That’s a wrap! A review of the Eurovision 2013 Grand Final

Emmelie de Forest and the rest of the Danish team celebrate their sweet Eurovision victory with the song “Only Teardrops” (image via scmp.com)

 

I seem to have lost something.

I had it for years, it served me well, and unerringly came to my aid when I need it the most, usually in May every year.

What is this mysterious something? (And no, it is not Andrius Pojavis from Lithuania thanks for asking.)

Why, my ability to reasonably accurately predict the final Eurovision top 10 which in past years has seen me correctly pick 80-90% of the final top 10.

I am not sure whether it was the sameness of many of the songs, the tight leather pants of Ireland’s dancers which distracted me greatly, or some stray glitter in my eyes, but apart from placing some of the eventual top 10 randomly in my rankings, I appeared to be greatly out of step with the European zeitgeist.

(I suspect it has something to do with ignoring my gut instinct, which would have placed two songs I love, “Kedvesem” by ByeAlex from Hungary and “Birds” by Anouk from The Netherlands firmly in the top 10; instead I tried to second guess Europe and failed.)

Not that it will distress me greatly fortunately since I sensibly don’t base my self-esteem on how I psychically predict Eurovision voting patterns, but it underlined once again just how unpredictable this year’s results were.

 

 

While Emmelie de Forest was long favoured to take out the event, along with Norway and Greece if you believed this prediction, or with Azerbaijan and Romania (!) if this poll was to be believed, and Norway and Ukraine were always expected to place well (very well in my opinion – see below – which sadly proved to be unfounded), other songs confounded pundits like me.

For a start I clearly completely underestimated the appeal of Greece’s entry, Koza Mostra.

Yes “Alcohol is Free” had an infectiously catchy ska sound going for it, the presence of a revered national musical treasure in Agathon Lakovidis, and an irrepressible cheeky energy that saw it overcome the deficiencies in what was, by any estimation, a less than stellar song.

But it was also firmly in the novelty song camp, not quite “Who Let The Dogs Out” terrible to be fair, but veering dangerously close it, with a limited lifespan surely.

Unlike say the Ukraine’s entry “Gravity”, which has charted on iTunes across Europe, reaching #8 in Sweden for instance or Norway’s Margaret Berger whose catchy electropop number, “I Feed You My Love” which reached #2 in Greece and Sweden, and #3 in Finland (source: wiwibloggs.com), Koza Mostra have only managed to chart significantly in Greece itself.

Admittedly that is probably largely due to it being sung mostly in Greek but even so, it underlines that it’s appeal and shelf life are limited, which frankly begs the question – why did so many people vote for it right across Europe?

 

They were possessed of seemingly unstoppable energy, kilts and smiles as big as the Parthenon and they garnered enough votes to finish in 6th place overall – why, Europe, why?! (image via greece.greekreporter.com)

 

Another song that left me perplexed, confounded, befuddled and everything in between was “”It’s My Life” by Cezar from Romania.

He is, by all accounts a singer of great talent, a contratenor who won Romania’s version of The Voice, and a graduate of the Giuseppe Verdi Music Academy in Milan, and came to the contest with a song written by popular Romanian composer and writer Cristian Faur.

And yet with all that talent in hand, he chose to dress in a glittery Dracula-esque outfit, sing a falsetto so grating that dogs and cats were paddling across from Malmö to Copenhagen to escape the wailing.

Clearly he struck a chord with voters across Europe – perhaps the ones who, like my partner, celebrate the more kitsch acts of Eurovision with gusto and thankfulness that the contest still throws up these almost comical oddities – placing at #13 out of 26 but I am at a loss to explain why beyond his obvious novelty value?

Surely it wasn’t the quality, or lack thereof, of the performance?

Are they are all True Blood fans?

 

I have to award points to Cezar for living the kitsch cliche of Eurovision to the full but for the song itself? Nul points on all fronts (image via queerty.com (c) eurovision.tv)

 

By and large though the Grand Final played out much as expected.

Strong contenders like Norway – such a dynamic performance by Margaret Berger on the Grand Final night after a slightly shaky start during Semi-Final 2 – and Ukraine placed high on the rankings, although I still expected Norway to be slightly higher than it was, while Italy and Azerbaijan charmed the crowds with their gorgeously sung, if conventional, ballads.

 

The song may have been a tad conventional, and Marco may have demonstrated the limber elasticity of a store window mannequin on stage – read he barely moved – but his voice soared with the angels that no doubt got him and Italy into the top 10 (image via Facebook.com)

 

As I mentioned earlier in the post, I regret not going with my instinct and giving Hungary and The Netherlands a place in my top 10.

I am not sure why I erred except to say that I think I was trying a little too hard to second guess the voters of Europe who I thought would like the songs but not as much as they did.

I loved both songs the moment I heard them – Anouk gave “Birds” an engaging otherworldly flavour while “Kedvesem” bounced along with a quiet, percolating joy and ByeAlex’s suitably soft and raspy voice – and should have made the decision on that basis alone.

After all, for the all the jokes about Eurovision not being about the music, and songs like “It’s My Life” popping into the top 15 (when really it should have swapped places with Ireland’s Ryan Dolan and his song “Love Survives” which didn’t deserve to finish in last place), good quality songs usually don’t make into the top rankings since neither the general voting public, nor the juries of music professionals – each score is made up of a 50/50 split of each group’s votes – are willing to give the tick of approval to sub-standard music.

No matter what the Eurovision conspiracy pundits may say.

 

Hungary’s ByeAlex, who totally rocked the hipster outfit, delivered “Kedesem” with all the happy grace and charm the song deserved, and the voters of Europe rewarded him with a much-deserved top 10 finish (image via smh.com.au (c) eurovision.tv)

 

France’s low finish was a surprise since Amandine Bourgeois – BEST. NAME. EVER. – gave a smokin’ performance of her Amy Winehouse-esque song “L’Enfer et Moi”, giving her heart and soul, and a fair swag of her melting mascara, to delivering one of the emotionally-intense performances of the night.

Another song that I expected to do far better “Marry Me” by Krista Siegfrieds of Norway.

I doubt it was the controversial (only if you’re a right wing tabloid I would wager) kiss at the end of the song where she locked lips with one of her female back up singers, since much of Eurovision’s core demographic these days is the gay community and their friends and family.

Perhaps the song simply couldn’t compete with the heart rending ballads, or no one wanted to marry Krista, which is hard to believe since she came across as absolutely delightful in the interview she did with Australia’s SBS television network, but whatever the reason, she deserved a far higher placing for a brilliantly catchy song performed with all the energy you could ask of any performer.

In the end of course, predicting who will and won’t win Eurovision, and who will place where is as problematic as any other contest with a host of variables – in this case mostly highly attractive, reasonably talented variables with a penchant for tight dresses, leather-clad back up dancers and pyrotechnic curtains of fire and light – and Eurovision 2013 didn’t disappoint in that regard, confounding and surprising pretty much as it always does.

 

All the contestants paraded into Malmö Arena across a brightly lit walkway far above the crowd to the tunes of a new Benny and Björn and Avicii written instrumental that was as epic and grand and beautiful as you could want for a fanfare (image via eurovision.tv)

 

Final results for Eurovision 2013

Denmark: Emmelie de Forest, Only Teardrops – 281 points
Azerbaijan: Farid Mammadov, Hold Me – 234 points
Ukraine: Zlata Ognevich, Gravity – 214 points
Norway: Margaret Berger, I Feed You My Love – 191 points
Russia: Dina Garipova, What If – 174 points
Greece: Koza Mostra feat. Agathon Iakovidis, Alcohol Is Free – 152 points
Italy: Marco Mengoni, L’Essenziale – 126 points
Malta: Gianluca, Tomorrow – 120 points
Netherlands: Anouk, Birds – 114 points
Hungary: ByeAlex, Kedvesem – 84 points
Moldova: Aliona Moon, O mie – 71 points
Belgium: Roberto Bellarosa, Love Kills – 71 points
Romania: Cezar, It’s My Life – 65 points
Sweden: Robin Stjernberg, You – 62 points
Georgia: Nodi Tatishvili and Sophie Gelovani, Waterfall – 50 points
Belarus: Alyona Lanskaya, Solayoh – 48 points
Iceland: Eythor Ingi, Eg a lif – 47 points
Armenia: Dorians, Lonely Planet – 41 points
UK: Bonnie Tyler, Believe In Me – 23 points
Estonia: Birgit, Et uus saaks alguse – 19 points
Germany: Cascada, Glorious – 18 points
Lithuania: Andrius Pojavis, Something – 17 points
France: Amandine Bourgeois, L’enfer et moi – 14 points
Finland: Krista Siegfrids, Marry Me – 13 points
Spain: ESDM, Contigo hasta el final – 8 points
Ireland: Ryan Dolan, Only Love Survives – 5 points
(source: mirror.co.uk)

And the top 10 I picked (with Norway as the winner, and the other 9 in no particular order):

Norway        Just fourth place? Really? She was willing to feed you her love! HER LOVE DAMMIT.
Denmark    Granted I didn’t love this song but Emmelie de Forest sang it with passion and deserved a win
Georgia        Not the best ballad true but better than Azerbaijan’s effort I thought
Italy               He sang like an angel and looked gorgeous in the suit but he was so still. SO VERY STILL.
Greece          Sixth place Europe? Did you let all the free Ouzo go to your head just a little?
Iceland         Such a touching uplifting song and what a hunk of a man. Vikings? Yes please!
Estonia        She elevated an ordinary song with a extraordinary performance.
Belgium      I didn’t expect to like this song or Roberto as much as I did. A big surprise.
Ukraine      Such a powerful in-your-face song awesomely performed by a born entertainer
Ireland        Another song that grew on me. It deserved better than last place.

* So which songs would have made your top ten?

 

 

THE AFTERMATH

Every year, in the days following The Eurovision Song Contest, all the brotherhood and bonhomie breaks just a little, or a lot in some cases, and the accusations fly. Here’s a few articles you may find make interesting reading:

* Think it’s JUST a song contest? Think again says Russia.

* Was it our bad song perhaps? No, we lost because of the gays allege F.Y.R. Macedonia’s entrants (one of whom clearly think he’s god’s gift to, well, just about everyone.

* And as with every year, some entrants say they were robbed of valuable points by fraudulent voting practices, something the European Broadcasting Union has strenuously denied.

 

 

But not everyone is cranky. Robyn Stjernberg from Sweden, though placing 14th behind Romania, was ecstatic about his performance!

And Crikey.com.au had this fascinating look at the language of Eurovision.

** so onward and upward to 2014 and Denmark. See you in red and white then!

3 thoughts on “That’s a wrap! A review of the Eurovision 2013 Grand Final

  1. Those Danish drummer boys were HOT. I think the drumming and whistle were catchy and while my housemate loves the song (and plans to buy it) I thought it was too bland to win. I also think there was WAY too much pastel this year. What happened to outrageous clothing? Costuming is half the reason to watch Eurovision!

    I have to say, I really loved all the hot drummers this year. Ireland’s drummer boys were even hotter than the Danes (skin tight leather and tats! Hoo boy!) – although their song would have been better if it was just drumming. His song was pretty boring and I don’t think the singing matched the music – maybe they just needed to put his voice a little louder over everything so it stood out more? The song was meh but he got bonus points for the hot drummers.

    Romania was amazing and hot and glittery. His falsetto was just… wow! I probably wouldn’t have liked this song if it had been sung by a woman, because it was too Celine Dionish (my 13 year old self would have wept for joy!). The impressiveness of his singing falsetto for most of the song really set it out from the crowd for me. I also wanted to steal his jacket. And him. And his male dancers.

    Greece just did everything perfectly! And the band members were all hot. Like, beyond hot! And their music was fabulous! I’m looking them up online to check out their other stuff. I put their lyrics up on my page. It is even funnier when you know what they are saying! I think having the catchphrase in English was a great idea because it gave the non-Hellanics something to grab onto. They kind of remind me of a Greek Dropkick Murphys (a Boston punk group which has a lot of Irish nationalistic influence). I know you said that you weren’t impressed with Greece, but I think you are making your impressions about it based on the pop industry which is pretty fickle. I think it has potential to stick around in the rock and folk scene for years – and if the enthusiasm of my Greek friends is anything to go by, it will. The old guy in that performance is like Greek folk music royalty, so even for that I think the song would stick around. I had a friend gushing because he met him when he was a kid. People like that will buy just for that factor. And it will definitely get Youtube hits. I played it 10 times last night, and added it to play lists so I can find again.

    We had a mini Eurovision last night so I could catch up. We skimmed the songs I thought were boring. Overall, I just didn’t find the music to be very interesting this year. Most songs were too much alike.

    1. I think your approach to this year’s musically lacklustre Eurovision was quite sensible. Skip the boring ones and just listen to the few really good ones 🙂

      I take your points on both Greece and Romania but alas still cannot like the songs. I understand both fit perfectly into the Eurovision aesthetic and vibe and as such I should be revering them. While I can almost handle Greece – I did acknowledge the positives in my post – it wasn’t about how they fit into the overall pop industry. My musical tastes range widely and I don’t mind ska or folk and after all my research understand how big a deal Agathon is. Still all that considered, and your beautifully articulated position taken into consideration, I still think it is too much of a novelty song to be anything more than a novelty song. My housemate’s Greek boyfriend doesn’t even really like it although many Greeks must if it got to #3 in the Greek charts 🙂

      Douze points to Romania for theatricality absolutely. He nailed that! The falsetto though was cringe-worthy. I listened to a number of times telling myself where he was educated, how revered he was etc but sorry it just grates on me and pretty everyone I know. Clearly though not Europe 🙂 LOL

      Thanks so much for commenting and your fabulous insights! You should guest post for me next year 🙂

  2. Yes, another Eurovision has been and gone … sigh! But don’t fret, the Danes have already appointed a Head of Show and Executive Producer for Eurovision 2014 … we’re on our way.

    So a short post mortem of Grand Final Ooooorovision 2013.

    A lot of the ballads bored me; odd songs were the exceptions, not so many of them this year; was impressed with a number of the live performances – a few ballads actually came ‘alive’ for me for hearing them live; Malta would get my atrocious award (how it got 8th I will never know); Lithuania would get my ‘song writing 101’ and ‘audience engagement … not’ awards; Armenia would get my travesty award; Hungary would get my snooze award (sorry, know you love it); France and Ireland would share my ‘Robbed’ awards – felt they deserved to be placed much higher – good grief, they were both beaten out by Bonnie Tyler????

    I’ve learnt that my ‘the song makes me laugh’ barometer is a good one; Greece fell into this category and it did well. For having listened to the song again, I’ve got more appreciation for it and can half understand why people voted for it.

    Romania was a cack and deserved every point it got.

    Norway was my pick for 1st so am disappointed it didn’t win. 4th is not so bad but to be beaten out by Azerbaijan (can we get real here) is ridiculous. Besides political/neighbourly voting along with possible points for the gimmicky staging, I have no idea how Azerbaijan came 2nd; I felt it was more middle of the pack. At least Denmark was a half decent song (appears including pan pipes and drums in songs scores points) and Ukraine was strong.

    Could comment on the rest of the songs but want to keep this short. Ooooooorovision was still heaps of fun and gave those typical Oooooorovision acts/moments, eg Romania, Moldova (truly wind swept hair and her dress lighting up with stars, fire, lightning and ice cracks along with elevating was exceptional), Malta (for being super lame). We eagerly look forward to Ooooorovision 2014 in Denmark … Havarti cheese, herring, liver paste, smorrebrod, salmon and Danish pastries (to name a few yummies).

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