Category Archives: moscow
Tonight is the Finals of the 54th Eurovision Song Contest, live from Moscow’s Olympiyski Indoor Arena and hosted by Alsou and Ivan Urgant. In London, it will also be the first year without favorite host Terry Wogan, newly replaced by Graham Norton – who the Eurovision website inexplicably calls Norton Graham. Just part of the Eurovision wackiness, I suppose.
In this Final, the twenty entries from the two Semi-Finals are joined by the four original Eurovision nations: United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Germany as well as last year’s winner and this year’s host country, Russia who all automatically qualify for the contest. Some of the entries will remain the same as what was seen in the Semi-Finals, and some will pull out the stops and the surprises for this final appearance. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Another surrealist fairytale opens the Finals, of the sort that only occurs at Eurovision, and then spins into a bit of amateur Cirque Du Soleil – that actually turns out to be the real thing. I like the music and the participants are frantic and non-stop, and there seems to be too much going on. Last year’s winner, Dima Bilan, appears from the sky on a wire, and with lots of special effects (and one of two glitches) and reenacts his barefoot stage rolling performance that won last year.
None of it makes sense, but that’s okay, this is Eurovision.
The participants, in order of appearance on the stage:
01 Lithuania – Sasha Son’s “Love”
This is just the first of what I assume will be many sharper and more refined performances that simply repeat what was done in the Semi-Finals. Nice start.
02 Israel – Noa & Mira Awad’s “There Must Be Another Way”
The music is a bit more upbeat and the singers a bit more charismatic. The Finals are A game time. Lots of support for Israel in the audience.
03 France – Patricia Kaas’ “Et S’il Fallait Le Faire”
Very simple and understated, and to the point, reminiscent of the old cabarets. One has to wonder how much France really wants to win when they make such a big deal about having the song in their native language. It’s almost like saying, “We don’t care about your silly contest as long as our culture remains intact.” Hope the voters in the rest of Europe feel the same way, as no country can vote for their own entry. A shame as the song is quite pretty and might stand a decent chance if everyone could understand it.
04 Sweden – Malena Ernman’s “La Voix”
Still not thrilled with the song, but Malena seems both more confident and happy to be on the stage.
05 Croatia – Igor Cukrov featuring Andrea’s “Lijepa Tena”
Does Igor know something we don’t know? He’s not trying as hard as he was the other night, as a matter of fact I think that night’s performance was better than tonight’s.
06 Portugal – Flor-de-lis’ “Todas As Ruas Do Amor”
Like many others, a more practiced and competent repeat of the Semi-Final. The backgrounds still look like a 1970s “Brady Kids” cartoon threw up. Quiet and colorful, upbeat and traditional, Portugal is a serious contender.
07 Iceland – Yohanna’s “Is It True?”
Not as boring as the first time. Strong ballad, but I still can’t place who she sounds like. I like the subdued blues in the stage, lights and costumes. At least it didn’t put me to sleep this time.
08 Greece – Sakis Rouvas’ “This Is Our Night”
Sakis is more in step with his back-up dancers tonight, and seems obsessed with showing the world his toned tummy. An outstanding performance, yet, he doesn’t look as happy or confident as he did in the Semi-Final.
09 Armenia – Inga & Anush’s “Jan Jan”
Theatrics abound in this entry that surprisingly impressed last time. A prime example of how visuals can propel a so-so song to the top. I like this one the more I hear it. Pavlov in the MTV age.
10 Russia – Anastasia Prikhodko’s “Mama”
Highlighted by gigantic Big Brother-esque TV screens that don’t highlight her looks, my first thought is would this entry have gotten to the Finals had Russia not won last year? The aging effects on the screen are interesting but not attractive. The Russian audience loves it, but I don’t.
11 Azerbaijan – AySel & Arash’s “Always”
For me this one seems to be the opposite of Armenia. The more I hear the less I like it. The two singers’ overtheatrical expressions don’t help the situation either.
12 Bosnia & Herzegovina – Regina’s “Bistra Voda”
Zzzzzz… I don’t know. I know folks who think this could win, but it does nothing for me. But what do I know, I still don’t believe barefoot boy won last year. And I hope they can get the bleach out of those costumes before they return them to My Chemical Romance.
13 Moldova – Nelly Ciobanu’s “Hora Din Moldova”
The performance seems weaker and shakier than the other night, and the stage much bigger. It picks up later but still… What happened?
14 Malta – Chiara’s “What If We”
Did Chiara catch something from Nelly Ciobanu? Is her mike broken? Nowhere near the power or talent Chiara has had in the past on the Eurovision stage.
15 Estonia – Urban Symphony’s “Rändajad”
This is growing on me. There are others I want to win more, but I’m still pulling for Estonia. Watching it I have to wonder if some flash and color could push this one over the top to the winner’s circle?
16 Denmark – Brinck’s “Believe Again”
Lionel should have done “Brick House” instead. Although, jokes aside, he sounds more like an American country singer tonight. Weird.
17 Germany – Alex Swings Oscar Sings!’s “Miss Kiss Kiss Bang”
This one was one of my favorites early on. After seeing the stage performance I’m not so sure. A sexy guy and girl (even if it is Dita Von Teese, and only for a few seconds) just isn’t enough. I still think it might be just quirky, retro and catchy enough to capture all of Europe’s imagination. But not enough to win.
18 Turkey – Hadise’s “Düm Tek Tek”
The audience cheering before and as the music begins says a lot. An early and steadfast favorite, this is still a strong contender, and has an excellent chance of winning.
19 Albania – Kejsi Tola’s “Carry Me In Your Dreams”
Vote no on Disco Gumby.
20 Norway – Alexander Rybak’s “Fairytale”
Like Turkey, the audience roared before and as the music started for this one. Catchy tune and cute guy are sometimes all you need. Still love the dancers. Another strong contender.
The male host of the show just better stop shouting at me. This is TV and internet, he doesn’t have to yell loud enough for me to hear. The nation hats in the inserts and intros border on the interesting to the boring. Good concept though.
21 Ukraine – Svetlana Loboda’s “Be My Valentine! (Anti-Crisis Girl)”
I love this entry, and although I doubt it will win, I’m still pulling for Svetlana. I suspect there might be too much going on on the stage, but based on the pre-show, it would appear folks in the Russian states like that sort of thing. Oh well.
22 Romania – Elena’s “The Balkan Girls”
The dancers certainly don’t appear to have practiced much since the other night. Very tame and I’m not sure about the pseudo-fairy costumes. Elena should have borrowed some of Svetlana’s stage dressing. In this case, the audio version of the song is much better.
23 United Kingdom – Jade Ewen’s “It’s My Time”
Also much cheering before this entry. The UK would like very badly to win another Eurovision. There was talk a couple years back of Morrissey entering in the nation’s name but that fell through. This year, at least one big gun has been pulled out in this entry written by Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber himself. Sadly, it’s not one of his better efforts. And Jade doesn’t help that much either.
24 Finland – Waldo’s People’s “Lose Control”
This is a much stronger performance than the other night’s, so much so it’s surprising. High energy and enthusiasm. Could this be another win for Finland?
25 Spain – Soraya’s “La Noche Es Para Mí (The Night Is For Me)”
Spain opens with a bang and much theatrics, beautiful people and of course Soraya’s incredible outfit. She might win alone for that dress from her admirers throughout Europe. The song however is just standard dance music, but that dress… And they also take a cue from Belarus a few years back and add some stage magic, always fun. Great showstopper, but not a winner I don’t think.
The Second Semi-Finals of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest began with a weird sort of hip hop Mummers thing without the feathers, past hits of the Contest on accordion and banjo, if you can believe it, or at least that’s what it felt like to me. And the polar bears were scary.
The same hosts, Natalya Vodyanova and Andrey Malakhov, were back, annoying as ever. Where’s Terry Wogan when you need him? And the same corny inserts and intros as Tuesday as well, I guess they come with the hosts. Either way, we’re off to find who are ten (nine plus a wildcard) finalists are for this round.
01 Croatia – Igor Cukrov featuring Andrea’s “Lijepa Tena”
Igor is sexy, but someone ought to tell him there’s such a thing as trying too hard. The charm is on overload, and the wind machine wasn’t helping. The wind made the women look like they were witches cavorting on a “Dark Shadows” cliff top. It’s a beautiful song, as is his companion Andrea, but I have to wonder why she didn’t sing the whole song. I liked her voice more.
02 Ireland – Sinéad Mulvey & Black Daisy’s “Et Cetera”
I like this one, always have. Very frenetic, very 1980s, very rockergirl – but it just might be too mainstream for Eurovision. I hope not. As much as I want it to go through, it probably won’t.
03 Latvia – Intars Busulis’ “Probka”
This guy looks scared. Maybe that’s his natural expression? Or an affectation like Fred Schneider or Danny Elfman? The vocals are stronger than the original recording, and their energy is apparent. Strong finish, I just wish I knew what he was so scared of.
04 Serbia – Marko Kon & Milaan’s “Cipela”
The ‘shoe’ song, or at least what it’s translated as. Wow, that’s some ‘fro, dude. But on second look, it appears that everyone on stage spent the afternoon with a demented hairstylist. Nice computer image effects, I gotta admit it’s different. It’s catchy, and could very well make it through.
05 Poland – Lidia Kopania’s “I Don’t Wanna Leave”
Not my cup of tea, but this is the kind of song that always gets through, and sometimes wins. I’ll be honest though, I would rather have taken a nap. She’s no Celine Dion – you can take that any way you want to.
The crowd certainly seems more energetic tonight. Maybe the soldiers with guns aren’t marching through the audience as often as they did on Tuesday. And the flag and banner wavers don’t seem to be restricted to only one section either. Or maybe someone explained to the audience that this was Eurovision…
06 Norway – Alexander Rybak’s “Fairytale”
This was an early favorite, and this performance did not disappoint. Alexander’s got talent and charisma, and his dancers were a hoot. Final-bound.
07 Cyprus – Christina Metaxas’ “Firefly”
Unlike Ireland or Norway, this was not one of my favorites before this, but I have to say that the unique presentation kept my attention, or at least more than Poland. It’s amazing what giant glowing icecubes can do. But then again, on a Eurovision bizarreness scale, giant glowing icecubes are amateur hour.
08 Slovakia – Kamil Mikulčík & Nela Pocisková’s “Leť Tmou”
Zzzzzzz…. Sorry, dozed off. Just watch, now this one will win.
09 Denmark – Brinck’s “Believe Again”
This Lionel Ritchie soundalike was an early frontrunner, and while he’s almost as good looking as Ritchie (again, take that any way you want to), the stage presentation of this song is much better than the audio version suggests. Better than expected, good chance to get through.
10 Slovenia – Quartissimo featuring Martina’s “Love Symphony”
I’ve always liked this entry but wondered how audiences would react to a mostly instrumental performance. I guess I had nothing to worry about. Except that they would hide the woman behind the only vocals in the song – she’s behind that curtain much too long. It’s not like she’s Martha Washington or anything, let us see her! I think this will hurt their chances.
11 Hungary – Zoli Ádok’s “Dance With Me”
Another frontrunner that conjures the ghosts of disco. I thought it interesting that he started the song lying on the floor, a stunt that helped Russia win last year. Perhaps he should have also taken off his shoes. Despite all that, Zoli is very hot and moves with confidence and sex that should have girls, and boys, all over Europe voting for Hungary.
12 Azerbaijan – AySel & Arash’s “Always”
This one is another entry that is a favorite of friends that does nothing for me. The stage show is better than the song despite the weird torn costumes of the back-up dancers. The charisma of the singers more than made up for what I think is a weak entry.
13 Greece – Sakis Rouvas’ “This Is Our Night”
Greece is always a strong competitor in Eurovision, and 2009 is no exception. The song is great dynamic dance music, but I have to wonder if Sakis attended the same dance rehearsals as his back-up dancers. He seems out of sync more often than not. Still a hot performance.
14 Lithuania – Sasha Son’s “Love”
Powerful song with a very simple performance. I would have rather had Sasha Son stay behind the piano, he’s not a dancer, not even a subtle one. I also thought the “Hope” sign and the flame in the hand was a bit much. It’s like he’s playing the Serbia card. Still this just might win.
15 Moldova – Nelly Ciobanu’s “Hora Din Moldova”
As much as this song and stage performance begs to be in a Dumpsta Players production, I don’t think it has the stuff to make it to the Finals, despite all the jumping around and the guy yelling with the big stick.
16 Albania – Kejsi Tola’s “Carry Me In Your Dreams”
Albania’s teen idol pop princess, her teenybopper back-up singers, mimes and … is that Disco Gumby? Wow. Did someone slip something into my drink?
Um, a toaster? Yeah, I’ve definitely been dosed…
17 Ukraine – Svetlana Loboda’s “Be My Valentine! (Anti-Crisis Girl)”
I love this song and Svetlana, so much that I bought the album (not an easy task for an American), and I guess there’s no hiding this is my pick to win it – whether that will actually happen is a whole ‘nother thing. A lot of money was certainly spent on the sets and costumes. She is certainly a stage visionary on the scale of Kate Bush or Madonna, but I don’t know how this will affect Eurovision audiences. And I don’t know about her playing drums or the half-naked gladiators, but I have my fingers crossed.
18 Estonia – Urban Symphony’s “Rändajad”
Beautiful woman and a beautiful song, and a sobering moment after Svetlana Loboda. I think this has a good chance.
19 The Netherlands – The Toppers’ “Shine”
Their wardrobe people are mad at them, aren’t they? Catchy uplifting song that in my opinion was stronger in the studio. If they were wilder than just the costumes they might have had a shot.
Wow, this is a hard one. Tough competition tonight. My picks to go through to the Finals: Estonia, Ukraine, Serbia, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Slovakia, Hungary, Greece and Lithuania. We’ll see, shortly.
The voting is over and the results are in. While waiting we got to see a mad Russian stage extravaganza featuring a military band and a bad lipsync performance from T.A.T.U. – well, I suppose it could have been worse.
Here are the results:
Turkey, Sweden, Israel, Portugal, Malta, Finland, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Romania, Armenia and Iceland.
I got a few right…
The first of two Semi-Finals for the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest took place tonight at Olimpiysky Arena in Moscow. Hosted by Natalya Vodyanova and Andrey Malakhov (very loud and annoying, and surprisingly sexistbut sooo Eurovision), this Semi-Final of eighteen competitors will decide what ten countries move forward to the Final on May 16th.
The program opened with planets, dragons and other magical and celestial objects hovering over the audience and the telling of an odd fairy tale. Kinda like Cirque de Soleil on acid, but pretty, exciting and sooo Eurovision.
01 Montenegro – Andrea Demirovic’s “Just Get Out of My Life”
Her male dancing companion tried very hard to conjure John Travolta’s ghost from “Saturday Night Fever,” perhaps too much. For me, he distracted from Andrea’s performance.
02 Czech Republic – Gipsy.cz’s “Aven Romale”
This was one of my faves. Very colorful and energetic, but a disco superhero costume? And a bad one at that, should have had more sparkles. This was a bit scary, even for me.
03 Belgium – Copycat’s “Copycat”
Peter Ouchene and company do a more than adequate Stray Cats imitation, giving this entry more of a boost than I thought it initially had. The bright lights of varying color were an interesting effect.
04 Belarus – Petr Elfimov’s “Eyes That Never Lie”
Pseudo 1980s metal accompanied by a woman in shimmering spandex and draped in a long and gigantic see-through scarf. Other than that, it’s just typical metal posturing and effects. Petr’s pretty boy blonde looks might push this over though.
05 Sweden – Malena Ernman’s “La Voix”
Her black clad backup singers and dancers strike an interesting contrast to Malena’s white gown. Little else than that and her heavenly voice separate this from any random Ultravox song from the 1980s.
Not sure what to think of host nation Russia’s introduction and interlude segments so far. Other than a few vocabulary lessons and some pretty girls, there are really not much to them. They look like cheap reality show opening sequences.
06 Armenia – Inga & Anush’s “Jan Jan”
Much more impressive visually on stage than just listening to the tune. Memorable with excellent choreography.
07 Andorra – Susanne Georgi’s “La Teva Decisió (Get A Life)”
Weird retro Bangles/ABBA vibe from Susanne and company with this performance, and I like it. The all-white outfits and limited choreography really seems to work for this song. Certainly more charisma here than previous acts.
08 Switzerland – The Lovebugs’ “The Highest Heights”
I got a new wave vibe, sorta Psychedelic Furs feel from these guys when I first heard them, but seeing them here onstage, they are solidly in the 21st century, but possibly too mainstream for Eurovision. I’m still rooting for them.
09 Turkey – Hadise’s “Düm Tek Tek”
The first I heard this year and still a favorite. Love the dancing and the red outfits, although the guy in brown throws it off. Energetic, sexy and talented. They are Final-bound.
10 Israel – Noa & Mira Awad’s “There Must Be Another Way”
Beautiful striking women, but the song is a snoozer.
11 Bulgaria – Krassimir Avramov’s “Illusion”
Very colorful, but the costumes look like throwaways from a 1970s Sinbad movie. The folks on stilts are a bit creepy, but keeping with the bizarreness of Eurovision. Fire is never a good effect when viewers’ first reaction is that the stage is on fire. And what was up with that one woman’s caveman hair?
12 Iceland – Yohanna’s “Is It True?”
Again, Yohanna is a very pretty woman, but zzzzzzzzzz…
13 F.Y.R. Macedonia – Next Time’s “Neshto Shto Ke Ostane”
Rockers Next Time tried very hard to be Bon Jovi, but that’s not really Eurovision’s style. Lest we forget Lordi’s win a few years back, that doesn’t count them out. I think they have a shot, although lying on the stage was probably a bad move. But then again, it worked last year.
I’m noticing that shots of the audience look rather sedate. Are people afraid to get really excited? This is Russia, after all… The backstage audience of dozens has more energy than the stadium audience of thousands.
14 Romania – Elena’s “The Balkan Girls”
I thought this tune was a frontrunner but the version of the song used is almost as tame as the Moscow audience. All beautiful women, a few of the dancers appeared to be out of step, and probably might have been more at home with the more aggressive version of the tune. Elena doesn’t seem phased by any of it however.
15 Finland – Waldo’s People’s “Lose Control”
These guys are fun, lots of energy (maybe they stole Romania’s energy?) and lots of fire. The fire juggling makes up for the bad Fred Durst impression. Final-bound.
16 Portugal – Flor-de-lis’ “Todas As Ruas Do Amor”
Quiet and colorful, and far more charismatic live than just hearing the song. This could have a serious chance after this performance.
17 Malta – Chiara’s “What If We”
Eurovision veteran Chiara always owns the stage when she’s on it, and this was no exception. Although I’m not sure this was her best performance. At least there was no dry ice screw-up like in the rehersals.
18 Bosnia & Herzegovina – Regina’s “Bistra Voda”
At first glance, this seems like a scrubbed clean version of a My Chemical Romance music video – sounding nothing like it however. What it does sound like is a few other songs, but apparently that’s been cleared up. No chance for this one in my opinion.
My ten choices to move on? Armenia, Belarus, Andorra, Switzerland, Finland, Turkey, Portugal, Malta, Romania and Bulgaria. The next Semi-Final will have a decidedly more difficult time with voting I think. We’ll see.
Albania – “Më Merr Në Endërr (Take Me Into Your Dreams)” by Kejsi Tola
Andorra – “La Teva Decisió (It’s Your Decision)” by Susane Georgi
Armenia – “No Par” by Inga and Anush Arshakyans
Belarus – “Eyes That Never Lie” by Petr Elfimov
Belgium – “Copycat” by Copycat (Peter Ouchene)
Bulgaria – “My Illusion” by Krassimir Avromov
Croatia – “Lipeja Tena” by Igor Cukrov and Andrea Susnjara
Cyprus – “Firefly” by Christine Metaxas
Israel – “There Must Be a Better Way” by Noa and Mira Awad
Latvia – “Probka” by Intars Busulis
Switzerland – “The Highest Heights” by The Lovebugs
And San Marino has opted out of the contest this year due to financial reasons. The Semi-Finals begin tomorrow!
The UK brings out its big gun for Eurovision as Andrew Lloyd Webber pens this year’s entry, “My Time” as sung by Jade Ewen.