A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
There is always some matter to discuss or just a song I want to share
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Sunday, March 25, 2012

The political speech of the year

I am a much blessed eurovision blogger. I have a steady flow of readers and quite an acceptable level of page views per month. Most of my followers are really nice people who seem to appreciate what I write on some level and who, occasionally, leave comments.

I really like recieving comments and I publish almost all of them.

I never deleted comments because somebody disagrees with me, I just find it interesting to see other people's points of view.

Only two kinds of comments are sure to get deleted and never surface on the blog.

1) People with an unpleasant attitude towards the opinions of others, including mine. Feel free to disagree, but stay polite.

2) People who make rude comments about countries, nationalities, the names of certain countries... The list goes on. You people know who you are. And my blog is not the place for you to post your opinions.

I might stretch the number two rule every once in a while here. That is perfectly fine. You see, this blog belongs to me. As long as I stand behind what is written here, I can take certain liberties.

You want to discuss politics? Great! Do that on your own blog!

All of this because I had to delete some comments today, which I hate doing. (Keep the good ones coming, though.)

What if - Italy 1995

RAI was never particularly fond of the Eurovision Song Contest and the strain of having to organise the whole thing in 1991 (the term "organise" being used in a loosest possibly way, according to the people present in Rome) probably contributed to them dropping out after the 1993 contest in Millstreet.

Italy would make one more appearance in Dublin 1997 and then not come back until Düsseldorf fourteen years later.

Had they taken part in 1995, there is absolutely no evidence that they would have selected neither singer nor song out of the Sanremo festival, but still... Wouldn't this one have made a smashing Italian entry had it been shortened in some clever way?

An absolutely breathtaking song, if you ask me. Could we have been heading for Rome in 1996 had this taken part? And, bearing the 1991 contest in mind, how much fun would that have been?

Gloria Bonaveri - Le voci di dentro (Sanremo 1995)

A little short on updates...

Quite a lot has been going on in the world of Eurovision this week, but there has been no time to blog about it as I have been part of "De Eurovisa" - the Eurovision 2012 preview show on Yle.

A panel consisting of Johan Lindroos, Eva Frantz and me (plus one star guest per week) will review all the songs selected for Baku and the show starts on April 17 on the Yle Fem channel.

Quite a responsibility, given this is the only "real" preview show produced by Yle this year.

Next week will also be filled with preview-related work, so updates might be scarce for a few days to come as well. But have faith - in April I will start reviewing the competing songs also on this blog, very much like I did last year.

In short - there will be more to come for those with patience. I hope it will be worth the wait.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

San Marino 2012: the EBU says no

The EBU has issued a statement in which they come to the conclusion they had to come to: the 2012 Sammarinese entry is a clear violation of the rules and will not be eligible for the Eurovision Song Contest.

Of course.

If the EBU would ever want the rulebook to be considered a remotely relevant document, this was what had to be done. Satire or not, a registered trademark can not be the focal point of an entry like this.

In order to show its goodwill, San Marino now has until Friday to come up with a new entry if they wish to remain in the competition. Will they be able to find a new song in this short time? Will they use Ralph Siegel again? Who will pay for the production of the song and the new clip needed?

The mess is complete, but the television of San Marino can blame nobody but themselves. How could they think it was a good idea employing this shadow of a songwriter that Siegel has turned into? How could they not see the alarm lights flashing when he presented his ideas?

Valentina Monetta - Facebook Uh Oh Oh (San Marino 2012 rejected entry)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

San Marino 2012: surely against the rules

I wasn't exactly thrilled when I heard the rumours that Ralph Siegel had written the Sammarinese entry for Baku, as his recent attempts in various national finals have been, frankly, well below standard.

I thought I was prepared for the worst, but I could not never have imagined the kind of atrocity they had in store for us.

The song in itself is a bland, repetitive piece of nothingness that usually would not have qualified for a national semi final anywhere. It is performed with unbearably fake enthusiasm that would make the most plastic of performers seem sincere in comparison.

And then the lyrics. Full of embarrassing "sexual" innuendo, but basically some kind of advert for a new, exciting thing called... Facebook.

The whole thing is so foolish and soft-headed that I can't believe my eyes or my ears. It is allowed to be bad. It is allowed to be horrifically bad. But it is not allowed to go against the rule book.

No song is allowed to carry any political or commercial message, and this is nothing but a failed advert that probably not even Facebook would like to touch with a long stick.

My guess is that the EBU will not be pleased at all with this choice. And in the unlikely event that the EBU would give their green light, I think Siegel & co might hear from an armada of lawyers from the Facebook office.

What saddens me the most is that nobody involved - Sammarinese television, the chick that performs this cheesy number, nor Ralph Siegel himself - seems to have the tiniest drop of dignity anywhere in them.

How could anyone let this mockery of a song get as far as this?

Valentina Monetta - Facebook Uh Oh Oh (San Marino 2012)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Moldova 2012: the happiest fiddler in town

I saw only the end of the Moldovan final, so I have no idea about the masterpieces I might have missed, but the winner's reprise of the Moldovan song left me a bit puzzled at first.

Then, again, I realised that my doubts were connected to the poor quality of the actual transmission. The song is a sparkling, energetic little number that will look great with a better production in Baku.

Pasha Parfeny - Lautar (Moldova 2012)

Pasha Parfeny (or sometimes Parfeni, wonder which one is the right one?) is a fabulous presence and puts on a fun show together with his mad dancers. The horse-riding bit might go down in Eurovision history books.

But above all, it is a spanking good little song. Catchy, direct, folksy and graspable, with a high likeability factor.

Surely one of my personal favourites, this year.

Pasha Parfeny - Lautar (Moldova 2012 studio version)

San Marino 2012: Ralph to the rescue

Today San Marino revealed that local girl Valentina Monetta will fly their flag in Baku on their third attempt at reaching a Eurovision final. She has released a number of records, provided backing vocals for other singers and has lately turned to modern jazz as a way to express herself.

The girl seems sweet enough and can hopefully keep her act together on a big stage.

The big collective sigh of disappointment was, however, released at the mention of the selected songwriter. The Sammarinese entry will be written by none other than Ralph Siegel, who has provided more eurosongs than anyone else.

Ralph Siegel has signed many really good songs, and he should be recognised for that. Unfortunately, he has been unable to draw the line and realise when it is time to retire.

His last entry to date, for Montenegro in 2009, wasn't even an original song but a tired re-write of a lucklustre song he had submitted to the Maltese pre-selection that very same year (and where it was rejected - and very rightly so).

I hope, for the sake of the Sammarinese television and the money they will spend on their eurovision adventure, that dear Ralphie has made more of an effort this time.

The entry of San Marino will be officially presented on Friday. Maybe Ralph Siegel will surprise us all with an excellent song. But until, I am taking the liberty of frowning a bit upon this choice.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Italy 2012: a new song for Nina Zilli

Not long ago, RAI confirmed that Nina Zilli would perform her Sanremo entry in Baku and what we learn from all this is that Italian tv has a very relaxed approach to what the word "confirmation" means.

Today, it was announced that "Per sempre" goes out the window, getting replaced by "L'amore è femmina" instead.

Nina Zilli - L'amore è femmina (Italy 2012)

There are surely many reasons behind this. The obvious one could be that the new song is three minutes sharp and needs no changes in order to comply with the EBU rulebook. It is also the title track of Nina's new album and, perhaps, the record label thinks the "Per sempre" single gets enough attention from Sanremo alone, preferring to push another of Nina's songs instead.

It leaves me heartbroken, as "Per sempre" was, by quite some margin, my favourite song selected for Baku as yet.

The new one is not bad at all, and perhaps catchier on a first listening. Perhaps it is a better choice for a televoting audience. I still think the Italians are bound for some heavy scoring come May. I just like their entry a tiny bit less than before.

Nina Zilli - Per sempre (Italy 2012 rejected entry)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Serbia 2012: Željko rides again

After a second place performing his own song in 2004, as well as a third and sixth place as composer (from Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2006 and Serbia in 2008), Željko Joksimović again slips into his shining armour to defend the big Balkan ballad at Eurovision.

His vehicle is, again, a very classy number with a soft introduction that develops into a powerful finish, incorporating some exotic-flavoured ethnic instruments along the way.

To be honest, all of his songs to date needed a number of listenings before they clicked into place for me, and there is not doubt in my mind that I will find this one just as splendid as his previous attempts in good time before the final.

Yet I have this tiny nagging feeling that dear Željko will get a little bit disappointed come May. We have heard this kind of song a number of time now, the sense of news is gone, some of the intensity of "Lane moje" is missing, and maybe the scoring will be a tiny bit lower than he has gotten used to.

Top ten, surely. But maybe eight place rather than second.

Željko Joksimović - Nije ljubav stvar (Serbia 2012)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Romania 2012: drums and bagpipes

Romania has selected Mandinga as their entrant for Baku with the sunny and uncomplicated little ditty "Zaleilah". My first impression is that you could not physically bring more gimmicks into a three-minute song without wrecking some kind of universal law.

Fancy little drums. Bagpipes. Ultracool white glasses. And a song with at least two languages in it.

I found myself a little annoyed with the whole thing, so I switched to another window while hearing the rest of the entry. And suddenly I started liking it. It had all the summery beach flavour you want from a summer hit and there is nothing wrong with the vocal delivery.

I suppose that with some improvement to the stage presentation (and better camera work), Romania will get the whole thing working in the end.

Mandinga - Zaleilah (Romania 2012)

Sweden 2012: Loreen to Baku

It never turned exciting, not for a second. Had the international juries left Danny in fourth place and Loreen in seventh, there could have been a moment of tension.

Now - nothing.

But who am I to complain? I thought Loreen was the only sensible choice Sweden could make and they clearly lived up to expectation. Loreen proved that she could deliver even with a flu, and the televoters forgave her for some tiny imperfections in her delivery. And rightly so.

Now everyone in Sweden seems euphoric (to say the least) about the result, but I would not go quite as far as to deem her the overall winner just yet. In Baku, it will come down to a number of things - starting position, how the song works out with the new stage, with the camera work. And we haven't heard all the songs yet.

Sweden will do well, sail like a proud ship through the semis to the final, but after that? No idea. And it is not important either. Not yet.

Loreen - Euphoria (Sweden 2012)

Romania came a long way

Also Romania will select its entry tonight. I haven't paid attention at all to what they are doing or how, but I'm wishing them the best of luck.

Romania has come a long way since its shaky beginnings in the early 90's. They were eliminated not only once but twice in peculiar pre-selection procedures (1993 and 1996, ending last on both occasions), the times they made it to the grand final were few and far between and when they occasionally got there, they had to content themselves with a few complimentary points.

These days, Romania is a safe player that seemingly gets into the final whatever kind of entry they decide to send in.

Once in a while, they also manage a real bull's eye and end up high in the ranking, still waiting for the entry to take them all the way to the top.

I wish them all the best and celebrate their transformation with a severely mistreated early pearl of theirs.

Monica Anghel & Sincron - Rugă pentru pacea lumii (Romania 1996, did not qualify)

Sweden 2012: Tobson predicts

Melodifestivalen - for many the highlight of the entire national finals season - will come to a close tonight as eleven international juries together with the Swedish televoters will determine who will fly the Swedish flag in Baku.

The final line-up is quite a smörgåsbord with a little bit to satisfy most people and rather a good variation of styles and ideas.

What might be lacking to make the perfect party is a little bit of drama. But maybe we will have that before the night is over. These are the songs and these are my grades.

1. DAVID LINDGREN - Shout it out
This is a good opening number that will set the tone for the evening, as this was the year when the modern, dancefloor-friendly songs came in and took over. A reasonably strong track, albeit slightly too repetitive, that clashes with the performer's polite appearance. Feels more like "Grandma's guide to club music" rather than a contender, but if you want a dance song with no sharp edges - this is the one.
Grade: 2/5

The big problem with sending something like this to Eurovision is that more than half of the attraction lies in the fact that the audience knows the performer, not to mention all the expectation and prejudice pinned onto him, while in Europe nobody will know who Thorsten Flinck is. What is left is a decent song and a strained performance, but the chances of victory for this one should be close to zero.
Grade: 1/5

3. DEAD BY APRIL - Mystery
Monster growling meets boyband chorus in a surprisingly unpolished package (for being Melodifestivalen, at least). The band delivers the song with zeal and attack, the lead singer is excellent, but maybe the clash of styles becames a tiny bit too heavy to handle. After the raw growl, the catchy chorus just feels a bit meek. That was probably not their intention.
Grade: 2/5

4. LISA MISKOVSKY - Why Start A Fire
The big surprise for me is that this soft and delicate piece of pop art à la Kate Bush made it through directly to the final on a first listening. Lisa Miskovsky has some sort of raw quality and likeability that cracks the screen and touches the audience at home. It will be most interesting to see how far these qualities will take her now that the song had more time to impose itself and grow. A possible surprise in the making, I'd say.
Grade: 4/5

5. TOP CATS - Baby Doll
I'm usually not a great fan of rockabilly in Melodifestivalen - I think it is an archaism that takes up space that could be better used by something more in rhyme with its time. Having said that, I must admit to being quite charmed by the Top Cats themselves. The song isn't much to write home about, but the boys deliver it in a most infectuous way and I find myself happily humming along. Still not a contender, but a very enjoyable break.
Grade: 2/5

6. LOREEN - Euphoria
After the rockabilly break, Loreen sounds like the future delivered in a three minute version. Even without the rockabilly, Loreen stands out like state of the art. Tasteful and controlled, progressive yet familiar, modern without pushing anyone away. The winner.
Grade: 5/5

7. ULRIK MUNTHER - Soldiers
Ulrik Munther isn't just a sharp little songwriter and performer, he is also gifted when it comes to publicity and has managed to appear almost everywhere in connection to melodifestivalen, seemingly without exhausting the audience. Well done, using the contest to impose himself further as a talent to be taken seriously for years to come. Surely not a winner tonight - the song isn't really strong enough for that - but very much a winner in the long run.
Grade: 3/5

Take one of Sweden's most highly profiled authors and poets with a row of awards to his name, place him in the middle of a trashy explosion of 90's eurodisco, add a group of dancing girls and an almost surreal lyric about women being the stronger sex and love leaning backwards like old handwriting. Very much the same case as song #2 but only so much more entertaining, with a sense of madness that would possibly hit home also on an international scale. Not a great song, but an extraordinary package.
Grade: 4/5

9. MOLLY SANDÉN - Why Am I Crying
A neat and clean-cut ballad on the subject of heartbreak and a painful break-up, possibly with a pinch of reality sprinkled over the lyrics (as Molly Sandén recently broke up with long-standing boyfriend Eric Saade). Vocally flawless, but I can't shake the feeling that this is nothing but the less exciting follow-up to Sanna Nielsen's "Empty room", and where Sanna delivered real emotion Molly is just singing.
Grade: 3/5

10. DANNY - Amazing
A brave attempt to restore the word "amazing" in the vocabulary of a eurofan - I thought it would be forever destroyed after Maria Menounos' constant overuse of it at the 2006 ESC. Danny delivers a polished floorfiller with a very graspable hook, but where Loreen is keeping her performance clean and simple Danny bombards us with special effects and a confusing breakdown that blocks the view a bit. I think the song is strong enough in itself and would benefit from less hocus pocus.
Grade: 3/5

So, what to expect? Anything but a crushing victory for Loreen would come as a great surprise, but you can never be too sure. I remember 2005, where the big favourites Nanne and Shirely ended second and fourth with outsider Martin Stenmarck winning the whole thing.

I don't want anyone else than Loreen to win, but I would hope for a tighter race than expected. For the sake of entertainment.

The big question is really who the runner-up will be. Will Danny live up to the pressure this time or will there be a surprise? What about David Lindgren? What about Lisa Miskovsky? What about Björn Ranelid?

It could turn out to be a very entertaining evening, but Loreen must win.

Song of the Day: Portugal 1986

Tonight Portugal will select their entry for Baku and I'm keeping my fingers crossed so hard they almost crack.

If there is one country I would wish success and a victory more than most, then it would be Portugal. Finland used to run neck to neck with them, sharing the dubious glory of being the country with the biggest number of participations without victory.

Then Finland won and Portugal is left alone with the title. Nobody else comes close.

Just like Finland, Europe has been harsh to Portugal through the years - even when the Portuguese have sent in strong, interesting, appealing entries (and they have!) the response has usually been lukewarm. Their best placing to date is a sixth place, and only a handful of times have they been among the pre-contest favourites.

1986 was a typical year when Portugal gave its all and the juries just refused to understand. Dora came in as a fresh breeze, singing last on the night, sporting a very fashionable outfit and the song had a distinctly modern feeling to it. All she got for that was twenty-eight points and a fourteenth place.

I wish that Portugal will select the best possible entry tonight and that the voters will be in a Portuguese mood come Baku.

Dora - Não sejas mau p'ra mim (Portugal 1986)

Slovakia 2012: Hard Rock Hallelujah

After some hesitation back and forward as whether to participate at all and, if so, who should represent the nation, Slovakia presented their entrant during the week.

Max Jason Mai is an inspired choice and his song is the heaviest metal we have heard at Eurovision since Czech Kabàt made their (unsuccessful) attempt in Helsinki.

Maybe this kind of rock is not what I generally listen to, but I liked Kabàt and I like this. It is refreshing to have some sharp edges and attitude instead of the often so eurofied and competition-adapted rock we get used to at the ESC.

Given how most of the other selected songs sound, Slovakia is likely to stand out by a mile and, if the rock audience is alert, Max Jason Mai could assure his country its first appearance in a final since 1998.

Max Jason Mai - Don't Close Your Eyes (Slovakia 2012)

Israel 2012: Izabo made a clip

Ever since the first demo leaked out (which it wasn't supposed to do, but this is what keeps happening), I have been intrigued and fascinated by this year's Israeli entry.

Co-ordinated quirk used to be a strong discipline for Israeli representatives, and Izabo are worthy followers to acts like Poogy (Kaveret), Ping Pong and Chocolate Menta Mastik.

The whole setup is adorable, the song is very catchy and the group oozes with inspiration. Especially the female keyboard player who would be this year's MayaSar if the original had not been in the running herself.

If they can keep this mood for their live performance, I have a gut feeling Israel is bound to better than in many years.

Izabo - Time (Israel 2012 preview)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Russia 2012: Party for everybody!

Russia has been moving in mysterious ways for a number of years, going from being a progressive nation of pop into less mainstream songs before having another stab at pop music last year.

This year, they are sending in something different again. Something very different.

While most people thought the dream team couple (depending, of course, who you ask) Dima Bilan and Julia Volkova would walk it, but they found themselves defeated by a gang of old ladies.

A gang of old ladies in traditional dresses, singing a less traditional song. To say the least.

Buranovskie Babushki - Party For Everybody (Russia 2012)

Well, what can I say? I love them to bits. I just hope there is no cynical record company behind all of this that will push the grannies too far, and that they will get to thoroughly enjoy their stay in Baku.

The chorus is really simple, but this is the one you'll have ringing in your head the day after the final.

Be warned.

ESC 2012: exit Armenia

Yesterday, Armenian television finally made their minds up and decided not to send any representative to the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. The reason for this is, of course, the strained relations between them and host country Azerbaijan.

Politics have always been present at Eurovision, but this kind of action has still been rare. In 1979, Turkey made a last-minute decision not to send a song to Jerusalem (some sources claim this was the result of pressure put on Turkey by Arab countries) and in 2009 Georgia ultimately did not participate in Moscow (although they made an attempt of sending an anti-Putin song into competition).

Also, Morocco would have been far less likely to take part in 1980 had Israel participated, just like Lebanon withdrew in 2005 due to not wanting to be in competition with the Jewish state.

I can't blame Armenia for not taking chances, but I can't estimate the effort the EBU and Azeri television made in order to have them in.

However, if Armenia knew already from the beginning that they would not participate, it would have been better to make a dignified exit already before the regular deadline and saved us the last-minute drama.

Now I just hope that Armenian television will still broadcast the ESC from Baku, so the national fans won't miss out, as well as for them to be back with a vengeance in 2013.

Sirusho - Qele Qele (Armenia 2008 preview) 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Italy 2012: Nina will sing "Per sempre"

Now it seems to be officially confirmed that Nina Zilli will perform a slightly modified version of her Sanremo entry "Per sempre" as Italy's entry for Eurovision 2012.

A very classy choice, if you ask me.

Nina Zilli has something superb, classy and larger-than-life around her entire appearance and the song is an exquisite blend of old and new in a rich and lavish arrangement.

Not even the promised changes - cutting it thirty seconds shorter and adding some lyrics in English - worry me as I'm confident that Nina and her team know what they are doing. The thought that keeps forming at the back of my head is, given Europe's fascination with Italy at their grand comeback last year, if we are even looking at a potential winner here.

I would not mind the slightest bit.

Nina Zilli - Per sempre (Italy 2012)

Spain 2012: Quédate conmigo

A few little things were spinning in my head as I sat down to watch the live performance of Spain's entry for the first time.

1) One of my favourite Spanish entries ever has the word "quédate" in the title. Good omen.

2) When I heard the songs on RTVE's web, I wasn't violently impressed by anything.

3) Thomas G:son representing Spain in a song contest is, for me, about as natural as Finland being represented by kebab in a cooking contest.

4) The regular outburst of comment on the net has, again, been devided into the Spain-huggers who thinks this must be the winner (like they did every time the last few years) and the Spain-bashers who think this is just trash, bound to crash and burn come May.

I tried to disregard all this and open my senses for Pastora Soler, and I must admit that she really is convincing. While the ballad in itself may be something heard and seen several times in the past, the delivery and well controlled vocal performance is pretty rare.

If Pastora, unlike Soraya and some other Spanish acts recently, manages to keep herself composed and professional throughout the ESC and delivers all the right notes in the right places, then Spain could have its first encounter with top ten since 2004.

Probably not a winner, but more than one step in the right direction.

Pastora Soler - Quédate conmigo (Spain 2012)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lithuania 2012: Love is blindfolded

Lithuania never had the smoothest of rides through Euroland, but during the last few years they made more of an impression than before and made it to the final both in 2009 and 2011.

This year they decided to send an ambitious and eager young man, who will not stop at anything in order to convince the audience: he stands on his hands, he dances, he sings almost operatic notes and, in order to show just how blind love is, he starts his performance wearing a blindfold.

The blindfold is a bit redundant, to be honest. I think the audience gets the big picture anyway.

The song has a catchy chorus but goes through a number of confusing changes. It starts out as a pseudo-operatic ballad before twitching into a disco flavoured crossbreed of Cher's "Strong Enough" and Moloko's "Sing It Back".

Once you think you got the plot, it also bursts into another confusing break.

If the Lithuanian rules only allow that sort of action, I would settle for a bit of a rewrite here. Clean the whole track up, cut out the unnecessary stuff and focus on the singing and the rather catchy chorus.

With a bit of work (and a bit of luck in the draw), Donny Montell could be the disco break we all long for in his semi final.

Donny Montell - Love Is Blind (Lithuania 2012)

Estonia 2012: Ott wants you to listen

The final of Eesti Laul 2012 ended in victory for Ott Lepland and his big ballad "Kuula" after defeating ex-Vanilla Ninja singer Lenna in the superfinal.

Estonia's only top ten showing in recent years was also a slower number performed in their own language, so maybe this was the right way to go.

Ott Lepland can certainly carry a tune and delivers the song in a very precise, restrained and yet emotional way that is very likely to convince at least a few of the jurors around Europe. I'm not equally convinced that the televoters will fall flat for this song.

Given how surprisingly poorly Israel did two years ago, when top favourite Harel Skaat barely made it into the final before having to content himself with a pale fourteenth place, it raises the question whether this is the golden age of big ballads.

Ott will also have to confront Balkan ballad master Željko Joksimović in a battle for the belter points available. Will there be enough points for both of them?

For me, the Estonian entry is a beautiful little song that grows on you when you hear it several times, but perhaps it is lacking a certain something to give it profile enough to stand out. But the ones who listen carefully will certainly be rewarded for that.

Ott Lepland - Kuula (Estonia 2012)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Estonia 2012: national final coming up

I really should be blogging a whole lot more about what goes on at the moment, since I am behind in giving you my opinions on Sweden and a lot of other development.

This is not the time to do so, however, as I find myself in Tallinn, preparing for tonight's national final.

It is exciting for me, as I have not been to an Estonian final since 2008 - the year of doom where Kreisiraadio won and went on to bring down ridicule on Estonia in Belgrade.

To be honest, I have not listened closely enough to the songs to make a proper prediction, but the average standard is pretty high compared to most national final. I'm not sure it contains any real smash hit or potential Eurovision winner, but it is bound to produce a number of local hit singles.

My own personal favourite Loss Paranoias will probably not go anywhere close to a top placing tonight, but their quirky and catchy "Valedetektor" is the song that will spin for a long time in my player.

My Estonian friends seem pretty convinced it will be a battle between Lenna and Ott, and it could very well be the case. After one or two listenings, I'm not entirely sure either of them would go down particularly well in Baku, but the Estonians are not selecting a song to please me.

If they're happy, that's great. And if the winner is not Kreisiraadio, I promise to be happy too.

Friday, March 2, 2012

UK 2012: Engelbert to the rescue

Last night, the BBC revealed who they will have representing them at the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest and I must admit that the perfomer in question had my jaw drop.

I did not see Engelbert Humperdinck coming, so to speak.

But he has all the advantages the BBC were looking for: a long career, a well established name, an element of surprise and a large following. The list of people lined up to make his song brilliant is also long and impressive.

With a bit of luck, this could be an entry that will truly stand out in Baku, hopefully in a most positive light. It will also bear the added feature of Engelbert being the oldest performer ever on the eurovision stage.

Engelbert Humperdinck - Love Is A Many Splendored Thing

The age issue is, however, always a sensitive one and there has been a real outburst of negativity on the net since the announcement was made.

I think most people reason it would have been more appropriate to offer somebody in the beginning of their careers the chance of exposing themselves europe-wide instead. But let me remind you how un-willing most British acts have been to go to Eurovision. Why would they, all of a sudden, have lined up to do it this time around?

Then again, many just carry a phobia against older people. When you pass a certain age, you expire. You have nothing more to contribute. You should just sit somewhere and gracefully wait for the end.

That brings the 2008 Croatian entry to mind, featuring the oldest ever main performer pre-Engelbert - 75 year-old rapper 75 Cents, and a set of lyrics dealing with this very problem.

"Nowadays I'm told I'm to no use anymore. I'm technological waste, like a monkey on a branch. But I was the first ever Internet, I connected the world with my songs."

Engelbert Humperdinck is perhaps not the first Internet of the world, but he is a legend in music. I'd very much like to hear his song before I declare him chanceless.

Kraljeci ulice & 75 Cents - Romanca (Croatia 2008 preview)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

FYR Macedonia 2012: Kaliopi presented her song

Last night, Kaliopi presented her entry for Baku in a show very much revolving around herself and her artistry. During ninety minutes, she sang a number of songs and had prominent guests talk about her and her ability of lending herself to very different styles and songs.

Of course! What would a diva otherwise do with precious television time like this?

In the end of the show, Kaliopi sang "Crno i belo", composed by her ex-husband and long-standing collaborator, recieving thunderous applause from the studio audience.

I can't blame the audience for being in love with her - I am perfectly smitten as well. She possesses an impressive ability of communicating with the camera and her voice is really something else.

Unfortunately, the song could prove a tiny bit too difficult to embrace on a first listening. I think it is a very good composition, but will it break through to the televoting audience?

I really hope for Kaliopi to perform on Saturday night, bringing her country back to the final for the first time since 2007, but I'm not willing to bet big money on it just yet.

Kaliopi - Crno i belo (FYR Macedonia 2012)