Post-Mortem: 2010’s ESC

So, after two Semifinals and a Grand Final (in both senses of the word), we have a winner!

Huge congratulations to Lena, who brought the Eurovision gold back to Germany for the first time since 1982 (nine years before Lena was even born).  Not only that, but this will be the first time that they will host the competition as a unified nation, as their previous hosting gigs took place in West Germany alone.  “Satellite” won a resounding victory over second-placed Turkey, with 76 points separating the two.  Romania’s “Playing with Fire” took a surprise bronze, and there was a complete logjam for 4th through 9th, with only thirteen points separating Denmark, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Armenia, Greece, and Georgia (basically, if a juror had gone to the bathroom at the wrong time, it could have made a difference in the scoring).  And, rounding out the Final, the United Kingdom took last place (their second in three years) after Georgia gave a shocking maximum score to Belarus.

Other highlights from this year’s show?  Well, Spain, who was performing second with “Algo Pequeñito”, was given a rare opportunity to perform their song for a second time (after the 25th song had been sung) due to a stage invasion by Jimmy Jump.  Known previously for running onto the field during European soccer and rugby matches, Jimmy (real name: Jaume Marquet Cot) once tried invade the court during last year’s French Open final and put a traditional Catalan hat on Roger Federer’s head.  He was arrested (Jimmy Jump, not Roger Federer), and faces possible jail time.

The results of the Semifinals were also shocking.  Despite strong performances, highly favored entries from Slovakia, Sweden, and Croatia didn’t even make it into the Final, while unexpected songs from Russia and Belarus sailed through.  Because of this, a total of seven former Soviet-bloc nations made it to the Finals, possibly dissipating votes enough amongst themselves to such an extent that former front-runner Azerbaijan had to settle for 5th place.  Considering that Azerbaijan is rumored to have spent over a million Euros in publicity for the song (including advertising on some other Eurovision blogs, which I just find distasteful), I don’t think their result has made Baku very happy.

I had a few friends over yesterday to watch the show (it’s not shown here in the U.S., sadly, but I was able to hook up my computer to the TV and watch the international feed from…big “thank you” to the EBU for providing it!), and here were our favorites:

1) Georgia (Sofia Nizharadze, “Shine”), 30 points
2) Israel (Harel Ska’at, “Milim”), 25 points
3) Spain (Daniel Diges, “Algo Pequeñito”), 24 points
4) Turkey (maNga, “We Could Be the Same”), 22 points
5) France (Jessy Matador, “Allez! Ola! Olé!”), 18 points

So, while we had fun keeping our own score, the American Televoters (or at least the ones in my living room) weren’t really in line with the European audience.  (Maybe an unbiased non-EBU-member jury should be added to next year’s scoring system?  That would mix things up a bit!)

So, how were my predictions, in terms of the eventual results?  Let me go back into my archive and see what I’ve said…
1) Germany: “Satellite” is a fun, catchy, upbeat, simply adorable number that has obviously made a massive impact on the European market already.  Considering that Germany (like France, the UK, Spain, and Norway) already has a pass to the Finals, and that Lena will be performing close to the end of the roster, this might be the one to beat in Oslo.” – Sounds about right!
2) Turkey: “Because of this [international] support, and the high quality of “We Could Be The Same”, I’m almost positive that they’ll sail through to the finals, and will possibly make it to the Top 5″ 
3) Romania: “Although “Playing with Fire” is in the tough second semifinal, I’d be surprised if they didn’t make it through, assuming that Paula’s high note doesn’t cause her throat to explode or the jury’s ears to bleed.”  -Paula hit her notes, and they came in 4th in their semifinal after an explosive performance.  I don’t think anyone believed that they would do as well as they did, but I think it was well-deserved.
4) Denmark: “It’s not my personal favorite this year (although I’d definitely put it in my top dozen or so, and it’s growing on me quickly), but the bookies seem to favor it, and ESC fan clubs all over the continent are definitely supporting it, with or without the Scandinavian Voting Bloc advantage.  I’d be surprised if it didn’t hit the Top 5 in this year’s Finals!
5) Azerbaijan (keep in mind that I wrote this entry a while ago, before their official preview video came out…): “Don’t get me wrong, though; Safura looks beautiful, and Azerbaijan’s currently riding a wave of popularity in Eurovision, so she will likely pass through to the finals. Furthermore, Azerbaijan’s sharing their semifinal with ally Turkey, so votes from one will likely go to the other, and vice versa. However, I don’t see this gaining the universal appeal of “Always”, so I think that Baku 2011 might be out of the question.” – “Drip Drop” fell just short of the third-place finish that AySel and Arash held last year.
6) Belgium: “Tom’s voice isn’t perfect, and he isn’t as drop-dead gorgeous as some of the other participants in this year’s competition, but Tom has the sort of sweet, earnest, and genuine “everyman” quality that appeals to me. We’ve all known a Tom Dice or two. He’s the acquaintance you sat next to in High School Trigonometry, or the dude you sometimes see at the coffee shop you always go to, or the quiet guy four cubicles down from your desk at work. You might not know much about him, and you might have walked by him a thousand times without even realizing it, but you still want him to succeed at whatever he’s going for. That’s why I’m pulling for Tom to at least break into the finals.” – I loved this song, and didn’t want to get my hopes up that it would do as well as it did.  But it thankfully exceeded my expectations, and not only won the First Semifinal handily, but it ended up as the highest-placed Flemish song since 1959, when there were only eleven nations competing, not 39.

Not all of my predictions came out well, though:
1) Croatia: “My prediction for the ladies from Feminnem?  Well, they’ll be performing in the difficult Second Semifinal, but if they pass, then they’ll have the benefit of a beautiful song, performers who are no strangers to the Eurovision Stage, and the fact that they’re a member of the often-advantageous Balkan voting bloc.  If they make the finals, and they put together a good staged performance, you can expect a Top Ten, if not a Top Five position.”  – The lovely ladies from Feminnem came in 13th place in their semifinal, and didn’t qualify.
2) Sweden: “Anna Bergendahl is only eighteen years old and will be performing “This Is My Life” in her trademark red Chuck Taylors on the Eurovision Stage.  It’s the first ballad to represent Sweden in over a decade, and it’s favored to reach the Top 10, if not the Top 5.  Anna’s voice is very unique, almost reminiscent of a Shakira-type throatiness at points.  As Sweden can truly do no wrong in Eurovision’s eyes (and it’s in the heart of the Scandinavian voting bloc), the song is a lock to sail through to the final.”- Anna’s song came in a heartbreaking 11th place in her semi, only five points behind Ireland and Cyprus.  This was the first time since 1976 that we didn’t hear a Swede in the finals.
3) Slovakia: “It’s being performed in the first semifinal, and I would be shocked to not see this qualify.  I predict that Slovakia will not only beat its own personal best placement of 18th, but it might crack the Top 5 or 10, if she performs as well on the ESC stage as she did in her National Final a few months ago.”  -Kristina came in second-to-last in the First semi after a performance fraught with nerves.
4) Israel: “I can almost guarantee that this will not only qualify for the final, but it may be in the running for the win.”  It qualified for the Finals, but “Milim” only made it to 14th place in the end.
5) Russia: “This song’s awkwardness is all intentional.  Be that as it may, many ESC viewers are hearing these songs for the first time when they vote…will the joke go over their heads, or will bloc voting carry them through to the Final?”  It looks like votes for Mother Russia saved this one, which came in 11th place in the end.
6) Belarus: “I make no guarantees, but I don’t see Belarus breaking back into the Finals with this one. It doesn’t matter much to me if Belarus submits pop, a ballad, rock, or folk…I think I’m most upset by the absence of mullets.”  They might not have had mullets, but they made it through to the finals by the skin of their teeth, and came in an eventual second-to-last place.  So maybe I got this one half-right?

Anyway, just because the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest is over doesn’t mean that I’m calling it quits.  There’s still a lot of ground to cover!  To keep me busy until the first announcements are made starting in December, I’ll be writing little essays here and there about the ESC’s history, politics, language…whatever strikes my fancy!  I may also mention other great songs that I think deserve our attention, even if they never made it to Eurovision.  If you have any suggestions, feel free to send them my way in a comment!

I just took a look at my hit counter, and I see that I’m over 300 readers.  I just wanted to thank you all for taking the time to read what I have to say.  I only set this blog up as a way to get my geek out on Eurovision, and to know that we’ve got a little community growing…it really warms my heart.  I know that some of you know me personally, and others live halfway around the world from my little flat in Minnesota, but I truly appreciate you all.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Cheers until the next time,

Posted on May 30, '10, in 2010, Special Comment. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Well, I've followed the blog but never wrote – bad me!But I do like what you said about most songs, very professional, Sam! :)I was rather disappointed with Safura's performance, I must say, but I still love the song. And germany definitely deserved the win!Anyway, we have to have another post-Eurovision geekout session! :)hugsSlavi

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: