Phew, what a weekend it’s been so far! Snacks have been consumed, drinks have been drunk and songs have been chosen by the bucketload. And it all kicked off on Friday with Turkey revealing its entry for Dusseldorf. Now the law of averages dictates that since the Turks fielded a hairy man-band last year, 2011 should have been their year to send some winsome coiffeured diva singing a spot of ethno-pop – and as such, they have, er, fielded another hairy man-band. Yuksek Sadakat have come up with a decidedly retro sounding rock anthem entitled Live It Up, complete with guitars, bleepy keyboard breaks and somewhat dated lyrics which make lots of references to rock’n'roll and the radio. An acquaintance of ours claims to be ‘obsessed’ with this song, and while we wouldn’t go that far we do rather like its anthemic sound and pleasingly nostalgic feel, and we have no doubt it will breeze through to the final and stay there. But let’s be honest, the Turks could send a flatulent donkey playing the nose-flute for two and a half minutes and they would still make it to the final:
Also making a welcome return to the fray on Friday were Austria who bypassed the option of choosing a song by Sting’s son Joe Sumner in favour of Nadine Beiler and her big ballad The Secret Of Love. There aren’t a lot of ballads around this year (well there’s Lithuania but the less said about that the better – more of that later however….) – possibly because so many were entered and flopped dismally last year – so this one could potentially stand out from the pack, particularly since Nadine has a strikingly good voice. But the song is as cliched as they come, right down to harmonies and appropriate key changes, and for all the world sounds as though it could have walked straight out of any mid-90s contest. Could be a popular one with the juries though, even if it does inspire fans across the continent to dash off for a toilet break:
Moving on to Saturday, the first of six countries to make their choice for L’Allemagne was Moldova, who in a ‘stick with what you know’ kind of way have once again chosen Zdob si Zdub to perform their song (you may remember them as the nutters who gave the country a smashing debut result in 2005 with Bunica Bate Toba, featuring a random pensioner playing the drums). This time around there’s no sign of grandma, and in her absence their song, So Lucky, doesn’t have nearly as much charm as their previous entry – but it’s not a bad little ditty nonetheless:
Estonia have once again come up with a fairly decent, contemporary sounding, could-do-very-well-indeed type of tune in the shape of Rockefeller Street by Getter Jaani. We promise to like this even more than we do already as long as she solemnly swears not to wear that dress in the semi-final:
Ukraine, meanwhile, provided an interesting viewing experience with an oddly subdued national final (where were the shrieking, appreciative studio audience?) which also featured a simultaneous English translation, at least on the bit that we saw. We particularly enjoyed the bit when the presenter, looking a bit lost and puzzled, told viewers, “We’re going to take a break for the news now…we’ll be back in less than 20 minutes.” Eh?????? HOW many minutes exactly?? And these people managed to organise and screen an entire contest? Or possibly they just fell victim to a spot of bad translation….but anyway it makes no difference because the winner, Mika Newton’s Angely, is about as dull a song as they could have chosen, and matters aren’t improved by the fact that she is engulfed by bizarre acrobatic dancers as she performs. Come on, this is Ukraine! We want to see mad glossy-haired divas cavorting about the stage or some other general weirdness, not this….!:
Serbia’s final featured a family of songwriters competing against each other for the Dusseldorf ticket – and eventually Kristina Kovac’s track Caroban, performed by the elfin -haired Nina (is it just us or does she look a bit like a female Milan Stankovic?) triumphed. And actually we love this, with its distinctive 1960s tone, eye-strainingly colourful costumes and general goofiness. One for the final, we think – and anybody who complains it ‘doesn’t sound very Serbian, does it?” can bog right off this minute…..
Next up we have Latvia, whose voters bypassed the hot favourite Banjo Laura in favour of this little oddity, Angel in Disguise by Musiqq – or as we like to refer to them, Diva Fever of Riga. This isn’t actually a bad little song but the presentation is just baffling – you have a dance track on your hands, chaps, so why are you just sitting there? Either this is that trademark Latvian quirkiness that permeates every entry of yours, or you just don’t want us to know that you actually dance like a geography teacher at a sixth form disco:
And finally, we come to Denmark, and once again the Scandinavians have come up trumps with a corker of a song. New Tomorrow by A Friend In London pushes all the right buttons – big, scarf-waving harmonies, a chorus that sticks in your head and stays there, plus it’s very commercial and radio-friendly – and, we might add, one of our favourites so far. The only slight problem – from our point of view at least – is that A Friend In London just happen to be a four-piece boy band. Er……haven’t we come up with that idea already? We don’t want to put a dampener on the UK’s chances but if Blue don’t come up with something equally as good as this we fear that the Danish quartet just might wipe the floor with our boys…….
And on that note, we’re off for a long lie-down. Or at least until it begins all over again this evening with Slovenia and FYR Macedonia…….