security forces.
2016 gives us a bouncy little dance number and the singer looks very fetching in her sparkly outfits. Still, a lot of the votes it gets will be less about the song itself or the powerful (note: sarcasm) Low Country voting block, and more about sympathy for recent terrorist attacks.
I’ve whiled away a lot of hours eating stroopwafels in the Amsterdam airport but since I’ve never been outside that airport, The Netherlands remains a country I haven’t visited.
The Dutch hit such a low point with their 2012 cultural appropriation sing-along that everything since then looks good in comparison. In 2014 they even finished second with a song that could’ve taken first place in any other year but 2014 was the year Conchita Wurst cleaned everyone’s clock.
Enough about the past. Let’s talk about the future. The future winner of Eurovision winner is not this song.
Oh, sorry. Wrong video. The actual entry lacks the subtlety of the “Bye
Felicia Vladmir” live streaming event shown above, which showed world Ukraine toppling their largest Lenin monument.
Jamala’s “1944” features English language lyrics about people coming to your house, killing you all, humanity crying, and everyone dying. Immediately following is a chorus sung in the Crimean Tatar language. So you tell me, is Ukraine hinting anything to anyone about any recent events in the Crimea or am I just reading too much into things?
The country that gave us Strictly Ballroom and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert seems such a natural fit for the Eurovision extravaganza that they were given special dispensation to perform last year despite not being part of the European Broadcasting Union.
What did they do with their special dispensation? Send us a bad song + singer in terrible chapeau. Haven’t we come to a place where all civilized societies agree that the fedora is officially the mark of the douche? I guess the memo did not make it to the land down under.
Fortunately the EBU believes in second chances (no, not for you Romania!) And this year is a whole different story. I say top five for sure. OMG, if she wins, will Eurovision be held in Australia next year? I don’t know if some of the smaller eastern European countries can afford the plane ticket.
What cosmic lottery did I win that allows me to live in this time and place?
Bummer for Ivan, live animals simply aren’t allowed on the Eurovision stage. And if Laka had to leave his chicken home in Bosnia in 2008, Ivan cannot bring an entire wolf pack.
Bummer for my dignity, I really like this song.
As we head towards the bottom of my list of countries I am interested in visiting. we find a cluster of spots known for experiencing internal unrest. Minnesotan at heart, I am uncomfortable with conflict.
I think people think of Minnesota the way I think of this song. It’s not terrible. I just don’t think anything about it is interesting
Wolves again. On an island in the Mediterranean no less. Sorry boys–we’ve already this ground with Belarus. We’ve also covered Alice in Chains wannabes with our friends in Montenegro. Finally, who are you fooling with your road-trip themed video? I google-mapped Cyprus and in the time it would take me to drive from Seattle to Portland you’d have driven yourself off the edge of your island and, if you had one of those amphibious buses, be well on your way to Turkey.
But did you know Cyprus drove on the left side of the road? I’ve learned something today!
Jay Leno’s jawline+Prince’s Purple Rain hairdo=Hovi Star. Not a big fan.
I am going to close my eyes and go back in time to a day when Prince was still alive and Israel was represented by Dana International. Those were better days.
Hovi Star’s major contribution to the contest is to remind us about the other reason we don’t like Russia.
Russia’s 2015 entry was pure Eurovision gold. On its own merits I believe, I believe in the dream that is “A Million Voices.” But the homophobia. And the Crimea. Despite anti-booing technology, Eurovision audiences have been vocal in their distaste.
This year’s Russian entry has merits. I don’t love the song as much as last year’s but it’s definitely good. I’d almost be willing to bet the European community was willing to forgive and forget, especially if the fire breathers from the video make a live appearance on stage. Except…see above re: Russian airports and gay Eurovision performers. Fire dancers aren’t always enough.
But wait…has Sergey outsmarted the fickle Eurovision audience with a massive sympathy ploy? The plot thickens.
Barely bigger than the Vatican, San Marino has a limited talent pool from which to fish. This may explain why they’ve sent Sammarinese (yes! that is a word!) singer Valentina Monetta three out of the six times they have participated. Maybe she’s busy this year? Instead they’ve recruited a creepy man in a fedora to “sing-talk” their entry, I Didn’t Know [San Marino Was A Thing But I Wanted To Be In Eurovision And They Are Letting Me So Who Cares?]
The live version I saw was aggressively mediocre, with halfhearted “love waving” subbing for any actual choreography. On the plus side the singer is pretty. She looks not unlike a distant Kardashian cousin, which she may be as the Kardashians are ethnically Armenian as well the sole reason 99% of Americans who know that Armenia exists, know Armenia exists. She also knows her way around a wind machine and, if the video clip from dress rehearsals is to be believed, she will perform be-caped!
Well then, the dream of the ’90s alt-rock scene is still alive in Tiblisi. And Montenegro and Cyprus. We’ll just see how that strategy plays out for you Georgia.
Last on my list because this is the totality of my Azerbaijani knowledge: debuted in 2008 with an awesome entry, won in 2011 with a shitty entry. How shitty? They set the record for the lowest average score for a winning song. Winning Eurovision was just step one in what seems to be a multi-year strategy to remind the world that Azerbaijan exists. Mixed results.
A strong entry–nice lady pop ballad, good wind machine hair. Hope she takes a cue from Armenia and wears a cape. Still have no interest in a visit.
Summary: Australia and Russia are the strongest contenders here, although I hold fast to my love for F.Y.R. Macedonia. I’m still calling France my overall favorite. I think I need to sit with that for awhile and think about who I’ve become.